Zacatecas!!!! | Mazatlan to Zacatecas

Que hermosura. Suave, sedoso, y hermoso…

It was a curvy road, this morning. Leaving Mazatlan. A curvy road. So curvy that a couple times I felt like I was getting carsick, and I was driving! I didn’t think it was possible to get carsick when you’re driving, just like when you’re seasick the best thing you can do is start driving the boat.

The Subi ran into a bit of a problem today. We had driven about halfway from Mazatlan to Durango, when there were cars stopped waiting for road workers to let them through. So this meant a little stop and go traffic for awhile, and as soon as we were in this line the Subi’s engine promptly started smoking. And it smelled a bit like burning rubber. Or burning oil. So I started cranking the heat to try to get heat out of the engine compartment, and she didn’t overheat, though I have no idea if my heat cranking actually helped. And then finally the line started moving again, and I just kept going. Maybe it’s low on oil (I check the oil every five minutes)? Maybe it’s just a shitty, old car? Maybe a belt actually did break the other day?

Ahhhhh, the Subi.

So now I’m in Zacatecas, and it’s beautiful. I can officially add this to my “Top 5 Favorite Cities in Mexico” list. Others on it include: Mexico City, Guanajuato and….oh I don’t know, maybe San Jose del Cabo? El Roble? La Union?

I had originally planned to stay a night in Durango, but when I came out of the hills where the engine started smoking and careened on the plains that hold Durango I thought, “Yeah…….no way I’m staying in this city tonight.” Sometimes when I start driving it’s hard for me to stop driving. Like, all I wanna do is drive all day and all night and just get SOMEWHERE, or get AWAY from everything, or something. I think the reason I just wanna keep driving sometimes is because it can be kind of stressful to arrive somewhere when you don’t know the city and you don’t have lodging booked. So if you just keep driving, you delay that stress. Until the stress of driving for 10 straight hours outweighs that stress.

Now I’m in a beautiful guesthouse in Zacatecas, and tomorrow I’m hopefully moving to an AirBnb. And I have a confession to make real quick: I don’t know if I’m going any further south on this trip. Like, I don’t know if I’m going to Mexico City. We’ll see. I’m gonna spend a few days in Zacatecas to walk around and drink coffee and think about things. Also, there are good tamales here.

The knee feels great after the fast, just so you know. It really helped to bring the inflammation down.

I think I’m gonna read Circe and go to bed. Or maybe start on season 4 of Alone. Or maybe watch YouTube videos.

This place is really freaking quiet. I think I’m gonna sleep well tonight.

Buenas noches.

– Wetz

Day Two in Mazatlan | The Long-Ass Road Trip

The view from the Park Inn.

Man, that was a trip. I went all the way to the Zona Dorada to go to Starbucks to get some kind of chai tea or green tea or some other kind of tea you can drink when you’re fasting, and I didn’t make. I mean I kind of made it. I made it to the Zona Dorada. I just went to a completely different cafe, where I got some kind of pear sencha variety that is mildly disgusting. But then again, when all you want is a swordfish fillet, buttered and cooked with garlic, and a whole lobster (possibly even live), along with some sauteed vegetables, no tea is ever going to satisfy you.

And this pear sencha is no different.

I’m coming up on 42 hours of fasting. The longest I’ve ever done is 44, but that was kinda weird cuz I “cheated” by drinking coffee. The thing about drinking coffee is that it can get you out of a fasted state by raising insulin levels, and also it just makes you feel worse after. If you’re in the market for a 24 or 48 or 72 hours fast, I don’t recommend drinking coffee. Drink water. Possibly mineral water. And maybe drink tea. Maybe. Probably not black tea, though, cuz the tannins will wreck your stomach. Maybe green tea. Definitely herbal tea.

Why didn’t I sleep more last night.

I’m going to watch like 12 episodes of Alone today.

Slash jump in pool.

I’ve pretty much subsisted off Topo chico con limon for the past 42 hours.

