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Old 06-29-2008, 07:53 PM   #194
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Fiendish Fluoridator
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Joined: Jun 2007
Location: Please don't call it 'Frisco
Oddometer: 523

At long last, my bike was ready. Our departure from Mexico City left me about 7 days remaining on my bike's 180-day visa - a leisurely pace but not a lot of extra time to deal with "things going wrong". Also, it's starting to rain a lot all over Mexico - especially in the southeast.

Departing Mexico City. We stayed the last couple nights at the Hostel Zona Rosa, which is the only place in el DF that is cheap, cute, and well located. They have big suites for groups, the owners are really cool, there is a bar downstairs, and you can safely park motorcycles in the alley. I'm sure I'll be back. It's at the end of this dead-end alley (on Hamburgo near Amberes), nearly dead center of the Zona Rosa. You may remember this place as where Mario, the trova-singing-friend of Guille and Laura plays every Saturday night:

We took the route to Puebla up and over the pass near Popocatépetl, where that ecotourist villa I've stayed at a couple times is. El Popo was covered with clouds and snow this time:

The road is paved up the west side from Amecameca and dirt down the east side to Cholula. Unfortuantely Gavin discovered that his rear brake was nonfunctional. It wasn't terribly technical but downhill on moist dirt with no rear brakes was no fun for him.

We were showered on a few times up the mountain (brrrr) but it stayed fairly dry until we got to Puebla, where the deluge started... and kept going on and off until we got to Veracruz. I wish I had more pictures of the massive flooded streets in Puebla:

In retrospect, the detour over Popo was a mistake; even racing along the quotas (about $25 usd from Puebla to Veracruz) we still arrived after dark. It turns out Gavin's rear tail light stopped working and he doesn't have a non-tinted helmet visor. Doh! We separated so that Gavin could ride faster; dropping a tooth on my front sprocket reduced my comfortable highway cruising speed to about 80mph.

The state of Veracruz is gorgeous. The road from Puebla rises up into giant mountains covered with lush green foliage. There's a good reason why - driving down the mountains, we were rained on - and entertained by the most spectacular lightning storm I've ever seen outside of Utah. Even after it stopped raining the lightning flashes illuminated the distant sky every twenty seconds.

It's hot in Veracruz. Humid, sticky, and (in motorcycle gear) almost unbearably hot. This is a radical change from freezing rainy 3700-meter Popo where my heated vest and goretex jacket liner were both retrieved from the bottom of my panniers. The discovery process went like this:

[Our protagonist stops for gas, after dark, shortly before the city of Veracruz]
"Damn, it's hot and humid here! I'm sweating!"
"Geez, there are bazillions of flies here. They must be drawn to the lights of the Pemex station."
[Stops, starts filling tank, takes off jacket]
[Looks down at arm, where a half-dozen mosquitos are slurping away through my baselayer]
[Looks up, squints slightly at the millions of swarming flying creatures]
[Screams, sets new record at putting armored jacket back on]
"Bite me through that, assholes!"

Some of those mosquitos were the size of small bees. I suspect that if I had the misfortune of falling asleep in that environment (or even getting a little bit drowsy) they could have sucked me bone dry in ten minutes.

Fortunately the city of Veracruz was pretty much devoid of mosquitos. Unfortunately it seemed devoid of culture and nightlife too. Granted, it was a Tuesday night. We stayed in a cheap hotel near the zócalo and entertained ourselves at dinner by watching the hookers across the street ply their trade. Fortuantely they all went into a different hotel than the one we were staying at. Incidentally, this is the first place in Mexico I've stayed where prostitution was so overt. I saw it driving by a few parts of Mexico City but it was on the fringes; in Veracruz the girls stand on the corners of the centro. Oddly enough, this didn't make the city feel as seedy as I would have expected... maybe because everyone was smiling.

Veracruz is cold-shower land. Hot water is not necessary in hotels, nor is it even appreciated. I spent a big part of every sweaty, humid day dreaming about how nice it will be take a shower under cold (or what passes for cold) water. To preserve sanity, three are necessary: once in the morning, once immediately after doffing m/c gear at a hotel, and once before night.

For some reason I didn't take any pictures. Just this one, of a ship unloading something with scoops:

I can't say that I was impressed by Veracruz, but one night is not an adequate measure.

San Francisco to Panama and back... eventually?
How I Nearly Killed My Friends In Baja
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