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May 31, 2013

Postcards from Nowhere: Peoria to Panama - Day 12: Ciudad del Carmen to Champotón, Mexico

Update: I am alive and well and resting quietly in the Snook Inn Hotel on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico in the town of Champotón, Mexico.

Friday May 31, 2013

Motorcycle Odometer (at start of day): 2,990
Motorcycle Odometer (at end of day): 3,108
Miles driven today: 128 miles


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So, this morning I wake up in my hotel, and I'm trying to get organized. I really am. I'm carrying too much crap, and I'm well aware of this. I need to downsize, but some of the gear is fairly expensive, so I'd like to just mail it back to myself in the U.S. of A. However, this isn't so simple, since we're in a stone-age culture.

First of all, if you go to the FedEx website, and look for locations in Ciudad Del Carmen, there aren't any. Ditto for UPS. DHL has one location listed, so I attempt to drive there.

The streets are still completely flooded. Two feet deep in places. Whoever designed the drainage for this city should be held accountable.

When I get to the location, there's no DHL business at that address. It's just the slums of Ciudad Del Carmen.

This is frustrating, because, the third world really doesn't seem to be on the same plane as the first world. I'm like..."Really? What the fuck? Where is the DHL office?"

The same thing happened to me last night when I was trying to find the Hampton Inn. I drove to the address. The Hampton Inn wasn't there. Now...why is this? It's hard to know. It's hard to know who's throat to choke.

Part of it is that the addresses are confusing as hell. For instanced the Hampton Inn address is:

Isla de Tris 28 Santa Rosalía, 24157 Ciudad del Carmen, Campeche

I'm like...ah....OK. Finally figured out that the State is Campeche. Ciudad del Carmen is the city. Isla de Tris is the street. 28 is probably the street address. No clue what Santa Rosalia is.

And, I can assure you that the Hampton Inn isn't at this address. It's certainly not at the Isla de Tris 28, any way. There's a Wal-mart there. This is next to the airport. So, sure, you'd like to go find someone and strangle them slowly in a shallow pool, but I'm not clear what it gets you.

So, the Hampton Inn wasn't there. The DHL place isn't where it should be. I tried to call the phone number for the U.S. Embassy in Belize, and their number has been disconnected.

So, eventually, you just kinda of realize that down here, nothing is right. Nothing works right. Everything is broken. No one knows why. And even less people care. Which is, in a way, kind of maddening if you're not used to it.

At the hotel where I spent the night, I try to get to the bottom of the shipping issue.

"People do, in fact, mail things, right? People do mail packages down here, right?"

"We get packages here at the hotel."

"Aha. OK. Now, we're getting somewhere. Do you send packages out?"

"For what?"

Never mind. I don't know how people ship things in a third world country. I really do not. So, finally, I just give up trying to mail anything home. I throw everything in the trash and just say "fuck it. It's not worth the heartache."

I have to get some oil filters for the KTM though, and I can't find a dealer down here that carries them and has a listed phone number. Finally call my buddies back in Illinois and ask them to FedEx me some down in Belize City, Belize.

Now, I have to get my credit card working. The dogs at my credit union have hosed me again. They do this every time I leave the country. It's a little game they play. And I told them I was leaving the country. They knew this already. So, I call them up and start dog-cussing them on the phone. They won't admit to any wrong-doing, of course. But they do admit that they had put yet another fraud alert on my credit card. So, they lift it for me, yet again.

I go to a Wal-mart to see if I can buy a GPS, a pair of pants, and some gloves. They don't have gloves. Their pants are the thinnest pants you've ever seen. And they don't carry a GPS unit. And they don't have an ATM machine.

So, now, to a Mega store. They have an ATM. (No GPS units, of course.)

