February 23, 2010

Follow the Yellow Road


My Mexican road map shows main roads in red, secondary roads in yellow.  So far I have stayed on the red roads.  Today I want to get to Oaxaca from Puerto Escondido, which means I will have to take the yellow road.  My friends; I have seen moto heaven.  And I also spent time in moto purgatory. 

To get to Oaxaca from the coast two mountain ranges or ridges have to be crossed.  This translates to about 200 km of switch backs with no straight longer than maybe 3 or 400 meters.  My average speed is about 50 kmh and nobody is passing me.  For a prairie boy coming from where the only tool needed to design a highway is a framing square, this is like sitting down to a 20 course meal after 30 years of bread and water.  Up, up we climb until you can actually see heaven.  The road is mostly great, well paved, but narrow and twisty.  Traffic is light, but there are always the buses. 

It is still a KTM road though, as each town has its topes (speed bumps) and potholes.  The road leading into and out of a own is potholed as well.  I can tell when a town is near by the appearance of potholes. 
 After maybe 6 hours of nonstop twisties (Deal's Gap eat your heart out) I am exhausted, and wonder if the road will ever straighten out.  As if by magic, it does, only now the road is going up and down over rolling hills.  Now I am flying like a bird. 

After a few miles of this, there is a tree and some junk laid across the road.  A little farther is a village and a roadblock.  The locals have barricaded the road with a banner and some chunks of concrete.  A guy stopped in an SUV tells me he has been sitting there for three hours.  "Cool!" I thinks to my self, citizen activism lives in Mexico, I guess I will have to revise my opinion on Mexicans.  I pull out my camera and start taking pictures.

This turns out to be a very bad idea.  Instantly I am surrounded by very short very angry men waving what appear to be fence posts.  ¡No picta! ¡No Picta!  I put the camera away, but they are extremely pissed.  The guy in the SUV is Mexican, but not a local.  No one knows why they are protesting, and why the road is blocked.  It turns out there is a detour a few klicks back so the SUV and I get out of Dodge.  Quickly. 

The detour turns out to be a dusty dirt road that wound through the back hills and took us back to the road to Oaxaca.  It would have been fun on the KTM, but for all the other traffic, all sizes of buses and trucks, and dust, dust, dust.  No matter how many trucks we passed there were more up ahead.  We did make it out of there OK and I made it to Oaxaca. 

All in all a day I will never forget.

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