New Years, Windy Daze, and Warmshowers!

Well…Our New Years stint in Puerto Escondido was quite the hoot, and just what we needed. The Hostel Tower Bridge served as our refuge for 5 days in order to rest, relax, and take in everything around us. Puerto Escondido is on the backpacker circuit, so we got the opportunity to meet lots of other travellers from all over the world, who congregated at the hostel for the New Years celebration, my favorite holiday of the year! The people at the hostel were great…We were intrigued by their travel stories, and they were even more intruiged by ours.

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~Chillin hard at Tower Bridge Hostel

We quickly found out that Tower Bridge is a party hostel. If you are looking to get a good night sleep, you might want to try somewhere else. This served as the perfect hub for having a great New Years. The New Years Eve day was spent relaxing, checking out Playa Zicatela, home of the Mexpipe (rival to Hawaii Pipeline). However, the Mexpipe didn´t have swell and was flat. NYE night, started off with a delicious dinner that I prepared for the gang. I made carne asada tacos and everyone in sight was jealous of our gourmet feast. We jokingly convinced the other travellers that I was a chef at a Mexican restaurant back home! After dinner,  it was time to start drinking. Mixing tequila cocktails and drinking cervesas, we quickly achieved the desired affect of alcohol. This lead to spinning the wheel at the bar of the Tower Bridge. The wheel, is a wheel of fortune of sorts, and whatever spot you land on, you must do. After spinning, I was assigned to give one of the lucky ladies a lap dance! This is what all the bike training has lead up to, achieving buns of steel, perfect for this situation! After pregaming at the hostel, the entire compound taxied down to the beach where the count down to 2014 commenced and the beach party continued! Sporting my new Mexi haircut and our nicest shirts, these cyclists were dressed to impress, looking for success! The New Year celebration was amazing, we all got separated where we would meet up in the morning to recall the insanity!

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-Maintaining the status of Kings of the Kitchen at Tower Bridge

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-Carne Asada Tacos and cabbage salad for NYE dinner!

Typically, the hostel is busy and loud in the morning, but not on Jan 1. Everyone feeling the effects of the night before, cooking coffee and stewing around. It was international hangover day and what better way than to spend it with internationals. We recounted our wild stories with each other and our new friends Warren from Espana and Tom from Australia! We had all had hilarious tales from the night before filled with lust and debauchery! There is not much to say about the rest of the day…It was spent sipping coffee, eating food, and enjoying a nice smoke in the countless different relaxation zones within the hostel quad.

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-This is how we survived our New Years Day hangover…LOTS of coffee!

The next day would be our last in Puerto Escondido. Again we relaxed most of the day at the hostel. The backpackers are thrilled to hit the beach all day, but for us, we lived on the beach for 2 months and sitting in the shade of the hostel is way more enjoyable and relaxing. However, we did decide to check out the small beach close to the hostel as it is supposed to be quite nice. However when getting there, it was overcrowded and just not what we were looking for.

January 3 marked our exit of Escondido. Having 5 days off the bike is what we needed. We love biking but getting off the bike and really exploring an area for a few days is great! Leaving the hostel, we were sluggish because it so easy to sit around all day, but were ramblin´men and we gotta go. So we sent south, with Zipolite in sight for the evening. Zipolite is a small beach village 80 km south of Escondido and is home to the only nude beach in Mexico. After riding up and down the steepest hills we have ever experienced on bicycles, we made it to the small village that had been overtaken by gypsies and artesians. One of those artesians, Santiago, recognized we were looking for a place to stay, and pointed us in the direction of a Italian woman’s compound that accommodates campers. Santiago is also a bike tourist who has extensively travelled Centro America, but has made temporary home in Zipolite.

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-~The only way to sell bread is on your head

The next morning before leaving Zipolite, we had to indulge in the nude beach. There weren´t many nudists at the beach, but there was three more once we arrived to the beach! Drying off, we gathered our clothes and our bikes and continued south. The morning riding was tough. We had a 15 km climb from the beach to the highway and it was pretty steep. This climb would mark the start of a 3 day stint of riding through the big, steep rolling hills Oaxaca! The entire day, we would climb a hill, gasp for oxygen before quickly dropping back downhill. At the end of the day, we made camp in dried up river bed hidden from the recently constructed section of highway! We are pretty open when looking for a camp site, but the one principle we follow is ¨Out of Sight, Out of Mind¨.

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-We met these Argentinians who have been travelling for 4 years in this van..So rad!

The following day was similiar, climbing and descending all day. The scenery was phenominal, and although the riding was difficult, it was enjoyable. At the end of the day, we found ourselves at the end of a huge valley, where the mouth of a river exited, which would be our home for the night. Getting to camp on a river is a real treat for us because A) it fulfills our daily desire to go swimming and B) it serves as a source for bathing and washing our clothes. It´s primitive and that´s what we love. Living simply!

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-Awesome riverside campsite…Notice Hen in the Rio

One days ride from Salina Cruz, the highway greeted up with 10km of flat road with a slight tailwind easing us along the highway. However, these conditions were only temporary. As the day continued, the hills got bigger, and the wind got strong, rapidly changing direction. Short on supplies, we persisted through the strong wind all day until we could stalk up and make a final 25 km push to Salina Cruz where we would spend the night. But as summited a large hill that over looked Salina Cruz, the wind even more ferocious! Wind in our face and semi trucks at our backs, we were pedalling as hard we could to go downhill! Once we hit the bottom of the hill, the headwind turned crosswind continued to grow, realizing we had just entered a wind corridor. And it is this wind corridor that mark the start of ¨The Heinous Winds of 2014¨. Wayyy more consistant than the winds of 2013. After pushing in the wind all day and exhausted, we made it to Salina Cruz around dusk. With very little options to camp in this industrial port city, we opted to ask the police to stay at the station for the night, where permission was granted.

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-Overlooking Salina Cruz, just before the Heinous winds of 2014 really took effect

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-Camped at the cop shop

Waking up at the police station was weird, but comforting at the same time. Hen, Ike, and I were laughing about how the last time I slept in a police station this summer, is was not by choice and I was on the other side of the bars! We decided to take a rest day in Salina Cruz because we were tired and Hen was getting sick. We spent the ENTIRE day lounging in the square of Salina Cruz and it was great! Surrounded by street vendors in the wind blown city, we filled our stomachs with the infamous 2 peso tacos, and dug the scene of Salina. We had our bikes rested against a wall and we just sat in the square, a spectacle to the passerbys. Everyone was intrigued, questioning us and taking photos with us! An amigo even bought us dinner from Burger King because he loves America and wanted to treat us well! After couchsurfing opportunities fell through, we resorted to buying a cheap hotel for the night, and pushing through the wind mañana.

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The bikes posing in the plaza of Salina Cruz

Taking advantage of the luxuries that hotels provide, such as indoor plumbing and wifi, we got a late start before pushing into the wind to head south. The section of road that we would hit for the next 2 days is notorious for being extremely windy, and during peak wind conditions, is known to blow cars off the road. Often times, police will close the road for up 3 days at a time until wind reduces enough to make safe passage. I guess 50+ km/hr winds aren´t justifable to close the highway, so we pushed through, using all of our energy to maintain the bike upright and as well as trying to pedal forward. The wind was so strong, Hen was blown off the road on three separate occaisions! WOW! Stopping in the business hub of Jucitapan, I bought some fresh brake pads for the mountains of Guatemala that are soon to come. The golden hour was approaching and we needed to seek refuge from the night and the wind. So as we entered the wind farms, we quickly sought out a little Rancho on the side of the highway that granted us permission to sleep behind their house for the night! The real treat was that they gifted us some Hecho a Mano (Handmade) tortillas, and Angél (the farmer) grew the maseca himself. These were the freshest, most local tortillas that we will EVER eat!

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-Camped at the ranch…With windmills comes LOTS of wind

Our sleep spot for the night was windy. Hen was worried his tent would blow away in the wind. However, we were camped under a windmill, which was pretty awesome. Hitting the road, it was windy. The wind has been our life for the last three days, and we´re anxious to get out of it. For the first half of the day we fought the wind and then after lunch something amazing happened. The road turned south and these Gail Force winds were at our back, allowing us to absolutely smash on the bikes, something that seemed a distant memory in the past. We smashed for a bit until we found a very inviting river in which we took a dip. After swimming, we continued to ride, with wind no longer an issue. It was getting late in the day and camp was in mind. As we cruised through a Pueblo called Zanatepec, spraypainted on the road, it said ¨Warmshowers este lado¨(this direction). Knowing that this could only mean it was directing us to a warmshowers host. For those that don´t know, warmshowers is an online community that is set up to host travelling cyclists worldwide. Following the roadside directions, we made it to Rodrigo y Lupita´s house, where we would live for the night! It was amazing having no expectations for a campsite for the night, and all the sudden we had a guest cabana, a hot meal that Lupita cooked, and great conversation. Rodrigo is a long time advocate for bike tourists, and although he is not a cyclist himself, he loves hosting travellers. He said he hosts 50-100 people a year! What hospitality! We are members of warmshowers but had yet to use it on the trip, and I think after the hospitality we recieved, it will be a much more useful tool, espcially in Central America!

