Photos; Northeast Mexico

From the border to the metropolis. Tamaulipas to San Luis Potosi to Hidalgo to El Estado De Mexico. The Mexican people are friendly, always. Sometimes boys in town will ride alongside me for a ways, men wave and smile, though older women tend to shuffle past, studiously ignoring my strangeness. The landscape changes, desert, mountain, city, it’s all here.

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Sweeping downhills, after the sweaty uphills.

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Crossing the Tropic of Cancer.

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Framebag life.

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In a Catholic country, I tip my hat to every roadside shrine in hopes of making it to the next one safely.

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Shrimp lunch, dodging the afternoon heat, $6.

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Sugar cane, by the truckload. We both climb hills at nearly the same speed.

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Mountain life.

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Pedestrian walkway that Ace and I are just a bit too wide for.

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Host, Hipolito, in Matlapa.

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Tortilleria Lupita, Matlapa. The smell of fresh tortillas in every town ranks highly on the list of good things about Mexico.

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Urban single track.

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Aptly named hills.

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Perched on the edge, winding from town to town.

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Among the cacti and the rocks.

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Representing some of the best of Mexico: tacos and Coca-Cola. And the ever-present salsas, ranging from hot to fiery. Quite dangerous to sun-chapped lips.

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And other dinners, cooked on my tiny alcohol stove. Finding camping spots has rarely been a problem. Those out of sight are best, though cacti and spiky vines tend to imply that the ground will be littered with thorns. My inflatable mattress pad loses a noticeable amount of air during the night by now, though for being older than I am it’s doing pretty good. Plus, the less comfortable it is in the morning, the more likely I am to get moving sooner.

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Part of the town square in Tizayuca. Wall murals and brightly painted buildings exist everywhere here. Whatever else it may be, Mexico is certainly a pretty country.

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Into the mountains, through San Luis Potosi to Hidalgo.

Through Mexico, such a land of variety. Over the past few days traverse a different climate each day. The changes start with that invisible line, Tropic of Cancer, here designated by a giant yellow ball vivisected by a bold black stripe in the appropriate place. Immediately the humidity descends, welcome back, first time in months. Proceed on the road hemmed in by mango trees on each side, which give way to sugarcane fields and sweltering heat. But it’s harvest time, so the men are out chopping down the stalks with their machetes and piling the bundles into increasingly older trucks that clank by. Soon the mountains begin, ascending first into what looks almost like rainforest, jungle, and more sugarcane, then steadily descending and climbing out of small villages successively selling oranges and grapefruit and mandarins, plantains. At the entrances to many villages banners of flags colored red, green, and white fly. I’m reminded of the stories of prayer flags flying high in the Himalayas; are the ones here on account of the recent holidays or is it just a common tradition in mountains everywhere?

Progress another day or two higher into the mountains, and the tropical trees are replaced by the more familiar pines, with a cactus here or there for good measure. The roads narrow, increasingly hewn right out of the mountain sides, same with the buildings and towns, which become increasingly farther in between. Every so often come to a bigger town which is clearly the center of commerce for the villages surrounding it, with stores and fruit carts lining the main street, and plenty of houses perched on the nearby hills. Outside of these centers there’s a quietude and peacefulness to the hills. Birds soar and tweet, drivers and passerbys imitate them with a language of whistles and calls that take the place of verbal greetings.

Mist and clouds roil about, enforcing that sense of calm in their own way. Will enjoy it while it lasts, another day or two here then heading down to Mexico City to meet up with a cousin. Sure to be an entirely different environment.

Shoutout to Hipolito and family, a cyclist who passed me one day and invited me to his home in Matlapa. Many thanks for showing me around. Cycling community and human kindness extends everywhere.

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