Pan-American Trails part 6

By Jose Porta, Photography by Jose Porta/ Art By Joe Wirling

Vain hope! Next morning when I got up it was raining again and I left Morelia, hating myself for not having left the day before while the sun was shining so nicely.

From Morelia to Mexico City it was the same kind of traveling as I had met since I left Guadalajara. Always and always mud and never a day without rain. I had to cross scores of rivers and brooks and creeks every day. They were not exactly rivers; the enormous amount of water falling from the sky would strike the sides of the mountains washing down everything on its path and meeting on the way down finally to be turned into raging torrents as they struck the valley below. I couldn’t possibly avoid these rampant waters and I never knew where to find them or where not to find them.

I passed Villa Hidalgo, then I lost my way. I had been sent thru a narrow road up a steep mountain but I soon found out that the road was getting more and more impossible. It was a mere path and it was rocky in the extreme. That couldn’t possibly be the automobile road to Mexico City. I met an arriero and I stopped him.

“Is this the road to Aporo?” I inquired.

“Yes, senor, it is.” And he went his way.

I kept on going the best I could. A little while later I met an Indian boy and, still worrying, I put the same question to him and I received the same answer.

“Por Ia Virgen Santisima,” I said, finally blowing up. “How can automobiles go thru this path?”

“Automobiles? No, senor, only burros go here.”

So that was it! Only burros went thru there and, by golly, I was one of them. They had sent me to a shortcut thru the mountains, thinking that a motorcycle could go wherever a horse or a mule goes. But then it was too late to turn back and I managed to reach Aporo, where I bunked for the night.

Another day of mud fighting and I reached Hernandez, a small railroad station, where I spent the night in the yards, cuddled in the midst of a thousand sacks of coal, away from the wind and the rain.

At the end of the next day I was in Zitacuaro where the Presidente put me up in one of the cleanest hotels in the city, and I had all the comforts of an honored guest, in contrast to the bed of coal sacks of the night before.

Another day, more rain and more mud and I was in Toluca a few miles from Mexico City, which meant the end, at least temporarily, of all my hardships and tribulations.

And the next day, on the ninth of September, four months and one day after having left Saint Louis, it was indeed a proud young man who drove a battered and badly smashed up motorcycle thru the crowded streets of Mexico City.

It was the end of my first lap.

I had visited Northern and Central Mexico and I had succeeded in covering all that territory under the power of the motorcycle, a thing which had been considered impossible. From Mazatlan to Mexico City I had traveled continuously under a steady rain which made those impassable roads still more impossible. Yet the motor pulled thru it all. And when I reached Mexico City I patted myself on the back and told myself that I had done enough for a while and that I had deserved a good long rest. The motorcycle was feeling the same way. It needed a complete overhauling and we didn’t reach Mexico City any too soon. The road from Toluca was all paved, still I barely made it. The motor was screeching, the pistons were sticking and the oil was leaking from everywhere. But nothing mattered now. We were in Mexico City and there we would stay until I saw fit to go any farther.

By Jose Porta
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