RTW the Jamie Z Way: Central Mexico

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Jamie Z, Nov 29, 2020.

  1. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z I'm serious. Supporter

    Oct 17, 2006
    Around Denver
    19 febrero 2021

    Didn’t go far today, so I took a little joyride.



    Today was probably my earliest start of the trip. I woke up just after sunrise and lifted my head from my pillow not long after. It took me an hour or so to pack up and take a little walk down to the beach and take a few photos.


    Last night I’d sent a message to Johnny, JD’s friend who I met in San Cristobal two weeks ago. He’s been staying in Playa Zipolite since his own trip was interrupted by covid almost a year ago.

    Johnny messaged me and asked me if I were coming through Zipolite and invited me to join him for breakfast. I wasn’t far away and told him I’d be there soon. I pulled out of the campsite about an hour and a half after sunrise.

    I thought I might have a look for the house of Elizar. He’d tried to explain to me where it was last night, and I thought it would be cool to see him again and maybe get a photo in the daylight. Unfortunately, his description of his house matched almost all the houses along the road. I rode slowly hoping he might hear the bike and come outside to look… but I never saw anyone.

    It’s a quick ride to Playa Zipolite. Johnny is from Canada and we talked a lot about Canada and Alaska, about going to Cuba on the Stahlratte, and about his time in Zipolite.

    I really didn’t intend to stay in Zipolite. I’d ridden only 20 km today. Maybe I’d explore the area and then move on, but Johnny’s clear love of this place made me reconsider. He talked about the feeling of freedom he has here, how it’s different from anyplace he’s ever been, how everybody is here because they chose to be. He encouraged me to spend a few days to get a feel for the vibe.

    But he also talked about how people here don’t feel the need to wear a mask. How nobody is afraid. He clearly meant this as a positive attribute, but that’s not how I received it.

    But now I wanted to check it out, so immediately after breakfast I rode a few blocks over to the Rancho Los Angeles and got a campsite on their spacious grounds for 150 pesos per night.


    It was around noon, and the humidity was choking me. Can’t even sit still without sweat soaking my clothes.

    During breakfast Johnny had mentioned a little mountain village which is known for its coffee, so I decided to make a loop out of it. I rode up highway 175, the same road I came down yesterday. Then I’d turn off onto a secondary road to reach Pluma Hidalgo, where I hoped to sample the coffee, and then continue down the secondary road to return to Zipolite.

    It takes a long-ass time to get out of Zipolite. On a map, it looks like a clear shot to the highway, but for the love of god plus they’re putting in a new bridge and it’s at least an hour before you’re out to the highway. All the while, I’m pouring sweat under my gear and riding at 30 km/h with frequent topes bringing everything to a mometary halt. I was so happy to reach the twisties again and start climbing in elevation.

    My first picture stop was after I turned off onto the secondary road toward Pluma.


    There are a lot of stray dogs in Mexico. They’re everywhere. But here on this road, within the first mile or so, I saw at least a dozen.


    The street dogs are almost universally very skittish. A couple dogs have run out after me barking, but most are extremely timid. A couple of times when I’ve had some leftovers I’ve stopped and left the food for a nearby dog.

    I made it to Pluma Hidalgo. You can tell this is the direction that most of the tourists do *not* arrive from.


    In town the view is spectacular.


    I found a coffee shop by checking Google and pulled up. The street looked mostly empty.


    Inside a young lady offered to help me with my coffee selection.


    I told her I really knew nothing about coffee, but I wanted to sample some of the good stuff. She recommended an expresso. Excuse me, espresso.

    She made the espresso and demonstrated the steps to me using fairly basic Spanish. She laughed at my attempts to ask questions, probably because I don’t know anything about coffee, but really because I sound like a three-year-old.


    I’m pretty sure I’ve never had espresso in my life. She warned me it would be quite strong, and offered that if I didn’t like it, she’d give me an Americano. That’s fancy talk for a cup of coffee.


    Boy she wasn’t kidding about it being strong. I really do wish I enjoyed coffee more. From what I hear from coffee drinkers, it’s similar to wine, beer, or whiskey in its variety of flavors and types.

    She did make me a choco-coffee or somesuch. Um, am I reading too much into this?


    She asked where I was from and it came out that I grew up in Minnesota and she told me she has a friend here in Mexico who is from Minnesota and showed me his picture..

    By now it was getting late and I wanted to get back before dark, so I paid and rushed out. I followed some whacko-way out of the town which first led me up one of the steepest hills I’ve ever climbed, and I think the first time I felt it necessary to stand on my pegs on pavement. The road was so steep that I stood up and leaned forward, otherwise I was feeling like I might loop the bike!

