DAY 363: AJIJIC – OCOTLAN
START: 9:30 – FINISH: 17:00 (01/03/16)
DISTANCE: 65 KM – RIDE TIME: 5H 09
The day started well as I continued to cycle along the lake. I stopped quickly at the town of Chapala, one of the main tourist towns along the lake before moving on. The traffic dropped off and so did the quality of the road. After 32 km I reached Muchala, a small village on the lake’s edge. Then the road became cobbled. The locals must have got sick of it because two concrete strips have been inserted down the middle of the road to make it easy to drive on. Either side of the road on the slopes the locals were growing peppers and chillies. San Pedro was a one-street town that stretches a few kilometres with a row of houses below the road and a row above.
After San Pedro I got a real shock as the road turned into a real farmers track. It took me 4 hours to cover 20 km. It was tough and exhausting. Some parts of the road were really steep as the road climb up into the mountain. Twice I came to an intersection…………not knowing which way to go. The first time I waited and then asked a passing tractor. The second time I guessed. It was always the worst of the two roads. I was relieved to get back out on to the tarmac.
Come 5 p.m. I reached Ocotlan a town of 100 000 people and despite having only done 65 km I had had enough. Perfect timing a fire truck passed me and I followed it straight to the Bomberios. I asked if I could stay and a phone call had to be made to the Chief. I got the OK. I pitched my tent out the front. I had seen a big church on my way into town and decided I would go back and take some photos of the Church and the Plaza. A big stage was set up in front of the church for a concert later in the evening. It turned out be a really fun evening.
I was walking away from the plaza and saw and heard some sirens. Thought I would investigate………..as I got closer I realised it was a parade. Celebrating Family Day I stayed and watched. Don’t think too many tourists visit because I must have stood out on the sideline and got called into the parade by a women called Alma. While her friends sang she got me to follow her directions and we did a little dance………….the adrenaline was really flowing as the crowd chanted. It was such good fun.
I headed back to the Plaza for the concert and as I was wandering around a guy came up and asked if he could take my photo. He said when he had seen me watching the parade he thought I was Lionel Messi the famous football player. I talked to him about my trip and it turned out he was the Communications Manager for the city. He took me over and I met with some of the City Councillors. I met Denise who was only 23 and was voted in last year. I also got to meet the mayor and also Katarina the city’s Queen.
I was sitting to the side of the stage, but got invited up to the front row of the stage to listen to a symphony played by an Orchestra that had come a few hundred kilometres.
Octlan is celebrating 486 years since its beginning. It was a nice concert with the Church in the background. Afterwards a presentation was made to the conductor and then after I heard the word Bicicletta and the guy next to me said he’s talking about you and your trip. At the end I had to stand up and acknowledge the crowd who gave me a very generous round of applause. I soon realised they weren’t going to stop clapping till I sat down.
What a lovely evening. I walked back to the fire station and chatted to the guys there for a while. They recently caught a snake which they are going to take out of town and release. For my entertainment the snake came out of the bag. It was a boa constrictor. Not poisonous but I still wasn’t getting too close
DAY 364: OCOTLAN – SAN JULIAN
START: 8:10 – FINISH: 18:00 (02/03/16)
DISTANCE: 123 KM – RIDE TIME: 7H 27
After a few photos with the Bomberios I was on my way again, firstly to El Barca. Skipped the centre and found the road I needed to go east. Not well sign-posted I had to go 5 km before I got the confirmation – “You never cycle as fast as when you are unsure”.
It was another hot old day cycling. I took a secondary road which wasn’t too bad for traffic or quality.
I only had a few little hills to go over today. You would climb up and have a nice view over the plains below. I stopped for some Tacos in San Marina…………..When I went to pay it had already been take care of. I was feeling pretty tired by this time.
The more kilometres I do today the less I have to do tomorrow. I cycled on another 10 km to the junction. I pulled up to the shop and there was a guy out the front with a little taco stand. Jimmy spoke perfect English and offered me a cold drink straight away. We chatted for a while. He had lived a few years in Canada. I asked Jimmy if I could camp beside the shop between two trucks, so I was a little hidden. As usual it was no problem.
DAY 365: SAN JULIAN – LEON
START: 7:30 – FINISH: 16:30 (03/03/16)
DISTANCE: 77 KM – RIDE TIME: 5H 15
Early start meant a cold start to the day and it was even colder with the first part all downhill.
It wasn’t for long because the hills soon arrived. Not before I had time to stop after 16 km in San Julian for breakfast. I sat in the Plaza and made a fruit salad while I listen to the locals singing in the church. It sounded very good. The fruit salad wasn’t enough So afterwards I stopped in for some Quasadiars.
