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After our ferry trip we had a morning in Mazatlan. A couple we ran into on the street suggested we take the bus for $7 pesos (about .41 U.S.) to the end of the line, which would bring us to a restaurant on the beach with fresh fruit, baked goods and omelettes for $70 pesos (about $4 U.S) each. We did so. The view was great, the food OK but what was the best was our server who let us (made us?) test all the tequilas he had on the counter, one of which had a snake in it. Others had a scorpion and a deadly coral snake. We tasted the snake one with some amount of caution but not enough to actually not do it. It was a cure, after all, to all that ailed us, so we were told.
After breakfast we started walking back in the direction of our hotel along the beach. Many fancy hotels, some with three tiers of pools in case you get tired of swimming in one. It was so hot. I had to swim in my underwear. Or maybe that was the snake-tequila. Nobody knew or likely even cared I was wearing this season’s Icebreaker panties.
We got back on the street and found a bus that took us back to our hotel where we got geared up to venture off toward Guadalajara. Had we known it was going to be such a long day we likely would have skipped the breakfast tequila. As it was we didn’t make it all the way to Guadalajara. We didn’t have to. At a rest stop on a toll highway (tolls are expensive in Mexico and don’t go for very long before you owe another toll. We spent almost $20 U.S. in a 100 mile section. Needless to say, we chose non-toll highways where possible afterward), we were eating handmade potato chips. A big Mexican guy approached us asking about our bikes and trip. He was actually from California and vacationing with his family but had been born in a town called Tala about 100 km away. By the end of our conversation he invited us to stay in his mother’s house in Tala, which was vacant as she had passed about 10 years prior.
It was getting dark and Dave and I had no idea where we were staying so we gladly accepted his offer. After checking out his mini-van full of smiling family members, we confidentially followed him into the Mexican night. We had about 80 km to go to get to Tala.
Along the freeway my gas light lit up. I wasn’t concerned at first as we had passed many gas stations so far. Of course, this would be the one stretch of toll highway where there were no gas stations as far as the eye could see. We were following Ramon in his mini van but I had to cut my speed as it was now 40 km since the light on my dash. Dave and I conversed about what to do through our Sena headsets. If I run out of gas now, I thought, it’ll be an interesting night. A white girl alone on the side of the highway at night in Mexico with a motorcycle. By the time Dave would find a gas station and return to me, I’d be street meat. I coasted along praying my bike had a massive reserve tank. We told Ramon of our situation at one of the toll booths. Ramon said there was a station about 15 km ahead. All was good until we lost sight of Ramon. Dave and I made a hasty and erroneous merge off the toll highway thinking there was a gas station but we watched the Pemex sign retreat in our mirrors as we suddenly found ourselves heading in the wrong direction from the merge. After a sketchy and illegal U-turn on the freeway we then found ourselves swallowed up by the bustling outer city streets of Guadalajara filled with hollering vendors, diesel-belching buses and car-dodging jay-walkers. We hastily pulled into the first gas station we saw, pissed we’d missed out on staying with Ramon and his family but also worried he’d be concerned for us, thinking we’d run out of gas and try to drive back on the highway to find us. There are no places to turn around on the freeway so they’d be driving for miles they could do a loop back.
We heard a car honk. Ramon and his minivan full of family members were waving at us. To this day we can’t figure out how the hell he found us but we were grateful. Now topped with gas, we followed him to Tala. We stayed a very comfortable night in Ramon’s mother’s house with our bikes in the courtyard and had great conversations over breakfast about life and its journeys. Ramon had tears in his eyes when we waved goodbye.
We are finding Mexican people to be most kind and willing to help. They literally drop everything they’re doing in the moment to help you. This has happened time and again for us since landing on the mainland; Ramon with a place to stay, a nice young couple whose directions out of Guanajuato we couldn’t understand so they just told us to follow them and drove us to the place we needed, and then again later that night when we found a hotel and the owner tried giving us directions to an Italian restaurant then just gave up and said he’d drive us there, even though he was on his way home from work and had to drive 70 km.
We stayed one night in an auto hotel in Guanajuato called Hotel Addiction. Auto hotels are also called love hotels. In essence, they are for people who need the rooms for only a few hours, if you get what I mean. For us they are great because they have their own garages. This is for people who are having nefarious affairs at the love hotels so their cars aren’t recognized during their escapades. For us it just means a safe place to store the bikes off the street.
When I asked if they had a room for the night, Sergio, the owner and the guy who ended up driving us to the Italian restaurant, asked, “For how many hours?” When I said the whole night, he had a twinkle in his eye. What was more fun was taking the bus home from the restaurant later that night when Dave asked the driver if he stopped near Hotel Addiction. The whole bus started snickering because it looked as though Dave was taking me, his date, to the love hotel on the public bus.
Of the many heart-warming experience we’ve had along the way, one was finding Pedro and his family on a high mountain road in Mexico’s sierras about 30 km east of Morelia. His steep driveway led off the road up to his restaurant. I asked if we could camp on his property. It was so serene and beautifully peaceful, I couldn’t help myself. He had cabins but when I mentioned we had a tent he said we could camp for free on the grass. Maybe this was where the scorpion in our tent’s vestibule came from, although I find it hard to believe they live that high so think it had been hitchhiking with us for awhile now, likely from Baja. Needless to say it was a surprise when I found it near my pants.
The view was lovely at over 7300 ft out over the sierras. The whole place had a relaxing feel to it. We stayed two nights and on our second night bought fresh farm eggs from his little boy, Alberto, to make dinner. When he said they were free we insisted on paying. One evening Pedro asked us to come into the restaurant and meet some extended family. No one spoke English except for a few words. My Spanish is coming along but I’m only 1 % fluent, according to Duolingo. With gesturing and some common words, we could all communicate and laugh at each other’s attempt at communicating. Pedro’s mountain escape was a much needed reprieve as we are often riding long days into places we don’t know when it is almost dark with escalating concern about finding a place that’s economical, safe and where we can lock the bikes away.
When we left the next morning, Pedro was standing by his truck. I stopped my bike and thanked him for the hospitality. Although he’d done us a huge favour by letting us stay at no cost for two nights, he seemed to feel a gift was in order. From the truck he presented a bottle of Mescal: tequila of the finest quality. Pedro makes it himself. I laughed incredulously wondering where on the bike I would put this large 1 litre glass bottle. It was many miles down the road before the lump was gone in my throat over the extent of his kindness.