Friday, February 20, 2015

A Change of scenery and A Change of Mind.

I’ve just received the most lovely and encouraging message from a fellow traveler/adventurer/rider named Kevin, who attended our presentation at Adventure Designs with his Dad. I’m sure he’s reading this, and perhaps his Dad is, as well. Anyway, let’s just say that his message is exactly why we are traveling like this and why I am keeping up with this blog and ride report. It made my day and gave me the motivation to get you all caught up to date on where we are, what we’re doing and what we're planning

While we were in Oaxaca, we spent a lot of time plotting our next moves and looking at route options. We’d been keen to catch up with friends on the Yucatan Peninsula, but since those friends were no longer there, we took a hard look at that area and what we wanted to get out it of. We’d also heard from all of those friends who had moved on, how exorbitantly expensive the Yucatan is and that there were only a few nice spots left that weren’t miserably touristy. So we made the decision to skip it and head into Guatemala about a week earlier than anticipated. After looking at the maps, Roel spotted a small crossing that would make sense for where we would be in Mexico and where we wanted to go in Guatemala, although it is not commonly used by overlanders.

So, with such a ‘sudden’ change of plans, we had a bit of planning and preparation to do, but it was also time for a change of scenery.

Ruben rode out of Oaxaca with us and gave us directions for Route 175 towards Pochutla and the Pacific Coast.

The road wound up and up with some pretty incredible curves and views, but we had to keep one eye out for potholes at all times. Once we got up into the clouds, the road improved, but naturally the views were gone. But WOW was it good to breathe clean forest air in again.

Extra grateful for my Rigid Industries lights in this moment: I always ride with them on, day or night, but when Roel realized that my headlight had burned out in the middle of the cloud forest, it was a HUGE comfort to know the Rigids were burning brightly... especially when a bus decided he needed to take a corner through the very middle of the road but then changed his mind when he saw me coming. Whew!

The villages were few and far between and eventually we found ourselves coming down on the Pacific side of the Sierras and the vegetation changed from pine trees to tropical plants and fruit trees. There were bananas for sale anywhere there was a building (or shack or table) alongside the road.

With the sun setting, Roel quickly spotted a good spot to camp for the evening. In the jungle, it gets dark, FAST. We had the tent up in no time, eager to escape the hungry mosquitos, so we laid awake listening to the sounds of the jungle for a while.

Apparently it's been too long since we've seen coconuts - Roel forgot that this isn't a smart place to park, but he got lucky this time and the Twin escaped unscathed

In the morning, we made it to Puerto Angel and found a nearby beach to camp. It was a beautiful spot to acclimate to the change in temperature and do a little Spanish verb review.

Study time.

Menu perusal has never been so easy

Goodnight bikes.

We left late the following morning and as such, only made it half-way between Puerto Angel and San Cristobal de las Casas, but as they say… everything happens for a reason.

We camped in a farmers field and were using the beautiful morning light yesterday to take some photos of the bikes, etc., when we realized that the farmer had come to move his cows. Oops :) Per usual, just a super pleasant guy who was happy to hold the gate open for us so we could get back on the highway.

We had been warned by several riders, Ruben included, that there was a portion of the road between Puerto Angel and San Cristobal that was particularly windy. Well, it was good that we had stopped just before that area (unbeknownst to us) the night before to rest … because we needed EVERYTHING we had to stay upright in the wind gusts that are rumored to knock over 1-2 trucks per day on a “windy” day.

Seeing me struggle to stay upright against the wind, a dump truck carrying a full load of gravel (and hence, not being pushed around by the wind) came up alongside me and instead of passing, slowed down to match my speed. I feel like this is the equivalent of those YouTube videos where Dolphins save dogs from drowning, or lions nurse baby antelopes to health… Just so sweet.

My new friend, The Dump-truck.

Opting not to go over a bridge and instead to ride behind it and out of the wind, we encountered a familiar KLR. We’d met the rider, Ewen (no, not THAT Ewan) in Oaxaca. We continued riding together and battling the wind for the remainder of the day. Turns out, Ewan is also heading to Guatemala and was keen to do the border crossing we were thinking of crossing, with us. Safety in numbers. We like that.

Roel and Ewen taking advantage of the last wind-free moments behind the bridge to chat about riding together.

Note to self: Google "wind farms" and wherever there is one around the world, write an "X" through that part of the map. I'd rather be riding in Boston right now.

So we continued on to San Cristobal de las Casas together and arrived last night after enjoying a gorgeous winding climb up into the Sierras of Chiapas which showed us a 10 degree Celsius/50 deg Fahrenheit temperature drop, even more wind, and nasty cold misty rain.

Sunset over Chiapas.

Nothing a Sopa Azteca couldn’t take care of though.

The sun has finally come out this morning, so Roel is tugging at my typing hand to leave the computer and go explore… that’s what we’re here for, after all :)

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