By mid morning I reached San Diego and was only 40km short of Leon. I saw a tailors and went in and the lady kindly mended my ripped short pocket for free. Her Husband and son were in there engraving leather with a hammer and a stamp with some very intricate detail.
Leon is the largest city in Guanajuato and it was a little harder for me to find my warm showers host. The screen shot of google maps wasn’t good enough. I got to within 5 km and I had to get help. I went to a hotel and the Bell boy Omar who spoke very good English was able to help. After that it was a lot more easier. When I arrived Frida & Fernando weren’t home. But Frida’s Mum and sister had come over to let me in. we had to carry all the stuff including the bike up the stairs to the first level apartment.
DAY 366 & 367 LEON REST DAY
I was only going to stay in Leon one night. But am always very easily persuaded to stay another.
The centre of the city is about 3.5km away and I set off just after 8am. It was only a 1km walk down to the stadium, park and museum zone. When I got to the stadium I saw a sign for the rally of Mexico. I soon learnt race HQ was just around the corner and cars were coming back at 12pm. There is a New Zealander racing Haydon Paddon. So I was keen to have a look. I had a walk around the park and then I rushed into the centre to cheek out the historical part, a large plaza and lots of church’s before getting back to HQ. I paid my 50 peso and had a wonder round. You could walk past the garages and see the cars coming back for there lunch time service before going out again. It was a real motoring amphorae with all the pretty girls and merchandising and give always.
The last stage of the morning was around a small track in side the hq. Watched this for a while and got chatting from a guy from California. Graeme has now kindly organised for me to go on a free tour tomorrow out to some of the dirt stages. I had to be back at the house to meet Fernando to go with him to his High school to talk to some of his students. I did a small talk about my trip and showed them a few videos and it was very well received.
Saturday morning I meet Rosa and Even and joined them to go about 30km out of town to watch the rally. There was a lot of people. Some had been camping out for days. The cars come through twice today and once tomorrow. We positioned ourselves near the jump.
I ended up climbing a tree for a view. The cars passed so quickly and always left a cloud of dust After all the cars passed we relocated to the Leon speed way for another stage.
Two cars at a time would race against each other at a time. Each competitor had two races. The guy from New Zealand Haydon Paddon won both his races…………and I was wishing I had brought my New Zealand flag. In the pre race entertainment that had stunt men on motor bikes and a guy driving a car on two wheals. He came a cropper when he ran into a ditch and they had trouble getting him out.
I was pretty exhausted from yesterdays long day. I decided I would stay another day. I walked down to Rally campus, Soak up the atmosphere and watch the last few hours of the race on one of the screens that were around. I some how managed to get up stairs of the VW fun centre for some free beers and snacks. It was a good place to watch the race.
At about 1pm all the cars came back for a final service before the presentation ceremony over at the park. I went over to the Hyundai garage with my New Zealand flag to show some support to the only Kiwi driver in the field. It was pretty cool seeing the 20 car come back. Haydon finished 5th……wasn’t a bad effort. I didn’t get a chance to talk to him. But he did acknowledge me as he got back in the car to leave which I thought was nice.
By the time I got over to the park it was packed. The closest I could get to the podium for the presentation was from the other side of the lake. It was ok, you could see enough.
I headed straight home afterwards so I could rest up before getting back on the bike tomorrow.
DAY 369 LEON – CELAYA
START 08:30 FINISH 16:40 (07/03/16)
DISTANCE 115KM RIDE TIME 5H44
I got away resemble well and was able to navagated myself out of Mexicos 5th largest city. It then turned into a day of punchers. The first after 16km was a great big wacking nail. Unfortunately the shoulder was full of rubbish, glass and shredded tyres. 45Km it was the turn of the front tyre, a nasty little bit of wire from a blown tyre had worked its was in. Its been a while since the last day I got a puncture back in Catavina on the Baja California.
The 3rd puncher for the day was the last straw. I cycled on as best I could on a flat tyre till I camp across a roadside restaurant. I pushed my bike in and asked if it would be ok to came around the back
No problem. I went round back, crossed the little stream and set up camp. I then took the wheel off the bike and went in to the comfort of the restaurant to repair the puncher. They kindly gave me some cold drinks and afterwards let me use there Bbq to cook some dinner. They wery kindly gave me some BBQ chicken to eat with my dinner.
DAY370 CELAYA – SAN JUAN DE RIO
START 7:40 FINISH 17:00 (08/03/16)
DISTANCE 102KM RIDE TIME 5H
Yay,,,,,,,,,,I had a puncher free day. Tho when I cheeked the tyres this morning the back tyre was a little soft………I thought I might have a slow puncher. So I pumped it up a little…….and thankfully it held for the day. Must have just been soft due to the air contracting over night with the cooler temperature.
