You know what: We could easily write a novel here: So many beautiful natural sceneries we have seen, the gorgeous people we met, the colorful towns we saw, all the great food we had and all the little oddities and characteristics we saw which makes us sometimes wonder… We try to make it short this time and highlight only a few things.
The plan of the route is mostly unknown until we start to drive or maybe a day before. Sometimes it even changes during the day due to road or weather condition or because we follow spontaneously recommendations we get from somebody on the road. The last day at Guadalajara we had the pleasure to meet another friend of Ernesto. Alberto is a real adventurer on his motorbike. He left his bike in Venezuela and will continue his trip in about a month – so we hope to meet him again somewhere in South America.
We heard about a place south east of Guadalajara called Charly´s Restaurant. It´s run by a Swiss guy and it´s actually in the middle of nowhere. Charly is living in Mexico since 27 years. His “Restaurant” is somehow a real place to meet with fellow overlanders and as well known by locals for the great food and drinks he offers. He has a real fable for travelers and he loves to ride his motorcycle too. He bakes his own bread and has a great knowledge of the entire region. Charly helped to establish a cheese production where he took us too. YUMMI, the first time since we left Europe REAL AND GOOD CHEESE!
A Swiss couple, Erika and Ernst, who travel the world after they retired in their camper-van stayed in his place too. It was a great time chatting, eating and drinking… ahhh, did I forget to mention the pool? and swimming of course.
Charly offered spontaneously to accompany us together with Ernst for a day trip when we leave. He had a route in mind already and therefore we changed our plans impulsively. Instead of leaving North East (and round Mexico City that way) we were know heading South West together. We enjoyed the half day ride just following Charly through villages and fields… ;) except maybe the adventure part where he used a short cut which became a muddy water filled pothole path. Ernst flipped the bike once but nothing really happened. At the Volcán Paricutín we split. We did not go up as it was covered in clouds and was looking like we would just enter the rain. We said good bye…
We continued through mountain areas with great sceneries. Now the route changed to pass by Mexico City on the south going east. Little villages, avocado plantations along the valleys and somehow land of nowhere… abandoned villas in the most beautiful spots; canyons and valleys with beautiful views everywhere. Some people told us this is not really an area to go through we remembered… but wherever we stopped for a rest or for food the people were friendly smiling at us and dealing with our little knowledge of Spanish.
Accidentally we head into the `pueblos magicos´ wherever we stopped. Sometimes we had really good experiences and sometimes it looked too touristic to us. Usually we were lucky finding nice and reasonable places to stay. Only in one occasion after a long day ride, again and again in the rain, we were too tired. And after stopping in two three places asking for the rate (all too overrated we settled in a placed which smelled a bit muggy and cat-pi. But hey, we had a nice walk to the lake and `survived´ ;)
Mexico is a big country and comes up with many volcanic areas, archeological sites and beautiful villages wherever you go. It is never easy to detect and decide what to look at and what not. We do prefer to stay in the mountains and usually we drive on an altitude of above or around 2000m. The climate is just perfect up here, because as soon as you are below 1500m it becomes really hot. The only disadvantage is the thunderstorms which usually come in around 4pm; and sometimes if you go up to the summits even earlier. So we drove onto one when we were riding up the volcano Nevado de Toluca. First it turned dark and soon everything was covered in clouds. Then it started to rain and finally to hail. It became a little slippery and we started to freeze and suddenly at 4200m the road was closed. So we returned to the lagoon and found a shelter for a few minutes. Down at the park entrance we were happy that the guard invited us to warm up at his fire place and we shared thankfully some nuts with him. We were luckier with the weather when we rode up early morning to Iztaccíhuatl and Popocatépetl.
We have been the only ones on the road and as soon as we arrived at the view point the morning mist cleared off completely. Fascinated we were listening to the roaring sound of Popocatépetl – an impressive reminder that it is an very active volcano indeed. First we thought the road leading direction Pueblo is closed. But that was only the road going to another viewpoint. And the dirt road crossing over was open and didn’t look too bad. Only at one point in a steep turn with big rocks and deep washouts Kerstin crashed one time and then Sascha shortly after as well.
Two towns we really enjoyed visiting. The first one was Taxco. A beautiful mountain city situated on nearly 1800m. It is famous for its silver mines and shops which we did not know before at all. Much more impressive to us was the location. Riding the Mexican Highlands is really great with gorgeous landscapes and villages. But the view at Taxco from below was just stunning and for Kerstin a bit petrifying. The white houses with complex narrow curvy steep copper stone roads are climbing up the hill and there is a statue of Jesus at the very top of the town, called “Cristo”.
We looked up a hotel before and I was definitely afraid if Kerstin will make it through this narrow labyrinth without crashing somewhere. The town is full of white racing taxi beetles speeding up the curvy steep streets and crossing in from all directions. Completely sweated and full of adrenaline we finally managed to find the hotel. We parked our motorcycles in the lobby – from time to time we do like this kind of comfort – and checked in for two days. A `funny´ thing was that we found out that the Hotel is located just next to the main road and we could have easily avoid this `adventure ride´… but nevertheless we decided to let enjoy the bikes their lobby-parking for our stay. Sometimes we have the feeling our GPS is looking for more adventure then we do!
We really enjoyed the stay, walking around in this labyrinth and the market lanes, visiting the more than 200-year-old baroque-style church, the Santa Prisca Cathedral and the cultural centre Casa Borda. We were eating delicious and incredible cheap food in the non-touristic areas and last but not least driving up in one of these racing-beetles to the Christo Monument.
The other town we visited for two days was Cholula in Puebla just east of Popocatépetl on an altitude of 2150m. It is considered to be the oldest city in North America, inhabited without interruption since its origins. We found a nice AirBnB for just 300pesos a night with view to the Pirámide Tepanapa, the world largest pyramid (volume wise) and world’s largest monument. Because the site was fully covered with earth and looked just like a hill the Spanish build la Iglesia de los Remedios on the top (a church).
Our room was located above a little panaderia (bakery). We could not resist the smell. They did the best bread and the most delicious cheese pies and we had them several times… ;)
You may wonder if there is anything we do not like here?! YES! The topez!!! Tope is the Spanish word for speed bump. Topes are pervasive on Mexican roads, and they come in varying heights, from minuscule to mountainous. Sometimes they are marked in color or with signs BUT sometimes not and sometimes there is just a sign but no topes…?. But if you overlook them you risk taking off for a short but intensive flight. But the most evil ones are the ones with a little gap in the middle. If you do not see that you can easily get stuck with your tire or rather you are out of control direction wise. It happened to Sascha and he squeezed his foot and nearly drove into a shop-window.
As mentioned before we have September and it is the “Month of Mexico”. The streets are decorated across the country with flags and colorful garlands, which is locally called “papel picado”. On each corner there are vendors with a colorful assortment of flags, balloons, hats and pinwheels, in white, red and green, the National colors. There are flags on the houses, cars, Motorcycles (ours too!!!) and all government buildings and town squares. The highlight is the Grito de Dolores (better known as El Grito, the Cry for independence) It is celebrated every year on the night between September 15th and 16th is a Mexican holiday par excellence. It is the night when all citizens of Mexico celebrate their independence from the Spanish conquerors.
We planned to spend this big Fiesta in Santa Maria del Tule, Oaxaca Overlander Oasis. We met a bunch of really nice overlanders here and we are curious how the night will turn out… But this we will tell you next time!