October 10, 2011
I left the hotel “Villa Serena Florencia” in Puerto Angel a bit later than I had planned today, but it was due to a nice gesture by the hotel owner, Florencia, she wanted to take my picture. She thought I was brave for taking this trip alone and showed interest in what I was doing. I found this a bit surprising, since I have been in Mexico, the Mexicans have paid very little attention to me and have never wanted a photo before. It’s a bit different than other countries I have visited where when a foreigner shows up it is a big event, I guess Mexico gets more tourists due to its proximity to the US and tourists are no longer a novelty. Having my photo taken made my week.
I continued along highway 200 with the intention of getting as close to San Cristobal de Las Casas as I could in one day. Highway 200 is also an amazing motorcycle road, twisty, scenic and far less Topes than other highways. I saw a green lizard in the road in front of me, the kind of green that only exists in nature, and this time decided to stop and get a photo. As I slowed down I noticed something else much more interesting coming towards me, it was another motorcycle, but not just another little Mexican bike, it was a BMW. I could tell by the lights and shape of the bike that it was the GS model, I could also tell by the riders outfit that he was not Mexican but a foreigner like me. In an instant I could tell that this BMW rider was on an adventure ride like mine.
Now before I tell you what happened next there is something I need to explain, especially for the non-motorcyclist. When you buy a motorcycle there are a few things they do not tell you; and the most important thing they leave out is that you have just joined a club, actually more of a brotherhood than a club. The brotherhood comes with unwritten rules, a code of conduct and gives you a general sense of belonging when you see another bike on the road. One of the unwritten rules is “The Wave”. The wave works like this; when you see another motorcycle on the road, regardless of make or model, you are expected to wave at that the other rider. Simple rule, but important. Mexican motorcyclists do not wave.
Now back to the BMW. When I first noticed him he was only 150 meters away, the lizard had now been forgotten and I assessed the BMW rider to be on an adventure. Without hesitating we both simultaneously raised our arms and waved, passing each other and continuing on our separate journeys. It was a nice thing. Thousands of miles from home and I am still in the brotherhood, it has not forgotten me.
I became a little turned around in Juchitan de Zaragoza and ended up in the center of town. People started to do a double take when they saw me, some even smiled and waved; this part of Mexico is different. This town had an interesting downtown area and I considered staying, but it was early and I wanted to see the area around San Cristobal de las Casas. Some friendly guys at the gas station helped me get back on the right road.
I was 70 kilometers down the road when I noticed lightening and dark clouds off in the distance. I have not been rained on in several weeks and once the rain started it felt very refreshing, so I did not stop to put on my rain gear. As I entered the town of Santo Domingo Zanatepec I found the streets were flooded and the rain was falling harder than before. I found a hotel on higher ground and called it a day. The plaster is falling from the ceiling of my room, my bed is lumpy; I should have stayed in Juchitan de Zaragoza.