Friday, December 6, 2013

Crossing our Rubicon

One day we are in paradise, the next in a border waste land. Disneyland is your paradise? That is where we are. At least we think of California that way, considering the difficulties that we expect in Baja or Panama. We keep discussing how much water we should carry each day to go through the desert. Is one gallon per day enough? Do you know how much a gallon of water weighs? Should we carry two gallons per day, in case we or the support vehicle get lost? Or in case we have a mechanical issue that we can’t fix ourselves. Or in case Mestre gets hit by a car. Any number of horrible scenarios go through our heads. Issues of sharing and carrying of resources arise. It seems that roles are not entirely worked out. But we have months to do so.

There is nothing better than crossing from one country to another on foot - or on bike in this case. In our age of jet planes every airport around the world feels the same. The same artificial air. The same crap on sale. The same officious immigration officers. You don’t even feel like you are traveling anymore. It’s convenient. And it sux.

Crossing this border is intense for us, but not because we are doing it on foot, but because we are leaving our B2B family behind. Or rather, they watch us go. I hope there are no pictures of me because I was crying like a little boy. It’s a melodramatic twist of my personality. Must be the German in me, the one I am trying to deny – the German, not the crying. Mestre Mago, Contra Mestre Fabio, Professor Mniska, Instrutora Come Come and Peixao turn their backs and head back north. The film crew tags along into Mexcio. Mariano is missing. Later we find out that he went with the support car to support Amber’s crossing into the strange new world.
We are all heartbroken at the prospect of separation. You may laugh at this, but you go ahead and share bread, travel, joys and hardships with your tribe. And then they are gone. For good. Or at least a really long time. There is no “I’ll see you in a week”. Or “I’ll visit around Christmas”. Nada. We will see our friends in a lot more than a year. Probably.
One thing stands out. Mestre is bouncy, even jauntily liberated. As if breathing the air of Mexico has lifted the chains of a white people’s yoke of his shoulders. It’s relatively easy for an Austrian to integrate into Sunshine State culture. Apart from the seemingly superficial friendliness that is best accepted and enjoyed, people associate Austrians with the Governator, or the Kindergarten Cop. What’s not to love, right? Even the Terminator became a traitor to Hollywood perp-dom. I am not sure how ­­that plays for a Bahiano from Salvador, Bahia. I only know that you are taking someone from paradise and dropping them into a rather hyper capitalist California. A place of warm beaches and cold hearts. Yes, I am talking shit about your state. If you are from somewhere around the equator, palms and beaches ‘n things, you know that the white world can be pretty tight. Uptight. Those things wear on us as time goes by. We yearn for a little chaos. Some unplanned adventure. A journey of discovery even. Could we really discover anything new if everything was already planned down to the last Pandero clamp?
You think waste land is too strong a term. Yet you may imagine all of Mexico is a crime-ridden, illiterate desert. With some jungle thrown in here and there. Best used for cheap labor. This is an assumption. It is wrong. As most countries Mexico does not concentrate his power, wealth and culture at his border. And certainly not in the slightly inhospitable and arid north. The border areas are a background to Estados Unidos appetite for cheap profits, sex and drugs.
Fly into Mazatlan and come up into the Sierras to Guanojuato. Road trip of a life time. That way you can make up your own mind about this amazing country full of interesting history, amazing beauty and some of the warmest, most hospitable people you have met. You could also do it on a bike.

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