Sunday, April 18, 2010

My Encounter with the Drunk Sicarios


May people in the U.S. are always asking me how safe it is to travel to Mexico with all the daily reports of violence. And I am very reluctant to tell them my opinion. One of the reason is because there is a legitimate risk. And the second reason is because I love to travel to Mexico, and sometimes do despite the potential danger.

My friend Everestt while descending the switchbacks of Copper Canyon last December.

I am an avid dual sport motorcycle adventure rider and have done many rides in to Mexico. Last December, I and another rider from the U.S. decided to ride the "Tarahumara Sierra" of Copper Canyon. We started our journey in Creel and spent about four days in the back country of the Sierra Madre. I usually keep a journal of my travels and to help people decide as to what can happen, I have decided to post some of my entries of the journey. The following entry is day two and it starts in Batopilas:

December 25, 2009, Batopilas Chihuahua.

Mountain Overlooking Satevó

The motel Mary is in the heart of Batopilas, right across from the main church. The sounds of children singing Christmas songs and Christmas music from a loud speaker serenaded us late into the night. We woke up in Batopilas on Christmas day.

I saw that Everest was getting ready for the day, cleaning his helmet. It is amazing how one day he is lying in the middle of the road breathing his last breath and the next day he is full of life waiting to ride out of the Copper Canyon.

We ate a quick breakfast in the motel restaurant and headed out. Today we try to make it to Urique. On our way out we stopped in the Cathedral of Satevó. I tried to get direction out of the canyon from here, but no one seemed to know.

We went south on a dirt road and when we came on a fork we were not sure which direction to go. We asked a young man in an old beat-up truck. He looked nervous looking around as if someone was watching him and seem upset that we had approached him. He pointed to the right up a huge mountain.

We could see the road winding its way up the top of the crest. As we were climbing we came to another fork and decided to go left, but after a while the road was getting really rough. We had to track back as we saw that we were going the wrong way.

The dirt road up the mountain was very good, rocky in some areas, but not bad. We continued the climb up the road, eventually we made the left turn and continued through a few small towns reaching a small town of Rodeo where we stopped for a break. Some kids came out to greet us and I bought them some candy at the small local store.

Mountain Overlooking Satevó

We continued on some very interesting roads and scenery. It was a nice day, it was Christmas day and we were having a blast riding in some of the more interesting roads in Tarahumara country. The accident from yesterday was still fresh in my mind and I attempted to put it out of my mind, but I still had the strange and unexplainable premonition.

It actually started to get warm and Everest wanted to stop to shed some clothing. Suddenly the road took us to a river without a bridge. It was not very deep, perhaps knee deep, but there was a lot of gravel made up of huge rocks. I thought Everest would stop to talk about how to enter the river, but he stood up and accelerated his bike to enter the river.

I don’t have to tell you what happened next. He went down right on the middle of the river. The current was strong and I was trying to still find a good place to set down my side stand on the huge rocks. Somehow Everest was able to pick up his bike and push out of the water. He was soaked. I placed my camera and clothed in a plastic bag and rode through the river at a slower pace.

River Near Tubares

We continued to ride, it was starting to get late and we were not sure how far we were from Urique. As we came around a bend and started to climb a hill, I could see a large white truck coming down the hill. I could see several indian men on the back of the truck. There was a narrow gap between some trees just enough for the truck to fit. Everest managed to cross the gap before the truck made it through. He sped up the hill and I had to wait for the truck to make it through the gap so I could get through.

River Near Tubares

But the truck stopped in the middle of the gap blocking my path.

I could see two men inside the cab of the truck. Suddenly the driver got out and I could see he was wearing a military jacket with blue pants. He was carrying an assault rifle, AR-15.

I did not like this a bit.

I tried to back up to turn around fast, but he was moving too fast toward me. I then saw that the passenger had also exited his truck and he also was armed with an assault rifle. I became afraid of what they might do and thought for a second of ditching the bike and running as fast as I could, but I knew I didn’t have time to do anything.

I could see that Everest was reaching the top of the hill kicking dust in the distance.

The driver reached me first but he was laughing and that made me relax a bit. One thing you never want to do in these kinds of situations is show fear. He stopped right in front of my bike and asked where I was going. I told him Urique and he asked where I was from. I said the U.S.

