20th August 2015

Thursday, August 20 - Saturday, August 22, 2015: Mexicos mainland part 1.....or how can I survive the mexican way of driving

After the as expected uneventful ferry ride, we - I am still on the road togehter the Mexican "boys" - drove the next day along the coast to Mazatlan, a cute city at the coast and then off the coast to Mexico's inland. We left early in the morning as a long ride was ahead of us: via Durango to Zacatecas, a picturesque, beautiful town. First we took the highway because we wanted to see the bridge "el Baluarte" and then changed to the old road around 100km curves without end, no other traffic in sight. I'm hopelessly underpowered compared to the Harley's and Goldwing's of my Mexicans but as I'm used to drive mountain roads I could easily keep up - ahhh, respectively had to make a lazy minute every now and then because my driving style was definitely quite a bit speedier.

The color green dominates, endless hill landscape and we now always moved around 2000m above sealevel, with however still good 30 ° C. Unfortunately we had been repeatedly surprised by sometimes violent thunderstorms - according to the season; these sudden downpours and the correspondingly in between tropical heat and humidity will be for quite sure my company by the next few weeks through Central America - so get better used to it. At lunchtime we stopped in a typical country style small village and had lunch in the only restaurant: simple but delicious. The good people had a real joy that they had guests again: since the new highway was open hardly anyone took the much longer country road. So they had quite a hard living now...but for me a mystery anyway on what all the inhabitants of these villages live.

Not even a kilometer later then one of the many military controls. Only this time not as usual waved through but nevertheless stopped and forced us to actually to carry our luggage through an ultramodern scanner (like at the airport). I just thought: ooohjeee that will last hours until we have all our bags through. Either they have even noticed that a lot of work would have meant or José's has managed to convince them of our innocence; 2 pieces of luggage per person and we were allowed to drive on. What that procedure should be good for not even the Mexicans could explain to me. "Thanks" to this unexpected interruption we arrived at exactly the rush hour in Zacatecas; and I one again had the "pleasure" to practice the Mexican style of driving  so I did not lose my friends on the way to the hotel.

Now here comes some extra topic about the traffic: outside the towns and villages no one (not even the police) cares about: speed limits, safety lines, double security lines, overtaking and similar signes. In the cities, you have two ways to move forward: good driving according to rules and have, for example, 2 hours for a ride around town or: right, left, through in the middle - no matter where, just there where's enough space for the vehicle. And by that I mean not only the motorcyclists!. Always look in the mirrors, put blinkers, no second get distracted otherwise crashes's ... .and so you can get through the city, for example, 30 minutes. Only traffic lights and stops must be observed. Everybody is honking like crazy. That is probably the only thing that I have not yet adopted - because it actually nothing changes and does not bring you forward any faster. And what a surprise: this driving style I enjoy ... .and I'm getting better every day ;-)
Another curiosity is the so-called "reductores de velocidad", so-called "bumps". The bumps are to bring the racing Mexicans in the villages down to a reasonable speed. In an average village it has approximately every 20 meters such a "reductor" !! And you really must pay attention to them. A few can be crossed by bike (like mine not a Harley or similar) with 40kmh, but  standard is with max. 30kmh. THe really high ones even with less speed. To be fair, most of them are almost always announced (see pictures). But oh God, in case you overlook one! Bad for  the bike as well as for your back. The cars, trucks and buses go accordingly virtually to a standstill. Now that I call a real traffic calming ... .. but one that already can be quite annoying to be honest. Meanwhile I'm not waiting for the most part behind the cars until they are finally over it but overtake them right or left, mostly standing up as like that I can "crack" them faster. Yeah!

Back to our tour. After Zacatecas it was now time to say goodbye to my Mexican friends .  The drove home (menas left side of Mexico City) and I turned right  to avoid this Moloch and now  slowly approach Guatemala's border. Of course I was a bit sad at the moment. After a week I got almost accustomed again not to drive alone. But that is of course part of my trip and I think that in one way or another these new friendships will last long after I return back home. Either way, there are always valuable, beautiful encounters that I'll never forget.