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Old 01-21-2012, 04:34 PM   #1
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Talking A Ton of Miles in Mexico - Jan 2012

Dark-thirty Friday morning at the McAllen hotel. It was time. I’d lain awake long enough. I dressed in the dark trying not to wake my wife (she was there on business, I wasn’t), gathered my luggage and went downstairs to the waiting bike parked at the hotel entrance.



Several months ago, Mary let me know in no uncertain terms, in fact, as strongly as possible, that she didn’t want me making any more trips to Mexico. I was equally adamant about wanting to continue and we were becoming the classic example of the irresistible force meeting an immovable object. After some heated discussions, frustration, anger and tears on both sides, we compromised; I could go, just not alone anymore. However, I couldn't round up anyone with the time or inclination to ride with me and Mary decided she had to rely on prayer for my safety and her peace of mind during the trip, which I was doing solo. Not the outcome either of us wanted, but it would have to do.

I did have a new traveling companion, but he was pretty quiet most of the trip. I had tried to Mexico-proof the bike by adding a pair of loud horns and a set of engine guards.



The trip this year, my fourth consecutive winter trip to Huatusco, was going to include visits to other CMA friends in Mixquiahuala, Hidalgo and Veracruz. All the families I was going to see had been at Motohermandad with us in 2009. Angel and Carmen from Mixquiahuala are in the Harley shirts on the far right. Adrian and Margarita from Veracruz are in the center (Adrian’s in green) and Manolo is next to Angel. Angel has been badgering me for a while to come by and visit them, but I had the mistaken impression that they lived in the south of Mexico and kept telling him it was too far. He didn’t buy that. When I finally looked up their town, it wasn’t that much farther out of the way. In fact, Mixquiahuala may be a bit closer than Huatusco.



Here's a small map of the route in Mexico. I'm not having any luck figuring out how to make it larger. Mixquiahuala is is near the "a" in Celaya, Huatusco is at the tip of the "b" in Puebla and Veracruz is on the coast. From Veracruz, I headed back up the coast to home, which is Corpus Christi.



Total trip distance: about 2,000 miles. Total time: 7 days.

Dale and I had set out for Mixquiahuala the week before Thanksgiving and ran into a traffic jam on the bridge. They were clearing a 3-car pileup and had traffic waiting while they did.



However, at the border, the credit union had been slow processing the title transfer for my new ride, a 2006 Moto Guzzi Breva 1100, and the Banjercito people wouldn’t accept the paperwork I did have; a bill of sale, contract with the credit union, and the trip was a no-go. Getting ready to return, a fellow suggested that some fiscal lubrication might help the outcome but I don’t like to reward people for hassling me, so no deal. Dale turned in the papers he had gotten in May that were due to expire, we ate and headed back to Corpus.

This time, I went to the border the day before, got the papers with no problem and changed my money into pesos, so all I needed was a couple taquitos for breakfast and at 6:20 I was rolling across the Pharr - Rio Bravo International Bridge on a foggy morning.
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Old 01-21-2012, 05:05 PM   #2
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Day 1 - McAllen to Mixquiahuala

Waved on by the customs people, I headed for the new bypass, fell in with all the cars that were avoiding the overpass and wound up at the maquila plants next to the airport. All those cars were just going to work. Oh well, backtrack a bit, up and over the overpass and I was on my way, trying to peer through a fogged up visor. I was again waved through the checkpoint south of town and kept rolling, trying to deal with the condensation on my visor, then my glasses, then giving up, pushing the visor up and the glasses down, peering into the fog.

A stop at the Rancho Viejo “Y” to clean things up a bit showed the Federales still camped out at the hotel with half the entrance blocked by a sandbag barricade instead of an armored car. They were keeping a wary eye on traffic going by on the Matamoros - Cd. Victoria highway.

By the time I reached Victoria about 9:00, the fog finally lifted. I stopped for gas, then headed south on the loop, joining Highway 85 which I would follow all the way over the mountains till I left it about 20 miles from Mixquiahuala. I don’t usually stop to take pictures on the road unless something pretty amazing pops up and this popped up alongside the highway south of Victoria.



