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"NAFTA has, 'mongst whatever else, thrown another 1 or 200,000 trucks and real ones this time, not just 40 mile-an-hour junksters, but monster American Kenilworths and Macks.."
- Kirk Stephan

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Mexico

Expected the unexpected in Mexico
by Kirk Stephan, Iowa, USA
Dec 18, 1999

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Mexico Travel Guide  Travel Stories in the Americas  Mexican Webcams  Mexico Profile  Map of Mexico

I out did myself in this travel report on Northern Mexican highways, right up to and including the sound of broken glass, ambulance and highway patrol sirens and not forgetting the inner workings of a hospital in a small high- plains desert town.

Besides the 5-hour wait in line at Mexican Customs the only thing unique about entering the country this year was the proliferation of new American trucks bombing alongside me as I avoided the very expensive toll roads and stuck to the "ordinary" ones. I wanted to wire Seattle to give them this new ammunition for their demonstrations against the World Trade Organization - NAFTA has, 'mongst whatever else, thrown another 1 or 200,000 trucks and real ones this time, not just 40 mile-an-hour junksters, but monster American Kenilworths and Macks, barrel-a..ing down the road at 80 mph, onto the same highways that for years have just barely handled the regular traffic. At least I was making darn good time, bumper-to-bumper almost with these monoliths, never getting under 65...

I was making such good time that after Saltillo (about 4 hours from the border at Laredo) I'd begun looking for a campsite for the evening. I still had 1/4 tank of gas yet and I wasn't anxious to buy my first, way-more-expensive tank here. The only "civilization-stop" on this desert, however, turned out to be a gas station so I pulled in. I got a pop at the little snack shack next door and stared out upon the desert with the sun getting low off to my right. Since a local was standing nearby I decided to ask him how far the next gas station actually was.

"Como un ciento setenta-cinco"(175 kilometers) he answered, making me feel decidedly lucky that I'd asked, since I would certainly have run out of fuel down the line there, nothing but desert in all directions.

Filled up and on the road again I kept my eyes peeled for the spot I wanted, somewhere a tad higher up, with a view of this incredible terrain. The sky was beginning to pink and purple out so I slowed a bit, not to miss what I sought, a side-road leading up to the low hills on the left.

Then I saw it, a stretch of pretty white gravel, one-lane path going just where I wanted to be, above and beyond this highway with its traffic sounds and fume-smells.

I pulled to a stop on a fair siding and waited til the some 10 or 12 semi's whooshed by me before attempting the left turn across the busy 2-lane...

Little did Kirk know what was to happen the next day..

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