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October 30, 2010
The conditions are stark, hot, dry and long, with tarantulas and scorpions all over the place. If you can imagine what it would be like trying to cross a barren region with all kinds of people, equipment and poisonous bugs looking for you then you could appreciate the challenge. But the real problem doesn’t lay in the difficulty of the environment or the motivations of the person trying to cross, it is much simpler than that.
There is a tremendous amount of disregard for the human aspect of this problem and we have heard many times, “Those Mexicans are sneaking across the border to take American jobs”, or “If we could just round them all up and send them back”. Obviously there are some problems with those statements, as with any statement made with a large brush and there are important details that need to be examined. The statements are an indication of the mindset and it is this mindset that allows us to forget reason and the simple logic of the situation, the result is people who end up in a poor state and terrible situations.
As we headed West coming sometimes less than a mile from the border I enjoyed the dry heat and the riding, running over Locus and Tarantula and some time a Scorpion. I like seeing the dudes with guns and the check points, the roads were as fantastic as the scenery and I kept thinking we would see some people crawling across the road at any moment. I wondered, if we saw people would we stop at the next check point and tell them about the cat and mouse game, have them picked up and sent back. What I didn’t realize is that Deya was in drawn out state of mourning, with tears in her eyes she saw all the same things that I did but in a different light, a compassionate light. I simply saw the problem and was considering the solutions to the numbers of bagged meat crawling across the desert, I never stopped to think about the people.
When we arrived in Tucson Deya told me about her experience, her eyes watering again, I reminded myself to listen patiently because it is my duty and to remember that she is just being emotional. As she described the scene over the last several weeks, the attitudes from people, the actual illegal aliens we have likely seen and met and told me that despite not agreeing with the decisions to make such a crossing those people are still her fellow Mexicans and she is hurt by the disregard.
I could understand this but it wasn’t until she said, ”How would you feel if you saw a bunch of Canadians struggling across the land, just to be undervalued, underappreciated and abused?” It crushed me, I imagined my fellow Canucks in a state of being in which they actually thought that taking great risk to sneak into a neighbour’s country was the only way to succeed. That they were only good enough to pick up dog shit, berries and work without contribution to the host nation as a low income peasant, isn’t that like slavery? How could a Canadian fall so far to believe that’s all their worth? I wondered if our American cousins could picture their own people grovelling like this, what would it take to put us all in this situation and why aren’t we able to have more compassion for the solution instead of the punishment?
It’s a tough situation that steadily revolves around the law of supply and demand and there are some “enclaves of intelligence”, as a good buddy once put who understands this. I don’t know how to have an impact but all this time in the helmet gives me some room to think and if I can come up with a gem, well, I hope I could do some good. Fortunately there are greater minds than mine working on this problem and we’ve met some. I’m glad that Canada does not have a less fortunate neighbour with these conditions, we are some what insulated.
It’s funny the stories people have and unfortunate that more of them don’t get shared. I know I have been trying to tell fewer stories, or one ups, and get more out of the people we share with because people are just interesting. Mike for example, has been riding a long time and with no shortage of adventurous spirit had set out with two buddies. One of the fellows was a tough troop in his 80’s and the other was a physical education (PE) teacher, about the fittest of them all. Of course, the three lads were apart of some tour in the outback of Mexico, when they decided to set off on their own little excursion for the day, the adventure got very interesting. They headed off into the mountains taking various turns, Mike knew exactly where they were, and as they got deeper and deeper into the woods of Mexico they got stuck in a bad section. Unable to pull the bikes out they abandoned them and set off on foot, still with plenty of daylight left to get assistance. Of course they found some Tarahumara natives who expertly scratched their heads and pointed off into the hills to where they needed to go. Though the Tarahumara Indians didn’t like outsiders, Mexicans or others, they were not pointing with their middle fingers so the directions must have been good? Three days later, Mike had confidently led the trio in every logical direction possible, having been shoed out of some small native villages, where the local language is older that the hills, with only a tortilla between them, they were lost.
