Category Archives: Driving Hazards

Huachicoleros in Mexico

If you’ve been following the news on the current gas crisis in Mexico, you may have seen the word huachicolero in reference to those that buy and sell illegally obtained gasoline. This is a word that originally referred to people who knocked fruit from trees using a huachicol which is a long-handled instrument with a basket at the end to scoop the fruit in. Huachicol can also refer to watered-down liquor. Thus huachicoleros are those that sell the watered-down liquor. Which brings us back to huachicoleros in the news these days who are dedicated, and I mean dedicated, to obtaining and selling water-down gas. These are the people that AMLO intended to bring down with this change in distribution methods.

Pemex, the government owed petroleum mega-giant, has been losing money hand over fist in recent years. It is estimated that $7.9 billion USD has been lost because of gasoline theft in the last 7 years. AMLO believes previous presidencies have been in colusion with the theft. No surprises there!

So how is so much gas stolen? Well, it’s not nearly as exciting as this scene from the Fast and The Furious.

Long pipelines crisscross the country running under both private and government-owned lands. It isn’t so very hard, although sometimes quite dangerous, to tap a pipeline and build a warehouse around it where trucks can come and go unmolested and is much less difficult than stealing what would amount to 250 20,000-liter tanker trucks each year.

Central Mexico was hit hardest with this new distribution regulation. Large sections of the pipeline run through rural areas in Michoacan and Guanajuato which are not regularly monitored. For example, “everyone” knows there is a pipeline tap in nearby Cuitzeo, just outside of Morelia, Michoacan. It’s run by the cartel with the complete cooperation of local officials.

So how did things get to this crisis level? Gas stations that were in the habit of buying large quantities of this water-down gas, had scheduled low numbers of tanker truck deliveries from Pemex distribution centers this month, as they have had every month previously. With the pipelines shut down, the huachicoleros lost their supply of illegal gas and have been unable to make their regular deliveries. 

You might already know that the previous president Pena Nieto opened the petroleum market up for foreign investors. So now, Exxon and Mobile stations have sprung up all over the place, even taking over formerly owned Pemex stations. In our area, these foreign-owned stations ran out of gas long before the lone Pemex holdout. Now in the third week of the gas crisis, this single Pemex gas station has been receiving regular shipments every 2-3 days, which is not enough to meet demand with the other gas stations in town being effectively closed. So many people are still camping out in their cars awaiting the next gas shipment that an entire lane of traffic has been closed to accommodate them stretching for miles. Traffic has been entirely rerouted.

That’s not to say that only foreign-owned gas stations have been buying stolen gas. I think there might be an inherent bias in the distribution system these days. AMLO has been vocal about Mexico for the Mexicans. Foreign importation of gasoline has already been reduced. So it’s no far stretch to believe Pemex is taking care of its own first.

Gas ahead.

What will happen next? According to AMLO, the pipelines will remain closed. The income loss experienced by the huachicoleros won’t be taken lightly. There are bound to be violent repercussions in our cartel-run area. In fact, in some areas, the regular ol’ Joses and Josefinas have taken up the call of the huachicoleros and tapped their own pipelines

In the meantime, enjoy the La Cumbia del Wachicol by Tamara Alcantara while you can.

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Would you like to read about my own experience with governmental correuption in rural Mexico?

Check out La Yacata Revolution: How NOT to buy a piece of Heaven in Mexico.

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Gaspocalypse

We are well into week 2 of the 2019 Gaspocalypse. Three days last week there was not a drop of that liquid gold to be found in Moroleon, Uriangato or Yuririra. The roads were eerily deserted. People camped in lines miles long in the hope that maybe tomorrow there would be gas. By Thursday, there was a trickle of gas coming in. Gas stations opened at 8 am and were sold out by 11 am. People waited more than 6 hours in line.

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Never leave home without your garafon of gas!

By Friday, a few delivery trucks were up and running. I saw the coke and Sabritas trucks out. Good thing! I don’t know what Moroleon would have done without their soda and chips. Mass hysteria to be sure! Of course, there is a Corona bottling plant in town. You know the owner of Corona lives in Moroleon, right? So there was never a fear of running out of beer. Whew!

