Monday, October 10, 2005


i’ve been thinking about trying to find a cape. that’s what this ride needs; a cape. and substituting this helmet with a sombrero. now that’s style.

this is a photo entitled "the prelude." or "minus t minus not too long." it was taken in creel, a town near copper canyon, the largest canyon in the world. anyhow, i was glad to see that things hadn't been fully completed. but then i arrived in zacetecas- an old colonial town with cobblestone streets, incredible cathedrals, and a great local scene. i know, i know, wal-mart is a dead horse and i´ve got a stick in my hand, but permit the following conversation, and then it is over:

where is the nearest market?

what kind of market?

for food.

you mean like a wal-mart.

(stunned) no, but is there a wal-mart here?

yes, of course, and sam's club too! and domino's and dairy queen!! everything just like your country!

so anyway, that is that. and if it suits you to a "t" and is of no consequence to you, great, that's fine. but if it is of consequence to you, that this world is becoming a homogeneous nightmare, then maybe you can choose an alternative to the mighty giant the next time you go shopping. and maybe, just maybe, that´ll help. or at least that´s the way i like to think. iTiSuptOyoU.

some stats and facts:

i sleep in places like the above. i sleep incredibly well.

i am on my third set of tires.

i´ve been on the road for 90 days.

i´ve cycled on about 60 of those days.

once i flew at the same speed as a bird that was flying at the height of my head. i motioned for the bird to take a break on my shoulder, but my gestures got lost in translation, and it flew away to better things.

i´ve gone about 4,900 miles.

after adding a little chlorine bleach (relatively the same stuff city water all over the usa is treated with), i´m drinking the water here in mexico. i will slowly ween myself off the bleach. hopefully all the amoebas and bacteria and other funky stuff will party it up in my intestines. they're welcome to do that, everybody enjoys a party. but i am strict and will ask them to keep it under control, and perhaps we can reach an equilibrium that will be agreeable to all. i have yet to be sick... to the left you will see a yellow pipe. this is typical of where i usually get the water. always with help and fanfare as you can see.

i am on my second bicycle chain.

people stare at me and i don't like it, but if i were them i'd stare at me too.

i am still using the same strategy to sleep i have used since canada: be invisible from the road. no problems.

gIrgIb, my kona sutra bicycle, has performed beautifully. i was breaking spokes a bit too often on my road bike wheels, but now i´ve got the vegetable-est wheels on the market, ironically called s.u.v.´s, made by sun-pringle. they are incredibly strong and seem to be a great change that i have welcomed with open arms. my first four days in mexico were met with an equal number of flats, despite riding on tires that were ´´guaranteed no flats for a year.´´ but for whatever reason that problem is seemingly behind me, and i´m cruising maintenance free now and loving it. just to ride, that is what i love.

at the end of the day, i usually average about 12-14 miles per hour depending surprisingly not much on climbs but almost entirely on the winds.

i prefer long climbs. i don't care how steep they are. climbs equal control and it is when i am slowly climbing that i can truly concentrate on things. sometimes a solitary thought occupies the day. sometimes it's everything. sure, the downhills are nice, but not for thinking.

if there is anything else you wish to know about this ride, please leave a request in my conveniently located comment section at the bottom right. operators are standing by. your comment is important to me and will be answered in the order in which it was received. thank you for choosing iFitIstObEitiSuPtOmE, and i appreciate your patience.

this is mexico: top, a man i gave some tortillas too. bottom, a classic siesta in a town plaza. someday these men will die, just like i, and people will cry. their families will feel the intense pain of possibly permanent (though hopefully not) loss. but then time will happen, because it never won't. and lives will move on, as they do.

sometimes, i find places like this and sleep in them and they are nice.

sometimes i am a fool and take a picture of my shadow. over the years, i have enjoyed doing this more and more. yes, i am still wearing my helmet, because, you see, i really am a tool.

sometimes mexico has cobblestone streets. they are beautiful and i´m sure conjure images of romantic sunset strolls through quaint villages. and in a quadra-hydraulic-computerized-adjusted-mega-suspension vehicle, they are of no consquence. however, on gIrgIb, they knock the teeth right out of my mouth.

i told these kids they could ride in my trailer for 30 pesos. and then they disappeared. i knew i should have said 20.

now that´s a great pair of legs and a great canyon. which do you like better?

i had to ditch my ak-47 in the bushes when i saw this sign. which is a bummer, because the gun made me feel like a real man.

once i had a cycling partner. we both had our shadows. and some beautiful white sand. and that´s jesus below. i´m not saying i´m jesus. when i say below, i mean the other picture.

my spanish is improving. i can communicate somewhat. i am still planning on doing spanish school in guatemala for about 4 weeks or so. currently i can say:

¿how are you?

