Let me back up a little. I set out for Hierve el Agua at the usual 7:30 and picked up Ed and Gracie. Names have not been changed to protect the innocent. We set out and get just outside the arceological site of Lamityeco and suddenly, the van stops. RPMs go flat, no power steeering. Just electrical and good old-fashioned coasting. I am thankful for the nice wide shoulder as we pull over and stop. In spite of about 20 minutes of best efforts by both Ed and I, including taking out the air filter and giving it a shake, the van is not starting. Decision time: call the day off, go back and get their rental car, or take various forms of public transportation and just go for it. Ed and Gracie were game to go for it. We decided to leave lunch behind, tossed towels, suits and snacks into backpacks, tried the van one last time, and then turned around and - ta da!!! Literally the next car was an empty collectivo. After a little discussion, the driver agreed to take us all the way to Hierve el Agua for $350 pesos. And we're on to Method of Transportation #2.
|Collectivos are basically shared taxis. 5 people - 3 in back, 2 in front + the driver.|
After a great hike, an amazing swim and some time in the sun, we head up and have lunch with Maria. Maria is my constant at Hierve el Agua. She runs a little food kiosk and seeing as we had left the Go Well lunch in the van, we settled down to eat with Maria. "Que milagro" (what a miracle!), she said, when I told her we were eating with her that day. She was busy so I helped us to drinks and told her our order. (Memelitas - an order is 3 hand made corn tortillas with black beans, avocado and tomato and choice of chorizo, tasajo or cecina. Of course we had one of each.) Maria is always there working, even on the coldest day of the year, when we are almost the only guests and the cold winter wind is blowing through the valley, she is there. I try to show her my appreciation of this by giving her my leftover sedona salad whenever we are there. When her rush settled and she could have a seat, I told her what had happened. La caminetta se descompuse. "The little truck decomposed" is the literal translation, but really, it broke down. We paid our tab, joked about there being no salad today, and off we went to find the pick-up truck style collectivos to take us back to Mitla. It was time to go.
Method of Transportation #3. The collectivo looked almost full and ready to go, but we needed a bathroom break before. I walked over and told the driver we were three, would he wait while we used to bathroom. He said no problem and sure enough, handing over our $150 pesos ($50 pesos per person), Gracie and I hopped into the back and Ed into the second row of seats on the inside of the cab, and off we went. The view over the old road is magnificent as you look out the back through the swirling dust, random donkeys carrying wood piles, cows being herded by two weiner dogs, you are treated to spectacular mountains which your heart will long for when you are either back in the city or away from Oaxaca. I had the jump seat in the middle of the two rows, so spent my time between chatting with Gracie hanging on to the metal grate behind me and trying not to slide out the back.
|The back empty holds 1 on the booster seat and 4 on each side.|
We arrive safely in Mitla, hop out of the back of the pickup, and like magic, a bus is going to Oaxaca. Now, my plan was to give Ed and Gracie the Go Well lunch so they could have it for dinner, and also drop towels and grab sweaters from the van. Would the bus drop us at the archeological site? Yup. $12 pesos each gets us on Method of Transportation #4.
|Get on the bus, Gus.|
I had forgotten to lock the van. As we get off the bus, I notice three men and a white pick up truck by the back of the van. Are they stealing my tires? I need new tires...
Alas no. One gentleman is dressed in plain clothes with a badge and Ed later tells me, a glock. There is another man in the standard blue vest with a semi-automatic slug casually over his shoulder and a third man with a great face and a plaid shirt. I smile, introduce myself, and shake hands all around. Mr. Badge tells me he is of a certain rank (I believe judicial, which Carlos tells me are federal investigators with the most power to toss my silly arse in jail) and explains that they were concerned because the car was by the side of the road all day unlocked.
Mr. Badge then tells me that he found my card in the van, and shows me his phone, where through his personal facebook account, he found me on facebook and had both texted me through Messenger and left me a voicemail to try to find out what the story was. He was one step away from having the van towed because they did not want it to be vandalized sitting there overnight unlocked. And then I showed up, smiling and apologetic. We shook hands again, I thanked them all and apologized, and they were on their way. He was sure to advise the van was as they had found it. I said of course it was. I missed taking a picture of the trio.
(Can I just interject, before moving on to Method of Transportation #2(b), that I am so grateful living in Oaxaca. I didn't get a ticket for abandoning my car, or for leaving it unlocked. Grateful, again, to my adopted country.)
Ed and Gracie, through the whole "and then there were men with guns" part of the story, were cool as cucumbers. Only after did they laugh and remark on what seemed like the only appropriate ending to a pretty adventurous day. We got their dinner packed up, heading across the highway, and as luck would have it, another collectivo came by in short order which delivered us respectively to the Huayapam crossing and me downtown to the baseball stadium. Our selfie in the collectivo before we parted for the day.
As I walked home, I decided I would grab a coffee from the cart at Llano park and ran into my friend Carlos, who asked me why I was seemingly coming back from tour without my van. Where to start?
Meanwhile, Ralph had called our mechanic who was going out to the car, eventually had it towed to the shop and today it was getting a new fuel pump installed.
Yet another amaxing Go Well day!