July 16, 2010
Tents aren't just for outdoor camping on a bicycle trip. Check out the photo above. Not enough touring cyclists understand that their tent can also double as a free-standing mosquito net.
Pedaling in Mexico, I came into a town with no suitable tent sites in view. I was a semi-employed actor at the time and on an extremely frugal budget. I found the least expensive hotel room that had a fan.
I didn't realize until later that I had roommates — hundreds of mosquitoes, lurking behind tattered curtains and dusty bed covers. Normally, I'd shut the doors and windows and then go on a mosquito killing spree. But the room was insanely hot and there was no glass in the window openings ... only bars.
I was going to be eaten alive.
I finally resorted to setting up my tent on top of the bed and positioning the fan so some circulated air would pass through the netting.
It was hot ... akin to sleeping in an toaster oven.
The entire episode was worth the look on the hotel owner's face. She knocked on the door, aiming to collect the money for my night's stay. I opened the door and she got a glance at the tent set up on the bed. It was as if she was staring at an elephant.
After she regained her composure, and I promised in broken Spanish that I wouldn't build a campfire in the middle of the room, she walked away shaking her head.
"Gringos," I heard her mumble, as she shuffled down the hall.
Photo by Willie Weir
SIGHTS AND SOUNDS is posted every other Friday. Willie Weir is a columnist for Adventure Cyclist magazine. His latest book Travels with Willie: Adventure Cyclist will inspire you to hit the road and just might change the way you approach bicycle travel. He lives in Seattle with his wife Kat. You can read about their adventures at http://yellowtentadventures.com.