Ride Report: Getting Lost In Mexico

There were no plans after leaving the ruins of Yohualichan. I decided to head in the general northwest direction to make my way to the beach. I got all kinds of lost on small back roads. I met some friendly people along the way that always offered advice on how to get to some town down the road. As is always the case, I ran into someone in the middle of nowhere. There’s a man (and a midget) hacking away at the roadside with sledge hammers. I have no idea what they were doing – aside from hammering… Get this, the guy spoke English. In Mexico, there’s always someone who speaks English. I was at a fork in the road and he gave me a recommendation for the “better” road. I took it and the road conditions quickly deteriorated eventually turning to dirt. Perfect, I’m in no hurry. Time to ride and enjoy the rural land of Mexico where few gringos venture. Finally, I’m having an adventure! It’s hard to see but there’s a woman in the lower left washing clothes in the river.

More after the jump. Click.

Around lunch time I was completely lost and managed to come across slightly larger local road. All of a sudden there was traffic 1000 meters long. OK, well I have a motorbike so I just bypassed it all only to find out that the bridge ahead had been destroyed by the floods a month earlier. I got to talking to the man in charge (well, he was the one directing traffic around the bridge through the now dry river bed). He asked where I was going and I said “I don’t know, north.” To which replied “this road goes south.” I’m too hungry to think straight and fortunately some entrepreneurial spirited woman had set up a gordita stand at the fallen bridge. It was time for a lunch break. Nice and relaxing with dozens of vehicles honking their horns. The broken bridge.

The new road.

I turned around and headed north. Still lost, still having fun. I had covered very few miles in many hours of riding. Some time later I found myself in the small fishing village of Tamiahua. It was super mellow. I drove around looking for a place to stay.

Finally found a hotel, took a shower, and went for a stroll down by the water. It turns out that I’m actually by “the river” and not the ocean. There’s more land across the way that attracts vacationing Mexicans. I was sitting and taking pictures when a local walked by. We said our hellos and then he invited me for a short boat ride. At first I declined, he insisted and I jumped aboard. He told me where we were going but I had no idea what he said. “We’ll see where this goes,” I thought…

A short ride later we’re across the river and walking by some humble local homes until we get to a boat makers shop/shack. Turns out that he’s commissioning this man to make a new boat for him. I ask some questions and again understand very little. It’s still all very interesting. Then he rounds up 2 other locals and together we push the boat over logs from the shop to the edge of the property. He says the boat will go in the water in a day or two. When all is said and done he invites me for a drink and recommends a local restaurant where I would be the only customer. These little encounters are what traveling is all about. The tourist sights are nice but interacting with the people is by far the most amazing experience. I only wish I knew more spanish so I could have more intelligent conversations with the people I meet.

Dinner was some tasty concoction of local seafood. My food vocabulary is still terrible. That’s probably because I walk into a place and ask “What do you recommend.” They say some jibberish and I say “OK, I’ll have that” not knowing what it is. It’s always tasty though. Leaving Tamiahua the next morning I snapped a quick shot of my host and was on my way.

I made my way through more back roads on my way north. It didn’t take long to find some adventure. A flooded river made for a fun water crossing. Click here if you don’t see the video below.

Mexico Water Crossing from Benny on Vimeo.

Eventually I merged with the main road and continued north. There are two main types of highways in Mexico.

  1. Libre or free roads generally run through the small towns and have lots of topes (speed bumps)
  2. Cuota or toll roads generally bypass the small towns but the prices can be steep.

Normally these two road types parallel one another and I like to ride the free roads because it’s more fun (and because I’m cheap). Every now and then I unknowingly arrive at a toll both. Argh… I was under the impression that this was a libre (free) road. Here I am paying a toll.

My shifting started to feel a little funky as well. I pulled over at a gas station to examine the bike. Here’s the problem, a frayed clutch cable. Fortunately I had a spare pre-routed and it was easy enough to make the swap.

Reading the motorcycle travel forums online there are always questions about the condition of the bathrooms at the Mexican gas stations. I’ve come across everything from wonderfully clean to horrendously disgusting. In general, they don’t have toilet seats, toilet paper, or soap. Also, the TP goes in the waste basket and does not get flushed. This one was at the upper end of the spectrum. I snapped this quick shot just as a trucker walked in. Uh…. awkward. Don’t let the toilet paper and paper towel dispenser fool you; there’s nothing inside.

More to come. Stay tuned.

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One Response to “Ride Report: Getting Lost In Mexico”

  1. mario alejandro October 27, 2010 at 3:25 pm #

    Hey I have kind of a random question; I am planning on riding down to Mexico next summer, I currently rider a 72 Vespa and have never owned a motorcycle but I plan on buying one soon. I was wondering if you could give me some input on what type of bikes would be good to look into? Thanks man and I am extremely jealous of your adventure. Mario

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