Featured Photos Video Riding La Bestia through Mexico

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#1
Riding La Bestia

As I was walking down from El Centro after being dropped off there the night before by Frank who swore he saw me with my friend Forrest hitchhiking at the i-8 on-ramp next to the In-n-Out three years ago, I get picked up by a lovely woman that drives me into Mexicali, feeds me amazing tacos and drops me off where the train should depart. The night before I talked to a guy who years ago worked for Ferromex in Mexicali and told me that my train should leave around noon.

Junks, meth heads, kids and all kind of sketchy folks instantly recognize my gringo existence. Even though for the average US standard I’m dirty and brown as fuck, it’s a different story out here. I have a backpack, a bag full of food and a 6liter (almost 2 gallon) jug of water. Instantly they start talking to me, asking me where I’m going, whether I have a passport, what’s in my big backpack and how much money I have. At this point I pretend I have a really bad hearing (my Spanish isn’t that fluent), I’m from Russia, I’m travelling without a passport and without money. I make sure my voice is deep and all the Spanish I’m saying is correct. I just came from the Joshua Tree Music Festival so I had the post-festival voice which helped a lot.

Some of the folks are waiting for the train, others say they live in Mexicali (one of which I saw a day later down south). At this moment, I am seriously doubting my decisions and miles from my comfort zone. Should I get on a train with these folks where they can kick me off at any time in the middle of the dessert and take my shit? Should I just walk and continue hitchhiking down south? I had no idea. This whole part still feels to me like a dream. I talk to a woman, she’s getting on the train too, she looks most trust worthy. She didn’t pull a knife on me yet like others. We talk a bit about life and travel and freedom and while in deep conversation I look left and yell “Aquí, aquí, EL TREN!” We’re sitting next to the tracks, under the multiple highway bridges, 10 yards from the gate of the yard, the terrain is difficult as the tracks are rolling 7 yards across the road, 7 yards under the bridge in a 3 feet ditch surrounded by rocks, trash and not-so-friendly-to-walk surface. Then another 7 yards of road and then a bridge without a shoulder. How the fuck I am supposed to catch it on the fly?

FUCK IT! My heart beats like never before, my mind closes its curtains, I am in predator mode and the only target I have is that train. There’s nothing else in my mind, nada. I put my backpack on, no time to properly tie the 30kg (67lbs) onto my back, grab the water, grab the bag of food, stand up and walk across the rail. The locomotive passes by and I see the containers, I walk along and check out the well, not sure whether it’s rideable or suicide, they’re Ferromex grey wells I have never seen before. FUCK IT! I throw my water as I’m running and grab the ladder with my hands and jump on it. SUICIDE! FUCK FUCK FUCK, I look down and see the giant metal wheels spinning and squeezing and think to myself, great job you idiot! Now what? The water broke of course since there was no floor to hit but the ground. Sixty-five seconds later the train stops and starts pulling backwards. I get off and walk back, in the meantime I yell-talk with the conductor. The train is still being build and will depart in two hours. I go get myself another water bottle, nice, now they all know I have some money, what a great start you idiot.



Two hours later I get on the train for real, it’s rolling out of Mexicali and unfortunately, I’m riding with three people next to me. One of which is sitting across me on the well ahead. He’s skinny, got a blue bottle with a blue fluid he keeps taking sips or just putting it next to his mouth I guess. He also has a bucket, a standard white “Home Depot” bucket with scrap metal in it. He’s going places, but definitely not Guadalajara and definitely not next to me. All of the other riders on the train are similar, recently deported immigrants or drug traffickers, kids working for the cartel, generally speaking, I would consider sketchy folks. All of which are equipped with kitchen knives hanging out of their jean pockets, mostly one bag and sometimes a small bottle of water. All I’m thinking is, how the fuck do they assume to make it all the way without being not even a tiny bit prepared? Luckily most of them choose to ride in the front and ride suicide. I find myself a nice well with a floor, ways back in the train as it stopped at the end of Mexicali for what looked like an inspection. We roll out, roll through the poorest parts of town, the broken little houses, street dogs, garbage, the smell of garbage, the taste of garbage, the rivers full of garbage, burning garbage, more garbage, Bienvenidos A Mexico I guess.



The following four days and three nights I rode that same train. I rode the beast, la bestia, commonly known also as el tren de la muerte (train of death). The craziest, scariest thing I have ever done in my life. Not talking about the train, nor the train hopping part itself, but the people. I smelled like money to them, no matter how much I tried to hide it. I stood 6 feet 3 tall, spoke Spanish okay, had my knife always visible, dirty, tanned, my shirt had giant holes in it, I did all I could to “blend in”. I shared my water, food and tobacco with them to keep it on the friendly, I mean there’s twenty of them and one gringo me. Also, I never showed any sign of possessions or valuables. That also is why I wasn’t able to get barely any footage of the ride which kills me, because I tell you, it was fucking incredible.



