Hitch to Xalapa, Waterfalls, Good People and Drunken Cards

Parties, pyramids and general exploration in the heart of Mexico left Kelly feeling slightly off-centered, maybe a pinch sick, but both of us had a sense of happiness and readiness for the rest of our adventure. This particular morning we were in Puebla, ready to go, waiting for our host to get back from work so we could take off. In the meantime, we were sending out messages to couchsurfers in Veracruz and Xalapa, the next closest cities. I couldn't find a mirror, but shaved my growing beard by the reflection in the stove and snagged a shower.

Our host got back, vigorously trying to convince Kelly that hitchhiking was a bad idea and we should take a bus. I could only understand words like "peligorsa", dangerous, and "policia" in his fit of spanish, Kelly looked at me for another opinion, the opinion she had, that we'd be fine. He at last told us which bus we could take to get to the freeway, continuing with his warnings.

The bus he had us get on went west across town to the bus station, the opposite direction we should have been going, but once at the bus station we managed to walk a short distance to the main road headed east. By this time we'd gotten a response from a couchsurfer in Xalapa, so this was our destination.

We got a ride from a small truck, we both squished into the passenger seat and watched the street signs for a while until we reached the split, then hopped out. We walked around a big bend in the road that turned towards Xalapa, spotting an Oxxo (Mexico's always present 7-11 type convenience store), Kelly popped in to buy more minutes for her mexican phone.

While walking down the road towards a good looking pull out, a guy shouted out the window, "Fuckers!", we laughed at what sounded like the only word the guy knew in English. We were picked up again quickly by an 18 wheeler, an old woman in the back who turned out to be the truckers mothers, loud music drowning out the possibility of conversation. Kelly sat in back with the woman, I watched the the road to make sure we were staying on track while also enjoying the mountains and desert.

The driver was one of the best I've road with, his truck ran smooth and he pushed it fast, passing lines of cars and other trucks with efficient precision, watching him drive was more of a good time than actually getting to wherever we were going. He let us out at a gas station where he was turning off, telling Kelly it was a good spot to wait. We took turns thumbing the traffic in the wide open space, balancing on the curb, singing the songs mutually stuck in our heads and laughing at each other.

A nice trucker picked us up next, Kelly sat up front this time, making more sense being that she spoke spanish and I didn't. We got our first good glimpse of water besides the loose river here and there, a big lake on the left side of the road. The trucker stopped so we could get a good look, we all got out and went to the edge of the cliff to take it in.

We cruised down the road, me relaxing in the back loosely in tune with what they were talking about by catching key words here and there I could understand. I know I heard "tequila" and "cerveza" a few times and tried to keep up. Just as night fell upon us we were in Xalapa, we dropped us off right near a mall where we called Olaf, our host in town. A friendly taxi driver took us to his block across town, the driver apparently invited us to a concert later this year.

Olaf was a friendly guy going to school in town, a true couchsurfing host who loved travel and travelers. A Norwegian girl was staying with him at the moment, she'd spent a semester in school there too, but her time in Mexico was coming to a close. The four of us went towards the downtown to a place they liked, we got pasta and some smoothie type drinks with some alcohol I can't recall the name of. A guy across the room was surprised to hear people speaking english and introduced himself from being from Alabama. Next we walked to a bar for some glasses of Indio, the Mexican dark beer that kept popping up, and shortly after we headed home for the night.

Olaf made great breakfast for us in the morning, then the four of us headed for the bus where we met up with a friend of his. We rode to the small town of Xico and hiked down through some trails to the waterfalls. We relaxed there for a while, a massive tree nearby was interesting to look at as well, the mosquitoes enjoyed our visit as well.

After hiking out we walked the main road through town, grabbing a bite to eat and then some ice cream near the big church. A beat up looking dog began following us at one point too, never leaving our side until we were getting back on the bus headed for Xalapa.

We relaxed a bit at Olaf's place, made a quick stop to the internet cafe, then got to walking to downtown again. We gathered in the park that overlooked part of the foggy city, apparently it's frequently foggy like it was that evening. We grabbed some tacos nearby, great of course, then some amazing churros in back in the park.

We stopped by a lake and sat for a while, Kelly and I talked about loose plans for the future; California, South America and Australia, we took a couple swigs from my tequila flask. The go after that was cheap mojitos, Olaf took us to the spot, the Norwegian girl bumped into friends constantly along the way and said her goodbyes, it was her last night in the country.

We downed a few mojitos and talked, various people came to sit with us. We got back to the place and Olaf pulled out a bottle of tequila and mentioned cards, asshole being the game, but first he had to go take the girl to the bus station for her midnight ride to Mexico City where she'd catch her flight. Kelly and I grew restless, wrestling even while we waited, she ran out of energy and passed out.

Olaf bursted in sometime after midnight full of energy, his friend in tow, the one we'd gone to the waterfalls with, along with a big bottle of rum. We started dealing the cards. It took a couple tries, but I shook Kelly out of her light drunken slumber and she was easily convinced to be dealt in. The night went on for more hours than I thought it did, shot of tequila after another, rum and cokes, and soon shots of rum. Apparently we were at it until 6am, the night ending with a stumbling into bed, me apparently dragging Kelly out of hers determined to take another shot that never happened.

It wasn't until 3pm the next afternoon that we collectively woke up, feeling well rested at least. We had planned to hitchhike towards Veracruz this day, and even with our early start out the window, this was still the plan. We still had no set place to stay either, but we were set on our next journey into Mexico, the coming days would bring the sketchiest ride I've ever gotten.