My Blog

We're Not There Yet

Bikes, bites, bytes.

Adelante, Amigos! (day 73) – Izucar de Matamoros | We're Not There Yet

Editors´ Note: Huge apologies for the lapse in our postings. We just fell behind as we´ve been super busy hanging out here in (spoiler alert: Guatemala).  We appreciate your patience, good wishes, and most of all we appreciate that you come to this website at all! Okay, on to the blog…

Spray-painted chicks for sale in Izucar de Matamoros

Ahhh, finally. Today feels like our bike trip in Mexico has really started.  Mexico City was fine to hang out in, but being there (as cold and rainy and grim – at least where we were staying – as London) was not the sunny, happy, bicycle-y experience that I’ve been waiting for.  The ride to Cuernavaca wasn’t really very nice, and that town did nothing for me. Yesterday was finally a likeable town, but today, today, it feels like the trip is underway.

We got an early start this morning, and fell into what has become our cycling routine.  Bought a couple of pan dulces, sweet Mexican rolls, some sweet coffee, and a couple of tamales, just in case we need a snack to eat on the road. We took off out of town, and after getting past the morning rush hour traffic, we were out in the beautiful Mexican countryside.  The scenery was pretty spectacular, especially after the grim and grey trip so far.  The road was pretty flat, although off to both the right side and the left were towering rock formations.  I’d call them mountains, except that they were so isolated that they seemed to just erupt, spontaneously, out of otherwise flat ground.  They looked sort of like the limestone karst formations in Vietnam, or maybe more accurately, the mountain on the cover of Bob Marley’s Exodus album.  In any case, we rode past these huge, hulking cliffs, draped with low-hanging clouds, until we pulled into a tiny roadside town (San Agustin de Pezco) for a bite to eat.

This town was the first time that I’ve truly felt like the Mexico portion of the bicycle trip has delivered on the promise that every bicycle trip holds: the chance to get a real feel for a country.  The town was tiny and sleepy, as these towns are.  After we finished eating, the gate opposite the little restaurant opened up and a boy rode out on a horse to herd his sheep and goats.  Personally, I’d like to have spent the whole day in the village.

Classic – have your baby´s face airbrushed onto a picture with Jesus

In a certain sense, cities in different countries are a lot like fast food restaurants in different countries.  Sure, the restaurants will be different, in Japan they’ll have rice, in America it’ll be beef; but in a lot of ways they’ll be really, really similar.  The fast food restaurant is designed to feed people the tastiest, fastest food with the cheapest ingredients.  In a similar vein, cities seem to have a lot of similarity in whatever country you find them, despite their more obvious, surface differences.  In fact, we recently listened to a very cool Radiolab podcast about how similar all cities are.

In any case, my point is only that it’s in a sleepy, roadside town, not in Mexico City or Cuernavaca, or even bustling little Cuautla, that you could get that ineffable feeling of what Mexican town life is really about.  The tortilleria, slowly churning out handmade tortillas for everyone, the small restaurant where we ate, run by a woman and her young grandson, the neighbor across the street who rode by on a horse, herding sheep.  I don’t mean to build it up too much, but I definitely had the moment there of: finally, we’re in Mexico.

After eating, the road instantly went upwards, and we spent the rest of the day climbing and descending through a fairly large range of rolling hills.  It was fairly strenuous and the day was actually warm, for the first time since Houston.

We finally arrived at Izucar de Matamoros, a bustling little city in Puebla state, known for its Tree of Life pottery.  We’re staying in a dingy little hotel, but it’s right in the heart of everything, and we had a great afternoon trying the local specialties (red sugar frosted pan dulce) and checking out a workshop of the famous pottery making family.  We spent the final few hours of the day in the zocalo, or town square, where we read our books at the fountain while children played on trampolines, music played from loudspeakers while couples danced, and families walked around together. It was an idyllic day.  We expect a much more strenuous day of hilly riding tomorrow, so we’re gonna knock off early tonight and try to get plenty of rest.

This entry was posted in Blog. Bookmark the permalink.