I continued along the 45D. It was busy, nothing compared to after OI crossed Queretaro and picked up the 57D. This is a major road into Mexico city, which is less than 180km away. About 100km out I will turn off, so I can bypass MC.
All morning I was passing factory after factory or storage whare houses. It is so much more built up, The afternoon clouded over with some rally dark clouds, Late in the afternoon it looked like it was going to rain pretty soon. So I made a quick decision to stop at the gasalinea. There was a grassy area in the corner behind. Tho the grass turned out not to be so nice. I had to move all the dog Shit so I could put my tent up. Just in time because it started to rain quite hard.
DAY 371 SAN JUAN DE RIO – TULA
START 07:35 FINISH 16:45 (09/03/16)
DISTANCE 102KM RIDE TIME 7H33
It rained off and on all night then the wind got up. I thought it was blowing in the right direction and got quite excited. As soon as I started cycling, to my horror It was i nfact coming from just in front or from the side. I got smashed all morning. Few times I had to get off the bike and push because the wind was so strong I couldn’t control the bike and I was getting blown towards the traffic. If the wind wasn’t enough. The first 60km was all up hill. I pluged away for 5 ½ hours at 1pm I had only managed 47km. My fortune soon changed and for the rest of the afternoon I had a exciting 40km down hill run. 90Km out from Mexico city is was a relief to leave the 57D and turn on to the 40M and I now had the wind pushing me from the back. It was a beautiful ride crossing big valleys high up on the bridge and at one point we were following along the top of a cannon which had a beautiful green valley flour. Was thinking I would luv to be camping down there. The lands around are very fertile. Very green. Passed by some big lakes. Not all green passed by a oil refinery as well.
As soon as I got my hundred in I pulled in to the first Gasolina to camp for the night. Its probably a bit big to be camping. I will try any way
DAY 372 TULA – CALPULAPAN
START 8:40 FINISH 18:00 (10/03/16)
DISTANCE 103KM RIDE TIME 7H23
The gasalina was to big to camp in. I was told if I put my tent up the police would come and move me on. I didn’t want to take the chance so I camped on a small dirt road on the otherside of the fence. Next to a guy who was already living there. He had set up a tyre business out of his van and two trucks.
The day didn’t start well with a flat back tyre needing fixed. It was a cold morning asalp well. I only cycled 8km and I came across the ruins of what looked like a old monastry. I left the bike beside the highway and went and explored.
When I came back I had another blimin flat tyre I needed to contend with.
It was another really windy day. With another demoralising head wind to contend with. But again a just pluged along. There was nothing along the highway. Just one restaurant in 100km. Not like the previous days when the had been a Oxxo every 10km or sometimes less.
Come the end of the day I had climbed up to 2500 meters. I was completely exhousted after battling the wind and it was frezing cold. Looking for some where safe to came. I stoped at the toll both for the exit for Calpulapan and asked the police if I could camp there the night. The guy got on the radio and came back and said…….no I couldn’t have any agua. It wasn’t what I was asking for and asked again. He said no I couldn’t camp. So I said ok good bye pushed my bike past the barrier arm and another 100 meters up the road. I was to exhousted to go the 3km up into the town. So I stopped there and put up the tent. It was blowing a gale and I had to rope the tent down. It was so cold I had to get all my thermals out. It was too windy and cold to cook. So I just got in my tent and into my sleeping bag to warm and made do with a apple and some mussili bars.
DAY 373 CALPULAPAN- PUEBLA
START 7:45 FINISH 21:30
DISTANCE 119KM RIDE TIME 7h04
It was frezzing cold in the night and even with my thermals I was a little bit uncomfortible. At 6:30am when the sun started to shine on the tent it was Bliss.
I opened the tent to find the sun out, Yay no wind and beautiful clear skys, some frost on my bike and most surprisingly two mountains shaped like volcanos behind me and covered in snow. They were beutful. I hadn’t seen then the day before because they had been hidden by cloud.
Another nice surprise was cycling only 8km before I came across a Oxxo and service station. There were lots of roadside stores, so I made up for not having dinner the night before. The stores were all on the otherside of the fence, so everything was passed through a hole in the fence. While I was there I chatted to a guy. He later went away and came back with a large bottle of Gatarade. It happened 3 times today. At luch when I left the Oxxo, the staff kindly came out with 2 large bottles of water for me and then when I got to Puebla a guy went into the Oxxo and brought me a drink.
It was nice to have some good thing go my way because after breakfast I cycled only 4km up the Autopista and as I passed the toll gate……..the guy was saying something and I just smiled and kept on going………..then another guy jumped out and stopped me. He said Biyicles were not allowed and they kicked me off. I was only 50km from Puebla and the new road I had to take added another 40km to my journey. I was seathing all morning with those Bas&^%. They always say its for safety. But they put me on a road that was busy and had no sholder and I felt more unsafe then if I had been on the Autopista. Somtimes there was a sholder. It was that bad I had to cycle on the road anyway. I was pretty happy once I got into Puebla.
