Raw Meat
Speed Bumps

Part II
So, we left Mexico City and headed down the autopista to Acapulco. Unfortunately, in my brief tête-à-tête with the fire hydrant, I had fucked up what is scientifically called the doohickey that's fitted to the bottom of the trailer to keep water out of it during rainstorms or in crossing the Missouri River. Jesús had tried to tie this splash-plate back in place, but was unable to cinch it down tightly because I had also warped the mainframe which had, in turn, swallowed the rototiller.

Thus every hour or so, the plate began to drag up against the back tire, generating vast amounts of smoke, so we had to stop the car and Jesús would go back and tighten it up and say some prayers to the Virgin of Guadalupe asking that, at the end of this particular journey, he would never have to travel with this lunchhead ever again.

In the wilds of Mexico they don't have enough policemen to patrol the highways and take bribes at the same time so they put in "topes" --- speed bumps (also known as Silent Policemen). They are set up so that if you hit them at any speed in excess of five mph, they jerk the car upwards, destroying the suspension and permanently damaging the driver's brain/motor function. Over the last few years, they have installed 200 such topes between Acapulco and Puerto Perdido.

The trailer was an antique when we started, and it aged considerably --- as did the chauffeur --- over the next few hours. The bent frame and droopy splash plate made considerable noise in any event and when we crossed over a tope, it got raucous enough to bring the gentry running. It got so bad when we reached the village of Maniáltepec that I sent Jesús back yet again to see what was wrong.

"Estaba pesado," he said when he returned. It was weighted down. "Por eso, hacía mucho ruido." That was why it was making so much noise.

What do you mean, weighted down?

He explained that when we went through the town of Las Puchas there was a dead dog on the highway, so the splash-plate, facing forward, worked as a scoop and picked up the dogsbody. As we dragged our load down the highway, our impromptu scoop got so hot that it fried up our little hitchhiker. By the time that Jesús was able to dump it, it had developed a considerable bouquet; it was, he said, "bien cocido" --- well-done.

Strangely enough, the hot dog was the last disaster except for a near head-on with a Mexican bus near Chila and practically being overrun by an army of gringo-eating pigs just outside of San Sebastián. We made it home around midnight, at which time I vowed, letting Jesús I and Jesús II be my witnesses, that I would never travel through Mexico hauling a goddamn trailer ever again.

The next day, after I told the story of our adventures to a Mexican friend of mine, Raúl. As I told my story he began to shake, and had to kept turning away to hide the tears pouring from his eyes. After he had recovered, he told me that in Oaxaca there is a special name for the dogs that sleep in the middle of the roadway and never move fast enough to get out of your way when you zoom into town.

We call them "topes de carne," he said. Raw meat speed-bumps.

--- Carlos Amantea
Go back to Part I

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