guatemala border, palenque, san christobal de las casas, tuxtla gutierrez, coatzacoalcos, catemaco, veracruz
Have you heard about the Guatemala "milk snake"? This one looks for breastfeeding mothers, sneaks up on them at night and suckles on their breast. While doing that, he puts his tail into babies mouth to prevent them from crying. Mother who suddenly wakes up can do nothing but let them finish the job... or I don't know what would happen... I forgot...
We left Buanascosas' hospitality after 3 days. We loaded our bikes on the minibus early in the morning and got a ride to the Mexican border at Chiapas. From a cyclist's point of view I couldn't blame myself for this kind of cheat coz the quality of the road was appalling. 120km of dust and stone. No asphalt. We saved at least 2 days but what an adventure it was! Blasting down this road at 80km/h I was hanging out the door with half of my body sticking out coz i basically couldn't fit in. I spotted 4 crocodiles along the way. At the border we got onto the lancha (ferry) and in 20 minutes we were back in Mexico. Immigration officer wanted an entrance fee again but we won't pay them anymore.
through the guatemala-mexico border by the river
First night at Chiapas. We camped by the church on the football pitch in some small village. We were falling to sleep to the tunes of christian band and gospel quotes. What a divine lullaby. In the middle of the night we were woken up by this terrifying roar from the jungle around us. Anna thought of jaguars but I said "no way". It must have been some sort of monkeys or something. The next day was fun to ride. The roads were merciful, more or less flat with few downhills and it resembled our beloved Slovakia. I caught myself daydreaming that there would be a village around the bend and I would treat myself to a pint or two. But the reality was different. Never ending jungle and these weird monkeys in it. I was listening to the Czech music band "Buty" all that day and finally after nearly 100km leg (the first one that long) we wanted to pitch our tent by the river where we met Nicolas with the family. He says it's dangerous around here (meaning people) and offers "mi casa es su casa". Thank you very much. Time for a short dunk in the river and soon we're in his house. Another beautiful night in our hammocks. Nicolas' family was great and made us feel like at home. We even cranked our Spanish bit more. Btw, I was right about those voices from the jungle, they were about 3-foot tall monkeys, apparently quite friendly creatures but listening to the sound they made I wouldn't be so sure. It was lovely evening though. Morning coffee, short view of the ranch and soon we're on our way to Palenque where we eventually got a chance to see some of the nicest Maya ruins ever. They are still only heaps of old stones to me. What makes me more excited is Cascadas de Aqua Azul where i booked two nights in the hotel for 200 pesos (our first paid overnight stay). Here in Palenque we're sorting out the cash, a phone call to Slovak embassy and internet. It was much more fun to pay 90 pesos and travel 60km up that bloody hill in minibus. Don't worry, we'll be sweating again around San Cristobal.... So far we clocked nearly 1100km and lost few pounds as well. Yesterday i put on the trousers for the first time since we flew in and guess what, I had to tighten my belt one extra hole... I'm indulging myself with coffee, chocolate, coca cola... well, one can't be too serious about loosing weight. Got to fix my sandal, thanks to my mates in KN company back in Dublin for sorting me out with cable ties.
caskadas de agua azul
Next morning we got to climb a massive hill, it was raining and the humidity was brutal. One broken spoke, five punctures, I'm frustrated so I'm asking this local boy to give us a ride in his pick up truck for next 25km. Next day we arrived in San Cristobal de las Casas (altitude 2200m). Lovely town, looks like in Europe. Full of nice places, pubs and tons of European tourists. Becko (a friend of mine) would love it here. We're spending a night in "warm shower" guy's place and heading out to Textula-Guiterrez (altitude 570m). What a downhill! We managed to fly through 50km stretch in hour and half with max speed 55km/h, respect. For the first time we didn't have sore legs that night but instead our arms and wrists were killing us!
downhill from san cristobal to tuxtla gutierrez
We spent two nights in Russell's place, got to use his washing machine, cooked layered potatoes and chilled with his friends sipping on two bottles of whiskey till 5am.
We had another 250km ahead of us to Bay of Mexico across the state of Veracruz so after 90km we sattled down at Chiapas by the Malpaso Lake.
It was mainly down hill that day but it was so windy that we had to slow down to around 25km/h to be stabile and safe. It was a gorgeous sunrise next morning, so calm, the lake so peaceful. I had a coffee and a yoga session. Adios Chiapas. I'm so looking forward to the flat land and salty water in the Bay of Mexico but I have to admit we were bit disappointed as we rode through the industrial town of Coatzacoalcos.
Every third citizen was dressed in Pemex petroleum magnate uniform and i have to say the coffee they make in any gas station is really good.
