Not a bad way to spend the winter upon retrospect. I suppose we were both getting a little restless with our long stays and decided to get some more riding in. It seems like some of the best motorcycle roads in Mexico travel between the mountains and the ocean. So, our destination after the mountain town of Taxco was Zihuatanejo, still in the state of Guerrero.
Google maps initally suggested a longer but faster route but I changed it to ride down a remote two lane road MEX51 and then MEX134 to the ocean. The time? Almost nine hours?? No way… maybe.
Soon we were riding east on MEX51 climbing higher into the remote mountains. The road narrowed and started making fun tight turns around every hill.
There were plenty of views through breaks in the trees as we climbed towards 6,000 feet.
Then, from time to time, usually when approaching a small village there would be hand made topes (speed bumps) in the road warning us to slow down. As we got closer to the first one we saw guys standing around with guns and masks. Clearly, these wern’t the municiple police, the state police, the national guard or the army. We had seen plenty of those guys around and were very familiar with their various uniforms. A guy on my right side with a rifle with a long clip waved for me to stop. This was unusual because we usually just get flagged by. He was a stocky guy dressed like a rancher with a big cowboy hat. It was one of those snap judgement calls, stop or…. punch it, fly over the speed bumps and haul it out of there. Something told me I would probably be ok stopping.
I noticed some of his amigos on the left had a plastic bucket like they were collecting donations. Hmmm, donations? Charity? Some type of imformal toll? When I stopped the hombre didn’t look especially harmful and he wasn’t pointing whe weapon at us so I wasn’t too nervious. He asked where we were going and I replied in my best Spanish that we were going to the mar. Either he didn’t understand what I was saying which is highly probable, or, by the look on his face he didn’t believe us because it was a long, long way to ride on a motorcycle. He looked us over and thought about it for a second and then just waved us on while shaking his head.
I stopped at the guy with the bucket and reached for my toll road coins I have accessible in a top pocket and threw in a few for good measure. Couldn’t hurt.
I decided it wasn’t probably a good idea to be messing with my helmet camera around these dudes. Even at the military/police stops I usually have my camera off. The next day I did happen to have my camera recording when we came to a similar stop. I grabbed a video frame and zoomed a little so you get the idea.
After that first encounter we came to about a dozen more exactly like that as we rode on the remote mountain road in the state of Guerrero. Without exception they waved us through, sometimes I contributed to the bucket but not always. Once when I decided to not pay someone yelled after us, didn’t hear what he said.
Another time we stopped just past one of the checkpoints to remove a layer because the temperature was rising as we dropped towards the ocean. They kept a casual eye on us and I was watching their operation. Not everyone dropped a coin in their bucket and I couldn’t detect a reason for donating or not.
We really did have a great ride and became used to the occasional stop by masked men brandishing weapons. Later that night at the hotel I was talking with a local and I asked about the informal toll collectors. He didn’t seem concerned and explained that the were probably a group of locals who were monitoring the road into and out of their villages. The donations were to support their effort. In my mind I could imagine a dozen other reasons but decided to go with the explanation given.
As usual we had excitement entering Zihuatanejo getting lost on the narrow, steep streets looking for Hotel Irma. Funny thing about booking.com, they have a button on the app that says “directions.” I pushed that on my phone and followed the instructions and it took us to a totally different hotel… geesh. We eventually got it sorted out and had a nice stay for one night. It seemed like it might be a nice place to visit for a few days. We had a nice sunset and a good nights sleep.
The next stop Acapulco. Ha, normally I would have skipped the big tourist town but a warning light on my motorcycle was telling me I needed to change the oil. Really? Yes, we have already ridden over 6,000 miles so I suppose that made sense. I called ahead and found there was a BMW motorcycle dealer on the main street next to the beach so we booked two nights at the Hotel Fiesta Americana. Not really our type of place but it was right on the beach and almost directly across from the BMW dealer.
It was a really nice ride along the coast. We saw this guy heading to the big city, probably had a gig in town.
Stopped at a nice little roadside space for lunch.
Soon we were checked in and out for a walk on the beach.
We stopped at a little beachside bar for a drink and to listen to some live music. These guys were pretty good and we stayed for their whole set. They sang a mix of latin, jazz and clasic rock songs. Most in english.
Interesting because when I went to talk to them after their set they mostly only spoke Spanish. Still, my Spanish skill must be improving because we had a good talk about music. I told them we would be back the next night. When we did return the bass player insisted I jump on stage to play! I left my phone with Deby and joined in a raucous version of a ZZ Top song. I couldn’t believe how many people in the audience jumped up to take my picture… what did they think I was one of the ZZ Top guys?? Oh, everyone was taking pictures except Deby… so no photographic evidence!
The rest of the time in Acacupulco was spent taking care of the motorcycles, which became a longer ordeal than I expected, and exploring the area around the hotel. Honestly, the city was not what I expected – at all. I, um, sort of… Liked it! No, really. It was a really cool vibe, busy but not too busy. The beach was excellent, there were endless really good restaurants along the main street. The people seemed to go out of their way to be friendly. The people hawking things were nice about it and left when you said no. We hardly saw any gringos, maybe none. I asked about that at the bar with music and was told they mostly just get Canadians because their news media hasn’t scared them off like the news in the US does.
There were dozens of really good Al Pastor taco places, this was just one.
So here’s another sunset picture….. who would have thought how much we ended up liking Acapulco…
Now with fresh oil in both bikes we were on a mission. Time was getting short to the start date of our ride with our friend GPS Kevin. We had been planning on meeting Kevin for his Mexico tour since it was announced back in summer. The meeting spot was just on the outskirts of Mexico City and we only had a few more days to get there. We wanted to get back to Oaxaca to explore the city some more and try the delicious mole sauce the city is famous for. It was too far for a one day ride so we decided to stay along the coast and visit the city of Puerto Escondido.
There is only one way to go, south on the famous MEX200. That road follows most of the coast from north to south. Once south of Acapulco the road became more remote as it followed the curvy coast line. There were more than a few narrow places where the grasses threatened to overtake the highway.
Once again we stopped for lunch at a roadside stand. Deby took this picture of their kitchen.
We arrived in Puerto Escondido and checked into the Hotel Acroiris. The city was recommended to us and a nice stop and we were surprised. As usual, it’s on a beautiful beach with plenty of beachside restaurants but what was not expected was the lack of big resort style hotels. Our hotel was modest and across from the beach. When we went for our evening walk we were surprised to see what appeared to be the young backpacking crowd. Clearly the city was on the bus route for backpackers and probably was known as an inexpensive beach stay. No worries. It wasn’t crowded at all and we had a nice stay.
We ate at a restaurant that had a sofa pulled up to a beautiful natural wood table under a covering with green LED lighting. This picture only sort of shows it but the green really set off the beautiful sunset.
I ordered some type of dish that was mostly a pile of cooked bananas. I asked about it and was told it’s a Puerto Rician dish.
Funny how the green light didn’t really make it look very flattering, but it tasted great.
Deby ordered what was apparently an olive salad.
We did have one of the better sunsets…. I’m including these for my friends in the US who are having to put up with some bad weather.
Ha, so just now as I’m typing this the power just went out at the hotel. Hmmm, all normal. But since the battery on my laptop isn’t that great I think now will be a good time to stop. Next we head up into the mountains looking for mole and and then onto another GPS Kevin adventure. Read more about it here: https://www.gpskevinadventurerides.com/upcoming-rides/mixteco-double-knot-22
Thanks for following!
Donn and Deby