The second day of our Mexican journey was a lot of driving. We drove from half seven in the morning until around 7 in the evening. We made two stops for fuel and one for tacos. Ben felt the tacos were over priced-even ‘American in price’. But that’s only because his good friend led on that we would be eating only 8 cent tacos during our time here. But on that note, I’d like to mention that Ben refused food for the both of us throughout the entire day. I ate half a yogurt for breakfast while he enjoyed a stale cinnamon roll. My pleas for tacos throughout the day went on unheard until around 5pm when I finally held a pocket knife to his throat and forced him to pull over along with the rest of the traveling wagons. This is how we’ve decided to judge preliminary whether or not a restaurant will be favorable or not – is whether there is a gaggle of semi-trucks blocking our way in.
So we made three stops. Gas. Gas. Tacos. Our bodies were feeling sore at the end of the day. Not the kind we’re used to, where the muscles are sore from exertion, but rather from being confined to a small space for hours on end.
Our destination was a small city at the base of Pico de Orizaba by the name of Tlachichuca, and despite the both of us desperately wanting to be there by the time the sun fell over the mountains, we decided to aim for a small green patch on the maps which preceded the city by 90km. Upon arriving at the mysterious green patch on the map, we discovered our path barred by a barrier and a guard, almost military like. The guard approached us and introduced us to the national park that was hiding just beyond the gate, and let us know that we would be safe camping for the evening. He wished us a good evening and raised the barrier.
The winding dirt road eventually led us to find a quaint little camping spot for us to enjoy a pot of noodles accompanied by old sauce and a can of tuna. Only one mosquito bite later, and we were bundled up in the tent.
The day began with thick cloud cover, left over dew, mossy trees outside our mesh windows, and Ben’s continued ranting over Reeces’ promised 8 cent tacos. As I took solace in the last few minutes with my sleeping bag, I was interrupted by Ben’s manly, high pitched, screams. Maybe I should have been more concerned, but instead I took my sweet time wiggling my shoes onto my feet before I leaned out the tent to make sure he wasn’t experience extreme blood loss. He wasn’t. He just hit himself in the head with the tent poled, blaming the moisture for his accident. (ben- it really was a slick pole)
We left camp without breakfast, and high hopes to find a spot in Tlechichuca where we could prop open the portable stove and boil up some oatmeal. Pleasantly, after winding our way down the opposite side of the mountain, we were greeted by a brightly colored Sunday market. After a few laps up and down the street, we found ourselves the proud new owners of a bag of spicy peanuts and hot potato chips. We ditched the idea of oatmeal when we came across a couple of ladies serving up tacos across from where we had parked. We were delighted to find out, after our meal, that our tacos and mystery drink had only cost us 13 pesos-about 75 american cent.
We left the market and continued our journey toward Orizaba. About an hour later we found a pharmacy where Ben was able to procure an anti-malarial for the next couple of months of our journey. They were cheap (about 30 dollars for a 70 day supply) and hopefully not counterfeit. Only the next few months will tell.
Eventually we found ourselves in Tlachichuca and again, tempted by the Sunday market they had going on. This one was large enough that there was a police presence to direct the traffic and had a good friendly feel. We bought a deep fried fish with chilli powder and lime, a corn on the cob (elote) with butter, cheese, chili powder, and lime (this disgust me but Karli loved it) and ice cream to finish with some nice notes of lime and coffee. Walking around the market I couldnt help but notice i was taller than everybody else and had to stoop continuously under the tarps shading the stalls.
We departed the market and drove up the volcano. The road started well and finished poor. The mighty subaru cruised to half way on the rutted mud track but the last 2000ft of trail are steep and so far evading us. Karli gave it a whacking great try rallying up the way, till a sharp turn and steeper terrain suited to 4x4s with low gears and knobbly tyres stumped us. The car told us it was not happy with a great deal of smoke from the clutvh. We have backed down to a flat area to regroup and work out a plan of attack on the remaining 6500ft of ascent.
Our campsite this evening is an abandoned village composed of 4 decomposing cottages, a common bathroom, and some sort of lookout post. Still trying to decipher what this area was used for (ben thinks cartel post due to the watch tower, but then again, Ben thinks everything is cartel), once upon a time. I sat up in the lookout post for a bit while Ben traipsed around, discovering whatever there was to be discovered. The echoing sound of a dogs bark accompanied us for the greater portion of an hour until Ben finally decided to locate the howls. He stumbled upon a shivering and scared pup sitting at the bottom of a 10ft hole. After a few moments he shouted for me to come over.
After a few moments of discusion and with the hole being muddy we unbolted the roof tent ladder and dropped it down. Karli put on a thick jacket and padded gloves and descended. The dog was cold, scared and snappish. She spent a about 15minutes gently stroking it to calm it down, we dropped a towel over to warm him and a short while later Karli picked him up and carried him up the ladder. The poor fella hunched for a few minutes berfore first slowly getting up and walking a few paces, then a little quicker, then he ran. The last we saw of him was a small speck bolting down towards the village. Not ever a thanks (but thats ok).
We are now collecting rainwater with the help of a small roof and a tarp sheet.