Friday, May 6 - Palenque to Veracruz = 643 kms
Saturday, May 7 - Veracruz to Tantoyuca = 404 kms
Sunday, May 8 - Tantoyuca to Zacatecas = 652 kms
Monday, May 9 - Zacateca chillaxe
Tuesday, May 10 - Zacatecas mellow-yellow and this blog update
I've managed to pound down 1700kms of Mexico in the past 3 days and I'm spent. Done and done. Cooked. 3 days straight on the bike and now a full 2 days off, just what the doctor ordered. The days have been long, not too exciting and hard on the body. Mexico has a plethora of 'toll-roads' that I was avoiding on my route south. En route north and in the past few days, I decided to dip into a few of these roads to see what the fuss was all about. I'm glad I was prepped with the costs as they do add up quite quickly. For example, last Friday I rode from Palenque to Veracruz on the Gulf of Mexico and my tolls added up to just over $50 after riding 643kms. The next 2 days I rode 404kms and 652kms and the tolls were an additional $20-$30. It is surprising to have these sorts of costs allocated to roads in Mexico, but they are efficient, fast and in relatively good shape. It is a toss up as the toll roads aren't as exciting as they are normally straight and fast, but you do avoid continuous topes (speed bumps) and get to your destination a great deal faster... I was craving to ride a BMW 1200GS on those stretches - sorry Rojo!
|San Cristobal de Las Casas, Mexico|
|San Cristobal de Las Casas, Arco de El Carmen|
|San Cristobal Cathedral|
|Iglesia de San Cristobal|
|I'm not sure what this guy had on the go, perhaps he was charging to use his bathroom-scale to the left.|
|San Cristobal Mercado Municipal|
|San Cristobal Mercado Municipal|
|This guy in the bottom of the shot was busting his gut about something, I started laughing myself.|
|Indigenous villager from San Juan Chamula home of the Tzotzil group - 10km NW of San Cristobal|
The ride from San Cristobal to the Mayan ruins of Palenque was truly spectacular and good times all round. I was on a fun-twisty road high in the mountains for a spell and then started descending deep into the jungle working my way down from 2160m to 80m in elevation over a total of 226kms... another memorable day of riding.
I skipped the famous ruins in both Honduras and Guatemala and decided to spend a morning at the Palenque ruins, taking in Chiapas' top destination for tourists. I had read that it was best to get up into the ruins first thing in the morning to beat the crowds. Gates open at 8am, so I was there at 7:45am. Funny thing was that there were a zillion other tourists there as well and they were letting everyone in at the ticket gate. I had a funny feeling something was off, so I asked a local what time it was... I then realized that I was an hour behind and it was actually 8:45am, just in time to join the hordes. I guess I forgot to change time zones somewhere along the way??
|Templo de las Incripciones - the most famous burial monument at Palenque.|
|Looking over at Templo de las Incripciones|
|Courtyard in El Palacio, Palenque.|
|Templo de la Cruz (Temple of the Cross), Palenque|
|A jade mask in the Palenque Museo de Sitio|
|Misol-Ha waterfall 20km south of Palenque - I stopped here en route to Palengue before the rains... very little flow.|
|and then it started to rain...|
|Back to Misol-Ha with a tour group after the rains|
|Misol-Ha with much more flow after the rains|
Even though I briefly stopped at the Misol-Ha 35m waterfall en route to Palenque, I was keen to check out the famous 'Agua-Azul' waterfalls further north and the tour group stopped at both falls. Unfortunately after the heavy rains, the Aqua Azul wasn't so 'azul' and instead were, as our driver stated: Aqua Chocolate.
|Famous 'Agua Azul' (Chocolate), Chiapas Mexico.|
|Agua Chocolate, Chiapas Mexico.|
From Chiapas and Palenque, I headed north where I put in a solid 3 days of riding. I spend a night in Veracruz on the Gulf of Mexico and then worked my way north to a random town called Tantoyuca and then onto Zacatecas.
|Veracruz Mexico - major shipping center on the Gulf Coast|
|Not too sure what's going on with this monument, so I'll let you decide...|
|Faro Carranza, Veracruz Mexico - the historic headquarters of the Mexican Navy|
|Zocalo, Veracruz, Mexico.|
|After further wandering around Veracruz, I came across a BMW contingent doing a coast-to-coast benefit ride - I needed this yellow 1200 for my 3 days of highway riding!|
|A quite interesting and provocative picture in my Veracruz hotel room with some Palenque-locals|
|North of Veracruz along the Gulf Coast - I wondered if I could have pulled a deal with my passport?|
|Hostel Villa Colonial, Zacatecas Mexico|
My last huge day of riding (longest day to date) took me from Tantoyuca to Zacatecas. I had heard a lot of positive reviews of Zacatecas and didn't want to miss it on my way back west. Another favourite for certain, Zacatecas is a true gem of a city that has unloaded it's charm on me. Yet another Unesco World Heritage site which hosts a spectacular cathedral (which I stare out at from my room - see pic below), some amazing colonial buildings and a crazy swiss built cable-car tram to the outlook of Cerro de la Bufa above the city. I have had a fantastic few days unwinding in Zacatecas and highly recommend this city if you have the time.
|Swiss tram that takes you over to Cerro de la Bufa, Zacatecas Mexico.|
|Scanning trying to find my hostel in Zacatecas from Cerro de la Bufa outlook|
|Hostel Villa Colonial in the middle - the roof-top patio overlooking the Cathedral in Zacatecas|
|My 'room with a view' at Hostel Villa Colonial, Zacatecas|
Tomorrow I'm off to Durango to the northwest, a famous Mexican cowboy-town that has hosted movies from the 1950s to now. I have read about Durango for months as it is situated at one end of a must-do motorcycle route west to Mazatlan, down 'El Espinazo del Diablo' - the Devil's Backbone!
From Mazatlan, I plan to head up the coast north to the US border, over to Encinitas CA to visit some friends and pick up a few things I have stored, and then north through the US to British Columbia. I'm hoping to be back home in roughly 2 weeks... hard to imagine while sitting here in Zacatecas, Mexico staring out at it's wonderful cathedral.