Into the city of Tehuacan, thousands stand at the roadside. It’s like a stage of a professional cycling race. Hundreds welcome me in the central square. Television and radio broadcast my arrival live and for the first time the hype is clearly too much for me. I get questions shouted at me from all sides and mobile phones stuck in my face. A radio man recognises my distress and takes me to his studio where we can do an interview in peace.
People on the side of the road are always giving me gifts. These are usually drinks or local fruit. When I get to Tehuacan through a melon area, I am offered 6 melons that day. At the end, a woman walks behind me and puts another 2 melons in my trailer, which already contains 15 drink bottles. Not accepting gifts is considered very rude in Mexico, and as I am never alone, I have no opportunity to get rid of them. In the evening, as I climb a steep hill to the stage town, where many people are standing to give me more gifts, I almost can’t make it up the hill because my trailer must weigh 30 kilos.
Hundreds of people are standing at the border to the state of Oaxaca. The television broadcasts the border crossing live.
The next day there is an 1800-metre climb, in serpentines up to 2300 metres. Most of the 20 runners give up after 1 kilometre of ascent. Only one makes it to the top. One of the policemen walks 3-4 kilometres in full gear and with a gun. It is not dangerous here in the area, but they are not allowed to take off their weapons.