Friday, 1 February 2013

Mazatlan to Guadalajara

Difficult and all as it was to leave Bill's beautiful retreat in Mazatlan, I was glad to be finally back on the bike after my longer than planned stop over. It felt as though I was riding the loaded tourer for the first time, it had never felt heavier and I reckoned it was going to take me a day or so to get fully back into the swing of the cycling.

Nick, the mayor of Esquinapa and myself talking politics
Our first full day back on the bikes, spent mostly on the motorway as it has a decent shoulder, got myself and Nick as far as a town called Esquinapa. Obviously for a trip of this duration I cannot afford to be paying for accommodation on a regular basis so I rely heavily on both my tent and the hospitality of friends and strangers alike. Although I had heard of other touring cyclists staying at churches or local town halls and fire stations I had yet to try this out but it was high time I started. So once we arrived into Esquinapa off I marched to the local catholic church to see if they would be able to let myself and Nick stay the night. After a bit of waiting around I managed to find out that one of the priests was taking confessions down the back of the church. So I stood in line and even attempted to confess all my sins and sticky bun stories with my limited Spanish to the confused looking priest. I think he was even more surprised when this lycra clad tourist inquired would there be anywhere in or around the church for two touring cyclists to stay. He told us that the church would not be a safe place to stay at night but suggested that we ask at the town hall (Palacio Municipal) so across the town square we marched. After some more stories of our Pan American cycle to various officials at the town hall we eventually got to talk to El Presidente (Mayor) himself. Being the real politician he seemed more concerned with getting his photo taken with us than anything else but he sorted us out and we actually got to stay, not in the inner courtyard as originally suggested, but in the main board room of the town hall itself. VIPs or what?! So that night Nick and I had about 30 mostly grumpy portraits of previous mayors looking down on us as we nodded off to sleep.

Nick and myself with Tony and Carlos, who work for El Presidente after they very kindly invited us out for dinner that evening.
After Escuinapa, we endured a very hot days cycle to Ruiz. The town was interesting but didn't seem to be the kind of place that received much in the line of tourists so we were a bit of a novelty when we went out for some tacos that evening. Another night in a random Mexican town and another night being welcomed by extremely friendly locals.
Two days later we made it to the quaint little beach town of Platanitos where we camped out the back of a restaurant that had an old dilapidated terrace with a beautiful view over the beach. It was a beautiful setting but we were not on our own. Both Nick and I got chewed alive by a swarm of tiny biting bugs that made it hard to sit still that evening and the following morning.

Nick admiring the view of the beach near the end of the day.
The next day Nick and I went our separate ways as I wanted to head inland towards Guadalajara and some of the other colonial cities and Nick was continuing along the coast. I was not long turned off the coast when the mountains kicked in with a vengeance. A steep winding continuous 25km climb put me through my paces as I crawled away from the Pacific towards inland Mexico.
After two days of mostly climbing I had earned a day off at the famous town of Tequilla.

Seeing double..
Local mural on way into town of Tequila

Aging tequila
Distileria La Alborada, a local family run distillery
On my day off I had a good look around this charming town with it's numerous distilleries. I did a tour of the above distillery. I am not usually a big fan of tequila but I did enjoy my free shot at the end of the tour. The friendly son who gave me the tour was keen to provide me with a few different tasters including their version of something similar to Bailey's. Walking around the town a short time later in the heat of the afternoon sun on an empty stomach I started to feel the effects of the tour. The following day I climbed out of Tequila and that evening negotiated my way through the traffic to arrive safely in Mexico's second city of Guadalajara.

Some agave plants from which the tequila is made growing wild by the side of the road.