On January 5th, 2016 I wrote:
We are at a Couchsurfer’s house named Sarmach, in Allende. As usual he (and his sister), are ridiculously kind and generous. They brought us to a restaurant immediately after we arrived at their house. They took us to a store so we could get some warmer supplies [we’ve been pretty darn cold these past few days!]. They let Dagan buy a blanket, but insisted on giving me a sweater from their house, as well as a ‘tuk’ [a warm hat] for Dagan.
The houses and restaurants were all cold (again, no central heating), so by the late afternoon I was cold through and through. But I finally warmed up once we took a nap in the evening, under piles of thick, warm covers.
I dreamt I looked into my own eyes. I was afraid to hold eye contact with myself, but I finally did. Than I embraced myself. I felt what it was like to hug me. The “other” me started crying. I could feel my back move as I cried. And I realized I was crying too.
I look to this dream as some progress on my path of self love.
I am in Rayones today. The sun is shining brightly on the faces of the enormous mountains that surround me on all sides. Tufted titmouses are singing in their Southern, mountain accents. The fronts of their little mohawks are black, and around the base of their beaks is white. [Different than Austin titmouses]
Yesterday Sarmach and Co. drove us up the long, winding mountain road to this town. They brought us to a small restaurant, which also turned out to have two rooms, one of which we stayed in last night.
When we were driving here, just at the base of the first mountain, a new road had been put in. But you couldn’t drive on it yet. There was a big pile of dirt blocking the entrance, with construction signs perched on top. But the side dirt road that would take you around was blocked by a huge semi truck that got stuck in the mud.
Cars and pick ups were turning around at various points on the dirt road, or they had just given up and parked somewhere. We turned around as well, and parked in front of the dirt pile.
Without hesitation, Sarmach got out and grabbed his archaeological pick [he likes to dig for dinosaur bones, of which there are many to be found in these mountains, he told us]. He began to attack the dirt pile with his small pick. This spurred the other Mexican guys who had been standing around into action. They seized the constructions signs and wielded them like alien shovels. The girls (and me and Dagan) grabbed at random stones or clumps and tossed them aside.
When enough dirt had been cleared, we got back into Sarmach’s Explorer and drove through, creating a path for the smaller cars.
There was another dirt blockade on the other end of the section of new pavement, but Sarmach dropped down the side of it and around.
I hope the semi-truck will be gone when they return, because I wasn’t sure how they would climb back up onto the road on their way back, without having to dig through another dirt pile.
Last night, while I was journaling in my tent with my light on, I heard the sound of a car coming up the mountain road.
“Do you hear that?” Dagan asked.
It was the only car we’d heard since the one pick up that passed us at the beginning of our ride from Rayones to Galeana.
“Yeah,” I said, quickly switching off my light. “I turned my light off.”
We’d left Rayones around 1:30 pm that day, knowing that maybe we couldn’t make it all the way to Galeana before dark, but that camping would be an option.
The only road between Rayones and Galeana cuts through the mountains, and is rutted dirt. Some places large boulders lay across the path, other parts there are steep drop offs along one side, and then there’s even the occasional cow. We didn’t see any houses once we left Rayones. Just mountains, some distant caves, and enormous cactuses of many varieties.
At around 3:30, my back rack started making funny noises. I kept stopping to investigate, when I finally discovered the bolt holding my rack on the frame (and, consequently, all my sh**) had snapped in half. One side of the rack was dangling, so to speak.
Dagan had pulled over to wait for me, and was feeding us oranges.
“My bolt broke,” I told him. “And I don’t have another one.” I swore. “Watson, the bass player for our band, is also a cycle tourist, and he told me I should have a bag of extra bolts, screws, etc. But I didn’t have any bolts at my house, so I just brought screws.”
“I’m eating another orange,” Dagan replied. “You want one?”
“I’ll eat one after I fix this.”
I dug into my panniers and found my bag with lube, screws and a spoke wrench.
“I guess I’ll just have to use a screw to hold this on,” I announced.
Dagan didn’t say anything, so I drew the conclusion that this meant he had no bolts as well.
He held my rack up while I lined up the fender attachments with the rack opening. I turned the screw in, and watched tiny shards of metal fall from the hole.
“Well,” I said, “it’s a screw, but I think it will hold.”
As if awakening from a dream, Dagan peered down at what I was doing and then said, “I have a bolt you could have used.”
“What??” I stared at him, laughing. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I didn’t know you needed one.”
“I said 2 or 3 times I needed one!” I told him. “I took your lack of response to mean you didn’t have any either.”
We laughed and I swore some more. When he did produce a bolt for me, I discovered it wouldn’t work in the hole anymore.
“I think I stripped out the opening with the screw.”
Afterwards, when I tried to put the screw back in, it didn’t really work as well either. Eventually I ended up holding it all together with zipties.
It was an hour later when we decided we should find a place to camp before it got dark.
After some exploration of a relatively flat area, I insisted we push our bicycles up an old horse track (at least it appeared to be a path beaten down by horse hooves), where we would be out of sight of the road.
“Is this really necessary?” Dagan had asked. “It’s not like any cars have driven passed us all day.”
“Even if one car drives up through here tonight,” I said, “if we’re camped right next to the road where they can see us, I’ll feel really paranoid and probably won’t be able to sleep. I’d rather be out of sight and have the upper hand on any situation that might come up.”
Well, lying in my tent right then, listening to a truck driving up the road and then stopping at a spot that sounded like it was just below us, had definitely gotten my adrenaline pumping.
I held absolutely still.
Dagan, on the other hand, rustled around on his sleeping pad (which, for some reason, sounds like a herd of gastronomically challenged giraffes when he moves around on it), unzipped his tent, and looked out.
“I don’t see anything,” he told me.
“I heard an engine die just a minute ago,” I whispered. “And now I hear voices.”
We both fell silent. So did the two men’s voices I had heard.
“I don’t hear voices,” Dagan said.
Just then, I heard them again, and the car door open and slam. The vehicle began to drive again. The way the sound carried, it seemed like they had turned onto the dirt track and were driving up to our site.
They must have seen my light, I thought, adrenaline squirting into my blood stream at a rapid rate. Why are they trying to find us?
The car drove past. I lay still, shaking.
“Good call on choosing a camp spot on higher ground.” Dagan rustled around some more.
“I think they were looking for us,” I said weakly.
“I don’t think so,” Dagan insisted. “I saw where the car had stopped. It wasn’t anywhere near where we’re camped. We’re in the mountains, so sound carries really far.”
It took a while for me to calm down, especially when I heard a car coming back the other way. It also sounded as though it were up to our camp spot, but it eventually passed us by.
Trembling, I went out and got my pepper spray and gave Dagan his dog mace. We lay in our tents, discussing the possibility–or lack thereof–of our likely demise.
“I don’t feel any fear, whatsoever,” Dagan assured me.
I was relieved to hear this. It’s easier for me to calm down when my adventure partner is calm.
“I don’t believe in random acts of evil,” he said. “If someone was desperate enough to find us and steal our stuff, they probably could really use the money.”
“I’m not afraid of my stuff being stolen,” I told him. “It’s just the thought of unknown people rolling up here while I”m exposed and vulnerable. Not knowing who they are and what their intentions are.”
And I don’t relish the idea of being raped, I added silently.
I thought about what the shaman/seer/medium, Elena, had said to me.
“You have an intrinsic belief that the world is not a safe place, because of a past life experience.”
The world is a safe place, I told myself. I am safe.
I eventually drifted to sleep, only awakening occasionally when Dagan’s herd-of-gastronomically-challenged-giraffes-sleeping-mat sounded.
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