The_sun_ushers a green glow to the inside of our tent with the warmth in its wake. At 7:xx the alarm rings a tone that one of us rustles out of our sleeping bag to silence. Time to cue the music and our morning rituals. Isaiah and I are usually the first to get up and out of our beds. He who shall not be named continues to sleep or sits up to resume where he left off in his book, until breakfast is served. A concoction of oatmeal, sugar, and granola has been the backbone of the trip, although we’ve been experimenting with scrambled eggs and vegetables. We finish eating in about fifteen minutes. Isaiah packs up the stove and food supplies while David and I work on our sleeping bags and air mattresses. Once the tent is cleaned out we tear the tent down, pack the remaining things into our panniers and change into our riding clothes. The morning reveals our respective moods, ranging from grumpiness to sassiness and smiles and sarcasm. Mood is strongly affected by quality of sleep, difficulty of riding, and how tasty our oatmeal was relative to the 136 other times we have had it on Bound South.
The first few hours of riding go by quickly. Our legs are fresh, leaving our minds wander as we dance with the white line. Snacks are consumed hourly to offset calories we burn riding at such awe-inspiring speeds. Shopping for snacks has been simplified by the use of a convenient formula: Cost per Calorie per Gram per Unit of Volume. Typically the tried and true Bound South snacks are Oreos, Poptarts, vanilla wafers and assorted Candy Bars. Obviously the healthiness of the food isn’t a big factor since we are merely looking for quick energy.
A European lunch break helps to break up the day of riding and decompress, when we have the time for it. Since we’ve hit Mexico our lunch break has changed in a few ways. A place to sit in the shade has always been an integral factor, but Coca-Cola has become the focal point of our noon hour. Oxxo and Pemex (convenience stores and gas stations, respectively) have become our oases in Mexico. With a 2-3L bottle of Coke and a spot to sit indoors we are satisfied and ready for grub. We’ve converted to tortillas from bread, using them for both lunch and supper. Peanut butter is becoming more expensive and harder to find, but still worth it in every regard. Peanut butter-honey-granola tacos are keeping us fueled for lunch, if we aren’t taking advantage of cheap street food. Meals have been supplemented with fruits and vegetables that are becoming incredibly cheap as we continue south. After an hour of eating we overcome our lethargy from the food and sore muscles and resume our voyage, newly christened with Coke.
Following lunch, our schedule returns to snack breaks, map checks, and glances at the sun to keep us heading south. With thirty minutes till sunset we begin to keep an eye out for a campsite. Camping in the desert was simpler when we had the choice of pulling of the road anywhere to camp. Lately the land next to the highway has been fenced off, forcing us to be more creative. Often times we find a secluded spot on a quiet side road, or we meet someone with a good suggestion or a nice lawn. We have found people to be very kind, happy to offer their yard and occasionally well-received food. Warning: Don’t camp next to or near a chicken coop.
Once we find a flat spot and put the tent up, we gather cooking supplies from our packs to prepare for supper. Since groceries have been so cheap we’ve been eating like kings. Our meals are comprised of peppers, potatoes, tomatoes, onions, beans, rice and some type of canned meat. Teamwork comes into play to get everything sliced, portioned out, and into the pot to cook. Two of us work on the ingredients while the other continually stirring to keep the bottom from burning. Gasoline burns significantly hotter than premium camp fuel, but it is cheap and easier to find. When the rice softens up we serve out the mixture of ingredients. After frenzy of flailing silverware and tortillas, something resembling the calm after a storm occurs. With five months of experience eating supper in this fashion, I apologize to anyone that has bought us supper and didn’t have a typical dinner conversation till our plates were clean.
Sleep prep begins with inflating our air mattresses, brushing our teeth, and gathering any extra clothes we might need for a cold night. The tent turns into a mosh pit as we all pile in and start to massage and stretch muscles, exercise, and read. At some point things settle down. Once our sleepiness causes the nooks to fall from our hands and hit us in the face it is usually time to call it quits for the night. We all have a tendency to talk in our sleep, occasionally waking ourselves telling poorly received jokes or delivering impassioned speeches to cruise ships in our dreams. This dialogue might be our best security for thieves in the night. Ten hours of sleep is a good number for us until we wake the next morning and start another day all over again.
Leaving a campsite feels like leaving an apartment, looking back you pause to see the barren potential of the space. What is left behind is a haven that gave us a place to be out of sight (tenting under a bridge), exposed us to extreme unexpected weather (desert windstorms in the night), or introduced a new career possibility (bicycle goat herding). Looking ahead to the next evening there is an exciting sense of uncertainty, something like a crab must feel scurrying to a better conch under the open sky–except we worry about trucks rather than gulls. There’s a give and take with each new home. We take the time to convert a rocky patch in the desert or a family’s courtyard into a temporary home. Upon departure we take a piece of it with us; a lesson learned on tenting 101 or fond memories from teaching a new game to nearby children.