Monday, September 21, 2009

No Exit!

The first bad sign should have been when we showed up the first night and there was no food and no cold beer. That would establish a pattern for the weekend. Namely: no food and no cold beer. The second bad sign was when the tour guide showed up to pick us up in the morning (well, actually almost afternoon and none of us had had breakfast or coffee) in a van with no brakes!

This last weekend was a combo of Sartre's No Exit and the Gus Van Zant movie Gerry. Hours and hours and hours of driving through the hot desert, only to arrive at the hot springs (yay, hot pools of water in 100+ weather!) and find out that we were on a work crew and were expected to earn our keep! I cleared brush in the hot sun. The dudes moved boulders and filled in dirt. The desert sure is pretty, though. Hard to take a bad picture of it.

In Tecate we got one of our only good meals. That's a calamari taco on the left. I also had shrimp and fish. The salsa bar was beautiful.
A cultural difference of note, which is probably true in many other countries, is that you order at a counter, get your food, sit down and eat, and then go settle up. It's kind of funny how nervous this makes me. It's a nice way to do things. Very trusting and relaxed.
We could drink on the big red bus. For the first few hours it was super fun and exciting.
We drove over a harrowing road called "El Rumoroso". It began with a scary mural of two cars racing into the mouth of a skull and the phrase "velocidad es fatalidad". There were SO MANY crosses put up where people had died. Hundreds.
Sometimes there were rusty cars down in the canyons.

We finally turned off on a dirt road to get to Guadalupe Canyon and I asked the driver how long it would be. He said "depending on conditions, about an hour". It took about four hours, going ten miles an hour on a very bumpy, dusty road.
As the sun was starting to set, we arrived at a place where we all had to pile into four wheel drives to get to the hot springs. The road was fucking crazy. I've never done offroading like that. It did not look like a road at all. We arrived and had to set up camp in the dark. Our tour guides had stayed back with the bus, so once again we went to bed with no supper.

Here's the hot springs. It was really pretty.
This was the large pool. It was warm, not super hot so it was somewhat refreshing. It was pretty awesome at night.
Turns out the tour guides had made no plans for meals so they had bought the stupidest groceries imaginable that could not really be cobbled into any kind of meal. I made guacamole with unripe avocadoes. Imagine that, IN MEXICO using avocadoes that fucking Togos would have rejected. We had bacon for dinner. Just bacon. Also, there was not really any coffee, just some sugary dehydrated stuff, and the nescafe we had squirreled away as a backup was never seen again. Also, there was no ice and not enough water. Only the thought of our pets depending on us to make it home carried us through.

More pretty scenes. This is in the morning light.
Our kindly benefactor, Jorge, ferried some of us out in his Mitsubishi and we met up at the bus. I was pretty convinced I was going to miss my plane home, even though I had 9 hours until it took off. We loaded up the bus, and the driver immediately drove through a big gulley and got the bus thoroughly stuck. The whole back end was buried and the tail pipe was crushed. We dug out the bus and stacked rocks under the tires in the blistering sun. Our first attempt did not work and it seemed like we were screwed. Luckily, Jorge helped out and towed us, and we made it out after about an hour of trying.


This picture was taken right before the bus got stuck.
The plan once we got back to Tecate was going to move maddeningly slow, so our group carried all our camping shit and walked over the border, got in the car, and got the fuck out of the area in some sweet, sweet air conditionaing. Me and Gbomb actually ended up at the San Diego airport quite early, marveling at such things as all the water you could drink and food such as sandwiches that were available for purchase.

33 comments:

Anonymous said...

I laughed so much this weekend. Seriously, I'm still laughing. Maybe it's because that is how I deal with bad situations? Or sleep deprivation, or starvation? Whatever it is, I still had a really fun time. It's proof positive that a journey is actually measured in friends dude. If I laid Beckler, Guph, Marletta, Jeff and Willy in a line, that would mean the journey was about 28 feet long. It felt like a longer journey than that.

I'm never ever ever going to be able to hear the phrase Bucket List and not laugh.

Ella

beckler said...

It's true. I'm glad I got to cross "jacking off a dog" off my bucket list. Hey, it was dark!

Oh yeah, and I feel bad writing this, which is why I'm not linking to the website. The tourguides were nice people and all of this was free. I'm just not really sure why this trip was so poorly organized and why we were never informed about what was going on and why. Communication and logic were absent from the proceedings, and those are two of my favorite things.

Anonymous said...

So true. It's an interesting situation. I was told that the reason this stranger was taking us to this hot springs place was "because he just wants to share it" ?? huh? But it turns out that he just wanted to have people help clean it up. Which is totally cool and it was nice to do unplanned community service without the embarassment of an orange vest. I also liked the people who own the place and the tour operators, they were all very nice. It's just a surprise when you think you are going on a birthday relaxation trip and the people taking you there think you are going on a community service, do yardwork in Mexico for free trip.

I had a fun time, because of friends, tequilla and the great outdoors but had I known it was community service weekend, I would not have gone.

Ella

Anonymous said...

this seems crazy, really madness.
sounds like y'all held it together better than I would have.

-natalie.

Jeff M. said...

nice story. I linked to it on my blog.

Anonymous said...

I did not hold it together. On the way home I was sucking down rescue remedy like it was water. Maybe it's because it was the closest thing to water available.

gbomb

beckler said...

I also did not really hold it down. I had a minor anxiety attack on the second night. Guphy had to talk me down because I was filled with nebulous anxiety that we were all going to die or never get home. I also complained relentlessly throughout the trip. Willy commanded me to turn my brain off but it did not work.

Snufkin said...

