Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Day 40: San Benito, TX to Brownsville, TX

Friday, February 3     San Benito, TX to Brownsville, TX    Miles: 30 (total: 1993.5)  Flats:  1 (11)  Elevation: 36 ft - 33 ft  

On Friday, we packed up our bikes, said our goodbyes to the Sisters and guests of La Posada Provedencia and we headed out into the wind towards Brownsville.  The wind in the Rio Grande Valley comes predominately from the Gulf, so it was slow going, but that was probably good, as it gave us more time to let our destination really sink in: Brownsville.

Keith Bowden, author of Tecate Journals who we met in Laredo, wrote about heading into this wind as he neared the Gulf of Mexico in the chronicle of his journey traveling down the Rio Grande in canoe: "It seemed as if the winds had wished to prolong my trip, to keep me from reaching my goal, and now I had a feeling that these same winds, which had seemed adversarial all trip, had in fact been my ally. It was as if they knew that I didn't want to reach the end, and they just complied by prolonging the trip."

(this actually wasn't on our way into town.  Shhh!)

We had been talking about Brownsville for months.  Probably close to a year! About then we had this kooky idea to go on a bike trip from San Diego all the way to Brownsville, and here we were, riding into the final city on our map (though one more day of riding out to the Gulf is coming up):  Brownsville. Brownsville.  We just kept saying it, with a mixture of awe and excitement, and perhaps a little apprehension: Brownsville.

Our tires are excellent (Schwalbe Marathon) and aside from my string of flat tires in Sonora, we had very few problems with flats.  And there was one phenomenon that Eric and I would only whisper about between ourselves when there was wood to knock on nearby:  Eric didn't get a single flat from San Diego to San Benito. Well, the gods could not let Eric have such divine luck, so I finally heard the fateful words, shouting in the bustling streets of Brownsville, shortly after our arrival: "Shit! I got a flat!"  Well, 1 flat in 2600 miles isn't too bad, eh?

Even with the flat, we received a warm welcome into Brownsville.  We had an appointment with Proyecto Juan Diego in the afternoon of the day of our arrival (more on that next post), so we stopped at a Chinese restaurant for some lunch.  After leaning our bikes on the building, we strut inside, with our spandex on, amazed to be in Brownsville.  After being seated in view of the bikes and ordering, a woman came up and asked us about our trip.  She was a nurse, had previously lived in Minnesota for 15 years, and had fallen in love with cycling after her move to the Rio Grande Valley--her husband even owned a bike shop in town. She was so excited about our trip and it was so sweet for her to come over a chat with us, welcoming us to Brownsville.  After a few minutes, she left to pay for her meal, and we continued to wait for ours to come.  A few minutes later, she poked her head by our table again and said "Your lunch is taken care of!  Have a great trip!"  Such generosity!!

Brownsville. Brownsville. Brownsville.

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