After the unconventional Christmas in Acapulco, we were planning on leaving early on Boxing Day, but Pedro woke up feeling terrible again. Something to do with the large amount of beer we drank on the beach the night before probably, but who knows. We knew that we had enough time to get to Puerto Escondido, and Christian was OK with us staying, so we intended to stay another day, but by mid-afternoon Pedro was starting to feel OK. There wasn’t much by the way of towns along the road, but there was a junction that looked like it should have something at it. We could either go via the airport and coast, or the shorter way. We decided on the shorter way and headed out, saying goodbye to Christian who was just getting done with work.
My handlebars weren’t straight, so I told Pedro that I’d be stopping to straighten them, but when I looked up he had vanished into the Acapulco traffic. I tried to catch up with him, unfortunately, even though I’d told him that we were turning in 2km, he was nowhere to be seen 3 or 4km down the road so I sent him an email from my Kindle and turned off up a hill figuring he knew where we were going for the day and he could make it there with the maps on his iPhone.
Near the top of the hill, I saw a sign for an autopista tunnel and decided it sounded easier than climbing the rest of the way up so turned there. There were the normal no bicycle signs, but I turned my lights on, and when I got closer to the entrance a man came out to wave at me. I’m pretty sure he was trying to signal me to stop, but I said hello and kept going. The heat that I’d felt outside was nothing compared to the stifling air inside the tunnel, which was made worse by having 3 lanes. In some parts the central lane headed out of Acapulco, while in others it headed in. When there 2 lanes going my way, I could go slowly, but anytime it dropped to one I had to ride faster to not annoy the traffic trying to stream past me. The tunnel seemed to go on for a long time, and when I came out I got some strange looks from the security people on the other side, but not wanting me to ride in the tunnel meant they couldn’t send me back through, so I was allowed to leave at the next exit as I wanted.
I tried contacting Pedro, but after leaving town the phone signal was weak most of the times I tried on the way to the place we’d arranged to get to that day. When I got there, I found it was little more than a military checkpoint with a restaurant, that had already closed for the night, the owners were still there though and seemed very used to cyclists asking to camp there. They directed me to a little corner store that was still open where the kids ran to a nearby shop to get the food I ordered before sitting round talking about football and the greatness of Chicharito (Javier Hernandez, a Mexican player for Manchester United). Just before I went to sleep, I got an email from Pedro saying it had gotten dark and he’d camped about an hour ride back down the road and we’d meet up the next day.
With Pedro being down the road, I had a rare chance to have a lie-in while camping. By the time Pedro turned up, I was fully rested and so after a breakfast, where he told me about how he’d doubled back to try to go through the tunnel, but had been forcefully stopped after my escapades and so had to wait a while to hitch a lift through which took a good while.
The next few days went by smoothly. We were on the coastal road, even though it wasn’t that close to the coast, and rolled along. We stopped for fruit, and not only got free bananas because of our eyes but also Pedro got proposed to. We had lunch at a restaurant which cost 200 pesos (around $20) and when Pedro asked for an explanation the lady decided that his small bottle of coke that normally costs 6 or 7 pesos was apparently 50 pesos. We eat chicken so rarely, that any time we now it now we just think back to that lady who had seemed so sweet but decided she wanted our money.
The area we were going through after Acapulco is full of cane growing, and due to its history of African slaves, who the Spanish brought over after so many indigenous Mexicans had died from smallpox, the Mexicans in the area are darker skinned and known as Afro Mestiza. We stopped at a museum to read about them, but it was so hot that I don’t remember as much as I should and they wanted 500 pesos to record videos or 50 pesos to take pictures, which I decided to avoid. They had to charge those prices because they don’t get enough funding to the extent where we were told we had about an hour, not because that’s when they shut, but because the lack of lighting meant we wouldn’t be able to read.
When we were in Oaxaca, we saw several large groups of cyclists making pilgrimages. They generally rode with a pick up truck in front and behind the pack of 20 or so riders who carried little more than a bottle of water on their beaten up looking bikes. Near the top of one climb, I found a group of them sat down and it was fun to talk with them while I was waiting for Pedro to catch up with me. They were coming back from a 5 day ride and while they were really tired, they were so happy to have managed to achieve it. That certain church had been doing the pilgrimage for 17 years, and there were some who had been every year and some who were doing their first. I tried asking more, but they were insistent on asking me about my bike and route instead.
10km before arriving in Puerto Escondido, we stopped at a town where the Lonely Planet had mentioned they played pelota, the Mexican ball game, on weekends. Being a Sunday we hoped to get to see a game because we’ve only ever seen lots of courts in the ruins that we’ve visited. As we entered town, we stopped to ask a guy in his 20s who was on a bike and he told it wasn’t on. Pedro then asked where there was a good place to eat something cheaply and he said at his grandparent’s place. We figured the had a restaurant, we were wrong. We rode across town and made it to a small house where we were invited in and introduced to his grandparents who then proceeded to cook eggs for us and give us things to drink. Our host was eager to show us around some, but with no pelota being played we wanted to keep going to Puerto Escondido and get organised before our girlfriends arrived the following day.
Our host in Puerto Escondido was called Jim and was from the US. He had been in Mexico for the previous 6 years after arranging with his company back in the US that he could work from a distance. He’d worked in DF for 4 years but then decided that while he was still living the dream he wanted to live by the beach and so moved down to Puerto Escondido. I think it’s a wonderful lifestyle for those that can manage to get it and have the motivation to be able to work from home without a boss or colleague looking over their neck. If I could find something like it, but with a lighter workload, I could combine it with the trip and have it pay for itself… dreams.