My warm showers host wasn’t going to be home till 9pm so I just went and chilled out in a internet cafe. I got some directions for my host from the guy at the cafe and it didn’t seam to far. 4 blocks up, turn right at the oxxo and another 4 blocks.
Sounded simple. So the 8:30pm when I headed off. I got horrible lost. Luckly a youny couple came to my rescue and I was able to follow behind then in the car and they vert kindly got me to where I needed.
My warm showers host Poncho who has lived in the states and Canada and speaks great english had a very nice dinner waitting for me.
DAY 374 – 376 PUEBLA REST DAYS
I’m not actually in Puebla. I am in a large town call Chulaula. Which is consided still part of Puebla. Chulaua is the longest habited city in the Ameracas. With people living here continuesly for over 500 years. There are still Aztec ruins here from that time.
When I walked out of my hosts gate this morning. I was greated by the sight of a huge smoking Volcano. It last erupted in 2015 and is one of two active volcanos in Mexico.
So Saturaday I stayed around Chulaula visiting just 5 of the 350 churches in the area. There is a constant sound of fireworks day and night. It’s like a war zone as each Church celabrates it saints day. Chulaula is a very colional city, but it also has some Aztec ruins in the form of a huge Prymid. Tho most of the pyrmid is buried. Its base is the largest pyrmid base in the world. In side the Pyrmid are killometers and killometers of tunnels and stairs leading to many levels. I enjoyed walking through here and it was nice and cool. On top of the pyrmid hill is a church and after climbing up here you get a fantastic panoramic view of all the snow capped volcanos and the surounding area.
Sunday Poncho offered to take me out on his motor bike to visit Popocatepeti, the smoking Volcano. The first half was on a seald road and the last bit was on dirt s we climbed up closer and closer. You could smell the Sulphar in the air. As we got closer there was a mini eruption with a black cloud streaching out of the volcano and into the sky. The dirt roasd up was a bit muddy and a lot of traffic. So we had to go down the overside of the mountain.
We meet a wall of 10 000 people coming out from mexico city to see the snow. It was a long ride back on the bike. We got to only 30km from Mexico City before we get on the Libre to head back to Puebla. I might not have been riding the bike. It was still exhoursting. I have asked if I can stay another night. We picked up some fresh chickens and beers on the way home for dinner.
Monday I caught the bus into Puebla with the intention of just having a quick around the Plaza and Cathrodel and then nipping back to do some much needed maintance on the bike and a bit of Hamock time. It didn’t happen. Puebla is a huge colional city. I visited the Plaza and the cathridal with the largest towers in Mexico. The town hall and the old Victoria Market. I noticed a lot more tourists and large tour groups. Only 1 museum open today and it was free. So I took that opatunity to visit. This is what took up all my time. It was a mixture of early Mexican civalisation and art and potogarphy exabitions on the other flours. It wasn’t till 5pm that I got back. Did the maintance on the bike. Didn’t get any down or Hamock time. Feeling tired. But will have to move on tomorrow.
DAY 377 CHOLULA – TEPEACA
START10:00 FINISH 16:30 (15/03/16)
DISTANCE 70KM RIDE TIME 4H31
I didn’t help myself by not leaving until 10am. When you have been comfortible. It’s hard to get away. I hate having to leave big citys. It took me nearly 3 hours to get out of the city. I had to contend with lots of traffic and fumes. Come 4pm I had, had enough. I cycled in to Tepeaca and asked for the Bomberiors. No Bomberiors so I asked for the Police. After getting directions I cycled to the Police station and asked if I could camp there for the night. They said no, but the young guy Maro took me down to the town hall. There they made some enquirys and arranged for me to go and camp inside the changing room of the local munisipal sports ground.
Two young girls guided me to the sports ground and when we arrived. The police officer guarding the complex wouldn’t let me in because of the no Byicle Sign. After some more call. We had to wait for the offical paoerwork to arrive and then everthing was good. The guy from the town hall that came down to sort it out told me the park was dangours and to stay in the changing room, would be better.
After going back into town for dinner and to visit the church. I got myself back before the gates were locked. At 10pm the park closed and I locked myself in the changing room. Then at 12:15am there was banging on the door and I just ignorged it. I though oh no…………someone knows I’m in here………..and if I open the door I’ll get robbed. Then at 3:30am there was some more banging on the door………Just banging no voice’s and I just ignored it. But I couldn’t sleep and I thought Im not coming out till day light. Then again at 6:00am the banging started again and it was more intense. This time I went to the door. It was all a bit weid. It was the policemen garding the gate. Wanted to tell me he had the key for the tolit if I needed to use them.