    The track turned into dirt and I started to worry that I’d have to turn around, but eventually it led back to the secondary road.


    Another fun one, and not much traffic at all.


    But watch where you’re going.


    As I said, getting into and out of Zipolite takes a lot longer than it looks and I was caught out after dark. I rode extremely slowly and every time a car came up behind me I pulled off the road to let it pass.

    My auxiliary lights are still not working. I have not heard back from Baja Designs since last week. (quick edit: I got an email response from Skene, the company which makes the dimmer with a couple of suggestions to get the lights to work properly.) So I was stuck riding with the terrible Honda stock headlight.

    The roads here are like a spider web after you walked into it face-first.

    When I got back to my campsite, I doffed my gear and walked into Gringolandia. Actually, it’s not that bad, but as Johnny described, there are people here from all over the world. I heard a lot of English, including a couple different accents, and a couple other languages.


    And as Johnny said, very few people care about social distancing or masks. It wasn’t massively crowded… but I found a place with outdoor seating and got a few tacos for dinner.


    While I ate, several well-rehearsed street performers put on a show. Drums were beating, fire sticks were spinning. people danced and clapped.

    ...pandemic or not, it’s just not something I can get my head into. I think it’s interesting to watch and take in, but it’s just not in me. I’m the dry, engineering type. And I guess that’s why I’m sitting by myself at a table in a mostly-empty campground typing out a report about my day while I can still hear the drums beating from town.


    Maybe I should have tried the mushrooms a couple days ago... :lol3
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  2. ozmoses

    ozmoses persona non grata

    Jul 3, 2009
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  3. Ohio_Danimal

    Ohio_Danimal If I die trying, at least I tried Supporter

    Dec 20, 2009
    Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio (The Crooked River)
    I’m glad you kinda enjoyed Hostal Evelyn. I never paid for a private room. Right around the corner from the restaurant upstairs is a room with shared bunks. Mine was pretty damn comfy so sorry you got a bad one.
    Did you talk to Federico?
    Skipping Mazunte?
    Glad you’re enjoying yourself. Wishing I was there.
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  4. falcofred

    falcofred aka Beer Scout Supporter

    Nov 30, 2008
    Extreme N.E. Tennessee = Motorcycle Nirvana
    Jamie, we can feel the negative 'vibes' from here :D
    I think some shrooms, maybe a little herb and your 'vibes' would be more positive :nod
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  5. szurszewski

    szurszewski Long timer

    May 26, 2010
    Olympia, WA

    Those are some tasty looking cups of coffee - I think you picked a good spot for your first espresso!

    (ps: an americano isn't quite "regular" coffee - it's a shot of espresso mixed with a few ounces of hot water)
    oldskool63, Jamie Z and Dale402 like this.
  6. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z I'm serious. Supporter

    Oct 17, 2006
    Around Denver
    20 febrero 2021

    Didn’t do a damn thing today, and that’s just what I wanted.

    I woke early, what with the sounds of the birds all around me in the trees and the maintenance workers raking and yelling back and forth, but I stayed in my sleeping bag for about as long as I could before my tent started to get too warm.

    First thing I did was sit up under a palapa to do some internet stuff and got caught up on the Perseverance landing a couple days ago. Isn’t that amazing?


    Today I wanted to go to the beach. The campground is just a couple blocks away.

    Zipolite is known as Mexico’s only nude beach, as well as having dangerous currents in a beautiful setting. It’s all those.


    Being a nude beach, I didn’t take many photos. Here I tried to get creative and you can see my legs before they were sunburned.


    From the far end of the beach looking back. I have to say I was a bit surprised at how few people were out. It was a great day. Hot with just a slight breeze.


    I walked the length of the beach and stopped in a small beachfront restaurant and drank a few beers over the next couple of hours.


    As I watched, more and more people came to the beach. It never got crowded, but there were a lot more people than there were when I first got here.

    And if you’re curious, the vast majority of people on the beach were wearing regular beach clothes. A small portion of people were nude, most of those being men. A handful of women were topless, with just a couple of women going completely nude.

    I decided to go swimming and walked back to the campground to put away my valuables. I returned to the beach and got in the water. I didn’t get naked, if you were going to ask.

    I jumped in the waves for a while. It really wore me out. I went up and sat in the sand for a bit and then took one last dip in the water before walking back to the campground. I grabbed a couple extra articles of clothing and brought most of it in the shower with me and rinsed off myself and my clothes.

    I laid down to take a nap in my tent for an hour or two, but then returned to town for dinner, pizza tonight.


    The main street is a lot more tranquilo tonight as compared to last night.


