Mexico… we just loved it
Mexico has certainly a diverse landscape, everything from cactus covered deserts to rainforest and dramatic mountains to beautiful white beaches covered by palm trees. We ended up staying in Mexico for four months and we could easily have stayed a lot longer.
We took the ferry from La Paz in Baja California to Mazatlan. Again the plan was just to stay for a night but we ended up staying a week. We stayed at Belmar hotel in the arty part of the city. The hotel was built in1920’s and has, as far as I could see, not had any renovation since then. This was by far the coolest hotel we have stayed in so far. John Wayne is one celebrity that frequently visited the hotel back in the 40s and 50s. He even had his own room. We spent days checking out the place and took a massive amount of photographs. It just looked like time had stood still.
One day, we left the luggage at the hotel and rode the old highway 40 from Mazatlan to Durango. This road is famous for its hairpins and zigzag turns, the ride was just awesome. The mountain section of the highway is narrow with lots of curves, around 2000, I’ve heard. It was a spectacular view from the mountain pass called the Devil’s Backbone (El Espinazo del Diablo). This highway has a reputation of being a dangerous road with its marijuana and opium smugglers and steep drop offs with no guard rails in place. However, when we crossed the Devil’s Backbone it was just a great ride and we didn’t see a single smuggler or bandit (as far as we know). On the way back we took the new “safer” highway 40D, which was also awesome but in another way. Highway 40D is 225 km (140 miles) long toll road, which has 115 bridges and 61 tunnels and it took us less than half the time to ride back down to Mazatlan. Nevertheless we ended up riding in the dark for a couple of hours which is never a good thing to do but it seems to happen time after time for us… bad planning again I guess.
At the hotel, we spent one evening with a Canadian 90 years old woman, Margret Harms, and a 88 years old man, Leo Truda. We had a few glasses of wine and a very fun and interesting chat with them. They travel from Canada to Mazatlan in Mexico every winter, which is amazing considering both had rather difficult to walk and had to use crutches. It was so very inspiring to meet these two and it makes me smile when thinking of them.
The morning when we decided to leave Mazatlan, the old couple came and waved us off, which was so very lovely of them. That day we road about 400 km, on really good roads, that took us through barren plain to very green and hilly landscapes. The road was quite busy but I guess that is what to expect two days before Christmas.
We arrived to Tequila which was a place I wanted to visit and the only reason for that was that I like Tequila. The city, Tequila, was a little bit of a disappointment, they just had err… Tequila :o. The next day we rode to Guadalajara where we found a nice hotel to spend Christmas at. Anders even managed to get us upgraded to a suit for the same price as a small loft room without windows. We had a bedroom, kitchen and a living room. We stayed two nights and the only thing we did was to eat, watch movies, drink Tequila… Oh well we only drank Tequila one evening, and the reason we actually drank Tequila at all was that we were going to make a movie to send to our family back in Sweden and England. The thought was to sit relaxed at the table and talk about our time on the road so far and sip one or two Tequilas. We rigged the camera and pressed record and then we started to discuss our trip and drank Tequila, a lot of Tequila… After a while we realised that we weren’t sober and thought we should better stop recording. It was then we noticed that nothing had been recorded arghhh bummer…. At this moment we were too drunk to even consider having another go… maybe we’ll try to do a film for next Christmas but then definitely without Tequila.
On Christmas Day we decided to ride about 300 km to Guanajuato, which is a charming and very picturesque city surrounded by mountains. The streets were made of cobblestones so it was a very bumpy ride in the city.
We found a hotel/toy store where we stayed. We had to ride the bikes through the extremely narrow store to get into the hotel reception and park the bikes in the lobby. Let say it was a challenge to not ride into any of the toys on the sides.
In Guanajuato we visited the Mummy museum that had incredibly many mummies on display. It was quite creepy to see all the corpses, especially the babies. Mexican people have another relationship with death than we have ever come across. Death is seen as the natural circle of life. At the end of October beginning of November each year they also have a public holiday called Day of the Dead, which is celebrated throughout Mexico. This colourful holiday focuses on gathering family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. After the Mummy museum we walked up to the top of a hill and got a wonderful view over the colourful city.
Next stop was at a hotel/undertaker…. yes that’s correct. So now we had slept one night in a hotel combined with a toy store and the next at a hotel combined with an undertaker… just wonder what comes next? The latter hotel did not have a toilet door, nor a toilet seats, nor lock on the front door…. oh well, there was a small bed in the the very small room so at least we didn’t need to sleep in a coffin. We only stayed one night at this hotel, which felt long enough, really.
