Yet for me the first great joy of traveling is simply the luxury of leaving all my beliefs and certainties at home, and seeing everything I thought I knew in a different light, and from a crooked angle Pico Iyer 

For me, as a matter of fact, Mexico began in the United States, more specifically, in Nogales – a big city lying on both sides of the border between the USA and Mexico (nogales in English means walnuts). As I got there quite late, I thought that it would advisable to spend the night on the American side and to get into Mexico only next day. What’s more, to make sure that nobody will bother me at night, I decided to behave culturally, and to put up my tent on a real campground.

The first of the camps was said to be very close, maybe a mile from McDonnald, where I had the last (hopefully) American hamburger. Unfortunately, I cycled here and there, I asked, I was looking for but could not find it. Therefore, I went to look for the other, but instead I found a huge supermarket. In the meantime, it got dark and it seemed that the plan to have a safe place to sleep, unfortunately fizzled. Well, I thought, once again I’ll have to settle for a cozy shade under a roadside tree.

Anyway, I saw a police car, so I went to ask if the nearby area was safe. The police said that I should go to hotel, checked my documents (luckily they did not check the money, cause I had three dollars in cash, but if that had happened I could have showed my credit cards), and then they concluded that if I have little money, I should go to church. Why not, I thought, the last time I stayed in church four years ago, in Zimbabwe.

So I went to look for the church, someone threw a firework on me, but missed, but thanks to this I stayed in, and looked across the street In the dim light of the lantern I saw a few car trailers. I came closer to see if it could be a better place to stay than the church

I passed the open gate and took a few steps toward a boy, standing next to one of the trailers. Before any of us said anything, I figured out that it was not a hidden camping, but, more or less legal encampment of Mexican immigrants. I asked the boy whether I could pitch a tent somewhere, and he answered that I could do it in the yard of his house, but he has yet to make sure and ask grandma. He came back for a moment, saying that the grandmother does not agree. Typically, in such situations, I just go ahead and ask the next person, and probably I would have done it this time, if the window of the trailer hadn’t opened. After a moment of conversation in Spanish, and reassuring Grandma, that I am not a gangster chasing by the police, I sat in the middle of the trailer, feasting on eggs and tortillas. Grandmother insisted that I could stay outside, because I am a guest and it would not be proper, and besides, it would be dangerous, and, apart from that, Dios sees everything in advance, so, I had no choice, and had to accept the invitation.

This evening was another warm and pleasant encounter among a whole series of similar evenings I spent during the last two weeks in the United States. After visiting immensely hospitable couple – Mark and Nicolle, I still had the pleasure to spend the night in Tucson with their friends – John and Emily. Emily is engaged in handicraft and allowed me to pretend to be the artist, and John is a former sailor, who decided to become a firefighter. I rarely meet people who smile as much as he did.

I crossed the border in Nogales, paid $ 27 for a visa, and after crossing the town, got into the dark, desert night. In the evening I met a man who offered me a taco, gave a bottle of water on the road and said he is glad that gringos start coming back to Mexico, because he loves his country and what they say on TV about Mexico is far from the truth

The book „Amexica: War Along the Borderline” by Ed Vulliamy, begins with a description of dead, decapitated bodies, exposed to public view, and then, one can immerse themselves into a few hundred pages of shocking violence. Not that I denied of anything from the book. The author has done a great deal of work in described the frontier. But besides that, there is also a lot of smile in Mexico, warm greeting words, friendly gestures and lots of hospitable people, who love, cherish their life, and don’t do anything from the stuff described in that book. And although it sounds naive, I hope that this is the image of Mexico – a beautiful country, full of warm, friendly people – that I will keep for myself and I could still share it.


Arizona behind closed eyes

Boulder City

You see, everything gets complicated when people want to have things on their own. Snufkin. Comet in Moominland.

Arizona. Phoenix. I’m staying in Nicolle’s and Mark’s house. It is still hot outside, over one hundred degrees, but there is air conditioning inside. And the swimming pool. And swimming is a little bit like flying.

I arrived to Phoenix late at night; as I already wrote, it is impossible to cycle at noon, but even travelling only in the morning until about ten o’clock, and then from sunset to midnight gives the chance to cover about seventy miles per day.

Before I got to Phoenix, I visited Rob and his wife, Kelly. They live in Kingman. Rob is a man, who nabbed me at night in the bushes in Oregon, in December, 2011. We went to church, where a Mass was celebrated by a pastor’s daughter, and then we went to see the Hoover Dam. Rob and Kelly are these kind of people, that when you think about them, you immediately smile. Out of gratitude. Maybe one day I will have the opportunity to repay their hospitality in Poland. I would love to.

A few kilometers outside of Kingman, when I pushed the bike through the sand along Interstate 40, looking for a hole in the high fence, through which I could finally get on the other side, I noticed a man, walking along the street. He was dressed in a light shirt and dark pants. He was walking in the same direction as me, but a little faster. After some time he disappeared from sight and soon I forgot about him. After some time I was finally able to get to the highway, and soon after I made a brief stop in the parking lot, where I ate a hot dog and rested a while. After an hour I went on, to the intersection of Highway 93, which leads to Phoenix. 

Driving at night is a bit like swimming with your eyes closed. You close your eyes, move your body, and then you see images displayed in front of you. Movement generates more images, or maybe just makes them more intense?

Just a month passed, since I left Portland, but it seems much more. I lie down in the shade, today I’m not going anywhere. I will listen to the music that generates images, about which Agnieszka Glińska said it was music to movies that appear when you close your eyes

Save from forgetfulness

new friends

And if travel is like love, it is, in the end, mostly because it’s a heightened state of awareness, in which we are mindful, receptive, undimmed by familiarity and ready to be transformed. That is why the best trips, like the best love affairs, never really end. Pico Iyer

Nevada. Mojave Desert. It got hot. Very hot. One hundred and ten degrees Fahrenheit. At this temperature it is impossible to ride a bike. Although initially I thought it is fairly possible. In fact, if one really insist, it actually is, but then you vomit, feel dizzy, have shivers and generally you don’t feel good.

So I stopped being stubborn and turned to lead nocturnal life. I get up at five, cycle till 10am, then look for some shade, sleep, and after sunset I cycle again till I’m so knackered that I can’t get along any more. The present boils down to a few, rhythmically repeated, atavistic needs. You go ahead, eat and drink, and when you don’t feel like carrying on – you stop, put up your tent and go to sleep.

What a great treasure here is a bit of a shade! You can spread out and get some sleep, wait over the warmest hours. Sometimes someone will stop, leave a bottle of water, chat a little. They say I’m crazy.

Cycling at night, or, walking at night, is a mystical experience. You walk with desert ghosts, it is a nocturnal journey filled with ghosts. Usually I only feel them, but it happens that sometimes I hear them, or even see. They take a variety of forms, less, or more commonly known, whispering different words, not always pleasant, but it’s nice to know that someone crawling alongside.

When I fall asleep, the faces of people that I have seen during the day come to me. I think about them a lot, about the people I meet, about those, who are helping me along the way. Jacob, Martha, Rob, Arjun, Karl, Sandy, Becca, Amie. Why they, and not the others, and why me. Maybe they are a part of me, and I am a part of them and I do not even have to wait for the night to feel that we really are all the same. And if so, you may not need to go anywhere, there is nothing to look for. There is no need to ask questions and look for the answers. Our footprint on the road will save itself from forgetfulness.