Friday, July 29, 2011


In haste to spend as little time as possible in internet shops, I left out some interesting details of our travel to San Miguel Suchixtepec, as well as from there.  Before we started up towards the mushroom-infused clouds, somewhere around San Martín de los Cansecos, we were enjoying the beautiful day that we had for riding (no rain!) and the relatively good roads.  Immediately after passing the little town, there was a long string of stopped traffic in both lanes of the highway.  Driving to the front of the line, as is customary for motorcycle traffic in Mexico, we passed vendors of all sorts, kids playing, people picnicking on the side of the road, people napping in their cars, one or two guys peeing in the ditch (as is customary in Mexico), people sitting on tailgates, cooking food, etc. which is all quite a pleasant scene (save the guys peeing), but also quite indicative of this traffic jam staying put for awhile...

And sho´ ´nuff! the road was fully blocked. Two trucks parked across it and a large banner will stop most travelers, but what really stopped us as a motorcycle was that every person within and alongside the blockade had a machete or very large stick in their hands, seemingly willing to use it if necessary. A policeman and city representative were talking near the block, but I´m not sure they were going to solve much. The blockade was a protest by the rurual outlying communities against the misappropriation of community funds by the treasurer. They planned it for the entire day, saying it may break at 3pm, but that would be on Mexican time.

Someone waiting in the line was kind enough to tell us that there was a way around the blockade through some fields. We turned down a small farm road, following a couple of pick ups and car, bouncing our way through fields, easing our way through some mud, and thankful the whole time that we were following some vehicles that knew were they were going (more than us, at least).

After following parallel to the main highway for some time, there was still a lot of confusion as to how we were to access the main road again. Luckily the pick up in front of us kept asking oncoming trucks, because after about an hour of skirting around the blockade, we still barely made it back to the highway beyond the final blockade. In fact, just as the truck in front of us pulled onto the highway, a group of campesinos realized that a steady stream of traffic was now coming through that road. We had stopped on the shoulder of the highway to check a road sign a few meters back down the road, and stretch a bit after our sidetrack, when a group of 10 or 12 machete-wielding campesinos came running at us. Luckily they kept running past us (and didn´t seem that angry while running, which kept our heart rates to reasonable levels). They ran to the road that we had just come from, and rolled a huge boulder into the middle of it, preventing the car behind us from leaving, then parked their pick up truck across it for good measure.

That car may still be there. We don´t know. We left.

Another fun sideroad activity (that I spaced when posting previously) was when arriving to the Oaxacan coast after leaving San Miguel Suchixtepec. We had a wet ride basically all the way down the mountains to the coast. It wasn´t too bad of a downpour, so visibility while riding was fine, but it was certainly enough rain to make the ride a little less....dry. That also had the effect to bring a lot of water down streambeds towards the ocean, which was foaming and furious, thanks to Hurricane Dora. When we got to Puerto Ángel, we stopped at the empty hostel, and decided to go on. The first wash that we came to was absolutely raging with water. We saw a couple of trucks go through, but the depth was past their axles, and while Mike´s enough of an idiot to try his hand at some dual-sporting beyond his abilities, this was not the right time. So we headed up the street where some shallower (and still rushing) crossings may have led us around the worst of it, when a guy on a moped shouted for us to follow him. But he was going back towards the crazy stream. I told him that´s crazy town, the water is very deep. He said, follow me, we´ll go around it! So we followed him, and sure enough, went right around it by riding onto a small sidewalk that turned into a bridge over the water.

Moped Man of Genius, we owe you one!

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