Driving across Mexico
On Wednesday, we left our apartment in San Miguel de Allende and started our four day drive towards Playa del Carmen. The distance between the two locations is about 1,850 km. We’ve done drives like that in a single day before (from Ontario down to Florida). But, we take things a little slower down in Mexico, and (try to) only drive during daylight hours.
Our road-trip across the country took us through mountains and by volcanoes near Puebla.
By the Gulf of Mexico as we drove through Coatzacozlcos.
We enjoyed amazing seafood and beautiful lights and sights in Campeche.
And everything was great… until it wasn’t… and on our last day of driving we found ourselves with a very flat tire… on a remote stretch of Highway 180D past Merida without any cell service during the hottest part of the day. And the story that I have to tell you now is not about scenery, and amazing food – but about the kindness of strangers.
While we were on the side of the road, four men helped us change the tire to the spare, and another gentleman gave us directions to the nearest tire repair place. We had to use our phones to for the more challenging conversations – but most of the exchanges happened through hand gestures and smiles. None of these men would take any money for the help that we provided – they only accepted our thank yous.
After we limped along in the car to the next town to try and get the tire repaired, we had trouble finding the place that had been described. We stopped at a gas station, who directed us down the road to another repair shop. That repair shop couldn’t do the repair – but a gentleman who was there hopped on his motorbike to take us to another place that could. He spoke English, and translated for us once we got to the second repair place.
What we discovered when we got to the second repair place, was that the tire was too damaged to be repaired and we needed a replacement tire. But, the repair place wanted to make sure we were safe for that drive, and switched our spare around to a back tire, so we could get to the next town. They did all of the inspections and switching around for about $10. The gentleman on the motorbike called ahead to find a tire shop that was open.
We limped along again to the next town and finally found the tire place. We discovered when we arrived there that our other tire on that side was also damaged, and had it replaced too. After four hours, we were safely back on the road to Playa del Carmen. We spent a grand total of $115 to get two tires replace. We were vulnerable tourists – who needed help. There were dozens of point where we could have been taken advantage of – and we weren’t. Everyone who we asked for help, offered it. Every single person had time for us, and treated us with decency and kindness. No one had to help us, but everyone we encountered did. I’m welling up with tears again as I think about this. I’m grateful for how well my family was treated.
At one point during our travels, I had a conversation with my mother about how newcomers and visitors to Canada are treated. My mother said “I treat newcomers and visitors here, the way that I hope that you and your family are treated as you are travelling.” Something in my heart stirred when she said that… and I felt like I had just been hugged. I felt that same feeling so many times during our four hour quest to get safely back on the road on Saturday. We encountered so many people who had a choice about how they could have treated us, and in each and every case – they treated us – foreigners… visitors… complete strangers… with decency and kindness.
About the Author
Professionally, I am an e-learning instructional designer who breaks down the barriers of space and time in learning. Personally, I'm the Mom in the Little-Green Family, and co-planner in our adventures.