October 03, 2006 GMT

When I left Belize I headed to Villahermosa. It was a nice ride through the jungle, but inevitably, come the afternoon, the rain started. Visibility down to 100 yds and instantly soaked to the skin.

I passed two petrol stations, both closed due to lack of fuel. A digression here: the Mexican oil company Pemex has a monopoly on petrol/diesel sales, so petrol stations, although privately owned because they're franchised, are rather few and far between.

When I was nearly on vapour I stopped at Emiliano Zapata (yes, named after him) where the petrol station was not only open but, predictably, busy. Having replenished the tank (40 litres into a 43-litre tank) I hung around having a ciggy and a coffee, upon which I was accosted by a chap who spoke English. This turned out to be Santi, a Spanish guy who owns this and a few other petrol stations (and a few Repsol ones in Spain). He's also a motorcyclist (it's a Harley, but it still counts).

Santi persuaded me not to press on the 80 miles to Villahermosa (it was now 6pm with only an hour of daylight left) as there are roadworks with diversions over gravel, sand and mud. He was very proud of having built some very nice motel-style rooms and having a 24-hour restaurant, as well as a bar containing a small swimnming pool. So he installed me in a room and The Old Dear in his garage (next to his silver Audi Quattro), and he and his Mexican girlfriend Merla entertained me to dinner and many beers. In fact, Santi refused totally to charge me for anything and made sure dinner, beer, the room and my breakfast went on his bill. What a lovely chap. He's aiming to do round-the-world one day as well.

So the next day I found out how right he was about the roadworks, and made it around Mexico City (there's no ring road as such) to Teotihuacán to see the Pyramids of the Sun and the Moon. When Phil posts the pix you'll probably be as grateful as I am that they're the last Mayan ruins I'm visiting, impressive though they are. The Pyramid of the Sun is the third-largest pyramid in the world after the Great Pyramid of Cheops at Giza and another one here in Mexico, which I'm not visiting. It's huge, and all built without metal tools or wheels. The view of it on Google Earth is pretty cool, too. Zoom down on N 19deg 41'33.01 W098deg 50'37.57.

Posted by Cynthia Milton at October 03, 2006 04:43 PM GMT

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