Lucie and I sit in front of a convenience store facing the busy main road into Manzanillo, a big port city in the state of Colima. We’ve stopped to refill our water bag and snack on tortillas with cajeta, a delicious sweet spread made with goat’s milk. Across the lanes of traffic, big ships sit idle in the water.
Suddenly two little girls pop out from around the corner. One has a head of wild curls and a rusty tricycle, the other has a bowl cut and sports a pink jumpsuit. At first they stagger to a halt and gape at the sight of us. Then they resume playing, rolling and runnng around us. Eventually their mad spiral leads them to our feet and they muster the courage to feed their curiosity.
“Where did you come from on your bicycles?” Pink Jumpsuit asks shyly.
“Do you know where Canada is?” Lucie asks.
Both shake their heads in the negative.
“Do you know where the United States are?”
These kids are really little. Wild Curls proudly exclaims that she’s from distant Guanajuato to give a sense that she knows something about the outside world.
I try a different strategy to convey how far we’ve come.
“Do you know who Santa Claus is?” I ask.
“YES! SANTA LIVES AT THE NORTH POLE!” Jumpsuit cries.
“That’s right,” I say, ”and we live pretty close to Santa. And we started biking from right near his house!”
They take a moment to absorb this information. Then Jumpsuit, squinting into the sunlight, looks up at Lucie and asks, almost in a whisper, “Santa Claus is real, isn’t he?”
“Yes, of course!”
Another moment. Then wild commotion. We’re not sure what’s going on, then I make out the words “GET MY BROTHER!”
Both take off at full speed back around the corner. I realize we’re about to be called as star witnesses in the case for Santa’s undeniable existence to a young naysayer. Rather than face a lengthly cross-examination, we decide we’ve done enough for Santa in one day. We roll off into the sunset smiling, full of cajeta and tortillas.
In other news, man is this country loooong! We’ve been on the road almost exactly five months (as of February 6th), and a month and a half of that has been in Mexico alone! These days we’ve been crawling along the mountainous coast of Michoacan, our 6th Mexican state to date. You’ll never hear us complain about the tropical heat (eh, Montreal?), but there’s no way to push it hard when the sun’s on you in these parts. Luckily the days are getting a bit longer, so we can ride till around 6:30 p.m. in full sunlight. We can now add a coconut grove to our list of tropical fruit “campsites”, along with dates, oranges and mangos. Helmets required! We’re looking forward to trying a night in a (somewhat less deadly) papaya field. The ocean is warm and clear, the mole is tasty and our spirits are high. Our new dangerous animal pal: the tarantula! Quite common around here.
We look forward to posting again soon – be on the lookout!