But to my amazement, this guy’s display of stupidity only motivates others to try. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing…here are visibly poor people absolutely destroying their vehicles with huge smiles on their faces when the thing dies in the middle, waterlogged above the side view mirrors!
The water kept receding, and delivery trucks, buses and about half the SUVs and pick-ups were making it through now. But it wasn’t receding fast enough. I started to get nervous as the sun went down, so I asked the chicken guy after his two hours went by and he responded with three more hours. But I look at the coconuts and they’re no longer moving.
The river is at a standstill, and any more rain would just set it back further. Luckily, the sky looks clear, but it’s still going to make for a long night and a dark river crossing. So I bring out my iPhone – which I’d loaded up with maps for the drive the last time I had a wireless signal in Barra Viejo – and point to an alternate way east to get around the river.
It looked like about three hours of driving, but at least it’d be better than waiting for a river to maybe recede. Chicken guy tells me my alternate route goes through a mountain town that just had a giant landslide from all the rain, making the route also impassable. Literally no way to make it south any time soon.
As a last resort, I ask the group of kids how much they’d charge me to push my car across (I figure it’s a rental and as long as I don’t turn the car on, maybe put a plastic bag over the intake and computer, I should be okay). They tell me only 50 pesos! Five bucks for ten kids to push a car 30 minutes across what is now waist-deep water is a killer deal.
But then I wonder if I’d have to push too. Not that I mind the physical labor, but it’s now dark and walking in waist-deep water for 30 minutes in a river that looks like it could easily have crocodiles may sound fun to ballsy Mexican kids, but not to me.
Then I also think about the fact my seats would probably be wet for weeks, and as excited as the kids were to help, I had to let them down saying it probably wasn’t the best idea.
Then I remember passing Roca Blanca about 30 minutes earlier. I ask chicken man if Roca Blanca has a hotel, get the thumbs up and head back north.
I turn off the main road towards Roca Blanca, and hit dirt for a while before I reach water over the road again. It doesn’t look too deep, but before hitting the gas I think about the situation: 10 p.m. on a dirt road in the middle of the woods in Mexico. Getting stuck or worse probably wouldn’t be the best idea right now.
Then my luck changes as I see a guy walking from the direction I want to drive. I ask him if my car can make it to Roca Blanca, and he shakes his head yes, but is pointing at the water trying to explain that I have to drive through at a certain angle to make it. Sketchy.
So I pay the guy to walk ahead of me so not only do I know what direction to go through the large pools, but can also make sure it’s not too deep before taking the plunge into each section of water. I make it to the other side and give the man – fisherman actually – 10 pesos, which looks to have made his day.
I finally make it here, Roca Blanca, where I grab a small grass-roofed cabana for 120 pesos and write a journal entry before crashing.
One of the most exciting things as a surfer is to arrive at a break at night. You can’t see anything and can only hear waves crashing, so you sit in bed wondering what the setup, quality and size of the waves are. You listen closely, thinking you can hear whether it’s a point or beach break, whether it’s barreling or mush, whether it’s 2 feet or 20.
But eventually you give in to sleep. And you don’t need to set an alarm because on these days you know the second the sun breaks, your mind will be screaming at you to get up and get that first look at the surf.
Hope it isn’t too big… I think I’m the only tourist and surely the only surfer from here to Puerto.