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La Paz and Goodbye to Mexico and our friend Antulio

January 18th, 2000 · No Comments

There is a cyclist who joined us in Ensenada as an unofficial member of the group. We don’tOur Friend Antonio know much about him, since he speaks Spanish, his name, is Antulio. Antulio is an amputee, having lost one of his legs in an awful car accident. When he hear about us riding through his home town, he came out on his bike to meet us. He was so excited, he asked if he could join the group. Tim said sure, but we couldn’t be sagging him or providing other services, but he was welcome to tag along.

His bike is a home made type, hard to describe but for him, very effective. His has managed to follow along with us for 15 days. Antulio’s spirit has keep us going on several occasions. He carries only a small jug of water and a little food. He propels his bike entirely with his arms, on a single speed while we have 27 speeds. I am amazed at his ambition and drive to keep up with our group. Antulio has taken on the desert with so little. We are so pampered with our gear locker, porta potties and shower trucks following us as we go. Here’s a guy who had probably everything he owns in the back of his wagon-bike. He’s happy and smiling whenever we see him.

Antonio our inspirationOver the past couple weeks Antulio has won the hearts of many in the group. We learned that once he was a bike racer, before his accident. Ever since his injury, he has wanted a recumbent bike, but was unable to afford one. Moved by him and his dream, our group has passed the hat and raised over $1000 to help make his dream come true. I wish I could be there to see the smile on this man’s face when he gets his new bike.Antonio saying goodbye at the airport

Loreto is the oldest village in the Baja. It is one of the places I wished we could have stayed longer. Our hotel was right on the beach. We did not have a room, but we did pitch our tent, have dinner and a massage before turning in at the very late hour of 8 p.m. The trip has been physically hard, we are still getting used to the routine.

On the way out of town we did visit the town square and I got a picture of the oldest Mission in the Baja. While there I meet a guy from Switzerland, who was amazed at our biking . He was glad to tell me that we would be in Switzerland when the weather is good. It was also fun to have someone ask me if I spoke English! Yes! It’s my only language….unfortunately.

Leaving Loreto we climbed 1290 (from sea level) to the top of the mesa, leaving the beautiful coast behind and traveling once again into the desert. Our mid-day check in point was located beside the road in the middle of nowhere. That’s how remote the area was that day. Of course this is the type of day you have mechanical problems. Larry got his umpteenth flat. I had strong legs that day and had been riding ahead of him when his bike broke down. Well, by the time I noticed he wasn’t there I was 7 kilometers up the road. I stopped to wait for him. It was taking for ever, then in the distance I saw a police truck coming toward me with it’s lights flashing. It didn’t bother me, because the police had been patrolling the area all day. When the truck got close enough, I could see Larry, he was in the back along with 3 other riders.

The police were sagging the broken down riders into town! What a funny site. I jumped in the truck (never turn down a free ride!) and we cruised down the road, passing all the other riders. We shouted to them to please come bail us out. We created many smiles that day and continue to be teased about the Mexican police hauling us in.

So far we have spent every night in the tent except two. The first night in Mexico, we had a wonderful ocean view room in Ensenada. The second night we slept in our bed rolls in a classroom in Los Placitas. That day Larry’s tire finally had a blow out, thus ending the string of flat tires he has had over the past week. We rode in 95 degree desert heat all day, by the time we got in, the classroom looked pretty good.

The school consisted of several flat roofed buildings with open windows. The classroom had one chalk board, teachers metal desk, bookcase, tables and chairs for about 20 students. There was no electricity in the row of classrooms where we camped, but the row across the way were the principal’s office was located did have lights. The classrooms were are very basic. It was very hot when we first arrived until the sun went down. I exclaimed “how can they go to school in this heat?” Larry reminded me, that they grew up and live in the heat. Yes, and it’s only January!

Even though the school was very poor looking, it came alive with all the villagers coming to see us. Several groups set up food concessions, providing us with cold drinks, sandwiches, chips, fresh guacamole, fresh orange juice etc. The villagers were excited to have us, especially the children. They were amused to see us camping in their classrooms. We would not be the first ones to sleep there!

Our last day of cycling in Mexico was very hot and hilly. We are totally tired of desert, dust, headwinds and the monotony of the terrain. With the exception of the few days of cycling by the ocean or the sea, we have been in the desert for over 10 days. We have covered flat desert with cactus and rolling desert with cactus then there was flat desert without cactus and of course rolling desert without cactus. OK, we’ve done desert, we are ready a change.

Tomorrow we fly to Costa Rica. We are anxious to see how we get 247 cyclist with bikes and gear onto a plane.

Tags: Central America