2600 MILES DOWN!
DAY 5 CONTINUED.. TOPOLOBAMPO – CULIACÁN
8 hours waiting/listening to blaring mexican trumpet and accordion music came to a sweet end when we arrived at Topolobampo. It was 10 pm and we were more than 2 hours away from our destination. A friend´s house in Culiacán. 2 hours turned into 3 when the ´federales´ pulled me over for doing 15 mph over in a city area. I was guilty. Stupid. Haha, it was obvious what the cop did next was well practiced.
First he shows me his radar gun. The evidence. Then he confiscates my lisence and tells me I can pay in the morning when the office opens. Not happening! I try asking if there is any way I can pay the fine now. He pretends to act as if that´s not really possible but then asks what I want to pay for the infraction. I say 20 bucks and he just shakes his head like it´s a disgrace. Haha, as if I should be ashamed for offering so little. He gets out his clipboard and writes the “amount” for the ticket. Some ridiculously precise number around $100. After a few minutes I bring him down to $40, he has me slip it to him discreetly onto his clipboard and away we go! What a treat!
It wasn´t til around 2 AM that we finally went to bed at my friend´s house.
DAY 6 CULIACÁN – MAZATLÁN
That morning we “slept in” til 9 AM and then my friend, Cesar, and his wife made us breakfast, lunch, helped us with our laundry and gave us a computer to use. That morning we realized that they had given up their own bed for us to sleep in.. Mexican hospitality on this trip has blown both of us away. I replaced rear brakes on my steed and we left for Mazatlán. Before leaving the city we had one more run-in with the locals. While battling traffic in the city a dog comes out of nowhere and latches onto Chase´s foot. Haha, I was cracking up. (don’t worry family, it didn’t penetrate the boot. No Rabies!)
From there we traveled through what looked like what I imagine the forest from beauty and the beast to look like during the day. We arrived at Mazatlan a couple of hours later and pulled up to the beach on the north end of all the hotels, just in front of a restaurant on a rocky point. We took off our helmets and asked a group of older men where to go for camping on the beach. One guy gets up and says “right here!” pointing at the beach in front of the restaurant and then gives us his business card. It’s the owner of the restaurant. He has us put our motorcycles inside the restaurant for security and then gives us a tour of the restaurant. He shows us the bathrooms and the shower and then introduces us to all 20 workers by name. haha, they were all so friendly I thought for a minute that maybe they were up to something. They just wanted to know about our trip and seemed genuinely concerned to make sure we were perfectly comfortable camping there in front of the restaurant. It was a perfect spot.
DAY 7 MAZATLÁN – CUENCAMÉ
We woke up the next morning for a delicious swim in the waves and got back on the road. Between Mazatlan and Durango (further inland and over the mountains) is the “Espinazo del Diablo” or “The Devil´s Backbone.” 100+ miles of switchbacks, blind corners, random farm animals and semi trucks that go around corners at full speed in the opposite lane. The view was beautiful and the road was a blast. After traveling through the Devil´s backbone we arrived at a small pueblo, cuencamé, after what seemed like the longest 250 miles we´ve ever done. Upon arriving the Devil wasn´t done with us. He paid me a visit in the bathroom too. I wasn´t too happy about it. Neither was Chase who got the same Mexican-bathroom-welcome the next day. That night we paid about $10 each for a dumpy motel. It was a slice of heaven for my aching body.. even with a leaky roof AND a cold shower AND rolling blackouts AND strange smells.
DAY 8 CUENCAMÉ – SALTILLO
Grass. Dirt. Cows. Donkeys. Canteloupe. Lots of people piled into trucks. Farmland. Straight roads. Nothing to entertain us but some wize Mexican proverbs on the street signs that say things like “Don´t leave rocks on the highway!” or “Don´t set the pavement on fire!”
We were both pretty uncomfortable during the ride. Gas station bathrooms became a place of sanctuary. The only excitement that day was riding right through the center of a dust devil and getting a bunch of rocks in my face. Later that day we arrived at a family´s house that I met and taught while on my mission. In typical Mexican fashion they put every effort into making sure we were taken care of, especially Chase, who was still feeling terrible. They put him in his own room where he got the pampering of his life. The women knew exactly what to do to help him feel better. Mexican hospitality is unrivaled! We both slept like we were at home that night.
DAY 9 SALTILLO – MONTERREY
Chase still wasn´t feeling great so we stuck around awhile while I visited old friends. Around 5 PM we left Saltillo for Monterrey. 1 hour away. We visited a couple friends from my mission. It got a little late so a family gave us one of their cars to take around the city. That was weird. Driving a car around Monterrey, my old stomping grounds. That night we slept in the best spot in all of monterrey. The roof of the missionaries house. City lights and a strong cool breeze.
DAY 10 MONTERREY
We stuck around monterrey visiting 4 or 5 different families, each of which forced us to eat a giant plate of food. Typical. Not complaining either.
My friends here told us that the drug violence was particularly bad a year ago in the area. People were getting killed and were getting hung from bridges over the main roads on a regular basis. One of my friends, Luis, drives a city bus here. One morning at around 5 AM he saw one of the bodies hanging from a bridge in front of him. He was scared the drug cartel guys were still around so he just hits the gas and nails the dead dudes legs with the top of the bus. That sounds like a pretty terrible story but the way he told it was hilarious. He said it wasn´t that big of a deal, he only had a few people on the bus.
Luis and his wife took us to a great place to see the whole city and then we returned to our rooftop suite.
DAY 11 MONTERREY – SAN LUIS POTOSÍ
We got up that morning, threw some water in our hair and put on some wrinkly church clothes. We visited 2 different wards, got to see a lot of old familiar faces and then ate lunch with a wonderful family. We got back on the road around 3 PM. No more detours from here.
On the ride we hit our first rainstorm and realized… our jackets aren´t waterproof, neither are our boots, or our pants, or really anything. It was perfectly miserable but I was enjoying being back on the road. After topping off our oil and getting some much needed supplies at a Walmart in Matehuala we continued heading south.
At some point in the ride while fidgeting with my ipod, it dropped onto the highway while doing 65 mph. I looked back in horror as my beloved travel companion went tumbling into its imminent destruction. I pulled over, ran back to my old friend, plugged in my headphones and to my amazement everything worked… minus the screen. I told Chase to wip out the camera to take a picture of the miracle. As he did so, the 30 mph crosswinds we were experiencing knocked my bike over on its kickstand. It did a full barrel roll on the side of the highway down a little slope. I looked back at my motorcycle and then back at chase. Then he took the photo. Just some crooked handlebars and mirrors. She started right up and we continued riding another hour or so with crosswinds and semi trucks forcing our bikes to almost 45 degrees to stay heading straight. It was pretty nerve-racking and we rewarded ourselves with a good hotel. Really, the only one we could find. Tomorrow we should make it to Mexico City.