Las Vegas Turnaround

Well, this wasn’t exactly a planned event….I’m back in Las Vegas.

Rosa and I had been talking ever since we got to her Mom’s house and it became apparent that neither of us liked how things ended between us prior to me leaving.

So a spur of the moment airline trip later and I’m back in Vegas.  The trip is by no means over, just on hold for a bit.  No remorse on my part because this gives me the chance to sort out some gear issues as well.

I’ll be working on my Spanish both through Rosa (although she is self-admittedly a bad teacher) and with the software Dom gave me while we were riding together.

I’ll let you all know things as they unfold.



On Thursday night prior to the guys leaving we had part of Rosa’s extended family come over to visit.  Much Tecate fell in the ensuing onslaught.  Prior to them leaving, they commented that we should go out to the ranch over the weekend.  No particular plans, just that comment.  So since the guys hadn’t heard anything since they decided to push on to Mazatlan Saturday morning.

Early Sunday morning Beto and I went to the local street market.  Whoa!, talk about a combination garage sale on steroids and a farmer’s market.  There was literally everything for sale…all kinds of fruits and veggies, any type of meats and cheese, as well as new/used everything else.

This is one way of four different lanes of things for sale.
This is a vat of “Chicharones”….deep fried pork skin and damn are they good…perhaps not good for you, but damn!

Beto and I got back home about an hour or so later, but not before he picked up an order of “Cabeza” (head) tacos.  This is an early Sunday morning treat he picks up for his little girl …my god-daughter.  It was fun to be included in their special time.

I was a bit surprised when Akira, Mony, and their three sons showed up late Sunday morning to pick me up.  They were headed off to the ranchito.  I grabbed my camera and took off with them.

Chama’s Mom, Mony, Akira & Miriam in deep discussion. Of what?? How the hell should I know, they speak Spanish so fast…
Chama’s Mom and Brother get a goodbye gift from the neighbors…two roosters. They are being tied together at the feet. They take it in good stride, although I suppose there’s not a hellofalot they can do about it.
It’s obvious I’m under much duress!

I got dropped off in the early evening and needless to say had a pretty good time.

Culiacan….for a while

The only downside to being here with family is a complete lack of wi-fi.  We hadn’t been able to post any updates for a bit.

I called Alan the second day we were in town and he said he’d like to come by to see us the next day.  After much discussion between Alan and Lorena giving directions Alan showed up.  Apparently Lorena’s direction had a lot of “come to me”….hmmm for some reason this didn’t help Alan out too much!

Anyway, he showed up and took us to a local house where his houseguest had prepared lunch.  It was pork chops and other wonderful food.  It was a darn good meal.  Alan has a couple of different businesses, one of which is construction related.  Pedro (being a carpenter) asked if we could go to his shop, so off we went.

It turns out Alan manufactures furniture (think entertainment units, closet inserts, benches) out of a pre-cast material that’s kind of like a combination of concrete/plaster.  It’s very durable (termites don’t like it) and cheap.  Alan also has a business of selling Nopales (cactus) to various ladies around town.  He asked me if I’d like to see the family farm and what it’s all about.  The farm boy in me agreed.

He met me at the house the next morning about 7:30 and after running a few errands around the city we headed out towards Pericos.  Alan’s family has been in this territory for a loooong time.  His family ranch is over 150,000 acres and is one of the largest privately owned ranches in the state of Sinaloa.  We hadn’t gotten quite to Pericos when we turned off on a dirt road.  About a mile or so off the highway we came to the family farmhouse and the field of nopales.

Pedro, Alan, me and chef Jose.

Most of the plants are about 5-6′ high.
Interior of the family house….about 80 years old.
Loading up a truckload of Nopale pads to sell.

Once the truck was loaded up it was back to Culiacan.  I rode all over town with Alan and Inez selling to a wide variety of vendors.  I would have loved to have taken some photos, but felt like it may have been somehow a bad idea.  Since this is Alan’s livelihood I didn’t want to jeopardize it.  We were in some pretty rough and run-down areas, but darned interesting to see.  We finished around 6pm.  The family wasn’t too thrilled I had been gone so long.  I think they thought the worst and I can appreciate where they were coming from.  Culiacan is a rough town.

Having said that, I’d decided I wanted to stay and start my Spanish lessons.  It would give me a chance to speak and understand more as well as give me some time with family.  Not to mention a place to stay.

Pedro and Dom decided to head out Sat morning towards Mazatlan.

Loaded up and ready to hit the road.

Now I just had to find a teacher!

