Reports on my cycle trip around the World (by Ernest Markwood)
Friday, 7 December 2012
COASTING NORTHWARDS - SOLO
After Leana left on her vacation to South Africa, I got back on the bike and headed out from Acapulco in a North-Westerly direction along the Pacific coast of Mexico. I was also coasting in another way, taking it easy so that I wasn't too far ahead of Leana when she returned. I wasn't feeling well, and after about the second day I came down with a debilitating snotty cold (perhaps I picked up the bug on the crowded subway in the city - I subsequently learned that Leana was also very ill during much of her holiday).
On my own I had to rely on informal camping, so I had to trundle on every day until I found a nice spot on the beach at Calete De Campos village where I rested for a few days. I also had some expense regarding bicycle spares.
I needed a new rear tyre, bought one in a pueblo, and 25 km later it blew. I sewed it up with fishing line, which gave it a few more days of life. At a military check point I was scratching in the front bag for my passport, which dislodged my cycle computer. Unaware of the problem I took off, the computer fell to the ground, and my heavy back wheel crushed the poor instrument which I had been staring at for the past 4 years. Thanks again to my sister Olga (my regular sponsor) for sending me money with which I could replace the computer and buy a half-decent tyre. There are some spectacular sections of coastline in this region, deserted and often very mountainous, but beautiful if you have the energy to appreciate it.
One morning after camping on the beach I noticed that the huge turtles had landed during the night, one of them digging a big egg-nest less than 20 metres from my tent (I was disappointed that I had not seen the event - all I could do was take a pic of nest and tracks). At Colima state I turned inland, keen to see what it was like in the highlands (was I crazy, looking for more mountains?). However, it was quite interesting, the climate was drier and cooler (actually quite chilly in the night).
I camped at some interesting places, police parking areas, city sidewalks, toll-gates, and of course many gas stations (in Mexico there is only one company, Pemex). When it became absolutely necessary to do laundry, I washed my clothes in public toilets, in the ocean, and in the large heavy copper-based cooking pot which my mother gave me years ago (of course, I rinse the pot before again using it for cooking). At one gas station I awoke at midnight to find that my camp site was in the middle of a large gathering of people - the local Friday night illegal street racing. My tent was about at the finish line, and there were revving engines, screeching tyres, and excited (drunken) crowds keeping me up almost till dawn. Later, I spent the night camping in the central plaza of a small agricultural village (called a Ranchito). It was a Sunday night, when the whole village flocks to the plaza, and I had a carnival going on around me till the early hours (loud music, kids playing tag around my tent, taco stands, and so forth). As usual I was chased away from one or two places in the night when the "real manager" arrives with a dented ego because I didn't ask his permission to camp there. However, there are many kind people in Mexico, and often motorists would give me a cooldrink along the road, and when I'm camping people have given me food (I must look really down-and-out!). In the interior, just South of the country´s 2nd city Guadalajara, lies the largest lake in Mexico, Lagunas Chapala, and I cycled via that way to take a look.
Also not far from Guadalajara I passed the famous town of Tequila, with the hills covered in the grey-green agave plants from which the drink is distilled. There are many vulcanos in Mexico, and on my inland route I cycled past Vulcan Colima, Vulcan Tepic, and many more.
Back at the coast I made a turn in the laid-back little port of San Blas (where the sand flies and mozzies eat you alive). There are many wetlands North of there on the way to Mazatlan, where I could pretend to be a photographer and take pictures of the birds.
There are many ugly black vultures in South- and Central America, but the "pretty" turkey vulture (shame) is less common (living proof that you are what you eat). Now I'm in the pleasant coastal city of Mazatlan, staying in a room.
Yes, I said "a room", which means that Leana is back from her holiday and has joined me here in Mazatlan. From here we will carry on cycling Northwards together again. She also brought some spare parts for the bikes which we have been unable to find locally (and a set of used tyres for me - thanks to her cousin Ansie). The bikes have been cleaned, today I will be doing the necessary work on them, and tomorrow the wheels will be turning again. Daily distances which I've cycled since leaving Acapulco have been:- Pie De La Questa 18 km; Tecpan 96 km; Papanoa 67; Los Achotes 65 km; La Union 69 km; La Mira 68 km; Pena 40 km; Calete De Campos 24 km; Tuzupan 61 km; Maruata 49 km; La Placita 52 km, Tecoman 81 km; Colima 54 km; Tonila 35 km; CD Guzman 41 km; Acatlan 95 km; Chapala 58 km; Guadalajara 76 km; Magdalena 58 km; Jala 66 km; Tepic 71 km; San Blas 79 km; Ruiz 83 km; Palmilla 109 km; Rosario 59 km; El Castillo 66 km; and Mazatlan 30 km. The total distance which I've cycled in Mexico so far is 4 508 km, and the total distance cycled on this journey is 102 053 km.
My bike (Old Saartjie) on the first day of this trip, 27 March 2007.
PLEASE HELP TO KEEP OLD SAARTJIE'S WHEELS ROLLING: In order to fund this cycle trip I'd sold everything I had, but that has long gone. Please help if you can! If you want to contribute, then please contact me on my e-mail, and I will give you details. (email@example.com)
My Cycle Route
Starting in Cape Town, South Africa, on 27 March 2007 - 141 941 km so far
My name is Ernest Markwood, and I am a South African formerly from Cape Town. I am a Research Psychologist by profession, and operated a Market Research business before embarking on this journey. I sold my posessions and took off by bicycle all the way through Africa from Cape Town. Since then I've proceeded via the Middle-East through Turkey, the Caucusus, Iran, Sub-Continent (Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, and Nepal), China, South-East Asia, Indonesia, Australia, South- and Central America, and the USA, crossing Canada from the West to East and then all the way down the East coast of USA, and Jamaica. Currently my mission is to close gaps in order to form a continuous route around the world. I left Cape Town on 27 March 2007. This was not intended to be a race, but rather an experience (and so it is!).
Me (Ernest), on one of my better days
. . . . on this trip I have looked like this . . . .
- - - also like this . . .
. . . . and I've even looked like this!
I have not been cycling on my own for this entire trip. Leana and I left together on 27 March 2007 from Cape Town, South Africa (our former hometown). Since then we have cycled separately at intervals, although in total we have been together much of the time. We split in 2013. For more about her see leananiemand.org.za