Hmm, bus with no brakes, half-assed/disorganized guides, long drives on unpaved roads w/a breakdown - that totally sounds like the Central America trips I've done with the Green Tortoise. Actually if the bus had been driving over a rickety swaying bridge border crossing while getting sprayed with DDT, it totally would've been the typical Green Tortoise experience.

beckler said...

Second night I also had an excruciating sinus headache from the dry air and stayed up all night. I talked about that alot, too.

beckler said...

Wow, I figured Green Tortoise was well-organized! One of the women on the trip was allergic to bees and there were bees all over the campsight. I figured if anything happened everyone would gather around and watch her swell up. Part of our work project was stocking the "store" which contained such things as ancient scalpels and IV kits.

beckler said...

amidst the black widows and cat poo

Anonymous said...

Ok, don't hate me but I never felt stressed, only annoyed.

but a lot of my needs for safety were met.

1. we always had a second support vehicle!! hooray!

2. there was food and water and tequilla. It may not have been good food, but it was would have kept us alive for a long time

3. it's really hard to die in an oasis.

4. it's especially hard to die in an oasis with other campers who you could go ask for stuff like block ice, or purified water, which we did, and were given.

5. dude drove sensibly on the highway.

I just resented the conscripted labor part. I did indeed hide for a good 45 minutes of it. It was nice, then I felt bad.

but, I will say that no matter how stressed out Beckler and Guphs may have been, they never lost their sense of humor. Even when Beckler was hiding under a giant boulder, with a bone shiv in her pocket, or accidentally hording Kerosene that she thought was Water, she was super funny and kept a good spirit. Guphs may have been drinking up that rescue remedy, but she presented a pretty cool exterior. Nicely done! They totally did not get voted off the island.

-Ella

beckler said...

I wasn't sure if I would need that shiv on the way home, once the bus broke down again and we had drunk our meager stores of water. I let Ella know that I would kill her and eat her if it came down to it. I will do anything to survive!

Anonymous said...

So fucking hilarious! Now that you all put in so much hard work, is this oasis the new hot spot to check out?

DKK

Anonymous said...

Well DKK,

If you have:

Good Desert driving skills.
Good 4wd driving skills.
a 4wd vehicle with mexican insurance, spare tires & tools.
about a week to kill.
If you like semi-primitive camping, but with the luxury of a private hot springs fed tub at your campsite, then YES, it would be a real nice place to camp.

Otherwise, no.

It's not far from the border, if you are under your own power (ie; not under hippy power) and it is a pretty oasis.

-ella

Anonymous said...

The oasis is beautiful, truly. And really well engineered. But it's far and harrowing and as God as my witness I am never going over that pass again, even with a seatbelt.

gbomb

Anonymous said...

Actually the experience of using a steaming hot toilet may be worth it.

gbomb

Anonymous said...

It's true, the steaming, wet, hot bottom that you get from pooping into a boiling toilet is a truly unique experience that I hear you have to pay a lot of money for in Japan. Plus, it makes your bum look really fresh afterwards.

-Ella

Anonymous said...

Guph, this one is for you.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oa8GXPkvTho

it's called tragedia en La Rumarosa.


Ella

Snufkin said...

It depends on the driver, but ask anybody who's done a Green Tortoise trip in Mexico or Central America, they're notoriously half assed and disorganized. They like to say it's part of their "charm" and lends to the excitement of the trip. Which it could be, except that not figuring out that Mardi Gras isn't the same week every year, not bothering to re-verify that we can use a camp ground, and screwing up a ferry run means you shouldn't really except a tip (or blow job) from your passengers.

Anonymous said...

I really loved the part where Guph said out of the blue "I just hope that we all die" when we were driving La Rumarosa Pass. Upon further questioning, I discovered this meant that she hoped we all died in what she felt was the immenently impending wreck of our bus and that we weren't just maimed and burning, with missing limbs, etc... It was really kind of her. She looked death squarely in the face. She was calmly ready to meet him. Thankfully, that was not necessary.

-Ella

Anonymous said...

That video actually made me feel better. In my scenario there were no rescue vehicles. Only buzzards.

g

beckler said...

Wow, I was so totally involved in my own fears that I would have to drink my own urine or the blood of my friends that I didn't even notice how scared she was of the road.

Anonymous said...

My top 5 moments:
-Nipples, lounging in the scrappiest sand, smiling.
-Hugging Jeff goodbye, after arriving home, and Jeff saying, "You'll still talk to Me tomorrow, right?" Leaving me to wonder if I'd yapped something awfully truthful in my sleep.
Yep. My top five.
Thanks for going, guys! You kept me felony-free.
-marletta

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad I decided not to go on this trip. It sounds like one of those survival camps they send troubled teens too.
jamattack!

beckler said...

When we were clearing brush and the old man who ran the place was walking up I was like "warden's coming, look busy!"

Anonymous said...

This sounds like it could make an amazing sequel to "White Water Summer". I hear Kevin Bacon needs money, and I'm sure Sean Astin could use the work. Let's package this deal.

-DB

beckler said...

I probably shouldn't pitch it by comparing it to Gerry, because only about 50 people watched that movie. What should the pitch be? Should we claim Bacon is attached?

beckler said...

I want to be played by Rhea Perlman. Or Sally Struthers.

Anonymous said...

Just pitch it as "The Hangover" meets anything. It'll sell in seconds.

-DB

Anonymous said...

The Hills Get Raked.
Saturdays With Nipples.
Pay It Forward, But Don't Go Expecting Cold Beers, Or Anything.
Apocalypse, Please seems too harsh, and probably wouldn't include watermelon.
I'm sticking with Ice Pirates 2.

-m

olivia said...

You poor bastards. I am glad I got the first person account last night. Hilarious. First rule, Mexico minus ocean equals not worth going. I am so happy you got home safe!

beckler said...

yeah, minus the ocean and/or any interaction with actual mexican culture and food.