The first day we roll through the nothingness of the dessert, the highway disappears and the sun starts setting, the moon only had a skinny line and perfectly fit into the orange-purple horizon. The sound of the metal beast howling into the desert night where no one could hear it was magic. And with that magical noise I went to sleep on a freight train for the first time in my life. Bouncing and squeezing made me fall asleep instantly, maybe the sleepless night before helped a bit.



Popped my head out in the morning, I see a yard worker having a coffee break “Tenemos tiempo?” “10 minutos” I hop out and go refill my water. We chat a little and he gives me his leftover coffee, damn was it delicious. This scenario would repeat often in the following days, every time the train stopped during the day I got out to get some water, people fed me tacos, the real ones, wished me good luck, gave me a few cigs and I realized the people out here are incredible, the more we went south the better it got. I once hid because I thought someone was throwing rocks at the train where he was throwing water bottles at us. Hanging out of the side, waving at everyone as we rolled through town put the biggest smile on my face I ever got, a dream of a kid came true, the dream I dreamt every time I was at a railroad crossing watching freights pass by, hoping to see a rider on it. We rode through the desert, through the flatlands, farm lands, we rode for miles along the beach, sometimes only five yards away from it, we rode day and night, stopped a couple of times for crew changes and rebuilds, I talked to the yard workers to get info which cars and containers where headed my way and what time we were departing.



At nights I tried mostly hiding, mostly from the people riding. People tried getting on my spot, or hanging next to my well which made me super uncomfortable. I gently asked them to ride on a different car when they were catching it on the fly, since the train was moving super slow and they had 60 cars to choose from, not just mine. I am not saying all of them were bad people, I am trying to say I was scared, scared as fuck, especially at night when the train was standing still. Constantly aware of my whiteness and the smell of my money I was apparently putting out. Drinking, eating and smoking only while we were on the move, to avoid having to share it, which sounds like a dick move but when there’s 20 people and I am starving on a four-day trip with insufficient food and water, I gotta worry about myself first.



The fourth morning at six fifteen as Juan who was bumming cigarettes from me and talking to me about his drug business making me once again, not too comfortable, the locomotive whistled, we had a fist-bump-see-you and we rolled out of Tepic. The sun was rising, we had 280km (165 miles) to get to Guadalajara where I would get off. Four Ferromex DPUs are pushing a few grainers and 30-something double stacked containers up the elevation on a curvy rail. The iron snake is making its way and it sounded beautiful. The metal squeezing, the whistle blowing, the tons and tons of metal screaming as we’re pushing those curves up in the rain forest untouched mountains. Metal screaming through a rainforest was incredible. The ride took us seven or eight hours or constant curving through the mountains and on this stretch I counted thirty-four tunnels. Countless bridges with a half mile drop, no shoulder no construction around it, looking down only seeing the side train, no bridge. Around us the amazing mountains and valleys, how did we make from the beach to here so quick? Later we rolled perfectly around Tequilla, only having fifty or so kilometres to go, I roll a cigarette and think to myself, I almost made it, I rode la puta bestia, el tren de la muerte… what the f, I rode it, I did it… Mama rocked me like a south bound train



BIENVENIDOS A GUADALAJARA!

My heart and soul is screaming as I am on the side waving and yelling at every single car on the highway next to us. Smiling ear to ear, happiest I have ever been. I get off the train wave it goodbye, ‘I spent 3 nights and 4 days with you, have fun on your way to Cuidad Mexico’... Found a hole in the fence and went into the taco restaurant to get some water, where instead I was fed delicious fish tacos and a cold Coca-Cola… An incredibly COLD Coca-Cola going down my thought cooling my body down. I burp and say to myself out loud “You rode la Bestia you idiot”



So here I am, in Mexico drinking a bottle of tequila someone got me, thinking “Fuck, I’m actually illegal here, I didn’t get a stamp at the border” Will fix that soon-is because “Today we drink, mañaña we worry”


img_20181011_144109979_hdr-jpg.47005_Riding La Bestia through Mexico_Travel Stories_Squat the Planet_7:30 PM
img_20181013_141239744_hdr-jpg.47006_Riding La Bestia through Mexico_Travel Stories_Squat the Planet_7:30 PM
img_20181013_141442811_hdr-jpg.47007_Riding La Bestia through Mexico_Travel Stories_Squat the Planet_7:30 PM
img_20181013_141801040_hdr-jpg.47008_Riding La Bestia through Mexico_Travel Stories_Squat the Planet_7:30 PM
img_8719-jpg.47009_Riding La Bestia through Mexico_Travel Stories_Squat the Planet_7:30 PM
 

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#2
Yo man!! That was amazingly adventuras story!!!!! I felt like I was riding the train absorbing life as you were. Thanks for sharing, and stay safe amigo. Viva Mexico!! Enjoy!! ✌
 

siid

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woah dude :eek:

wiiild. all of it. bad ass photos and video.

i like the person in the second pic lookin like they goin to school lol
 

Engineer J Lupo

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#4
It looks like there's someone on every end of every rideable car on that passing train, what a wonderful sight. I can just feel the excitement you had when I'm reading this, great story!
 
