Pantxika and Fred
Pantxika Goyhetche and Fred Lolliot are a French couple undertaking their next big adventure – a cycling tour of Mexico.
We spent two weeks in Oaxaca to make sure Pantxika recovered completely from her stomach disorder.
We were staying at Andrea’s house, taking care of her dogs and doing some small jobs around the house and the garden, in exchange of the accommodation and three meals a day. This was a good experience and it also gave us some time to visit Oaxaca, and the surrounding area.
Oaxaca is the food capital of Mexico and when you go to the market you understand why. So many varieties of dishes and products, and as you know, we’ve been working in the restaurant industry for all our life, so this was like heaven for us.
We’ve also met Pascal, a french guy living in Oaxaca, he was following us on social media and invited us to have lunch with him. He was involved in making Oaxaca more cycling friendly and in contact with the town hall to create more cycling routes in the city. He asked us if we could contribute by making a video, explaining what the city would gain in getting less traffic and more cyclists by creating more and more cycling paths. We accepted, but we didn’t realised we had to do it in Spanish and to be honest our Spanish at the time was not great. It took us a little while, but we did it.
After two full weeks here, it was time to say bye to Andrea and the puppies. This was our first Workaway experience and it was brilliant.
San Cristobal de la Casas
We were now heading to San Cristobal de la Casas about 600km away. We had the choice between two routes, one heading north with a bit of mountains and relatively flat ground afterwards or going south with mountains mainly all the way, but with better sceneries, so we opted for this one. For three days we were literally in the middle of the mountains and it was stunning, we didn’t regret taking this way, we followed the Mezcal road with all the agave fields on each side of the road, crossing Santiago Matatlan the Mezcal capital. We slept in a council house, we wild camped and we’ve also been invited to sleep on a restaurant terrace next to a lake, where we could have a swim. We had an amazing three days, tiring but absolutely worth it. After that we had to make a repair on Mutxo and we found a nice bicycle repair shop in a small town and the job was done in no time. Thanks to Antonio at Sin Frenos Bike.
We had about 300km left to reach our destination, cycling along the Pacific Ocean, we couldn’t see it, but we knew it was there, a few kilometres behind the jungle in between.
As we were cycling next to the ocean, it was flat but extremely hot. Temperatures were over 40 degrees Celsius, under the sun with nowhere to get some shade, as we were on the bikes. It was also very difficult to sleep at night due to the temperatures.
We had big climbs to come but we were well aware of this. We decided to go through Arriaga as a last minute change of plans with the advice from the local police. We decided to stop in the city to spend the night in a Motel. It was six days we were on the road so a good night sleep with the air-conditioning was more than welcome to make sure we were rested before the big climb. Then we were ready to go back to the mountains. The first climb was not to bad, in the evening we stopped in Jiquipilas, a lovely little town where we were allowed to put the tent on the square in front of the council house.
The next day we were on our way to Tuxtla. The climb was a bit harder. As we were cycling a guy stopped us with his motorbike and asked us if we had a place to stay in the evening. As we said no, he gave us his contact number and asked us to call him when we will arrive in Tuxtla. We were really happy to know we will get an other good night sleep before the massive climb to San Cristobal de las Casas. When we arrived we called him, he sent us his address but when we arrived at the address he was not here, so we called him and he told us he will be there later. After two hours waiting, nobody turned up, and as it started to be dark we took the decision to look for an other solution to spend the night. We could see an old couple on the other side of the street looking at us by the window the all time we were waiting and decided to ask them where we could put the tent for the night. The man asked us to follow him and open a door giving to a massive shed and simply ask us if it will do for the night. There was also some water and toilets so it was absolutely perfect.
The following day we had about 70km left but with 2500 metres elevation on the last 50km. When we started to climb it was already really hot. But around 1pm it started to rain and this was probably the first time we were happy to cycle under the rain. We didn’t even bother to put our rain jackets. At the end of the afternoon we had enough and still 20km to arrive at the top. We saw a family living alongside the road and asked them to camp for the night. They were more than happy to provide a covered space and we slept like babies. The next day we covered the last kilometres and we reached the city at about 11am.
We spent one day in San Cristobal de las Casas then we were back on the road in the direction of Comitan. Chiapas area is absolutely beautiful. On the first night we stopped in a small village to find a place to sleep. All the people told us we could sleep in the school and since we started our trip that was the first time. In the evening we had the visit of four beautiful Huskies puppies so we played with them a bit and brought them back to their owner.
Comitan & the border
We arrived in Comitan on the next morning where we were received by Carlos and his family. We had a great lunch together and a good chat about the area and the cultural habits.
On the 26th of July it was Fred’s birthday so to celebrate it we’ve been to a local bar where we were the attraction, two gringos where they were not supposed to be. Everybody was very friendly even if sometime the owner had to ask some of the customers to leave us alone but we had a great time.
The next day it was time to head to Guatemala, it was downhill most of the time so pretty easy. Only the last five kilometres to reach the border were a bit steep but we were so exited to arrive, it didn’t matter to have a bit of climbing.
When we arrived at the border we couldn’t see the Mexican border office so we asked the Guatemalan border officer where could we get our passports stamped to exit Mexico and he simply replied to us, in town, five kilometres downhill. We couldn’t believe we’ve missed the border office and we had now to go back to the previous city and make the climb again to be able to cross the border (to be continued…)