26 August – Day 35
San Juan de Alima to Zihuatanejo, Mexico
Before arriving in Mexico, I’d read in books and other blogs that the roads here are terrible and the speed bump (topes), fierce. At the time, I recall thinking ‘yeah, ok – how bad can they really be?’ I now understand.
To be fair, Mexico also has some (well, at least one) of the most impressive roads – and I’ve already blogged about that engineering feat here. In general though, the roads are narrow and often pot holed and/or in the process of being dug up (presumably in order to be resealed – although we’ve not yet travelled on many recently resealed roads…). Detours aren’t necessarily sign posted – for example just yesterday the main highway we were on ended abruptly in a half-built bridge across a river. The was no sign indicating that the road was closed, and we had to ask one of the guys working there to find out that we had to go around by turning off the highway 400m back. And there are sharp, angry little speed bumps everywhere. Most of the time they’re also not signposted, or painted on the road or accompanied by any markings whatsoever that might help an unsuspecting motorcyclist, say with a pillion passenger, see the bump until he is right on top of it. On a highway! So – it makes for interesting riding; and it requires lots of concentration… especially when you add in the windy nature of many of the roads, the blind corners, and the various people/animals/other objects on the road. To this list, we have recently added pigs, piglets, hens and a skunk. You get the Noah’s Ark of animals on the road here in Mexico, that’s for sure!
Today was also heavy on the army checkpoints. We did get stopped at one, but after asking where we’d come from and where we were going, the soldier waved us on.
We made pretty good time – by Mexican road travel standards – including risking taking a toll road in the morning without knowing how much it cost, and only having $100 pesos left. We thought it’d be enough… then again, we did have a $200 peso toll day a couple of days ago! Happily, the toll (and all tolls in Mexico are half price for motorbikes, yay) was only $25 pesos… and the petrol station we needed and found before reaching a major town with an ATM took credit cards. Lady Luck was with us today!
Adrian has found us a lovely hotel here, where we’ll be staying for two nights. He’s turned into Master Negotiator (you’d think he negotiated contracts for a living or something?!) and has been getting us deals all over the place. It’s low season here, so the hotels are pretty empty and are therefore keen for our business. Like here in Zihuatanejo, we’ve got an ocean view and private balcony, with breakfast included – and it costs only slightly more than the campsite we stayed at just outside of Yellowstone National Park in the US. And they have secure bike parking!