Early in the morning we headed towards Mexico City, which we heard was a terrible city to ride in, but that turned out not to be true. We didn’t have any problems whatsoever to ride in Mexico City. It is just a big city, full stop.
I had one incident in Mexico City when I rode in high speed straight into a manhole that someone been so very “kind” and removed the manhole cover from. Surprisingly I didn’t crash to the ground, not sure who was most surprised about that, Anders or me.
I have a very good friend of mine in England who comes from Mexico City, and she had sent us a few suggestions of what to do while we were there. Such as visiting a few photo exhibitions and have a lunch at a restaurant chain called Corona Saloon. The restaurant had some really nice Mexican food and of course we had a couple of Coronas. We also visited a Tequila museum that was interesting, and afterwards we stopped at the museums own bar for some Tequila tasting… that was it for that day and a bit tipsy we walked back to the hotel.
After a few days we decided to leave Mexico City and head to Oaxaca, which is a state in the southern Mexico. We wanted to celebrate New Year’s Eve on the pacific beach. The highway 190 down to Oaxaca was a fantastic winding road with spectacular scenery at some places. We passed some high mountains covered with snow… never thought we would see snow in Mexico. This was probably one of the best roads we’d been on in Mexico so far. After some hours the road started to get potholes in all sides and not only that but it started to get dark too. It was now quite obvious that we wouldn’t be able to reach the place before it became pitch dark and that was not something we really wanted to on this now very bad and winding road. Anyway we had no choice. We did at least a couple of hours riding in the dark, which for sure was a challenge, and we hit a few really big and deep potholes. We were quite relieved when we finally arrived to a small town where we could stay for the night.
The next day we arrived to the “hippie” beach, Playa Zipolite, and we had a huge problem to find anywhere to stay. Of course it was fully booked everywhere as it was New Year’s Eve… something we should have thought about and booked a place to stay at in advance…… err. Anyway, eventually we found a camping that was quite decent. Unfortunately because of too little to drink (water) and nothing to eat I got a terrible headache and fell asleep about 8pm. I woke up again at midnight from the sound of fireworks. I woke Anders up and we went out to have a look at the fireworks. Then we said “Happy New Year” and kissed each other and went to bed and fell asleep again…. A New Year’s Eve to remember hehe.
A few days later, in Salina Cruz, we bumped into six other adventure bikers, Mirko and Claudia (Germany), John (Canada), Dave (Australia), Neil and Franziska (Ireland/Germany), who we rode with for a few days. We had a really great time with them. The first night we stayed with a very friendly Mexican guy that had invited Mirko and Claudia to stay at his place and he was kind enough and let us all sleep there too. He had a huge garage with a flat inside which was great as we had a secure parking and really everything else we could ask for there.
The day after we went on a boat trip into the Sumidero Canyon with John, Mirko and Claudia which was beautiful and we saw crocodiles and lots of birds. The canyon is very dramatic and has vertical walls which reached as high as 1000 meters (3280 feet), and you feel rather small in the boat during the thirteen kilometers that the narrow passage runs. After the boat trip, Anders and me hit the road again and left our new friends to ride to San Cristobal.
Three days later we bumped into Mirko, Claudia and John again in Palenque. We had a nice meal and a chat in the evening. They wanted to stay there for another night, but we felt that we needed to get going. Before we left we went to see the Maya ruins.
After that we took a small road through the Pantanos de Centla, which turned out to be a success. It was a lovely narrow road through flooded forests a lot of wetlands. We saw lots of birds, Iguanas and nice sceneries. There were hardly any people along the road only a few tiny villages. We arrived late to a town called Ciudad Del Carmen. This was by far the creepiest place we’ve been to in Mexico. No smiling people and it just felt very uncomfortable. We were struggling to find a hotel and in desperation we stopped at a sex hotel. This is a kind of hotel where it is a garage where you could hide the car or motorbike and a staircase from the garage up to a room. The room was lit with sexy red lights, there was a round bed in the middle of the room and over the bed, in the ceiling, was a huge mirror… When the person in the little hole in the wall told us it cost 400 pesos for 12 hours we decided to leave. Ok, out again in the dark. Luckily after some more searching we found another hotel. The man in the reception sat behind bars so it was obvious that it not was a very secure area. However, we survived the night, but packed up and left early the next morning.
