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During our rest days in Culiacán, Mike confirmed his plan to try to study Spanish there. He was feeling frustrated at times with the opportunities and conversations he was missing due to his limited language ability, and, for him, Culiacán made perfect sense as a place to study. The people we were staying with were like family to him, indeed one of them was his goddaughter, and so it would be comfortable. Even if he hadn’t decided to study Spanish in Culiacán, our routes would have probably parted ways briefly as Peter and I want to go up ‘el espinoza del diablo’ (the devil’s backbone) to Durango and then down to Zacatecas, Aguascalientes and León before arriving in Guanajuato, whereas he wants to stick to the coast a bit longer before cutting inland to Guanajuato. The idea is that we might meet up around mid-July, but, unsurprisingly, that’s only speculation.

Pedro and I packed up and were out on our way to Mazatlan. Being about 220km, we could have done it in two days, but decided that splitting it into three made more sense. His knee was still feeling a bit stiff, and with the climb up to Durango ahead of us, we didn’t want to push it too hard. Mexico-15 and Mexico-15D, the free road and the toll road, both go from Culiacán to Mazatlan. Toll roads are generally shorter and flatter, but don’t cut through small towns, and take a less scenic route, so we took the free road out of Culiacán.

The road rolled up and down past countless corn fields and into a headwind for the majority of the day. There was a fair amount of truck traffic, and Peter was having a few of them driving closer to him than he liked. I wasn’t, but I don’t know if it was because of a difference in perception or riding style. While Peter, having spent years riding in the traffic of NYC, likes to ride along the white line, I usually ride a couple of feet further into the lane. My thinking is that it makes me more visible, forces a vehicle to move to pass me, and also gives me some wiggle room if a driver isn’t giving me space, something you don’t have on the white line.

At around 5pm, we pulled into Estación Obispo and started looking for a place to pitch tents. We sat around at the Pemex for a while, and while they offered to let us camp behind them, it seemed a bit noisier than we were looking for, so we moved on. The next place we found was the town square, and there was a small police station next to it. Miguel, the policeman on duty, came outside and told us that of course we could camp in the square. We could even put our bikes and bags inside the police station if we wanted him to look after them. It worked for us, so we thanked him and sat around in the square waiting for it to get darker before putting up our tents.

When the taquerias (taco stands) started to open up, Pedro chose one to eat at. Being outsiders in a town of about 1500 people, you get lots of looks, and Pedro’s faded hair definitely adds to the curiosity. Some people find it frustrating, but generally I find the attention to be positive. So it proved again in Obispo when Nando and his English-speaking friend, Karely, came over. They had spoken to us earlier in the evening, but this time they came to ask us where we were staying. They mentioned that they were preparing for a corn festival which would take place 2 weeks later, and so had a little room they used for storage by the square. If we wanted, we could feel free to sleep inside it, rather than pitching our tents where we planned. We gratefully accepted their offer, and, after placing our things in the room, hung out with them until past 1am.

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