The next day
backtracked a couple of miles to the little hill town of Libertad, where I saw a woman carrying her groceries home on a platter balanced on her head.
Rode out the long way around and joined the highway, (carretera), at Zacaluapan. Once on the highway, I saw a sign for ‘Chacala”, a beach town I last visited in 1998 with the woman I was then falling in love with, and would soon become my wife, before going on to break my heart. Maybe it was the masochist in me, but I decided to ride the 9 Km to the beach to see how it had changed in the interim. Like my ex and I, Chacala had weathered some storms, and had moved on from where it had been when last I saw it. The town was choc-a-bloc with little hotels and many new vacation homes dotted the hillside. It looked like most of the town had been sold or was for sale. Say-La-Vee…
Sayulita. Well, I didn’t really want to hit another gringo town, but I’ve been hearing about this place for years, so I had to at least stop by and check it out. It’s the kind of scene you might expect from a town that has been getting good press, and has fallen into the narcoleptic belief in its’ own press clippings. Don’t get me wrong. There are many things to like about the town. It’s setting for one thing. Nestled on beautiful hills next to the sea, with a break that surfers like for one. Besides that it has all those trim and fit young and old surfer body types, so the girl watching ain’t bad either.
View from my room at La Casona hotel, Sayulita.
There’s a studied coolness that can cross over into a sort of self-conscious narcissism that bothers me the most. I saw the worst of it in the business owners, many of whom I thought outright rude, (gringo and Mexicano alike). Others undoubtedly have access to better ganga than I, so their superiority may actually be something to strive for. Maybe they’re pissed that their cool little town has been invaded by all the usual suspects trying to catch a wave or the groove of a once-cool town that may have jumped the shark in it’s embrace of it’s new found fame.
Sayulita surf scene.
Nonetheless it’s got a cool music scene, I heard accomplished jazz, reggae, and funk artists in the two nights I spent here.
It’s expensive. 30 pesos for a beer in a bar is not unusual, and I’m still trying to match the taste and value of the fish tacos at Danny’s Asadero in Mulege.
Sayulita street scene.
I spent my first night at La Casona just off the main drag once you get to the heart of town, and the girls who run the place were helpful, fun, and cute. The rooms were great but at $75 US I would have expected as much. Of course the next morning after a night of carousing, I was awoken waaay to early by the obligatory Mexican truck equipped with loudspeakers announcing some good or service I had zero interest in. Pillow over head, and I got back to sleep very quickly. They served a continental breakfast of granola, yogurt, fruit and coffee that had me reminiscing about the gourmet breakfasts at La Puerta Roja in Alamos.
The next day I moved just a half block toward the beach to the rustic little orange hotel, where the daily rate dropped to 400 oesos or about $32 US. It’s nothing fancy but the breaking surf is just outside my window, so that’s a big plus, and it’s less than half the price of La Casona. I’ll see how I feel tomorrow as to whether I have to escape to a town that hopefully will be at least 50% Mexicanos. Puerto Vallarta is just down the road, but I may just cruise on by.
The orange hotel economico.
It was nice to just cruise on by PV. I’d been here 11 years ago and didn’t feel a need to repeat the experience. I did however stop at Wal-Mart to buy a new headlamp as the strap attachment on mine had broken a couple of days previously. Note: for those of you who haven’t traveled the cheap hotel circuit in Mexico, you’re likely to have only one bulb in the center of the ceiling, so if you like to read, or write in bed, as I do, it would behoove you to bring a headlamp even if you don’t intend to camp.
A few klicks south of town, and the road started some nice twisting and turning, and the traffic thinned out. It was a great day’s ride with very little traffic that wasn’t easily passed. Towards the end of the day, I pulled into an obscure little beach town thinking this might be a “real” Mexican beach town. The first thing I saw was Anglos bicycling around town, and when I stopped to inquire about rooms, there were more anglos, and the rooms were 700 pesos a night (WTF?). So I rode on.
Typical view during the day's ride
Eventually I pulled into the little beach town of La Manzanita, (or it could have been La Manzanilla). Either way, I was tired and checked into Michel’s Hotel, which was owned by a native family, and cost 350 pesos/night. I went on a pub crawl around this gringo town that was wiped out by a tsunami in1998, but has been totally rebuilt. It’s a nice little town, but again, Muchos gringos.
What I’m starting to realize is that this trip is spending a lot of my time in beach towns, and the corollary is that gringos love the beach. One of the locals at dinner tonight told me about a colonial town, Comala, up in the mountains about 50 km, so I may ride up there tomorrow.
