100%. That’s the possibility of returning to Xilitla and where we could spend a couple of weeks exploring this region. The mountains are beautiful and there was so so much more to see and do. We had been told about a river that you can take a boat into a swallows cave and hikes that go on for miles (it’s always better to hike somewhere else than home). The people here were lovely and a peaceful tranquility blanketed the whole area. But alas, we had to push onward and our goal was to reach the south side of Veracruz, locally known as Boca Del Rio, a neighbourhood on the Gulf.
That morning some rain had settled in the upper elevations, so we found ourselves readying the bikes at dawn and preparing ourselves for a soak. It came down in a short and furious downpour. Getting wet is still wet. This wasn’t a big deal because as we descended into the valley below the clouds broke and we rode through mostly overcast skies and the warm air dried us out. There were too many picturesque farms to capture, but we did stop a few times to take in the scene. When you’re riding, it’s hard to distinguish what is merely a decent picture to capture or what you should experience and forever remember instead. Everything was a lush green and the animals feeding looked happy and pastoral – we rode on.
We passed through dozens of small towns that were mostly agricultural communities, but a few had some industry, like Coke bottling or a cement factory. The only downside to passing through so many towns is the topes. They are right on the highway, so the stopping and starting felt endless and slowed us down considerably. Picture yourself accelerating both increasing and decreasing, multiply that by at least seven or 800, and you now have what our butts are feeling.
We passed one military check point on this route worth mentioning, because it was one of the first times our ID’s were requested. I was kind of excited because I got to use the fake ID I made back home. There were a lot of questions about the bikes more than anything else. We’ve been asked a few times how much they cost, top speed, and usually we fain ignorance, “no entiendo espaniol” to avoid getting into a conversation about money. After a few glances at the ID and our permits they sent us on our way. The #1 Rule is always smile at these guys. They are usually mellow and get a kick out of us. A smile and wave goes a long way.
The road turned into a major highway as we inched closer on the map to the coast. This helped us gain time and before long we reached the Gulf of Mexico! We took a little turn off Poza Rico to grab a snap of Rick at the water and the dork that I am, I pulled up onto a little hill and as I put my foot down, I lost my balance and dropped the bike. We burst out laughing at my slow motion parking failure. I think a baby goat laughed at me too – bahaa. Picking it up a loaded bike was a different story, but we managed.
The coastal road, Mex 180, was a mostly deserted tourist zone. There were hotels, one after another for kilometres, that were either deserted altogether or just barely hanging on. We assume that there was a boom at one time and people thought this area would be an easy cash grab, but instead it’s nearly a post hurricane(s) ghost town. We also ran into a weather system that was pumping some strong Northern winds off the gulf. Lucky for us it was a strong head wind all the way to Veracruz, so we had a sore throttle hand from pushing the bikes harder.
As we neared Veracruz, we passed another adventure rider in the oncoming lane. We were surprised as much as he was. He turned around and sped up to catch us. Pulling over we chatted on the side of the road about our travels and exchanged instagram handles (@mezatravels) to keep tabs on each other. It was nice to meet someone else who is also exploring the World their bike. He had been through the United States and was just taking his time meandering throughout Mexico, camping when the day ends.
At long last we made it into Veracruz and battled through hectic traffic towards the other side to Boca Del Rio. It’s a tourist zone, not exactly our cup of tea, but it was getting dark and we were tired. So we pulled into the Holiday Inn Express, showered and found ourselves some food. One thing to note is that American chains the World over, are very different incarnations of themselves for foreign audiences, the Holiday Inn Express had a Presidential Suite after all, for a whopping 9000 pesos. From what we could see in the morning, the area had a huge shopping district and a beach area. There also seemed to be a pretty wide range of visitors from Japan, to Germany to vacationing Mexicans.
Our thought, was let’s get out of here! Next stop: Villahermosa. We didn’t know a lot about this town, and didn’t bother looking it up, as it was just a stop along the way. The riding was pretty smooth and we made good time. The route was Mex 180D and the landscape was a mix of agricultural land and some forests.
On these routes we tend to stop at PeMex stations to re-fuel and get water (more vice-versa than anything). A really nice guy we nicked named “Senor Ciudad Del Carmen” came up to speak with us at one of our stops. He asked the usual questions about where we’re from and wanted to know more about the bikes, but was equally happy to share his insights about Mexico. We chatted about tax corruption and how he was frustrated that some of the highways were in such disrepair (we also got a detailed heads-up on pot holes along the way!), as well as advice about traffic in Villahermosa. In summation, everything in the next state was “no bueno”, but as you find out when you travel, people tend to warn you or complain about the next country, state or city over. The key here, is to ignore such claims, because as you discover for yourself, it’s just unfounded fear and we’re all guilty of it.
Villahermosa turned out to be an interesting town namely because we arrived on a national holiday and people we’re out in droves. We found a suitable hotel near the square, with “secure” parking and went out for some food and 2×1 Micheladas. We really enjoyed spending a night here because it was absolutely, completely Mexican. The people watching was great and everyone was in a relaxed celebratory mood. This is also where Rick hatched the plan for us to camp in the jungle the next night and visit the ruin of Calakmul.
Rick likes hatching spontaneous plans.
Sarah & Rick