6:00 pm

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Today is my birthday. Ascanio wants a rest day, and Cristian is sick. We lose two and gain one — Albina from Russia — and our group of five finds a taxi to take us to Competition Wall 2016.

We tumble out of the taxi at El Palenque, a bar built inside of a cave, and walk down the road to the right, to the limestone rock face awaiting us. We are not the only ones to have this idea today, but there are plenty of routes, and we climb alongside 10 or 12 other people, fighting the mosquitoes in the shade. The routes are fun, and the views from the top are great.

In the early evening, we walk back to El Palenque and stand by the road, sticking two fingers out every time we see a car come around the corner about three-quarters of a mile down the road. We are ignored by a couple of horse-drawn carts, a bus, and a few taxis that are already full before we finally hail a teal blue Chevrolet being driven in the opposite direction. The farmer agrees to turn around and take us back to town for seven pesos, so we throw our packs in the back and jump in.

The bench seats squeak as we bounce down the road, passing other ancient vehicles and two kids on bicycles leading a horse by the reins. Air rushes in through the open windows, and I close my eyes.

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