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"The only hospital is in Matehuala, almost 100 k's to the south. So - you'll be taken south and your 'coche' will go north.."
- Kirk Stephan

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Expected the unexpected in Mexico
by Kirk Stephan, Iowa, USA
Dec 18, 1999

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The sun had set at some point and the chilled desert-night silence became palpable. The traffic had taken a break along with all other sounds of life. No birds. No crickets. Dead quiet. As the cold became numbing I tried and finally reached a blanket from the floor and wrapped it clumsily around part of me. I stared out the open back door and tried to hear sirens approaching, unsuccessfully.

At some point, maybe half-hour, maybe later, an old campesino appeared in the doorway. He introduced himself as the grandpa of the family that lived in the hut nearby. He told me his name: Don Jose-Alphonse-Olmedo...and 8 or 9 more names following. I wondered why country people in Mexico invariably insisted on telling you all the names in their lineage, and it took my mind off this predicament; for a couple of minutes...

I was wondering how long it would take the cops, and hopefully, ambulance, to arrive. Don Jose suddenly began a lengthy exhortation in his deep, shaky voice. I finally tuned in to discover he was explaining what was about to happen to me. And to my van, which of course now, was more like a tortilla than a vehicle.

"You see we're right close to the state line here, so the police and the tow-truck will come from 'Corelon', 100 kilometers from the north. The only hospital is in Matehuala, almost 100 k's to the south. So - you'll be taken south and your 'coche' will go north." This thought didn't didn't cheer me any at all and when he continued it was worse: "The towtruck drivers are notorious thieves! I doubt if you'll have anything left of your stuff when you get up there..."

I looked around at the mess inside and realized it amounted to about everything I owned: little refrigerator, tape-deck, stove, laptop, and hundreds of doodads and tools I never thought I could do without!

"I wonder what I should do.", I muttered, half to myself. But Don Jose was ahead of me, "Why not bring all your stuff in to my house where I can safeguard it til you get back?"

I began the cogitation on the subject of "stuff", Mexican cops, phantom towtruck operaters, the 200-kilometer separation of me-from-my-things...and decided he was probably right: I was about to lose everything!

The stuff-transfer only took 15 minutes, his 4 sons easily man-handling the fridge and everything else, around my bent-up body, through the back door which was the only one that would open.

Sure enough, though some eternity of 4 or so hours later, me shivering and staring into dark desert space, the police, then the ambulance arrived. The highway patrolman very polite, the ambulance operators efficient, I was speeding on my way South, in neck-brace, only wishing the stretcher had just a little padding on it. The thought also crossed my mind that shocks on this old ambulance would've been nice, too...

Kirk's previous journey to Cuba

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