Even though I’d been feeling bad the night before, when I woke up I was feeling better. I’d cleaned my water bottle to ensure that it wasn’t the cause, and then we headed out to start our climb up into the mountains. It was overcast, which probably took a little something from the view, but I still remember the headaches I had the first day of climbing the Devils Backbone in the sun back in early June, so the cloud and thus cooler temperatures were just fine with me.
It took 3-4 hours of steady climbing to get up to San Jose del Pacifico where I stopped to wait for Pedro. He’d been feeling a bit off in the morning so I’d got ahead of him. I took a nap of more than an hour on the side of the road before Pedro pulled into town and we sat around for a bit longer. We both agreed that while there had been some nice views back to the valley floor it wasn’t quite as good, but were hoping it would improve. The advantage it did have is that there were really not too many cars unlike our favourite road which had been full of trucks and vehicles overtaking on blind corners.
It turned out we were basically at the top and then it was time for descending down a rather steep road with some serious pothole issues. Avoiding the potholes was generally OK, but the problem was that it meant a good amount of braking to ensure not hitting anything too big at 60+km/h (40mph). The lack of traffic did mean I felt safe taking a more central line though than I would normally, swings and roundabouts! The view was mainly a large number of trees lining the road, and by the time we got down to a couple of apparent viewpoints, fog had dropped giving us horrific visibility.
We knew that there was a turn off and apparently a small town there, so we kept going so we could find a place to camp. There was nothing when we got there, but my GPS told us to turn left. We did and.. nothingness. The fog was still there, but the sun had already set so visibility was even worse. We kept going, knowing that there was definitely a town in 12km, but with the lack of traffic the only thing breaking the darkness was the magical occasional fireflies flashing in the trees.
A couple of kilometers along and Pedro was not feeling safe riding. Even though there wasn’t much traffic he didn’t want to keep going, so we pulled over to talk about it. He said I could ride on alone, but I didn’t want us to split up so we decided that we would camp there if we couldn’t find a ride for the final short way into town. A couple of vehicles went past without space, but then just when we were about to put tents up a vehicle came along. It was the popular bus replacement, a pickup truck with a cover and seats in the back to take passengers. There were no other passengers so we fit in with our bikes although we wouldn’t have been able to close the tailgate, if there had been one. They used a rope to secure our bikes, and we held onto them for dear life as the driver flew round the corners and straight through potholes at a frankly ridiculous speed even in the best of times, but in the dark and heavy fog it was just madness and made for a less than relaxing arrival into town.
When we got to our destination of Pluma Hidalgo we found a small restaurant/bakery and asked our usual two questions, “What do you have for dinner?” and “We have small tents, would it be OK for us to camp here?”. They had eggs and seemed OK with us camping there, although after we finished eating and started to make signs about wanting to camp they seemed more confused and were suggesting we go a 20 minute drive down the road, they seemed to think we were riding motorbikes even though our bicycles were very visible. After a while they eventually showed us a place at the side of their bakery where we could camp and we jumped at the offer.
The next day, we weren’t in a rush. We had arranged to meet Eduardo and his family in Huatulco which as well as being quite close, was also at the bottom of a 1500m drop meaning minimal pedalling would be needed to get us there. We had breakfast at around 10:30 at the same place, and then headed to the town square for Pedro to drink some of the locally grown coffee. What followed was a long descent which was generally more enjoyable than the one had been the day before. The road was a little better, and so was the view. The road wasn’t completely lined with trees and so we could see down to the valley below and to the nearby ocean. As we dropped, the temperature went from a perfectly agreeable mountain climate to the ridiculous humidity and heat of the coast. Part of me wished I was cycling back in Europe in the winter rain rather than in that weather, but that’s easy to wish when you know you won’t have to ride in freezing rain.
Huatulco is the most recently made resort town that the Mexican government has set up after the success of places like Puerto Vallarta, Ixtapa and Cancun. It’s about 20 years old with some very nice 5 star all-inclusive resorts I could never afford. We made our way to the downtown and after about half an hour Eduardo and his father turned up. We assumed we’d have a drink or maybe go to a restaurant or dinner and then say goodbyes and camp on the beach, we weren’t quite right. They did invite us to dinner, but it wasn’t in a local restaurant.
Eduardo and his family were staying at one of those expensive resorts and invited us to join them for the buffet dinner. There was no wristband, so as long as we could get in and avoid looking too suspicious we should be fine. Being 6’4 (1.92m) I stand out a lot in Mexico, whereas Pedro is of a height where he fits in easier. We stopped by a local hotel where one of Eduardo’s friends worked and left our fully loaded bikes there, and then drove over to their resort while being told the correct answers to any possible question that might come up. Eduardo and I stayed in the car, while his father and Pedro walked in. We got a funny look from the guy at the gate, but he let us in without asking any questions and we headed straight to the bar in the lobby and ordered drinks. I looked around, and the majority of the people there were from the US, including some groups of what looked like rich college kids down for some drunk time by the beach. During my time there, I could easily see why ‘gringos’ can get such a terrible reputation when Mexicans are exposed to drunk idiots like those college kids who seemed to do little more than drink and swear profusely.
After dinner, we were sat round talking, and were expecting to be leaving soon. That was until Eduardo mentioned that he had plenty of space in his room and we could stay there if we wanted. We jumped at the offer, especially Pedro who had never been in a hotel anything like that before. When we were in the room, we ordered room service and drank the minibar dry just because we could and Pedro had never done either before. I’d never been to an all-inclusive before, but I’ve stayed in nice hotels enough times before that I didn’t have Pedro’s kid-on-Christmas sheer joy about everything.
Entering San Jose
Pedro talks about San Jose
Looking down the hill