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Guanajuato, Gto.


I was all set to spend Christmas Eve alone, cooking the rest of my lentils with the remainder of an onion I’d used a couple days before. So when Melanie, the receptionist at the hostel where I was staying, invited me to join her family for Christmas Eve it was the best possible gift I could have gotten.

A Melanie: Muchas gracĂ­as para todo. Esta noche fue muy especial para mi y me encanta tu familia.

I eventually returned to the hostel having acquired a new family, and hopefully a life-long friend. But the next morning, being Christmas Day, I decided it was time to get back on the road.

And so I continued on my way with creaking legs and an aching heart. It seems that everywhere I go I meet so many wonderful people, and each place I stay for a few days, I could stay all my life. The hardest part of traveling isn’t the riding nor the uncertainty of where I shall sleep or what I shall eat. It is the certainty that leaving will break my heart and will be an abandonment of home.

My ride continued over steeply rolling hills and along depoplated streets. And when night began to fall and desperation for a place to sleep set in, I found my way to Valle de Guadalupe and into a hidden place to sleep. And I woke up the next morning cold, for the first time since the Elk Meadow in the redwoods, and I reveled in the feeling of stiff fingers and biting toes. It was so different from being covered in sweat and the feeling of having marinated in the product of 70 miles of effort.

And so I made a similar effort the next day, and wound up camping behind an auto graveyard in the middle of farm country near Lagos de Morenos. But during that day, I somehow forgot to mind my water levels and I forgot to stock up on ready-to-eat food. And all I had was spaghetti and lentils but no water to cook them in. And so I went to bed hungry, and woke up hungry, and rode twelve more miles over the same steeply rolling terrain hungry and thristy.

When I finally found a place to eat I consumed so much food that I had to sit for a while before I could continue riding. And while I was sitting, two people from Chihuahua came by and started to chat. One of the guys was a big fan of reptiles, and had just bought a rattle snake for 50 pesos. When he went to feed the snake a rat, the rat attacked and killed the snake. When he discovered what the rat had done, it had long since fled the scene. But then, that’s the way it always goes…

The other guy was a guitar player, and had composed his own songs. He played a few of them for me, and they sounded really good. In fact, it was for his music that the two of them were traveling to Mexico City. Eventually they left, and my legs regained supremacy over my stomach, and I left as well.

The road continued on into Leon. And through Leon was the most smog-filled, rubble strewn road I’d ridden in my memory. It was so bad that my thoughts turned to prayers that my tires would not blow out due to the rubble and send me into the truck traffic.

But I cleared it eventually, and I continued on into Silao, and on to the road into the city of Guanajuato. It was at the juncture to this road that I experienced my second puncture in two days (I’d had one the previous day), and I sat and killed 20 minutes waiting for the patch to seal. And it did, and the road wound up and over one last hill, and I finally descended into Guanajuato with a few hours before dark.

And what I city! Guanajuato is a UNSECO world heritage site, and it deserves the title every bit. I can’t think of any city in Europe that would compare to it in terms of the intracacy of the streets or the charming affect of the houses lining the canyons. The best I could think was that it was a combination of the labyrintine streets of Venice and the hill of Mont San Michael.

And so I’ll stay here, as planned, for a month of Spanish lessons. I can’t think of a better place to hang out and acquire a major world language. Sometimes all the heartbreak, all the sweat and tears, all the hunger and filth manage to deliver me to a place like this.

And it’s worth it.

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