*This story happened 1 day after The Crossing
One story we have told many people in person, but not online, happens to be one of the craziest in the stories we have from our journey after the border. This is the train story, in which John and I were almost stranded mid-desert in Mexico after what was already a long, stressful and honestly pretty shitty day. This was the day after the crossing, and while we were happy we made it, our journey was not any easier at that point.
We were just outside Rocky Point in Mexico, attempting to make our way to Acapulco. I say attempting because we had crossed the border with 50 dollars in our pocket, and it costs a lot more than that to drive the whole length of Mexico from top to bottom. We were in the really deserty part of Mexico, and we really at the time had no idea how we were going to make it the rest of the way to Acapulco. We decided we needed to stop and find wifi, to let our friends know we had made it. As we mentioned in the Crossing, we had a friend follow us, who ended up losing us when we were flagged to the side to be scanned. We never caught up with him in Tijuana, partially because we lost cell signal to be able to do so. We were freaked out and wanted the hell out of Tijuana, as we had heard stories of Americans being deported from there. So we left and determined to contact him later, to let him know that we were free and that he didn't need to contact anyone, which he already was by that point. We were also looking into ways to procure the rest of the funds to make it to Acapulco. We had a small amount of bitcoin that we were trying to figure out how to go about selling, and were just looking into some important things, like downloading google maps offline map of Mexico to our now disconnected smartphone.
On top of everything, John and I had been fighting frequently, him being fed up at me not delivering what I had promised since the beginning. I was not able to argue his points, as I could see they were completely valid. I can't blame him in any way for the way he feels. We had discussed splitting up at several points due throughout our journey southward through California and through Mexico as well. The day of the train story happened to be one of those days.
I can't remember what exact situation started the argument, but the end result was involving me staying in Rocky Point with Rebel(to be my protector of sorts, and companion) , with John to move on. I'll interject here for a disclaimer, as I know what many people are thinking. For the purpose of not having a super long wall of text of a story, there are obviously a lot of details missing here. What I want people to understand is that John was completeley justified in his feelings of wanting to leave me behind. Considering the events of our relationship, the multitude of costly mistakes I've made at the absolute worst times and other aspects, he was right in being fed up. Up to that point, I had made mistake after mistake and I wasn't known for solving problems; I was known for making them worse. I'll be honest when I say that we still have these problems, it's going to take a lot more than some freedom and a few months to fix something like this. He had no reason to believe at that point that I wouldn't do something else to make the situation worse. I had no chips to bargain with, and he was extremely stressed out and fed up. He felt that he would do better without me, and for all I know he might have. He gave me thirty minutes to get a bag together, and to get Rebel's things together, and he was going to leave and move onto Acapulco himself, to start over. I didn't try to argue at first, as I could see where he was coming from. I just cried and got things ready, trying to consider what I was going to do.
Eventually, I did what I could to change his mind. I begged just to ride a bit further at least, if not to Acapulco and offered the chance to split once we were there. I was scared, to be honest, of being left in a country I had never been to by myself. I also felt that I was fully capable of the things he was asking of me, and wanted to be as well, so that was definetly part of it.
So I begged him to let me continue, and I asked if we could find a place to relax, unwind, have a picnic and maybe have sex to make up. He agreed, somewhat grudgingly and we left that parking lot and moved on. We were in a fairly deserted part of Mexico and there were barely started random suburb like developments everywhere that were completely abandoned, so we thought maybe one of those would work. We found a cool one and within a few minutes of being in what was one of the only houses in a huge development(it was a pretty awesome half finished castle house at that), we noticed another car heading in, which seemed weird, so we decided to leave and moved on. Eventually we found this abandoned, what seemed to be an old train station, structure right next to the tracks off the road. We decided maybe this was the spot, half the reasoning was because we were starving and tired I'm sure.
So we're pulled up behind this building, in between the building an the tracks mostly out of sight of the road. We did some of our few remaining dabs and tried to calm down from the day. Across the tracks and under a big shady tree was another equally abandoned structure. We were discussing how that would be a nicer spot and whether or not the truck could make it over those tracks in front of us, over to that spot. The conversation went on for several minutes, with John saying things along the lines of "I considered that too, I don't think we'll make it." Wanting to make it happen, to make the day nicer, I kept offering half baked ideas on how to make it across. At some point during the conversation, John says "Fuck it", turns on the truck and attempts to drive over the tracks, trying to appease me as I was just as interested in pursuing the other more private spot if not more so. It didn't go well. Actually, it went terribly. We were stuck with our front tires on the tracks and our back stuck in like 10 inches of dusty desert sand. The frame of the truck was held up on the rocks that they put on and around tracks, and with the sandy soil was extremely hard to move.
We tried anyway, for like fourty minutes. Both of us were on each side of the truck, under it, digging sand and rocks out with our hands. We would dig the frame out a little, try to put things for traction under the back tires, like sticks, rock and carpet. He'd try to back off the tracks, always in vain, sinking deeper and deeper each time. It seemed oddly symbolic of a lot of things, I think we discussed the irony at several points. I know I apologized profusely, as it was my idea he tried. By the end of it we were extremely dirty, covered in cuts from broken glass and rocks and exhausted. We just kept digging deeper and deeper, realistically only making the situation worse.
