David, Panama

Busses and Mexico City

9 december 2014 - David, Panama

A new story from the past.

 

                                                                    Mazatlan

 

All adventures are going so fast I can’t keep up the pace with writing about it.

I will do my best to catch up and make much effort to be done with most of it in Panama City.

This city we will reach in about 3 weeks.

After our ferry “trip” from La Paz to Mazatlan we arrived in Mazatlan on a (again) warm / hot sunny day and it also had a high humidity.

This made it extra hard to cycle. Your body can’t get rid of the heat it produces.

We, Kate, Spencer and I cycled to the hotel I booked for the three of us.

It was troublesome to find it but Spencer lead the way and we arrived at the hotel. This hotel was at the beachfront.

The atmosphere was great, an old building with a lot of wood, an enclosed garden and courtyard within and a pool we didn’t use.

 

We stayed here to organize the coming days.

Kate and Spencer still deciding what to do next (Taking a Spanish course and how to get there)

I was waiting for Tanja to arrive here too, so we could make plans how to travel from Mazatlan.

Tanja had cycled from the port Guaymas to Mazatlan.

She didn’t have a smart phone or a laptop for contacting me by mail or messenger.

But in the end she did make contact with me by text message, she arrived in Mazatlan, but was on the other side of the city.

The next day she arrived at the same hotel where Kate, Spencer and I were staying.

Also Andreas stayed for one night (for one person it was a little bit expensive).

He changed hotel the next day and I didn’t speak or seen hem after this.

 

The others; Daisy, Jason and Tyler were staying in a cheaper hotel a few blocks down the street.

The day after our arrival in Mazatlan we had a wonderful meal together.

They were cycling to Durango on a brand new highway. Climbing towards Durango is considered one of the hardest climbs in world cycling.

After a view days in Mazatlan, Tanja and I arranged the bus ride to Mexico City where we would stay for one day and departed again for the next bus ride to Chetumal a small city near Belize.

Here we did plan into Belize to cycle from the north to the south on this new country.

 

                                                                    The bus rides

 

Again I will compress the three bus rides to cover the adventures about this part of my trip.

 

                                                                    The bus ride from Mazatlan to Mexico City

 

 

You will have to know that taking my bicycle, a two wheeled recumbent, ALWAYS gives me stress, loading it in a bus or airplane!

The people responsible for loading, are confused, they don’t have a category where the bicycle fits in.

They always, can, say “no possible”.

I am not able to speak the language, so I feel very uncomfortable with this possible situation.

Tanja, fortunately, does speak some words of Spanish.

She managed to ask about taking the bicycles into the bus we travel in, they told her “no extra charge”!

When we arrived (Very early) for the departure to Mexico City, the people at the bus terminal tried to charge us for the bicycles.

Tanja told them she did ask and was told NO EXTRA CHARGE! The charge was 1150 pesos per person that is US$80,50, for about 1000 km or about 620 miles.

In the end it was not a problem and we didn’t have to pay extra.

 

The bus we had was a first class bus; AC, television on demand, music on demand and snacks were included.

I reduced the size of my bicycle to remove the seat and some parts, also to protect it against damage.

Taking the luggage and bicycle in the bus didn’t give any problems fortunately.

There was a security check before we entered the bus; bags were checked and we were frisked.

This was done in a very inefficient way. Not really thoroughly at all!

I was glad we were sitting in the bus!

 

It soon became dark after about one hour.

But we enjoyed the changing scenery, from big city to orchards meadows and mountainous.

After we reached the lower mountains it was too dark to see anything.

I didn’t sleep very well that night.

We arrived in Mexico City early in the morning after 14 hours in the bus in the bus terminal Norte.

This was a very large area in Mexico City where all the different bus companies arrived and left in Mexico City.

It looked like an airport building with a lot of little shops and people walking around.

 

It took me about one hour to assemble my bicycle again and hang the bags on it.

We already decided to have a hotel near the bus terminal so we could take the next bus ride the flowing day without problems.

We first bought the new tickets for Mexico City to Chetumal; this ticket was a 1550 peso for a 22 hours trip, a 1340 km or 840 miles.

Then I searched the surroundings of the bus terminal for a hotel.

There were three I visited.

The first was very cheap but too much rundown.

The second hotel didn’t have any vacancy and the third was a bit expensive but very nice.

We did take a room there.

Even it was situated on one of the busiest streets I have ever seen, the noise I the room was hardly noticeable.

We checked in and decided to see the historic centre using the metro, which was at the big bus terminal too.

 

                                                                    Mexico City

 

We walked to the metro station and tried to find out how the metro system worked.

When we were looking at the map, there was a man who asked us if he could be of any assistance?

He was speaking English and we were glad he could help us how to go to the Centre of Mexico City.

