Mexico

Day 1763 Thursday 13th August

The border took longer than usual, customs searched our bikes for? Not sure never had that one before. The lady issuing the T.I.P. had never seen Australian ownership documents before and understandably did not know that this paper looking like an invoice, which is what it is, was also proof of title. So when we left it was getting late in the day, also lost an hour due to time zone change. The insurance that all the books said you must have was not required, bonus! However the vehicle bond was not able to be taken on our travel credit cards as they did not have our names on them, so I used my Auzzy credit card, with, as it turned out did not have enough funds for both bikes as we don’t really use it. Luckily I had enough cash to get us through. We should get it back but I’m not so sure…. close to a eight hundred Auzzy bucks I hope I do…

Fourteen clicks up the road saw us at Tapachula, at the only hostel with on site parking, more money than we wanted to pay, though it was town centre, we needed to change money and there was a great cheap Chinese restaurant across the street. We now have to eat out as the stove has stopped being hot till I can get a replacement generator tube, this one has lasted four years so not to bad.

Day 1764 Friday 14th August

Leaving later than we wanted, as usual, however the clock went back an hour at the border which now meant day break was six and not five am. We were on the highway within quarter of an hour in warming sun. At the start the road was fifty fifty in sun and shade, at that hour the shade was cool and refreshing, the sun warm and inviting. Endless curves through wonderful countryside, at one point I saw a dog bringing home the cows for milking, on his own, no people in sight. Must be very well trained part of the family.

At midday we stopped at road side eatery where we reluctantly ate good wood fire cooked cow, excellent black beans, home made cheese and sour cream, hot salsa and strong onions and chilli. Topped with a hectic hot sauce, great to be eating local food again, the cost, eight USD for the gut busting platefuls. The hot plate cooked corn tortillas were a very welcome and tasty change from the slightly sour bread type further south-west. Feeling over full, to camp and stop would have been a great opportunity, as no camping was available in the valley we headed on. Weeks later I would remember this meal as our best in Mexico!

All of the road was heavily forested, steep mountains surrounded us and the good road cut its path through it giving great panoramic views of the lower land we had ridden through.

On the outskirts of town once again we were diverted into a military check point where we were asked “where are you coming from, where are you going and can I see your passports and bike documents”, with all in order we road out again. The whole road was blocked and there was no option to try and pass by. We were guided by large plastic slabs, like they have at road resurfacing on the highway. The guys there were polite and friendly, military looking young men providing back-up with the now familiar pump action shotguns and rifles made sure all went well.

Having taken six hours to ride what the GPS said four we took a room in Comitán de Domínguez at four pm as we were both fairly tired.

Haggling over cost the owner dropped a little, really we were too tired to bother, walking the town a little later we saw that not many of the town centre hostels offered parking. And it was a very nice town to sit in and have a shop bought beer in the plaza.

Day 1765 Saturday 15th August

Rode to Palenque on once again great bike roads, the only downside were the ‘topes’ that every tiny village must have at least twenty of them. Some were ok being gradual in the up and down, some vertical, like ride riding over a concrete block, which of course is what they were, yep called ‘sleeping policemen’ in the UK. There to keep your progress to a minimum.

Managing to camp at a nice site three km walk from the Mayan ruins and excellent museum was a bonus. Quiet and secluded, well fairly quiet, there was a dinosaur park within ear shot, in the day you could hear roaring, which was ‘ok’ however at night there seemed to be soft snoring which was a little odd.

Day 1766 Sunday 16th August

Walked to Mayan site and museum which was awesome to say the least. A fair part of it had been restored which was good to appreciate the enormity of the work involved, some were yet to be touched, that was good to see how the jungle had reclaimed the stone buildings. Proving it does not take nature long to reclaim what is hers.

Day 1767 Monday 17th August

Left Palenque as early as we could, packing our gear, wet due to the late arvo showers the day before. Our unintended stop was to be in Minatitlan. The roads we had to paid for, once more, a few countries had the moto free lane, where you could bypass the toll booths and whizz by without taking off gloves and fumbling for strange coins. However the highways were straight and not too bad a surface, the cost was twenty bucks though……

Being hot and bushed by four pm (again) we stumbled on a ‘motel’ where we asked “how much for one night”, the guy looked surprised and said “well we charge by the hour and the limit is five hours, more than enough for any couple”. Diane said “no, we need till the morning” the guy looked at me, hot, sweaty and tired and said “good luck, I hope you have a good evening, I cant help you”. The next joint was not a ‘love motel with covered discreet parking’. But a regular motel. With lots of bonus laundry ropes to dry our damp gear on.

Day 1768 Tuesday 18th August

As day break was now closer to seven am that six we were not on the road that early. With the recent temporary demise of the stove we missed breakfast and got moving before the heat intensified. By eleven we needed gas and a feed. At a peaje roadhouse we had eggs, tortilla, and frejoles, unlike the beans of southern central America and the far south these were more like black bean paste, tasty but, not the same!

