Bienvenidos a México…
With the border crossing to Mexico we have set foot in a country unknown to us once again after spending a few months in the familiar United States. Sami was a bit tense during our first days because we were suddenly surrounded by a new language and culture and didn’t know exactly what to expect. It took a few days for Sami to feel comfortable in speaking Spanish after a long break of not using the language and I am only at the beginning of learning it.
We can already tell you though that we had a warm welcome here – more about that in a minute.
The crossing itself was quite comical, even though there was a bunch of heavily armed border guards asking us some questions there was no proper passport control. After a moment of consideration we went back and asked them for a stamp.. This time they sent us to the immigration office around the corner and after paying the tourism fee we received our stamps and could cycle on southwards through the Coahuila Desert. But first we needed groceries and for that we needed cash. We tracked down the closest ATM and made our withdrawal. Distracted by the huge amount of foreign bills in our hands we didn’t pay attention to the ATM and it swiftly suck in my brandnew card.
Without any hope of getting it back we went into the adjacent bank and asked if they might be able to return my card to us. We were pleasantly surprised when they indeed handed us back the card after a short waiting period. Now we were ready to start our ‘adventure’ in Mexico.
We first cycled to Cuatro Ciénegas which is a small town famous for its beautiful surroundings. On our way there many people approached us with questions about what we were doing and where we were from and sometimes a longer conversation evolved from that. One memorable example of that was when we had our first ice cream in Mexico – there seems to be at least one ice cream parlour in any given town in Mexico. The two ladies working in the shop were visibly excited and wanted to know everything about our journey and we ended up staying for more than an hour talking, eating the delicious ice cream and trying various treats that they gave us. Both were radiating with joy and were curious about all kind of details. They also shared a lot from their daily lives and told us that the situation in their particular little town has changed tremendously in recent years. Before that change most people wouldn’t dare to leave their house unnecessarily even during daylight because shootings between gangs in the streets could happen anytime.
We heard a similar story when we were talking to a man during lunch in a roadside restaurant. When we arrived he was singing for the small crowd there and started talking to us later on. He is a poet from that region and is very interested in learning about foreign countries and cultures.
In Cuatro Ciénegas we were surprised by heavy autumn rain and spent the day on the campground because the weather wasn’t all that inviting to go exploring. Unfortunately we wanted to be in Aguascalientes in time for the Day of the Dead and therefore missed out on the little pools and rivers in the area because we needed to cycle on.
Our next stop was in Saltillo which is a industrial town further South. We were hosted by Vanessa and Geoffroy and enjoyed our time with them a lot. Thank you very much for the wonderful time together!
Aside from the wonderful encounters it was also soothing to spend some time cycling through the vast and mostly empty desert in Coahuila. There are a few small villages but beyond that there were harldy any people around. We enjoyed the tranquility and spent the days cycling and listening to music. We only needed to be careful with the water management but quickly adapted to the new routine.
Slowly the desert around us turned into farmland. The last night before reaching the town of Zacatecas we were camping inbetween to corn fields and had already set up camp and were in the process of making dinner when I suddenly heard some noise behind us. We turned around and saw a pickup with some farmers approaching, apparently they had heard us and simply wanted to make sure that everything was alright. Before they left they gave us a chili plant. The next day we reached Zacatecas and although we only had planned to spend the night we were immediately enchanted by the city. Francisco agreed to host us for a second night as well and so we got to enjoy the beautiful city and merry company for another day. Thank you very much to the people who welcomed us here!
Indeed we feel very welcome here in Mexico!