Detours in the Mexican Desert

Detours in the Mexican Desert

We ended up here by complete accident. Our route from Puerto Escondido to Mexico City was closed, turning what was supposed to be a leisurely 5 hour drive into a winding and mountainous 10 hour adventure. A last-second detour prevented any thoughts of preplanning our new route. There was no mental preparation for possible obstacles or time to contemplate the best way for us to navigate the backroads through small mountain towns. After a much needed pep talk, we drove deeper into the desert.

To add the necessary elements of drama to this story, all four of us were running on four hours of sleep. We were hungry, thirsty, and needed to use the restroom. To make the situation even more exciting, we were down to our last 20 pesos, about $1. Enough money for two small bottles of water or one trip each to the pay-to-use bathrooms. Naturally, our first order of business was to withdraw more money. We stopped at small tiendas and comedors along the route asking locals where we could find a bank or an ATM. They pointed us from one tiny town to the next. Eventually, while hanging out of our passenger windows, we negotiated a conversation in broken Spanish that directed us into the hills of San Juan Bautista.

This beautiful town was an oasis in the middle of nowhere. We decided to peruse the local market, try fresh breads, tacos, and deep fried snacks from food stalls, and we purchased armfuls of handicrafts from the street vendors. San Juan Bautista was easily one of my favorite towns in Mexico, one we never would have known about if it wasn’t for the detour and our complete lack of preparation. Sometimes it pays to be underprepared.


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