We felt three days in copper canyon was enough so even though we had a few more routes we thought about exploring, we decided it was time to start heading to Naica, our next destination. Everything we had read online suggested we wouldn’t be able to get a visit into the famous Naica crystal caves but who are we to listen to internet rumors, and we were feeling fairly confident we could gringo charm our way in. Seriously, who wouldn’t want to give us a tour?
We stayed in Parral where there was some festival going on, for no other reason than it was a Friday, and it was some day of some month, and that there hadn’t been a festival in a while. Let me say it again, I love Mexico.
We got up early and headed up a boring, straight highway for about 100 miles before turning off onto the road to Naica. 30 miles in we come across a sign saying road closed ahead 200m. 200m later the road dead ended at military gate and a military camp. No pasada! locals only! permit required! I tried to charm the guard at the gate but even with my very improved espanol and my innocent but guilty smile, no luck. He said to get to Naica would require about 300-400 mile loop of highway via Chihuahua. Doh, our plans to see the caves were foiled after all so it was off to Durango.
We headed south and once again tried to avoid the highway. We opted for a pass off the beaten track, which after copper canyon we were feeling we could tackle anything, and once again we were wrong. It turned out to be way more challenging that we were expecting but not until we were over half way and on our way down the other side so the idea of turning back wasn’t very appealing. To add to the challenge, I dropped my bike and flooded the carburetor. It wouldn’t start until we sprayed ether in the airbox and once running, it was coughing something fierce, forcing me to coast down the next 10 miles. I ended up at a farm where a friendly cowboy gave me an apple as I waited for Jim and Dave to catch up. From there we got the bike running again and after twenty miles of holding the throttle wide open, it started responding a lot better but not perfect.
We didn’t make it to Durango that night but got a really lucky surprise when we pulled off at a hotel in Canutillo. We knew that we were in Pancho Villa country and we knew that Hidalgo del Parral, where we stayed the night before was where Pancho was assassinated but we did not know that Pancho’s home town was Canutillo and that there was a museum in his former Hacienda, until the owner of the restaurant we had dinner at told us. Sweet surprise and well worth a visit.
Jim starting hearing some pesky engine noise that had him concerned as we exited out of Copper canyon on some newly paved roads. Dave and I didn’t think much of the noise but Jim was convinced it was serious and three days of riding with the noise, Jim wanted to get it checked out. I was still having carburetor problems so I was all for seeing a mechanic as well but didn’t want to hold anyone back because of it. But more important I wanted to see a dentist about an ache I started having the night in AZ before we crossed into Mexico. Long story short, Jim’s bike couldn’t be fixed and the mechanic agreed with him that it sounded serious. I had a crack under an old cavity that required a root canal and a crown. Three days and four different dental visits had Dave and I on the road while Jim ended up shipping his bike back to Nogales and a 20 hour bus ride to get there. Can’t say I was sad to leave Durango but sorry that Jim couldn’t join us.