It was the final hours of our almost-5000 KM journey around Mexico. We’d had our fair share of highs, a few lows; pretty much your stock-standard adventure. I mean, it was kinda cool getting stopped in a roadblock back in Chiapas, the Zapatista heartland.
But on day twelve in our home state of Quintana Roo? With less than 200 KM to go? On our last day, when we had overcome (literally) an eleven hour climb over the Sierra Madre mountains to Huatulco to meet my sister Holly’s cruise ship, then the uninspiring nine hour drive to the equally uninspiring city of Villahermosa (sorry guys, but really? I don’t know who named your city, but you could be a little more apt!), before making the final push for Playa del Carmen, the land of beaches and supermarkets and convenience?
With our spirits high like true adventurers who overcome adversity in the name of discovering vast new lands, we flew over our final state line towards our adopted home.
Perhaps… even a little patriotism for our home state flanked by sparkling Caribbean coastline, covered in verdant jungle and exploding with ancient Mayan ruins?
Almost a tear. So that’s what it feels like….
And then, the ominous image of rows of trucks on the side of the road, with disembarked drivers settling in for the evening with newspapers open and shirts hiked up over their bellies.
With our hopes still high (for surely, we had faced our fair share of obstacles already?) we postured that perhaps it was a truck-stop, or that maybe someone had gotten a flat up ahead. But as we moved along the row of semi trailers to the front of the ‘queue’ we realised that we had been caught at yet another road block, enforced by the teacher’s union in light of recent education reform (which we deducted back in Chiapas with plenty of time to read the signs taped to trucks and chat to the locals).
No!!!! I screamed internally, or maybe externally I can’t be sure.
Not again. Not now.
We’ve come so far, and we’re almost there and we are going to stop for ‘salbutes’ in TULUM!!!!!!!!!
THE SALBUTES FROM TULUM (FROM THE ARCHIVES) WHICH WE WERE HEADED FOR.
Sometimes I wonder why all the praying and meditating and WORK I DO on myself doesn’t mean that the universe bloody co-operates, particularly when salbutes are concerned.
I mean, I was listening to my Ekhart Tolle recording EVERY FREAKING NIGHT during the trip, becoming aware of my ‘pain body’, of which I have a rather dense one apparently, because Ekhart says to “become aware of it, just notice it, and say to yourself, there it is,” and I had done that over and over and over, and found myself saying, “there it is” about a million times per day, because it’s all about ‘consciousness’ and becoming aware you see, and I really, really want to be enlightened and ‘wear life as a loose jacket’ and not the straight one I bound myself up in every day, and apparently people like me are great candidates for this stuff, Ekhart Tolle says so himself and I believe him because have you heard his voice? That’s some consciousness right there. I mean, that dude’s voice just oozes calm awareness.
But as I watched Tyrhone calmly approach the drivers who formed a barricade between us and our salbutes, hot showers and comfy beds with clean sheets, I felt a hatred rising within me which made me understand how wars break out.
They say the only peace worth striving for is the peace within, and whilst I agree with that, I can say with some certainty that I am not there yet.
Sorry world, we are a long way off world peace, I’m afraid, and I accept my share of responsibility for that.
I didn’t care a damn for the rights of the teachers blocking our way home without explanation or fore-warning. We couldn’t even see them thanks to the rows and rows of trucks forming imposing barricades of metal and rubber filled with shirtless, snickering drivers.
Hey ‘maestros’, your beef isn’t with me, and I can tell you right now that the government does not give a rats ass about the fact that a few Aussies and a few hundred Mexicans are stranded on a road today. Right now the decision makers are being chauffeured around Mexico City in shiny Audis to another luncheon to discuss the upcoming hydro-electric project they will make a gazillion pesos out of without so much as a passing thought for your cause, while we wait here, tired, frustrated and hungry for sabultes, Goddammit!!!!!!!
In the midst of my internal monologue, a police car drove up, and gave a little wail of it’s siren.
Phew. Finally some law and order around here.
Then when the trucks didn’t budge, they just… sat there. In the car.
You have GOT to be kidding me.
We have traveled almost 5,000 KM around this country and have been eye level with more machine guns than should be considered acceptable for a family road trip, and now, when the wielding of the odd weapon might actually do some good here, there is not a goddamn piece of artillery to be seen!!!!!
That is what I would have said to the docile police officers sat comfortably in their car next to us, had my Spanish been up to par. Instead, I approached their vehicle with a sickly sweet smile, motioned to them to wind down their window and made sure that some of the rain which was now soaking through my clothes, dripped from my umbrella and onto them.
“Ooh, perdon,” I lied.
I asked them what was up, they told me it was the teachers. I asked them how long it would go on, they said they didn’t know. I asked them if the road to Valledolid was open, they said it was, so I thanked them and got back in the car with my plastered-on smile just barely intact.
“Let’s go via Valledolid,” I said to Tyrhone,which was really more of an order than a suggestion, because I knew it was the only way I would not explode in a fit of rage that day. I couldn’t wait there in that chaotic uncertainty, with one truck driver saying “three days” and another dude saying “six hours”, and the police, who just happened to be the only cops in Mexico not parading guns around like prized catches saying, “we don’t know.”
Did I mention I dislike guns? But after eight hours of driving that day, two hours from home, something snapped. It must be part of the Mexican army’s training regime to torture their soldiers with bad Chinese food in Villahermosa before sending them into battle, or at least it should be, since I’ve tested the method and found it quite conducive to committing mass murder.
So we re-routed, adding on another 4 hours to our journey. God only knows how long we would have waited at that roadblock. It may have been an hour, or more likely a lot longer, but I knew I had to get myself and my raging little pain body the hell outta there, lest I unleash the full force of its fury on everyone in the immediate vicinity.
I like to think that maybe, just maybe, being aware of that fact means there’s still a chance for me yet, Ekhart.