I reached the Mexican border by the grace of two Guatemalan truckers.
The first was an outgoing family man, talkative, at the end of his shift, who dropped me at strategic intersection of comedors and rumbling trucks heading towards the Mexican border about 20 km distant.
There I was picked up by the second trucker. He was about 70 and unstable, both mentally and at the wheel. He talked the entire 30 minutes to the border, and with such an accent that I caught barely any of it. I eventually told him point blank that I could not understand his way of speaking, but he acted as if he hadnt heard me. He said¨power¨a lot and pointed at his temple or his bicep, so I inferred he was talking about force of mind and body, and perhaps he spoke wisely. Probably not though. Too repetetive.
He did have strong arms, however. Three or 4 times during our time together, he said something about force, slapped his shoulder, scowled over at me, and reached his hand out to shake mine. When I shook it he quickly and, yes, forcefully pulled me towards him, just like the old Donald Trump handshake. He would then turn his attention back to the road and say something with an air of wisdom and conclusivity, and he would stop talking for the count of one deep breath. Perhaps he thought himself a road sensai, dispensing wisdom to a young hitchhiker. Or he was proving how weak gringos are. I really could understand nothing.
I havent heard such an accent since. That man was definitely slurring. Not an accent. Trucker off the wagon.
Walking into Mexico was a breeze though – no hassle about me being American – although they had two scowling customs agents checking bags after the regular customs line. These guys were serious. It reminded me of home, of TSA agents staring me down, probing my orifices with their X-ray, demanding I untie my shoes…
The first Mexican bag checker smelled my bag. She seemed satisfied. I felt a wave of relief at having ditched (smoked) the last of my weed just before the border. I also felt pretty baked. The second agent took my bag and demanded to know if I had any fruit or produce. Whoa, fruit? Not the question I expected. What was the correct answer here? No, I said, I didnt think so, and then I remembered – maybe I still had a mango. ¨Quizas un mango o algo asi.¨ He squinted at me for a moment, then handed me my bag and I was officially free in Mexico. I did have that mango, by the way.
So now I walked into Mexico through this bordertown with 24-hour comedors and iding trucks lining the sidewalks. Classic bordertown that you want to get the hell out of.
Minutes later, and I mean minutes, a compact sedan pulled over with 4 passengers, and I kind of protested, pointing at my bag, but they popped the trunk for the bag and I slid in the back with a Mexican family.
The driver, a gentle seeming boy of about 20 in a Lakers hat, was speaking English to me, though his grandmother in the passenger seat clearly spoke none. I think she was proud to hear him speak English. His brothers sat next to me squished in the back.
They were very concerned about my hitching through Mexico, and when it came time for them to turn, they invited me over to lunch, and I ended up at their house having delicious traditional Mexican food. Soon they were speaking Spanish together and it was decided that Lakers Hat boy would give me a ride a further 30 minutes to Tapachula. They then wrote down a series of cities I should try to travel through – any others could be dangerous. And they gave me a shirt of the local soccer team.
Funny enough – my next ride came from two men in an old pickup truck, and they offered to take me to Tonala, one of the cities on my friends list. My good fortune did not last, though, as it began to rain, lightly at first, and then in cold fat pellets. I was in the back of the pickup. I buttressed myself against the cab of the truck… the faster we went, the less rain hit me. I covered my big pack, I scrambled to cover my ukulele with my waterproof bag. I… still got soaked. Everytime we slowed down I was simply rained on, and until now, for the last 5 months, I have not owned a rain jacket. Just a deteriorating, super thin poncho. I was now sporting a large trash bag converted to poncho via the three necessary holes.
Well, arriving in Tonala, I quickly found a hotel, liked the price, and realized I had zero Mexican pesos, and the woman wanted to be paid, so I left my bags, walked into the centro, used the ATM, and, still wet, returned to the hotel.
I sat in the lobby, having a snack, decompressing, glancing at the soccer she was watching on TV. Or rather, her grandson, across from me, was watching from the couch. The woman inquired some typical why-is-a-gringo-here questions, and then she turned to her grandson and gestured at me: ¨I think this is Jesus walking through our door. He even looks just like him!¨
I thanked her for her compliment. Could she tell that I was focusing my life lately on spreading love and truth, just as Jesus had? Or did I just look like Jesus? Because, let me tell you, I look a shitload like Jesus paintings right now. That part was easy – there was a giant Jesus painting in the lobbyway.
So I made it to Mexico. I was helped by a beautiful family who immediately took me in. I rode through the rain in a pickup (but then laughed ecstatically and triumphantly as the rain passed and I watched the lightning storm continue just a few kilometers to our South. And, arriving in a strange town after dark, I found the tranquil hotel where I broke bread with a motherly woman, a woman who compared me to Jesus, as her grandson checked his phone.
It was all good so far, but…
Next up: Day 2 in Mexico: Buying weed from a tuktuk driver, Encountering immigration patrol, and finally finding a long ride.