We, along with Brett and Swenja’s truck named, Maybelline spent the next day driving through the mountains. We saw lots of military and at one point we saw them cock their guns excitedly and drive off at a rapid speed the same direction we were going –how comforting. Never the less, to avoid a traffic jam that afternoon we took an uncharted road to try and bypass the mess of cars. We obviously got lost and ended up in a little shack village. The village people gave us directions (Valerie and P.L were the only ones who could speak Spanish -thank God for them) and then picked us fresh grapefruits right off their trees, they brought out bags of tangerines for us, and even made us fish tacos. They wouldn’t accept any money, even though they were living amongst garbage in shack houses and holey clothing! We were all astounded by their generosity and good nature. After saying “gracias” about fifty thousand times we continued on. By late nightfall we were all exhausted from the hot hours in the car and pulled up to a random beach to set up our tents. Without asking anyone we drove on the beach and made camp. In the middle of the night a bunch of drunk people stormed to Valerie and P.L’s tent, waking them up to give them lots of free beer and joke with them.
Valerie, P.L, and the Maybelline crew finished the free beer in the morning and we soon realized that we were camping on owned resort beaches! We were sandwiched in between two fancy hotels, complete with rich guests and workers and vendors. Valerie, P.L, Fred, and I had chicken fights in the ocean, body surfed, and hung out with the Maybelline crew. It was amazing that no one ever asked us to move! It was like there was nothing out of the ordinary. Can you imagine what would happen if two car loads of Mexicans parked and set up camp on resort beaches in America? My God, they’d be arrested and stripped of their possessions! Mexico is fantastic –we all decided.
That day was Swenja and Valerie’s birthday. Brett rewrote the song, Heart of Gold into a love song for Swenja and we all sang it to her, and then happy birthday to the both of them on the beach while sipping coconut and (surprisingly) peanut liquor. It was magical.
Later, Brett and Swenja expressed that they wanted to stay on that beach for maybe a few days and explore Mexico more thoroughly instead of driving directly to the Rainbow Gathering. Itchy to get to Palenque, Fred, Valerie, P.L, and I decided to continue on by ourselves. And after talking to some locals we put our focus on seeing the El Tahin Ruins that were only an hour drive from our current location and then heading to Palenque.
Again, bitter sweetly we broke away from Brett, Adian, and Swenja with lots of hugs and promises to have our paths meet again and then we began driving towards El Tahin.
The drive was splendid! It was just the four of us driving through the beautiful green jungle mountains during a pink and orange sunset, belting reggae and classic rock songs that can break any language barrier. We joked and laughed and waved at everyone we passed –we let ourselves be young, wild, and excited; our joy spilling through the vessel of noise to the bewilderment of the Mexican population.
Oh yeah, gringos locos.
That night we set up camp in the parking lot of the ruins site, paying a night guard forty pesos so we could sleep there. And since the next day was Sunday we got into the ruin site for free. Things just kept getting better and better until they got freaking amazing.
The ruin site was like nothing I’ve ever seen before; the stone structures of ancient people, still standing tall were astonishing. Pride, history, and mystery engulfing the energy of the entire site, we four were the only people for the first couple hours of our visit. We saw the whole place and even went across the NO PASO rope and climbed up on the actual structures.
After we completed our self-guided tour through time we checked out the little museum they had inside. There were a few artifacts and information about the Mayan people, but the real interesting thing accrued when I ventured off on my own into the next room.
Suddenly a whole bunch of Mexican teenagers and adults were grabbing me and commanding me in Spanish, “photo, photo, photo!” Confused, I thought they all wanted me to take a group picture of all of them. No, no that wasn’t it they all wanted individual picture of themselves standing with arms around me. “Porque, porque” why, why I kept asking but I couldn’t understand their responses. Valerie found me explained why they all wanted pictures with me. Pelo rubio y ojos azul. Yup, not only did I have blonde hair but also blue eyes. This made me a celebrity, and in drastic need of a memorable photo.
We left the ruin site and drove through more mountains and villages and crossed the hundreds of awful speed bumps that are in every village. They use these thin but high cement speed bumps instead of stop signs or traffic lights to slow down cars when the main road goes through a village. Some are marked beforehand so that you can slow down but many are not. They perpetually messed up the car; with all the weight in our already low rider car, every speed bump consisted of a jolt and nasty scrape, followed by the sound of our muffler hitting the cement. It was absolutely horrible, they are called Topes in Spanish and honestly, just thinking of them makes my muscles tense.
We wound up in a little fiesta playa area on the ocean at sun down. A drunk guy insisted on buying Fred drinks even though he doesn’t drink alcohol and a local restaurant owner gave us the okay to set up camp on her property once her guests had left. After it got dark an old fisherman came up to us and showed us pictures of his family (no one knew what prompted the show and tell) and he brought us a full bag of fresh tangerines and oranges from his property. Yes, Mexican people are really this nice.
Fred decided to drive us the scenic way the next day. We passed through this amazing mountain village that had brightly colored houses, a sparkling river, animals running, and more –we were truly deep into Mexico! Far from the world of McDonalds and basic traffic laws. The high we were riding from the beauty of the village was short lived, for soon we were driving down the worst “road” yet. Slabs of concrete randomly poked out of the uneven dirt and gravel, pot holes everywhere that I’m pretty sure reached Taiwan, and huge sharp rocks scattered throughout the whole drive. We didn’t get out of second gear for over two hours. The poor car! But, we made it. I’m sure my gray hair from that drive will arrive any day now.
Valerie and P.L decided to buy us dinner to thank us for being so accommodating with their bicycles and simply to celebrate how much fun we were having. Have I mentioned how much I love these people? We spent all night eating amazing tacos, laughing, talking, and having a hilarious “couple therapy session” where we basically gave our partners shit. All four of us articulated what a special time this was in our lives and how happy we were that we had all met. Two couples totally in love with each other, travelling together with a taco toast to seal the deal. Mexican magic.