Day 20 Altotonga to Oaxaca

You know, we kind of liked our cheap little room I think. Except that the toilet paper roll was directly under a pipe which got condensation and dripped on it. It was cold, of course, because few of the hotels seem to have heat, but there were plenty of thick blankets that Dachary stole and kept me pressed against her all night. We slept in till 8 (normally we wake before seven) and continued our way south. The room felt cold, but when we went outside, we discovered that the room was actually quite warm… it was COLD outside!

When we went to pick up the bikes, we found a thick fog (pea soup comes to mind) that stuck to everything and made everything damp and visibility crap. I’ve never seen visibility this poor, in fact – you literally couldn’t see more than 20 feet away. It made driving a bit of an adventure as we couldn’t see cars coming when we tried to turn out from the parking lot or turn onto the main road. Within a few miles of leaving the town, though, the fog had dissipated somewhat and visibility was a bit better – which is good, because we were entering wet twisty roads through the mountains. (Kay maintains that it wasn’t fog, at all, but a low-lying cloud, since we were up quite high in the mountains at that point.)

We stumbled into a caldera

Caldera Panorama

Rode for about 30 minutes and it was getting colder… so we decided to stop at the next Pemex we found and grab some munchies and… pull out the heated gear! Yes, that’s right – it was so cold this morning that we broke out the heated gear. It was in the high 30 degree range when we set out this morning. By noon, we’d gotten to a place where it was around 60 degrees and put our heated gear away… but Kay pulled his out again when we were crossing through some mountains just to have the extra layer – not for the heat. It was chilly riding today.

Eventually we had to decide… toll road, or free road? Sick of tiny towns slowing us down and wishing we were farther along in the journey than we were, we went for the toll road and it was awesome. Cost us about $140 Mex each when you added up all the toll booths but it was beautiful.

Sadly, just before the toll road there were a handful of stands with chicken on spits that looked delicious, but it wasn’t quite lunch time so we pressed on. There were similar stands on the last toll road, we figured there would be on this one too. Wrong.

I think there was only one place to eat on the entire road and it was a restaurant by a Pemex. As noted before we don’t have great luck with restaurants, but food was required so we went in, had something with chicken green sauce, black bean paste, fries, and rice. The fries were cold. The chicken pretty tasteless by itself, but when you combined chicken, rice, and green sauce into the tortillas it was pretty tasty… until we hit the last three tortillas that were hard and probably left over from the last batch.

Testing the Smile Detection on Dachary's camera

New rule: if you see meat on a spit or barbecue and it’s remotely close to meal time. Eat. Even if you’re not really hungry yet.

In the parking lot we had a surprisingly successful conversation with a guy who turned out to have ridden from Alaska (we think… i forgot where exactly) to Guatemala. He’s got a BMW, a Hayabusa, and a Harley, but said that in Mexico he almost exclusively rides the BMW. He suggested that he was too mucho for a 650 like ours and had a 1200.

Back on the road was more beautiful Nevada-like landscape with beautiful green mountains. The cuota (pay road) to Oaxaca was surprisingly picturesque. The mountains were on both sides of us for much of the day, with some wide, sweeping turns through them at points. We actually got to go around 110 KPH (around 65 MPH) for hours! And we passed people. Loads of people. This was quite novel as it’s usually us getting passed for adhering to the speed limit. It was a bit of a boost to our riding spirits.

We’d decided to get a hotel again because it’s still getting down into the thirties at night in central Mexico, and after some miscommunications and frustrations between ourselves we eventually grabbed one, but my dictionary failed me, and it seems that whenever i say the word for heat they think i mean color tv. So we ended up with an overpriced (but nice) room with color tv, no heat, and barely adequate blankets (when we stole the blanket from the second bed).

New rule from yesterday: When it’s cold in Mexico and you’re getting a hotel room always get one with two beds even if one bed would be fine. The logic being that you can then steal the blankets from the second bed.

About Kay

An old-school geek, addicted to travel, with a love of programming, writing, Esperanto, and starting businesses. -- @masukomi on Twitter.

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