Frommer's maps were hand-drawn, simplified, and not always to scale, but we charged ahead, a two gallon can of gasoline in the trunk, which was in the front of the car. When we needed it a week later, we discovered that the gas had leaked out and apparently evaporated. We hadn't known that so much of Mexico was mountainous or that the dusty roads were full of potholes and worse, not to mention animals ranging from cows and donkeys to buzzards to porcupines, monster spiders, and unidentifiable dead creatures.
Sherrill never complained, but she did look forward to when we'd pull into a town and seek out one of Arthur's cheap hotels. After spending the night in boring Ciudad Obregon, we took a side trip to the colorful colonial city of Alamos.
"Let's stay here," I suggested, eying a small yellow and white colonnaded inn. "You need a rest."
"Can't afford it," she countered.
But when we reached sticky, tropical Culiacan, she was happy to splurge with an air-conditioned hillside hotel overlooking the old town. The big glass windows soon were crawling with a vast assortment of large, many-legged, horned insects, but at least they were outside. Later, on our way back north, we had to be satisfied with a much cheaper place below, where the creepy crawly beasts shared the room with us. We discovered, though, if we kept the light on all night, they didn't get in bed with us. As far as we knew.
Finally, Mexico City: the mile-high capital city, where Sherrill experienced her first roundabout, a vast whirlwind of traffic forever circling, nobody making room for anybody else to maneuver in or out.
I tried to make helpful suggestions so we wouldn't spend our young lives going in circles.
Our first raised voice.
On top of everything else, the altitude was giving her a terrible headache. When we reached our hotel and third floor room, she headed straight to the bathroom, where the inside knob came off in her hand as she closed the door, the rest of it falling at my feet outside. Then I heard her break down in tears, sobbing in misery. The tears went on and on—I'd never felt more helpless. I couldn't even take her in my arms.
"Don't cry, baby. It'll be okay."
I tried to put the pieces from the floor back in place, but nothing would connect to anything else. Eventually, I made a call and somebody came up to get the door open.
A city of a mere four million then, the sky above it was still blue, the parks were green, and the people friendly, except in traffic roundabouts. To us, this city seemed elegant and civilized. We ricocheted among the usual sights, the University City's great mural-covered buildings, the new Museo Nacional de Antropologia. the sinking Palacio de Bellas Artes, the Basilica of Guadalupe with pilgrims on bleeding knees, the great pre-Aztec pyramids which seemed to have been colonized by hairy orange tarantulas.
Crossing the park after coming out of the archeological museum, Sherrill tripped me and I fell on the grass. I grabbed her ankle, pulling her down, and began tickling her.
"Stop!" she laughed.
"You started it!"
For that moment, we weren't tourists using our time wisely, just twenty-four year-old newlyweds.
Then it was time to turn the Corvair northward. The road back to Berkeley was at least twice as long as it been driving south. After counting our cash one evening, dinner was a jar of grayish-pink strawberry jam and a small loaf of bread in our room.
Years later, Sherrill and I agreed that any two people thinking of marriage should travel together first. We didn't quite follow that rule, but we discovered on that road trip that we both were flexible and together could cope with anything.
To be continued....