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#6
Yo man!! That was amazingly adventuras story!!!!! I felt like I was riding the train absorbing life as you were. Thanks for sharing, and stay safe amigo. Viva Mexico!! Enjoy!! ✌
thank you ! viva Mexico!


woah dude :eek:

wiiild. all of it. bad ass photos and video.

i like the person in the second pic lookin like they goin to school lol
thank you ! I snapped that selfie thinking "fuck it, we're rolling the last mile into guadalajara, I need a memory"

It looks like there's someone on every end of every rideable car on that passing train, what a wonderful sight. I can just feel the excitement you had when I'm reading this, great story!
it is quite a sight watching the north-bounds being full, not only ridable cars.. also looking ahead and seeing tons of people surfing grainers
thank you for your kind words

Great story, @amines ! Can I ask, when did this take place?
Oct 10 I got on that train in Mexicali and rode it till Oct 13 to Guadalajara where I am at the moment
 
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#7
I have a few things to say about this but im kinda drunk so i will be back. Sounds fun though. Why you so afraid of mexican folks?
 
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#8
I have a few things to say about this but im kinda drunk so i will be back. Sounds fun though. Why you so afraid of mexican folks?
Im a lotta tequila drunk too, why I was affriad?

Let me try to explain it,
I'm a little white European boy, who thought walking across tent city in Portland or the Bronx made him a tough guy. Two months ago I was riding my bike thought-out The Netherlands (what used to be my home) where, if someone ever shoots a gun it becomes a national tragedy. The Mexican folks are amazingly good folks, don't get me wrong, but being the whitest guy on a train rolling through the dessert made me a little insecure. I was scared of being robbed. Or some cartel showing up and shooting all of us which happened in Tamaulipas .... anyway...
 
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#9
Riding La Bestia

As I was walking down from El Centro after being dropped off there the night before by Frank who swore he saw me with my friend Forrest hitchhiking at the i-8 on-ramp next to the In-n-Out three years ago, I get picked up by a lovely woman that drives me into Mexicali, feeds me amazing tacos and drops me off where the train should depart. The night before I talked to a guy who years ago worked for Ferromex in Mexicali and told me that my train should leave around noon.

Junks, meth heads, kids and all kind of sketchy folks instantly recognize my gringo existence. Even though for the average US standard I’m dirty and brown as fuck, it’s a different story out here. I have a backpack, a bag full of food and a 6liter (almost 2 gallon) jug of water. Instantly they start talking to me, asking me where I’m going, whether I have a passport, what’s in my big backpack and how much money I have. At this point I pretend I have a really bad hearing (my Spanish isn’t that fluent), I’m from Russia, I’m travelling without a passport and without money. I make sure my voice is deep and all the Spanish I’m saying is correct. I just came from the Joshua Tree Music Festival so I had the post-festival voice which helped a lot.

Some of the folks are waiting for the train, others say they live in Mexicali (one of which I saw a day later down south). At this moment, I am seriously doubting my decisions and miles from my comfort zone. Should I get on a train with these folks where they can kick me off at any time in the middle of the dessert and take my shit? Should I just walk and continue hitchhiking down south? I had no idea. This whole part still feels to me like a dream. I talk to a woman, she’s getting on the train too, she looks most trust worthy. She didn’t pull a knife on me yet like others. We talk a bit about life and travel and freedom and while in deep conversation I look left and yell “Aquí, aquí, EL TREN!” We’re sitting next to the tracks, under the multiple highway bridges, 10 yards from the gate of the yard, the terrain is difficult as the tracks are rolling 7 yards across the road, 7 yards under the bridge in a 3 feet ditch surrounded by rocks, trash and not-so-friendly-to-walk surface. Then another 7 yards of road and then a bridge without a shoulder. How the fuck I am supposed to catch it on the fly?

FUCK IT! My heart beats like never before, my mind closes its curtains, I am in predator mode and the only target I have is that train. There’s nothing else in my mind, nada. I put my backpack on, no time to properly tie the 30kg (67lbs) onto my back, grab the water, grab the bag of food, stand up and walk across the rail. The locomotive passes by and I see the containers, I walk along and check out the well, not sure whether it’s rideable or suicide, they’re Ferromex grey wells I have never seen before. FUCK IT! I throw my water as I’m running and grab the ladder with my hands and jump on it. SUICIDE! FUCK FUCK FUCK, I look down and see the giant metal wheels spinning and squeezing and think to myself, great job you idiot! Now what? The water broke of course since there was no floor to hit but the ground. Sixty-five seconds later the train stops and starts pulling backwards. I get off and walk back, in the meantime I yell-talk with the conductor. The train is still being build and will depart in two hours. I go get myself another water bottle, nice, now they all know I have some money, what a great start you idiot.