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So how did things get to this extreme juncture with gas shortages now in 10 states? Well, no one is exactly sure. Initially, the well-intentioned president AMLO closed the pipelines to cut down on the out-of-control petroleum theft. Gas was to be brought to the stations via tanker truck under watchful military vigilance.

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Gas motorcade!

There aren’t enough trucks to meet demand so the gas has been languishing away at the port storage facilities. In fact, 60 oil tankers are anchored off-shore waiting to offload their cargo. Some have been waiting more than a month. Thus it remains a distribution problem rather than an actual gas shortage.

It appears that beginning this week the Mexican government will hire privately owned trucks to help alleviate the backup. The trucks will run 24 hours a day and be escorted by military police. Good! Good!

Has this rerouting process and pipeline closures helped with the gas theft? Not much apparently! Gas thefts from pipelines continue in Texmelucan, Puebla even with more than 4,000 additional federal troops being dispatched to safeguard them.

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Nearly there now!

The serpentine lines at gas stations continue. Fresh food deliveries are few and far between. Tourism is way down. Black market gas has reached record high prices on Facebook. Police have been forced to ride bikes on patrol. Superbowl Sunday Guacamole Dip is endangered. Suspected fuel thieves are being branded.

And yet, through it all, Mexicans find a way. In Morelia, mariachis came to party the night away with motorists waiting for the next gas shipment. What was about someone fiddling while the city burned?

Even if the gas shipments are regularized this week, the devastating blow to the Mexican economy will take much longer to regularize. AMLO’s decisions as incoming president are being questioned. The consensus seems to be that things were better under PRI. At least there was gas. Who cares if it was stolen? The devil you know and all that.

This reform went so swimmingly well, I can’t wait to see what AMLO has in store for the national healthcare system!

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Would you like to learn how to survive other catastrophic disasters in Mexico? Check out A to Z Reasons Why La Yacata is the Place to Be in Any Disaster: A Prepper’s Guide to Mexico.atozcover

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Too Much Signage

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So the other week, I noticed a lone worker digging a hole near the crossroad to La Yacata and I started to speculate. I thought to myself– maybe they were going to put in a light, perhaps solar as there are no connecting wires. That section of road is extremely dark at night and there has been more than one fatal accident at the intersection.

The lone worker dug steadily for a week. Each day, I was more and more convinced that it would be a light. After all, the town was putting in MORE lights every few feet on several of the main thoroughfares. Literally, less than 10 feet from existing lights, light posts were going up. There were even a few solar lights installed near the new CAISES. Yeah, baby! Our time had come!cam05234 cam05235

Imagine my disappointment when I came home one day towards the end of the week to find a HUGE green road sign, and then another. As the road that we live on dead ends in La Ordena, how much traffic does this road really get? Certainly not enough for such a HUGE sign. I guess it’s for the occasional lost cows that wander about. This way to Morelia.

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Take a look at how many signs there are in the 2 km between La Yacata and the intersection. Of course, not one can be seen at night, due to the lack of LIGHTING in the area.

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I have no idea what the smaller sign means. Women dragging men?

I have no idea what the smaller sign means. Women dragging men?

Meanwhile, there was a lighting celebration going on in town for those newly installed street lamps. Now it’s so bright when I take my son to school in the morning that I feel like I need to wear my sunglasses.

Just goes to show, there’s just no accounting for town spending practices.

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Claudia’s San Pancho Marine Turtle Adventure–The Journey There

While I enjoy sharing my adventures and disasters in Mexico, I never really thought of myself as adventure inspiring. In fact, I recently received an unsubscribe request that said I was boring. Whatever! So when I was given this story and I’m mentioned as the catalyst for the adventure, well, to say that I was surprised would be an understatement.

For the next 5 days, I will be sharing your Claudia‘s adventure volunteering at the marine turtle nursery in San Pancho, Nayarit. I’ve translated her escapades for my English language readers adding in a few of my own comments here and there. Spanish literate readers can find her unedited story following the English version. I hope you enjoy her adventure in Mexico as much as I did!

