Gustavo's Mexico Adventure 2006-2007 Page 8

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Where were we? I had made it to Tequis right as it was getting dark, I found the hotel I was looking for, Posada San Francisco, which was listed in the Lonely Planet as budget hotel. When I walked in I was greeted very nicely by the manager, but she had a much higher price in mind than I thought it would be based on the LP listing. Not a big problem, everything is negotiable, so we ended up agreeing on a "special" 33% discount. Now it was a much more appealing place to stay.

Tequis became what it is thanks to hot springs that were used by Mexico Cityís rich and famous as a place to cure what ills them. This included a long list of presidents as well, and since in countries like Mexico you needed (many say you still have) to be close to the source to land lucrative business deals, everybody else followed. Now Tequis is a well established weekend resort town and it shows. It has that look one imagines quaint Mexican towns do, but still retains the feeling of a real working town, not a tourist resort, such as those you find on the coasts.

I had a long day ahead of me, so I got up around 7, and went out to find something to eat about 30 minutes later, only to find out again that in Mexico, the saying "no por mucho madrugar amanece mas temprano" is always true. It took me 20 minutes to find someone that already had something that would pass for breakfast close to 8 AM. Not a town of early risers. Breakfast ended up being a warm cup of atole de fresa and sweet Mexican bread I ate while sitting on a bench in the main plaza across from church, watching people coming out of the morning mass. No wonder there was no one in the market. Market starts only after mass ends...

It was time to get on the road. The road east out of Tequis doesnít start out very promising. If you donít know where you are going, youíd be forgiven if you think you are about to spend the day riding mostly in a straight line and down these mild hills. Once you get near the San Joaquin turnoff, the road starts to get more interesting. As I had never been up to San Joaquin, I decided to go check it out. 20 miles each way, over an hour to do it, with only one short stop. Now this is more like it.

Back on the main road to the Sierra Gorda, the road takes a nose dive into a valley, then starts to finally climb into the mountains. At one spot in the road, as you are climbing further into the Sierra, a sign proclaims this to be the Gateway to Heaven. If you are a motorcyclist, they are not exaggerating. OK, they actually meant it in the sense that this is a natural reserve, but I couldn't have agreed more anyway.

At one point I looked over the valley, and saw a beautiful cloudy carpet completely filling the space between the peaks. The sun was shining, the temperature very comfortable for riding, and I couldnít help but think about that sign again. This was the roadway to heaven. Of course, about 30 minutes later, I was riding in those clouds, as I was descending to Jalpan. Visibility very limited, and since I couldnít see through my heavily misted/fogged face shield, I had to ride with it up, getting wet and cold in the process. So much for heaven.

The ride through the clouds didnít really last as long as it seemed at the time, and I quickly found myself in Jalpan. Since we visited Jalpan last year, I decided to skip the town and go on towards San Luis Potosi. After some short straight sections in the valleys near Rio Verde, the road climbs into the mountains again but this time, as the road to SLP is a major access east, there was a lot more traffic. Luckily, it was all dispatched without too much trouble using the techniques of Johan the master of Mexican traffic.

San Luis Potosi is a very large, industrial city, with a lively colonial/historical city center. It may not be a tourist destination, but if you are on the road and need a place to crash for the night, it may make an interesting overnight stop. Zacatecas is more interesting, IMHO, and that was my target for the night.

I have usually stayed in the city center, but parking is a hassle (none of the places I can afford have onsite parking) so I decided to try a hotel a bit further out. I picked Hotel Colon out of the LP budget list, since it listed parking was available. That was not the case, no parking is available, but they didnít mind if I left the bike in their reserved loading/unloading area, just in front of the main door, which I figured was just as good.

I went to have dinner at DoŮa Juliaís (excellent gorditas), but as is often the case, it was packed and there was a long wait for a table. I was really hungry, so I decided to go have dinner at Acropolis, a restaurant recommended by Gourmet Magazine (it was Lizbethís suggestion, I was talking to her on the phone as I walked around the city, she remembers those kinds of details).

The place was nice, the food tasty, but for some reason, it didnít agree with me at all. So much for Gourmet Magazine recommendations... To make a long story short, it was a very long night, which was really bad timing, as I was looking at an 880 km trip then next day to get to Chihuahua.

I decided to fill up before leaving Zacatecas, so I rode to the gas station on the outskirts of town without all the cold weather gear on, thinking Iíll tough it out, itís a short distance. It quickly became clear that was a mistake, and that this was going to be a cold day to ride. I left the gas station a little after 9:30, and it was still cold. Around Fresnillo, the wind picked up and it was only getting colder. Great. I decided that if I am going to be cold, I might as well keep it as short as possible and put the hammer down. That worked well for about an hour. I reached the Cuencame toll plaza and looking north it was getting darker and darker.

Is that storm all the way to Chihuahua? Thatís a long way to ride in a desert rain storm. I figured that if it was going to be raining, I might as well take the highway, as it will be slow going on the libre.  It started almost as soon as I got past the toll booth and it rained hard, like it often does in the desert- big drops that hit you like it was hail (it was cold enough to be hail, but I didnít see any) and it didnít stop for about 2 hours. It wouldnít have been that bad had the ĎStitch not leaked. It was less than 40F most of the day, even after I crossed into Chihuahua and the rains stopped. It wasnít warm enough to get dry, so it was wet and cold all the way home. Didnít I come to Mexico to escape this kind of weather? Where do I claim my refund?

It took a hot shower and lots of hot fluids to get me to defrost from this ride. Now, there was one more ride to take, to get the bike back to NM, where it will stay for now. I was just hoping the weather will be a little nicer for the weekend, I have a plane to catch, postponing the ride is not an option.

Saturday dawned with clear blue skies.  That was good.  But it was also pretty chilly, not much above freezing.  I had a plane to catch, so waiting for the day to warm up was not a real option.  Off I went.  It was indeed a chilly ride, the Heat-Troller again cranked to the max.  Using the same logic that got me to Chihuahua in record time earlier, I figured if it was going to be cold, might as well keep it short and I put the hammer down. 

I got pulled over by the army checkpoint near Samalayuca.  As I was chatting with the soldier that inspected my luggage he mentioned that he had heard it was snowing in El Paso.  Great.  As I was nearing the border, it started to drizzle.  Soon the drizzle turned to wet, fluffy, snow, that luckily was not sticking.  It took me longer to get across the US border than it took to get the tourist and temporary import permit to go into Mexico three weeks earlier.  In the process I learned that riding a motorcycle from Portland around Mexico is very dangerous.  If the US finest immigration officers think so, it must be true.

After a long and almost unbelievable exchange which I can not repeat here (I can hear the black helicopters already) was over, I was finally on my way to Las Cruces.

What a fantastic four weeks.  I rode through what seemed like four different seasons, countless different landscapes (not to mention roads) and had a great New Yearís celebration with friends I donít get to see very often.  What more can you ask for?

YNewYear'sRideMV

Gustavo


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