They are burning the land in Nayarit to prepare it. Large plumes of black smoke fill the sky and then are swept into the white wisps hiding the sun. The road winds between wide lush valleys, foothills to mountains, the horizon ends where green meets the blue.
“We’re not making good time today,” Brad proclaims. But time makes itself and we follow it. Nothing has stayed consistent, not the landscape, not the road, not the hours, we keep losing them as we head South and East. It is foolish to even measure progress, but I tell him we’re doing fine.
Leaving Mazatlan was the maze that killed the mouse with all its detours, craters full of steel, cement, overpasses, widening and thinning roads, people as extensions of all the rubble. In the morning we saw the sun rise over the Golf of California, saw the mist over the ocean as the heat inland was pulled towards it and a few pedestrians ventured the cold, rough waters. Outside the sleepy tourist town barely opened its doors at 9 AM as we wandered around looking for our one big meal of the day.
The Sierra Madre Occidental frames the East and we continue to push South and then inland towards Guadalajara. The tolls don’t go under $61 pesos ($5.30 USD); the highest was the one to Tepic, $171 pesos ($14.86 USD). Lovely road, but can’t say I’ve ever paid that much for a toll road outside of Mexico for a 150 KM stretch. It explains the emptiness of the roads and the sporadic Federales, federal police, who randomly pick speeders. A joke really when we’re all more than the 100 KM per hour speed limit, over by at least 30 more kilometers.
I get lost in the terrain and my foot slips off the pedal dropping my speed below the 80 MPH –Brad’s requisite measurement for our progress. He tries not to say anything, but the silence says it all. We are not making good time because of you. It’s true, I forget destinations. The journey gives me peace. I have learned this, there’s nothing like a 3,300 mile road trip to test a marriage, over and over again.
We reach Tepic, population 336, 413. Really? Jalisco awaits and so does the four-lane freeway with triple digit tolls. We’re talking four-lane freeways of unbroken lovely new asphalt, no Federales, no topes, no towns, no nothing to stymie this forward catapult.
Pedal to the metal and Brad hits 80-85-90 MPH while I doze off. Between waking I see the steep red canyons of the Sierra Madre and they’ve swallowed us completely in their folds. We’ left the coast and it hurts me to be that far from the water. We’ve entered Central Mexico: Aguascalientes, San Luis Potosi, Guanajuato, Queretaro, Hidalgo, León, D.F. The rains descend upon us washing away the insect corpses splattered against our windshield. Rains, thunder, and rumbling from the Gods.