That’s the plan, if I make it: fast till tomorrow evening and break the fast with the previously mentioned meal. If I DON’T make it till tomorrow, still break the fast with the aforementioned meal. And then the next day probably have no carbohydrates. Stay in ketosis for as long as possible. Stay in ketosis till I die. Smother myself with avocado and ghee. Swim in ocean. Eat carnitas with no tortilla. More avocado. Swordfish fillet. Ghee.

This morning was a productive morning in the soul-searching arena. The following things came up:

  1. Why do I think that changing my externals will make me happier? Substituting boat for apartment or house? Seattle for another city? Chipotle chicken burrito for steak?
  2. Why can’t I approach the soul searching from a place of calm, curiosity and creativity as apposed to: You’re a washed-up 37 year old, you’re worthless, all you do is run and run and run and run?
  3. How can I learn not to want to excise the parts of me that think I’m worthless, that think my life is just passing me by and I’m not doing anything, that think I’ve wasted the last 10 years of my life?

God, all I can think about is this one pizza I had in San Remo, Italy right now. And this other pizza I had in La Spezia. And this other pizza I had in Fiumicino. Even the pizza I had a week ago in Lone Pine from Pizza Factory! We toss ’em they’re fucking awesome! A medium black-olive pizza, no meat, possibly because earlier that day I’d been communing with the gods at the Grandpa Peabody boulder, channeling my inner Kevin Jorgeson, my Jimmy Webb, my Daniel Woods, my Nina Williams. Am I allowed to eat if I go fishing right now and catch my own fish?

I am definitely in ketosis right now. Autophagy might be taking place. Inflammation is down.

Let me tell you a quick story: This morning I was getting ready for my morning swim, looking out at the ocean, stretching, wrapping all my stuff in a towel so you couldn’t see my wallet and my mask wouldn’t float away. I went down the stairs to the beach and waved to a hotel employee at the next hotel over who was standing on the breakwater. He waved me over. I could see some little black shapes on the beach. They were turtles, baby turtles. And they were dying.

“Throw ’em in the water!” he said. “Way out there!”

I grabbed the first baby turtle, sticking my hands way underneath it so I could lift it up on the sand it was resting on and not have to touch it. It was waving its little flippers. And then I waded out into the water and tried to toss it over the breaking waves. One of the little turtles was missing a flipper. One of them, after it was in the water, just floated with its head down. For all I know none of the baby turtles made it. I’m assuming their brothers and sisters hatched last night and most made it into the water under the almost full moon. Many were then probably devoured by predators. Most will probably die before they make it to adulthood. And then this morning came these little guys, who obviously missed the memo about needing to leave last night. And even though they probably all died, I like to think that one of them, just one of them, made it. And in 15 or 20 years it will lift it’s head out of the water and smile, and be happy to be alive.

Aka the only thing I can think of right now is a buttered swordfish fillet.

– Wetzler

Man’s Search for Topo | Los Mochis to Mazatlan

Alki Beach.

Part 1

The question on everyone’s mind right now: How long will it be before I can boulder again? AKA this is the question on no one’s mind, and not even really on my mind right now. In fact, this is precisely something I’m trying to avoid thinking about.

My knee actually feels pretty good today. I have eaten nothing today. I just passed the 24 hour mark, which apparently is the sweet spot for digestive repair. I need this digestive repair considering the amount of coffee I had yesterday and the wretched (though right now it sounds so good) pizza I had for dinner. I’m drinking green tea that I just got from Starbucks. This is my evening. Oh, and watching Alone. Alone. But at least this road trip sort of has a point now! I mean, it always had a point: the weather was terrible in Seattle, and I was hurt. So, rather than wallowing on my boat until the days got a bit longer and the weather got a bit better, why not drive to Mexico and spend some time in the sun and rehab? The perfect plan, right?

Right.

Except gas is kinda expensive.

But other than that the perfect plan, right????????????????

Actually, yeah, pretty much right, except I forgot how alone I’d be. Which of course is my fault. I could be meeting more people. And I have met some people. And I have friends in Mexico City, should I go there.

