Well, after a hectic three days we’re pretty much ready to go! Since dossing down in Manchester Airport on Sunday night, we’ve taken five flights, numerous airport shuttles, way too many security checks, a seriously late Greyhound bus journey, and finally arrived at Lordsburg, New Mexico at 3am Wednesday local time – body clock time being a forgotten concept by that point!
The meandering nature of our journey was down to indirect routes being cheaper than direct ones, and we weren’t in a rush. It did also give us a bit more time for cultural adjustment! That personal bubble thing, where English people mostly mind their own business and restrict conversations with strangers to inoffensive small talk? Time to re-learn that this doesn’t necessarily apply in the States. So yes, I cursed myself for being a bit short with the guy who on the Chicago to Denver flight tried to tell me exactly where to stow my bag, told me off for where I put it then tried to take it off me to stow it properly (I’m sure he meant well). And the guy at El Paso Greyhound bus station who tried to blame the history of human conflict on men’s dissatisfaction with their wives … I was a bit too tired to engage in that debate. Neil did better with a football vs soccer discussion, I managed something coherent about modern translations of the Bible (discussion with someone who had published his own translation, now sadly out of print). You certainly get a different calibre of conversation waiting for a Greyhound bus!
Another interesting thing about our seven hour wait at the El Paso Greyhound bus station was the huge numbers of Mexicans. There were lots of families with young children who seemed to be part of a group, most of the adults with tags on their ankles – we guessed this was probably because they’d been caught working illegally north of the border. The kids ran round, cried or slept, the adults discussed things, cared for the kids, and sat staring into space with tired faces. Neil watched two adults and three children sharing one pot of instant noodles between the five of them, and gave them some pastries we’d lost our appetite for.
They were there for hours, then after a kerfuffle where they tried to get one more person on board the bus than they had tickets for, they were gone. Just people with families trying to make a living in today’s America.
So here we are in Lordsburg, staying in a comfortable motel, waiting for a shuttle bus to the border on Saturday to begin our hike. We’ve sent our snow gear to a post office further up the trail, where we’ll pick it up later on, and we’ve sent a food parcel to the post office at Hachita, which we’ll collect on day 4 of our hike – a bit of a faff, but it means we can start with just 4 days of food in our packs instead of 6.
Tonight we’re heading a short way up the trail (which runs directly through Lordsburg) to camp and make final checks on our equipment. Hoping for no last minute panics! Then back to this motel for a final night in a comfortable bed before hitting the trail properly. There are lots of hikers passing through here, we heard a group heading out at 6am this morning. We’re very much looking forward to leaving the fretting and nervousness behind and getting on with it!