Got a couchsurf accommodation in local kindergarten. The guys also own English-Mexican primary and high school. The street food was amazing and then even more so a good quality sleep in the air-conditioned kindergarten.
Few days on and we are leaving town of Acayucal. It's late afternoon and we're on a look out for a camp site.. Suddenly there's a car pulling over and the driver's talking to Anna. A moment later, the lady from the car (a teacher) is handing over the keys to her house and drives off to sleep over at her friend's house. Clean towels, fresh fruit and fridge packed with cold drinks all ready for us! So we're having Corona beer, watching some Mexican telenovel, the fan is blowing cool air at us as we're having a lazy one. It's hard to believe but these magical things happen just when least expected but needed the most. In the morning I have to change a broken spoke and a punctured tube. But now i'm in trouble coz i used my last spare tube the day before and even though this is half a million city, it's a problem to find a correct size (700x35c). After a quick phone call to Pavel (bike mechanic) in Dublin I'm advised to get a 700x23c tube (bikers know what I'm talking about) but with a warning it won't last too long... And sure it didn't. The tube blew up after 15km. And here's a local guy coming to help us (owner of the restaurant where we got stuck). We jump into his car and set off to find a bike shop. This time I want a schrader valve and I also need to convert inches to centimetres to be sure about the size. Last thing to do is to drill a bigger hole through the rim and we're sorted.
Next time I come across some decent bike shop I definitely gonna buy substantial supplies of tubes and spokes coz I was too naive to bring only 3 spokes, 2 of which are used already.
with osbelia in front of her house
30km before catemaco
Odometer says 1700km, still 1300km to come in Mexico alone. We're resting by the Catemoco lagoon under the San Martin Tuxtle volcano in real Mexican style holiday resort. I have to say that Mexicans are really a nation of litter, most definitely these ones from Catemaco. For example the beach warden raked all the rubbish from the beach where we stayed, piled it up and then set it on fire. Just like that. Garbage on streets, in the water, along the roads, dumps on fire everywhere. Throwing litter from the buses is second nature.
We're leaving this place bypassing the volcano and the countryside is changing dramatically. Once again it feels like at home. Our throats are bit sore, possibly from that icy cold water we keep drinking. In the evening we find a great spot - a abandoned hotel built on 100m high cliff with beautiful views, a fresh water well and a private beach. Completely naked we stay here for next two nights.
Anna doesn't feel good. Cup of tea and paracetamol should sort her out. I do my usual: listen to the music, check out the map, fix bikes, swim in the sea and take few pictures like this one: 7cm spider with a scull on his back
We spotted a wild monkey quite close up above us. Anna got scared but i was hoping it would get even closer for a good shot. There are dolphins in the water and those birds that Flintstones in the famous cartoon movie used as toilet.
On the way down to the Catemaco lagoon I lost my sandal - the good one. I only have my bike shoes now. Screen on my phone is not working so i learnt to press 3 times "menu", 3 times "down" and 2 times "menu" so that I can listen to Leonard Cohen. 4 times "down" is for Pearl Jam, 4 times "down" is Radiohead and 5 times "down" is for The Beatles. We need to go shopping soon. We both need sandals, I need new runners and I must not forget those tubes and spokes. Next day we only make 10km down the coast to a God forgotten place called Montepio. It's a small village where I can clearly imagine we could spend the whole winter here. We stay only two nights. Anna feels bit better since she's on 3-day antibiotic. Now I feel I'm giving in myself. We're camping only 300m from the beach but I have to stay in my sleeping bag and get busy sweating. Like I didn't sweat enough on the bike. Meanwhile we both suffer from Montezuma's revenge but couldn't resist to buy a cow cheese in a local store (front porch of the house). It's only 30 pesos for half a kilo. Montezuma's revenge or not, we need to have some proper food. Boiled potatoes, salad an two kinds of cheese. Yummy. There's a shortage of eggs in Slovakia at the moment nut not here. You'll get 5 eggs for 50 cents. And you can still buy single cigarettes so we got two. This place is cool. It's small and peaceful. Right in the middle of the beach there's a small enough river flowing to the sea, which is great when you finish swimming in the waves, you just get out through the river's fresh water and there's no need for the shower since the salt is all washed away.
We found some nice accommodation with the porch and washing machine. We're chilling out listening to The Beatles playing from the pot and drinking 1.21 Sol beer. Unfortunately we have no playing cards so instead we play "guess what I'm thinking about". Anna only things about dumplings and other Slovak floury meals. I don't think about anything in particular.
The decision is made in the morning: We're staying one more day.
That's all from us for now.
to be continued...
(translated by Thomas)