Doing Good Around the World - I - from Vancouver to Patagonia

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by peergum, Jul 13, 2017.

  1. peergum

    peergum Been here awhile

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    Latest news: We're in Tuxtla Gutierrez until Wednesday. In the plans: Cañon de Sumidoro and San Cristóbal de Las Casas, then we'll head toward Agua Azul Waterfalls.

    Second post for Orizaba should come shortly with a bunch of pictures of the "zoológico" along the river... We decided to skip Cordoba, slept in tasteless Tuxtepec, then some misadventure on the way to Oaxaca with a nice back tire flat in the middle of nowhere, under the warm sun, then one day in Oaxaca, then one night in Salina Cruz (no visit, not sure there's anything to visit besides going to the beach...) Then a long quite windy ride around El Istmo (30km/h lateral winds, according to the weather channel... worst in the coming days). More posts to come.

    Anyone in the area currently?
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  2. peergum

    peergum Been here awhile

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    We did and loved it! Getting a bit tired of the churches/cathedrals/etc... The zoo was a very welcome change ;)
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  3. dwj - Donnie

    dwj - Donnie Long timer

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    If you only had 30kmp side winds you were extremely lucky. I use to live south of there and have ridden that stretch 40 to 50 times. I have come through with gust well over 100, with a minimum at constant at 60 or more.

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  4. Jack can

    Jack can Wrecker man

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    Just wanted to say thank you. Really enjoying the sights. I love how your taking the time to soak it in. Keep up the good work/fun.
  5. peergum

    peergum Been here awhile

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    Day 114: Furry Friends in Orizaba
    We started our day on Tuesday with a gondola ride that took us to the top of a mountain for a panoramic view of Orizaba. The whole trip cost 100 pesos (~6.80 CAD) for the two of us and took around two hours, including the stop on the mountain where we did a bit of exploring along with some picture-taking.

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    The Gondola Ride



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    View of Orizaba



    After the gondola ride, we had some lunch and then headed to the Orizaba River to spend the rest of our afternoon. The river crosses the city from North to South and covers a distance of about 3 kilometers. The main attraction of this place is the animal reserve, which houses many different species. Some of these animals are endangered and the reserve allows them to reproduce in their natural habitat.

    We spent many hours doing a full circle around the river, taking hundreds of pictures and checking out the wildlife. Also, I think I may be travelling with an animal whisperer because all the animals gravitated towards Phil, especially the stag we came across near the end of our walk. Life sometimes feels like a Disney movie

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    Orizaba River



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    Little Waterfall



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    Riverside Mural



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    Is there anything more fun in life than monkeys?



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    Bambi’s Family



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    Sunbathing Diva



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    Just Hangin’ in the Shadows



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    A Keel Billed Toucan Living Life in Technicolour



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    Another Colourful Feathery Friend



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    Sleepy Furball



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    Another Sleepy Furball



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    Raccoons Inspecting Their Front Yard



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    So Many Bunnies



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    Even More Bunnies



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    Pretty as a Picture



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    Someone Needs a Cuddle



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    Camera-shy Princess



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    Formation of a New Friendship



    After getting acquainted with all the furry friends, we went to Starbucks in the early evening for a drink and quick bite to eat before returning to our apartment.
  6. peergum

    peergum Been here awhile

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    Yes, I guess we were lucky, we planned to cross on Saturday initially, with almost no wind, but decided to split the trip from Oaxaca to Tuxtla in two, instead of riding 8+ hours; for our luck the wind on Sunday was acceptable - apart a few wind gust that made me ride at 40 km/h after crossing El Istmo when we started riding up the first mountains. I suspect I'll have to deal with stronger winds when reaching Argentina, and that thought is having me a bit worried - try 2-up on a 250Kg with easily 50Kg of stuff on the bike (total around 450Kg/980 lbs); But we'll cross that bridge when we get to it ;)
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  7. peergum

