June, 2016, Perote “Just back up and fwwt!” he says.
He’s an old Mexican man and perhaps the park ranger here at Perote, a big ol’ volcano in the middle of Mexico with an old growth forest that rivals anything the Pacific Northwest has left. “Fwwt,” being the universally known sound in Mexico for “just do it like this, it’s easy.” See the problem is, we can’t make this last thirty feet of incline. We can see the campground. The fire pits, the palapas, the endless vistas. We just can’t make it. Too many mountains. Too many four or five hour days. And not enough horsepower.
He insists though. And my brain is spinning. I try backing her up the hill. Nothing. No power. Nada. I try a running start, but it’s all incline and no flat. Like trying to keep a marble rolling downhill on a pregnant woman’s stomach, there’s nowhere but peaks and troughs.
He laughs all the while. We tell one another jokes in separate languages and though neither of us knows what the other is saying, we’re both cracking up. He waves goodbye.
Now, typically Mexicans seem to love the chance to solve a problem like this. But the ranger just left.
A couple comes coasting down the hill on a scooter. It won’t start and they’re just happy to be headed downhill. A guy comes by on a donkey. I figure that might do the job, but apparently he doesn’t share that inclination. Then another guy and his flock of sheep. Turns out I don’t have enough rope to for a sheepsled.
Finally, about an hour and two later, Tristan and I figure out this “go ten feet, chalk it, repeat” method. I highly recommend it now, by the way. Just don’t value your fingers too much and you’ll be good to go.
But anyway, hooray! We make it!
I pull up to one of those palapas with a grill and the best damn view I’ve seen in Mexico to date and here comes the ranger. “Sorry,” he says in Spanish, “I’ve got 30 students coming and the campsites are all taken up.” Could’ve told me that about thirty feet ago, I think. “But,” and again, he’s speaking a Spanish I don’t know but am figuring out quickly, “you can camp up there.” He points about a quarter mile up an even steeper, grass and mud incline…