We normally plan 3 days for the trip from Tampico to Mérida. It is not a hard 3 days. In fact, it is quite relaxing. We usually pull into our place to stay each night with plenty of time to talk with our hosts and do not have to rush out the next day. But because the car problems delayed our trip a bit, we needed to make this jaunt in 2 days if possible.
We left Tampico about 9:00 Friday morning. It should have taken no more than 8 hours to make it to Veracruz (the city). There was an accident on the road in Emilio Carranza, Veracruz. We did not get full details, but the road was down to 1 lane because of construction. Apparently this was a bridge. Either a construction crane or a tow truck (the word in Spanish is the same thing) fell off and damaged the good lane to the point where traffic could not pass at all. This meant that no one coming from either direction was able to travel on this road.
Not believing there would be no possible way to pass, we drove about 6 miles from where we were told we needed to detour just to see if it was remotely possible. It wasn’t. There were transport trucks lining both sides of the road just stopped waiting for the road to clear so they could go on. They were not able to take the detour because of their size. One driver told us that the road was not expected to be cleared until Monday. It was Friday then. He told us that he was parking his truck and going to walk down to the beach and spend a few days there until the road was cleared. We declined his invitation to join him.
We turned back and started towards the detour.
Let me see if I can describe this clearly. This is a major “interstate” level road. If you want to get to certain places, this is the only way to get there. In some places you have the toll road and the free road available. Where there are no toll roads, you only have the free roads. This is a free road. But, it would be a major artery. If you don’t take this road, the optional major road to get from Tampico to Veracruz would take at least 14 hours.
That said, this is not a 4 lane divided US Interstate type road. This is a 2 lane that sometimes has a bit of a shoulder, but when it does not, is just barely wide enough for to tractor trailer rigs to pass one another.
The detour was worse.
3 hours of worse.
Here are some photos of the event. The first is the major highway we were on, then the rest are from the detour. You can see it progressively got worse. Click each photo to see them larger.
We did get back on the big road eventually after a three hour detour. In that three hours we covered about 30 miles on the main road.
We did well and hit the bypass around the city of Veracruz in 10 hours. We pushed another 2 hours going as hard as we could so that we could make it to another big town before it got too dark. I ended up driving about 1 hour in the dark on the main road. Night driving here is a big No-No. Fortunately this was a section of the road that is like a US Interstate. I was reasonably sure of no major pot holes or cows on the road.
We ended up in the town of Acayucan. This was our first time there and we were able to stumble into a pretty nice hotel. It was the Hotel Ritz. Definitely not to be confused with the Ritz in London. It cost $41 for their deluxe room. It had 2 double beds, Air Conditioning and a fan. I had to pay extra to get the A/C and double beds, but it was worth it.