It’s total chaos this morning in Guaymas. Streets not flooded or buried in mud are clouded by a swirling powdery dust suspended in the air above the roadway, making it difficult to see or breathe. Every thick mustached, potbellied public official has different information about road conditions heading south. The bridge is fixed. The bridge is only fixed enough for light vehicles. And the bridge won’t be fixed for weeks and we’re all stranded. Most people I ask say it’s impossible to pass. Eemposeeblay! That’s code for me; whenever someone tells me I cannot do something, what they really mean is, they cannot, but I can.
Saddled up and cinched down, I’m ready to roll and leave the rumors behind. Just when my frustration is peaking from dealing with uncooperative Federales, I met an innovative Mexican in a small pickup truck who knew a way around the checkpoint. Vamos a ver. (Let’s go see.)
Sure enough, after winding our way through the crumbling back streets of Guaymas, we arrived near another connection to the main highway south where there was a mile–long string of traffic about to be permitted through by a different team of Federales. Concerned over further delay, I white–line it to the front of the line and find my way back to Highway 15. The road beyond is empty, with hundreds of cars and trucks now following me far behind. It doesn’t take long to see the damage. It isn’t just a few washed out bridges but rather about thirty partially crumpled concrete overpasses. Work crews have been busy all night reconstructing traffic lanes around flooded gullies while others are filled with gravel. I never would have been able to cross any of these washouts on my bike. The mud is much too deep.
The original double–lane highway was built on top of elevated dirt levees designed to control seasonal rains, but clearly not capable of withstanding hurricanes. The fragile road is now being undermined by rapidly flowing water and ready to collapse at any moment. Buses too heavy for the cantilevered asphalt plunge headfirst into the muddy swamp where they lie like fresh carcasses, ready to be picked clean by bandits of the night. It’s chaos for a hundred miles yet Mexican repair crews juggle and divert cars from both directions to keep traffic moving.
Hopefully, the road stays passable long enough to get me to Los Mochis, my anticipated overnight. CNN weather forecasts promise that new storm; Hurricane Lorena will still be swirling in this weekend. Wherever I wind up tonight could be home for a few days.
Word must have passed that the roads are shot because once ahead of the pack, there is no traffic in either direction. Today the fresh green Mexican countryside belongs to me. I almost forgot how beautiful it is down here and how nice the people are. A simple smile or a Buenos dias, and everyone is my friend. They want to know where I’m coming from and where I’m going. They can’t comprehend that I’m riding to South America on this little green motorcycle so I just respond, “Southern Mexico, maybe Guatemala,” and that alone is enough to shock them.
I arrived in Los Mochis by mid–afternoon, enjoyed a spicy Mexican dinner, and found a new twenty–dollar–a–night hotel with hot water, air conditioning, and color TV. There was just enough time to shower and search for a Café Internet, to send my readers a hearty Buenas noches from Mexico. Life is good.