Two hours later I get on the train for real, it’s rolling out of Mexicali and unfortunately, I’m riding with three people next to me. One of which is sitting across me on the well ahead. He’s skinny, got a blue bottle with a blue fluid he keeps taking sips or just putting it next to his mouth I guess. He also has a bucket, a standard white “Home Depot” bucket with scrap metal in it. He’s going places, but definitely not Guadalajara and definitely not next to me. All of the other riders on the train are similar, recently deported immigrants or drug traffickers, kids working for the cartel, generally speaking, I would consider sketchy folks. All of which are equipped with kitchen knives hanging out of their jean pockets, mostly one bag and sometimes a small bottle of water. All I’m thinking is, how the fuck do they assume to make it all the way without being not even a tiny bit prepared? Luckily most of them choose to ride in the front and ride suicide. I find myself a nice well with a floor, ways back in the train as it stopped at the end of Mexicali for what looked like an inspection. We roll out, roll through the poorest parts of town, the broken little houses, street dogs, garbage, the smell of garbage, the taste of garbage, the rivers full of garbage, burning garbage, more garbage, Bienvenidos A Mexico I guess.



The following four days and three nights I rode that same train. I rode the beast, la bestia, commonly known also as el tren de la muerte (train of death). The craziest, scariest thing I have ever done in my life. Not talking about the train, nor the train hopping part itself, but the people. I smelled like money to them, no matter how much I tried to hide it. I stood 6 feet 3 tall, spoke Spanish okay, had my knife always visible, dirty, tanned, my shirt had giant holes in it, I did all I could to “blend in”. I shared my water, food and tobacco with them to keep it on the friendly, I mean there’s twenty of them and one gringo me. Also, I never showed any sign of possessions or valuables. That also is why I wasn’t able to get barely any footage of the ride which kills me, because I tell you, it was fucking incredible.



The first day we roll through the nothingness of the dessert, the highway disappears and the sun starts setting, the moon only had a skinny line and perfectly fit into the orange-purple horizon. The sound of the metal beast howling into the desert night where no one could hear it was magic. And with that magical noise I went to sleep on a freight train for the first time in my life. Bouncing and squeezing made me fall asleep instantly, maybe the sleepless night before helped a bit.



Popped my head out in the morning, I see a yard worker having a coffee break “Tenemos tiempo?” “10 minutos” I hop out and go refill my water. We chat a little and he gives me his leftover coffee, damn was it delicious. This scenario would repeat often in the following days, every time the train stopped during the day I got out to get some water, people fed me tacos, the real ones, wished me good luck, gave me a few cigs and I realized the people out here are incredible, the more we went south the better it got. I once hid because I thought someone was throwing rocks at the train where he was throwing water bottles at us. Hanging out of the side, waving at everyone as we rolled through town put the biggest smile on my face I ever got, a dream of a kid came true, the dream I dreamt every time I was at a railroad crossing watching freights pass by, hoping to see a rider on it. We rode through the desert, through the flatlands, farm lands, we rode for miles along the beach, sometimes only five yards away from it, we rode day and night, stopped a couple of times for crew changes and rebuilds, I talked to the yard workers to get info which cars and containers where headed my way and what time we were departing.



At nights I tried mostly hiding, mostly from the people riding. People tried getting on my spot, or hanging next to my well which made me super uncomfortable. I gently asked them to ride on a different car when they were catching it on the fly, since the train was moving super slow and they had 60 cars to choose from, not just mine. I am not saying all of them were bad people, I am trying to say I was scared, scared as fuck, especially at night when the train was standing still. Constantly aware of my whiteness and the smell of my money I was apparently putting out. Drinking, eating and smoking only while we were on the move, to avoid having to share it, which sounds like a dick move but when there’s 20 people and I am starving on a four-day trip with insufficient food and water, I gotta worry about myself first.



The fourth morning at six fifteen as Juan who was bumming cigarettes from me and talking to me about his drug business making me once again, not too comfortable, the locomotive whistled, we had a fist-bump-see-you and we rolled out of Tepic. The sun was rising, we had 280km (165 miles) to get to Guadalajara where I would get off. Four Ferromex DPUs are pushing a few grainers and 30-something double stacked containers up the elevation on a curvy rail. The iron snake is making its way and it sounded beautiful. The metal squeezing, the whistle blowing, the tons and tons of metal screaming as we’re pushing those curves up in the rain forest untouched mountains. Metal screaming through a rainforest was incredible. The ride took us seven or eight hours or constant curving through the mountains and on this stretch I counted thirty-four tunnels. Countless bridges with a half mile drop, no shoulder no construction around it, looking down only seeing the side train, no bridge. Around us the amazing mountains and valleys, how did we make from the beach to here so quick? Later we rolled perfectly around Tequilla, only having fifty or so kilometres to go, I roll a cigarette and think to myself, I almost made it, I rode la puta bestia, el tren de la muerte… what the f, I rode it, I did it… Mama rocked me like a south bound train



BIENVENIDOS A GUADALAJARA!