We crossed huge swathes of lush grassy wetland before heading up a delightfully twisty mountain pass, a huge contrast to the flat highway. Spread out in the near distance before me on the slopes of the mountain was the road, trucks driving it like toys on a model scene in a department store. Switching back and forth slowly gaining altitude. Sadly two thirds the way up they had shut one lane of the highway and grinding trucks once again as in Ecuador slowed our pace to fifteen clicks an hour. Climbing to a peak of two thousand five hundred meters from twenty took my breath away slightly. The air cooled and became fresher from the humidity at the lowlands. Dropping a little we soon arrived at our destination of Puebla, a colonial town with drop kerbs and great parking, not to mention wonderful cathedral and churches.

Day 1769 Wednesday 19th August

Walked the town all afternoon, takes till noon for the places to wake up here!!

Day 1770 Thursday 20th August

We rode far much too far in one day to bypass Mexico City, the plan was to head into the city and spend a few days sight seeing. On approaching from the mountains down into the bowel where it lay I was reminded of Santiago in Chile, thick smog and sprawling townships climbing up the slopes the other side of the mountain range. As we both suffered with coughs for weeks after staying in Santiago we turned north eastward and headed to San Miguel de Allende. A nice looking hostel on the outskirts of the old colonial town with, once again undercover parking, took my eye. It turned out that it was not a hostel but a collection of self contained apartments, result! We could cook and save a few bucks on having to eat out. The accommodation was spacious well laid out, the floors were a rich red satin finish clay tile and the wood work old golden oak, aged and full of character.

Day 1771 Friday 21st August

Stayed another day as there was much to see, the churches with doors wide open and the old flag paved streets were pleasant to walk.

Day 1772 Saturday 22nd August

Riding to San Luis Potosi it was a welcome relief to see how the road surface had changed, the mixture of tar and concrete was mostly free from huge holes. The shops that lined the way into town were no longer flanked by small stalls but modern plate glass stores selling a vast variety of western goods. The hotel was very town central and we were kept occupied all afternoon wandering the streets, gawking at the shear consumerism of it all.

One afternoon was enough for us, the state building and churches were closed, which was a shame as the exteriors were splendid.

Day 1773 Sunday 23rd August

Kind of making our was out of Mexico Saltillo was a nice stop not to many k’s for the day. Another nice town with a nice plaza, with good people watching.

Day 1774 Monday 24th August

Taking a short day the ride to Sabinas Hidalgo saw the two ranges of mountains either side of us closing in from possibly twenty km apart to maybe one kilometre, then their vast hight diminished into ground level and soon the small town came into view on the now open plain. It was ideally situated one and a half hours from the border. Having dropped a thousand metres the temperature had risen to a warming mid thirty degrees.

Our last supper in Mexico proved to be a pleasure at a small roadside cafe where we enjoyed lumpy beans, hot sauce, enchiladas, salad and wonderful rice with chillies and vegetables chopped small and mixed in.

Day 1775 Tuesday 25th August

Leaving at day break we were moving before the heat of the day really got serious.

The land was still very flat the huge cactus plants were getting very much smaller as we headed north.

After a small miss hap which ended us at the freight border we were advised that the non commercial traffic crossed at another bridge twenty clicks further west.

At the boom gate we paid another toll fee then finally free, once again we rode over a bridge into another country without having been stamped out of the previous one! Big mistake as we had to reclaim our bond and pay our overstayed tourist card fee. Asking the Texas border, the police they said “yeah, y’all need to go back and see the young lady at the customs gate and get your money back on your bond and come all back here now”. So we did, the nice lady in the smart new-looking chilly air-conditioned office stamped our papers and directed us across a lush, excellent camping piece of grass to another lady in a small call box sized office. She checked the V.I.N. numbers and scanned the bar codes, and asked us to return to the large office. First lady said “all done you credit card will be credited in maximum four days” and handed back the three hundred that I parted with in cash, excellent result!

All the guys there were very helpful, relaxed and friendly, good crossing with no worries.

Back at the Texas gate they asked if we got cash or credit , telling them it was all good and then answering questions of our trip it dawned on me that I could talk to people and be understood, having been so long in Latin America without really being able to talk or understand had become normal. The immigration guy said that the six month visa was only issued on-line so we settled for a meagre ninety day entry permit, it was free of cost though, well six bucks admin charge.

At a roadhouse I failed miserable to pay at the pump, unable to fathom out the English instructions. While I queued to pay for gas I also found myself with ears shut and not even hearing the chatter of other people. Just stopping myself from saying hello, good afternoon to the cashier in Spanish, I then just looked at her as she replied, not expecting to understand. I reckon she thought I was a stupido!!

Welcome to the U.S. of A.

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