Day 7 – February 14th, 2016 Villa del Mar to Punta Peñitas
We set out for Punta Peñitas and encountered some really wonderful people along the way. It was one of those days where everything aligns perfectly. We both really enjoyed spending the day on rough, dirt roads through rural farmland. As we cycled out of Villa del Mar, we stopped at the nearest tienda where a nice man offered to buy us some cold drinks. Water is fuel, so we got a few liters and thanked him for his generosity. As we left the tienda, two little boys about 5 or 6 years old cycled with us to the end of town, joking and shouting, "Vamos a Argentina!" A few miles out of town, they turned around and decided not to join us for the 10,000 mile trek.
About halfway into our ride, we came upon a swamp that flooded the road, so we had to take off our shoes and walk our bikes through knee-deep water. It was pretty refreshing, but looking back, we realized we should have been watching out for crocodiles.
We came to a small farm home just before Punta Peñitas with a lovely family who let us take shelter in their shaded front yard. When they saw us pull out vegetables to make a salad, they brought out a table and chairs, sat with us and wanted to hear about our journey so far. The abuelita knew Erin had some Mexican blood and showed a lot of admiration for our adventure and courage. They happily offered to fill our water bottles for the remainder of our day's journey to Punta Peñitas. Sunset was drawing near, so we headed out for another hour of cycling to camp on the beach in Punta Peñitas. We had an arduous half-mile push through the sand to our campsite but we were handsomely rewarded with an incredible, serbet-colored sunset.
Day 8 – February 15th, 2016 Punta Peñitas to Nuevo Santiago
We started out early and strong and cycled a solid 50+ miles of rolling terrain. Our graded dirt road turned into cobblestone just as Mehedi got a flat only 5 miles before the next town, Cruz de Loreto. It was the heat of the day and the cobblestone was badly deteriorated, so we decided to hitch a ride for the 5 miles into town, where we'd patch the flat, re-up on food and water and avoid putting our bikes through the rough road. Immediately after putting our thumbs out, the first passing car stopped to give us a lift. They helped us load our bikes in the back of the truck beside the heap of garbage that they were taking to the dump. Cruz de Loreto was an adorable, sleepy little town with every building painted a different color. After changing the flat and getting some food at the local tienda, we stopped and each got a fresh 32oz coconut water for 75 cents each. Finally, we pushed out of town and were happy to be greeted by pavement, not cobblestone! As we continued on, it was nearly 5pm and Mehedi got another flat, which we patched and pushed on to Nuevo Santiago.
Upon our arrival in Nuevo Santiago, we see a church on a hill at the top of town, and decide to ask if we can camp there. A nice man who lives across the street and locks up the church at night generously offers us a place to camp beside the church and proceeds to clean the bathrooms for us. There was a huge colony of birds living in the trees here and they were unbelievably loud as the sun started to go down.
We make food – pasta with veggies and fresh salad, while enjoying the incredible sunset. We are both covered in bug bites from head to toe, and Erin now has heat rash that is spreading from her arms to her knees and legs. We would love a nice, cool shower, but we knew this is what life would look like for the next year or so. At dusk, about a dozen unattended cows strolled nonchalantly through town. A truck carrying produce had a man on a speaker listing today's offerings. Lechuga, cebolla, zanahoria, limon! A charming town, indeed.
Day 9 – February 16th, 2016 Nuevo Santiago to Punta Perula
We had a great, early start to the day! It was our first day back on a quiet, paved road and we made the most of it about 60 miles or so. We both felt really strong, and it was definitely our best and strongest cycling day so far. The drivers in Mexico are giving us lots of room to ride and occasionally we get honks and fist pumps of encouragement. As we got back onto Highway 200, we gained a huge shoulder but a bit more traffic. In the evening we made it to Punta Perula and stayed at the Centro Comunitario Comparte of Punta Perula. We were received by Stephanie, Lydia and Roberto. The children were intrigued by us and our loaded up bikes and asked lots of questions when we arrived.
After unloading, we took a stroll to the beach for sunset and enjoyed the last bit of daylight. We came back and chatted with Stephanie who arranged our stay through the Andersons, the couple we met in Villa del Mar. It is so cool to see how meeting people in one town can lead to another connection and experience in another place.
After showering, Roberto and Lydia, who live at and run the center, fed us tacos de papas. They were incredible and it was so nice to have a home-cooked meal after being on the road! We decide to stay the next day to rest after three days of intense cycling. When we unpacked, we realized we left our tent's ground cover drying in the sun in Nuevo Santiago. Thankfully, Dan and Roberto had some construction grade plastic sheeting at the Centro, so we were able to cut a piece big enough for the tent. So many things to keep track of...
Day 10 – February 17th, 2016 in Punta Perula
Today we rested after three days of intense cycling. We hung around the Centro, did laundry, caught up on our blog and skyped with family. We decide to give an extra personal hammock to Roberto and Lydia and their two boys as a thank you for hosting us. We are so inspired by what they are doing at the Centro.
The center opens its doors from 5-7pm daily to young children who spend their days working in the fields with their parents. In the evenings, they can come to the center to hang out, play and be kids. In addition, they are also helping families who have been affected by Hurricane Patricia last fall. Hurricane Patricia was the second most intense tropical cyclone ever recorded. Last year it slammed into the West coast of Mexico and you can still see the devastating effects. We can't say enough about these amazing people and their resilience. Truly humbling.