Pericos to Culiacan…and family

I had been interested to see Pericos as that is where Rosa had been born.  Hate to say it, but I was glad to get out of town.  It was the first town I had a bad feeling about…from just about the moment we rode into town.

The remainder of the ride was nothing special except for one small bit…as I was riding along I spotted a small cathedral on a hill and realized it was a village where Rosa and I had been invited to a big party when we had last visited her family in Culiacan.

I spotted a OXXO and went in to get some water when I spotted Dom and Pedro on the other side of the building.  I told them I knew where we were and I was going up the hill to see the cathedral.  Neither was too interested so I went up by myself.  It was a really nice blast from the past.  I had really good memories of our time there.

Inside the cathedral.

I emailed the above photo to Rosa and was surprised to finally get a response.  It made me smile even more than I was in the photo above.  We stopped by the house where we had the party but a neighbor confirmed that the family only came out on the weekends.

We continued on into Culiacan.  We all met each other at a Pemex station on the outskirts of town and rode in to town together.  The traffic was busy as hell, but we got through the center of town without too much trouble.  The same couldn’t be said for the remainder of the ride up to Rosa’s family’s house.  It is located on the hillside where all the TV/Radio transmitters are…yep, part of the highest part in town.

I’ll give Dom credit, as he was able to get up the stupidly steep part of the neighborhood hills.  Pedro and I both had to walk our bikes up and Pedro actually came back to help me out with mine.  Not fun….no joy…I’m just glad I didn’t stroke out!

We finally got to the top only to realize that we had gone too far and got to descend.  It was decidedly easier and I was glad to have those big 203 rotors stopping me.

Rosa’s sister-in-law Lorena met us at the door followed by my Granddaughter.  They both had big smiles on their faces.

Later in the afternoon all the men returned home from work, Rosa’s brothers, Luis, Chuy and Betto.  It was good to see them all.  They made room for us in Rosa’s Mom’s room (she’s currently in Denver visiting family).  Awfully nice of them to do so as it’s the only room with a/c.

After talking with all the members of family it turns out that no one really believed I was riding a bicycle.  Apparently they thought I was riding a motorcycle down.  Seeing is believing.

Guamuchil to Pericos

Dom and I got an early start on the day, but Pedro had mentioned the night before that he’d like to sleep in.  With our riding styles that would mean he’d eventually catch up with me.  The hills weren’t too bad, but the scenery started to turn to desert and the temps began to climb.

Where did all the green tones go?

About 10am Dom and I pulled into a little oasis nestled on the side of a mild climb.  A sign out front proclaimed “Queso” which should indicate a place which serves up daily fresh made cheese.  We pulled in and the word oasis became very fitting.  For being in the middle of nowhere this was a really nice little place.  Two older ladies were working the place.  There were flower gardens the likes of which I hadn’t seen since I left my house…very pretty.

Nice little patio…and shade!
Pretty in pink.

After having a plate of Huevos Rancheros we decided to sit back in one of their several comfortable rocking chairs.  It probably took me about 5 minutes before I started to nod off.  The owner started us asking if we wanted something but neither Dom nor I could grasp what she was saying.  She motioned for us to follow her.  We walked to the rear of the compound and saw a covered area with three hammocks slung.  Oh yeah!  We both crashed for about an hour or so before Pedro ambled in.  He was about ready to ride by when the owner’s husband saw Pedro and flagged him down.

Pedro commented that it was blistering hot out and the Garmin showed it was 95 in the shade.  Pedro had a bite to eat and hit the road again.  Dom wasn’t sure if he was going to head out now or wait for the heat to pass.  He pissed about for a few minutes before deciding to go.  I said I was going to try to hitch a ride.  I wasn’t too thrilled with the idea of riding the hills in the heat.

I stood on the side of the road for about 15 minutes before deciding that I may as well ride instead of just standing around in the sun.  It was a good decision.  The hills weren’t too bad and I actually enjoyed the ride.  I seems I had turned a pivotal corner…at least as far as being able to finally enjoy riding goes.

I caught up with them at the exit into Pericos.  We rode into town and had a hell of a time finding the one and only hotel…oh what a place.  It cost 350 pesos.  I paid and then the owner told us there wasn’t any water for another 3 hours.  We stowed our gear and searched out dinner.  As a side note they both had noteworthy things happen while in search of the hotel.  Dom had some old boy try to hook him up with a local working girl and some local kids try to sell him a bag of weed, while Pedro had the local law enforcement try to sell him some cocaine.  It was the first time they had seen that side of Mexico.  Would be nice if it’s the last time.

Our deluxe sumptuous accommodations for the night.

