Nuevo Casa Grande to Creel

October 10, 2008

Nuevo Casa Grande to Creel

It was about a 250-mile drive, in California that is 4-5 hours on a motorcycle, in Mexico it is eight hours.
In the morning along the open plain with mountains on either side, the roads were small, flat, and straight.  On each side were barbed wire fences and fields of corn and unknown plants in even rows.  Standing roped to the fence posts were horses and donkeys, and wandering wherever they liked were cows, some with large horns which looked like a match for me and my motorcycle.
At each small town, the speed limit dropped to 40 kph, (25 mph) and there were speed bumps at the beginning and end of each town.  There was always the same sign, a yellow square on its side, a straight line in black and two mounds.  Which could be the international symbol for the San Onofere Nuclear Power Plant, or a pair of breasts, or a pair of snakes on the road.  I was a little confused a little while later, when there was a speed bump sign with three humps, until I realized that it is a symbol of the triple breasted whore of Erotica 6.  (What?  And you call yourself a Douglass Adams fan?)
I stopped on the outskirts of Buena Ventura, after filling up with petrol, to have a smoke and a coke.  A man in a white pick-up truck stopped and said hello.  He was probably in his mid fifties, soft body of someone who takes care of himself, but no longer need to do manual labor, a small amount of grey in his short black hair, and he spoke excellent English.
He asked if everything was OK.  I smiled and said it was fine, just stopped for a break.  He said he saw my California plates and wondered where I was going.  I said Creel today and Guanajuato for a while.  “All alone?’ He asked.  “Yes” I answered.
He was surprised that I was riding by myself, but quickly told me how he used to be a ‘Wet Back’ and how he worked in the fields near Sacramento for many years.  He now owns a farm in a little community near here, growing cotton.  He mentions that the community that he lives in is a collection of German settlers from many generations ago, so they are not like the rest of the people around here.  I did not ask why that was important to mention.
I told him I was a travel writer, and he said I should come by and write a story about his community.  I said that I was going to Creel today, but I might stop back, and he told me the name of the town, but I forgot it almost instantly.
As the conversation was winding down, he said something, some sort of goodbye phrase that I did not catch.  I wanted to know this new nugget of Spanish so I could use it in the future and asked him to repeat it.  He said, clearly now, “God Be With You.”
He saw the slight disappointment in my face of not learning a new word today, and asked if I believed.  I pondered this for a quarter second wondering which was the best answer, and decided to tell the truth.
He asked me why, and I said that it was a complicated answer, and did not really answer him.  But later that day, while riding through the mountains and valleys, I thought that the best answer was that I had read the bible and did not believe that it was the word of god.
He gave the me the same answer that most people do when they hear that I do not believe.  They say that one day I will figure it out, and that one day I will find the truth, and that one day the Holy Spirit will enter my heart.
And I always find this condescending and slightly arrogant.  I want to tell them that you do not know the answer you just believe the answer and that your answer is not any better than my answer and that you do not need to feel sorry for me and that you might be just as wrong as I might be.
I used to argue with Christians in this way, I used to try to get my point across, but it would just make me angry.  I would discuss logic, and make reasoned arguments, and they would discuss logic and make reasoned arguments, until the logic contradicted with the teachings, and they would sit back and smile and say that I just have to have faith and that I just have to believe and that one day I will understand the truth, and it’s all right, You’ll get it one day.
And I would get furious.  But now I find that it is not worth arguing, because the point of arguing with someone is to listen to what they have to say and try to understand it, and for them to listen to what you say and try to understand it.  But with the Christians that I argue with there is no trying to understand my side of the argument.
(And right now, I have to say, that not it is not all Christians, but a majority of them, that I have talked to, act this way.)
And I also have to realize that this man is not trying to do me harm, he is not trying to insult me, he is just trying to help me find the happiness that he has found in Jesus.
I just cannot find happiness that way.
He starts to tell me about all the help that Jesus has done in his life, but I guess he realizes that I am not really listening, so he smiles and says it was nice to meet me, and I tell him that it was nice to meet him, and I set off down my road, and him down his.

The road began in farmland, then east and over a set of mountains to a long valley and more farmland.  Then more mountains and pine trees dotted themselves on the mountainside, and I found myself at Creel.  It was a beautiful drive, with small villages and tiny churches and sweeping vistas of cows in the fields and green mountains in the distance.
I recommend the drive to everyone, as the numbers posted on the road were sometimes different than the ones on the map, here are the towns I passed through:  Ignacio Zaragoza, Babicora, Yepomara, Ciudado Guerrero, and La Junta.

