I wish my Visa would get here just as fast.. .
- usted quiere un poco de water?
o necesita el restroom? -
the US C.B.P. Field Operation Officer asked me in “Spanglish”. I had been in that freezing cold room for more than two long hours. I didn’t even know why I was there or how long it was going to take. I just wanted to cross the border and keep riding my bike.
After taking my mugshot and scanning all my fingerprints I was finally told I need to go to the US Consulate and apply for a visa. Apparently they think last time I was in America I stayed longer than I should have: I get 3 months tourist visa with my spanish passport but after riding from NYC to LA in 2009 I never gave back my customs document when we crossed on to Mexico. I forgot and no one stopped us or asked for anything at the border.
I wasn’t expecting this. Now I’m stuck in Matamoros until I can get a visa. Now I know what Mexicans feel when they ask me about crossing the border.
The other day on the beach in Ciudad Madero (my first rest day) I met Señor Mantequilla (Mr. Butter). He sold me an amazing icecream and told me his experiences as a “wetback” in the US:
he pays about US$3000 to get across with a “Coyote” and stays there doing any jobs he can until they find him (they always find him eventually). By then he’s made enough cash to feed his whole family for a while back in Mexico.
He couldn’t quite understand when I was telling him how I could just show up at the border and get through just like that; simply because my passport says I am born in Spain. I was so wrong.
I’ve been in Mexico for over 2 years now. After all this time it feels great to be back on the road again: finally, we keep going. “We” as in me and my bike. I’m riding my Soma Rush (fixed: 46×17/21) from Mexico DF to Chicago for the 2012 Cycle Messenger World Championships.
The ride so far has been beautiful: mostly flat, nice roads, amazing scenary and tailwinds. I went from DF toTulancingo (with Vico, Charly and Adrian. Gracias banda), then through the Sierra Madre mountains, down to the coast in the state of Veracruz all the way to Tampico (Tamaulipas) and then a long, pretty much straight road (with some very rough unpaved sections) to Matamoros.
And I’m loving my bike; the Rush is my workbike in DF with BicimensajerosDF. The best bike I’ve ever had. I love the geometry, its steep angles and long top tube. Super comfortable and a super smooth ride. The weight of the bags makes it a little bit unstable, especially at the fron end, and when climbing off the saddle, but it’s just a matter of getting used to it. I know it’s not a touring bike, it’s a track bike! for touring? why not? yes, I love my bike.
I made a feetrest platform thingy with some cheap plastic pedals so I can give my legs a break every now and then. My homemade front rack support is doing the job just fine. I carry my Skingrowsback messenger bag on it with all the essentials (tools, tubes, rain jacket, snacks) and everything else (tent, sleeping bag, clothes) in my Carradice Barley saddle bag (I’m sending home my Seagull bag and stuff I don’t want). That’s all I carry, all I need.
All I want now is to be able to keep going. I am not complaining though: I couldn’t find any cyclists on Warmshowers so I went on Couchsurfing and met Carlos, one of the most geniunely nice persons I’ve ever met. He’s a doctor and owns a private hospital, where I’m staying now. It’s a bit weird (since I hate hospitals) but I have my own room with bathroom, air conditioning, wifi internet, and cable tv. And they also feed me!
Besides, Carlos knows some people here who can help me with the paperwork for my visa.
I also met Panchito, Don Pancho, the cleaner and all around handy man here who’s also looking after me. I can hardly understand his strong northern accent but we get along very well. I gave him some tools and stuff I don’t want to carry anymore and he brought me some Tomatadas his wife made for me. Awesome. And we went for a ride to the local bike shop this morning.
So, I’m quite happy (muchas gracias Doctor Carlos y Doctora Vilma, Pancho y staff en el hospital San Francisco) but I can’t wait to be back on my bike, across the border, in America, on the road, all the way to Chicago.
Bryan writing here.
I regret to say that I keep going no longer. I’m out. I’ve thrown in the chamois shorts. Headed back to the States. After a few weeks of various illnesses (one brazen self-diagnoses of swine flu, one vintage and unsubstantiated diagnosis of Typhoid by a doctor) my body is now as thin and weak as my wallet. My bike ride has come to an end.
It’s been an amazing adventure. 7 months of new friendships and introspection on the road. Thank you so much to all the amazing people we met along the way, and to everyone who donated to our adventure. Truly humbling and inspiring.
So, now it’s down to Juaquin. Stay tuned and keep him going!
Good luck brother!
Thanks for the adventure of a lifetime,
Well, a very lucky boy got a new bike for Christmas! Congratulations to Patrick Wilson on winning our Christmas SOMA frame and fork raffle.
Patrick is pretty stoked and is looking through all the great SOMA frames to pick his prize. We’ll let you know what he selects.I’m suggesting the SOMA Stanyan for Pat, built up as a townie. It looks absolutely beautiful here, and I think it might be a good fit for his riding needs.
