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

I stopped here one day to give a few touches to my motorcycle. The bottomof the crankcase had been smashed by the many rocks that it hit during the crossing of the Sierra Madre Mountains, and the oil was continuously pouring out from it. I had a brass patch put over the leak which seemed to hold it all right. For extra safety I fastened a square of sheet iron under the bottom of the motor and once more I was ready for the open road.

Nogales was my next stop and the road was easy and comfortable.

I was still close to the American border and from this town I headed south with Mazatlan as my next long stop.

I was now going through the easiest part of my trip. I had no more mountains to cross, the state of Sonora being composed mainly of endless extensions of barren ground, forming deserts covered by imposing giant cacti, nopals and other desert vegetation.

After what I had gone through I could well consider these roads excellent, although what I call a good road is nothing to be compared to a United States highway. I had to ride in low and second gear most of the time, with occasionally a short stretch in high. Besides, they were not exactly roads. They probably started as trails for horses and burros and oxcarts. Then, as the first automobiles came along, they left their tracks on the ground, and as more followed, the tracks got to be more and more visible so as to form an indelible way of communication leading from village to village. And this formed the best part of what was preposterously called the Pacific Coast Highway.

Of course, there will be a real highway here some day. What annoys the automobile or motorcycle traveler the most in this part of the country are the countless number of rivers that one has to cross every day.

When I was not crossing deserts I was crossing rivers. It was from one extreme to the other, either too much water or none at all.

From Nogales to Mazatlan I don’t remember of having seen a single bridge, although I had to cross over a hundred rivers and streams and rivulets and ditches and what have you.

A few miles south of Guaymas I had to stop at an army post stationed there for the protection of the travelers. They took my name down and then I was told to proceed cautiously and not to stop for any reason whatsoever because that part of the country was infested by Yaqui Indians, who occasionally robbed and killed some unwary traveler. Battalions of soldiers had been sent from time to time after those bandits, but without any success. At the first sign of soldiers the Yaquis would disperse themselves among the hills and none of them could be found. So the only thing the government could do was to station some soldiers in that dangerous zone, who would occasionally patrol the highway and warn strangers against the possibilities of a holdup.

Twenty miles below the first army post there was a second one, which meant the end of all dangers from the Yaqui Indians. I didn’t meet any Indian, and in spite of all warnings I had to stop a couple of times to patch my flat tires. When I reached the second post they told me they were expecting me, as my name had been wired from the other post and that I didn’t have to worry because if I hadn’t showed up in a reasonable length of time they would have sent a group of soldiers to look for my body. Swell consolation!

Cajeme, Navojoa, Ahome are the names of the next towns I had to go through. In the meantime I had to cross a couple of deep rivers on ferries. Unfortunately, not all rivers have ferries.

Suddenly my motor started to miss and stop, and with much trouble I arrived at Los Mochis, a promising little town a few miles from the Pacific Coast.

By Jose Porta
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