Travel Blog 14: Still Adjusting
Real de Catorce is known as one the most spiritual, legendary locations in all of Mexico. It’s the mountain village where ghosts interact with humans.
Entering the village requires a 14 mile cobblestone road that skirts along cliffs, where I didn’t surpass 15 miles per hour. Finishing at a long narrow tunnel, it took Blaze and I well over two hours to reach the special environment. Steep streets of more than 45 degree slopes really test the brakes of all cars. There is little room for error as cliffs equal serious damage. I found a parking spot, which brushed along the edge of an unsurvivable cliff. The hilly town has a unique quality felt immediately upon entering. Searching for food, I bumped into Mark on the street corner with a half drunken bottle of wine in his hand. He is a Texan that has been living in Mexico for over twenty years, currently staying in a cell block room for $50 USD/month. The self proclaimed alcoholic provided conversation in English, a tour of the magical landscape, and introduced me to gorditas, the food that would become a staple in my life. I learned about nopales (cactus that is great for the stomach), picadillo (a meat and vegetable combination), and the various options of carne (meat products) that Mexicans seem to love so much. At an elevation of over 9,000 feet, I watched Mark polish off his bottle of wine and two beers before I left at 3:00pm. I genuinely appreciate the interaction we shared and his ability to stay level-headed during our time together. His final words, “The way you travel, and live life, you’re going to see Mexico and the world better than anyone. I love your home-on-wheels. I love your motivation. I am happy I got to meet you. Just knowing you exist fills my heart with warmth. Travel well young man! Don’t ever let the bottle get in the way. Enjoy the beach!”
Leaving Real de Catorce, adventure took over my mind. Rather than follow every other car back through the tunnel and irritatingly long cobblestone road, I took the 7 mile Jeep Tour route. There are no public vehicles on this road. It’s no wonder why. Blaze was bouncing on rocks, nearly perpendicular to the cliff along our left. I pressed the brakes intensely hard that I could smell burning as we were sliding down the steep terrain. There was no turning back. We were in it.
Bouncing on cobblestones at 5 miles/hour gave me fear that we’d either pop a tire, slide off the cliff, or lose control to slam into the Jeep tour that brings tourists up and down this horrifying road. Instead, 8 miles later, we reached pavement and received an ovation from locals watching our journey down the mountain that they never see “regular vehicles” embark on. I pulled over to look up at the wild mountain that Blaze just fully conquered. A motorbike pulled up with a smile on his face to say, “Estás loco. Muy bien señor!” I couldn’t help but smile big and wide as my heart pumped with adrenaline. I pulled up to the next gas station, gave Blaze a body-scan, and continued to the next adventure.
Little did I know that next adventure would be a long, quiet, desolate road where potholes, train tracks, and only cowboys would use. I had those nerves of “Am I about to encounter the bad people in Mexico?” I am so proud to say that every single person I saw smiled and waved as if I was their neighbor passing along the road. That night I decided to get a hotel to avoid the cold morning. Unfortunately for me, the room didn’t have a heater and the bathroom window was broken off so I wound up being colder in the room than I’d been in Blaze. The most expensive hotel in town, at $24, gave me safe parking and two extra blankets to get through the night.
Aiming for the city of San Luis Potosí, a mistake in navigation turned an easy two hour drive into an extensive tour of villages in the middle of nowhere. Potholes were once again the focus of my life. Climbing over unnecessary hills made my entrance into the big city even less enthused. Luckily, I found the hotel zone that would house me for two nights to take a breather.
On my first full day, I walked right into the part of town I probably don’t want to walk in. A few guys gave me looks and words that initiated an eerie feeling. Reaching the plaza, I felt a change. A guy eating tacos announced that he speaks English. We talked, leading to him giving me a tour of the city. It turns out this man is the head television news anchor and granted me access into buildings that are closed down for covid. We walked the roads, talking about travel and life in general. We were both heavily benefited by this encounter!
Enjoy all your encounters.