Today is Day of the Dead, here in Zacatecas. Yesterday the children celebrated by dressing up in Halloween type costumes and parading around the city asking for sweets. Today they accompany their parents to the cemetery where the graves are decorated with many flowers and examples of the dead persons favourite foods. Shop windows are decorated with skeletons and there are sweets in the shape of skulls on sale in the market.
We have been here a couple of days, it is a nice city in which to hang out and catch up with things. It also has turned out to be a good place to meet people. The first BMW we saw was being ridden by Hank and Sherrie from Texas, here for a quick trip and to follow a classic car race. Our second day in town and another BMW, this time it is Merv and Ruth from the UK, into the second year of their RTW trip.
We are now into the second week of our time in Mexico, so far we are having a great time and haven’t encountered any of the ‘Banditos’ or rip-offs our North American friends were so fond of warning us about.
From Cuauhtémoc we rode to Durango via Creel, stopping off point for Barranca Del Cobre or Copper Canyon. The canyon, or actually a series of 6 canyons, gave me my first real taste of serious off road riding. Conditions were not exactly perfect, it had rained solidly for the past 2 days, but a break in the weather encouraged us to make the trip down into the canyon itself. From Creel, it was a 150km ride, the first half on winding tarmac, the second dirt!! When the tarmac ended we met up with 3 Americans on KLR’s with whom we rode for a while.
Surprisingly the road was not so bad, yet…..
We stopped to take photos quite often, too often for our companions, who drove on ahead.
Suddenly, the road narrowed, cut through the rock and plunged steeply down into the canyon. So this was it, the start of the serious riding!
We took it really slowly, stopping for photos and to catch our breath, it was much hotter in the canyon itself. Hairpin bends over a mixture of rock and deep gravel, took all my concentration. Luckily there was almost no oncoming traffic as I bounced between the cliff face and the sheer drop! It was with sheer relief that we reached Batopilas at the bottom of the canyon – amazingly the road through the village was tarmac, complete with topes!
Of course the adventure wasn’t yet over, the next day we had to ride the same road back to Creel. We made an early start, stopping again often to take photos. At one such stop, I misjudged the width of my panniers as I often do. Instead of the usual near miss, however, I made contact with Arno’s bike and we both ended up all over the road. It was a silly mistake and the first dent in my confidence, even so we had a good laugh about it.
Onward and upward, at some points I wondered if I really had ridden down this road. Arno was having fun even though he has a much heavier bike, I was struggling at some points but chose a reasonably easy stretch to dump the bike for the second time in one day. Luckily I was ok, the bike was ok and there were no witnesses, apart from the goat which had momentarily distracted me. We levered a pannier back into place and carried on, after Arno had taken a few photos of course. It was a while before I felt confident again, but I just had to get on with it and ride – slowly. We made it back up to Creel without further incident and much learned.
A few days later brought a complete contrast. The long ride between Hidalgo del Parral and Durango had one stretch of road that was straight ahead only.
No curves, no startling scenery, just straight and that was for 80 long kilometres. We had been warned by several locals, not to ride the road at night, as the chances of robbery were high. Reinforcing these warnings was the above average number of military personnel and checkpoints. It would have been easy for robbers to spot potential targets from literally kilometres away. We encountered no problems though, and got to Durango in good time.
Located a hotel near the centre of town where we could park both bikes in the inner courtyard. Posted by Sian Mackenzie at November 07, 2002 02:23 AM GMT
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