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.