Xilitla and onto Tucson Foreword
This is a lot of distance covered, and despite a day stop over in San Luis Potosí, the actual time stopped between Xilitla and onto Tucson was minimal. My feeling toward Mexico at this point was wearing thin and I couldn’t wait to be back in an English speaking country for once.
San Luis Potosí
Arriving at San Luis Potosí, I met a couple of backpackers, one of which informed me that the hostel in Durango, I so fondly looked forward to returning to, was closed down. I had previously thought of spending a few days there in Durango, I searched the hostels, hotels, B&Bs and so on, nothing either affordable or welcoming. I scrapped the plan.
Meanwhile in San Luis, I got talking to one of the staff at the hostel, advising me to check out an abandoned mining town which used to be the state capital Cerro de San Pedro. I decided to spend another night in San Luis, hoping it to being fun. Frankly, it was a disappointment. Maybe if I went with someone, or if there was any aesthetic value to it, besides the generic church/cathedral that all colonial cities of Mexico have. I took the drive up to this abandoned town and it was like arriving at an out of season holiday resort, it didn’t feel that genuine or real. While I was there, dark clouds lurked over, and a few cracks of thunder got me marching to my bike. Determined not to be drowned like the day before as I arrived. Thankfully, just a scare! But did make a for a short and pointless day.
The following day I did the piddly distance to Zacatecas, about 2 hours, annoyingly, between Zacatecas and Durango there isn’t a great deal and the hostel in Zacatecas is amazing!
While there I managed to get the videos for Xilitla edited and uploaded and found a somewhat doable/affordable hotel in Durango, looked sketchy though.
I set off that morning nice and early and found myself in the outskirts of Durango with plenty of energy to go. I spent a fair while in the shade of a bridge debating what distance I could cover with the remaining day left. I wasn’t that enthusiastic about either outcome. I decided I should just stick to my original plan, found the crappy hotel, got a room took a walk, went to bed. Grumpy. Funny how a place that had such a good energy to it, now was a crap hole.
Durango and onto Chihuahua
At dawn the next day I was up and ready to hit the road I set myself an ambitious distance to do to Chihuahua and all on non-toll roads. Little did I realise the day before, arriving in Durango the time zone had changed, my early start was actually an hour earlier than I planned. Thankfully, the early start was a good help! Given I had expected a long day for myself, I broke it down to several stops: drinks, snacks and meals and photographs made the 632km quite doable!
I arrived in Chihuahua that evening hot and tired. After a meal at some “fancy” (pricey) restaurant (ode to the others being shut) I went to bed and woke up the next day again with the quandary of how far did I want to go in a single day.
After the day before going crazy on distance as speed, I idled along and I found myself at Nueva Casas Grandes, I had phoned ahead from Chihuahua at a hostel confirmed they had space and arrived thinking I knew where I was going to be staying the night. “Little did he know…” the hostel owner answered the door in a bad mood, telling me, “no, you need to book a week in advanced” I tried reasoning with him about the conversation we had earlier that morning, he acted in total denial. The longer I stayed in conversation the more flaws I found in the location, cleanliness, type of service I’d receive. I left certainly glad I wasn’t staying there. I checked in to hotel California (and made sure there was a leave policy, one can never be sure with a hotel by that name after The Eagles sang that song), it wasn’t that expensive, it served its purpose.
With now about a hundred miles or so to the border I was buzzing with excitement. The following morning I hit the road with eagerness. The road was uneventful, just a couple of military checkpoints as I got closer to Agua Prieta.
The crossing was a palava, firstly I was in the queue to enter the US for about 20 minutes before I realised it was US customs only, I hadn’t been stamped out of Mexico, and my $400 USD hadn’t been returned to me. I exited the queue and started hunting for the Mexican immigration office. A few backward and forwards and finally I was returned my money. Then, re-enter the queue to the US, this presented complications as I entered the shortest queue, unmarked I wasn’t to know it was for special passes until I rounded the bend. They dealt with me regardless but had to close my lane after the chaos that was to follow, my ESTA (visa waiver for the US), had not been stamped out when I entered Mexico. Again, in my defence, it was a similar situation to this one, the US immigration office wasn’t visible when exiting the US into Mexico in September, and no reminders. I swear it was easier in Africa to do a border crossing than in the Americas.
Finally, after being disarmed (my Leatherman and bush knife I carry on my belt when travelling) and being cross-examined and threatened in an office for what seemed forever, I finally got into the US and my deadly weapons returned to me.
The heat was a little overwhelming standing around in my bike gear and my phone battery was dying, I was in a predicament about where I was going to be sleeping that night, however, unlike in Mexico, navigation is easy in the US, I had a campsite coordinated plugged into my phone, I glanced at the route for a bit and switched my phone off… The rest is history. 😛
From a diner the following morning, I booked myself into an Airbnb with Ron, who turned out to be a total gem and a great host to stay with. I rocked up into Tucson, melting from every bit of me. I spent a few days there, replacing my all black riding gear with some more sensible army surplus sand/desert clothing, I sent my bike jacket to Utah, my boots back to Oregon and binned whatever else wasn’t useful.
While in Tucson, I took myself to the Prima Air Museum (claimed to be the largest military aircraft salvage site). I thoroughly enjoyed it even if it was 43 degrees Celsius wandering around air planes in the desert.