It was difficult leaving Mexico City because the traffic was terrible, I doubt it is possible for anyone to ever get a speeding ticket there. We decided to grab a bite to eat as we drove through, and of all places to stop, Rocky chose Subway. I’m not sure how he isn’t sick of eating there.
We were on our way to Valle De Bravo, still in the State of Mexico. It should have taken us two hours to get there but we’ve come to realize that riding through Mexico takes twice as long as riding through Canada or the USA. After finally escaping the city traffic, we had to deal with the country roads where there was one topes (speed bump) after another. Anticipating when we’d ride over the next one was exhausting. When the topes seemed to finally end we began riding through rolling hills that finally led us to Valle de Bravo. It was a really nice town and seemed like the perfect vacation destination for any nearby cities.
We went on a mission asking people if there were any campgrounds but we weren’t having any luck. We kept being given directions that didn’t make sense or we were directed to an RV park that didn’t rent space for tents. They weren’t even busy, I couldn’t understand why they’d turn us away. We finally took a wrong turn in the right direction because we ended up at the lakes edge where the police kept their boat docked. I asked the officers if they minded us camping there and their response confused me. They looked at me funny and said in Spanish, ‘of course you can, but I don’t know why you’d chose to. There are so many better places to sleep’. Silly cops hadn’t a clue. We set up our tent on flat land of soft grass just far enough from the waters edge giving us an incredible view. It is probably safe to say that it was the most perfect spot to sleep in this town.
We packed up the next morning but we weren’t ready to leave. We stopped at a KTM dealership, enjoyed some coffee next door and then went out riding around the town. It was too bad that we had all of our gear loaded on the bike because we had found a perfect spot for off-roading. Hungry, we stopped and ate delicious pizza that really hit the spot and then went back to camp at the same place as the night before to watch the sunset and spend the night.
We organized our things the following morning and rode along the coast. That ride turned out to be the toughest most annoying ride we had been on yet. The terrain was mountainous taking us into high altitudes through some clouds. The weather kept changing from warm, to fresh, to humid, to chilly, and I began feeling a bit nauseous. I think that the altitude may have affected me because I felt weird. I resorted to humming for the rest of the ride, I’m not sure why but it seemed to help distract me from what I was feeling.
The roads were winding and Rocky had to be very careful to avoid hitting fallen rocks, roosters or donkeys. We actually found a donkey limping up the mountain and stopped to offer it some attention and Gatorade (we didn’t have water). There are two things I can think of that really bother me about Mexico. Malnourished, limping, flea infested, skin diseased animals. I wish I knew how to help hurt animals because it is a serious problem in Mexico. The other thing that broke my heart was the litter. Plastic wrappers, bottles and cans are littered in a man made river of trash on the side of the roads. You can be looking at the most beautiful display of nature at its finest, while standing on a mountain of rubbish. It’s sad.
The elevation finally dropped and we soon reached a city called Ixtapa. It was very modern and it looked like a foreigners typical vacation spot. Hungry, Rocky stopped for more… Subway, of course. Uhggg!!! How can he do it? I can no longer stomach a bite or stand the smell. It will be a very long time before I am able to go to Subway again. After eating, we stopped at a cafe and enjoyed the first good cup of coffee I had in Mexico. It was nice to relax on the patio as the sun was setting.
One of the locals there recommended a campsite we could stay at, close to the beach. He told us that he goes there all the time and it only costs 50 pesos ($4). So I checked online and found the website to confirm. I was excited, the place sounded great! We rode past a bunch of resorts down a dark road until we finally reached the campsite. I walked up to the fence and asked the guy working there how much it would cost us to camp and he said 90 pesos ($7.50). He opened the gate for Rocky to ride through and then asked me for 180 pesos ($15). I asked why the website advertised a different price and he explained that the cost went up without the website being updated.
