July 29, 2015
Today was low mileage, high scenic value. We left Galeana in beautiful sunny 60 degree weather and took a secondary paved road down through Dr Arroyo and over to Matehuala, then to Real de Catorce. The first 50 miles or so felt and looked like riding a backroad in Colorado. The mixture of various trees including large firs, and open meadows at altitude was refreshing. I decided that the ideal speed for riding paved secondary roads in Mexico is around 35mph. This allows you to see, gauge, and adjust route for the potholes, and it’s also slow enough not to miss anything, aside from missing the random donkey or dog in the road. A nice, comfortable pace.
The ride from Dr Arroyo to Matehuala across the Altiplano is much more open. In Matehuala, we stopped for fuel and shortly after stopped at a traffic light where I saw another new sight: two guys in the crosswalk juggling about six bowling pins between them. I couldn’t grab my camera fast enough. It was absolutely smile inducing. As soon as the light changed, they grabbed their pins and moved out of the way until the next red light.
The road from Matehuala to the turnoff to Real de Catorce reminded me very much of the Pearblossom Highway between the Cajon Pass and Palmdale, California. Straight road, very similar desert landscape and surroundings with mountains to the side. At the turnoff to Real de Catorce the road becomes cobblestone. Not the smooth, round cobblestone that normally comes to mind, like in Europe. No, this is sharp, jagged rough cobblestone. But firmly planted. And it’s 12 miles long, up to the entrance to the Tunnel Ogarrio at 9000 feet elevation. The tunnel itself is worth the effort of the cobblestone road. Built between 1897 and 1901, it is a one-lane, 3km long tunnel with smooth brickwork pavement and lighting.
Real de Catorce is an old silver mining town that all but died off once, and has been somewhat revived as a tourist attraction. There are still a lot of old derelict buildings as well as many that have been brought back to life as hotels, businesses, and homes. There is a very nice zocalo where I am sitting writing this in the shade of some huge trees.
Afterwards I walked up to RealBucks to try to use their wifi.
Unfortunately I was able to upload some photos but then got disconnected and never could get back on. While sitting there, two girls approached us selling cookies. It turns out they are one year into hitch-hiking around Mexico and have already been from South to North and are headed back south again.
Real de Catorce is not very motorcycle friendly. I don’t mean that the locals dislike motorcycles, but rather the town is built on the side of a hill and all of the streets are of the same rough cobblestone and steep, which makes for some interesting climbs and descents, not to mention parking.
Hotels here are on the pricey side, so James and I are sharing a room at the (DUMP) name removed at $21 a night.
Today was my first day below my daily budget: fuel, food, lodging (my 1/2 of the room) and entrance to Real de Catorce ($1.25) came to just over $28.