Thursday, December 5, 2013

Mazatlán to Lo de Marcos

Leaving Mazatlán I was ready for another boring ride through desert like landscapes as we had seen in Baja. True, Mazatlán is a bit further south, but the road was also a bit more inland. 'Nothing much to see until you reach Acapulco' we were told. How wrong that was! We entered a lush green world, winding roads, Palm trees and beautiful ocean views. The contrast to Baja couldn't have been greater. The suicidal traffic of Baja California, the northern half of Baja, had stayed there. Here it's just a pleasant madness, if that makes any sense. The friendliness of Mazatlán stayed too and was now mixed with true Mexican images. The images we came for!

From Mazatlán south there are two main roads, the toll road and a free one. Confusingly they both have the same name, the Mex 15. The openstreetmap shows them as the Mex15 and the Mex15D, the 'D' is the toll road. We took the free road, because we wanted to go through the villages rather than around them. See as much as we could of the culture, the local people and the colours, instead of taking the toll road and bypass everything. It does make the trip longer and the roads are probably not as good as the toll ones, but we came to experience Mexico, not skim through it. We weren't disappointed. 
The opposite; we were rewarded with a continuous stream of beautiful landscapes and people. Where Baja felt like riding through a mixture of a tip and a graveyard, this felt like riding through a shopping centre… a Mexican shopping centre. Whatever you can think of is sold by the side of the road here. From car tyres to baby prams… all in one shop! 'Shops' are nothing more than a stand with a sheet over them. No fancy shop fronts here… Food is available everywhere too. For some reason this is all possible. To our 'western' minds it's bizarre and you wonder how it can possibly work, but somehow it does. We see a man walking the street, pushing a trycicle loaded with all sorts of brooms and dusters. He's well fed, doesn't look poor and of course he doesn't even know what overheads are and has no rent to pay for his shop either, but you still wonder how on earth he can make a living like that?

Of course poverty is also still very much around in Mexico, which is not always a pretty sight. We saw houses made of crumbling bricks or plywood, roofs made from leaves and trees used as structural parts of the houses. Most of them look almost idyllic but it doesn't take much imagination to realise why they are built that way. Just like the families on little 125cc motorbikes. Of course it's a sight to see but at the same time it's the lack of money to buy a car that 'creates' the picture. But still amazing to see what they can transport here on little motorcycles! Just sitting by the side of the road, seeing the Mexican world go by is amazing to 'western' eyes. Seatbelts are compulsory, if we believe the signs, yet 20 Mexicans sitting in the back of a pickup truck are as common as anything. The Police doesn't seem bothered; in fact they do it themselves too, as does the military. 

As beautiful as the Mex15 is, it all became a lot better still, when we left the 15 and took a smaller road. Literally smaller. We rode towards the coast via a narrow winding road through dense forests that opened to magical vistas. Tiny villages dotted a landscape that is as green as it can be. At the end of a beautiful day we found a campsite at Los Cocos. A Mexican family that decided to level the lawn and open it as a campsite. Green grass, right at the ocean, palm trees all around us… hmmm. The romantic feeling subdued somewhat when the neighbours advised us to lock the bikes properly as two years ago they lost their pickup truck to bandits… at gunpoint! They demanded the keys and drove off… The next morning the bikes were luckily still there…

The next day the amazing landscapes of yesterday just kept rolling by. We entered a farming area. All small scale with little farms, houses with palm tree roofs and classic Mexican style building. Of course we still had the tiny little restaurants setup by mum alongside the roads as well. 
The towns have a 16th century feel over them. Apart from the cars and Coca Cola signs nothing seems to have changed for ages. Cobblestone streets galore! 
We only did a short trip as washing and showers were long overdue. We could do both at the Cruz Maria RV park in Lo de Marcos setup by a Canadian ex submarine pilot. A lovely RV park/campground, full of Canadians that come here to escape the harsh Canadian winter. 
The only thing you need to setup a restaurant in Mexico: some tables,
some chairs and a good cook
The only damper on the day being Jeanette's flat rear tyre… flat number 4 this trip, caused by another nail! We were already debating on staying another day, guess that is definite now. There are worse places to have a flat, no problems! We'll use the day to plot the rest of the trip in Garmin Basecamp. A little restaurant on the beach, again a family business of course, provided us with a lovely meal while enjoying tropical ocean views. 
Life can be good...