I crossed the border at Nogales into Mexico and almost immediately found a semi truck barreling the wrong way towards me in my lane. I could see it was going to be a challenging drive to Alamos in Sonora.
I had started far too late in the day. Alamos is about a 13 hour trip from Scottsdale, Arizona and I had been instructed not to make the drive after dark. That particular instruction had made my friend Candy nearly panic. She was sure I would be killed by banditos.
I did not believe it, but to calm her down I emailed Gia and asked why I should not drive it in the dark. Her reply was that the road from Navajoa to Alamos was a narrow winding road going up into the mountains. This road was full of potholes and populated by wandering black cows at night.
Candy remained unconvinced, but I was going anyway.
My plan was to leave at sunrise so I could arrive in Alamos before nightfall. Unfortunately the evening before the trip I discovered the bank would not let my husband access our checking account and the problem could not be corrected until the bank opened in the morning. Wells Fargo had massively inefficient customer service so it was nearly 11 a.m. before they fixed their error.
I was distressed at the extremely late start, but as I thought about it, my intuition kicked into gear. I knew I would be just fine, no matter when I left. I relaxed and finished a few more unexpected errands and rolled onto the highway by noon.
Traffic was uneventful until I crossed the border. My introductory semi truck swerved at the last minute into his proper lane. I had not recovered from that near miss when I saw the bicyclist riding towards me, also in my lane. He casually dodged me too.
I had never driven in Mexico but I quickly discovered road signs such as speed limits are taken more as a challenge than as a directive. I practice due respect for proper lane usage but no one else seemed even slightly concerned about what lane they used or how they used it.
My intuition still said I was going to be fine if I stayed alert and kept going.
It was sunset when I reached Hermosillo. My inept Spanish was so rusty from lack of use I could barely remember how to request the bathroom. I definitely did not want to get lost in Hermosillo trying to follow the highway through the city. My emailed instructions said to stay with the truckers to correctly follow the route.
At the first red light I stopped. All the truckers ran the red light, leaving me sitting at the light without a solitary truck in sight.
The email had specified I turn left at that first light. When it went green I was horrified to be caught in the midst of two lanes of left turning cars merrily swapping lanes as we went through the intersection.
My rock solid certainty that I would be fine suddenly brought the utter absurdity of the situation into extreme focus. I began to laugh as I drove through Hermosillo with no particular idea how I would find my way out of town on the correct highway.
I discovered the slow down bumps in the road are large enough to rip the undercarriage out of a bus. They have to be, since that is the only thing that slows anyone down, including the bus drivers. Or perhaps especially the bus drivers.
The painted lines for the lane divisions were badly worn and could be seen only part of the time. I abandoned staying in my lane and busily worked at keeping my fenders intact. I drove just like everyone around me, so I was not too surprised when the center line appeared and I was totally on the wrong side of it. I quickly moved to the right side and no one even honked at me.
I saw wonderfully creative repairs and alterations to cars and trucks. My favorite was the unique turn signal on one old car. This improvised signal looked rather like a lollipop and the lights blinked round and round in a circle, spinning whichever way the driver intended to go. This lovely device was thoughtfully placed in front of the license plate, obscuring most of it.
I was still laughing as I found myself driving south out of town on the correct highway, a completely serendipitous occurrence.
By now dark had fallen. The highway was a good road but had only two narrow lanes with no shoulders. The buses blasted along at terrific speeds, usually in the middle of the road. I began to be thankful for each one of them that stayed in its lane as we went by each other.
By the time I arrived at Navajoa and left the main highway, a narrow winding road full of potholes and black cows seemed like a marvelous improvement. I could just drive slowly and not be killed.
I arrived at Alamos about 1 a.m. Still following my email instructions I actually located the green metal gate at the entrance to my friend’s compound. I did not want to wake anyone at that late hour but their dogs raised such an uproar Gia came to the gate and invited me to bring the van inside.
When she went back to bed, she told her husband I had safely made the drive in the dark. He was horrified. She said something about God protecting the innocent.
He replied, “Or the foolish! I am Mexican and I would not drive that at night!”
My nocturnal drive in Mexico was perhaps the most dramatic example of intuition combined with creative flow I have ever experienced in my life. As an artist I practice a strong creative energy flow in my work, but I would love to hold the exquisite razor edge balance I found in Mexico as a constant throughout my life.
Alas, I fall short. Still, the trip stands in my memory, a reminder of boundless possibilities. I shall continue to practice…
Copyright © Lexi Sundell 2007. All Rights Reserved.