2016-09-24 – Day 13 – Mazatlan (SI) to Tequila (JA) (468 km – 7:00 hrs)
2016-09-25 – Day 14 – Tequila (JA) to Guadalajara (JA) (65 km – 1:00 hrs)
2016-09-26 – Day 15 – Guadalajara (JA) to Leon (GT) (244 km – 3:45 hrs)
Today (Sept. 24th) was a long day of driving that was planned for quite a bit. Despite seven hours behind the “wheel”, and close to 500 km, all went well and it was very pleasant for the simple reason that I chose the alternate road and not the highway!
I would have possibly saved two hours, but instead of driving 130 km/h and see nothing of what surrounded me, I completely soaked in all the small villages I crossed and in the beautiful mountains that I have seen in the distance and even crossed just before getting to Tequila.
It’s fascinating how the roads are almost deserted and in very good condition, for the majority of the time. These results on the fact that it is possible to keep a good pace. Rarely, there are slow vehicles that delay you and when there are, it is very easy to pass them.
Of course, here, as in Canada, there are areas where passing is permitted, with a dotted line, and zones where it’s prohibited, with a or a couple of continuous lines. The only difference here is the indifference of drivers from these different zones! When it is possible to pass, people do so, without worrying too much about the type of line on the painted on the ground.
Who am I not to adapt to the local customs!
At no time, have I felt that I was in any danger on the road. In fact, to date, only entering medium and large sized cities are more delicate. That said, I must stay awake at all times, because it is not uncommon to be overtaken even if you are driving at 130 km/h, and large potholes are still a possibility, not to mention the “topes” to slow traffic down entering in urban areas.
Let’s get back to today’s journey. The image that I have of the day is green, either from farmland, forests or mountainous areas, everything was very green. This was going perfectly with the blue sky and nice temperature of 27 degrees Celsius!
I arrived earlier than expected in Tequila because Google Map planned 8 hours between the 2 cities, so I left Mazatlan early. Google is absolutely right in its predictions, because the speed limit data provided by the government is sometimes ridiculously low (and not respected by anyone anyways)! So, in some areas where the limit is set at 40 km/h, traffic flows at 100 km/h! It is not difficult, in these circumstances, to break records!
Tequila is a very touristic town on weekends because of the “bodegas” that … You will certainly have guessed it, produce tequila! In fact, production companies are really impressive and generate incredible income, judging from buildings and land development.
The historic centre is friendly and nice to quietly walk around and exchange words with artists and other tourists! however the choice of restaurant is a bit limited. I recommend spending the day, but not necessarily the night.
My hotel had a beautiful courtyard, so I took advantage of it to relax and sort my photos and answer my emails.
A humorous note to finish on that city. Watch these beautiful cars! Is Tequila a touristy place in your opinion?
One of the things that I have learned with my years of travelling is that it is sometimes desirable to arrive in large cities on Sundays, around noon. This is what happened from Guadalajara and this was an excellent coincidence! The streets were almost deserted and I could easily make me in my hotel where I quickly brought my luggage in and was quickly ou to go for a long walk.
Let us take a small step back, however! I left Tequila late, because I knew that I was only 60 km to do, so late morning with breakfast in the indoor terrace of the hotel and a stat around 11:30.
This day is also the celebration of my first 2 weeks on the road. I slowly begin to get accustomed to the routine. In fact, Mexico is a good transition and gets me to practice for what to expect in the next countries that I wish to visit. Travel (and driving) here is relatively easy and this translates into easy planning of days to come. I know very well that what is waiting for me in a few weeks and for the next few months will be completely different.
For example, I rely heavily on Google Maps. This tool simply allows me to see in the future! It is easy to find a hotel, and even see if the street it’s on is quiet or if there is a spot to park in front to facilitate my arrival. I am aware that Google Street feature will probably not be available in Peru, and that the coverage of the cellular network may be much more limited than here.
The example of today is perfect. I have done a search with hotels.com to locate a hotel with a cheap rate in the historic centre, but I then went on Google Maps and use Street views and ended up selecting a hotel that was located on a small street, with a space for me to park and get my luggage in without concern.
I know very well that this will not be the possible in Huaraz,Peru.
With the orientation of my arrival, Guadalajara seemed to be nice at best. It is only when I got out walking that I was left speechless!
The town is lively, vibrant, crowded with historic buildings, which are more impressive, one after the other, and with places and pedestrian streets making more enjoyable the visit.
Look at the first thing that I see coming out of my hotel! Bixis!!! For people who are not from the Montreal region, this is the bike-sharing program designed in Quebec and which is exported everywhere in the world, including New York, Boston and… Guadalajara!
Here are a few images of the city.
As a bonus, I discovered a neighborhood (Colonia Americana), which is a little more quiet in the evenings, with beautiful streets aligning large trees on each side and filled with small restaurants, cafes and bars which make a place clearly appreciated by the locals.
I walked more than 25 km during the day, so it was not difficult to get to sleep!
Verdict: Guadalajara has much to offer in terms of architecture, gastronomy and small streets in great neighborhoods to discover. A great surprise!
Monday morning, I am heading towards Leon, a smaller city, but still a major one. The road was not very nice, with, in fact, horrible portions, and for the first time of the trip, I had to wait behind trucks a few times, because the traffic was sometimes important. Despite everything, I had fun, because it is much easier to get out of these situations driving a motorcycle.
The historical centre that Leon offers is beautiful with its great places and old buildings, but it is not very refined. I had to walk out of this district to find an acceptable option for a restaurant (all this obviously depends on the tastes and needs of the moment!).
Despite everything, the town is lively, there are a lot of young students who seem to be happy (and in love!), small shops and obviously, shoes for sale! Nobody here has no excuse for walk naked foot!
The motorcycle now. All is well, no mechanical problem to mention. I have more and more fun driving it as if it is becoming lighter and because I’m getting accustomed to the new rules of driving in Latin America.
I still have a minimum of 4500 km to drive in order to get to Panama City.
After the boat crossing, I account having at least 1500 km between Cartagena to Bogota (where Medellín) to drive where I was hoping to make a tire change. I must therefore be able to make another 6000 km. If I account for the 8600 km already travelled with these tires, this would make a total of 16000 km, which is not impossible with this model, according to several blogs consulted.
I’m still looking at options for a rear tire in Panama City or Cartagena. Daniel Calza, of motorourpanama.com is very generous with his time and found me a place where MITAS are available.
I am a little hesitant with this brand and will have to do some research. He also mentioned that some people have, in the past, sent tires from North America to his address. I will look at this option.
There is also Marco Arvida of Touratech Costa Rica which should come to me regarding the availability of an Hiedenau. They have the TKC in stock, but this tire has a life duration that is too short for my needs.
The other option is that my girlfriend brings me a tire if it comes to see me in Cartagena.
Comments? Has anyone taken the plane with a tire checked as luggage?
2016-09-22 - Day 11 - Durango to Mazatlán (320 km - 5:00 hrs) 2016-09-23 - Day 12 -Mazatlán One of the recommended routes that I read on various blogs is the 40, between Durango and Mazatlán. Normally, taking the normal toll highway, the 40D, travel time between the two cities ... Read more