Tierra Caliente in the Time Of Cholera

            A substantial roundabout between the states of Michoacan and Guerrero wheels the traffic around like a spinning game of fate.   Roads spoke off to all parts of the country, including Acapulco and Mexico City, but without the benefit of any signs, your path can veer off into uncertainty.  We paused to review our map before entering the endless deluge of cars rushing to their future.  Like a steel bearing dropped into a roulette wheel, we spun madly to circle the roundabout with the flow of traffic.                         

            We were flushed out on a road heading towards Mexico City.  The sky was draped over with a hazy layer of clouds delivering a steady drizzle.  We shared the road with both the speeding vehicles and the ever encroaching jungle that formed an impenetrable six foot wall of barbed plants reaching out to snag us.   No…these conditions were not suitable to our desired mode of travel, but we could find no other options and only could hope that the cars on the road could see us through their rain splattered windshields.


            As the rain picked up, I wiped off my sunglasses and saw Sean talking to some locals resting from the laborious task of clearing a patch of roadside vegetation.  The smell of liquor greeted me as I stopped to chat.  A happy go lucky fella´ with a big machete and even bigger drunken smile made some incomprehensible noises while flailing his arms about in what appeared to be an attempt to communicate.

            “Amigos,� I was able to translate.

            We have had much experience with this apparently universal language of the village borrachos.  They don’t know any English, they’re too drunk to play a proper game of charades or even articulate decipherable Spanish words, and they can’t fathom the gringo speaks Spanish anyways.  This, however, does little to stop them from inventing their own language, which, as far as I can tell only really has one word in it´s vocabulary.  


             “Si, Buenas tardes AMIGO.  ¿Como esta usted?� I said, instantly regretting further engagement in the conversation.

            Again, a wild gesticulation of body movements and boisterous speech was unleashed; this time, he almost lost his balance, nearly floundering into a pile of debris.  But he steadied himself and grinned at his triumph over gravity while his eyes settled in a satisfied, but crooked, uncertain gaze. 

            “Amigos,� We established again.  

            The other guy, 53 years old, had divorced his wife and estranged his family in the United States, to live in Mexico.  He gave no indication that he missed them very much, and seemed quite content with his 16 year old girlfriend.

            “She’s one of about 6 in this village,� he proudly proclaimed in English while the young girl lovingly wrapped her arms around him, attempting to woo him into telling her what he just said.

            “That’s her uncle.� He motioned to the drunk, who was still amusingly staring off into space.  “I just buy this land.� He looked over the lot, nodding his head with satisfaction.  “I bring back a Jeep Grand Cherokee and pay a coyote to smuggle girl into the US and they give me this land.�

            “¿You want to come to my house? Eat authentic Mexican food.  You can stay at my house.” He offered, carefull searching his English Words.

            Helpless to resist the magic phrase, “Free Food,� particularly when accompanied by an invitation to sleep under a roof during a rainstorm, we followed him home.

            Fate works like this in our world.  If we lingered a few minutes longer at that roundabout, we would have spent the night with a tarp as our shelter and the same old meal of rice and beans.  Instead, we feasted on tacos in town and slept inside, only to be awoken by the smell of hot coffee and a traditional Mexican breakfast.   We departed with full bellies and the satisfaction of a good night’s rest.

            Under a sky opened up by the blazing sun, we took to the road through an area called “Tierra Caliente�.  A description for which we could readily vouch as our shirts quickly became saturated with sweat and our gringo skin “tostada�.  Feeling somewhat prematurely exhausted, we set up camp in avocado orchard well before dark.  As we lounged in the shade, we couldn’t help but wonder if something more than the sun was responsible for draining our energy.    

             Our curiosity was soon abated by a collective need to empty our bowels in the middle of the night.  Goat succumbed to a raging fever and passed out en route to the bathroom.  We started the night with a full roll of toilet paper and by the time the sun rose, we were running low.

            The next morning we began eating Imodium AD like candy, to no avail and were forced to camp for two more nights while Goat’s fever broke.  It became apparent that after living on the road with two of your friends for over a year, you run out of things to talk about.

            In an effort seek camaraderie, conversations about bowel movements can become an important bonding experience.  For the next week, discussions about our “stool�  became commonplace and terms like “soft serve� and “explosive� took on whole new meanings.  I wouldn’t let a day go by without knowing the intimate details about their digestive waste.

            Unfortunately, the few days of rest in the avocado orchard did not bring us back to good health; but we had to keep moving.  We each stocked up on toilet paper to keep “at the ready” in our handlebar bags, and continued across the “tierra caliente”. 

            Chronic dehydration plagued my ability to ride, and I sought electrolytes and cold beverages at every possible stop.  But to put it gently, everything just went right through me.  

             In spite of our health, we slowly and not so surely made our way over a sizeable mountain range before dropping into the town of Iguala.  While squatting on top of the pass looking out over the valley, I couldn’t help but think back to that roundabout and wonder, “What if I had left that intersection just ten minutes later?�   

             Prologue: There was pain and anguish in the time of cholera.  It was not until a heavy course of antibiotics were we able to produce anything but “soft serve�.                                                                      

One thought on “Tierra Caliente in the Time Of Cholera

  1. Barbie says:

    YUCK! Doesn’t sound fun at all! It was entertaining to read about though 🙂

  2. Barbie says:

    YUCK! Doesn’t sound fun at all! It was entertaining to read about though 🙂

  3. Barbie says:

    YUCK! Doesn’t sound fun at all! It was entertaining to read about though 🙂

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