I don’t remember the building being there two years ago, on our way home from the butterfly trip. I stopped for lunch at Limon, just short of Mante and had some pollo asado (grilled chicken). Pollo asado makes for pretty good road food most of the time. It’s cheap, it’s ready, and it’s not likely to make you sick. I talked bikes for a while with the guys at the chicken stand before hitting the road again.



Unlike my last Huatusco trip report, A Tough Trip to Paradise http://www.twtex.com/forums/showthread.php?t=54766, this one will have pictures of bikes in it. Mostly mine.

Angel had offered to meet me on the road somewhere Saturday and lead me to their house in Mixquiahuala, but I told him I thought I would be OK without a guide. I looked up their address on Google Maps and had a pretty good idea of where they lived in town and it seemed pretty straightforward getting there. Streetview was even available for all but the last bit, so I could get a look at the turns I needed to make. It was almost 600 miles from the border and I wanted to see if I could do it in one day. I was travelling alone and had getting an early start in my favor. The fog slowed me down, but not too much.

Now I had to see how long it would take me to cross the mountains at Tamazunchale. New territory for me. I had been to Xilitla several times, Tamazunchale was next town on down the highway. I gassed up again shortly before the town, went through town and headed up the mountain. The road was fairly narrow for a national highway, steep and tight. I put the bike in third gear and just loped through the corners and down the straights. Took it easy in the shady patches as I didn’t want the brakes making promises the tires wouldn’t keep.

Two hours after fuelling up, it was time for a break. I pulled off at a small store, had a coke and cinnamon roll and admired the creche set up in front of the store with an oversized baby Jesus.





This is a bit of what the road was like:



Tail of the Dragon, indeed. Going up and over those mountains was like riding up the tail of a dragon, then the spine, neck, head, then on to the head of an opposing dragon, down the neck, spine, and finally, the tail. About 3 hours of 3rd gear riding, averaging 30 mph. It was dark by the time I was down the other side. I did pass one town with an interesting clock tower, Tasquillo, I think, about sunset. But I don't know; all the small towns were becoming a blur. I thought the clock tower looked like something from a children's video game.



The map showed the last 40 miles or so of Hwy 85 as divided highway, so I should be able to make pretty good time. Unfortunately, it had topes (speed bumps) every quarter mile or so and plenty of stoplights. I was about an hour and a half from Mexico City and the whole area is heavily populated.

When I took the turn off 85 to Progresso/Mixquiahuala, the road was under construction and offered plenty of challenges to keep me awake. Finally, I rode through Progreso, made the turn to Mixquiahuala and shut the bike down at 8:00 in the evening, just about where I thought Angel and Carmen's place would be. Turned out I was half a block short. They had the hardware store on the next corner. It was just closing, so I walked in and surprised Angel, who didn't expect to see me until the next day. Fourteen hours, just about 600 miles. I was tired.
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Old 01-21-2012, 05:27 PM   #3
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At Angel and Carmen's - Friday night, Saturday morning

Angel has a hardware store with stock hanging from every vertical surface. He introduced me to his employees, offered me a cup of coffee from his new coffee machine, then started showing me some craftwork he does, making pictures from small pieces of straw that he hand-dyes. He said it was an Indian craft that his grandfather had picked up from them and it had been passed on down the family.

This is the CMA logo done with tiny pieces of straw:



This is a larger piece:



Carmen and the girls were out, but when they returned, we did a bit of visiting and then it was off to bed in their guestroom.

Angel is a person who is always working on some project or other. Their living quarters above the store was filled with artwork from different areas of Mexico.



The courtyard in back was a play area for their 3 girls, Danielle, Anne and Sofie.



And the roof was the hangout for the family dogs.



Angel had to run in to Mexico City Saturday morning to pick up some stock for the store, so Carmen and the girls treated me to breakfast at a food stall in the Progresso market, barbacoa de borrego (mutton BBQ), which apparently is a specialty of the state of Hidalgo.



I bought some guavas and a rosca in the market. You can see them sitting on the counter. Roscas are a Spanish version of fruitcake, I guess. Sold around Epiphany; a circle of pan dulce with colorful toppings and little plastic figures of Jesus baked into it. The girls enjoyed the guavas.

The Christmas tree was still up in the plaza.



