Heading home up the Gulf Coast , after proposing to Susanna at Tulum in February of 1996, I was looking forward to the new adventure of planning life together with this very special lady. First we had to figure out who was moving where, who would work at paid employment and so on. Before that, I had to get home. After dropping Susanna at the Cancun Aeropeurto, I crossed the Yucatan Peninsula to Merida. Found a nice hotel with pool and safe parking for about $12 a night. Merida is a Mayan city, and is much mellower than most Mexican cities of that size. I always stop there, if only for a few hours, to buy guayabera shirts and Mayan hammocks. A good hammock is one of the ultimate Rally accessories (and no, I don't have any left). Next morning, I was rolling up the Gulf coast. Decided that since I was not in a hurry I would go right along the Coast, on Mexico 180. This involved a few toll bridges and ferries, but that was fine as I was curious about the new route. Looking forward to good seafood at roadside stands, too. Reached the fishing town of Champoton and, instead of heading inland, as I had always done before, carried on up the coastal highway. The road, as was known to anyone local who needed to know, had been destroyed in a hurricane two years earlier. The total lack of oncoming traffic should have tipped me off. I rolled on as the excellent two lane became a one lane which became a dirt road which became dirt and sand which became the beach! The old /5, with much clutch smoking and pushing and walking along side on my part, eventually turned around and headed back. This thirty mile round trip out of Champoton took about five hours. Got a room and crashed for the night. Next morning, I headed inland as I had done on previous trips. This route was fast and familiar, with the extra time spent in town squares resting and watching people.
- Written by Matt Parkhouse