I’ve been following the Pacific coast for the last while, sometimes right next to it and sometimes inland through the hills (that feel like mountains on most days). There is some spectacular coastline to be seen, especially in the province of Michoacan, that I’ve just left. Plenty of small beaches tucked away here and there and little in the way of people and towns. The coastline reminded me of Oregon. The views were sporadic, often due to the plentiful growth of trees and bushes around the roads. But when I did catch glimpses of the water I often saw some big, big waves. They were to me anyway, but I’m not a surfer so I rarely get to see or appreciate the bigger ones.
These kinds of waves I appreciate. I’d like to see more of another kind of mexican wave and that’s from the people. I’m not expecting that kind of mexican wave (Mexico 86 and too many sporting events since), but what I encounter almost every day is the complete look of indifference as I pass the locals. Sometimes it’s a big stare, sometimes a look of incomprehension, sometimes just a ‘what-the-f…’ kind of look. I get ignored too, which is fine – I am just a guy on a bike – but it feels disconcerting to get stared at like this so often. It’s not a stare of wonderment or amazement.
So I usually try for a friendly wave, perhaps a ‘hola’ or ‘buenos dias’ and more often than not I’ll get a friendly response back, but not always. Perhaps the people are just guarded or baffled, but it can be a little off-putting. I realise I’m not entitled to any special treatment, and I rarely get any outright hostility, so I just have to get on, keep positive and keep waving and smiling as best I can.
As well as the luscious roadside growth and greenery, there are plenty of animals I’m encountering on the road (dead and alive). There is plenty of roadkill and a few live animals too. Strangely I’ve encountered cows and donkeys and tiny red crabs on hillsides, and plenty of dead snakes, armadillos (sadly their ‘armour’ is no match for tonnes of fast-moving metal and tyres), dogs, frogs, butterflies, crickets/chicadas, more crabs…and every day I encounter the arresting smell of some recent animal death.
Still, it’s not all morbid. There are plenty of people who wave, cheer and say hello. A lot of drivers have these kind of ‘car alarm’ horns that they push when driving past. I haven’t got to used to it yet as it’s such a strange sound that I tend to associate with annoying car alarms back home, but it’s generally a positive sign to me from whoever’s driving.
Another roadside feature are the ‘hombres’ by the roadside toting their machetes. It might sound bad but really they are just workers, whom I often see chopping at the roadside vegetation or walking back from their harvesting work. I’m not really sure why they do the roadside chopping (do they get paid? who pays them? is there something special about the green stuff they’re chopping?) but it’s such a common sight I don’t raise an eyebrow when cycling or walking past these guys.