Being on the road is an adventure here, as in other places I’ve visited.  Whether it was driving in the city, on the highway, or the rural roads, I was always glad to arrive alive.  One time I glanced up to see an oncoming truck that said “Hail Mary” on the grill.  I took it as a sign and said one.

There were many roadside curiosities. I once spotted a bunch of guys working on a car. This wouldn’t be unusual, except they had tipped the car on its side and leaned it against a pile of tires so they could work on the underside.  Clever, if risky. 

The numerous highway stops were annoying, unsettling, and not always “official”.  They consisted of rocks and branches strewn halfway across the road in both directions.  The police, automatic weapons cocked, would pull the car over, peer inside, and wave us on.   Others were informal stops by people who expected to be paid for the privilege of passing through.

One officer waved us on and then, seeing me in the back seat as we started to drive off, banged on the fender to stop us.  He asked if I wanted an escort.  I wasn’t sure what that meant, but I was sure that there was only one right answer to that question. “No,” I answered, “I already have two!” referring to the driver and my colleague in the front seat.

His buddy was scarier.  He sported two crisscrossed Mexican-style bullet belts around his torso, and his helmet read “Born to Kill” in big white letters.  He stuck his head in my window, and with a toothy grin, cooed “Hiiiiiii.   I remember thinking, “Here’s where I get raped by the police and no one can do a damn thing about it.”  But after some small talk he let us pass. Hail Mary.

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