So close but so far.. Border USA

The 900km seemed so easy at the time..
In truth, they were the hardest 900km I think i’ve had, my emotions reached both extreme ends of my spectrum.

I set out washed and cleaned with what should have been an easy ride to the USA with a camp out in between. The initial kilometres went well until I felt that ever familiar feeling of the rear beginning to wobble. At first i hoped it was the road but soon I begin to look for any facilities available to fix another flat.

Fortunately I spot a small house with a dozen old pick-ups of varied conditions in the front yard.

This was the scene of my first change, they had a pump and also drove the mile up the road to find an old tube that we put three patches on as well as an old knobbly tyre that fit but was full of dirt and cracking from age.

I couldn’t believe my luck!!

My old tyre looked like this, no surprise a stone had punctured the tube.

Where the repairs happened..

With about two hours left of sunset and feeling quietly confident to make the border the following morning, i set out to make some distance before it was dark.

80km more and i didn’t even have to look to check, I stopped the bike and rested the forehead of my helmet on my handlebars. Another flat, its nearly dark and at best estimate was 30 kilometres to anything.

I had been told about some bad guys who apparently existed along this route and I was also warned not to camp by the guy who had helped change my tyre an hour prior.

but with no options I thought I stopped and tried and stop a vehicle…. nothing came… so I walked…

ate some tuna….

and walked some more…

No one passed for the hour or so I had of light, I was defiantly concerned at the lack of traffic but became more concerned of who might come along at this time. So I found a spot to hide and sleep for the evening.

It was about 50m from the road, behind some trees. That night two semi-trailers passed. I remained in the tent…

The following morning I decided to ride on the flat. In the couple of hours it took to ride about 25km only two small vehicles overtook me as I wobbled my way forward to the sound of the flat tyre rubbing against my chain guard.

The village I eventually reached offered a well needed glass of water and the opportunity to put my original tyre and repaired tube back on. This ran for perhaps another hour into nowhere. Then again, I was sitting roadside with a flat tyre and no means to repair it.

This sign didn’t lift my spirits…

I was a broken man, fortunately the day still had plenty of light left in it, and some traffic on the road. It wasn’t more than an hour and I had the bike in the back of a pick-up and was on my way to Hermosillo. A town that promised to have a replacement tyre and was only four hours from the border.

That evening i was dropped at a motorcycle mechanics in a suburb at the fringe of Hermosillo. The shop didn’t have anything new, but I pulled a tyre and tube off an old bike in the yard and was also given permission to sleep on the garage floor that evening.

Santiago and his family, who owned the shop and lived adjacent, invited me to join them for dinner. I sat with the family and answered a long list of questions as well as listening patiently to grand father who claimed to be 93 years old and slept in a bed beside the household sink.

After dinner we all returned to the garage and I continued answering questions from the surrounding families, who had come to see what the fuss was about.

I slept well on the garage floor that night and was pleased to have breakfast with the family in the morning but when it came time to pay for the tyre and hospitality, money was refused.

I couldn’t convince them to take the $20 we had decided on the previous day for the tyre and floor space not including the food.

This was a family who only had access to water a few hours a day and it was complicated for me to work out where everyone slept in their humble little abode.

I was touched, very touched, and it makes me wonder where the bad guys really are¿

From the roof of the mechanics in the morning.

Again I left for the border, I hid behind a bus as it went through the pay station gate on the ‘toll road’ and settled in for the cruise to the first world…

Like clockwork, the rear tyre blew an hour into the journey. A small crack in the tyre had opened up and had left me in another predicament roadside.

The fortunate thing here was that it was a ‘toll road’ and I was given a lift from a tow-truck after a policeman found me pushing my bike along the shoulder. They promised to find me another tyre in the town at the end of the ‘toll road’ but after a couple of hours of searching with no result. I was left with the option of paying $50 for a lift with the tow-truck to the border or to find a lift myself.

A local man helped me search the town again that afternoon but again we had no luck. As I discussed paying him to take me the 80km to the border I stopped another passing car with a trailer. The three Mexican boys heading to Phoenix agreed to my $20 assistance with the gas and we loaded the bike and began the final stretch to the USA.

Three car spots from the border I checked my pocket for my passport….

I then told the guys who were giving me a lift, I think they thought I was trying to scam them and threw my stuff off the back. When I refused to give them my last $20 for gas as my bank cards are kept with my passport, they threatened that they had phoned a friend who would come and collect my cameras for the debt.

I was really worried as I pushed my bike to the US official at the border. I had photocopies but to cut a long story short I was told an hour or so later that I had to return to Mexico to get another passport.

Choking back the tears I rode my bike with the flat back into Nogales and began looking for a hotel with WiFi. After trying two that wouldn’t accept my cameras as a bond on the room, I hit my rock bottom. No where to go, No identification, no money and a flat tyre… I wished it all over…

The third attempt on a hotel was successful and I had a shower and began to work out my possibilities.

The following day I organised money from my family by paying the receptionist $10 to use her ID and send her money through Western Union. I then found a tyre that was a slick road tyre off the front of a sports bike and bought a new tube.

I also discovered that i would have to return to Mexico City to get a new passport. No flights left from Nogales (the border) so I began riding to Hermosillo where I had stayed previously on the garage floor.

On the way back I stopped at the town I was stranded at looking for a tyre 15 hours earlier.

Following my footsteps I asked if anyone had seen my passport and offered $100 as a reward. Hours latter after checking for the second time it was found under the seat of a vehicle I had been in when searching the town.

Ecstatic and weeping tears of joy, I had a couple of quite words of thanks to the unknown. The guys were so happy to see me so happy and didn’t take the reward.

I crossed the border a couple of hours later where I had a Mcdonalds meal and free Wifi

Oh…. and I ordered in English!!

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