I woke up early from a surprisingly restful sleep and prepared for departure.
Doesn't seem like a sketchy room...
The attendant was to meet me at the locked gate at seven to let me out. He showed up a few minutes early but I was ready to go so all was well. Out of Culiacan I found a road labeled “Libre 15” and took it thinking I finally found the free Rt. 15 everybody was talking about. It was a smaller road (only one lane each way) that wound it's way through the mountains. A bit slower and a lot prettier, I definitely preferred it to the 4-lane “pay” version of Rt. 15.
As I approached Mazatlan, I was unpleasantly surprised by what appeared to be a toll booth in the road. What? A toll booth? On Libre 15? Yes. Libre 15 ends well short of the city and is replaced once again by pay 15. So it looks like no matter which way you go, you end up paying a toll. I can find some solace in the fact that I paid less tolls than I would have otherwise (I think) and the road was much more to my liking.
Soon after, I entered Mazatlan and found my way to the strip that ran along the coast, fronted by fancy hotels on one side and beaches on the other. Not really knowing where to go I rode down the strip to the end, enjoying the beautiful, hot weather and the change in scenery. After doing my usual tour of various streets, trying to get my bearing, I was overcome by the sun and stopped to changed into cooler clothing. While changing I was approached by a very drunk panhandler who spoke pretty good English. I gave him whatever change I had and after an interesting conversation spanning many diverse topics, he directed me to where all the backpackers (there aren't many) hang out. There I hoped to find an affordable hotel for the night.
Beach and sun!
I followed the panhandlers excellent directions and found a coffee shop where I could use the internet to figure out where I would be sleeping. I have decided that I don't really like cruising around a city, just hoping to run across a great place to stay. I tentatively regret not buying some kind of guide to at least know where to go when I get into a town. I think I might pick up a Lonely Planet or some such book to help me get some direction on the journey. I also think purchasing Sjoerd Bakker's book would have been a good idea.
The internet revealed two possible places for me to stay. My first choice was a backpacker hostel not far from the coffee shop, unfortunately named Funky Monkey (perhaps such a name attracts backpackers?). The second was a hotel on the main road into town called Hotel El Bucanero. I spent a good amount of time scouring the streets of the residential neighborhood looking for the hostel, but couldn't really remember the address and there were no signs on any of the houses, so I caved and headed for the hotel.
Stock image, not my own.
The place wasn't too bad and the price was right so I checked in and went to explore the town some more. I was determined to find that hostel for its cheaper rates and potential social atmosphere. Cruising around town was fun and interesting, but I was unsuccessful in finding the hostel. I know it's there somewhere... Maybe I'll check it out on the internet again at the hotel and this time memorize the address. As I was heading back to the hotel, out of the corner of my eye I saw two heavily packed KLRs in the parking lot of a Home Depot. I pulled around and met a couple of fellow riders. Philip and Jayne (ultijayne here on avd, but not writing an RR) are a brother/sister pair riding down to South America. Here is the link to their blog: http://ultimateride.ca
. They left from Alberta, Canada in July and rode up to the arctic circle in Alaska before turning around and heading south. They were at Home Depot looking for some plexiglass (or some such plastic) to extend the height of one of the windscreens. After an interesting conversation we decided to meet up on the morrow to celebrate Christmas.