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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by RexBuck, Jan 28, 2012.
Saludos, seguimos disfrutando estas buenas fotos !!!!!!!
Thanks ktm360mx - it has been truly the time of my life. Thanks for tagging along.
Day 64 - Mar 19
Staying an extra day in Orizaba. Dont know what it is about this town, I like the feel of it. It has a great town square with the big Cathederal and an old City Hall building.
The old City Hall building is called El Palacio de Hierro (The Iron Palace) and was designed by Gustave Eiffel and completed in 1894. It is a completely metal structure including metal cladding on the outside.
One of the streets between the main drag and the Zocólo is closed off for pedestrian traffic. Mostly just shopping but everybody seems to turn out and just stroll.
Couple of ladies selling Elotes out of shopping bags
Street sweepers keep everything tidy. Here is an example of the brooms they use. See these in a number of different towns.
One of the cool things the town has that they have capitalized on is a creek/river meandering through town. It is about 20 below grade and has walkways on both sides. Old arched stone bridges for each street. The odd swinging suspension bridge for pedestrians to get to the other side. Even have a zoo of sorts along one side.
Stayed at the Pluviosilla right on the main drag and next to the creek. In fact my bathroom overlooked it. Good value - $350p per night probably explains why it seemed pretty busy. They wedge a lot of cars in the parking lot and they had me put my bike in some covered parking. Room was nice.
Day 65 - Mar 20
Today headed out to Zongolica. Heard they had some waterfalls and caves around. What a terrific ride to get there (this description is going to sound monotonous and I'm sure I'll use it again) twisted road, good pavement with spectacular scenery.
Leaving Orizaba, you head up in front of that cliff which is a slot in the mountain taking you to Zongolica
I get into town and start wandering around the Zocolo area trying to figure out what their draw is. Nice little town nestled in the mountains. Finally ask one of the Municipal cops if they have a Tourist Office. Apparently not. He heads down a couple of doors and asks this guy to help me - tell him a map would be fine. He starts ordering these young cops around and they are tearing this desk apart - I think this desk may have been the Police Station. Can't find a map so he drags me across the square and down a side street to this ladys fruit stand. Asks her and she heads upstairs about 5 minutes late she comes down with a couple maps guess you just have to know where the Tourist Office is.
Have a look at this map its pretty poor quality print job. Can eventually find the main waterfall which is at the end of a route with some caves and other sites on it. So, off I go.
Another beautiful twisted road with more spectacular scenery (see, I said it again already).
Road started to deteriorate a bit and then descended about 3000 to the first town I was looking for.
One of the ways a road deteriorates, is a chunk of it sloughs off
That little pile of dirt is the warning to drivers coming around the corner - sometimes you just get a couple of rocks
By now it had turned to gravel then dried mud ruts, then through another little town and then this nasty rock road. I stopped to have a look at the map again and a guy comes along and tells me its about 50 miles to the falls. Says, no problem, you can do it today. Well, its 2 in the afternoon by now and with an out and back on a crappy road of a total of 100 miles plus another two hours back to Orizaba. I'm thinkin it will be well after dark and I dont want to be anywhere near these roads after dark. So, give it a pass.
Its beyond me how a town can claim some natural phenomena as theirs when it is 75 miles away. There is probably another waterfall closer but the little side trip was well worthwhile just for the ride and visiting the little town of Zongolica.
I was on a Torta (a kind of a sandwich) mission while in Orizaba. First night stopped at a place on the Zocolo had a couple of great Tortas. Tonight I went to a place just down the walking street from the Zocolo. Torta con al Pastor y queso (Torta made with al Pastor and cheese and, of course, condiments) winner! This guy is shaving this chunk of meat that is turning in front of a burner. Outside of the meat stays cooked. That is al Pastor and it is really good in Tacos and now I find in Tortas.
Day 66 - Mar 21
Leaving Orizaba, wanted to see one of the landmarks of the area, Mt Orizaba. However, it was so hazy that the view was completely blotted out. Glad I was able to see it on the road into Orizaba.
Was cruising through this town looking for some breakfast, seems every place open was a Pollo Asado (chicken) place. Chicken is good for breaky so picked one and stopped. This was one of the best (and largest) Pollo Asados I've had.