¿where are the toilets?

¿¡where are the toilets and for the love of god tell me very quickly!?

excuse me sir, i think your daughter is beautiful.

and after i learned to say that, i very quickly learned to say:

holy toledo, now that´s what i call a rifle!

i have settled on a job, post bike ride. i’ve finally done it, the choice has been made. i want to be a mascot. something like this:

i can sing and dance and act nutty all from the guise of a costume. no one would ever know it was me. think of the advantages. you get to have fun with kids, inspire drunk people to foolishly hoot and holler, watch some great sporting events and get paid, and hug other people’s girlfriends with no ramifications. and here i was beginning to think those years of college were useless. not so. i'm going to make my family proud.

i have found my mexican license plate. and one from oklahoma too. i was told i could sell these for quite a high price. but my plan is to have a wall of license plates one day. if i ever have a wall.

i have been called many names while here in mexico: fidel castro, which isn't too good i suppose. americano's che guevara, which is sweet but i´m still working on a revolution, and i'm using my legs, not an engine. and lastly, forrest gump on a bike. to all of these, i say, "no, no, it's just hIrSch...and please respect the caPs."

would you like a steak? or maybe a coke?

a conversation in zacetecas:

how much for a room?


do you have a place to hang clothes?


can i see it?

yes, follow me. (we went to the roof)

wow, it´s great up here! can i sleep up here on the roof?

here?! on the roof?


well, i guess...

how much?

how about $4?


so i was all set up for a cheap day off in a great little town. let all those other bloody fools sleep surrounded by cement and dry wall. it's the roof for me! ha!

however, little did i realize that in less than 4 hours from my check-in, mexico would defeat brazil in a major soccer championship. and about one second after the 3-0 victory was sealed, the town went bananas. i like bananas. but not this kind. it was equivalent to being in the winning team's city post superbowl. except with roosters joining in. but you see, i was trying to sleep. on a roof. because i thought i was a hero...

and also, the next day, i learned that i had entered mexico illegally in that i was never given a tourist card, which, according to the mexican authorities is more important than my passport. so i spent an entire day going here, going there, getting this form, going back there to get it triplicated, going to the bank, going back there, getting an official other form, coming back here, and finally, after paying a fine, getting my dadgum tourist card. so now i'm legal. here i was a renegade and didn't even know it.

anyway, here was my view from the roof:

it just isn't mexico without a donkey.

so i’m tyring to get to this town called pinos. it looks easy enough on the map, but add in a bunch of construction and re-routes and it gets a bit difficult. so i stop and ask some guys. first, the pronunciation of this town: it’s “peen-ose.” second, it’s a pretty small place and whenever i wish to pass through a small place on a bike, most mexicans get very concerned. they always seem to want to send me through the big cities. so here we go.

excuse me, how do i get to pinos?




yes, pinos.

(attempting english having recognized my poor spanish) why you wanta pinos?


why you wanta pinos?

uhhh...because i need to get there.

so you wanta pinos?

well, yes, i want a pinos.

(quite animated, and, as he says this, he is standing in front of me, and i am still standing over my bike. he is pointing at my handlebar bag which has a clear pocket with a map on top of it. as he points at the map, he is also, by default, pointing at my crotch.) you sure you wanta pinos?!

yes, i am sure that i want a pinos!

well, if you wanta pinos, you need to take a right over there!

then that’s what i’ll do! anything for pinos!

but it wasn’t over at that. no, later, as i approached pinos, my map and the reality of the roads did not agree. so i flagged down a car and asked the man inside.

no, no, you need that road over there, the pinos cut-off. you will like it better.

