Tuesday, 13 July 2010

what do you mean i'm not in central america yet?

After a week of stick walking in Zihuatanejo my ankle was making a slow but steady recovery. Then the world cup semi finals happened...and a few days after that, well it was the final! I ended up staying 14 nights in the place. I was planning on going diving between the semi final and the final but I woke up on the Wednesday morning with my right nostril completely blocked...bugger!!

I had a great time though, long lie ins in the morning, lazy breakfasts in the cafĂ© across the road, pre siesta cold beers in the “fishing hole” corner bar (only 7 stools, all on the pavement) and in the evenings after dinner hanging out in “Zorro's sports bar” described in the guide book as “an interesting bar with a slightly dingy ambience and incipient alcoholics” so I fitted in quite well. I met up with one old gringo called Lenny who was heading south one of these days. His blog is really quite funny (www.adiosusa.net) but I'm still not sure if he means it to be!

However, all good things must come to an end and on Tuesday 13th I left town. The small climb out of the bay almost killed me....14 days of smoking and drinking has a price that has to be paid! Four hours and 20 miles later I came to the small town of Petalan, found a hotel and relaxed. Well I didn't want to stress my ankle out too much on the 1st day. The next day I was back on the road for 40 miles to the large village of San Luis De Loma, then it was 35 miles to the large boring town of Atoyac de Alvarez followed by a 55 mile ride into Acapulco. I only got caught in two downpours in the 4 days and it was nice cycling in the rain apart from all the spray when a lorry pulling a double trailer goes passed at 40 mph

In those 4 days on the road I think I took about 3 pictures, not because the was nothing to see because there was but because I was enjoying being on the road too much to want to stop!

Also on the 1st day I was going along happy as (this was obviously after I had recovered from the climb) when my super expensive sunglasses split in two, left my face and bounced down the road. Turns out the screw holding one of the lenses to the bridge had decided to leave....and then when I was about 20 miles from Acapulco I heard a loud “ping”, for once it wasn't my ankle but a spoke on the rear wheel had snapped in two

Arriving in Acapulco I was knackered. The last 6 miles into the town were uphill under the blazing hot afternoon sun and after spending the last 45 miles on flat roads it was a shock to my legs. I ended up in the Zocalo part of town standing in the shade next to the Oxxo shop rehydrating when someone grabbed me from behind and started to strangle me....I was just about to react violently when the bloke said “Hola Amigo”. I thought to myself, I know that voice. Turning around I found that I was correct...it was Alain! I was, to say the least, surprised to see him here. I would of thought he would have been many miles ahead of me after my two week break.

He was staying in a nearby hotel, so I joined him. For 120 pesos I have a room with A/C in Acapulco...fucking unbelievable!!!!!!! The only down side is that my room is on the 3rd floor and the staircase is narrow, on each flight of stairs I have to make a 3 point turn with the bike.

The next day myself and Alain both went to the bike shop. I needed a new spoke and my wheels balanced and Alain needed a new set of gears....again (he does this every 4 months or so, where as I never need too!). Chatting away as the mechanic worked it turns out that I am lucky with punctures. I was moaning about the fact that I had got a slow puncture the other day (it took 5 hours in the hotel room to go down) and I was upset because it was my 1st one of the trip. When Alain started in New York he got his 1st puncture 30 minutes after starting and then another two later on that day. When I mentioned that when I went from England to Turkey I got zero punctures, Alain started to shake my hand to try and rub off some of my good luck....he gets around 3 punctures a month.

On Tuesday, after Monday's rain aborted attempt I was once again back on the bike and heading south. Cursing around the bay in rush hour traffic was “interesting”. I have yet to learn the Spanish for “you're a ******** idiot” or “ Oi ****** ******* look next time” or “you ****”. I haven't had road rage for years!

Half an hour later the road stopped being flat and started to go uphill....it hurt, it really really really hurt!!!! Finally after an agonising 45 minute ride I reached the top, took a final look at the bay behind me and started to smile as I went down hill for several miles. The following 30 odd miles were flat along the coast before once again turning left and heading uphill.

I ended up in the small town of San Marcos, some 50 miles down the road from Acapulco. A cheap hotel with cable TV made the late afternoon a good one

Looking at the map and where all the towns were I decided to have an easy Wednesday and I ended up biking less than 30 miles to the small town of Cruz Grande...it took me less than 3 hours. In the evening I was having a cold beer in a small unassuming bar near my hotel when this big fat transvestite madam called Coco walked in. (S)he came up to me and started to talk, in english, and after about two minutes (S)he said “you do know I am a man right”....honestly how could anyone not know! A few beers and a chat later I paid my bar bill and was on my way out of the door when (S)he mentioned that her “friend” wanted to take me into the back room and suck my cock....???

