Sunday, February 15, 2015

Our First Encounter with Mexican Police and Paying it Forward

We headed for Cholula to have a nice view of the volcanos before heading to Puebla for the evening. (But really, you can see the volcanos from everywhere, but Cholula still had a lovely church and it was a nice town to ride around.)

We checked out an RV park that had been recommended to us, but they wanted to charge 180 pesos. It was in the middle of a neighborhood, so from experience we knew there would be cocks a-doodle-doling all night and REALLY 180 pesos for a shoddy patch of grass? I think not.

So we headed into Puebla figuring we might have to spend another 120 pesos ($8) for a hotel room, but at least we’d be in the center. We eventually found a hotel with secure parking for 300 pesos ($21). We went out for a wander around the city which was now alive with lights highlighting the magnificent architecture and most of the 300 churches of Puebla (I’m basing this off of the sampling we rode/walked past of course ;)). I went to photograph a stunningly intricate church facade and that was when I realized I forgot my camera. Gasp. It does actually happen once in a while, so my apologies for that,guys.

All this for under $2!!!

Pudding broodjes for Roeltje!

The following morning, we carbo-loaded before leaving Puebla and headed for the Federal Road to Oaxaca. Just before dark, we pulled off into a field, made our fajita dinner and tucked into our cozy tent as we wondered about the temperature outside… 10 deg Celsius?

Africa Twin Incognito

Freezing, but eager to get on the road early, we were in Tehuacan just in time for rush hour traffic. We were momentarily separated when Roel was able to make a turn off into the towns Zocalo and I had to continue straight due to the pesky mopeds that were like a swarm around me. Through the headset we communicated that I’d find my way back on the one-way streets and he would wait. Moments later, I heard the voice of a lady through his microphone asking him if he’s lost the other motorbike with the woman. He doesn’t understand fully, and by the time I make it back to the Zocalo to thank who turned out to be a traffic cop for her concern, they were “chatting” happily. I learned later that she and her traffic cop buddies had been tracking me around the city center via radio as I made my way back to the Zocalo - so it was no coincidence that all of the traffic cops I passed where in fact waving me in the right direction back to Roel.

How lovely.

We explained to the friendly traffic cop (and her Sergeant who had come by) that we wanted to make coffee and have breakfast in the Zocalo. This was apparently a no-go, and they kept recommending restaurants around the Zocalo. We’d just been on the equivalent of a spending spree (for us, anyway) in Mexico City and Puebla and didn’t want to spend very much money, if any at all, on breakfast. They eventually got this, and the Sargent’s face lit up as he suggested to the lady cop “Take them to where we eat breakfast!” Now, that’s a suggestion you can’t refuse ;) So, we followed the lady cop a couple blocks down and she directed us to park the bikes in front of a pharmacy with a juice stand in front of it (we felt bad for blocking their street area, but the pharmacist and everyone had come out to see the bikes and were just smiling huge smiles at us, so OK). She told us the cops would guard the bikes and then led us another couple of blocks on foot to a tiny two-table restaurant that smelled awesome. We were ushered inside and in short order had two awesome friend tortillas with eggs and coffee sitting in front of us. All for 48 pesos ($3+)

When we got back to the bikes, our lady cop was still standing there guarding the bikes and guiding traffic around them. We decided to buy a smoothie from the stand we had parked the bikes in front of and instead of just one, he made us two, and wouldn’t accept any money for them. An older gentleman from the Pharmacy who had spent some time working in the US and was eager to use his English, offered that they would help us with anything we needed. Well, we had been planning to figure out a way to get antibiotics in case either one of us became ill in a rural area and although we’ve had great luck, so far, we were also thinking given our penchant for street food, perhaps it would be good to get something prescription strength in case that would go wrong. No problem, and in about 5 minutes, Roel walked out with both of these items for 80 pesos ($5).

Wow, simply the nicest people. They sent us on our way and warned us that maybe we shouldn’t stop in any of the small towns on the road we were taking, because there was a chance we would be robbed. This was rather shocking as we’d heard this was a safe area to ride through, but when you’re riding through safe areas you still have to remember that robbing you is potentially akin to survival for someone who needs to feed their family that

Sadly, this was part of the ride. The entire roadside doesn't look like this, so obviously, folks just aren't fans of these signs. *Sigh*

The road to Oaxaca was beautiful and we felt completely safe riding, but we did only stop at Pemex stations and an abandoned restaurant where we made our lunch. And oh, when we found a bicyclist needing assistance with a flat. And then a motorcyclist having engine problems.

By the time we found the motorcyclist, Luis, on the side of the road, we were nearly in Oaxaca anyway. We had the tools he needed, but he was still unable to get his bike running. So, Roel pulled out his rope and towed him to the next town where he would have mobile service and assured us he would be able to call his family to bring a truck.


 Sadly we weren't able to fix this guys bike, but Roel gave him a tow to a nearby town.

Our love for Mexico grows every day.

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