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Old 03-29-2009, 07:42 PM   #61
Trailblazer OP
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Originally Posted by NAVIGATOR
That route between Zacatlan and Zacapoaxtla, although paved usually has very bad tarmac an many landslides due to the weather you know the area has (sun,fog, rain-repeat). If you start early in the morning you can beat the fog around mid day and the best months to travel that area are from november to april. For me, that road is one of the best MC routes you can get in Mexico, beautiful vistas and challenging twisties.

Be shure to ride it sometime in the future
Wow. Interesting. Thanks for the tip Navigator. November to April? That seems bizarre.

Tell me. Do you know anything about the back road(s) between Molango and Hwy 85. I caught a caver's report on such a route but it was pretty sketchy.

One thing I've learned about Mexico. Thankfully, you're just never done.
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Old 03-29-2009, 08:11 PM   #62
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House of Mexico Knowledge

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Old 03-29-2009, 08:38 PM   #63
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How you do that?
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Old 03-29-2009, 08:38 PM   #64
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Old 03-29-2009, 09:12 PM   #65
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Originally Posted by Trailblazer
Wow. Interesting. Thanks for the tip Navigator. November to April? That seems bizarre.

Tell me. Do you know anything about the back road(s) between Molango and Hwy 85. I caught a caver's report on such a route but it was pretty sketchy.

One thing I've learned about Mexico. Thankfully, you're just never done.

Rainy season starts in june over the Sierra Madre Oriental and it shure gets a lot of it, so many roads and bridges are washed out or have many landslides that forces them to be closed for hours or days, they also get a lot of pot holes and rubble that can be very dangerous to ride and if you add fog- rain........

I haven´t been on those roads between Molango and Hwy 85, but I know they are for DP bikes and 4x4s, you have still a lot of unpaved sections, so it takes about 6 to 8 hours to complete.(Molango-Eloxochitlan-Juarez-Itztacoyotla-Sta María-Tlaxcantitla-Tlanuiltepa-el Venado-Buenavista-Las Palmitas-then to El Rayo or south to Cuesta Colorada on 85. I´ll try to get more info. (See map http://dgp.sct.gob.mx/fileadmin/Atlas/hidalgo.pdf).

There is an easier route farther up north between Chipoco and Santa Ana de Allende.

I really enjoy your RR and know some of the roads you are traveling

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Old 03-29-2009, 10:06 PM   #66
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Xalapa (ha-LAP-a)

WiFi internet access in our rooms. I stayed up late last night playing on the 'net. (Yes, I brought my laptop.)

The sun was already well into the sky when we ventured out looking for breakfast. Walked to the central zocolo, Parque Juárez. Not too much to see this morning from the Parque's Mirador, due to haze. The Italian Coffee Company (Mexico's Starbuck's) was so empty I couldn't bring myself to buy a cup. Bought from a street vendor instead.

I have a feeling Mexicans use shoeshine guys the way we use therapists


Xalapa is bohemian


They were inflating these balloons by mouth, one x one


Yikes. Callejones. (alleyways)



Trasito Police... What can I say.. Ah.... can I have an infracción too??

(That one's for you, TricePilota)



Very kool


?? No! Don't tell me.


Yes! Dios Mio! And he needed help with a push start to get the bike started - no joke


Walked back to the Callejon Diamante, where we'd been last night.


Now this is just as it's called, a narrow alley way. Catering to the hipper side of Xalapa, right off one of the main downtown streets. Xalapa is known for being bohemian, and Callejon Diamonte is pretty bohemian and hip.

Callejon Diamante, waking up


La Sopa restaurant was not open but another place next door was. Turned out to be a wonderful place

with kitchen utensils hanging from the wall, big clay pots brewing coffee and who knows what else,


And a lady patting out tortillas


Thought this was kool


Feeling adventurous I ordered atole, a thick hot porridge or gruel made from maize meal (maza), water, milk, and in this instance, strawberries. It was good. The place had a very authentic feel.

After a long relaxed meal, the waitress suggested we go up some rather narrow dark stairs. Upstairs we were surprised to find several more large open dining rooms with a patio and balcony seating. Dang, we were down in the warm kitchen area the whole time and just didn't know. Oh well... next time we'll sit on the balcony. As for today, it was a great experience taking in all the activities downstairs.

Balcony seating, next time we'll know


State government palace





This morning Xalapa was all hustle and bustle. We saw a truck sideswipe a street vendor's umbrella. The streets were full of traffic, at least half of which were taxis.

