Our venture “off belay” had been full of memorable adventures strung down the Western Coast of the United States. But driving across the border into Mexico, although seamless, marked the point in which adventure became a constant state of existence for the first time.
Through our preparation the tales of Mexico, typically of a second-hand nature, relayed by friends and other individuals in the states has much of the time bordered on the sensational. There is no need to repeat these stories but they paint our neighbors to the South as existing in a lawless “Wild West” that seemingly disregards basic human decency and respect. From our experiences over the past thousand plus miles nothing could be farther from the truth. We have seen almost as many smiles from the Mexicans we’ve interacted with as cactuses up until this point. Everyone is helpful with directions, they allow us to borrow their cell phones when we need to make a local call and an auto mechanic charged three auto batteries for free when we were in need of a helping hand. Military check points, of which we have now passed through five, were also a common point of trepidation among individuals in the States lending FOAF (friend of a friend) accounts of Mexico to us. Once again lots of smiles, the same scripted questions and a friendly wave are the only thing fired our direction from the sun burned Mexican soldiers manning their roadside posts.
By no means are we saying that we are being caviler as we cross the countryside of Mexico. There are certain risks where ever you travel and we have chosen a route for the time being that is under the control of one Narco Cartel which eliminates the likelihood of being caught between two rival gangs gunning it out in the streets.
But if the truth is to be told there is one thing to be wary if not afraid of in Mexico and it is called a Tope. What is this you ask? You have undoubtedly seen their little brothers at your local grocery store or in your neighborhood school zone. But this is the big brother that you’ve likely never met. Take your conception of an ordinary speed bump and multiply it by four. Then place it in the middle of a major highway with little to know warning of its upcoming presence. Driving at full speed with the sun focused just above the instrument panels in a loaded down overland vehicle toward one of these suspension flattening traps is indeed frightening and more worth writing home about!