This week has seen us moving east from Durango to Tamasopo. There were a few dirt roads through some remote villages and also a fair bit of unavoidable highway. We stayed high and cold for a while before dropping 1500 metres back to the warmth. Although the riding has been pleasant it hasn’t been anything amazing, save for a few bits of very cool road like this cobbled backroad that climbed over a Pass. Who knows how old it was but it was a bit of a treat.
The biggest change we have noticed is how much warmer and greener it is further east. As soon as we dropped below 1500 metres our water bottles stopped freezing at night and it was a lot easier to get up in the mornings. But it’s wetter too, the land is more productive which appears to translate to more and wealthier communities.
But it wasn’t all about the bike. So what’s been going on? A couple of interesting experiences really.
Before reaching the mainland we were told not to go inland because of the gang (cartel) activity. We also heard about some cool places so decided we’d head that way anyway to check them out. So about 30km out of Durango we’re on a very rough dirt road in an obviously poor area when we come around a corner and there’s a very flash (read expensive) SUV parked on a one lane bridge like they own the show…maybe they do. All five guys are out of the car having a piss. They are expensively dressed and look very out of place. One of them is facing me with his old fella hanging out so I call out to let him know we are coming. He doesn’t care and carries on with his business…until Karen comes into sight. He hides his sausage pretty quick then. We have to stop because there is nowhere to go. This guy comes up and starts asking us what we’re doing and where we’re going, he actually had pretty good English. Then he tells us we shouldn’t be where we are because there’s bad people around. We’re both thinking the only bad people is this guy and his mates but tactfully decide not to tell him that. Then he wishes us luck and wants to shake our hands just after he’s been holding his wanger, yuck, and we’re on our way. We got back on the highway not long after that and stayed there for the rest of the day.
There’s no issues riding the Highways because they are well patrolled by heavily armed Police and Military. I’m not sure what the risk is but when you arrive in a town, this time Vicente Guerrero, to the Regional Band Champs and the event is patrolled by combat ready military there must be some risk…surely.
And it was the same riding into Zacatecas. We obviously came through the rough side of town and on that one 10km stretch of road there were at least 1/2 a dozen Police or Military patrols that passed us. All were two vehicle convoys and all were armed with assault rifles. One of the Military patrols had their 50 cal guns mounted and manned.
Anyway enough about the apparent risk that we just aren’t seeing. Zacatecas was a very cool old city that was well worth a day off. With its five or so cathedrals, a mountain to climb and an old gold mine to explore there was plenty to keep us busy.
And we met Daniel in a local bar. Daniel might have lead us astray a bit given half the chance. He was the only one in the bar when we arrived. Drinking his brandy that he’d brought by the bottle. But he was good value and even showed Karen a couple of salsa moves. Needless to say it was a bit of a slow start the next day.
On the way east I’m amazed by all the ways that people without regulations manage to carry things. There’s the donkey cart loaded high with corn. The old shitter car loaded with wood. The pickups with cattle or horses on the back. We saw this pickup being loaded and they just walked the cattle on. The springs were probably inverted but they got to where they were going. Then there’s the horses that are brought to town.
Now we’re hitting some tourist spots, but we seem to be the only gringos around. In Rioverde we stayed at Luna Laguna. These waters are amazing crystal clear spring water similar to Takaka’s Pupu Springs but comes out at about 30deg.
Then the real treat was arriving in Tamasopo and experiencing Puente de Dios and Cascada de Tamasopo. Puente de Dios is a very clear spring fed river that drops through a limestone canyon with swimming holes and caves to swim through. Just amazing.
Cascada de Tamasopo is a series of waterfalls that have been turned into a bit of a playground. And what a playground it is, even for us big kids. Who can resist a rope swing, especially with a backdrop like this.
Where we’ve been.
23/1/19 Durango to Vicente Guerrero via backroads and Highway. 99km
24/1/19 Wild camp outside San Francisco. Remote dirt roads. 124km
25/1/19 Zacatecas. A mix of rough dirt and highway. 126km
26/1/19 day exploring Zacatecas
27/1/19 Wild camp near El Zacaton. Highway and rural roads. 80km
28/1/19 Villa de Arista. Mainly quiet fast sealed roads. 151km
29/1/19 Wild camp near Angostura. Rural sealed roads. Big head wind. 113km
30/1/19 Rioverde. Easy day to get to Luna Laguna. 49km
31/1/19 Tamasopo. Quietish Highway. 108km