Leaving for the Los Estados

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Yes, leaving for the Los Estados.

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Last cup ‘o joe before takeoff.

How to you prepare to go home after having experienced so much, for so long? To be honest, I believe that I was more than quite ready. Having started working for my father at the ripe age of 14, there haven’t been too many periods in time where I’ve had the luxury of idle hands, and at this stage I had been loafing around for several months. I was actually ready to go back to work. How utterly silly is that? I suppose not so much. After all, I am a tried and true New Englander, and we have this thing about working 18 hours a day so we can loathsomely brag about how taxingly difficult our jobs are. Fueled by deep rich overpriced coffee and an ingrained need to decimate whatever the Joneses flash in front of us, we begrudgingly soldier on in the quest for all that glitters.

I was ready to get back into line, but not without first taking a leisurely route back through Mexico. If you’ll remember, I had raced through our fine neighbors to the south in an attempt to get myself situated in Guatemala and then traverse into Honduras to see my former students graduate from high school. Unfortunately, when I met Donnie the day before crossing into Guatemala, he explained to me that Guatemala doesn’t operate on the same rules as the rest of its brothers in Central America when it comes to vehicle visas. If, by chance, your visa is closed upon exit of Guatemala, you are not allowed to re-enter the country with the same vehicle for 3 months. Now, you can attempt to keep the import visa open, but as with all things Central America, the understanding of the law by any of the officials at a border crossing varies greatly. Believe it or not, there are actually dedicated discussion boards online with instructions about which borders to pass through when leaving a country as some offices and clerks have absolutely no idea of what they are doing. I have one clear memory of reminding one red-faced suit on the other side of the counter to stamp my passport after he had dismissed me. This annoyed him greatly. I decided that taking the risk of being stuck in Honduras for an extra three months due to the possible negligence of a sweaty uniform wasn’t worth the risk.  Thus, my intention of seeing my Honduran students was thwarted and I was left with a larger pocket of time to spend on my return trip. Not a bad consolation prize.

So, the final day came. It was time to head home.

On on the morning of June 2nd I packed my bags with hands guided by a familiar rhythm. One thing that you develop over time when traveling by bike is routine. Imagine the furious hodgepodge of packing for a weekend trip in your car. You stuff your suitcase, throw a bunch of shoes in the back seat, then maybe boots, and suddenly you spot a rain jacket and figure you might as well throw it in the car just in case. By the time you hit the road there’s a small mound of miscellaneous clothing and extras that got caught up in the whirlwind of a hasty exit. Snacks, water bottle? Oh, somewhere buried in that heap, maybe. Or did you forget it? When you travel by motorcycle, it’s the complete opposite. Everything has its own place, everything has a purpose. If you’re any good at it, all things necessary in a pinch are easily accessible so you won’t have to go digging through a bag in the pouring rain with your gloves on only to find that it was in the saddlebag on the other side of the bike.  Having lived out of bike for so long, everything goes back to where it was, where it worked, where it belongs. And so, in the length of a song, my mule was all packed up and ready to go. The only difference this time was the addition of the bright red gas can. I had run out of fuel in Texas on the trip down and was not eager to test my luck in some of the more remote parts of Mexico. I had planned a different route home and I didn’t want to find myself stuck. Fortunately, I found a suitable can and double-fortunately, I had opted for the 2 gallon over the 1 gallon when I was shopping. More on that in a future edition.

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Chaos? Nahhhh…it packs up nicely.
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All packed. Let’s roll.
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Showing off my streamlined luggage system.

Journal notes from that day:

So I got on my bike with little fanfare. I remember leaving last time from Berenice’s (the same host mom from my visit in 2013. Wonderful woman.). Then, I had been running around, buying last minute things like chocolate for the family and by the time I got back to the house I rushed to get packed before the taxi came to bring me to the bus station. I didn’t even get to say a proper goodbye. Didn’t spend a few minutes talking. This time, on Monday night, I got home at 10pm from the restaurant and Berenice got up only to hug me goodbye and tell me she made some fruit salad for me for the road. She didn’t intend to wake up to see me off at 7am. I left late, at 8:30am today, and she didn’t really talk to me much. Just sat in the living room and then gave me a quick hug goodbye. So strange. Maybe it’s harder for her than I think. It must be. You let people into your life, your home, and then they just leave and you don’t know if you’ll ever see them again.

I took a different route for the border, a different crossing altogether. First, I’d head north and then cut west. I hear there are lots of Maya ruins out that way. ¡Vamos a Mexico!

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3 thoughts on “Leaving for the Los Estados

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