Got our things together at the hotel and with Jorge's help walked the block and a half to where our bikes were secured.


Antonio & Jorge (brothers) of the Mesón de Alférez


Off to Veracruz!

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Old 03-30-2009, 02:42 PM   #67
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Great pictures Sr. Otto!



You remind me of Doc Brown... a wirey gray haired scientist. (Back to the Future)
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Old 03-30-2009, 03:27 PM   #68
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You remind me of Doc Brown... the wirey gray haired scientist. (Back to the Future)
Roger that. That would be Christopher Lloyd. I act a little bit like him too.
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Old 03-30-2009, 07:14 PM   #69
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Roger that. That would be Christopher Lloyd. I act a little bit like him too.
Yep. Thats funny. I've been called Doc Brown a few times too....
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Old 03-30-2009, 08:10 PM   #70
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Day 7, Xalapa to Veracruz, 70 miles

Hired a taxi (25 pesos = $1.75) to lead us out of Xalapa to the Veracruz highway. We would never have found it. I was so thankful I gave the taxista another 25 pesos as a tip.

Uneventful short blast to Veracruz. Stopped at an autoparts refracioneria for a busted tail light bulb. 2 pesos. That's 14 cents! The weather is officially sweltering.

Right over the bridge coming into Veracruz is the Holiday Inn Centro that TricePilot and others have recommended. I hate following the herd, so after a brief stop there, we remounted our bikes to explore around. It is much much easier to get around Veracruz than Xalapa. We found another reasonable hotel for half the price of the Holiday Inn, but they had no overnight parking and they were 7 blocks from the Zocolo compared to Holiday Inn's 2 blocks. Convenience just flat won out. Hey, the Holiday Inn is an old converted convent so there is historical value. Easy parking, easy 2 blocks to the square. Hey, I used to be a backpacker. Proud of it. I'm not a backpacker now. We can afford it and besides, we're on vacation. Time to put that hard earned money to use. We sprung for the easy convenience Holiday Inn.

Holiday Inn Centro, Veracruz. 936 pesos / single ($66).


In retrospect, Veracruz is full of hotels, many right on the beach. Most of the places must have secure parking. And if you're on a bike, there is really no problem putting over to the Zocalo or where ever. The town is a breeze to navigate and a blast for motorcycles.

Next was a lesson in navigating Veracruz. Clayton's Ultra had headlight issues. (He was traveling without head light, me without tail light. Guess who led.) There is a Harley-Davidson dealership in Veracruz, and we motored out to find it, geared down to tee shirts, shouting at the sun and sky.

Boca del Rio
Once in Veracruz you'll start to hear about Boca del Rio, the newer smarter part of Veracruz, down the coast a few miles. The seaside boulevard, leading down the coast, is a delight. Luckily the H-D dealership is near the WalMart so all we had to say is "Where is the WalMart?" and everybody knew. When we eventually lost our way we asked a fellow motorcyclist at a stop light, a mailman with mail bags on the back of his bike, for directions to the WalMart. The postman nodded and surmised, "So, you want to go to the Harley dealer?" And then led us there.

The problem turned out to be a silly fuse. Clayton swore he'd checked the fuse but he did it in a cloud bank, where we couldn’t see anything. So problem fixed. The mechanic sez we don’t owe anything. We insist on 50 pesos.

The 'Hornet meets Gulf of Mexico in Veracruz


Veracruz malecon. (Mike, this would be called a malecon, right?)


Back to the historic center, the zocolo.
Sit around the outdoor eateries under the portales.


Watch the solemn ceremony of retiring the flag for the night.


The evening is young, and it's a weeknight


Pulseras? This gal is a long way from her home in Chiapas. What an education!


All right here in the Zocalo.


Matilde Rodríguez, the gal behind the La Fama brand cigar


I want to try TricePilot’s La Mera Madre restaurant. Yep, it's out in Boca del Rio. After drinks we hire a taxi (60 pesos) to take us but after only a few blocks we decide this is silly and direct him back to the hotel so we can get our bikes. He can lead us to the restaurant with us following on our bikes. Alright!!

ATGATT? Yeah, right.

Here we go, the taxista takes us on the scenic route, down Camacho Boulevard along the gulf. It-is-so-mellow! At the restaurant the taxista seems confused. He acts as if he feels guilty about charging us because we didn’t ride with him. (?) I insist on the 60 pesos originally agreed upon and he seems happy. Relieved.

