We both got sick. It was a busy couple of weeks in big city of Oaxaca, while I was working on my Spanish Magic Deby was visiting markets, museums and galleries. Two days before we were scheduled to leave Deby started coughing and sneezing. The next day it was me. We ended up with full on head colds. Was is COVID? Hmmmm, didn’t really seem like we were that sick, more just like head colds. Enough that we decided to lay low, wear masks where appropriate and get lots of rest. Weird thing, neither of us has had so much as a sniffle since well before the pandemic. I had actually forgot what it was like to have cold symptoms. I stayed home from my last two days of Spanish Magic school, so I suppose that makes me an official language school drop out.
No matter how we were feeling we needed to check out of the Oaxaca Parador hotel on Saturday February 4th. We trekked to the the farmacia and loaded up on nighttime cold meds, daytime cold meds, cough drops and a small bottle of tequila for medicinal use once we got to our destination.
We had a nice sendoff from our new best friends at the hotel, seriously, these guys were incredible. They asked me to not post their names because they might be wanted in a few states, I figured they were joking but in Mexico…… you never know.
The goal was to get to the Pueblo Magico city of San Cristobol de las Casas. It was too long a ride for one day so after consulting a map, we decided to ride south to the port city of Salina Cruz for an overnight. Every time we mentioned we were going to Salina Cruz we got questionable looks like we were a little crazy. One person politely told me, “you know, that’s not a real tourist stop.” Undeterred, I logged onto Booking.com and found a hotel right on the beach that wasn’t very expensive. Deby and I read the reviews and concluded that those people must just not like authentic Mexican hotels. We booked anyway, programmed the GPS units and rode south into the heat and humidity with our heads in Sudafed fogs.
The road to the coast was another great motorcycle road, we had never been on this one before and it was actually a lot of fun. So much fun that I didn’t take any pictures, at all. Hmmm, maybe we were just trying to get there. The closer to the ocean the hotter it got until we didn’t know if we were feverously sweating or reacting to the humidity and heat. Probably both. By 2:30 we were checking in at the wonderful sounding Punta Conejo Resort.
And….. it wasn’t really that bad. Actually, we didn’t really care. There was air conditioning and a restaurant. In front of the room was a somewhat tattered hammock that held my weight for the time we were there.
The “resort” was at the end of a long dirt road that took us to the ocean. There was nothing around at all. Deby had enough energy to try a short walk in the heat and sun but soon returned. I should mention, this part of Mexico is well known for high winds, the wind was so strong on the beach that she was immediately sand blasted and returned back to safety. The winds pretty much kept up day and night.
We both took inventory of our health and decided to ask to stay another night. Since the hotel otherwise seemed vacant we didn’t think it would be a problem. It wasn’t. The first night at the restaurant we were told the choice was meat or chicken. Hmmm, we chose meat. It was, somewhat editable but we didn’t finish it. The second night at the restaurant the choice was only chicken. Yea, not much better. Fortunately, we didn’t care because our appetites weren’t that great.
So, how many days does it take to get over a cold? My mom always told me if I don’t feel better in a week it would probably take seven days. We had a few more days to go.
By Monday morning we were bound to get to San Cristobal. We were turned away from that city last year by a huge mudslide and we really wanted to get there on this trip. San Cristobal is an awesome city up on the mountains at over 7,000 feet. The population is around 200,000 and has a large indigenous population. Plus, for us, the road up the mountain was supposed to be one of the best. Your can read a little more about the city HERE.
Our first obstacle of the day was the wind. The section we needed to ride through first was called the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. The narrowest part of Mexico between the Pacific Ocean and the Golf of Mexico. Here is a map with our route over the few days. The blue lines are the wind.
We needed to cross on the purple line to San Cristobal. Ummm, I just noticed my arrows indicate the windy route but not the wind directions. The prevailing winds are usually from the north. It didn’t matter, we’ve been this way before and there is nothing to do about the strong crosswinds along the road. We left early enough in the morning with the hope that the morning winds wouldn’t be as bad and we were right. Still, we were hanging on pretty tight as we rode past miles and miles of windmills providing electricity for the region. I didn’t stop for any pictures.