When Angel returned from Mexico City, we got the bikes out and got ready for a ride he wanted to make to show me the Prismas Basalticos located about an hour and a half from their house, in the mountains above Pachuco.
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Old 01-21-2012, 06:24 PM   #4
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Re: A Ton of Miles in Mexico - Jan 2012

Signed on for the ride...
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Old 01-21-2012, 08:00 PM   #5
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Pueblos Magicos, Prismas Basalticos

When Angel returned, he wanted to go on a ride to show me what he called Prismas Basalticos, or Basaltic Prisms. I had a picture in mind of rock displays in a museum. I was a bit wrong.

This is my best guess at our route:



Angel dug out his motorcycle for the trip, a BMW R1150C and we took off. We took the back roads to Pachuca, made a quick stop at a hardware store there, then went on up the mountain above town and over the crest to a town called Huasca de Ocampo, which Angel said was a Pueblo Magico. Pueblos Magicos are new to me. It's a Mexican Government program which designates certain towns as Pueblos Magicos. They have elements of significance to the Mexican culture and efforts are made to preserve their historic look. A map of the Pueblos Magicos and their locations can be found at: http://www.sectur.gob.mx/work/models...M_13122011.pdf

The local municipal building had a mural in their stairwell of fired-clay tiles which Angel enjoyed. Angel is one of those people that have to have a person in every shot. I apologize for my more-than-usual number of appearances in these pictures.



At least I think this was Huasca de Ocampo. I could easily be wrong. I only have a general idea of where we went and tried to figure out the route afterwards. This is the entrance to an old silver-mining hacienda, San Manuel de la Regla nearby.



From there, we rode around a lake, Presa San Antonio, to the Prismas Basalticas, which were located at the lower end of the lake, the dam outlet. One unique feature of the lake was the smelter smokestack sticking up out of the water of another hacienda covered by the waters of the lake. I don't have a good picture of that, though I do have yet another one of me in front of some feature of interest.



The prismas basalticos were pretty spectacular, volcanic rock formations lining a deep gorge. The area has been developed as a tourist attraction, primarily for folks from Mexico City, which is just an hour or two away.



There was a suspension bridge over the gorge for foot traffic and lots of shops around the base of the dam.





At the mouth of the gorge was yet another silver-mining hacienda, The San Juan Hueyapan Hacienda. Angel said the ballroom scene in the movie Zorro was shot there. You could see it from an observation deck.



A photographer and his model.



On the way out, we stopped at yet another Pueblo Magico, Mineral del Monte, and wandered around for a bit.



I thought the jacket and hat was pretty cool, but hadn't brought the cash for much shopping and didn't have space to pack it anyway.



Angel said all the roofs being the same color and all the signs hand-painted were characteristic of a Pueblo Magico.



The town featured a memorial for miners.



And another attraction of the area was pastes, a Cornish pastry of all things. Many Cornishmen were employed as miners in the area and, according to Wikipedia, they introduced Mexico to the industrial revolution, to the sport of football (soccer) and to pastes. I tried one, like a flaky turnover with a meat filling. Can I have another?



Angel said he wanted me to see the clock tower (he called it a reloj) in Pachuca so we took the old road into the center of town. I took a few pictures from an overlook. It reminded me of Tegucigalpa 20 years ago, a city set in a bowl in the mountains.





The reloj:



Though dark, our day still wasn't done. We stopped by a hamburger place to talk to the owner a while, an acquaintance of Angel's, then headed for home. Angel realized his tail light wasn't working, so we rode home with one or the other of his flashers going so I could see him ahead of me.

That area in the mountains is less than 60 miles east of Mixquiahuala. Total mileage for the day was about 125 miles.

Back at the house, we put the bikes up for the night and Angel showed me some more of his artwork. The larger Mayan calendar behind the one he is holding is made up of more than a million little pieces of straw. I didn't have the heart to tell him the calendar was out of date now.



Then it was time for a late supper and off to bed. The place next door was holding a party and DJ-provided music was incredibly loud. I just dug out my earplugs, put them in and the music stopped abruptly. Didn't hear anything more until morning, when I took the earplugs out.
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Old 01-21-2012, 09:05 PM   #6
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Sunday - On to Huatusco

Sunday morning started with breakfast cooked by Danielle, Angel and Carmen's oldest daughter. She did a very credible job of scrambling eggs for everyone. And I had some of the rosca I bought the day before with my coffee. Then it was on to church. Angel decided to come with me to Huatusco (about 250 miles), then ride back Monday morning. We were to leave directly from church. Angel and Carmen go to a Baptist church in nearby Tula, pastored by Matt Johnson, a Baptist missionary from Austin, Texas.