One thing I’m stoked about right now is that right now where I am in Mazatlan is pretty much the furthest south I’m gonna go. I mean, I’ll go a little further south, to get to places like Guadalajara and Mexico City, but those places are pretty much east. ALSO, I WILL NEVER HAVE TO RETRACE THE KILOMETERS I JUST DROVE THROUGH SINALOA AND SONORA. EVER AGAIN IN MY LIFE, IF I DON’T WANT TO. And this is huge, because I don’t think I want to. When I eventually leave Mexico, I will either drive A) Back to Mazatlan and through Baja, or B) Up to Monterrey and into Texas. I’ve never been to Monterrey and all the space between Mexico City and Monterrey, and I’ve never been to Texas. Not that I have any desire at all to go to Texas. In fact, I patently don’t want to go to Texas. But I would rather do the bulk of my driving in The States on the way back. When I’m ready to go home, I’m just gonna wanna get home.

But I could also always go to Guatemala.

Today’s route, Leg 7-ish????

The plan for tomorrow: Wake up, go swimming in the ocean, chill in the hotel room, take a walk on the beach, maybe try to go to the dentist for a cleaning (this is an absolute must while I’m in Mexico slash 33% of the reason I came here), drive to San Blas, stay with the wonderful familia at La Familia, go to Stoner’s or some other beach in the evening, watch Alone, write a blog post, go to bed (hopefully still having not eaten).

The plan for tonight: Walk to Oxxo. Buy Topo Chico with “Twist de Limon” and also a gallon of water. Go back to hotel room. Listen to waves. Fall asleep listening to waves. Read the book Circe. Maybe buy travel insurance. Research ayahuasca retreats.

Part 2

This is wild. A week ago I was in Lone Pine, California. I was also in Bishop. I was also in Fallon, Nevada! And now I’m in Mazatlan, sitting out on a balcony, listening to the sounds of the waves. And all because of a right foot pressed against an accelerator pedal in a ’97 Subaru Outback.

Speaking of which, I got passed today by ANOTHER Subaru also with Washington plates! Wild stuff, I know.

I’m starting to get hungry.

Ok, ok, take a step back.

Just walked to the Oxxo where I got a lime Topo Chico and a 6-gallon container of water. I’m good on water for the next week and a half, aka the next 24 hours or so. Aka I might just stay here tomorrow night too. Aka depending on how much it costs on Booking.com.

Aka I need to brush my teeth.

Aka I want to brush my teeth.

Am I in autophagy now?

Probably not.

Mazatlan sunset.

The smell of the ocean is intoxicating. Tomorrow I’m going to get up and go for a swim. I’ve been doing some soul-searching on this trip, of course. I think anytime you’re alone for long stretches of time you start to do some soul searching. And I’ve come to the following conclusions: 1) I need community. 2) I need to feel like I have some sort of purpose. Fuck meaning, I’ve long given up on the search for meaning. You give things your own meaning. Meaning and purpose are SIMILAR, but they’re not the same thing. Purpose is something you can definitely have, and I think meaning is more something you can sense. My goal in 2021 is to get to the point where I am excited af to get up every morning, excited af to get out of bed. Like, I wake up and I’m just like jeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeesus it is great to be alive.

That is my goal.

It is also my goal to boulder V7. In 2021.

Which means I better get this knee healed.

Which means I better get some rest.

– W

Bi-di Bi-di Bampo | Hermosillo to Los Mochis

The beautiful cathedral of Los Mochis, Sinaloa. There was a wedding in this church yesterday, and many of the guests/wedding party are staying in the hotel where I’m staying. Nothing like seeing a wedding party wearing masks….

Waking up in Los Mochis, Sinaloa. I got here yesterday after about six hours of driving in which I didn’t get pulled over once. Actually, I did get pulled over once, but all they said was, “This car looks good. It should take you far.” They mostly wanted to see my Temporary Import Permit (TIP), aka were bored.

Now, when most people think of Sinaloa, they probably think about the city of Topolobampo, and the “-bampo” suffixes in the names of the cities in general. And this is forgivable. As a young boy I used to dream of Topolobampo. My father would come into my room at night when we lived in Chanhassen, Minnesota, to tuck me in, and I’d be sitting there with my hands behind me head, propping myself up on the pillow.

“What are you thinking about?” my dad would say.

“Oh, dad, you know what I’m thinking about.”