At the time, my dog Rebel who was in the cab of the truck was freaking out. In my freaking out I was yelling at him to be quiet, as I just expected he was reacting to our emotions. John told me he could probably feel some vibration on the tracks, and that he could be warning us, and at this point I feel he was right. I stopped yelling at him, recognizing that this was perfectly possible. I feel pretty stupid for not having considered it first. After awhile of unsuccessful attempts, John sent me to the road to flag down someone to help. We both could recognize that we were not going to be able to get off those tracks on our own, we needed help. We were both hoping that someone wasn't going to be government or cartel, as we were in the Sonora desert, which is notorious for it's cartel activity. It's also a bit too close to the border for our tastes as well, and we still considered ourselves able to be caught and sent back to the states at any time.
So I stood on the side of the road and jumped around screaming help. Several trucks drove by, ignoring me. I started to lose hope, but kept trying. I had to have been a sight, tiny white girl on the side of the road in the desert flailing around screaming help. Finally, what appeared to be a large van was slowing. As it got closer, I realized it was an ambulance from the local airport and my heart sank. In the states, had this situation happened, it would have ended in the ambulance calling the police, maybe even for help, and it would have ended in an arrest. The van came to a stop and had two friendly faced mexican men in the front. They asked me what was wrong and I told them we were stuck on the tracks and asked if they would help us. They agreed and asked me to get in the van, so I could show them where the truck was. I refused at first, as I didn't know them and for all I knew they were going to drive off with me. I eventually agreed, but my hand was on the door handle, ready to tuck and roll at any point if they started to go in a direction I didn't want. The one in the passenger seat got in the back of the truck. But they just followed my directions to the truck.
I was borderline hysterical, and they tried to calm my fears by assuring me that trains do not run those tracks at that time of day, they only go early in morning and late at night. At that time it was probably 5 or 6 pm. Their words calmed me somewhat, and I even relayed them to John when we got there. We were both still pretty eager to get the truck off those tracks, as soon as possible, despite this. He had an equally horrified look on his face that I brought an ambulance of all things to our rescue, as he had the same fears as I. Once we were stopped, about 6 mexicans came pouring out the back of this ambulance. I briefly wondered whether there was enough room in there for anyone needing medical transport, but decided to refocus my attention to the truck. They stood for a second, mostly laughing at us and asking us why we tried to cross. We just said "We're young and on vacation", too embarrassed and unable to explain the real reasoning.
They got down to business, and just lifted the front of the truck over and off of the tracks, which was all we needed to be able to leave. We gave them many thanks and shook their hands. They all piled back into their van and continued the same path they were on before we found them. We had to go back that way ourselves, which was back towards Rocky Point, as John let the air out of one of our tires in an attempt to help us get off the tracks. Due to his childhood dune buggy driving, he had a lot of tricks he tried to employ to help get us off those tracks before we asked for help. We got back on the road, and headed back the way we came to the closest Pemex, hoping our tire didn't blow up or anything from too low of pressure. As we drove only a total of 5 minute after getting off the tracks , John noticed a light far off on the tracks heading our direction.
"Is that what I think it is?!!" he exclaimed. I was in disbelief and determined it wasn't because I was trusting what the nice mexicans in the ambulance told me. I also didn't want to accept how close we were to losing everything.
"Maybe its a truck, coming to investigate what's stuck on the tracks" I offered, really hoping it was the case. As we moved closer however, it became clear that it was a cargo train, headed right for where we were parked on the tracks. Had we not been helped by those mexicans at the time that we did, our truck and everything that we owned in it probably would have been destroyed and we both would have been stranded with no food, no car and no money.
As we drove further, freaking out at almost having been stranded by a train hitting our truck, we noticed a stopped white van at the next intersection. It was the ambulance, making sure we had gotten out of there okay. No doubt they saw the train, and realized that they were wrong in telling us there was no danger of being hit. As we drove by and waved, they bleeped at us and turned, towards the airport.
We made it to the Pemex without destroying our tire, and got air. We then actually found a place to carry out our picnic and other activities, and did so. It was a fairly cool area, a man made sand canyon where people seemed to come to both harvest sand for building, and dump trash from building as well. We spent a few hours there and moved on. Most of the day was gone, and we were exhausted so we soon stopped and camped. We didn't realize it at the time, but we had found an abandoned sea salt complex to camp in, but that's a story for another day.
And we continued on the next day, with our friend in his own car, and eventually made it to Acapulco with his help. We have not left our problems behind, but it is going to take a lot to make things right. Needless to say, our first few days in Mexico were extremely stressful. How it turned out made me happy though, and my respect for the mexican people grew immensely. It was a crazy day but we knew it'd make a good story to tell once we had recovered from the shock of it. Those mexicans had interest only in helping us, and that was that. It was so different from what we have experienced in the states, and it was another good omen that we had made the right choice in choosing Mexico. We had entered a country of human beings, willing to help other human beings if they have the means to do so. This was just one of many times when random strangers helped us throughout our journey through Mexico.