Merida was our next destination. We really liked the city, but we had to leave the day after as we needed to get to Cancun where we were going to meet our son Emil and his girlfriend Jessica. The road to Cancun from Merida was dead boring straight road but we could ride fast as the road was in a very good condition. It was one year since we saw our son Emil and it was the first time we met his girlfriend so we were so excited. We spent more or less three weeks with them and had the loveliest time.
Cancun turned out to be, let say, a place on my list to never visit again. There were just huge hotel complex and you were lucky if you could find a way to get down to the sea between the massive hotels. However, one day we took a boat out to Isla Mujeres, just outside of Cancun which is another tourist trap but we had a good time and did a bit of snorkelling and saw some awesome fish and the monumental underwater contemporary museum of art called MUSA (Museo Subacuático de Arte).
The day when we were supposed to leave Cancun Anders bike wouldn’t start… grr big time. It was something to do with the battery or the charging, but after a while and quite a few attempts Anders finally managed to start his bike and we could to ride to the BMW motorcycle garage in Cancun for help… we thought. It turned out that the mechanic there was absolutely useless at troubleshooting. However, he helped us to charge the battery so we could leave the garage. We agreed that we were much better off to try solve the problem ourselves with some help on GS-forums, Facebook friends, email BMW and Touratech in Sweden, etc. It was quite clear that it was something to do with the charging system, the regulator/rectifier, alternator or some wiring problem, as the battery appears to be fine. We just needed a way to rule out and identify the problem, as it was not feasible to start changing parts in blind. For the time being we hoped the battery could keep us going for a while and if required we had to find a way to charge it again.
We left Cancun and rode down to a campground north of X-Puha where we stopped for the night. In the evening an American guy who had his motorhome next to our tent scared the shit out of me. He had two chairs, which he moved around the whole evening and I mean the whole evening. There was obviously something wrong with the guy… He told us he couldn’t decide if it were a guest room or an office…. this was on the campground… I said to Anders,-‘this guy has for sure stopped taking his medication and we are going to sleep in a tent next to him…. eek
Late in the evening we got a message from Mirco, the guy we met earlier, that they were on a beach not far from us so very early in the morning we left the man with the chairs and headed for X-Puha, a private beach camp. It was lovely to meet Mirco, Cladia and John again. On this campground we also met an English couple Lisa and Simon Thomas. So nice to spend some days with other adventure bikers. We were all wearing Touratech Campanero so we decided to take some photographs at a closed down hotel next to the beach.
A few days later our son Emil and Jessica arrived to the beach. We shared a room with them for five days. I must say that our son’s girlfriend, Jessica, was very brave to share a room with her ‘parents in law’ after just met us. We really had a fantastic time at this paradise place. The beach and sand were just perfect, the water was crystal clear and the reef and fishes just 20 meter offshore were just fantastic.
The English guy, Simon was very kind to borrow us a battery charger so that we could charge the battery on Anders bikes again. We also found out that it was the generator that was the problem. Through a biker friend we could order a new stator from the US. It took a few weeks to get it delivered to X-Puha so we ‘had to’ stay on this beautiful beach…. hard life 😉
Beautiful flamingos in Rio Lagartos
When at last the bike was sorted we left X-Puha and headed north towards Rio Lagartos for a few days. It’s a small town located at a lagoon, the Ria Lagartos, which is part of a natural reserve. We went on a boat tour to see flamingos. It was lovely. There was also a salt production with some reservoirs and Emil, brave as he is, jumped into and float like a cork.
On the way to Rio Lagartos we did a stop at the well known Chichen Itza which is a World Heritage site in Mexico. The temple has 365 steps, one for each day of the year.
At last the stator arrived and Anders is replacing it, with help of Haynes repair manual for BMW F800 and shortly after we were on the road again heading south.
Boca Paila Peninsula, we loved it, loved it, loved it
Wow wow wow, this was the most fun dirt road we have ridden on for a long time. It had been raining earlier so there were lots of water crossings. Punta Allen is a very narrow peninsula on the Caribbean side and it is just beautiful. We rode the whole way down one day, camped overnight and then back the same road the day after.
We will remember Mexico with joy where we met so many nice people both Mexicans and other people from all over the world. We have seen so many beautiful landscape and been riding on so many awesome roads. We have enjoyed camping on beautiful beaches while drinking cold Pacifico beer and been watching beautiful sunsets… what else can you really ask for in life.
Next up is Belize
Random photos from Mexico