September 20, 2014
... At 10 am, the sun was standing high and the temps must have hit nearly 100. That my riding gear and helmet were black, didn't really help to cool me down. By the time I had loaded my bike up and was ready to hit the road, I already was drenched in sweat.
But what the heck, I needed to get going, if I wanted to cover some ground today. Not really knowing what my destination for was, I aimed my front wheel East.
My first stop, Loma Bonita, was only an hours ride from Tuxtepec. But the name sounded good enough to have breakfast there. I turned left off the main road and was in downtown Loma Bonita. The open cafe I spotted, was actually more or less a fruit shake place. Hot coffee in these temperatures didn't sound too appealing to me anyways. A refreshing cold strawberry shake was what I ordered, along with a ham and cheese sandwich. Deliciously good!
As I was about to pull away from the curb, a young worker from the neighboring paint store approached me, and curiously asked me all these questions. Where are you from? Where are you going? What size is the engine? Etc. Even though, my Spanish is still very limited, by now I recognize the same questions.
It was getting really hot sitting there in my black on black, when his other two co-workers appeared. We quickly snapped a few shots, I each handed them a wristband, and off in to the hot late morning air I rode.
Now, that has not been anything unusual on my trip. But this one really blew me away. I am riding along, ready for a water stop at an OXXO with a gas station attached. Just somewhere what seemed to be in the middle of nowhere. I'm being approached by some curious guys, asking the same questions as usual. When all of a sudden, a guy on a German made "Herkules" bicycle rolls up, selling pastries. I used to have one of those when I was little.
Nothing out of the ordinary either. We start chatting. "Where are you from?", he asks. " I am German, but live in San Francisco, California", I reply. " I used to live in San Mateo", he says. I can't believe it, small, small world it is. And then he says, " I used to work at Red Lantern in Redwood City." I can't believe, what I am hearing. "Red Lantern?! You are kidding. My wife used to bartend there. Where did you work?" "The kitchen. What's her name?" "Lori", I tell him, still in awe. I show him a photo of Lori. "I remember her". Wow!
Red Lantern used to be an Asian Fusion restaurant with cool decor and an even cooler bar. My wife, Lori, worked there as a bartender (mixologist) mixing killer exotic cocktails, until the place had to close it's heavy wodden doors.
After that surprising encounter, I decide on a town called, Paraiso in the Tabasco region. I like the name and from what it looks on the map, it's located by the ocean. But getting there is not as easy as the map wants me to believe. I ride about one hours in a straight line to a town only to find out, that a connector bridge is being repaired and closed. What?? Now what?? Detour?? Signage?? Nada!! In order to continue my route, I have to back track one hour, then hop on a Quota Autopista (not free) and face the possibility of getting rained on.
But, I have no choice.
In a town, Minatitlan, I ingest 4 Carnitas, have a friendly chat with a young couple and wait out a hefty rain shower with ear blowing thunderstorm. After the storm has cleared, I hop on "Big Bertha" and jump on 180 D toward Villahermosa.
Everything goes ok. I am constantly questioning my Garmin, then finally use my phone's GPS as my primary and my Garmin as the "Big" picture. The Garmin tells me to make a U-Turn, when my phone tells me to go straight. Straaaange....
Eventually, I am second-guessing both devices, because nothing they're showing me makes sense according to my map. I am forced to ask for directions, and get help in a small town from a Alex and Fernando, young siblings, who are English teachers in their town. Thanks, guys!
By the time, I reach Paraiso, the sun has gone down. No ocean in sight. Well, that's ok. I find a hotel and fall asleep to the sounds of rain and roaring thunder...