I washed my pants in the sink and dried them with the hair dryer. Afterwards they looked even dirtier. There must be layers of dirt and stains. At breakfast, an older man came to my table, asked if I spoke Spanish, and sat himself down for a chat. He told me about his years living in California, buying and selling used machinery. One of his daughters married a Korean man who runs an agricultural outfit in Baja, growing some kind of nafta green veg. He said he has a ranch now, but he comes into town because it gets a little lonely. I told him I admired Baja ranch life. He said I could come visit anytime, he’d even get me some goats.
It’s not the worst proposal I’ve ever had.
Leaving Ciudad Constitucion involved riding through the dump. It smelled about how you’d expect.
I stopped at a mission town for lunch. At some time, San Luis Gonzaga was a much bigger town. Besides the church, there were two more once-grand, now-decaying edifices. I went to an open hut restaurant for some machaca burritos. I figured it would be my last restaurant meal for a few days. The cook told me that the extra buildings were a monastery and school. While she busied herself with my cheese and beans, a couple dudes and a little abuela gathered around. One of the guys asked how much my bike cost. Normally I would never talk about stuff like that. I don’t want to sound braggy or rich. But I was curious to see what they’d say, so I told them. They laughed and told me, “that’s a car.” I guess I can’t pretend to be a poor teacher when I’m riding a bicycle that costs the same price as a car. It is weird to be seen as a rich person. I’m doing a rich person sport in a place where people are poor, so I guess that’s what I am.
I spent the afternoon riding passed little ranches. Goats and cows everywhere. Sometimes I came around a corner to find a whole herd of goats. They’d turn to glare in unison, like I’d just caught them in the act of doing something illegal. Or, I’d come upon a single cow, standing mid-path, staring me down with big cow eyes. Sometimes they didn’t even bother moving away when I rode by. It’s unnerving, riding so close to a cow. They’re not huge animals but big enough to give me a good knock if they wanted to.
I waited too long to find a camp. I ended up wandering down cow trails through the darkening desert, looking for a flat patch. I found an okay spot and set up tent in the dark. It was close to the new moon, so the only light was my headlamp and a billion stars in the sky. As soon as I was settled in, I started hearing bells. And footfalls. Shit, cows. Was I on a trail? I shined my light around. All around I could hear the sounds of cow hooves thumping the sand, their bells clanging. By my light I could see nothing but cactus and brush all around. No eyes reflected back at me. No movement through the brush. Were the cows even real? Maybe they were ghost cows. Well fine, as long as they didn’t trample my tent.