Mexico Part 1: Border to Michoacan
— Mexico — 6 min read
March 30 - April 4, 2010
Feeling good about the bike and the trip, I casually crossed the border line and said good bye to America. I was now in the South heading one-way. I'll return some day as a big part of my life happened there with many happy experiences.
Being the third time crossing into Mexico, I knew the border process quite well. First to migracion (immigration) to get my passport stamped in, get a tourist travelers permit and then head about 20 kms south to the customs office to temporarily import the bike. Then on, it was riding through the dry and dusty Sonoran desert heading to the Pacific coast. I worked my way down the coast, staying with CouchSurfers along the way. Some of them didn't speak much English and it helped me get immersed in speaking Spanish.
Swinging through one last US National Monument on my way to the Mexican border. I saw quite a few of the US National Parks during my time in the States and they are a treasure to the whole world.
Cactus resembling organ pipes; all the branches stemming from one main trunk.
Last few miles of America. The Mexican border is by those mountains.
Welcome to Mehico! I crossed at the small border town of Sonoyta. I got my tourist permit and passport stamped and was heading inland to the customs office since 20 kms from the border is a free trade zone to encourage trade with America, where import permits are not needed for vehicles.
Processing the temporary importation of my bike into Mexico. When I leave the country, I need to check my bike out of the country and then check myself out of the country.
Changing money into Mexican Pesos ($1 = 12 Pesos)
Riding through the Sonoran Desert of northwest Mexico. There were lots of straight flat roads and a few corners. I was listening to my Spanish audio book and preparing to use it for my first night in Mexico.
Staying in a small hotel in Guyamas on the Pacific Coast.
Dinner from a road side burrito shack. Locals were driving up specifically to eat at this stand - always a good sign that the food is good.
If you can see it being prepared, that helps to ensure the food is safe. She spread avocado first, some tomatoes and then fried beef.
Putting my feet up and enjoying dinner by the road side.
Mmm, it was good after a long day in the saddle. And it came with a variety of salsas in varying spiciness.
The hotel I was staying at for P180 for which I got the info from my Lonely Planet guide book.
Getting secure parking for the bike at the hotel. As long as it's away from prying eyes on the street, it should be safe.
The only way to get down the coast in some places is to take the toll freeways, which are usually in good condition with adequate signs. Slower traffic stays to the right and I would say most drivers were respectful. Lots of double trailers in Mexico.
In some places on the libre road, it was marked as only 2 lanes (1 each way) with a nice wide shoulder on each side, which became a de facto slow lane. Vehicle speeds vary greatly with slow old vehicles and brand new SUVs whizzing by. I was limiting my top speed to 90 kmh (55 mph) and thus was in the slow lane most of the time.
Inscription on the hill: "Jesus Christ is the way". Mexicans in general are a deeply religious people.
A few hills were crossed along the coast, but otherwise the ride wasn't that exciting up north.
I pulled into Los Mochis and saw a RV trailer park that was mostly occupied with Canadian Snow Birds heading back home from Mazatlan for the summer. I got to pitch my tent for P100.
The compound was guarded at night and the setting was quite nice under this beautiful tree.
Having dinner in downtown (centro) Los Mochis.
A beef Sope, which is a hard tortilla with a brown paste and then beef and some veggies with cheese on it. Was quite good.
The next morning having Birria for breakfast, goat meat stew at a road side restaurant on the highway. This is one of my favorite dishes and I tried to have it as much as I could as it's only available in this region.
On the road to Mazatlan.
Seeing a nice sunset in Mazatlan. The beach was crowded as the next two weekends were national holidays for Easter (Semana Santa).
I stayed with CouchSurfer Bryan, an expat from the US who retired to Mazatlan.
In Mexico, when they have a toll road (cuota), they usually provide a free road (libre) heading to the same city. The libre is usually the older way and generally is more fun as it might have more twists in it and go up and over hills. Whilst the cuota is a high-speed 4 lane freeway blasting through the terrain for a hefty price.
But still the libre road is in good condition and well signed with distances to the next petrol station and services.
A typical Mexican gas station. The petroleum industry is nationalized in Mexico and there is only one type of petrol station, Pemex, the national oil company. The price of petrol is also the same throughout the whole country (varying by a few cents between some regions) and it's P8 for a litre, which is about $2.50/gallon. The stations are full service with attendants and have free air for tires and water for radiators and there are plenty of them everywhere.
On the way to Puerto Vallarta on Hwy 200, which I would be taking for the next few days down the coast. The roads through here were real fun to ride but traffic was very heavy with inland city dwellers rushing to the coast for the holiday weekend. These were also familiar roads as I came this way during my first trip around Mexico in 2007.
The foliage was quite dense with no space for shoulders on the road, but it makes for an enjoyable ride, being so close to the trees.
Visiting Sayulita, a surf town near Puerto Vallarta. I stayed here for 2 days on my previous trip and really enjoyed it.
Staying with CouchSurfer Su in Bucerias, near Puerto Vallarta. Using a bike cover when I can't park the bike in a secure place.
We slept on the roof as she had other family friends staying downstairs in the house. They were here for the holiday weekend. It was a good sleep and the mosquito mesh on my tent worked well and I put the tarp on as the humid air produced dew in the morning.
Steps leading to the roof.
Su's backyard, which she's slowly transforming into a garden, hopefully to grow some vegetables. Drying my base layers on the clothes line. I've been rinsing them every night in the shower and since they're synthetic and silk, they dry fast.
Su preparing breakfast. She's a singer and mostly does reggae, ska, punk, etc.
Yummy French Toast.
A life quote on her fridge.
A nice view from the stove, pondering which countries to travel to.
The house was beautifully constructed with brick and the ceiling had curves in it, which Su said helped to keep the house cool. It's a traditional way to build houses in this area.
No A/C needed here. Wonderful coastal winds, natural ventilation.
The road south of Puerto Vallarta turned inland and went through some forests.
Agave plants, that are used in making tequila and mezcal.
Staying in a seaside hotel on the Michoacan coast, in San Juan de Alima. I managed to negotiate the price down from P400 to P300. It was getting late and there were no other towns in the area.
Sleepy town during the day but it was hopping in the evening with holiday traffic. Had to sleep with ear plugs in.
I was getting "meated-out" by having meat with every meal and needed to get some fiber.
Mangoes! Even though they were green on the outside, this variety was very sweet on the inside.
Breakfast by the ocean of two avocados, a mango and a banana.
The remote Michoacan coastline. There are very few resorts and developments along the coast in this state and there are still many pristine beaches.
On Hwy 200 heading down the Michoacan coast.
Enjoying the twisty sections.
The roads are well designed with regards to banking, camber and the pavement is mostly in good condition.
A natural rock arch, carved either by water or uplift.
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