Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year
Merry Christmas everyone. Here’s some seasonal advice that I learnt the hard way, never never never dress a cactus with Christmas decorations, not only do the locals think you are a crazy 'loco gringo' but no matter how cautious you are you will end up picking tiny, almost invisible painful spines out of your fingertips for days afterwards!
Posted by email@example.com at December 23, 2010 07:14 PM GMT
Hostal Don David Roof Terrace, Zacatecas
I stayed in Zacatecas for over two months waiting for a new bank card to be sent from England without success. I seem to be fated to have problems with banks on this trip. Having been plagued with ‘security’ stops on my Lloyds TSB cards I ordered a Caxton pre-paid debit card which got lost in the Royal Mail postal service on its way to my house in the UK, the only address Caxton would send it to for security reasons. There was a delay while this card was cancelled and a replacement sent out. When the second card was collected it was forgotten about and lived in the bottom of a briefcase for two weeks before being posted by a Royal Mail service that can be tracked until just prior to leaving the UK where it drops into the standard overseas mail system. Presumably some customers must want to track there international post for the short domestic first leg only! My bank card ended up being sent this way by mistake, it hadn’t arrived in Zacatecas after two weeks so I decided to do a trip on the motorbike whilst keeping in touch with Hostal Don David, my Zacatecas home so that I can return should the bank card arrive.
Climbing Towards Real de Catorce
Javier, a photographer I met at a Thanksgiving party hosted by my Zacatecas neighbour and friend Polly from the USA said I should go to Real de Catorce, an old silver mining town in the mountains at just over 9000 feet (2756 metres) so that’s where I headed first. I had plotted a route that took the back roads out of Zacatecas before joining highway 54 heading north. The roads started out fine, twisting up into the mountains then Garmin wanted me to take what looked like a farm track but when I did the route and the track disappeared from the screen. It was only ten miles or so to link up with the main road so at each junction I took whichever track seemed to be heading in the right direction. I had to backtrack twice, once when the track ended in a field and once when the track dwindled into a narrow overgrown animal trail but I eventually ended up on the main road north. It was a nice mini adventure for the first day in two months of riding the bike.
24km Of Cobbled Road Leading To Real de Catorce
The last section of the route to Real de Catorce is on a bumpy cobbled road for 24km followed by a 2300 metre long tunnel. There were some huge ‘Prickly Pear’ cactus on the roadside growing up to thirteen feet (four metres) high. I had read that the tunnel was one way and that you had to wait your turn before travelling through but when I arrived I was waved straight into the tunnel. It was supposed to be one way and I was riding into the oncoming traffic which was ok with the cars but I had to stop up against the wall as a truck inched by.
Real de Catorce
The town has fewer inhabitants now than it did in its heyday when all the silver mines were in operation and a lot of the buildings lie derelict. The main and possibly only source of income now is generated from tourism. Real de Catorce's other claim to fame is that the best peyote, a hallucinogenic cactus grows in the surrounding hillsides, not that I was tempted to try it, coffee provides all the stimulation I can handle these days.
The Youth Of Real de Catorce Dressed Up For A Night On The Town
The Entrance To The 2300 Metre Long Real de Catorce Tunnel
From Real de Catorce I headed for the large town of San Luis Potosi where I thought I had arranged to borrow a workshop to change the chain and sprockets on the bike and get the broken number plate support bracket welded. When I arrived Lalo the workshop owner and ex motorcycle racer obviously expected to be doing the work. He did an excellent job and thoroughly cleaned the bike all for a very reasonable price so I was happy seeing the sights and leaving him to it.
Our Lady Of Guadalupe Pilgrim
December 12th marks the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe when devotees make a pilgrimage to offer thanks to the Catholic Virgin of Guadalupe. The olive skinned Virgin is said to have appeared before Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin, an Aztec convert to Roman Catholicism, on 12th December 1531 in the outskirts of Mexico City and told him to build a church on the site. The Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe that was subsequently built is the most visited catholic shrine in the world. Devotees make a pilgrimage to this church and others throughout the Americas on the anniversary of this appearance. I watched the pilgrims going to a Church in San Luis Potosi, many on their knees, most of these had helpers laying out folded blankets to ease the pain but some hardier or foolish first timers did it with nothing but their jeans for protection. Devotees believe that pilgrims that come to give thanks to the Lady of Guadalupe will have all kinds of ailments cured. I saw a guy pushing his own wheelchair away from the church and an old lady carrying a walking frame so there may be something to their belief!
My next stop was Guanajuato, another hill town with a very complex and compact road system which includes tunnels under the town complete with underground road junctions. After criss crossing backwards and forwards over, under and through the town trying to find a hostel I parked and searched on foot wearing my bike gear and carrying my fairly heavy tank top bag. According to Garmin GPS I was only 450 metres from the hostel but walked into a tunnel which passed underneath it and came out 500 metres on the other side! After an hour of walking up and down steep narrow alleyways with steps in the mid afternoon heat I stumbled across an alternative hostel and booked in there. After quickly shedding the bike suit it was back out into the heat to find the bike which thanks to having marked the location in the GPS was easily done but the route was pedestrian only most of the way. I flagged a taxi down at the bike and paid him the princely sum of $2.50 to lead me to the hostel, if he had only known I would have gladly paid ten times that to get back to the hostel, get out of my sweaty clothes and take a shower!
Some Of The Guanajuato Alleys That Garmin Mistook For Roads
That's A Lot Of Spanish Words To Say Don't Throw The Sink!
Once I had cooled down and rested I enjoyed exploring the narrow alleyways (Callejones) and the main plaza was a pleasant shady area to sit and watch the world go by. I scouted the route out of town on foot to make sure I didn't get lost when leaving on the bike but finding your way out of town is always easier than seeking out a particular street on the way in.
