A Week Off Work – Mazatlan

Felix jumps into our pool.
Felix jumps into our pool.

My adventure turned vacation. My Mom booked us a resort in Mazatlan and here we stay. For a week. The longest I’ve been in one place since leaving home on the 8th of July. With a refrigerator and a stove; a toilette and a shower. And beds. Glorious soft beds of a material I don’t stick to. We even have a pool that ends in the Sea of Cortez. Life is good; though, it’s not without problems.

The resort gave our room away so we had to wait an hour for them to sort out the problem. No big deal. As Aldous Huxley wrote,

“Your true traveler finds boredom rather agreeable than painful. It is the symbol of his liberty-his excessive freedom. He accepts his boredom, when it comes, not merely philosophically, but almost with pleasure.

Even the flood wasn’t a big deal. I woke in the morning to find water covering nearly half the room and more pouring from the ceiling. The AC froze up. We went days without. However, I draw the line at “the noise from hell.” Like nails on a chalk board, opening the refrigerator door made us cringe. It is terrible. Really. It was so damn loud it served as our alarm clock in the morning. One of us waking the other opening that awful door. It is torture. If I ever need information from someone, I’ll make them listen to that sound. In minutes, they’ll be squealing like a pig.

"Fixing" our leaky ceiling.
“Fixing” our leaky ceiling.

All complaints aside, this week has been wonderful. I explored the city and made new friends. I had the bearings changed in my front hub for 20 pesos (that’s $1.50). I swam in our pool and watched the sun set into the sea. I rode my bike unloaded, racing and passing cars at 30mph. And best of all, I did absolutely nothing. For days, I lounged in the comfortable cushions of our couch. Thank you SO much for this wonderful week off  “work.” It’s exactly what I needed for the apex of my expedition.

Tomorrow morning, Felix and I leave the resort and go our separate ways. I’ve decided to turn north and ride into Barranca Del Cobre (Copper Canyon in English). Felix continues on to Mexico City. We’ve been together, almost inseperably, for five weeks. It will be strange riding off without him. I consider him a close friend and cannot wait to visit him in Germany. Maybe we’ll even bump into each other again on this trip. Adios amigo. It’s been unreal.

I have decided I cannot miss the Grand Canyon of Mexico. Six distinct canyons in the Sierra Madre Occidental form the Barranca Del Cobre. It is the largest and deepest canyon in the world. It also has hot springs; though, soaking in one for the first time will not come without cost. For those of you who have seen the Grand Canyon in the US, I am literally riding into it. I’ve never seen it so I ride blissfully unaware into hell. I face climbs up to 2,500 meters (8,200 feet); descents to 400 meters (1,200 feet); on rocky and rutted dirt “roads.” This will be the most challenging ride (and push and maybe even carry) of my life. It will also be the most beautiful. Wish me luck!

MazatlanDinner

We took advantage of the stove and fridge from hell cooking everyday. We also ate a lifetimes worth of guacamole and egg salad.

MazatlanBeardCheck

I trimmed my beard. What do you think?

MazatlanBearings

While exploring the city, we passed this small bike shop. In ten minutes, and for twenty pesos, he replaced the bearings of my front hub. It rides like new again.

MazatlanCleanBike

We also washed our bikes. They were in dire need from the swamp and from the dust of the desert.

MazatlanRyanAndHansel

Hansel works the night shift at the front desk of the “resort.” He took me on a tour of the city and to the top of this lighthouse.

MazatlanRyan

It wasn’t easy carrying our bikes to the top, but we managed. And the view was worth the effort.

MazatlanMazatlanWaterFront

Mazatlan is a beautiful city. It’s also very touristy. It was a nice change from the desolation of the Baja desert; however, I’m excited to leave the beaten path; the lights and noise of civilization. Copper Canyon, here here I come.

MazatlanFirstView

Hansel, my tour guide for the day, informed me of an old railroad that runs to the top of this hill. It’s purpose? To deliver ice shipped from the US to the rich people who lived up their.

MazatlanDSCF6711

Felix jumps into our pool.

MazatlanDSCF6719

Josh, who we met in the hostel in La Paz, came over for a visit. They want to know whose muscles are bigger.

What a week…

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La Paz at Last

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted. Down days pass so fast…

LaPazRoad

Reaching La Paz was an emotional experience. It marks the end of the road. Three long months and some 3,500 miles, I’ve only been on one damn road: Highway 1. I’ve ridden it’s entire length from Canada to the bottom of Baja California. And now it’s over. No more 1! I’ll have routes to plan and directions to follow. The trip gets interesting. I can’t wait!

La Paz is also the most significant milestone yet. The psychological halfway point and the end of the familiar. Baja is technically Mexico, but not really. It’s more of a lesson in survival along with an American playground. From off road adventures to fancy resorts, the American influence on Baja is unmistakable. Then again, what do I know. This is the furthest from the States that I’ve ever been. Continue reading

Died and Gone to Heaven

On our stomachs we lie in the 88 degree water of the Sea of Cortez. “Felix,” I say sitting up. “I think we died in that storm.” I hear a pop and watch Felix pour the amber liquid into a frosted mug. “Salud,” he toasts in Spanish. Our glasses clink together, “We’ve earned it, amigo.” We slowly sip, attempting to savor, but it’s of no use. The beer is too refreshing. The last week too hot. Our mugs are soon empty.

I stand and walk through the powdery white sand and into the restaurant. A gentle breeze passes through the open windows cooling my wet skin. A television covered in stickers, like the rest of the bar, broadcasts Two and a Half Men. “Dos mas cervesas, por favor.” A green parrot on the man’s shoulder whistles in reply. He hands me two more bottles of Dos Equis and new frosted mugs. I reenter the bathwater, as my dad called it, and watch the blue sky transition to orange, red, and violet. Continue reading

Our Foe Arrives in Force

Sometimes, the best cure for a sour mood is a little excitement. Fleeing the wrath of a storm proved to be all the excitement I needed…

We left the restaurant at Santa Rosalia in the afternoon. Like leaving a hot tub to sit in the sauna, it is cooler but not much. The city passes quickly and we are back in an empty, green desert. Mulege is not far. Cuarenta (40) kilometers. But the sky is growing darker.

Heavy storm clouds build behind us.
Heavy storm clouds build behind us.

Continue reading

Hurricanes and Misery

Buenos Dias
From last week, but I think it captures my emotional state pretty well.

I am hot. I am tired. And worst of all, like one of the many dead cows along the side of the road I am covered in flies. Perhaps they are attracted to a weeks worth of sweat? My clothes are heavier (and smellier) than normal. No, this is Mexico. Even those who shower daily are swarmed with flies. Everything is. What about the knats you ask? Well, when I dropped my drawers to use the deserts version of the mens room… lets just leave it at this: I felt violated. Ants in your pants? Not this time. Continue reading

Surviving the Desert

3,000 miles to date!!!!

3,000 Miles!!!!!!
3,000 Miles!!!!!!
Oh yea!
Oh yea! Time to celebrate. Maybe we should get out of the desert first….

On Friday September 26, 2014 Felix and I began the most perilous portion of our journey South: A 400km stretch of empty desert. We carried food enough for nearly a week and four days of water. On Tuesday September 30, 2014 we arrived in the town of Guerrero Negro, safe but worse for wear. My front hub is failing. My right knee hurts. And Felix became ill on day one. His symptoms: diarrhea and nausea. The desert is no place to be sick… Continue reading