Tiffani’s Yamaha FZ-07 Tour: Mexico—Spiced by Variety in Landscape and Climate

Chapter 3, Part 23

Mexico map
With the end in sight, TiffanyTiffani Burkett

It only took me nearly seven months, but I think I can finally say I like Mexico. Once you get away from the beaches, the tourist towns, the heat, and grow some level of tolerance for their bacteria, it’s really not so bad. It’s almost like permanently camping, only you’re in hotels, and, instead of bears posing potential threats, there are the drug cartels. We got to Creel and took a couple of days to explore the nearby canyon. Tours were expensive, especially if you wanted an English-speaking guide, but that was a good excuse to snake around on some mountain roads. They weren’t the smoothest—they never are down here—but the scenery made up for it. I don’t know many places that are rich with pine, crisp mountain air, and prone to snow while also being the home of a number of different kinds of cactus.

helmets and mountains
Is this still Mexico? The amount of variation in landscape and climate throughout the country is far more diverse than the wild-west desert I had always pictured in my head as a kid.Tiffani Burkett

At more than 6,000 feet deep and 25,096 square miles, Copper Canyon is apparently substantially larger and deeper than the Grand Canyon—though I’ll have to finally visit the Grand Canyon now to see how it actually compares in “grandness”—and native people still live in the caves and valleys. It was a kind of breathtaking moment I really can’t even begin to describe in words, and I can barely do justice in pictures. Mountains are definitely, definitely good for the soul.

Tiffani over cliff
On one hand, the grated balconies and bridges that let you look down into the canyon while hanging out from a cliff gave views nothing short of epic. On the other hand, the engineering in this country is still pretty suspect, and I sometimes have to question my life decisions.David “Hollywood” Hayward

We headed back to our little hostel for another night after soaking in the grandeur of the canyon and then opted to stay another day in the cool and agreeable weather.

Now, one thing that I’ve struggled with perhaps more than anything else in Mexico is the abundance of stray dogs. Call me a sissy, but every limping hungry pup on the road triggers every one of my cuddle instincts. If I had the money, I’d probably be saving every single one. Creel, of course, was no different in its population of strays. I eventually broke down and tossed some beef jerky to a pup who was sitting by us in the park, and why not? I had picked the jerky up at the market and it was as disappointing as the rest of the beef I had eaten in the country; it basically tasted like dog food anyway.

hollywood off-road
The roads getting around Copper Canyon were hit or miss (mostly miss), but Hollywood likes to make things even more difficult than they already are.David “Hollywood” Hayward

This, of course, was a mistake. The dog ended up following us back to the hostel for the entire mile walk. It then waited out every rainstorm, huddled under our bikes or by our door. Breaking my heart over here! How do I fit a dog on my motorcycle?

Yamaha FZ-07 with dog
I guess the FZ is as good at cuddling as it is at adventuring. At least to a dog.Tiffani Burkett

After a few extra days we finally left our little bit of mountain paradise (and our cute dog friend) and made our way to another mountain town outside Basaseachi Falls National Park. The road wasn’t very long but it was very twisty, and our pace was slowed by potholes. But we still arrived with plenty of time to hike to the falls, taking a surprisingly well-maintained and -groomed trail, complete with the occasional handrail and smooth walkways. Not what I’ve come to expect of the third world. We spent the night in town then started heading for the Sea of Cortez the next day.

Basaseachi Falls
The hiking trails to Basaseachi Falls were almost as accessible and modernized as the popular trails in US national parks. If not for the dude hustling me for 8 pesos to park in the parking lot I already paid to park in, I’d probably feel like I was home.David “Hollywood” Hayward

Our goal for the day was only about 200 kilometers away, but those kilometers went even slower than the day before as we crawled across klick after klick of mudslides, rockfalls, ravaged roads, livestock, and 10-mph blind turns. I’ve dealt with most of the obstacles before but never on a road quite this slow. After seven hours in the growing heat, having to be constantly hyper vigilant around every single dirty and unmaintained turn, I was ready to collapse. We crawled into the town of Rosario in late afternoon and I huddled in some air-conditioning, hugging a bottle of water like it was my best friend. The road probably would have been great to ride if it had ever been cleared, but judging by the complete lack of traffic, I gather it wasn’t a road that they could justify keeping usable.

dirt on roads
This is just a small example of the roads between Rosario and Basaseachi. I was pretty used to a lack of maintenance along the back roads up to this point, but the rocks and dirt and sand combined with excessively tight, blind turns made this an excruciatingly slow ride.David “Hollywood” Hayward

We strolled through the town for a peaceful afternoon of street tacos and Hollywood's last 50-peso (roughly $3) haircut and shave, but the barber unknowingly cut off the fierce mullet Hollywood had been growing the whole trip. I was somehow not all that heartbroken. We then set our sights on the final destination on the list: San Carlos.

scuba diving
Scuba diving is very quickly becoming one of my truest loves. I wonder how hard it would be to fit a bunch of diving gear on the back of the FZ?David “Hollywood” Hayward

San Carlos was an expat-heavy city on the Sea of Cortez. It feels like it’s been a while since the last time I was in a place where third-world-rich Americans and Europeans outnumber locals, and I was quickly reminded of why I avoided those towns. But the appeal of San Carlos wasn’t in the culture; it’s in the scuba diving to be found in a sea that Jacques Cousteau called “Nature’s Aquarium.” Signing up for a midweek dive, we had the whole boat to ourselves. But an incoming storm made for choppy and rough waters, where you could feel the current even 40 feet under the water. I had finally gotten comfortable diving, and the abundance of starfish and stingrays in the 90-degree water made up for everything.

I’m really going to miss the affordability and the warm waters of diving in Mexico. Scuba was so terrifying to me when I started, and now it’s one of my favorite takeaways from the whole trip. I guess I need to figure out how to bring a dog and scuba gear on a motorcycle next!

We had planned to leave the next day, but the storm that had threatened us on our dive had finally moved in, and we opted to wait it out. I could have ridden in the storm, but I guess all these months down here have gotten me comfortable with a slower and less frantic way of life. At this point, it’s hard to believe I’m so close to the border, and I’m not sure what to expect over the next couple of days as we head back. But, as always, I guess it’s time to start the run for the border!