It seems a long while since I’ve done a “hard” border crossing. China was the last punchy one and that was two continents ago (yes that’s my new measurement of time). As I near Tijuana a border city fames for Spring Break parties it begins to get more hectic, traffic, beeping, the temperature seems to be rising, the rhythmic drag of wheelie suitcases, a mezze of people and a buzz of excitement which is found at some many borders around the world, an electricity in the air. It gives me goose bumps and my heart is beating a little faster though that could well be on account of the hill I just rode.
But what to expect? Americans tell me to always lock my bike and don’t go out at night. For there are banditos about. Erin, a Mexican lady who hosted me a few day ago, warned me that the become are friendly and welcoming. Gee who should I believe? The scare mongers or he local girl? I left the bike shop which I just popped in for a peruse with pockets full of protein bars and electrolytes which were forced upon me (I dint put up any of a flight); so I know which way I’m leaning.
Mexico aside, Latin America is certainly the most hazardous (I use this word rather than dangerous or life shortening so as not to worry the mother) in terms of people that is. Muggings galore. Well Los Cabos, Mexico certainly isnt on my program as it rates top of the world rankings of dangerous cities, Tijuana is a lowly fifth. The cycling community was saddened earlier this year when two around the world cyclists were murdered in Central America. A few shootings here, drug related crime, gangs and the occasional mass grave and everyone is painting a picture of doom and gloom. You never here of the hundred of people travelling joyously through this region with not so much as a stubbed toe. Sure BBC Breakfast sometimes covers a good new story but on the hole the press are a bunch on negative nellies so to is the rumour mill. So lets move away from the horror stories and on to my story of Latin America. A good news fairy tale one of the many roses among the few thorns.
Day one, Back to Basis, gone are my hot showers and clean linen of the USA and Australia. Gone are the hard shoulders and cycle lanes. The bubble wrap has been burst. In the hostel its cold showers with hairy plug holes, grime, bottled water, stained sheets and communal living in my forty man dorm. It’s a shock to the system and that’s not just the electric sting of the light switch in the bathroom. I’ve had a pampered time over the past month or so, with few miles, lots of friends, a brother and a bed or two, so its time to shake my paunch. I’ve been on a holiday from my year long holiday. But I’m a stones throw from the border, the US is literally 20m away and I feel like I’m back in the road and in the thick of it.
To be continued…..