Rolling through America


Because of the population and traffic in Mexico-City (24 million inhabitants), I decided to take the bus straight to the city center. This way, I avoid to ride all day long through the traffic to enter the city. I found an address to stay, close to the city center. I got to know a very nice family; mother (Lupis), daughter (Rebeka) and son (Neal). I felt like a part of the family within days. I stayed for almost two weeks and saw a lot of the city. Besides museums, I visited pyramids, Xochimilco (some kind of Venice), the basilica, the historical center and various markets. I also celebrated my 22nd birthday here and they bought a big chocolate cake for me as a surprise. Neal quit his job because he is going to start something new at the end of August, close to Cancun. I proposed to cycle to Cancún instead of flying. He really wanted to join me, but it was not feasible due to some practical issues. Instead, we agreed upon cycling from Cancún down to Belize, together with another friend he has over there. I’m curious if it’s all gonna work out.


The pyraid of the moon in Teotihuacán


Plaza de la constitución


The library of UNAM, the university


The second week of August, without any goodbye emotions (I don’t have them anymore), I left Mexico-City. I took the bus to the next city. Again, to avoid the crowdedness. After two hours, I arrived in Puebla, the capital of the state Puebla. The signs in the terminal greeted me in Spanish, English and German. I was quite surprised by the German sign, but I later heard that a major Volkswagen factory is located in Puebla. It is even stimulated to learn German. I had to cycle a little bit more to arrive at the house of Silvia (27), a good friend of Neal. Silvia works for the municipality of Puebla and is active in the design of the sewage system in the city. I’m sure my father could spend hours talking to her, because he has the same background. My plan was to leave the next day, but Silvia recommended me to go to Cholula, another magical (touristic) village. I was a bit skeptical, but after reading some Wikipedia pages, I became enthusiastic. In terms of volume, the biggest hand-made construction of the world is located in Cholula. It’s a apparently the base of a pyramid. Obviously, that sounds impressive, so I had to see that with my own eyes. The construction disappointed me a little bit, there is not much left of the pyramid, it basically looks like a hill. After the Spanish conquered the area, they decided to build a church on top of that pyramid… Beautiful church, by the way. Not far from Cholula is the Popocatepetl volcano, the single highest mountain of Mexico. Normally, you can clearly spot it from the pyramid, but it was too foggy…. It’s clearly visible that Cholula, just like Tequila in Jalisco, has had a financial injection by the government to stimulate tourism. Everything is really clean and perfect. This seems to work out, because it is really touristic.


The 'pyramid' with the church on top


I was finally time to make some kilometers again. I descended towards the coast of Veracruz, via Xalapa. Funfact: The jalapaño pepper is named after this city. On my way, I spotted a beautiful snowy mountain. I later saw that this was the biggest mountain in Mexico, so I did get my mountain picture 😊. At one of the many locations on the highway where you have to pay toll, I was being told that it wasn’t allowed to ride a bicycle here. I knew that, of course, but the alternative is a mountainous and curvy road which was way more dangerous. Luckily, they offered me a lift. I was thankful and disappointed at the same time, because the road was one big descent. I would have loved to do that on the bicycle, instead of looking at it from the pick-up truck. I thought that there was a fire department in the city center, so I enthusiastically biked the last part to the location to ask if I could spend the night there. It turned out to be a fire department museum…. I didn’t have much time to lose, because I wanted to visit a famous museum in town, so I went to the first hotel that I could find and went to the museum.


The peak of Orizaba


The next city, Veracruz, is on sea level, over 1600 meters lower that Xalapa. That meant that I still had a nice descent to go. The disadvantage was the fact that it’s over with the lower temperatures. It was immediately noticeable how hot and humid it was. I clearly wasn’t acclimatized to the new circumstances yet. I met Joaquin in a suburb of Veracruz. He is, together with his wife, starting a café/bike shop/bike house. There is still a big pile of work to do, but the intention is there and I’m sure that it will eventually be realized.


Two years from now, this will be a must-visit for cycle tourists


The city is unique. On the one hand, it is developing into a touristic place. On the other, it is still a city with a lot of maritime industry. It is also noticeable that the market traders aren’t adapted to the foreign tourists yet. In contrast to other touristic places, they weren’t pushy or didn’t approach me (something that didn’t bother me at all…).


The visible combination of a touristic city with a maritime industry


The days that followed, I went from village to village. Every time, I heard that a group of 7 Mexican cyclists passed me a couple days before. This group has Argentina as end goal as well. Via the chat application of Whatsapp, I got in touch with one of them. ‘Rodando por America’ is their name, or 'Rolling through America'. They’re promoting cycling as a lifestyle. I met them earlier than I thought, because they took a rest day. On my way to the city where we met, I spotted a crocodile in the water. I introduced myself to the group. Six guys between 26 and 44, and one women. After dinner, we did a very short bicycle tour through town with the local people. I spotted a guy with an orange cycling jersey with the Dutch flag. I enthusiastically told him that he had a very good taste when it came to clothing. He wasn’t even aware that it was the Dutch flag. After we finished the ‘tour’, he gave the jersey to me as a gift. I was really happy with the gift, because it was actually the only thing that was missing on my orange outfit.


 The first wild crocodile that I spotted


My new outfit


I didn’t have a puncture in weeks, but I just knew that that was gonna change now that I was with the group. And I was right. After 2 hours of cycling, I had a flat tire. It really frustrated me, but quickly fixed it. Luckily, time is not really an issue for the group. Everyone is really relaxed. We cycled another 100 kilometers and could sleep in an hotel in an acquaintance of one of the group’s members. The next day, another member of the group knew someone in the next town, on a big ranchero. When we arrived, they had already prepared a very nice dinner with grilled fish, spaghetti, fried banana, taco’s. We all ate like lions but we couldn’t finish everything. Some group members have instruments with them, so they played music later in the evening. I was an appropriate time to join them with my harmonica. My harmonica debut without practicing! And I must say that I didn’t disappoint myself.


The group of 'Rolling through America': from left to right: Angel, Israel, Omar, Carlos, Nancy, Noala, ikzelf, Carlos en Enrique


Despite the nice evening that we all had, there are some tensions within the group. I could notice that in the four days that I cycled with them. It has been decided that the group is gonna split. It’s still unknown how that is all gonna work out, but it’s certain that the group is splintered. I had a great time with the group for 5 days, but it’s nice that I have to freedom to easily withdraw myself from the group. I decided to stay with a small part of the group for a couple more days (the left side of the table), before I continue my way to Cancun to meet up with Neal. I’m even thinking about going to Cuba for a couple of days, but there are many ifs and buts to that idea.



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