Laredo

Night fall slowly upon Laredo. It’s still hot, but a strong breeze cools things down. The wind is harsh and blows  all kinds of garbage onto the courtyard of our hotel. I double and triple check the ratchets. Both, the roof rack and the bikes are holding firm. We’ve dropped some stuff at a local Goodwill store, so there is now more space inside. And after leaving Alex’s bike, the van is also much lighter. Still heavier that I would have wished for, but every ounce left behind helps get us farther.

Plastic bags dance in the wind. There is nervousness in the air. Large, black birds – hundreds of them – gather on a nearby trees and make alarming noises. The storm  seems near. Except there is none in the forecast…

I look up and see an orange dot glowing on the walkway above my head. In the darkness brightened only by a dim light of the parking lot lamp, I can barely recognize a large Mexican watching me from above. Laredo might be considered an American city, but that’s entirely misleading. Everyone here speaks Spanish. Whenever you go you’ll be greeted by a friendly “Buenos Tardes” or “Hola!”. Every restaurant has tortillas with “Salsa Verde” on their menus. You can even buy them along with Mexican car insurance, on every gas stations. The streets are busy. Loud Mexican folk music is booming from every store, service garage, street vendor stand and every other passing car. All the signs are in Spanish, sometimes bi-lingual. There is no doubt, Laredo is a pure Mexican city on American soil.

The night before departure from Corpus Christi we’ve met Ryan. He’s from British Columbia and it took him four months to get there. He’d been pedaling through the mountains and some of the most beautiful places on this planet to arrive in plain, dusty, a little boring, but enormous Texas. We’ve shared Ten Ren’s King’s 913 Oolong tea and a few stories from our travels. Obviously we look at World from different perspectives, watching it’s beauty comfortably through a TV-like car window or experiencing nature and the elements first hand on a narrow, hard bike seat. Despite differences, I think we found that we do have a lot in common, share similar views on life. We spoke about Mexico and after a while, we got a little depressed as discussion kept coming back to travel safety. When we split up for the night, I started looking for news about road conditions south of Brownsville and accidentally stumbled upon a site dedicated to road safety in Mexico. It looks a bit dated, but the information is fresh. I contacted it’s owners, who responded very quickly and proposed an alternative, apparently much safer route. This is how we ended up in Laredo, instead of Brownssville.

Tomorrow morning, we’ll head out very early, probably before sunrise. After crossing the border we’ll circle around Nuevo Laredo, head towards Monterrey, but stay away from the city, then through Saltillo arrive in Matehuala, where we plan to stay for the night. This will be a long day, as this 350 miles stretch is supposed to take some seven hours. Hopefully, there will be no crowds on the border.

On Saturday, we’ll move on to San Luis Potosi and finally to San Miguel de Allende, where we plan to stay until Thanksgiving. I will give an update on Sunday, once we recover form the trip.

Agnieszka turned off the noisy air conditioning and it’s now hot and humid in the room. It’s late and the kids sleep sound. It’s time for us to retire too. Tomorrow will be a long day.

And I’ve heard that it’s snowing in Rochester…