Welcome to Mexico and a Crackhead Trucker

Kelly woke me up somewhat early, this was the morning we would finally starting hitchhiking through Mexico. Our bags were packed, I had a separate yellow bag I was leaving with her family that they would bring to Phoenix for me to get later. In it I had things I wouldn't be using in Mexico like my laptop, phone, gloves and other little small things.

We had a little breakfast and were soon on the road, her brother in law gave us ride right up to the border by Nogales and we hopped out. We started walking along the road past some of the booths and buildings, no one seemed to care. Kelly wanted some kind of tourist card, so we found a small room to go in and asked a guy about it, he gave us some paper work to fill out. I'm still not sure why we did this, and we've since been told it's useless.

"We're in Mexico!", said a smiling Kelly, a phrase that would be echoed many times that day and further into the trip. We found the right road and got to walking down it, thumbing the odd car that would actually drive down it. Kelly went to explore behind a fence and some rocks, at this time a security van stopped and asked what I was doing, or if I was waiting for someone. I explained and he offered a ride as Kelly reappeared from behind the fence.

He took us 5 or 10 kilometers to a checkpoint which was as far as he could go, even this little stretch showed me the rolling hills with tightly packed houses and shacks, including the abandoned lone dwellings to the right side of the road he said we're illegally built. He dropped us off with the warning of bandits, we continued on.

We walked past the checkpoint by a line of parked trucks, a couple truckers started talking to us, or Kelly at least, my Spanish is not too good. Apparently they offered us a ride to Hermosillo, our next destination, but weren't leaving for 4 or 5 hours. We got a ride quickly anyhow when another truck stopped, but he just looped us around a little ways down the road, then off the exit and back into Nogales a bit. He also warned of bandits and let us out.

Kelly asked about where we were to a guy working and we started walking down the road, construction workers giving us interested looks and shouting things to us. Another truck stopped soon enough, and he was going a decent distance. My lack of Spanish left me mostly watching the scenery pass by and hearing an occasional translation from Kelly. We passed through some more checkpoints, one of which we had to briefly get out for the cab of the truck to be searched, it only took a minute. We went further, seeing pickup trucks loaded with heavily armed police of some sort in back, and the various towns that went by.

He let us out when he forked in the road towards wherever he was going, we walked through the small town of Imuris, catching the attention of many people along the road. We walked past the main part of town and around a big bend in the road, then a minivan pulled over and let us in. "Gringos, I haven't seen that for a while", he slightly chuckled, his name was Bill. We cleared off the seats and put the stuff near his wheelchair. He was originally from the US, but met a girl down in Mexico and got married. He said he didn't speak Spanish for the first 2 years of his marriage, she still doesn't speak English, "No fights for the first 2 years!", he laughed.

We stopped for a bathroom break, Kelly and I went into a diner bathroom while he just stayed in the car, being disabled he had a rig to pee there, "I don't care if you stay in the car or not, I'm not embarrassed anymore about these things. People have seen me completely naked, I used to mind it, not anymore".

He was going all the way to Hermosillo, we had a couchsurfer set up there. As we got closer Bill used had a phone we used to call Rafael, our host, he told us where to meet him and Bill said he'd take us right there. He stopped again for a bathroom break, Kelly and I just sat in the back this time while he took a leak into whatever bottle or tube he had, and soon enough we arrived in the city of Hermosillo.

Bill took us to the fish taco place where Rafael was, once there he gave us his phone number saying he'd take us out for dinner or beers that night or the next, or even give us a place to stay if we needed it. He exchanged our US dollars for us into Pesos too, 13 Pesos to the dollar plus a little extra.

We went over and met Rafael, it turns out he owned the place, Pescadito, and in fact had started a franchise with it, there were several in town. He set us both up with a couple tacos and horchata, a rice milk drink that's pretty tasty. We sat and ate the tacos with him and talked a bit, they were incredibly good and a great welcome to Mexico. He was extremely friendly and outgoing, we were glad to have arrived.

He was just closing the shop, he explained that many taco places close around 2:30, but he had some errands to do now too. His first stop was the Cocacola offices, "12 years ago they wouldn't even see me, no they're coming to me", he told us. He served Pepsi at his Pescaditos, but coke wanted him now and he was considering it since Pepsi had just changed management and fired all the employees that he'd been happily dealing with before. Kelly and I sat in the waiting room for a short while until he was done with his meeting. He made a stop at the mall to pay a water bill and was done with everything, food was on his mind now.

We went to a restaurant he said he liked and he ordered some food, sharing some with us even though we'd just had the fish tacos from his place. This food was good too, steak and tortillas with great salsas. We got in the car and headed back top his house, halfway there he realized he'd left his phone at the restaurant, we went back to get it only to discover it wasn't there, likely stolen by one of the waiters. He was a bit upset, not because of the cheap phone being gone, but the action of a waiter stealing from him, something he said would never happen at the Pescadito. He told us about a woman who'd left an envelope of cash, and they held on to it for 2 or 3 weeks and she actually came back looking for it, of course extremely happy that they still had it.

