if i had one wish

i’d tear it all down…

i’ve been given cause to reflect on my time in tijuana this past week, well the past several months actually. with the caravans to the border then the death of bush sr just exacerbated it.

as the people of central america have been coming in caravans and waves i can’t help but think of the centuries of violence and manipulation that the northern hemisphere has, and continues to inflict on those in the south. when refugees move north in the hope of safety for their family and experience massive amounts of violence in various forms i wonder how people can react without empathy. how difficult a decision it must be to leave all one knows behind for the unknown.

my time on the other side of the wall last fall only reinforced all the work we all did to close down the school of the americas, to refuse to support corporations that benefit from the fascist regimes installed by the united states, the wto, the imf…

last october i spent several days walking along the wall that continues into the ocean. i watched the border patrol in their vehicles. i watched families walk to the wall and look through the fence, able to see san diego’s skyline so clear.

when i got to steamboat, i found this book called coyote’s bicycle. it is about a young man from a small northern village who was left behind to take care of his grandfather when his whole family migrated north to find work. upon his grandfather’s death, he made the journey north, arriving in tijuana. he walked the wall and learned a great deal from others who are paid to get people across the border, known as coyotes. he learned what triggered the border patrol’s response (seismic devices go off when people start walking/running in certain areas, not so with bikes), he learned who and how to pay off the people who patrol so that he could get his clients across. spoiler, he used bikes and created a very lucrative business. it is a very good story, a true story that made me feel maybe not so bad about a couple of stolen bikes. the story ends with the u.s. doubling the number of border patrol personnel. it didn’t seem to bother those who move people over the line. they have learned that about half of the people who patrol are willing to take a bribe. increase the numbers patrolling, increase the number of people to bribe…its all the same to them.

here are some of the images i took when walking by the wall. i didn’t take pictures around the actual crossing area. there are armed guards…also i was pushing a loaded bike…so my hands weren’t that free.

some things i’d like to point out about when “they” close the “border”. it is closed to all people who travel back and forth. many of them do it for jobs, school, and medication. i talked to many people who work on one side and live on the other. i also met people on both sides who require medication from one side or the other. when the border is closed, no one can access these basic needs.

 

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so much kindness

i finally packed up and headed of playas de tijuana. my plan was to get down to rosarito, about 30 km south of playas. i knew for sure that there was this bike shop down there and i wanted to get my bent wheel fixed. i figured if i got it fixed early enough i could just keep going south and find a place to camp. however, coming out of playas was straight up! there was no easing into it. i had looked at the elavation profile before leaving, and figured it was just a few hundred meters, should be ok, but wow! within minutes i was sucking air and drenched in sweat and my legs were burning. and as for the long tunnel? it was frightening. not because of the traffic flying by. there was plenty of room. but because it was still going straight up and now curving and the just kept building. i jumped off the bike and started pushing. it gave me time to catch my breath, drink some water, and take inventory of my situation.

this wasn’t really anything new. i’ve been through this at some level almost every day. its called bike tour, and anyone who ever thought that the world is flat has never backpacked nor gone on a bike tour. something else was happening to me. i just wanted to go home, and not just home as in back to portland or oregon, but kansas. it was a little disturbing. i have never really wanted to go back to kansas except to see friends and family. so as i climbed hill after hill alongside traffic that was flying by me i was more than a little flustered.

one thing i count on when hiking or biking is the general rule of what goes up must come down. eventually, i was able to roll downhill and into rosarito. i couldn’t decide between getting a hotel room, not something i had planned on doing until i started to get so flustered, then head over to the bike shop. however, as i rolled into town, i started to feel better so i went bike shop first, figuring that if it got fixed quickly, i would head on down the road to a camp spot.

so i rolled into the bike shop…super small and in a residential area. well i rolled my loaded up bike into the shop and started to explain what was going on. turns out, he spoke less english than i spanish! eventually, we worked it out and he stopped what he was doing and fixed my wheel. we did use his computer for a little translating. when we put the wheel back on, i asked him what i owed him and he wouldn’t let me pay. he also wouldn’t except a tip. i left with a good wheel and a hotel suggestion, and yet one more story of kindness.