My heart and soul is screaming as I am on the side waving and yelling at every single car on the highway next to us. Smiling ear to ear, happiest I have ever been. I get off the train wave it goodbye, ‘I spent 3 nights and 4 days with you, have fun on your way to Cuidad Mexico’... Found a hole in the fence and went into the taco restaurant to get some water, where instead I was fed delicious fish tacos and a cold Coca-Cola… An incredibly COLD Coca-Cola going down my thought cooling my body down. I burp and say to myself out loud “You rode la Bestia you idiot”



So here I am, in Mexico drinking a bottle of tequila someone got me, thinking “Fuck, I’m actually illegal here, I didn’t get a stamp at the border” Will fix that soon-is because “Today we drink, mañaña we worry”


View attachment 47005 View attachment 47006 View attachment 47007 View attachment 47008 View attachment 47009
Riding La Bestia

As I was walking down from El Centro after being dropped off there the night before by Frank who swore he saw me with my friend Forrest hitchhiking at the i-8 on-ramp next to the In-n-Out three years ago, I get picked up by a lovely woman that drives me into Mexicali, feeds me amazing tacos and drops me off where the train should depart. The night before I talked to a guy who years ago worked for Ferromex in Mexicali and told me that my train should leave around noon.

Junks, meth heads, kids and all kind of sketchy folks instantly recognize my gringo existence. Even though for the average US standard I’m dirty and brown as fuck, it’s a different story out here. I have a backpack, a bag full of food and a 6liter (almost 2 gallon) jug of water. Instantly they start talking to me, asking me where I’m going, whether I have a passport, what’s in my big backpack and how much money I have. At this point I pretend I have a really bad hearing (my Spanish isn’t that fluent), I’m from Russia, I’m travelling without a passport and without money. I make sure my voice is deep and all the Spanish I’m saying is correct. I just came from the Joshua Tree Music Festival so I had the post-festival voice which helped a lot.

Some of the folks are waiting for the train, others say they live in Mexicali (one of which I saw a day later down south). At this moment, I am seriously doubting my decisions and miles from my comfort zone. Should I get on a train with these folks where they can kick me off at any time in the middle of the dessert and take my shit? Should I just walk and continue hitchhiking down south? I had no idea. This whole part still feels to me like a dream. I talk to a woman, she’s getting on the train too, she looks most trust worthy. She didn’t pull a knife on me yet like others. We talk a bit about life and travel and freedom and while in deep conversation I look left and yell “Aquí, aquí, EL TREN!” We’re sitting next to the tracks, under the multiple highway bridges, 10 yards from the gate of the yard, the terrain is difficult as the tracks are rolling 7 yards across the road, 7 yards under the bridge in a 3 feet ditch surrounded by rocks, trash and not-so-friendly-to-walk surface. Then another 7 yards of road and then a bridge without a shoulder. How the fuck I am supposed to catch it on the fly?

FUCK IT! My heart beats like never before, my mind closes its curtains, I am in predator mode and the only target I have is that train. There’s nothing else in my mind, nada. I put my backpack on, no time to properly tie the 30kg (67lbs) onto my back, grab the water, grab the bag of food, stand up and walk across the rail. The locomotive passes by and I see the containers, I walk along and check out the well, not sure whether it’s rideable or suicide, they’re Ferromex grey wells I have never seen before. FUCK IT! I throw my water as I’m running and grab the ladder with my hands and jump on it. SUICIDE! FUCK FUCK FUCK, I look down and see the giant metal wheels spinning and squeezing and think to myself, great job you idiot! Now what? The water broke of course since there was no floor to hit but the ground. Sixty-five seconds later the train stops and starts pulling backwards. I get off and walk back, in the meantime I yell-talk with the conductor. The train is still being build and will depart in two hours. I go get myself another water bottle, nice, now they all know I have some money, what a great start you idiot.



Two hours later I get on the train for real, it’s rolling out of Mexicali and unfortunately, I’m riding with three people next to me. One of which is sitting across me on the well ahead. He’s skinny, got a blue bottle with a blue fluid he keeps taking sips or just putting it next to his mouth I guess. He also has a bucket, a standard white “Home Depot” bucket with scrap metal in it. He’s going places, but definitely not Guadalajara and definitely not next to me. All of the other riders on the train are similar, recently deported immigrants or drug traffickers, kids working for the cartel, generally speaking, I would consider sketchy folks. All of which are equipped with kitchen knives hanging out of their jean pockets, mostly one bag and sometimes a small bottle of water. All I’m thinking is, how the fuck do they assume to make it all the way without being not even a tiny bit prepared? Luckily most of them choose to ride in the front and ride suicide. I find myself a nice well with a floor, ways back in the train as it stopped at the end of Mexicali for what looked like an inspection. We roll out, roll through the poorest parts of town, the broken little houses, street dogs, garbage, the smell of garbage, the taste of garbage, the rivers full of garbage, burning garbage, more garbage, Bienvenidos A Mexico I guess.