The church is very conservative so all the women were in dresses or skirts and the deacons were all in suits and ties. I was wearing a CMA shirt, blue jeans, do-ragg and boots. I love it when that happens.

A bonus in the service that morning was the Embajadores del Rey, a musical group from Cuernavaca that had come to entertain at a 50th wedding anniversary celebration the day before for a couple in the church. They sang a number of songs during the service, which finally wrapped up about 1:00. Angel changed into his riding clothes and we were on our way.



Our route to Huatusco was the Arco Norte, a new toll road, to Puebla, where we picked up the highway going to Veracruz, getting off it at Cordoba, then up the moutains about 30 miles to Huatusco.



On the way, we had a hazy view of Popocatepetl, the second-highest mountain in Mexico. I took a picture, but you have to have a good imagination to see the mountain (behind the haze, in the center).



Today, Angel was on his BMW F650GS. That little one-lunger can sure haul. We did 90 miles an hour down much of the Arco Norte. We stopped for gas along the way, but the attendant was airing up the tires of another customer and when no one else showed up, we fired up and pushed off, buying gas in Puebla. In Puebla, we had lunch, a plate of pollo en mole poblano. Mole (pronounced mo-lay) must be the national sauce of Mexico and every area has it's own version. It's a thick, dark sauce of varying amounts of spiciness, depending on where you are. Mole Poblano is pretty good stuff.

Then it was on down the highway, this time with a good view of Orizaba, third-highest mountain in North America, behind only Denali in Alaska and Mount Logan in Canada. Taller than anything in the lower 48 states.



Then a hair-raising ride down off the central plateau. The road divides and winds back and forth. In spite of being a toll road, it's currently in poor shape. It was tough dodging the faster cars, slower trucks and many potholes. This is an indication of how the road winds back and forth. I was told in Huatusco that the old road is so tight and steep, traffic has to switch sides on many of the corners. I'll have to ride that one of these days.



In Cordoba, off the toll road, Angel asked if I knew the way to Manolo and Hortensia's house. I sure did, so I took the lead and we got to town about 6:00 that evening. A block from Manolo's house, a pickup truck darted out from behind a blind corner and I hit the brakes to keep from T-boning it. The Guzzi went down with a bang, my leg underneath. Angel stopped to help me pick the bike up and down he went. And his bike had ABS. The street was concrete with some dirt and gravel on top so there wasn't much traction. Here's the corner. We were coming down from the top of the picture. The truck emerged from the left. Rather a rude welcome to Huatusco. The pickup driver left the scene as quickly as he could go.



The only damage to the bike was a scratched up saddlebag. Yaaay!!! One of the main reasons to buy a naked bike was to have a minimum number of things that would break if I dumped the bike. Looks like it paid off. I decided then and there, the Guzzi would be known as Rocinante II. When people ask about the scratched up bag, I'll just tell them I was tilting at windmills and tilted too far, same story I had for the Trophy.



This is Angel's F650.

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Last edited by andyc740; 01-22-2012 at 09:44 AM. Reason: geography lesson
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Old 01-22-2012, 09:11 AM   #7
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Re: A Ton of Miles in Mexico - Jan 2012

Manolo and Hortensia gave us the usual warm welcome and put us up in their girls' bedroom. I made sure Angel got the Hermosa Princesa bed. (See an earlier trip write-up for that story: http://www.triumphrat.net/ride-trip-...ml#post1351092).

In the morning, I got up, made some coffee, then went up on the roof for my annual rooftop Orizaba sunrise shot. There's even less snow on the mountain this year than there was last year.



A tree in the back yard was flowering. Trees in the tropics put out flowers first, then leaves. It's really pretty to see all the flowers without leaves getting in the way.



Manolo and Angel posed for a picture, then Angel was on his way back to Mixquiahuala.



