Leaving the Gulf of Mexico I headed south and immediately hit some tough hills. Like anything else, if you haven’t done something for awhile it takes some time to get back into the groove. I haven’t climbed steep mountains since Arizona and boy I was really struggling. One day I had to climb up 2500 feet. I was getting dizzy and almost passed out a couple times so I had to really slow it down. I think it was the heat and humidity—I was just sopping wet for three days straight. On top of that I had some awful saddle sores, some of the worst I have had. Probably due to the heat and humidity.
I finally stumbled into the lakeside town of Catemaco, intending only to stay one night. But I could hardly walk. My back was killing me from walking my bike uphill for about three hours. Plus the next day I woke up with a sore throat which became a full cold–headache, coughing and runny nose. So because of that and the saddle sores I ended up staying four nights. Did not do too much, just some sightseeing and trying out all the restaurants, reading, watching football, and wandering around. So my Christmas day was pretty dull, I layed in bed coughing and snotty, watching sports all day.
So all this put me even further behind plan. My sister is visiting in January and we plan to meet in Oaxaca. So In order to get there in time I decided I will have to take a bus one day. This will also help because the road climbs 12,000 feet in about 300 km. It is in a remote area too so…I guess I am just not as adventurous as I once was. The hills all seem a lot steeper than they were 10 years ago as well.
Meanwhile the people here continue to be super friendly. I get many shouts and honks from passing cars and trucks, whistles from people as I pass, and if I stop for some reason, someone is almost certain to wander by and ask de donde viene?—-where are you from? My usual quick answer is that I rode from Miami six months ago. People are amazed at this. A couple other cyclists have stopped me and wanted to chat a bit. They gave their phone numbers and say to call in case I have any problems. One guy said I have “huevos“. Ha!
Catemaco is on a nice lake so there a tons of lanchas where you can get a tour of the lake. The pilots all hound the passersby relentlessly trying to get some business.
I had a nice michelada and watched the sun set in this restaurant over the water.
Cool shot of a bird at sunset. Not sure what kind.
A lone fisherman still working at dusk.
A lancha on lake Catemaco in the rain.
One funky coffee shop had these figures for sale. I really can’t buy any souvenirs. I can’t carry them and I have nowhere to send them!
Also in the cafe was an aquarium with the ugliest fish I have ever seen. It looks like it has a massive brain tumor. Even the other fish looks like it is thinking, “dude, are you OK?”
A couple kids playing nearby.
Want a little Jesus statue?
Catemaco is known for a tradition of witchcraft, going back many centuries, mixing ancient indigenous beliefs, Spanish medieval traditions, and voodoo practices from West Africa. In March, a witch and warlock festival is held, attracting thousands of supernatural believers from all over the country. A cleansing ceremony is held and you can consult shamans and healers for whatever troubles you.
As in most towns, there is a bustling marketplace. It was especially busy every day due to the Christmas holiday.
I wonder how long the meat stays fresh in 90 deg heat and 90% humidity?
Shopping for vegetables.
Chicken anyone? Are there health inspections? Certificates of sanitation? Permits? I doubt it.
Of course, there are plenty of places to buy chiles and peppers for the salsa.
Typical market street.
I would buy fresh juice and fruit here every day.
Someone’s pet parrot taking a nap.
Why? Even the baby senses something is wrong with this outfit.
Passing through towns, the highways have hundreds of speed bumps, called topes, to slow down vehicles in populated areas. I think It says something about the culture that the authorities don’t trust drivers to obey slow down signs and must put up physical barriers to slow people down.
Anyway, at some of the speed bumps people try to sell things or solicit money. In this case, a bunch of kids dressed up and were dancing to music blasting out of big speakers. I was impressed with their ingenuity and creativeness so I stopped and gave them a few pesos.
As I write this I just finished a tough day in the rain. Forecast was for scattered showers but it rained most of the day. Needless to say, I got soaked. At least it was warm so It wasn’t too bad.
I will be entering Oaxaca state soon which has a strong indigenous population, plus I will be back on the beach! Stay tuned. Here is my current location.