June 7th - June 14th 2011
Mexico & USA
Start Mileage - 41,381
Miles - 226
Naranjo(Guatemala(Hotel Xahday) - Macuspana(Mexico(Auto Hotel Del Bosque)
Up, packed, coffee and on the road by 08:50 - makes a difference travelling with people!!!
The Border at El Ceibo isn’t too far and we arrived around 09:30. Passports stamped stamped out in a small building then on to the Aduana office which is a converted truck. It took a little time to get cleared but no problems. We had hoped to not cancel our Guatemalan permits just in case we wanted/needed to come back in if there were problems with Mexico but they insisted we surrender them. Just another way to get money I suppose as we would have to fork out again for new permits.
All cleared out of Guatemala we ride the 200mtrs to the Mexican Border, a flashy new complex, all computerised and modern. Passports stamped and we were each given a receipt to pay Mex Peso’s $262 (about £13) for the tourist visa which we could pay any time before leaving the country. On to the Aduana who needed copies of everything so back to the photo copy office, copies done, no charge! Aduana now happy they want US$400 for the bike importation, refundable on exit from the country. They accept credit or debit cards but not today, the guy is off!! So now we have a problem having only US$299 in cash. We do have Q1500 left from Guatemala but there is no change facility here, the guy is off! So Lorraine walks back and hopes she can get back into Guatemala to change the cash with one of the money sellers there. Money changer found, but he only had US$100 on him and said we would have to go back to El Naranjo. Eventually he said he would go and see his mate up the road and came back another US$100. Quecha 1500 = US$191 so he wanted more cash from us to make up to the US$200, we had no more Quecha or Mex Peso’s so in the end he took US$10 which Lorraine had and he dipped out on his profit.
11:30 and we are all clear. No Peso’s and Rossi low on fuel we decide to stop at the next town for cash and lunch. Lots of Police and Military check points after the border. We were stopped 5 times in 60KM’s, twice we had to completely strip down the bikes the others just paperwork checks and chats, Lorraine got shouted at for trying to take a picture at one of the stops! I know they have a job to do as the El Ceibo crossing is the worst for transporting drugs and arms but surely they could have radioed through after the first checkpoint that they had stopped the two Gringo bikers and that we were all clear!
We got cash at Tenosique but rode out of town to find a cheap Comida for lunch. We are heading for Palenque to check out the ruins there but Rossi is going further on to wild camp at a waterfall so we rode together until our turn off where we parted company.
Palenque seems to be aimed at the top end of the tourist market, very expensive. We checked a couple of hostels that were in the guide book but they were closed down. Not happy I get back on to the main road and just start heading North, no sign of any accommodation and it is starting to get dark. We spot a couple of billboards advertising hotels on the other side of the road but the signs are always just after the exit we need to get to them!! It is now pitch black, the road is full of speeding trucks and potholes - we have a little falling out!!
Eventually I give in and we pull in at a “Love Hotel”, still not happy - I know doing the dirty goes on in “normal” hotels but I wasn’t comfortable staying here so I kipped on the bench in the room. Not much LOVE going on tonight!!
Start Mileage - 41,607
Miles - 287
Macuspana(Auto Hotel Del Bosque) - Alvarado(Hotel Liety)
08/06/2011 - On the road at 08:00, not sure where we are going. We managed to somehow get ourselves on a “Cuota” road - very expensive toll road - We planned to get off at the first opportunity and back onto the “Libre” roads(free) and just head to the Gulf of Mexico coast and try to find somewhere on the way. As we were riding along we spotted two bikes ahead of us, we eventually caught up with them at the next toll point, they are the other two Brazilians of the foursome that we met the other two in Guatemala - if that makes sense!! They need fuel and we need coffee so we pull into the next service station. As we are chatting we mention that we have met their friends and we also find out that they had previously ridden with Rossi … small world! Half way through our coffee and we see another bike pull in, wouldn’t you know it, it’s Rossi - very small world!!!
We rode together for the rest of the day, a lot of motorway riding at 4p a mile - eeek!, the Brazilians are on a mission to get to Alaska so they don’t mind the expense of motorways and not cheap hotels. We pulled over near Alvarado, said goodbye to the Brazilians and started to look for a cheap campsite, nothing around so Rossi went on his way again to find wild camping .. Everyone travels differently!