    peergum Been here awhile

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    Thanks Jack. It's a pleasure to share our experience with whomever is interested in it. For the note, the good writing is mostly Sapna's, as are most of the pictures. I personally take mostly shots with a telephoto zoom, for close-ups or nice effects, that we will have for sale on picture sites, as the one below.
    flower.jpg
  8. peergum

    peergum Been here awhile

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    Days 115 & 116: Orizaba to Tuxtepec to Oaxaca
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    We left Orizaba on Wednesday morning and rode for about three hours before we reached San Juan Bautista Tuxtepec. It is a decent city that serves as a good place to stop for a night on the way to Oaxaca, but doesn’t really contain anything of interest for a visitor. We stayed at the only Best Western in town, which cost us 532 pesos (~36.23 CAD) and was conveniently located across the street from a small strip mall. The only thing we did that day was see Murder on the Orient Express at the cinema in the mall.

    The next day, we headed out a bit earlier than usual because we had a four-hour ride to Oaxaca and the day was hot. We took the scenic route that took us through winding mountain roads away from civilization so our lunch was limited to potato chips and cold beer. As we continued along our merry way, Phil noticed that something was wrong with the bike and pulled over. A large nail the size of my forefinger had punctured the rear tire, extending our planned ride of four hours closer to six. What I don’t understand is how did that nail get to the middle of nowhere? There were no stores, no houses, and barely any sign of human life along that route. Maybe the devil did it

    The bike has tube tires, so we had to unload everything from the bike and completely remove the tire to change the tube. It is a lot more work than changing a car tire, for those who don’t ride a bike, but our favourite biker took care of it like a champ and got us back on the road before it started getting dark. We were unbelievably tired by the time we got to our accommodation in Oaxaca. We had rented a room through Airbnb for 478 pesos (~32.54 CAD) a night.

    Somehow, we summoned the courage to leave our room and get some dinner. Luck was on our side because we quickly stumbled upon an Indian restaurant, Mini Taj, and had an incredibly delicious meal that ended our day on a positive note.

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    Such a beautiful day for a ride… what could possibly go wrong?



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    Saving the Day
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  9. peergum

    peergum Been here awhile

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    Day 117: Exploring Oaxaca City
    We started our Friday in Oaxaca with a little breakfast at a sidewalk cafe near one of the city’s plazas before setting off to explore this city that numerous people had recommended to us. Oaxaca is a beautiful city with its colourful colonial buildings, and a fairly large one with a population close to 1 million. The city center was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in recognition of its historic buildings and monuments.

    For those who have not been keeping up with the news, Oaxaca was one of the cities that fell victim to the 7.1 magnitude earthquake that hit Central Mexico on September 19, 2017 and, from what we have seen so far, the city still seems to be in the recovery phase from the devastation. There were numerous families camped out in one of the city’s plazas that we could only presume were displaced due to the earthquake.

    Another factor we came across in the city that we could only attribute to the impact of the earthquake on the city was the abundance of aggressive panhandlers. This was quite a surprise for us because despite Mexico’s poverty level being higher than its northern neighbours, the number of panhandlers we had come across was in the non-existent range in comparison until we went to Puebla. Even in Puebla, often a simple “no” was enough for them to let us be and move on.

    What should have been a relaxing breakfast at a sidewalk cafe in Oaxaca turned out to be an exercise in patience because we were constantly bombarded with people asking us for money or trying to sell us things. Repeated protests were ignored and things were forcefully placed on our table in an attempt to make us buy them. I even had a woman grab my arm as I was exiting one of the markets to ask me for money. So yes, this did impact our enjoyment of Oaxaca, but not to the point where we see the city in a negative light and wouldn’t recommend it to anyone thinking about going there. After all, people are a product of their environment and who do we blame for that?