We relaxed at his place for a bit watching cheesy music videos, Kelly and I took hits off one of the three flasks we had filled. Rafael's friend came by and we got to talking, again mostly Kelly got to talking, he didn't speak much english nor I spanish. Between Rafael and Kelly being bilingual it worked out.

We went to the corner store and picked up some beers, after a few cans each they wanted to show us a bar on this first night of our trip to Mexico. We drove to the bar as Rafael pointed out things along the way in Hermosillo. As we walked in we were somewhat of a spectacle, I hadn't seen a blonde head of hair all day, so I stuck out a bit. We got big glasses of Indio, a dark beer that was pretty tasty. A red headed girl kept her eyes and eerie smile on me the whole night, a tall guy nearby kept a similar lock on Kelly. We were having a lot of fun, drink after drink, it didn't seem to stop.

An older man tapped my shoulder, he grinned at me with scattered teeth and began speaking mostly in spanish with bits of english excited to see where I was from, he was very drunk. He started singing Mexico's national anthem, when he was done with that we began the first part of the US national anthem, rolling his waiving hand at me to get me to sing it, I sang part of it through the laughter, Kelly and all were watching and laughing.

The man kept singing and talking to me, then walking away, then coming back, I kept drinking. Kelly disappeared in the bathroom for a bit, she couldn't keep up with the pace, but was having a great time anyhow. After one more round, we were out the door, the red head and I shared a look on the way out, hers of somewhat frustration, mine a drunken grin.

We landed at Rafael's friend's house and opened more beers, Kelly went and passed out on a couch shortly. I talked to Rafael outside for a while, his friend's dogs ran around and played frantically around us. At last he decided to call a taxi back to his place, we woke up Kelly and headed home where we quickly passed out.

We showered late in the morning and headed for the car with our bags, we were to hitchhike south. First though, Rafael took us out for some food at a little place, it smelled incredible walking in, the decorations on the wall were strange though, like a picture frame featuring a real dead squirrel spray painted green. We got a meaty stew and tacos, all kinds of great salsas and onions and other things to go along with it.

We made a brief stop in front of one of his Pescaditos to say goodbye to his friend from the night before, then he dropped us off at the gas station on the far end of town. We started thumbing under the hot sun just past the station. A truck that had been parked pulled up and stopped where we were, Kelly spoke to him and he said he was going all the way to Mexico City, about 1,800 kilometers away, we hopped in of course. We had a place to stay in Obregon, a city two or three hundred kilometers away, but we decided we should just get as far as we might as well take advantage of this long ride and get deep into Mexico right away, although this would prove to be sketchiest ride I've ever gotten.

The driver didn't speak an inch of english, and his spanish was a bit rough even for Kelly to understand completely. He didn't talk a lot anyhow, so we cruised down the road enjoying the ride, me in the passenger seat and Kelly on the bed in back. He made the first of what would be a lot of stops, this time at a small truck stop where he wanted to shower. We headed under the shade of the gas station while we waited for him, Kelly got us a couple little chocolate bar kind of things.

He whistled to us from across the lot and we headed back to the truck, we sat in the truck for a good while, he was on the phone and futzing with tools and things. After a good while we were driving down the road again. He took a wrong turn and we had to back track 10 or 20 minutes, but were on the right road again and going. He would stop pretty frequently along the road and get out, I was never sure what he was doing. At times he would drive unnecessarily slowly, less than half the speed limit, and for short bursts he'd cruise and pass everyone he could.

After nightfall we stopped at a gas station and he pointed at a hotdog stand where we could get food. Kelly bought a few hotdogs, they were covered in all sorts of things, like cheese, salsa, mushrooms and more, very good. The beady eyed trucker came over with a cup of coffee and Kelly gave him one to munch on too. We got some drinks in the gas station while the trucker wandered around, Kelly told me he said he was looking for candy or cookies, but later she found she mixed two similar words in Spanish and he'd actually been looking for pills.

Just up the road we hit the city of Obregon, he pulled into some back parking lots and stopped again at a mechanic. Something must have been wrong with the cooling unit on the back of the truck, some guys and him were working on it for a while, he was hauling tomatoes back there. An hour went by and we at last got on the road again. It wasn't long until we stopped again, this time for him to fuel up. He ran into a friend there who was driving for the same company, we stayed there a while too.

We drove into the night, Kelly was passed out in the back, I nodded in and out of sleep as he made his frequent stops to wander out of the truck for a few minutes or more at a time. We took one dirt road where he again went incredibly slow as trucks and cars passed us, he did it to save money by not taking the toll road.

