Tuxtla Gutierrez
A Tiredness

May 19, 2016

We experienced Mother Nature in all her many forms today, from the expansive beauty of Canon Sumidero, to a wildfire in our campsite.

What happened…

Amanda writes: We started the day not too rushed and just strolled toward the boat cruise we wanted to do. We knew it was pretty close so weren’t in too much of a rush. Once we arrived at the boat lunch we knew the wait would be pretty unpredictable but didn’t mind the uncertainty either. They don’t launch the boat until it’s filled to capacity. We heard about the river cruise from other cycle tourists and decided we shouldn’t miss it. I’d say we weren’t disappointed.

Some people describe it as the Grand Canyon with water because it is amazing tall mountains that go straight up with a river running through it. We got to see a crocodile, birds, fish and garbage. I’m still amazed even after all these months at the amount of garbage and waste in Mexico. The tour guide wasn’t too enthusiastic but the other passengers made it fun. As we raced back to the boat launch after the tour, I lost my hat to a gust of wind. I’ve had that hat since day 1 of our trip and it is customized with our website embroidered in it. Oh well, guess it was time to retire it.

After our tourist part of the day we hopped on our bikes. I was feeling a big sluggish and just figured it’s always a bit slow to hop back on your bikes after a couple of days rest. We decided to ride past the tourist town after getting food in search of a wild camp spot. After just a short 5 kilometers from town we found a nice farmers field with flat land and an accessible fence. We set up our tent, had dinner and sat back and read books with a bit of a breeze. There was a lightning storm displaying a show that we knew would bring rain later, so decided to climb in the tent for the night with the heat. As we were reading I said to Andrew that I thought we had company, because I could smell what I thought was cigarette smoke. Mexico is pretty populated and we weren’t that far from the town so I thought maybe someone was walking by smoking a cigarette. I sat up and couldn’t see anyone so just laid back down in my pool of sweat to try and sleep.

I was laying there watching the lightning storm and I thought I heard the rain start so I was going to wake Andrew to have him help me put the rain fly on. I listened more and was puzzled by how isolated the rain sounded. It sounded like it was only right behind the tent in a small area like it was hitting a tree or something. For example when it rains on a grass field you can’t hear the rain hitting the ground if it’s light, but you would hear it hitting big leaves. So I’m laying there trying to figure out why the rain sounds so funny and I open my eyes and glance back; holy shit!

Fire! I wake Andrew to tell him we have a problem. I can see fire within 30 feet of the tent behind us. The sound I hear is not rain hitting leaves; it’s the cracking of the fire. I climb out of the tent to get a better look and the farmers’ field is totally on fire. It’s burning in three different spots that must have been triggered by the dry lightning. I say to Andrew maybe we’ll be okay and then he climbs out of the tent takes one look and declares we’re leaving the tent behind; grab your bike and let’s get out of here.

After we put our bikes together we re-assessed the fire progression and decided we’d try and get some of our gear out of the tent while keeping a close eye on the fires. In the end we managed to get almost everything except a tent peg on the bikes and were able to roll out of there unscathed. Except now we were cycling on a remote Mexican road at 10:30 p.m.; something you’re not supposed to do. We put our little rear LED red lights on, prayed for little traffic and no bad guys and headed down the road with our poorly packed bikes and tent shit. We traveled for about another 10 km until we couldn’t see the glow from the fire anymore and pulled off in another farmers field and set up camp just moments before the skies opened with heavy rain. The lightning storm followed us and I tell you I felt like one of the strikes was mere meters from our tent. This was combined with a finger-sized scorpion climbing up the tent that we weren’t sure if it was inside or out to begin with. Turns out it was outside; phew. As I fell asleep I was thankful for Patricia’s blessings and wondered if she played a part on our safe exit from the fire tonight. If so, thanks!

Andrew writes: The Canõn Sumidero was very interesting and beautiful and I am glad that we took the time out of our day to go. All in all, it was an easy, relaxed day that included all of the parts of cycle-tourism such as riding, sight-seeing, and camping. What more can you ask for!?

Trying my best to play off the fire as no big deal, in hindsight now I realize that I was terrified. Part of me just wanted to take the time to pack up everything and make our way to the road. Another part of me, seeing and hearing the approaching fire just wanted to grab the bikes and run. Now I think I can understand how/why people are told to leave everything in the house when it is on fire, the temptation to grab personal items is very strong. I remember thinking that if everything burned in the fire that it would not be so bad, and that we could just buy the things again. In the end, it all worked out and I am glad that we are safe.

Today’s Photographs

Tuxtla Gutierrez
A Tiredness