A new chapter of our journey begins as we continue in the Latin part of the New World. Hope you will enjoy it!
Bienvenidos a México!: 1-3 Octomber
The morning cool air is hiting my face but I am not closing my visor. We are heading for Douglas and I feel like before a big exam. You learned and you feel prepared to pass the exam. But still, the teacher is quite crazy so you never know. Well, we have all the documents we should be OK and pass. But still… “the teacher”…
Douglas, the last U.S. town in our journey. We stop to fill up with gas (bad idea since “on the other side” the gas is cheaper), we buy water, some stuff to eat… hehe, as if we were getting ready to go in the desert. OK, we are ready, where do we go?
For Mexico, make a right turn. Really, that simple? We say good bye to the United States. And say “Hello Mexico!”
We stop at the first customs checkpoint, where a young lady, in a too tight uniform (by my humble opinion) is asking us something in a very crisp but rushed Spanish. Ohhh I guess it is time to see if all those hours of Spanish audio books on Alaska Highway will pay of. “Perdon seniora, no entiendo Espaniol muy bien, puede repetir?”
OK, that’s better. You want to know if we have visas. Oh yeah we have them, from Naco. And why are we here then? Well because they told us that you might help us with a motorcycle permit. OK, I park the bike in the back parking lot, leave Andreea to guard the bike and go inside while praying that when I’ll be back I would still find both the bike and wife. Inside I find 3 offices. At the first one a customs officer is working. The other two are unattended as the two ladies assigned to them are busy watching a movie on a TV. I get in line at the only desk where somebody was doing something and smile. Great, already feels much more like home.
When my turn comes, I am out of luck again. The VIN number is not recognized here neither. “Problem!” Cual problem, no problem por favor! The guy is willing to help but doesn’t know what to do. So he goes for the jefe! The boss comes, has a look over the papers and says “fill up the VIN by hand and let them go”. Once we have the green light from the jefe, it is all downhill. I am out in no time with the permit and free to roam in Mexico!
Immediately we feel that the World has changed all around us. Houses lively colored but build in a certain disorder, as the architect intended to match the chaos on the streets.
Anything with a motor here is put to good use, no mater how old. And everything with a motor can carry people. No matter the safety measures.
The streets belong to everyone
From the septic Canada and United States, where everything has a place and and order, we are thrown in this big pot of passionate but dangerous living. Parts of this new movie we are in seem familiar from back home, but still, everything seems so new.
Adam told us that the road signs in Latin America are more or less for decorative purposes. Still, newbes as we are, we try to follow the speed limitation signs. Bad idea. Even dangerous idea as some trucks pass us in a swift and crazy manner. Imagine driving with 25 miles/h in a 25 miles/h zone and big trucks passing inches of you with 55 miles/h. We quickly adapt and follow the rule (and the speed) of the traffic.
Everything is different. After a long time, we travel with all our senses alert! The times when my passenger was sleeping in the back are long gone. Now, everybody with eyes on the road!
We take a short break for hydration and we notice the huge crickets that are all over the road. Oh, so these were the “things” that kept hitting us while moving.
God knows why they prefer the asphalt but the were everywhere.
And a lot of them where dying due to the traffic.
And where are dead things there are also vultures…
And these birds are very little respect or fear for humans and for cars. They take of at the very last moment and if one is not careful it might run into them.
We continue through mountain small villages. Before entering Mexico, a lot of people warned us about the potential dangers of some places especially near the borders.
We are positive thinking and optimist people. But we do not want to be foolish people so we decided to heed the warnings and stop as little as possible in the border areas. We do however observe very interesting details from the places we pass through.
Come lunch time and we turn out to be much as the vultures. The hunger wins over the fear and we decide to stop in a small restaurant. A nice old man greats us. OK, seems fine. We are happy!
We find out pretty fast that our Spanish is not yet sophisticated enough to… order anything else than tacos. The guy tries to explain what he has and since we didn’t understand much he does an amazing thing. He takes us both in the kitchen, and shows what is in the pots on the burner. Ha! Imagine that happening in the U.S. !
We order some stuff by pointing to different pots and then, while waiting for the food, we figure to go out and take a bottle of water from the motorcycle. When we came, we were the only ones there and we parked just in front of the restaurant. When I went out now I had a shock seeing a big army truck parked just near Gunnar.
Suddenly all the stories with drugs, drug gangs and the fight against them becomes very fresh in our minds. After we finish eating we leave wishing good luck to the soldiers.
The drugs and the drug cartels who produce, transport and distribute their product are a very real thing for these parts of the world. But the majority of the Mexicans are honest, hard-working and full of life people, who are trying to go on with their lives, navigating through these battles and struggling to keep a sense of normality. We hope to meet only these guys.
On the side of the road we see also a lot of horses. And it seems that here their are still used as a viable means of transportation.
We salute the other riders, with big smiles!
Our goal for the day was the small village of Banamichi, Sonora, where Tom was waiting for us. Tom is an American in love with Mexico and he decided to move with his wife here, building a hotel in the mountains. It was hard work but the place looks amazing as you will see later on. Reaching Banamichi is quite easy and the roads are by no means “secondary”. Still, Tom told us that we might have “three or four wet crossings”. Hmm I wonder what those might be?
Well, why to go through all the trouble of building a bridge when you could just let the water cross over the road? Luckily the monsoon season was over so most of the crossings were dry. But not all of them…
So we get the “chance” to get our feet wet.
We reach “Los Arcos” as the evening sets in.
The stop at Tom’s was exactly what we needed after a very intense first day in Mexico. The place is a oasis of peace and quiet and we liked it so much that we decided to stay one more day.
I get a haircut, Andreea gets a massage which proves to be a very professional one. She deserves it after 3 months on the motorcycle. We relax in the purest Latin meaning of the word.
Time goes by fast when you are not doing anything and soon we have to say good bye to Tom and Lynn.
Tom rides with us for a while to make sure that we are on the right path (in fact I think it was just a pretext to go out there and have some fun on the mountain roads, eh Tom?) Then we shake hands and we say good bye. See you somewhere, someday! Thanks for everything!
We had lots of conflicting thoughts before entering Mexico. Good friends, having the best of intentions and basing their worries on real facts, told us to think really well if we want to go there. And, especially once in Mexico, we totally understand the worries. The struggles between “good and evil” as well as between “evil and evil” are very real. In what measure they might affect a tourist visit and if it is worth the trip, this is to be decided by each and everyone who considers going.
We chose to dare and continue our journey. And we hope to stay safe and enjoy the wonderful things the Latin part of the New World has to offer.
Feliz viaje, dear traveler, where ever you might be!
Next time we are enjoying remote mountain roads but end up forced to stop unexpectedly. Stay tuned!