I told him we were just doing a motorcycle ride to see the country. I notice he had two beer cans of Tecate in his hands. He reached out and tried to give me one saying “here cabron have a beer.” I said no thanks and I could see in his facial expression that he did not like my response.

He stood there looking at me and I could tell he was intoxicated as he swayed in his stance. His friend pointed at me with his weapon, “did this cabron just say no?”

“Listen guys, I would be happy to join you for a beer, but it is getting late and we are trying to reach Urique before it gets dark. Otherwise, I would be honored to join you for a drink.” I pointed up the hill.

“You see up there?”

Everest had reached the top of the hill and had stopped far up the distance.

“That is my friend up there and he is waiting for me, so I need to go,” I said trying to sound unalarmed, but my heart was beating a hundred miles an hour.

They both looked up and they could see a tiny figure of Everest waiting for me to come up. The driver came around the bike and looked at me real closely. He could not really tell who I was, as I was wearing my helmet and sunglasses.

He seem to relax a bit and was smiling at me, "do you want some perico?'

"No thank you," I responded while playing with the buttons of my GPS. He got even closer to get a better look at my GPS that looked like some form of communication device.

“Are the gringos in the bicycles up ahead your friends?”

He kept playing with his rifle and I could see that he had two more magazines sticking out of his jacket pocket.

“No,” I responded.

He started to laugh real loud.

“Well we scared the shit out of them, not sure where they went,” he said while both he and his friend laughed out loud.

They both turned around still laughing and went inside their truck. They both were having a hard time keeping their balance and I could tell both were very intoxicated. I could hear the gear grinding as he shifted to first and drove past me, even the men in the back of the truck were laughing.

I started to ride up the hill and met Everest mid way, he was coming down to see what was the holdup. I was glad he did not make it down any time sooner. I motioned him to keep going.

Tubares, Chihuahua

We travelled another hour or so and we came to a “T.” We decided to turn left to reach a small town down the hill called Tubares. In the small town of Tubares I saw a small church that was falling down. I parked my bike to take some pictures. As I was taking pictures I could detect movement underneath a pile of wood inside the dark shadows of the church.

I called out to Everest and I saw two blond men come out of the shadow with their eyes wide open. They were bicyclists from California and they told us they were hiding from two drunken armed Mexicans that were making them drink beer. They said that the two armed men had been shooting down toward their feet and they were very scared.

They asked me if I thought it was safe to stay here for the night. I did not think it was a good idea. On my way in I saw several houses with a bunch of pickup trucks and SUV’s parked in the front. I could also see a bunch of men drinking beer outside. This is narco territory and I myself would not feel safe staying here. I told them they should ride out and find a secluded hidden area to sleep for the night.

It was getting dark and we still had many miles to reach Urique. Everest and I decided that we would ride to Urique even if it took us all night. I watched as the bicyclist rode out and we mounted our motorcycles to try to reach Urique in the dark of night. I could hear gunshots in the distance, echoing in the walls of the far away canyons.

16 comments:

  1. You should write a book... I would get it

    v(^_^)v

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  2. Is the rest getting posted tomorrow?

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  3. your just lucky theydidnt shoot u

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  4. Good "sea st5ory"... you have one life but
    you take many risks... i'd reconsider playing
    in Mexico... on that account. The numbers don't
    add up in your favor very well.

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  5. forget everest.... i would rode back home asap...... i'll see everst another day..... glad you guys made it back safe....

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  6. too bad they did not behead you and mount your head on a pike. Now that would teach a valuable lesson. Yes every year the herd animals cross the river as the crocodiles take a few for food most make it across. The cartels don't eat the people they kill " well none that i have heard of yet but give them time"

    Did you make a report
    SALUTE stands for
    SIZE
    ACTIVITY
    LOCATION
    UNIT/UNIFORM
    TIME
    EQUIPMENT
    If you read this site and www.blogdelnarco you will see that Mexico and the USA are involved in what will be written into the history books as the bloodiest period of time in our combined histories. Cartels are massing on the northern border taking over entire towns because the points of entry are under ever increasing scrutiny. As Chapo Guzman put it " when i increase production and lower my prices all will use my products, when everyone is with me who will be against me?"
    Well i give you Edcouch Elsa Texas as an example, two ten year old students in the sixth grade caught with bags of marijuana. All the bags were exactly the same weight giving the chief the notion that the exactness of the weights lends credence to the idea that the ten year olds had help. The students were selling the bags for 2 dollars each and had 40 dollars so loose figure they sold 20 bags to other ten year olds. lol looks like guzmam is winning.

