Life on the road is starting to feel “normal”. The first few weeks felt like I was going through the awkward teen phase all over again. I felt clumsy showering outside, I couldn’t quite figure out how to change without turning into a total nudist, cooking in the rain had a lot of start and stops, my hair strategy was buying more hats, and my Spanish was sub par at best. I’ll now never forget the word lleno - we stop for gas a lot and have to initially ask if they accept tarjeta (credit card) and to ask them to fill up the tank, “lleno por favor.” It took me over 2 weeks to remember that damn word even though we were stopping 3 times a day to fill up. I *might* have stormed out of the car once when Nick lovingly tried to quiz me on it and I couldn't remember. However, I feel like I am starting to emerge into “on the road” adulthood with a little more experience and the maturity to start really enjoying all of the things that are different about this new normal.
Last week we were in an Airbnb in Mexico City that felt like our apartment (i.e. an apartment we would build together if we actually lived within walls). It was nice to get a touch of city life again. We both have city-specific packing cubes and enjoyed putting on new clothes (me probably more than Nick) and eating our way through the city. I would HIGHLY recommend visiting CDMX before going to another major city in Europe - I promise it won't disappoint.
The food: Nomada in San Miguel, Pujol, Maximo Bistro, and KYO in CDMX, and Criollo in Oaxaca have been our top meals. I really didn't expect to have one of the best sushi experiences of my life in Mexico City (especially coming off a trip from Japan), but KYO made it happen. Enrique Olvera is the chef behind Pujol and Criollo and turned us into instant food groupies. If you haven’t seen it, watch his Chef’s Table episode on Netflix (Season 2, Episode 4): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SgNLip88INA
Mexico’s landscape continues to surprise us. We have felt like we were in the Pacific Northwest, Colorado, New Mexico, parts of Europe, and a lot of California. I had a naive mental picture that this part of the trip would all feel like Baja - hot and dry, but I couldn't have been more wrong. It's green, luscious, and often colder than a SF summer - we spent two nights in 35 degrees (thank you Rumpl’s). A bit more research ahead of time would have led to different packing decisions, but who needs jeans without holes in them?
We are really enjoying the Dan Carlin WWI podcast: Hardcore History, "The Blueprint for Armageddon". We are 12 hours in and are now inspired to read Winston Churchill's biography. It’s a fascinating period of time in our world’s history and it’s nice to have time to dedicate to the subject.
We received a ton of great book recommendations and our plowing through them. We've had a couple really rainy days and spent ~6+ hours reading in our tent. There is something really rewarding about not having to make trade offs to read. Read or go hang with friends. Read or get much needed sleep. Read or watch the latest episode X. There was nothing else to do but read, so we did.
The bike saga has not ended. One of the bikes lost it’s rear screw while we were driving and is currently unusable. The part is brand specific and cannot be easily replaced on the road. We had three days of dedicated mountain biking time outside of Mexico City we had to skip - this might be the saddest I’ve seen Nick on the trip. However, we talked to the manufacturer and got the bike part sent to a friend in SF who arrives tomorrow so this problem hopefully has closure. Please, no more bike issues.
Upon reflection, this story is funny, but at the time, it was not. Small, colonial towns are essentially our worst driving nightmare. Our car sits very high (it’s lifted and now has bikes on tip of it) and most colonial towns zig zag their telephone wires across the streets. Also, the streets are very narrow with tight turns - not ideal for anyone with a trailer. San Miguel de Allende is a small, colonial town. Before we could check into our Airbnb we needed to drop our car and trailer off in a secure parking lot for the week. I was driving that day. As we drove down the street to the garage our host recommended, we noticed a lot of barbed wire across the top of the parking garage entrance (i.e. we weren’t going to clear it). Nick quickly jumped out of the car to properly assess and talk to the guy in charge. I am in the drivers seat with a line of cars is behind me. There is no way to pass and everyone starts honking. Nick runs back out and tells me to circle the block while he figures it out. Ok. I can make three right turns and find my way back. Almost 30 minutes later, I arrive back to Nick - who left his cell phone in the car - after being rerouted all through town via one ways and road closures. One street was so narrow I couldn’t help the tears from forming - I was terrified of getting stuck. Also, one of the bikes almost took out a streets power and definitely pulled down half the branches on a tree. When I finally got back to Nick, my nerves were shot - especially because I had no way of communicating with him (new rule: never forget cell phone). He opened the door and I burst into tears as he shoved a really good cookie in my mouth to try and make the situation better. I made it, whew.
Our foam bed was built for weekending, not daily living. We spent one night up for almost 4 hours because our bodies were basically laying on the ground and we were both in a ton of pain from it. Luckily, engineer Nick kicked in and he found a foam manufacturer in a nearby city. He somehow communicated our needs and we now have a custom mattress that is much much much friendlier on the hips (I am a side sleeper).
We have decided to part ways with the toilet we bought. It’s too big, awful to clean, and honestly, just disgusts me at this point. Our friend Cam is bringing us a new one where yep, we basically go to the bathroom in a bag and throw it away each time. The irony is not lost on me that I have basically become Rex and Rex is now me - he lives in the city and commutes to Silicon Valley (google) on occasion and I crap in a poop bag :) This new method is a far more hygienic approach, in my opinion. Also, it opens up a ton of space in our trailer so we are going to find a person to build us some pantry shelves.