Our next destination was Todos Santos, where rumors of complete relaxation on soft beaches drank cervezas and strolled through eclectic art galleries. We still had to get out of Comondú, which was about another mile of cobblestones and rocks and a criss-crossing river. Any rideable road was okay with us after that dreaded Road to Comondú. And then, there it was…fresh pavement. Heat waves wriggled with joy on its surface, reflective dust from the painted lines twinkled and winked. I let my bike collapse on the ground and jumped onto the road and kissed and licked its loveliness. Now, I’m not the biggest fan of roads. My favorite times in Portland were riding through unpaved alleys on my cross bike to get around, but I liken this road to starving and being fed cottage cheese. It’s nasty (and probably not good for you if you haven’t eaten in a long time), but it’s soft and easy. But you know what. We live in an unforgiving world. After a quick lunch and a brief straightaway of care-free and smooth riding there was a turn and at the other was an extreme headwind. Nothing doing more than 12 kmh.
Back in San Ignacio, Gerry had bemoaned southern Baja for its use of barbed wire fences. It was nice to be in a land where properties were vague notions upheld by neighborly courtesy and a vast amount of nothing to let your eyes wander in. Here fences blocked off miles of cactus from the road for no reason other than to say, “This is mine. You can’t be here.” We searched and searched for holes in the fences but found nothing, so we had searched for places in the fences where the wires were lower or higher to sneak our way in. We found a good spot and waited until there weren’t any cars on the road. Davin and I hopped the fence so Ace and Julie could tag team each bike to hand it carefully over. I got to thinking what I would have to do if I were alone to get over one of the fences. Once everything was over we wheeled them over to an adequate site and made camp. Everything save for a small breakfast was eaten. We were officially out of food and out of money. Thank goodness Ciudad Constitucion was our destination the next day.
Apparently the campsite we found was less than awesome. Marble-sized bits of spikey plant pieces, spikebombs (we originally called them goatheads because of their similarly sinister ways and appearance, but in reality they are much much worse), had stabbed through the footprint and tent floor of the Rev South crew’s home and punctured Acey’s and Davin’s sleeping pads. Julie’s trailer wheel was deflated and three of the bastards were seen hanging onto my wheel. We all had some repairing to do before we left. The smooth road went from pristine pavement to dusty, gravelly washboard and back. Davin quickly burst out to lead our pack with his front shock. Damn him and his front shock. We paused for oranges in Insurgentes and watched soccer while ice cream peddlers trolled the highway for customers. Ten kilometers later and we were Constitucion.
At the end of Ciudad Constitucion there is a Pemex with a shiny, plastic ATM inside. Here we slid our cards so the magnetic strip exchanged information with the box and upon receiving our PIN numbers dispensed us wads and wads of crisp Mexican pesos. We held these blue, green, and pink papers beneath our wide and dilated eyes, sniffed them deeply and hugged each other tightly and jumped up and down. Payday. We rushed to the Diconsa and bought everything we had been craving. Tortillas, bread, beans, rice, oranges, coffee, two 6-packs of Snickers. We splurged on cookies and ice cream bars. Just to make sure that people know about these things, in most towns there is a Diconsa. If you are traveling through Mexico try and find these as they are federally subsidized grocery stores which have most things you need at a reduced price. Unfortunately, they don’t have beer though so Acey and I made a run to a market that advertised free ice. We bought some beer to go with the ice and quickly searched for a camping site. In just enough time to cool our beer but not melt the ice completely we found a turnoff onto a property without a home and big bushes to hide behind. Well, it turns out we weren’t the only people that hide behind the bushes. There was a clearing that we originally thought would be a good campsite…nope. Condoms limp with crusty juice were scattered everywhere. Lubricant had long ago oozed out of packets and stained the earth. All that remains of the tequila- and sweat-fueled passions are piles of trash fetish and a young memory of innocence. We moved to a more, uh, virgin land underneath a tree. That night we got sick on suds and sugar. Sublime bliss followed by a farty belly.
It was at this point that I began to have visions on how to lead a life. A life of riding through the United States, getting tired and stopping to read and write. Going from town to town picking up knick-knack jobs to supplement my writings. It’s funny how a trip is always the breaking ground for the foundation of the next trip, or the next chapter of life. My notebook is full of ideas for trips and excursions. The hard part won’t be having the time or money for those trips. The hard part will be returning from this one.
The next day was hot. Very hot. Liquid Snickers are not as tasty as solid ones. We paused for three hours at a market drinking juice and sodas and eating cookies. I tried to sleep but the owner’s kid, Carlos, kept me awake with his high-cadence stories and quick-shiftin’ questions. He was funny so I let it slide. He told us what colors our clothes were, how his horse died, and described a cactus. He grabbed his favorite book and “read” it to us, which was more of him looking at the pictures and remembering the gist of the story. I asked him if he studied English in school and he rapidly gave me a list of his favorite classes. When the sun finally cooled down we resumed the ride again. I was out of oatmeal or something and so had made plans with the group to make a pit stop at the Diconsa in El Cien to buy some. The Diconsa was closed for siesta and Davin and I were way ahead of Julie and Ace so we bought some empanadas from a neighboring market and ate them in view of the road. Ace and Julie passed through the town without seeing us so Davin took off to catch up to them. I waited alone while the sky turned from blue to orange to dark red. The Diconsa finally opened and had no oatmeal. I left quickly to try and find the crew before dark. Well, 8 km later and I could not find them. The sky finished its fireworks with a plush purple so I turned off at an unclosed gate and found a campsite all alone. It made me very happy to be so self-sufficient. If Davin, Julie or Ace ever got separated they would have difficulty. Julie carried the tent and the stove, so Davin and Ace would have had to scramble for shelter and a way to cook food, which I’m pretty sure Julie carried as well.
I had been flirting with the idea of leaving the group back when Julie told me she would after La Paz. Spending a night alone, letting my mind wander and twist with the smoke of the campfire, the rhythms of the night dance my pen across my notebook was a welcomed event that didn’t happen when I was with the crew. The idea grew larger and larger in my dreams. I wondered if I would even have to worry about making the decision as there was no guarantee I would find the group again. After three months of shifting my trip to be tandem with others, I had remembered why I left solo in the first place.