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-With more windmills comes even more wind!

The next morning, we indulged in  more of Lupitas delicious cooking. She prepared us Huevos con frijoles (beans) and coffee. It was wonderful! After drinking 3 cups of coffee and taking farewell pictures with our hosts, the crew was psyched to get on the road! Today marked a new era! The road is flat and wind slightly at the back, which envoked the perfect conditions to smash, smash, smash! Loving the riding all day, we maintained the paceline formation all day! The riding was beautiful. We were riding parallel to the Sierra Madre Sur mountain range, so we got the enjoyment of gazing at the mountains but not having to scale them…yet. Today we also crossed into Chiapas, our 10th and final state of Mexico that we will visit. After riding all day and clocking in 110 km for the day, we made camp at a family Rancho that  was in the median of the highway. The highway that appears to be recently rebuilt was built around this ranch, where the Abuelo Mario had been living for 60-70 years! Wow! What an experience living in one place for that long. Tired and hungry, we celebrated the day with a cold cervesa and a large, hot meal!

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-Rodrigo´s Casa! He is stoked on couchsurfing/warmshowers and so are we!

With 230 km to the border of Guatemala, we made the plan to ride another 110 km to stay with another Warmshowers host, Noé Sanchez. We had written him the day before requesting a stay and had to bike to the next town Pijijiapan to check the email to see the reply…After taking in another casual 60 km of riding through beautiful landscapes that are starting to become more junglesque, we stopped and accessed the interweb! Yes! We had another host and would not need to search out a camp yet again…Riding another 45 km to reach Noé´s home in the town Mapastepec became easier knowing we had a basecamp. Arriving to Noé, we were quickly greeted by his wife Anita and she sat us down, feeding us tall plates of taquitos and cold coca-cola. We were also introduced to Matt, a fellow bike tourist who stayed with Noé two months ago, and has since moved here and is teaching English for an undetermined amount of time. The rest of the night relaxing and drinking cervesa. When Matt showed up with a bottle of tequila, we knew our rest day was in store!

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-Nothing like some roadside prescribe burning…I love fire use!

And today…The rest day has been great! It is Anita´s birthday and it is a Mexican tradition to light firecrackers for the birthday person, so that was our wake up call! Then Anita cooked us the most enormous breakfast I have had all trip and it was delicious! Huevos con Chorizo, frijoles, and pan dulce (sweet bread), with coffee! It was so great and really cool to have a meal with the entire Sanchez family to celebrate her birthday. Hen, Ike, and I even sung her Feliz Cumpleaños! Later Matt took us to a small mountain village 15 km called Costa Rica, where a beautiful river flowed through mountainous jungle and plenty of places to swim and cliff jump. We have been fiending some cliff jumping, especially Ike and Hen who are the aerialists! The cliff jumps were awesome, the river were refreshing, and the scenery spèctacular! We returned to Mapastepec via hitchhiking instead of the Colectivo we paid to take us there! Free rides are the only way to go!

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-The swimming hole at Costa Rica!

So currently, we are hanging around waiting for Anita´s birthday dinner which will be followed with cake! It´s been a great rest day and really easy for us since we have great hosts! Our warmshower hosts have helped us tremendously recently!

Tomorrow we hit the road for Tapachula, the last border city before crossing into Guatemala! Then we will wake up and send the border and start a whole new adventure! Mexico es mi amor ( Mexico is my love) and we have all thoroughly enjoyed the time here!  But it is time to cross a new frontier and apparantly that frontier is vertical. Everyone has told us of the wall of mountains we have to climb into after crossing the border and we couldn´t be more psyched!

Hasta Luego Mexico y Bienvenidos Guatamala!

Ranger Tom

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