You know when you pull candy floss apart and the ends are all wispy and translucent, little ‘diamonds’ of sugar caught in the wisps? That’s what I was thinking about at 3am as I lay next to a sleeping Paul, on the steel deck of the ship and looking up at the sky…a “candy floss sky”… millions of pin prick diamonds pulled across the galaxy. I was exhausted, uncomfortable, had a pounding head, I was sweaty, dirty …and incredibly content. I was acutely aware and simply in awe of the fact that we’re actually on this wonderful journey we had been planning for over a year! l was feeling immense gratitude for the gift of this time with Paul and for the realisation that ‘sleeping rough’ is just an adventure for us, and not a way of life.
The 16-hour ferry ride from the Baja to Mainland Mexico was going to be tough, as we weren’t able to secure a cabin, however we were gifted with meeting a great group of fellow travellers and making new friends – a South African couple on a bike, 2 Aussie blokes in a van with their surfboards and a group of Mexican bikers on their way home. That’s the upside of travelling – all the wonderful people we meet. Bonded by the mutual experience of the inferno in the hold as we strapped our bikes secure for the crossing and our uncomfortable night on the ship, we were a scraggly, sweaty, diesel-dust-covered band as we hugged each other goodbye in Mazatlan, hoping to stay in touch.
Arriving from Baja at mainland Mexico is like stepping into another world. Paul said: “Look! There’s those things with long brown bodies and green things growing on top…wait… aren’t those trees!?” We hadn’t seen a tree in 3 weeks, had seen no shade, no reprieve, so riding into the greenery of mainland Mexico was such bliss. We’re loving all the greenery and lush jungle-like conditions, often riding through tunnels of green and past lush fields or verdant plantations of vegetables, fruit and agave plants (which is what tequila is made from). The hills and mountains are beautiful and the riding is so much cooler inland. Another change from Baja is that we haven’t seen any military vehicles or road blocks since arriving on the mainland. We’re unsure if this will be the case further along our travels.
I’ve been wondering how best to describe the insane heat. It’s something I still can’t believe is real, even though we’ve been experiencing it now for literally months, crossing various deserts since Death Valley to Baja. We’ve had days of 49C of dry heat and that is something quite different to 37C and humidity. Have you ever been in a sauna and experienced the hot dry air, the burn in your lungs as you breathe and your skin turning pink? That’s your 49C dry heat day. Have you then added water to the coals and felt the sweat literally break out of every pore on your body as you struggle to breathe? Now you have your humidity at 37C! Imagine doing all of that whilst wearing a KLIM riding suit, thick long socks and boots, gloves and a helmet! We try and beat it by leaving at sunrise and only riding until noon. It’s bearable when we move as the wind cools us down, but getting stuck in traffic is literally like baking in the sun, it’s simply unbearable and dangerously hot. Paul has removed my windshield, which has helped me a lot. It does not help to try and shed clothing, which we discovered by trying that. The KLIM gear actually protects us from the heat, riding without it is so much worse. Trying to get out of our gear is like wrestling ourselves out of straight jackets, the hot fabric sticking to our sweaty skin. Everything goes straight into the shower with us for a wash every day, as the smell is something I will spare you a description of. Our health is suffering now, so we changed plans and started heading inland to cooler weather. Arriving in Tepic today where it was 28C was such an incredible relief. My greatest struggle these past few months has been “feeling held captive by the heat” – unable to do as much or see as much as I would have liked. Hopefully with the cooler weather, that will change.
The little Mexican pueblos (towns) are amazing! We find ourselves riding cobbled roads, past men on horseback, taco vendors smiling on the kerb. Stalls sell pineapples, corn, mangoes, bananas, pecan nuts and figs. Everything is served with sachets of salsa, chilly or paprika. Families ride small motorcycles, often 4-up and wearing no helmets or sometimes it’s just two kids riding along in slip-slops and shorts. Riding the cobbled streets after a rain storm is challenging for me as its slippery, many stones are loose and the potholes are deep. Paul and I were having a giggle at a video we recently saw of a rider in his KLIM gear on his BMW GS gingerly negotiating a cobbled road water crossing, when a few locals just whizzed through on their little bikes, wearing no protective clothing at all!
Today we came to a pueblo where we had to ride up a steep cobbled road and across a railway line which was set high up on the bank. There were no warning lights or boom gates, but we could hear the train coming, so stopped on the steep cobbled camber. The locals just carried on riding across! The train hooted furiously as it approached, but motorcycles and vehicles just crossed, merely seconds away from disaster. Once the train started passing us, we soon realised why people did the “mad dash”…the train was so long, that we sat there for absolutely ages, watching it chug by, eventually turning our motors off as we sat in the heat and waited it out.
Mexican art is extremely colourful and beautiful. In Canada we visited a First Nations Reserve and met a man collecting glass beads on the beach. He told us about the history and value of these beads and how they were traded by natives along the Pacific coast. To see these beads widely used in Mexican art reminded us of that conversation and we can see why they are so prized. The beads are woven or intricately glued into amazing patterns, each of which conveys significant symbolism or a story.
Our command of Spanish grows with each day and each night’s lessons. We have noticed that the locals speak a slightly different dialect to the ‘textbook’ Spanish we’ve learnt. Paul and I were giggling today, wondering just how we actually sound…imagining someone learning to speak ‘textbook’ English and saying: “Good morning Sir, how are you?” and getting a local Aussie reply: “G’day mate!” We are sure that’s how we must sound… now we just need to learn the local way of saying the Mexican version of “G’day Mexico!”