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.

image
Sweeping downhills, after the sweaty uphills.

image
Crossing the Tropic of Cancer.

image
Framebag life.

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

image
Shrimp lunch, dodging the afternoon heat, $6.

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

image
Mountain life.

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

image
Host, Hipolito, in Matlapa.

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

image
Urban single track.

image
Aptly named hills.

image
Perched on the edge, winding from town to town.

image
Among the cacti and the rocks.

image
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.

image
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.

image
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.

Advertisements

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.

image

Mexico; Tamaulipas

image

Cross the bridge from McAllen, drop into a world where the chipped paint on the buildings is merely a backdrop for the bold written proclamations of things for sale. Evident right away too is the smell of gasoline fumes, off cars predominantly older but also smaller from their counterparts across the bridge. But there’s also a big public park right across the street too, and at least one in nearly every town big enough to have more than just a main street.

image

Drivers have all been courteous so far. The secondary highways have little enough traffic, and the main ones usually have at least two lanes per side, so plenty of room for drivers to pass. Everyday to Ciudad Victoria featured strong winds coming off the Gulf, so with those and to avoid stressing my knee I’ve been sticking to 100km days. Nice to be back in the metric system again, though Celsius temperature reports still take some getting used to. The weather warmed up again, sunny cloudless sweat-filled ice-cream-in-the-afternoon days.

image

From Ciudad Victoria, heading more or less south with mountains looming visibly to the west. Need to improve my Spanish pronto, the usual anticipated questions aren’t too bad but everything else takes a few seconds to process. Thankfully there’s time, and nowhere to go but up. Until next time.