That would be beans, salad, vegies, rice and some coffee . . . $50p including tip
Headed over to Xico to see some waterfalls - maybe have better luck today. Found the falls fairly close to town (thank God) and went for a hike. Today being Sunday, the place was nuts with families out for a day of sightseeing.
Hiked up to the secondary falls which are nice.
Tons of families there enjoying themselves.`
Coming back went across a small bridge to a viewpoint and noticed a pretty waterfall literally coming out of the bottom of the structures at the entrance.
Then notice on my way back to the entrance some old flumes and control structures. Even an old bridge that would have carried the flume across this gorge.
There was a huge water pipe (about 4' diameter) that they had the main pedestrian walkway on and I figured the flumes must have been the predecessor to that - maybe an irrigation system?
Then when I got down to the viewing area, notice the flumwork was heading there. Then noticed there was a big pump supplying water . . . to the waterfall. It was manmade and I guessing the flumes originally carried the water for the waterfall. Very ingenious. Got so caught up in figuring out this man-made falls, forgot to take a picture of the main waterfall.
Carried on. Heard horror stories about getting through the city of Xalpa. Turned out to be a breeze - big city and you had to stay on your toes but got through pretty quickly. Then on some pretty busy roads until the turnoff to Tezuitlan.
Was watching lightning flashing in the distance so was motivated to get going so I can arrive at wherever I stop before the rain does. Was heading to Tezuitlan and lightning all over the place as I arrive. Rode past the hotel and by the time I got around a few blocks and back, it started to rain.
Hotel Colonial - great hotel, brand new rooms. Probably the nicest room I've had since in Mexico (well maybe except at Zipolite). Good parking, internet, big room looks like it was refurbished more to American standards. Even has a hair dryer.
Edit: Forgot to mention a little mechanical situation. As I was riding to day, a couple of times when I was passing, I felt the clutch slip a bit. Backed off the throttle but it was a bit troubling. When I stopped and checked it, I found the cable had no freeplay at the lever. There is supposed to be a gap between the cable and the lever. If there isn't then tension is taken off the clutch plates and they can slip. Bad Bad Bad. Adjusted the gap back to specs but it is adjusted out to the maximum. A little concerning - I don't really want my clutch grenading out in the middle of nowhere. Oh well, if it does, will be another new experience.
Day 67 - Mar 22
Headed out to see if I could find some more twisted roads. Started out on Hwy 129 north from Tezuitlan. Nice road, great curves but a bit busy. Turned off about 2/3 of the way to Tlapacoyan on a road that heads up to Ayotoxco. Road a bit pot-holy but wandered through some pretty nice areas.
Some bananas, cattle and then a lot of lime orchards.
Came across this little waterfall dribbling down the mountainside
The odd house is spectacular. Check out this monster.
See these trees all over, especially along the road. Same red color as the Arbol Mano I was shown in Palanque. However, these are pruned back heavily just like a weeping willow.
Then got some elevation
Finally got to Ayotoxco and stopped at this ladys restaurant. I love it when a restaurant makes their own tortillas. Grandma was pounding them out pretty steady the whole time. About every 5 minutes she'd wander over to plop a couple more on your pile, didn't matter if you still had a bunch or not. They are so much better hot and fresh. Probably some of the best tortillas I've had.
Lady that owned it was literally running to keep the food coming
Day 68 - Mar 23
Then picked up Hwy 207 which was another nice twisty road - a bit beat up but it looks like they are trying to fix it as there was a fair amount of road construction. About 50 KM past Ayotoxco, turned off on some un-named road to Zacatlán by way of Tetela de Ocampo. It was the best of the day.
Some fields being hoed
People here walk everywhere. There always seems to be somebody wandering down a road, either on foot, horseback or bicycle. This old fellow was trudging up this very long hill.
Whenever I run across a lot of elevation change, it always ends up being a great road and great scenery. Get back up into the pine forests again - lot of little gypo mills cutting lumber. Doesn't seem to be the bigger logging operations we saw over in Oaxaca.
