25.10.16 Palenque to Comitan de Dominguez, Chiapas. Mexico
Topes everywhere today! Those speed bumps are not fun! So many people had warned us about them, but it’s not until you experience the full horror of bumping endlessly up and down them through villages, hour upon hour that you realise just how awful they are. They come with very little warning, and are often in the shade of trees so you can’t quite see them.
Our journey was only to be 134 miles today, but Google Maps had a suggested time of 4 hours 50 minutes. So we knew we were in for a bumpy ride………… Leaving the hotel at Palenque, we were immediately into tight and twisty corners, but Paul was taking it slowly, to make it as comfortable as possible for us, the bike, and our tyres. After about 10 km, we came to the first of the roadworks. These work in a similar (ish) way to the many roadworks we came across on the Alaska Highway, in that there is only one route, so you must wait patiently, whilst work is done, before being allowed through. On the first of these stops they were actually putting down a foundation of sand, then moving it into place to make the road, that we were then allowed to drive on. Once again, not a lot of Health and Safety there.
The rest of the day took us through lush green landscape, as we rose much higher, away for the time being from the tropical landscape, and about 10 degrees celsius cooler than we’ve been used to for the last few weeks.
We ran through a lot of villages, where each one is like a hazard perception test, there may be donkeys, dogs, chickens, goats, horses, children, people walking, cyclists anywhere within a few miles radius of each village. They could be at any point on the road, a blind bend, in the middle, wherever suits them. These are all interspersed with large potholes in the road and the occasional landslide. Maintenance of the road for these villages certainly does not seem like a priority.
We also came across a string tied from one side of the road to the other, which is raised by a person standing at the side of the road. This is to make you stop, and have a look what they have for sale. This could be tortillas, bananas, mangos, tomatoes, something they have grown or made to sell. At one point today, we actually came across a homemade road block made from logs. There were about 5 teenagers there, who asked for money to let you past. We had heard about this before, but it was our first experience of it. I handed over 12 pesos (40p), and they duly let us through. The locals appeared to all pay as well.
We will have a look round the town of Comitan shortly before heading into Guatemala tomorrow.
Final note of the day: When Paul put his hand is his jacket pocket for his tyre pressure guage today he found .............. a tv remote control he stole from somewhere!