Riding out on the slippery polished cobbled stones streets of San Cris I was rested, refreshed and a little on edge. We have heard recent reports of forced robberies on Highway 199, the road between San Cris and Palenque. Unfortunately, the state of Chiapas is very poor and robberies are common. Kev and I did not want to miss out on the Palenque ruins…so we decided to take the "long way round" on Highway 195…Sorry, Ewen & Charlie!
Damnnnn…..What an amazing day of what I call National Geographic riding! We rode along the Sierra Los Altos de Chiapas mountain range, rising high enough at times that my ears hurt when they popped, then down into the cool, lush, jungly valleys. Our route weaved through many simple, colorful, native communities sometimes connected with a paved road, and sometimes not. I will never tire of waiting for goats to clear the road. I did question Navi's direction choices at times, feeling somewhat vulnerable in the state of Chiapas. Occasionally the road ahead was a challenge, and being that I did not see a single westerner or traveler while we were out here…kept me alert and slightly on edge. Frequently on Mexican mountain roads it can be awkward finding a safe place to pull over and snap a picture. I did finally pull over once to try and capture the surrounding beauty of the area, which, after seeing the photos hardly did it justice….but that is always they way, hey? As we wove in and out of the small mountain communities it was truly refreshing to see the native men, women and children operate calmly and naturally in their community environment instead of pushing and pestering their wares in the larger town of San Cristobal. It was truly a beautiful experience! Really, at times I thought that that Navi was bonkers, but I was wrong. There was no traffic, just nasty potholes, landslides and cool things to look at. Awesome flowering trees that I had never seen before, awesome hillside churches, ingenious tree planted farming fence lines and vast mountainous beauty….I have to say that this day ranks up on the top 10! It was bloody beautiful.
We arrived at Tapijulapa, a Pueblo Magico, around 5:30 pm…Yes it had already been a huge huge day, traveling much the time around 40-60 km/hr, stopping only for a half hour for lunch around 2pm, devouring an entire pollo asada, small bbq chicken, between us! The township was neat, clean and fairly deserted as we stopped in the square to program an address in Navi. Waiting, I was approached by a fellow who showed me his Pueblo Magico Tourism documentation badge….then he began. He began to talk in spanish almost without taking a breath for the next 12 minutes…I couldn't interupt him as he was so intent and passionate about who the hell knows he was saying. I looked forward at Kev who was watching in his rear vision mirror, practically in hysterics. After he handed me a flyer, I finally removed my helmet to be polite and said "Muchas gracias por la información"! He smiled and asked me if I wanted to book anything to which I responded no. We rode around to the hotel in the township and found that there was no secure parking so we decided to check out another place 7 km's out of town. Now this place looked cool, but we needed to leave the bikes in an upper parking lot, hike down the hillside to the river, then catch the kayak across the river to the bungalows on the other side. We could always return by a zipline if we wanted to check on the bikes. Exciting as it all was I just did not have the energy to do this at 6pm at night…so we pulled out the Mexico road directory that has been a life saver for us and looked for the nearest slightly bolder print town. Kev programed Tacopala in Navi, and bang we had a couple of accommodation hits. Being only 30 km's away, we might get lucky and make it before dark! We arrived at a small roadside hotel as the sun set. Today we have been on the road for 9 1/2 hours!