I spent a week in
Chihuahua, working and taking care of family business, and it was time to
get back on the road and continue with "the plan."
The plan was I would ride to Puerto Vallarta, pick up Jose Luis and Lety and
we would ride along the coast to meet Johan and co. in Lazaro Cardenas, on
the Michoacan coast. I got off to a late start, a long list of honey-do
stuff that had to be taken care off before Lizbeth would let me take off for
the week plus trip. No problem, my first overnight stop was Durango, and
itís an easy ride there, only 660 kms.
The roads in the northern Mexican highlands are mostly straight and very
fast. Of course, like most Mexican roads, they are built to a very low
budget, so when you reach any sort of elevation changes, they always follow
the contours of the terrain and this makes for some entertaining curves that
suddenly show up after long stretches of mostly straight roads. As I
observed in previous trips, the roads in Durango arenít quite as well
maintained as they are in Chihuahua.
Driving in Mexico is always an interesting change from the US. Traffic laws
are used in a very lax manner and there is a lot of tolerance for bending
the rules as needed. This is a benefit when you are trying to make time, but
also means you have to be ready to react to all sorts of driving maneuvers
you would almost never see in the US. Interestingly, I saw more police
presence, especially Policia Federal Preventiva (PFP, which is sort of a
federal version of our state police forces) on this trip . I remember seeing
a news article about a road safety campaign started by the new president,
Calderon, just in time for the holiday season. They were showing off these
new Dodge Chargers (same as many US police forces got), and sure enough,
there were quite a few on the road, in places I had not seen them before.
Back to driving. Mexicans will pass anywhere. And I mean anywhere. Most
drivers of slower moving traffic will help you by turning their left signal
on when the road is clear ahead. If they are about to turn left, they will
usually make a hand signal as well, to be sure you understand the
difference. Whether you want to trust those signals, is really up to you...
I noticed something new on this trip - drive through liquor stores. I first
saw them in Cuauhtemoc, and then started noticing them everywhere. Lizbeth
tells me that's not really new, but I really liked the convenience. You
simply pull into the store, load up on all your favorite drinks (might as
well have one while you wait) pay and take off without leaving the comfort
of your car. What a great idea.
I made it to Durango in no time, the GNS took me straight to Hotel Roma
(where I stayed last time). The drive through the city was a bit slower than
I expected, and with the heavy traffic and narrow streets, it was hard to
split my way to the front of traffic lights. Interestingly, I found Durango
more appealing this time than I did on the last trip. Strange how you go to
the same place and get a different perspective on it. On my way to find an
Internet cafe I passed a taqueria that was packed with dinners, I figured if
itís that full, I has to be good, so I had dinner there too. An order of
mixed tacos and one soft drink set me back $2.50. They were very good too.