DAY 378 TEPEACA – TEHUACAN
START 07:00 FINISH 14:00 (16/03/16)
DISTANCE 87KM RIDE TIME 4H25
After my 6am wake up call. I just packed up and left. Cycled 2km down the road to the service station and stopped for breakfast. It was a good days cycling. Most of it was down hill which was nice. By 1pm I had reached Tehuacan and clocked up nearly 90km. I decided I would stop. So I could spend the afternoon exploring and little bit of relaxing. I cycled into the centre of town and stopped on a corner to gather directions.
A police women started talking to me and a few other people arrived as well. I explained I was looking for somewhere to camp for free. They gave me the name of a hostel and it sounded good. Later when I stopped and asked for directions again…………..I was told I was looking for the night shelter and that it was probly dangerous. I asked for the Bomberiors and flukie enough they were only 200 meters away. I was so relived when I arrived and asked if I could came and it was the usuall no problem.
I spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the town. The usuall sights Plaza and Catherdal. On the way back to the fire station I was drawn to watch a free concert in the park with a Male Opera singer……………I got back late and I still had my tent to put up.
The Bomberiors offered me a bed up stairs. I still insisted to camp down stairs beside the fire engines……….Actual I put my tent up underneath the firemens pole. So it could have been intresting if they had a call out.
DAY 379 TEHUACAN – GUADALUPE
START 7:30 FINISH 17:00 (17/03/16)
DISTANCE 114KM RIDE TIME 6H26
I knew today was probly going to be a big day so I tried to get away early. I then stopped in for a good Mexican breakfast. Before heading south on the Libre. I had seen a no byicle sign on the way into town for the Cuta. So I didn’t even bother trying to get on Autopista because I didn’t want to cycle the 3-4km out to it just to be turned back.
On the Libre I was lewered into a faluse sence to how the day would go. The first 40km of the morning was all down hill. I was flying after just 2 ½ hours I had already cycled 55km and it was looing like it could be a huge day. Unfortunetly the down hill ran out and I found myself cycling up to small vilages at the foot of the mountains. After reaching the small village you then cycled down only to then cycle up to the next village. After the 3rd village that was it.
The libre was very quite for traffic and towns. By mid morning it was 36 degrees and the humidity was killing me. I was in the mountains and the beutful plains were gone. Durion the day I consumed over 5 litrees of fluid and in return I would have been lucky if I had peeded back little more then a cup of tea.
The day ended up running away from me. I was left slowly winding up the mountains in serch of water. I had left the last town with 3 litres of water thinkng this would be enough. Having reached the top of the pass It was a nice sight to see a large river and a relif to see a small village below. I cycled down and stopped at the first Tiender and went straight for a cold drink. Actual first I stuck my head in the drinks frezzer to cool down and the lady didn’t look too impressed. She came round asked her if I could camp and I was able to put my tent up under a tree out front close to the large plastic containers filled with petrol that were for sale…………not a good sign as it usually means the next town is far away. I have been taking more notice of the altatude of late and was camping at 500 meters. A drop of 2000 over the past few days. Didn’t seam like it with all the going up I had done this afternoon.
DAY 380 GUADALUPE – EL MOREL
START 6:30 FINISH 18:40 (18/03/16)
DISTANCE 71KM RIDE TIME 7H22
I was hoping to get to Oaxaca today. It didn’t happen. I was even on the road at 6:30 am to give me a good chance. It was a nice and welcome cool start to day. Fearly flat as I cycled along the river and irragation channals. Very green and fertile lands, With lots of crops. So just to have an idea I had cycled 30km in the first 2 hours………..the next 5 hours I only managed 40km. It was one of those days were you just climbed and climbed and climbed. Every time you thought you had reached the top, you would go round the corner only to see another mountain ahead.
The switch backs were huge and windy. You could see the road ahead. A car would come and disapear and it would be some time before itwould pass you. Having only cycled 10km in two hours………..actually there was a bit of pushing. I knew I wasn’t going to make it to Oaxaca. I meet some road enginers on the way up and they kindly refilled all my water bottles for me. At 11:30am I came across a roadside restaurant and stopped for a welcome cold drink and some food. Afterwards I went to lie down on the restaurant flour for a nap. They stopped me before bringing out a mattress for me. I rested here for two hours. To avoid the heat of the day. Yesterday cycling through the heat of the day had killed me.
