US to Mexico

Trip Start Jul 15, 2009
Trip End Jul 15, 2010

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Flag of Mexico  , Chihuahua,
Wednesday, November 11, 2009

It was exciting to arrive at Kamala's and Charley’s home in El Paso. Firstly because Karin + Marten and Nancy + Matt would be there (friends I’d met on the divide route) and two, it was the last stop before crossing over to Mexico, therefore completing the first leg of the journey. Made it! 2935 miles cycled and well over 200000 ft climbed. What a fantastic journey so far.

Kamala and Charley have a history and art museum of masks ornaments and furniture enclosed in a welcoming home, nestled on the sandy outskirts of El Paso. They had one of those cool bathrooms where there’s loads of amusing literature pined on the walls.  It really was a nice place to be; also Charley’s huge workshop was great to prep the bikes for Mexico. I was lucky enough to rest my head in the pop up caravan/trailer. We all had a great time, cooking at home and going out for Chinese buffet dinner. Karin and Martin have gone back to the Netherlands for a few weeks to see family while Nancy and Matt left to the city of Juarez. I stayed at Kamala and Charley’s two more days to wait for Matts new bike.

Yesterday I crossed the border. It was weird to cross, kinda felt like walking into a danger zone or a contamination area. Heavily guarded border on the US side and not much on the Mexican, loads of traffic and people walking over to get home from work or just loitering around. There was no official gate; they trusted you to present yourself if you were a tourist. Kamala and Charley drove me to the border, Nancy had come over to help with the bikes and matt was waiting on the Mexican side. His permit ran out on the day they left. Once over I got a 180 day permit and the three of us made away back to the hotel. Matt and Nancy taking turns at running and riding on there one bike.

It was instantly a chance of scenery, US to Mexico, just a bridge over the border and you’re in a third world country. The joke was this city was considered dangerous at night and dealys withe the bike build unfortunately meant it was night by the time I crossed. The drug cartels are at war and this erupts in public sometimes. Also robberies are common, but I felt safe enough. The military cruise around the streets hanging out the back of pickup trucks welding huge machine guns, and there are plenty of police around.

So after Nancy bought back some nice street food, flat soft tacos and freshly squeezed juice with pure chunky fruit ice blocks for dessert, we walked a few blocks to walmart for supplies. It felt safe and it was encouraging to see lots of people out shopping with their families. There was a few army guys in the car park. It looked as if they were staying in a tent erected by their jeep. They were playing hand ball against the wall, looked fun but i thought hopefully these guys were off duty.

The safest place to stay was a nice hotel. Lucerna Hotel was flash, 4 stars or I think. I thought the price of 65 bucks was good, even if over my budget. I like beds so big they are square and enjoy having a view of the pool from my balcony. Who would have thought I’d be staying in a place like this on a cycling trip. Plush!

So already to leave now, food for two days, the three of us will head out on a three lane road for 20 miles. We should be clear of the 2 million strong city then and back out enjoying the peace and tranquillity of cycling along the painted landscapes.  
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