Frustrated, we refused to stay. It’s hard to justify spending $15 to sleep in our own tent, just to be able to take a shower and flush after we pee. We got on the road and headed back in the direction from which we came. I was worried because it was already night time and we weren’t sure where we would be spending the night. We then turned on what seemed to be a dead end street that surprisingly led us directly to a huge secluded beach. It was our own private area and we were eager to pitch the tent and jump in the water before bed. Morning came and it was awesome to step out of the tent and see the scenery under the warm bright sunshine. It was simply beautiful. We spent all morning and most of the afternoon laying on the sand and swimming in the ocean.
We eventually got hungry and decided to go back to the same cafe as the night before, having WiFi there was a definite bonus. I had received an email from Nancy, we had met her through www.couchsurfing.org at the beginning of our trip and stayed with her in Grand Forks BC in Canada. Nancy has a sister named Carol who lives with John in Zihuatanejo, Mexico. Since we were a short distance away, Nancy recommended we stay with Carol. Throughout the day, I tried calling Carol but the payphone kept eating my money, so Nancy recommended we show up because we were expected. The only problem was that the directions we were given, were in typical Mexican style, “look for the wooden house on the beach.”
The sun was about to set and we decided to try and find the wooden house on the beach. We rode around, up and down different streets until we finally reached a house with a wooden fence. I didn’t see the beach nor did I see a wooden house but I was getting desperate at that point and just wanted to ask somebody. A lady was standing nearby and she handed me a tiny little black kitten. I thought it was random but I took the kitten because I couldn’t refuse the furry little creature. She pointed behind me and asked if we were looking for the English people, to my surprise it was a house made of wood behind me. She told me that I must deliver the kitten to Carol, she would know what to do.
This was awkward. With a kitten in my hand, I knocked on the gate and greeted the stranger I was hoping was Carol. I introduced myself, Rocky, along with the kitten. We were immediately welcomed, and I was relieved. It turns out that the kitten had been found in the dumpster and Carol’s neighbor had hoped that Carol would accept the furry creature or find it a new home. Carol and John, being the sweet people they are, couldn’t reject and immediately adopted the kitten.
After drinking some wine and sharing some stories Carol suggested that John show us our room. He told us we had to drive to it and that confused us a little but we followed. Just down the road we pulled up to a house with a large Tamarind tree out front. When walked through the gate my jaw just dropped. Carol and John owned a gorgeous bed and breakfast. It is stunning. We had a beautiful room with a king size bed and a private bathroom. There was a common area with hammocks and a hot tub. This place was a wonderful surprise and treat.
After a great night sleep, John came to pick us up to go surfing. I had never surfed before and I believe it was Rocky’s first time as well. We picked up John’s friend and the four of us headed to the beach. Surfing was fun but also very exhausting, I probably would’ve been much better at it had I ridden the waves and not ridden against them. After a few hours, bruises and mouthfuls of salt, everyone was out of the water and John said he got stung by a Stingray on the bottom of his foot. Stingrays have one or more barbed stings on their tail, and its underside has two grooves with venom glands. I’m not sure what it’s supposed to feel like to be stung but he handled it very well. Not only did he drive, but he even made a stop on our way back to the house. There is an herb used for the sting and it is called Riñonina in Spanish. Riñon means kidney and the herb is known to be excellent for kidney ailments, but along other things it is also used to ease the pain and inflammation from the sting of a Stingray. When we got back to the bed and breakfast, Carol boiled some water, added the Riñonina and John soaked his foot.
Later that night, Rocky and I walked to the town center to wander around and grab a bite to eat. I think it’s hilarious that we can walk down the street drinking a 40 of beer, super classy. We were catching a good buzz when we met one of the store owners, it turned out that he too had caught a buzz but pee’d his pants because of it. He was a nice guy though, we talked for a while about life and politics. We all spoke the same language of drunk and somehow understood each other.
We were supposed to go surfing again the next morning, Rocky went, but I couldn’t function, I was hungover. Later that day, we met Carol, John, and some of their friends by the beach for a bite to eat, and again, some drinks of course. Rocky and I, then joined John on a bar hopping tour of the town, it was fun. The following day, John invited us to eat a traditional Thursday soup called Pozole, made of hominy (white corn soaked in lime (as in the mineral, not the fruit) and cooked with pork and chicken broth, and served with accompaniments of avocado, crisp pork rinds, radishes, oregano, chile, lime, chopped onion, and sometimes taquitos and pieces fresh Mexican cheese. It is often served with Mezcal, a distilled alcoholic beverage made from the Maguey plant. So, even though it was only noon, we had to try a shot of it. It’s tradition!
