Adventure, Adventure Prep, Bicycling, The Great Adventure, Travel

The Next Three Days

The Rio Grande (Rio Bravo) as seen through the chain links of the border crossing. Photo by André.

The Rio Grande (Rio Bravo) as seen through the chain links of the border crossing. Photo by André.

Right now I’m in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. I crossed the border bridge yesterday on my bike in the rain. It almost never rains here—especially not at this time of year—but we managed two get two days nonstop.

I was exhausted. I left New Orleans around 9 am on Tuesday in a rental car, the bike in the back. That night I reached Corpus Christi where I had dinner with friends and grabbed a few hours’ sleep. I left before 4 a.m. on Wednesday, driving onward to Laredo, TX.

There I spent a long day working on my laptop at a motel. I raced to take care of last minute preparations. I got less than a full night’s sleep, but the next morning I set off on bicycle.

It felt good to cross an international border on a bicycle, a first for me. The border guards on the Mexico side didn’t search me, instead expressing shock and interest in the plan to bike to Yucatán—nearly 2,000 miles. The immigration officials were similar, and very friendly.

Then I bicycled over and met a local, Scotch, who had offered to put me up for a night. I met him at his sushi restaurant, Mr. Rollo. He’s very warm and easygoing, a bright businessman who has built up his two restaurants, his bar, and his girlfriend’s hair salon from nothing. We went to his house and I dropped off my bike, then he helped me get a new SIM card so my phone will work in Mexico. We ate at Mr. Rollo and later had dinner with his family at his house, conversing in two languages.

Today is a little slower paced. Pixi arrived this morning on her bicycle. I met her at the border bridge and led her over to Scotch’s house. Later, my friend Ernest White II will arrive—via flights and taxis, not bicycles—to act as our support. He’ll rent a car and follow us for the next three days.

So the plan is this. Tomorrrow we roll out at dawn, Pixi and me on bikes and Ernest behind us in the car. If we have a mechanical problem or other delay, Ernest can pick us up so we’re off the road before dark—a key part of safety in this area. For the first three nights, we’ll stay in hotels rather than camping.

As a further precaution, a friend stateside has my Find My iPhone login and will be able to report us missing—along with our exact last known location—if we miss any of our nightly checkins those first three nights.

Two other cyclists will join us within a week, but are running too late for the appointed start date. So it’s just the three of us tomorrow, but I feel good about our little group. It is a small Fellowship, perhaps, but one that I believe can go a very long way.

Fellowship of the Wheel bicycle adventure

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5 thoughts on “The Next Three Days

  1. Kate Jacob says:

    Blessings to all of you, sounds like things went well on day one. I will check daily for your travel logs, and send prayers for safety.

  2. Alan says:

    That’s that you met someone so soon who was offering to put you up for the night. I love the warmth of the Mexican people. I’m very interested in the safety precautions you are taking as I will be riding into Mexico myself next year. You said that you have a friend that you check in with each night will report you missing if he doesn’t hear from you. Who would he report you missing too?

    • Hi Alan, good questions.

      First I should specify that the person we strayed with was a Couchsurfing host. It’s not as if a random stranger offered us a place to stay (that supposedly does happen, but in my experience cycling it’s a lot less common than we like to imagine.)

      My friend has the login to my Find My iPhone account and if I missed a checkin he could see the exact last known position of my phone. He would then report that to any and all authorities possible, but from what I’ve read there are several that will be most hepful:

      1. The Mexican police in the area where I disappeared, but specifically make a point to talk to a kidnapping specialist unit. These units have the training and resources to mount a real investigation, especially if they are under pressure to do so. Local police and even non-specialized federal police may not always make a concerted effort on their own.
      2. The FBI.
      3. The US embassy in Mexico. Without their involvement, there may not be any pressure on the Mexican police to investigate.
      4. Talking to the Department of State generally wouldn’t hurt, either.

      At all levels, without consistent pressure and followup, the disappearance of an international traveler can easily be lost in the cracks.

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