It was a hot day riding. We had our hydration packs on and were sucking water every few minutes. We stopped a couple of times to buy some electrolyte fluids and tried to stay as hydrated as possible. At one point we stopped and I added an energy drink to the mix. It was so hot my phone went dark. Something iPhones do when it gets much above 90 degrees. Sometimes this is a little tricky if I’m using my phone for navigation since it usually goes out just as we are getting to our destinations in the heat of the day. I took the following picture without being able to see my screen at all.
Finally, in the last 25 miles of the ride we climbed from about 1,000 feet to over 7,000 feet in San Cristobal. Ahhhh, it cooled off into the 60’s. It felt great.
We checked into a boutique hotel a few blocks from the historic center of town the Plaza de San Cristobal Inn.
It was a pretty nice “historic” hotel. Rooms on three levels, a courtyard and small restaurant and….. as we found out — no heat.
The rooms were cold to start with and as the temperature dropped into the 40’s they were getting even colder. I went to the front desk and asked if there was something they could do, so the brought up a small space heater that pretty much did nothing trying to warm up the stone floor and walls.
We still weren’t feeling that well and started getting chills and maybe were feeling slightly feverous. Within a few hours we went from deliriously hot to shivering cold. We grabbed a bunch of warm clothes and climbed in bed to try to warm up with cups of our emergency spirits. So here it comes, the first time in this blog…. a picture of Deby and I in bed.
We were only laughing because it was so ridiculous. At least we had dinner which wasn’t that bad except all the chocolate parts melted in the day’s heat and reconstituted in big clumps in the bags.
We did manage to survive. The next day we felt well enough to go for a walk and explore the town. This time I took a few pictures. I won’t turn this into a travelogue of Chiapas but it’s a great place and everyone should visit if there is ever a chance.
Of course, there was a HUGE market. So big we actually got lost trying to get through the maze of stalls.
We must have been feeling better because we walked up to a mirador (viewpoint) of the city. Just a few steps.
It was worth the view to see how the city sits in the crook of a mountain.
As the sun was going down we got down to the main square at the perfect time to see the sun illuminating the Catedral de San Cristóbal de las Casas. Even I’m amazed at these pictures with just my iPhone and no modifications.
The villagers from the surrounding area were just getting setup for the evening market.
Even the little kids were busy helping.
We stayed in San Cristobal for three nights. With the space heater running 24/7 and our internal thermostats coming back to life we were finally warming up and realized it was time to move on. Approaching the middle of February we needed to start thinking about timing to make sure we don’t miss the ferry to Baja on February 24. We still have a few places to visit on our list and looking a the map showed how far we needed to ride to make it all happen.
The Ride to Villahermosa
I knew this would be a good ride. My GPS log says it was 160 miles with an elapsed time of 6.5 hours! Average speed 24mph. There would only be one reason for the slow speeds…. another incredible winding road through the mountains of Chiapas.
Again beautiful scenery with lush mountains surrounding us.
And as is typical, never trust a corner….
Or another, always diligent.
We pulled over at one point to take a picture of the sun hitting the church in a little village down the mountain.
All kinds of small dirt roads wind through these hills tempting us to return on the small bikes to explore.
At the end of a long but fun day we had landed in the industrial city of Villahermosa where we checked into a modern hotel which guaranteed us heat and even fast internet.
So, I’ll give it a rest here. Deby and I are pretty much feeling 100% better. We ended up skipping a few things we wanted to see in exchange for rest and healing. The “kids”, Lindsey and Jon who are getting married in a few weeks have made their way to Baja Mexico with their camper/truck. They sent a picture of their campsite alone the Pacific Ocean. This is how they roll….
We’re really looking forward to our two trips convening.
Oh, a few comments on comments…Joe – yes, I want to hear about your trips at the rally, look forward to seeing you there. Jeanne – great to hear from you, we need to work on crossing paths here again. Joanne – Deby insists you would love Oaxaca! Kim – sorry we’re going to miss you in SMA I’m sure you will have a blast.
Ok more to some soon.
Donn and Deby
I’m so glad you’re both feeling better! San Cristobal looks amazing!
Any new word on the cartel & interruptions to riders, particularly thru Copper Canyon, etc….? Continue with your speedy health recoverey…..
The pic of you and Deby in bed brought me back to John and Yoko.
Glad to hear you are feeling better.