After breakfast, Manolo had to run a few errands and took me along. Their store, Kipling, is now a coffee shop, Cafeteria Huatusco. Felix, who had the coffee shop across the street (see my last Winter trip report for that: http://www.twtex.com/forums/showthread.php?t=54766) had gotten a government job and closed his coffee shop. Manolo and Hortensia wound up with much of his equipment. They were swapping out an espresso machine with Felix that morning.

When we arrived, I was amused by the "Harley" parked behind the coffee shop, a renter of Manolo's:



This is the bike's side cover (Manolo said he thought it was a 250):



Felix setting up the new machine.



Hortensia had done a very nice job decorating the place. They served coffee (obviously), sandwiches and desserts.



This is their coffee roaster, good for about 5 kilos at a time:



After we got that squared away, it was time for a ride. Manolo had sold their Aprilia 250, so he borrowed a dirt bike from a friend and we took off. The first stop was to see their new church building. The day before, they held their first services in the building. It was pretty nice. Much more room than their earlier location above some stores downtown.



Given the climate, buildings don't need to be heated or air-conditioned, so construction is a much simpler process.



Manolo suggested a ride to Chichiquila, maybe 15 miles north of Huatusco, however, several miles of that were unpaved, dropping down into a barranco before crossing a river where the pavement picked up again. On the steep, downhill drop to the river, Rocinante turned into an elephant. I was riding the back brake to keep things under control and it was heating up fast. About halfway down, Manolo talked me into turning around, so I took a couple pictures before we did. In my own defence, the slope is much steeper than it looks. And we picked a good spot to turn around.





I had been wondering how the bike was going to do on the uphill climb, but it turned out to be no problem. Now I'm determined to get to Chichiquila. The current plan is to take the long way around, down to Cordoba, up the old road, around the back of the mountain, down to Chichiquila, then home to Huatusco, up that 3-mile stretch of dirt road, instead of down it.

We went back up the hill and stopped for a coke in Elotepec, a small villiage on the way back. Reminded me a bit of Santa Cruz, Mary's home town, though much smaller. We parked in front of the school, where we could hear the kids reciting their lessons.









Manolo left briefly to see if he could find a signal to make a cell phone call. I sat and chatted with a drunk who initially thought I was with the government. He had complaints about politicians lining their pockets at the expense of the poor. I told him my wife grew up in a town similar to Elotepec and was now an RN in the US. Poverty isn't necessarily a dead end. And why was he so drunk on a Monday morning? While we were talking, somebody started ringing the church bell. It was noon.





A fellow walking past spilled his basket of pan dulce on the ground, picked them all back up, putting them back in the basket, then went on his way. I wouldn't want to be the guy eating one of those who bites into a piece of gravel.



Then it was back into town before heading to Coscomatepec for some lunch.
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Old 01-22-2012, 09:18 AM   #8
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Re: A Ton of Miles in Mexico - Jan 2012

Not to pick nits but Orizaba is third tallest on North America.

At least you now know I'm reading your report.
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Old 01-22-2012, 09:40 AM   #9
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Monday afternoon in Coscomatepec and Huatusco

Coming into Coscomatepec, a nice 15 mile ride from Huatusco towards Cordoba, we turned down a side street to look up a friend of Manolo's, who was a pastor of a church there in town. His wife told us he was off on his bike to pick up his daughter at school, but would be back in a minute, so we waited.

Views down and up the street:





When the pastor returned (I don't remember his name unfortunately), he was impressed by the Guzzi (his bike is in the foreground) so I let him take it for a ride, then he posed on it with one of his two daughters.



From there we went on to the restaurant, bumping into a few other people Manolo knew, enjoyed our lunch, and rode back to Huatusco. I spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing at the house.

Manolo and Hortensia had invited some of the local CMA chapter down to the coffee shop in the evening, drinking coffee, having a roast pork sandwich, and enjoying the company. Business was light that evening but I told Hortensia as good-looking as the wait staff was, they were sure to be busy.









Only two other CMA members showed up, Javier on the right, president of the Huatusco chapter, and Robert, who rode an R6. I told them Texas Mile stories and stories about our trips to Tampico for Motohermandad. Javier talked about when he was a motorcycle mechanic for a fellow who lived in LA, but kept a warehouse full of motorcycles in Cordoba. We had a good evening, then it was time for bed.



