Note: to really enjoy this blog we recommend putting the song called Burro by Beck sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride with TD2.
So our last update we didn’t know how we were going to get to mainland Mexico. Well we didn’t get a sailboat unfortunately, but managed to get a ride on a cargo ship. Which was an a interesting ride as:
- Never been on a cargoship
- Was across the Sea of Cortez which is a marine paradise where the who’s who’s of marine life hang – blue whales, whale sharks & killer whales so we managed to spot a few whales on the ride over.
12 hours later we landed on the mainland.
The main land
Arriving on the mainland was like arriving in a different country it had a different feel from the start thanks to things like the greenery, humidity and amount of people. We landed in Mazatlan and ended up catching the last day of Carnival and was fun to watch the parade.
The next day we shot off and stayed consistent with our plan to head south and stick to the coast and get some waves. Riding in the lush vegetation was a welcomed change from cacti and desert.
A coastal blast
From Mazatlan we set our eyes on San Blas a town that apparently had some fun waves so a couple of days later riding on some nice roads and lapping greenery we arrived.
We tracked down a surf camp right on the beach and met a few people one being a surfer from Canada by the name of Josh who we later crossed paths with a few thousand k’s down the road in Puerto Escondido. Below is us having a quite beer.
We got a couple of fun waves and got eaten by some ferocious sand flies at dawn and dusk. San Blas is cool town that hasn’t been developed at all which was great hanging out in a sleepy little Mexican fishing village with the average non Mexican age being about 63.
Time is money
By far the most expensive commodity we are burning whilst biking is time, the route we have so far taken and will take could be done in a fraction of the time using any other traditional mode of transport. We also by far are lugging the most gear of any bike cyclist we have come across online or in person (probably the biggest sign of our stupidity). We made the huge mistake in Mazatlan to take the trailers off and have a ride around with just four 4 panniers it felt like we were flying! In Panama the boards may be donated to a lucky panamaniam as we don’t think we will be able to physically get up the hills in SA!
When I’m 64
A lot of the other tourists we have met since entering Mexico are retirees or as us young folk refer to them as ‘old people’ who are down here to escape the North American winter for some warmer weather. We were making our way further south from San Blas and on a lunch break we made a split second decision to check out a beach which was apparently very beautiful (but with no waves) called Chicala. We met a lady by the name of Jill on the beach whilst we were snapchattin and got taking . We then met her sister Jennifer and they kindly invited us on a hike the next day and if we hang around a dinner at their place. We were planning on leaving the next day but this seemed like something a little different so took them up on their offer.
So we went on the hike, however we took a little longer detour and ended up losing the group but luckily tracked them down via their foot prints as we really wanted that free home cooked meal! So we went on a very enjoyable day hike and headed back to the beach. We then had a great feast with basically 15 other middle aged woman, something that doesn’t really happen in our day to day lives back in Perth so was good fun. We then got invited over for breakfast! So of course we took them up on the offer had a great brekky and you guess it headed south the next day!
We got informed that the next beach down had some younger people called Sayulita, indeed it did we hung out there a couple of days with our warmshowers host Javier, got some really mellow waves but again ended up hanging out with some older folk as we got offered another free dinner we couldn’t refuse and turned out to be delicious! Thank you Karina from Canada
Whilst in mainland we were made aware that basically there was a civil war going on in the state of Michocan, which happened to be the next state after Nyarit (which we were in) and has some of the best surf of Mexico. Obviously, we were sceptical as pretty much all US citizens who had never been to Mexico said we were going to die (we are writing this blog in Guatemala so can safely say we made it out alive!) But still we were hesitant in not going. However, after reading other bikers blogs, speaking to people and reading some legitimate news sources we concluded its not a safe place to cycle through. Our take on the situation probably isn’t the most accurate but from what we know the citizens took over the police, literally kicking them out of their police stations as they were corrupt, not doing a good job and started policing the state themselves. Meanwhile, the cartels were getting up to mischief as they weren’t happy with the new developments and now the army has arrived to try and get mum and dad to put down their weapons. So something a bit different to what goes on in Australia. So with this news, once we arrived in Puerto Vallarta (a large resort town with a huge gay contingent which made it actually a cool, funky resort town) we decided to head inland.
Turns out the stars aligned quite well given the political developments, with one of Brendan’s friends from San Francisco by the name of Phirack was headed to Mexico City for a architecture trip as a part of Berkeley University with his year group. Given time constraints and to catch him we jumped on a bus (yes we caught a bus! But oh well the whole point of this trip is to have fun!) and headed for a city with a larger population then Australia. After getting into town and spending about 2 hours trying to figure out were the Rack was at, we tracked down a sweet apartment in one of the hippest parts of DF. A massive thank you must be given to Phirack and the boys we were staying with Wesley, Thomas, Pike and Matt who let us crash in the ‘hip loft’ free of charge for over a week!
