Hermosillo, Mexico to Basaseachic
Motorcycling Adventure #5
6 days, Mar 2012
Ray & Jenny Jardine
We sincerely hope that we are not using up everybody's fun tickets, just the two of us, but we seem to be having more than our share of fun. Yet another fun day of riding our motorcycles in Mexico.We woke up with the birds this morning and decided to get an earlier start, so we packed up and were on our way by 6:30 am. The air was cold, so we were bundled up in thermal pants and warm jackets under our riding gear. Our route led northward through farmland and agriculture, including some orchards, possibly apples, with the trees in blossom and the boxes of honey bees set out for pollinating. Once again we could smell the distinctive and aromatic odor of burning juniper; apparently it is used to heat the rural homes. And once again, traffic was light and the going was very enjoyable. There was a regular pattern to the travel in this area: starting with a 5 or 8 mile stretch of straight roadway leading to a small town, then the approach curve to the town, followed by a dramatic drop in speed in order to climb and descend the speed bumps (topes), which has the desired affect of slowing traffic through town. Then once out of town, back up to speed for the next stretch of road. We were still descending out of the mountains, and at one point we came to a super fun batch of twisties descending the sierra la katarina, with spectacular views down into the lower regions to the northeast. There is a lot of territory down here, and we had covered only a small bit of it. For now, it felt like we had finally left the sierras grandes behind. The town of Buenaventura was like reaching an oasis of green vegetation, with cottonwood trees lining the roads. This would be an interesting place to explore. The next large town, Nuevo Casas Grandes was a little bit too big for thoughts of spending extra time here. We got gas at one of the Pemex stations.
Reaching Janos we stopped at a taqueria for lunch. From here the road traversed mile after mile of wide open chaparral. The mountains were still quite distant, but I remarked to Jenny on the headset that there must be quite a steep mountain ahead of us, because I could smell hot brakes. Sure enough, more mountains materialized in front of us, and sure enough, the road started climbing. Up and up, curve after curve, and it would have been super fun except that there was a large truck in front of us and it kept going slower and slower. The road was so curvy that there was no chance of passing the truck. It slowed so much that we couldn't even drive in first gear without using the clutch. Finally we reached the summit where there were a couple of small pull offs, so we stopped to let the slow trucks get farther ahead. Later on, on the descent, the driver of the slow truck gave us an apologetic wave. Everybody we met was very friendly, and in fact, in all the towns we've driven through, the locals always try to be helpful if they see the need, and we have had very few instances where we felt the person was being obsequious. Even the truck drivers are friendly and they often wave to us whenever we stop alongside the road. They drive fast on the twisty roads, but they don't dislike other drivers, generally. They drive by a different set of rules. And once you know what they're doing, they're not a menace. For example, the motorcycle doesn't take up much room in the lane. A big truck coming the other way takes up a lot of room, so the truck driver might as well move over into our lane just a little bit, and that is very startling to an outsider. But actually it increases everyone's safety. Because the truck doesn't have to drive so close to the edge of the road - and that is dangerous for a big truck, because these roads are narrow. The truck drivers watch out for everybody. It is not like they are trying to be road kings, at all.
Taking that example to an extreme, we were following a long line of big trucks going down the mountain, and the lead truck pulled over into the oncoming lane (which at that time was clear), and stopped and waits so that the traffic behind him can get past. The truck driver could see quite far ahead, and he stopped only one vehicle trying to come up the road. But he was the hero of everybody behind him, for letting us go by. This is all because there are no pullouts big enough for the semi trucks on these mountain roads. We were riding on Highway 2 west toward Agua Prieta when we came to a military checkpoint. We have been stopped dozens of times by these, but this one was different. There was a long line of trucks and cars and we had to wait 50 minutes to reach the head of the line. Throughout this wait, the yellow car behind us was leaning on his horn, as if honking would hurry up the military guys. As we neared the head of the line, a soldier with an M16 walked up to us and asked if we were doing the honking. No, not us. Then he asked the driver behind. Sure enough, that driver was livid. The soldier let him know in no uncertain terms that the honking was unacceptable. The soldier delayed that driver for at least another five minutes while we passed through the head of the line.
In Agua Prieta we found our way to the border crossing, but before crossing, we stopped at the Banjercito office, which is adjacent to the actual crossing, to turn in our Temporary Vehicle Import papers and our tourist cards. Then after a short, 5-minute wait at the border, we were through and back on U.S. soil, in the town of Douglas. We headed west on highway 80 to Bisbee. Arriving in Bisbee we toured slowly through the touristy old town area, then at the west end, we found a quiet Inn for the night called The Gardens B&B.
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2012 02 Moto Baja
2012 04 Canyonlands