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Stuck on a Steep Street

maybe this is a bit exagerated :-)

Written by Annette after the humorous debacle (photo is altered just for fun)

Driving or hiking in the countryside around Toluca is one of our favorite things to do when we have free time. Our church doesn't start till 11:30 am so last Sunday we got in the car, put on a tape of a service in English, and headed out to enjoy the brightness of the morning. We pride ourselves on having been on all of the roads on the map around Toluca, and many of those not on the map, so we weren't expecting surprises, just a nice drive.

As we came down the Mexico City side of the mountain range separating Toluca from the country'scapital, we came to a fork in the road and chose the high road, which wethought we'd taken before, instead of the road that dove immediately down into the town of Huixquilucan (pronounced "Whisky-lou-cun"). The road gave us a fabulous view of the valley of Mexico spread out before us before turning down towards the center of the pueblo. The incline was pretty steep and I remember thinking "It's a good thing we're going down instead of trying to come up", but it was cement and we had like a foot on each side of the car, so i assumed we would be alright.

Just before the road turned out of view behind wooden fences, a lady walking ahead of us with a baby strapped to her back turned and shook her finger at us saying, "No hay paso" (You can't drive any further.) We were surprised. We had seen a beer truck further up the road and a bunch of men who looked like they were waiting for a bus, clear signs that this was a road and not an automotive dead end. But we've learned that when a stranger gives us advice, especially about what can or can't be done in their town, it's best to take them seriously.

So Tim backed up to a driveway a few feet above us and tried to turn around, but there was no space to maneuver because of the 99 year old jeep stuffed into the short driveway. Plan B was trying to back all the way up the road. Also unsuccessful. Plan C, I (Annette) climbed into the far back to add more weight over the rear wheels as they spun and smoked in their futile attempt at traction. This too failed, however it was effective in pushing me closer to a full-fledged emotional breakdown.

7 - number of times we unsuccessfully attempted backing
       up a very steep, narrow street which we inadviseably
(it dead ended into a foot path)

25 - minutes before we got back up the steep street
    (we had to wake some guy up, ask him if we could use his dirt
    driveway to turn around, move his jeep, do a 33-point turn
    and drive forward, wheels smoking, up the cement "street")

The best part about all of this was the free entertainment we were providing for some of the neighbors. The worst part was the growing conviction in Annette that they might just end up walking back to Toluca. The neighbors were helpful though and when Tim asked for suggestions, they mentioned that the neighbor in whose driveway we had first tried to turn around would probably move his jeep, giving us more room to maneuver if we asked.

So Tim implemented Plan D which included wading through a pack of mangy dogs to the front of the driveway-owner's house which was festooned with badly stuffed game (owls, rabbits and the like), politely asking if it would be possible to move the jeep, then moving said neighbor's ailing jeep when the man agreed as long as it didn't require him to get out of bed. Once the jalopy was moved a bit, Tim backed our car in and did his best to miss both a metal gate and a sagging wooden fence while jockeying the car around. There were some tense moments when the maneuver seemed impossible, but i pulled in the rear view mirrors and Tim proved his driving prowess once again by accomplishing the nearly impossible, and with not even a scratch on the car.

maguey plants, a freshly planted cornfield, and part of the pueblo
8 ft. high maguey plants and newly planted corn
overlook part of the pueblo where we got stuck
on a steep street   (photo taken the same day)

Once we were facing up the road, we took a running start, got up over the crest of the hill, and were on our way home. Just goes to show you that even after 8 years there are still adventures to this living in Mexico thing.

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