    I walked around for a little bit and ran into Johnny and his friend Rand. They were just finishing up their own dinner. I hung out with them for about 45 minutes before cutting out to head back to my tent.
  7. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z I'm serious. Supporter

    Oct 17, 2006
    Around Denver
    I did enjoy Hostal Evelyn, but things are different right now. I suspect during a "normal" time, I might have met up with some other travelers or hung around for a couple of days.

    I have heard that some of the hotels/hostals have actually increased their prices recently because of such low tourism. I don't know if Evelyn has done this or not. I did ask if they had anything cheaper and the woman I spoke to told me they only had those two options for 300 or 350 pesos. I didn't speak with or see anyone else. I did see a younger girl, maybe the daughter of the woman I spoke to who appeared to be working there, but I didn't ask for Federico.
    No negative vibes from me, at all. :1drink

    I'd consider trying some shrooms if it was the right environment. I'd want to be around some friends, people who knew what I should try and how much I should take. The idea of hallucinogenics both interests me greatly and scares me.

    Pretty hard to go wrong around here.
  8. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

    Jan 19, 2016
    Sherwood, Oregon
    Hell yeah @Jamie Z, good on ya! Appreciate the pictures from the beach, exactly what's needed given the winter doldrums here in the PNW (starting to sound like a broken record I expect). Great looking beach and that Corona with the surf in the background...yes. I really like the look of that main street in town, can easily imagine sitting down to enjoy several meals and beers there.

    Took me a minute to figure out what the first picture you posted was. Watched a clip on Perseverance this morning - some of the experiments they're planning are seriously frickin' cool man. Turning co2 into breathable o2, getting liquid o2 to use as rocket fuel for return trips, bringing soil samples back. Pretty damn amazing.

    Look forward to whatever comes next for ya, vicariously enjoying from the cold, wet, northwest...lol.
  9. MrBob

    MrBob Cisgendered Supporter

    Oct 27, 2005
    Colorado and north Florida
    Coffee: Try a Cortado
    Travel: Have fun and wander, but it's easy to get stalled out in Mexico. Ask me how I know.
    Jamie Z, ScotsFire and bigjohnsd like this.
  10. dolomoto

    dolomoto Destroyer of Motorcycles

    Jun 9, 2005
    Veneto, IT
    I am completely unfamiliar with the Mexico telephone scheme. for phone service, I use Google Fi (has worked on 4 continents and a few dozen countries so far) for voice and a bit of data. But my go to data plan for Africa is to buy a local sim data sim card and use it in my wifi puck.

    Using the wifi puck, I use my phone in airplane mode but with wifi enabled so I can use one of the many wifi calling apps.

    Is a data only sim card and wifi puck an option in Mexico?

    Great pics. Looks like I need to move Mexico up on my travel list.
  11. ozmoses

    ozmoses persona non grata

    Jul 3, 2009
    What is this tree that looks like an evergreen palm ??
  12. Grinnin

    Grinnin Forever N00b Supporter

    Dec 10, 2005
    Maine, USA
    Looks like Araucaria heterophylla or Norfolk Island Pine. N.I. Pine is not a pinus (pine).

    I am neither a botanist nor mexicano.

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  13. ozmoses

    ozmoses persona non grata

    Jul 3, 2009
    It looks like a brontosaurus should be grazing nearby; WTH is it ?? :lol3
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  14. Grinnin

    Grinnin Forever N00b Supporter

    Dec 10, 2005
    Maine, USA
    In Mexico it would be an introduced ornamental. In the northern United States, it's a houseplant. It's native to Norfolk Island, nearish Sydney Australia.

    All that applies only if that's what that tree really is.
  15. HickOnACrick

    HickOnACrick Groovinator Super Supporter

    Dec 5, 2007
    As others have expressed - thanks for taking the time. Real-time RRs are a challenge.

    Mondongo. LOL!

    I was living in Costa Rica for a week before I knew enough Spanish to request, "por favor, no mas mondongo."

    The electrical heater element on a shower head? Yep, I've been shocked a time or two by those. SO much so that I would literally just gird my loins and take a cold shower rather than risk electrocution. Just part of being a founding member of the snap turtle club.

    It's interesting to hear your self debate about the cooking gear. It sure makes spontaneous camping easier.

    This is literally coming from a guy in an armchair, so take it with a grain of salt:

    It seems you are struggling with the camping thing...I do the same thing, feeling like giving in to a motel is an admission of defeat. I find it helpful if I don't place this unrealistic burden upon myself. Maybe be kind to yourself. You are in a foreign country, during a pandemic, with limited knowledge of the language, culture, flora, fauna, or local crime report. You are traveling in areas you do not know, it is technically winter there, and the cost of lodging is quite reasonable. Maybe plan to have a roof over your head every night, and if you find a good spot to camp...gravy.

