(February 23 – written by Dave)
San Cristobal is sometimes called “the Oregon of Mexico”. Today we saw why, for a time riding through pine forests and climbing a pass that reminded us of Santiam Pass in Oregon. There were even some logging operations and few mills working away. No log trucks however – which was great.
At least it looked like Oregon. The smell was definitely Mexico as it appears that they turn a lot of the wood into charcoal. For the record, making charcoal is not a clean air process, at least not in Mexico. We had smoke for a good deal of the ride. At least we didn’t have any snow. We’ve heard that our friends up in Oregon, USA are having a snow weekend. We had a chilly morning but we were in summer gear by mid-morning and no snow was sighted.
We really liked San Cristobal. The food was great. The coffee was great. We had a bit of the local culture at the markets and we even managed to find a church yesterday that didn’t have traps and scaffolding around it. We didn’t make it to any of the museums or take any of the country tours – we ran out of time and resting became our top priority goal for our last afternoon. I guess we’ll just have to come back on a proper holiday.
Back to the ride… Traffic for the first half the ride was worse than the second half. The road was better on the second half. In fact today at about the halfway point, we passed from a B2 road to a B4 road. Yeah, we had no idea either. We liked B4 much better, nice wide shoulder. B2 had no shoulder and more traffic.
We climbed two passes today. The first one almost right out of San Cristobal and the second one was a bit longer and started right after Teopisca and our morning tea stop. Unlike Oregon, neither pass had a summit sign so we were not completely sure we’d reached the top of either of them. And we are not sure how high we climbed. We only climbed about 900 meters for the day so neither pass was as taxing as the one coming into San Cristobal.
We stopped for lunch at another Oxxo just 4k from Comitan. As tomorrow is our last day riding in Mexico we are anxious to see if Oxxo continues in Guatemala and beyond. We get that eating lunch at Oxxo is not exactly high cuisine but we save adventure eating for whatever we can find for dinner. Lunch, out on the road, and finding something we can trust, well, Oxxo is a pretty good value and safe bet. Nancy had noodles again today, for those wondering.
We pulled into Comitan about 2PM. We had a couple hotels picked out based on riders that have come through here. There was a fancy hotel and a not so fancy hotel. Somehow I convinced Nancy to go for the not so fancy hotel. We are at the Hotel Real Colonial. It happens to be one of a couple hotels called “Something” Colonial. Ours is right near the main town square for anyone using Google streetview to find it.
I went out for some photos and to find supplies while Nancy rested up. There is a lively festival of some kind just getting started in the main square so we’ll have a stroll past there as we head out for one of those adventure meals. I think I’ll have mole again, I’m not sure that I’ll get it in Guatemala. I just hope that the festival doesn’t go too late – we can hear beat of the bass loud and clear just now.
So tomorrow we’re off to Guatemala – country number four. We’ll miss Mexico. We’ve really enjoyed out time here the past 5 months. It was nowhere near as dangerous as people said it would be and of course, everyone we’ve met has been great. Onwards to Central America!