Friday, July 19, 2013

Day 309 Where are the Mad Dogs and Englishmen?

The midday sun seems to rise early and last until well after sunset here in the barb of Mexico.  People kept telling me that El Salvador and Guatemala would be the hot zones and things would cool off in Mexico. Liars.  Things haven't cooled off yet and I crossed the border 300 kilometers ago.  Every day in the week since I crossed into Mexico, by midday, the temperature has been past 40 - climbing beyond 105.  I haven't seen any mad dogs or Englishmen, but iguanas abound, and colorful lizards and snakes - bright green ones, like my shirt - beautiful birds with funky headdresses and flocks of great white herons, and on the toothier side, an uncomfortably close crocodile... lots of chattering wildlife with me out in the midday sun, along with the giant white humped cattle called cebú, yet I'm the only one dripping with perspiration.  The dryness of this particular rainy season hasn't helped.  In another week, I'll start climbing the mountains to Oaxaca, which is at 3,700 meters and can't possible be so hot, right? 12,200 feet?  I cherish the ascent.

Rivers abound, too, and as I've been following an out-of-service rail line, many bridges have been washed away.  On the first that I encountered, a steel trestle lay on its side in the water far below the sheered rails covered in jungle grasses.  I contemplated the alternatives, backtracking is always the very last option, and began to think that the dreaded highway would be the better camino here.  But, using my hiking sticks as machetes, I plunged into the thick with determination and whacked my way down the steep slope (a prime location for seeing snakes) to the water's edge and judged it passable if I could manage to stay on the big submerged rocks, otherwise it would be too deep for me and my backpack.  The trestle itself was more of a rusted danger than serviceable avenue.  Three rocks into the wide river and I realized I needed to rethink the method.  The clear and refreshingly cool water was running too swiftly to stand on a rock even with the water there up to my knees.  Back to the shore, I took a page from Huck Finn and constructed a little raft from broken bamboo and other branches lashed together with the vines conveniently hanging from high tree tops awaiting such a use.  How wonderful it was to doff the boots and socks and outer clothes and swim and lunge my way across the river, very much in over my head, tethered to my bobbing little raft.  I beached the raft on the far side and swam for another 15 minutes, rump-bumping through the whitewater.  Adventures like these are so fun to relate after the fact, but at the time, quite alone in the jungle, quite far from any village or vaquero or road, there was a bit of apprehension, to be sure.  With the success, it turned out to be a great way to beat the heat even for short breaks.  I've crossed many rivers each day, but now that I've seen the croc, I'm a bit more apprehensive again.  Prudence.

Twice in a week I've heard of another pilgrim!  An Italian on pilgrimage from somewhere north of Mexico to Brazil.  He passed through some months ago.  He's got a credenzial like I do, but pulls along some type of little handcart instead of a backpack.  I'm curious to know more about him, but we've so far only passed two places in common - Ciudad Hidalgo and Pijijiapan.  How exciting - in all this distance from Buenos Aires, I haven't heard of any other pilgrims.  Buen Camino, Pelegrino Italiano!

I've got a route pretty well worked out to Oaxaca, and based on distance, it will take 12 days more to reach the goal.  August 10th, looks like it.  


pathpilgrim said...

Very glad to hear that you have made it to Mexico with just a little over 3 weeks to go to arrive at Our Lady of Guadalupe. Our prayers for safe travel continue to be with you.

Pat (Colorado Springs)

The Solitary Walker said...

Your journey continues to astonish. That river crossing would have scared the pants off me — and you recount it so nonchalantly! And the heat! We think it's unbearable here in the UK right now @ 28 deg. Enjoy a safe conclusion.

Sheila Phelan Wright said...

All the mad dogs are sweating on the east coast. Sun sounds brutal, shining down on you. As for that river crossing - who's going to play that scene in a movie?
Unbelievable adventures.

ksam said...

Your adventures simply continue to get more exciting with each read! I really hope you've taken a few pics and might be willing to share them. Now I feel a total slug, 'cause we've had similar temps and I haven't been doing much in it. said...

simply amazing. You are the Indiana Jones of the pilgrim world.

Amy R said...

My reward, as I sit in my cool house on this hot day, is reading your adventures. First, I somehow have never known that crocodiles live in Central America. Of course you would come across one.

How incredible that you made a raft!