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Patzcuaro – Guatemala – Corpus Cristi ~ 6400 km 2011/03/19

Posted by altsport in Altsport:.
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Before leaving Patzcuaro I got myself new shoes, since my old ones, which I got thanks to Murrey at Warnambool in Australia, got some holes in the padding by this time. It took me a long time as to get used to the new and cheap ones I got for 290 pesos. Had quite a few mazols and there was still a lot of walking to do through Mexican towns. After having a ride to Uruapan, which was next big city, driver gave me a copper bracelet, which he made himself – now I have some 5 things on my left wrist. From Uruapan I was heading to Zihuatanejo. At one time I got on this road with very little traffic, a car or two per hour. Thinking of finding some intersection with a more lively traffic I walked off into some mountainous place. Feet covered in mazols were hurting obviously, but the sight was worth it. The area I got myself into was some sort of reserve with those tree-like Mexican cactuses all over the mountains and heaps of praying birds hovering above at all time. I finally had a ride after a few hours of this kind of walk. Was dropped off in Arteaga town, where I lost my way a bit, but was corrected by police. Police by the way in Mexico is always in numbers – 5 to 9 of them with guns hanging off their necks riding on the pickups. Sometimes two or three of those trucks. So I was stopped by one of them and had a wave of questions in spanish obviously, which I was using somewhat well by now. I got to the edge of the town eventually and camped.


Next was three days hitchhiking along the coast to Lazaro Cardenas, following Zihuatanejo and Acapulco. Had one ride with a truck driver stopping by and dealing drugs. Luckilly it went without incidents. Not that I liked drugs being passed over my seat to other window. Oh well. All that police and army presense on the roads are not for nothing it seems. Doesn’t really work perfectly though. Spent a few hours at some nice beach before reaching Acapulco, which I passed as fast as I could and went on for Puerto Escondido, spent half a day and continued to Mazunte town. Which is a very hippie kind of place, with a nice lagoon and all, but I wasn’t lucky to arrive there at the evening, so I didn’t spend that much time out there and hitchhiked further. Next was Salina Cruz. Didn’t do much except for resuplying there and managed to get a long lift to Pijijiapan town, some 100 or so kilometers short of Tapachula and Guatemalan border. Driver treated me to some meal before reaching that place, which was a first in Mexico. Mostly because of me being vegetarian, since there were some others who were willing… Other than that I was being treated to mangos quite often. To Guatemalan border I got with residents of that country transporting cars and goods there. I had to squish inside the car already full of other stuff. Passing border was easy. But noone was there to forcibly point you to go there and there and get your stamps. Had to figure it out myself. Administrational fee at Guatemalan customs was 10 quetzals, which is a bit more than 1 US dollar. Guatemalan side was full of money changers and vendors. Just as I walked out of the border town I had a pickup lift. Got a few more and with the last one that day got almost to Esquintla, which is like a halfway between Guatemalan borders down South. Camped in the middle of sugar cane field and in the morning saw an amazing sight of three volcanoes surrounding Escuintla.

If Mexico had their police everywhere in large groups, here it was not just that. Walking through the main sort of a market street of Esquintla I was seeing a guard with a shotgun each two or three buildings, not mentioning stuff like banks or gas stations. I heard from some drivers allready that it’s not too safe around here and definitely not so in San Salvador, where I would be heading next. Compared to Mexico I saw that I would have bigger problems refilling my water here, because of it’s nasty quality. Environmental problems it seems are a common issue all the way in Latin America. While having other rides to El Salvador’s border I was doubting more than ever last days about the worth of my continuing the travel across Latin America. I liked a lot being forced to learn a new language and my progress in that, I liked the abundance of untouched nature, but I hated some other things. Measuring pros and cons in my head I stopped myself just before crossing to El Salvador, sat down and though it over more thoroughly. Thus I decided to turn around and start heading back to US and eventually Europe. After making this decicion I had no more doubts, but rather had some questions and weight lifted from my head. One could think of thousands of reasons once one has no will to do something. Or rather it is all those small things that eventually eat at you enough to change your mind. One of the main things though I’d like to mention is that I grew tired of seing trash on the roadsides everyday and I knew it wouldn’t change. Being on the road all the time I really prefer them not to be disgusting. Sightseeing is another thing, but more of a bonus of traveling this way.

