Jul 28, 2010

Catemaco road blocks

Mexico is so proud of advertising its archaeological history, culinary marvels, and magnificent scenery while forgetting to advertise  the opportunity to meet some "real" Mexican people.

Frequently that opportunity arrives, while parked on a Mexican highway while the road is blocked.

Fortunately Catemaco is only rarely blessed with road blockages so common throughout Mexico. And also fortunately, few gringo and similar travelers are on the road this time of year. Mexican drivers apparently have the patience to tolerate these annoying delays 365 days a year.

Here is what you can expect:
Flood blockages - Northeast Mexico was a flooded nightmare until recently, but now it looks like the southeastern Mexican rivers will be going on a rampage. In the Catemaco area usually only the Isla to Santiago road floods once every 3-4 years.

Washouts - you can expect them anywhere in mountainous terrain. The Sierra de Los Tuxtlas dirt roads are now beginning to be seriously affected, and the paved roads usually have a few disappeared bridges after major storms..

Military - most of these regular roadblocks are harmless, but they are annoying, unproductive and insulting. Do not drive black SUVs, do have a front license plate, and forget your camera unless you want to stare down the barrel of an M16. You'll probably hit one or 2 or 5 in every state.

Police - these are spontaneous roadblocks either perpetrated by officers actively searching for criminals or for adjustments in their payscale. I am reading more and more about speed traps popping up mostly in the north.

Accidents - since many Mexican roads have no curbs, any sort of accident can cost you a few hours, because there is no way to drive around them.

Political - these roadblocks are the curse of  Veracruz. Every major road in Veracruz has been blocked for hours at least once and often more times within the last few months because "You fill in the blank". Usually these blocks happen because the government did not do what was promised, and the locals got upset about  "whatever", or are protesting against the latest road kill.

Health - usually everyone blows by the so called "sanitary" (agricultural) inspection stations. Lately though, these have been reactivated because of fears of the spread of dengue fever. Count one for each state.

Topes - I doubt that these speed bumps were a Mexican invention, but apparently they are now popping up in mostly southern states in the US. At last count there were 88 of these (/&%$9) between Paso del Toro and Catemaco. They are promoted by the Mexican government (which supposedly controls federal highways) to improve the livelihood of talleres (auto repair stations) and chiropractors.

Every and each one of these stops will give you a chance to interact with fellow travelers, (primarily Mexicans).  And you will be amazed at the international sign language exchanged by travelers in their comments about the Mexican road system.