Nuevo Vallarta to Popocatepetl
Posted on October 17, 2014
We left Puerto Vallarta on the 5th, destination for the day Chapalla, the midpoint to San Miguel Allende. Once again the roadways were beautiful.
Enroute the GPS took us into a remote village via a dusty dirt road.
The guys once again managed well. When we got through the road we arrived at a junction in front of a small establishment where there were three very surprised men drinking beer. They called out to us asking where we were going. After a little sign language they pointed us to the branch we needed, and off we went…..turns out the GPS had it right, just not the best connector!!! The detour took about an hour out of our day so we got to Chapalla a little later and a little more tired than planned.
As we were navigating into the town center Tom managed to take us up a one way street, pulling over and stopping still facing in the wrong direction in front of the police station. At that point Tracy and I got off the bikes and started our usual search for a suitable hotel. We found a Bed and Breakfast owned and operated by an Aussie….the hotel had the historic relevance of having D.H. Lawrence stay there for a few months while writing one of his novels in the 1920’s. The place had been so significantly changed that the room he wrote in doesn’t really exist anymore. But the grounds were pretty eclectic, rooms good….but no breakfast!!!!
That evening as we were getting ready to go out for dinner we had one of our traditional thunder, lightning and rain storms, which cleared the streets of all the locals and caused us to find the first decent looking place to eat….we tried to sit on the deck but the wind was blowing so hard we had to move inside. Owners didn’t seem to happy to have us there as we were their only customers…..maybe they were hoping to get home early due to the storm….luckily more people came in off the street and then they seemed a bit more upbeat.
Although Lake Chapalla is huge, its water level has dropped more that 25 feet over the years and as a result most of the water front is now marsh land.
After breakfast we got the bikes loaded …destination San Miguel Allende.
Arrived in San Miguel around 5:00….much later than anticipated due to another GPS excursion….this time the route it sent us on was a bit more of a disaster….about a mile of mud and ponds of water….Tracy and I decided to walk it this time as our memories of a mud bath were far too recent…..of course the guys did it no problem this time….leaving us to navigate the road via side pathways with slippery crossings in sweltering hot temperatures……again the locals nodding their heads in disbelief while exchanging greetings of Hola! 🙂 Luckily when we regrouped we were at the correct junction.
The rest of the ride to San Miguel was uneventful. We arrived in the city without any idea of what to expect or where to stay. Turns out the roadways to the center were cobblestone, narrow and busy with pedestrians. Once again the guys did an amazing job of navigating us through the maze, especially since it was the end of a long day and they were tired.
They parked the bikes just outside the square and Tracy and I did our reconnaisance mission for hotels…..once again needed to find the essentials….secure parking, wifi and a good bed….after a bit of looking we decided on a fairly standard hotel that we had noticed on the way into town…about a seven minute walk from the town square….it turned out to be a good choice as we were isolated at the hotel by the traditional night rainstorm…..and the hotel had a great restaurant.
Next morning we wandered up to the city square to Rincon DeDon Tomas to enjoy a great cappuccino. After that the day was spent wandering through the city streets. Late afternoon we went to the Rosewood Hotel to enjoy the city views before we walked to the center square to catch the evening light in the streets and on the buildings. Really beautiful. Then a great dinner at Hank’s.
Adios San Miguel de Allende and off to Teotihuacan to see the pyramids. The ride started on an insanely busy toll road filled with bumper to bumper transporters headed to Mexico City to either pick up or drop off their wares….it was crazy.
Trucks three abreast and really moving.
About an hour in a free road branched off from the toll road and many of the truckers turned off leaving the toll road much less congested….but just as we were relaxing into the ride Lindsay got a puncture message on the bike computer…..Great!!!! So he signalled Tom and we pulled off onto the shoulder to address the issue….this meant Lindsay had to plug the puncture which he managed with Tom’s help. Tracy and I walked up the road to flag traffic to slow down and give berth…..and meanwhile a highway traffic worker joined the guys at the bike and was also signaling traffic around…so at least the guys didn’t have to worry about their backs.
Once the puncture was plugged the traffic person directed us to an exit from the highway to a place that could put a proper patch on the tire. Tire repair shops seem to be on every corner in Mexico and do a thriving business as worn out tires vastly outnumber the good. Tom and Lindsay removed the culprit wheel and tire from the bike and within five minutes the tire was removed, patched and remounted.
We arrived in Teotihuacan later than anticipated but still had lots of time to cruise around and orient ourselves to the pyramids.
We were a ten minute walk from the pyramids (Aztec ruins), so in the morning we packed up our bikes and parked them at the hotel while we visited the ruins.
After spending a few hours at the site we left Teotihuancan for Cholula to see Mexico’s highest volcano at 17,802′ …Popocatepetl or Pop……We got in around suppertime, so settled into our hotel, Cholula Villas, and had a great meal at the hotel’s restaurant…..had the place to ourselves…very relaxing.
The next morning we were up early as we wanted to have a look at the church that was built on a pyramid in the center of town before we headed out on the Pasa de Cortes. Luckily we were up early because we got a great view of the volcanoes just before their peaks were clouded over.
Meanwhile there was much discussion as to the passability of Pasa de Cortes…..Tom really wanted to do it and Lindsay was keen….I think both Tracy and I were feeling a bit pensive, but once the guys decided it was a go we went along with it. Turns out it was a great decision..the road was paved and meandered through some great back country, but the actual 30 km ascent was rough…..lots of twists and turns on dirt, potholes and washouts…once again the guys made it look easy and it was so great to reach the high point (12,179 feet) and see pavement again…..unfortunately the volcano was completely socked in.
We stopped at the top to take a few photos and then it was a cruise down the other side….a fabulous road both in quality and views – stunning. The air and smells reminded us of the forests back home.
One last look back at ‘Pop.’
We arrived at Izucar de Matamoros town center with no idea of where to lay our heads….and the hotels we did see did not look promising, nor did they have parking…..secure or otherwise…..
As Tracy and I were doing the Hotel hunt, Lindsay and Tom were approached by an English speaking local girl asking if they needed some assistance. She was lovely. She was on a small bike and offered to lead us to the best hotel in town…..think remote Northern Motel with courtyard for parking…..not so bad once we were settled….it was clean and close to the town square….although the toilet seat was missing!!
Next stops Oaxaca and Juchitan; destination San Cristobal.
Thanks so much for sharing your adventures and phenomenal scenery with us.
Thanks for the comprehensive, visual feast of a log. So glad you are such a great foursome and surmounting challenges like crazy GPS. Hey, when I used it on Saltspring, it put me on a very high hilltop, with the way down past boulders and huge ruts. Travel safe. XXOO
Amazing! Beautiful photos… my eyes are sparkling and my mouth is salavating… stay safe 🙂