Batopilas was full of indo's, as a politician had invited them for free
food in return for their votes. On our way back the sunny weather had
changed. First we get a bit of rain, but at night it starts snowing. Fortunately
it's not too cold in the morning. We shuffle our way out of our camping
spot and make it to the sealed road, but loose the fight on a steep hill
where deep fresh snow is frozen up and the dead weight on our sidecar
wheel does not want to go through.
We have to decide to wait either till the sun has melted
enough snow, or till cars have flattened the deep snow. Two days we camp
on a beautiful hill. There's enough wood for warm evening fires, when
temperature drops below freezing. During the lazy day the sun is there
and the snow makes fine water.
In Los Angeles we'd bought a good map of Mexico (Guia Roji),
which enables us to take the small and more interesting routes and leave
the terribly expensive toll road (routa de quota) behind. Many Americans
only take the toll roads because they think that these are safer. We think
this is more some kind of paranoia, for 'the bad guys' are only attracted
to places where they can steal money or valuables and these are only owned
by those who can afford the quota.
Mexicans are very hospitable and we never have to worry
not to find a secure place to camp on the ranchos if there's no bush around
in which we can disappear. In Cuauhtemoc we asked at a Mennonite rancho
if we could camp. We were invited to stay in the house and spend the evening
with a big family.
In Hidalgo the Parral we met the key-makers (and motorcyclist)
family Puga and spend many a happy hour together. They organised that
we could stay overnight at the police station. Fortunately not in one
of their ugly cells, but in the 'gymnasio', where a huge 5 by 6 metres
mat was the biggest bed we ever slept on. There was no hot water at the
police station, so to shower, we had to go to the 'bomberos' fire dept.
The plazas in the villages are our favourite place to stop
for a coffee. There are always curious people around and because we speak
enough Spanish many times we meet nice people.
From Hildalgo de Parral we drive past Torreon to Parras,
to Linares and past Ciudad Victoria to Tampico. Just before Tampico we
reach the same road that we'd driven back in 1997, when we were heading
North coming from Central America. It's a crazy feeling as we recognise
the road and even see a similar sidecar we'd seen back then, from which
seviche (Peruvian, different types of raw fish with onions and lemon)
is sold. A crazy feeling also because we now have made our circle around
the world physically full.
We start heading west for the first time too. Towards Valles,
Matehuala and Real de Catorce, another small mining village, but in real
we feel that our tour to Japan, Siberia and Russia has now started.
Tiempo the Feria in Sombrerete
On our way from Fresnillo to Durango we pass Sombrerete
and decide to buy some fresh French bread (pan Frances) and vegetables
(verduras). It's a nice little town full of narrow streets, big churches,
plaza's and little shops where you can buy all kinds of sweets (dulces),
taco's, burrito's, boiled cornpops on sticks with butter and cheese on
it; A perfect place for a cup of coffee on the plaza de Armas, we think.
A poster in the shop tells us that it's party time. The weekend will be
a big 'feria', with music everywhere and different parades and tomorrow
well-known toreadors will fight 6 bulls on the Plaza de Toros. --
And the feast is big: Everywhere in the city drum and
trumpet bands are playing. Many bands are being driven through town in
the back of a pickup truck and it happens many times that two of these
pickups stand alongside each other for a stop light. No worries mate;
they just as happily keep on blowing their trumpets and beating their
At night we go for a beer to the local bar and again we
are greeted with music. The cymbal-player smashes his two shiny disks
into each other like tomorrow does not exist and our hair moves with it
as we sit on the bar. Rob decides to tip the players and asks them to
play a little softer, but the men like Robs gesture and play the next
song even louder.
Fighting bulls has a long history in Mexico, even longer
in Spain. With beautiful horses, dressed up toreadors and picadors with
blindfolded horses in full armour. It is a cold day that Sunday. The first
bull scratches his hoof through the dust that blows up over his strong
back. An older toreador offers a seemingly noble man in the crowd his
hat, which is accepted and the fight begins.
First enters a man on horseback. The spectators love him:
"Ortega, Ortega," we hear. He's an artist in riding his horse
and gets very close to the bull without harming himself or his horse.
We cheer with the crowd, as this is really spectacular. Suddenly the bull
is distracted by the music that is played by a large band. The bull looks
at the director, who makes a show out of it by challenging it.
Then the band sets in a different tune and another toreador
fights the bull till he drops through his knees. His first so fierce looks
have disappeared and his eyes show sadness and misery. I've got a lump
in my throat and Rob is moved and shocked when we see how the bull is
put to death with a knife.
In the next fights we see the harnessed horses and the
picadors, who make big holes with their spears. We also see that it's
not easy to fight a bull from the ground when a young toreador loosed
his red cloth on the horns of a bull. The art of a professional toreador
impresses us, as well as a group of cheerful men who let themselves be
caught on the horns of a bull and force it on it's knees. After the fourth
bull is towed off the arena we cannot stand to see another bull being
finished off though and we decide to leave.
Through Parral and Cuauhtemoc to Hermosillo
The road back to Arizona was nice but very cold. Between
Hermosillo and Cananea we were hit by a sleet-storm and got so cold that
Rob had to stop for he could not feel his hands anymore. And hurting it
does when blood slowly starts coming back to your fingers.
Fortunately we find a reasonable place to pitch down our
tent and we there's enough dead wood hanging in trees that is still dry.
The night is freezing cold but dry and the next morning all and everything
has a small white layer on it. We make a fire with wood that we'd kept
dry in our waterproof tent bag to make some tea and fill up our thermos,
for our petrol stove has died due to a blocked generator.
We leave Mexico with pain in our hearts. It's such a beautiful
country with such lovely people. We like the food so much and the dulces
are definitely Rob's favourite. We'll miss the relaxed rhythm of life
in the small towns and villages, but have to move on.
We stayed for a while in Bisbee with Jane and her family,
did our project with the children of many different classes in three schools
and then travelled North through Arizona. The dessert was beautiful and
full of flowers. Close to the Grand Canyon we ended up in even more snow
we'd ever had. One more sunny day was all that was left, for one after
the other depression were heading our way and we were quite soaked upon
arrival in Los Angeles, where sidecar builder Doug Bingham's little caravan
was waiting for us.
Japan here we come
We are very busy at the moment organising our transport
to Japan. We still hope to be able to sail onboard a ship, but everybody
knows how seldom this is possible. The article we wrote for the American
magazine Motorcyclist has come out great, 9 pages full colour, featuring
30 of our best slides, so you should really try to get a copy of that
(May issue). In Canada another of our articles is published in Cycle Canada's
The World on a Children's Drawing
In Mexico (Parras) as well as in Arizona (Bisbee and Sierra
Vista) children of 4 schools and an orphanage joined our project. In Mexico
the children drew sombreros, ranchos with horses and caballeros and the
church of Parras. In Arizona the dessert with the giant cactuses, coyotes
and snakes and also the Grand Canyon were favourite subjects. We left
many drawings behind from all over the world and we are sure that many
a message will be sent to the addresses on the drawings and new friendships
We have received many messages lately, which we could not
reply yet. Partly because we are so busy, mostly because it has been too
cold at night (in our tent) to get out our laptop. Sorry for that. Our
next newsletter will be there in about 2 months, coming from Japan.
Greeting and a smile,
Rob en Dafne de Jong
Ride-on World Tour