Chapter 5: The Turning Point.
Its hard. However I construct the sentences I am not able to communicate the feeling. Imagine yourself – sitting idle, a deep calmness all around, nothing is moving, life is stop, its like a still frame of photograph. Its hot, but not unconfortably hot. You are just sitting, and thinking about nothing in particular. And an ever slow cool breeze kisses by. The whole body smiles in unison. I was sitting on the abandoned car seat, when Ankit was busy with morning chores. The restroom had no doors and it was suggested that if one is in the restroom, other stays outside the room. A few more cool breezes passed by and we were ready for the day to begin. Our target today was a modest hundred fifty miles. The plan was to go thirty miles further south on Mex-1 to Chapala, where we turn east on a dirt road. Fifty miles of dirt riding and another seventy on the paved road and we would reach San Felipe, a destination quite familiar to us.
However, first we needed fuel for our motorcycles. My motorcycle does a hundred fifty miles in a tank full of gasoline. We were already a good hundred away from our last refuel and the next sure gas station was in San Felipe. Even Catavina does not posess a gas station. Most days someone just sells gasoline in plastic containers, but if this is not that day, good luck. We were relieved to see someone selling gas. Relaxed we decided to fuel ourselves first. Fresh agus de coco (coconut water), Cilli Rellenos (traditional mexican dish), arroz y frijoles (rice and beans) and we were ready for the day. A gallon of gas in mine, a gallon in Ankit’s, another gallon split between the two, and some more in a plastic bottle and our motorcycles were ready for the day.
We were in Chapalla in no time. Next feat – fifty miles of dirt road. Our motorcycles are not meant for dirt road riding. I was more concerned about Ankit’s bike, given that he did not have much good to say about the only experience we have had with dirt riding in Arizona. Nevertheless, ‘bring it on’ – was our attitude. Ankit decided to lead the way. Its one thing to image oneself riding on dirt road and another to actually ride it . Going 10 miles an hour with a jitter greeting every bone every moment, full concentration lest we skid on the gravel, dirt road riding can be taxing. ‘Bring it on’ we still said, enjoying the ride. However, in a couple of miles I felt like I got the hang of it. It felt like the secret is to stand (in my case sit a top the backpack I had mounted on the motorcycle) to avoid the bone jitter and go faster than you think you should be going. I tried to push twenty. Quite counter intuitively the fear of motorcycle skid actually reduced. I pushed thirty. A big smile. Soon, in my joy I overtook Ankit only to, stop.
“I think we have three options – We can either leave the motorcycle here, try to push it for five miles to get it on the main road, or wait for someone to give us a ride”
Ankit was quiet.
Yes, my motorcycle broke down five miles into the dirt road. Our worst fears had come true. The ‘what if’ situation became a ‘what now’ situation. No, I did not reach those three option without trying to repair it. The problem was not too complicated. It started fine, had a good response on the throttle, but as soon as I put it in gear, it just died. Motorcycles have a side stand switch which prevents the gears from engaging before the side stand is raised up. The current symptoms mimiced this behaviour. I felt like something is wrong with this switch, but was not sure of myself. I tried to fiddle a bit here and there to see if there was a loose connection, but felt like I was loosing the ability to think clearly. That is when I uttered the words – “I think we have three options…”.
Before we could choose one among the three options, a godsend pickup truck came up from behind.
“Mis motocicleta necessito servicio (my motorycycle need service)”, “Mecanico”
“Muy bien, per favor“, directing him towards my motorcycle.
(two Mexican men looking at my bike and talking in spanish)
They concluded that I should try pushing it. I frowned. I knew that would not solve the problem, however still gave it a shot just in case. No luck.
“Senor, esta posible unnnnn… mis motocicleta… en sus coche truck, y va a main road…. pago“, trying to ask him if we can load it on his truck and go to the main road, assuring that I can pay.
(two men discussing in spanish again)
They were going to San Felipe and said that they can take us there but we wanted to go back to Chapala. I told Ankit we can go to San Felipe with them with my bike on their truck, but good for us he still had his mental faculties calm and suggested it was not a good idea. I ask them again insisting if they can take us back instead of forward and this time they agreed. I sat with them in their car and Ankit followed. The whole journey had taken a new turn. A U turn. It was no more about Mexico. It now was about returning home.
Returning home hopefully with all things we started with.