The following day
Rode up to Comala on the ‘Libre’, (non-toll road). It was a nice ride. I stopped and ate lunch in Colima, which seems like a nice town. Then I rode into Comala, and had a couple of cervezas on the square. I wish I hadn’t eaten all ready. The waiter brought me a plate of enchiladas with my beer, which I told him I didn’t order. It turns out that this restaurant offers free food with your drinks, (which are over priced, but still a good deal if you’re hungry). The guys at the next table were chowing down on multiple courses, so if you’re in the area, DON’T EAT BEFORE YOU ARRIVE IN COMALA!
snow capped peaks on the volcano above Comala!
The road back to Manzanillo
I decided to burn some miles and pondered going up to Guadalajara and Lake Chapala before heading south, but in the end decided to go back to the coast and head south from Tecoman. I’d been warned to fill up my tank before leaving Tecoman, and the advice is sound. The ride south from there is a road biker’s dream: nothing but twisties and sweeping turns for the next 200 km. It was only about 2:30, so I figured I had time to make the next bigger town before dark, but I’d made that estimate long before I realized I’d be making the trip mostly in second, third, and fourth gears.
There’s a pattern and rhythm to it. As I move inexorably southward, I climb as I move out around the points, then descend as I round the point, with a brief glimpse of a speco view to the south, then cross a bridge or two, and begin swerving my way back up to the next point. Michoacan’s shoreline is Mexico’s lost coastline. Too far from most cities and airports to be frequented and developed like the towns I’ve been seeing so far on the ride south, there are miles of unspoiled coastal bays and craggy promontories here for those fortunate enough to pass this way.
Pushing it about as hard as I wanted to is taking me about 9 minutes to go 10 km, or an average of about 42 mph. I think I just got lucky with the trucks, because I never even came up on one in this whole section. I saw goats, dogs, and burros on the roadside along the way, and am convinced I don’t want to ride this road after dark. So I’m pushing it. And it’s killing me. Cause the views are gorgeous! And there are cool little villages I’m speeding by that I know I would like to stop and chat with some locals and share a beer, but I keep keepin’ on even though I know I’m not gonna make it before dark.
typical view today
Then eventually this little town appears in the distance where I spy the only Pemex station since Tecoman and it’s open, so I pull in as the last light of the day is fading and fill up. The pump girl tells me there are a couple of hotels “economico” in town. So I head into town and find a room at the Hotel Yuriritzi for 350 pesos a night.
The Hotel Your-a-Ritzi
Dancing Dog's sculpture along the ride.
I can tell you straight up, that you may in fact be a “ritzi”, but the hotel is not. Still, it’s clean, and even though they stuck the gringo in room 13 with no hot water, I don’t care. I’m showered, and I had a great camarones al mojo de ajo dinner at Adeles, where she had to send her daughter across the plaza to get a couple of beers for this tired gringo boy. I don’t even know the name of this town, but I like it, and I’ll find out tomorrow. That’s all for now.
The town with the Pemex and the Hotel Yuraritzi, is Calla de Campos, (I think).
Abandoned Pemex with a view in Zihuateneho.
Zihuateneho. I liked this town, and probably should have spent a night just to check it out.
San Miguelito. :)
Long day today. Made it to the legendary Acapulco. Haven’t seen any cliff divers so far. I did find a nice little motel on the way into town with overhead fans, no AC, and a pool. Nice little setting, and the room was only 250 pesos.
The $20/night hotel a few miles from downtown Acapulco.
Got up and tried to find my way to a moto shop to find a new tire as the rear tire is losing pressure more rapidly now, and I’ve logged almost 5000 miles on it, the wear strips are showing, and it’s time to replace it. Navigating around Acapulco is a bit of a crap shoot, but, I finally made it to a Yamaha dealer who not only had the right size tire, he had a Avon Distanzia to match the one I was replacing, so I’m pleased. They also changed the oil, and adjusted the chain, so all is good.
I’m tired of riding, so I wanted to find a place to spend a couple of days to relax. The first place I stopped at on the way south out of town charged about $300 us a night, so I rode back into town, so I could walk where I wanted during my layover. I found a more modest place near the beach for about $47/night with AC, which is starting to seem more of a desirable thing as I move south. I was totally drenched in sweat within a few minutes of leaving the motel this morning. I spent the afternoon and evening in a bar/restaurant which has wifi, and caught up on correspondence. I’m going to spend at least another night here before heading south to Oaxaca.