(a soft whimper)

even the smallest of towns seem to have some sort of a beautiful catholic cathedral.

i’ve also learned that almost every piece of flora in mexico includes thorns. if you don’t respect that, these thorns end up in you or in your tires, neither of which is a pleasant experience.

this man was a happy little fellow enjoying a tortilla breakfast and, for a moment, perhaps, he forgot about the soreness in his leg.

from a distance, i watched this boy for quite some time.

give him different coordinates of latitude and longitude and he could be in iraq. and he could be thinking, “america killed my mom.” because america might have done this, accidentally, in its attempt to create peace and stability by dropping bombs and killing people while spreading the message that dropping bombs and killing people is wrong. so let’s suppose this is true. people will say, well unfortunate occurrences like that are “just part of it.” but my question is, what is it? and regardless of what it is, i do know one thing, and that is that it is wrong. but i have been called names for such simplicity, so somehow, i guess i am wrong.

i am in queretaro, mexico now. about 100 miles northwest of mexico city. from here, after much deliberation, i will stick to the mountains and highlands almost all the way to guatemala. i briefly considered going to acapulco and hanging out with game show vacation winners and then following the pacific ocean. but i figure the price isn’t right for me and the potential jeopardy of such a seedy resort, though potentially offering a prospective love connection, might leave me with nothing but a whammy even if i press my luck.

and so the other day i heard bob dylan asking how it felt to be on my own, to be a complete unknown, to have no direction home, like a rolling stone.

and bob, if you will allow me to answer those rhetoricals...

it feels swell.

guatemala and the aftermath of hurricane stan are soon...


Anonymous kendall said...

perhaps the little boy was just sad that his big brother left for America to seek opportunity and left him behind.

I'm glad it feels swell. Keep on keeping on.

Oh yea, too bad our schedules aren't more in sinc. I'm going to be in Puebla in about 3 weeks to climb Pico de Orizaba.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice gab abou tthe guns there hirsch. You know I believe that it was Freud that stated fear of weapons is a sign of male insecurity. Or let me quote another great thinker "There are two types of people in this world: those with loaded guns and those who dig... you dig."

I hope you continue to have a safe trip my old pacifist buddy.


Tuesday, October 11, 2005  
Blogger Dave and Kat said...

Hirsch, Great photos. Sorry to have missed you in SMA. We are heading south next week. dave

Hi Hirsch. Kat here. So good to see you touring with the bob. It brings back memories of last year in Tasmania. I spent about a year in Guatemala all told and I recommend Xela as a great destination for the Spanish. It's the least expensive for spanish study. Also called Quetzaltenango, it's just past the border and is the 2nd largest city. There are about 100 spanish schools to choose from and they all try to get you to stay with a Guat family for total immersion. But most families are burned out on strangers in their homes and if you're used to being alone I recommend finding a school that rents rooms in the school. I can't remember the name of mine, but it was an indigenous name and they had a cafe in the school as well. Xela is great because it's cheaper than Antigua and safer than Guat City. only 2 hour bus ride from Lake Atitlan. I'm trying to get David to join me for a month there this winter just to brush up on our Spanish. Good luck. PS How different we are. I live for the downhills.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005  
Anonymous Ginger Carnahan said...

awesome pictures this time! I especially love the one looking down at the people and colorful blankets/fabric.

It's amazing how similar people are at their core. I think visiting other cultures helps us remember what the core of the human spirit is. The things that are universal. (And I'm not talking about WalMart.) When you change the things that don't define us (but arguably hide us?)--the clothes, the occupations, the hobbies, the intellectualism, the clutter--you recognize human emotion, human experience, spiritual experience, the soul...there is something important in feeling what connects us from those so "different" from us (maybe they are part of a different culture, maybe they eat steak, maybe they even own guns). And sometimes that's scary too, letting yourself realize that you are connected to people who are different from you in ways that you don't like. For instance, while you or I may disagree with guns on principle, I certainly understood the fear that motivates people to own them when our security system went off in the middle of the night.

Anyway, enjoy Mexico! It is one of my favorite countries. When I visited rural central Mexico I loved the simplicity of the lifestyle, the overexuberance of the emotion, and found the people to be very warm and open.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005  
Blogger Corrinek said...

I'm afraid I have some unfortunate news for you. Being a mascot isn't all is is cracked up to be. I have a friend who is the mascot here at UC Davis and I see the trials and tribulations that he goes through. Once he accidentally knocked over a child because, as you may know, those costumes aren't easy to manuever in. And although the cheerleaders that you preform with may be pretty, they aren't the strongest and my friend has had a few failed landings after being hoisted onto shoulders. And lastly, it's HOT in there!

Tuesday, October 11, 2005  
Blogger Shane said...

I'm not sure I understand the bleach -- if you're going to stop eventually, just stop now. Either you get the amoeba, or you don't. It's sort of like pregnancy.