Arrive in Zacatlán. Nice little town. Really working on making it look good I like it when a town makes an effort.
and, another window
Day 69 - Mar 24
Spent last night at the Posada Don Luis which I think I'd skip again. Looks like they are doing some construction so all the rooms they were using were in the front. Mine fronted on the street that means there was basically a sidewalk between my room and the traffic. The bed sucked. Had a vinyl mattress pad on it I don't know if this room was reserved for those desiring a short stay or the girl gave it to me because I'm an old guy and they'd had accidents before. It was hard getting comfortable - almost dug out my sleeping bag but then, fell asleep. Weirdest internet also. 5 bars outside my door lucky to get 1 or 2 inside. Walls must have been made of Kryptonite.
Reluctantly left Zacatlán I kind of liked this little town. Built on the top of a valley
Last night at dinner, the owner was telling me that I should go and see their waterfalls. When he saw the look on my face he was quick to assure me they were close by. So retraced my steps about 10 km south. Found the turnoff. Now, I'm glad this guy told me there are two waterfalls, run by different outfits. You have to drive right by the front of the first one to get to Cascadas Tuliman. He told me to skip the first one which I did.
Pay your admission you head down into the canyon via a few switchbacks and view the waterfall from the bottom. Hike in about 10 minutes. Best waterfalls I've seen down here so far. If you are ever in the area and like gawking at waterfalls, stop in. These pics dont do it justice. If you come here, expect to get damp . . .
Looking out over the valley the falls are in
Then headed back through town. Tried a shortcut I thought I had found - looked like crap so went back and found Hwy 119 and that took me where I wanted to go - east of Tulancingo.
On the stretch north of Tulancingo, they were doing a lot of road construction which is nothing new. With most road construction down here they may tell you there is a detour or, may just let you figure it out. The attitude is basically, hey driver, heres a road we are working on and its all dug up - find your way to the other end. Oh yah, and try not to hit our equipment, drive into a hole or run into the folks coming the other direction who are also trying to find their way.
Going up one of the roads this pickup was beside me and Jay Leno hangs out the window and gives me a thumbs up for my bike. I looked at the guy about 3 times and still wasn't sure.
So, this construction carries on for quite awhile. At one point was following a couple of vehicles with a whole string behind us. We are going up this one lane trench with about 2' high gravel piled on each side. We are just about to the end and here come 2 yahoos in a couple of pickups and stop in front of us.
Apparently, our lane was supposed to be up on one of the gravel piles. So, now it takes about 10 minutes for the traffic on our side to climb up onto the gravel pile. While we are waiting the pickup with Jay Leno in it pulls up beside me - he knows the routine and was already up on the sand pile. The kid driving said the Jay Leno guy was his Dad I told him his Dad looked like Jay Leno - they laughed. Got my bike up on the gravel pile. The front end of my bike popped right up on the gravel pile but I had to let the heavy assed back end swing around so I was at almost right angle before it would climb up too and off we went.
Had some really nice altitude changes and all that goes with that later in the day. Getting back to cactus country
Saw this guy plowing his field with a horse drawn plow. Not uncommon sight
Had some chilaquiles for lunch
Arrived in Zacaultipan. Wandering around looking for a hotel it seemed like a typical Mexican town with tons of one-ways always going the opposite way that you want to go. I probably should have looked at some more but settled on the unremarkable Hotel Pacheco. At least it has secure parking.
The town really has nothing to offer the traveler. The town square is a giant combination parking lot and round about. It seems a lot of the streets filter to the town square so there is this constant stream of cars around it. Nobody in the square - not a lot of atmosphere.
Trying to find a restaurant, I find this little greasy spoon upstairs across from the park. Had a great meal whose name I cant remember. It was meat with vegetables and apple chunks mixed with a bunch of spices. Really good especially with the apple.
Since my hotel didn't have internet, in the morning was looking for a place to grab a coffee and check email. Was downtown and low and behold, there was huge stuff going on. All of the towns school kids were there along with a number of High School drum and bugle corps (or whatever they call them in Mexico) and the Army drum and bugle corps and a gazillion suits. Lots of pomp and ceremony. Quite interesting. Apparently a Mexican holiday. Who knew? Didn't take my camera with me, so no pics.
Day70 - Mar 25
I apologize for not updating this report sooner. I am now in the US and spending time with my Dad and my son and dealing with some mechanical issues. Ill strive to get it completed ASAP.
