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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by RexBuck, Jan 28, 2012.
Hope you are doing okay and the earthquake has had no effect on where you are.
Thanks mrkartoom. I appreciate you coming for the ride.
Hey, my pleasure Sunday Rider - appreciate your comments. You keep reading ride reports and you won't be able to call yourself Sunday Rider anymore.
Appreciate that drex - I'm kind of enjoying doing the RR but, it is time consuming to put them together. That seems to be a big part of why I never seem to get caught up. It's a combination of time and finding decent internet connections.
Didn't even know about the earthquake until people started asking about it. I'm about 100 km northeast of Mexico City right now. Although another natural phenominia is having me sit in this internet cafe goofing off . . . fog. Grrrr
Day 57 - Mar 12
After being woken by Howler Monkeys again, headed out for San Cristobal. Great ride through some really nice twisting roads - got hilly. Very pretty. Still jungle for quite awhile then turned to pine forests at higher elevations.
Grow a lot of corn on the hillsides. Since they eat mostly corn tortillas in this area, I assume most of it used for flour.
Natives along the road carrying stuff in packs with the strap around their forehead. Saw them carrying a lot of cobbed corn and everything else from firewood to concrete blocks. Those packs look pretty heavy - saw the odd person helping another get up with their pack. Here is a bad pic from my GoPro of a guy and his pack - trying to show you the size of the packs. If you can't find him, he is in the right side of the pic. You can see the pack towering over his head. They run a strap from the pack across the top of their head, lean into it and trudge home or wherever they are going.
Virtually all the women (including the young women) wear traditional dresses and aprons. See more simple board houses which, I guess is this regions equivalent to the adobe house up north.
The people seem more reserved here. Much of the time they appear somber faced but when they are interacting with each other they seem very animated and laugh a lot. Everybody I ran across spoke Spanish but you always hear them talking to each other in their Native language.
Ran into the ass of a bee. Pulled over and grabbed the Afterbite and gobbed it on. Still hurting so pulled over again and took my helmet off the bee was wedged under my glasses and the (now) empty stinger was still in my cheek. Bastard!
Kept seeing signs for Agua Azul came to the turnoff so, took it. A series of spectacular waterfalls. Cant get them all in one shot so, here are a few samples.
Sorry, I got in the way of this shot
See bundles of dozens of these plastic pipes across the walkway all the way up. Stick one end at the top of a waterfall and have nice pressure at your house . . . for the cost of a pipe.
Carried on. Got cold as we got over 5000 feet. Got up to 7000 then back down to around 6000 in San Cristobal. Two wool blankets on the bed . . . and I used them.
Staying at the Jardines Cerrillo. Nice place. Locked parking around the corner. They serve some sort of homemade beer in the restaurant - obscura is good, very full bodied.
I continue to follow your adventure. You have convinced me to take Rt.175 up over the mountains out of Oaxaca.
Many moons ago I spent several days camping at Agua Azul. We would spend the day climbing up and over the various falls and pools. It was a jungle wonderland.
I leave in less than a week. Thanks for the effort required to post these pics and reports.
175 is well worth the time. When I'm in that area again, 175 will be at the top of my list.
That would be a hoot climbing up some of those falls. There were a lot of people swimming when I was there but mostly in the river and the shallow pools.
Thanks for following along, have a great trip and ride safe.
Day 58 - Mar 13
Staying on for another day at San Cristobal to see some of the sights.
Here's the front door of the hotel I was in . . . that door on the corner about half a block away.
Feeling rotten today (bruised a kidney and one of my toes turned black) so I probably didnt enjoy San Cristobal as much as I could have.
Went out to the little town of Chamula. Virtually all the local women wearing traditional dress including little girls. Some of these people are sensitive to having their picture taken so I was in 007 mode and trying to sneak some stealth shots of the locals so you can see some of the garb. This was the only place I've seen the ladies wearing those black hairy dresses.
Native ladies in most parts carry their babies in these long sashes either in front or in back
See the odd man wearing some version of this
A couple of young girls
Young couples relaxing
You can see the church in the background
The big draw in this town is the church. Wandered up to the big front door and was told I had to go over to the Tourista office in the City Hall to obtain my authorization to get into the church. Authorization requires submission of an application in this format which is retained for the towns records.
They pretty specific about the picture taking thing in the church, so you'll have to put up with my description.
Went through the big front door and the first thing that greets you is fire. There are thousands of candles of different sizes and shapes all over the floor, on tables, shelves everywhere.
