8/02/05 Mexican Motorcycle Diary pt.2
(continued from part 8/02/05 Mexican Motorcycle Diary pt.1)
One thing I've noticed thus far is that the travel info I get from male Mexicanos tends to be far more accurate than that I get from the female counterparts. Not sure why that is. Maybe the females don't drive as much but are too proud to admit they don't know? In any case, the info I got from the hotel dude was dead-on accurate down to the travel time. The ride toward Morelia was a wonderful curvy road in parts, with the lush countryside punctuated by volcanos and gentle lakes. Although most roads give you know shoulder to pull off on at all, some give you a half-lane. I'm guessing that the Mexican department of transportation felt that if they gave people a whole lane as a shoulder they'd just use it as a passing lane. Here is where I discovered why I've been told I should be able to get to where I'm going much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. A half-lane is plenty to use for passing on a bike and makes it easy to get around the loaded dump trucks and semis that slow down to a crawl on the inclines. A word of caution though... you never know when these half shoulder lanes will just stop abruptly, or if there's some campesino shoveling rocks, or a pile of coconuts just sitting there... so, you really need to use this short-cut sparingly. ;-)
I've gradually been getting a bit more cajones when it comes to riding in Mexican traffic now. If finally dawned on me that I was riding according to the U.S. system and expecting everyone else to do the same. Once I realized that it was I who was riding outside of the established system, it began to make sense why if was so treacherous. Don't get me wrong, driving in the cities is still treacherous, but the going is a bit better when you approach it more like dodge ball... just looking for a hole big enough to slip through while constantly dodging obstacles and other vehicles hurling toward you on every side. As soon as you stop assuming that everyone else is NOT following the rules you're accustomed to and just concentrate on not getting hit, the ride begins to make more sense.
Slipped into Morelia without problems and had intended on stopping for a bit, but I really didn't see much of interest to bother with. I'm sure there are very nice parts of the city that I'll have to explore at some other date. However, I was making good time and Ruby wanted to keep on going to stretch her legs out on the toll highway to Patzcuaro. I might have done better to see a bit in Morelia because as soon as Ruby and I were heading straight down the nice autopista to Patzcuaro, we could see a huge black storm in front of us that appeared to be hanging right over the city. Lightening danced all over the region as the temperature suddenly dropped. It was only 50 or so more kilometers so I figured we might make it and find a room just before the storm hit. Wishful thinking. Just 8 km outside of the city the rain came down hard with a fairly harsh wind. I pulled over to a taco stand to wait it out and was met by some Indian women who didn't seem to like the fact I'd pulled over at all. I figured maybe they think I'm not going to buy something, so I ordered a Penafiel refresco straight off. That didn't seem to appease them, so I asked if they had any seafood since their little sign said "mariscos". They said no, but there was a huge plate that looked like it was full of seafood. I asked, "what's this?" and they said, "Pulpo" (octopus). I asked, "can I get an order of pulpo?" but they said, "no."
"Well, what DO you have?"
"How much are tacos?"
"15?! for one taco, or an order?"
"15 for just one."
Ok, I gave up. These ladies didn't like the looks of me, or thought I was stupid, or they just plain didn't feel up to fixing some tacos. But, it began to look like Patzcuaro was going to be unfriendly and expensive if a roadside taco stand with nothing more than a blue plastic tarp for a roof wanted 15 pesos for one little taco. I'd hoped I could just blow into Patzcuaro, take a few snaps, and keep on going to Uruapan to avoid the whole touristy scene. I still can't figure out why the more successful a town is with tourism, the more rude the locals seem to be. Seems like they'd be thrilled someone was coming to spend more money in their town.
(to be continued in part 8/02/05 Mexican Motorcycle Diary pt.3)