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  7. I had been planning on doing a MotoDiscovery barrancas tour thinking there might be safety in numbers but after the massacres in Creel I don't think so. I've heard that Tubares is most definitely the wolf's lair.

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  8. This is in response to Anonymous that posted on April 18, 2010 8:43AM:

    Your thinking is as fucked up as that of the drug cartels, wishing death upon anyone just because they visit Mexico. I live in Juarez and we live in the most violent city in the world, and to you it might be a matter of spreading pure BS, but for us it's a daily reality that we take serious, but we don't allow ourselves to be held hostage to the violence. You are proof of the symptom that is wrong with our society.

    Also if you think El Chapo is going to win the drug violence, you are even a bigger fool! If El Chapo is winning why is he in hiding? Because if caught, which he will sooner or later, they are going to lock him up and throw away the key. Mexico will turn him over to the US in a heart beat. Psssst! I don't know if you know this, but Mexico frequently extradites the big Capos to the US.

    I was espcially amused when you suggest El Chapo will also win the US to his side, you are delusional. Now the people from the US side are laughing at you too. I laughed my ass off, you have no sense of reality and are giving tips!

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  9. OMG! And you sir rag on me not to get too close because it's dangerous, well how about you!!!!!

    I hope some day all the tourists return and see Mexico in a positive way again. Some say this will pass and others say it's a lost cause. But the future for us here in Mexico is getting defined right now, and the US will play a big role, don't ever forget that.

    Yes we as Mexicans must resolve our own problems, but we are so connected to the other side, culturally, socially, economically, religiously, spiritually and geographically. Both sides have a stake on this.

    For the intelectuals that see underneath the crust, you know what I am talking about, for the shallow thinkers who see the cup as half empty, the truth to the matter is you too stand next to us by the mere reason of physical presence, like it or not! So embrace it, social change!

    So I personally (and anyone who is human) am glad you came back safe Buggs and are now here doing some good!

    :)

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  10. Next time i will pref-ice with the statement "sarcasm" "too bad they did not behead you and mount your head on a pike. Now that would teach a valuable lesson."

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  11. The hot dog vendor/lookout and 10 other guys were wacked 10 miles from my beach house near Desemboque in 2009 but since the Plaza was passed to a group tied to Chapo all is cool.The 4 f-250 trucks boosted in rp last weekend are a bit of a worry...master keys everywhere....gated communities rule

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  12. You think Mexico will extradite a cash cow such as Guzman? YOU my friend, are the fool. With you "living in Juarez", you of all people should know that Mexican authorities are easily bribed. another fact, chapo Guzman is worth ONE BILLION DOLLARS. what makes you think he hasn't been captured and let go under the radar 250 times already??? Open your mind, don't be naive. The day El Chapo sees a day behind bars will be the day a pink elephant flys out of my ass. but good luck with your fantasy! and no, you do not live in Juarez. I can tell by listening to your rant.

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  13. You should count your blesings for not being just another missing person in a war zone. When are people going to learn that certain parts of Mexico, specially the northern bordering states to the US, are probably worse than Iraq? Those narco evil animals shoot innocent Mexican nationals for fun every day. Now imagine killing a "gringo" (no offense intended) is a bigger throphy for them. If you have any respect for your life, DON'T GO BACK THERE! There are plenty of dirt roads on the US side to ride your bike on... You still don't know how lucky you are to be alive today, do you? Thank god for that, not those low life narco bastards....God bless you.

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  14. Of course Mexico will extradite El Chapo, if they ever catch him. But first, the Mexican gov. will take all of Chapo's $$ and other possesions of value. I'm sure quite a few Mex. officials are going to steal anything they can and will become millionaires over night, but they won't be able to take all of it... Its too much. Corruption is the number one business in Mexico...

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  15. "The day El Chapo sees a day behind bars will be the day a pink elephant flys out of my ass"

    He already spent years in prison before breaking out. At the time, he was a very rich and powerful drug trafficker, as he is now. Perhaps you could explain to us, then, how he was arrested and sent to prison, if such an event would be so unusual and unlikely it would cause an elephant to take flight from your ass?

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