…..back in my hotel room I watched an episode of “Bones” on TV and then went to sleep.

The next morning I was up watching the last of the rain petter out whilst having my breakfast and then I was on the road. Several hours later I had covered the 50 miles to the town of Ometepec, or so I thought! Turns out the town was a further 12kms up a side road (one day I will look at the map more closely) and as there was a hotel at the junction you can guess what I did.

As the following day was a Friday I decided to spend the weekend in the large town of Santiago Pinotepa Nacional which was about 55 miles down the road, or as it turned out 55 miles up the road. It was a long hot day which I only really started to enjoy when I was relaxing post shower in a A/C cold room watching CSI Miami. Turns out there was a fiesta going on at various times during the weekend and when I could drag myself away from my lovely cold room and my cable TV I went and had a look.

I was going to bugger off on Sunday morning but I realised that on Sunday the German F1 race was on, it was the last day of the Tour de France and Moto GP was coming from America....

Monday the 26th of July: I only just managed to leave my hotel room and get back on the bike.....damn that A/C was soooo good!!!!

Leaving the town behind I headed downhill for 3 miles, passing the military check point, the small pack of dogs that gave chase for an unsuccessful 100metres, across the river and then I spent the next 20 miles going uphill. On the brightside I got to go downhill once I finally got to the top 4 hours later......by 13:30 I had covered 70kms and was passing through the small town of Santa Rose de Lima. As I was now exactly halfway to Puerto Escondido (which was tomorrow's destination) and this one horse town had a hotel.........

In the morning I was up early and on the road by 7:30, the road was mostly flat and I was taking it easy. I arrived in Puerto Escondido in the early afternoon and after a few shocks gave up trying to find a cheap hotel and instead got a hotel on the main tourist road by the beach for 450 pesos a night! It didn't even have A/C but it did have cable, so it wasn't all bad? On Wednesday (the 28th) I celebrated 3 months in Mexico by going diving....finally!!!!! The visibility wasn't great and the water temperature 20m below the surface was a cool feeling 28oc. I don't think I will be able to dive in the English channel ever again! As for the wildlife, well I saw a few rock and stone fish, some lobsters and a couple of eels. On the surface it was turtle shagging season...

I was only planning to be here for 2 nights but I may hang around for an extra day and go for another couple of dives...well I stayed for another day and went diving again, the water was still tepid!

On Friday the 30th of July I got back on the saddle and left the town behind. I was heading to Zipolite around 45 miles away. The main road along the coast was great! The government is spending millions of pesos upgrading the road to a dual carriageway and for long sections the new road was finished but not yet open to the public. That meant I had the widest cycle path in the world! After 38 miles I left the main road behind and headed onto a minor road that looped along the coast. A few miles later I stopped in one of the small villages for a drink (this was a good thing) and then carried on. The road went uphill for about 1000m and after a 100 metres I realised that I just wasn't able to peddle up a 20% incline...by now it was the early afternoon and I was hot,sweaty and tired! After the 1st climb there were a further two more, each of them just as steep and ultimately walkable.

Finally I reached Zipolite, found a quiet hotel right on the beach and decided that this would be were I would be spending the weekend. Zipolite is a cool place to hang out and during the low season it was nice and quiet. The days were spent lounging in the beach restaurant reading a book, watching the surfer dudes get wiped out and occasionally watching a bikini bottom go by...and the evenings hanging in out in one the many bars and restaurants along the main street whilst bongo playing crusties annoyed me!

From Zipolite is was about 140 miles along a mountainous coast to the industrial port town of Salina Cruz...it took me 3 days. It was hard and sweaty work but enjoyable in a slightly masochistic way. Sadly on the second day my rear tyre started to de-laminate along the side wall and the resulting bulge made going downhill over 20mph way to wobbly...so I didn't even get to have the sweat on my face dry off....

Entering Salina Cruz I headed for the main square and then found a slightly run down motel near by. It had the two things I needed....cable TV and A/C. Later on in the early evening I went for a quick walk around the area and came across a Burger King...

the following day I spent the morning in a decent coffee shop adjacent to the central plaza, got my clothes washed and managed to get a new tyre that may even last a 1000 miles. The rest of the day...I did mention that the hotel room had A/C and cable TV!!!

Salina Cruz is at the northern end of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec and so that meant I had left North America behind and was now in Central America (which was funny because I thought that when I had crossed over the border into Mexico I was in Central America already)