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    Displaced Families Camping at the Plaza



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    Street Markets



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    Public Market Food Court



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    Handicraft Market



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    Colourful Colonial Buildings



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    Ah, Cobblestones



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    Damaged Building



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    Church of Santo Domingo de Guzmán



    Oaxaca does have a lot of great restaurants and our gustatory senses were nothing short of delighted. From our Indian dinner at Mini Taj on the previous evening to a lunch of pan-seared fish at Gozobi to an incredible Italian dinner at Mezzaluna, our bellies were happy. Yes, we’re still actively targeting cuisine that’s not Mexican because despite being delicious, we have had so much of it already and we like to try different things. If you’re in Oaxaca and in the same boat, you’re welcome for the recommendations

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    Seafood Pasta



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    Shrimp Risotto
  10. peergum

    peergum Been here awhile

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    Days 118 & 119: Oaxaca to Salina Cruz to Tuxtla Gutiérrez
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    On Saturday morning, we left Oaxaca and headed towards Salina Cruz, our stop for the night on the way to Tuxtla Gutiérrez where the Sumidero Canyon was located. It was a hot 4.5 hour ride and the route did not have much in the way of conveniences because our lunch options were restricted to potato chips and beer. At least the beer was cold.

    We had rented a room with Airbnb for 300 pesos (~20.69 CAD) and when we got to our destination, our lovely hosts, Xochitll and Avel, greeted us with heavenly ice-cold water and some slices of papaya. After unloading the bike and getting cleaned up, we went out and grabbed an early dinner at a small eatery along the main road. The rest of the evening was spent with Phil conversing with our hosts and me laying in a starfish position in front of a fan, dreaming of frolicking in snow.

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    Water break with a view on the way to Salina Cruz



    The next morning, after a quick breakfast with our hosts, we rode another 4.5 hours towards Tuxtla Gutiérrez, fighting with rising winds in the El Istmo region (forecasts in the region varies from 15km/h to 100+ km/h) and contemplating the various wind turbines on the way. According to local sources, the new technology apparently increased the gap between the rich land owners, who started renting their lands instead of cultivating them, and the poor workers who lost their jobs as a direct consequence.

    The day was hot again, but our lunch was much better this time around as we found a Mexican restaurant (that also served pasta) along our route. We reached our accommodation, a suite rented through Airbnb for 573 pesos (~39.39 CAD) a night, in the afternoon. Since we had a decent lunch earlier, we had time to rest up and do a bit of work before heading out for dinner at a Chinese restaurant.

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    Lunch Time!
  11. peergum

    peergum Been here awhile

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    Day 120: Cruising Through the Sumidero Canyon
    On Monday, November 20, we went to explore the Sumidero Canyon, which is located just North of Tuxtla Gutiérrez and was about a 20-minute ride from our accommodation. The creation of the canyon began around the same time as the Grand Canyon by a crack in the area’s crust and subsequent erosion by the Grijalva River that still runs through it today. The canyon has vertical walls that reach as high as 1,000 meters and serves as a home to numerous species of wildlife.

    We started off with a boat ride along the river that cost 450 pesos (~31 CAD) for the two of us and lasted 2 hours. The cost of the boat ride included a paper wristband that also granted access to the national park. A few minutes into the ride, the boat was slowed down near a tower and we were asked to show our wristbands to the guards on the tower. I’m not exactly sure what this was about as you cannot get on a boat without the wristband. And what if it fell off before the boat got to the tower? Do you get thrown into the water? Do you get fed to the alligators? Do you become a monkey’s piñata?

    We thought the boat ride would be a cruise at a leisurely pace; however, it turned to be a speedy ride with stops only at places where our guide wanted to show us something and provide information on what we were seeing. This was a good thing since the canyon is big and a leisurely ride would have caused us to spend the whole day there.

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    Ready for a Boat Ride!



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    The Sumidero Canyon from the Grijalva River



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    An alligator hiding in plain sight… maybe scoping out lunch options on the tour boat



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    A sunbathing alligator



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    A spider monkey showing off



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    So many birds… it’s almost like the Hitchcock movie



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    Christmas Tree Waterfall



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    That brown area at base of the cliff is full of garbage… this is where humans fail as a species



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    The Sumidero Canyon from the Mountains



    After the boat ride, we went to a nearby mall for a quick lunch, and then returned to view the canyon from a higher viewpoint. There are six viewpoints or miradores from which you can see the canyon and river. Since it was late afternoon by the time we got there, most of the canyon was covered in shadows so we left after visiting the three major ones. The views were still stunning so we did enjoy the viewpoints we visited.

