The coast road straightens out in southern Mexico. I haven’t been down here since 2006 right after a hurricane ravaged the area and washed out many of the bridges. I can’t believe the changes. It is now a 4 lane freeway that runs inland and bypasses the towns. Kind of boring, and I should have headed into the mountains to the colonial town of San Cristobal de las Casas, but I figured I’d head that way on the way home.
Nothing much opens before 9 in the morning or so. I would usually ride for a while and stop for breakfast on the side of the road in the later morning. It was another beautiful day as I turned off the freeway and stopped at a small comedor (cafe) for a big plate of Huevos Mexicanos (scrambled eggs, onions, cilantro and tomatoes), frijoles (beans) and tortillas harina (whole wheat tortillas). The shy waitress hid behind a brick column when I got my camera out, but I snapped a pic when she peeked to see what I was doing.
The two local guys chowing down were riding these China bikes.
They looked like they were heading out into the fields to work as they kick-started their little bikes and rode off.
I almost missed the turn up into the mountains at Huixtla since the PanAm is a freeway now and bypasses the town. The last time I came through the border crossing at Tapachula down in the hot coastal plain, I decided never again. That busy crossing on the Panam Hwy is a zoo. It is much cooler and more relaxed crossing at La Mesilla up in the mountains. The road used to be 211, but has been renamed 220. It is a great road. Winding up and up into the milder mountain air. I stopped to check my map and the owner of a roadside food stall came out and started talking Kawasaki. He had just bought a used Ninja and had to show me his new bike. So he opened up his garage next door and showed off his new bike. Of course he had to show me his phone video of his friends canyon carving on this great road I was on. His phone had a cracked screen, but the two thirds of the screen that was working looked like they were having fun. He insisted on fixing me a steak, and cranked up the stereo with some sixties rock.
Here is my new Ninja buddy sweating over a hot grill cooking me up a steak in his dingy kitchen. The picture doesn't show him dancing a little salsa to the cranking beat of the Stones song Start Me Up. You'll have to fill that in with your imagination.
So I find myself relaxing on the terrace, listening to the Stones and CCR while eating a steak. Who would have thought?
I don't exit Mexico since my permits are good for six months. This is not exactly kosher, so I don't recommend it. It's just what I do. The crossing into Guatemala is easy. I am the only one there and am in and out in short order. It is the weekend, so I change a 100 dollars to tide me over until the banks open. It costs 8 dollars to enter Guatemala with the bike and the exchange rate is 7.5 Quetzals to the dollar. It is 7.85 Quetzals to the dollar at the bank so I pay a 35 Quetzal penalty for changing money at the border. The convenience is worth it to me.
The road goes through a crack in the mountains formed by a river. You ride up a canyon with waterfalls and steep cliffs on either side.
It is hazy as the road winds up into the mountains and drops down into valleys.
You definitely aren't in Mexico anymore. The terrain is somehow more rugged and soon you encounter the colorful Guatemalan buses.
They are diesel belching converted schoolbuses with awesome paint jobs and detailing. Here is a close-up of a grill.
And these guys fly when they're going downhill, and are always in a hurry. I followed a cool Esmerelda Line bus for a while. It had color shifting green paint and chrome with a yellow tweety bird painted on the back end. The ticket taker stands in the doorway and when a passenger needed to get off he would boost a little kid out the door and up onto the roof WHILE THE BUS WAS CRANKING AROUND THE HAIRPINS! My jaw dropped as the little kid hustled up and untied some bags on the roof rack that he tossed down to the ticket taker as they pulled over and let the passenger off as I rode by.