The plan to get an earlier start worked well, and I was on the road for 07.00. It was just as well, because it turned out to be a long, challenging day. The whole 120 kms was filled with constant climbing and descents – not bad at first, but pretty gruelling after the 80 km mark. I came across an Oxxo shop early on, and to me, these places really are a most welcome oasis. Out on the highway, they are occasionally positioned with a Pemex station, but not at everyone. They have a wide range of cold drinks, coffee, snacks, and are air conditioned. Its hard to express the joy I feel upon seeing one!
Anyhow, after a half hour break, it was back to the road once more. As well as the constant climbing, only to lose what I had gained (repeat all day), most of the way was tree lined, and afforded no views spectacular or otherwise. Not for the first time, I could see why many cyclists who cycle the Pan American highway take rides through parts of Mexico. Its not the hills, the traffic or the heat, but the sheer monotony of it all. Once you’ve seen one Mexican village complete with goats, chickens, hammocks, palapas etc, you’ve pretty much seen them all, and only a masochist could take joy from gaining height, only to lose it all again for no reward. (Although, clearly I am some sort of masochist, as I continue to do it!!). The road did, however, give me a chance to think about my trip in general and the route ahead, and I came to a new decision.
I had been planning to get into Guatemala as quickly as possible, and continue heading south in the same manner, potentially reaching the southern most tip of Argentina in July. I’ve change my mind over this now for several reasons, and instead, will head to San Cristobal de las Casas, and from there northwards to Palenque, from where I will then cut across to Guatemala using a little cycled, albeit potentially dodgy road. The reasons for this are as follows…
1. San Cristobal de las Casas, which is high up in the mountains, is generally colder than the rest of Mexico, and much colder at night…. This is something I am really looking forwards too!
2. I can’t remember the last time I said ‘Wow’ about anything in Mexico. I have been to Palenque before, and know that it is stunning. It would be a great spirit lifter.
3. With a potential emergency loan sorted out, I am not so much in a rush to finish as soon as possible now, and it would make a great deal more sense, and be easier to cycle through Patagonia sometime from mid October onwards.
4. At San Cristobal de las Casas, as well as enjoying some cooler weather, I will re-equip the bike. The tyres have been on since Alaska, and these need replacing, although I have a feeling I am going to have to arrange for decent ones to be delivered from the UK.
5. Although the crossing I intend to make into Guatemala is a tough one, it will be more exciting than sticking to the same ribbon of tarmac.
So there we go. Decision made!
Anyhow, I finished the day in Santiago Astata where a room was 200 pesos. Its unbelievably hot here. When you are wearing just a pair of boxer shorts (calm down ladies – private pictures can be arranged on demand!), and sweat just filtering water, its not right!
Hoping for another early start tomorrow, if I can actually get any sleep at all in this sweat box that is.
Additional – I am really missing an MP3 player on some of these duller stretches of road – I will add that to the shopping list for San Cristobal de las Casas !