I left the lovely but isolated town of Durango late in the morning as the local ‘women in farming community‘ had their morning social breakfast outside my room. I cycled down the pedestrian mall until the error of my ways was pointed out to me by the local constabulary. I tried to make conversation only to be met with growls of displeasure.
I had a hankering to follow the remote paths to my destination of Zacatecas. A destination that promised meeting some other wayward travelers. Peeling off the main highway I was joined by a guy on a rusted, squeaky mountain bike. He was on a 10 kilometer ride to a ranch to join family and friends. We chatted for a while. He failed to understand why I would prefer a remote road rather than the fast highway. My research on the intended route was near on non existent. I was ‘winging it‘, so to speak, making it up as I went. As such I found myself on a rough dirt track as it was getting dark. My cycling pace of 5km/h was about the same speed as a tractor which I passed, possibly on its way back from the markets. I camped alone near the trail and wandered around the flowering cactus bushes as the sun was setting.
Morning came with the sound of a rattling truck bouncing past my tent when the stars were barely visible in the sky. The rough road continued for all of about 2 hours till I passed several villages where mules were used instead of tractors. Several hours of winding through backroads bought me to the main highway again. I checked my maps. They were all different. I use a combination of maps when I cycle. Pre loaded maps from Garmin in my GPS, downloaded topo maps on my phone from Pocket Earth, Google maps on my phone and a paper map of Mexico. I’ve learned through experience that if my paper map shows a town then I can get water. All the maps were different so without any clear plan I decided to just play it safe and head down the main busy highway. The miles came quickly with the downhill tailwind. 60km in 2 hours is not normal pace on a loaded bike. I camped in a farmers field with about an hour till dark. The farmer drove past around sunset. He was proud to have me as his guest in his field. At some point I entered the tropics, the Tropic of Cancer. So I have cycled from the Arctic to the tropics, I’m quite proud of that.
It’s been several weeks since I’ve had a real conversation with anybody. I’ve met people, I’ve talked to people but not in any real deep way. For the first time in my life I find myself lonely. It’s a strange and unusual feeling. Don’t feel sorry for me. It’s temporary and bought about by my own actions in seeking the adventurous life that I lead. When people like you, read about people like me, there is a gross tendency for people like me to justify their actions by making things sound positive. It’s not always the case. Many other long term travelers justify their lives by only writing about the positives and neglecting to write about the negatives of traveling. Let me explain loneliness as I see it and have experienced it. For the most part we are social creatures. I am luckier than most people because I enjoy my own company, I don’t require the company of another person to do things. I am much more of an introvert than extrovert, some would say I’m an extroverted introvert, if there is such a creature. But the last couple of weeks have taught me rather brutally that despite enjoying my own company I need a good conversation every once in a while at the barest minimum. I’m moving through this incredible environment alone, I’m isolated from the rest of the world. In many ways that’s a good thing. I’m not influenced by sensationalised media reports that create fear and insecurity in people. I see the world without discrimination or influence. I’m able to let my own mind make judgements based on the evidence that I see and experience. But all this isolation has taken its toll. I’m sure there is a clinical diagnosis called loneliness. I’m also sure it can be fixed by reconnecting with people. My self medicated cure will be a weeks rest in the city of Zacatecas. I hope to socialise and meet other nomadic travelers.