Compañeras y compañeros, muy buenos dias!
It’s been a while since the last article, I was sure we posted one from San Diego, but apparently we didn’t. I guess you were anxious to read about our crazy adventures, but hopefully you could still enjoy Christmas and New Year’s Eve! Happy new year by the way!! For us those holy nights were pretty boring, lonely and uneventful (don’t cry, we still had tequila so it was not that bad), but well, that’s the price to pay for traveling in winter! So before to get into the details, I’m just gonna say that we are now in Puebla, and you are probably gonna wonder how the f… we made it here so fast. Well, we’re just the best racers ever! Hehe, not really, we cheated a little bit.
So we left San Francisco, swearing we would go back soon, loaded with good energy taken from this amazing city, heading South (of course) on Highway One. We had the chance to ride in a very dense fog, we couldn’t tell what was around, where was the top or the bottom, that was fun.
Everything was going great, Gil was hidden behind me as usual to get less wind (this motherf… never leads, what a friend!), but just a few miles before to get to Santa Cruz, my rear rim broke, too old and weak for this weight and pace I guess. Fortunately a guy who was taking pictures on the beach proposed us a ride to Santa Cruz, of course man, thank you so much! So we had to stay two days in this very cool hippy surfer laid back city, we had time to hang out with Rose, Rico and their cute baby Cali, very good friends of my sister. We hoped we could organize an event at the radical community space La SubRosa, but we didn’t manage to do it at the end, too bad, maybe another time! Armed with a new rim, we rode toward Monterey through very impressive farmlands, spent a night in the dunes of Sandcity (basically a mall, but it gave us the opportunity to meet a dude who has been on the road for 7 years, with a crazy awesome bike super loaded weighing 230 pounds!!), and then hit this legendary section of the coast called Big Sur. But it’s actually the wind that hit us, blowing so hard that we lost balance several time and had to stop on the shoulder, and making us struggling to keep going.
After two hours suffering, we got to a threatening bridge from which we thought we would be blown away, so we reconsidered everything, Given that the weather was supposed to be stormy for 5 days, we thought it would be dangerous, and not really fun, to ride along the coast in those conditions… so we cowardly turned back… and rode with the wind in our back for the first time of the trip, so cooool!!!
Thinking about it afterward, it was really a good idea to renounce, even it’s sad to miss Big Sur, because that was the worst storm of the year in South California, many parts got flooded, the wind and the rain didn’t stop for a week… don’t really want to ride and camp in this weather. So we wisely took a train to Los Angeles, got there late at night, wondered what we would do in the rain in this scary gigantic city without having organized our arrival (we were not supposed to get there so soon, and it was Christmas time, most of people are busy around these days), so in 10 minutes we decided to catch another train to San Diego. There we got in touch through warmshowers with Dan, who nicely provided us a cozy place to stay for three nights, and we patiently watched the storm going away, watching boring TV, skyping family and friends, visiting the local breweries with Dan and his friends, and planning what was gonna be next.
The sky finally cleared up the day we left, and we headed toward the border with a new member, Fallon, met in Portland, who is another crazy cyclist going to South Mexico (have a look at her blog!). We crossed the border easily, with a lot of emotion and made our way out of Tijuana as fast as we could, to avoid showing off with all our fancy gear in that place that everyone describes as Hell ( at the same time, if we listened to what people say, we wouldn’t go to Mexico, but let’s not the fear control our lives… only in Tijuana, to be able to say that we listened to our moms for once). Getting into Mexico meant getting on Mexican roads, and man, that’s a whole different story, especially in Tijuana.
Actually, we have to recognize that the roads and Mexican drivers have been much better than what we expected so far. Maybe it’s because we stayed on main roads, but there is usually enough space on the side of the road for bikes, not to many holes, just some errand dead dogs sometimes. Or cows, or donkeys as we also saw. The worst part was in Baja, getting to Lazaro Cardenas, where the shoulder was really shitty, narrow, and 5 inches lower than the road making the transfer risky. So we were riding on the road but the cars were passing us very close, and then this stupid cop (is that redundant?) in his car yelled in his mic “mas a la orilla” (more on the side), but the side is full of shit cabron, can’t you help us instead? So that was scary, but most of the time it’s ok.
So we crossed the border on the 24th of December, made it to the beach of Tijuana kind of outside of the city, and looked for a place to stay. Scared to camp in this unfamiliar environment, and seeing that everything was closed and no one was outside to ask shelter, we remembered this article we read at Dan’s of cyclists staying at fire stations. We managed finding the local one, asked wiping our eyes like despaired kids if we could pitch our tent somewhere, and they kindly offered us to stay in the garage behind the fire trucks. Awesome, thank you sexy fire men! And to commemorate the birth of the holy master of all anarchists, we went to the only place open, a Sanborns restaurant, where we got as stuffed as the turkey.