So unless you're trying to create a superstrain of bleach-resistant bugs....

Tuesday, October 11, 2005  
Anonymous Ted said...

Another great chapter, terrific photos and appropriate and entertaining narrative. Keep it coming and keep enjoying the journey.....safely.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005  
Blogger Carrie said...

Oh, Oh, do you hear all the moans and groans from the peanut gallery over here on the right? Maybe the kid had a late night and he's tired. Maybe he's a pouting little bastard that backtalked his mother and ran off when he got in trouble. Maybe he really is sad. Maybe his counterpart in Iraq is sad for the same reasons. You're saying that people from different cultures are more alike than we think...which means that maybe when we see photos of sad kids, they get sad for the same reasons American kids get sad...a bad day at school, a punishment, a fight with a friend.

ANYWAY. Other than that, interesting photos, Mexico sounds cool, enjoy your tortillas!


Tuesday, October 11, 2005  
Anonymous gayle said...

ahhh...another wonderful chapter in the ride of Hirsch. You are so lucky to see the beautiful scenery and meeting so many interesting people.

You are so inspirational and everytime life gets a bit hard on me, I read your blogs then go and pick up my "new", yes new camera (I bit the bullet and bought myself one and by the way, I LOVE IT!!) and think about you riding south. Thank you again for your wonderful tales. Ride safe and talk to ya soon.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005  
Anonymous Anne (and Jeff) said...

I keep reading and following you. You've gone a lot of places since Ft. Collins! :) This is my favorite entry yet. The pictures do make it.

Friday, October 14, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Speaking of a homogeneous world. I spent 3 weeks cycling in Central Italy last August but never really felt like I had left home. The backgroud was different but the content the same.

What a roof top view!!! I'm sure you would have payed him the rate for a regular room. I would have.

Nothing beats a long, peaceful climb to medidate and focus on the essential in life

Friday, October 14, 2005  
Anonymous Nate said...

Your pink shirt makes a bold machismo statement. I suspect it was a big hit in pinos.

Sunday, October 16, 2005  
Anonymous chrisROK said...

Hi from Seoul, Korea... I just read (and enjoyed) your blog for the first time. Looks like a great adventure.
Once you attend the language school, I hope you'll add more interviews with the people you meet. Perhaps you could get their take on your trip's message, or on the theme of "same / different". Maybe a "10 things I learned from the locals" list would be interesting.
Your pictures are great, and the details of the day-to-day "on the bike" stuff are very interesting. I look forward to reading more of your adventure.
Anyong-hee-ka-sayo, Chris

Tuesday, October 18, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi fellow traveller, i am from testes, portugal. you may remember we met on the a.t. long time back. i think old wingnut would be disapointed in your new water philosophies.
and, oh my, you americanos are quite peculiar with your attachment to guns and thier semblence of safety.

oh, my kingdom for a horse.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005  
Anonymous Basil said...

Hi Hirsch,

You don't know me, but I have been immensly enjoying your blog. Keep it up!

I wish I had returned to Mexico sooner or that I was going to be in the south so I could meet you.

In absence of that, if you are planning to head through San Cristobal de las Casas (careful! it's the kind of place that pulls you in and makes you stay longer than you had planned!) I suggest that you seek out my friends Joel and Ursula who run Los Pingüinos bike tours and rentals there. They are great people and would probably really enjoy meeting you too. You can email me for details if you wish:

Keep enjoying the experience and please keep writing those excellent blog entries.

Sunday, October 23, 2005  
Anonymous Taylor said...

Hey hIrsch, glad to see things are going well in Mexico. Sounds like you're making good time and have lots of time to reflect. Any chance of sending some musings back in to the Niusletter? It could be like "This is life after Peace Corps! Beware!"

Anyway, I'm extending another year in Vanuatu-land working in Vila with none-other-than David Stein. I start bakagen in January. Keep writing and we'll all keep reading.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005  
Anonymous mark said...

We need an update. Are you alright?

Friday, October 28, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i also found your blog searching for dart supplies and pinos warts. what a fine establishment you have. but hirsch, where are you oh lost soul of peckerville.

send money home soon,
love, the great american hero.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005  
Blogger Roberto Iza Valdes said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Saturday, November 05, 2005  
Blogger Roberto Iza Valdes said...

¡Próspero año nuevo!

Tuesday, November 29, 2005  

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