Tiffani’s Yamaha FZ-07 Tour: Back to the USA. For Now.

Chapter 3, Part 25

google maps
Across the finish line and back to the USA.Tiffani Burkett

It feels strange to be writing this from a well-structured building, with fast Wi-Fi, health and cleanliness standards, carpet (I almost forgot carpet was a thing), flushable toilets, and drinkable tap water. But here I am, sitting in the States. Let’s reflect on the last couple of days, shall we?

I packed up to leave El Desemboque with a heavy heart. The playful wildlife and simple living of this small fisherman’s village left a strong impression on my growingly complex state of mind, and I was a little sad to leave this stretch of almost paradise. But the road still calls, and I’ve got a lot to do, so we shoved off just the same.

As El Desemboque was such a small and simple place, they also didn’t have things like gas stations. The FZ’s fuel range has for the most part gotten me through even the most rural areas, so I told Hollywood I wanted to try to make the remaining 100 miles to the next town, after 80 miles the previous day. It was definitely going to be pushing it, but the alternative meant adding 80 miles to our day, and I was feeling lucky.

Tiffani Burkett
I like to call this pace “I really hope I don’t end up stranded in the middle of the Mexican desert.”David “Hollywood” Hayward

The road was long and fast and straight, with nothing exceptionally noteworthy. We passed by what looked like a few abandoned construction sites for middle-of-BFE resorts that I can’t imagine anyone would have actually traveled to, and I watched and manipulated my mpg gauge carefully. With a few kilometers to go, my bike started to struggle, but I could see a gas station in sight and figured I could force it to make the last stretch through sheer willpower. I pulled in more than 85 kilometers (just over 50 miles) after the FZ’s blinking gas warning light lit up and sighed a big sigh of relief. We made it to Puerto Peñasco!

Puerto Peñasco
Puerto Peñasco was a colorful city, and the street art was beautiful enough to make me like the city a little more.Tiffani Burkett

Puerto Peñasco was the biggest reminder of all of how close we were to the States. Once again, tourists outnumbered locals, and everyone spoke English, similar to San Carlos. But in Puerto Peñasco, many shops began insisting on USD instead of pesos, prices were comparatively sky high, and even the cuisine seemed to be mostly foreign. It was strange. I didn’t really like it, honestly. Even the Mexican people we spoke to were USA transplants, and the realization that we were so close to the end got even more real than before.

We looked around and explored the boatyards full of grizzled men and boatloads of fish because I’ve been considering getting a sailboat for my adventuring future, but I was promptly kicked out as, “Women aren’t allowed near the boats because the sailors will get too excited,” I was told. We later talked to some motorcycle expats and then settled in for the night.

boat ship yard
I bet I could fit a couple of dirt bikes, a TV to stream MotoGP, and some scuba gear on one of these! It’s hard to imagine living in a stable place now, so maybe this could legitimately be where I end up next?Tiffani Burkett

We had just one last stop before the border. We continued along the Sea of Cortez, following long, flawless sand dunes and chasms of sandstone. The scenery was beautiful in a way that only a desert can be, and my spirits were feeling higher. We rode into a village by the north end of the sea called El Golfo de Santa Clara. The town was more like the small, humble, barely-put-together towns I was used to, complete with roads of sand and stray dogs as far as the eye can see. We stayed in a shoddy hotel overlooking the beach, with a swimming pool that looked like it had been used to turn garbage into soup, and watched another storm begin rolling in.

Mexico
I was so in awe of the sculpted chasms that it didn’t even occur to me how sketchy some of these roads actually were. Even after all these miles, Mexico still has something new and mesmerizing to show me.Tiffani Burkett

There wasn’t much to do in this town, but partially because of the storm and partially because I was letting myself get anxious about the future, we stayed an extra day in what was going to be our last for a long time in this imperfect, messed-up, dirty, ill-constructed, yet inexplicably humble and charming country. I never would have thought I’d be sad to leave here after all of the heat and struggles, but even my stomach had learned to handle Mexico by this point, and the simple third-world life and people were growing on me. I guess the road toughens you up in ways you sometimes don’t expect.

Sand Dunes
If you look real close, you can see ’Merica just over them there dunes.David “Hollywood” Hayward

We left the next morning to what was perhaps the most Mexican goodbye I could imagine. I cautiously and awkwardly got my bike over some deep sand and started down the path toward pavement. Hollywood was leading and passed by a stray dog lying in the middle of the roadway, causing it to startle a bit and move closer to my path. While I skirted around the dog no problem, this somehow set off a chain reaction, and one, two, three, then four more dogs darted out from their resting place and began chasing me down the road.

Now, I still can’t handle sand to save my life, but you figure that stuff out quick when you suddenly have five large dogs chasing you down the street! Maybe I should open a riding school and use that as my training method. Just open a cage and be like—“Good luck! Try not to get eaten!”

I got through the obstacles uncharacteristically fast, and then it was on to the real final stretch. We got stopped at one last military checkpoint where they opted to search our bags—although they instantly lost interest in searching me the second they opened my bag and stumbled across some tampons and underwear. We passed the inquisition, then it was onto Mexicali, the border, and, above all, the In-N-Out Burger that was immediately on the other side!

The road wasn’t particularly noteworthy from here. We rode through some construction zones to avoid the impressively flooded highway, followed along the border wall (that already exists and has for a long time, for the record), and weaved through people in cars following another rider on an FZ-07 (yay for FZs!) to cut to the front of the long line into California. The border officer was pleasant enough, though the second I told him I had just ridden from Panama, I was immediately selected for a “random” secondary search. Such a coincidence.

in-n-out
This right here. This is what victory looks like.Tiffani Burkett

But after half an hour and getting a once-over from a very friendly drug-sniffing dog, we were finally free, back into the United States. It was instantly obvious we were back in the first world. The roads were well-marked and smooth, the businesses were clean and situated in massive and comparatively ornate buildings, the food no longer seemed to be made of dog meat and road kill, my cell phone signal was strong, and everything was in English. It was so… Strange? Wonderful? Confusing? I don’t really know what it was, honestly. But we were here and this was it.

It’s funny to say that I’m back and I’m home. Because I don’t have a home anymore, aside from what’s on the back of my motorbike. I’m excited to see friends and family, but I don’t really have anywhere to actually return to. I still have to travel north through Colorado to see Hollywood’s family too, so I’m not really done with much of anything, despite this small victory of surviving Latin America of the Northern Continent.

While I still have six more continents and a lot of countries still to see, this ends the Mexico chapter. I’ll have to work for the winter to save up for the next leg; I’ll work on finishing up a book to cover all the untold stories on this trek, and then it’s on to… Southeast Asia? Northern Europe? Russia? Australia? Hell, maybe even Antarctica! But wherever it is, my FZ-07 and I won’t give up!

tiffani at the finish line
Over the course of this trek I can now proudly say I’ve covered 60,000 miles, 10 countries, three provinces of Canada, 49 states of the United States, and 31 states of Mexico on a motorcycle. And after all is said and done, the only place I still feel I can call home is sitting on the racetrack of Chuckwalla Valley Raceway. Now the biggest question of all is: Where to next?David “Hollywood” Hayward