Friday, March 28, 2014

Ride Day 178 Tapachula MX to Coatapeque Guatemala

I left Mexico this morning and rode to Coatapeque Guatemala. I was sorry to be leaving Mexico because before I left and for most of the time I was there everybody told me how bad and dangerous Mexico was. Well I was there for 2 months and everybody I came into contact with was wonderful. They were all happy, helpful, friendly, caring, fun, warm and I could go on and on. The few assholes that cause the problems in Mexico are seriously hurting the economy of the country. All the hotels and campgrounds were mostly empty, except for all the snowbirds from Canada. Mexico with just a little basic law and order and a lot less drug lords around could be a world class destination. I wish it would happen.

I rode out of Tapachula on busy city streets at 7 in the morning. Traffic sucked but I wove in and out and ran a couple lights to help me get out of town. There was a long grade at the edge of town but it was not too bad then there was a long slow slight incline that just made you work a bit harder even though it looked flat. I took the turn toward Hidalgo the border town and I was delighted to find that it was a very long slow downhill that allowed me to glide for miles or just pedal here and there. I arrived almost 50 kilometers later at the border.

I went into the Mexican side and got stamped out in about 30 seconds. Then I rode across the bridge after paying my 2 pesos to ride a bike over. I stopped in the middle of the bridge and watched the activities on either side of the bridge. Both sides had a very busy illegal border crossing that was crossing more goods than the legal crossing was, all of it was right out in the open. They were carrying big containers of gas because gas is way more expensive in Guatemala. They had giant innertubes that they tied plywood to and carried cars and small trucks across the river. There was an unless line of humans being taken across by coyotes. I was mesmerized watching all the action. There is obvious knowledge in both countries about this illicit trade but it was going on unimpeded so the officials are overlooking this.

Once stamped into Guatemala, again in about 30 seconds, I rode through town on the other side. I stopped at the park where I was told money could be changed. I changed my pesos and hit the road. I got taken for a few bucks in the transaction but it beat waiting in the long line I saw at the official bank.

As I rode along in the busy town, I felt like a one man parade. Everybody was calling out hello and waving or giving thumbs up signals to me. They seemed delighted to see a bike rider with a soccer jersey on riding through town. I waved and said hello as often as I was able to but there were many of them and only one of me. I stopped a few times to buy water and the shop keepers all wanted to chat. I had to repeat all the usual answers but I don't mind. The heat was slowing me down big time and I was drinking a lot of water to try to keep up with the water lost through sweating. I woke up this morning with a slight sore throat and during the ride I did not have the energy that I usually have. It could be I am getting a bug but I hope not.

I stopped at Coatapeque after about a 100 km ride and I was exhausted. I checked into a hotel for 12 bucks and took a cold shower then kicked back on the bed for over an hour before I went out and bought a whole chicken for three and a half bucks for a mid afternoon dinner. I gobbled the entire bird in one sitting thinking the whole time that I should save some for later today but such is life. Later I will just have to go out and get something else. If I get some energy that is. I hope I feel better in the morning because I want to ride about 90 miles and there are quite a few grades. More later.

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