After being on hold for over a week, the long journey south has resumed. I am now in Mexico traveling with a companion. Felix is German. His English is passable. His Spanish is almost as poor as mine. We crossed the border yesterday morning, Sunday, after an early departure from Armando’s house. Crossing the border was easy. So easy that we passed through customs without realizing it. Learning to change currency was not so easy. Navigating the mostly unnamed streets of this country is even more difficult. And conversing with the locals is impossible. Luckily, obtaining a six month visa was fairly easy .We have SO much to learn.
“A travel guide would tell us never to go to this place” Felix said. “Too dangerous!” We found ourselves in the middle of the city of Tijuana after La Policia kicked us off of the toll road. Their message was clear even if their words were not. A passerby gave us directions around the toll road- we would have to go back the way we came. We did not listen. Our “shortcut” had us climb and descend a mountain. It was the steepest climb of my life and I barely made it to the top. Houses soon turned to rubble. Emaciated dogs roamed for food. And the road turned to sand and stone. We have only been in this country for an hour and we are already “lost” in the most impoverished area you could imagine.
You may think we were terrified but we were not. We did not feel threatened and even met a friendly homeless American. We felt a sense of amazement at where we have found ourselves. We certainly felt culture shock. Neither of us can believe we are in Mexico.
We carefully traversed these “roads” and, miles later, found ourselves back on pavement. The drivers here are muy loco. No one stops. Drivers do as they please. The road improved and soon we were back on highway 1. The highway allowed us to make mile quickly and we safely arrived at the hostel just before dark.
The bike shop never heard from the Brooks representative so I rode on. Another bike shop looked at my saddle and found no problem. My saddle fixed itself! (Not really, the other bike shop applied lubricant. It took a while to work). My shoes are also fine. I had REI look at them and the screw was only loose. Apparently, the ratchet is designed to swivel. Go figure!
Hurricane Odile was the worst storm to strike Baja in decades. It severely damaged Cabo San Lucas. Luckily, the road appears to be ridable. It is washed out in places, covered in a lot of sand, and a river or two replaced part of the road surface. We should not reach these sections for at least a week. Hopefully, they will be repaired by then.
Saturday night we stayed with a Warm Showers host, Armando. Armando was an incredible host. He filled our bellies with burgers and beer then drove me to REI for a last minute gear purchase. His house is conveniently located ten miles from the border. We woke up at 6:30am and were on our way to the border by 7:30am.
Before crossing the border, we stopped at a casa de cambio or house of exchange. Here two signs flash a series of numbers. One reads compra 2.630. The other venta 12.920. A quick google search explained these numbers, though I am still confused. One number is the price they buy USD the other is the sell price. We must learn where to find the best prices. We exchanged a small amount of money and went on our way.
I have said since the beginning the trip does not start until Mexico. Well, we have arrived and it is anything but boring. We have so much to learn!