Rest for now in: Magdalena de Kino
Most amazing place thus far: Rancho El Aribabi
I’m back after an absence of stay in Magdalena de Kino. I had a emotionally draining two days, last Thursday and Friday. Without further explanation- I am, once again, solo. But the woes of being in a foreign country with no touring partner were left behind when my hosts, the Robles, offered me a stay at their conservation ranch in the Sierra Madres. I was nervous to go into the mountains of Mexico. From the media talks of troubled borders, the mountains seemed like a dangerous place that could host such conspiracies.
On Friday, I was whisked away by Socorrio, the family assistant, and a cowboy driving the truck to the ranch. I tossed my gear in the truck bed and off we went to the mountains.
Off the 15 highway, we headed east for the mountains. The highway ventured deep into the grand wrinkly mountains. Trucks squeezed though the opposing traffic and rocky walls. The eastbound lane that we rode, had open views of the drop down cliffs. We arrived to the ranch during the last hour of sunlight that highlighted the bright green and yellow canopy of deciduous cotton willows. A gravel trail though a magical sunset-lit forest brought us to the grand home of the ranch. After unpacking, I walked with Socorrio around the home with my jaw hanging in awe. Unable to speak each others language, Socorrio and I could only communicate by exclaiming “MUCHO BONITO-el rancho!”
After the first night rest, clarity came to me like morning light. After many wise suggestions from my dear friends (via facebook), I had new direction and hope. The answers to the questions “what is the end-goal?” “what do I want to achieve?” open my mind to the unlimited freedom I had all along. I don’t want to be limited to a bet as ‘the girl who rides her bike’ down the Americas. It’s a journey accomplished by few- I admire those who have. I feared failure, if I was not to go on riding.Yet, I escaped the world of expectations and ranking to enjoy freedom now, and hopefully, for a long time. The bike is a tool and I choose not to be attached to this tool. I desire more than the outside perspective that I cross great distances by pedaling. What the soul desires is not something that counts the number of borders crossed, or be navigated with a particular vehicle. I just want to enjoy my life as I travel .
Back to the ranch
Day one at the Aribabi Ranch was a ultimate espanol lesson 101. The girls at the ranch, Socorrio and Isela hardly spoke and understood English. I was determined to practice my Spanish with them with the digital translator in my hands, given by Carlos Sr. The girls were very kind and patient everyday, to listen and decode my efforts communicating in Spanish.
Next day, the biologist on site, Cynthia, arrived with her guest. Mark, Dan, and the two Jeans; Arizonian birdwatchers and naturalist. I joined them for delicious mexican dinners (thanks to Socorrio and Isela) and bonfires outside of the casa. I listen to the guest questions for Cynthia. She is an expert on site specialized in identifying wildlife species tracks. She is also very knowledgeable about the current forestry and environmental concerns of the Southwest.
The third day of stay, I was invited to join the birdwatchers and cowboys for an expedition up the mountain. We reached the highest elevation where big cats like jaguars and ocelots have been recorded on camera. I followed along with the birdwatchers, stopping to examine and observe the __ creatures and flora. I enjoyed the colorful walk along the monsoon riverbed. We paused to listen, and witness a running family of havalinas. The entire expedition had spectacular views of the mighty Sierra Madres and tiny glimpses of deer running across the mountains. I felt like bits of my heart were scattered behind as we drove our way down back to the ranch.
Day four was the last day for the visitors. The last activity together was a walk along the entrance trail, birdwatching. I followed behind at first, observing from a distance. One of the Jeans, gave me her binoculars to join the watch. I observed red-tail hawks, cardinals, kestrels, ravens, doves, and finches. I enjoyed the morning walk, and learning from my naturalist friends. The goal of birdwatching is not only to increase your numbers of daily watching, but also a way to get out in nature and observe. It opens the eyes to a new world where some would otherwise, pass by.
If you ever happen to be by the Arizona border in Sonora, Mexico, I highly recommend that you check out Rancho El Aribabi conservation. It is a breathtaking 10,000 acre paradise. The ranch horses and cows roam free all day and there is always someone here to be hospitable or share information about the Sonoran Mountain wildlife.
Carlos’s efforts are to conserve not only the wildlife, but their love for it. Carlos has worked with groups like the Sky Islands Alliance. I heard from Cynthia an provoking concern about the border fence’s environmental impact. *Problematic impacts are; endangered species migration, denying animal water access, disturbing the vegetation, and flooding. the regional concern for the Arizona southwest is the movement of animals between the mountain ranges of America and Mexico, a natural law that has no borders.
For more on the Rancho El Aribabi click here.
*Resource credit: Sky Island Alliance.org