Woke up this morning to pea soup fog. Hopefully this will burn off soon so will kill some time. Too bad because I was set for an early start.
Wandered back down to the town square to see if I could find an internet place open and maybe grab a bite. Lo and behold theres a happinin goin on. Every kid in town are all lined up. School kids in their uniforms and little kids in Halloween costumes. The Armys drum and bugle group are there. Some of the High Schools have drum and bugle groups there also. All of the towns suits are out in fine form. Apparently this is a national day commemorating Benito Juarez, one of the well known (If the number of streets named after him is an indicator) leaders in the mid 19th Century. Of course, not expecting anything other than a traffic jam, I didn't bother taking my camera.
Finally by 11:30, I was getting itchy feet and realizing this fog may be here for awhile, headed out. Jeebus. Got in behind a pickup and just boodle on for about an hour and a half. It was a combination fog and rain so, not only couldn't I see from the fog, my glasses were compounding the issue, so I just slid them down my nose and looked over them. Weren't going fast enough for the raindrops to hurt and I wasnt worried about bugs.
One of the reasons I was hoping the fog would clear as this road (Hwy 105) is a beautiful road and I'm sure the scenery was spectacular. Once below 5000 feet we were under the cloud and it was so much more fun. The last bit of 105 I rode was spectacular. I'd really like to have a do-over of that one.
Turned off to head over to Hwy 85. Took the road that goes through the little town of Coaculico over to Tamaxunchale. Great little road varied between nice twisties and rolling farmland.
Got on 85 - another delight. All twisted up - nice scenery.
Kept seeing these "air plants" - have no idea what they are really called and if they are in fact, an air plant. I think I had a pic of some on the side of a rock wall awhile ago. See these things hanging on telephone wires to trees. Noticed most of the trees looked dead. Don't know if they are parasites and kill the trees or, attach to things that aren't alive.
Arrived in Xilita. Now this is more like it. What a nice town - very historical. Built on the side of a mountain. After asking a couple of Traffic cops, found the Hotel Guzman just up from the town square. Old building that has been renovated. Still doing a bit of work on it. Really nice. High ceilings, decent sized room with king bed.
Town closes down early. Couple of restaurants by the square but they were closed. Probably because its a holiday? Found a couple of ladies set up on a wall in the square selling tostados and tamales. Had 3 tostados and a tamale for $14p . . . a buck for dinner.
Zacatlán looks like a fantastic spot. You are sure getting way back there. Awesome trip. Great to follow along. Keep it coming.
Enjoying your trip report. I like your involvement with locals, pics of food (and prices) and overall emotional feel for the place. Too many trip reports read like an accident report. I'm planning a trip to Mexico in November/December and your writing has me excited. Gracias and stay thirsty, my friend.
Hey! Xilitla... I was there.
85 is a nice road, if a bit warm when you get down to sea level.
Yah, that was the type of town I really enjoyed - make an effort to have an identiity, to have a soul. I suppose that can be said of towns anywhere. But, I loved seeing the locals using their town for enjoyment - whether larger towns like Oaxaca or smaller towns like Zacatlán - just a cool personality.
Wow, thanks eSTes1300, I'm glad you are enjoying it. I'm glad you are excited, wait till you get there - you'll be ecstatic.
It seems everything is warm when you get down to sea level. I have not sweated so much in years. My boots and pants are just nasty when they come off - particularly since I seem to spend the hottest part of the day riding slowly around towns looking for hotels. Of course, a little post-ride electorlite replacement and, good to go.
Day 71 - Mar 26
Decided to stay in Xilitla another day. Go see Las Pozas and wander around town. This is a great little town. Perched on the side of a mountain, it has a lot of history. A lot of building going on and the town square was small but cool.
Decided to walk to Las Pozas. About 2 ½ km downhill - same distance coming back .
Finally find the place, big gate - little info board out front describing Edward James house.
Couple of workmen there. Ask if it is open - says sure, go on in. Was thinking somebody should be collecting an entrance fee around here. So I follow this great little path through the woods along a creek.
Went by some artsy barbeques / ovens
Even had a spiffy little bridge
Seems awfull low key and quiet for the amount of discussion about this place. Finally end up at this great little waterfall. Cool, but end of the path.
