Friday, June 26, 2015

Mexico is Great

We crossed into Mexico 6 Jun and headed up the Caribbean coast to Cancun. Cancun is a resort town par excellence with sun, sea and a cooling breeze, but for me it was the gateway to Cuba. After Cuba we did the 465 km to Campeche on the coast in good time and on excellent roads - which really means there were none of those damned speed bumps that are wreaking the underside of my bike. Campeche was a lovely seaside town with a historic centre and we scored a nice hotel that had been beautifully restored. We followed the coast road along the Golf of Mexico to Villamosa for a night then Veracruz. We are on our way to Mexico City with the aim of seeing more ruins; this time so called Aztec ones.It turned out that the Aztec's simply took over a "city" that had long been abandoned and was pretty much overgrown.
Using the excellent Mexican motorways and somewhat expensive tolls we made Mexico City by Sunday 14th. The following day we took a taxi out to Teotihuacan, the most visited of all the ruins in Mexico. We got there quite early, accepted the services of a guide who proved to be excellent and managed to tour the ruins without the inevitable crowds. The ruins date from the time of the others we have visited so the Aztecs were very much late comers to the city. The ruins have been rebuilt in modern times with the aid of the government in an effort to give the Mexican people a sense of
there history. I foolishly said I would climb to the top of the Pyramid of the Moon observing that it was shorter than the one of the Sun. Little did I know the steps had a huge step-up and like a few other climbers needed to haul myself up with the rope provided. The others climbed the pyramid of the Sun with its more modest sized steps. All in all it was an excellent tour. Just before we left the area`our guide took us to a place that harvested cactus juice and made tequila. After sampling each we passed on buying any of the product. The cactus juice was awful.
Our next port of call was to be Creel and the Copper Canyon so we hit the auto pista and after 600km and NZ$25 in tolls arrived in Zacatecas. Much to our surprise the old part of town has UNESCO status and as luck would have it we found a reasonably priced hotel right in the heart of it. We spent the rest of the day walking the old town and had a most delightful meal in a Greek restaurant. Next day saw me off to the dentist to have a crown seen to. One hundred and twenty pesos later I'm done. That's about $12 NZ. And it wasn't a shonky dental practice either.
We are done with the tropics. The palm trees are gone, so have the roadside fruit stalls that we so much loved stopping at. Instead its crops and livestock and is much drier. That's not to say we didn't get wet a few times. One such place was Agua Calentes which was flooded so badly that the underpasses were impassable so we had to make our way round the edge of the city. Another 600km day to Jimenez and another $25 in tolls. My documents for entry to the US have now all arrived so I am good to go.
Creel is the stepping off point for trips into the canyon lands close by. We took a private tour of a couple of the canyons (there are many) and made it to Rio Urique, the river at the bottom of Barranca del Cobre (Copper Canyon). The tour included a lunch break on the banks of  Rio Urique and visits to various Indian settlements. One family was living in a cave (they were happy for us to visit) and at the time we visited it had just stopped raining. The cave had its own water fall and the inhabitants were a pretty glum looking lot. The whole place was horrid and the squalor was overwhelming.
The area is really quite striking with the smell of the pine and the cool nights due to elevation. We all loved the place. Next day on the way out we went to an overlook and adventure park suggested by our guide. This too was excellent and we even braved the cable car ride across the valley.
Out last night in Mexico was in Nuevo Casa Grandes where we had a dip in the swimming pool and toasted the end on Mexico with a round of Margaritas.
I loved Mexico and at no time did I feel threatened or unsafe.

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