There are no pews in this Church, just a big open hall with displays for different saints around the whole thing. It appears that most people go to pray and take a couple of bundles of candles with them. They arrange them in different patterns, just stick them to the tile floor. One guys job is to wander around with a scraper and bag and scrape up all the wax drippings and wicks when people are finished. He seemed to keep pretty busy. By the way, this was a Tuesday at mid-day so Im guessing this goes on all the time.
Some people are there with Shamen who sit around chanting stuff. The people usually bring a chicken and some soda pop. The process goes on for quite awhile, they light candles, light more candles, wave the chicken over the candles, put it away, then wave it some more, then wring its neck. Quite a few dead chickens laying around. Not noisy or bloody, actually pretty civil. Just strange. Oh yah, the soda pop - person being healed drinks a bit so they can apparently burp the demons out.
Based on this Im figuring I must be pretty pure with the number of chickens I've killed and the amount of burping I've done, I should be fully cleansed. Very strange process but, I guess its part of their culture.
Afterwards, I had a Pollo Asado from one of the street vendors - this was one scrawny chicken I think this guy should make a deal with the church to take the sacrifices off their hands be a more robust meal.
Wandered around the historical area of San Cristobal with a great amount of no enthusiasm. Had some snacks and came back to the hotel.
Finally wandered down the main strip to find some food. Wandered into one place and I honestly dont know what they fed me but man, was it good! Kind of a fajita type thing except much better.
Here are a few random pics from around San Cristobal
Day 59 - Mar 14
Back on the road this morning. Have to explain something about the cities here. Most are pretty old and the streets were designed when a lot of width wasn't required. Buildings are built right to the edge so, no room to expand. Today, most of the streets in the old towns are one way you can fit a lane of parallel parking and a lane for driving and no more. Some are so skinny, you have to cut out the lane of parking.
So, back to my story, the parking lot for the hotel is about a block and a half away. Don't want to cart all my stuff a very long block and a half so, go get my bike, bring it back to the front door and load up. Not so quick there buddy! Got going the wrong direction on the one ways wound up about 12 blocks away from the hotel after getting dragged through the chaotic market area. Dummy!
Had a great ride that started off with about 50 KM of Hwy 190 Libre to Tuxtla Guiterrez. Wow. Start at the top of the valley and follow it down real twisty, fantastic scenery, great pavement, no traffic . . . The road from San Cristobal to Tuxtla was so windy all of the trucks choose the much straighter and faster Cuota. Bonus!
As I've said before, my photography skills are completely unable to capture the grandeur of some of these vistas. While they are spectacular in themselves, the surprise fact is also huge. Come around a corner and a completely new valley of view presents itself. It is truly breathtaking when the beauty and massiveness presents itself in an instant.
This was just outside of San Cristobal when I received my first surprise. These white things are all massive greenhouses.
Notice these kinda air plants hanging on the side of sheer rock walls on the side of the road
Notice some small farms growing something on trellised vines. Look to me like avocado but always thought they were on trees.
Stop in a little town for some water and notice they have a unique version of the little tuk tuk type cabs you see in many small towns. Kind of a 5th wheel (or in this case a 3rd wheel) deal.
Got to Tuxtla with the objective of getting through it to Cañon Del Sumidero. I think Tuxtla is about the largest city I've driven through so far on this trip. Huge freeways that are completely chaotic with construction.
Thought I'd outsmart Virginia (you remember my neurotic GPS) but unfortunately she was right for a change so now I'm 10 Km out of my way to get back to the road to Cañon. Finally get up there and the toll booth to the park is closed. Guard points to a sign that said the road is closed for some road improvements. Crap!
Back to the city, get around it and on to Hwy 190 again. Combination of rolling and flat as we descended towards sea level. One part of about 25 km made all the rest since Tuxtla worthwhile. Great sweeper type road with a few tighter curves thrown in to keep you honest. Perfect new pavement. No traffic. Nice scenery. Oh man.
Got down near the coast and before you turn up on Hwy 185, hit these insane winds. First time I've seen windmills in Mexico. A ton of em.
Up 185, stopped in a little town called Matias Romero and after looking around for quite awhile, found a great little place, Hotel La Finca de los Abuelos. Secure parking at some old ladys fenced in place around the corner. I think it was $400p Sorry I didn't get a shot of the outside of this place. It was kind of an average looking building and the entrance to the hotel was a 10' wide unmarked shop nestled in a bunch of other shops.
