Mérida or Bust — Day Eight: Matehuala, SLP, to Xalapa, Veracruz

Total Kilometres to Drive: 5,600 (change because I need to fire my GPS)

Kilometres Driven Today: 850ish (at least 50 and maybe as much as 100 don’t count)

Total Kilometres Driven: 4,280

Kilometres Left: 1,320 (ish)

Amount of Trip Completed: 76.43% (ish)

My Garmin, Google Maps, and Mexican road signage were all smoking crack today apparently.

Until 4PM today, I thought I wouldn’t have anything worth writing about today. Now, I’m two hours out of my way and ready to fire whomever makes Mexican signage as well as Google Maps and my Garmin. But let me start from the beginning…

I slept all right in Matehuala and got an earlish start around 7:15. I stopped at an Oxxo for a coffee and then just drove… The landscapes were pretty uninspired, just mountainous. I could have been anywhere. I took the Arco Norte bypass around Mexico City and got to Puebla almost an hour earlier than expected, 4PM. I was feeling really good and decided that I might as well push on to give myself a shorter day tomorrow…

Before I knew it, I was going around in circles in downtown Puebla. To my amazement, I was super calm and not at all stressed out. For some reason, I seem to have taken to the defensive form of Mexican driving like the proverbial duck to water. I finally got back on a highway and my GPS assured me that I was still headed towards Villahermosa. The directions looked good as per my paper map as well.

The road I was on was really good and would put me in Xalapa by quarter to seven at the latest, giving me a full hour before dark to find a hotel. Perfect!

Well, my day finally turned into an adventure. I was about half way to Xalapa from Puebla when my gas gauge did that lovely thing it does sometimes and went from telling me I had a full quarter tank of fuel left to running on fumes to giving me the you need fuel NOW light. I was going up and down so much I had no way to gauge just how far I could go on what I had. No problem, my GPS promised me there were several Pemexes nearby…

All of which were on the wrong side of an impassable median.

Mercifully, I had something like a 20KM downhill stretch into Xalapa. I literally just coasted into the first Pemex I found as I came into the city.

I had almost no cash left by this point because of the ridiculous amount of tolls I had to pay again today (haven’t totalled them all up yet, but just the Arco Norte was $330). The attendant tried my credit card, but that didn’t work. He told me there was a Banamex “that way” where I could get cash, so off I went. No problem getting money, but big problem getting back to the Pemex for lack of a way to get around an impassable median. Seriously. By the time I found two retornos, one to go back the way I’d come and one to swing back to the Pemex, my needle was beyond the red. Thankfully, I made it into the gas station at the nick of time and I took on a full $1,000 of fuel. I had about five litres left of fuel!

It was 6:45 by this point and I wasted an hour driving around Xalapa looking for my hotel. My GPS was absolutely useless and kept taking me into parts of town I had no business being in and telling me to turn where I couldn’t, etc. It was really frustrating that I knew which hotel I wanted to go to and passed it several times, but it took a full hour to get there! I have to stress that I wasn’t really stressed until about 7:30, when it started to get dark. I just treated my evening like the adventure that it was and savoured it.

By the time I checked into the hotel, I still didn’t know I was as far out of my way as I am. If you look at the map above, I should be in Córdoba. I am really unhappy because I exhausted myself today so that I could get a late start tomorrow. But get this… the only restaurant within walking distance serves… sushi. 😀

I went off to find it where the hotel clerk told me to go and was confused because all I found was a café. Then, I noticed stairs in front of the café, so I went up to find a several empty storefronts. As I was about to dejectedly return to my hotel room, I heard music up a further flight of stairs, so up I went and found the restaurant!

I ordered a Bohemia beer and a spicy tuna roll. The server also brought me a bowl of noodle stir fry on the house to start because I looked hungry! LOL Sorry,Vicki, the pics I took didn’t turn out — it was way too dark. I also had a bowl of chocolate ice cream with hot fudge and a cherry for dessert! 🙂

Yes, I am annoyed by the unexpected detour, but at the same time I’m really pleased with how my day ended up turning out. I mean, I found myself driving like a maniac in two busy city centres without breaking a sweat. I was as relaxed and comfortable as I would have been back in Canada or the US and, most importantly, I got landed somewhere safe before it got dark and I was exhausted.

Really, it wasn’t a bad day and now I get to go through Veracruz, home of my favourite coffee beans. Let’s see if I find some! 😀

I went through so many states today. Still need to tally them all up!

13 thoughts on “Mérida or Bust — Day Eight: Matehuala, SLP, to Xalapa, Veracruz

  1. Glad you were able to stay calm through all that. Pretty sure I wouldn’t have. I hope you are now having a sound night’s sleep.

  2. Good for you on staying calm – we, too, have hired a cab to lead us to a hotel when the GPS was on overload and had us going every-which-a-way in Torreon several year ago. Sometimes it is just better to ask for help – as least for us it is – but you are much younger and handled your situation like a pro.

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