“The sun is not hurried by early risers” - Mexican proverb
Two weeks. I had two weeks to leave Mexico before my papers expired. Overstaying my car permit meant losing la Chichona to customs and being banned. I was 12 hours from the border and the road went through Chiapas, one of the most dangerous states in Mexico. Going alone was not an option. The clock was ticking.
I was looking for travel partners in Barra de la Cruz, a lost hamlet on the Pacific coast. Barra had no internet reception, no proper roads, and no administration. Access to the village went up, down, and around the cliffs of the 200-windy national road. People came to Barra to surf, then left. Some were flying home. Others were heading to Chiapas or Guatemala. The most common answer depended on the wave, a convenient “I don’t know”.
I asked every traveler in Barra, and the general indecision was irritating. Anxiety crippled my days, and my standards dropped. I was willing to pay people to come along. Henrik, a German surfer, said he would go to Chiapas when the swell dies. For the first time, I hoped for a swell to die. In the entire village of Barra de la Cruz, Henrik was my only shot.
Fear troubled my sleep. At night I woke up shivering, haunted by that same nightmare. She had left a scar, a scar that burned and hurt when my mind wandered. She-who-must-not-be-named had fucked me up worse than I thought possible. I had to escape, to change scenery. A restless week went by. Seven days left.
To spice things up, my business got audited. The Regulator demanded an extra document. I had to write a letter, print it, have a notary stamp it, and ship it to Canada… within 48 hours. Else I would lose my license to practice immigration law, and my business altogether. Priorities had changed. Losing the van did not seem that dramatic.
Huatulco was the closest city, one hour away. I found a notary online and a DHL office. With luck and haste, I would be able to do it all the same day. I jumped in the car, reversed, and heard a loud tap on the side. I had hit a car on the parking spot, bending the bumper in an ugly hollow. A small crowd with nothing better to do gathered on the parking lot. Just what I needed. It was Henrik’s rental car.
I told Henrik I had an emergency in Huatulco and would take responsibility for the damage. He was skeptical. We exchanged IDs and contact information. Then I said I’d meet him at the rental agency before he returned the car. I left like a thief and rushed to Huatulco. I collected the letter, the stamp, the envelope, and the cash before closing hours. My business was safe. One less thing to worry about.
Exhausted and stressed out, I stayed in Huatulco that night. Henrik was not pleased. Our meeting at the rental agency was the next day and he had not seen me since I left in a hurry. The next morning, la Chichona had another surprise for me. The rear left tire was flat to the ground. I didn’t have time to change the tire so I inflated it and sealed the hole with that messy white spray.
I was late and told Henrik the reason. It was not enough. He harassed me with texts, missed calls, and voice messages. Henrik was freaking out; his distress was palpable. I accelerated. The 200-national road bounced up and down, circling around hills like a snake around a rock. Coming up to a viewpoint, I turned but la Chichona did not respond. We drifted. I lost control.
I pulled the steering wheel the left and drifted again. The car swayed like a pendulum, left, right, left and off the road. I slammed the brakes and hugged the wheel. La Chichona stopped in a cloud of dust…one meter from the rocky wall.
Everything froze, except my shaking. I dropped my forehead on the wheel, realizing what had happened. Stress had me running around like a headless chicken. I was worried about money, a job, a home. All seemed ridiculous in the face of death.
I was grateful there were no other cars, grateful to have stayed on four wheels, grateful to have stopped in time. Stress almost killed me, and for what? Wobbly and slow, I stepped out and fell to the ground. The words of G.R.R Martin hung in the dust.
“He who hurries through his life, hurries to his grave”.