It had been a smooth ride crossing from Baja to mainland Mexico. We tried to get some sleep here and there but it was tough to find a comfortable and quiet spot amongst a lot of restless kids, snoring Mexican truckers. Wednesday almost around noon time we finally arrived in Mazatlan. We said our good-byes to our new Equadorian friends, whom we will meet again on the sailboat to Colombia. They wanted to go to Guadalajara, we decided to stay at the coast and make our way south.
So far the Baja peninsula was only a taste of Mexico, now we were getting into the real Mexico, I felt. More bustling traffic in Mazatlan, but we didn’t have to go through downtown. The highway south was pretty decent, at times we had to pay a toll but later noticed the road beside was the “toll-less” road. Anyway it got us out of the city area faster anyway.
Our goal was to make it to San Blas, a small town at the coast off the main road, that was mentioned in our travel guide and find a hotel for the night.
Weather: was hot and humid with rain and thunderstorms, but getting wet was actually feeling nice this time!! We arrived in San Blas late afternoon finding the town pretty flooded after the rain. Many times these towns are in fairly decent condition around the main plaza but the rest looks very poor, dirty, smelly and…stray dogs everywhere. Not to forget the smaller motorbikes (little Hondas) with up to 4 people on it. On every corner, somebody is frying meat or tortillas (while the dogs are eagerly watching)
After driving around in circles for a little while, we finally found a simple but fairly clean hotel and the Senor let us park behind the gate were he parked his car for the night.
You have to remember this is now low season here, so many places look very empty or closed up for the season. I think we were the only ones in this hotel. Same was for the restaurant at the town plaza, where we also were the only ones and the waiter was almost annoyed that we interrupted him in doing nothing!!! (Too bad he only got a small tip!) It is tricky to find something to eat that doesn’t always contain rice and beans or tortillas, while both Heinz and me were still struggling with our “ intestinal issues!”
Back at the hotel we found that the room was slowly starting to flood with the condensed water from the air conditioner, so we called the “Senor” and he quickly moved us into another room, that turned out to be just fine.
Next morning we needed to fuel up at the town’s gas station. They all come with service, but usually the only thing they do is hand you the nozzle and Heinz does the rest with both bikes, but this time he noticed that they charged us way too much for more gas that we even put into the bikes. The only thing the girl said, was that we didn’t set it to zero before we started, but we couldn’t prove it anymore. After much arguing back and forth (in both languages, haha) we finally settled for a little lower than on the pump but still more. Well, that was our first learning experience!!
Heinz was furious and it took him a while to settle!!
First brake on the side of the road we ran into a Mexican motorcycle guy (funny looking Honda that looked like the Mexican version of a Harley),who had lived in Texas for a number of years before settling back in Mexico. He told us to stay along the coast and that it would be much safer than inland where there is lots of drug cartel activity. Oh well who knows if that’s true!!
We continued along the coast through dense jungle like areas with twisty roads and a lot of “topes” meaning speed bumps. Every little town has speed bumps at the town entrance and exit usually, some are marked and some are not and usually right beside them are vendors that want to sell you anything from coconuts, bananas, papayas to t-shirts, hats and jewelry. Needless to say you can’t drive fast let alone gain any ground so it takes all day for about 200-300 kms. Frustrating especially when you are dripping with sweat! Now I don’t want this to sound too negative it just takes time to adjust, I guess!!
We passed famous tourist town Puerto Vallarta with lots of fancy Hotels, Resorts and cobblestoned old town. We adjusted our driving habits to the “Mexican way” meaning nobody really cares about the signs other than traffic lights, just go with the flow and hope the police won’t catch you because as I mentioned earlier they love ticketing tourists!
Just passed Puerto Vallarta we started looking for a Hotel for the night. Some older Senora told us there was one across the street, but both Heinz and me had a different interpretation regarding across the street so we both went to look in different areas and missed each other. As a result I was looking for him for a while and was quite mad and upset. That hotel turned out to be hugely expensive and we agreed to move on. I had to find a place to pee so I left Heinz telling him I would drive around the corner to where I was before and wait for him there.
