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  • Near the Mayan ruins of Calakmul, in the reflector-less dark of the Yucatan Peninsula, I came upon a truck with no tail lights on the road.

    I swerved around it and flew off the road into a ditch full of microwave sized rocks. It was a violent slide.

    Not wanting to believe it had happened, and annoyed at the delay in my schedule, I tried rocking the car back and forth thinking I could get it out of the ditch. A bus stopped and 3 men got out to try and help me.

    After trying to push the car a few times we all realized that:

    A. parts of the car were broken off in large chunks.

    B. it was starting to smolder around the right front tire.

    Questions in Spanish. No habla. The men ran back to the bus, which quickly left the scene.

    They did not wanting to be part of the drama of a gringo with car on fire.

    With the car showing small flames, and spewing clouds of black tire smoke, I shuttled loads of camera gear and clothes from inside the front seat and trunk to the side of the road. After the second armful the flames were too large to return and I took a seat on the side of the road. Alone.

    I watched it burn for over 2 hours before I found a ride back to town. At one point the entire body became red hot. It was a beautiful thing, the kind of fire you don't get to see too often. I couldn't help but think of myself inside of the car.

    Back in town the next day I got a new car from Avis.

    I had purchased the special insurance for $12 a day.

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