“Topolobampo?”

“It’s beautiful.”

And now here I am, at the age of 37, with the unique opportunity to visit Topolobampo which, in the indigenous language, means, “The place where you get the ferry to La Paz, where you can go diving with sea lions and get good fish tacos at that one place on the boardwalk.”

And thing is: I don’t think I’m even gonna go to Topolobampo.

I’m kidding of course. When most people hear “Sinoloa” they either think: Nothing at all, or, drug cartels. This is probably just because they have a cursory interest in drug cartels or because they’ve watched the series Narcos Mexico. And I’m in the same boat. I was worried about driving through Sinaloa, because I know one of the most famous drug cartels comes from this region. I’m still worried about driving through Sinaloa. But there’s nothing like going to a place to assuage your fears. You get to Los Mochis and you realize it’s a town just like any other. You realize there’s a main park, and a cathedral, and hotels and restaurants. People walking around. Young people sitting outside cafes. Traffic. Noise. Pigeons. Neighbors stopping to talk to each other on the street.

This is Los Mochis.

Topolobampo, after a bit of investigation, actually means “Place where tigers drink water,” and the “-bampo” suffix means “place of water.” Driving through Sinaloa and Sonora you’ll see LOTS of places ending in “-bampo” or “-bempo”: Bachomobampo, Chinobampo, Huatabampo, Sirebampo, Huatabampo, and of course: Mazatlan. These names come from the Cahito or Mayo languages (if I’m off please correct me!), spoken in Sinaloa and Sonora. When I lived in Oaxaca in 2011 I had the opportunity to study the Zapotec indigenous language. The only thing I remember how to say now is, “My eye hurts,” which I can say perfectly. Many people don’t realize how many indigenous languages are spoken throughout Mexico. The Mexican government recognizes 63 indigenous langues, and about 350 dialects of said languages (Wikipedia). Indeed, one thing you’ll notice when talking to Mexicans is they often refer to full-fledged languages as “dialects,” which I find apalling. They’ll call Zapotec “dialect,” or Nahuatl, “dialect.” These are not dialects. These are full-fledged languages, which in turn have their own dialects, just like Spanish has its many dialects in different countries and regions. Over a million people still speak Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs, so when you get out of bed tomorrow, ask yourself, “Why don’t I speak Nahautl?”

And then go back to bed.

Topolobampo.

OK, I don’t really have much else to say but I’m gonna keep writing anyway. I’m not sure what to do today. I COULD of course go to Topolobampo, which actually looks kind of cool. First I have to avoid the near panic attack that’s been brought on by the latte this morning. And then I probably have to get another latte.

Ah, yesterday! Yes, it was nice not to get stopped by cops wanting a bribe yesterday. It was nice to get further from the border. And my hotel! My hotel is beautiful! I’m staying at the Best Western Plus in Los Mochis, right across the street from a cathedral and one of the main plazas, both of which I have a view from my damn hotel room. This morning I got up, EXTENDED my stay another night (no way in hell I’m driving more today), and then walked around the park. And then got a latte. And then drank the latte by the pool. And then came up to my room and tried to watch episodes of Alone using a VPN. And then cursed Hulu when it denied me for using a VPN. And then started typing this post, causing the desk I’m writing on to vibrate wildly.

This blog got over 50 views the other day.

I’m almost famous.

The silence right now is beautiful. My neighbors must be out somewhere getting breakfast. It’s not too hot right now. The high down in San Pancho next week is only 70! 70 degrees in freaking Nayarit! It’s glorious. Not glorious if you want heat, but glorious if you’re me and just want sun but nothing too hot. Viva Mexico. It’s time for chilaquiles.

Leaving Hermosillo Vibes | The Grand Road Trip

Cafe Central, Hermosillo, Mexico.

Leaving Hermosillo vibes, end of the world vibes, sun coming up vibes, need to get out of this hotel vibes, six or so hours of driving vibes, Best Western Plus in Los Mochis vibes, tomorrow Mazatlan? vibes, why am I doing this trip vibes, a little sick of being alone vibes, should I just go back to Seattle and get a job vibes, dandruff vibes, mask vibes, COVID vibes, avocado chipotle vibes, knee healing vibes, ibuprofen vibes, lack of air conditioning vibes, finernails that need cutting vibes, poor oral hygiene vibes, dentist vibes, highs in the 80’s vibes, just drive vibes, check your oil vibes, check the transmission fluid and the brake fluid and the power steering fluid and the windshield wiper fluid and any other fluid you can possibly check….