He bought our ticket for just 5 pesos, which is an incredibly low price = US$ 0,35!

He walked with us and showed us which trains we could take.

It was a busy metro with the stations crowded with people trying to sell merchandise, food and souvenirs.

 

When we exited the metro station in the historic centre we were surrounded by people demonstrating against the government corruption and negligence of the need of the people!

I told Tanja to try and keep out of the demonstrating people to prevent trouble.

All went well and the demonstration did take another route.

We did walk over the big square and did see a lot of large skulls because the Mexican people have a celebration: “Día de Muertos” or “the feast of the dead”.

People come together with their family and friends and remember and pray for the dead (family) members. This goes with a lot of symbols of death and even children dress up like skeletons!

 

We visited various shops and enjoyed the scenery in this big city.

We did eat in a great restaurant and had a special meal with ingredients I still don’t know all of them!

Two pictures are on the weblog with that meal!

We did take the metro again towards our hotel and after a good night of surprisingly quiet sleep we went to the bus terminal to go with the next bus to Chetumal.

 

                                                                   The bus ride from Mexico City to Chetumal

 

We were again very early in the bus terminal because I had to take the bicycle apart.

We tried to receive good information about how they would like to have the bike before it went into the bus.

They all gave different answers, so I was not satisfied at all.

I was right, when we arrived at the bus that would take us to Chetumal the man who was receiving the baggage and putting it into the bus, was saying, not possible, more apart..

I was becoming angry, and talking to him in Dutch, Cursing in Dutch. I was really mad.

Such ignorance and abuse of power (he had over me).

I went back to the bicycle and tried to think (you can’t think clearly then!) what to do next.

Tanja asked in her best Spanish to give us some room for the bicycle.

A minute later he opened another door and there was more than enough room for the bicycles!

Why didn’t he say so in the first place?

 

We handed him the bicycles and looked if he did take care of them well!

We were frisked again and the bags were searched (not thoroughly!) and we could enter the bus.

It was a less modern bus, but sufficient enough!

We were seated in the front of the bus do we could see where we were going.

Soon after the start it was becoming dark so we tried to go asleep.

I had my inflatable pillow with my hand luggage, this helped, however I will never sleep well in a bus, I am too tall to make it comfortable for myself.

 

Early in the morning we did arrive in Chetumal after 22 hours in the bus.

Here we assembled and packed the bicycles.

Outside we had a Brunch and headed for Belize, a new country!

 

 

                                                                    The bus ride from Puerto Barrios to Guatemala City

 

In Puerto Barrios we planned to cycle all the way to Guatemala City. Here we planned to cycle to the coast again towards El Salvador.

All went differently. We did meet a man who had a Christian channel and two shops in Puerto Barrios.

We did speak and he heard about our plans to cycle to Guatemala City.

He advised NOT to do this.

The traffic was heavy with a lot of banana trucks (containers) and the road was narrow.

Especially in the mountains just before Guatemala City it was very narrow without enough view for the cars and trucks. An accident was then likely to happen.

He told us that every day there were accidents on this road and most of the times with a deadly casualty!

 

So we changed our plans and decided to take the bus to Guatemala City.

We bought a ticket for a luxury bus, with AC and a good view because we were in the top floor of the bus on the first row!

We arrived early again and the transfer into the bus was without a problem.

We entered the bus and enjoyed the view. I had my GoPro installed so it would take a picture every 30 seconds.

I never tried this setting but was curious how the results would be.

 

I will have a big pile of material; pictures and movie parts to sort out when I arrive home!

You will see the best next year!

 

We scanned the road, if we would be able to cycle the road after all (imaginary, I mean).

Out of the city it was tricky, hardly any shoulder, but after the city there was a reasonable shoulder most of the time.

In the mountains it became smaller and smaller, really dangerous.

Also entering Guatemala City it was terrible to ride along the highway traffic!

All in all we were very happy we used the bus to make the transfer!

 

In Guatemala City we arrived just before dark. I assembled my bicycle as soon as I could.

Turned on the GPS and tried to locate the hotel I made a reservation for.

When we entered the streets of Guatemala City, I felt lost and very uncomfortable.

I felt responsible for Tanja too so we had to stay together. There were a lot of one-way streets.

It was incredible busy with traffic a lot busses, with their black exhaust clouds; it was hard to breath (we also were at the altitude of 1500 meter! = almost 5000 feet).

Also all the people, there were a lot, starring at me (the guy with that strange bike).

At first I couldn’t figure out where we had to go to, we did take the wrong streets because we were cycling against the oncoming traffic.

In the end all worked out fine and we did find the hotel. It was really nice with a courtyard and very friendly staff.

I have never felt so relieved to reach the hotel!