Tapanatepec, OAX

All throughout the night I could hear the wind, it was to the point where I closed the windows so the curtains would stop flapping about.  I got up this morning not quite enthusiastic about leaving, but didn’t really want to take a day off yet.

The first 10 miles were difficult, but doable.  I was headed north from Juchitan and had mostly a headwind.  When I got to the main highway I started heading east, and this is where the fun started.  There now was a side wind.  I rode without my feet strapped in, as I frequently had to stop the bike suddenly as to not tip over.

Then it got rough.  The terrain changed a little and the gusts became even stronger.  I would bike a little and be blown onto the shoulder.  I tried to do this for a mile or so, trying to convince myself that I’d be able to make it.  But I looked behind me to see how little progress I had made in the last hour, and the reality was I was going to have to hitch a ride.

I tried for a few minutes, and gave up, figuring I was not on the right spot on the highway.  I made it half a mile more when I got blown into the gravel shoulder again, and then as I was loosing my balance, jumped off the bike into the ditch right as a gust of wind rolled the bike once over.  Thankfully me and the bike were just fine.

I sat there for a minute, then dragged my bike back up to the road and held my thumb when pickups came by.  It was not long before a family pulled over and took me 40 miles down the road, where there wasn’t nearly as much wind.  Kind of a tough decision, as I know other cyclists have been able to bike through this stretch, but today it was just looking too impossible.

After getting back on the road on the bike, a little ways on I noticed a person on the highway walking quickly, running at times.  I’ve seen plenty of folks out on the highway, but most seem like they know what they are doing (often out herding animals or whatnot).  As I biked by I could tell he was exerting himself, so I shouted out asking if he wanted water.  He said yes and crossed the highway.  The guy couldn’t have been older than 20, and had a swollen and bloody lip.  He gulped down the bottle of water I gave him, and I picked up just a little of his story.  He said he had gotten robbed (though he didn’t explain where, or how he had ended up alone on the highway, or where he was trying to get to today), and he was from Guatemala and was trying to make his way to Mexico City and beyond to ‘el otro lado’, the other side.  He didn’t really want to talk,  and kept walking on.  A grim reminder the migrant’s struggle can start thousands of miles south of the USA border.

I’m now in Tapanatepec, where the highway splits, either continuing down the coast to Tapachula and Guatemala, or back inland to Tuxtla Gutierrez and San Cristobal, which is what I’ll be doing.

4 comments to Tapanatepec, OAX

  • Grandmama

    Greetings from the old folks at home! Wish you were here with us to share the wonderful goodies from Clark Street. Your mom will work for the government when she retires. I hope you had a happy birthday. We will have to have a cake when you get home–chocolate of course. It is a rainy, cold day, but tomorrow might be better. Have a Happy St. Patrick’s Day. And don’t forget to wear green. Love you lots and pray for you daily, Grandmama

  • Linder

    holler ma-matto. nice to see that bearded face again and read that you’re still going strong. i’ve spent the last two weeks traveling with and hosting hawk, and bid adieu to him today. we had some good times and it was great to have him out here. coop’s next up on the list of visiting friends. i hope you can make it out here some day. just bike it, it’s what you do.

    oh, and that migrant worker trying to border hop? that was the hawk.

  • Jay Nordstrom

    Looks like a tough part of the trip for you, the wind being a real challenge. You have become a season cyclist wieghing the risk of what you face. Thanks for sharing your adventure, I continue to share your story to the amasment of all how hear. You remain in our prayers–Safe travels Matt. Jay and the Nordstrom family.

  • matt enquist

    we had a really similar day with gusts blowing us off the road in Utah. brutal and really demoralizing.


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