Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Dealing with traffic -- and wheeled stuff

I spoke too soon. Guayabitos looked lazy and deserted. I totally forgot that we were entering one of the biggest clump of holidays that Mexico celebrates -- a combination of Children's Day (April 30), Labor Day (May 3), Cinco de Mayo (which really isn't that big a deal down here, but a good excuse to party), and Mother's Day (May 10). Whew! A whole week worth of celebrations. The place is packed! Buses and buses and buses on that snakey little road, while insane people with flashy SUVs stitch in and out between them. And HONKING big trucks that crawl up the hills and gather unimaginable speed over the crest. The safest thing to do is get behind something huge, stay there, and let it run interference for you. I really don't mind going slow. It gives me a chance to read the inscriptions on all the little crosses and shrines beside the road. There seem to be a lot of them.

That's just the highway. In town there is a popular sport we've named competitive left hand turning. Games break out spontaneously, and they're just SO much fun. It goes like this. You are first in line in a left turn lane, (going onto the highway, coming off it, it really doesn't matter). Do not believe for a second that you have a corner on making that turn without company. There's the guy to your right in the straight ahead lane who really doesn't have time to get in line behind all you suckers in the left turn lane, but doesn't think a thing about holding up all the straight ahead traffic waiting behind him. After all, he has about fifteen people in the bed of his pickup truck, and numbers should count for something, right? Then there are the kids on the bicycles and motorcycles straddling the faint white line between you and the guy in the pickup. Usually there's a girl on the back of one with an interesting tatoo across where her jeans should be but aren't. That can be a tad distracting. AND then there's the guy to your left -- YES! to your left -- headed the same direction as you, only into oncoming traffic. He smiles and shrugs as if to say Well, why not? Those people across the intersection aren't actually using these lanes until the light turns green. And if it does turn green before he gets turned, they can always go around.

Let's be clear on this. CLHT is definitely not a team sport. It's every driver for himself.

As I write this, my main driver and all time Guaybitos Left Hand Turning Champ is in Washington State. We are reregistering all our various wheeled things, also known as Larry's toys. Some of you are interested in this, so I will elaborate. (I myself would skip straight to the Virgin of Talpa stuff in the next post, but each to his own). To recap -- Larry traded his much loved Fat Boy Harley, which we left in California with a "For Sale" sign on it, for a jeep. He did that sight unseen over the internet with the help of a lot of friends. Then he had Harley withdrawal symptoms and started to hyperventilate. At last, a "deal" was found in Texas. Some kind of classic Harley wonder bike that we picked up last year. (I just remember we went with the guy to pay off the loan he had on it. We went to the Happy State Bank, which still gives me a kick thinking about the name. I had a boss one time who refused to be on the board of a new bank until they changed its name. A group of West Texas movers and shakers were planning on building it near the airport, and with a blind eye to irony tried to charter it as Terminal State.)

But I digress. The new/old/totally classic and wonderful Harley is in a storage unit in San Antonio waiting for Larry to whirl through the Midwest this summer with an old high school friend and eventually bring it home to Mexico in September. It is a 1998, and there's some kind of red tape provision that this year in Mexico foreign vehicles built in 1998 can be "regularized," that is, get Mexican plates, with minimal outlay of paperwork and pesos. This would be a HUGE plus, as Harleys are like gold down here. Maybe it has something to do with competitive left hand turning.

So......now we also have a trailer to put said Harley in....another deal....more help from friends. The trailer is parked at their house outside of San Antonio. So that makes three scattered wheeley things to keep track of. Plus Hummercita down here, still wearing its LOVDSEA California vanity plates. Pricey plates. Someone has to pay for all that pretty iceplant on the freeway medians out there, but since we're no longer residents, we went looking for the state which would give us the best deal -- taking into account not only price of registration, but also price of insurance, and how often you have to show up and have something inspected. We also needed a place in Washington to call "home." Since I had a photo of my sister Amy's back yard vista out over the Hood Canal and up to the Cascades as my screen saver for about four years, I feel like that could be home. And she "gets" this absentee stuff. She and John were in Thailand for seven years, but "officially" they lived in Texas. And the lady at the DMV in WA said OK with her. At any rate, we are now official Washingtonians. It's cheap. All told the fees on four vehicles -- including title transfers and sales tax on the trailer -- came to less than half what it costs to register Hummercita for one year in CA. But it definitely wasn't easy.

Well, maybe easier than competitive left hand turning, but not half as entertaining.

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