    We encountered more creatures on our way to and from the viewpoints. There was a snake hanging out on the road on our way to the top, but it didn’t hop on the bike to tag along so all was good. On the way back; however, a rogue bee attacked my knee. Here I was, minding my own business, sitting on the back of the bike, and I get ambushed by a miniature terrorist. Luckily, I didn’t have an allergic reaction so the swelling from the bite was gone in under an hour. You should pick on someone your own size, bee!
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  12. roadcapDen

    roadcapDen Ass, Grass or Gas, no free rides.

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    Nice, curious, on the boat ride were they all tourists or locals too?
    If locals, do they pay the same $?
  13. peergum

    peergum Been here awhile

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    Mostly Mexican tourists but a few foreigners too (Germans). Not sure if locals or not. We saw a group of 8 mexican bikers in the embarcadero. Everyone paid the same price (225 pesos) minus 32 pesos if you had already the bracelet to access the natural park. You can also get a full boat (8 people) for a total price of 3000 pesos. Haven’t found different pricing for locals/mexicans/others yet...


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  14. peergum

    peergum Been here awhile

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    Days 121 & 122: Tuxtla Gutiérrez to San Cristóbal de las Casas and a Gastronomic Delight
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    We stayed in and worked for our entire Tuesday in Tuxtla Gutiérrez and then on Wednesday, we did a short ride of a little over an hour to San Cristóbal de las Casas. This city was chosen as a stop for one night because it shortened our ride to Palenque, our next stop where the Cascadas de Agua Azul was located near, and because it was recommended to us as one of the cities we should visit in Mexico.

    Our accommodation was an Airbnb rental that cost 517 pesos (~35.19 CAD) for the night and we arrived in the early afternoon. After getting cleaned up, we set out on foot to grab some lunch and explore the city. While we were having lunch; however, it started raining heavily so our plan to explore fell through and we spent the rest of our day huddled in our room to do some work while trying to stay warm. This region was cold!

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    San Cristobal de las Casas



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    Pedestrian Street



    This is not to say that the rain completely dampened our time in San Cristóbal de las Casas because what we saw of the city was nice and the food… let’s talk about the culinary scene here, shall we? Firstly, the restaurants in this city seem to revolve around coziness. Perhaps it was due to the weather, but the wooden furnishings and the incandescent lights felt so warm and inviting and brought out all the good feelings.

    The restaurant where we had lunch was Cafe Praga and, in case you haven’t guessed, the theme of the decor was centered around the incredible city of Prague. We shared a fondue so nothing fancy, but we did enjoy the ambiance of the restaurant.

    When we went out in the evening in search of a place for dinner, we stumbled upon 500 Noches, another cozy restaurant with a live band. Our dinner that evening was unbelievably amazing. Not only was the food cooked to perfection, the flavours seemed to have been put together to blow our minds. We both know how to cook and we enjoy good food all the time, but this dinner was probably one of the best meals we have had. Of course, the meal had to be accompanied with some equally-delicious Chardonnay and since it is Mexico, our entire meal cost what one plate of a seafood meal would cost in Vancouver. Needless to say, the food more than made up for the unpalatable weather.

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    500 Noches



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    Seafood Rice



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    Salmon and Mushroom Risotto



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    Crème Brûlée



    After dinner, we huddled back in our room again with five blankets, a joke of a heater in our room that refused to heat, and full bellies to lull us to sleep.
  15. peergum

    peergum Been here awhile

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    Day 123: San Cristóbal de las Casas to Palenque
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    On Thursday morning, we left San Cristóbal de las Casas and headed towards Palenque. It was a long day on the road with close to five hours of riding on what was the worst road we have encountered in Mexico and a lunch stop in Ocosingo.