The La Mera Madre is nice enough. Outdoor seating upstairs, overlooking the ocean made the evening. Joggers and roller bladers passing on the malecon down below. Thanks for the tip, Bob.


The Money Ride
Nothing could be finer that motoring down the malecon in Veracruz on Harley’s at night! Bare headed, sorry for being politically incorrect, but I wore sandals. The night air mellow in my hair. Speeds hover at 30-35 miles per hour. Sea breeze off the Gulf. Past the highrises of Boca del Rio. Past beaches. Sea food joints. Hotels. Fishing boats. The shipyards with the big ships. The Harley’s resound with a throaty growl that is definitely a big fat statement. We have about 50 times more horsepower and attitude than needed for this little putt, and we are loving every second of it. It doesn’t get any better than this. This is the money ride.

I couldn’t help but think of Jay, back in Texas.

On the trip down to McAllen he fantasized about us riding our Harleys at night in the warm breeze of Mexico. At the time I scoffed at the idea. Yeah, right, Jay. Cruising in Mexico at night ain’t all that much fun. Watching for potholes and animals, it’s hardly relaxing. Jay doesn’t own a bike. But by God, here we were, living Jay’s dream ride, and it is wonderful.

The Sea and the fishermen
Back at the Zocalo I saw the sea of outdoor tables with a new perspective. Among the patrons sitting in the evening air prowled ambulantes, or roving vendors, combing the sea of tables looking for nibbles and bites much as fishermen do on the ocean. All very benign. A good time for all. My favorite was a guy with a Lone Ranger mask who wanted you to pay him while you held two electrodes and he cranked up the voltage. Clayton said it was a machismo thing.

The dynamic duo in Veracruz, Mar 18 2009

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Old 04-03-2009, 05:25 AM   #71
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Day 8, Veracruz to Catemaco, 130 miles

The big three. Xalapa, Veracruz, and Catemaco


In the morning it looks like rain, otra vez. Sky overcast & sprinkling. Can't be! And it's not. Yes, false alarm. I completely forgot to try to reach Chuck's friend in Veracruz until today, and today there is no answer. We walk to the Zocalo. It's much calmer now than last night. Breakfast at the Sanborn's restaurant at the Veracruz Hotel. Nice restaurant. These are the same Sanborn's that sell insurance, no? Which came first, the insurance or the restaurants?

The Zocalo was dead this morning



The Chiapas contingent. Waiting for the fish


The Sanborn's has nice outdoor seating on the street and wrap around plate glass windows. A Red Cross parade complete with bands and dancing girls came thru while we ate.

Love the seashell costume





Clayton is ready to go. He sends Nahum, the concierge up to my room to "help" with packing, who notes that though I have the smaller of the two bikes, I've got more stuff.

It is very hot. 30-35 mph putt down the boulevard one more time. Follow the coast through upscale Boca del Rio. Beggars at the traffic lights do juggling acts, some with fire.

All the way to Antón Lizardo



We picked this palapa because it was deserted and empty. Well, it didn't stay deserted for long. Gringos have a way of drawing a crowd. First a kid appears out of nowhere with a menu. We politely decline, just wanting to relax in the shade by the ocean. We just ate at posh Sanborn's anyway. Remember? Then a lady comes out and sets up the tablecloths. Ok, we order a beer. Next a gal on motorbike appears selling bunellos (?), filled croissants. Ok, we buy. The kid with the menu reappears to scold the gal on the scooter for selling to his patrons under his palapa, at least this was my take.

The girl pays him off with some of her product



Chillin by the sea


After our break we push off. Motor away from the coast thru working cattle ranches to Hwy 180. Soon (6 miles) we have a 15 mile stretch of hwy running next to the beach. The water looks very blue here and I wish we had time to stop again.

There is a bridge at Alvarado. We stop at a mirador restaurant for lunch. There is water on both sides. The Gulf on one side and a huge lagoon on the other.

Alvarado. Hey, lets go back to that mirador restaurant.



From the mirador, looking at the lagoon


Alvarado from the bridge, looking very tropical here


Arroz a la Tumbada, much like a seafood gumbo, with horchata, a drink made from rice




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Old 04-04-2009, 07:00 AM   #72
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Day 7, Xalapa to Veracruz, 70 miles

From Alvarado, the highway southeast eventually leaves the coast and passes thru sugar cane country. And cane fields mean cane trucks. It's harvest time for sugar cane and all manner of bob-tailed trucks are filled to overflowing with dangling cane.

