Thursday, October 27, 2011

Days 9, 10 & 11: Puerto Peñasco, SON to Altar, SON

Day 9: Tuesday, October 18   Peñasco, SON to La Y Griega, SON    Miles: 75  Flats: 1, 2 (trip, total)

This was a nice day of riding with the wind graciously at our backs most the day.  The road, however, was pretty terrible--no shoulder, bumpy, lots of holes, jagged edge--but we passed huge asparagus fields, vineyards, citrus groves, and olive orchards that gave us something to look at and kept us cooler.

I jinxed us in Penasco by talking about our luck with flat tires, and on this leg we got the second flat of the trip. Of course, it was on my wheel again, this time the rear, but strangely it was on the inside of the tube.  We checked the tire and found there was a bit of the wire bead that was protruding.  It was a cause of some concern, but there wasn't much we could do, so we patched it and biked on.

A sight not too common--at this point

One would think that there would be places to stop an enjoy a coke amidst all that farming, but there was very little in the way of "towns" and thus we had to push on until we found one little restaurant at mile 57.  There we ate in the company of many employees of the nearby mine and rested a few hours before zipping along to our destination of Y Griega (which is the name of the second to last letter in the alphabet--Greek Y). The only hotel cost more than we wanted to pay (350 pesos), but we were in unknown territory of narco-occupied Sonora so we handed it over and enjoyed the luxuries of television and wifi.

Day 10: Wednesday, October 19   La Y Griega, SON to Pitiquito, SON   Miles:  45  Flats: 2, 4

We awoke to find my rear tube had gone flat again.  We grumpily patched it again, this time with a larger piece of inner-tube, hoping it would take longer to wear through.

We hit the road again, and right where we left our tailwind the night before, we found the strongest headwind we have encountered.  For the first time, we really felt as if we were battling the wind, and we took turns in those first 15 miles leading and drafting.  I learned not only is biking into a headwind way more work, but also much more dangerous as you cannot hear anything coming from behind.

As there was no shoulder on this two lane road, we had to ride in the lane, along the right, white line. By the time we heard the car/truck/semi-truck-with-2-trailers with whom we were sharing the lane, it was right on top of us. Most vehicles were very courteous and got completely into the oncoming traffic lane when passing us, and if someone was oncoming in that lane, often both drivers would slow to a crawl to get by us.  However, the few that were not courteous are much more memorable as all the sudden, my elbow is almost leaning on a trailer and I am holding my breath and trying to stay going exactly straight on the road.  Scary.

Between the morning flat, the road, the wind, and our much slower pace compared to the previous day, we were not in high spirits.  We tried to enjoy the scenery--all of the sudden we were in a beautiful desert scape complete with many varieties of cactus: saguaros, teddy bear chollas, ocotillo, organ pipe and senita, to name those we recognized from the road--but we were dragged down again by another flat we thought was caused by the tire.

The not-so-barren desert

Things were looking up when we finally arrived in Caborca and were able to get through to our contact in Pitiquito, just 8 kilometers down the road.  Francisca, a Tohono O'odham health promoter, welcomed us into her home for the night. 

Francisca, along with her large extended family who almost all live on the same block, is part of a traditional O'odham community in Pitiquito.  Following old traditions, every evening her family and other community members gather in a circle of chairs outside to talk things over and shoot the breeze.  After Francisco filled us to the gill, we joined the circle and met the family, talking to them about our trip and hearing about Pitiquito, community traditions, and their lives.  It was a really beautiful space that made us homesick to be around our own families (though my extended family, while all living within 45 miles of one another, only gets together 3 times per year - aren't we always too busy?).

Over the two meals she fed us this day, and two the next (so much amazing food), we talked with Francisca about her involvement with a comunidades de base, Christian base communities, that were a product of the Liberation Theology movement.  She attends these church meetings twice per week and really enjoys them. She also spoke of her training in tuberculosis prevention and her desire to continue learning about other health issues so she can educate other community members.  Francisca is an amazing woman and we are so grateful that she was willing to open her house and life to us with only a few hours notice.

Day 11:  Thursday, October 20   Pitiqutio, SON to Altar, SON   Miles: 15, 538 (trip, total)   Flats: 0, 4

Since we were only 15 miles from Altar, the shelter we were staying at didn't open until 5:00, and because of apprehension of arriving in narco-controlled Altar too early, we slept in (the first time since Tijuana!) and hung out with Francisca and her family in the morning, visiting the mission church in Pitiquito.

The Mission in Pitiquito

After a fantastic family photo, we headed towards Altar and had a short, non-eventful ride.  Our time in Altar was quite fascinating, but that will be in the next post.

Three generous generations - Daniela, Francisca and la abuelita

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