Monday, December 22, 2008

Adv #7 Continued: Zacatecas thru Aguascalientes to the Gulf Coast

Next it was south to Aguascalientes, just a day’s drive south of Zacatecas and one of the larger cities we’ve seen thus far. I know this is strange to point out, but for some reason here more than anywhere else, people were amazed to see me. (Sounds weird, I know.) Parked outside the grocery store before heading to the hotel, local folks were coming up to me left and right asking to have their picture taken with me, asking my name, wanting my autograph (yes, seriously) and everyone just seemed amazed by our presence. Okay, I don’t look like everyone else around there, but this was no small city and I can’t figure why I stood out so much here. This head-turning continued noticeably as I went for a jog later in the city. It felt like everything stopped when I jogged by. Pretty weird reactions, but people were full of friendly smiles. (Any longer there and my head would have gotten so big it wouldn´t have fit into my helmet.)

Amongst the crowd at the grocery store was Julieta, (1st picture) working there for Coca-Cola. She would end up meeting Peter and I out later for a couple of drinks and such. Isabel in the 2nd picture worked there also, and Selma at the bottom was such a cutie, working there at her family´s dry cleaning business.
A real highlight of Aguascalientes was the help we received from a local traffic cop as we pulled into town. We were struggling to find a hotel with secure motorcycle parking downtown, and upon realizing this, a policewoman stopped directing traffic in the middle of rush hour to walk around with Peter for about 25 minutes looking for a hotel. Meanwhile, I sat there watching the bikes as the intersection turned into a complete traffic jam. Seriously though….she walked away from directing traffic to help out a couple of motorcycle riders? What a place to visit….
Off the next day, we ended up in a town called Rio Verde for one night, and set up our tents under the grass rooftops at the Media Luna Hotel and Resort. The owner, Saul almost had us talked into staying an extra day to do some SCUBA training and touring of the area, but moving on to warmer southern air sounded more appealing for that. (Still cold here at over 6000 feet above sea level.)
Instead of heading all the way east to Ciudad Valles as the main highways would suggest, we spotted a small rural road unlisted on most maps that started in a town called El Sauz that eventually meets back up with the main highways to Vera Cruz. A few of the locals told us “you don’t want to take that road, its aweful. Not even really a road.” But, we’re learning that such words are a green light for us to take the road anyway. (Take the road less traveled?) That’s what these bikes are built for!
And what a day it turned out to be. Beautiful scenery, an ugly, beat up dirt road running through hilly terrain and small towns that are not even listed on most maps… was one of the best riding days I’ve ever had.

Even back in these totally remote areas, they had little schools like this one. I was a little late on the camera and they had already started coming outside, but if you look closely, you can see some of these kids pressed up against the window trying to get a look at these two strangers rolling through their town. They started coming out soon as their curiosity mounted and Peter asked a local for directions.

Eventually, we made it to a place called “Tanchachin,” where a family offered lunch in what was essentially a restaurant outside their home. Langostino, frijoles, maize tortillas… kind of lunch. It was outstanding! Sad stories came with the lunch though. This town had been completely shut off from all supplies and food earlier this year because the torrential rainfall had washed out the road (part of what made that road fun riding for us.) Also, the cook confided in us that she had not seen her son or daughter for a few years now. The family had saved up $5000 USD to send her children to the U.S. in hopes of finding a better life. Tough thing is…..they don’t have the legal paperwork to come home and visit, and they can’t afford to travel to Orlando and see her kids. Quite a sacrifice many of us will never have to make. But imagine the reunion...

This was an absolute favorite day of riding though. These tiny little towns in the middle of nowhere are full of kids and people with beautiful faces, all running out to the street or stopping what they’re doing as we roll through their town. All waves and smiles, back and forth. I wish they knew how much I was smiling with them beneath my helmet, but I mostly just try to wave when the road permits it. And they seem so surprised sometimes when they realize we are waving at them and recognizing them. One of the greatest things about this trip so far is seeing all the faces and how they change as we move on through different areas of native habitat.

The rural road took us through Aquismon, and eventually had us at a hotel in Tazmunchale for the night. Not much to say about Tazmunchale….from what we saw, it was a beat up looking little city, and we were pretty beat up from a long tough ride as well. Okay, the town center was kind of neat with the holiday celebrations going on.

Next day, we started east again through Tuxpan and Poza Rica, just trying to get to some beachfront campgrounds we had read about. What a fun day to be on the road, cause there was a marathon or something going on between Tazmunchale and Poza Rica. It looked as if each town had sent out multiple runners with torches headed toward each other, and we saw thousands of bicyclists and motorcycle riders crossing toward each other all day long. Turned into a bit of a traffic jam a couple of times along the way, but it was fun to be around and witness. I even dropped my camera from my bike at about 25 mph trying to get a photo of a torch carrier at one point. The young kid running was kind enough to spot my camera and memory stick on the ground and pick It up for me while still running with the torch! I can see it in the newspaper now: “Strange Gringo Hassles Local Athlete.” (Camera still works, by the way.)

Eventually at the Gulf Coast, we stayed at Playa Norte campground, which is really just the backyard of an old couple that lives there on beachfront property. Had the place to ourselves, liked the nearby town a bit, and Peter had a bad stomach, so we stayed two nights there. Nightime photos were an attempt to capture the hammock and moon in the background. Maria was even nice enough to do our laundry for us and let the ocean breeze to the drying the next day. Little things like that sure do put a smile on my face : )

1 comment:

  1. Keep the updates coming! Sounds like you're have a great time. Are you planning on heading to Buenos Aires for the start of The Dakar?