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Published: April 4th 2015
We've travelled a fair few miles since our last blog post. Leaving Puerto Penasco by bus we headed to Hermosillo. According to wikipedia, there's not a lot going for Hermosillo. An industrial town in Sinaloa it sprawls across the desert and is a through-town. Indeed, when we arrived locals asked us bemusedly why we had stopped for longer than a night in the city. Well wikipedia, you haven't had the joy of staying with Miguel, an enthusiastic couchsurfing host who likes to share the secret gems of his city. This is what made our stay in Hermosillo; the nighttime bike ride through the city with 100+ locals, sound systems and chatting along the way. The concert of local music by school,university and local guitar players. The trip to San Pedro, seeing the culture of horse riding and rearing out in the desert. Three days was a good amount of time and highlighted again the joys for us of Couchsurfing and the hope that those we've stayed with will head to the UK to see the joys of our fine city. However, one of the things that Couchsurfing has meant during our recent stays is we haven't had the opportunity to get
lost or make mistakes (to which we had become quite accustomed to in India and Nepal). The level of hospitality has meant Spanish has been spoken/practised little and we've known where we were heading at all times. Some of this has also been on our part; perhaps resting on our laurels a little as we settle into the country as it opens up. So, we felt ready to really put ourselves out there in a different way; we stuck our thumbs out and waited to hitch a ride. This time,unlike in the US, we were clear about the popular roads to stand on and we had no back-up plan of a bus. This had to work.
Starting in Los Mochis heading down to Mazatlan (a large, popular city with our favourite beach so far- the waves were fantastic and we got slightly battered into rocks as we threw ourselves into the warm but fierce waves). In Los Mochis we stood at a large petrol station, gunning for a huge truck. Glen felt nervous, I felt determined; we both hesitated to start. And then we began. 'Vas a Mazatlan?' was the phrase of the day and after an hour of
standing in 37 degree heat approaching truck drivers, we had success. Jose was driving to Culiacan so could give us a lift halfway. We strapped up the stuff and climbed into his truck which was carrying straw for his brother's cows. We later learnt the juddering vehicle was 27 years old and prior to this 4 day round trip, had only been to work in the fields. It had probably never got above 3rd gear. It was being tested to its limits and Jose had his work cut out for him. Jose spoke English which he casually told us he picked up in prison while doing time for drug-related crime in the US some years previous. He also had a penchant for cool, fizzy beer while driving (not the first time we've found this in Mexico so far). I declined the offer of a beer at 10am. Driving for 4 days- we are learning from our time with truck drivers- generally means about 20 hours driving a day with a couple of hours sleep if they're lucky and a stop or two for tyre checking and refills. Humans are not machines and this isn't achievable naturally. It turned out Jose's
glamorous assistant to help him stay focused on the road was cocaine. I saw him buy something from the petrol attendant before we left. Being in a different form to what I knew (in pill form, to then be crushed), I turned a blind eye. Jose was happy to share his coke too- he was very open- and took the declines from us in his stride. Needless to say, the 4 hour journey was talkative, revealing and highly enjoyable. He taught us some slang, drove with a focus I've rarely seen before and dropped us off at another big gas station, to continue down to Mazatlan. No truck drivers so far would accept money for the journey and all have been as amenable as Jose (though other truck drivers chomp legal amphetamines instead it seems). Our next truck was very different; a young man with no English, we had two great hours gesticulating, learning about each other and laughing. Omar showed us photos of his family and ate bugs to calm his heart (he had a box of live bugs in his truck), and another driver i named 'la cantante' sang Mexican songs Pavarotti-style at full volume for 7 hours.
The trucks are these men's homes; the ones we've been in have been spotless, held with pride and have dreamcatchers over their small cabin beds. They honk each other, stop in specific places to chat to the women or each other, have different light flashes for different messages and alert each other to traffic police. Glen and i have unsaid codes between us that mean we can turn down lifts or ask to get out if we feel scared- these haven't been needed so far. A community I'm only just learning about and seeing how truck drivers and hitchhikers live on the road, it's a beautiful thing.
Tomorrow we leave the beautiful town of Guanajuato. We arrived from hitchhiking yesterday after fulfilling a dream of mine- hitching a lift in the back of a pick-up truck. The woman driving will never know how much it meant to me- I yelled 'muchos gracias!' as we jumped out to which she shouted back 'de nada!' as she sped away. Having nowhere arranged to stay we quickly realised all hostels were booked up for big Easter celebrations, as were all hotels and most couchsurfing hosts were out of town for the holiday.
We started looking for a safe place to lay down for the night and planned to hitchhike out when dawn broke. Out of nowhere we ran into a Russian woman we met in Los Mochis,hundreds of kilometres away. She was staying with a couchsurfing host, she said. He was super laid back, she said. Come back with me you can stay too, she said. Moro opened his couch and home to us at 11pm at night. 'While you're here, this is your home. Shower, eat, drink, watch something, come and go as you like' he said. And we felt at home, watching Mexican music videos with Valentina, Carlos and Moro. Next stop: Mexico City.
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