At this point the senior of the three was having a shut down, explaining that the colostomy bag on his hip was full and organ failure was probably forthcoming. Colostomy bag! Having known the fellow for a long time only added to the surprise but by now it didn’t matter, the river they were following to civilization was leading them no where. Toenails where starting to depart from the feet, severe fatigue and hunger where setting in from the relentless hill and trail climbing and the water from the local streams probably wasn’t helping much. The two remaining firm fellows dragged their senior into a hut despite the dismay of the local natives and it nearly became a physical conflict, with language being a total barrier. The situation was desperate, the local directions they had and Mike’s sense of direction where certainly in question, of course Mike couldn’t figure out why his buds, knowing him well, would follow him through the woods until they were nearly dead.
It didn’t matter now, the dude on the floor of some native hut, pale and full of shit, was saying his final peace and the PE instructor was stealing the socks off his feet. A decision was made to make an attempt for the PE teacher to get back to the bikes and hope for a rescue. Mike stayed to care for his friend but little could be done to alleviate the toxic shock that was probably taking its toll. After some time he went out side and wandered down the river a ways. There he saw a monster of man wearing all black, he yelled and approached, in broken English the Army rescue agent told him to come with him, Mike refused trying to explain they had a medical issue and needed to recover their friend. He ended up convincing the fellow to follow him to the native village. They got their buddy out of there and back to the bikes, a jeep was there and the search team had just retrieved the bikes. What they learned is that the team was just about to leave, after three days of searching it had been called off, fortunately the PE teacher had made his way back and found help at the bikes.
As the story goes all three guys are still friends and riders and as tragic as it all might sound the tale is told with such gusto and humour that it makes for great entertainment. The antics these mature adults would get up to cannot even get mentioned here but can be the envy of many young fellows like myself. We had a great time. Before we left one of the other stragglers, Carl, helped us out with some routing ideas and put us in contact with a friend of his, Beemer Chef ( http://theoasisofmysoul.com ). We would end up meeting the Chef at a gallery event in Bisbee, Texas later on.
Deya looked scared, I wanted a picture of a tornado but better sense came to me and the folks that warned us offered us to stay at their place East of Cloudcroft. Now fully enveloped in darkness the twisty mountain pass we enjoyed turned into a difficult fast paced race to avoid the storm that was approaching. Lightning was pounding down around us and the rain was already starting, there was a sense of haste in the air and with the other drivers around us with a feeling of needing to batten down the hatches. We winded our way into their home in the mountain and found shelter there; with bikes parked we enjoyed a stormy but safe evening with our hosts Judy and Scott. Again impressed at the hospitality and concern people have for us, Deya and I were grateful for meeting them that night.
|Midnight Moon Shine|
Despite that, we arranged our things, said goodbye to Sean and met the crew at a nearby coffee shop. When we arrived there was an awesome display of bikes and riders which included: Ricardo, Robert, Antonio & Barbara, Tony (host), Ray and Carlos. We had coffee with the team and it was immediately easy and enjoyable. What a great way to spend the morning in a cool town with a good group of riders.
When we departed Bisbee Ricardo and Carlos were going to take some dirt roads back to Tucson, I really wanted to join them but Deya and I already set a rule that we would not separate paths when we were both riding so we headed back with the rest of the group. Tony set a pace that was nearly perfect, respecting our 55 mph rule and Antonio brought up the rear, blocking aggressive traffic, like a champ. It’s not often that you can ride with a group and it’s comfortable, most riders relate to this, but this group was mature and predictable and it made group riding enjoyable. Antonio and Barbara broke off and headed home when we turned in to check out the famous city of Tombstone.
|Sean, (Me), Ara|
|Antonio, Deya, Barbara|
|Three tough guys in Tombstone (Tony, Ray, Me)|
That evening was very enjoyable as we drank Don Julio and chatted with Ray and Tony about a wide variety of topics over a lovely dinner. We would spend several more nights with Tony and a short trip North to visit Rich, who we met in Whitehorse. Our 3 night rule was broken at Tony’s, we have to be vigilant to appreciate his hospitality and patience for us but I think it’ll be fine; Tony is a fantastic character with an outstanding sense of humour.