Well, more miscommunication, he waited somewhere else, I was frantic and went looking for him for more than an hour driving up and down the street, even asked around if people had seen him, my imagination running wild. I admit I was becoming hysteric thinking he was swallowed up by some drug cartel. I finally went back to the parking lot where we were together last time and thought, well I had to stay there at the expensive hotel and cough up the money for a room and continue to look for him (with the police?)That’s when he slowly rode in and… thank heaven’s he was all right! I wasn’t sure if I should be mad or just thankful no I was hugely relieved and gave him a big hug!!
By then it was almost 5:30pm so we moved on still in search of a hotel for the night. Finally we ended up at a simple one in El Tuito for a decent price and for secure bike parking we were offered a spot right beside the pool in the courtyard. Whatever, works for us!!
Had the usual Mexican fare (quesadillas) for dinner with a couple of beers and dropped dead onto our beds!
Next day was much the same with driving along the coast through luscious green landscape and small towns with ramshackle huts and houses. Every once in a while there are horses or donkeys tied up at the roadside waiting for their owners to come and use them. We passed large banana plantations and pick-up trucks with either everybody and their brother sitting or standing on the back or filled to the brim with either bananas or coconuts or a whole lot of undefinable junk. Little buses sometimes stop randomly at the roadside to pick up people and of course the always appearing “topes” that slow you down.
We stayed in San Juan de Alima for that night, again found a simple hotel right at the beach, but with no air condition, but a ceiling fan that really wasn’t much of anything even after we moved the bed right underneath it. So after a sweaty night we agreed that for the future in this weather air condition should be a must in our hotel rooms. Also for the last 2 days we had trouble with internet connections even though the hotel owners claimed they had WiFi it never really worked.
So yesterday we were ready to put down some more money for a fancier hotel in a maybe bigger town with all those “luxuries” we were hoping for. After only an hour on the road all of a sudden we came to a road blockade and a whole lot of not too friendly looking Mexicans standing around. Turned out to be some strike (we don’t know what for) with trucks and cars along the road big banners pinned to them and one guy with a walkie talkie standing at the road who shook his head vigorously when Heinz talked to him. No, they wouldn’t let us through, we were to go all the way back. So, what to do? I put on my whiny face, tried to smile and begged, trying to tell him that we were “just” Canadiense and not Mexicanos and that we couldn’t possibly go all the way back. First he was adamant but then he had a quick talk with his buddy, made him move the big piece of wood that was blocking the road a bit and grudgingly waved us through. Phew, a lot of guys were giving us the mean looks but we got through all right!! I don’t know if it was me or the strike leader having a “weak” moment, but Heinz said next time I have to do this again!
We stopped at the next “mini mart” for some agua frio (see my Spanish is improving, lol) were sitting in the shade and a van stopped. Out came a young couple and started talking English. They turned out to be from Quebec (near Montreal) and were impressed with us passing through the strike line so easily while they had tried yesterday with no success and today because of us they were let through as well and… of course they saw our Ontario license plates and just wanted to chat with us. Sabrina and Arnaud are also on a one year trip to South America, they are avid surfers and told us that this area is popular for surfers with great waves. We had a great chat for a while and then all moved on.
By early afternoon we saw a sign at the road pointing to a town at the beach with various hotel signs. We decided to check it out and found ourselves in “surfer’s town”. We told the first guy we met, that we were looking for a hotel and he said that he could offer us a room for 700 Pesos, which was definitely too much for us. We declined and almost wanted to move on when he said we should come and have a look and that we could negotiate. Well he showed us a big room with even a kitchenette, a large patio right at the beach and then said 600 Pesos. Mhm, way too appealing to let go, with air condition but no Wi-Fi, after thinking back and forth we said yes to it. So, here we are finally relaxing a bit, enjoying the gorgeous view, going for a swim (water is way too warm though!) whenever we feel like it and watching the surf dudes (and dudesses… is that a word??) go by. I think we even stay one more night.
Well, so far we haven’t done any sightseeing just driving. We’re planning to go to Oaxaca though which supposedly is a historic and beautiful town.