Eventually Leana and I have made it to the Pacitic coastal city of Acapulco. Since my last report we crossed more of the ever-present Sierra Madre mountains, before reaching the Pacific. Although the mountains slowed us down and strained our legs a bit, there were good views along the way.
Oh Yes, let me interrupt myself here! It may not seem like much to anybody else, but me and my faithful bicycle (Old Saartjie) have now clocked up 100 000 km on this trip (one hundred thousand kilometres!). The bike clock went to 99 999, and then reverted back to 0!
Once we had descended to the coastal plains, we passed many average Mexican towns which were interesting to us due to their lack of tourism (finding a budget room could become tricky, what with all the pay-per-hour places along our way). It was around that area that we passed the real “Isthmus of Mexico”, the narrowest part of land which is also a virtual wind tunnel between the Carribean and Pacific. No surprise then that there are huge electricity-generating wind farms in the area, with appropriately named worker-towns like La Ventana.
The road West along the Pacific coast often diverted a bit inland over the hot and humid sequence of seemingly endless hills. Fortunately the roadside was pleasantly flavoured by flowering plants of many colours.
Then we reached Mexico's famous "surf-town" - Puerto Escondido, where we took a day off. The waves here are legendary, and surfers from all over the world flock to Zicatela beach for the powerful barrel ride. In that area we also stayed over at local beaches in "palapa rooms", such as at Roca Blanca and Barra De La Cruz.
On our approach to Acapulco we took the coastal route, thinking that it would be less hilly. Well, surprise, surprise! To get into the city we had to cycle over yet another gigantic hill above Puerto Marques and the neighbouring wealthy suburbs below us on the slopes, where our tortured sweat flowed.
The attraction of Acapulco is the beach, relaxation, and the night life, but there is also the famous cliff divers. We went to see these men diving from up to 35m into a narrow and fairly shallow gully (they first have to climb up the cliff from the water into which they dive).
Now Leana leaves for a "holiday" in South Africa. I will accompany her by bus to Mexico city from where she flies, and then I will return to Acapulco from where I will continue cycling alone.
Distances cyled since last time were:- Tuxtla 16 km; Cintalapa 83 km; Tapanatepec 80 km; Juchitan 111 km; Morro Maratan 73 km; Barra De La Cruz 94 km; San Pedro Pochutla 72 km; Puerto Escondido 70 km; Roca Blanca 45 km; San Jose 48 km; Pinotepa 61 km; Cuajinicuilapa 57 km; Mariquelia 66 km; San Marcos 81 km; Acapulco 76 km. Total so far in Mexico is 2838 km. Grand total is 100 383 km.
Since my last post Leana and I left the city of Merida on our way West (and we picked up our USA visa's on the way out). Within a couple of days we were in another historic colonial city, this time the coastal city of Campeche, where we spent a day looking around and photographing restored history. From there we cycled along a very scenic stretch of the Mexican Gulf coastline, where the road mostly ran only metres from the ocean. We also crossed a number of big bridges in the area, the 3km and 4km long causeways to- and from Isla Del Carmen, as well as bridges over various large rivers. Until fairly recently there were no modern roads in the region, and river transport prevailed. Mexico has a large oil industry, with refineries and oil rigs visible from the coast.
We followed this coastal road as far as the town of Paraiso, past Isla Del Carmen and Frontera into the Tabasco State.
Then we headed South, trying to cut through the depression in the narrow part of the country in order to avoid the mountains on our way to the Pacific coast. Somewhere along the way my odometer also clocked over to 99 000 km.
In the process we visited more Mayan ruins at Comalcalco, and at the Tabasco state capital, Villa Hermosa, we went to Parque De La Venta where we looked at ancient Olmec artifacts (including the famous giant heads carved from basalt rock). There were also some captive local animals in the park, such as the jaguar in picture. Moving on South we also stayed over at Teapa in the pouring rain, and took a tour deep into the spectacular caves just outside of town.
Then the trouble started, the dreaded Sierra Madre mountain range. Luckily the road doesn't cross the highest part, but we caught the edge of it, and that was fierce enough!. After some time in the flat humid jungle and coastline, these hills were a wake-up call. However, on the bright side, the scenery was spectacular, we passed through amazing rural villages where the indigenous ways are still strong, and the climate was nice and cool for a change.
Now we have dropped down to the lowlands on the Pacific side of this narrow part of the country, and we'll head on to that coast from here. Currently we are taking a break at another historic colonial town, Chiapa De Corzo, which is close to the Chiapas state capital, Tuxtla.
Daily distances cycled since my previous post have been:- Maxcanu 67 km; Campeche 121 km; Champoton 67 km; Sabancuy 71 km; Cuidad Del Carmen 87 km; Frontera 100 km; Paraiso 81 km; Villa Hermosa 81 km; Parque De La Venta 7 km; Teapa 71 km; Tapilula 80 km; Nuevo Pueblo Solistahuacan 36 km; Bochil 40 km; and Chiapa De Corzo 69 km. The total distance I've cycled in Mexico so far is 1785 km, and the total distance which I've cycled so far on this trip is 99 330 km.
My bike (Old Saartjie) on the first day of this trip, 27 March 2007.
PLEASE HELP TO KEEP OLD SAARTJIE'S WHEELS ROLLING: In order to fund this cycle trip I'd sold everything I had, but that has long gone. Please help if you can! If you want to contribute, then please contact me on my e-mail, and I will give you details. (email@example.com)
My Cycle Route
Starting in Cape Town, South Africa, on 27 March 2007 - 145 036 km so far
My name is Ernest Markwood, and I am a South African formerly from Cape Town. I am a Research Psychologist by profession, and operated a Market Research business before embarking on this journey. I sold my posessions and took off by bicycle all the way through Africa from Cape Town. Since then I've proceeded via the Middle-East through Turkey, the Caucusus, Iran, Sub-Continent (Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, and Nepal), China, South-East Asia, Indonesia, Australia, South- and Central America, and the USA, crossing Canada from the West to East and then all the way down the East coast of USA, and Jamaica. Currently my mission is to close gaps in order to form a continuous route around the world. I left Cape Town on 27 March 2007. This was not intended to be a race, but rather an experience (and so it is!).
Me (Ernest), on one of my better days
. . . . on this trip I have looked like this . . . .
- - - also like this . . .
. . . . and I've even looked like this!
I have not been cycling on my own for this entire trip. Leana and I left together on 27 March 2007 from Cape Town, South Africa (our former hometown). Since then we have cycled separately at intervals, although in total we have been together much of the time. We split in 2013. For more about her see leananiemand.org.za