Victoria de Durango, Mexico 15 Oct 05
Odometer 10,360 m 16,673 km

The sun streamed in on El Viento as I hoisted the garage door in the cool October dawn. Like a trusted friend she stood packed and ready to roll. Turning my gaze outside, the Florida Mesa was awash in unmistakable signs of autumn. The oak leaves were turning gold and red; there was a distinctive, musty odor in the air; geese gathered in formation overhead. It was time to go.

Leaving home was bittersweet. Though inspired by the journey ahead, I had to say farewell to my lovely wife and all of the friends and familiarity that 28 years in one place afford. As my compass spun south, I worked to dismiss my butterflies as excitement--not trepidation. A half-dozen local motorcyclists graciously volunteered to accompany me out of town, but after a thunderous, rain-soaked night of camping near Quemado, New Mexico with my friend Wally--I was alone.
My Image
A rainbow decorates the sky above an old schoolhouse in southern New Mexico, en route to the Mexican border.
I mostly succeeded in threading the needle between massive storm cells as I pressed south through the Gila and beyond Silver City to El Paso, Texas. Mostly. There were times when the wind blew me sideways and hail pelted my helmet with a fury I thought reserved for southern Chile. My nervous laugh echoed within the confines of my shell as I convinced myself that this was all good training for storms yet to come.

Entering the northern Chihuahuan desert offered some relief from the rain, but not the wind. Nearly the entire route through Copper Canyon to Hidalgo del Parral and beyond held active skies laced with verga and prismatic color. Eight days after departing Durango Colorado, I rolled into Durango Mexico.
Jeremiah catches up with El Sol de Durango in front of the Catedral Basílica de Durango in the central plaza.
Late and under cloak of darkness, my hometown's sister city rolled out the red carpet. I could hardly contain my enthusiasm as I proudly proclaimed to anyone who would listen that I came from Durango de Los Estados Unidos! To my delight, they responded in kind.

durango cans

There were lights adorning the central plaza beneath the imposing Catedral Basilica de Durango, an ornate, Baroque-style church whose construction began in 1695. Along the city streets hung festive signs trumpeting Mexican independence. Raucous sounds of Mariachi bands spilled out into the streets from the packed restaurants and cantinas. And people dressed in their Sunday-best paraded around the square as though they had anticipated my arrival.

With new friends I visited the major attractions, enjoying my opportunity to play tourist-in-Durango, for a change. There were signs of “home” everywhere I looked: The city hall, municipal vehicles, license plates and even trash cans all held a familiar name--and an unfamiliar logo. Though the colonial architecture and history here predates anything in my own hometown, both share a certain feel that only locals of one or the other can appreciate.

Often we’re let down by our lofty expectations. But this tired rider, bent on his pilgrimage to the Motherland, found that the people of Durango are pretty much like, well, the people of Durango: warm, friendly and polite.

I vow to return to both, and am off.

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