veracruz, san fernando, matamoros, brownsville
06.07.2012 40 °C
After three nights in Monte Pio we more or less recovered and continued on our journey. Relaxing ride along the coast, up and down we were passing small fishing villages, just harvested sugar cane fields and men loading their trucks with tones of water melons. We could have eaten and taken as many as we possibly could but who would take an extra burden on a bike trip? We took one anyway and hauled it for two days some 130km. Basically to Veracruz. We met an Argentinian family which has been travelling for a year now heading to Alaska. This is how we met: we stopped in a supermarket for a food and these guys spotted us and they were captivated by our flag. We were not aware of that and had no idea we were watched at the time. They were driving an old Iveco van so they caught up with us after 10km or so. We stopped for a chat and agreed to camp together providing that they will find a suitable camp site within 10km range. Exactly 9.6km later I pulled over
to look around to see if I can find a space for our tent. Suddenly there's our Argentinian friend Mateo waving at us from his camp site. We took a dunk in the swampy lagoon, local kids gathered around asking all sorts of questions. They even brought some freshly caught fish for dinner, we got few bottles of beer out and we talked and talked...
The usual stuff in the morning: fixing puncture, took few shots, exchanged our contact detail and said farewell.
Santore family from Argentina
The next day, some 50km away we found another abandoned hotel right on the coast. Just as we were about to settle down, a truck pulled over. The driver was so kind and took us further 60km to the suburbs of Veracruz. It was dark already so we crashed right by a petrol station. It was open non-stop and besides security, we were provided with the luxury of toilet and a shower (garden hose). What a day! We woke up quite early in the morning. It was foggy while we rode to the city centre not knowing what's gonna happen or where we would stay. Anna didn't feel 100% well either. "Couchsurfing" is great anyway. For example, we're chilling out in the port and this guy walks by and says: "Hi, my name is Dahab." I pause for a sec: "The Dahab?" I ask and he goes: "Yes, it's me." How is this possible? We didn't even contact him beforehand and he offered us his airconditioned apartment. I repeat: air-conditioned!
So we got all our gear onto his truck and drove to his place, where we ended up staying for a week! The airconditioning was a gift, much appreciated by anyone from central Europe (Slovakia). It's been a while since we had to cover ourselves with blankets during the night. My wife got a little bit sick (she still coughs btw.), I was treating a minor fungal infection on my toes (from those bloody bike shoes). We also celebrated my wife's 30's birthday in salsa club. This was a serious relax for us indeed.
One night we went wandering through the streets, had a couple of drinks (margarita, pinacolada, tequila). We walked into Italian restaurant where we met the owner - very nice lady. So we chatted, had another shot of tequila on the house and off we went.
Other night I was watching some documentary about Arnold Swartzeneger "pumping iron". I didn't know he had won mister olympia 6 times, did you?
Dahab was a great host. One evening while watching a movie "Once" we shared few nice memories from the streets of dublin. We also spent a nice time with his father and the rest of the family having delicious breakfast and excellent local coffee. Dahab's mother invited us to her place (on mexican mother's day) where we had wonderful traditional dish called "mole" which is chicken with chocolate-chili sauce.
He's heading over the big pond to Europe in few days for a 2 months trip so I was helping him with flight tickets. He was quite pleased with Ryanair prices.
This goes to all our friend in Europe: look after my friend Dahab well!
Hey, have you heard a story about discovery of an ancient Maya town at the bottom of one cenote which was preserved in a giant air bubble? The divers who actually discovered iot had to use 3 oxygen tanks each just to get down there. How could ancient Mayans get there? Weired but true story.
Dahab, our couchsurf from Veracruz
In the morning Dahab drove us about 70km out of the city and dropped us by the Quiahuiztlan ruins from where the locals could spot Cortes (the pirate) for the first time before the colonisation. After another two days' ride along the coast we stopped a truck driver and asked him whether he was heading north and whether he would give us a lift. And he did.
We ended up some 250km further down the road, just pass the town of Tampico, where wegot off in the middle of the night somewhereby the suburban hostel. It was some kind of "ero" hostel with loads of erotic contraptions... It was fun and well organised. As soon as I parked our bikes in the garage, the land lady locked it up and escorted us upstairs to our room full of mirrors, airconditioning and erotic TV program on. Frankly speaking, we had a good night's sleep. Ladies knew very well we were stray sheep as they watched me drying up the tent and sleeping bags in the garden.
Next day we continued north. Somehow we were drawn to that direction. The countryside is gradually changing into prairie which I know from the western movies. I feel astonished as i catch myself daydreaming while i listen to Waits and Cohen... But ride is not that relaxing as it seems. The villages are few and far between, shortage of drinking water and scorching sun make us think... What next? Again, like every night, we're looking for a suitable camp site in the litte village and we're lucky coz we are invited to a dinner table and we can sleep over on the bed and take a provisory shower and use the latrine. These were seriously poor people. Their kids were gorgeous and of course very inquisitive.
On the previous day we had passed tropic of cancer, leaving tropical zone behind and frankly speaking we could certainly feel that. I don't have to wipe the sweat off my face that often and every now and then i can feel a fresh cool breeze in my hair but this only happens when we go fast. And the sun is still hot like hell and burns like the stove in our home back in Vapenik (Slovakia).
Anna is meditating
With the family
There was one more territorial chicken there and she wanted her bed back
We're through another 80km stretch of emptiness, not a single village in sight, no water, no shadow or presence of any human being, just a military check point at the end, patrolling everything on its way north to the states. Trucks, cars even our bags were searched. One mercifull soldier promissed us to stop some vehicle and ask for a lift on our behalf. So we got further 40km thanks to a lovely lady who dropped us off right by the cheepest hotel in the middle of San Fernanda. It was clean and cozy though, with 100 TV channels (including some english ones). We're chiling amongst three fans, sipping on the bottle of rum with cola. There's a bag of ice in the sink and my head is spinning... You know what I mean. A good soundtrack in the background, starry heaven above us, drink in one hand and cigarette ine the other. The magic moment when you drift away, when joy overshadows the pain, when dreams are more powerful than the reality, when morning comes
with great expectations but you wake up back in the real world. This journey is spectacular anyway. We'll forget about the bad things coz the good stuff will be remembered forever.
Nowhere to hide
In about day and the half on 20th of may (sunday) wi find ourselves on the border. Nothing happened on Mexican side, we spoke to nobody, no questions were asked. We simply left the country. On the other side though, it was diferent story altogether. Huge disappointment. Instead of 6 months we only got 3 months (90days) visa. Whis means that everything is changing. Our only chance of visa extension is to cross the border and re-apply again. But another border crossing is not in our plan so I think about overstaying another 3 months illegaly but this is strongly rejected by my wife. This is our 3rd day in the states and we're still stuck in the same spot - Brownsville. After thinking our options through we've decided to buy a cheep car and hopefully we'll be able to sell it when we get to New Jersey. On the other hand, this kind of travelling can still be fun and convinient at the same time. We will be able to "fly" through the boring and bleak places and
cycle through the interesting ones. Of course we're bit disappointed but that's life. We had chinese for luch yesterday and there was a paper message saying: "sudden change in your plan will lead you to a happy end..."