Pat just got back from service in Iraq. What a great way to support the troops.
Thanks to everyone who entered. You’re support was the best Christmas Present ever.
Bryan and Joaquin
I was still in the sea, watching the sunset, thinking: I could just stay here forever. But we left Puerto Escondido the following day. We decided to make a side trip to Oaxaca city, so we took a bus up the hills to the valley.
On our way there we met these guys
They’re part of a group making their annual pilgrimage to the Sanctuary of the Virgin of Juquila: several days riding from all over Mexico up the hills and many switchbacks to the town of Juquila.
Most of them were riding old school singlespeeds.
This is faith. This is Mexico.
On our way to Manzanillo we stopped to have a break hiding from the hot sun when this guy approached us. He was spraying for weeds on the side of the road. He asked us where we were coming from and where we’re going, and told us he had been living in LA for four years until a cop caught him without documents and was sent back to Mexico. He wanted to know about New York; he’d always wanted to go there. He was sad.
And then he told us about La Boquita.
We followed the signs to Club Santiago, the road turned into cobble stones, we waved to the security guard and we were inside a luxurious residential area with brand new condos everywhere, big houses and fancy hotels. I wasn’t too sure about this place.
But then the cobble stones turned into sand, and we arrived to a small beautiful beach. A local fisherman riding his bicycle told us we could camp for free anywhere along the beach. So we rode around to check out the lagoon on the other side of the beach, and all the ramadas (beach bars) until in one of them a very nice mexican woman said buenas tardes and offered us an ice cold beer. We had a couple of Estrellas and then she brought us a carnita. She was preparing her friend’s birthday, so we left to set up our campsite.
We spent the afternoon swimming in the sea, writing, drawing, watching the pelicans fly, looking at the horizon… it was hot, mexican kids played in the shore, people came by selling fresh fruit, bread, chips; 3 guys were picking up pebble stones.
I could see the big houses on the opposite side of the bay, cruise ships arriving to the port of Manzanillo, foreign cars drove by behind us every now and then, old couples walked their silly looking dogs, …
We could hear the birthday party getting louder, and then Antonio, a friend of the birthday girl, came to ask us if we wanted tacos. He is from Miramar, he likes riding his mountain bike around and La Boquita is his local beach. He told us about the coral reef, the lagoon, and the people who make a living fishing. He was sad.
This precious little corner of the world is about to disappear. They’re expanding the residential area and building a marina for yatchs.
This is tourism.
Sitting outside of a Haagen-dazs ice cream shop in Acapulco, using their wi-fi connection and having our eardrums drilled out by a blaring, looping track of Scissor Sisters and various other techno and house music. Surreal. Enormous speakers must be cheap in Mexico. They are everywhere. Everywhere.
Going to plug my ears and take advantage of the strong and free signal to upload some photos.
Thanks to everybody who made donations! Good luck in the raffle. I hope you win.
Cheers from the road!
Click on the images to make ‘em bigger.
Stopping at an internet cafe on the road in Manzanillo, Mexico to write a little Thanksgiving note. So much to be thankful for on this ride. Have met so many gracious and nice people so far. Special thanks go out to John, Jessica, and Jessica’s family for sharing their holiday digs in Puerto Vallarta for a couple of days. So amazing to see family for the holiday. The gravy on the turkey was the extra bed that they let us have for a couple of nights. So luxurious. We contemplated taking the bed with us, but every little bit of extra weight adds up…
On Thanksgiving day we rode from the Malaque beach full of friendly Canadians (they said they had their thanksgiving already) to Santiago, just north of Manzanillo. A guy spraying weeds near one of our rest stops said we should camp at the beach there called La Boquita. I’m glad we ran into him, because what we found when we got there was our own little stretch of beach and a nice restaurant that gave us some delicious tacos and a few Coronas for our Thanksgiving feast. A tuba band played as the sun went down and we went to bed full and thankful for everything and everybody we have.
Great trip so far. So much more to come…
We’re living the simple cycle-touring lifestyle, but still need funds for boat passages, visa costs, vaccinations, innertubes and patches, and of course, lots and lots of rice and beans.
This is our first fundraiser and it’s an awesome one indeed. For every $10 US donation to WeKeepGoing we will enter your name for the frame and fork raffle. The winner can choose any frame and fork, in any size, produced by SOMA Fabrications.THE MORE DONATIONS YOU MAKE, THE BETTER YOUR CHANCES!
Help propel us southbound on our adventure of a lifetime. The more donations we receive the more amazing places we can visit which will make WeKeepGoing.com that much more exciting to follow.