At last the light of the morning came, just before sunrise, he pulled over near a gas station and stood outside his truck getting the attention of guys biking and walking by. I overheard "marijuana", and he seemed to turn that down. After a couple more interactions like this he was back in the truck and began crushing something up in his hands. He loaded a pipe, a light bulb, and began heating it up, then went towards the back of the truck away from the windows and began to smoke, it was crack. He took a good many hits, 9 or 10 abouts, Kelly didn't budge despite him kneeling on the bed a bit, she was well passed out. He stopped smoking and he started shaking back and forth a bit over her, I though he might be jerking off or something, but couldn't be sure, it didn't last more than a minute or so though and back in the driver seat firing up the truck again, off we went.

Kelly woke up shortly after the truck started moving again, we were out of the desert and into vast green rolling hills, she told me it looked like Guatemala. The beautiful drive went on for a while, I saw my first agave plants too, this drive was of course not without the truckers strange pit stops. Eventually we hit Mazatlan and I got my first brief glimpse of a Mexican beach as we went over a bridge.

We made a stop in another back parking lot where he again told us to get some food if wanted, as we pulled into the truck stop there were guys jumping on the truck holding on and asking him things while he turned them down. He was loading some tomatoes in a pickup truck in what seemed like some sort of sketchy side deal, Kelly and I headed to the nearby market where we got ice cream and apples. I told her about the crack smoking session she'd slept through, she didn't believe me at first, then lightly punched me several times for not waking her up while she was getting clam baked with crack and possibly masturbated on. We laughed about the ridiculousness of the situation as we sat and waited, our crack head driver who didn't sleep.

We kept on driving, stopping and driving, passing through little towns, villages and cities looking colorful and rundown at times, but mostly bustling with people. Every traffic light was lined with people walking through the cars selling food, drinks and trinkets.

At another stop Kelly passed me a note, it said that her extra money and camera were gone from her bag, the clear assumption being that the trucker had snagged it at one point when we left the truck one of the times. We decided to stay in the truck, as opposed to just leaving the ride, and that she would confront him about it when we arrived in Mexico City.

More and more driving, through patches of rain, beautiful scenery, big and small agave plants and onward towards the heart of Mexico at the slow and spotty pace of our thieving crack head trucker. He'd take a hit every now and then as we went along to keep it up. We reached Tepic, at a gas station he open the hood and sprayed things down. Just outside of town, he stopped in another parking lot along the road where a couple mechanics were working on a truck, he waited his turn. Kelly and I walked around a bit, there were tiny statues in a sort of outdoor museum nearby that weren't too interesting.

We waited in the truck, it was nightfall now, the trucker and a mechanic stoop up working on the engine, Kelly and I laughed and the whole thing. We each took a sip from the flask I'd dug up in Tucson, it had a strong taste of rust or corrosion, probably the effect of sitting buried beneath the arizona sun for almost a year.

After more than an hour we rolling again, Kelly sleeping, me nodding in and out of the same up front. We came into the city of Guadalajara pretty late and kept rolling. Passing through an intersection a girl on the side of the road was waiving her hand straight up the air frantically, I'd find this was a common hitchhiking gesture, he stopped for her and I hopped in back with Kelly. That girl got out just down the road, she seemed uncomfortable. Soon he picked up another girl and took her a little ways, I was mostly passed out in a strange position against my bag in the back.

Come morning we pulled into a place along the freeway with many vendors with food, he took a strong hit from his crack light bulb as Kelly and I got out and grabbed a bite to eat. He opened the back of his truck and was giving away tomatoes to different people I'm not sure he knew or not. He'd told Kelly his boss was going to give him a bonus if he got to Mexico City by 4am, it was well past that now, but I wondered how his boss would feel about these side deals with his tomato cargo. I also thought it was funny that he was smoking crack in order to stay awake and keep driving, when all he did was make ridiculous stops and drive painfully slow at times. If he'd drove normally, he could have taken some naps and not smoked a bunch of crack.

When we were getting back on our way he took one last pull from his crack pipe, as we were pulling out he tossed the light bulb out the window and let it shatter on the pavement, we pulled on to the freeway again... and stopped a couple kilometers up again. He bought something in the store and we were rolling again, getting close to Mexico City finally.

He picked up a red headed girl hicthhiking, I moved to the back again and caught some more sleep. When he dropped her off, we were just 50 kilometers from the city. The traffic got pretty heavy as we rolled in, he bought a few ice pops for us from a vendor at a red light. At last we were a decent part of the city, at another red light he let us out. Kelly quickly confronted him about the money and camera, she'd brought it up earlier in the context of "have you seen my stuff", but now was essentially accusing him. He seemed offended and there wasn't anything we could do anyhow, we hopped out and he drove on.

It had been quite the ride and a long one at that, about 48 hours with the truck. We'd had a great welcoming to Mexico though in Hermosillo, and were now in the heart of things in Mexico City ready for whatever was next.

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