25.10.2007 - 03.11.2007
Check out www.haydencarlyonphotography.com for more photos from the trip.
After a couple of very relaxing days at the beach in Mazatlan I made the 8 hour drive to Puerto Vallarta. With the winding mountains roads of Durango behind me the drive along the pacific coast was a breeze. Vallarta was as touristy as I expected but after a week on the road by myself it was nice to be among the majority for a change and to meet some fellow travelers.
Alex was meant to meet me in Vallarta but the Mexican embassy in Guatemala wouldn't give him a visa.... long story. So unless Alex could jump the border and enter Mexico illegally, it looked like I would be driving across the rest of Mexico by myself and we would have to meet somewhere in Guatemala. I was already dreading crossing the Guatemalan border, as it is notorious for being the most corrupt and bureaucratic border crossing in the whole of Central and South America. And to do it alone without knowing any Spanish would definitely make things interesting.
Luckily enough I met a Lithuanian hitchhiker while I was in Puerto Vallarta and convinced her to drive down the coast with me and into Guatemala. It would be nice to finally have someone to travel with and share the experience with. As wonderful as it is to be out on the open road just cruising through the little towns and along the beaches, it is much better to have someone to enjoy it with. We hit the road early on Saturday morning and stopped at Baha de Navidad, a beautiful undeveloped, crescent shaped beach about 6 hours south of Vallarta. We spent the afternoon on the beach and the night trying our luck with the local street burritos.
View from the pacific coast highway in Mexico
The next stop was Playa Azul, which sounded like a nice place to spend a day or two. It wasn't as beautiful as the name suggested but with the local fair/circus in full swing when we arrived, it made for an entertaining evening. Merry-go-rounds, cock fights, drinking, dancing and donkey rides, I cant think of a better way to spend a Monday night. I had never seen a cock fight before so that was certainly an interesting experience. Five rosters pecking the crap out of each other in a small ring, surrounded be hundreds of old Mexican men betting money and cheering for their birds. Thank fully they don't fight to the death, only until they fall over from exhaustion and the winning chicken sits on the losers head.
A random beach that we stopped at on our way to Acapulco
After deciding that one night in Playa Azul would be enough, we got up early the next morning and made the short drive to Acapulco. Driving in Acapulco is an absolute nightmare. With thousands of cars, buses, trucks and taxis racing around the windy, bumpy streets trying to kill each other, it was by far the most chaotic city I had ever driven in. I knew it was meant to be a crazy city but it was too much, we decided to turn around and drive to a small beach side town 10 km north.
After getting lost for around 30 minutes we finally found our way out of the city, but not before the local police spotted an opportunity to rip off the gringos. Apparently I didn't indicate when I changed lanes and 3 Mexican motorbike police pounced on me. I don't think I have ever seen a person use there indicator in Mexico. I dont even think the cars here come with functioning indicators. Anyway in his broken English, "pay fine now $200, tomorrow police station we go now ok", the crooked policeman explained that I could go to the police station and pay a fine or give him a bribe and go. After realizing that arguing wasn't going to deter the money hungry morons, I reluctantly gave them $20 and we were on our way again. It is true what they say, the police are definitely the biggest crooks in Mexico.
Although Pier Del a Questa is only 10km outside of Aculpolco it is very chilled, and a nice place to spend a few days. With huge waves, a handful of decent restaurants and great weather it is definitely a nice spot.
After a couple of days in Del a Questa we drove to the beautiful beach town of Puerto Escondido. The 8 hour drive turned into a 10 hour ordeal with well over 200 speed bumps and some of the biggest potholes I have ever seen. Some of the holes were so big that the locals had thrown full size car tires in them. Not to mention the all the random animals that would run across the road. We nearly hit a massive bull as we came around one corner.
It was all worth it, definitely the nicest place we had seen so far. A real surf town with beautiful big waves crashing day and night. Great food and a great place to spend a few days. It was the weekend again and the locals were celebrating the day of the dead ( Mexican Halloween) so it was a really cool atmosphere.
Puerto Escondido at sunset
After nearly 2 weeks on the road I was definitely used to driving on the crazy Mexican roads but looking forward to taking a break and getting to Guatemala.