- 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.