Mundo and Miguel scheduled a break in the videotaping on the one day it poured down rain here in the Sonoran Desert. We had planned on riding out the ĎRuta Sierra Y Marí to Maciaca, but when we got our first look at the mud, we dropped back and punted, by re-routing back the pavement to Navajoa, which was underwater. Literally 200 yard long puddles, 10Ē deep, one after another. Then we rode the long way around to Masiaca and rode in a bit on the dirt portion before turning around and doing it again. We stopped at a little tiendita for a snack of galletas, cheetos, and coke. How do you say ďCheetosĒ in Spanish?
Narco-War tour, Pt.1
Well, all the gringos have been telling me how some very bad men live out San Bernardo way, and that itís best not to go out that way. I know some of you serious dirt riders have undoubtedly been through that town having crossed the Sierra Madres via that route. On one of my last days in Alamos I ran into Steve, a Brit with an aging Honda DL-360 who assured me that San Bernardo was cool, and beautiful to boot, so I delayed my departure date and the two of us rode out that way. But only after Steveís kickstand had fallen off, and he replaced his spark plug. All is good! The ride was fun and beautiful. Steve took me for a little side trip off the main road to check out the river and the swimming hole he uses.
We passed numerous caballeros and their herds, and they all waved to us when we passed by. When we got to San Bernardo we shared a quart of Pacifico Clara on the square. The guy at the cervezeria was very friendly and talked about the area and its history, (mostly ranching and mining). Thereís a recently opened hotel there on the plaza for anyone coming over the pass too late to go on to Alamos BTW. When we were ready to depart, I noticed my rear tire was low and could hear an audible hissing from it. Fortunately there was a Llanteria a couple of doors down. I offered to let him fix it, but he said he didnít have the right plugs, so I pulled out my tire repair kit and worked its magic with those black gooey strings, and we were on our way.
The next day, the tire hadnít lost any pressure so I rode off on the dirt road to Masiaca, but decided to check the pressure regularly hereafter.
Back to the highway, I soon decided to detour to El Fuerte, then took some back roads to Orinaca and Sinaloa del Leyva, then to Bamoa.
Sinaloa de Leyva is another colonial town, but not so "fixed-up" as Alamos. I saw a homeless person, fairly young, passed out on a porch. Didn't take a picture of her though...
I spent the night in Culiacan, a town Iíd always bypassed previously, as it looks pretty industrial. I decided to ride into el centro, to see what the town was really like and it was dark by the time I found the downtown, (no easy feat if youíre relying on the road signs). I checked int the Luxo-rific Hotel San Marcos for about $65/night. In Culiacan that gets you bell hops dressed in spiffy green and white uniforms who will carry your bags to your room, and make sure the TV is working, and tune it to the only English speaking channel, (might have been the Home Shopping Network), and adjust the volume to an annoyingly loud level. I was glad I stopped in el centro, and found a nice outdoor restaurant with some attractive women at the next table and proceeded to drink beer and eat.
When I left Culiacan it was raining, but it cleared up almost immediately. (Yay!) Decided to hammer down the cuota, (the toll road), to Mazatlan, (The Ocean City, NJ of Mexicoís West coast). Got into town early and checked into a room, (this one was only $24/night, but because of the weekend crowd expected for Lent the price was going to double tomorrow).
I checked for a replacement tire for my rear wheel, and nothing was available that I could find, so with the room rate doubling I left for Tepic on the cuota. I saw some pretty destitute dwellings on the ride south. I had seen a migrant labor camp the previous day, but hadn't stopped to get a photo. It strikes me that while Caesar Chavez improved the lot of migrant workers in the US, there is still plenty of room for improvement in Mexico. I wonder if the workers were from points south, such as Guatemala, seeking to improve their lives by moving further north, towards the US.
The blue agave farms were beautiful.
Soon, I realized Iíd spent about $35 dollars in tolls to go about 120 Km, so I jumped off at Rosamorada.
Along the way south I decided to detour to San Blas. Highly recommend this excursion if youíre in the area. There are lots of nice twisties on the ride down out of the mountains, and there was little traffic when I did it. Iím spending the night here in San Blas, which looks like a pretty cool little town. I splurged again on a $65/night room at the lovely Hotel Hacienda Flamingos, which for that price should include a bottle or two of water, but they donít. They did bring a pitcher of filtered water to the room however, and the mini-fridg is stocked with cerveza, which has allowed me to take the time to write this before heading out to check out the town. Being the cheap bastard that I am, Iíll restock the bar before I leave tomorrow with cans of Modelo Especial that cost about 2/5 of what the mini-bar cost is.
Went out on the town for dinner, and my feelings are mixed. The place I ate, (The San Blas Social Club), was great and the food was good, and I ended up having an extended conversation with the cook, an American ex-pat. I went down to the bar and found a scene that seems to repeat itself wherever Americans congregate here in Mexico. I find the general gestalt, insular, as they wait to see if perhaps youíre someone they should cultivate or not. Perhaps to wait to see if you're just a tourist who'll disappear tomorrow. If I were living in a little town in Mexico with only a couple of hundred ex-pats living in it, I'd be talking to anybody who pulled into town, I'm afraid. Maybe I'm just not cut out for the expat life. Either that, or these people are all wanted for crimes back in the states, and are just laying low. While there are things about the town I appreciate, the general scene I was witness to tonight, makes me want to flee to the interior, where perhaps fewer gringos have congregated. Iíll see how I feel tomorrow morning. Will I check in to El Hotel Bucanero, which costs about ľ of tonightís room, or move on to another town? Stay tunedÖ