Jan 9-10, 2014

Life immediately takes another tempo here in Mexico. And somehow you feel more alive. Not because of excitement, but because of the people around you. Sitting in the ‘Super Cream’ cafe (est. 1948) in Tampico for a prolonged breakfast, it’s easy to see why. You often hear how life here revolves around three things: family, faith and love. With over 20 words expressing emotions that don’t exist in the English language, this is truly a culture of the heart. Families eat breakfast together, kids run into a church to light a candle and take a knee, couples hold hands and kiss anywhere and everywhere. A far cry from the streets of New York, where people rush to and fro, hoping for a successful career move or OkCupid date, and where PDAs are frowned upon (umm, you’re not my boyfriend), you really start believing that Mexico is a lot closer to Europe than America.


Back on the road along the coast towards Veracruz, you start seeing little fruit stands selling cocos frios or oranges by the bushel. After about a dozen or so stands I finally give in and stop for a coconut and some oranges. It gets chopped violently right away with a huge machete and then it gets a little green straw. It tastes like heaven. The oranges too. You haven’t really tasted oranges until you’ve had them straight from someone’s backyard.

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If I thought the roads where bad so far, I was wrong. Not being able to go over 40mph most of the time, making it to Veracruz by nightfall becomes impossible. I come upon this little village called Costa Esmeralda, and since I see the ocean for the first time, I decide to stop and find a room. Best move so far.

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The Hotel Canadien has some amazing views but decides to decline all my credit cards. So I get back into the car and drive 15 minutes to the nearest gas station to get cash. On the way back, I see this little shack – Lucy’s – that’s open for dinner. I’m their only customer, the kitchen looks ancient, but the menu is ample. Lucy’s kids run back and forth from the kitchen, giving me looks of curiosity and then take their little barefeet back to their mom. I give them some candy, and they give me a smile. The youngest one is only two and still can’t say Gracias properly, and I tell him Yeah, I know what that feels like sometimes.

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An octopus cocktail, anonymous huge fish and two frosty Coronas, all taste amazing. Total is around $10. I guess I could retire here. I shouldn’t really leave, but the next day I do.

After Veracruz, which seems to be just another city, I make it as far as Alvarado, which I hope is a beach town. It’s not. There’s only one hotel, it does not look safe, and neither does the town. I circle tiny streets endlessly and finally on the outside of town I find the autohotel Miami. I park right next to my door, enter the room to find the tiles on the floor wet with water. The bed has a strange vinyl cover under the sheets and three of the four walls have mirrors on them.

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I turn on the TV, and only one channel works, showing some high quality porn. Right under is the safe box, where you put your money.

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Turns out sex motels are a big thing in Central America. I put a blanket over the pillows and sleep in my clothes, but I still get plenty of ghost itches all over. Besides some rifle shots, there were no weird noises during the night, just a donkey yelping in the morning and the caretaker throwing buckets of water on the floor in the room next door.

These are the personal views and thoughts of Stefan and in no way shape or form reflect the views of Shipwreck Rally, LLC.