Typical cane truck in the Tuxtlas


During today's ride we passed very close to Tres Zapotes, an important Olmec (pre-Mayan) archeological site. Something I realized only after the fact.

The hilly area around Lake Catemaco, made up of old volcanoes, is called Las Tuxtlas. There are towns called Santiago Tuxtla and San Andres Tuxtla. The area is superbly scenic. Twisty roads among steep hills, vistas verdantly green with forests or fields.



Las Tuxtlas, vistas verdantly green with forests or fields


Santiago Tuxtla


Highway shots, Las Tuxtlas


Highway shots, Las Tuxtlas


And at the end of our travels today, Lake Catemaco


We find the square, begin looking for a hotel. Cathedral on the plaza in Catemaco.

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Old 04-04-2009, 02:15 PM   #73
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Las Tuxtlas and Lago Catemaco, now on the list.







Oh, and Gracias.
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Old 04-05-2009, 11:46 AM   #74
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Day 8, Catemaco

Marco, Guia de Turista
Clayton and I are pretty resourceful, so when Marco approached us at the plaza in Catemaco and started asking if we needed help with a hotel or witchdoctor or launcha, we pretty much shunned him. I’ll admit, I was probably a bit rude, but he was gently insistent without being pushy. He wore a laminated photo id hanging from his neck, identifying him as a Guia de Turista, Tourist Guide. Seemed official enough, but I’m not impressed. I instinctively didn’t trust him. However…, I was interested in his advice on which hotel of the several within sight he recommended. He spouted off the prices of each hotel. He admitted that “the best” was La Finca, but I knew from “the book” and Google Earth that La Finca was located outside of town, on the lake but we were looking for a downtown, plaza oriented experience. He pushed us towards Los Arcos, one block away, not within sight and not on the plaza. We gamely followed him down the street, past the market, the Los Arcos is located across the street from the market. Uh, not a good sign, I’m thinking. Usually hotels near markets and bus stations are cheap but not so great. I’ve moved past those in my travels. Despite it’s proximity to the market area, Los Arcos has secure parking, multilevels, open outdoor walkways, airy rooms with open windows on two sides, and tables and chairs outside of each room on a veranda. From the third floor we have a limited view of the lake. It is clean, bright, well kept, and at 500 pesos per room, ($35), within our budget. We spring for two.

Marco seemed friendly with the staff, and didn’t push for a tip or reimbursement in any way (though I think Clayton may have slipped him something, always sharing the wealth). Marco told us if we wanted a “cleansing” from a brujo, or witchdoctor, we should not eat breakfast, or anything, before the session. Nothing by mouth. A short “fast”.

Brujos?!!?
Yes, brujos. Witches, or witchdoctors, or shamans. Catemaco is famous for their brujos and that is one of the reasons we are here. People come from all over Mexico for their consults. Marco recommends “El Cuervo”, the crow. In the morning. No breakfast. Marco wants to meet us in the morning but I’m noncommittal. He handed me his card, and we trade cell phone #’s. I’ll call you, I said.

Apocalypco



After settling in our rooms, the place was nearly empty, Clayton discovered some photographs that indicate Mel Gibson had been here and apparently the Los Arcos was used by the actors during the filming of the movie, Apocalypco. Wow. Now that's impressive.

Mel wearing a Las Tuxtlas shirt


This scene of Apocalypco, was filmed at the nearby Eyipantla falls. I become more appreciative of Marco.


Much later, after returning home from this trip, I read the card Marco had given me. On it is written, Catemaco Tourist Guide, free information on hotels, restaurants, beaches, rivers, waterfalls, brujos, swimming pools, and tezmacal. Free!? I suddenly felt sheepish for being so rude to Marco.

A circus was in town that weekend, and back at the plaza we saw a roaming pickup truck with a full grown caged jaguar in back. Poor thing was pacing back and forth as the loud speaker blarred details of the circus shows and pricing.


A beautiful animal. Poor thing wants to be wild. But where would that be?


Hot dogs! Catemaco plaza at night


Kids ran and played under watchful eyes. Thats a big jug of horchata, I'll bet.


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Old 04-06-2009, 06:17 PM   #75
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Day 9, Catemaco, Going home?