Then come back out to the gate and look around - spot this big honkin sign . . .
So where's the frickin house or whatever it is I'm supposed to be seeing? Oh, about 100 yards further down.
Pay the admission, and start heading up paths - didn't really know what I was looking for but every time I went around a corner some new weird image jumped out. It was like being in a real life design constructed by MC Escher and Dr Suess. Very bazaar.
Even has some fairly involved pens for ocelots.
Stairs . . .
Finally get to the top with a pretty set of waterfalls and a swimming hole
Went and stood under the back of this one - made it easy to just wet my head to cool off
This was all built by some British poet back in the 50's named Edward James. Apparently he originally had thousands of flowers growing that all got wiped out by a hard winter So, he decided to build this surreal display of flowers, shapes and bamboo. Now, given the era, the location and the guy's avocation, I'm suspecting there was a fair amount of reefer (gahnga, weed, wacky tabacky, whatever you want to call it) and/or some of the local peyote involved in the design stages of this thing
Talking with some American folks who live in San Miguel de Allende and telling them that I planned to go there tomorrow. They asked where I was staying because the town was apparently booked up. I guess some guy called the Pope is showing up in neighboring Leon tomorrow and all the rooms within a few hours of Leon are taken.
Well, that's a pisser. I was planning on spending 5 days or so in the three towns in this area that seem to be so popular. I don't want to give that opportunity up so, I'll just bugger around for 3 days until the Pope has his Popemobile take him out to Air Pope One and we can all get on with our lives. (My apologies if I offended anyone since I realize I'm posting this on Easter Sunday) (See, not only am I taking artsy stuff in but I'm becoming sensitive - I'm guessing dementia)
Wandered around town again. Everything you can think of along this street
Some local folks sitting in the shade in the town square
Some Moms and kids enjoying some ice cream. Mexicans really like their ice cream.
The church here was originally a convent, known as Convent of Saint Augustine. The building is about 450 years old although it has likely been altered a bit. Bit of a checkered past. Apparently a few years after it was built, the locals attacked and pretty well destroyed the place but the main structure remained.
Back in the 50's, they dynamited a big chunk of the convent and built the Municipal Market which houses all sorts of little shops for the community.
That mountain in the right side of the picture is called La Silleta -
So, later on I'm looking in my tank bag where I keep documents and my frickin Passport is gonzo. Blah! This will be interesting. Of course I had my Mexican Tourist card in there and it was gone too. Situations like this require a higher level of thought that can only achieved with the consumption of more than one Negra Modelo. So I did.
Decided to wing it. Have never been asked for my passport or the Mexican Tourist card while in Mexico so, will take my chances. Should be able to talk my way into Canada and have a spare passport from another country that will get me into the US. That should cover all the bases . . . una cerveza más, por favor.
Thanks for the trip there Steve. Just found this today. After several cups of coffee, you've pretty much sold me on taking my bike through Mexico. Been to PV the last couple of winters, but I'll need a month or two next year! Look what you've DONE!!
Wow Lyle - thanks for that. That gets me excited knowing that I helped someone make the decision to explore Mexico. You won't regret it. There is still a lot of that country I have not seen and many places I'd like to go back to. Have fun planning.
Day 72 - Mar 27
So, since the Pope decided to show up without consulting me, I decided to do a big loop around Xilitla through Ciudad de Valles and back to San Miguel Allende.
Should be an easy route on the clutch. Starting to worry a bit about its potential longevity.
Talked to a fellow at the Canadian Embassy in Mexico City. Told him what I was planning on doing that I really didn't want to have to ride into downtown Mexico to get a new passport. He said not coming into Mexico City made a lot of sense and was not too concerned about the whole deal. Will wait until I hear back from the hotel where I last saw it before he cancels it.
Left late. Had a pretty relaxing ride of some nice twisties with a bunch of straight stuff.
Started seeing a lot of these
Come around a corner and spot this really ornate church bell tower in the distance. Turns out this is the Mission in Landa which with 4 other Missions in the area are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Apparently all 5 of the Misions are similar architecture. I didn't stop at the Jalpan Mision but it looked very similar.