In the morning, I was headed for Veracruz, last visit of the trip.
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Old 01-22-2012, 09:46 AM   #10
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Re: A Ton of Miles in Mexico - Jan 2012

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Bruce View Post
Not to pick nits but Orizaba is third tallest on North America.

At least you now know I'm reading your report.
Fixed. Can't have any known inaccuracies (other than the usual bald-faced lies)
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Old 01-22-2012, 10:26 AM   #11
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Re: A Ton of Miles in Mexico - Jan 2012

Three years ago, Betsy and I drove highway 85 in a pickup from zimapan to Xilitla in the fog, heavy fog. I wanted to show her that beautiful road that I was last on in 1969. Well, we saw none of it. I could not see more than two or three truck lengths ahead and had a long line behind me. If someone had painted the yellow line off of a cliff, I would have followed. We could only tell when we went through a village by the topes and a glimpse of someone alongside. We would have stopped at night, but couldn't even see the side roads and I was sure that I wouldn't dare try to get back on the highway as we could not see oncoming traffic, so we kept going. Didn't see a thing. I was really tired after about 3 hours of that. The Cathedral in Zimapan is really cool. It has frescoes of aztecs battling using their obsidian swords, can't remember what they are called.
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Old 01-22-2012, 11:46 PM   #12
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Re: A Ton of Miles in Mexico - Jan 2012

More please...
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Old 01-23-2012, 07:00 AM   #13
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Re: A Ton of Miles in Mexico - Jan 2012

Fantastic report. Great scenery and great friends. When we rode Hwy 85, on our way to a BMW rally,85the hwy has soooo many turns in it when we finally stopped for lunch, my buddy had motoin sickness and couldn't eat. I'll have to admit, I was ready for some straight roads. Thanks for sharing the ride. HB
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Old 01-23-2012, 12:05 PM   #14
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Tuesday Afternoon in Veracruz

I forgot to mention Manolo's story of why they now had a coffee shop instead of a boutique. To keep the boutique stocked, they made frequent trips to the border, usually Reynosa/McAllen to buy clothes. Returning from one of these trips last year, they were stopped on Hwy 97, heading south from Reynosa, by two guys in a pickup truck. The fellows were armed, one with an automatic rifle, the other a pistol. They said, "We know you're carrying something. We want it."

Manolo explained they had clothes they bought for their shop and just enough money for food and gas for the trip home. The men became more menacing and began making threats about what they would do to Manolo and Hortensia. Manolo said he stayed calm and repeated what he said before. He said, "Andy, I was just telling them the truth." Both Manolo and Hortensia were praying during the stop. Finally, the gunmen let them go unharmed.

Manolo said they didn't want to have to keep making those trips to the border, so they closed their boutique and opened the coffee chop instead. I hope it becomes a roaring success.

Anyway, after that sobering note, we'll continue with the trip. I woke up Tuesday morning, Hortensia made a wonderful breakfast and about 9:00 we said goodbye and I headed for Veracruz, a downhill ride of about 75 miles. Adrian was scheduled to be waiting for me just past the airport entrance at 11:00.

It was hard to leave Huatusco, like leaving family behind, but the trip needed to be finished so I could get back to wife and family in Texas. It was very nice riding through the incredibly green hills for the first 10 miles or so, then the long, gradual drop through more open pastures and the several small towns along the road. I saw trees with white and yellow flowers, lots of flowering bougainvilleas, just the typically pretty ride in Mexico. At the intersection 40 miles later, instead of turning towards Cardel, I turned right towards Paso de Ovejas. That road rose and dropped through some low hills, crossed a river or two, grew more and more busy, and finally, I was in an industrial district of Veracruz, then past the airport, then I saw Adrian waiting for me under an underpass in a little Fiat with his flashers flashing.



Adrian was glad to see me. I think the last time we met was when he came up to the Texas Mile in October, year before last. He's always an enthusiastic, outgoing person. He led me on through town to his house in Boca del Rio, a suburb on the edge of Veracruz, where their maid fed us some breakfast, then it was off across town to his shop, riding in his car. His wife, Margarita, was out and about with their two boys.

This is Angel's house. Inside, it was nice and sunny with windows opening onto the back patio.