After another lunch I cycled on. I thought I had reached the top. I was still bloudy climbing. At around 5:30 pm I dropped down to a small village and thought this was good. Only to find there was little eletric in the village and the drinks the teinder sold were not refrigarated. I was craving a cold drink. So I cycled on dissapointed and again climbing. I finnaly did reach the top and started to decend the mountains road. Camping options were limited with a shear bank on one side and a steep drop off on the other. With the sun fast going down my options were running out when I came across a roadside rest area I was about to put my tent up amungest all the rubbish and used tolit paper. I had a strong instinct to push on so I did. I was happy happy I did because just a few km away in the middle of nowhere was a roadside restaurant. They had closed for the day. I stopped and asked If I could please came. They had a loverly spot for me. Open terrace, but under cover. Looking out over the valley. I got a much needed cold drink and they gave me a plate of pasta. The restaurant wasn’t flash……made out of thached walls and a open fire to cook, no tolit. But what made it was all the pot plants they had growing around.
Camping at over 2000 meters it was a much cooler night. I think would have climbed around 1700 meters for the day. Looking forward to a good decent tomorrow.
DAY 381 EL MOREL – OAXACA
START 7:30 FINISH 12:00 (19/03/16)
DISTANCE 48KM RIDE TIME 2H49
It was a very winedy fast decent this morning down to the big junction town of San Fransisco. I stopped at a restaurant for breakfast and for 45 pasos I had a chicken snitzel with salad and beans and two tortias, A cup of coffee and a crosant.
Having not expected to have to cross a 2000 meter mountain. My couchsurfing host had expected me the day before……….but been stuck up in he mountains with no internet or cell coverage I had been unable to contact him. I don’t have a phone and relie on others if I really need to use one. On this occasion I left my bike at te restaurant. Got a Moto to take me to a internet café for 5 pesos. Didn’t dare call as I know Fabio works till 3am in a bar. Sent my host a message for 5 Paso as well as downloading the google route map directions. Anther 5 pesos back and I was on my way.
With good directions it was fairly easy to find my first Couch surfing host Fabio in a very nice village of San Aurgustine Etla just 4km from the main highway. It was a relief to arrive and find Fabio up and at home. He also had another guest Sara from France staying with him. After a much needed shower and setting my tent up in his shaded back yard. It was straight out to explore. Sara is a potter and Fabio was taking here over to a nearby village that was pretty much dedicated to local pottery.
So I tagged along. It was pretty cheep pottery…..not the best quality and not that creative. Most of the pottery is designed for common working use. Fabio left us to return home to rest before going to work and Sara and I got a taxi into the centre of Oaxaca.
The Zocala was very livily. We were meeting one of Saras local friends for a drink. He took us to a nice quite bar, where we had a couple of serves. On the way we passed a big church that was having a big weading for the daughter of a wealthy banker. We stopped and watched as the bride and grome came out. They were greated by a band, tradistinal dancers and Photogrphys. It was intresting to watch.
The evening was a great time to be walking the streets……….so much cooler then the afternoon.
DAY 382, 383 & 384 OAXACA REST DAYS
Sunday we had a day staying local. We mucked around till 11:30am, then Fabio dropped Sarah and I off at the local arts centre. It was in a very grand old building that used to be a loom (place for making garments) many years ago. We visited a international photo exabitian by an a American and wondered around the grounds.
Close by was a small farmers market on the side of the hill overlooking the Loom and next to a waterfall. We meet a young guy Geul who spoke good enlish and was sell Facashia bread. Which I enjoyed very much. I do like the Mexican food. I also like a change. His house was cose by and after the market Sarah and I went over and had a look at his loverly garden full of fresh produce.
We got back in time to get a ride into the city with Fabio. We only has enough time to have a quick walk around town and visit Fabios bar for a drink before we had to get the last shared taxi home, otherwise we would be waitting until 3am. We had a bit of a scare because it was Sunday. When we turned up the last taxi had gone. We ended up getting charged doubble……….but 25 paso or $1.50 isn’t bad for going 14 or 15km.
Monday was a public holiday, part of the holly week. Thursday on will be Easter. Again we didn’t go into the city until 5pm when we got a ride with Fabio. We visited a few printing shops had dinner in the park before cheeking in with Fabio at his bar.
Tuesday I made the effort to go into the city early. The plan was to go in early, come home early, cycle tomorrow.I was in by 9am. I did the markets, A few churches, A old convent which is now a hotel, Textile museum.
Culture centre which had lots on the different indian tribes. I got back just before the rain.
Like any city, there are some homeless.
DAY 385 OAXACA – 175 RESTAURANT PUNTA PRITA
START 8:30 FINISH 17:30 (23/03/16)
DISTANCE 38KM RIDE TIME 3H46
Oaxaca is surounded by mountains. So I knew what was coming. It wouldn’t be long before I was climbing again. It took me a few hours to cycle the 30km to cross the city and then I was into it.The Seara Norte mountain range. Unfortunetly my heart wasn’t into it. It was hard and slow going. It was steep and I had to get off and push a lot. I would only go a few km and then stop for a bit of a nap to get out of the hot sun.