Day 60 - Mar 15
Well, what an unexpectedly great day.
Started off heading northwest (towards the east coast) on Hwy 185 then turn on Hwy 147.
Hwy 185 was nuts with tons of doble semi remolque rigs. Lots of towns so, lots of topes. These big rigs have to creep each one of their 9 or 10 axles over each tope and some towns can have a dozen topes spaced at about 300' intervals. Can't do tope passes because the oncoming lane is clogged up also. Not worthwhile to pass anyhow since as soon as you pass one, youre behind another.
Was in this line of mostly trucks heading out of a town and picking up a bit of speed going through some new road construction. Came around a corner and it looked like this particular doble was trying to turn his rig onto a side road as he was across the road. Not so. On closer inspection, it looked like the doble was going around the lane closure and I suspect the dump truck tried to occupy the same space going the other way. Dump truck lost that battle. Was eventually able to squeeze past the end of the doble.
Hwy 147 back to Tuxtepec was amazingly low in altitude varying no more than a hundred feet or so to around 350 feet. Thought it so weird having experienced such great mountain roads just to the north on Hwy 175. Stopped for lunch at a little roadside. Raymundo and his family's little place. Wife does the cooking and Raymundo does the BSing which he does well. Had a great time. He had a little English and coupled with my little bit of Spanish, we had a great chat.
Chickens wandering through the restaurant
Really nice country. Lots of small farms ranging from cattle to limes, corn and vegetables. Sugar cane towards Tuxtapec. The jungle was a little less intense here but still quite pretty contrasts with the farms.
There is a lime orchard mixed in with the jungle here
Day 61 - Mar 16
Got through Tuxtepec with its giant brewery and sugar refinery and on to the mountains.
They really stack the sugar cane on these trucks
They also haul it in in these tractor pulled rigs - saw up to 5 trailers in one rig - not easy passing
Wow then it got good. Words dont describe this road well. Headed out of Tuxtepec on Hwy 182 which first wandered around some rolling terrain. Then started to see mountains . . . big mountains.
The overall feeling is vastness. Pictures dont do this area justice massive valleys falling below can probably see down 2 or 3 thousand feet maybe farther since I started at sea level and got to the 7000 ft level. It was breath taking.
Winding our way up the side of the mountains and, it seemed to go on forever. Twisted roads clinging to the side of these incredibly steep mountains. As we got higher the villages seemed to get more frequent. Then started noticing lots of villages dotting the hillsides.
Stay on your toes, wandering along on these very bent roads, coming around a corner to find part of the road sloughed off the hillside under the road is so steep, it just gives way. They dont seem in a big rush to fix these still one lane working. Whats the hurry. Stick some rocks in front of it for warning.
Got to the good sized town of Huautla de Jimenez- literally draped on the side of the hill. I have no idea what the correct way to get through this town is but I wasnt doing it. The road just kind of went into town then turned into a one way . . . . going the wrong way. Aw crap! OK, head up that other one way to what looks like the main road on the map. Nope, that doesn't work. Ask a transit cop and he wants me to go back the other direction. On the GPS I can see where the road is that I want to get to but, to find the correct combination is like trying to solve a puzzle.
Head down one road that looks like it makes a beeline to where I want to be, come around a corner and they have set up a bunch of kids rides. OK, head back Transito stops me and tells me this is a one way and Im going the wrong way and all the other roads to this intersection are one way the other way. So, apparently I have to go back down to the amusement setup, make a turn across a narrow bunch of busted up concrete and head up a steep hill.
Get out of that and on another road going in the right direction and this turns into dirt. Looks like it might go the right way so, what the hell, lets give it a shot. Deposits me on another dirt road that goes nowhere. So back on that road to town for some reason I am now a lot closer to the main road. Wander back and forth and notice a couple of gaps on the side of the road. Further research shows that these are roads. Well, thats the direction I need to go, so what the hell. If the first couple of blocks wasn't at least a 20% grade, Ill eat my hat or something. Frickin freefall. Then settled down to about a 12 or 15% grade and wound itself down to the main road. All together, took me about an hour to get through this stinking town.
Things carried on and got even better. Go around a corner and all of a sudden you are looking at another valley with towns and houses on the hillside. Breathtaking! It was getting late and cold and I was way past my stop time rule.
