centre. While looking for the post office we ran into two other touring
cyclists. They were part of a group of six who had been traveling
together. They had spotted us earlier and had been looking for us. We
were invited back to their camp for drinks.
We stopped at the zócalo (town square) to do some shopping. A member of
the municipal police approached us and let us know that the other
cyclists had been looking for us. He spoke excellent English and we had
a short conversation about camping, Alberta, hunting for big horn sheep
and crime in Baja. It wasn't the last time we would see him that day.
After some shopping we stopped at the camp of the other cycling group.
Most of them had cycled all the way from Alaska. One of them had come
from the east coast of the US. Two of them were cycling all the way to
Argentina to raise awareness about water issues. Rather than setting
up in a formal campground like we had, they had just pitched tents under
some date palms in an empty lot near the edge of town.
We arrived as a fire was being built. Piles of dry palm leaves and
large logs were being piled on the fire. As darkness fell, a convoy of
vehicles approached the camp.
Suddenly the guys that built the fire were having a pleasant
conversation with the municipal police officer that we had met earlier.
And standing around us were troops from the military in desert
camouflage holding automatic weapons.
Apparently someone had seen the bonfire and reported it. The police
explained that starting a large fire in a desert oasis on a very windy
day surrounded by trees that showed signs of a recent fire was probably
not the best idea. The military soon realized that they were not needed
and left. The fire builders were not fined but they did have to pay the
costs of having a water truck come to douse the fire.