Apparently, these Missions are credited to have been built under the direction of Father Sera who later went on to build the Alta California Missions. The story goes that up until the mid 1700s the Spanish were had been having a hard time getting control of the natives in this region and establishing their churches/missions. Apparently the natives didn't want anything to do with the Spanish and kept destroying anything built. Finally the Spaniards sent in some troops and defeated the natives. They built these Missions and offered the natives accommodation around them. The natives were helped in their decision to move by the Spanish burning down their existing towns.
A word about Alta California. That would be the State of California which many Mexicans view as still part of Mexico. However, Alta California actually revolted against Mexico around the mid 1800s and formed the Republic of California with my somewhat removed ancestor, William B Ide as the one and only President. (I expect a little more respect now.) I've read some accounts that many of the people of Alta California didn't even know a Revolt was underway . . . I guess a precursor to modern day politics. The Republic lasted for a little less than a month before the US stepped in and assumed control.
Arrived in Zimapan. Had seen a place called Royal Spa. Stayed in spas in Calif and you can get some decent rooms when they aren't busy. Came in by the back. At first, thought it was closed. Huge old place. Came around to the front and looks ok. Then I see they have a gate with a guard. Oh oh, this will be painful. Go to the desk. Very elegant lady advises me the rate is $1100p while that is still only $75 or so, I dont think so - I'm in Mexico and not with my wife . . . its just the point.
OK, so as I approached this town, it seemed to belong in the dumpy category. When I finally found my way into town, it's not bad. Decent town square but traffic all around. Check out a few places. Finally decided on Central Hotel, right on the town square, cool old place, $250p small room but good parking and no internet. Internet joint right next door $8p an hour.
Looking out the front gate
Walked around looking for food. Noticeable absence of street food. Finally went to a place specializing in Hamburgers and had a Torta . . . giant torta. Couple of NMs and I'm good to go.
Wandering around in the morning at Sunrise and notice this building. I'm looking at the sign . . . _remeira _uper _ex - now my mind is quickly filling in the blanks. Have to check it out.
Isn't this is the greatest thing ever . . . see? They set up an ice cream shop and named it after me . . . glad they got the title right.
And it is appropriate that this is the first place Ive seen in Mexico with designated Moto parking.
Day 73 - Mar 28
Nice ride up Hwy 85 (actually rode part of that before) to Ciudad Valles great road, made up for some of Hwy 105 I couldnt enjoy a few days ago.
Decided to stay at the Hotel Mision Ciudad Valles. Really nice place. More than I usually pay ($800p) but I figured with the loot I saved yesterday not staying at the Spa, I should go for it. Geez, starting to sound like a woman.
Still seeing lots of these guys on the side of the roads
In one of the valleys, came to at least a hundred loaded trucks parked up to three deep on both sides of the road. Thought it was a massive road block. Then realized they were all loaded to the gills with oranges and were waiting.
Guess they were going here
I'm starting to think a lot of those little lime orchards I had seen were probably orange orchards
The whole clutch thing really started to bug me. Baby it all day trying to stay away from situations where I would have to slip the clutch (mainly stop and go traffic in towns and slow traffic through topes), staying out of sixth gear, no aggressive passing.
Checked on parts. Sounds like they can be accessed quickly and are abundant. Just a matter of time to get them into Mexico - probably a week and a half for the dealer to get the parts and get them delivered in Mexico providing Mexican Customs doesn't hold it up too long.
Time to make a decision. The clutch thing is a bit of a downer and I'm not enjoying having to worry about it all the time. And, to be honest, the passport & tourist visa are niggling at the back of my head. So, either plant myself somewhere for a couple of weeks, get the parts in and fix the bike (and maybe replace my documents) or head north and try to make the current clutch last until I get to the US or even better, home.
One of the areas I really wanted to go to were the three cities of San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato and Dolores Hildago. I'm really torn on this. Waiting will put me home at the end of April, way past when I wanted to be there for a number of reasons.
My understanding is that the traffic is nasty in at least two of these burgs which won't bode well for a clutch that may have a limited life.
This is going to be another huge regret for this trip but I decided to head north. Sucks! The bright side is I have lots to explore next time and still have some great riding left in Mexico.