Had to make it to Mexico in a hurry. But if you think that an 8-hour driving journey entails a tiring feat, let it be known that a voyage round the clock without rest, like the one I tried to complete, derives into something else beyond exhaustion: a physical or mental condition that perhaps might explain what I dare to narrate next.
Resolute not to stop at anything, started off my long drive from the city of Los Angeles eastbound on freeway 10 to reach Laredo, where I entered Mexico on the way to Cuernavaca without stopping or sleeping at any point. Holding a hamburger in one hand and the wheel in the other kept going intent on getting to reach my target location without interruptions in no time.
Only that, while going through Matehuala at dawn had to dodge ghostly trucks coming at me from nowhere while avoiding ethereal, fleeting bodies hurrying across the road. Regretfully, all that the Red Bulls had done was to make my eyes exorbitant; meaning was almost fast asleep and hallucinating.
For that reason, while tiredly approaching the crossroads of Dolores Hidalgo after 30 hours of continuous driving, decided to make a turn toward San Luis and stop for an overnight stay since it was impossible to keep awake.
With a last effort, left the splendid Pan-American highway 57 and swerved east to traverse the dark, narrow stretch still a good 9 kilometers distance that would take me to that desolated town. Almost giving up, looked for a relatives’ home near the train station at mid dawn. Hesitant, knocked on the door and suddenly had a change of heart for I didn’t want to inconvenience anyone. Instead, chose to go to the hotel: had I only known what in-store was there for me at that venue, wouldn't have minded waking everybody up!
Hadn’t stop to ponder that going back to this area would put me within reach, as in every visit before, of strange and incredible incidents that have no explanation. As if something or someone who has come from who knows where insisted on establishing contact or making me know its presence.
A history of apparitions, unusual events of supernatural sort, and occurrences perhaps not terrifying, but puzzling had been happening with persistent frequency during each one of my visits of previous years. Still, I ditched the possibility they could continue now, convinced that maybe it would all be different due to the skepticism some of us develop with age.
There was a single hotel in town always empty and that's where I went. Its location was half a block from the main square around the corner from the temple I knew my father's remains rested in a vault never visited by me.
Right before entering the building, took a moment to behold with ambiguous sensation how the damp cobblestone streets reflected the vintage lanterns from the plaza while the entire town slept. As always, felt like having gone back in time perhaps due to the secluded geographical positioning of the place, its quietness, and almost total isolation with no outlets to the exterior.
Following the elder watchman through a pretty tall stairway between thick adobe walls, traversed then a long corridor dimly lit to reach at last my room at the end. The bed looked minuscule compared to the ample dimensions of the chamber. The ceilings were 5 meters high boasting regularly interspersed wooden beams all across the roof between white, windowless walls similar to the ones found in cloisters.
There was only a small night table and the rest was a sober and dark area with enough space for a complete living room set but without one. I found it all strange but didn't stop to think. Nonetheless, before crashing down exhausted in bed, managed to turn on the hazy light bulb in the bathroom leaving its door ajar so I could have at least a weak shaft amid that absolute darkness.
As soon as I went to bed was quickly sound asleep, and not even a half-hour had passed when from deep sleep could perceive a presence coming from my feet imperiously demanding my full attention. It was a thing flying through the air coming straight at me manifesting itself with great force. I was prone and, alarmed, struggled to wake up.
Once awake, quickly tried to turn around but found myself paralyzed. I couldn’t move at all! Then, as if the being had felt mi reaction, shifted ahead apprehensively to gain swiftly a new position above mi head. I could feel it hover menacingly as if wielding a colossal scimitar on the verge of decapitating and turning me into nothing.
Luckily, recalled a reading I once had on handling similar situations: “...shouldn't oppose any resistance against the paralysis that takes hold when the dead has gotten on you lest it becomes violent.” Relaxed, followed all the advice that would spare me contained in that arcane but handy, book. Yet, simultaneously and just to make sure, started praying My Lord Jesus Christ still fearing the blow that would terminate my soul and could come down at any moment. I, who never pray, now feeling doomed, started imploring like chicken in the face of that diabolic presence lingering one meter above.
Frankly aghast, could perceive that as the prayer progressed the phenomenon, or spirit, or ineffable force was recoiling and calming its exalted fury barely restrained only one-minute prior. Relieved and astounded, knew that the thing had subsided finally as I reached amen. Gathering courage and risking annihilation, the first thing I did was to turn my head and see what the hell that was.
Could now move freely so I rotated my head 180 degrees only to face the beams in the ceiling in semi-darkness. The thing had left through where it had come from. Got up and sat on the bed trying to understand that abrupt, and uncalled-for, assault. It wasn't either long before I went back to sleep because now, for real, was on the verge of madness.
Already late, left the bed still trying to find the logic behind such a somber occurrence. However, having fallen short of completing my otherwise rushed journey as originally planned, decided now to wander around a bit. That said, headed for the temple across from the main square to visit the sepulcher of my father.
