Mexico the first impressions
What a chaotic way of life, I thought when I crossed the border.
I crossed the border with Kate and Spencer on my birthday and booked a night at a hotel in Tijuana.
A total different country than any other country I have been into.
This night in the hotel was a very good move.
At night we walked through the streets of Tijuana. The people are friendly and there are strange exciting smells, not always nice though.
The people were asking us to come inside have free tequila and see their products. But when we said no interest, they were not pushing!
We didn’t speak the language, although Kate and Spencer do speak some basic Spanish!
Also the food is different, the hygiene is on a different level than we are used to.
Due to this, Spencer and I did have some problems with our stomach. One day my appetite was gone and that worried me. Because I do need the energy for cycling!
The days after that we cycled together.
The Mexicans are very friendly. I have never experienced this.
They almost wave, thumbs up, calling when we passed, hands in a V from and even sometimes hanging outside their car to wave to us.
Also a lot of pictures were made while riding!
Most truck drivers do wave, a very nice experience
Of course I am a spectacular view on my recumbent here, however I won’t be the first recumbent that has been cycling there.
Mexico is a dry country with a nice chaos on the road, next to the road and in the daily life!
This Item is spoken a lot of when talking about Mexico.
Family at home, friends, and also colleagues are worried about this item.
I must say I was worried a bit too about it after so much negative input. I wasn’t worried about it in the first place.
I based this confidence on the blogs I did read about CYCLISTS who had cycled the Baja California themselves. They were talking about it very positively!
At first; “safety in Mexico” is just as “safety in the USA” or “safety in Europe”. It so much is depending WHERE and when!
Mexico is a big country and has a lot of issues as a nation.
In the past there were issues in the Baja California. The government did a lot to solve / deal with those problems.
The result now is a very safe Baja California.
There is not much you will notice about these measurements. The only thing you’ll encounter is a military control.
Complete with military with their finger on the trigger.
They won’t give us any problems.
Sometimes the military have some questions about where you go and where I came from. Some cyclists will have to open a bag!
All this in good harmony without harsh orders!
The safety on the road
We, cyclists, will do everything to be seen
We all do that in a different way!
I have a long flexible flagpole with three flags; the Canadian, the Dutch and the Mexican flag.
These will wave always and are visible very well! (Car drivers told me!)
Next to that I have two rear view mirrors on which I can see what is coming from behind me.
This to decide if I have to go into the shoulder, if there is one!
Also the roads are generally good for cycling.
Most of the time the roads are really quiet. Sometimes there are some trucks.
They pass us with great care! I am trying to give them all the room they need whenever there are two trucks passing, which is not that often.
There is hardly any shoulder. If there is, I can cycle there but it is also covered sometimes with remains of tires and glass. Also cactus needles are abundant!
So far I had two flats, due to the wires of tires that exploded.
When trucks can’t pass me they usually wait silently and do not honk!
There is one highway to La Paz (generally speaking). Here we will take the ferry to the town Mazatlan, the mainland.
In Santa Rosalia is a town where you can take a ferry to the mainland too.
Once a week a ferry will go from there to Guaymaz, on the mainland of Mexico, north of Mazatlan.
Tanja, a fellow cyclist just took the ferry to Guaymaz.
She will take the bus there or cycle to Mazatlan and the border of Mexico later this month.
Maybe I will meet her somewhere down the line!?
The scenery is a very impressive, empty desert that is green, due to the rain showers that hit the Baja California some weeks ago.
Millions of several species of cactus all around make the scenery different every time.
I have seen the roadrunner several times and even made pictures of it!
The Turkey vultures are great to watch. Sometimes in groups of almost a hundred birds hovering on the thermal current so great to see!
I did, occasionally, see some hummingbirds in the middle of the dessert! We don’t have hummingbirds in Europe so I am always happy to see that little bird!
Woodpeckers I see often, but don’t know their name. They live in cactus where they make holes in.
