Prickly pear and pineapples

Trip Start Oct 20, 2009
Trip End Jun 23, 2010

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Where I stayed
Hotel Boca Chica Brownsville

Flag of Mexico  , Tamaulipas,
Thursday, April 1, 2010


The concierge of the Monte Carlo Hotel directed us to turn left at the first street after the car park and it would lead us straight to the highway to Altamira. Great. So we did that, left at the first street after the car park and straight into a dead end. I just hate those loose instructions, or someone who tells us "You can't miss it." Oh, yes we can. I was furious! How could something so simple as getting on to a highway, supposedly in 2 turns, be so hard?

I hopped off the bike several times to ask the way to the highway. Tampico is such a big city and we’d driven into it quite a long way to find a hotel, now we were struggling to get out of it. We tried to follow the Zumo GPS map, and finally edged our way out of town towards Altamira.

We were still 'South of the border, down Mexico way’ but making our way up to Brownsville, Texas. The riding was fast on good roads. However, the roads had a wide shoulder on each side, not quite as wide as a lane, and the passing traffic forced us over onto the shoulder on many occasions, to use our lane. Sometimes the traffic coming towards us would have one vehicle on the shoulder, one vehicle in the lane and one vehicle overtaking on our side of the road, making us and the vehicles driving with us on our side, drive totally on the shoulder. I had to be vigilant, as 3 vehicles at a time would sometimes be coming towards me, it was hectic riding.

Early on in the day’s ride, we could smell the rich, sweet smell of fresh pineapples. We were riding through an area which grows them, the crop had just been picked. There were several overpasses across the highway and underneath them, in the shade, were stalls of pineapples for sale. Lots and lots of them. Some of the pineapples had been cut and juiced at the roadside and the smell was just divine.

In the part of Mexico we were riding through, we only noticed one brand of fuel station, Pemex. Most of the Pemex only accepted cash not cards. There were no self-service stations and most of the attendants were men in their thirties and older. At a café next to the Pemex we fueled up at, we stopped for a lunch. The Mexicans serve a dip with all their restaurant meals, which is as hot as red chili peppers and makes the eyes water. Des loves it.  I ordered the fish soup, thinking that it was the most bland thing on the menu. But alas, it was more like Luksa, hot with red curry or chili floating on the top of the soup. But the taste was good.

Just after lunch at 2:25pm we came upon a traffic jam on a hill. It was 34C degrees. We sat on the bikes side by side slowly edging up hill. We asked the people walking between the cars selling stuff, what the holdup was. They said “Yes, toll” when we asked if it was a toll booth ahead. We could not see over the hill. After 15 minutes we turned the motors off each time we moved one car length forward, as it was just too hot to keep sitting on the running bikes, and our temperature gauges were creeping up to high. There were busses and trucks next to us too, which cut off any breeze and added to the heat with their exhausts. After 1 hour we were finally at the front and found out the holdup was another military check point, not a toll gate. Each vehicle had to travel in single file through a rough, gravel deviation, some being pulled over by the soldiers for an inspection.

Well, I was going to be ready for the soldier who pulled me over, and give him a piece of my mind for keeping helpless women and children out in the blazing hot sun, in hot vehicles, for such a long time. Of course when the soldier got to me, he just waved me on and I said a weak “Thank you.” Pathetic.  At 3:27pm we sped off to let the wind cool the perspiration on our skins and blow through our unzipped jackets. We had nearly melted.

The Joshua trees and prickly pear were growing in the paddock at the side of the roadway in a certain area we rode through. The trees looked like they were dead at the bottom with dry fronds and lively at the top with a wild spiky type of haircut on 3 large stalks sticking straight up from the trunk. The terrain changed often. (In Bolivia, people were selling the fruit from the prickly pear cactus)

One hundred and thirty kilometers from the border of Mexico and the USA, it was totally farming land with low to the ground crops like potatoes. The land had been cleared of any trees for farming and the wind blowing through the land was phenomenal. It’s a wonder there’s any top soil left. I was leaning well over to the right on my bike, riding with just my right buttock on the seat and the left buttock sticking out for ballast. It was tough going with the strong gusts of wind.

About 50 kilometers from the border I pulled over at a bus shelter, to make us a cup of coffee. To my surprise, the bus shelter had no back on it so we were still sitting in the wind. As I sipped my coffee, the wind whipped it up out of the cup and onto my glasses. This was ridiculous. We downed our drinks as quickly as possible and rode straight on to the border.
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shirleyg on

I find the use of your little left buttock for ballast very amusing Jenny! Let alone amazing!

Joe Leeuwrik. on

It looks like you were not very happy campers.
You may have to take the good with the bad.
As long there is some good.
L F U.

Joe Leeuwrik on

You look done in at that bus station.
You must be tired.

Joe Leeuwrik. on

Mum loves the foto's of the flowers.
Beautiful pictures.

Ann on

I felt sweaty just reading about the hold up!

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