Continued from page 5 .
My Warm Showers host in Marfa didn ’ t disappoint . He showed true Texan hospitality by welcoming me into his home ( I brought the beers ) and then taking me out to the distillery there , where we ate , partook of the fine sotol , shared stories of cycling and chatted about his six months of living in Scotland . After some drinks , he remembered that there was a soccer match that evening , so he asked what size feet I had .
Before long , with ill-fitting boots , I had joined them , playing soccer with other members of the community under the warm , orange glow of the retreating sun . Although I was the oldest player that day , coming from Glasgow , Scotland , a soccer-crazy town , I was able to benefit from a good knowledge of the game and I more than held my own .
As I settled down to sleep that night , I reflected on the lovely sense of community there . It was evident in the group which I met . They were kind , welcoming and seemed to be enjoying life in Marfa .
The next morning , I made for an early start , aiming for Marathon , where I hoped to have a rest day . Rest days were something I planned for every six days or so . I was only a mile or two out of Marfa when I had a stark reminder of mother nature ’ s habit of putting us mere mortals in our place . There was a vicious headwind . Wind is the most hated adversary for cyclists . Hills are one thing , but as they say : what goes up , must come down . Wind , on the other hand , has no such confines . I found the West Texan wind to be both my ally and nemesis .
On this day , I realised that getting to Marathon would be an epic journey , not helped by the aching muscles after the previous night ’ s soccer game . We won ’ t mention the effects of the beer and the sotol . I mean … what was I thinking ?
After what seemed to be a lifetime , I made it to the town of Alpine , resting for an hour or so and stocking up on calories . One of the best things about such a cycle tour is the opportunities one gets to do people-watching . I was struck by some of the interesting-looking people coming and going in that town . I wanted to speak to some of them , to hear their stories and hear about life in Alpine , but alas , I couldn ’ t stay and had to make the final push towards Marathon . Despite the unforgiving heat , I pushed on , musing that the landscape was almost as dry as Queen Elizabeth ’ s fanny .
On the final leg of my journey to Marathon , I received a call from my Warm Showers host in Marfa , who wanted to meet me at the end of the day , to go for a swim at Post Park , just a few miles south of my destination . I checked into my accommodation at La Loma Del Chivo , a beautifully bizarre collection of living spaces : all handmade , most from recycled materials , each one has unique features . This was to be my home for the next two days .
But on the day of my planned departure , it was clear that there was a problem with my bike , and I asked a passer-by for some advice . Within an hour or two , there was a steady stream of curious locals coming by to see if they could help . Despite their best efforts , I was destined to stay there at least another night .
I visited the French Grocer to buy some food and some beer , to say thanks to some of the people who had shown an interest in me and offered to help . I was informed that there would be a barbecue there in the evening with live music , a weekly affair held on Fridays , and that I would be very welcome . I am a musician , so this piqued my interest , and I undertook to go along and bring my bagpipes for good measure . I was also informed that having mechanical problems and being stuck in Marathon , Texas was the story of many who lived there . It seemed that I was doomed to spend the rest of my life in the Chihuahuan Desert .
That evening , I experienced yet more signs that community spirit is alive and well in West Texas . After the barbeque was over , I was warmly welcomed to the bar next door for drinks and the musician at the barbeque , Neil Trammell , provided some more music . I was even offered the opportunity to sing , giving a Scotsman ’ s rendition of Wichita Lineman .
I ended up staying four nights in Marathon and it gave me a great insight into life in a small West Texan town . Before I embarked on this trip , I was convinced that the kindness of people would be a highlight . My journey through the Big Bend area of West Texas confirmed this theory . From my Warm Showers host in Marfa and his friends , to the host of curious , friendly and helpful people in Marathon , including the Editor-in- Chief of this magazine , I was treated to the very best that the human spirit can offer .
As I bade farewell to Marathon , I felt rejuvenated by my positive experiences . Soon after , I encountered an injured javelina . Stopping to offer some water and move it to a place of safety , I felt I was repaying some of the kindness shown over the previous days . As I cycled off , I looked over my shoulder to see him salute with his injured little hoof , and I swear I heard him whisper over the wind , “ Vaya con Dios , amigo .”
I hope you will excuse me for sending you these reflections . I wanted to share my positive experiences of the Big Bend region and express my gratitude to the wonderful people who live there .
Although the above is a true account , the last paragraph leans on some poetic license . It was actually a racoon . �
Cenizo Summer 2022 9