The last days of cycling towards La Paz I did see a new bird of pray: “the crested Caracara” or Caracara Cheriway”. This bird was sitting on a cactus near the street, so I did take pictures of it too!
Next to that I do see several other birds I don’t know the name of. But as a birds man I am always happy to see them!
One of the few other bigger animals I did see was a coyote. He did run into the desert when I approached.
I did see mice, lizards almost daily and some type of ground squirrel.
Yesterday I did an estimate how many butterflies we did see.
At least 10.000; 100 per kilometer times 95 km is 9500 butterflies. But there were times I did see as many as 500 per 1 km!
Also I did see at least 60 dragonflies that day!
A feast for the eye!
Due to all the flowers (rain) these butterflies flourish so abundantly!
I did see scorpions, but also tarantula spiders, what a huge animal that is!
Also a stick insect, grasshoppers are abundant and fly / hop along the road and shoulder.
One of the things I had to get adjusted to was the heat, constant sun and the absence of shadow.
My big heat with side and back flaps, as well as my (once) white T-shirt with long sleeves is a very good way to deal with that.
When the warmth is too much, I simply make these items very wet with water.
Condensation of the water is cooling me down enough to continue cycling again!
I will repeat this every 5 – 10 km, if needed.
Next to that I am drinking as much as I can. At the end of the day I experience that it still wasn’t enough!
In the east of Kentucky (2008 trip) the dogs were a problem. But here it is different!
In 2008 they came out of the yard suddenly and barking and trying to bite you. Sometimes even in groups up to 6 dogs!
Here the dogs are pitiful. They all have issues with skin, limping and are dirty.
They do have young puppies all the time and are skittish and anxious.
They don’t seem to have a proper home.
Already I did see 5 dog victims of the traffic. They are lying on the shoulder, or worse even, on the road. Terrible to see and smell!
The environmental awareness of the Mexican people
The awareness for a healthy environment is almost absent with the Mexican people in general.
Everything you buy is been packed in plastic bags.
A lot of garbage is thrown away where they stand.
A view days ago I was sitting near a supermarket in the shade, when I did see a man throwing a gas filled pipe lamp in the bushes where it exploded and left in little pieces.
I am still flabbergasted.
I can’t change this, so this is life here.
However I am always remembered when I walk into the desert; there is garbage everywhere, so very sad.
There are several attempts to change this. An example of this is the separate collection of plastic bottles.
It is not much, but it’s a start!
Changing mentality is needed and that is the hardest part!
The desert is dry in general. Dry it was, but now it was green and there were vast fields of blooming plants.
Even the cactus plants were blooming!
This was the reason there was also an explosion of insects, good and bad.
The bad ones were the mosquitoes and the little flies that were bothering you when you had a little break.
They where zooming around your head crawling into your eyes, nose and ears (the worst). They were not stinging but just a pain!
The good insects were the thousands of butterflies we did see almost every day. The butterflies were very colorful and in such a great variety.
Also there were hundreds of dragonflies so great to see them hovering around.
Grasshoppers, tarantulas, scorpions, walking sticks, I loved the place.
The plants in the desert are often covered with spines, not only the cactus but also smaller bushes and even several grass species!
This I found out the hard way, I thought of pitching my tent on the soft grass. But when I entered my tent the needles from the grass stung right through the footprint.
I relocated on the sand and had a great night of sleep!
Spencer mostly suggests the overnight staying. This is on the basis of the blog of someone who did this part before, on a bicycle.
Cycling from campground to campsite, in the desert and behind restaurants and gas stations.
Campsites are not abundant but sometimes very beautiful! Lush bushes and shade, even sometimes with a pool!
This attracts butterflies but unfortunately sometimes also mosquitoes.
Sometimes there is a restaurant in the middle of nowhere.
I see those restaurants, sometimes, as a modern (Mexican) saloon like in the movies.
Dusty, hot, old interior, lots of flies al around.
