Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Guns and cocaine.

The morning of July 9.

Not only did the journey of today moved north, but also to the west.
The change from the Sea of Cortes coast to the Pacific coast brought lower temperatures, clouds and some rain even.

Again, on the way there were several accidents and it is easy to understand why there are so many crosses with names along this narrow and dangerous road.
This Peninsular Highway is costing lives.

Extra attention must always be paid when a bus is seen approaching.
They always go as if nothing can stop them and they are wide for the narrow road.
Interesting though is that behind the front window most of the time they have a sign where they go to.
Often it is to La Paz or Cabo San Lucas coming from Tijuana.
A 1.500 kilometres (932 miles) journey they do in less than 24 hours.
Behind the front window also the driver can be seen and in all cases the driver wears a pair of Ray Ban pilot sunglasses and a moustache.
This gives the illusion, powerful because of the many hours of being on the road, that the bus driver is in fact each time the same person.
Somehow they manage to bring him back quickly to jump again in a new bus and drive towards the Fuso Szulc.
Probably a helicopter is involved.
Other explanation might be that the bus drivers have an agreement to all grow a moustache and put on a Ray Ban because of the Fuso Szulc coming by.
Conclusion may also be not to drive so many hours without taking a rest to avoid getting these almost weird fantasies.

Between La Paz and Tijuana are checkpoints and they are a pest and a nuisance.
They are called “Puesto de Control” and are manned by the Mexican Army.
Often out in nowhere, at windy and barren locations, lost somewhere along the road, they have a camp and stop each and every vehicle.
These soldiers come from the Mexican mainland and wear camouflaged uniforms as if they were in Iraq.
However, the Mexican Army not being rich, these soldiers wash their uniforms so often and wear them for so many months, that the costumes have bleached out.
The camouflage becomes a memory that would not be too good in actual situations of war and fighting.
Easily a Mexican soldier could be spotted because of his paled outfit.

Much of the time these soldier-boys have not much to do so they make a real fancy place of their Puesto de Control.
They plant cactuses, paint stones white and make it all look spectacular.
All Puesto de Control’s have now self-made man-size dolls of soldiers.
Cut out of plywood and painted by the most creative genius in the battalion it is a hilarious representation of a member of the Mexican military force.
This they put a kilometre before their Puesto de Control as a preliminary warning for the ordeal to come.

The reason these Puesto de Controls are a pest is that each and every time they force the traveller to stop, to get out and to open the door to the expedition vehicle.
They always go inside the expedition vehicle to wonder as a child about the marvellous interior.
They are intimidated by the design, the gadgets and the sophistication of it all.
These soldiers are supposed to look for drugs and weapons but that is never serious.
They are curious to want to visit the inside of the Fuso Szulc.
The efforts they make for these AK-47’s under the bed and the tons of cocaine in the pillow are futile.
They lift up the mattress 5 centimetres (2 inches), open a door of a cabinet and ask all kinds of questions.
Usually questions related to the for them surprising fact of not travelling with a wife.
“You are travelling by yourself?”
Well, yes, obviously.
“You have no wife?”
Why would that be of any business to a Mexican soldier looking for drugs and weapons?

The most irritating fact is that there are about 6 of these Puesto de Controls between La Paz and Tijuana.
And each time each car is stopped.
And each time at each Puesto de Control, after waiting sometimes for over half an hour, the command is: “Revision!”
Meaning that the soldiers, doing a police job, want to get inside.
And each time each soldier is doing a totally ineffective job.

It makes no sense to tell them that the expedition vehicle has already been checked 4 times.
They will check anyway.
Probably thinking that a recreational vehicle with a European behind the wheel picks up weapons and drugs on the way hiding them under the mattress.

It is easy to get annoyed by these Puesto de Controls.
Most of all because it is all so useless, illogic, unprofessional and ineffective.
Each time it is a gigantic effort to be friendly and have it as a neutral experience.

The night is spend next to the dry lake of Chapala.
Just south of Catavina.

After arrival, with some anxiety the Datastorm Satellite System was activated.
On the last location it had refused to work and it was feared something was deeply wrong with the modem.
As is always the case, the satellite disk went up, searched the sky, and seemed to have found the satellite to return to the fold up position.
The second try was successful and amazingly connection to the Internet became possible.
But now the MacBook Pro is acting funny.
The Airport function disappeared and is not available.
With Airport an Apple computer can use WIFI.

These technical issues are so boring.

The evening of July 9.



Anonymous said...

Fuso has a big sister in France ;)



Fred Wishnie said...

Your description of the check points reminds me of our airport security. Equally ineffective and annoying.
The only difference is here the uniforms are newer.

Gritting-teeth Gringo said...

C'mon...sneak a pic of these warriors in their faded glory messing with your bed and badgering you about your babe. Those following you need to know what to expect.

reading from LA said...

Yeah, crappy "checkpoints."

They'll tow away your home if they find anything possibly "illegal" on the shelves, in the cabinets, on your breath.

Your sunset picture of your home shows it's all worthwhile, though.

Wonderful images. Enlightening insights.

Safe voyage.