I had a peaceful sleep in my abandoned building. In the morning, I rode down the path to Datil. A great little town. Not much for sale in the store but I had an early lunch at the restaurant. It was a really nice plate of fish. These small town, home cooked meals are my favorites. Also at the store, two photogenic cats and a wiggly gray puppy. Further into town, I saw more stores. It was a blue sunny day, no wind blowing. Everyone was out enjoying the day, waving and yelling hello to me as I rolled by. A Toyota pulled up and a guy asked me about my trip. He was either local with great English, or an extremely tanned and chapped gringo. He said the route ahead went through “the canyon.” Sounded intriguing.

The road followed to coast for awhile, then cut inland. I rolled towards some red cliffs and then started climbing up, not too bad and the views were one spectacular vista after another. All dirt roads, sometimes rattley but not too much sand. Occasionally a truck rumbled by, occupants waving enthusiastically. Gradually the road worked back into a wide canyon. The road was made of river rocks, not the smoothest surface for riding. A few times I made the mistake of sticking to the GPS route too exactly. The tracks that Lael and Nicholas charted no longer matched all the meanders. At one point, I had to pick up my bike to get over a jumbled pile of stones. After a few minutes of heaving and cursing, I stumbled back onto the regular path and realized I should stop backtracking every time my off-track alarm went off.

It was hot and dry but there were still occasional water crossings. The road followed a riverbed with parts of the river remaining. The small blue ponds were lined with water plants and water fowl. At least I wouldn’t run out of water.

I was considering my camping possibilities when I looked up to see a bear-like, black dog running towards me. He dropped to his belly and wriggled around at my feet. I gave him some pets and then he bolted back into the brush to a herd of goats. Ahead lay a small rancho. Two happy white poodle dogs lopped towards me. As I petted them, the rancher came out and invited me to have coffee. It was too late in the day but I can never say no to coffee. Jesus offered me a rocking chair. We had a nice chat and pretty soon it was too late to keep going. Jesus offered me a bed in the front part of the ranch. He was a genuinely sweet person and happy for the company. We ate quesadillas and beans and then watched some telenovela.

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