Ever since I was a little boy and first looked at a road map, I have been fascinated by the notion that you could get into your car and pull out of your driveway and, by turning at the right places and driving far enough, you could get to Mexico. And then you could just keep going.
For a long time I never got around to doing that. Then one day I did.
Part 1. A quite manageable plan.
My friend had bought a house in Mexico. Not some modest vacation bungalow -- for he was not a modest person -- but a luxurious compound perched on a cliff overlooking an unspoilt and unpopulated stretch of sandy Pacific beach. A great house with servants’ quarters and guest houses. Three pools and a tennis court and a landing strip -- though as a result of some misunderstanding with the authorities there was at the moment a line of palm trees planted down the center of the runway.
He insisted that we watch over and over the realtor’s video of the property as he each time pointed out more amazing features of his new home. As befitted the owner of such an estate, my friend had shed his former persona and now wished to be referred to simply as “El Patrón”.
When word came up from the South that the papers had been signed and seals affixed he would of course waste no time in assuming his new estate and insisted that we should immediately depart for Mexico. As there were three of us, we could drive straight through. Back-of-the-envelope calculations suggested it would be about a 48-hour drive from San Francisco to his new property south of Puerto Vallarta. Divided three ways, that would be two eight-hour stretches apiece. Quite manageable.
Besides El Patrón and myself there would be Roger, a nice young Mexican fellow whom El Patrón had recently met and who, in a moment of rashness, had lent El Patrón $50,000 of his family’s money. I was unclear what the purpose of this had been and thus far all that had come of it was that El Patrón, in one of those bursts of enthusiasm so typical of him, had purchased with some exorbitant amount of Roger’s money an elderly Renault amphibious automobile, whose leaks, he was sure, would be easy to fix. The Amphi-Car was probably the first of a number of small incidents that had caused Roger to fear that his business with El Patrón was not going to go as he had expected and so he had arranged to be constantly at El Patrón’s elbow and would of course be going with us to Mexico.
We left early in the morning, hours before sunrise: Three Caballeros in a Jeep Cherokee. We took turns driving, though it soon became clear that El Patrón -- despite his claims to the contrary -- did not see well in the darkness, and duties were divided accordingly. He also mentioned to us in passing that the police were “holding his driver’s license for him,” but soon we would be in Mexico where such Anglo legalisms will be no problem. It was my impression that “Anglo legalisms” were no small part of his reason for wanting to spend more time in Mexico in the first place.
(to be continued . . . )