Wednesday, October 28, 2009

"Have car, will travel, BEWARE!" Chapter 2- 'Pas Gentile'

We set off, south down the main stretch of highway leaving over developed Cancun behind us. Passing by sign after sign of new condo developments- all in English by the way. All of this as we learned through our research on the area was pretty new. We could tell that we were in a part of the world that was very unique. The landscape is as flat as an Illinois corn field, but all around is the jungle creeping in from everywhere.

I had not driven stick in many years and while I had a shaky time, didn't have too many problems right away. It was of course highway driving and therefore smooth sailing, after all, once you get going on the highway there is no need to switch gears. The problems came as we entered into towns and had to stop and go. Let's just say that stalling in the middle of a Mexican intersection becomes a very dangerous game of trying to get out of the way, but also keeping out of the way of others. At first one can assume they are taking part in some sort of mass chaos on the streets with cars and scooters constantly zipping by. They don't have the time to wait for Mr. Guerro Tourist to get his car running and moving again, which went against the assumption that things slow down in Mexico. That people aren't in such a big rush to get to places.

What it truly means is that while no one is in a particular rush to get somewhere, they definitely don't want to see some white boy on vacation clogging up the main intersection.

Not my idea of having fun either, especially when you couple my frustration over not being able to handle the world's smallest car with my lovely travel companion's cackle at all the misfortune I have put us in. Picture this: a grown man whining "Baby... It is not funny! Help!!! I can't get the stupid clutch to catch... What is wrong with this fucking car?!?"

The first couple of times this happened, my girlfriend (now my wife) lovingly and gently let me know what I was doing wrong with some words or looks of encouragement. "You are doing fine- it isn't easy," was what she would say. After stalling for the seventh time in the last half hour, the comedy was apparent for her.

She began to respond back to me with a little smirk. Still with the same kind words, but the tone shifted a bit. More of a I-shouldn't-have-to-repeat-myself type of speak. She should have been used to this though, because she was a French teacher, and all teachers are supposed to remain patient even with their slowest student. The problem was that she was teaching at a highly respected University where even the slowest learner probably had my ACT score beat by double digits.

Smirking turned into chuckling. Chuckling turned into soft, reserved laughter. Reserved laughter turned into full blown hysterical, red in the face, tears streaming down the cheek, bellowing laughter. All this happening while being sworn at by those riding scooters around my stalled car and me pounding the steering wheel because I have no control over things.

Pas gentile!
Not nice!

All this became a part of the fun, and eventually I was able to laugh at myself a bit more. Not right away of course, but a few moments afterwards. Usually after getting to our destination and away from this car. So far, the problems were minimal. The problems had more to do with a lack of composure. My nerves would be tested over the next few days however.

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