Vagabond in training
Joined: Mar 2012
Long time no type
Pictures and video clips coming soon.
Story goes something like this.
My plans went through, and then some. I started the drive back, breaking the trip into three days--San Luis Potosi, Monterrey, Austin. I didn't have quite enough money to make it back, but the friend from before who owed me money was going to be putting some in my bank account in a day or two that would be enough to make it back.
I make it to San Luis Potosi without problem, and am staying with a couchsurfer in town. I'm her first ever guest on the site. We have dinner with her friends at a local taco place, have the conversation in mostly Spanish with sprinklings of English sentences here and there on both our parts. (I'm missing the food now as I think back on it... Oh, those delicious cheap tacos...)
I check my internet presence that evening. Here at advrider.com, I've got a response from an Irish biker who is enjoying the story, and says he happens to be in San Luis Potosi on business, and would love to take me out for a beer--see above. I message him: Alas, I will be leaving tomorrow morning, trying to get back to Austin ASAP, and it's a long ride to Monterrey. But maybe I'll catch him in Ireland, since I have some distant family there.
I have planned to leave the next day, but I need that deposit. It's Sunday. Friend will deposit it tomorrow...
...Oh wait. We're on the phone, and realize it's Columbus day. Which is, yes I checked, a bank holiday. Looks like I'll be staying an extra day in SLP after all.
I message him and say I'll be available for that beer after all. So we get on the phone and realize that we're pretty close to each other, and he picks me up.
We got out for beers and have a GREAT evening. Awesome guy. We talk bikes all night, and it was just... A good time. Swapping stories. Sharing the love of travel, dirtbikes, trails, languages, and bikes. Turns out he actually had an FJ1200 for a while.
At the end of the night he tells me his family in Ireland runs a bike shop, and has 30 bikes at any given time--and if I'm ever in Ireland, I'll have a bike to ride.
Quality people. That just made my week.
So with a spring in my step the next morning, I pack up and head out. It's Tuesday. I skype my friend who is supposed to be making the deposit, says he has a meeting in the morning, but after that he'll go make the deposit. He's in the West Coast, so he's two hours behind me, on top of that.
So I start driving. Fill up my tank around noon when I leave. He should have made the deposit just recently, or be about to make it any minute. Card declined. Pay with cash. Drive for 100 miles. Fill up again. Card declined, use cash... Getting a little nervous. Drive another 100 miles. Fill up. Card declined. Use literally the last of my cash. Something is wrong, he should have made the deposit by now.
So here I am, in the middle of the Mexican desert, without enough money to make it to my host for the night, and with nothing around for miles. I walk into the gas station, and knowing the answer will be 'no', ask if there's wifi by some miracle at this gas station in the middle of the desert.
'No', he tells me. 'Oh, momento, como internet? Pienso que si, momento.'
By some act of God, I have found the only gas station in Mexico with internet. So I sit down, pull out my laptop, and start trying to call the guy and figure out why he hasn't put money in yet. Definitely a little panicky.
No response. For like an hour. I call his son, who is with him, and his son says he left for the meeting hours ago, hasn't made it back, should have been back by now. He tries to call him. Nothing. We both start getting nervous that maybe something happened to him, car accident or something.
Then, 1.5 hours after I sat down here, I get a call. It's the guy.
He's at the bank making the deposit. Apparently the meeting went overtime, which meant he had to rush to his next meeting with an investor that couldn't wait, which then went overtime, and so he hasn't been able to get to a bank until now. He had to go to his bank first to withdraw, and then to my bank to deposit.
He puts the money in. I breathe a sigh of relief and get on the bike. After having conversation in Spanish about motorcycles with the gas station workers, who are admiring my bike's sheer size (ha, Mexico and its small bikes...).
What with the delays, I don't make it to Monterrey until late at night. I get fantastically lost in Monterrey again (most confusing roadways I have ever encountered), and so don't make it to my host (same one as last time, enthusiastically invited me back when he saw I was passing his city again on Couch Surfing) until like 9 or 10 pm, exhausted.
I spend an extra day in Monterrey resting, meeting another couchsurfer for coffee that I missed last time. Pack up and get ready to head out the next day. Leave later than intended, 2pm or so.
In the interest of minimizing the damage of a mugging, if it would happen, I have been keeping my wallet in my luggage and just keeping small change or no change, debit card, and driver's license in my front pocket. So I set out of Monterrey and fill up my tank and my spare 2 gal tank. I buy two half-liter glass bottles of Mexican Coke-a-Cola as a souvenir. And I hit the toll road, heading north for Nuevo Leon. About 60 miles down the toll road, I finally hit the toll booth--but not until I've pulled out my camera on the way and filmed some of the beautiful landscape. So I pull up to the toll booth, and reach into my pocket for my debit card.
