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The Long Road Ahead

Pedal to the metal, 80 90 miles per hour on seamlessly paved road winding around lush green mountains where the fog forms a quickly lifting halo around the base, and this is how we make our way through Mexico, one spectacular moving portrait at a time passing by your window. Brad’s got the “80s part II” playlist on and I’ve got 30% on my laptop battery left so I type furiously.

There are things that definitely work in this country and one of them is the toll roads which are quite pricey through some segments like the dip into Puebla from Cordoba ($9). But I’d rather have institutionalized extortion then random extortion when it comes to dealing with the public roads in Mexico which have craters the size of cars through cities like Tuxtepec.
As we get on Puente Chiapas crossing from the State of Chiapas into the State of Veracruz we pass Selva del Ocote, a Edenesque biosphere area, on the right and it’s hard for me not to compare this to our poor bridge-making in Guatemala – we’ve had more than twenty bridges damaged or in a state of despair and collapse since Agatha and other tropical storms.
It’s unfair to compare bridge engineering during times of crisis, but isn’t that the best measure of how well things are built, if they they withstand under pressure? One year of living in Guatemala has shown me that the growth of functional cities, the building and maintenance of roads that connect them is integral to development and to creating economic and educational opportunities to people.

I will stop hating on Guatemala because I find myself feeling angry about the recent study from the U.S. State Department about how 40% of Guatemala is controlled by criminals and the country is hurting from it in every way. I trust that the next 3,000 miles will serve as a safety valve, emptying me of my dissatisfaction with Guatemala’s lack of infrastructure and crime out of my system so I can continue to focus on solutions y no problemas. Brad changes the music to the Animals and “We Gotta Get Out of this Place” resonates with me.

The sun has peaked out from the low rain clouds and we continue to pass areas under construction or recovering from derrumbes from this season’s storms. Dozens of caterpillar trucks and tractors pile away dirt and rubble and a few times we are a total standstill where we sit watching giant dragonflies zoom past the windshield. We started out with a 534 mile drive ahead of us and we are quickly making it up towards California, which seems still so far away in our psyche. The changing landscape will help us adjust to the change and what’s ahead of us the next few months.

2 thoughts on “The Long Road Ahead

  1. Andrew Larason says:

    This post stirred me to the point of wanting to take a drive. Not sure where, but I want to hit the road. I gotta get out of this place. Hopefully I won’t run into any $9 tolls.

  2. Nic Wirtz says:

    As far as I know it wasn’t the State Department that said 40% of Guate was under narco control but a think tank linked to the State Department.

    It’s been fascinating reading your struggle between sadness and anger at what Guate is. The thing is it won’t change any time soon, it’s not set up to.

    As you can see we’ve kept things interesting in your absence! Next year being an election year it’s going to be newsy but dangerous. A small survey of local expats we know indicated two-three to be considering leaving before things got too hairy.

    If you pass by Antigua on your return coffee at Fernando’s? We might even get round to the sinkhole story.

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