From Zacatecas we head east and south, but mostly east. We’re trying to shake the desert, but it’s got a hold on us. Ojocaliente, Ahualulco, San Nicholas Tolentino, Rio Verde, Cardenas. Camping under a big Joshua Tree seems like a good idea, until I impale my head on it for the third time. Look before you sit around here, there might be something spiny out to get you.
Finally, finally we see green. The landscape changes. Birdsong fills the air. From Las Canoas to Tomosopo we drop down into a lush green valley. At the bottom, cane field after cane field. We share farm roads with trucks piled high, some with cane and some with
kids cane pickers.
Instead of cookies, I stuff my frame bag with fruit. Oranges and bananas of all kinds are available.
Rio Tampaon has the type of camping we have been craving. The grass is kept clipped by a revolving cast of horses. A skunk wanders by, and we hold our breathes. He doesn’t notice us, or just doesn’t care.
Green is good.
We pretend we are tourists at Sotano de las Golindrinas. By luck, we arrive in the evening and see the swallows returning to the cave. I just sit and watch, as they enter the cave by the hundreds in a big whoosh of wind.
In Xilitla we do the same, and spend an hour or two poking around Las Pozas. It’s nice, I suppose.
We have never been good tourists, so leave the attractions behind and look for the places no one else visits. The roads wind up and down and around and over and through the mountains.
Agua Zarca. Pisaflores.
Coffee is grown up high. Flat spaces are hard to find. Our kilometers per day decrease as our calf muscles increase. One day we climb 6,000 feet in 24 miles. I (try to) find zen in turning the pedals.
Juarez. Metztitlan. Flat ground.
The main road moves us south for a bit before we wander off again. Up in the high, dry hills I question my judgment. Climb high enough though, and the high dry hills turn to oak trees and pine forests. People live here, farming terraced fields ringed with magauey plants.
One final climb up out of Mineral del Chico and we’re deposited onto a high plateau. It’s (mostly) all down hill from here.
My tires hum as I turn the pedals quickly over flat ground, but already I miss the mountains. Life is simpler there.
After some mapping mishaps, we have realized Google Maps is the best. Download a section for offline use and go. You might be surprised at where you end up.