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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Joris van O, Apr 26, 2019.
Uitstekend! Pictures and story es fantastico.
Enjoying following along.
Thanks for the recommendation, I'll definitely try to visit the Land of the Strays. Would be really great to go there and maybe help for a day.
Any other things I definitely should check out on my way down?
Just arrived in Merida yesterday, it's a bit to long to hang around for Dia de los Muertos. So I'm not sure where I'm going for those days, might be in Chetumal. I won't have the big party experience there I guess but maybe it will be more authentic. Plus I could cross into Belize right after as I'm right on the border.
Chetumal is a nice clean city. Make sure you buy insurance when entering Belize as just down the road there may be a police check stop and they will ask for insurance. I crossed on a Sunday and the insurance seller was closed so when I was stopped by the police I had to buy him lunch.
Stay in Bakalar first, on the shore of Lake Bakalar, which is beautiful, just like the Caribbean itself! Its a small town but you can hire out some kayaks. We didn't travel to Chetumal but it might be good for the Dia de los Muertos, just make sure you are these in time. I think we were in Merida just before the 31st October, although I think its the 1st and 2nd of November. We didn't go to the cemetery's though as these were more private celebrations. Will think about other places or check our blog.
The cemetery's are the place to go. I was in San Christobal de la Casas and was welcomed with open arms in the cemetery celebrations. Sure they are sort of private but lots of families invited me in for a dance or 2. I guess it depends on how much alcohol is consumed.
Fair enough if they invite you in. San Christobal de la Casas is a good place to visit anyway, where we visited the nearby villages of villages San Juan Chamula and Zinacantan.
I stayed in this little hotel in Creel for two nights to give me some time to see the canyon. Up to now I had ridden half way around it but not actually layed eyes on the 'Barrancas del Cobre'. Apparently the best way is to take the El Chepe train from either Los Mochis or Chihuahua, I opted to get on the train at Creel and only go to the first viewpoint named Divisadero and then get another train back. The timetable at the station said it was possible, it also had a pricelist. But I couldn't figure out how much it was going to be as there's four different classes, multiple routes or stops.
Waiting for the train I briefly made eye contact with a girl there. I just smiled and went on trying to figure out the price. The train arrived, I asked where the cheapest coach was and the conductor pointed to back of the train, I didn't get how much it would cost (no hablo Español) but could buy a ticket on the train. Found a free seat by window so I'm all set for the views. A few minutes later Diana, the girl I saw at the station, asked if she can sit next to me. Of course you can! She was quite chatty but with her hardly speaking English and me hardly speaking Spanish it was difficult to have a decent conversation. Apparently she thought we did well as one hour into the ride she blatantly asked if I wanted to kiss. Haha, what?! I wasn't sure how to respond, well there's the obvious response, but I was taken a back by the question and sitting in this full coach in broad daylight with a girl that I had known for an hour made me slightly uncomfortable. And I liked talking to her but wasn't in the mood for more, so I politely declined. She moved seats shortly after, did gave her a goodbye kiss though. Side note, lots of people have braces in Mexico, also older folks. I thought it made her look really young.
Just before arriving in Divisadero the conductor comes up to me to sell me a ticket, 300 pesos he says. That price was neither on the signs (either higher or lower, depending on the class) nor mentioned before. I handed him the money and he was gone instantly. I figured he waited until we were almost there to sell me the ticket and just pocketed the money. Also quite expensive for a two hour trainride, in which you don't actually see the canyon as it only starts after Divisadero. And I learned that there's also a great paved road that you can take, as I took a bus back for 50 pesos. Could have taken the bike, safed the fare and had a good ride. Oh well, live and learn.
On the plus side, the view over the canyon was great!
There's also an 'adventure' park there, where you can make your way down to the bottom of the canyon by zip line or cable car. I did not do it as it is fairly expensive. Did bump into Diana again there.
Waiting for the 50 pesos bus back to Creel. My advice, if only going to Divisadero skip the train or bus and ride this road yourself.
Back in Creel there was another place I wanted to see, called Valle de las Ranas (Valley of the mushrooms). I went there by bike and the rock formations were okay, but I liked riding through these little villages more. They're situated in a beautiful green valley separated from Creel by some hills.
Alright, back to motorcycles and riding..
I wanted to go to a town called Batopilas, which lays at the bottom of the canyon. But the six riders I met at Basaseachi informed me that the road is closed due to severe landslides. Their buddies were stuck for a couple of days. I asked about this in my hotel and the guy said the road would open tomorrow. Well, I can probably get through with a small bike then.
Okay, almost back to motorcycles.. On the way I stopped at Lago Arareco.
And walked to the Cascade Cusarare.
Did you have a blue corn gordita at the train stop in Divisadero? You missed a fabulous ride from Creel to Divisadero! but then again there are so many great rides down there. Your report is about 2000km behind schedule
Ha no, I didn't. It was extremely busy at this little food marked so I skipped getting lunch there. Yeah, bummer about the ride. I thought it would be further and that you could only get there by train. No idea why I didn't look into more..
