February 6, 2017
We (my brother and I) have been in South Texas for two days now, and tomorrow (Tuesday) the bicycle portion of this odyssey begins in reality. However, I wouldn’t want to leave the impression that the last five days, including three on the road, have been only a prelude or of no consequence.
Uneventful as the trip was, it was an opportunity for the two of us to connect and catch up over the course of 24 hours and 1500 miles of driving (plus the 440 miles and seven hours I drove solo to Indiana). At any rate, it’s a long way from Canada to Mexico, but not an unpleasant one. The landscape and climate charge, and yes, it is early spring in the Rio Grande Valley, with temperatures more akin to those in the same latitude of South Florida.
I actually like the Valley, which is a little more “earthy” and also more real than Florida. I’ve met a fair number of folks here, and they seem friendly and forthcoming. They’ve given me some insight into the border culture that seems to deserve at least some of its rich history and romantic notions.
My night in Mexico was not much in terms of what I saw or experienced. Matamoros is poorer than Brownsville and somewhat more rundown, as of course is most of Mexico. But it hardly seemed like a hellhole or a place where everyone feared for their lives. When I walked back across the border and went through U.S. customs, the young female officer asked what I thought of Matamoros. I paused before smiling and saying, “It’s OK.” Her response was nearly the same: “Yeah, it’s OK, I guess.”
Tomorrow I lose my driver and companion, which will deprive me of long conversations as well as the instant mobility that four wheels provide. But it’s time to get into the “meat” of the journey and its true purpose, and so I will set off on the bicycle with both regrets and great hope for the future.
Here we are ready for the road:
And for the view from the back side:
I made a new friend in South Texas: