I rolled out of the backside of Pecos a little after 8. Today got interesting after a couple of days of numbing straightness. The flat lands turned into a pleasant ride with some curves, trees and hills. Marfa, TX had some nice architecture and almost seemed out of place after a couple of days on the interstate.
My new GPS is a dry erase marker on the wind screen!
Made it to the border at Presidio about 1PM. Took about an hour to get through the customs process. The customs people were puzzled that I would ride all the way from Alabama to hang out in Chihuahua, but they were very nice and helpful. One of them walked me through the process, which was much easier than I had imagined it to be. After they looked through all of my stuff, the agent who could speak English helped me repack and offered to help with the other agencies if I needed help with the language. It was just like everyone described, but easier. First I checked myself into Mexico in the main lobby. Gave my passport to a guy who knocked out some paperwork. Then I went around the corner to check in my motorcycle and leave my vehicle deposit.
It is kind of amusing that there is a separate office with a young girl and nothing but a copy machine to make copies for the vehicle paperwork. At first I thought of the bureaucratic inefficiency , but then I remembered the hours of problems I had in the Montgomery, AL post office trying to get a passport with a broken copy machine in the lobby and an indifferent staff.
OJ was a typical small border town with lots of bright buildings and tons of junk for sale. Lots of hustle and bustle. There was a small money exchange right across the border and I stopped in and got some pesos. I rode down a few of the dirt side streets just to get a feel for the place, then headed south.
Another bit of good news. I inserted the Mexico SD card into the Garmin and it works! I have maps, which will be very handy since my Mexico map book did not arrive before I left and I have no other directions.
Once I left town the scenery opened up into a vast expanse of desert. A couple of tiny towns on the way out were all of the population that I saw until I got close to Chihuahua. The first mountain pass that I rode through was amazing. The ascent was windy and steep with lots of twists and turns. There were several memorials on the way up that were very elaborate. Most of them were small chapels with intricate paint and designs but one memorial was a room created in a small cave about 15 feet about the road with an ornate entrance and poured concrete steps with an iron railing. It was especially amazing considering the road is so narrow I could not turn around to get a picture.
The ride across the desert reveals what a brutal life it is down here. The road curves around every little rise in the landscape and is a constant flow with the rolling ride interrupted several times to cross the mountain ranges. As I neared Chihuahua, the road intersected with the toll road and straightened out and was much nicer. The temperature stayed in the low 100’s for most of the day. This first leg was very remote. I spent a lot of time in the Arizona desert and this place is much harsher and more removed from civilization.
Once I topped the hill by the huge lion sculpture on the way into Chihuahua, the dark sky to the north turned brown and a good sized dust storm blew through. The traffic was already getting congested and the storm made it worse. About the time the sand settled down, the rain started.
The streets immediately got slick as glass. I was trying to follow MX-16 through the city, but there is no direct route to the highway on both sides of the city and meager signage in between. The streets are laid out so haphazardly that the GPS cannot keep up with the street changes so I am lost.
In the middle of a long stretch of road there is a red light that is there for no real apparent reason, but it turns red so I ease to a stop and try to get footing on the pavement and not slip down. The SUV in the lane to my left tries to stop, but it is too slick. I can hear him sliding up behind me and I am glued to my mirror trying to figure out an escape path when he (or she)) slides through the red light.
About the same time cross traffic is coming out of a hidden little alley and has to stop for the SUV. The SUV panics, hits the gas and does a huge power slide across 4 lanes right into a bridge abutment and thuds to a sudden stop I wanted to stop and check on them, but there is nowhere to pull over and traffic just gets worse with one lane blocked.
Traffic laws seem to be a subtle suggestion and personal space on the road is non-existent. Traffic flow seems chaotic. Passing on the shoulder, blowing through stop signs and speeding are just the norm. People seem like friendly drivers, just not real keen on following the rules. I saw several drivers throwiing back some cool ones on the road. Its Sunday so I am guessing that a lot of these people were out of the city enjoying the weekend.
Once I figured out that I was not going to find my way through town without help and was probably going to get killed in the rain, I back tracked to a filling station that had a Mexican Atlas and bought it and a local map to figure out a route. After the rain stopped and I had an idea of where to go, I set out and followed the GPS, while making some key turns that it could not react quick enough to get me there.
I finally made it out of the city and headed for Creel. Saw what looked to be a real nice motel, so I stopped right down the road and ate at a truck stop and headed back to the motel in the dark. When I went to check in, the clerk said they were not renting rooms, even though the place was absolutely vacant. My lack of language and fatigue kept me from figuring out that this was a rent by the hour place – lol. Since it looked like I was heading out into the boon docks and driving at night is my big no-no for this trip, the clerk got someone who spoke English on the speaker phone and I ended up renting a room. It was a nice place but the people working there gave me a strange vibe. All I could think of was Rocky Horror Picture Show.