Part XIII: Traveling Along and the Beauty in Being Alone

Monday, October 29th

The day at the ranch goes by way too quickly. Later in the afternoon, Nannet comes over, and we talk about what she is an expert on, nutrition and health. The three pet sheep peacefully graze on the grass around us as we chat. She invites me over to their trailer for dinner of rice and beans, which are cooked in a solar oven- I’ve got to get us one of those for our place! 

Food for body and soul to be able to cross distant mountains

Food for body and soul to be able to cross distant mountains

Mike lent me a sleeping pad while he was fixing mine, so I got the first decent night of sleep in a while!

In the morning, I reluctantly pack up to leave this special oasis. The road pleasantly leads me along beautiful boulder hills five miles down toward Rancho Meling. I can ride like this forever! I stop to snack on the banana I was saving, but it must have jumped off the bike somewhere on the bumpy downhill road. Sometimes you don’t get what you wish for though. I cross the creek in the arroyo and then steep hills start one after another for more than five miles. I pretty much have to walk and push the bike with a technique you already know: push, squeeze the brakes, make a step, push, squeeze…I can see why older people who live alone talk to themselves, their pets, or their bikes, for that matter. I feel like I am Sancho Panza talking to his Rosinante on their trek with Don Quixote. Like Don Quixote, I can be awkward, am past my prime, and engaged in a task beyond my capacities.

At the end of 34 miles though, I am rewarded by a really fun technical downhill into the arroyo that brings me to Vicente Guerrero. The Beast handles it superbly like it is supposed to. It was so far my favorite technical downhill of the trip. I am glad I have a full suspension bike. When I get to town, I stop at FASS bike shop and drop The Beast off for the spa treatment which he needed after being on the road for more than a month serving so faithfully. His chain is cleaned up and coated with fresh, wax-based lube and rear brake pads I had with me,  are replaced. Salvador also sets me upon a trail that would lead me on some single tracks toward San Quintin. I pass miles and miles of fields protected by greenhouses. All the strawberries, blueberries, tomatoes and other produce are shipped to the US. 

Green house after green house of strawberries

Green house after green house of strawberries

Tuesday, October 30th 

In San Quintin, I find a cheap $15 motel called Chavez. It’s comfortable enough and safe. When I return to the room after dinner across the street, truck after truck pull in, and with them lots of noise and TVs blaring through paper-thin walls. I cannot drown the noise with only a single set of earplugs. The sleep comes in fits and bursts, and in the morning I can’t wait to get out of this busy, loud, and not-very-attractive town. I ride through salt marshes towards the volcanos and the Bay of San Quintin. Back in the 1880s, the land around this bay was bought by the British Land Company with plans to grow wheat. Drought, a failed railway project, and other factors caused the colony to fail. The area is now the largest tomato producer in the world. 

I reach Nueva Odisea at lunchtime, which is just fine as I am starving. The last few miles after I navigated over salt flats, were on the deep sandy road and I had to walk and push the bike in the heat of the day. Sand dunes separated me by few hundred feet from the ocean, and every time I tried to get across to the waterfront, where I was hoping the beach was more firm to ride on, I’d turn back and continue on the road. The sand was way to soft and deep. The last couple of days I have been dreading to get back on my bike. That tells me I’ve been pushing too hard. I take time in the afternoon to sit on the beach, watch the waves and shorebirds. I have miles and miles of white sandy shore all to myself. If I am not enjoying my time at least a bit during this trip, it’s not worth doing. I know I have a tough section ahead of me in a remote country where I’ll have to carry all my food and water for several days. My body and my mind need to be ready for it. 

I knew before I took this trip, that it was going to be hard. I’ve never opted for things easy in life. When life is easy, we get complacent. Death will not find me laying down if I can help it. My husband knew he married a woman who likes to do things her way. I married him for precisely the same reasons, but that is not to say that blending two people like that, makes life easy. We didn’t discuss my trip much during summer while I was preparing for it, but Jim understood the reasons I had to do it. He didn’t get involved, but he didn’t get in my way either, maybe with pure belief or hope, I’d bail. He knew better though. As did I. 

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I didn’t plan that much for the trip to keep from crippling and overwhelming myself with anticipation. Planning has never been my strength, but I also knew, that I had the skills and ways to figure things out as I go along. Over-planning can get in your way, and you tend to miss things and opportunities as you journey along. If anything, all the new technology of mapping and tracking, as helpful as it is, has made my trip so far really frustrating as well. We depend on all this technology so much that we forget to feel and see what’s around us, behind us or before us. We fail to use our intuition. John Muir certainly didn’t have a Garmin beeping at him whenever he was off course. 

I want to feel the air around me, see that light as it changes from hot and bright to light pink to subtle blue then misty gray before I am engulfed in the darkness of the night, still pushing my bike up the hill and wondering where I’ll put my head down to get some much-needed rest. I want to experience the necessity of the moment. Living just a bit on edge. For the time being, things can go on without me at home. They’ll be there when I get back. My fear is only how much I’ll like it all when I do get back to it. You know, the politics and all, the things we believe need us, and we need them. People; people I do miss, but they too will be there when I return, and we’ll all be happily reunited when that time comes. For now, though, I travel alone, with my own feelings, my own thoughts, and there is beauty in being alone. We tend to forget how to do that.

It’s a struggle to ride through deep sand

It’s a struggle to ride through deep sand

Alenka Vrecek