(January 16 – written by Dave)
Today we entered the tropics, this time under our own power – we crossed the Tropic of Cancer heading south. We’d actually already crossed this tropic once on this trip – on the ferry from La Paz to Mazatlan. But we’re not counting that crossing because some of us were under the influence of Dramamine, sound asleep on the deck of the ferry (Senior editor’s note – and thank god for Dramamine!).
When we rode to Durango from Mazatlan, the routed veered slightly northeast and we ended up riding back across the Tropic of Cancer heading north – exiting the tropics. Well today, finally, we crossed back south and into the tropics.
The tropics are formally bound by the Tropic of Cancer in the northern hemisphere and the Tropic of Capricorn on the southern hemisphere. The lines are fixed at a latitude is 23.43695 degrees south or north of the equator. The lines are defined as the southern or northern most latitudes where the Sun can be directly overhead – on the respected summer of winter solstice. If this all sounds confusing, then I’ll stop here before I tell you about how the lines move annually due to variances in the tilt of the earth on its axis. Moving lines are good for the map making companies I guess.
Anyway – we are excited to be in the tropics. We’ll be here for the next 6-8 months, not exiting until sometime in northern Argentina.
Our hotel in Sain Alto worked out fine. The sheets were too big for the bed and the blankets too short. We decided to sleep in our bag liners, mostly for extra warmth but also because it was that kind of hotel. I think you have to pay extra to get bedding that is fitted (and clean!)
We were on the road by 8:30 and had a couple nice climbs to start the day. It was cool again but climbing is a good way to warm up. The road continued with a nice wide 4 foot shoulder and traffic was fairly light. We pulled over for morning tea at the top of the one really long downhill of the day about 30k in. From there we had a nice run the Tropics sign and yet another primer white ball that will one day be painted to look like the earth (we think).
I enjoyed the Tropic signs, even though in the back of my mind I knew that they were no longer in the correct place – back to that moving with the changes to axis thing. Once photographic formalities were completed we headed the rest of the way down the hill to a small town that was not on our map and had no sign. No name didn’t stop Oxxo from locating a store there so we decided to stop for an early lunch. Nancy has discovered that she likes the instant noodles that they sell at Oxxo. And even though we were in the tropics, it’s still cool here and warm noodles make a nice lunch (Senior editor’s note – okay, I know they are not too nutritious but they are warm and filling).
From lunch we had a long gradual climb up to a small summit and a short run down into Fresnillo, our destination for the night. Fresnillo is a smaller city of about 100,000 folks. It was founded in 1554 – Silver is what brought folks here way back then. There was a fresh spring at the centre of Fresnillo – though it would be hard to find today, some 500 years later.
Fresnillo has really narrow streets, mostly one-way, but we managed to find the centre and a nicer hotel where we could spend Nancy’s “birthday eve”. I walked around town to get some photos while Nancy stayed in the nice room, watching English TV and doing some emails.
Tomorrow we ride to Zacatecas – a city of some 1.6M people so we’ll have to be on our toes riding in safely. We have a short day planned as it is only about 35 miles, maybe less. We have a Warmshowers host lined up and hope to get a day off to look around the old city – it is supposed to be pretty interesting. All that of course, after we have a birthday brekkie in the fancy hotel restaurant before we leave here.
And I almost forgot, for our friend Chris, some legs to inspire his training below: