The ferry from La Paz in the Baja California to Mazatlán takes us whole night long. 13 hour on the dark waters between the Baja and the Mexican mainland. We take the ferry on a Tuesday, it is pretty quiet and not so busy as we had heard in the weekends when it’s a real party boat.
There are more cyclists on the same ferry. We don’t no why but the bicycles had all to be stored in a small office. We take the office out of order during the crossing with all our bikes stuffed in it. 🤣
The next morning, still on the ferry, we see dolphins jumping in front of the boat and two big whales in a distance. The skyline of Mazatlán becomes slowly visible as well.
When we cycle from the ferry we get company from Nathan. With the three of us we cycle along the boulevard of this beautiful town and we bend off to the old historic center for a coffee. It’s still early in the morning. We arranged a Warmshowers address to stay with but we don’t want to be there to early in the morning.
It’s around noon when we arrive at Dennis’s place, our host for the coming two nights. Dennis invites us in his apartment. Three other cyclists moved in all ready this morning and soon the small house is filled with bikes and people. All the same folks from the ferry. Sean from Canada, Alice and Aurelien from France, Nathan from the US and the two of us. Beside those cyclists there is also Ricardo, a drug addicted detoxing young guy over who Dennis takes care of.
Dennis it self is a missionary from the US, based in Mazatlán to take care of the homeless and drug addicted people. Around a hundred warm meals are cooked in the small kitchen every night and served along the streets to those who need them most. Dennis thumbs up 👍
In the afternoon we continue our discovery of the old town and the market. For a change we cook today so we need some fresh stuff. (Not for all the homeless but for ourselves 😉)
The day after we take a small hike through town with all of us. A short ferry takes us to Rocky Island with it’s nine mile beach. Nine miles of pure white sand. Gorgeous.
We swim, snorkel and play cards all day long. 🏝
When we wake up the next morning we realize it’s time to take off again on our bikes, ready to discover the Mexican mainland. With the four of us we say goodbye to Dennis, Ricardo and the France couple (Alice feels ill and stays in bed today)
We and Nathan have the same destination for the coming days. The town of Tepic, around 300km from here. Sean wants to go to Durango so after a few kilometers we say goodbye to him as well.
There are two roads parallel going to Tepic. The 15 and the 15D. The 15 is the old road going through all small towns in between, the 15D is the newer, faster and wider but paid highway.
Officially it’s not allowed to cycle on the highway but since the old 15 doesn’t have any shoulder to cycle on it’s much safer for us to get on the 15D. We take the risk and we will see what will happen if the cops see us our if we want to past the toll booths.
After a few kilometers on the 15D highway the first toll booth comes up. Signs of ‘cycling is not allowed’ are present and on the sign with all the prices is the bicycle unknown. When we arrive at the toll booth a guy smiles at us and waves us through. “Buenas Dias”... “Grasias Amigo”
Mexico, a country where all rules are not taking to seriously, we like it.
We continue our highway ride and the later it becomes the higher the temperature goes. Around noon we’re in for a long lunch and descent siesta so we drop down our bikes and find a nice spot in the shade. After 10 minutes a police car stops in front of us. We see a cop sitting with a huge machine gun but he doesn’t come out of the car. After 30 seconds two more police cars are stopping in front of us. Still no one comes out of the cars. They all carry the same big machine guns and make phone calls.
We are wondering what is this all about. We know we’re not allowed to cycle here but three police cars, six cops and three big guns against three poor cyclists seems a bit of an overkill to us. We continue our lunch and wait patiently what’s gonna happen next.
After five minutes one of the guys comes out of his car and starts a conversation in poor English. We have no idea what he wants to tell so Nathan takes over in decent Spanish. The cop looks surprised and continues his story in his own language now. He asks if we are alright. We: “Euh, yes we are alright”
Cop: “Yes because there was a robbery along this road and maybe you guys have seen something”
We: “No, we are here for some time already but didn’t see anything”
Cop: “Ok, thank you. Goodbye and take care”
We: “Thank you...”
All three cars take off again and the cops wave friendly to us. In the hour of our siesta that follows we see the police cars riding up and down the highway multiple times but nothing spectacular happens.
We continue our cycling and by the end of the day we hit the small town of Escuinapa. We want to try to sleep at a fire station tonight but we can’t find any so Nathan asks a few police cops where to find the local fire station. The cops say they have a better idea. “Follow us” is the answer, and so we do.
After one or two kilometers they stop in front of a culture center.
They explain that the culture center is under police protection 24 hours a day so this is the safest place in town for us to sleep. We know that in the coast region around Mazatlan drug kartels are still presents so we don’t mind to sleep under police protection tonight 😊
The next day we depart early again and thank the police officer on duty. The coast road is still without hills so we go fast. We take long breaks but still at the end of the day we count 115km as we arrive in Rosamorada. One of the first things we see when we cycle into town is a small simple church. “Maybe a good opportunity to stay tonight?” is our first thought. Some guys work in the garden of the church so we ask one of them if we can stay tonight. “Probably no problem but I have to ask our pastor first. Besides that, tomorrow it is Sunday and the first church mass starts at 7 in the morning and the clock bells for that will start at 6am so you will be awake early”
We answer “no problem, we are awake every morning because of the hot weather so we can take long siestas”
The guy leaves the garden and returns after a while to say it’s no problem for the pastor we stay tonight.🙏
Before pitching our tents in the garden we walk out for some street food. We find tacos and hamburgers. When we return to the church the guys over there ask if we want we can sleep in the parish house of the church instead of pitching a tent in the garden?
Sure we want that. No tents to set up makes it even more easy.
At 6am the next morning the clock bells wake us up and by the time of 7am we packed already to hit the road again. The visitors of the church look quite surprised when they see us coming out of the parish house besides the church. We thank our host, see a glimpse of the pastor starting his mass and are of again.
Nathan is going another route from this town. We continue on the 15D highway to Tepic, Nathan keeps following the coast to visit some friends who are in Puerto Vallarta at the moment. Maybe we see him again in Guadalajara, the next big town we hit and where we gonna stay a little while.
The 15D highway moves into the mountains from here, going more land inwards. We raptly climb to 1000m coming from sea level. We go downhill after it as well. We climb again, go downhill again. This sequence repeats multiple times which makes us much slower than the days before. The ride for today stops in Jala, a small town close to the Ceboruco volcano. This 2300m volcano is sleeping since the year 1875 so we aren’t afraid to be buried under lava tonight.
In the nice town we find a cosy hotel ran by an old Mexican. In this hotel we also meet Sergio, an Mexican guy who is in town for business and to make photos from the volcano. He invites to go up the volcano the next morning early. We agree of course. The road up is very bumpy and about 16km uphill, we didn’t plan to go up at all but this is nice opportunity.
The next morning we meet Sergio again in the hotel lobby. Indeed the road up is bumpy and even with a car it takes us an hour to go to the crater. In the meanwhile Sergio tells about his company which is specialized in the registration of animal movements and geological changes in landscapes.
At the crater we hike around for quite a while in a superb landscape and have some good conversations with the three of us.
The way down from the crater to our hotel also takes another hour and sometimes cows block our way. At the goodbye with Sergio he invites us at his home when we will pass it in a few weeks. It’s halfway the afternoon already when we leave the hotel to go to the next town for today. Ixtlán del Rio, just one hill and 15km away from Jala. On the iOverlander app we found a cheap hotel in Ixtlán del Rio but on arrival we can’t find it. Above a door between some stores we see a small Hotel sign. When asked it seems another hotel than planned but also cheaper than planned. No problem 😊
For the first time in Mexico we eat at a small Chinees toko. We already had heard that Chinees restaurants in Mexico should be very good. And indeed the food is surprisedly good.
When we awake the next morning it’s not just raining, it seems a waterfall is coming down from the sky. We decide to stay an extra day in this town with a good Chinees within just 100 meters.
The day after our goal is the home town of the Tequila. The road keeps hilly with loads of up and down hills but the temperature drops the higher we go. The closer we come to Tequila the more Agave fields we see, the plant where Tequila is made of.
Tequila it self is a nice town, touristic but not to extreme. Tequila tours and tasting can be done everywhere.
Our stay for tonight is a rare small place which we found on the iOverlander app. It’s a sort of a restaurant but it’s just a terrace in someone’s garden with a kind of outdoor kitchen. They only serve breakfast here.
The daughter and granddaughter of the lady who runs this place are both speaking fluent English. They invite us to stay and explain where to drop our sleeping bag and mattresses down. After acquaintance we walk into town to have a look around and by the time it’s getting dark we hit back to our host where on the opposite of the street we saw a Pizza, Beer and Rock & Roll sign. Sounds like a plan to us. When we enter the place, no one is there, just the owner. Inside the place looks more like a storage house than a restaurant but the owner asks us which pizza and beer we want and puts on some rock music. Despite the place looks awful the pizza is really good and the owner is a nice guy to have a chat with.
By the time we go back to our stay for the night just one worker is left to do some preparing for the breakfast the next morning. He warns us that the restaurant opens at 6am so a sort night maybe expected. We roll out our sleeping bags and fall asleep.
The next morning at 6am nothing happens. By the time of 8am we hear some people and go out. The restaurant isn’t open jet but a bunch of people are busy preparing to go open soon. When we see how the big pieces of meat are cooked in the street we consider to have breakfast somewhere else. Our host doesn’t mind so we do.
Our ride into Guadalajara today is a long decent climb uphill. The big town has 1,5 million inhabitants so the big streets into town are packed with cars and trucks by the time we come closer to town. It’s rush hour and even with our bikes we stay stuck multiple times. It takes us hours to reach the Casa de Ciclistas of Guadalajara, our base camp for where we gonna discover this massive city the coming days. Mario the owner invites us to come inside, explains everything and gives us our own keys of the house. He also tells more cyclists are expected to come, a couple from France he says. Alice and Aurelien we figured since they must be around one day behind us because Alice was feeling bad when we left Mazatlan. The days after we discover this historic town with loads of old buildings. Some say this is the most Mexican city of whole Mexico.
This blog story stops here for now.
Our stories will be continued by the time we enter Mexico City in a few weeks.
We end this blog with wishing you all a great Christmas time🎄🎅🏽 ⭐️
Underneath a bunch of random street pictures from Guadalajara.