Not long after the above photo was taken we got water in the room…although the shower didn’t work…at least we could brush our teeth.

The next morning we would have been on the road fairly early except we couldn’t leave the room…until we could open the door.  The friggin’ lock was froze up.  After banging on the door the owner heard us and after about 10 minutes he was finally able to get it open.  Yep, great place!

We walked across the street for some breakfast prior to hitting the road and I’m glad we did as we met “Alan” who spoke english and said he would be in Culiacan later in the day.  He said he’d like to have us over for dinner while we were there and gave us his number.  It was a nice way to end our time in town.

Guasave to Guamuchil and a great tourguide

Too funny, the hotel we stayed in last night was a pretty swanky place…a place where one takes a girlfriend for a few hours of relaxation would probably be the safest way to put it.  The shower was of note because it had fancy curved glass doors (didn’t shut worth a damn) and a digitized system inside with radio and speakers….it didn’t however have a shower knob.  Ah well, we managed to get it to work well enough to use.  Trust me, a screwed up shower is still a shower!

We took off for Guamuchil early the next morning.  This is all pretty flat farmland with lots of corn.  Nothing really noteworthy, but very nice.

More cornfields.

We got into Guamuchil mid-afternoon and ran smack dab into the longest line of busses I’ve ever seen.  There was a presidential political rally taking place and busses from all over the state of Sinaloa were to be found here.  Thankfully there wasn’t a lot of pedestrian traffic and we were able to navigate our way to “Centro”, the center, of town.

Never seen such a wide variety of busses all in one spot.

We hadn’t been riding very long before a young kid with a younger passenger pulled alongside.  I don’t recall what we asked him, but from that moment on Braulio was our constant guide while we were in town.  Braulio is 17 and his passenger was his 14-year-old brother.  We told them we needed a cheap hotel and within a few minutes he weaved his way through traffic to the front of just what we were looking for…cheap accommodations!  The owner/manager wanted 580 pesos for a triple room, but it wasn’t available on the first floor (very convenient to have if you don’t want to lug bikes upstairs).  We dickered with him on the price and he commented that he did have a very large room with four beds right down the hall.  We took a look and were sold for a whopping 405 pesos.

When we look for a place we are usually looking for; 1) price, 2) a/c, 3) wi-fi, 4) bike storage.  We really don’t require too much…and come to think of it, we usually don’t get too much, but it’s good enough for our needs.

After dropping the gear from our bikes Braulio took us to a nearby Banamex as I was running low on cash.  It was pretty warm out so it wasn’t surprising to see a group of people waiting their turn inside the ATM room.  I got in line with everyone else and when finally my turn my card wouldn’t work.  Not wanting to stop the flow, I just got back into line.  I realized it was a problem with what I had tried to do and the next time around it went smoothly….thank God!

When I came out I found Braulio’s father had showed up and he was talking with Dom and Pedro.  I think he wanted to check out who his son was showing around and take his younger son off his hands.  We asked him for some lunch options and he told Braulio where to take us.  In a moment we were off and soon were eating yet another great meal.  Funny how good each meal is after you’ve been cycling for a while.

We went back to the hotel for some siesta time and Braulio gave us his cell number and told us to call later.  I had given him 100 pesos for all his help and his eyes about popped out.  We crashed hard for probably four hours before getting cleaned up and ready for round two of Mexicana fare.

That was one damn fine bowl of Menudo…and the Gorditas were excellent too.

We decided we didn’t have anything to lose by calling Braulio and within 15 minutes he was at our door.  We were really surprised when we went outside and he had the family van curbside to take us to dinner.  We went to a great place where I feasted especially well on Menudo (tripe stew….yum) and Gorditas (little corn saucers which hold some meat, cheese, avocado, salsa etc…).  It was all incredibly good.

When we left we were all pretty stuffed but Braulio told us he was taking us for refreshes (usually it refers to a treat of shaved ice with a flavored topping).  We were all very surprised when he pulled up in front of his own house.  It turns out his Grandmother has a stand in front of the house and she sells these all day long.  They probably have 15 or so different flavors from Tequila to strawberry, guava to vanilla.  I picked Chili Mango with a little strawberry.  It was a very good combo.

All the family was there along with a good family from next door.  Everyone was interested in what we are doing.  We had a great time with them.

Braulio wanted to know what we wanted next and although I didn’t tell him why all I wanted was a bathroom…something wasn’t quite right…and for the next few days it wouldn’t be quite right.  Yep, oh great one with the cast iron stomach is the first one with issues.

Regardless it was a great evening.