    The road from San Cristóbal de las Casas to Palenque was a bumpy one with giant potholes, broken parts with gravel, some parts where the road had fallen off (literally), and speed bumps… SO MANY SPEED BUMPS. In case I haven’t mentioned this before, Mexico has an annoying number of speed bumps or topes all over the place and in places where they don’t always make sense. Take for example, a mountain road outside cities and with lots of curves don’t need speed bumps, but there they are.

    Let’s not even talk about within cities. I’ve learnt not to consume any dairy before a long trip so that should tell you enough. I am convinced that someone with a lot of time to spare managed to acquire a large amount of concrete and then decided to travel all around the country, putting speed bumps in random places just for a good laugh.

    The other issue along this route were the people that live in the little villages along this route don’t seem to have any qualms about testing the patience of travellers passing through. There was a car in front of us that was stopped by a group of young men that threw a wooden plank with protruding nails in front of the car. We were not able to decipher what exchange took place between the men and the driver, but the plank was removed and the car drove on. We were expecting to be stopped by the plank next; however, the men smiled and waved us through so we were on our way.

    There were many children along the way that would pull ropes in front of vehicles in an attempt to stop them so they could try to sell things. We were fortunate to have another car in front of us when we came across the first group of kids who did this and were sure to spot them from afar along our journey and gesture protests before they could do this to us. Thankfully, they complied because I’m not sure how much patience we could have exercised if their actions caused us to fall on a bad road with the loaded bike.

    Despite the aforementioned occurrences, we made it to Palenque without a hitch. This time we had booked a room at the Hotel Ciudad Real for 887 pesos (~60.37 CAD) because we decided that we didn’t want any surprises after a long and tiring day of riding, and we were happy with our decision. A nice and clean hotel that was much nicer than the price would have you believe was just what the doctor ordered.

    Also, we didn’t take any pictures along our route because all we wanted to do was to just get through. We probably should have taken a picture of the part where half of the road had fallen off. Oh well, such is life. You can look at the spider monkey from the Sumidero Canyon instead. He’s more fun

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  16. Romero

    Romero Been here awhile

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    Loving this RR, sorry I missed you in Morelia...
  17. peergum

    peergum Been here awhile

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    Day 124: The Cascading Waterfalls of Agua Azul
    On Friday morning, we rode a little over an hour from Palenque to the Cascadas de Agua Azul – a series of waterfalls famous for its turquoise-blue waters found on the Xanil River. The water has a high content of calcium carbonate and various other minerals so all the rocks and trees that the water runs over are encased in thick coats of limestone. The falls also consist of numerous cataracts forming sequences of waterfalls.

    The September 2017 earthquake had altered the course of the river and caused the water level at the falls to drop. Local residents, who depend on the tourism that the falls bring in, went to work with picks and shovels, shifting rocks and mud to restore the river to its original course. As a result, we were very fortunate to see this stunning beauty in all its glory because it truly is an incredible sight to see and pictures don’t do it justice. We did get to fly our drone there so keep an eye on our YouTube channel for the video.

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    There are allocated areas at the falls where people can swim; however, we didn’t take advantage of this opportunity. Instead, we hiked all way to the highest viewpoint while taking many pictures along the way, came back down, had lunch, and then returned to our hotel where we spent the rest of the afternoon lounging by the pool with our laptops.
  18. peergum

    peergum Been here awhile

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    Thanks Romero! and no worries, the beer will be for another opportunity ;)
  19. dwj - Donnie

    dwj - Donnie Long timer

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    Those are not alligators, they are crocodiles. I live in Mexico and also despise the countless and in many cases unnecessary topes! They are supposed to control the speed in absence of police, but I think in many cases, they are there to serve a platform for street vendors. For that reason, I will buy nothing from people selling things at speed bumps.
  20. peergum

    peergum Been here awhile

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    We stand corrected ;) I wish I had taken the tele-lens to get better pictures of the animals, but I thought it was not worth risking the camera which is not waterproof...

    Same here. When you see 3 topes separated by 20 meters each time, and a vending stand on the side, it's hard to doubt the purpose... :)
    dwj - Donnie likes this.