Saw a cardinal popping around in the trees this morning. And dozens of vultures drifting on air thermals.
There was plenty of traffic on the road. One truck was carrying a load of folding chairs. Maybe people were headed into town for a party. Every single person waved to me. I passed more ranches with windmills, solar panels, goat herds. Then the roller coaster started. Steeper hills leading to a quick saddle and just as steep descent on the other side. I’m slightly more confident riding up, but soon I was walking both up and down the rocky cliff road. I saw a man on a horse. The horse spooked a little but we worked it out. The cowboy was a handsome rugged sort and I wouldn’t have minded a chat if his horse hadn’t been so freaky.
Then I heard a “hello” behind me. Thought it was another horse, but no, it was a bearded shirtless guy on a yellow bike. He said his name was Nick and I asked if he was Nicholas Carmen. Yup. Despite starting in Tecate weeks after I did, he’d already caught up with me. He knew my name too. We talked about plans for Mulegé and then he zoomed off ahead, leaving me star struck in a little poof of dust.
The road flattened out and I could see power lines in the distance. Civilization returns. The roller coaster became washboard ruts and I rattled all the way to town. Just before the highway, I passed a sad circus tent. I slowed down to look at the goats and mini horses. Behind the petting zoo fence, a man sat on the ground cradling a squeaky monkey. I asked him, “Es tu chango triste?” Yes, he told me, his monkey was very sad. Poor thing.
I bumped back onto the highway, right next to the Mulegé arch. It’d been 20 years since my last visit, but my muscle memory took me right to Hotel Hacienda.