After leaving Xilitlan I planned to head as far as I could towards Puebla while still taking the slow route through the mountain. The ride was pretty spectacular but just as the sun was going down and I was starting to look for a place to spend the night I came upon a roadblock. I asked some of the parked truckers what was going on and they said it was a “manifestacion” (protest) but when asked what for, they all shrugged there shoulders, laughed and said “no se”. Didn’t seem to care either. One of the truckers I talked to pointed em to a side road and said they should let me though this way so I gave it a go. When I got to the road block there seemed to be some debate over whether or not to let the gringo on the bike go through. Eventually a guy came to me and the conversation went something like this…
“Si, pero porque?”
“entiendo que no pasado pero porque la manifestacion?”
“Por que no pasada”
“la manifestacion es por no pasada?”
“toda la noche”
“toda la noche?”
Then he said
“giva me ten dollars”
“no dolares. o no pasada”
“no tiene diez dolares?”
“diez dolares o no pasada”
Eventually I gave up and turned around. Not a very successful protest if you ask me. Nobody seemed to know what the protest was about, or cared for that matter. Even the protestors seemed clueless. And I don’t know if they offered the same options to other but as for my experience it was purely extortion and I wasn’t going to give in.
Anyway I turned around debating on whether to camp on the road with all the truckers or ride back 55km to the nearest town with a hotel. I opted for the later and just before I left the trucker that had sent me to the front waved me over and asked in disbelief “they didn’t let you through?” and I told him as best as I could about the “diez dolares o no pasada” and he shook his head saying “Aye, Cabrones!”.
Aye, Cabrones was right. As I was riding back through the 55km of super twisty mountain roads in the dark I started questioning my decision not to camp, thinking it could have been a great experience camping on the road with all the truckers. It’s not like everyone wasn’t in the same boat so it would have been safe, but the next morning I was thrilled with my decision. Weather had come in and it rained overnight. Hard. Only the second time we’ve seen any rain in the 3 months of travel. I’m also pretty sure the protestors would have packed it up as soon as the bad weather came in as they were not equipped for rain and that would have left me packing up my wet gear in the middle of the night, and being forced to ride on in the rain. Possibly too late to find a hotel still open. Not my cup of tea.
When I got up it was still raining and super foggy. I thought about Adam’s advice of “if it’s raining when you get up, go back to bed…” but I had told Hiram that I’d be at his place that evening so I figured I’d better press on. The fog got super thick and the visibility was between 5 to 10 meters. …and it was cold, wet, and they’d been a few small mud slides landing on the road over night that added to the already treacherous conditions. It took about two and a half hours just to get back to where the protest was and as I’m arriving, I see breaking through the fog a parked semi. Panic ensues and I’m thinking “Aye, Cabrones, the protest can’t still be going on? Can it?” luckily it was just a delivery truck and once around, the path was clear. Phew! Another two hours and 50 km and I finally broke through the cloud to dry weather and sunshine and 5 more hours I’m in Puebla feeling pretty exhausted.