The roads of the last few days have provided some of the most challenging on road driving conditions I have experienced so far. Hitting the town of Valle de Bravo on sunset, I got caught in a traffic jam attempting to cross through the town. I was trying to find my way out to my friends holiday house where I have been offered the house to stay for a few days. Google maps tells me I am on the wrong street, yet I must have missed the turn off by meters, and suddlenly again I am in the middle of the map away from where the blue line of Goggle is telling me to go. Many of the streets are one way and I turn off out of the jam in desperation. I hit rough cobble stones. The bike starts jumping all over the place. The cars in frount of me slow down to an excruciatingly slow speed. I can hardly keep the bike up. And then the steep hills start. I have to bomb past them or I will fall over. The holes in the cobblestones and the gradient of the slops make it hard for my feet to touch the ground. I cannot see my iphone map as it is now too dark, and I need both hands on the handlebars and both eyes on the uneven road. Again I make a desperate turn. I find myself going in totally different directions than I hope. The streets are like a maze of rabbit warrens. Nothing is straight. The hills compound the problem. The one way streets not clearly marked also add an extra dimension. The darkness settles in. After an hour I find myself back where I started. This time I go left instead of right. I turn a up huge hill and get caught at a dead end. I ask directions. They say 'no say' literally 'I don't know' . My friend had told me navigation here can be hard. 'Call a taxi if you get lost and have them lead you'. But each time I thought. 'I must be nearly there!'. My independent and frugal nature not allowing myself to give in. Finally free of the dead end by slowly turning the bike I make it out. Trying to pick my path through the darkness. I cannot belive that I don't dump the bike on numerous occasions. I arrive 2 hours later, a mere 20km down the road at my friends house. The lights off the housekeepers thinking I am no longer coming. I phone the house to unlock the gate. I am exhausted. My Spanish comes out garbled. They come to get me and I thankfully put myself into a soft warm bed and sleep.
the next morning it dropped the bike on the cobblestones!
In the next few days Taxco provides a similar set of challenges. While this time I learn from past experiences and arrive with plenty of daylight to spare. The hills are incredible. This town is hanging precariously from the mountainside. One way streets and cobblestones are everywhere. Trying to find myself a place to sleep I miss a turn off as I am faced with more one way streets. I come over a hill and look down. I feel I am at the pinnacle point of a roller coaster. I take a deep breath put the bike in low gear and go down. Little white Beatles taxis infrount of me go screaming down the hill. And then near the bottom, taking leave from the roller coaster rides, the road makes a sharp right turn still on a step slope. I make a wide turn. It's here I discover it's not a one way street anymore. A car is headed my way. Thankfully it backs back so I can try and pull the bike round. My heart is in my throat. Finally, I get to near the main square and try to pull over to walk to find a hotel. Before I have even parked 5 people are at the bike. Speaking fast Spanish, touts wanting to get me to buy silver, hotel, breakfast, whatever! At this point I just want them to leave me alone. The bike is on a slope and I can't place it. I put the side stand down and the bike starts scraping backwards. There is nowhere to park. I ride off again leaving the touts calling at my back. I go on to another square finally finding a flat space for the bike. More touts come at me but I ignore them until the bike is parked, my cover on, and I catch my breath. 'Ok. Hotel'. I take the leave of one man who had been patiently waiting. He leads me thought the streets to find a hotel in my low price range with parking. He helps me unload the bike in it new home and ensures I am settled in. Explaining in broken English the hotels key system. Taking his time to ensure I am settled. While I hate the idea of touts I am thankful for his patience. I tip him and walk out to find dinner.
From the beautiful sliver town of Taxco, I head to Puebla. Not wanting to take the toll roads that goggle maps wants me to, I pick a path that looks to me relatively straight forward, yet still classed as a major road, (orange on goggle maps, not yellow, or just a small grey line). I find myself in the hills of Tetela de volcan and San Miguel, struggling over small cobbled farming roads, that at times ver off to the side, so that you hit a dead end, or a dirt track, or simply go in circles in the small villages next to people harvesting their corn with machetes, or carting it to market on donkeys. The occasional bus helps me redirect myself back to the 'major road' or really the small cobbled lane with barely room for the bus to fit one way between the houses. By the end of the day I finally make it to Puebla, just on dusk after approx. 270km took 7 hours of travel, not once stepping off the bike.
I am slowly learning to take toll roads if need just to escape a city, and make the days not so long. Also to try and leave earlier so i don't keep hitting my destination on sunset!