photo by aidan lynn-klimenko

"Tienen que beber cerveza!"

Aidan put the phone down, and gave a thumbs up signal to the crew. It was pretty unbelievable, actually. We had never met Pablo before, but had gotten his phone number from our bicycling friend Javier as a potential place to stay between Mazatlan and Guadalajara. We had barely even explained to him who we were or what we were doing before he offered up his humble abode as a crashpad for us weary travelers.

We pulled into what we were pretty sure was his driveway around 6:30 that evening and waited, extremely curious, wondering about what the night would hold for us. Our inquiries were interrupted by the putt-putt-putt of a little moped tearing into the driveway, and Pablo dressed from head to toe in a bright yellow rainproof jumper.

“Hola chicos!” he yelled from the scooter as he parked it right up alongside the van.

We soon learned that Pablo hosts many travelers along with his wife who was unfortunately out of town the night we stopped through. He’s part of a network called Warm Showers. It’s a lot like Couchsurfing, but for bicyclists. There’s only one catch to staying with Pablo, he has a rule: “Tienen que beber cerveza.” (“You must drink beer.”).

After a quick run to the nearby tienda to fulfill our room & board obligations, we sat around Pablo’s kitchen table drinking beer, and learning Spanish phrases. Pablo is a tireless traveler, and he and his wife are currently hatching plans to traverse the globe by motorcycle in a couple years. That’s part of the reason he is so welcoming to travelers in his home; he’s carrying out his karmic duties to the world in the hopes that the kindness will be returned to him when he finds himself in the traveler’s shoes.

Pablo’s also a great father. When his daughter was accepted to a university in Texas, Pablo wanted to see her off, as any father would. But there was a problem. Due to a visa dispute, Pablo was not allowed into the United States. So he did what perhaps not every dad would do, and jumped the border. Like, legitimately swam across the Rio Grande, got picked by a car on the other side, and was dropped off somewhere in Texas.

Although it was a terrifying experience for Pablo, it was an eye-opening story for all of us. While we are often made to think that border jumpers are a danger to us Americans, the man that sat before was one of the kindest we had ever encountered, and the act of his crossing was carried out in the name of love for his daughter.