Holá from Ciudad Obregon, Sonora State, Mexico, about 400 miles north of Mazatlán. We got down the road from Guaymas, our stop the night before last, where we spent the entire day yesterday waiting for the mechanic at the Dodge dealership to finish working on our car. They didn't charge much (under $50), but then they didn't achieve much either. The car is still iffy at slow speeds, and then an engine warning light popped up. In speaking just now with my friend Peter Dahl (bless Skype: I love it!) he clarified the problem for us: a busted O2 sensor, which accounts for the stalling. Now the Ciudad Obregon Dodge dealer has the car and says he needs the part, which will take one or two days, and then he'll fix the car. Too bad about the concert we had tickets for Saturday night. And if you want to be picky, our rent on the house in San Miguel is paid as of today. Oh, well.
So we have moved to a hotel closer to the Dodge place, making it easier for Rick to go there and check up on things and get things we need from the car. This is an expensive interlude but we are in good spirits. Yesterday we decided to resurrect our Vipassana meditation practice, and it really helped. Rick's temper is nowhere to be seen; we are both taking this in stride. It certainly helps, when the temperature is nearly 99 degrees outside, to be in a nice cool comfortable hotel room writing to you!
Even before all this car nonsense I realized that I've been thinking about Mexico this summer as a series of problems to be overcome: different culture, different language, different everything, and the issue in my mind was how easily (or not) I'd be able to overcome them. Bad attitude! Of course there are problems, but the unfamiliar is simultaneously a problem and a curiosity, an adventure. In trying to figure out why I should be so negative, I realized it's my age that has made a difference. But that's wrong. My 67-year-old body may indeed not be up to its 30-year-old level, but my mind is in far better shape than when I was 30. It is time to relax, to ride the waves as my friend Paul Petroff used to say, and be alive to this adventure.
In some places in Mexico you'd feel right at home. We have seen Walmart, Dairy Queen, Burger King, of course McDonald's, Papa John's, Baskin Robbins, Subway, and others I've forgotten. On the other hand, I've noticed a chain of chicken restaurants with the best name: El Pollo Feliz, The Happy Chicken. Now wouldn't you want to eat there?
The highway here -- the "cuota" which means fee or toll -- is two lanes, none too wide, with no shoulders. In fact, it's built up a couple of feet. When people have to stop for any reason they stop in the right lane and one of the passengers gets out, walks back a hundred meters, and waves traffic to the left lane. Of course there are no highway lights. Cars and trucks go at a large variety of speeds, from very slow to blindingly fast; the speed limit seems totally irrelevant. Every now and then there are stripes painted across the road to tell you to slow down for a village or a Pemex gas station (nationalized, very smart). The cuota goes through villages, not around them. They are not shantytowns but they are impoverished: clusters of very small rectangular stucco buildings surrounded by clotheslines and dust.
Ciudad Obregon (= Obregon City) seems to be higher on the economic scale, perhaps because there seems to be more water here than farther north. The scrub now grows so closely together I can't see the dirt through it, and we saw some real trees and even a river. We saw a housing development coming into town with rows of new, tidy stucco houses, and the downtown is a mixture of poor and middle-class stores. If it weren't so hot out we'd happily explore.
But this hotel is air conditioned, I have a good Internet connection, we have books to read and a pool to swim in -- when it gets cooler, and we're feeling fine. It's just a slightly different adventure from the one we envisioned, but we'll get to that one in due time.
My Skype address is josara72 (hint, hint).