We are back in Tucson and lucky to have Paul’s sister, Beverley, to stay with while we assess the situation. The doctor at the Orthopaedic Institute takes more x-rays and confirms there is NO fracture after all – which is a shame in one regard – as he is pretty good eye candy!!
So all we can do is wait it out – for the swelling and bruising to subside – so we can return to Mexico, rescue the bikes and continue our journey! They say “there is more than one way to skin a cat” so with that in mind we head out to the Desert Museum!
What a wonderful place for showcasing and educating visitors to what really grows and lives in the beautiful Sonoran Desert – and most of it is outdoors.
We see an incredible display of minerals from the area – all the animals and creatures from above ground, below ground and in the water – wonderful gardens of cacti and succulents – and the experience of tiny, inquisitive hummingbirds hovering right in front of us!
The weather is perfect for a jaunt up Sabino Canyon with a lovely crispness to the air – and a shuttle bus to take us up! The U.S. employed millions of unemployed people (mostly unskilled men) to carry out public works projects around 1938 and the canyon got nine “stone” bridges. The work relief was preferred over the dole as it maintained self-respect, reinforced the work ethic and kept skills sharp. So in 2015, these “bridges” form part of the magic ride up the canyon – with the water going under and through them.
After ten days of TLC, we need to get moving! The “soreness” is going to be around for a while – so as we say in Australia – “she’ll be right mate!!” For our last supper with Bev and Stephen, she cooks me another side-dish of Calabasita – and it’s just as good as the first time! You can find the recipe here. We head to the border town of Agua Prieta – eat our packed lunch in the town square – and do a deal with a local taxi to take us to Moctezuma.
It is a quick “adios” to Bev and we are heading south – in a 1980’s clapped-out Nissan sedan – the boot doesn’t shut (just gravity keeps it down), my window in the back is held up with a piece of folded cardboard (which the bumps render useless within around 30kms and it starts creeping down), the car won’t stay in 3rd gear so the driver has to hold it “in” until he goes to 2nd or 4th, and the smell of fumes has us almost unconscious by the time we reach the police station in Moctezuma!! The corrupt Mexican police “sting” us severely to take our bikes “out of jail” and we know the hand-written receipt which they insist on giving us is not going to cut it with the insurance company for storage! The local hotel manager, Marco, is a gem – speaks great English from living in the States for many years – has consolatory beers with us – and makes us laugh again! At least we got everything back, we are alive to tell the tale and it will become another “story” of our journey!
The road out of town quickly becomes remote – and we are reminded of Marco’s words that we are now entering “bandito” country – it is very dangerous to be out at night (in fact if you are you will probably be “shot” as the drug mafia operate in these parts!) There is minimal traffic, no houses – in fact, nothing anywhere as far as the eye can see! So instead you notice what’s ON the road – like the tarantula spiders, as big as your hand – and the couple of well-fed donkey’s, who you’re not sure are skitterish. But it’s the rocks – in every size imaginable – that rumble down the banks during rain – and aren’t too good coming round a blind corner!
We pull up at a small town cemetery – they are always so colourful and well patronised. Apparently the locals will take their families here – and have picnics for the day with their dearly departed.
We are starting to realise that to speak Mexican is actually quite easy – you simply add an “o” to most words and it can get you by quite well – like supermecardo, mechanico, officiano, taco, burrito, supremo, perfecto…..
On our way again and we come across a military checkpoint – but no-one is home – just a series of “huts” with black cut-outs of soldiers carrying big guns! A soldier appears from a building so I’m guessing it’s a “no” for photos this time!!
Bev and Stephen take us to Tucson Tamale – a local “institution” – where the hand-made, authentic green corn tamales are really, really good! We order a platter to sample a variety of tamale flavours. They make a “masa” – which is Spanish for dough – out of ground, fresh corn that has first been soaked in a mineral lime to remove the hulls. A good “dollop” of masa is placed on corn husks with another good “dollop” of filling and then rolled up and steamed. To eat, you unroll, discard the husks and enjoy with wonderful salsas, salads, beans and fresh lime juice…yum!
We have left Moctezuma – the road is eerily quiet and remote as we come in to the tiny town of Tepachi. The inevitable speed bump (or “topes” – pronounced “topaz”) looms up quickly with little forewarning and my brake leg isn’t doing what it’s told! I chop the gears down and use the front brake – realising at the final moment that it’s bigger than usual (they are never consistently the same height and because they aren’t painted – hard to see) – so I “hit” it much harder than I normally would. An hour later at our next stop I am wondering why my boots are “wet” when there’s been no rain – and what’s all that water splashed up under my bike! The fork oil is dripping everywhere – I’ve “done” both seals!! We head in to the small town of Sahuaripa to find a “mechanico” – who tells us the nearest place for parts will be Hermosillo – the opposite way we wanted to go! We head right, instead of left, and the road is remote and very hilly now. As we come down a steep, windy stretch there is a huge semi-trailer coming up – and he has swung right out to get round the tight corner leaving me no room – hard work when you’re leg won’t work and you have fork oil all over your tyres and disc brakes!! We make Hermosillo by nightfall and find the Yamaha shop next morning. They are super friendly and one guy, Rueben, speaks perfect English – but they only do small bikes – so Rueben jumps on his bike and escorts us to a guy down the road! Tito also speaks some English and explains the parts will need to come from Tucson and he goes there every weekend to see family so he’ll bring them back! So we call the Tucson bike shop for him as we had our bikes serviced there three weeks ago!! They don’t have the parts but the Phoenix branch does – and it will take until mid next week to get them – it’s all getting way too hard!! Paul decides to ride the 600km up and bring them back – the mechanico will strip the bike ready – and I will get more rest for my leg! He has since rung me – having weaved his way round the 15km-long queue of trucks at the border – and making the bike shop before closing! He then rode back to Bev’s house in Tucson – as you do – and will head south in the morning – third time lucky to cross in to Mexico….!!!!