Had a nice dinner with Hank and Sherry and a good night's rest. I think we were the only guests in the hotel, as in the parking garage there were no other cars.
The surrounding mountains are beautiful
Having been without access to the net for the last few days, I decided to try and upload some things, however the password for the hotel wireless didn't work. I walked out into the plaza and looked for some coffee, finding a cup in a small store much like a 7-11. It felt weird and disturbing to find prepackaged foods, coffee from machines, and styrofoam cups after the quaint cafe's and "cafe' con leche' " served hot from earthenware cups and such. I said "Wifi?" to the checker, and he pointed outside to the square, so I ambled out, feeling very proud of my Spanish communication abilities.
I was looking forward to a quiet time of coffee, editing and uploading. As soon as my tush touched down, an old gentleman ambled up and began speaking spanish to me. After a couple of minutes of me waving my arms in my best Italian, he spoke to me in broken English and said "Eet ees a beautiful early morning no?" I agreed and complimented him on his english. He began talking to me of many things, his age and life, his town, how he loved to walk the town early in the mornings. Feeling pressed for time, I began to get antsy about uploading and then caught myself. Life is about these moments and about people, and I felt a little disturbed at myself for wanting to rush him. I closed my laptop, leaned back and we just had a long chat. His name was Fortencio, aged 77 and he'd grown up in Santiago, but had worked 55 years in a consulate. I asked what he had done, and he told me he was the bell boy there.
We talked and talked, him telling me about the various people as they would walk by and how long he'd known them, where they had grown up and other things. He said his wife of 70 still looked as young as when they'd married in the early 1960's and how she was visiting family in nearby San Francisco. He would point out the buses and tell me where they went and how much I could ride them for. He also told me about the previous night's event, in which a new mayor had been elected and last night was the official handover. He then told me a previous mayor had been shot 2 years before by drug lords. Hank had told me the town had had a couple of incidents a few years ago, and this had stalled tourism to the town. Shame as it is a beautiful place, but we both had the feeling it was about to make a comeback and now would be a good time to rent a space for a business… what type I have no idea LOL
My time up, I thanked Fortencio for his kindness and went to get geared up, find Hank and get the plan in order.
Old well in the restaurant
We were heading for Laredo, but were unsure as to whether to go to the Colombia bridge where the traffic would be lighter, however it being further out would add time to the trip so we opted instead for Laredo.
Santiago is about 20 miles south of Monterrey, and as we headed out the sky was much clearer than when we'd come through the previous week. The smog had been so heavy on the way south that one could barely see the mountain silhouettes. But this morning they were easy to see and quite pretty.
Quickly we were into the bustle of Monterrey's highways and I stuck to Hank as well as I could, weaving and bobbing in traffic. We eventually cleared the town and grabbed gas on the north side. Hank said to have the passport ready as we would hit more checkpoints on the way north now. The heat grew quickly as we left Monterrey, my mind on the traffic and on the drab vision of returning to the border and subsequently the return home.
I'd been warned to lose the GoPro and not take any pics near the border area unless I wanted to sit in a room and be questioned for a few hours, so I stashed the cameras and put on my dumb tourist face. Which differs only slightly from my dumb regular face.
Oh the suckage...
Idling in a construction zone traffic yam
As we neared the International Bridge in downtown Nuevo Laredo, the heat became more oppressive. Hank had asked earlier if I wanted to keep my import permit (good for 6 months) and I had said yes, so we avoided having to deal with that and paid the toll to cross the bridge. I'd gotten down to the bottom of my peso pile and ended up paying the toll in US dollars.
As we sat idling in the heat, the lanes jammed with traffic, Hank asked if I wanted to eat at Wendy's or Whataburger with an evil grin. We then split into different lanes and inched along. By the time my slot was open, I was feeling loopy from the heat. I can't imagine sitting there for hours during July or August.
The border guard asked for my Passport and for me to remove my helmet. He then asked a few questions about where I'd been. I told him San Miguel as we'd been advised to do. He then asked if I had any fruits, meats, etc and I told him I had some chocolate and some energy bars. He asked to see inside the cases, so I dismounted and opened a couple of them, and he said all was fine and sent me on my way. I exited the official area and back into the US, pulling over in the Valero gas station lot just outside the gate to wait for Hank and Sherry.
They came in about a minute later and we tried to gas up, but the credit cards weren't working so we drove further out for gas. We were hungry and needed a break from the heat. Pulled into a Fuddruckers nearby. It felt very, very strange to return. Entering the place, the employees were dressed in bizarre costumes which added to the feelings. I then remembered it was Halloween, as I'd lost track of time in Mexico.
After a burger, fries and a root beer, I started to relax from the tension of crossing, and the exhaustion began to set in.
We cranked up and raced along to Dilley, following them home to deliver a hat Sherry had bought, literally off the head of a local in Mexico. I had had room in my topcase for the mini sombrero.
Obligatory train delay in the heat
The ride back through Devine, Hondo and Bandera was bittersweet, as I longed for home to get out of the gear, the heat and to relax, but I also hated the thought of stopping. There are so many reasons - you're in tune with the bike and riding is like breathing, each day has brought a new horizon, new adventures and new people, you're in a rhythm, a flow and in freedom.
You guys who ride know what I'm talking about…