Here is one of the roads heading down the other side
As we start to descend to Teotitlan where I planned on staying, the road started getting messy potholes that started growing, eventually the road just turned into a giant pothole then a nice gravel road for awhile all this was the last 10 km or so - certainly a good price to pay for the spectacular day.
As usual, wandered around Teotitlan looking for a bed finally settled on the Hotel Rio. 200p for 2 beds (one for my junk), just off the main street. Didn't have secure parking but park right outside the courtyard and the night watchman can see my bike parked right next to his. Works for me.
Interesting town. Seems to be all young people hanging out. I have never seen so many internet cafes - every block must have half a dozen and they are all full.
Love your RR. Ride safe and keep writing!!
Day 62 - Mar 17
Expected a little shorter day today with my destination as Orizaba. As usual, every once in awhile I want to find some roads other than the main highways. So, looking at the maps I see two roads from Coxcatlan and Calipan form a loop. I notice the road through Nicolas Bravo that is just 5 km from the loop. Looks like there must be a dirt road connecting them (somewhere in the red circle below) so, might be worth a try.
The road out of Coxatlan quickly turns into another Sierra Madre twisted road thing with spectacular valleys on and on.
Orizaba Peak in the background (turns out this will be the only time I see it)
It became even more evident of how steep the land is that theses people farm. Much of what is farmed is roughly 45 degrees. Some were terraced by the row. All of it is farmed by hand. These are friggin sturdy people.
Stopped at one point because we had climbed from about 4000 feet to 8000 feet and my mesh jacket was feeling a little limited at 11.5 deg C (thats 53F). Took my Camelback off, put the liner in, put my coat back on, took some pics and buggered off. About 5 km later, realized I had nothing on my back. Went looking for it but, one of the locals got a bonus today. Lets just call the Camelback #1.
Great photos Rexbuck. Looks like you are still having a blast. Those roads look fantastic. Keep it coming. Jick
Day 63 - Mar 18
Anyhow, both Mapsource and Google Maps agreed there was a dirt road through at about the same place. So, Virginia told me to turn and since there was a dirt road there, figured I was golden. This immediately was pretty rough rock with a good grade. Descended down the hillside quite a ways through a couple of farmers yards. Stop and scan the neighboring hills and valleys and Im not feeling this is going to end where I want it to. So, turn around and back up the hill. One of the local farmers on the side of the road said there was a way through but what he said didnt make sense to me. He was pointing in three directions and rambling on.
Figured Id head back up to the pavement and go down the other road to Calipan then take the regular roads to Orizaba. Come to an intersection. Virginia says go left for Calipan. Well, where the f%$k does right go. Let's give it a try. Well, shezam! It parallels exactly the so-called dirt road I was supposed to be going on. Turns out there was no dirt road, there was in fact a paved road connecting the loop to what Google calls 866 and I'm off to the races.
This whole area for the next 50 or 60 km was above 8000 feet. I dont think these people see a lot of tourists - lot more than the usual staring. Most women are in traditional dress. Many of them wear a large scarf draped over their heads and just hanging down to their knees. Some wrap the scarf on top of their heads like a turban.
Lots of variety to the farms.
Couple of guys digging rocks out of a field with a pick (well one doing that and the other guy sitting on the side yelling at me)
Grow some of what looks to me as agave - here is a young planting
I think this is what agave looks like when it goes to seed
Quite the road going up this ridge
On the way down the main road to the valley Orizaba is in, take a bunch of switchbacks - here is the bottom
Now the unique thing can be seen in this pic
Now notice the arrows in the lanes . . . wrong way. At every one of these left-handed (going downhill) switchbacks, a bit before you get there, arrows direct you to change lanes and the same for the opposing lane. So, the downhill folks always have the inside and the uphill folks are always on the outside. Then when around the corner, you switch back. I have not really figured out the advantage to this and making sure you switch back on time and not at the same time as the guy coming the other way. Must make for some interesting smack ups.
Orizaba is hooked on to the end of the City of Mendoza (or maybe the other way around). Town seems quite upscale and pretty cool. Think Ill hang around for a bit.
Thanks GoinPostal, I really appreciate that.
Thanks Jick. I am having more fun than should be permitted.
How are the Jicksters?
I'm lovin' it, keep on keepin' on.
I drove that road few times in a car back in 1985 -- the first time freaked me out completely. Hmmm. Time to go back on a bike!
Thanks for the sentiment Den
You are correct . . . the sooner the better.
Completely and totaly jealous, but loving your adventure. Hope you have the time of your life!!!