Yes, I know I know.. :) I wanted to write more today, but ended up going to a cenote to swim with turtles.
At least now we know where flyingdutchman177's Magic String wound up.
The owner of the hotel in Creel had said that the road down to Batopilas was still closed due to landslides. But I was willing to give it a go, couldn't be that bad on a small bike I thought. After visiting the lake and the waterfall I rode on to the turnoff and started the decent into the canyon. At the turnoff a semi carrying a dozer just pulled out, a good sign. The first part was good pavement, nice twisties and no sign of any problems. It did get increasingly more hot coming down from over 2000m to 500m above sea level.
Then I stumbled upon the first obstacle. They had cleared a path through it so it wasn't difficult to navigate.
A week prior there had been a massive storm and this caused all the debris on the road. It will take a while to get this all sorted.
Again the views did not disappoint. This area is riders heaven.
It looks perfect but in every corner there was a little rocky surprise waiting so had to take it slow.
Did I say that I love riding here?
More washouts to negotiate. Made me think of those videos you see of guys riding in the Himalayas.
And more.. Literally around every corner there was a new washout. Sad to see this road destroyed, because it is the only way into the little town that is gasping for more visitors.
Made it down to Batopilas without to much trouble and got a room in hotel Juanitas.
Looking to find some food.
After I had a late lunch in a small family run restaurant a walked back to the hotel and chilled on the balcony overlooking the river for a while.
Around dinner time I went for another stroll and was approached by an older lady named Monse. She runs a little hostel near the main square called Casa Monse. She was glad to see someone visit the town and wanted to practice her English, I was surprised she even spoke English as she was in her 70's and had never traveled far from Batopilas. She invited me into her house for coffee and promptly started feeding me too. She told me about her life and the life in Batopilas. It was super interesting to hear all these stories and to see photographs of those old days. I thanked her for everything and retreated to my hotel later that evening. She invited me for breakfast the next morning before I would leave.
I didn't take a picture of her (don't feel comfortable asking people for their picture) but she's sitting on the the far right behind the door in this one.
I loaded up my bike and then walked over for breakfast. She kept on bringing food and showing all kinds of memorable items so it actually took a while before I left. I did leave a small donation as that felt like the right thing to do.
Back the same way I came, through the debris and out of the canyon.
Hahaha, there's more coming..
Btw: Ed is actually one of the guys that inspired me most. I remember spending hours in the office reading his first 400 days. Haha my boss even called me into his office one day warned me that I shouldn't be on my phone all the time.
That is not the only way into Batopilas, we came and went from that town on 3 different roads and never touched the asphalt road you were on. Those roads may not be real fun on the more road going bikes. Those roads don’t show up on some maps (such as Google).
Monse is an interesting person. We had breakfast with her one morning.
I am enjoying the report, keep it coming!
Beautiful, l see from IG you're wind screen has been collecting more stickers. Got some condones!?
Man that new asphalt road has taken a beating since I was last there 20 months ago.
Monse is quite the character, eh?
oh, the memories...
True, you're right! There are more roads connecting all the little towns in the mountains. I actually planned to ride some of them but decided against it. But this road is the only 'practical' one to get supplies and people in and out.
Ha, yes.. Most of them from the US, it a bigger thing there. Still need to find a Mexican flag. Sí, mucho
Must have been a great road to ride when it was still in one piece!
She's an interesting person for sure, very friendly but I got the impression she can also be quite stubborn.
The riding in the Copper Canyon area was great and I was really happy with the decision to head up that way, but it was time to start heading south. It was nearing the end of September and my plan was to be much further south by that time. So I went straight to Hidalgo del Parral, temporarily leaving the winding mountain roads behind.
Spotted the first snake on this trip. It didn't like me getting closer and as it was a rattlesnake that was fine with me.
Found another cheap hotel with secure parking in Hidalgo del Parral and to make something of the day went straight to the mine for a visit. You can only visit with a guide, and it was Spanish, but I didn't mind. It was only me and two Mexican women on the tour, not busy at all. I had hopes of going down into the actual mine itself, but that was a different tour.
H. Del Parral was a nice city to walk around for a couple of hours.
The hotel was cheap, but okay. Had to laugh when I noticed that they even had locked their light bulbs. I was kept awake for a couple of hours by a couple in the room above me, not sure what this guy used but it must have been something good..
Next day more straight roads, making progress towards Durango.
Quick oil change at the hostel in Durango, it was definitely needed.
I already spotted a few Honda Rebel 250's but this was the first Nighthawk I saw in Mexico. There's actually quite a few of them around. Boosted my confidence in finding parts if problems would arise.
The church next to the Zocalo in Durango.
For me the most important reason to go to Durango was to ride the Espinazo del Diablo, the Devils spine or route 666. It was recommended by some people and absolutely worth it! I've never seen so many corners in one day, the whole 250-or so kilometers it was one corner after the other. Lots of the road was in the clouds and sometimes even rain but that didn't stop me from scraping the (lowered) pegs at most turns.
