The train rolled into Mazatlán’s main marshalling yard, and the engineer uncoupled the locomotive. Time for me to find a new ride.
I climbed down the side of the gondola, picked my way over three strings of parked railcars hemming me in, and made my way out of the freight yard.
I walked toward the ocean. A large ferry was docked at a quay. Eighteen-wheelers were lining up on the wharf. They were loading them one by one onto the top deck of the ferry with a pneumatic elevator built into the ass of the boat.
I went over to the little office and poked my head in the door.
“Where’s the ferry going?” I asked.
“Can I get a ride?”
“Cargo only,” he said.
I walked to the wharf. A port official was standing by the loading ramp.
“Puedo pasar?” I asked.
I retreated to some nearby shade to consider my options. Then, as if a mystical force was intervening on my behalf, the guard lit a cigarette, walked off the quay, and disappeared!
I picked up my bag and walked up the ramp, expecting – with each footstep – to hear shouting behind me. There wasn’t any. I didn’t dare look around.
On the boat, I climbed a staircase to the second deck. There was a 20-foot-high hollow metal column shaped like the tailfin of an airplane at the back of the boat, among a tangle of marine-grade ropes and chains. There was an oval-shaped cut-out in one of its sides.
I crawled in and wedged myself inside it – out of sight – for the rest of the afternoon.
When I saw the late afternoon sunlight suddenly pour in through the oval and paint a slow arc across the floor, I knew we’d left port.
To be continued…
– Tom Dyson