Only took a few hours to pack, probably because I was fueled by donuts and coffee. El Mejor Pan de Tecate is no lie. Open 24 hours!
It was quite a climb to leave the city. Mix of street and dirt alleys, with some occasional spread out views that I was too sweaty to appreciate. There were some upscale attractions on the way out of town, fancy hotels and spas. Rows of ceramics for those families driving back to the USA, who need a really big thing to take up all the room in the campershell so their children will be super squished for the next couple hundred miles. (This was my childhood.)
The houses and buildings started to spread out and the desert was looking big and dry. I came to Nueva Colonia de Hindu (what’s the story behind that name?) and decided I was hungry. Pulled into a friendly little place with two tables outside. I leaned my bike against a fence and ordered some delicious chile rellanos and coffee. For the coffee, the lady brought me a jar of instant, a pot of sugar, some powdered creamer, and a cup of hot water. Just like life on PCT, except I had all my fixins in plastic bags.
Pretty soon after that, the route abruptly plunged off the paved road onto a sandy path. Maybe this is where the robberies happened. It wasn’t wild desert yet, still plenty of trash scattered around. Then the path met back up with a paved road for awhile longer, and then turned off to a smooth graded dirt road. Plenty of people still lived out this way. I saw farm trucks and ranches. Barbed wire fences ran alongside the road, held up by spindly sticks. I saw little herds of goats and sheep, the occasional pair of donkeys.
It seemed like it was barely afternoon when the sky started getting dark. I was near an intersection of three dirt roads and a street sign that said Neji 5km. Ahead of me, the road meandered up a big sandy hill that made me tired. I decided to try out the bushes beside the road. Just tall and deep enough to keep off the headlights. I popped up my tent and settled my bike in the brush. A few cars passed but I don’t think I was visible. I wanted to hang out, enjoy the desert night and near full moon. But the temperature dropped faster than the light and pretty soon I was huddled in my sleeping bag with all my clothes on.