Sunday, October 10, 2010

Cobblestone Hell!

Daryll writes:

Guanajuato was founded in 1548 around the silver mines in the area and has a river run through the town causing it to have several underground streets and tunnels that wind their way underneath the town and can be very confusing if you were riding.  There are only 2 directions in Guanajuato as we were told – Up & Down.  We were fortunate to be staying with Kay who gave us fantastic directions to her place which avoided the downtown core.  Kay was kind enough to arrange secure bike parking for us at a friends place; thus giving us the opportunity to park the bikes for a few days and explore the town on foot.  Ang. visited the Museo de las Momias (Mummy Museum) but didn’t think too much of it and wasn’t allowed to take any pictures inside.

Guanajuato tunnels
While in La Paz a week earlier, I had ordered two 14T sprockets and had them shipped to a friend of ours (Carol-Lee Gordon) who lived in Chapala, so we made our way to Lake Chapala after spending three wonderful days with Kay in Guanajuato.  Carol-Lee also had our Carnet documents that were shipped to Mexico that we needed to pick up as well.  She had given us great directions; however the adventurous type we are, we noticed that there was a short cut that we could take to her home from the opposite direction.  It seemed like it was a paved road as we were taking these smaller “yellow” roads for most of the day as they meandered through farms and the countryside.  We got off the highway and the road climbed into the mountains and crossed a valley to get to the lake.  The pavement was short lived though and as soon as it ended, the road turned to cobblestone that descended the valley with tight switchbacks.  Cobblestone is uneven and the rocks are smooth due to wear over time and in some spots, where the rocks have been dislodged, now only a hole appeared so trying to avoid the holes, and staying upright was a challenge.  The views were incredible and on a straight down hill section, I pulled to the right to take out the video camera.  Ang. wasn’t having any of it as she could barely touch the ground when having the bike stopped due to the uneven cobbles.  The cobblestone continued towards the lake and a dirt road appeared that ran parallel to the lake in the direction of where we wanted to go.  This was definitely not a road as the map had shown, but merely a cow path with deep ruts, ditches with rocks and huge boulders strewn across the road.  This day wasn’t getting any better.  As I steered my bike onto the dirt road, the front end slipped from under me and I had to lay the bike down and roll off.  No damage to myself or the bike thankfully; however with the local kids looking on, and thinking what dumb tourists, I quickly picked the bike up with Ang’s help after maneuvering her bike to a safe spot.  Didn’t think of taking a pic of the bike laying on it’s side; however I am sure there will be more opportunities.  Soon the dirt path ended and a new cobblestone road started that passed through some of the most rural villages along Lake Chapala.  This cobblestone road though had two tracks for car wheels to drive through, so eased the tension and was better to ride on.  As we headed west on this new cobblestone path, it split with the cobblestone track continuing along the lake and a paved road headed away from the lake.  Our map had been wrong before, so we decided to call it quits and take the paved road and backtrack if needed.  Low and behold, this paved road took us right past the entrance to Carol-Lee’s place.

Carol-Lee was the HR Director at the Elmwood Spa in Toronto where Ang. and I worked and met, now almost 9 years ago.  She has been incredible and has been so generous with us being with her as we waited for the package of parts to arrive.  Being at her place was taking a holiday from our holiday as we did nothing but relax and had the opportunity to meet some of her close friends and take in some of the sights of the area.  On our first evening in Chapala, we went out for dinner only to realize that there was a fiesta, parade and fair going on.  It was a Sunday evening and families were out enjoying the music and fair.

Carol-Lee, Collette, John & Mike
Both Chapala and Ajijic the next town on the lake are popular towns where many expats come to retire.  There are some amazing homes in the area.  We also had the opportunity to wonder through a magnificent Spa in an expat complex.  All good things have to come to an end, and it was time to leave and head to Teotihuacan, the largest ruins in Mexico, located just east of Mexico City.

New pictures added to the Mexico album.
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  1. You were lucky that there was no rain on the cobblestones! I ran into very wet on a steep section of cobblestone through a residential area with barely car wide lanes and lots of turns - I felt like God must have taken mercy on me that day as I arrived at the bottom still upright.
    The great adventure continues! Look forward to the next edition....

  2. Can't believe that we are still in Mexico now almost 4 weeks after getting here. Too bad that there are not more travelers to Mexico as it is such a beautiful country. We don't want to leave.