July 1, 2012 - The end of Mexico is nigh. Tomorrow we cross over into Guatemala and start on the third country of our trip. The last few days we spent in San Cristobal de las Casas.
Leaving Oaxaca, we escaped the rain only briefly. A few hours into the ride, we were engulfed and decided to bail and wait out the weather. We ended up in a small town called Santiago Niltepec. Aside from the truck traffic, nobody seemed to stop here and a ride into town revealed some of the most run down infrastructure we'd come across so far. A dilapidated central square with streets broken up and inches deep in water and mud. We did find a hotel where we peeled off our wet layers and hung our gear on racks to dry overnight. Before we were unpacked, the clouds broke and the sun came out. Better luck next time.
The next day we had some excellent riding (finally!) into San Cristobal de las Casas and before long we had found a place to stay right in the center of town.
A typical street scene. Although there are no great "must-see" sites in San Cristobal, the general ambiance sucks you in and makes you explore every nook and cranny of the place.
As everywhere in Mexico, there are countless churches.
Walking around with a camera was a lot of fun here.
Part of the charm of this place is that nothing is actually "finished". It's all pretty much in order but everything shows wear and tear.
We're getting closer to Central America and it is clearly reflected in the features of the people. Even between Morelia and Puebla we noticed distinct differences but here there is a clear Mayan influence.
On our third day here, we suddenly saw a few motorcycles lumbering up the steps and into the same courtyard we were parked in.
It was the first time we'd seen any hint of other motorcycle riders who were touring mainland Mexico. We thought we'd run into a lot of others, but only one or two crossed our path in Baja a few few weeks earlier. We ended up chatting for a few hours with the newcomers, one of whom was Mexican and the other Swiss. The Swiss guy had no motorcycle license and was riding a rented BMW F800GS (he'd been on a motorcycle for about 2 hours back home) and the Mexican guy was riding a 1200GS with all the farkles one could want. The conversations ranged all over the map. At one point we asked what sort of work they did. The Swiss guy was an architect and the Mexican guy was cagey as to what he did. It seemed a bit of a mix and currently he was selling silica blasting material to the army. I quipped: "Oh, so you are selling white powder to the government". They were on a punishing schedule and were gone the next day. The Swiss guy had to fly back home on the 7th from Mexico City and they were still on their way to Yucatan. I guess it takes all kinds.
Looking back over the last month, we've come to the conclusion that there are a number of places to visit in Mexico that are certainly worth it, but it's not a country to enjoy by motorcycle. The roads are generally not very interesting from a riding perspective due to poor maintenance and the endless "topes", "vibradores" and "reductors de velocidad" (all sorts of speed bumps) make it a positively evil place for two-wheeled fun. Add to that a sparse landscape and there is not much left. Between Jan and I we've covered roughly fifty countries which we're ridden through, and aside from Kosovo, Mexico ranks last. Maybe Baja is the exception from a riding perspective.