The following four days and three nights I rode that same train. I rode the beast, la bestia, commonly known also as el tren de la muerte (train of death). The craziest, scariest thing I have ever done in my life. Not talking about the train, nor the train hopping part itself, but the people. I smelled like money to them, no matter how much I tried to hide it. I stood 6 feet 3 tall, spoke Spanish okay, had my knife always visible, dirty, tanned, my shirt had giant holes in it, I did all I could to “blend in”. I shared my water, food and tobacco with them to keep it on the friendly, I mean there’s twenty of them and one gringo me. Also, I never showed any sign of possessions or valuables. That also is why I wasn’t able to get barely any footage of the ride which kills me, because I tell you, it was fucking incredible.



The first day we roll through the nothingness of the dessert, the highway disappears and the sun starts setting, the moon only had a skinny line and perfectly fit into the orange-purple horizon. The sound of the metal beast howling into the desert night where no one could hear it was magic. And with that magical noise I went to sleep on a freight train for the first time in my life. Bouncing and squeezing made me fall asleep instantly, maybe the sleepless night before helped a bit.



Popped my head out in the morning, I see a yard worker having a coffee break “Tenemos tiempo?” “10 minutos” I hop out and go refill my water. We chat a little and he gives me his leftover coffee, damn was it delicious. This scenario would repeat often in the following days, every time the train stopped during the day I got out to get some water, people fed me tacos, the real ones, wished me good luck, gave me a few cigs and I realized the people out here are incredible, the more we went south the better it got. I once hid because I thought someone was throwing rocks at the train where he was throwing water bottles at us. Hanging out of the side, waving at everyone as we rolled through town put the biggest smile on my face I ever got, a dream of a kid came true, the dream I dreamt every time I was at a railroad crossing watching freights pass by, hoping to see a rider on it. We rode through the desert, through the flatlands, farm lands, we rode for miles along the beach, sometimes only five yards away from it, we rode day and night, stopped a couple of times for crew changes and rebuilds, I talked to the yard workers to get info which cars and containers where headed my way and what time we were departing.



At nights I tried mostly hiding, mostly from the people riding. People tried getting on my spot, or hanging next to my well which made me super uncomfortable. I gently asked them to ride on a different car when they were catching it on the fly, since the train was moving super slow and they had 60 cars to choose from, not just mine. I am not saying all of them were bad people, I am trying to say I was scared, scared as fuck, especially at night when the train was standing still. Constantly aware of my whiteness and the smell of my money I was apparently putting out. Drinking, eating and smoking only while we were on the move, to avoid having to share it, which sounds like a dick move but when there’s 20 people and I am starving on a four-day trip with insufficient food and water, I gotta worry about myself first.



The fourth morning at six fifteen as Juan who was bumming cigarettes from me and talking to me about his drug business making me once again, not too comfortable, the locomotive whistled, we had a fist-bump-see-you and we rolled out of Tepic. The sun was rising, we had 280km (165 miles) to get to Guadalajara where I would get off. Four Ferromex DPUs are pushing a few grainers and 30-something double stacked containers up the elevation on a curvy rail. The iron snake is making its way and it sounded beautiful. The metal squeezing, the whistle blowing, the tons and tons of metal screaming as we’re pushing those curves up in the rain forest untouched mountains. Metal screaming through a rainforest was incredible. The ride took us seven or eight hours or constant curving through the mountains and on this stretch I counted thirty-four tunnels. Countless bridges with a half mile drop, no shoulder no construction around it, looking down only seeing the side train, no bridge. Around us the amazing mountains and valleys, how did we make from the beach to here so quick? Later we rolled perfectly around Tequilla, only having fifty or so kilometres to go, I roll a cigarette and think to myself, I almost made it, I rode la puta bestia, el tren de la muerte… what the f, I rode it, I did it… Mama rocked me like a south bound train



BIENVENIDOS A GUADALAJARA!

My heart and soul is screaming as I am on the side waving and yelling at every single car on the highway next to us. Smiling ear to ear, happiest I have ever been. I get off the train wave it goodbye, ‘I spent 3 nights and 4 days with you, have fun on your way to Cuidad Mexico’... Found a hole in the fence and went into the taco restaurant to get some water, where instead I was fed delicious fish tacos and a cold Coca-Cola… An incredibly COLD Coca-Cola going down my thought cooling my body down. I burp and say to myself out loud “You rode la Bestia you idiot”



So here I am, in Mexico drinking a bottle of tequila someone got me, thinking “Fuck, I’m actually illegal here, I didn’t get a stamp at the border” Will fix that soon-is because “Today we drink, mañaña we worry”


View attachment 47005 View attachment 47006 View attachment 47007 View attachment 47008 View attachment 47009
Wow....Well written...i read tons of books and you have the gift!
 
