Day 4. Tuesday Mar 11, 2008
Cuatro Ciénegas, Coahuila to Rio Grande, Zacatecas, 332 miles
Out of my room at 9am. Hotel breakfast. On Mexican TV is a Mexican morning show where periodically everyone gets up and dances a jig. Met an Italian on a bicycle with a trailer. He left San Antonio 10 days ago. We stayed in the same hotel in San Buenaventura and then again last night in Cuarto Ciénegas. I complimented him on his good taste in hotels.
Goofed around the plaza
Mexico knows buses. These superliners are like space ships.
Excited about riding
I ran thru the bike's check list. Load up. Ready to roll at 1pm! Well, there's one thing to be said about being meticulously cautious and ready to go --- when you are ready... you are REALLY ready to go. I was excited about riding today.
It´s 122 miles from Cuatro Ciénegas to San Pedro with little or nothing in between. Tanque Nuevo, which owns a spot on my maps? One abandoned building. Don´t count on gas there. No gas for 122 miles. There were a couple of places that maybe looked like "functioning" stores. Maybe. Incredibly there are dirt roads leading off to other unseen communities off in the horizon distance. I could only wonder what lies at the end of those tracks.
Pretty kool ride actually. Somewhat like Texas' Big Bend area.
Across Chihuahuan Desert. Ocotillo, creosote bush, picaya cactus. Much of the territory is unfenced. The road straight and true, very little traffic. I saw trucks carrying logged trees heading north, (from Durango I imagined), and heading south I saw trucks carrying huge blocks of rock, like 3 blocks at a time.
Laguna = desert (?)
About 85-90 miles into the ride on the other side of a little mountain range called Sierra Las Delicias, the desert turns into white flat NOTHING. No creosote bushes, no cactus. It was shocking. I guess this is part of what they call Desierto Laguna de Mayrón (or Mayran?). Not really sure why they call a desert a laguna.
Laguna de Mayran (?)
Torreón, La Perla de la Laguna
From San Pedro de Las Colonias to Gomez Palacio to Ciudad Lerdo, it was the usual dodge-and-dance traffic around Big-City Torreón. Not only do you have to watch traffic and decipher road signs, but also you watch the road conditions immediately ahead, which can change drastically without notice.
So lets see, the priorities in descending order -- watch road, watch traffic, watch signs. I guess its not all that different from the States. Just seems much more intense here. Don´t look at the 8 people and wheelchair in back of that pickup. Too distracting. Eyes on the road. Taxi whizzes by on my right. Speed Bump!
It's 5:30 by the time I´m finally on the other side of it all. 4.5 hours for the 1st 183 miles.
Autopista (Cuota) Toll plaza, on the south side of Torreón.
And then its the Autopista
, that is, toll road hwy, comparable to our Interstates. Also known as Cuotas
. $12 toll for 46 miles of super hwy and worth every dang centavo. I say this as they are safer and faster than the "libre
" roads. Generally speaking, when I'm headed into Mexico I make use of the cuotas
to get as far into Mexico as fast as possible.
The huge Nazas river flows majestically just south of Torreón. I'm out of the desert now, and in the Central Highlands. Setting sun casts long shadows on rock formations and arid mountain ranges.
I exit the Autopista
at Cuencamé (it continues on, Durango bound). It gets dark and colder and the road is rough and hazardous with traffic to Juan Aldama, where I finally pause for food. This is a bus stop gas station cafeteria, decorated with scores of paintings and photographs of Marilyn Monroe. 3 huge buses are parked outside. Delicious burritos ($3.50) but I can´t figure out the system as to how you pay for them. The gals behind the cafeteria line watch over me. When all the buses leave, the place is deserted.
It's 9:15, I push on for another 42 miles of good 'ole Mexican night riding. Good choice. The road is much better and traffic is lighter. Just gotta get used to the oncoming cars/trucks passing on my side of the line, with me 'a coming. They expect me to move over. Just a little unnerving.
At 10:15pm I exit the hwy and enter the town of Rio Grande, Zacatecas. OK, I'm ready for a room now. Rio Grande is a small farming community. Lots of fertilizer smells coming into town. Hotel El Carreton, $18. It's a motel located directly across the highway from one of the bus stations. I'm skeptical, but too tired to care, and in the end, grow to call the place home. I am so adaptable.
Day 4. 332 miles