Like this I hade a change of mind at the border of El Salvador and turned back. Got to the border with Mexico on the same day. Rides are comming along very nicely in Guatemala. Just before crashing in my tent, got showered while riding in the back of a pickup. I had to happen eventually… One other more nice aspect of pickup rides is that at the dark time of the day you can do some awesome stargazing if you lift your head up. The feeling is somewhat like a space travel, when the view is shaking and moving, while you go on your winding mountainous road. That definitely was a nice discovery here in Mexico, where I got back as easily, but had some troubles getting away from the border. Not so many people are willing to give rides in the opposite direction. Too many checkpoints on the roads and drivers see it as a hassle.Still I had a couple long rides which got me to Tuxtla Gutierrez. Now I was on my way to Palenque to see some Mayan ruins for once here in America. I saw some sort of ruins already though by the border on Mexican side, but nothing too grand. Something very similar to the stuff I saw in Malaysia at Bujang Valley. Driver and his friend who took me to Tuxtla were intending on me not continuing on to Palenque in the later dark part of the day since the road there is quite famous for roberies and danger overall. Oh, and before leaving Tuxtla I got to see a very nice canyon of the bridge. At the edge I found some power sockets at the service area beyond toll gate and sat down with the laptop to check some stuff on my navigation through the rest of the Mexico, to Palenque and from there to Monterrey.

Trip to Palenque was taking a long time as I was told by many drivers. Even though it was only around 250km away. Travel on some Mexican toll-free roads can take a long time due to frequent speed limiters or ‘vibradores’ and there are a lot of villages on the way in some places such as this route to Palenque. On the way I went through San Cristobal, which was a nice and cool town high in the mountains. Was funny seeing people in winterish clothing up there. When I finally reached Palenque I mistakingly camped on the military zone, good thing I was early leaving it in the morning as I saw the huge stend, which I missed due to the darkness the night before, saying it is prohibited to be on that territory. Ruins were like ruins, just Mayan. And obviously that place was trying to get money out of tourists in any way possible. I had to leave my backpack, which as they told me was too big, and yeah that sounded ridiculous since I wasn’t going in a tight place with precious pieces of history on every corner. So anyway, I had to pay just to leave a backpack at the entrance due to it’s dangerous size. I spent about an hour at the ruins. There were a few bigger and more or less grand structures just a bit away from the entrance and lots of small temples further around.

Later I was on my way to Monterrey along the North-Eastern coast. While I was passing Veracruz I was invited for the first time in Mexico to stay over at the driver’s place. I got to sleep in the back of a pickup – I guess that was supposed to happen sometime seeing how around 70 percent of rides here are happening in that kind of car. I would’ve been better off camping though, because this way I had to hide fully in my sleeping bag on that hot night just not to get bitten by mosquitos. On another day as I was hitching to Poza Rica I paid that fee for a permit to travel in Mexico. It took forever to convince people in bank to exchange my money to pesos I needed to pay that fee with. While having one ride like by some fate my hat flew off my head out from the driver side window. And that was at the time he needed to turn around and go back to help some friends in trouble. Thing was that I was dropped out in the middle of nowhere, found my hat and got a ride instantly with a three guys Jorge, Emanuel and Ricardo going to Poza Rica. I was invited to stay at their place. Ride wasn’t pleasant though as it was very windy weather and I was sitting high in the back of their pickup. It was getting dark and rained a bit. Another funny thing was that I tore my hat as I was washing it later that evening. I decided to take the opportunity to stay longer than just for the night and rest from excessive walking. So next day I followed these guys as they were working installing radio station in one company’s car and later a long antena on top of the mountain near this nice Xicotepec town with an awesome surroundings. Weather can be quite chilly up there, so it was a second big change like this in Mexico for me.

Later I was invited to come back to Villahermosa, where Jorge’s office and family home was. While there I was brought to this historical and zoological museum La Venta on one day and to another more spectacular zoo at Yumca, the best I’ve ever been so far. Not by the number and variety of animals, but the way a visitor is being led around there. There’s very little feeling to animals being confined too, since they have a lot of space in the territory, they are being kept in. After the zoo that day, I was also brought to a mass at Villahermosa’s cathedral. Now I remembered why I usually avoid any big events at that kind of place. Too many people… and this in a hot climate country too. A day later we went back to Poza Rica, which is around 10 hours ride away by the way. I spent a couple days there, before continuing with the trip. Jorge was very nice to drive me to the next Tuxpam town and gave me 200 pesos for the road. From Tuxpam I had a short lift with a long wait in a jam caused by a traffic accident. My next ride was with a Canadian guy Sylvain, who was returning with his dog after 4 months of touring around Mexico. So the ride I got was a long one. Might be all the way to Alabama. While crossing the border to US with him, we were hold up to do probably a mandatory x-ray scan of his trailer and continued on to Corpus Cristi on the next day. Other than that it was more simple than I was expecting.

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