Close to Mazatlán the temperature had increased a lot, as did the humidity. Different vegetation too!
Checked into a hostel in Mazatlán, two other riders Mike and Rob were already there. And also two French guys that I had met in La Paz. Great atmosphere and facilities so I decided to stay an extra night.
The Frenchies wanted to go to this island just of the coast of Mazatlán, so we got a little group together.
In shorts and flip-flops we fought our way through the dense bushes to the highest point to enjoy the view.
And a lancha back to Mazatlán.
Rob took off first and I followed shortly. We were heading in to different directions, he along the coast and I inland to Tequila.
The ride wasn't that, spectacular but you'll notice it when you get closer to Tequila because all you see is Agave fields.
There's one camping place on iOverlander in Tequila, right in the centre of town. But wherever I looked I couldn't find it. I was just about the ride to a hotel, only had to hit 'go' on the nav but then a woman asked in perfect English if I was looking for something. I said "Yes, there's supposed to be a place to camp here." "Oh there is, it's my father's workshop" she said. She indicated me to ride the bike into the courtyard, which didn't look to inviting. But as the whole family was really friendly I decided to stay and pitch the tent. I asked how much but it was free. I did buy them a box of beers and gave a small donation when I left.
I cannot recount how many people made up this family but is was pretty big. Father and mother, a couple of brothers and sisters, their wife's and husbands, their children. My time was occupied by helping the kids with their drawings and holding these cute puppies.
Managed to escape the kids and went for a walk through town.
Got my first taste (haha, taste) of the destilling process when I peeked through a window.
It rained all night so was up early for another stroll through town and maybe visit one of the distilleries. If I'm right it's also one of the Pueblo Magicos, and yes.. It is a neat little town.
With that said, there's also a shitload of tourists (just like me :)) . And a million tourbusses to get them to the different distilleries in and around Tequila. Can't miss out on that stuff, got our own Tequila bottle on wheels.
First stop was one of the many Agave fields, they explained (in Spanish) how old the plants are and how they do the harvesting.
All back into the bottlebus and to the distillery to see how they turn the Agave into something that gives you headaches.
Although the whole tour was in Spanish, the guide still managed to keep me interested..
And then there was the tasting. I do like the aged ones, Reposado and Anejo I think they're called. But the Tequila Blanco is not my thing. The best one I thought was a coffee (or coffee liquor) infused Tequila.
After a lunch and sufficient time walking around I packed my tent, said goodbye to the family and did the short jaunt to Guadalajara. The plan was to only spend two nights there as I was still trying to get a bit further south. And most of the time I find two nights plenty to get a good impression of a city. There are however certain things that can change that...
As per routine after checking into a hostel I go for a walk. Yet again I find myself in a beautiful city, and it feels very lively. Maybe because it's a Saturday and everybody is out on the streets.
I stumbled upon a Jazz Festival, which I really enjoyed. There were some great new artists playing.
Bear with me.. As the evening went on something else also caught my eye. In the crowd I had seen a beautiful girl. She had a slim figure and dark hair that just touched her shoulders. But I could not see her face. This reminded me of a book I just read called 'Giraffe', it's about the largest captive heard of giraffes on the European continent but the end is grimm. Anyways, the main character in the book works with the giraffes but never do the giraffes look him in the eye, as if he does not exist. So if for only one time they would look down and acknowledge his existence he would be happy. Well that is how I felt at that moment, haha.. If only she would turn around and acknowledge that I'm there too, that would be wonderful.
That did not happen as she was there with friends. As the festival came to an end and the band wrapped up their last song I thought, you'd better do something right now because in a moment she'll be gone. I've never been good at starting conversations with strangers, and definitely not beautiful attractive Mexican girls surrounded by others. But I was alone, in a city where nobody knows me and I probably would never return, so what's holding you back... So I searched for the words in Spanish, stepped forward and said: Disculpa, un pregunta. Este festival es todo fin de semana o solo esta noche? She said it's only tonight. Ah, okay muchas gracias! I turned around ready to walk away but then thought, wait, there's more.. So I asked if there is an afterparty or something somewhere. Yes, there was, they were going there and if I wanted to join.. (Whoohoo, see that wasn't so hard now was it) Yes, of course I'll join! I was still in my dirty clothes so I quickly went back the hostel to change after they told me the location of the bar.
It was only a few blocks to where the bar was supposed to be. But once there, there was no bar. She must have counted the blocks wrong so I circled the block, then another bigger circle and then another bigger circle. But no bar.. Shiiit, you stupid, why did you want to freshen up, why couldn't you just go with them. I found a bar a few blocks away, but no familiar beautiful face. Es un otra bar cerca de aquí? No, no more bars around. I checked Maps.Me and there was a cultural centre close to where the bar was supposed to be. Jazz Festival, cultural centre.. That could be it. And luckily it was.
ahh las chicas Mexicanas!