I had a serious good time meeting Carol and John. They spoiled us with kindness and treated us like true friends. Staying in El Tamarindo was beyond perfect. I hope to visit again sometime and even rent the same room. If you are interested in visiting Zihuatanejo to rent or purchase property, check out John’s real estate website at www.mbprealestate.com (Mexico Beach Property). And, if you’re interested in a healthy lifestyle and delicious recipes, you can find Carol at www.zihrena.net (Zihrena’s Mexican Garden).
Feeling fantastic, rested and refreshed, we had to get back on the road and deal with more topes. Topes should be illegal, I hate them. We weren’t really sure where we were headed but we were going to ride through Acapulco. I wasn’t to excited about it because, as it’s a large city and I heard it was very dangerous. I really didn’t like it once we got there because it was dirty, busy and sketchy. I may have liked it more had we ridden by the coast but we didn’t bother. We kept going until we were back on the highway and slightly passed the city. It was getting dark and with no idea of where we were staying we decided to camp on a grassy area on the side of the highway.
We woke up the next morning and still weren’t sure where we were going. We continued riding the coast and knew we’d eventually find a great place to stop. Mazunte was definitely more than great. It was a backpackers haven, a perfect place for us to venture. We rode down the main strip and stopped to ask a lady at a shop if she knew of a place to camp. She said yes and asked us to follow her up the road. I thought it was nice that she would show us the way, but I didn’t realize, at the time, that she wasn’t taking us to a campground.
We arrived at a small two-story building that had the name Arrecife written across the top. The woman asked me to follow her inside and led me up a set of stairs into a large open area with a roof top, table with chairs and a couple of hammocks. She told me that we could either rent one of the three rooms down the hall or we could pay 80 pesos ($7) to set up our tent in the large room. We were happy to rent out the large balcony, we even had a bathroom with a shower. And, since nobody else was renting a room, the entire area and bathroom were private.
Mazunte is a small village wedged between a wide, one km long beach. It is, known for many of the eco-friendly cabins and other buildings which consists mostly of palm fronds, adobe, bamboo, shells stones coconut shells and wood, designed to blend in with the landscape, and it is famous for sea turtles, due to the many turtles that go there to lay eggs.
We decided to explore more in the morning because we were tired but we probably should have gone out because we didn’t get much sleep anyway. It was a weekend and a beach party thumped the speakers until 4 am playing old school rap and reggae. I didn’t mind it so much because it was music I haven’t heard in half my life but shortly after it stopped, our morning was filled with the sound of roosters crowing and dogs barking. It wasn’t the best night of sleep that we’ve had, …but the next day was spent laying in a hammock, watching T.V and shows on the laptop.
We went for a walk on the beach in the early evening, and picked up some Coronas and limes on the way home. That night, we drank beer, ate snacks, and watched a documentary. The woman whom we were renting the space from, came to visit us that night. I thought it was a sweet surprise. Her and her daughter told us of things to do and see in the area and we showed them pictures of our travels.
Being a Sunday, we slept much better that night. I woke up to the sun and the birds singing and we headed over to a beach-side restaurant for some breakfast and to use the internet. Later that afternoon, we went to beach and laid under the sun. I went in the ocean a few times but the undertow was really strong and I kept seeing large shadows in the water. To be honest, I think I was paranoid of being stung by a Stingray. I don’t want to encourage living in fear but it was a good thing at that moment because I noticed a bunch of jelly fish washed up on the shore. Moments later, I saw that a few people had been stung. As much as I love the ocean, it really creeps me out.
We woke up the next morning to another sunny day. We went for brunch and had another lazy day lounging at the beach. I could get used to this kind of lifestyle. That evening, we went for a delicious fish dinner, had a few beers and watched a movie before bed. We were planning on leaving in the morning to head towards San Cristóbal de las Casas. Life was hard.