Hola Amigos (yes our Spanish is coming along nicely!!)
Back in the land of topes (vicious speed bumps), tortillas (yes we stop & buy them for lunch instead of bread), sombrero’s (and we have even seen plastic ones) & crazy Mexicans.
We have our route worked out. But first we have to get through the maze of police & military checks. At the biggest one every vehicle is pulled over & checked. They just check that our vin number matches our paperwork, & have a look inside. Then a lot of driving through some flat countryside, with perhaps the biggest wind farm we have ever seen. But onto our route: First head north along the coast up to Acapulco. All is going well – we find some magic spots to camp. First: (and our favorite) Playa Brazil, just after the port city of Salina Cruz. We are right on the sand beside a beach bar/house or should I call it a shanty. Next is again right on the beach at the famous Zipolite beach. It must have been the only vacant block of land left on the beachfront. We glance at the campground – a very soggy paddock well away from the water. Our third night we find a spot beside some fishing boats, but the locals suggest we move to the turtle sanctuary - Sirentio Macho. So we meet a lovely family who rescue turtle eggs & keep them in a protected enclosure. The next morning we get up bright & early to help release a few that are ready to head out into the surf. And then onto Acapulco – sun, sand, swimming! Wrong. It is bucketing down. We settle in to the very empty (only us) Trailer Park right on the beach at Pie de la Cuesta & catch the local chicken bus into town. There are no tourists & too much rain, so no cliff divers today. There are plenty of blue & white VW beetle taxis rushing everywhere in massive puddles. The next day we try again – still no cliff divers, & still more rain. Another storm is forecast, so we decide to carry on. Here is where our plans unravel. Our first route, after 60kms, we find is closed as the bridge has been washed completely away. So we back track & head along the cuota/toll road towards Chilpancingo.(Our final destination is Oaxaca) The bonus is that the tolls are waived! Great driving, but with few exits. It is getting late & we spy a gap in the fence, & follow the track to the river bed to camp for the night. The next road we plan to take, is also closed (we ask first this time.) After seeing all the massive road slips we decide the main road is safer anyway.
So with a change of plans we check out the pretty silver town of Taxco. Definitely not a town for GR2. There is only one road we can use. The rest are a maze of very hilly cobbled streets. We park & explore. After buying no silver trinkets - and there must be 1,000’s of shops, we head on to the Grutas de Cacahauamilpa. We tour the caves & stay the night. The caves are excellent, but the Spanish commentary a tad longwinded for us!
Our next plan is to head to the Volcan at Toluca, but on checking our books we discover the dramas of not only driving in Mexico City, but the whole state. During the week we cannot drive between 5am & 11am. On Mondays not at all. Bummer. Change of plan. We will drive between Volcan Popocatepetl & Volcan Iztaccihuatl to Puebla. Part of the road is in Mexico State, but we should reach it after 11am. Well you know what happens to our plans!!!! We are not all that far from Mexico City & the area is pretty built up. Traffic is congested, even on the motorways. I see an Isuzu dealership (the first in ages) – “Hey, do we need any work done”. No. Only 10km down the road GR2 throws some more electrical faults that John cannot clear. So we return to the Isuzu Dealership to get sorted. I use their Wifi, while John dons his overalls. The electrics are fixed & John gets the wheel studs changed. We had carried the new studs over with us in our suitcase! Eventually we leave after 5pm. So we need to get out of Mexico State tonight.
It is getting dark when we head up on the road between the 2 volcanoes. Not the easiest time to find a spot to camp. I spy a sign saying Cabanas & camping. I walk in. Nothing, only a muddy track. Lots of dogs barking & it is dark. I decide to give it a miss – I nearly bump into a little man with a big white sombrero. Scary moment! He says No, but up the road. Well that is what I think he is saying! I’m inclined to return to town to an empty block of land, so we continue on to find a spot to turn around, and sure enough there is a barrier & behind it a picnic area. I lift the barrier & in we go. Again another little man appears beside me (another scary moment) & shows us where to park. In the morning we see the snow capped steaming Volcano.
It is a gorgeous hilly drive up to the National Park where we have amazing views of the mountains. It looks as if the road is closed & we are told “yes” it’s closed. So we decide to look at another back track & discover that this is the road through to Cholula & Puebla. Bonus – we don’t have to go back into Mexico State. The dirt road eventually becomes tarseal & we head across paddocks of crops before we reach Cholula (this was where we had planned to camp last night.) We stop to explore, & what a lovely find. There is a gorgeous bright yellow monastery & church, then rows of brightly coloured buildings, then a huge market area before the ancient pyramid with the church on top. As we head up to the church we spy 4 men on a pole. They are Voladores getting ready to do a show. We hurry back down & watch as they throw themselves off the top and revolve in circles to the ground. Awesome.
Then trudge slowly back up the hill, just as a procession arrives at a cracking pace (really puts me to shame). Finally back down before indulging in some yummy stuffed tortillas. Finally time to get out of here. We are on a schedule: to reach Nochixtlan tonight, so that we can catch the “La Carrera Pan-American” Rally. We survive the maze of Pueblo before finding the toll road to Oaxaca. We are not too sure where the service will be, so decide to stop in the Pemex station right on the toll road. A good move, as the rally back up crew start arriving at 7am the next morning. John spends a few happy hours looking at cars & chatting. Indeed they are a very relaxed & friendly lot. We even see an amazing Aussie car - an amazing extensively modified FJ Holden especially built and shipped over for the rally. About half of the 80 cars have been trailered down from USA. Others are from UK, Germany, Switzerland etc, and of course plenty of locals.
Finally it is on to Oaxaca & the camp ground there. Later in the day we taxi into town to explore the gorgeous churches & eat some local cuisine. The cathedral is covered in flowers inside & out, and the interior of Iglesia de Santa Domingo is practically covered in gold leaf. While we are drinking hot chocolates (a local specialty) we watch a few parades. The first appears to be a group of people in Halloween dress or is it for Day of the Dead? Both seem a bit entwined. The second is for a wedding & the third for uni students all clutching tall beer steins.
Only one more detour before we head north finally