At one spot I used a bus stop to rest. A local indian got dropped off by taxi and then I watched as he used a home mage woven strap to surport 3 boxes he was carrying on his back. The strap went across is forehead and was taking all the weight.
The 175 is on the tourist route and is a refuge for Mexicans living in the city to escape to the cooler mountains. Built along the side of the mountain were fish restaurants, that had fish ponds full of live fish…ready to be eaten an a moments notice. At 3pm I stopped at one of the larger restaurants with a great panaromic view back to Oaxaca.
I stopped for a cold drink that was gone in two secounds and then went and had a lay down out the back. After a two hour break. I wasn’t that keen to cycle on and I was going to ask the owner if I could camp. Except she just walked away from me when I went to ask…….so I just left. 1Km up the road was another restaurant and I called in there and asked straight away if it was possible to camp.
There something about the mountain because I couldn’t get a straight answer. They wanted to charge me and were humming and harring. They could see $$ signs. But couldn’t make up there mind. After not getting a definative answer. To there surprise I thanked them and moved on. 3rd time lucky I pushed my bike another km up the road to the next restaurant and after going in and asking if I could camp. I got a positive answer straight away and was showen a nice spot beside the restaurant in the forest.
There a Pumas in the mountains. So I am always keen to camp somewhere semi safe.
There was a good thunderstorm and down pour to go with it. So I had some dinner the restaurant while I waited it out. Not a fish fan. The choice was limited. I still managed to have some very nice and cheep Vegie Tarcos.
The local dogs were not so happy I was camping close by and I had them barking outside my tent. Nothing a rock couldn’t fix and they went off to find something else to bark at.
DAY 386 175 RESTAURANT PUNTA PRITA- SANTA MARIA J
START 8:00 FINISH 17:00 (24/03/16)
DISTANCE 50KM RIDE TIME 4H36
Packing up this morning I had a little mis hap when I droped a small bag containg my byicle pump spare inertube and rope into one of the ponds. I then had to quickly rescue it content.
This morning I was happy I only had to climb up through the pine forest for another 5km before reaching the top of the first mountain. I had a little walk around trying to find a good view point and came across a water pureafacation plant for bottled water. They bring the water 8km from a mountain lake before bottling it and selling it. They kindly fill up my water bottles for free. Its a shame I couldn’t have reached the summit yesterday evening because I was a little disheartened with the lack of progress. From the top I had a free 25km downhill ride on a very windy mountionus road. On the opposite mountains and in the valleys below I could see small towns and small farms.
The good times ended when I reached the river Grande. I stopped for some lunch before I would have to start bloudy climbing again. 40 Paso’s I got Eggs,Rice. Beans and coffee. The afternoon climb was steep and there was more pushing then cycling and it was really hot. Easily in the mid 30’s. When I reached Guelatao was stuffed. I founded a covered Basketball court and lay down in the shade for my afternoon nap and was dreaming of someone asking me if I needed a ride up the the rest of the hill.
When I woke up I noticed across the road was a cematrt and the ruins of a church. So I went and explored. Often after a church had been distroyed by a earthquake. Instead of rebuilding it. They turn it into a cematary. I didn’t go in to the centre of Guelatao as it was up hill. I could’t be bothered with the effort After cycling around and above it I discovered the centre of the town was a very nice spring surounded by trees and they had a huge Mexican flag flying beside it.
Climbing some more I passed a dozen smoking dome ovens that were been used to make Charcoal. The next town from Guelatao was only 4km away. It still took an hour to reach. I got there just befor the rain came. It cleared and I pushed on.
I pushed my luck abit much because I ended up getting caught out in the open in a huge down pour. I got completely drenched and was left wet and cold. So when I came across the next town I was done. The restaurant was closed. Just a little further up the road was a shelter right next to the road. I set my tent up here. Had a change of cloths and after a cup of tea cooked some dinner. It was real handy because there was a water tap next to the shelter and I had no trouble drinking the water because Im pretty sure its come straight out of the mountain.
DAY 387 SANTA MARIA J – MONTE FLOR
START 8:00 FINISH 18:30 (25/03/16)
DISTANCE 112KM RIDE TIME 7H00
It was intresting to discover last night, on te road below me. They lock the gate to the town at 10pm through to 6am. There was a gate keeper because I herd the gate opening and closing all night. The gate keeper didn’t know I was camping up above. Because I herd someone teling him at around 11pm and the next minute him and his tourch were up having a look. He was cool. I just told him who I was and what I was doing and he said I was fine. This morning it is good Friday. I only cycled 500 meters up the road and I stopped at a restaurant that hadn’t quiute opened. They were happy for me to come in. It’s pretty primitive up in the mountains. They did have a tv for me to watch. They set me up a table in front of it. For 25 paso I got eggs,beans and tortias and 2 cups coffee. So cheeep compared to the city prices. I went to tip her 5 pasos………..she wouldn’t except it.
