Day 3 – February 10th, 2016 - Puerto Vallarta to Chicos Paradise
Today we cycled from Puerto Vallarta to Chicos Paradise. It was a lot of climbing today – really, just climbing! What a way to start. We only made it about 20 miles, but that was not too bad for a steep ascent on a windy, heavily trafficked and narrow road. It was a hard day for Erin. Around 4 or 5pm, we pulled into a beautiful restaurant with a ziplining course, Chicos Paradise, for water. The owner Javier allowed us to camp, take photos and fill up our water supply.
Chicos Paradise was truly paradise! From a giant river which runs from Presa Cajon de Peña way upon the mountains of Jalisco, the river eventually comes cascading down through the property where palapas dot the river’s edge. Groundskeeper Marco took great care of us, bringing us wood for our BioLite CampStove and making sure we had everything we needed. In the middle of the night, we noticed he was sleeping in one of the plastic chairs on the restaurant patio, so we decided to give him a Hobo Hammock, which he gladly accepted. We planned to get out early in the morning to finish our ascent into El Tuito.
Day 4 – February 11th, 2016 - Chicos Paradise to El Tuito
We cycled at least another 20 miles, climbing for a good 15 miles or so up to El Tuito. We stopped in a small town, Pedro Moreno, where Gris & Olga greeted us at the tienda. We picked up a cucumber (pepino, I learn), fresh cheese, tomato and mix it up with boiled beets we had made in the morning, avocado, garlic, chilis and dressed everything in oil and zaatar. It was a very tasty meal that had Gris and Olga wondering what we were eating because it looked so good. We got to El Tuito and asked for directions to the highway that would take us to the beach. Mehedi spoke to a nice man who gave directions while I chatted with two young boys and their abuelo. My Spanish is improving in these few short days and I am able to exchange a few sentences with them. My goal for this trip is to be fluent in Spanish by the end of it. The directions to the highway are complicated, so two guys on bicycles offer to take us to the road. The hospitality here is incredible. At the highway junction we realize we are low on water, so we ask a family to fill up from their tap and they oblige. They have an enormous jackfruit tree with some of the biggest jackfruit I’ve ever seen. Every compound here in rural Mexico seems to have chickens and many have cows, pigs, and always a pack of dogs who bark when you roll by but are always friendly when you stop to say hello. We met a parakeet today who, when I started speaking to it, seemed to be speaking Spanish back to me. "That bird speaks Spanish," I told Mehedi. Moments later a woman pokes her head out of her casita to tell us the parakeet speaks Spanish. I may not be fluent but I know a Spanish-speaking bird when I hear one.
We cycle out of El Tuito and come to rolling hills of farmland. A quaint home on a beautiful piece of land prompts us to stop as we see a clearing in the field that would be perfect to set up camp. We meet Estrellita who lives there, and when we ask, she says we are welcome to pitch a tent on her land. She and her son share a small one-room house, so we offer her a Hobo Hammock and she is happy to receive it. She tells us she has lived here for 15 years. The farm is exquisite – a small hill on the property gave us the perfect view of the valley and we enjoy sunset before settling in and making a delicious vegetable caldo for dinner. We go to bed happy that we are finally, really doing this and looking forward to hitting the coast tomorrow.