Day 6. Thursday
Rio Grande, state of Zacatecas to Tlaquepaque (Guadalajara), Jalisco. 332 miles (same as yesterday!)
It's Thursday and I'm still headed south. I call home (my cell phone works!) and quickly arrange for more time off.
Sierra Chapultepec, north of Fresnillo
A double 53 footer, Zacatecas bypass
Mexico's Central Plateau
I feel I'm making a mistake by NOT going into Zacatecas. But I pass on it, taking the Cuota road bypass. Beautiful day, sky so blue. I just remember how congested Zacatecas was the last time I was there (2001?). I would need to spend the night to do it right.
Zacatecas in the distance, from the bypass road. Feeling uneasy
The wind continues to be down right cold. Mexican Highlands. Finally, in Aguascalientes, for the first time on this trip I feel overly warm in my riding jacket, but soon the sun goes down and it's frio
Day 6, Rio Grande to Tlaquepaque
Know your Cuota roads
I've taken the Autopista route, as suggested by the hotel people in Rio Grande. At a gas stop at the Jalisco state line, south of Aguascalientes, a guy in pick-up and I are talking. When I tell him where I started this morning, he laughs and sez I shoulda taken Hwy 54 out of Zacatecas! He sez I've come the long way. Well I'm steamed. A through map check reveals that indeed, the Hwy 54 route from Zacatecas to Guadalajara is 200 miles, whereas my route is costing 242 miles. So Hwy 54 is 42 miles shorter (these are Mexican miles we're talking), but not the 100 miles shorter the guy teased me about. Still, its late in the day and I've got another 140 miles to go. I stay steamed.
I pull into super crowded heavy traffic Guadalajara at 9-10pm. Tired burnt by the sun I've 'bout had it with this Mexican Central Plateau. I'm plateaued out. The last toll plaza had 12 toll booths. I'll admit I was a bit rattled with all the night time traffic, unmarked hwy lanes, everyone in a hurry. Can't see s***.
I exit Tlaquepaque (that's TLA-Kay-PAH-Kay) and land at the first Pemex station. Its huge. Four buses are gassing up at the same time on one side. 6 cops fly in on Honda 250's. They are like 'skitters. In fact, there are cops all over the place, some in flak jackets. One hour to unwind, clean up and regain my dignity. I study city maps on the filling station wall. What to do, where to stay? Downtown Guadalajara? I'm a crispy critter.
Somehow I wind up in centro
Tlaquepaque, the real Tlaquepaque, and I fall in love with it. Tlaquepaque is a part of Guadalajara. Funky old town. 6 square blocks of pedestrian only streets. Run into a motorcycle "gang" of young kids, 15 bikes. Orlando leads the Black Dragons. They pretty much don't know what to make of me and the 'Hornet. But smile big when I say I came from Rio Grande today. Giant moto rally in Mazatlán next week end. I'll have to miss it.
Many streets closed to car traffic but at this hour, I follow the Black Dragons' lead and enter the pedestrian zone. Great chow at an outdoor restaurant that takes up a whole city block, actually its made up of many different eateries and bars. Gouged with a bill for $19! That's the most I've paid so far.
The Swing Room
At 12;30 a.m. I get a room at the very first place I can find, the Caprice Motel, located across the blvd from the Pemex station where I first landed in Tlaquepaque. For $26 it comes equipped with fancy TV, free porn and one of those sex swings hanging from the ceiling. I kid you not. Plus my own private garage.
The Swing Room. As nice as this place was, notice there are no closets or shelves to put your stuff.
If these walls could talk
Know what? I don't care. It's brand new, super clean, and the bike is safe. A respite from the mean ole wind and sun out there on the Central Plateau. I didn't see the sign warning "No Children or Minors Allowed" until I left in the morning.
Of course I knew something was up when the Administration is behind a one-way-glass mirror. A voice comes over a speaker from nowhere, Dr No style, telling me to go to Room #57.
Just go to #57?
Ok, I putt around to the back and find the garage for #57. As I'm parking the Green Hornet two "maids" show up, at least they were wearing maid costumes, uhhhh, uniforms. Nice looking girls, friendly, they ask for the $26. Paying for your motel room away from the Administration office/one-way mirror is kinda strange, but OK. $26. Then one of them asks me if I want anything to eat. Well it's 12:30 a.m. and no thank you, I just ate, but in retrospect this may have been a chance to upgrade my room.
You gotta love it. So much for one of those classic old colonial hotels in the Guadalajara center.