The foodchoice they serve here is not abundant but often surprisingly good.
The toilets there are definitely a place you don’t want to be!
Fortunately there is a large empty dessert around you!
Next to this we share a hotel room often.
This is cheap, between 400 and 650 peso’s, $30 (US) and $48, this divided by two or three and it is very cheap!
For price this we have a warm (often) shower a nice bed and often WIFI.
There is actually only one road from Tijuana to La Paz.
In La Paz most bicyclists are going to Mazatlan by ferry, the mainland of Mexico.
I haven’t seen any going from the south of the Baja California to the north.
Mostly the cyclists will cycle from the north to the south, because of the prevailing wind that is (most of the time) from the south or east.
Kate; a 31-year-old woman from Ottawa Canada. She started her trip in Vancouver with a friend. In California she decided to cycle with Spencer and me across the Baja California.
Spencer a 28 –year-old Canadian guy from Edmonton. I met him around the Oregon / Californian border and we cycled of and on together.
Now we cycled the Baja together. Kate and Spencer are a couple now!
Tanja; a 50-year-old German woman. We met her when we left the hotel in a place where she had a hotel too.
This is her first big bicycle trip, so everything is new for her.
Her bicycle and gear is new and bought in San Antonio (Texas). There she started her trip. She followed the border towards the west and in San Diego she went south on the Baja California.
She had a lot of hotel stays, because camping she doesn’t like that much.
Luckily she can share her hotel with me, because staying in a hotel in the USA when you are traveling alone is expensive, a lot cheaper in Mexico.
In San Rosalia she decided to take the ferry to Guaymaz. She must be out of Mexico before November 1st and will be going by bus somewhere along the line.
Now (October 28th) we are in Mazatlan and we did meet Tanja yesterday (oktober 27th) evening. Tanja and I are going to take the bus to Mexico City.
Here we will stay one day and go by bus the next day to Belize City.
Daisy and Jason. They are a just married couple from Pennsylvania. They just finished university in statistics and acoustics.
They started in Anchorage and will go to do the Pan-American Highway on their own way all to and in Argentina.
A very nice couple with great ideas! They speak Spanish very good. Daisy fluently, because she was one year in Spain!
Tyler, a 25-year-old teacher from Minnesota. Here he left the school where he did teach children with poor background.
This school system was not the way he wanted to do his work.
Physical abuse and not being able to change something for the kids, made him leave the school.
First some cycling! He is also able to speak Spanish very good!
Antonie, a Belgian cyclist who was with the group of Daisy, Jason and Tyler.
He started somewhere in the north. Was a soloist and didn’t feel very comfortable in the, now, big group.
I didn’t see him after one night camping.
He had a lot of tire trouble and almost didn’t have any repair material!
Tristan, he is an English man who we met in Ciudad Constutition.
He left the next morning and did long distances.
He was short in time and money. He was going to Panama City.
We haven’t heard of him since.
Andreas, an Austrian retired man. He started in St. Lois cycled to Alaska and than down the coast to the Baja California.
He is now in Mazatlan and will travel to Cancun where he will fly home in November.
This moment we are in Mazatlan. Unfortunately the group is falling apart.
Daisy, Jason and Tyler are cycling towards Durango and will stay in Mexico for some time. They will meet their family in Cancun around Christmas.
Tyler will join them cycling but will go towards Guatemala halfway. Maybe I will see him there again?
Kate and Spencer are in the hotel still and will stay a little longer in Mazatlan.
Later they will cycle to Guadalajara where they will join a language course. After that, they will go to Cancun too.
Tanja and I will go to Belize by bus first and cycle again together south. We will try to snorkel again and see the Maya temples.
Than go into Guatemala towards the Pacific coast again and follow that towards Panama City.
When I can I will write a blog entry again. I can’t promise anything. I know it was a long time ago, sorry for this.
Great plans for the next two months, only two more months to go!