Five days in the pollution filled capital city was enough for us, our main reason for visiting the city was to get our bikes de-registered and see some of the major sights. That done, we chose Thursday to leave, as it was one of the days we could both ride within the city limits. Because of the pollution problems, motorists are restricted as to the days they can use their vehicles. For example on Mondays, people whose number plates end in the number 5 or 6 are not allowed to drive. Again we started as soon as it got light and headed for the Perifico. Maniac taxi drivers, were replaced as soon as we hit the suburbs by maniac VW combi van drivers, all racing to beat each other to the next pick up point, disregarding any other traffic that happened to be in the way.
We found our way reasonably well, managed to avoid all the toll roads and were soon heading towards Oaxaca. Our original plan had been to take 2 days to drive the 500km’s but the road was good and by 3pm we only had 150km to go. We decided to go for it, little did we know that the next 100kms would take us through the mountains on a narrow winding road. Dusk was approaching and we still had a way to go, as we descended towards the city we found ourselves driving in the dark, breaking the first rule of motorcycle travelling. We had 30kms ahead of us, there was a reasonable amount of traffic and the road was ok, but it was still a nerve wracking experience. With the help of a traffic cop, who wasn’t too busy handing out parking tickets, we found some accommodation. We had to put the bikes in a parking lot across the road, not ideal, but we were too late to keep on looking for a better option.
After a couple of days in Oaxaca, we had found ourselves a better hostel, called Luz de Luna on Av Juarez 101, where we could park the bikes inside in the courtyard. Who should also turn up looking for a room, no other than Merv and Ruth. We met up for dinner and caught up on each others travelling tales.
On a Sunday afternoon, we rode up to Monte Alban, one of the most impressive ruins in Mexico, situated on a hilltop above the city. Sundays are a great day for visiting the ruins and museums in Mexico as entrance is free and consequently they are full of Mexicans instead of busloads of Europeans. The crowds are mostly tired out by 4pm and on their way home, so we had the place almost to ourselves as we watched the sun set over the site – magical.
Our next destination was Tuxtla Gutierrez and again we travelled with Merv and Ruth. The Canyon del Sumidero was the reason to stop here, Arno and I rode up a wonderful windy road to the rim of the canyon to look at the view, while Merv &Ruth took the boat ride through. We met up afterwards for lunch, then headed up into the mountains to San Cristobal de las Casas. The road was made for motorbikes, however it was also busy with lots of other traffic, most of it slow. We occasionally had nothing in front of us, but there would soon be a queue of traffic following a bus or van filled to bursting point, crawling up the hill at 30kmh. As we climbed, it also got rather chilly and we were glad to reach the town and stand in the last rays of warming sun.
Found a hostel with a garage big enough for 3 bikes and settled in. There was lots to see and do in the town, the most interesting of which was a ride up to the Tzotzil village of San Juan Chamula. After looking at the famous church, filled with candles and the chanting of villagers, we walked through the plaza, where lots of ladies were sat on blankets on the ground offering their wares for sale, mostly fruit and veggies. The bikes were causing the usual interest especially amongst the kids. They were unbelieving when we said they could sit on the BMW, it took a while, but a couple of braver ones eventually climbed on and had a great time “riding” wherever their imaginations took them.
The road leaving San Cristobal was not quite as spectacular but a lot faster, except for the topes. The darn things were everywhere, even in the middle of the countryside, not a building in sight and there they would be, lying in wait for the unsuspecting. We were on the way to Palenque and stopped at Agua Azul for a break and to see the waterfalls there. We met 2 Canadians on their way to Ecuador, they had ridden down from Quebec in 2 weeks and wanted to be in S. America before Christmas. Had a quick chat before they zoomed off, a schedule to keep to!! I’m glad that we are not racing along, it is wonderful to be able to stay in place more than a few hours and if we like somewhere we just stay another day or so. We won’t get to Panama for Christmas, but hope to meet up with some of those riders along the way.
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