Northern Baja is a weird place for me. Some parts are beautiful, with white sand beaches and arid hills, but then you see what people makes to this landscape, and that’s sad. Huge ugly buildings on the shore, half of them not finished (because of the increase of violence? or of the crisis?), or other fancy houses for tourists, lots of them unfinished either, huge signs in English (imperialism or globalization?) advertising golf courses and real estate, I didn’t really like that part. But as we were going further South it got less artificial and gringolized, but also more boring I have to say (always complaining this guy), because riding in the desert for days, between the sea and the hills, well it gets boring, even if it’s beautiful. Sometimes you get into a nice valley crossed by a river where you can see fields and trees, but then you climb out of the valley, and you’re back to the monotony of the sand and spiky bushes. So after several hundreds of kilometers like that, we were starting to get tired of it (especially myself), so when we got to El Rosario and people told us that the next portions of the road was pretty dangerous, with psycho narcos and vampires killing tourists, we had enough reasons to take a bus to Loreto, on the other side of the peninsula which means on the Mar de Cortez.
Loreto is a cute little town, where we decided to spend New Year’s Eve, thinking it would be more exciting there than in the bush. Well, not sure about that. It was freaking dead, no one in the street, probably because most of people living there are actually not from there, so they travel out of town to celebrate the new year with their families (that’s what we were told). We still managed to get a few beers in a bar, and to buy a bottle of Tequila (yeah! I love that!), and we got confused at 11pm when we heard people celebrating and applauding, so we asked the waitress what time it was, and realized that it was actually midnight, because there is an hour of difference between North and South Baja. Good for us, we cheered and were able to go to bed earlier than what we expected, nothing exciting going on there.
The first of January 2011 was one of the best day of the trip, absolutely glorious, between bright blue see with arid islands toward East and huge mountains toward West, then it became hilly, with lots of cactus, much nicer desert than in the North. But that didn’t last very long. It quickly became flat, and the road was just a boring straight line through the desert, 50 km without a curb, I almost got my book out to read. And it was like that until La Paz, we didn’t really enjoy it. But on the way we stopped in Ciudad Constitucion and stayed with Ricardo, his wife Maria Elena and their son Rodrigo, that was cool. Ricardo is one of the Mexican workers participating in the program between Mexico and Canada to send temporal cheap labor force to Canadian farms, where they get exploited in sometimes feudal or slave-ish conditions. Gil knew him through the support center for migrant workers in Surrey, so he offered us to stay at his place, where we had delicious ceviche ( shredded fish cooked in lime juice) and barbecued fish.
We finally made it to La Paz, which is a nice town, from where we took the 12 hours long ferry to Mazatlan, which is another very nice town, with narrow streets, colonial colorful houses, and a long beach, where Fallon swam in the frozen water while the lame guys had a beer in the shade. The night on the ferry was pretty good, we started with a beer at the disco/bar watching Michael Jackson’s clips, then we tried to find a place away from stupid TV playing everywhere to read an relax, and given that we didn’t get a cabin to save some money, we laid on the sits to sleep.
After two months on the road, we were starting to get tired of it with Gil, wanted to make it fast to Oaxaca to be with our comrades there and start working on all the things we want to do there, so we decided to take a bus from Mazatlan to Mexico city, to save a three weeks ride, which would have been pure up hill (even if that was not really a reason for not doing it, because we’re so strong that we’re not afraid of climbing to 25oom). So after a 12 hours ferry, we took a 15 hours bus that took us to the capital, and rode to Amorita’s place (Gil’s girlfriend and comunera of CIPO VAN), where we spent 3 nights, but without Amorita actually, she was busy in Chiapas and Oaxaca. I personally didn’t do much in Mexico city, I was feeling really down and I already knew the city, so I stayed at the apartment for two days reading Nowtopia from Chris Carlsson (remember him? If not, have a look at the article about San Francisco again! ), but Gil and Fallon strolled around. I only adventured outside in this crazy urban jungle on the third day to meet with my good friend Juan Carlos in a cantina to have beers and Tequila.
And we finally left for the last section of the trip, 500km to Oaxaca via Puebla, where we are now, and which is a really beautiful city. The ride from Mexico City to Puebla was very good, surprisingly easy to make our way between the traffic of the capital, but still suffering of the elevation and the contamination burning our throat and lungs. We had the hardest uphill of the trip, around three hours of pure climbing to reach 3200m (about 7000 feet), we were so tired getting to the top… but it was nice, starting in the yellow fields of Mexico Valley, then entering a pine forest smelling good, and racing with trucks that sometimes were not going much faster than us. It was getting late when we got to the top so we asked different people where we could stay, the place was kind of sketchy, just road restaurants and garages, and we were told it was not that safe (neither warm) to sleep outside, so we got offered to sleep in a corner of the main room of a restaurant open all night, that was nice of them but we actually spent a pretty bad night, with the light blinding us, people coming in and out and the windows vibrating every time a truck would pass on the highway. But well, we made it to the freezing morning, and started the long way down to Puebla, with amazing views at the Popocatepetl. We were welcomed by different protests, of campesinos and students, but we were so hungry that not really feeling like marching with them, so we got some comida corrida, strolled around, Gil took a nap while I started writing this novel, then we went for a beer, and Gil went back to bed feeling like he’s getting sick. And I think it’s time for me to do the same… Que sueñen con los angelitos amig@s!