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June 12th, 2012 | Mexico

The Juaria of Hermosillo…

There was just the one road running north towards Hermosillo, and it led through the hot and windless Sonoran Desert…

Out of Sinaloa and into the state of Sonora, the final Mexican province I would ride through before entering the U.S.A. …

But this was not the typical desert that i had expected… It was more like the Kalahari back in Southern Africa; flat, fairly featureless….and hot…!!

My abiding memory of the ride was the blazing heat…!! It was a 550 km ride in what felt like an oven…!! I stopped three times to chug down Gatorade and water, and to seek refuge in the air-conditioned “quick stop” outlets at service stations…

I refueled in Navojoa, after a fast ride from Los Mochis, and knew that if I kept riding fast in between my “drink breaks” I could make it to Hermosillo without refueling again…

With a De Leppard concert blasting through my earphones to take my mind off the heat, the ride to my final destination for the day was otherwise uneventful…

The road surface was great and for much of the ride, was made on a dual carriageway…I was able to maintain a steady speed of 120 km/h for much of the ride, which matched many of the vehicles traveling in the same direction as I was…

Passed this zany little number just outside Obregan… We spent a few minutes taking photos of each other, laughing and smiling at our apparent attempts to stave off boredom…!!

By late afternoon I was nearing my destination, and thankful that I did not have to ride any further…

Beware… Old VW’s never die… They are out there, waiting to strike back…!!

In many of the towns we rode through, I noticed that large factories dominated the outskirts of each, and remembered being told that many major American companies had relocated to the northern states of Mexico, to take advantage of the cheaper labour rates south of their borders…

I put a call through to the president of the Juaria Bikers and had trouble understanding where he wanted me to meet his fellow club members…

He was on a business trip to Nogales and would not be back in town until later that evening… Our Spanglish wasn’t working, and I eventually gave up and called Cano back in Los Mochis to sort the problem  out…!!

I cruised down the main street, wondering how many cathedrals this city had, and if I should try to use a different landmark to hook up with my hosts… I saw a sign for the Galleria Mall, and rode directly into a large parking area and parked outside the Sears store…

First meeting with the JuarIa Bikers of Sonora…

A short while later I heard the throaty roar of a Harley, and two bikers pulled up next to the Big Fella… They introduced themselves as Beto and Sr. Aguilar…I later discovered that the latter was the oldest biker in the club, and at 64, still held his own with his much younger counterparts…!!

Looking for a suitable hotel, I followed Beto and Aguilar through the downtown area of Hermosillo…

Neither of them spoke much English, but help was on hand…

A Mexican who was resident in the USA, and visiting family in Hermosillo, came over to translate for us and everything went smoothly from there on…!!

We cruised through town until we came to the La Finca hotel, where Beto’s smooth-talking, and my dark mutterings, secured me a good deal with the receptionist, who eventually capitulated and knocked 30 % off her initial room rate…

The hotel was built around a large courtyard, and in its centre was the sparkling blue waters of a swimming pool…!! After Beto left to go make arrangements for a BBQ that they guys were having in my honour, I made straight for the pool, and spent almost an hour getting my body temperature back to a manageable level…!!

The thermometer in reception read 114 degrees Fahrenheit, about 45 degrees Celsius…!! Like I said before…it was HOT…!!

 Later that evening, in a large warehouse where the club park and service their bikes, Garfel and Kamaleon, posed for a photo with me… We spent a very pleasant evening emptying Tacate cans and enjoying tasty tacos…

Do I look the part…?? I cannot imagine riding long distances with my arms in this position…!!

Ricardo Galarza, nickname “Kamaleon”, is the club President, and also serves up tasty meals…!!

Someone slipped a Habanero chilli into one of my tacos and the group waited with straight faces until my eyes watered before they burst into peals of laughter…!!

At the BBQ, Senhor Aguilar was put in charge of roasting the thin fillets of beef, which were later chopped into smaller strips to be the base of the many tacos I would wolf down…

Beto peeled onions and chopped tomatoes, while others mashed avocado to make guacamole… I sat sipping a Tecate while I watched these close-knit group of friends go about preparing our dinner…

I felt at home amongst the Juaria, the “Dogs of Hermosillo”…

We shared our stories of the road, and I discovered that a number of the bikers were either teachers or university lecturers… Others owned their own small businesses, confirming that the biker clubs I had the good fortune to be hosted by, were not the “dangerous, law-breakers” that they were sometimes made out to be…

They were rather more like social clubs, where like-minded individuals, who loved all things bikes and biking, got together to enjoy long rides and share the camaraderie that the freedom of the open road brings…

“I had spent exactly a month in Mexico, and by tomorrow will have covered almost 7 000 km in the country that I hoped to visit again one day…. !!” On hearing this, members of the club unfurled a large Mexican flag, handed it to me, and requested that I pose with it near the Big Fella…

I recall Ricardo and I sitting quietly off to one side, discussing the various riders in the club…

“That guy had has four accidents in two years… This one over here has been with the club since the beginning… Super Beto there, is a bit crazy, but he is a good “Dog”…!!”

The last statement was made in a serious tone, and I nodded in understanding, rather than burst out laughing to hear a man being described as “a good dog”…!! But this was the Juaria, a club proud of their colours and emblem, which depicted a Boxer-like dog at the steering of a bike…

Barking with the “Dogs” of Hermosillo, the Juaria Bikers… A great bunch of guys…!!

The evening passed slowly… We ate; we drank; we chatted about my trip and some long rides they had been on in parts of Mexico that I had not managed to see…

When I finally glanced at my watch, I noticed with a start that it was well after midnight…!! I explained to Ricardo that I was hoping to not only cross into the USA later that same day, but also wanted to ride at least as far as Tucson…!!

He gave a low whistle and said that I would have a hard time getting that far, and that it all depended on how the border crossing went…!!

Heading back to the La Finca hotel after spending time with the Juaria…

Before allowing me to go, I had to have a final drink to “numero cien”, number one hundred, in recognition of what I would be achieving just a few hours later…

It was a happy and sombre moment all wrapped into one, for me… My mind zipped along the route I had ridden over the past two and a half years… Africa, Europe, Asia, Australia, South and Central America…

It all seemed a little unreal, until I glanced over at the Big Fella, and saw all the flags stickers pasted there, confirming that I had ridden to all those places…

I thanked them for the happy hours I had spent in their company, and then mounted the Big Fella a little unsteadily, and followed Super Beto and another rider out into the still warm darkness of Hermosillo…

They got off their bikes when we reached the hotel, shaking my hand and hugging me again, and after wishing me “fuerte..!!” (strength…) they roared off into the dimly lit street behind the hotel…

I wanted an early start the following morning, and while I quickly packed my gear in preparation for a “quick getaway”, I felt the excitement building up in me…

©GBWT 2012

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