We found a hotel, tatty and small but good enough for us and our budget, no air con though. Alvarado is a nice town with lots of cheap seafood and an added bonus - I found a shop selling dark beer …
Another tyre on the way out, hopefully it will see us into the States.
09/06/2011 - Staying put today, it’s HOT again. I had a beer left over from last night so thought I would have it with my lunch, no fridge in the room so it was a bit warm but hey … as I cracked it open the top exploded off it like a champagne cork and caught me right on the end of my nose - I know, some will say hard for it not too!!! With blood pouring out by the pint I thought I was going to need major surgery or end up looking like karl Malden!! Just a minor injury in the end. Better get more beer.
Start Mileage - 41,894
Miles - 187
Alvarado(Hotel Liety) - Playa Norte(Playa Esmeraldo Camping)
10/06/2011 - We have a plan, of sorts, well for the next couple of days at least. We will head for the ruins at El Tajin and then probably make a run for the USA. Skip and Rachel (Brit ex pats from Aus) spent a while in Mexico after leaving us in Peru and picking up their new bike in Florida, they gave us a heads up, very touristy and expensive. We are scrubbing the idea of going to Oaxaca, Mexico city and the Pacific coast on their info.
We found a cheap campsite about 60KM’s away from El Tajin. Not a lot to the town just hotels and RV parks servicing the tourist trade for the ruins. We had dinner in the only restaurant we could find that was open, it was crap, so no dinner for me and Lorraine had burnt fish and chips.
Early night to get to the ruins early tomorrow.
11/06/2011 - Day trip to El Tajin.
So much for the early night, we didn’t get going until around 11:00. at least El Tajin isn’t a big ruins and not a lot of walking involved. We pulled into the car park and got pounced on by all the stall holders, restaurant touts and an old guy wanting money for parking. We told the stall holders where to go, dispatched the restaurant touts and told the parking attendant that the 3 cars with Mexican plates that had just pulled in after us hadn’t paid so we weren’t going to either, “pay on the way out” he said. Right!
Not a bad day after all, we enjoyed the ruins after the bad start. When we got back to the bike we were pounced on again, didn’t buy any crap, we had eaten at BK before we left the site - and because all our gear was still on the bike we paid the guy for parking - I’m getting soft in my old age!!
There are no supermarkets or shops where we are staying and we didn’t pass anything on the way back. The fuel station has a mini market attached to it but they only stock crisps and biscuits. We’re not eating at the restaurant again so crisps and biscuits it is for dinner.
The campsite owner meets us as we get back and tells us we have neighbours, a couple of families from Veracruz, we say hello to them but get ignored - please yourself!
Turned in around 23:00 just as the neighbours fired up the jukebox - great. Eventually they switched it off but then out came the guitars and the crap pissed up singing started until 04:00.
Our minds are now made up, we are getting out of Mexico.
Start Mileage - 42,159
Miles - 203
Playa Norte(Playa Esmeraldo Camping) - Tampico(Hacienda Canada Rico)
Knackered and in a mood (again), until Lorraine let out a scream after she found a crab in one of her boots! We got on the road around 10:30, not much of a ride, we stayed on the libre roads and paid 3 tolls.
Arrived at Tampico at 16:00 and started to hunt out accommodation. As we pulled into town we got a tug from a Policia Turistica car. I pulled into the forecourt of a Ford garage, something must have told me this was going to be dodgy! The driver got out, a huge guy and told us as he was writing us a ticket that we had run a red light back up the road and that we must pay a fine. I knew damn well I hadn’t and refused to accept the ticket or pay him anything. He started to get a bit annoyed when I said that we would go to the police station to sort it out. He waved the ticket under my nose and said to follow him, I asked if we were going to the police station and he said yes, follow. OK then, lets see where this goes.