And so, I'm standing in this long line for the ATM. The ATMs are guarded by two men armed with 12 gauge shotguns, while another man refills one of the ATM's with Mexican pesos. All three men are wearing bullet proof vests. The two armed guards are holding pump 12 gauges, with extended magazines. Fingers in perfect position beside, but not on, the trigger. Barrels pointed up. Each has a .38 pistol in a holster on their thigh. I complain that one of the 3 ATM's is open, and I should be able to use it. He tells me to sit tight, and no one goes near the ATM's while the guy replaces the cash.

Finally, I get $3,000.00 (Mexican Pesos), and now I at least have some cash for the toll roads.

So, I got the credit card working. Got some cash. Refilled the bike. Tried to get stuff shipped home. Tried to buy jeans and gloves, but apparently no one down here has gloves. I was like...then could you give me some cloth and a needle and thread?

Somehow, I lost my gloves last night in the storm when I nearly crashed.

I can't find gloves. Can't find a GPS unit. So, I buy some tape, and tape my iPhone back inside my windshield so at least I can use that as a GPS.

I also call Verizon and tell them I need data plan for Central America and they'd better not rape me over the data usage.

I spent a lot of time dealing with all of this nonsense, and I wasn't able to get away until something crazy like 3:00 or so. I got onto the 180 and drove East, hoping to get to Chichen Itza.

I finally get out on the open highway, and just wind it up. I'm running like 110 mph, trying to stay awake. Rolling down this beautiful scenic beach. Just have it gapped back. And there are some other cars that are running about 100 also. I'm no the only one. Then, I come to a bridge, and I'm going to try to get a shot while I'm driving, but I'm not really paying attention....I'm going 100 mph, coming up on a guy going 50 mph, and there's a truck coming at us on the bridge. There are no shoulders.

And I'm taking photos. I do this while I'm driving. I drive with no hands and shoot through the lens of my digital SLR camera.

At the last moment, I realize this probably isn't the ideal time to take a photo, and stand on both breaks to keep from creaming the back end of the guy ahead of me.

This is why riding a bike is dangerous. It's because you get lazy going 100mph all the time and start getting complacent.

However, after I'd gone about 100 miles, I see this wall...this massive thunderstorm approaching, and I think about what happened last night. How I nearly died in the streets of Ciudad Del Carmen. And I'm like...I'm not going to let that happen again. I'm not that stupid.

So, I'm racing down the road, and this animal runs across the street in front of me. I'm not clear what it is, but it has a huge tail, sticking straight up in the air. The closest thing I've ever seen to it is probably a raccoon. But I looked it up when I got home at night and settled, and I now believe what I saw was a white-nosed Coati.

The first sign I see that says Hotel, I pull in immediately and ask them for a room.

Does it have internet in the rooms? Warm water in the showers? Air conditioning in the rooms? This is all that matters. I learned to ask these questions going through Peru.

They offer me a room for $640 Mexican Pesos, or $60 US Dollars. I was like....yeah...I'll pay in Pesos, thank you very much. For some reason, they think that 10:1 is the exchange rate, which it clearly is not. That's why I always get local currency out of the ATM machines. It's the best currency conversion rate you can get, and then you don't get the sucker rate of 10:1 pesos to dollars.

As soon as I check in, the bottom falls out of the thunderstorm. It's raining cats and dogs just like it did last night, only this time, I'm not stuck out driving around in the rain storm like an idiot. My assumption is that this is still tired to Hurricane Barbara, although I'm not certain of this. I'm no meterologist, after all.

So, I only drove 100 miles today, but I don't really care. It's not like it matters. I don't really have any set timeline for this trip. It's essentially open ended. I'm not really sure what coming back looks like. It's hard for me to imagine.

I was up texting Carrie until 2:30 this morning. She was telling me how happy she is to be dating her gorilla-armed boyfriend, and I'm like "I'm really happy for y'all. I've moved on also. I wish you the best." But nothing ever makes her happy, really. Only to make sure that I'm aware she's going out with someone else and that I'm fully cognizant of that fact. So there is that. Spite. Happiness. Call it what you will.

But I've got someone that I'm going to take out if I ever make it back to the United States. Hmmmmm. Now, if this rain would ever let up, I might could get an early start and make it to Chichen Itza tomorrow.

