Pan American Trails part 7

Side trips out of Mexico City bring new adventures on a long solo tour Being more of a trip from St. Louis to Managuz in Nicaragua

By Jose Porta, Photography by Jose Porta

When everything was in tip-top condition I went back to the immigration office to get my passport.

“Yes, Senor,” the clerk told me, very politely, too politely. “Your passport is ready and you may stay in Mexico as long as you wish. Twenty-five pesos, please.”

I turned red as a beet and I was about ready to blow up. I had spent two months trying to collect the money that the Mexican Government owed me, and besides not getting a cent out of them they wanted me to pay them another twenty-five pesos. No, a thousand times no! I didn’t have it, but even if I had it I wouldn’t have paid it. It wasn’t right!

I mumbled something to the clerk about not having enough change on me and I left my passport there promising to call for it the next day. I walked out of the building gesticulating and talking to myself and calling everybody names: “Chiselers! Double-crossers!” I walked to my hotel and started to pack up.

Next morning, the eleventh of November I left Mexico City and drove to Puebla, over one hundred and thirty-two kilometers of paved road. I was surprisingly well received in this town and I was introduced to several sporting clubs where collections were taken from the members for the purpose of sponsoring my trip and, after a three days’ stay, I left Puebla With my pockets bulging with silver pesos.

From Puebla I didn’t know where to go in order to reach Guatemala. The highest authorities in town didn’t know anything about the roads thru Southern Mexico. Some of them would advise me to go to Cordova, towards Vera Cruz and from there to follow the railroad all the way to the isthmus of Tehuantepec, which I had to reach before getting to Guatemala. On the other hand my next advisor would tell me to go first to Oaxaca and from there to Tehuantepec, this being the shortest way. After listening to everybody I decided on the latter course, only to find out later on that it was the wrong one, and that I would have been much better off if I had gone the other way.

Leaving Puebla I left all good road behind me and I was once more trusting to my good luck to reach my destination. My only consolation was that the rainy season was over and that I wouldn’t have to worry about mud any longer. Still I had mountains to cross, as the state of Oaxaca is the most mountainous region of Mexico, and the roads were again of the most primitive sort. Needless to say I was always struggling with my motorcycle trying to keep her on the road, and day after day it was always the same routine of falling down and getting up.

I had no road maps with me and I had to get my information from the natives which were anything but comprehensive and that cost me many extra miles of useless riding.

The majority of the people I met were very considerate and hospitable, but occasionally I would find some sullen Indian who, either thru fear of my motorcycle or thru sheer hostility would keep me out of his door with a belligerent machete.

Yet I always tried to avoid trouble and I never started any arguments. My policy was to go my way and to mind my own business.

El Rosario is a little village somewhere between Puebla and Oaxaca, consisting only of a few ranches. I reached it at twilight, weary and hungry and I meant to stop there for the night. I was hailed at the first ranch by the ranchero who came out to welcome me. An arriero who had passed by early in the day had told him that I was due to go thru that village and the poor man had everything ready so I could spend a comfortable night at his place.

By Jose Porta
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