Just around the corner out of the view of the prying eyes in the Ford garage he pulls us over again. We are on a busy main road so I will play the game. This time, two of them get out of the car and make a point of unclipping their guns and told us again that we have to pay a fine, either at court or we could settle it with them at US$900 which he said would be cheaper, funny that $900 splits quite nicely 3 ways, I told him no I will take my chance with the court and that I wanted to see his boss at the police station. Now he is really angry, poking me in the shoulder, pulling my jacket and calling us all sorts of Gringo, and who do we think we are not paying him. The price goes down to US$300 but still no, police station. I’m a little bit concerned now, he is getting red in the face and the poking is nearly a punch. The third cop gets out of the car and I notice that all three of them are wearing their stab jackets so that their badges and names are covered. I told Lorraine to get her notepad out and to write down the reg of the car and their call number. Now he really flips and rips the pen and notepad out of Lorraines hands, shouting and screaming at us with more poking and grabbing at my jacket. The other two cops get back in the car and then he calms down a bit and gets back in as well muttering away to himself - “police station” I shout and get the international one finger sign for don’t bother!
That is the only tug so far that has had me worried. I had visions of the news headlines - “British travellers shot by cops on busy main road” - at least I kept US$900!!!
Now I need a coffee, bugger what it costs. We pulled into a fuel station to gas up and grab a coffee, I asked the attendant where the Tourist Police station was and straight away he asked if we had had trouble with the corrupt policia? Happens a lot here!!!
Mexican Policia Turistica - To Serve and Protect - Bollox!
Found a cheap, clean hotel just outside of town, grabbed some Taco’s from a street stall for dinner and missed the beer shop by 15 minutes - bugger!
Start Mileage - 42,364
Miles - 332
Tampico(Hacienda Canada Rico) - Matamoros(Hotel Cortes)
A bit reluctant to get a move on today after yesterdays events and we are quite comfy here.
After coffees we eventually get a shift on. On up the Ruta 180, a crappy road, potholed and melted in places with the heat but at least we didn’t have any tolls.
Something flew up my jacket sleeve while we were riding and stung me, bloody sore, pulled over and Lorraine pulled the little sting out.
Passed through the Tropic of Cancer again.
We started to look for somewhere to stop when we got to San Fernando but weren’t having any luck, all the cheap ones were really dingy - by our standards!!!! So we keep moving until we find one in the middle of nowhere, a bit dubious about it as it was surrounded by cops, at least 30 muscle cars, some riot vans, bikes and various other vehicles - we discovered there wasn’t a problem at the hotel, the cops had taken it over as their base for some sort of operation that was in force, drugs we think, at least we would be safe here! We checked the price and it was way too expensive for us, guess they bumped the rates because the government were paying!
We found a helpful taxi driver in Matamoros who gave us the run down on where to stay and where to avoid so on his advice we found a good hotel though not much cheaper than the one full of cops - ah well, at least we are closer to the Border.
That little sting that I got earlier has now started itching badly. My whole arm from just above my wrist to my elbow is swollen, hot, bright red and solid - from my elbow heading further up my arm there is a red line, and it is getting longer -should I be worried!?
Start Mileage - 42,696
Miles - 131
Matamoros(Mexico(Hotel Cortes) - Kingsville(USA(Budget Inn)
Straightforward run to the border today. We have to wait for the banks to open so we can pay our Mexican entry permits before we leave. Lorraine sets off to the bank only to return nearly in tears. Apparently we should have had two of the entry permit forms, one each, issued at El Ciebo although we queried it when we entered México we were told it was ok. The bank says we will probably have to return to El Ciebo but to check with the customs here first -arse!
We decide to pack up and just go to the border, their cock up they can sort it out. When we get to the border we are told it is not a problem and that we can pay at their office here - oh the joys of travelling! Next we have to get back our US$400 we paid to bring the bike in - that went a lot smoother, customs guy came out, looked at the bike, took a photo of the VIN number, did the paperwork and gave us our money back, nice and easy.
So we are now stuck with a load of Mexican Peso’s that we were going to spend on cigarettes but we can’t get to the shops now because we are in no-mans land between borders, bugger! Go for a coffee and the guy has 4 cartons on the shelf, that takes care of a few Peso’s, then he offers to drive into town and get some more for us as we can’t leave .. Woo hoo, all Peso’s gone, now we don’t have any to pay for the coffees, lucky we have dollars.
We head off for the US border and somehow got turned around and instead we are going back into Mexico and had to be escorted back the wrong way to the US entry queue -DOH!!
Maybe we should have given Mexico more of a chance and made our own minds up about the country, but with the expense of accommodation and getting around, costly motorway tolls and even the libre roads that have tolls to cross every bridge it got to be too expensive for us. Hasta Luego!
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