…vibes.

Patio at Cafe Central vibes. 10 peso tip vibes. Frappe vibes. Fasting today till 1245pm at the earliest vibes. Time to just leave now, I guess, vibes. Go get in the Subaru. Drive five hours. Maybe six. Check into the Best Western Plus in Los Mochis, Sinaloa? Stroll the town. Get some food. And get up in the morning and get on the ferry to La…………..just kidding. Drive to Mazatlan. Drive to San Blas. Stay at La Familia. Or go to Zacatecas. Or drive straight to Estado de Mexico and stay in that one AirBnb. Leave this hotel room by 9:30am. Go by that cafe real quick? No, don’t drink coffee when you’re fasting. It makes it worse. Just get in your car and go.

A Cafe Day in Hermosillo | The Grand Road Trip

Traveling alone means looking at lots of empty chairs across from you.

OK, Marko, everything you got into this post. This is going to be the best blog post you’ve ever written. Hermosillo, January 29th, 2021, and you’re about to write the best post you’ve ever written. You’re going to talk about the full moon and Hotel Ibis and how your knee is fucked and how you might go to Los Mochis tomorrow. You’re going to talk about the cafe you went to today with the guy who bummed you a cig and you sat outside the cafe talking about traveling and what there is to do in Hermosillo. And then you’re going to talk about how you’re not sure where you wanna go tomorrow, how you’re not sure where you wanna go in general on this trip, and you’re not sure if you’re ever gonna heal. That’s what you’re gonna talk about. Come on, Marko, everything you got.

Hello. My name is Mark. I am in Hermosillo, Mexico, right now, and tomorrow I might go to Los Mochis, Sinaloa, Mexico. Or I might stay another night in Hermosillo. I am still not sure. There are so many choices! Or I could go towards Chihuahua, in the state of Chihuahua. Or I could just turn right around, drive the 6-8 hours it probably is up to Phoenix, re-enroll at Arizona State University, and start my life over. I could try to join the waterski team. I could hang out with my friend Kevin in Gilbert. And then after a year and a half I could call it quits and go back to Washington.

Jesus.

OK, let’s sort of start over. I’m in Hermosillo. The road trip has gone decently so far. I got pulled over by the cops twice yesterday but I’m over that. YES, I got fleeced for 900 Mexican pesos. YES, I was super pissed and when I drove away from the second “cops” I was slamming my horn and screaming obscenities. But it’s all my fault. It’s my fault for entering the country in a narco infested area. It’s my fault for driving a fucking Subaru with Washington plates. It’s my fault for not knowing how to handle those situations. It’s all my fault!!! Why did I have to drive through Caborca. It’s such an ugly name. I knew bad things would happen in Caborca, though actually in Caborca all I did was go to the grocery store and feed a stray dog some chicken. God, imagine living in Caborca. Maybe it wouldn’t be that bad???? It would be fucking terrible.

Breathe, Marko.

Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico, North America, Western Hemisphere.

OK, so what did I do today. I went to a cafe and got a matcha latte. Check. Went to a cafe and got some chai. Check. Chilled with the guy running the cafe and his sister (who also ran the cafe). Check. Smoked a cig with the guy running the cafe. Check. Thought the cig was going to wreck me but then remembered Mexican cigs are weak as fuck. Thank God check. Went to another cafe, Cafe Central, and got a frappe. Check. Talked to my friend Eli on Whatsapp. Check. Stressed out about where I’m gonna drive tomorrow. Check. Checked Google Maps like 18 times. Check. Considered whether or not I’m gonna stay in San Blas. Check.

Etc. etc.

Watched hella episodes of Alone.

My neighbors are so fucking annoying slamming their door. What is wrong with people.

