The planned route (Click to enlarge)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Meet Carlos... the newest member of our team

After an incredible bus ride up through the dusty open vastness of Mexico, Hol and I were nervous and excited about the prospect of getting a bike and getting on the road. Looking at dust devils skirting across the plains we suddenly realised what we were about to undertake; 2,500 miles of some of the worlds hottest deserts, tallest mountains and deepest canyons. However, before we could even consider the first pedal stroke we had to negotiate the most 'dangerous city in the world' and the most infamous security guards this side of Mahiki's.

Ciudad Juarez hit the news recently because the local drug cartels have become so powerful that the military had to take over. This was to curb the alarming crisis where the local police force was being continually bribed or beheaded and turning up in shallow graves in the desert. One story we heard was how two people narrowly survived a gang shooting only to be gunned down in their hospital beds by the same gang. Nice place. We hastened past the tens of hundreds of heavily armed police, the scariest one was when I went to take a pee at the border to find one sat in full body armour like a character out of Judge Dredd waiting for his mate to come out of cubicle 3. I wondered what Spanish for 'Freshen freshen up for the ladeez' was but decided against it. Then it was merely a hop, skip, and a 10 minute interrogation about visits to Morocco to get into the U.S.

Last night we spent in the Americana Inn motel next to the Red Parrot '24 hour ladies' strip bar stuffing ourselves with Chinese food and watching TV. And this morning we bought a tandem! We had met Charley and Kamala Land (strangely the surname as Kat who was on board Lista Light) on the internet when they replied to an ad on a tandem message board. We couldn't quite believe they were in El Paso and selling a bike that looked almost perfect. If it didn't fit then we would have to travel to the next option we had found... in Philadephia. Luckily we saw it, rode 14 miles round the dunes and hills of Horizon City and have now attached speedos (to the bike), pannier racks and given it the once over. We can't believe the luck we've had and Charley and Kamala are absolute legends. They have 3 tandems as well as ours and knowing the routes like the back of their hands we have been given maps, hints and access to an Aladdin's cave of a tool shop complete with several sets of Texas Longhorns on the wall. We are locked and loaded and ready for the off tomorrow.

We can not wait. It's going to be epic (and painful)

PHOTOS: Latest shots of Central America are here for anyone who wants to check 'em out.

No comments: