Day 14 – February 21, 2016 – Manzanillo
Today we took the day off to write, edit photos, get some laundry done and wander around Manzanillo. It was a long but productive day. Erin was able to Skype for a few moments with family. We camped on the beach again in the same spot. We spent a good portion of the day planning our next route. Instead of sticking to the coast, we are ready to start climbing into the mountains of Central Mexico and head for Colima and then Morelia before we drop into Cuernavaca and then Puebla. There is a lot of hype around Michoacán, a state known in the media for its drug-related crime. It seems half the people we talk to say it is beautiful and we will be safe, while the other half say we should avoid cycling through Michoacán at all and just stick to the coast. We are both eager to get back into the mountains to escape the heat and mosquitos on the coast. It has been beautiful, but we are both covered in bug bites head to toe and wouldn't mind cycling in cooler weather. We decide to head northeast to Colima, cut a route through Northern Michoacán, just below Lake Chapala, and then head down into Morelia.
Day 15 – February 22, 2016 – Manzanillo to Santa Rita
We left late and cycled through the busy, industrial streets of Manzanillo. There was a lot of construction and traffic which made the trek out of town a lot more difficult. We cruised through the small town of San Pedrito, in the outskirts of Manzanillo, after deciding not to take the main highway out. Erin stopped to take a photo (left) and the owner of the adjacent restaurant offered us water, which we gladly accepted. Water has been a big expense so every bit helps. As we chatted with the restaurant owner about our travels, a patron at the restaurant – a construction worker on his lunch break – offered to buy us lunch! We couldn't refuse! We had a nice time chatting with everyone there and the food, chicken and rice with tortillas, was absolutely incredible. When we left, we talked about how fortuitous these moments are with complete strangers. People are so fascinated by two gringos rolling up on loaded bikes. It is such a different way to experience a place and its people – most of whom show us nothing but respect. It was a beautiful day with some cloud cover and flat, easy terrain.
In the late afternoon. we stopped for fresh coconut water – the best so far! – in a small town called San Buenaventura. The young woman running the fruit stand was very sweet and gave us a taste of jackfruit. The coconut water has been one of the best cycling treats! I had a stomach ache and the coconut water really helped. Around 5pm, the traffic on our small, shoulder-less road picked up quite a bit so we pulled off in a nearby town, Santa Rita, to camp for the night. We made camp in a vacant house's backyard after asking the neighbor who runs the tienda next door. In two weeks we have only been turned away once to camp! We made veggie soup for dinner in our BioLite CampStove. The bugs, heat, traffic, lack of cleanliness and language are starting to break Erin down, but she refuses to give up. Tomorrow is a new day.
Day 16 – February 23, 2016 – Santa Rita to 20km Mile Marker outside Colima
What a day! We had a strong start out of Santa Rita this morning and cycled through flat, beautiful farmlands of palm and sugar cane. We got to Armeria for lunch, a sweet, small town where we didn't see a single tourist. We picked up some produce at an open air market for lunch – salad with tomatoes, jicama, avocados, onions and cheese. As we cycled out of town, it started getting really hot and our path to Colima put the sun at our backs. Erin had a hard time staying hydrated as we began our ascent up to Colima. In the late afternoon, we came to a pull off where three guys were hanging out in their car, listening to music and having a little fiesta. We stopped for water and when we started talking to them, they offered us some of their water and soda and then asked if they could take photos with us. We felt like celebrities. We were tired and ready to call it a day, so we asked them if there was a safe place close by where we could pitch a tent. They led us to a bar down the road but the owner wasn't there and no one knew when he would return. We decided to push on further and took a small service road off the autopista to set up camp. Unfortunately, we were so close to the highway, and in a canyon, that the traffic kept us up all night. Hopefully the final trek to Colima goes smoothly and we can find a nice hostel to stay. A shower and proper night's sleep sound so nice.
Day 17 – February 24, 2016 – Descending into Colima
This morning we had a short climb and then descended into beautiful Colima, arriving around 3pm. We mapped a Starbucks to hop on Wifi and find a cheap place to stay. We found Karl & Anna's house on Airbnb, a reasonable 200 pesos per night for a private room and bathroom. Karl responded quickly to our request and within the hour we were welcomed at his and Anna's beautiful Colonial house in the heart of Central Colima. We chatted with Karl for awhile and then settled into our room, showered, and then made some dinner. It was so nice to have access to a full kitchen again – even being able to stand while prepping food felt like such a luxury as we are usually crouched over on our sitting pad chopping vegetables every night. We vowed to use the blender as much as possible. There's so much fresh fruit in these parts and we are constantly hungry! We spent the evening at Jardín San Francisco, enjoying the sunset and ambiance of this beautiful park. We went to the roof late at night to take in views of the city and bask in our accomplishment so far. We have cycled almost 300 miles and really see our progress on the map now. We crawled into bed after a long day and slept like babies.
Day 18 – February 25, 2016 – Colima
We woke up early feeling rested and excited to explore the city! When we started planning this cycling trip through Latin America, Colima was to be one of our first destinations, so we were both really happy to be here. We made chilequiles for breakfast and headed out on foot to explore, pick up some fresh local produce and visit some parks. The street art here is extraordinary, and we learn, it is totally legal. Awesome. We wandered the town hand in hand, taking photos and stopping to ask locals for directions to the mercado, the plaza, the post office. We can easily find these things on Mehedi's phone, but speaking with locals in Spanish is more fun and good practice. In the late afternoon we made our way back to the house where edited photos and worked on our blog. Before long it was dark and we decided to stay an extra day to do more writing and clean the bikes. We are loving Colima so much and are happy to spend an extra day here.
Day 19 – February 26, 2016 – Colima
Another restful night! This morning we woke up early to watch sunrise on the roof. The roosters won't stop crowing but we are getting used to it now, especially after spending the last couple weeks camping in rural areas. Mehedi worked on the bikes while Erin edited photos and we updated the blog together. We took a mid-day break and went for a walk along the river. This town is bursting with banana trees! We spotted a woodshop on our walk and with Mehedi being a woodworker, we decided to pop our heads in and see if he could pick up a couple pieces of scrap wood to carve some spoons. We also left our cutting board back in Manzanillo (oops), and with all of the cooking we do, we are suffering without one (although I will say, the bottom of the plastic bowl that came with our BioLite has been coming in handy as an interim cutting board!). We spoke with the shop hand Cassandra, a woodworker as well, and she helped us find some nice pieces of rosewood for spoons & a cutting board. A couple sheets of sandpaper later and we were on our way. We came back to the house and made dinner and Erin started feeling feverish, so we called it an early night.
Day 20 – February 27, 2016 – Colima
We planned to leave Colima today but Erin woke up with a fever, chills and body aches. Not the best condition to cycle! In fact, no condition at all to cycle. So we opted to stay yet another day so Erin could rest and rehydrate. Mehedi did some research on our next leg to Morelia. Many people have told us not to cycle in the state of Michoacán, but some of the most incredible places in all of Mexico are in the state. Erin connected with an old friend Ricardo from CalArts who has lots of family and friends in Yurécuaro, Northern Michoacán. We keep hearing about how beautiful it is near Lake Chapala and Lago de Pátzcuaro. If we are to head that far north, we may as well zip up to Yurécuaro and connect with Ricardo's friends and family. We decide to cycle tomorrow, weather and health permitting.