Friday, 12 September 2008

MEXICO - culture shocks & the warm solace of rain

I was contemplating whether to buy fluffy bunny , or just plain leathery slippers last week in Phoenix, Arizona. With Debbies wonderful, kind hospitality , the bako boily heat & just plain getting way to relaxed in her lovely home i was ready to stick it out there for 10 years, without a care. Lucky for Debbie, pete and i managed to get our wheels rolling again , with the excitement that the mexican border was just 200 miles away. A 3 hourish ride through the desert, 100f heat again and through, terracotta Tuscon. Arizona suprised me more than most places so far. I was expecting pure desert all the way. Arrid heat haze vistas. Spiders the size of babies and the sound of moracas in the night time grass. It was all that and more. Sodona, i think the town was. A red forest in a hidden valley, not far off the main highway, but hidden enough to seem like another planet. Lush foothills, tall trees, only highered by vertical red cascades, such as monument valley. the buildings all terreacotta, matt finished grand designes, only for those bohemian hearts, that flock there in search of apparent mystical qualities. We just rode through. me in amazment, pete used to it, but still head moving from side to side as he rode. A man with a stick , poking a curled up rattle snake as we ride passed. i only hope the beast had died curled up and wasnt faking it.... ................ We hit the mexico border at Nogales. A crossing i and pete had been recommended. Thanks you lot from pilipsburg ! you was right. We first went straight across, through a green light , where the states meet mexico. A guard stops me, i say im heading for argentina. he looked the bike up and down then into my bloodshot sweat ridden eyes and just smiled. PAHHHHH ! I THOUGHT ! WHAT DO YOU KNOW !... that wasnt it. 21 kilos away is the immigracion and banjercito. You are aloud into mexico a certain distance without sorting papers out. we want to go further so we find the immigracion building get us as people into the country , via a stroppy officer, in his 50s who hated me as soon as i said "hola". i tried at least to say hello in espanol and not english. he wouldnt talk to me, only pete. he handed pete the papers to give to me to sign instead of just handing them to me. I was shamed at the time. He couldnt smile if he tried . his wringles set in stone, unable to crack even the slightest. He is the only one so far after 6 days in mexico that was rude. Anyway enough of that. after we are in, the bikes have to get legally tempory importation papers. The banjercito office right next to the immigracion office. A delightful young lady sorts me out in english. making me shamed again, but relieved. Pete just deals with it brilliantly in spanish. An hour, thats all it took. Nerves calmed we off into MEXICOOOOOO ! at last ! this is where i always knew the adventure would deepen. 200miles south down the autopista, a toll road. a straight line. No desert on each side. well it is a desert but its mostly green. hardy shrubs and little trees. growling at the bako sun. surviving always. A town comes and goes , with its rammed out packed streets of multi couloured paint pealing tiendas, taco stalls, shoeless kids smiling and waving. whistling adults, all smiling and waving or just staring with asking eye, asking what we are doing type eyes not begging asking eyes. Road kill is rife. A rigor mortised rottweiller face up by the curb. another dog then another. The dogs lie in wait in the long grass along the autopista ready to jump out in suicide. The smells move from what i think is lavender to the smell of dead animals. perfumes unrecognised by me fill the gaps. Always something to smell. There are mountains to the east. covered in forest. no snow caps yet. We reach hermisillo late afternoon. The traffic is fast and carefree. we get into the flow. you must. surfing a large speeding tube with a thousand other surfers. carefull , gracefull and fast, all over every lane , back and forth. we see the hostel we read in the sjoerd bakker guide. a photocpoy guide from a top man on the horizons unlimited site. The pima inn. $25 for the 2 of us. 6 poundsish each. reminds me of a chenobul documentary i saw once... next day we turn off the red roads and onto the sketchy thin red roads on the map. the map hasnt a clue. all wrong, leading us gawd knows where. small towns with 15 houses and 2 tiendas. very friendly people who help me with my awful spanish. a few attempts at miming and bad words and i get the chocolate bar i need. adios and we are off again following that near usless map. we need gas. a town has turned up on a hill side. small square buildings all pealing white, irraticaly splattered over the hills. the hills all green. the road has become a potholed maze. all fun to ride as they curl relentlessly around the hills and trees. its hot but there is a calming cooling breeze when riding, not like arizona where even the riding face breeze is very very hot. The gas comes from a ladies shed in her front yard . an excited 10 year old helps here get the light purple gas from a drum, into a jug, then the jug pours into an old litre bottle of lemonade. we pour the ex-lemonade into my tank . 4 times me then 4 times pete. we off again after smiles , laughter and missing them alreadys. the map lies again. the road we want isnt even here where it says it should be. the surface is good tarmac now, then bad again, then the road has disapeared over the hill side. must have been a big storm that night ! lucky we are riding slow enough not to start the new sport of base jumping bikers with no parachutes. After back and forth we find the road we want. nowhere near where the map says it is. we end up in the rural village of rosario for the night. The real mexico i see. im scared. my confidence has gone. the rains hammering it down , the sky is that heart braking black. we eat tacos de carne after the friendly server only chats to pete. im lost. i feel like my bag of a thousand marbles has split and im chasing all of them everywhere at the same time, whilst the town is laughing me ! that night whilst the rain bombs the corrigated irons roofs & the wind shakes the windows i try and understand what i am doing here, out of my depth. north america was easy. this is latino america now. a totaly different place. no one understands my terrible accented spanish. i could die here by the road and just get walked over, then nibbled to nothing by stray cats and dogs. What nonsense !!!!!! in the morning after eventually falling asleep, i have find my marbles and we are off. im grinning from there to there. im loving the rich stench. the thick mist. the green elephant type grass and the nutcase truck driver trying to pass me on the curves. oops is that a snake i just squashed, hope not. culture shock ! NUTS TO THAT ! i can handle this ! we are back on the autopista, but have realised there is generaly a road running parrallel to th etoll road. a more scenic ruta, which is faster than the real rural roads where miles are hard to do and we need to pick up the pace a bit, still having the curvascious riding smiles. We bang out the miles today. a huge storm hits the pacific coast and we are riding with it. the rain means sorrow on a bike for hours, but this time the rain is warm. its hard and warm. after 2 hours and 100 miles we stop , laughing with the locals at our warm wetness. im so far away from the shock of the night before. the main road life is as interesting now as the rural life of the mexicans. the way they rely on the road. each town is beautiful. never the same even though it has all the same as the last one. more friendly people everywhere. the rain has flooded everywhere. we stop for the night in culiacan. the town dips are 3 foot deep in water. next day off to mazatlan. more floods. a famous port, used by the spainsh in the golden days, raided by the english and the french. rusted batteries still surving. A now resort. mexican holiday makers and a great rock band in an open bar. the guitarist cracks me up with his massive grimace and eccentic brilliant playing. next day mazatlan to tepic in the terrential again. in and out of it. seems like its linked to the sierra madres to the east. A new tyre today. a front tyre. the last one an avon distanzia has done 7000 miles. mainly pavement. im happy with that. the rear is still going strong. i have done over 7000 miles now and i recon the rear will live till panama. guadalajara today and the first latin aon office. full of colonial beauty i hear. I will make the border with guatemala this coming monday when the mexican insurance runs out. now the shock has gone. im just pure excited. well maybe some fear still lingering, but not getting the better of me... Mexico is wonderful. cheaper all round than the states. full of friendly people, great munch and forever interesting and beautiful at every head move. even the so called notorious police have been great, trying to wheely past me grinning.
oops the roads gone . lucky no peg scratching coming into that bend
rural sonora - northern mexico
front yard gasolina - helpful and fun locals

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