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My trip to San Pancho to save the marine turtles

Well, to begin, if it weren’t for C. (that’s me) I would not have been inspired to even make a trip alone. She has been motivating me for 2 years to do some of the many things that I have wanted to do. Thanks C. for your encouragement and patience with me. (You’re welcome Claudia!)

Well, for starters it was hard for me to deal with my family about this solo trip mostly due to the fears they have about the insecurity here in Mexico. They are always watching the news reports about rape and trafficking in women in other states, which fills their heads with fear. They don’t have much confidence in me and often consider me scatterbrained. You can just imagine the drama that this trip caused at my house. (She came to see me in tears on a few occasions, so opposed were her parents to this trip.)

Since the moment I got on the bus from Moroleon to Morelia, I was nervous. I couldn’t believe that finally, I was traveling alone. I arrived at the bus terminal in Morelia to get the connection that goes directly to Puerto Vallarta. I got on the bus and I felt nostalgic. A small tear ran down my cheek as the bus left the terminal and I saw my father becoming more distant. This feeling disappeared once we left the terminal and changed into one of euphoria and happiness. I felt so free, sitting in the seat, watching the streets of Morelia pass by, distancing myself from the city and watching how the landscape changed as the bus continued on its route.

Before getting on the bus, I had collected some inspiring music and made an album called “Adventure” to listen to precisely at this moment, which I did. I put on my headphones and hit play to feel the full range of emotions this adventure had inspired.

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I listened to Owl city’s To the Sky and Galaxies, Justin Timberlake’s Can’t stop the Feeling, Coldplay’s A Sky Full of Stars, the New Radicals’ You Only Get What You Give, E.L.O.’s All Over the World, Smooth Gravity’s Best Day of my Life, among others. If you like, I’ll give you the complete list so that you can hear and be motivated to make your own inspirational playlist. (That’s ok Claudia. I’m sure it’s a wonderful playlist.)

(After reading that, this scene from Zootopia came to mind.)

After that, I slept peacefully, the likes of which I had never slept before. We arrived in Guadalajara to let those off who had this stop as their final destination. My seat companion, who had been female up until now, became a thin, young man whose appearance, the quantity of medicines he carried in a small cooler, and the cane in his hand, led me to think he was ill. The vocabulary he used to talk on his phone made me feel so uneasy that I kept my hand on the pocket knife I carried just in case. I wasn’t able to sleep well. In any case, I dozed off a bit but woke when we arrived. (A knife, really? Well, better safe than sorry I suppose.)

I arrived at the bus terminal in Puerto Vallarta at 6:30 am. I was supposed to meet Miriam at The Holistic Center at 9 am. I thought it was a well-known place and maybe someone could give me directions but I was surprised to find that no one I asked knew where it was. This worried me because it was too early to call Miriam and ask for directions so I decided to wait for a decent hour to call. However, when I called, she didn’t answer my calls or my messages. I started to feel anxious since by now it was 8:50 and the battery on my cell was about to run out.

Another thing bothering me was the strange man watching me. Every time I moved, he moved too. I had my hand on my knife again but then I remembered that I was at the bus station, surrounded by people, so was safe enough. Eventually, I realized he was only trying to annoy me. He had his suitcase up on the chairs in the waiting area and finally left.

I approached a young man that set up tours to ask for directions. He was very nice and helped me look up the address. “Venezuela Street is between the hotels Pescador and marlin, near Malecon.  Take the white and blue bus.  It should have the sign “Centro” on it.”

I thanked him quickly for his help and went to grab a taxi. (But he told you to take the bus!) The taxi driver didn’t know where the street was. He had to ask a fellow taxi driver. In order to see if the taxi driver was trustworthy, I tried to break the ice and see if I could earn his sympathy, so I began with questions about the price of gasoline and his work. Then I changed the topic to that of the teachers and their protests until we finally became friends and he gave me his name, Heriberto. He had the same name as an old and dear friend from Moroleon, and in some way, I felt that was a good sign that everything would be ok. (Because someone with the same name as a friend wouldn’t kidnap you?)

