I more clearly recollect always being drawn to those films in grade school that told tales of faraway places and people, and I knew I wanted to see those places and meet those people. I've been fortunate enough to have seen a few places in the world and have met many good souls abroad.
When I visited Tulum two years ago, I not only fell in love with the sea but the option of exploring what this place had to offer on a bicycle...and then there is The Road.
What I call The Road is the way from Tulum Pueblo where I live to the Costera Zona where all the beach accommodations are. Most of it bisects the beach from the jungle and it's about 12 kilometers from the beginning of town to the end where an archway marks the entry to Sian Ka'an- a huge nature reserve that I'll tell you about another time.
I first stayed out at the playa in a beach cabana with a magnificient view of the sea - it's something everyone should do ($60: I wonder if that pricepoint will ever come again). I somehow managed to tear myself away from the shoreline and immediately rented a bike and hit the road...at dusk, and then at about 11 in the evening. I had no headlamp that dark and stormy first night. I did have a strong impulse to move and see what there was to see, or rather, sense.
It was humid and there was thunder and lightning on my left along the coast and a noisy jungle on my right as I rode south towards the archway. I glided down the road more by ear and feel than sight (of course I could see somewhat, given my eyesight, but It's more exciting to say I was flying blind).
At the time, I didn't know what the archway or the building next to it were so I kept going. The Road changed, becoming compacted dirt rather than asphalt strewn with palm fronds and I rode for another 15 minutes until I finally stopped when I really couldn't see much of anything anymore. Nada. I listened for awhile with wonder at what seemed a dialogue between the sky's booming voice and the nocturnal chorus of wildlife all around me. Lightening punctuated the Concierto of Tulum. Beautiful.
It was on that night that I remembered I do have inclinations towards moving fast (as I did as a kid in suburbia and then the mountains, and as an adult on the streets of Amsterdam when I lived there).
I put on some music and screamed back up the road, now deaf and somewhat blind on a ride of faith. I skidded with dramatic flourish once I arrived at a local beach club just as a dramatic, furious coda ended the perfect song and a short rain squall began.
I didn't hit a single speed bump that night.
It was perfect. It was magic.
I subsequently bought a headlamp as I thought it might be prudent - I often go even faster at night than I do in the day for some reason (lighter gravity?) and invariably there are obstacles to consider such as texting-while-biking Mayans; drunk and oblivious tourists; a few species of wildlife, potholes and several varieties of speed bumps (topes).
(That light came in handy one night on a different, darker road when I nearly hit a really drunk American kid, half strewn in the middle of the roadway with a tangled chain. I fixed his chain as he was useless and had no light, and gave him a nice, simple lecture a drunk teenager could remember.)
Today I found a race: as I was departing the Archway, a caravan of jeeps and a truck of tourists were coming back from a day trip into Sian Ka'an. With the invariable obstacles on any given day, we traded the lead over the course of 7-8 kilometers back towards the beach club.
I beat them with 500 meters to spare. I grinned at them as they drove by.
I go fast.
(I wonder how fast I could go with more than one gear.)
On one of my first nights here after buying a bike, I went out one night on The Road, music blaring; wheels blazing - keeping fit, filling my spirit. Being free.
I roared up on the Archway as I often do...lights flashed in my direction: two cops walked over and while I don't exactly speak Spanish, I imagined they asked, "What are you doing?"
All I could really say amidst my gesticulations was, "Musica, Mi Bici...I'm having a good time!"
They looked at me; I looked at them.
They seemed to be having an issue with my blinding headlamp.
"Oh, sorry," turning my light to a different angle.
We all had a chuckle. I found a grin at the realization of the role reversal.
I am the Cyclops....
and this is My Road.