It's the final countdown tututuduuu tudututuduuuuuu... We are counting down towards the end of the first chapter in our trip. Because at the end of this blog we'll fly to Peru and not cycle for a while, which brings up some mixed feelings.
Let's talk about borders. If you really think about a border, it merely is a line drawn on a map to mark where one country ends and where the next one begins. Sometimes people take these lines really seriously and decorate their borders, with a wall for example.
Put some further thought into these lines. Who decides on where these borders should go? If you look at the borders in United States, it sometimes looks like a panel of autistic cartographers drew lines on a map. Or in Europe, how did they decide on these funky lines that are supposed to represent borders? There is probably a smart answer for it, but we're not so educated in borderology.
What we're trying to build up to here, is just that usually nothing really happens if you cross a border. You go from one figment of someone's imagination into another, but if you look around the "country" itself hasn't changed much and the people look the same.
Well... That was only partially true when we crossed the border into Mexico. It was chaos. We entered through the turnstile gates with our bikes and entered Tijuana. Immediately we could feel a different atmosphere. The cars drove more reckless, it was harder to find directions, etc. But the fact that we didn't speak the language contributed the most to this partially perceived chaos.
It's funny if you think about it. It's only a different language, how can it make such a difference?
Luckily, we got used to the different conditions pretty fast. We met up with Ben again, he showed us around Tijuana a little bit and then offered to drop us off in Ensenada. Which in hindsight we're pretty grateful for, because the part looked pretty bad!
The desert is cool! It wasn't cool though, it got pretty hot. Even in November. Which made us very happy that our timing to cycle Mexico in the "winter" worked out. We can't even imagine how hot it must get here in the summer.
The scenery in the desert is pretty cool as well. If you ask someone to draw a cactus. Imagine what they would draw. That's what we were surrounded by for days. Sometimes it felt like riding through an episode of Lucky Luke.
We stuck to riding on the highway. Which was pretty nice for the most part. Now and again there would be a car and a truck that would pass us by really close, otherwise the traffic gave us lots of space and seemed very friendly and encouraging! Highway 1 takes you a bit all over the place, which is nice. You ride a bit on the Pacific side, cross over to the Sea of Cortez, ride a bit there, cross over again. All the while passing through no man's land.
Although it felt pretty remote, there were always little roadside restaurant along the way or "Rancheros" where we could stop and refill our water bottles or get something to eat.
In our minds, we still find it a little awkward to ask for a camp spot in a restaurant (or a gas station). We can't really explain why. But here in Mexico, that kind of question is almost perceived as normal. One time, in a little town (more like a collection of houses actually), we went into one of these restaurant. We ordered something to drink first, to build up the courage to repeat our Google translated sentence to ask for a camp spot. The waitress, without hesitating, replied "Sí"... Ok, great. We think about It for a second. "Where" we ask a little unsure (this we knew without Google Translate!). Which the waitress shruggingly replied to: "Oh anywhere you want". Which was kind of strange because there was only a parking lot between the restaurant and the highway, so we gave ourselves permission to go in the back and set up our tent.
And so the kilometers went by like nothing, beautiful scenery, tailwinds most of the time, good pavement and friendly traffic! So we arrived in La Paz a little earlier than we thought we would. But that's ok. We found a really cool Warmshowers host: Tuly. Apparently if you cycle to La Paz, it's almost an obligatory stop. She has hosted almost 700 cyclist in here roomy garage space. That's were we stayed for the remaining time, waiting for our flight. In the meantime we've met a lot of interesting and fun people at Tuly's! (Christian & Phoebe, Darius, Zach and many more).
Skipping the rest of Central America brings up some mixed feelings. On the one hand, we would love to keep cycling and explore more of Latin America and have the adventure of taking the boat to cross the Darien Gap. But on the other hand, we're also super excited to do volunteering work in Peru and have a stable place to stay for a while, get to know the people on a different level and explore the country also off the bike!
So yeah, that concludes the first chapter in our trip... It almost feels like some sort of "ending". Even though it's still a long way to go. The old saying is definitely true: time flies when your having fun!