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Monday, October 30, 2017

DAY FIVE: San Luis Potosi, SLP to Puebla, Puebla

Last night's hotel choice was bad.  The entire floor, hallway and room, was tile and the hallway ceiling was rounded out for EXCELLENT acoustics.  I found out they were training the Federales cadets here and while they could've been much worse, they were a little gnarly.  I'd be drifting off to beautiful sleep when I'd hear them laughing clear as day, being able to hear every word of their conversation and go into an undeserved rage.  For a split second I fantasized about going out there to shush them but I immediately thought better of it.  It wasn't they who designed the hotel so as to make it as loud as possible.

They had me sign a piece of paper just for the dog, the highlight of which was that the dog wasn't allowed on the bed.  I signed it and paid an extra 150 pesos for the privilege of their allowing him into the room, then set up a thick blanket on the bed as his chill spot.  I wrapped him up in a nest, set the AC ambitiously for 18 C and tried to sleep.  I got a little cold, so when the dog decided to get under the covers and flop his warm derriere onto me, I didn't protest.  I figured I'd slap any shedding off the white sheets with a towel.

I woke up just shy of two am and drifted in an out a light sleep.  At about five, I took my shower and started getting ready to go so as to get the hell out of this place asap.  The shedding was out of control and I started to suspect some of it wasn't from Chucho (unlikely, I know).  I spent about ten minutes meticulously combing hair out with my fingers, then plucking until I finally gave up.  I left a 20 peso note for the housekeeper with the hope she would keep the hair under wraps...

A little hard to see, but those are all Federal Police pick-up trucks in the parking lot.  Two Federales were posted at the entrance of the hotel all night.

The Drive

I had a five-and-a-half hour drive, my longest in Mexico thus far, ahead of me.  My uncle who has spent a lot of time in Mexico and is a citizen, told me Puebla was a beautiful place and I was looking forward to seeing it for the first time.
Google betrayed me for the first time about an hour into the drive.  I heard it chirp to exit right and I glanced down to the phone which appeared to tell me to continue straight.  The app then froze in Rerouting mode and I was forced to use what was left of my cunning to get back on track.  

I did so without incident and the rest of the drive was beautiful.  I'd seen goats on the side of the road up north but today I saw only sheep in their place, grazing along the side of the highway, always with an attentive shepherd nearby.

The desert landscape was giving way to greener hills and accompanying vegetation and some really nice cumulonimbus clouds, but no rain.
I was less than twenty minutes from my hotel and approaching a toll booth.  I had a feeling I shouldn't get on the toll road being this close but Google had me continuing.  At first, I was amped on trusting Google as I was on an elevated highway.  Google then told me to turn right where no right turn existed.  I scanned below and saw what was my turn-off, inaccessible to me from this high up. 

I kept going and considered my options.  If memory served, Cordoba was my next stop-gap and less than three hours away, achievable before nightfall.  The next exit appeared to be closed due to construction, so I mentally made Cordoba my next stop (keep in mind I didn't have an idea as to which hotel would take Chucho or if they had room for us).  The construction cones broke and I saw daylight to the exit.  I took it and was dropped on the outskirts of downtown Puebla and quite the logjam.  It took me twenty-five minutes to go one kilometer.  Google couldn't or wouldn't reroute me, but at least did me a solid by pointing out where I was and a dot for my destination. 

Memories of my youth sporadically danced through my head as I caught my first whiff of the quaint smell of raw sewage.  I s l o w l y found my way to the vicinity of my destination after being veered off in directions I would've preferred not going.  I had no way of knowing where to turn as my only options in the proximity were veering to the right or going up what seemed like a solid (read: not short) bridge.  The turn-off to the right lost favor due to the line of cars (and going in seemingly the wrong direction).  I went up and to my massive dismay I realized I was overshooting my turn to the left by being on the bridge.  While stuck on the bridge I took the time to try and spot the hotel from my vantage point to no avail.  I flipped a bitch, unsure if it was legal for me to do so and headed back. 

Eventually, I turned right and the arrow representing the phone and the dot representing my hotel grew closer.  I passed a Wal-mart and continued.  I kept looking back to see if the turn-off was there and then realized I was over the river, past my destination.  I veered right hoping there was a back entrance accessible but natch.  I pulled over, parked, then went on foot to an eatery nearby.  I asked for directions and was given a blank look by a woman. Her male companion told me where it was. 

I flipped another quasi-legal bitch, turned left and saw a sign for my hotel! But it was on the other side of the road with no way to get to it.  I continued on, opting for the nice clear lane with the sapos separating it from traffic.  I remembered driving through Soyapango and they used the sapos to separate general traffic from the bus lane.  

Once I realized what was going on, I merged out of it at my earliest opportunity, but not before quizzical looks from some poblanos (?).  Had I stayed in the easy cruising bus lane I would've met a cop stationed there around a curve a block later.  

I was getting no legal chances at a left turn (all stoplights allowed for passage through only), so I thought I'd turn right and then flip a third and hopefully last bitch.  I looked and found a right turn, then quickly flipped back in to traffic as it was an unmarked one-way street.  I cursed the Puebla traffic circulation gods and continued straight and farther away from my hotel.  

In the distance, hope!  A roundabout seemed to be at the top of the bridge.  I waited for the green, then went.  As I made my way around, I spotted a poorly angled red light.  I couldn't tell if it was for me and made the split-second decision to continue.  I was immediately made aware of my infraction by a barrage of horn honks from one guy, so I sped up to be as little in his way as possible.

I eventually made it back down and into my hotel, my detour into Puebla proper taking me an extra ninety minutes.  Chucho had been panting and rebuffed my attempts  at giving him water.  When we arrived in our room he practically fellated his water dish.

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