Clueless about where the family niches were, walked the left isle straight to a small hall separated from the great nave. By the entry on the left white wall could read the names on the niches of my grandparents, my father, and various relatives, former inhabitants of this town, all of them within my genealogy group. Next, moved to the adjacent room to face a life-size Christ statue and started to weep with deep grief.
Thinking I was alone in the temple, left my utterance run free until the gaze of a puzzled mature woman at the pegs made me feel self-conscious, so I tried hard to compose myself. Went out to the atrium to continue sobbing on a bench when realized hadn’t cried this much even at my father's burial 4 years earlier…
Suddenly, recalled an incident that had taken place 20 years before in that same hotel and the same room! Hard to believe had failed to make the connection sooner! Couldn’t help but self-reprimand myself. How could’ve been possible not having remembered it earlier?
On that occasion, we were two families traveling together, and San Luis was not in our plans to visit. However, after having been looking for a room at an overcrowded touristic destination nearby with no luck, had ended giving up the idea. Instead, we had now to look, urgently since there were children among us, for any available place for at least an overnight stay. So we opted for the only hotel I knew would have vacancies, and which was only one hour away: the one in San Luis.
In adjacent rooms, rested comfortably that night. And since we were now at a place different, planned for different activities as well the next day, and that's when invited them to know the hacienda I was familiar with, located at the foot of a mountain range. We were to use my car only and leave Miguel's brand new one in front of the hotel lest it got badly battered on the dirt back road.
Took them to tour the hacienda and for a dip in the river, visited the church, and stayed overnight at the ranch. The next day, were back in San Luis to get Miguel's car from the hotel, oblivious to the horrifying surprise we were to face: Miguel's brand new, the yellow car had been scuffed off its paint almost in its entirety; it had been scrapped till the very last square inch of painted surface! It was not a simple scratch. No.
It seemed as if a team of at least 2 or 4 strong people had gone to extreme lengths to scrape the paint of a car of an unknown, foreign individual who had not gotten in trouble at all in that city. No one saw a thing. Neither the watchman nor the neighbors noticed anything. I hadn’t seen anything like it before and haven't seen anything like it after.
Maybe Miguel was right when he stated that it all looked like an intervention from the “other world”. It could be said there's something eerie in that hotel!
After my crying had ended, went for breakfast, and then to the same relative's home avoided the previous night. Got there as an aunt and an army of cousins, nephews, and nieces were leaving for the church. I seized the opportunity and went along to pay the last visit to my father's vault.
Once there, the moment my auntie saw me heading for the small chapel on the left, quickly tried to prevent me from it by declaring there was nothing there. Not to contradict her in mid-sentence still tried to explain that I had just seen the crypts in that side altar, but with imperious gesture asked me to follow her and be quiet. And so, I did.
We all proceeded to the main altar, followed by a 180-degree turn to the right and into an obscure passage leading to a huge catacomb filled with hundreds of vaults where I had never been before. Could see the niches of each of my relatives, but they were no longer clustered together like I had seen them be earlier.
They were now scattered without a pattern of closeness or vicinity among them. Inquired when were had they been transported from the other area, my aunt just answered they had always been here; never in the place, I was so positive they were.
I left her mid-sentence and hurried back to the small altar quite sure the crypts were there while rejecting any possibility of duplicity. Felt sick to my stomach for what I saw! There was nothing on that plain white wall, not even a painting or a frame. Scrutinized the wall up close looking for any trace of construction despite knowing just how far-fetched would it be to consider a relocation of crypts in such a few hours.
Furthermore, stepped into the adjacent room to reenact the moment I had seen the vaults from that perspective by the Christ sculpture. To prevent my aunt from thinking I was a nut refrained from making any further comments and decided to accept, utterly puzzled, that I had made an error of appreciation.
Mystified instead of scared, resumed my trek southbound going now at a slower pace trying to cope with myriad questions and reflections, analyses, and flashbacks intent on elucidating the occult truth behind such imperative manifestations.
Entering Mexico City from the north, traversed the metropolis via beltway at dawn. But, just after passing Fuente de Petróleos nearing New Chapultepec, saw a police patrol on my tail, possibly after detecting my California plates (No need to mention they don't like those), signaling to pull over.
Suddenly anguished, looking for the first exit positively knew that nothing good could come out from being detained at that hour amid a deserted street. Almost sure the police officers knew the next exit would be the right combination of solitude and darkness to do their job they followed me there.
But when I was getting ready for the inevitable, expecting the worst, a terrified woman appeared out of nowhere from the dark throwing herself in front of the vehicles while screaming for help.
Through the rear-view mirror saw a confusing scene: the hesitant, startled officers looking at the distraught woman, whose arms kept flailing as she yelled.
The patrol had no option but to stop, which they did, while I just kept going this time indeed terrorized, away from those prowling, uniformed evil spirits until I finally arrived in Cuernavaca in one piece!