Pan-American Trails part 6

By Jose Porta, Photography by Jose Porta/ Art By Joe Wirling

Through Northern and Central Mexico, Jose Porta fought impossible roads with his motorcycle. From Mazatlan to Mexico City, the elements frowned upon him and he battled rain as well as impassable roads. Yet he pulled into Mexico City more determined than ever to reach his original objective in Central America.

I left Zacapu in the morning and I wrestled all day in deep mud to get to the next village, Comanja. I was exhausted when I got there and I didn’t seem to have the strength to go any farther. It was pouring and the streets were deserted. I drove thru the Plaza and rode under the porch of what seemed to be the Casa Municipal. I saw a barefooted Indian squatting in a corner, away from the rain. A faded straw hat, a torn blanket over his shoulders, he looked pitiful enough to be mistaken for a beggar.

“Where is the Presidente?” I asked him, inquiring about the Mayor of the town, which is preposterously called Presidente.

“I am the Presidente.” He answered quietly.

I made myself known and he bade me enter into his office which was a large bare room in an old building, with a few benches in it and a table.

He was very hospitable and polite, the Presidente was, and everything he had he offered it to me. I slept in his office (?) that night and early in the morning I was ready to leave.

The Presidente was there to see me off. He had been proud of my visit, he said, and he hoped I would have a happy journey, being only sorry that he could not have done more for me. Then he fumbled in his pants’ pocket and he drew out a filthy rag, tied in a knot. He untied it carefully and slowly, drew out a fifty-cent piece and handed it to me, “Take it,” he said “you might need it.”

I couldn’t accept it and I politely refused, although I was touched by this unselfish act. He was poor, of that I was sure. He needed sandals and fifty cents would buy him a nice pair of guaraches. He had complained the night before that he couldn’t walk barefooted in the mud. So I didn’t take the fifty centavos and I left him feeling relieved at the thought that the Presidente of Comanja would have guaraches to wear when it rained.

I wanted to make Morelia before night and I made it, although it wasn’t before night. I drove again all day thru mud and thru countless seemingly unsurmountable obstacles. It was hard driving and slow going. Again it was raining all day long, with a light, steady drizzle Nearing Morelia the road was wide and level and it may have been a highway according to the Mexican Chamber of Commerce, but to me it was just a puddle of mud.

At sundown I was told that I was only a half hour from town, but as it often happens in Mexico, sometimes a half hour can be turned into a day or two. Being without lights I couldn’t see five steps ahead of me, and I missed the road several times and landed in the fields alongside of it and by the time I reached Morelia it was eleven o’clock at night, at which time the mud suddenly ceased and gave way to the paved streets of a nice, clean little city.

I stopped at a cheap meson and had a long restful sleep which lasted until noon the next day. The sun was shining when I got up. It had been over a month since I had seen it shine and it was a most welcome sight to me. If only it would shine for a few days, then the roads would dry and I would arrive in Mexico City without any loss of time. Therefore why should I leave Morelia and go thru all that mud when I could stay there a few days and wait for the sun to dry it all out? Surely I could then make up for lost time.

By Jose Porta
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