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#11
You should!! Aslo!! ✌
 
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#12
did you see any monuments or memorials to Guadalajara train disaster?
 
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#13
did you see any monuments or memorials to Guadalajara train disaster?
not yet, I've only seen my laptop and all the Vitamin Ts, also the canyon, and the tacos around the corner
 
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#15
Riding La Bestia

As I was walking down from El Centro after being dropped off there the night before by Frank who swore he saw me with my friend Forrest hitchhiking at the i-8 on-ramp next to the In-n-Out three years ago, I get picked up by a lovely woman that drives me into Mexicali, feeds me amazing tacos and drops me off where the train should depart. The night before I talked to a guy who years ago worked for Ferromex in Mexicali and told me that my train should leave around noon.

Junks, meth heads, kids and all kind of sketchy folks instantly recognize my gringo existence. Even though for the average US standard I’m dirty and brown as fuck, it’s a different story out here. I have a backpack, a bag full of food and a 6liter (almost 2 gallon) jug of water. Instantly they start talking to me, asking me where I’m going, whether I have a passport, what’s in my big backpack and how much money I have. At this point I pretend I have a really bad hearing (my Spanish isn’t that fluent), I’m from Russia, I’m travelling without a passport and without money. I make sure my voice is deep and all the Spanish I’m saying is correct. I just came from the Joshua Tree Music Festival so I had the post-festival voice which helped a lot.

Some of the folks are waiting for the train, others say they live in Mexicali (one of which I saw a day later down south). At this moment, I am seriously doubting my decisions and miles from my comfort zone. Should I get on a train with these folks where they can kick me off at any time in the middle of the dessert and take my shit? Should I just walk and continue hitchhiking down south? I had no idea. This whole part still feels to me like a dream. I talk to a woman, she’s getting on the train too, she looks most trust worthy. She didn’t pull a knife on me yet like others. We talk a bit about life and travel and freedom and while in deep conversation I look left and yell “Aquí, aquí, EL TREN!” We’re sitting next to the tracks, under the multiple highway bridges, 10 yards from the gate of the yard, the terrain is difficult as the tracks are rolling 7 yards across the road, 7 yards under the bridge in a 3 feet ditch surrounded by rocks, trash and not-so-friendly-to-walk surface. Then another 7 yards of road and then a bridge without a shoulder. How the fuck I am supposed to catch it on the fly?

FUCK IT! My heart beats like never before, my mind closes its curtains, I am in predator mode and the only target I have is that train. There’s nothing else in my mind, nada. I put my backpack on, no time to properly tie the 30kg (67lbs) onto my back, grab the water, grab the bag of food, stand up and walk across the rail. The locomotive passes by and I see the containers, I walk along and check out the well, not sure whether it’s rideable or suicide, they’re Ferromex grey wells I have never seen before. FUCK IT! I throw my water as I’m running and grab the ladder with my hands and jump on it. SUICIDE! FUCK FUCK FUCK, I look down and see the giant metal wheels spinning and squeezing and think to myself, great job you idiot! Now what? The water broke of course since there was no floor to hit but the ground. Sixty-five seconds later the train stops and starts pulling backwards. I get off and walk back, in the meantime I yell-talk with the conductor. The train is still being build and will depart in two hours. I go get myself another water bottle, nice, now they all know I have some money, what a great start you idiot.



Two hours later I get on the train for real, it’s rolling out of Mexicali and unfortunately, I’m riding with three people next to me. One of which is sitting across me on the well ahead. He’s skinny, got a blue bottle with a blue fluid he keeps taking sips or just putting it next to his mouth I guess. He also has a bucket, a standard white “Home Depot” bucket with scrap metal in it. He’s going places, but definitely not Guadalajara and definitely not next to me. All of the other riders on the train are similar, recently deported immigrants or drug traffickers, kids working for the cartel, generally speaking, I would consider sketchy folks. All of which are equipped with kitchen knives hanging out of their jean pockets, mostly one bag and sometimes a small bottle of water. All I’m thinking is, how the fuck do they assume to make it all the way without being not even a tiny bit prepared? Luckily most of them choose to ride in the front and ride suicide. I find myself a nice well with a floor, ways back in the train as it stopped at the end of Mexicali for what looked like an inspection. We roll out, roll through the poorest parts of town, the broken little houses, street dogs, garbage, the smell of garbage, the taste of garbage, the rivers full of garbage, burning garbage, more garbage, Bienvenidos A Mexico I guess.



