I left San Cristobal de las Casas this morning heading for Palenque. First I had to find some more rubber cement for patching tubes as mine was beyond its past due date. It turns out that today is Sunday and no Repuestos de Motos (motorcycle parts) stores were open. But the guy at the Pemex station where I filled up with gas thought I should check the bicycle store that was open on Sundays down by the Mercado. Great idea!
I pulled up and there were two guys waiting in front of the bike shop with flat tires. It opened at 9:30 and it was 9:00, so I spent some time talking with flat tire Alejandro. He had worked in a plant nursery in Atlanta Georgia for three years a while ago but never learned any English. Nice guy.
So I learned that rubber cement is called Cemento, patches are called Parchas, and tire tubes are called Camaras. Just so you know. Two tubes of cemento cost 14 pesos or $1.12. I also bought 2 liters of oil for 130 pesos or a little over 5 bucks a liter at the Pemex station. The bike could use an oil change. There was no convenient place to do it in the city. Pemex didn't have 10/40. All they had was 40 wt. or 20/50. I chose 20/50 since that's what I ended up using in Guatemala last time I was down here and the Sherpa didn't seem to mind.
It was chilly this morning up in the mountains. I had my down jacket and long underwear on as the road climbed higher up into the mountains. There was a Gruta (grotto or cave) sign outside of town and I rode down to check it out, but you had to park your bike and walk through the pine forest up what looked like a long pathway. I didn't feel like hiking in the cold so went back to the main road to Palenque and kept riding up into the clouds. Didn't take any pictures up there. It was a fairly decent road for Chiapas. A few deslaves (landslides) and sunken areas to keep you on your toes. This area had just been repaired recently and was taken out part way again. You can see the old road and the new undermined road in this pic:
Here is another large landslide over the way:
The road finally dropped down to Ocosingo off in the distance:
It was warming up and there were good smells coming from the side of the road so I turned around and stopped for desayuno (breakfast) at a comedor. They had to run next door to get some eggs for huevos Mexicanos served with frijoles (beans) and tortillas. It's all you can eat tortillas so I finished off a pile. 20 pesos or $1.60. Quite filling and economical. Tourist towns charge twice as much. 40 or 50 pesos for this simple breakfast in places like Real de Catorce or San Cristobal.
Once you are out of the pine forests the road winds through 100 miles of lower mountains:
It was nothing but curves for hours. Really fun riding. Pounding over speed bumps, swerving around sunken areas of the road and passing buses and colectivos is fun but it is nice to take a break every now and then. Sometimes I'll turn off on a dirt road and ride down to a small village and sit on a bench and drink a coke and relax for a while. Today was no different. Stopped down a gravel road at this little place out in the middle of nowhere where the friendly locals that walked by all said buenas tardes. Nice rural kicked back vibe:
Before I got to Palenque I saw the sign for Agua Azul Cascadas and decided to go check out the waterfalls. I knew it was touristy. But the switchbacks down were only 3 miles to a Caseta de Cobra (toll booth) that charged 38 pesos or 3 dollars. I parked next to some nice Mexican tourists from way up north in Cuernavaca who were on holiday. Here is what the falls and swimming areas look like:
Just like the photos on the internet and tourist brochures. What they don't show is the busloads of people and the pathway up to the falls that is lined with trinket shops:
I would give this place a miss. The tranquil and beautiful waterfall park on the dirt road through the sugarcane fields up near Naranjo was far nicer. And I was the only one there. Quite a contrast to this place. Plus more spectacular waterfalls than this place. But hey, the tourists were enjoying Agua azul and it would be a beautiful setting minus all the people and buses.
I continued on winding down through the lower mountains:
to the coastal plain where the road flattened and straightened off towards the distance and the clouds and cold of the mountains gave way to blue skies and warmth:
Another drastic change in climate with only a few hours of riding. I arrived in Palenque around 4, so too late in the day to go check out the ruins. I rode into the lobby of the hotel here and parked and when she said 200 pesos ($16.000 with wifi, cable, two beds and hot showers I said sign me up. This is a shot of what sixteen bucks gets you in Palenque:
Two beds, a fresh roll of toilet paper, towel, and a bar of soap at the Posada Aguila Real. Works for me. I spent 601 pesos or $48.08 today on food, gas, oil, glue, entrance fees and lodging