    As a fellow introvert, I can empathize. I have spent more than my share of time as a wallflower, even when I wanted some social interaction...

    ...for about 10 minutes before I was exhausted and needed a few days to myself to recover from 10 minutes of talking with a stranger.

    Reading your posts about the ferry (sitting in a corner alone), eschewing the opportunities to socialize, rarely being the one to initiate a conversation...man, I so get that. This is one of the reasons I love this RR. I think, yep, that would be me in a corner typing a ride report while a tattoo of drums and heathenism was just getting warmed up nearby. But dude, this is what makes you you. You are living a dream few of us will realize. You are on the road. You took the time and made the sacrifices to make it a reality. You are the reason many of us are following. Go be you!
  16. The Breeze

    The Breeze Been here awhile

    Dec 9, 2010
    The Rockies
    Looks to me (from Spotwalla), that Z-man did some stealth camping last night!!!:jkam
    Jamie Z and Throttlemeister like this.
  17. Eyes Shut

    Eyes Shut See no evil Super Supporter

    Sep 25, 2007
    Santa Barbara, CA
    Despite being neither a botanist nor Mexicano, you are correct! These are also found as outdoor trees in Santa Barbara.
    szurszewski and Grinnin like this.
  18. AllSeasonRider

    AllSeasonRider Wandering, maybe a little lost...

    Feb 20, 2008
    Los Angeles, CA
    I'm with you there - I always want to be that 'traveler' who really dives into the people of an area, but I never find myself doing it. I find a 10-minute conversation at a gas station or sitting at bar (when you could still do that) is enough. I think it's a combination of being introverted, preferring dead people (i.e. ancient civilizations) and wildlife, and the fact that I'm on a motorcycle trip because I want to ride. Staying any place for more than a day feels like a heavy decision!

    How about some more coffee nerding out? Specifically, an Americano is when you add hot water to espresso. But if you add espresso to hot water? That's a long black, and it's a different drink :D
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  19. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z I'm serious. Supporter

    Oct 17, 2006
    Around Denver
    21 febrero 2021

    Mostly a mileage day.



    Gotta be honest, after two days, the heat and humidity in Zipolite was wearing me out. It’s a cool town. I can understand why people want to be here, but it’s just not my scene. I want to see and experience Mexico.

    Off we go.

    I passed through Mazunte, but didn’t stop. I continued on to Puerto Escondido and pulled off into the town to find an ATM. In front of me at the bank was a young white guy. And behind me two young women from the US chatting and giggling. And as I was leaving, a very tanned surfer from the US came up to speak with me, using a combination of Spanish and English. The guy was completely wasted, or was burned out from a life of getting wasted. I could barely understand a word he said, no matter which language.

    I hit the highway as quickly as I could.

    Along the coast I pulled off at a shady spot to have a little roadside rest and adjust some gear. Here are boat tours into the lagoon.


    The temperature stayed around 93F (34C) much of the day. I could not wait to get into the mountains.

    I stopped in the very small town of Hidalgo to buy a roadside drink. This is Narciso, who was keen for me to post his photo.


    I’d passed over several wide, shallow rivers and finally stopped to take a photo, this one near La Esperanza.


    That was the last picture I took of the day…. the rest of the day’s narrative:

    iOverlander had a listing for a potential stealth camping site north of the town of Santa Maria Zacatepec. I stopped sometime before that and bought some grilled chicken for dinner and put it in my top case.

    At the iOverlander spot, I found it unsuitable to set up my tent. It was very exposed, near several homes, and fairly close to the highway. So I went back through Zacatepec to see if I could find a place to stay. Immediately I was intrigued with the town. Quite busy, lots of activity. I thought I might find a hotel in town and I could walk around and check it out.

    I went to the Hotel Ibarra. It looked like a typical downtown Mexican hotel. I saw signs. They had a garage for parking. I pulled in. There were three women shucking corn. I asked about the hotel, where is the office? One of the women pointed toward a door near the back of the garage. I walked to the door and confirmed. “Through here?” She affirmed.

    I sure wish I’d had my phone with me for photos. I walked into what felt like that TV series where they try to show what the world would look like if people disappeared.

    Here was the courtyard to what must have been the hotel a long time ago. Now it was a barnyard. Quite a few chickens roamed around with several goats. Surrounding the courtyard were ten or twelve rooms, but none had doors or windows on them anymore.

