October 11, 2010

Mexico Day 3: Topes, Detours, and Hurrricane Karl

Today (10-10-10) was supposed to be an easy 190 mile run, mostly on toll roads, from Veracruz to Minatitlan.  We easily made our way out of Veracruz, but soon discovered that the toll road we wanted to use was closed due to the destructive forces of hurricane Karl which hit the state of Veracruz hard in mid-September.

We soon found ourselves on a two lane road that ran south of and roughly parallel to the toll road.  Even though we did not have to pay a monetary toll, this road soon took its toll in time and energy spent fighting the heavy truck traffic, bouncing over topes (Mexican speed bumps), and learning to pass long lines of truck traffic.  The Mexicans are very good at making a two lane road serve as a three lane road and sometimes even a four lane highway.  This is easily done when slower traffic moves to the edge of the road surface and the faster traffic uses the middle of the road to pass.  This really works well with bikes and allows us to get past the many heavy trucks on the highway,

The evidence of Hurricane Karl was quite obvious today.  Lots of water still standing in fields, river banks sporting high water, the smell of rotting vegetation in the air, and two bridges either damaged or destroyed.  The bridge situation turned into quite an incredible journey.  At our last rest stop (having covered a whopping 55 miles in two hours!) we noticed the traffic starting to back up on the road.  As we joined the line we realized that this was a major and serious problem for us if we wanted to make Minatitlan today. 

The oncoming lane was void of traffic so we pulled out and slowly proceeded along the line of stopped or slowly moving trucks.  Six miles later we came to the reason for the backup:  a bridge was damaged and a temporary  crossing was being alternately used the by the motorists and truckers.  Another bridge and about six miles later we were out of the mess and on our way again.  By our rough estimation there were over 1000 trucks and vehicles in this traffic nightmare and if we hadn’t used the bikes the way we did we would still be out there in line. 

  A long, hard, dusty, hot day in heavy traffic--we deserved a break, right?  Once into our hotel and cleaned up we could not find a restaurant open for dinner within walking distance.  A little hole in the wall taco place (tripe seemed be popular, but we opted for pork) took the edge off--breakfast will taste good in the morning!


  1. As a proper Canadian I would have waited in line except Ken taught me how to ride in Mexico too. As long as the Dukoral works the pork taco should be good.

  2. I see you're on the road again so the Dukoral must be good

  3. Cuidado! Are they Mexican drivers polite to folks on bikes?

  4. Hopefully dinner in San Cristobal had better options!

  5. Felice, Most motorists respect the two-wheelers and there was no problem with us passing all those trucks. On the other hand, many of the taxis and SUVs in heavy traffic in cities wil not hesitate to cut you off.
    Evie, We found a great place for dinner in San Cristobal de las Casas complete with marimba band! All is well with our tummies.

  6. Ah yes, you have to watch out for those TOPES. On a bike they may not be as bad as if you take them too fast in your car and leave part of the rear end behind on the road. Organ meats are popular in Mexican and Asian cooking too, but roast pork is always a good choice. Saturday is roast pork day in most Mexican market towns - just follow your nose.
    Good luck and use the hot sauce liberally.

  7. Don't forget, don't get ice. I made that mistake thinking all was well with my bottle of Coca Cola and one day they gave me ice with it and it was welcome Montezuma! The Chilean miners are being rescued as I write this. Debates between Feingold and Johnson (barf!) have been on TV and the radio. Mo is on a political commercial! It has been unseasonably warm, Sunday it was almost 80. The leaves here in Madison are at their peak and people have been raking in DP. Stay safe. Abrazos, Felice