The drive of our lives.

Trip Start Sep 28, 2011
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Guatemala  ,
Monday, October 17, 2011

It's my day to drive for the first time in Mexico!  After regaling the group with my brush with death last night (at the hands of the toad), we grab some breakfast.  I say grab, the café by the beach is operating on Mexico’s famed notion of Manyana; (tomorrow).  This is why nothing gets done fast.  We are seriously behind schedule as we set off.

The day is to become something of a crazy one.  We are stopped for the first time at an army checkpoint.  Great.  My first time behind the wheel and we get pulled over.  I think they are more interested in what we are doing and they appear to be greatly amused by it.  Thankfully they allow us on our way.

Driving Mexico’s roads is an interesting experience.  They are uneven, slip away at the edge and pull you all over the tarmac.  I use the term tarmac loosely.  You have to grip the wheel, keep an eye out for potholes as well as being aware of dodgy road users.  A relaxing drive it ain’t.

I make it to the border area with little major issues, in spite of Murray convinced he’s going to die.  We fill up on fuel and switch over, as he has to be the one to cross the border driving. The next 5 hours become something of a debacle.

We need to get the ambulances signed out.  After reaching the border, we are told that the office to do this is 25km back up the road.  Who would have known?  We then spend hours driving aimlessly round the town of Tapachula trying to find the place.  It’s starting to get dark, and after asking an endless amount of people, manage to get the paperwork we need, and head back to the border.

It’s night as we arrive, and the crossing takes an eon.  We are passed from pillar to post, inspected, scrutinized, and questioned.  We are nearly 5 hours behind as we finally pull away, heading into uncharted territory on Guatemalan roads.

The roads are barely roads at all, and what follows can only be described as one of the most anxious, exciting, adrenaline fueled experiences I will ever have.  Or any of us will ever have.  We drive up into the mountains, into dense, dense fog.  The visibility is near zero and the potholes are atrocious.  We encounter eerie ghost like towns with only snatches of people, huddled together in tiny stone rooms, playing arcade machines from the 80’s.

There are little or no road signs and markings, and we really are guessing when it comes to the map and directions.  Then we catch a break from 3 young kids in a small town.  One calls their English speaking mum at 11 o clock at night to get directions.  In the end they run and get a scooter, and taking point they guide us through the city to the right road on.  It becomes apparent that we would never have found it without them.

We drive on into the night, only three of us awake, running on adrenaline.  Eventually we arrive at Xcla and wind through tiny streets to locate somewhere to stay.  It’s a tall order with poor signage and one way systems, but we manage to find a place that allows us to park the ambulances off the road.  Murray, myself and Ryan are totally shattered, totally relieved, and totally elated all at once.  That was one of the most incredible things I have ever done, and I never will forget.  As much as seeing beautiful sights and scenery is important, the hair raising, white knuckle, life-on-the-line experiences really make this journey worth it.  When can I do it all again?  Tomorrow.
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