Mexico: Our “first foreign” country will be our friendly neighbors to the south. We will be traveling down the California Baja of Mexico, along the “one and only” road to La Paz. After checking the topographical maps at the Denver public library, Larry has determined there are no mountains to climb. We will see about that! I as always pray for a tailwind.
January 10, 2000: The reality of Mexico is finally setting in. Mexico is not warm. We have been in the country a week now and every night we must snuggle into our sleeping bags to get warm. The days have been mostly sunny and warm, but not so warm as we expected. One morning we were very surprised when taking the tent down to find sheets of frost lining the fly and tent. It was 29 degrees!
The country is beautiful. In Northern Baja, we traveled along the Pacific coast, where the views are awesome. Further down we turned inland, going over some significant hills (read hard peddling) and farmland. The further south we travel, the more remote the county.
On January 9th our camp was very remote, it was two bicycle days between towns. Our water and food had to be brought in. Still it was one of my favorite nights. We were in the middle of the desert, surrounded by mountains. There were no artificial lights around and the stars were brighter than I have ever encountered. Our “caterers” were heating tortillas over an open fire and serving us hot chicken burritos, rice, beans, tomatoes, lettuce and orange drink. It was a great meal.
The locals are warm and friendly folks. We have not encountered any aggression from them. Most impressive are the drivers. The Mexican roads come in two kinds, bad and worse. Bicycle lanes are non-existent. Shoulders, if any vary from about 5 inches to 18 inches, usually they have reflectors, exactly where you need to ride. So, if you are the cyclist, there is only one place to ride, that is on the road with the vehicles. Luckily the Mexicans (including the truck drivers) are very understanding. They patiently wait until it is safe to pass, sometimes they beep their horns, but it is a friendly beep, because they are always waving at us. We wave at everyone. We figure the friendlier we are, the more road we can use!
Our days are very full. We wake up at 5 a.m. (yuck). In the beginning it took us 3.5 hours to break camp, clean up and eat before we can ride. Now that we almost have the routine down, we are doing it in 2 to 2.5 hours. The biggest problem is the days are still short. It gets dark at 5 p.m. We sure could use some more daylight. Usually, we get into camp anywhere from mid-afternoon till 5 p.m. depending on the length and hardness of the day’s ride. The first week we got in just before dark, everyday. It’s very hard setting up a tent and taking a shower in the dark (not to mention cold!). To solve the problem, Larry (the early bird) it making me (the night owl), wake up at 5, instead of 6.
We get showers everyday. Odyssey has developed a wonderful shower tent that heats the water and provides 10 showers at a time. The group is refining the process so we don’t have to wait to get a shower. When we arrive in camp, one of us goes to “get a number” (reservation) for the shower. That way we don’t have to waste time waiting in line rather than doing other things like pitching the tent, etc. We also have portable sinks, with hot and cold running water. They are marvelous for quick cleaning, brushing the teeth and all.
Without the Odyssey conveniences, our trip would be totally unbearable. Mexican facilities, are not up to our standards. For example, in the Mexican rural areas the sewer systems are not able to handle paper, therefore you are asked not to put toilet paper in the toilet. They provide a waste basket for it’s disposal. So, to provide for our needs, Tim Kneeland had 10 porta potties following us down the Baja. By doing this we avoid straining the resources of the economy, while keeping us riders happy!