Hermosillo is not a town I would be racing to get back to. Hermosillo feels a lot smaller than it is. There are supposedly a million people here, but it feels WAY more like 900,000. Possibly even 800,000. The best thing about Hermosillo so far are its cafes, and the fact that it’s January and the temperature is perfect. The worst thing about Hermosillo so far is, well, I guess that it’s in the desert. The desert is not my favorite place. After going to ASU for a year and a half I don’t miss the desert. I need rain and green and hippies. There aren’t that many hippes in AZ, at least that I know of. Maybe in Sedona. Maybe in Sedona people rarely shower and use those all-natural deodorants that kind of make you smell like shit. Or maybe there’s just a bunch of rich people in Sedona.

I have no idea.

No idea at all.

MASALA Cafe (caps your brother’s).

OK, I’m……………

Probably.

Going.

To.

Go.

Bed.

Aka watch another episode of Alone (italics your 8th grade geometry teacher’s).

I’m probably going to….take another shower?

I’m probably going….stretch?

I’m probably going to…sleep well, and not worry about getting up early.

And I hope all of you sleep well too.

Because I love you.

– Mark

All Men Make Faults | Mexicali to Hermosillo

Thinking how just a few days ago I was going over a pass in Nevada at 7,000 feet in blizzard conditions, shifting into second gear to avoid rear-ending a semi, is a bit weird. Now I’m in Mexico. I’m in Hermosillo, in the state of Sonora. It’s 11:12pm and I’m in the Hotel Ibis and outside I can hear sirens. I had an avocado chipotle chicken sandwich for dinner, with a red berry smoothie. Today I got pulled over two times and had to pay bribes both times, amazingly the first time in my life I’ve ever paid bribes, in Mexico or anywhere else. In retrospect I could’ve said, “Take me down to the station. I wanna do this the official way,” but I didn’t. I paid the first police officers, in Sonoyta, 500 pesos. I paid the second police officers, in a town called Altar, 400 pesos. 900 pesos in total, or $45 USD. I was so pissed after the second encounter that I slammed on the horn while ripping down the highway and screamed myself hoarse.

And now I’m at the Hotel Ibis in Hermosillo. And I’m pretty stoked. I’m scared I’m going to keep getting pulled over every time I drive for having gringo plates and a gringo car (no one has Subarus down here) and being gringo, but I’m still pretty stoked. The bed is comfy. I’m staying here at LEAST two nights so I don’t have to drive tomorrow and can also explore Hermosillo, and now I’m fully in Mexico. I’m not at the border anymore. I’m not near the border. I’m in the capital of Sonora.

The border wall between Mexicali and Sonoyta.

Good things from today:

  • Seeing the border wall (more “interesting” than “good”)
  • Driving a long distance
  • The car still running well
  • Successfully checking and adding oil
  • Getting to Hermosillo to a nice hotel for half of what I’ve been paying the US
  • Getting far enough south that I feel like I can start to slow down
  • The weather is perfect
  • Getting sun

Things I could’ve done better:

  • I could’ve paid the second cops $200 instead of $400, or even just said, “Fine, let’s go before the judge. I wasn’t speeding and you don’t have radar so let’s do it.”
  • I could’ve been HYPER vigilant about not going more than 40km/hr in and around town, even though EVERYONE around me is speeding (but not everyone around is in a Subaru with Washington plates).
  • I could’ve eaten better (this is something I can say essentially every day of my life)

After getting to Hermosillo I celebrated with a frapuccino from a coffee shop that specialized in coffee and comic books. It’s in a mall just down the street from my hotel and I’ll definitely be back there tomorrow. I’m so stoked to not be near the border anymore. I’m also so stoked on how cheap AirBnb’s are. I was just checking Durango and you can get ENTIRE APARTMENTS for like $13 a night. What am I doing staying in hotels? But that’s how it goes with road trips, or with longer trips. You usually pay more at the beginng, but then you get in a groove and start to slow down a little bit and spend a lot less money. I guess that makes sense, because if you were to REALLY slow down you’d be living there, and then you’d (hopefully) be paying local prices.

And since I don’t usually post pictures of myself:

I am incapable of making a reasonable face for a photo. Jenny Newman, eat your heart out.