We made numerous turns looking for the address, stopping to ask various people, but no one seemed to know. There were moments that I was afraid because some of the places seemed far from downtown and more so because I had called and sent several messages to Miriam without a response. Finally, a traffic cop was able to tell us where to find it. We continued and had to stop yet again to ask a young lady who called her mother to give us some clues as to what to look for. It was up ahead in front of Woolworth’s, but the sign was small and we would have to pay attention so as not to miss it.

Finally, I saw the sign and we stopped. I got out of the taxi and went up some steps to enter the office under the sign. I saw a woman seated at a desk and knocked. She opened the door. She was wearing a long turquoise skirt and white loose blouse, hippie style like the way Miriam dressed. I asked for Miriam. The woman admitted that she knew Miriam but she didn’t know who I was or what I wanted. I asked her if I could leave my suitcases with her until Miriam finished work.

She said “No, Miriam didn’t tell me anything and she doesn’t work here. She’s much further away. But don’t worry. The good thing is that I know her and you arrived here. How is it you arrived here?”

I replied, “Well, I don’t know. I only asked people and here I am.”

She continued, “Goodness. That’s curious. How fortunate (literally God directed coincidence) that you arrived here.”

She was very nice and we talked a little. She allowed me to leave my suitcases there until 5 pm so I could sightsee along the seawall. When I left her office, I checked my phone and saw that I had messages and missed calls from Miriam. I called her back. She apologized for not giving me the address and remarked how amazing it was that I found one of her friends seemingly at random.

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Mi viaje de tortugas marinas a San Pancho

Bueno para empezar, si no fuera por C. no me habría animado siquiera a hacer un viaje yo sola. Ella ha estado motivándome por 2 años a realizar algo de las muchas cosas que he querido hacer y de las que le he contado. Gracias C. por tus ánimos y la paciencia conmigo.

Bueno, para empezar fue muy pesado lidiar con mi familia sobre realizar este viaje yo sola, por los miedos que tienen sobre la inseguridad del país y de que siempre se saturan la cabeza viendo noticias de la televisión acerca de violaciones, trata de mujeres en otros estados y por la razón de que no confían mucho en mi por ser despistada, así que ya se imaginarán el show que se armó.

Ahora, desde que entré al Autobús de Moroleón a Morelia, ya sentía los nervios de la emoción de que aún no creía que estaba por fin realizando un viaje yo sola. Al estar ya en la central de Morelia para ir directo a Puerto Vallarta y al entrar  al autobús listo para caminar, sentí nostalgia y una pequeña lagrimita corrió por mi mejilla al ver alejarse el autobús de la central y ver a mi papá a lo lejos.  Pero esa sensación desapareció una vez que salimos de la central y cambió a un estado de euforia y felicidad. Me sentía tan libre estar sentada en el sillón viendo pasar las calles de Morelia; alejarnos de ella y viendo cómo cambiaban los paisajes conforme avanzaba el autobús. Antes de subir al autobús guardé música que me inspira y creé un álbum llamado “Aventura” para escucharla precisamente en ese momento y eso hice, tomé mis audífonos y le di play a mi lista para sentirme aún más plena.

Entre las canciones que escuché fueron: Owl city-To the Sky y Galaxies, Justin Timberlake-Can´t stop the feeling!, Coldplay- A sky full of stars, New Radicals- You only get what you give, Elo- All over the world, Smooth Gravity- Best day of my life (Lounge tribute) entre otros que si quieren les dejo la lista para que las escuchen igual y se motivan para crear su propia lista también.

Después de eso, dormí tan tranquila y en paz como nunca antes.  Al llegar a Guadalajara para hacer la parada para quienes tenía que llegar a ese destino; mi compañera se transformó en compañero, un joven adulto, delgado y enfermo por su apariencia y la cantidad de medicinas que cargaba en su pequeña hielera y el bastón en su mano. No me daba mucha confianza por el vocabulario que usaba al hablar por teléfono. Incluso guarde a la mano la navaja que llevaba conmigo por si acaso. Jeje. Ya no pude dormir, pero ya estábamos llegando cuando desperté de mi media siesta.

