Pan-American Trails Part 2

By Jose Porta, Photography by Jose Porta

From the August 1935 issue of Motorcyclist Magazine

Last month Jose Porta told of starting his long solo tour to Central America. When we left him he was hard put to find shelter during a desert storm. He had just sighted the faint outlines of a dwelling.

With renewed hope I pushed ahead. There were people at the house but they told me that farther on there was another ranch. Seeing that I wasn’t welcome I went my way. On and on I kept struggling. A few more spills, more mud, sweat dripping from my forehead. The sun was setting somewhere beyond those prairies and nothing in sight, nothing but rain.

It was dark when I finally reached the ranch. I was very warmly received and I made myself comfortable by sitting close to the fire. Together with half a dozen men I enjoyed a supper of beans and coffee. There weren’t such things as tables and chairs. We just sat on the floor and ate out of our plates. After supper, with the lights out, we all sat in a circle and told stories.

One by one the men felt drowsy and just wrapped themselves in their serapes and laid down to sleep. I noticed that everyone was sleeping on the floor, there being no bed to be seen anywhere.

In the morning I had a breakfast of fried eggs and tortillas. Then, after thanking my host for his hospitality, for which he didn’t want to be paid, I took once more to the road.

The ground was still wet and muddy and it was very uncomfortable going. Besides there were so many tracks and paths crossing those deserts that I never knew which one to follow. I was lost most of the time and the best I could do was to go west following cart tracks sometimes and sometimes cutting thru the desert and just trusting to my good luck in getting somewhere. It was hours and hours of lonesome travel without meeting a soul and without seeing a house.

I saw the first sign of human life when I got to General Cepeda, a small village in the desert. I was given a good meal and plenty of water and free gas, then I left again and at dusk I arrived at the Hacienda Segun, a large ranch, where I was well received and properly taken care of. Here I was given a room all to myself, but again I saw no sign of a bed and I had to sleep on the earthen floor, wrapped in my own blankets.

I got up next day ready for an early start. The sky was clear and I was hoping to be able to make up for lost time. I was still going thru those dreary deserts of Northern Mexico. There the country is very thinly populated and the people are very poor, living in the most squalid adobes.

The diet of the natives consists mostly of beans and tortillas. They can live on corn and beans all the year ‘round and they seem to thrive on them. They were very hospitable and kind to strangers and they willingly share their food with a stray traveler when they have enough of it, but unfortunately most of the time they haven’t enough.

By Jose Porta
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