We woke up to frost on the tent and the surrounding haystacks as music blared from the business across the field. We were serenaded by 1950’s music only with Spanish lyrics.
At first my rumbling stomach and I were excited, hoping that it was a diner with fond memories of a stack of hot cakes from the Roadkill Diner on Route 66. We were not so fortunate.
However, we enjoyed a breakfast of oatmeal, complete with raisins, cranberries, almonds and a fresh banana and spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg. The almonds were a real treat, courtesy of a trip to Walmart. Almonds are imported from the USA and are really expensive in Mexico. At Walmart they are about double the price of those found in the US. I’ve found them (but not purchased them) at other shops anywhere from triple to quadruple the price in the US.
On the road we found ourselves in the middle of a group of bicyclists and a convoy of buses on a pilgrimage to Chalma. We kept leap-frogging one another as we passed through towns along the way.
In one town, we detoured through some side streets and ran into a quinceañera procession complete with mariachis serenading the young lady. We pulled off to the side, clapped and offered well wishes.
Later, the bus convoy and cyclists continued on to Chalma and we made a left and proceeded to get very high.
We peaked at 10,384 feet (1,165 m), a record for this trip on fully loaded bikes (previously we’d been above 10,000 feet, but on unloaded bikes, to see the Bristlecone Pines). The long steep climb wound us through lush meadows and pine forests, before crossing the continental divide. It also yielded our first Mexican road surprise, fittingly a Mexican flag.
The views on the other side were equally majestic where we rode through Lagunas de Zempoala National Park. We were treated to several lakes nestled in pine ringed valleys.
The rest of the day was a downer for multiple reasons. First, we gave up all of our hard earned ascent, trading it for a long, fast decent. The temperature became noticeably warmer over 6000 feet (1828 m) below where we peaked. Secondly, one of my fears of quitting work is that someday, for some reason, we’d be broke and living under a bridge. The later part of that fear came true. Near dark, in a construction zone, I faced my fear as we encamped, out of sight, under a bridge.