Sometimes, when you have writer’s block, the best solution is just to set out to ride your bicycle 250 km across a desert landscape through towns where no-one speaks English.
Works every time.
I haven’t felt like writing much these past two weeks, but day 2 on the road, and inspiration has kicked in!
For the past couple of weeks I have been struggling with ups and downs, sadness, depression, what-have-you.
Most days, at some point, I would decide I couldn’t do it anymore. ‘I can’t do it,’ I’d tell myself, ‘I’m not riding my bicycle to Brazil. And now I have to go back to Austin and face all of the people who have been rooting me on.’
I failed… this is what failure feels like, I would think to myself. I thought I could be like those cool, brave, girls in the travel blogs, or the ones who wrote books and had movies made about them.
But maybe all I want to do is plant a garden and bounce a baby on my knee… and do capoeira everyday… and ride my bicycle. Maybe I don’t have to be special or brave or amazing. Maybe it’s okay to just be ordinary.
Honestly, it was kind of cool to experience what if would feel like to give up on a dream I’ve had for so long.
It’s crazy… it felt like… like suddenly I had no idea who I was anymore, and there was just all of this open space.
But then I would remember that I can’t actually go back to Austin.
Addison is having a blast with me gone, going to bed early, waking up early, skyrocketing his career, working out to his heart’s content, having lots of ‘bro time’ with affluent-entrepreneur-copy-writer-types.
He’s rearranged our entire apartment, and his creativity has exploded within.
“The apartment feels too small for both of us now,” he told me.
Even if Addison had welcomed me home, I knew I couldn’t give it up. I want to so often, but I just can’t.
I have to try a little longer, I would tell myself. Just ride to the next town. If it’s awful, you don’t have to do it anymore. But maybe you’ll have a breakthrough.
I hadn’t actually traveled by bicycle in two weeks by this point, because of getting the ride back to Saltillo and then taking a bus to San Luis.
I suspected part of my hesitation was simply the lack of momentum, and my fear of cycling alone in Mexico.
I’ve been staying in San Luis Potosi with Gaby and co., and then I traveled to Chical. I got back to San Luis last weekend.
As I made plans to cycle to Queretaro, Gaby begged me to just take a bus or get a ride.
“It’s so dangerous!” she would wail, her mascara heavy lashes fluttering in consternation. “It’s a big highway, so many… how you say… semi-trucks!”
But Pancho, a cyclist who took me on a day ride with his group in San Luis Potosi, said, “Hey, do what you have to do. It’s not a bad road, just a lot of traffic. It’s okay. Anything could happen to you anywhere. And you need to ride your bicycle, so do it.”
It’s about 250 km from San Luis to Queretaro, so I knew I needed three days at least.
I mapped out my route, making sure I would end up in some kind of town each night that would hopefully have a hotel, or a church, or a ‘bombero’ (fire-station).
The night before I was planning to leave, Alejandra and her son Daniel came over, and Alejandra asked me:
“Did you look at the weather for tomorrow?”
It had been sunny and between 60-70 degrees everyday I’d been in San Luis, so no, I had not thought to.
When I admitted this, she said, “Well, it’s supposed to be very cold and raining for the next two days.. and maybe even snow!”
I quickly looked at the weather app on my phone and discovered she was correct.
What?? I thought. I’m already having trouble motivating myself, why this?
Gaby smiled happily. “It’s okay, you stay here, we go to the movies… you can live here if you want!”
Alejandra and I made plans for the next day, but it was hard for me to hide my disappointment.
It’s not that I wouldn’t love to spend more time with Gaby and Alejandra, but I was stuck and I needed to unstick myself, and the way I could see how to do that was to ride my bicycle to Queretaro.
Well the next morning when I opened my sleepy eyes, I saw immediately that the sky was a little cloudy, but the sun was peeking through. And when I stepped outside, although the temperature had indeed dropped, it was as dry as a desert ought to be.
I gathered up my bags and began to do the final stages of packing where I had left off of yesterday.
Gaby came home from her morning spin class and observed that I was leaving after all.
Being the good sport that she is, instead of trying to stop me, she began making phone calls to her friends.
What blows my mind here in Mexico, is that friends seem to be available to eachother at the drop of a hat, anytime, any day.
People would come by to visit Gaby and spend hours at her house, with little more than a half hour of heads up.
Or we would go to a restaurant and slowly, over 4-5 hours, a whole retinue of friends would cycle in and out, sitting at the table together and talking talking talking.
The communality of Mexicans is amazing to me. I would like to see more of this in the States, at my own home and with my friends.
All of that is to say that Juan Ramone appeared at the door with his pick-up truck 15 minutes after Gaby called him.
“Leaving San Luis, 57 (the highway I was planning on taking) is very very dangerous,” Gaby explained. “Juan Ramone is going to drive you just outside of the city. It’s not so good even after this, but it’s better.”
Juan Ramone is in his late 40s and is very deliberate and thoughtful. He can’t speak much english, but I could understood most of what he said because he actually spoke nice and slowly.
Gaby has a busy, full life, and even so she took the time to make sure I was safe and that I had a good route planned out, and made me feel welcome to stay as long as I needed. I appreciate her so much!
I’m looking forward to seeing her in Austin when she visits, or to taking vacations with her in Alejandra to the beaches of Mexico.
Juan Ramone (well, his full name is actually Juan Ramone Grande Primero, he instructed me, when I was adding him to my contacts) drove me 20 km out of San Luis.
Indeed, Gaby’s concerns had been legit.
The highway leaving the city was god awful.
I was so grateful for the ride.
We stopped 30 km away from Santa Maria del Rio (the town I was planning on cycling to first) and I assembled my gear onto my bicycle while the semi-trucks and other traffic screamed past (and while Juan Ramone reminded me repeatedly to not step in the dog shit that was lying just near my front wheel).
I said good-bye to Juan Ramone and then heaved myself onto my bicycle and wobbled away.
I’m doing this, goddammit, I thought to myself. I’m doing this!