Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Mangos and Wind

February 23
We left Jalapa really early to get in some miles before the heat set in, and, with the help of a tailwind, rode hard for a few hours and made some ground.  
Early Morning Sun Rays

Then we turned on to a toll road to bypass two small cities, and, though it was nice riding with no traffic and a shoulder (how often does that happen?!), we changed directions and found ourselves with a headwind.  Still, it was nice riding.  We had passed out of the mountains and had entered the coastal lowlands; flat, shrubby palms dominated the landscape.  
We went almost 70 km before we stopped for lunch, and good thing, too, because the mild headwind picked up and turned into a vicious crosswind.  By pedaling hard and maintaining speed, we could withstand the worst of gusts without falling, but there's only so far you can lean before the wind wins and your wheels slip or you go off the road.  We had to walk some sections, but that wasn't much better: the stronger gusts would lift the rear wheel off the ground, skidding it over to the side.  I imagine this is what a being in a hurricane would feel like.  

I was proud to see that the wind was at least doing some good.  Rows and rows of windmills stretched for miles, rivaling or surpassing, it seemed, the number of turbines in the Banning Pass area near Palm Springs, California.

We arrived around 5 in the small town of La Venta, where numerous people seemed not to have noticed the gale outside.  "Oh, this?  This isn't bad.  You should've seen last month!"  I'm really glad I wasn't here last month.  None of the doors in this town open to the north, where the wind is coming from, and I understand why.

The police told us we could camp at the recreation center, anywhere we wanted on the paved soccer field.  Remembering the last sleepless night near a soccer field and making sure this time that there were no games later, we ate dinner with confidence that sleep would be in our future.  Until, that is, a guy with a whistle showed up and told me there would be games tonight from 7-10.  Which meant there would be people making a lot of noise until 11.  Now we're camped on the marginally better second floor of the rec area.  The wind is still blasting.  

February 24
...and it blasted all night but was less powerful when we left early in the morning.  
The ride was uneventful and beautiful, the mountains giving our eyes a worthy place to rest.
We arrived before 11 in the small town of Zanatepec, the site of a Warmshowers host we had contacted previously, and enjoyed a leisurely afternoon with Rodrigo, his wife Lupita, and their three "naughty" young boys.  Zanatepec is situated on the only main road leading from Oaxaca to Chiapas and farther south, so this family hosts a lot of people.  At one point they had 11 at one time!  But they have the space and are incredibly generous, and they've been able to experience the world- or at least people from all over the world- without leaving home.  It's the very beginning of mango season here, and we picked the riper ones and spent a good few hours just eating mangos fresh off the tree.

Rodrigo also told us that when the wind in the section we just came through is really bad, he frequently sees trucks rolled over and people on bikes stranded, unable to walk or ride.  We were fortunate.

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