Llegué a la central de Puerto Vallarta y eran las 6:30 am. La única referencia que tenía del lugar dónde me vería con Miriam era “El centro Holístico”  a las 9:00 am. Pensaba que era un lugar conocido y que tal vez alguien podría darme dirección si preguntaba pero para mi sorpresa nadie sabía siquiera lo que era. Eso me preocupó bastante porque era muy pronto como para marcarle a Miriam y pedir dirección, así que decidí esperar a que fuera una hora decente en la que ella ya estuviera despierta para preguntarle; sin embargo pasado el tiempo de espera, no respondía mis mensajes ni llamadas. Ya desesperada por hacer algo porque ya faltaban unos 10 minutos para las 9:00 y mis baterías de celular estaban por agotarse.

Otra frustración que tenía es que había un hombre extraño vigilándome, cada vez que cambiaba de lugar también lo hacía y no dejaba de verme, tenía nuevamente lista mi navaja pero recordé que estaba en la central y no dejaría de haber gente en el lugar, así que estaba segura; hasta que finalmente me di cuenta que sólo estaba enfadado y tenía su propia maleta en las sillas de espera y se fue, jeje.

Finalmente ya cercano a las 9:00 me acerqué a preguntar a un joven que programaba tours y muy amablemente me ayudo a buscar una dirección. “Calle Venezuela; entre los hoteles Pescador y Marlín, cerca del Malecón, toma el camión blanco con azul debe tener el letrero de *Centro* “

Agradecí su ayuda y rápidamente salí por taxi y para colmo el taxista no sabía dónde quedaba la calle hasta que un compañero suyo le dijo por dónde estaba fue que partimos al fin de la central. Para ver si era confiable el taxista, quise romper el hielo y ver si me ganaba la simpatía del taxista, empecé con preguntas acerca del precio de la gasolina y sobre su trabajo, después se cambió el tema sobre los maestros y su lucha hasta que finalmente hicimos amistad y me dio su nombre: Heriberto, jeje qué simpático que se llamara como un viejo y querido amigo de Moroleón, de cierta manera sentí como buena señal de que todo estaba bien. Dimos tantas vueltas buscando el dichoso lugar sin dar con él, preguntamos a varias personas y nadie sabía nada; hubo momentos en los que sentía miedo por algunos lugares que parecían estar lejanos del centro y más porque había mando mensajes y marcado varias veces al teléfono de Miriam sin ninguna contestación, hasta que más adelante había un tipo tránsito y por fin nos dijo por dónde podíamos encontrar el dichoso lugar, continuamos y nos detuvimos a preguntar nuevamente a una joven que llamó a su mamá para que nos diera pista de que estábamos cerca, más adelante en el edificio de “Wool Worth” dijo, pero nos advirtió que el letrero era pequeño así que debíamos poner atención.

Y por fin vi el letrero y paramos. Bajé del taxi y subí por unas escaleras para llegar a la oficina donde estaba el letrero, vi una mujer sentada en un escritorio y toque la puerta. Abrió la puerta, observé estaba vestida con falda larga color azul Turquesa y blusa Blanca holgada, tipo hippie o del estilo que usa Miriam y le pregunté por ella, acertó que la conocía, pero tenía duda de quién era y que quería. Nuevamente pregunté si sabía que iba a dejarle mis maletas mientras ella se desocupaba de trabajar.

“No, no me dijo nada y ella no trabaja aquí, es mucho más lejos. Pero no te preocupes, lo bueno es que la conozco y llegaste conmigo. ¿Por cierto cómo llegaste hasta aquí?- Pues no sé, sólo preguntando a la gente.- ¡Vaya! Qué curioso, de verdad tenías que llegar aquí, qué genial Diosicidencia.” Ella fue muy amable conmigo y platicamos un poco y me permitió dejar las maletas hasta las 5:00 pm para poder turistear por el malecón.  Cuando salí de su oficina, revisé mi celular y ya tenía mensajes y llamadas perdidas de Miriam y nuevamente me marcó disculpándose por no darme una dirección y también quedar asombrada por cómo había dado con una muy amiga suya al azar.

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