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Long and Winding Road

Saturday, January 24, 2009

After a long day, we finally made it to Macuil last night, but at least I got my second opportunity to drive in Mexico.  The first time had been two summers ago when I had gotten a trial by fire, driving in Mexico City.

This time was much less stressful.  Nacho drove us out of the city, and then feeling tired, he let me take over.   It was the first time I got to drive on the twisty mountain road leading through the Sierra.  It was quite fun and much faster than I expected.  We made it in about two, two and a half hours.

I got to experience another first, too, on this trip:  getting stopped by a police security checkpoint.  For a long time, there had been regularly police/military checkpoints on the roads I had been on leading out of Oaxaca City.  I had seen them both on the road into the Sierra and the road to Tlacolula, but I had never been in a vehicle that had been stopped at one.  In recent years, they hadn’t been in use though.  But last night a temporary checkpoint was set up and we were stopped just before we reached the turn off to another town, Jaltianguis.

I had always been nervous passing the fixed checkpoints in the past, but maybe because this one was a surprise, I wasn’t nervous (at least once I figured out what the heck was going on).  We had to pull over and Nacho, Margarita, and I had to get out of the car, while the heavily armed police (or was it the military, I’m never sure about these things in Mexico) checked for drugs.  Luckily, they let the sleeping Benjamin and Margarita’s mom stay in the car.  They patted down Nacho, but no one else.  Maybe being a gringo saved me the inconvenience.

Overall, I was happy for the stop.  It was a nice clear night and the stars looked spectacular, it was a chance to wake up a little, and with all of the recent drug violence I’ve been hearing about in Mexico, I actually felt a little better they were there checking.

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