So we are now in Mexico, Section 7, and the culture has most definitely changed – no more “Have a nice day” stuff, but a much softer approach with simple Thank You and Goodbye type statements like back home. The drivers seem to be a bit more tolerant of the riders as well by the comments I am hearing.
On September 18th the riders had the shortest stage of the whole trip, a massive 40K! This was from Yuma to the border town of San Luis which spans America and Mexico. In fact in the van we arrived too early to actually get our visas as the office only opened at 8:00, so we had to wait a bit. The officials were very polite, relaxed and friendly and by the time we had our visas sorted some of the riders were arriving. Once done we could travel by foot the 200 metres to the hotel and that was the day done! Only a few hundred metres from the States and the differences were quite amazing. Just as I had experienced in South America you suddenly had to look down and be aware of where you were walking because there were holes where a cover was missing or the hole that had been dug had not been filled in properly as well as the pavement changing level all of a sudden! The number of buildings that were not finished, abandoned or in need of repair increased. The roads were not so clean and quite often had potholes and bumps all over the place. Many changes large and small were noticeable and yet we were actually in the same town that Americans lived in just over the border!
Now a lot of people we have talked to on the way down to Mexico have expressed their horror that we were going to be cycling in such a dangerous country! Strange really, because any country can be dangerous depending upon where you are and when you are there. Anyway, based on the fact that the border is considered to be a fairly dangerous area the decision was made that the next day, September 19th, the riders would ride in convey for the first 50K to make sure that they would be safer as a group, also one of the vans would stay with them for a good way into the stage. I was in the lunch truck with Avril and Haley, and we set up at about 65K ready for the group to arrive. Not long after we had set up a police pick-up stopped and asked if we were selling anything? We told them we were not and explained why we were there which aroused their curiosity and they asked all about the trip. We told them there were 13 of us and what we were doing etc. Anyway, once all the riders had passed and we were packing up the same police guy came back and was curious because he had only counted 8 riders along the way, which I thought was really good that they were actually taking some notice of us. We explained that myself and the 4 crew members were the other ones and he was then happy that all 13 were accounted for. After a total of 95K we were at the “bush camp” which was actually an old campsite which was now abandoned but we had permission to use it. It would have been a really lovely place a few years ago and it seemed such a shame that it was now just abandoned by the owner and being allowed to fall apart. It was good enough for us for a night so that was all that mattered. By the way one thing I have forgotten to say is that the weather in Mexico has NOT changed since the States, it is in the 40′s in the afternoon and stays much like that well into the night!!
September 20th and the ride was to be 135K down to the coast and the town of San Felipe. Like the day before there was not going to be any serious climbing but mainly flat roads. There were some sections that were being repaired which had dusty deviations which by-passed the construction work. These were a bit bumpy and not so good for riding on but they were dry so it was not really a problem. The interesting thing that crossed my mind was the difference with these parts here in Mexico compared to some similar problems we had encountered in the States & Canada. In these countries we usually had to wait for “Pilot Vehicles” to guide us through in one direction at a time, here it was a free for all and up to the individual drivers to negotiate a problem if there was another vehicle coming from the other direction. I guess the Health & Safety Police have not yet got to Mexico!!
Avril & I went in the luggage truck on this day and got to the hotel at the end before all the riders. It is a very nice hotel just one block away from the beach and the rooms are actually some of the best we have had on the trip. There is a nice pool, which unfortunately I cannot use yet – boohoo! The town itself is in some ways very nice but again there are quite a few run down or closed places and it could do with a bit of a road cleaning process taking place occasionally, but the people are friendly and it has been a nice place for a rest day. On Friday when we arrived we had a walk along the beach before the riders arrived and it seemed so quiet even in the afternoon, but today being Saturday it was much busier which was good to see. The cafes were busier at lunch time and there were more people just generally walking around than there had been on Friday.
So lastly the news on the wound! It is still healing but is now much closer to being healthy again. It has started to close up at the ends and the centre is almost too shallow to put packing in, but all the while Haley or Avril can then that will happen. We are now only changing the dressing once a day as well which is a big step forward, and Haley is confident that I will be riding again before the end of the Baja California section of the trip!! The other big thing is that I have finished the antibiotics, they were really getting me down and making me feel quite nauseous as well, hope they have done there job!