Photos in Extended Entry.

Posted by Rob Kiser on May 31, 2013 at 5:53 PM

Comments

Good luck Bro! Don't forget that we need you to come back through or to Mississippi soon! Hopefully Jennifer will be here, Lilly still needs to ride a motorcycle, and I still need you to turn my Ugandan photos into a spectacular slide show! Love you! PS Did you ever think you would hear "pictures from Uganda" come out of my mouth? You're clearly rubbing off on me:)

Posted by: Molly on June 1, 2013 at 9:58 PM

So, Sparky - A couple of comments on your current life and death, fraught with angst and tribulation saga:

On the subject of getting lost all the time: you've ridden a motorcycle before, have you not? And you've noticed that when you go to a new place, you don't know where anything is, right. And you've clearly heard of GPS navigation devices, right? Further, you apparently worked hard all year and made enough bucks to buy a nice new KTM. And you knew you were going to Panama. Don't you think you could have sprung ~$40 for a handlebar bracket, and ~$119 for a decent GPS? I mean *before* crossing the border? (Helpful hit: Amazon.com ships overnight for an extra ten bucks).
Speaking of crossing the border, why the fuck did you bother waiting back home for your passport if you were not going to get it stamped when entering Mexico? Oh, wait, wait: I think I know: you didn't get it stamped in order to be able share all that angst about being in the country illegally. I think I get it.
One more: oil filters. Bikes need oil changes. Oil changes require filters. I suspect you know that. Why the fuck didn't you pack a couple? There's small. Oh, wait, I think I'm beginning to get this one as well: it's all about sharing those buckets of "I can't find KTM 990 oil filters here in Mexico" angst.
We get it: angst. The story is all about angst.

All of the above is just my opinion, of course. I shared your blog via my Facebook page, *and* via my current and relatively angst-less ongoing trip blog (http://southern-bc-ride-2013.blogspot.com/). One of
my riding friends sent me his impressions. Wanna hear them? Ok, here they are, below. In the mean time, just a suggestion, but you might what to cut back on the angst a notch or two.

_____

"The guy in Mexico actually wants to die I think. But its a hard decision. So he has this gonzo adventure literature fantasy, that the fucked up world gives him permission to kill himself as an artiste verite if he would just create that story of stories but it's really just that he has to explain it to some abstraction of "everybody" to work out the justification in his own brain. Because he can't admit to himself what he is thinking. "Maybe you'll all agree, maybe you will realize how fucked up you are too, being his oppressors and all. " Rather than, "Read my long self deceiving, self serving suicide note/ gonzo literary contribution. Fear and loathing in Yucatan. That will teach her, I'll literature her into nonexistence, the opposite of objectification of a women. I will abstractify her into a little toxic puff of prosaic fish stink breath from the smile of the Cheshire Cat. I'll just put it out there and the world will hate her unless they are stupid. oh, but since they are stupid I don't care. I am art. Darned speed limits, passports, money, other peoples desires, other peoples failed responsibilities. The world doesn't deserve me, those rules don't apply to me, people are stupid, vain, selfish, unfair, to not see how smart, gifted and deserving I am, etc." As he says, "Lord God", but then I say he is full of crap. He wants to die and can't say it. Can't think it straight up. All those words he is spewing could be replaced with only four words, starting with, "I want.."

But anyway he is at least going to hurt himself if he doesn't get some altitude fairly soon. Hopefully nobody else will pay the fare for the trip to hell along with him. Gosh. Por lo menos, adjust the f*****g chain. Or get a BMW. In the end the original gonzoid Hunter Thompson gave up on the drugs, lunatic adventures, wasted relationships and the sausage creature and sadly shot himself. It was a long path to that, the entire written record he created is *his* note to the world and himself, but its the same path as the one your friend is on here. "

Your one-time riding buddy, and one-time Facebook friend,

--Doug

Posted by: Doug on June 2, 2013 at 3:14 PM

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