I have had a few forgetful moments on this trip…..memory wise. I went to take my sun hat off as it was so dark cycling under the cover of the trees on the the shaded side of the mountain and I got a nasty shock when I went to take my helmet off and realised I wasn’t wearing it and very quickly realised where it was. I had left it 5km down the mountain when I had taken it off for a drink and something to eat.
I very trustingly left my byicle on the side of the road in a ditch and crossed over and flaged down the first car to pass. It didn’t look like they were going to stop. I gave them that desprate look and they thankfuly stopped. I was sucsessfully able to explain my self and they very kindly gave me a ride back down the mountain. To my relief my helmet was just where I had left it. Before the family left they gave me 5 bottles of gatearade and a bottle of water. Getting back up the hill took a bit longer. No one would stop. Then a car pulled up 100meters away while the driver went off to relive himself. I went over and asked for a lift. They had a full car. Kindly made room for me. So it all worked out well in the end. My byicle was just where I left it and I continued on my way. I had about another 5km of steepness and then for the next 30km up to the top it flattened right out and actually became more enjoyible. Along the way loads of people stopped to talk to me and grab a photo. I had some guys stop and give me a shot of Mascala and a T-shirt. One of the guys was a King of his indian tribe. At the top I meet a famous Mexican Baseball player and him and his friends gave me some fruit. After 2 ½ days it was very satisfing to have reached the top. I was looking out mountains and a sea of cloud. I was glad I hadn’t taken the easy option and looked for a lift even tho I had thought hard about it. I was up at over 2500 meters and cashed in all of my downhill bonous in one hit with a massive 60km run. It was beautiful cycling the very winedy road. Very different on this side very jungle like. More steeper and lots of waterfalls. After 20km I reached the sea of cloud and then for the next 20km it was quite frightning as I had poor visability and it was frezzig cold. Two weeks ago there had been a storm and trees were down everywhere.
Once I came out of the sea of cloud it became very hot and humid. When I came to the first village I stopped and had a Tarco on the run. I wanted to get to beautiful place I had been told about to camp. A couple were having dinner and the guy David kindly went off and brought me a cold drink. I cycled on 10km to a larger town. I stopped and talked to a family and ended up going into there shop for some watermellon. At this point I was tired and ready to stop. The Family convinced me to cycle on the remaining 5km to Monte Flor. Im glad I did. Monte Flor is a natral spring. The water is crystal clear. It was packed when I arrived with day users. They soon left. I had a tough night sleep with the humidity killing me.
DAY 388 MONTE FLOR – SANTA MARIA JACATEPEC
START 8:00 FINISH 9:00 (26/03/16)
DISTANCE 14KM RIDE TIME 0H55
Its a small world. I only cycled 10km down the road this morning and I herd a voice calling my name. I looked behind and it was David from yesterday who I had seen 25km up the road. It was running from a friends place back to where he was staying.
He asked me to cycle with him, so we could talk. I was actually in a bit of a hurry to get to Tuxtepec where I was surpose to have stayed yesterday. When we got back to where he was staying David invited me in for a cold drink. David his wife and Daughter were over from Oaxaca visiting friends.
The lady of the house Micsela invited me to go swimming with them……………and I thought why not. Only a short drive from the house was another natral spring with the water pouring out of the mountain. It was really nice and didn’t take long to get busy. Enjoying myself I asked If I could please stay the night. This lead to spending a great full on day with the family. Micsela son Iseral is a taxi driver and he said he had seen me a few days back cycling up the mountain. We ended up spending 4 hours at the spring. Before we went home to shower and freshen up before going off to a Birthday party. Which was for 18 year old twins.
After the cake cutting we went off for a drive to Zula which was a picknicing area packed with people swimming and hanging out around another spring. This one was a a deep, deep hole. There was a diving bord and people were leaping in. With it been so hot. The water is a real draw card.
We went back to the party and it was then decided a large group of us were going to go off and play football under lights at a nearby small village. With teams of all ages. It was good fun. I was left with sore legs.
DAY 389 SANTA MARIA JACATEPEC – TUXTEPEC
START 10:00 FINISH 11:55 (27/03/16)
DISTANCE 31KM RIDE TIME 1H35
After such a great day yesterday. I was really happy I took the opertunity to stop.
I had big plans for today. When I reach Tuxtepec at midday it was just to easy to call it a day. I meet some cyclists on the way in and they kindly took me to the Bomberiors. Who were very willing to host me for the night.
So for the reminder of the day I will sort myself out before pushing on for a good streach over the next week. On the way into town I passed rhe Carona brewery which is the largest in all of South America. Shame it was closed.