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the Degree Confluence Project
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Mexico : Oaxaca

4.1 km (2.5 miles) NNW of Tiltepec, Oaxaca, Mexico
Approx. altitude: 441 m (1446 ft)
([?] maps: Google MapQuest Multimap world confnav)
Antipode: 16°S 83°E

Click on any of the images for the full-sized picture.

#2: Facing west up the river #3: The guinea pig.  Is it shallow enough to cross? #4: Success #5: Beat-up car, Jay, Dennis, Jeff #6: GPS Reading #7: Jeff, Jay, Dennis, Simon

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  16°N 97°W (visit #2) (incomplete) 

#1: Facing east down the river

(visited by Jeffrey Brown, Jay Leasa, Dennis Klink and Simon Wilmetts)

21-May-2006 -- Dennis and Jeff had driven their old, beat-up car all the way from Tuscon, Arizona before finally arriving in Acapulco. Simon and myself had gone to a club that night to check out the bar scene so we didn’t actually meet up with Dennis and Jeff until around 3 in the morning. We relaxed in the hotel pool and in the surrounding hammocks for a few hours and told stories of our adventures getting to where we now found ourselves before we finally headed to bed. We had a long drive the next day and would need our sleep.

We woke up the next day and I finally had a chance to examine the car that was to be our ride for the rest of the 2 weeks we had in Mexico. I was what you might call unbelievingly amused. Upon close inspection I could see that the muffler was actually barely hanging on by a few charred and tangled pieces of wire. Before we could go anywhere this situation had to be remedied. We took off into town to find some metal glue and a spool of stronger wire. I had never quite heard a car make that much noise before, and I would imagine the locals were thinking the same thing judging by some of the looks we got as we cruised the main street. Jeff and I spend the next hour or so underneath the car, improvising with the materials at hand to reattach the muffler. We could have driven to Puerto Escondido with the car in the condition it was in, however, Jeff informed me that if we left the muffler the way it was, he could not guarantee that our belongings in the trunk wouldn’t melt due to the extremely hot exhaust being pumped out directly underneath the trunk.

Finally, with the car relatively fixed up, and with high spirits we headed out for a long 6 hour drive in which our fuse box started on fire, all rear lights failed, numerous spills, speed bumps, and military check points. It should be mentioned that after all the work we put into reattaching that retched muffler, after the third speed bump on the outskirts of the city, it once again fell off and we were left shouting in order to hear each other.

After a few days of chilling on the beaches in Puerto Escondido, a surfing Mecca which is known as the Mexican half-pipe we decided it was time to attempt the confluence. We all put on our confluence cowboy hats and headed north along a winding road with barely a quarter tank of gas and no muffler.

We could see from the GPS that this highway was heading in the general direction we wanted to in and just when we thought we might have a lot of hiking to do a small unmarked dirt road appeared on our right heading in exactly the direction we needed it to go. After about 30 minutes of driving along this twisting turning road and looking at our depleted gas tank, we had a choice to make: either cut our losses and turn around so we don’t get stranded in rural Mexico; or, we set aside the possible consequences, push on, and finish what we set out to do. We all knew what we had to do and it really didn’t need to be said that we were going to press on all along, but it was at that moment by some intervention of the fates that Tom Petty’s ‘I won’t back down’ began to play. Now the adrenaline began to course through us and it finally became the adventure we were hoping it would be - speeding up hills and coasting down the other side trying not to break so we had as much speed as possible to get us up the next looming hill. The lack of breaking combined with the incredibly steep slopes adjacent to us added to the excitement of the trip. A patch of loose gravel, a slip of the foot on the pedal, a slip of the wrist on the wheel, even a sneeze could have sent us over the edge at any given moment. Eventually we ended up driving into a small valley enclosed on all sides with hills and a bridge to the east which crossed a river. Driving the car down a muddy path off the ‘main’ road we had come in on, we pulled the car over to the side so it was out of the way of any vehicles which may need to use this path to access their farms.

Almost as soon as we exited the car we found our first obstacle. No more than 50 meters in front of us was a surging river which was rushing past us with the waters that had collected up river from the rains that had been moving closer towards us all afternoon. And if that wasn’t enough, on the opposite bank was a large, steep hill covered in think vegetation. Our confluence was on the other side of all of this. As close as it was, this was as far as we could make it. The challenges in front of us, combined with the issues facing three out of four digestive tracts proved too much to handle and we had to turn back. None of us spoke much on the walk back to the car as we departed and we all found it hard to bare the disappointment, none more so than Jeff who had already stripped to his underwear and crossed the river to prove to us it could be done.

Now we had to deal with the gasoline issue once again – or lack thereof. We passed a number of large trucks which were carrying dozens of people to a festival in a nearby town; however, none of them were able to siphon gas for us without some sort of rubber tube. I attempted to fashion some sort of make-shift tubing using a roll of duct tape as we continued out of the valley. We employed the same techniques for conserving gas as we had on the way in, yet it seemed more urgent this time around since the majority of the trip out was uphill.

After a tense drive, we finally made it out to the main road. We followed one of the trucks carrying all the people from the valley until we got to a tiny village where we were able to buy a couple gallons of gasoline from a local store owner who just happened to have a few extra cans sitting around his shop. After filling up the car it was a bumpy, noisy, sweaty ride back to Puerto Escondido where we had only one option for alleviating the disappointment of the confluence attempt – an ice cold cervaza!


 All pictures
#1: Facing east down the river
#2: Facing west up the river
#3: The guinea pig. Is it shallow enough to cross?
#4: Success
#5: Beat-up car, Jay, Dennis, Jeff
#6: GPS Reading
#7: Jeff, Jay, Dennis, Simon
ALL: All pictures on one page (broadband access recommended)