I start the day at sunrise and am back on the road an hour later [that's 9AM in the new time zone which suits my preferences a bit better]. All set for what I hope to be finally a day of good progress. I want to make it into the state of Zacatecas today. There is again no car on the smooth road and I decide to skip my Spanish class this morning and enjoy the silence. I wonder why they have such a nice road when there is no traffic here. I actually see more people on bicycles and horses than on any other "vehicle". Once every two hours a bus passes me that even stops in the tiniest villages. That's basically it. Even though this is very certainly due to financial reasons, I reckon that the mobility of people here is quiet sustainable. I leave the state of Coahuila again and am back in Durango. In the tiny villages I pass along the way, I am getting looks like I would come from Mars. Despite the fact that Mexico is quite popular for bike traveller's, I somewhat doubt that any of them has taken these roads yet. Once I give the people a big bright smile and a "Hola, buenas tardes" they quickly realize, though, that we are from the same planet, and return an even brighter smile and nice greetings. The kids smile regardless and I also enjoy a little race with a horse rider. I reach San Juan de Guadeloupe, the last bigger village in Durango, around noon. I fill up on water, get some snacks and enjoy some chats with the locals. I use the opportunity to get advice on the security situation in Zacatecas, a state that has unfortunately seen a surge in crime over the last month due to three cartels fighting over the territory. I am a bit concerned about it, to say it mildly, but I have to cross the state.
I planned my route so that I should be able to make it through in one day. Luckily everybody ensures me that the conflicts are in the large towns and in the west. On the country side there are only "amigos", they say. As I will cross in the far east corner of the state, I will be fine. I leave town in the once again relentless sun. Unfortunately the nice pavement ends shortly after and find myself on a very bad gravel road, 60km to the next town. This will take longer than anticipated. At least I never get flat tires on gravel, I tell myself. I use the time to continue with my Spanish course. "Hay un problema" is today's topic - There is a problem. I don't know if it is irony of the fate, but shortly after I started the lesson there is indeed a problem. A flat front tire [this simply never happens]. Once again fairly unemotional I find a place in the shade and start deflating the tire. With the last puncture just happend yesterday I can now call it a daily business, so I better don't get emotional about it.
As I try to rempump the tube to find the puncture my bike pump breaks. What has been an annoying issue a few seconds ago immediately develops into a sheer nightmare. What is worse than a flat tire? A flat tire that I am not even able to pump... I am in the middle of nowhere on a dirt road in Mexico. Very bad. Very, very bad! It's not a cheap pump. This is not supposed to be happening. But isn't it Murphys law, everything that can happen, will happen? Everything that can break, will break! Damn it! I think this is one of the worst situations I've navigated myself into, yet. I am pretty desperate but stay suprisingly calm at the same time [if that makes sense]. I disassemble the pump, find the problem [the bearing that seals the pump is not staying in place], and realize there is no real way to fix it properly. It even takes me half an hour to get the bearing out of the pump cylinder where it is stuck. For an eternity I simply couldn't find an object that is long and thin enough to reach the bearing inside. The temples of my sunglasses finally did the job. MacGyver style I use super glue to keep the bearing in place. It works somehow but won't last long when you imagine that this bearing is pulled back and forth through the whole cylinder a few hundred times to pump my tire. At least I can pump a bit to find and fix the puncture [two patches left, but that doesn't matter anyway when the pump is broken]. In the meantime two guys on a motorcycle stopped and try to have a chat. "Hay un problema!", I can say now. They cannot really help but as I continue joking around the situation, they laugh with me and give me a nice distraction. Unfortunately, I forget their names being tied up in fixing my problem. They also insist that there will be a bike shop in the first little village in Zacatecas. I doubt it, to be honest, but let's hope for the best. It takes forever to repump the tire with the compromised pump. Once the tire is half full the pump completely denies its service. I think I can ride, tough. After almost two hours I am back on the bumpy, rocky road with a half flat front tire. Let's see how that goes. It somehow works but I have to pitch the tent halfway as it gets dark. All that took a while. Beautiful sunset and even more beautiful star sky while I have dinner - at least another daily business that I can rely on here in Mexico. I will never get tired of this scenery. As I lay in bed [without the rain fly, I need to see the sky after that day...] I reflect on the day. I am fine. Somehow all will work out. Let's see what happens tomorrow. Good night! PS: After 5 days and having covered only a bit more than half the distance to Guanajuato the little side mission to reach it within a week is officially failed, I guess.