More from Hermosillo tomorrow!

– Wetz

 

 

The Other Side | Palm Desert to Mexicali (Grand Road Trip Leg 6)

Sunset in Mexicali.

The first time I came to Mexicali was in 2007. I remember it like it was 14 years ago. I was 23 years old, freshly graduated from the Universidad de Washington, where I had just majored in Spanish and Portuguese studies, despite having never studied Portuguese. My Spanish was the best it’s ever been, since I’d just studied in Mexico City the year before. The idea was to go from Seattle to Buenos Aires by land and write a book about it. That book never materialized, though parts of a rough draft of it did, mostly written in a coffee shop in Victoria, BC called the Moka House and also a the UVic library, where I would also read Jane Eyre until I fell asleep and then meet my girlfriend for a late breakfast, which usually consisted of hashbrowns smothered in ketchup and sausage.

On that trip I was actually in San Felipe, a couple hours south, and realized that if I wanted to go further south in mainland Mexico I’d have to go all the way back to Mexicali and get a bus. So my host, a guy from my parents’ church originally from San Felipe, found me a ride with a couple going north and next thing I knew I was at the bus station in Mexicali and for 50 bucks I got a one-way ticket o Mazatlan, a bus ride that would take 24 hours.

In Mazatlan I stayed with my friend’s grandmother, and then on the bus to Guadalajara from Mazatlan met a guy named Jeff from Vancouver, who I’m still friends with to this day. We got black out drunk on tequila in Guadalajara, and the only thing I really remember is sitting around Jeff playing the guitar and singing. The next day I felt awful. And the next day we were supposed to do a tequila tour. Those were my first memories of Guadalajara. After Guadalajara I went to Mexico City, and then my girlfriend at the time and I went to Puebla and Puerto Escondido. Eventually I did make it by land to Buenos Aires, albeit with a boat ride from Panama to Colombia.

Now, here I am 14 later, back in Mexicali, this time with my ’97 Subaru who BARELY got a Temporary Import Permit today letting her/us go anywhere we want in the whole damn Republic. The world is our periwinkle. And this barely happened because APPARENTLY my car has a damaged frame. Which means I probably don’t even have a clean title. Which I was a bit dismayed/surprised to learn. But at the same time I’m thrilled I even GOT a TIP (Temporary Import Permit) because I thought you needed the title to get a TIP and it turns out all I needed was the registration.

So now I’m in Mexico. I have Mexican car insurance. I have permission to go ANYWHERE I WANT IN THE ENTIRE FUCKING COUNTRY, and that might be exactly what I do.

But first I have to decide: Am I going to eat tonight.

You see, I’ve been fasting all day today, and I’m coming up on 24 hours. This has been one of the easiest fasts I’ve ever done, because I’ve been distracted by 1) driving all day, 2) crossing the border, and 3) getting a hotel. I’ve had water and a little bit of green tea, but no calories. And while I would LOVEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE to eat tonight if I don’t eat tonight I could possibly do my longest fast ever, and tomorrow might be the perfect day to do it because tomorrow I might spend all day driving to Hermosillo.

Oh yeah, I’m probably not going to Baja.

I love Baja.

But, like, I’ve been there a bunch.

And I’ve never really been to Hermosillo.

And Hermosillo seems kinda dope.

Cuz it’s, like, the desert.

And it’s Sonora.

And if went there I might go to Chihuahua.

Which when I was younger I thought was pronounced, “Chi-hoo-a-hoo-a.”

Fajita.

You don’t really realize how ridiculous the border wall is until you spend some time on the other side of it.

If I don’t eat tonight, what am I gonna do? Just sit in my hotel room all evening? You see because if I eat then that’s something to do. That’s my evening. I eat and then I come back and I watch “Alone” for awhile and then I go to sleep. But if I don’t eat, then, well that’s an empty existence. But then again my whole life revolves around food. I’m like a golden lab.

OK, I’m gonna take a shower. That will feel nice. And drink some more green tea infused water. I forget that you can’t drink the water in Mexico. Which means if I want water I need to brave crossing the busy thoroughfare in front of my hotel. And I don’t know if I’m up for that. And let’s be honest, if I go to a grocery store right now there’s no WAY I’m not getting food. Ugghhhhhh this is so difficult. Why is fasting so hard.