Angel likes to take the drive along the beach to his shop so there was plenty to see along the way.

















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Old 01-23-2012, 12:49 PM   #15
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Tuesday Afternoon in Veracruz - Part II

A bit of history: Veracruz is Mexico's oldest city, founded by Cortez in 1519, and Mexico's biggest and busiest port. It's been invaded by the Spanish (the original founders), pirates, the French and the Americans. Current population is above half a million people.

Discussing history or geography in this forum is always a risky business. There's always people ready to set me straight on any mistakes I make.

In 1982, I believe, my wife and I drove through Veracruz on our way to Honduras. She wanted to stop and spend several days there as the city was beautiful. I was in a hurry, wanting to get to Honduras, so we drove on. Instead, we got stuck in Guatemala City for a weekend, waiting for the Honduran consulate to open so we could get visas. Both of us got sick from some bad food so we spent the weekend in the hotel room. I heard about that for a long time.

Anyway, riding with Adrian, we stopped downtown to get some snowcones. They had curbside service, a girl came out took our orders, (Adrian had maranon, I had maracuya) and then brought them to us. They were very good.











Finally we were at Adrian's shop.



Which is also where he garaged his motorcycle (maybe because mine was in his garage).





After hanging out a while, we headed back to the house.



Where we caught up with the rest of the family, from the left: Adrian, little Adrian, Margarita and the baby, Alex. Sweet family. Really made me feel welcome.



The view across the street from their house:



After lunch and a siesta at the house, we headed back to the shop, again taking the route down the malecon.





On our way home in the evening, we stopped at La Parroquia, a popular coffee shop in Veracruz, for some coffee and a bit of supper. We ate frijolitos, like chicken enchiladas covered with beans and I had a side plate of some fried platanos with sour cream. Yum!

The coffee service was impressive.





Then it was back to the house for bed. In the morning, I'd be headed back towards home again, a two-day ride from Veracruz. During the trip, I'd made extra effort to keep Mary posted on how things were going, sending emails on a daily basis. Apparently, it was working as I kept getting encouraging responses from her.
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Old 01-23-2012, 01:36 PM   #16
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Veracruz to Home

About 7:00 or so in the morning, I packed up, fired up Rocinante and Adrian led me to the main drag several blocks away and got me fuelled up and started on my way. My plan was to ride to Soto la Marina, where I usually spend the night on my trips home from Huatusco.

Leaving Veracruz, the day was getting cooler and drizzley. I stopped several hours up the coast, had some huevos motulenos for breakfast, then put my rain gear on, the jacket liner and waterproof riding pants that I'd carried with me the whole way, but had yet to use.

I took the tollroad around Poza Rica, but Manolo recommended going through Tuxpan, instead of using the bypass through Alamo. Cars were being stopped by bad guys along that route. So I followed his advice and rode through Tuxpan. Leaving town, the engine quit abruptly and the service engine light came on. I stripped off the raingear, dug out my tools and called my son at home, asking him to look up the diagnostic codes for me that were in the ECM. The code said I had a ground-fault failure on the fuel injectors, so I started tracing fuel injector wiring and the wiring for the attached power commander. I wasn't finding anything.

One guy got off the bus, asked what was going on, shook my hand and said, "Tell your friends that a pinche Indio shook your hand in Mexico." Shortly after that another fellow wandered up and asked what was going on, I explained I was trying to track down an electrical problem. I had called my mechanic in Corpus Christi, but could only leave a message. The fellow started pulling fuses from the fuse box under the seat. I get nervous about strangers messing with my bike, but figured he couldn't hurt anything pulling fuses, so I didn't say anything. About the third one he pulled was blown. He said, "Here's your problem." I replaced it with a spare, the service engine light went out and the bike fired right back up. I wondered what made the fuse blow, but he assured me it would be all right, it wouldn't blow again.

Talking with Jorge revealed he was a mechanic in the Army and he lived in a house right below where I parked. When he saw me there, he came up to see what was going on. I told Jorge he was an angel.



I lost about 2 hours trying to get the bike running again, but I saddled up and headed north. Took the beach road to get by Tampico.