it didn’t take him long to fix the wheel, but i was emotionally exhausted, so i opted for a hotel and a swim and a shower. that evening i walked down to a taqueria recommended by “happy cow” app. however, the smell of all the cooking cow turned me to this cute little cafe with an outdoor patio. it was so delightful, that i went back for breakfast. that night, i turned on some movie and started making plans to turn towards the mid-west. this wasn’t an easy decision and one i will talk about more later. but with the pressure of how to make it further south with a record heat wave off my mind, i made some playful plans.

after breakfast, i started south again. i knew that i wanted to make it down to k58 campsite. it is a fairly well-known spot for surfers to come from all over baja and southern california, and well, the more time i’ve spent around surfers, the more i like them and their relaxed laidback attitude. yet, just a few kilometers down the road, i made a little stop.

i had seen that there was a bike cafe about 15 minutes south of rosarito, but it didn’t look like anything was there via google maps. still, i kept an eye out anyway. i’d been told about this amazing bike culture in this area and that there were a few organized big rides between rosarito and ensenada. so when i saw the signs for it, i jumped six lanes of traffic and rolled up to the back porch.

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i leaned my bike up against the patio’s fence and walked by these fancy pants road bikes. inside i found 3 guys of various ages in their fancy cycling gear, two women off to the side, and a young guy behind the counter. all heads turned towards me with full friendly smiles. i was asked where i was going/coming, and where was my bike? eventually they asked if they could get me anything. soon i was holding a huge cup of hot coffee and our conversations continued. it was lively and fun. eventually, the “older” guy sitting at the counter turned to me as he was going through his little seat/tool pouch and pulled out a pocket knife.

you have one of these?

yup, two. one for food and one for other things.

hmmm, you have a gun?

ha! no! i’d probably get shot.

hmmm well, your president thinks we are dangerous and bad people

fuck that guy (oh shit gotta watch that knee-jerk reaction). i mean he’s not my president. i can’t stand how he talks about or treats people. as for border imperialism…..

well. i bought your coffee.

no no no

already did.

i’m standing next to him now and reach out my hand to shake his as we continue with conversations about biking and such. when he is about 1/2 way to his bike he turns and comes back to me, now with his bike glove off.

that was a very friendly shake and i want to do it right.

so we shake again.

soon it is just me and the owner and my still very hot cup of coffee, and we continue to talk for about an hour. he was born in san diego, went to school and college in that area. moved to rosarito to be with family. his wife and her family (his wife and her mother were the two women at the shop) live in the area. he opens the shop at either 6 or 7 in the morning. leaves for san diego around 3 or 4 to work nights (the mother of his wife closes the shop). he has some kind of special pass to get back and forth quickly over the border. i actually talked with many people who do this. so if you think the people from mexico are lazy and such….come talk to me.

 

i didn’t want to leave this area. everyone i talked to was so kind and shared so much with me. the owner of the bike shop gave me a few suggestions of places to camp. he even said “hell, camp across the street. i open early tomorrow. come in for breakfast!”

i was so tempted.

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finally, i climbed back on my trusty stead (i should come up with a name for by wheeled friend). i had around 30 km to ride for the day before i could rest, and i was pretty sure it was going to be one rolly ride.

new way to support this queer vegan

money is funny and awkward for some of us. social funding platforms can feel even more so, as in so who are you truly funding. anyway, people have asked how they can support me, and to be honest, knowing you are out there reading this and cheering for me to have an amazing adventure is key. however, i found this newish platform called patreon and it allows you to financially support me and for me to share more than just the blog. THE BLOG WILL FOREVER AND ALWAYS BE FREE! but i don’t always get to fit in all the pics i take, or some of the pics don’t really work for certain posts, so as a patron you will get access to more photos.

however, more than just sharing this adventure, i want to share some of the other fiction and non-fiction that i have realized i want to write since i’ve been riding with out mainstream distractions. so you will have access to snippets of those articles and stories as well. but wait that’s not all! you will also be able to give me feedback and help shape the direction of some of those ideas….like is it time to redefine what it means to be an ethical vegan? is it time to ditch “don’t talk to strangers” to build a more safe and open world?

so if you are into it here is the link to my patreon page. feel free to share it with anyone and everyone. today i head off to baja with an open-ended agenda. i have no idea where i how long i will be down there, a general idea of where i am going, an outline of what will happen when i move on from this section of the adventure.

i hope to continue to keep the blog going while i’m on the road, but we’ll see how the connections go.

thanks everyone! i truly hope that some of these posts inspire you to find your adventure and ways you like to shape the world around you!