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GPS on the road to San Pancho, Nayarit

Gail Mitchell


The woman's voice from the dashboard announces, "In three point five kilometers, turn right onto I 80 toward Qptlantapque."

"What did she say? What is she talking about?" I ask. I'm driving, peering at the array of green signs ahead which look vaguely familiar. Not one comes close to matching any destination our audible guide has pronounced with such an unusual number of consonants.

Bill consults the Mexico map book spread across his lap. "Ignore her," he says and takes the GPS from its special perch to enter new information.

"That's not the route we want," he says with authority. "It will take us out of our way. Keep going straight."

I keep going straight, but I'm not sure how the GPS feels about being snubbed.

"Recalculating," she says. Do I detect a little sarcasm? A new route has been established. She would be wise to agree with Bill, the navigator.

I'll explain. We're driving back to San Pancho on Nayarit's Pacific coast from Chicago, guided in part by the voice of our new GPS, Global Positioning System. Regardless of the number of times we've made this trip, we seem to find new and complicated ways to get lost each time. The GPS is our last, great hope. With our destination firmly set, from point A, Evanston, Illinois, to point B, San Francisco, Nayarit, we have only to set the cruise control and be guided across two countries.

Bill is in geographic love. I don't trust her. We don't share unconditional faith in all things electronic.

We manage to get through the U.S. and across the border with a minimum of contradictory information. It's only when we're in Mexico that doubts begin to surface. Bill checks the road map against the screen and continually points out the highways, tollways and towns that are missing from view. Where are the motels, restaurants and scenic points of interest? This does little to inspire confidence.

Our four day trip has little diversion; we drive ten to twelve hours a day listening to radio programs in Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas and Texas, more Texas, still Texas, digging out books on CD when our minds are numb from local color.

This year Bill is entertained by his new traveling companion. Second-guessing her keeps him busy whenever he isn't at the wheel. I, on the other hand, find her less entertaining. Miss GPS needs too much attention. She's like a petulant girlfriend whom Bill admonishes while she stubbornly disputes his every word. And besides, she clearly has no soul and cares nothing for our wellbeing on the road.

As opposed to Mexican road signs, I am by struck by how often they worry about us.

The signs caution. "No maneje fatigado - Don't drive when you're fatigued" or "No maneje cansado - Don't drive when you're tired. " I like this caring attitude.

"Si toma, no maneje - If you drink don't drive." Obvious, maybe. But this message must need repeating and so it is, many times. "Cuando tome, no maneje - When you drink, don't drive." This sounds like a more realistic approach.

We're reminded to slow down, watch our speed, respect the speed limit, obey the signs, respect the signs, and keep the highway clean. All good suggestions, and we appreciate the reminders.

Most of all, we're reminded, "Maneje con precaución, su familia lo espera -Drive carefully, your family is waiting for you."

No GPS will tell you that.

Published or Updated on: February 1, 2009 by Gail Mitchell © 2009
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