Huh. That's strange. Where is it?
Other pocket? No... Jacket pocket? No... Daypack backpack? Hmm....
No... Big backpack?
Umm... Well, this is strange.
And then it hits me. It must have slipped out of my pocket when I pulled my camera out at some point in the last 60 miles.
Crap. No cash, given yesterday's turn of events. About 4 gallons of gas between my tank and spare gas can. Another 300 miles ahead of me, more or less. And stopped at a $15 USD toll booth, 50 miles from the US border with no way to pay.
You've got to be kidding me. The toll booth operator tells me I should talk to the boss who runs the toll booth. I pull over and find him, and start trying my best in Spanish to explain my situation. When he seems inflexible about the immutable fact that one must pay to cross, I do the only thing I can think of: offer my camera as collateral if he will loan me much less than it is worth, and give me his address and phone number, and I will call him and coordinate and pay him back when I get back to the states.
He says he would feel too guilty taking that, and starts to tell me that I should just go through the truck-pass lane of the toll booth, and get my toll fine 'in the mail' (wink). I am not sure I am quite understanding him, but after a couple minutes I realize that yes, he is telling me to basically break the law and he'll turn a blind eye. Thanking him, I continue on my way.
As I make it to the border, it is getting dark. I have paperwork to fill out to get my motorcycle out of the country--oh yeah, and they have to return my $200 deposit that I left with them to temporarily import the vehicle to Mexico! I'm saved, right? Just as I get into Nuevo Leon, I spend my last 2 or 3 dollars putting about a gallon of gas into the tank, and empty my spare into the tank. Cutting it close here.
I do the paperwork. This time, they give me trouble for the two digits half scratched out on the VIN sticker by the rubbing of the clutch and throttle cable housings over the last 30 years. Even though half the number is visible, and it lines up with the number stamped into the frame and engine, the guard insists on taking multiple pictures of all three, calling out his superiors, and making the process take about 30 extra minutes.
Oh, and since I made the deposit on a card it has to be returned to a card. Period. No exceptions. I tell them the card is gone, and they ask if I have any other cards. I don't. They ask if I have any family in the states with cards I could have the money sent to. Are you serious? You can't just give me cash? Rules are rules, they say.
Wow. Just, wow.
I tell them to just put it on my card, I'll get it sorted when I get to the states.
I cross over back to the US. There's a $2 toll to cross the bridge into the states. I don't have it... Then remember I have some change at the bottom of my daypack. I check. If I combine pesos and US coins, I have just enough to cross. The lady at the booth gives me a funny look and a pitiful laugh, and lets me cross.
I drive over to the same Denny's I went to the first time I had trouble, and get online. I call my family and explain the situation, still in reasonably good spirits based on the humour of the situation alone.
Here's my options:
1. There's an Esperanto speaker in Nuevo Laredo that might help me. He should either be able to loan me $30 (enough gas money to make it back to Austin) or let me stay for the night so I can make a withdrawl from the bank in the morning.
2. I can whip out the ol' hammock again and go back to my same secluded spot behind the jack in the box on the edge of town.
3. A Western Union transfer might be possible at the nearest HEB (Texas based grocer).
4. I can beg.
I call the Esperanto speaker. He's living with his girlfriend now, so he says he needs to check with her, but it should be fine for me to stay over.
He calls back. She's weirded out by the idea and thinks I sound weird, so she's not comfortable with that and says I should go to the homeless shelter...
...wtf? Seriously? Hospitality in this country is depressing. If it weren't for couchsurfing to restore my faith in humanity, I think that might have been a death blow.
Loaning me some money, I can leave collateral? Says he literally just overdrafted his account, he won't have money until tomorrow morning.
You've got to be kidding me.
I go to HEB and check on Western Union. They closed at 6pm or so, so that's not an option.
Well. It's either sleep it off or beg.
I decide I want to make it home tonight, fate be damned. I go to the nearest gas station, and start telling random people my story, asking if they could give me $25, and I can pay them back if they give me their address or phone number.
Most people brush me off. I find that the white people are actually the worst, in this regard. The three people who help me are all poor. Finally, I have about $20 and I remembered some more coins somewhere tucked away, putting me close to $23.
I start the long ride home. It's cold at night on these lonely roads. A lot of the way I'm chattering, even though I'm now riding with a wool sweater I bought outside Mexico City that's fairly heavy--don't know what I'd be doing without it.
Around 2am, I finally make it home. I eat ravenously, since I haven't had money for food all day. And I sleep, blissfully.
(That was two weeks ago. Next chapter coming soon.)
fintip screwed with this post 11-08-2012 at 01:01 PM