The following four days and three nights I rode that same train. I rode the beast, la bestia, commonly known also as el tren de la muerte (train of death). The craziest, scariest thing I have ever done in my life. Not talking about the train, nor the train hopping part itself, but the people. I smelled like money to them, no matter how much I tried to hide it. I stood 6 feet 3 tall, spoke Spanish okay, had my knife always visible, dirty, tanned, my shirt had giant holes in it, I did all I could to “blend in”. I shared my water, food and tobacco with them to keep it on the friendly, I mean there’s twenty of them and one gringo me. Also, I never showed any sign of possessions or valuables. That also is why I wasn’t able to get barely any footage of the ride which kills me, because I tell you, it was fucking incredible.



The first day we roll through the nothingness of the dessert, the highway disappears and the sun starts setting, the moon only had a skinny line and perfectly fit into the orange-purple horizon. The sound of the metal beast howling into the desert night where no one could hear it was magic. And with that magical noise I went to sleep on a freight train for the first time in my life. Bouncing and squeezing made me fall asleep instantly, maybe the sleepless night before helped a bit.



Popped my head out in the morning, I see a yard worker having a coffee break “Tenemos tiempo?” “10 minutos” I hop out and go refill my water. We chat a little and he gives me his leftover coffee, damn was it delicious. This scenario would repeat often in the following days, every time the train stopped during the day I got out to get some water, people fed me tacos, the real ones, wished me good luck, gave me a few cigs and I realized the people out here are incredible, the more we went south the better it got. I once hid because I thought someone was throwing rocks at the train where he was throwing water bottles at us. Hanging out of the side, waving at everyone as we rolled through town put the biggest smile on my face I ever got, a dream of a kid came true, the dream I dreamt every time I was at a railroad crossing watching freights pass by, hoping to see a rider on it. We rode through the desert, through the flatlands, farm lands, we rode for miles along the beach, sometimes only five yards away from it, we rode day and night, stopped a couple of times for crew changes and rebuilds, I talked to the yard workers to get info which cars and containers where headed my way and what time we were departing.



At nights I tried mostly hiding, mostly from the people riding. People tried getting on my spot, or hanging next to my well which made me super uncomfortable. I gently asked them to ride on a different car when they were catching it on the fly, since the train was moving super slow and they had 60 cars to choose from, not just mine. I am not saying all of them were bad people, I am trying to say I was scared, scared as fuck, especially at night when the train was standing still. Constantly aware of my whiteness and the smell of my money I was apparently putting out. Drinking, eating and smoking only while we were on the move, to avoid having to share it, which sounds like a dick move but when there’s 20 people and I am starving on a four-day trip with insufficient food and water, I gotta worry about myself first.



The fourth morning at six fifteen as Juan who was bumming cigarettes from me and talking to me about his drug business making me once again, not too comfortable, the locomotive whistled, we had a fist-bump-see-you and we rolled out of Tepic. The sun was rising, we had 280km (165 miles) to get to Guadalajara where I would get off. Four Ferromex DPUs are pushing a few grainers and 30-something double stacked containers up the elevation on a curvy rail. The iron snake is making its way and it sounded beautiful. The metal squeezing, the whistle blowing, the tons and tons of metal screaming as we’re pushing those curves up in the rain forest untouched mountains. Metal screaming through a rainforest was incredible. The ride took us seven or eight hours or constant curving through the mountains and on this stretch I counted thirty-four tunnels. Countless bridges with a half mile drop, no shoulder no construction around it, looking down only seeing the side train, no bridge. Around us the amazing mountains and valleys, how did we make from the beach to here so quick? Later we rolled perfectly around Tequilla, only having fifty or so kilometres to go, I roll a cigarette and think to myself, I almost made it, I rode la puta bestia, el tren de la muerte… what the f, I rode it, I did it… Mama rocked me like a south bound train



BIENVENIDOS A GUADALAJARA!

My heart and soul is screaming as I am on the side waving and yelling at every single car on the highway next to us. Smiling ear to ear, happiest I have ever been. I get off the train wave it goodbye, ‘I spent 3 nights and 4 days with you, have fun on your way to Cuidad Mexico’... Found a hole in the fence and went into the taco restaurant to get some water, where instead I was fed delicious fish tacos and a cold Coca-Cola… An incredibly COLD Coca-Cola going down my thought cooling my body down. I burp and say to myself out loud “You rode la Bestia you idiot”



So here I am, in Mexico drinking a bottle of tequila someone got me, thinking “Fuck, I’m actually illegal here, I didn’t get a stamp at the border” Will fix that soon-is because “Today we drink, mañaña we worry”


View attachment 47005 View attachment 47006 View attachment 47007 View attachment 47008 View attachment 47009
Excuse me, sir? This train they call La Bestia? Do you know where someone can board it? I'm trying to go to Mexico City but I'm new to all this. I don't know where the train I need to board is, where to board, when to board, how long to stay on and lastly, which train I transfer to. Once I get to Mexico City, I want to be able to catch Le Bestia.
 

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