After passing through Campeche I left the coast and took the backroad towards Valladolid called the “the puuc route”. I got in the village of Cayal around 5 pm. It started raining hard as I was pulling in. Did not have the time to find a proper shelter even. I had to hide next to the wall of a little “comedor” (foodstall) under the cover of its roof and watch my bike getting all wet. It was the 11th of December, a day before the big celebration of the Virgin of Guadalupe. The foodstall I hid next to was in front of the church on one side of the square. Couple of elderly ladies had some free food prepared for the passing through pilgrims. As I was traveling cycling l was quickly pronounced a pilgrim and granted a free dinner and lemonade. Simple and tasty, I have to admit. At first there were not much pilgrims passing ( I guess most stayed on the main road). Couple of hours later a whole truck pulled in and the pilgrims quickly ran into the church for the mesa. I was still hanging around the foodstall chatting with the ladies and their curious and attractiveJ granddaughter, answering the usual questions. We were joined by one of the guys from the truck. He had some food and started asking me questions. Quite a curious and talkative guy:-) We quickly dived into a peculiar, yet rather interesting, for me, direction. Jose (that was his name) said he just saw a ghost by the side of the road couple of hours ago. Seeing the curiosity in my eyes he started talking about the ancient knowledge of the Mayans and how there are still brujos and magic around here. His neighbor could turn into a bird and go steal people’s food, he even lost one of his legs on a bird trip for food. And then one day he had just disappeared. It all sounded soo Castaneda, I was all ears. Then we got into Astronomy and aliens. I was getting more and amused and curious. What a surprise it was to have such a conversation in a small village with a guy from the pilgrim’s truck. I could not stop myself from asking how exactly all this information fitted with his catholic believes. Well, it turned out he was not a catholic pilgrim. He was the driver. He just provided transport for the pilgrim group, just business:) He was however one of the most well informed people I met in Mexico and may be one of the most intelligent truck drivers I have met in my life. The ladies from the foodstall followed the whole conversation with great curiosity and expressed agreement on several occasions although not quite loud – we were in front of the church:) He finally invited me to visit him in case I pass through his town. Although I had the chance I never did – I guess it would have been an interesting experience:)
I don’t remember where I stayed the night before. The next day though I was supposed to get to Chapala. I met Lutz in Villa Victoria. I got there 5 pm and had no idea it was somewhat a resort town. They have hot mineral springs and balneariums which attract local and foreign tourists. Such places are always a bit hard to find cheap accommodation in. I checked in couple of balneariums – they only offered expensive cabanas (bungalows). According to one of the guards on the far end of town there was a balnearium which had space for camping. So I headed straight there. Being on a loaded bike I am quite noticeable on the town streets and often get approached by strange people. In this occasion it was an elderly German named Lutz. He was riding his bike in the opposite direction but stopped to talk to me. He was excited when I told him that I am from Bulgaria. He assured me I should be able to get a camping spot in the balnearium where he was staying with his wife in their RV. He said he’ll see me later. Getting a spot in the place was somewhat difficult. The people in the kiosk wondered for a while, then called their boss. I don’t know how this guy (the boss) came up with the price of 200 pesos for camping, but couldn’t help to tell his people that it was ridiculous. The highest rate for camping I had paid so far was 80 pesos. They thought I little bit more and offered me to stay for 100 pesos. Well, hot mineral pool might be worth it, I thought and paid reluctantly. I put my tent up and then had to move it because apparently I had chosen a wrong spot. Just after I finished and was already chatting with the Canadian couple from the RV next to me, Lutz came back. He invited me for dinner – such an insisting offer I could not refuse. Took a quick shower and joined him and his lady in their RV for a dinner of fried fish, salad and wine. The food was not to be the highlight of the occasion though. Lutz turned out to be full of amazing stories:) He talked most of the time I was there and it was all very interesting and funny stuff. Apparently he had spent his youth years travelling like a hippie as much as possible. He has traveled all the way from Canada to Tierra del Fuego and back hitch-hiking. Two years with a budget of USD 200. Impressing. I guess it was possible back in the 70s:) He even went through the Darian gap. For those who don’t know whats the Darian Gap – a stretch of dense jungle between Panama and Columbia with no roads, only lakes, swamps and local tribes. It is totally controlled by drug cartels nowadays. Only few people have managed to go through the Gap and many have disappeared there too.
While traveling around South America he had the chance to go to the then virgin upper stream of the Amazon river accompanying some missionaries on their first visit to local tribes. Must have been exciting.
However his best story was about his trip to Asia. He and his friend went all the way from Germany to Afganistan in a Volkswagen van. They sold the van in Afganistan and bought a…..camel. A big Afgani camel. And took it all the way back to Europe:) I saw pictures from local newspapers from some countries they passed through. I bet they were a big sensation in many places, having in mind that it was winter time. They were able to take it to Slovenia but could not get in Austria as the authorities there did not let the camel in. So it ended up in the Luyblianas zoo. It was funny to hear that the Bulgarian authorities made them pass through the capital Sofia early in the morning (4 am) so nobody would see them:)
An amazing guy! He even gave me the address of his dear friend and fellow traveler from Uruguay. I am supposed to visit him in case I ever get to Uruguay. I stacked the little paper in the camera case and lost it the following day together with the camera and the pictures of Lutz and his lady. Such a pity!
