Alamos and our recent riding

Alamos Plaza and Church
Originally uploaded by refay.
There is a locator map here that shows where we are now and where we´re headed (Copper Canyon).

It is the beginning March as I write this. We have pedaled many kilometers in the last two weeks and seen varying parts of Mexico. After our stay at the jail with Armando we bicycled through the agricultural plain of the Rivers Mayo and Yaqui. The terrain has been as sweet as we could possible asked for: the roads are a bicyclist’s dream come true: wide roads, new asphalt, and little or no traffic. We did ride on the big toll road highway 15, called the cuota, for a few hundred miles which took a bit of concentration and raw guts at first. The divided four-lane highway is the way the big rigs, semi-trucks and buses go long distances with their loads. There are no shoulders on the cuota but when the trucks and buses saw us they pulled way over the the other lane and gave us the whole lane. The drivers here work together in cooperation and avoid obstacles like us on the road. It is very inconvenient for them to ruin their vehicles with the likes of us or other things that wander on the roads.

Along the way we camped or stayed at various interesting places like a school house at La Guasima. The principal of the school, Martin, opened up one of the school rooms and the bathroom for us. The children came from every where asking questions and peering at us though the open windows of the school. Martin´s family invited us to dinner in their simple two room home. The only room we saw had the stove, the kitchen table and three beds. The dinner of beef and beans and tortillas was wonderful and very generous of them, something I wondered if they really could afford to feed us. In return we gave them the brocoli and squash had purchased for our dinner but this gester was so small compared to the gift of inviting us into there lives.

What we saw of the water situation, there was no running water. Before dinner at Martins house we washed our hands outside in a bucket of clean water and threw out the water in a dirt channel outside the front door. At the school to flush the toilet, you went outside next to the bathrooms and filled a 5 gallon bucket with water from an underground concrete sistene with an opening large enough to reach down to fill a hand held bucket. After filling the 5 gallon water you would pour it into the top of the tank and flush. After finishing this, it is proper to refill the tank again to be ready for the next person. By the way if you visit Mexico make sure to bring toilet paper and do not throw it in the toilet because the systems can not handle paper. Throw it in the waste bucket next to the toilet.

I learned how to use the restroom at this school from several 10 year old girls. They laughed with me as they showed me how the systemed worked.

We rode on through miles and miles of irrigated fields of wheat, corn, carrots, potatoes, tomatoes and asparagus. It amazed me how the desert can be turned from a ground of hard packed earth which can scarsely support cactus to vast farmlands, surrounded by large water canals, employing bent-over workers toiling long hours to produce the food we take for granted. At the end of the day, busloads of tired workers peered out the dusty scratched windows with inquiring eyes. Many of the folks passing us would put aside their bone tiredness to beep, wave and smile as they passed us. How strange we must look to them, but still they all seemed to say welcome and enjoy yourselves.

Martin in breakfast sun Another Martin (shown here) was our host at Pueblo Yaqui when we ran out of daylight one night. He had the least of any Mexican we've stayed with. No electricity or running water or bathroom of any kind; he cooked nice food in the morning on a wood fire.

We finally reached the ocean again and had a rest at Huatabampito, a very small fishing village at the end of a deserted road. We rented a beach house right on the ocean for one night. The room and the bed were huge. We had our own patio and lounge chairs and palm trees where we enjoyed the sunset full of every color of crimsons, yellows and oranges. It seemed the sunset was order just for us. For nearly and hour the colors kept changing. I put the camera away 5 times thinking it was the end of this light show but I was delighted to see I was wrong. I would go inside to put a way the camera and Randy would say “boy you should see these colors.” So I would come out to a sunset again different from just a minute ago.

We could not swim in the water because the manta rays are close to shore. I heard the sting from a ray will make grown men tear out their hair with pain. Only a shot of painkillers will ease the pain.

In the morning we headed to Navojoa where we stayed in the Hotel California and left in the morning to head for Alamos. We stayed in Alamos for a week. Alamos is a town that blends the ancient, with the traditional and new. It has culture, family, gringos, religion, food and education. A week is the longest time we have spent in a Mexican town and every day something new seemed to happened. We went to dinner almost every night with new friends we met. During the day, I went to school to learn Spanish at the ALL School (All Language Learning) I spent the mornings with my teacher Estella having private lessons. She is a native Spanish speaker with English as her second language. She provided excellent instruction with patience and answered my endless questions and gently corrected my awkward attempts at the language. The first day was exhilarating, the second day my head spun, the third day was easier, the forth day I finally had a breakthrough where certain things made sense, and I was so pleased to get it. I pleases me (me gusta) that I can learn and I look forward to having people understanding me someday. One thing I learned today is to make sure to say the word for year correctly, (años) when asking how many years do your have.