Sunday, November 21, 2010

La Frontera

date = 2010-11-20
distance = 89.5

We had camped just north of the border planning to cross early in the day and make it as far away from the border zone as possible by the evening.  But with a storm approaching we started our day uncertain whether or not we would stay in Tecate, the border town.

The border crossing itself proved confusing.  We actually crossed the border without being stopped and then had to turn around and find the immigration office to get our passports stamped.  The whole process was much more laid back than entering either the US or Canada.

Although we had encountered light rain on the way to Tecate it had now stopped and the sky was looking clear to the south.   We decided to continue our ride rather than stay in a Tecate hotel.

This was our first day in Mexico and we were expecting warmth and sunshine.  Instead we faced a cool and wet day.  At first the rain showers were intermittent but by afternoon it was a steady downpour that was heavy at times.

The weather alone would have made the riding uncomfortable but we also discovered that for 25 kilometers out of Tecate the highway was under construction.   There were sections of new pavement where the highway was wide and smooth.  But there were also long stretches where it was just a dirt road with a little gravel.  The only consolation being that because the road was so rough the other traffic was forced to drive slowly.

To make things more difficult we were cycling through mountains which meant climbing more hills.

So conditions couldn't get any worse.

Unless we also faced a strong headwind for most of the day.  Which we did.

It took considerably longer than expected to complete the day's ride.  On the brighter side the traffic on highway 3 was light and we were waved through our first military checkpoint with no questions asked.

We had planned to camp at Rancho Sordo Mudo but we arrived soaked and there were no other campers at the lonely site so we cycled a few more kilometers to the town of Francisco Zarco.  With night falling we wanted to be sure we could find a dry place to stay.  Karen used her Spanish to get directions from a local shopkeeper.  The shopkeeper offered her home as a backup place to stay if we couldn't find the cabañas for rent.  But her directions proved accurate and we settled into a simple but elegant cabaña for the night.

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