We’re riding Soma’s Saga frames and have put a lot of tough miles on them so far. We can definitely attest to SOMA’s high-quality heat treated CrMo steel frames and excellent designs. SOMA makes bikes for everybody so, chances are, there’s a bike for you or somebody you would like to give a bike to for Christmas. Find the frame for you at SOMA’s website and view their full line atwww.somafab.com
Details: ANY $10 DONATION BETWEEN NOW AND DECEMBER 24th WILL BE ENTERED IN THE RAFFLE. The winner will be notified via email on Christmas Day. Shipping is including for the winner. For fairness, a third party will be doing the actual drawing of the winner. Make sure to provide the best email address for receiving your notice on Christmas Day. Soma Fabrications/The Merry Sales Co. is not affiliated, nor do they endorse this raffle.
Thanks so much for your support. We can’t do this without you.
Greetings from Mexico. Wish you were here.
“…and we´re drinking drinking drinking drinking coca coca cola.”
Those are Modest Mouse lyrics that have been going through my head lately. The tiny cities made of ashes line applies to our travels here. The towns are usually pretty small and covered in Baja dust. I don´t normally drink soda but I´ve adopted the local custom. There cold and quite refreshing. Nice after a day of sweaty riding. Supposedly Mexico drinks more Coke per capita than any other country.
Haven´t posted a blog entry since Ensenada. Joaquin has been going first when we get to an internet cafe, and he does such a good job, that I haven´t contributed. We just rolled up to Mulege, the collest Mexican city we´ve seen so far. Palm trees, narrow streets, beautiful old buildings. Joaquin is sitting next to me making sighing sounds of frustration at the speed and or difficulty of uploading pictures to the blog. Slow interwebs in Mexico. We fond a place we can bring our bikes into and are both able to work at the same time as opposed to one person sitting outside with the bikes and bags.
We´ve ridden everyday since Ensenada. Almost two weeks. Starting to ride longer days. We made it from Guerrero Negro to Santa Rosalito in two days. Over 100 kilometers each day. The first day was hot and long and hard. We were about to camp in the desert brush on the side of the road when we happened to spot a farming plantation. Joaquin asked them if there was a place to camp near by. The guard said we could sleep outside by the security post. That would be pretty safe. Then our savior Steve drove up and asked Joaquin if we needed anything. 5 minutes later we had a place to put our tents near the farm´s employeee housing, a shower, a bathroom, a company store, tables to eat on. Amazing. He even gave us some samples of the grape tomatoes they grow. So delicious. We´ve been eating them since. Good travel snack. Also, it was the best shower we´ve had since the old U.S. It was pretty surreal when everybody got off work and came to their housing quarters and we´re there eating rice and bean burritos. There´s is such a contained world on the farm, that we stood out. One of these things does not belong. Hmmm… perhaps the gigantic gringo over there. Other than the curious looks, nobody bothered us. We stayed silent and tried not to attract any attention to ourselves we were in these peoples homes and were very grateful for what we had been given.
That has been the most interesting place we´ve stayed at so far. A close second was the horse stable we slept in in Chapala up in the high Baja desert. Other than that we´ve paid to camp at three places, and slept next to motels and hotels the rest of the time. Sometimes paying to use the showers, sometimes buying rice or beans from the restaurant if there is one. After yesterdays ride of 127 kilometers, we had some trouble finding a hotel that would let us pitch our tents, until we found an amazing hotel called el Morro just south of Santa Rosalia. Their pool was dry and we camped on the patio cliff side to the Sea of Cortez. We watched the sun rise this morning over the sea, after having seen it set over the Pacific to the west for so long. We´re surrounded by water.
The desert has transformed into greener pastures. The mesas are all a little greener, palm trees make appearances, and the air is not so arid. All welcome changes. We´ve ridden about 1000 kilometers since Tijuana and have a ways to go until we get to La Paz and start hunting for boats to stowaway on and cross the Sea of Cortez to the mainland and ontinue heading south to Guatemala, where we assume we´ll be for Christmas. Feliz Navidad.
Time on the saddle is spent thinking of story ideas, drawing in my head, looking at and asorbing the surrounding scenery, concentrating on my cadence, cursing uphills, cherishing decsents (there´s been some nice curvy ones), giving the Mexican customary peace signs to oncoming trucks, and wetting my chamois shorts getting passed (barely) by trucks coming from behind.
So far we´ve met 5 other cyclists all headed to Argentina. Just in Baja alone. Nicholas and Emmy we met in Ensenada, Parker and Seth (from San Francisco) in the middle of nowhere in the desert heading to Guerrero Negro, and today Chris from England. It´s a packed road on the Pan American right now. Hide your food.
The Soma Saga is smooth and strong. I could wear the Keen Commuters night and day (and do). The Action Wipes are indespensible. The wool gear from Rivendell is treating us fantastic. Off to the beach for a day off. My legs are throbbing.