I like it when life presents in wonder ways the underlying connections between distinct at first glance events. Sometimes they are quite obvious, sometimes just hard to see.
Baja’s Highway 1 between Ensenada and San Quintin is not the best bike ride. The terrain is not particularly difficult, but the traffic is terrible. Mainly big lorries on the narrow road winding in the hills. In the afternoon of the first day we had a chat with the so called “green angel”. A guy in a new truck patrolling the stretch of 300 kms scouting for tourists in trouble and providing assistance if necessary. He advised us to stay as much on the right side of the road as possible. Not that we had much room to move – the road had no shoulder for the most part. He explained that the big part of the traffic is caused by a company in San Quintin called Los Pinos. They have 80 big lorries which go every morning to Tijuana and drive back in the afternoon. I started paying more attention to the branding of the lorries after that and noticed that most of them were “Los Pinos” indeed.
We got somehow to San Quintin – a dusty coastal town. Thanks to Sophia we had an arrangement to stay with a Warmshowers host. His name was Gabino. We were to be his first guest from the website. He was away on a business trip but apparently we could stay in his house with his family. It was not easy to find the house which was in a new neighborhood in the outskirts of the town. No paved roads, no street names, no street numbers. Even the locals were a bit confused with the street names. After nearly an hour wondering we somehow managed to find the house and were welcomed by Gabinos wife and daughter. Communication was a bit hard since they did not speak English and our Spanish was not better either. Enough for shower, laundry and food though:) Later when Gabino’s stepson Luis got back from work things got easier – he spoke good enough English. These people were extremely hospitable. Apart from all the food and everything else, Luis provided his own room for us to sleep in. He was not working early next morning so after breakfast suggested to take us to show us some nice places in town and the beach. So we took couple of hours to pay respect to his nice offer. We drove some 20 k to the biggest tomato farm I have seen in my life. Luis took us up a small hill in the middle of a huge field of greenhouses. The hill was apparently the home of the owners of the Los Pinos (the company with the 80 trucks flooding the road to Tijuana everyday). There was a checkpoint on the road to the hill but Luis just waved to the guards and they let us in. What was my surprise when we got up on the hill and Luis declared that Los Pinos, probably the biggest tomato growing operation in the country, belongs to “the family of my father”. Haha! All the traffic we suffered for days, and now we are staying here with the son of the Los Pinos guy. Wherever I looked, in all directions, all I could see were fields of greenhouses….
Well, now that I have the time, I decided to share in several posts some stories from my bicycle trip across Mexico. I’ll try to limit myself to the most interesting stuff hoping that there will be someone who’ll enjoy it. I know this whole touring through Mexico thing looks insane and adventurous in the eyes of many and it appears I have more courage than some. However the truth is that most of the time I, just like everybody else, am mainly concerned about my safety and well being and quite often I am afraid, too. The only difference is in the level of risk one is willing to take. I saw clearly on this trip that worrying is just a waste of time (not that I did not know it before), things always have their way of happening and there is no need of the constant grasping to the idea of self-protection and defense. However even after 6000 km on the road I can’t say I was able to trust this principle completely and let go of all the worries about where I would spend the night or what my next meal would be.
This is as far as I will get in Mexico on a bike. From here on, in case I want to continue, I will have to backtrack. However Tulum has more meaning for me than just a hippie town on the Caribbean coast of Mexico. Whats more important, here is Lama Ivo and my spiritual friends from SkyDharma. Lama Ivo is the most important factor in my spiritual journey and it is hard to express the gratitude I feel for being able to know him. He is for me a precious source for the most profound spiritual teachings I could ever find on this Earth. I consider him my teacher, although I surely don’t have the qualities to call myself a real student. I now have the chance to stay and study and practice with Lama Ivo and my friends in a beautiful retreat center near Tulum. It will be insane if I don’t use this opportunity to the fullest and try my best to advance at least a tiny bit in my meditation practice. At the end this life is nothing but a chance for some spiritual growth.
I don’t know if my bike touring adventure will continue and when. It surely provided a chance to see the world and myself from a different angle and I am deeply thankful to all who supported, helped, hosted, liked, commented, sent good thoughts etc!
I’ll maintain the blog and keep on posting here mostly thoughts, stories and personal experiences I want to share. Enjoy!!
There are probably thousands of ruins in hidden in the jungle of Yucatan. Only few hundred have been excavated and are tourist attractions. Chichen-Itza is one of the most impressive with its large central pyramid which is very well preserved. Being relatively close to the touristy Caribbean coast of the peninsula, it is very busy with people from all over the world.
Cycling through the Yucatan Peninsula convinced me once more in the huge diversity in Mexico. Different energy, nature, people, language. Had encounters with quite a variety of people. From Guadalupe pilgrims to dance teachers, from religious presbytarians who believe the bible bans the dance to people talking about the ancient ways of the Mayas, brujos and magic. From people fluent in English to some hardly speaking even Spanish. Yucatan is the land of palapas and hammocks:)