Day 12 - Tamiahua - El Tajin - Papantla - only 200kms
Off we go to Alamo to try and avoid Poza Rica on our way to Papantla. Near Alamo we run into Carlo and Ellie - the couple you may remember from Laredo Texas. We have a few laughs and swap stories. They are also headed for El Tajin, so we bid them farewell for now.
We run meet couple of workers from Alberta at a Pemex and they direct us towards Veracruz to stay out of Poza Rica's city centre and it's traffic, then turn towards El Tajin.
Near Poza Rica:
We try this, but get mixed up and lost, resorting to the GPS, which leads us to an airstrip (called Tajin) rather than the ruins. We ride through a lot of small villages. The roads go from paved to dirt, to potholed dirt and mud. It is great to see some of the "real Mexico". The locals stare at us as though we are Martians, or as Jay describes it "as though we are naked and on fire". Their heads track us as we go by and the stare is unblinking.
Random village road:
After several wrong turns, we make the ruins by 3:00 and grab our first meal of the day. Several ladies rush us as we pull in, vying for business at their cafes and trinket shops. It's the first taste of a touristy spot, and the vultures that go along with it. Again, there a few tourists around.
We catch Carlo and Ellie on their way out and chat for a bit, then through the gates we go. This site has a very spiritual feeling to it, a calm eeriness that is extenuated by a misty fog and a lack of crowds. Jay has never been to an ancient city and is suitably impressed. It's serene.
We make our way nearby to Papantla. This town is off the tourist grid somewhat, which is the way we like it. We find the Paulito Motel, clean rooms, courtyard parking and funky decor. It's about $25 and right near the action.
The street outside:
Packs of stray dogs:
First time for this so far:
After walking the town for a bit, we head up to a second floor retaurant overlooking the Zocalo (main square). Here we spot Carlo and Ellie down below and we invite them to join us. These 2 are an interesting couple. Originally from Brazil, they both live in London, where Carlo is a motorcycle courier and Ellie is a restaurant manager. They shipped their hefty Africa Twin, complete with tons of spares, to Alaska and are making their way to Tierra del Fuego. We chat about all kinds of things, from history to travel to politics. I learn a ton about Brazil. Many laughs.
My body is still a bit sore from the crash, but altogether getting a lot better. My spirits are up, especially after seeing the ruins.
We are really getting into the groove now. There is something undescribingly fulfilling about this kind of travel. The unpredictability of what lies ahead, the venture into the unknown. We don't know where we will sleep, eat, or what kind of challenges lie on the way. On the bike, you are a stranger in a strange land, struggling to communicate, find your way, and literally skirting death every day. I am in my element. I can tell Jay is too.
We've said goodbye to the everyday grind, the same pattern and surroundings, the constant drone of T.V. advertising. I don't miss billboards, or Xmas shopping in the mall, or staring into my computer screen, or the inundation of fear mongering on the news. It's just me and my buddy, moving on, day after day to somewhere incredible. To me, this is a dream realized.