October 18, 2010
During our stay I had an opportunity to pick up some new tires, I wanted to get some knobbies but not yet so Jud took me to his favourite moto shop and we got some Shinko’s for the front and rear. Now I know I just started a big debate but I only really need them to cover the next 4000 miles or less, beyond that it’s gravy so it’s more of a tactical decision versus and strategic one. Jud also taught me a little trick while installing the tubes which may be obvious to some but was new to me. I have got another idea that I’m going to try to help getting my tires on the rims but I will not mention it until I try it.
Now I don’t like to draw too many lines because too much spaghetti makes you fat but it seems to come back to the small world theory and degrees of separation. Either way, an interesting, eclectic group. Now for real fame I would have to give to our bud Jud. This guy has travelled all Canadian provinces and territories, all states in the USA and is working on Mexico; that too is note worthy.
We left our good times in Georgia better than we had arrived and headed to Birmingham, Alabama. Arriving near our destination we stopped at the Starbucks, our GPS routes us to many locations that no longer exist, and used the WiFi to do a little research. We had been given the access to the home of a fellow BMW guy but didn’t want to go too early for politeness reasons. While at the coffee shop we met a number of interesting and friendly people. Of note was a guy who was building his own American made Sport Touring Motorcycle; a young and intelligent fellow who clearly had a solid picture in his mind.
So Deya runs over to a small group that Mr. Barber was touring around, not wondering why the man himself is doing the tour when he’s got enough staff to do that himself. She interrupts and asked if she could get a photo with Mr. Barber and a gentleman in the group takes the camera for the photo. What Deya didn’t realize and made me laugh is that Alton Brown (feasting on Asphalt, Iron Chef, Good Eats, Food Network Stuff) was behind the lens. I didn’t tell her because again I don’t like to bother people but maybe that was a mistake. I later realized this because Alton might have been able to give us some great culinary tips with our tactical budget that would have significantly improved our food intake. Damn I’m dumb some times because the thing I love next to motorcycling is food. Either way these are two more fellows of note that have been good for motorcyclists everywhere. Two degrees of separation here is that Deya worked with Iron Chef Rob Finnie for a short period, who likely knows Mr. Brown, just thought that was odd.
Alabama was sweet but it was still time to leave and the next days turned out to be fantastic riding. We made good time without to much fatigue and spent the night in
October 11, 2010
We camped on the outskirts of the Catskill Mountains that night in our degrading tent. We are up to three broken and modified tent posts with about six significant and duct taped tears. Despite this we camped fairly comfortably. The only real trouble I’m having is hip and hip-flexor pain, the other parts I’m used to. The cold seems to get me every morning around 2-4 am but I’m okay with that, it’s a nice reminder. An interesting development is the numbness and tingling in my left hand that’s plagued me for a long time while riding is now completely gone. I’m feeling healthier and more relaxed than I have in a long time. I still get uptight once in a while but usually only when it’s time for a snack or sleep, but that is not new.
On our way through Virginia we stopped for gas and had an engaging conversation with a fellow who loved to talk. He was very interesting to me and I could have parlayed all day with him about world politics and points of view. Caution is of course important and the general rule is no talk of sex, religion or politics, to avoid any unpleasant debates. This however was less sophisticated and when the statement came out about the Second World War and, “If it wasn’t for the might and prosperity of the USA, Canada and most of the European countries would not even exist” I just about lost it. Deya said my face went red when I started to calmly recap history as it happened and explained the political scene at the time that the United States came into it’s own, the reason for the Statue of Liberty and it’s particular importance to the existence of the USA as viable and liberated country in a time when support from a super power, like France, would make or break a place. Deya dragged me away as we were patting each other on the back, though I was enjoying the duel as was he, but his quote is unfortunately burnt into my mind.
Of course in the night when you are tenting you never really know the intentions of others and you are vulnerable. So when the truck stopped and someone got out with a flashlight we really didn’t know what to think. The dark figure lumbered about in the darkness searching around the front of our area, obviously seeing the motorcycles parked in the trees. The lone figure approached the tent, maybe ten paces away, slouched slightly, his flashlight shining on us, a clicking sound and some shuffling in the dirt, so I unzipped the tent and asked if I could help him with something. From the darkness we heard the most surprising thing, the sweetness of a seventy-seven year old woman’s voice asking if we would mind if she camped near us because she was lost.