October 9, 2008.
The early morning customs in a small town was pleasant and easy.
Once inside Mexico, I had no map of this small town, I did not even know itâ€™s name, and still donâ€™t. I just knew that I needed Hwy 2 east. First I found a bank and withdrew some money and then wandered the city. After taking some wrong turns, I found the main street and followed that south.
In this small town, and later in other towns, the stop signs (alto) are at seemingly random corners. Two streets meet in a t-junction, and only two have a stop sign, but which two? The signs are small and almost invisible until right at the intersection. And there are no markings on the road. The fun part are the drivers who are piling up behind you, because they know which intersection has a stop sign and which doesnâ€™t. I found myself pulling into parking spaces every couple blocks to let the cars and trucks past.
Which is strange for me, because I am normally the one speeding along passing everyone.
Finding Hwy 2 was easy because it cut straight through the town in an east west direction, and I headed left or east.
At my first traffic light a truck pulled up next to me. It was painted flat dark green and was an American full size Chevy pick-up truck.
There was a tubular structure surrounding the open truck bed, like a roll cage for a racecar. Standing in the back of the truck, with a rifle slung across his back, and his hands resting lightly on the large black tripod mounted machine gun, was a man in a military uniform.
I guess Iâ€™m not in the United States any more.
Out on the open road, high desert scrub brush, with views for miles and low mountains in the distance. The speed limit on the small two-lane road is 80 kph (52 mph) and I was happily puttering along at 55 mph looking at the scenery on this deserted road. Soon a dark blue Chevy Tahoe with California plates passed me, speeding into the distance.
Two minutes later there was a car slowing down from the opposite direction. As I got close enough to realize it was a police car (the same as the American police cars), the lights suddenly spun on the roof.
I was going too fast to stop before passing him, so I slowed down and went past still slowing. The police car did a U turn. There was no shoulder so I continued on slowly with my bike on the edge of the road. The police car quickly throttled past and down the road.
Ten minutes later I passed the police car on the side of the road, with the blue Chevy Tahoe sitting in front of it.
At the military checkpoint the officer smiled as he stopped me. He looked in his early twenties, with the top button of his green shirt unbuttoned and no rifle over his shoulder. He asked where I was going I said Mexico City and then corrected myself with Ciudad de Mexico. I unzipped one of the saddlebags when he asked and he looked quickly at the towel and toiletries. Never putting his hand on the luggage. He asked in some mime and some Spanish where I was from, I told him Los Angeles, which I pronounced like an American. And he said quietly under his breath the Spanish pronunciation.
The checkpoint guard smiled again and looked a the bike and looked at me and said Ciudad de Mexico quietly and I thought he was going to say something about me being loco, but he just waved me on.
A short time later, by the side of the road was a dead cow with three black feathered/red necked buzzards sitting quietly on the dead body.
At the next checkpoint the guard asked for my papers and we had another similar stuttered conversation, and he said something I did not understand and then I realized he said 750 in Spanish. He was pointing out how large the engine was on my motorcycle, which is printed on the side cover of the bike. I looked confused not knowing what he was trying to say, but he put his hand next to the throttle and pretended to move the throttle while saying no. He was telling me NOT to go fast and pointed to the speedometer and the little 80 KPH notch right next to the 50 MPH line. Follow the speed limit was his message. I smiled with a Si, Si, and puttered down off the road.
I was cruising along at 55 MPH on an exact similar two-lane road. There was no shoulder, the edges of the road ended abruptly with a one-foot drop off and a barbed wire fence. Beyond the barbed wire were now intermittent fields growing nothing.
I watched an 18-wheeler truck gain on me quickly. He must be going 70. I sped up, 60, 65, 70 and still he gained. The grill of the truck was getting larger and larger in my tiny mirrors. Ahead was a long straight section of road, with no oncoming cars. I let off the throttle and the truck roared past, with the wind buffeting the bike.
I let the truck gain a short distance, and then throttled up again, I followed his lead, at 70 mph, down the road.
So much for keeping to the speed limit.
Six miles before entering Mexico, my bike turned over 65,000 miles.