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solo again

It finally stops raining and I leave Zacatecas.

I am armed with detailed maps, obtained from the Secrectaria de Comunicaciones y Transportes, of the states that I will pass through next. These maps are the only ones I’ve seen that detail secondary roads and dirt tracks with any degree of accuracy but acquiring them is a feat that requires some patience and persistence. First, you must be in a state capital and then you face the challenge of finding the appropriate SCT office amongst the many that perform various functions. Next you have to get there, paying attention to the idiosyncratric opening hours of government agencies. Once there, in the office, you can only hope they have the maps that you are after because their collection is by no means complete. Having selected the appropriate maps the staff are supposed to print a form which you then take to the bank to make the payment before returning to the office with the receipt in hand to collect the maps.

At the office in Guadalupe, near Zacatecas, the computer system was down when I visited and so it was impossible to print the form that I was supposed to take to the bank. Confusion ensued but, after much discussion, the women in the office decided it would be possible for me to give them cash which they would deposit at the bank themselves later when the computer system was functioning again. However, just as we were about to complete this transaction, a superior appeared and when he was appraised of the situation he looked looked very stern.

The man sat me down and explained that government offices were not allowed to accept cash because of the temptation to corruption that cash poses and, for a second, I thought I would have to walk away empty handed. I pleaded my case to him, explaining that I was travelling on my bike and that these maps were essential to my well-being, and finally he relented on the condition that I provided him with an address to which he could send the receipt which would prove the honesty and transparency of the deal. I dutifully wrote down an address in London which I haven’t lived at in over three years, handed over my 160 pesos (approximately $12) and left, gratefully, with my maps.

Maps notwithstanding, getting out of Zacatecas/Guadelupe proves something of a challenge and it isn’t until around 4.30pm that I find myself turning off the highway leading out of Guadelupe towards Aguascalientes onto a dirt road, south, in the direction of San Luis Potosi. I ride in the afternoon sun through rolling hills dotted with joshua trees and prickly pear on a viciously corrugated gravel track, glad to be back on the road.

01_setting-off-from-zacatecas.jpg

Leaving Zacatecas in the afternoon sun.

I only ride about 20 kilometres before setting up camp in a field amongst the cactus and thorn trees.

Dawn.

Camp.

In the morning I set off again, on the road which winds through a series of small villages until it emerges in a sizeable town.

Back on pavement for a while. My route is cobbled together, on the basis of the information provided by the SCT maps, with the aim of riding on as little pavement as possible. Two curious girls on their way to school on a scooter stop to ask me where I am going.

The terrain and the climate is much milder than the more mountainous northern states I have ridden through in Mexico so far. Spring is in the air and as I ride, I note that some of the joshua trees are flowering.

A flowering joshua tree.

Back on dirt, passing through a village. A little girl with a big bike.

Travelling alone again, I find that the kind of attention I attract and the people who speak to me when I pass through villages are very different. Suddenly the world seems full of women and children, all of whom smile and wave at me and stop me to ask where I am going, offer me food, and invite me into their houses.

{ 4 } Comments

  1. Lucie | February 27, 2010 at 9:03 pm | Permalink

    Oh, I see, this is how it works with the maps:-) It sounds very complicated, indeed. I guess you could never undertake the same journey, if you didn’t speak Spanish (I think you said your Portugese is better but I can imagine you can communicate quite well with it in Spanish speaking countries).
    The picture taken when leaving Zacatekas is like a postcard. And I like the girls on the motorcycle, too.
    Bike safely, Anna!
    L.

  2. Kurt Sandiforth | March 3, 2010 at 4:44 am | Permalink

    Howdy, Anna

    I recently found you blog and have really enjoyed it! I really like your perspective, insight and beautiful pics. I went back and started at the beginning and read through completely absorbed in you adventure but also suffering from twinges of sentimental for my own past rides.( I also rode down from Alaska a few years ago and have plowed over Tioga pass a few times) I spent this last summer pedaling down the continental divide route and am also on my way through Latin America. Well, On my way after two more months of a work stop over in Durango Colorado. I am also scribbling my tales for the masses: pocket-thunder.blogspot.com Hopefully it will entertain you as much as yours did mine on a snowy day. Safe Travels, Kurt

  3. Sila | March 4, 2010 at 7:49 am | Permalink

    Hi Anna!
    How are you doing? Hope all is well with you in the wilderness…
    ride safe!

  4. Nico | November 20, 2011 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

    Hi Anna,

    Thanks for the tip about the SCT maps, I am now in Mexico and have found the full collection of maps as PDFs online! I have written about it here http://www.longwaysomewhere.com/resources/mexico-sct-maps/

    I wouldn’t have known about them if not for your blog so thank you.

    Happy travels!
    Nico

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