OK time to chill.

I’m in Mexico.

So fucking stoked.

Leg 5: Lone Pine, CA to Palm Desert, CA

Twenty three minutes till Chelsea play. Christian Pulisic is not in the starting lineup. He’s on the bench. Will he play today? Did he get injured?

Good morning! And welcome to the lastest installment of “The Grand Road Trip,” where I chronicle a road trip I’m currently doing from Seattle to…I don’t know where. Somewhere south. I am currently in the city of Palm Desert, which is just east of Palm Springs, and of course just west of Indio. Just northwest of the Salton Sea. Just northeast of the San Jacinto Mountains. Just south of Joshua Tree NP where, on this trip, I unfortunately won’t be climbing. Fuck. I want to climb there so bad. I have unfinished business with a V2. I have unfinished business with a V0 stemming problem. And I really wanted to try Stem Gem V4 with a reverse takeoff.

But you didn’t come here to hear about all the boulders I can’t climb.

Or maybe you did.

Yesterday I drove from Lone Pine to Palm Desert. What a change between these two places. Lone Pine still felt like the north. It was still cold. It was closed to Bishop, which is rugged and cold and beautiful, which is close to Mammoth, which is even more rugged and cold and beautiful. Lone Pine: Close to snow and mountains. Palm Desert: Close to Mexico.

Which is indeed where I’m going today.

Diet and caffeine-wise, yesterday was a disaster. Today is a much different prospect. Today I’m fasting. I’m going to start trying to implement my “Wednesday Fasting” regimens, where I fast for 24 hours every Wednesday. I did this regularly about 10 years ago. But I’ve since become soft. Real soft.

I get to break my fast tonight at 8:05pm. Will I be in Mexicali? In San Felipe? Camping somewhere along the Sea of Cortez? Will my car start this morning?

The drive from Lone Pine to Palm Desert was one of the most uneventful drives so far. This might’ve been because of my addled mental state. At the beginning you could see the Sierras to the west, and then it was just desert, and then you could see the San Bernardino Mountains to the south, which we would eventually pass through. But before passing through these mountains I needed to get Chipotle, which I did in Hesperia or Victorville or some other god-forsaken city. I got a veggie bowl. Yesterday I was not in the mood to eat animals killed on my behalf. And I was in the mood for guacamole. And rice with cilantro. And pico de gallo. And sour cream. And sauteed veggies.

Fasting might be tough today.

Walker Lake, Nevada.

How far I’ve come, both physically and mentally, from Walker Lake, Nevada, pictured above. When you travel you get physical distance but you get mental distance, too. If I were to turn around and drive back to Walker Lake I wouldn’t be the same person when I got there, but I can’t really explain why. It already seems like a long time ago. It seems I was less mature then, even though the opposite is probably true. It seems like so much has changed since then, that I’ve changed so much, and yet it was only a couple days ago. You encounter a strange time paradox when you travel: On the one hand things that happened a week ago seem like they happened a year ago, and on the other hand they seem like they just happened yesterday.

Finally SHAK is starting to climb again.

Oh God did I fuck up my knee just knee getting up from a seated position?

I slept surprisingly well last night at the Deep Canyon Inn considering on one side of me there was a barking dog and on the other side of me neighbors screaming. I just turned up the fan. I started watching a series last night called “Alone,” about a bunch of guys who get dumped in the woods on Vancouver Island and have to survive as long as they can. This is pretty much my dream. Trying to find water, trying to start fires, listening to the howling of wolves? I mean, I know the idea of hearing wolves in the distance sounds romantic until they’re on your person, maiming you, but still. This is one of the reasons I fast. It makes you appreciate eating again.

Time to watch the Chelsea game and then check out of the Deep Canyon Inn and drive south, first getting some oil for the Subi. I never know if she has enough oil in her or not. It seems the flatness of the ground she’s parked on can wildly influence the dipstick. And then after getting oil on to the Salton Sea, and El Centro, and Calexico, and…Mexicali?