Guanajuato Main Plaza
When I left Guanajuato (minus a bike mirror that was stolen whilst parked in the street) I was followed the fifty odd miles to San Miguel de Allende by a couple of bikes. We all pulled into a fuel station on the outskirts of town for a brief chat, they were just stopping in San Miguel de Allende for lunch. Rob and Duncan are doing a culinery tour of latin America (www.motorcyclemenus.com) which reminded me of the 'Hairy Bikers', a couple of TV chefs from my part of England who ride motorbikes around different countries sampling and cooking local dishes, now there's a great way to make a living.
San Miguel de Allende Main Plaza (Jardin Principal)
A lot of United States Retirees settle in San Miguel de Allende or have second homes here giving the place a gentrified feel with its upmarket shops although the gated communities now being built seems a step too far to me. The cafes in the main plaza, Jardin Principal were expensive but there were plenty of good places a couple of blocks away charging the usual cheap Mexican prices. I found a place doing an 'all you can eat' Mexicana buffet for $5.
San Miguel de Allende
HUGE, 11.5 x 16.5 inches, beautifully printed in Germany on top quality stock! Photos are the winning images from over 600 entries in the 9th Annual HU Photo Contest!
"The calendar is magnificent!"
"I just wanted to say how much I'm loving the new, larger calendar!"
We share the profit with the winning photographers. YOU could be in the HU Calendar too - enter here!
Next HU Events
- UK Haggs Bank: Sep 19-21
- USA California: Sep 25-28
- Aus Queensland: Oct 3-6
- Aus Perth: Oct 10-12
- Germany Autumn: Oct 23-26
- Aus VIC: Oct 24-26
- NEW! Aus NSW: Oct 31-Nov 2
- NEW! South Africa: Nov 13-16
- NEW! USA Virginia: Apr 9-12, 2015
- NEW! HUMM Morocco: May 13-16, 2015
Take 40% off Road Heroes Part 1 until October 31 only!
Road Heroes features tales of adventure, joy and sheer terror by veteran travellers Peter and Kay Forwood (193 countries two-up on a Harley); Dr. Greg Frazier (5 times RTW); Tiffany Coates (RTW solo female); and Rene Cormier (University of Gravel Roads).
"Inspiring and hilarious!"
"I loved watching this DVD!"
"Lots of amazing stories and even more amazing photographs, it's great fun and very inspirational."
Check it out at the HU Store! Remember to use Coupon Code 'HEROES' on your order when you checkout.
What others say about HU...
"I just wanted to say thanks for doing this and sharing so much with the rest of us." Dave, USA
"Your website is a mecca of valuable information and the DVD series is informative, entertaining, and inspiring! The new look of the website is very impressive, updated and catchy. Thank you so very much!" Jennifer, Canada
"...Great site. Keep up the good work." Murray and Carmen, Australia
"We just finished a 7 month 22,000+ mile scouting trip from Alaska to the bottom of Chile and I can't tell you how many times we referred to your site for help. From how to adjust your valves, to where to stay in the back country of Peru. Horizons Unlimited was a key player in our success. Motorcycle enthusiasts from around the world are in debt to your services." Alaska Riders
10th Annual HU Travellers Photo Contest is on now! This is an opportunity for YOU to show us your best photos and win prizes!
NEW! HU 2014 Adventure Travel T-shirts! are now available in several colors! Be the first kid on your block to have them! New lower prices on synths!
Check out the new Gildan Performance cotton-feel t-shirt - 100% poly, feels like soft cotton!
What turns you on to motorcycle travel?
Global Rescue is the premier provider of medical, security and evacuation services worldwide and is the only company that will come to you, wherever you are, and evacuate you to your home hospital of choice. Additionally, Global Rescue places no restrictions on country of citizenship - all nationalities are eligible to sign-up!
New to Horizons Unlimited?
New to motorcycle travelling? New to the HU site? Confused? Too many options? It's really very simple - just 4 easy steps!
Horizons Unlimited was founded in 1997 by Grant and Susan Johnson following their journey around the world on a BMW R80 G/S motorcycle.Read more about Grant & Susan's story
Membership - help keep us going!
Horizons Unlimited is not a big multi-national company, just two people who love motorcycle travel and have grown what started as a hobby in 1997 into a full time job (usually 8-10 hours per day and 7 days a week) and a labour of love. To keep it going and a roof over our heads, we run events (22 this year!); we sell inspirational and informative DVDs; we have a few selected advertisers; and we make a small amount from memberships.
You don't have to be a Member to come to an HU meeting, access the website, the HUBB or to receive the e-zine. What you get for your membership contribution is our sincere gratitude, good karma and knowing that you're helping to keep the motorcycle travel dream alive. Contributing Members and Gold Members do get additional features on the HUBB. Here's a list of all the Member benefits on the HUBB.
Books & DVDs
All the best travel books and videos listed and often reviewed on HU's famous Books page. Check it out and get great travel books from all over the world.
MC Air Shipping, (uncrated) USA / Canada / Europe and other areas. Be sure to say "Horizons Unlimited" to get your $25 discount on Shipping!
Insurance - see: For foreigners traveling in US and Canada and for Americans and Canadians traveling in other countries, then mail it to MC Express and get your HU $15 discount!
Story and photos copyright © All Rights Reserved.
Contact the author:
Editors note: We accept no responsibility for any of the above information in any way whatsoever. You are reminded to do your own research. Any commentary is strictly a personal opinion of the person supplying the information and is not to be construed as an endorsement of any kind.
Hosted by: Horizons
Unlimited, the motorcycle travellers' website!
You can have your story here too - click for details!