    I stood for a moment looking around and then realized that the hotel must not be open anymore, or I’m in the wrong spot. I walked back through the garage without saying anything to the women and I got on my bike and rode off.

    Luckily I had scoped out a couple of places where I might set up my tent if that other spot didn’t work out. I had to backtrack a few miles but I found the place and pulled off the road up into a small field. It wasn’t nearly as nice as I was thinking. The ground was hard and uneven and there was horse poop all over, but I found a decent spot.

    Now getting dark, I was in a bit of a rush. I set up my table and chair and sat down to eat my still-warm chicken dinner. Then I put my tent up. I was already tired and ready to fall asleep quickly.
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  20. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z I'm serious. Supporter

    Oct 17, 2006
    Around Denver
    22 febrero 2021

    It’s not the destination, but the journey.



    Unfortunately I did not sleep well last night. I was surrounded by barking dogs from almost all directions. The dogs were quiet until 10 or 11pm, and then it was constant throughout the night as far as I remember. A few times, a couple of dogs ventured near the tent, ten or twenty meters. I found my best response was to shine my super-bright LED flashlight directly at them. They’d run away and be quiet for a little while.

    Because, or in spite of the all night barking, I woke up early. The sun had come up over the ridge to the east; it was about an hour after sunrise.


    Everything was covered with dew, but I packed up fairly quickly and headed back toward Zacatepec. I wanted to have a chance to see the town.

    I parked near the center and walked around for a bit. There was a large group of people (mostly women) gathering.


    This is something I’ve seen frequently, and I don’t know what they’re doing. The people are usually well dressed (here you can see a few women wearing what is probably some sort of traditional-style dress) and many are carrying folders or envelopes. They’ll gather and someone will stand up in front to speak, sounding like they’re giving directions. I always wonder if it’s some sort of job opportunity, or government program, or community education.

    There were a couple of stands set up just in front of the square. I thought about getting something to eat, but I wasn’t too hungry yet.


    I also walked by the post office to see about mailing my post cards, but as before, there was a huge line. As above, I don’t know what everybody is waiting for…

    I wanted to head toward Canyon El Boqueron today. It’s one of the bucket list items I have on my map, so I headed north. On the map, it looks like a fantastic curvy mountain road. In reality, the pavement is in various states of condition. Lots of potholes in some places. Missing pavement in other places. A few sections of smooth, new asphalt.



    This is kind of an off-the-beaten-track route, which I prefer a lot more than the built-up tourist zones along the coast.

    I couldn’t help but notice on a lot of the side roads, signs warned visitors that they are not allowed into the local communities.



    When I got to the town of Santiago Amate Colorado a roadside stand caught my attention. There was a motorcycle parked out front and a woman cooking something which looked like empanadas. I stopped to ask what it was she was cooking, but I couldn’t figure out how to ask “What’s inside?”

    The guy on the motorcycle asked me if I spoke English. He spoke pretty good English and told me he’d lived in Seattle for a while. He explained the dish to me and said that it contained “chicken parts.” I had to ask him… what do you mean by chicken parts?

    He assured me that they were good, and said that they contained chicken livers and other castaway things from the chicken. He said I should try one. I did. It was pretty good, though I didn’t get a picture.

    The woman started cooking some other stuff on her grill. These are picaditas, and I got one of these too.


    In the background you see the mom cooking and her daughter. When I finished I asked the daughter, “Cuanto cuesta?” She told me in English, “Thirty-five.”

    As I gave her the money I said to her very slowly and clearly, “You speak a little English?” She replied in perfect teenage-girl English, “Yeah, I was born there.”

    I spoke to the daughter for a few minutes. Her name is Mariana. She was born and partly grew up in New Jersey. Said her dad, her brother, and some other family live up there and she visits frequently. So much for off-the-beaten-path.

    A few miles down the road I stopped in Putla and found the post office. This one did not have a line and I went inside to mail off my post cards. 30 pesos for both. What are the chances they make it?


    The road continued through the mountains, and the pavement was good in some spots, terrible in others.



    The scenery was amazing. I stopped here to take a break from all the topes.



    I got off the main highway in one small town and followed a track until it crossed a ravine with a narrow footbridge. I didn’t attempt to cross.


    And then, El Boqueron!

    But it was closed.


    Imagine how cool this hike would be!


    So… I checked Google Maps and saw the city of Huajuapan and looked up a few hotels in town. I found Hotel Loredo. It’s not as cheap as I was expecting, about 300 pesos, but it’s clean and there’s parking for my bike.


    In the city, it appeared as though I just missed some sort of demonstration. A lot of people carrying rolled up flags and banners.


    So I found some tacos.