Was a great change to get to a big city again, ride the subway, see colonial Spanish architecture, having too many museums to choose from, go to the Lucho Libre (Mexican wrestling) checking out bars, seeing to Myan ruins and the finale seeing The Arcade Fire at musical festival for $30 AU so we had a good time.
After DF it was time to head for the coast again and get our bike on, got to Aculpco and headed south on the coast once again with our eyes set on Puerto Escondido! The surf capital of Mexico and a magnet for Australians. We made our way there and ended up getting split up for a couple of days but both arrived safe and sound. Zicatela aka Mexican pipe wasn’t really what is seen on YouTube with 9 out of ten being closeouts and just really heavy so we decided to seek a few fun waves around and found a spot called La Barra which was wave similar to Big Rock in Gracetown. Other then surfing we just chilled out with way to many Australians.
From there we were told about one of the best waves in Mexico, La Bumba but needed a bit of swell to work. We biked on down and stayed at a surf camp full of Australians except two New Zealanders. Scored some fun point break waves but unfortunately the swell wasn’t there to make it something memorable.
Apparently there was some swell coming (we had no internet access so couldn’t check) but we made the call to leave which we will never know if it was the right decision (and don’t want to know), alas the problems of biking and surfing. We were also ready to get out of Mexico.
Final days of Mexico
La Bumba was bittersweet as it was the last waves we would surf in Mexico for who knows how long. So we continued south stumbled upon a Iguana farm were they got up to some naughty business and rode through a wind farm.
We got to the town of Arriaga and the wind was ridiculous. We continued our trend in mainland like in Baja either staying with the Red Cross, Fireman or any other form of community group. We managed to get to the Red Cross that day and experienced one of the windiest nights we have ever experienced without they’re being a storm. We made the call the next morning it probably wasn’t a good idea to battle the wind given we have a surfboard attached to us which doubles as a pretty good sail. So the thumb was stuck up for the last 150km of Mexico. Which was a fitting bookend as we did begin Mexico with hitching as of the road collapse. Turns out however, about 20km out of town the wind completely died off (sometimes reading bike blogs is actually worse because you make decisions before actually giving the road a go). Given we had a ride to the town we wanted and more importantly we didn’t want to offend our driver and get off and ride we hitched the whole way. It was actually a pretty fun experience sticking out the thumb with the ridiculous amount of stuff we had and still get a ride and meet some more Mexicans.
A special shout out also has to be given to Dane Spritzer, (Spritzer actually means pencil sharpener in German) Brendan initially bumped into him in La Paz when he was cruizen solo. He’s biking from California to South America as well (chk out his blog at mundanexistance.com) The second time we crossed paths was in Mazatlan and then about 1,000km south in Puerto and then about 700km south in Techulua a town very close to the boarder. We decided to cross the boarder together, which was nice as we could help each other out getting ride of our last pesos for visa payments. All bump-ins unplanned. We have subsequently bumped into him again in Guatemala again unplanned. You may think us bikers ride the exact same route and stay in same place but all times we basically met him on the street or at hotel in which the cities had about 50. So if Dane was an lady I think we would have to get married….or maybe we still should anyway.
While my guitar gently weeps
Mexico was great and so much more of a cultural experience then the US which was so much easier. Entering we had literally no idea of what to expect. We met the locals, heard their music (good and bad) ate their food, slept in their farms and battled hard with our Spanish. But couldn’t recommend a better country to visit with so much to see. We both agree the highlight was Baja but all of it was good!
The only negative experience we’ve had is our guitars got stolen! We pulled off the side of the road, followed a narrow path and walked through some thick vegetation to a dried up swamp. Leaving our bikes on the other side of the vegetation. Given all our experience in Mexico have been super positive we were a little relaxed and left some gear near our bikes and didn’t bother locking our bikes up either. Tom heard something during the night which prompted him to lock the bikes up but thought it was all good. That was until the morning when we realised both our guitar were no longer next to our bikes and were GONE! It definitely sucked and the worse thing is the guitars aren’t going to see anything of central or South America, but hey Mexico isn’t to bad of a place to hang.
So now we are in Guatemala. Crossing the boarder took about 10 minutes and we were super stoked to enter a new country with as a completely different feel to Mexico and already we’ve seen some crazy stuff. The main example being bareknuckle boxing match organised by the mayor of the city in which the police attended as well as all the town dignitaries. It gathered a crowd of approximately 3,000 locals. We luckily found out about this event through from a friend of our warmshowers host who was adamant we were the first Australians to ever attend. Maybe he’s right as we got a special shout out by the commentator and didn’t see another white person there so we certainly stood out. Please be warned some of the pictures below are a little gruesome.
Were to get dirty next?
We are off to a volcanic lake in Guatamala and then shall make our way to the coast again and enter our next country El Salvador and hopefully score some waves as there ain’t none round Guatemala so we are looking a little silly lugging the things around. So until then peace.