Today we pushed ourselves to the limit of exhaustion, and it was, by far, the most tired we had been on the trip so far. We had gone to sleep at 7am the “night” before, out if necessity rather than desire I can assure you, and by 9am we were up again to meet the press at the wind farm where the car was charging. Again, the team split up, with myself and Andy heading to the wind farm with Sergio, our escort from the British Embassy, and the rest of the team staying back at the hotel to work on other aspects of the organization.
At the wind farm we had a few delegates from the local media turn up, but by far the most interesting event of the day, and certainly a highlight of the trip so far, was the opportunity to climb to the top of their biggest wind turbine; a 2MW beast! As the rest of the team were still back at the hotel they were unfortunately unable to climb it, so only myself, Andy, Claudio and Cynthia experienced this absolute wonder!
I was pleasantly surprised to see how much the company cared about our safety as we climbed the turbine’s mast as we were equipped with protective suits and a harness which was at all times connected somewhere to stop us from falling. You can never really appreciate the height of a wind turbine until you climb the vertical ladder up towards the hub. The heat, humidity, and the fact that we were wearing the boiler suit on top of our normal clothes made for an extremely hot and sweaty experience, but at the top, it was so worth it!
Stepping out onto the top of the wind turbine on a small platform directly behind the blades was an unforgettable experience, and truly allows one to fathom the extreme size of these machines. The turbine’s blades, each larger than a wing of a jumbo jet, stretched away from us, and the strong breeze added an extra element of excitement! The view was incredible with the jungle stretching out around the base of the turbine, and vista of hundreds of other turbines popping out of the tree canopy. It was truly a once in a lifetime experience, and completely unforgettable!
But with the afternoon marching on, we had to get moving in order to get to our last destination in Mexico; Tapachula on the border of Guatemala. So we went to pick up the rest of the boys from the hotel, came back to the wind farm, unplugged the car, and got onto the road once more. We did still have a few daylight hours of driving ahead of us, but unfortunately we were forced to drive into the night again. Aside from a dinner of roadside tacos and anti-malaria pills, we didn’t stop until we reached the out skirts of Tapachula where we were to meet an incredibly helpful bunch of people from a university in Guatemala City who were hosting us when we entered Guatemala. They had organised our hotel here in Tapachula, as well as a method of charging our car.
Upon arriving at the designated meeting point, they weren’t there. We waited for a bit, but given that we were in what looked like a slightly dodgy neighbourhood, we decided it was best to call a taxi and ask him to lead the way to our hotel. This was promptly done, and before long we were in the parking lot of a very nice looking Holiday Inn. As a side note, we have stayed at quite a few Holiday Inns over the course of the trip, with the most recent one being in Oaxaca. In the US, they tend to be clean and of good value, and they have always been willing to help us with our bizarre electricity requests, but in Mexico, the hotels have been exquisite and more like a 4 or 5 star hotel than anything else, and still for a great value!
Anyway, back to Tapachula; the last thing we needed to do today before we could go to sleep was, as usual, put the car on charge. We had done our research before, and there was no way we would be able to charge up enough in time off normal mains electricity in any of the hotels in Tapachula. So, with the help of our Guatemalan friends, we organised for the use of a mobile generator. Certainly not the greenest way of powering the car, but it was a brand new device, and far more efficient than a car-based combustion engine. Given the SRZero’s super high efficiency, our carbon emissions for this charge would still be substantially less than a similar journey done by a normal car.
Nonetheless, we are keen to avoid using generators wherever possible, and if anything, the experience serves to highlight the fact that the electricity infrastructure still has some way to go before modestly fast charging of electric vehicles can become a reality everywhere.