Day 9, Friday 3/20/2009, Catemaco
Airy room at Los Arcos. Nice, fresh breeze off the lake. Open windows on both sides of the room create a breeze thru the room. WiFi access in the lobby, but my room is too far away from the router for the signal to reach my room. I download photos from the camera cards and sleep. My stomach slightly upset. From what? The huge bowl of Arroz tumbada in Alvarado? A gumbo of shrimp and octopus?

Lago Catemaco, the view outside my hotel room door, Friday morning


Open outdoor walkways, with tables and chairs outside of each room on a veranda, our Hotel Los Arcos


Most of the hotels in this region did these funny things with their towels


Hotel Los Arcos, next to the market area, Catemaco


Route Planning
Suddenly the trip seems to be over. We must discuss the route home. Personally, I’d like to stay here in Catemaco another night, but Clayton seems ready to head home and I am very respectful of his wishes as I appreciate his company on these trips. He’s a good companion. If there is ever another trip to Mexico, we should look into taking more time off. Eleven days just doesn’t seem enough. We do not have enough time to see Puerto Angel across the isthmus on the Pacific coast, or Oaxaca. Guess I just hate to go back.

The fastest way back, I guess, is straight north up the coast thru Veracruz, Poza Rica, Tuxpan, Tampico, back to Reynosa and McAllen, Texas. Looks flat and boring. For some reason I like the Querétaro, San Luis Potosi, Saltillo-Monterrey, Laredo route home, but from here that would mean a swing thru dreaded Day-Effe, Mexico City D.F. Clayton suggests we go around Mexico D.F., via Puebla, Pachuca and Ixmiquilpan. OK, we'll go around D.F., then run up , San Luis Potosi, Saltillo-Monterrey, & Laredo.

El Cuevo
Well, we are hungry but before we can eat first we must see the witchdoctor, El Cuevo. Marco gave us directions to his house last night, and the front desk assures us El Cuevo is easy to find. Just look for his sign a few blocks away. Before we can walk there Marco shows up on a motorbike and accompanies us. I’m still suspicious of him, there must to be an angle. He nervously let’s me try out his little scooter. The gears are all different.



There is the sign, next to an open door with a little curtain across it, like a shower curtain.


Inside I’m surprised to find a small waiting room, like the kind you see in any Latin American doctor’s or dentist’s office.
Here for a limpiaza, a girl asks?

We sit and wait. And wait. It’s a loooong wait. Marco, the tourist guide patiently waits with us. There are a couple of young girl receptionists who come and go thru an inner door, with another shower curtain. There is plenty of time to inspect all the photographs and newspaper articles on the walls. El Cuevo appears well known and respected. There is a photo of him with the governor of the state of Veracruz, and lots of TV or movie stars who I didn’t recognize, but they looked like models or TV or movie stars.

Finally I’m up. I go past the inner shower curtain, and there is another doorway, another curtain, and finally I’m in El Cuevo’s presence. The room is dark, lit only be a few candles, and my eyes are not adjusted to the darkness. I sit behind a desk and Hector, or El Cuevo is pleasant and to the point. What am I here for?
Well, uh, I don’t exactly know, I say. Energy! Give me more energy.
Ahhhh, well, I’ll give you a limpieza, and cast away all the bad spirits glommed onto your soul. It will cost 200 pesos.
This is the fee Marco has told us and the fee we’d expected, about $15, so, sure.
OK, stand up, turn around.
There is a circle drawn on the concrete floor, with what looks like rose petals sprinkled around. I'm told to stand within the circle. In front of me is a glass case with a statue inside, like a Virgin Mary but I have little time to inspect or look around at all the other stuff because not only is it dark, but also I’m now instructed to shut my eyes tight. If I told you what happens next it might be a plot spoiler. If you’re interested maybe you should go yourself. But let me say that when you are in that situation, your mind opens to all possibilities. You are hyper-aware, and looking for, hoping for …., anything. Whatever. Every brush, spray, mist, anointment, aroma is received with hypersensitivity. And soon it is over. I am back outside to the waiting room. Clayton goes in, and soon he too is back. We pay our money and that is that, another 200 pesos that we’d never see again.

Strangely, at least it seemed strange at the time, Marco has disappeared. Never to “find” us again. I thought sure he’d be waiting for a tip and wanting to take us to the next attraction. Only later, after reading his card, did I begin to understand he was really a good guy afterall. My loss.

We goof around the plaza.


Visit the cathedral.



Have breakfast at a great little place near the church.


Huevos motuleños, eggs, cheeze, fried bananas and peas over a slice of ham on a tortilla. Now that's a breakfast.


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