Mexico: Tacos, Mountains, Fences, And Language Barriers

1I must admit that I have come a long way my first few days in Mexico. My concern about crime has dropped significantly, most likely because I have been away from the major cities. I am also now able to find gas and food easily. Needless to say, my first 24hrs were a mess. Another thing that I have learned is that I was ignorant on what I knew I knew about Mexico. Not as much as most people, but I just truly never know about a country until I explore it. Everywhere I go for the first time I am bound to have some sort of assumption based on Movies and Media polluting the true views. I like to think I am better than most Americans, since I am pretty well traveled, but I will not deny some ignorance still remains.

I initially hopped onto the toll way and headed south towards Monterrey. According to the State Department, Nuevo Leon (the zone I was driving in) was a low-moderate risk. Personally, I do not see it because I have been avoiding the major towns and not being out past dusk. I did want to get some distance from the border though, so it was good reason to push far south. The weather was partly cloudy, so I was shocked to see Mountains surrounding me instantly. These large rocky mountains were beautiful as they had diverse peaks and large cliffs. What a fresh change from hot and flat Laredo.

2My previous road trips had been easy as I knew places I could eat and where to safely camp. But this time I have no clue what I am doing or what the signs say. I used the GPS to get me down into Monterrey, which would have been easy if I didn’t have to focus on not getting run over. The roads were also very congested and unmarked, which caused me to get lost in the large city. I got to see all the surrounding mountains that the city hugged, but it wasn’t the safest place to be. Taking advantage of the first place I saw that served food, I pulled over to quickly eat. I was shocked to find out that half a chicken and a drink cost less than 4USD. This trip is going to be cheap and I was clearly capable of finding food (which really isn’t a difficult task but just intimidating).

3After a few loops in the city, I was back on track and ready to start scouting out my first campsite just when it started to rain hard. Opting for comfort, I wasn’t wearing my waterproof pants which led to my entire lower half becoming soaked. Not a great way to
start my first time finding a place to camp in a different country with nothing but fences surrounding everything. My best chance was to head off onto a gravel side road in hopes that there would be a place without a fence. This would ultimately become my key method of finding camp spots in the future as about 20 minutes later I found a field that I could hide under a tree to setup a tarp and hope my clothes would dry as I slept. Didn’t dry and I didn’t sleep.

4Fortunately in the morning the sky broke enough to show me the mountains in the distance and the need for me to get up and moving. I rode off damp and tired, but ready to get further south so things could slow down. I honestly had no true destination to head to, but the mountains looked like some fun so I headed that direction. The path I ended on was perfect. Twisty roads through soaring rock cliffs and even a little turnoff point that I could do some off-roading (which led me to a good bathroom break destination). Continuing on I most likely entered some areas of Mexico that I should not have been at. I went two days without seeing a single police car and the desert roads were almost always empty. Stopping in small towns for gas and food was quite a delight though. Thinking that I am one of the few Americans to venture into these destinations was fun in the aspect that I am seeing true locals life that isn’t seen in tourist areas. In Le Asunción I had an old lady bless me, or that she will say blessing for me. Either way she was kind and hugged me after petting the motorcycle. Later on I would stop for dinner at a restaurant on the side of the road with only truckers stopping at.

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This was different than a taco stand on the road. There was no menu, no English, no indication of what was going on. The girls cooking (they were kids, most likely working for their parents) and I managed to say that I will look with my eyes at the things they have to 6serve. The only thing I could make out was rice and then they mentioned chicken. Bring it on please. However when I said si, they hesitated because it was ‘pica’, or spicy, and I most likely didn’t want that. I smiled and said ‘me gusta pica’, which left them a bit stunned that some random American could eat their spicy food (thanks Korea!). I didn’t speak again until it was time to pay. One of the girls attempted to say ‘sixty’ but it wasn’t very clear and my mind was already in Spanish mode as I waited for a hard number to come out of her mouth. She tired again before giving up and saying it in Spanish. Oh, 60 of course! The others laughed at the situation since her English didn’t work but Spanish finally did. I will get better!

– – As I write this currently (it has been in written throughout my 1st week in Mexico) I have been chatting on WhatsApp with Laura, whom I met in Las Pozas. She is changing her itinerary some and might be heading into Guatemala or Belize soon, which if so we will then find a way to meet up and explore together. It’s quite exciting to think of meeting up with a familiar face and traveler. – –

7Before nightfall I headed out of the desert and back into the jungle mountain range with hopes to find a place to camp for the night. It really can be stressful when all you see it large ditches or fences preventing you from tucking off. But with an hour or two before dusk I found what appeared to be an old road cutting through the jungle. There was overgrowth indicating that it wasn’t traveled often and it being a workday it was unlikely that anyone would come up to do stupid things, as the piles of burnt trash indicated. Nightfall. Another miserable night of sleep as I sweated in my gortex bivy stressing about the rain which was soaking everything because I was lazy to cover it with a tarp. I needed a reset, somewhere with a roof over my head. It was time to do some CouchSurfing.

8The next morning, on the other side of the mountain ridge, I found LTE connection for my phone. The first time since being in Mexico. So I immediately pulled over and started shopping for a CS location. I decided to request for the weekend so it wasn’t too short noticed or during a workday. Because it was still a few days off, I had to predict that I would be in Veracruz by the weekend (which more or less ended up being correct). I was nervous doing this as it was the first time I was going to willingly stay with a complete stranger in their home. This is something I had planned on doing anyways, so I needed to start sometime.

Back on the road, my best bet for camping next would be somewhere off of highway 85. Unknowingly, this path would ultimately lead me to a beautiful destination after a very muddy crash.

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