Don't Go Chasing Butterflies

Toluca, Mexico

6,116 km

The morning after the car accident the sky was mostly clear but sharply cold. I left around midmorning as Male and her sister and their parents left for work. Male apologized profusely and I sarcastically thanked her for the excitement. Soon I was out of the city and heading west on the free highway. The first danger came when I arrived at a patch of highway construction where deep grooves were cut into the lane parallel with the direction of traffic. The grooves are to hold the new tarmac when it is poured but they are a terrible hazard to a motorcycle because the front tire can get caught in the groove and loose all traction. This was made worse because here the highway twisted through hill country and I had to make leaning turns amidst the grooves in the tarmac.

The road to Angangueo

The road meandered for 15 kilometers up the hillside in two lanes paved in rough, bone-jolting stones around two narrow tracks of smooth stone. Water flowed downhill as I climbed, soaked and shivering, trying to stay on the smooth tracks and trying to stay perfectly vertical to lose no traction to a lean. The rain turned to hail and struck hard and the downhill flows grew heavier and cut the road crossways rushing at times perpendicularly against the tires.

Taking shelter from the rain in Ocampo

The descent was more harrowing than the ascent. To climb you apply throttle: you exert force against contrary force – you turn wheels against gravity, push water between treads, heat cold rubber, and this creates traction. But descending, gravity is no longer against you; you no longer create traction by exerting force against contrary force. Worse now was that the hail had frozen in sheets across the smooth paving stones and it was a virtual slalom for 15 kilometers until I arrived, shaken but not beaten, at Ocampo, where I took shelter in an open-air taquería and drank a hot coffee to settle my nerves.


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