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  • Writer's pictureXPLORid

The mystery of Palenque

After a break of 4 weeks in Oaxaca it’s time to get back on track. We are heading to the beach near Puerto Escondido.

It was very warm in Oaxaca, but it’s getting even hotter. We change our routine to cycling in the morning. We get up at 4, start riding at 6 and finish at noon. This to avoid the sweltering heat and humidity between noon and sunset.

But still, it feels like we are cycling in a sauna.

After only 10 minutes we are totally soaked in sweat. Streams of sweat keep running down our arms and legs. Our cycling gear and even our sandals are constantly wet.

New roads to explore

We decide we’re in for some adventure by taking the new highway to the coast. It isn’t finished yet. As a cyclist we can avoid most of the detours. But when a bridge is missing we have to take the detour just like some other adventurers in a car..

We are so lucky we could ride the new highway. The other route would have been much longer and steeper.

Vamos a la playa

Our first day at the beach is amazing. We’re staying in a little hut with direct access to the beach. The bed is surrounded by a mosquito net. Outside there is a table and 2 chairs with sea view. You can hear the ocean!

We change into our swimming gear and go for a dive. The waves are very very strong at Brisas de Zicatela. Swimming isn’t possible. But we get wet.

Sunsets are beautiful here. Worth to stay longer, but we planned to go to Zipolite to experience the hippie vibes. In Zipolite it’s easier to swim in the ocean and there is a nude beach.

Mazunte and Zipolite

Cycling on the 200 isn’t bad at all. Traffic is low and we see the ocean many times. Especially when we take the 175 to Mazunte and San Agustinillo to finally reach Zipolite.

Salinas del Marqués

We share the road with a lot of trucks carrying big white stones for the building company MECANO Construcción del Rompeolas Salina Cruz.

Heavy headwind

From Salinas del Marqués to Matias Romero we’re facing a heavy headwind. The signs warn lorries not to get blown over. We’ve been told about this windy part of Mexico before, but we didn’t know exactly where we would be facing it. Now we know!

The strong winds from “La Ventosa’’ are mainly generated by the ‘Venturi’ effect, between two foothills in the Istmo de Tehuantepec. This area is the narrowest region in Mexico, which makes the wind blowing more than 50 knots from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean without any obstacle.

Lost in remote Mexico

The scenery becomes greener which is fun. We pass a lot of small farms. It is remote and poor over here. To reach Tenochtitlán we’re on gravel for the whole day. The last hill is called Vista del Valle del Uxpanapa. It’s a nasty one!

When we’re in this little town Ben’s bicycle makes an awful cracking sound. It isn’t the usual one crack he sometimes get. Next the Pinion starts to slip in all gears. The moment Ben tries to apply force, nothing happens. The pedal does go down but there is no transmission.

Without gears we cannot continue. We decide we will take the bus to the next big city Las Choapas first thing in the morning at 4 am.

We’re getting advice how to fix Ben’s bicycle. There’s nothing wrong with the Pinion gear system. It’s the rear hub that’s broken. We just left a spare hub in Oaxaca to lose some weight.

What are the odds we need this part now?

Las Choapas is a really small town. Being stuck here sucks! The quickest way to get us out of here is getting the spare hub from Oaxaca. Fortunately DHL is able to deliver it in 4 days.

Back on track

After 6 days we’re back on the road. Linda is riding with the old spare hub. Ben is cycling with Linda’s hub. It’s a temporary solution until we reach Guatemala Ciudad where a new stronger hub from Idworx will be waiting for us.

Defensive cycling mode turned on

On our way to Huimanguillo we are having issues with traffic for the first time during our world bicycle tour. On a narrow road Linda is overtaken by a big and long truck. There’s another car approaching from the opposite direction. The truck doesn’t stop, but gets very very close next to Linda.

Linda: “I notice the big truck getting closer to me. It doesn’t feel right. I want to stop for him to overtake me.”

When Linda stops she can only use her right foot. She’s afraid the truck will hit her by using her left foot. There’s an embankment on the other side so Linda falls down when she stops and tries to stand on her right foot.

A couple of scratches on her leg, but thankfully she didn’t break anything. We can continue. Off we go again in a more defensive way of cycling.

Cooling down

Since the heat and humidity are so cruel we are staying at hotels more often. We love our afternoons in the airconditioned rooms.

The prices and hospitality of the hotels vary a lot. We won’t forget Hotel Reforma. First of all: thank you for the hugs! The sweetest gift was a huge flag of Mexico. The most appreciated: 2 big bottles of ice cold water. Later on we are pampered by two cokes and when we leave some water for the road and two apples. Thank you so much!

Palm oil

Towards Jalapa Komoot directs us to a small road which seems to be locked by a gate. We can easily open the gate. We enter a palm oil plantation. We have never seen the fruits of these trees before. A group of workers show us what they harvest.

Off-road towards Palenque

Our route to Palenque is off-road. The tiny villages we do see look like we’re back in the Middle Ages. Pigs walking by. Women carrying wood on their back with a rope on their foreheads. Hovels with solely grey bricks.

Laughing and crying

From Palenque it’s 3 more days of cycling until we reach Guatemala. We’re on a dirt road. At the first tiny store where we refill our water bottles we meet Paco the parrot. He whistles a sexy melody. When Ben tries to pet him Linda laughs because Paco tries to bite him. Paco starts to make a cute laughing sound as well. Next we are both laughing all over, because we and Paco can’t stop laughing. Hilarious!

But soon we won’t be laughing any more. When we need to do another 25 km to hit the next little village Ben hears the cracking sound again. It’s the hub! Oh no! The same issue as we had before, when we were near Las Choapas, but now we are in the middle of nowhere.

The next transport will go at 5 in the morning says a local in a truck. Fortunately another small truck passes by. We can get in for a ride back to Palenque. It’s the best we could do. With a broken hub Ben can’t cycle anymore.

5 hours cycling in vain.

Back to Palenque. The wrong direction.

This is sooo disappointing!

Another hub in Mexico cannot be found. We need to wait for a new stronger one from Idworx in Germany. This will take a while…

A long unintended break

We spend some extra time in Palenque. Next we decide to wait for the rest of the time in Flores in Guatemala. A change of scenery and some more sightseeing options to wait for us to get back on track.

It reminds us of the mystery of the Maya. This civilization also left Palenque very suddenly.

The video of this part of our journey, can be watched here.

Lakam-ha (Palenque) Jungle tour.

Eventually we discover Templo Olvidado in Sendero Motiepá.

We spot monkeys for the first time on our world bicycle tour.

Cascada Misol-ha.

Cascadas de Agua Azul.

Tikal Sunrise Tour.

The jungle is awaking. The sounds are amazing!

The sunrise is next to different temples. The first sunlight is shining on them. Beautiful.

Yax-ha (green water) Sunset Tour.

A temple deep in the jungle next to two big lagunes.



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