Adios Mexico; Hello Texas.

Leaving Tamiahua wasn’t easy on at least three counts. I had deep mixed feelings about leaving Mexico, I wasn’t sure what to do after Mexico, and I couldn’t get to my bike.

I got up before dawn which, when riding in temperatures that can reach over 40 in the afternoon, is best practice. In that reality, you’d think it would be easy not to ride in the afternoon. However, adjusting behavior patterns to accommodate changing realities is no small task. House me wakes up after sun is up, scratches ass, drinks coffee, finds and eats food, packs up and leaves. Road me must pack at night before sleep, postpone coffee and food, put ass on bike and ride as sun is rising. These small adjustments result in huge benefits. The challenge is remembering road me and forgetting house me.

So, I gathered the gear and quietly went to load the bike. However, the big rusty gates to the courtyard were locked tighter than a zoo full of dangerous animals. That’s a good thing to secure a bike, not so good if you want the bike unsecured. I looked for someone to unlock the gates, but nothing. I went back to the room to twiddle my thumbs. Finally, the roosters got the sun to start rising and so too the sleepy hotel employee. I loaded the gear and headed out, into the thickest fog I’ve seen in years.

I couldn’t see four meters in front of me, but since I was itchy to ride I tractored on in first gear. I figured the sun would quickly dissipate the problem. However, when you don’t know where you’re going in the first place, not being able to see rarely helps. I always figured I’ve been white-caning my way through this world anyway, so what the heck. Then, the bumpy pavement turned into no pavement at all. My stomach churned a bit wondering if somehow I’d taken the wrong road, or for that matter, any road at all. I could somewhat see the ditch and fields beside me. Then, as Earth spun toward the sun, fears of hitting donkeys, pot holes, topes or bandits slowly spun out of my head. Soon I was back on pavement. Phew.

I even ran in second gear, then third gear before I was frightened back to second. Then, the road disappeared. No road at all except for something that may have been a road at one time slanted down to a fairly quickly flowing river. If there used to be a bridge, it wasn’t there now. I looked to the other side and was able to see a man looking at me. Not much help there. I had no idea if the the bottom was full of slippery rocks, smooth rocks or was 10 or 30 centimeters deep, or worse.

Then, a this can only happen in Mexico moment. Out of the fog, on the other side of the river, it appeared. A taxi. Not a Hummer taxi or a four wheel drive, just the typical little Nissan red and white religious icon dangling beater. The only odd thing is that it wasn’t beeping its horn.

The man looked up at the taxi, I looked across at the taxi, the taxi seemed to look down at the river. It hesitated a few seconds then tiptoed down and dipped one front wheel in, then the other, then it made its way across. The water was just over the floorboards, it clutched its way up the rocks and rambled by me.

The man on the other side looked over as if to say, right buddy, your turn. I went to the edge and made the plunge. I’ve been through much deeper water on a bike, the bottom was clean, no rocks, and the exit was muddy but no problem. The man smiled, I sighed, and proceeded up the other side and onto a meandering road that was smooth, fog free and in beautiful country. Yeah, only in Mexico will a taxi show an adventure guy how to cross a river. If I had any pride I’d be embarrassed, but I’m not.

The next hundred or so kilometers were great – but that’s pretty much where the fun stopped. I was given a heads-up that the main road out of Mexico on the Gulf side is tedious. As a result, up to this point I avoided it as much as possible. But to my knowledge, if you’re USA bound, there really isn’t a way to avoid that route the last day or so. The only fun moments were stopping to absorb the moment, grab water or playing charades with a local. That night I stopped in Soto la Marina, a windy dusty dirty scary spot. There, I spent a restless night.

I haven’t seen as many military and police in one place since the October Crisis and the War Measures Act in Quebec. Even the hotel had three or four Federal police cars on the premises, which didn’t seem to stop some youths drinking and partying a few meters from my bike at one in the morning. I saw them because I was peeking through the curtains – Bruce Willis I ain’t.

The next morning brought an early, quick and grateful departure. I promised myself if I found anything that looked remotely interesting, I’d stay at least one more night in Mexico. I couldn’t find a thing so that afternoon I crossed the border. On the up side, crossing from Matamoros to Texas was seamless. In comparison to my experiences crossing Guatemala and El Salvador . . . well, there is no comparison. I still have much to learn about adjusting my expectations to reality.

So, I’m back in Texas. I have a plan that I put a lot of thought into during to during the tedium of my last day leaving Mexico: Stay warm as inexpensively as possible in interesting places. I’ll let you know how that works out . . .

 

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