Mundo Pequeño: Part II — The Long Road Home

The Border Crossing

Poppin’ a wheelie back in the U.S. of A.

As we set off from Puebla, we were all a bit weary of the long miles we’d put in and knew that we still had a good section to ride before we’d make it to the U.S.

From Puebla, we’d planned to stay up in the altiplano or high plains of Mexico, because the altitude gave relief from the stifling heat. On our first day out of Puebla, we rode at our own paces and eventually made it to the small town of Emiliano Zapata, where we stayed a cheap hotel and enjoyed some pizza together.
The next morning, we hit up the town square for some amazing tamales before getting back to the main route.

It was a bit of a grueling day, but we finished early and ended up at a hotel in the town of San Francisco. We hit the hay pretty early as we’d planned to put in Noah’s first ever 100-mile day the next day.

The next morning, we were off a bit late, but the descents were aplenty and we made good time. This was also the day of the second earthquake in Mexico. We were riding and didn’t feel it at the time, but in retrospect, we all agreed that we felt particularly unsteady on a descent at the time of the earthquake and wondered whether we had felt it without realizing it.

It was weird to think about how, again, we were just days ahead of an earthquake that took lives and destroyed buildings. We had planned to be in Mexico City on the day when the earthquake struck, making it all the more surreal. That night, after completing the 100-mile ride and celebrating, we all slept soundly in a nice quiet hotel in the town of San Jose de Iturbide.

The following day, though intended to be a rest day, turned out to be a bit of an adventure. From San Jose de Iturbide, we headed north on back roads, hoping to avoid the highway for a day. Eventually, after passing through a small town, the road turned to dirt and gradually became more and more rocky. After coming to a gate that was designed for cattle herds, we knew we’d reached rural Mexico.

Too late to turn back, we soldiered on into the evening, praying that  our nearly-bald tires wouldn’t suffer flats on the sharp rocks. Eventually, at dusk, we arrived at a small lake that had all but dried up. We thought we might find some cabins to stay in, but the town was nearly deserted and we had to make camp for the night in a small park. We talked to some locals and were assured that we’d be fine and that no one would bother us. Fortunately, we had the foresight to pick up dinner supplies that morning, and enjoyed our pasta by headlamp before bed.

After a restless night’s sleep in the park, we had a weary day pedaling the highway again. We’d been at it for long enough to feel like we needed a break, and not long enough to get one, knowing that we still had nearly a week before we’d cross into Laredo, Texas.

That day, we’d make it to a roadside hotel just north of Ciudad Hidalgo. The real treat would come the next morning:  an all-you-can-eat buffet at the side of the main highway. It was worth the $8 each for the several plates we each had.

The last several days of this section continued in similar fashion as we rode the high plains of Mexico. Our energy at this point of the trip suffered at times. We’d spent a lot of time together, but we still had a long way to go.

While we were looking forward to crossing back into the U.S., there were also dilemmas about how it would feel to be back in a country that we knew had had such conflicting relationships with many of the Latin American countries we’d come to love. Our bodies were tired, our butts sore, but we didn’t have an excuse not to make good time on the mostly flat terrain.

When we crossed into Laredo, we were surprised at how simple it was: no scans, no significant bag checks, just a look at our passports and we were off.

In some ways, that was great, but we were admittedly a little disappointed when we asked for a picture with the border patrol guards and weren’t allowed to take one. Though one of the guards had been willing, he was soon told by the supervisor that that wouldn’t be allowed. For better or worse, we couldn’t help but chuckle at this being our welcome back to the good ole U.S. of A.

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