Part Two:

Young Love and an Indirect Party

Jasmine showed me to my room at the hotel, and the kitchen where I could cook food and make coffee.  And she showed me the balcony overlooking the railroad tracks and some shops just behind the main street.  It was five in the afternoon after a long motorcycle ride, so I grabbed a book from their exchange library and sat down to read on the balcony.  It was the Invisible Man by Ellison.  I could not focus so I watched the people walk by.  Below was a small one-way street where the mostly American trucks passed by, as this is a farming community.  But occasionally there was a little Nissan, or a 125cc motorcycle.  The people looked, well, classically Hispanic.  The women were generally short and round with round faces, and the men thin and straight and angular.  The older women and very young girls wore the traditional colorful skirt, the skirt sat on the waist and came out like a bell, to end in frills just above the ankles.  The men wore jeans, button up shirts, and cowboy hats.  But the young people, those from say 14 to 24 wore what they thought was western dress.  The girls modern skirts and the boys t-shirts rather than button up shirts.
I went for a walk into small town and found restaurants and hotels and trinket shops, nothing very exciting, so I bought a small bottle of tequila and retired back to the balcony.   After a little while I met the manager, by the name of Alex, he somewhere in the age of 25 to 30 and was loud and jovial and friendly.  He invited me to join them at the bar tonight.  I agreed, he said meet in the lobby at 10pm.
I was probably about seven now, so I went to my room and played on the internet, and after a while went and sat back on the balcony and sipped tequila and watched the people again.
It was dark now, and most of the people were gone.  I watched a couple stray dogs wander past, one of them stopping to shit on the railroad tracks.  I made a mental note to not step there, but realized that it was probably like that all over the place and make a mental note to watch where I was stepping.
The stray dogs are everywhere, I saw one missing his front paw, and then saw him later in a different part of town.  There was one that must have a skin disease, as almost all the hair had fallen off its back half, showing pink and brown splotched skin.  And then there was a small brown dog with its ribs showing, eating out of an overturned garbage can.  And elderly man through a fist sized rock at the dog, I did not see if it connected, but the dog ran yelping all the way down the street.
As I watched, on the other side of the tracks, in a gravel yard, with a shuttered storefront facing me, something was going on.  There were two people pushing and pulling at each other.  They were hidden in the darkness, just at the corner of the store next to a truck.
Just as I was wondering if something sinister was going on, one of the figures ran out of the darkness, and following him, out ran the other figure.  Instantly, upon seeing their silhouettes and how they ran, I knew what was going on.
The first figure was a boy, wearing pants; the second was a girl, wearing the traditional skirt.  They boy ran around one side of a parked car, and the girl followed.  The boy circled the parked car and she followed.  She paused and they started running the opposite direction.  The boy saw this change of direction and paused to change his.  But he purposely took his time and she caught him.  She held his arms and pushed her body against his, but he twisted out of the grip and started running again.
But not too fast, so she could not catch up.
Their age?  I would guess 13, but I knew they were exactly at the beginning of childhood, with she a little more advanced.
I watched this game for a while, she would grab him, and he would slip away.  I remembered elementary school, when girls suddenly didn’t have cooties any more, but were still scary as hell.
Finally she ended up holding onto him, and he resisted just a little.  They were in the shadow, up against the metal shutter of the closed shop.  And she kissed him.  He squirmed away.  And I thought about how this would be completely opposite in a few years, him doing his best to kiss a girl, and she running away.  But today she held onto him, and kissed him again, and this time he kissed back.
They stood with their arms around each other for five to ten minutes, kissing and giggling and weaving their bodies forward and away from each other.  Eventually they walked hand in hand down the alleyway.  I envy their innocence, but not the loss of it, which will soon happen.

Photo from the hostel balcony, in the afternoon.

At ten I went to the bar with Alex and his friends.  It was opening night for the bar and Alex seemed to know everyone, including the bartenders.  They all stood around and spoke Spanish.  I stood there and tried to listen and understand.  But I felt out of place, One of Alex’s female friends tried to talk to me, but it was loud and she did not speak much English and so after a few awkward silences, she wandered off.
I was considering going back to my book when I noticed a table of people that did not fit into the general bar scene.  They were obviously hostel tourists.  When I describe them as hostel tourists, it means that they were generally young and drinking.
I walked over and said hello.  I sat next to an English man and there were a few Germans, and a few on the other side of the table who said there names and where they were from, but it was loud and I could not hear that far away.
The Englishman and I talked about American politics and McCain and Obama, but then moved onto sports and Cricket in India and English Football.
About midnight I could not keep my eyes open any more.  I fell asleep instantly back in bed.  But early in the morning a party in the hotel awaked me.  Alex and his friends and I think the whole bar of people were in a party in the kitchen.  I listened for a while and then fell back asleep.  Only to be awoken by the slamming of the front door, and again, and again, and again.   The last time was at five in the morning, and I slept on till morning.

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