Pan-American Trails part 3

The story of a long solo travel tour through Mexico to Central America

By Jose Porta, Photography by Jose Porta

From Rosario to Acaponeta, between Mazatlan and Tepic, I had to follow the railroad tracks for about thirty miles, the road being completely under water and out of sight. Following the railroad tracks was not an easy job. In places the ties were too far apart and were not filled with gravel and there was no place to ride on the outside of the tracks. I had to ride in low and the motorcycle would jerk and jump from tie to tie until I’d get one wheel stuck in between two ties. I rode that motor in low for practically the whole two months of rain. I was traveling from dawn until dark and I had days when I only covered four or five miles, not to mention one place near Tepic where I was stuck in the same spot for a whole day and two nights. And it was continuously raining and I had to sleep in the mud covered with wet blankets, wondering when I would get out of that hell hole. I was all alone and I could not hope for any outside help, the country being so swampy that not even the natives would venture to go out on their burros.

The mosquitos also did their share in making my trip the more miserable. They don’t bother the Indians much but when a stranger is around they surely find him right away and stick to him in swarms.

Another pest was the garrapato, a small tick about the size and shape of a bed bug, which used to stick its head under my skin and try as I may I couldn’t pull it out. If I pulled out the body and left the head behind it would cause an itching sore that would last for a few days.

Between the mosquitos, the ants, the garrapatos and other vermin I was kept busy all day and all night scratching my itching and inflamed body.

Close to Tepic I left the swamps and followed a rough and mountainous road. No matter where I went it was always tough going. First the mud made the road too soft and now the rocks made it too hard. I never knew what to expect next and I just made myself insensible to everything and took things as they came.

How welcome Tepic was to me then and how thankful I was when I reached that town.

Tepic is a very small and picturesque city, typically Mexican. It is almost entirely cut off from the rest of Mexico, its only way of communication being a single track railroad with a train service of once a week. A mountain village where nothing ever happens, where a stranger would cause as much commotion as a circus would in one of our one-horse towns.

Haggard and tired, with my clothes in tatters, I drove to the Market Place. A forlorn figure, riding a fantastic mount, coming up from the lowlands like a ghost from its grave, all covered with mud, with not enough shirt on me to make a necktie, with my body covered by cuts and bruises, the sight of me must have been too much for the good people of Tepic.

The vendors left their wares and came to me. The merchants closed their stores and joined the crowd. Dogs barked and kids hollered. The police came to investigate. There was excitement in Tepic.

Next day I had half of the front page of their local paper all to myself.

By Jose Porta
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