It was about 5:00 by then and I got stopped by the Federales at the checkpoint north of town. One of the officers wanted to know where I was headed. "Soto la Marina." He was concerned. "It will be dark by then and the road can be bad after dark." But then he added, "It's usually cars that get stopped, not bikes."

Oh well, I took his advice and stopped in Estacion Manuel, about an hour up the road, instead. Found a hotel room, then went to get some supper. After ordering, I went to the restroom and found out why the waitress had been looking at me funny, my face was covered with dirt, probably from all the drizzle in the morning. I was laughing as I washed my face, ate my dinner, then sacked out for the evening.

In the morning, I decided to get breakfast in Aldama, about 25 miles up the highway, but the morning was very foggy, so I turned around after about a quarter of a mile, went back and had breakfast right there in town. Heading out again, it was still foggy.





I would let a car go by, then chase their taillights as long as I could, then try to pick up another car. Reaching Aldama, I had some more coffee and stalled around a bit longer, waiting for the fog to burn off. Heading on north, the fog finally lifted about 9:00, just in time to put me in the construction zone south of Soto la Marina. Three sections of road were thoroughly torn up, other places had uneven pavement, but I made it through.

At the checkpoint on Hwy 101, just north of the intersection with the road to Soto, I was searched pretty thoroughly. There's construction going on for a permanent checkpoint there with covered bays, so it looks like we'll be dealing with that for a long time.

I was bucking a pretty strong headwind by then, but figured I had enough gas to make it to Reynosa. About a quarter of a mile from the Customs checkpoint just south of Reynosa, the bike quit again, out of gas. Pushing the bike up to the checkpoint almost gave me a heart attack, but I made it. The soldiers said nobody there had any gas I could buy, but I could wait for a bus to take me to the gas station up the road about a mile and a half. I hadn't passed any buses in a long time, so I went across the road and asked over there. One fellow said, "Wait a minute. I'll take you." He rounded up a plastic jug, then we climbed in his truck, went to the station, pumped a couple gallons of gas, then brought me back to the checkpoint. He wouldn't take any money for the help. He said he was the cook for the checkpoint and was just getting there to cook lunch for everybody. Another angel.



From there, it was a quick jaunt around the bypass to the bridge, a minimum of wait to get back into the states, a stop for something to eat, then the ride home to the house, arriving about 4:00 or so in the afternoon.

What a trip. I enjoyed seeing my friends and getting a chance to encourage them, saw lots of different types of scenery, and thoroughly enjoyed the ride.

Except for a blown fuse, the bike didn't miss a beat. I really like it. It's lighter than the Trophy, has better suspension and brakes, actually smoother, better gas mileage and better range. Maintenance is also a lot easier. And I don't mind the wind in my face. I think she's a keeper.

A day or so later, a friend called asked how I was and where. When I said, "Back home," he suggested I call my mechanic. He'd been trying to reach me for two days and was ready to call out the National Guard, assuming I was stranded in Mexico. I'd better remember to make those follow-up calls in the future.

Thanks for riding along.
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Old 01-23-2012, 04:19 PM   #17
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Re: A Ton of Miles in Mexico - Jan 2012

Great news! Rather than being robbed you were helped...twice.

Nice end to a great ride. Can I tag along on the next one?

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Old 01-24-2012, 09:48 AM   #18
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Re: A Ton of Miles in Mexico - Jan 2012

Quote:
Discussing history or geography in this forum is always a risky business. There's always people ready to set me straight on any mistakes I make.
Expert at stating the obvious.

Glad you got help when needed.
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Old 01-24-2012, 02:21 PM   #19
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Re: A Ton of Miles in Mexico - Jan 2012

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Originally Posted by philipbarrett View Post
Great news! Rather than being robbed you were helped...twice.

Nice end to a great ride. Can I tag along on the next one?

You sure can. Always glad to have the company. And I'm glad you enjoyed the report.
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Old 01-24-2012, 03:17 PM   #20
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Re: A Ton of Miles in Mexico - Jan 2012

Great report!

It is refreshing to see a perspective that shows there are good people South of the border despite all the hysteria about it being so dangerous. It seems like many Americans see EVERYONE South of the border as being a criminal

I also like seeing the culture. Sure, the riding pics are nice too, but what really grabs me is seeing how folks live in places I've never been. Well done!
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