We get to know our group a little better over breakfast this morning, then take off for the first step of the trip: crossing the border into Mexico. Luckily for us, Juan and Alfonso are old hands at this process, and after waiting through a couple different lines, we’re all set. Mexico’s less concerned about us entering the country and more that we’ll sell our bikes while we’re here. So, we each have to pay a deposit on a sliding scale, based on the ages of our bikes, which will be refunded when we return to the US. This is tracked by placing a sticker with an RFID tag on our windscreen, which we’ll surrender when we cross the border again at the end of the trip.
Today’s ride is pretty tame but gives everyone a good chance to get a feel for the roads and traffic laws. Some lessons we picked up:
- Juan warned us about all the topes we’d encounter, which are speed bumps in any place where you should probably slow down, like when entering towns, school zones, etc. Some of them are marked, others aren’t; some are tall and mean business, others are just a series of raised pavement markers.
- Even though the speed limits are posted in km/hr, people seem to interpret them as mph. And much like Europe, you can more or less pass anywhere and folks will accommodate, regardless of road striping and oncoming traffic. This is especially helpful at the topes because the bigger vehicles have to basically come to a stop, but thanks to our bikes’ high ground clearance, we’re good to go.
- People only use their turn signals to indicate when you should pass them, not to announce their own turning intentions. This could get interesting!
- Alto (or “stop“) signs are really just a suggestion to maybe slow down and yield. Unless you see a policía SUV nearby. Then come to a stop.
We pull off for lunch in the shade at a roadside quesadilla stand. These particular quesadillas are made out of queso menonito, or “Menonite Cheese.” Turns out this particular region of Mexico has a significant population of Menonites and Mormons, dating back to when both groups were getting pushed out of the US territories for their beliefs and practices.
We come into the town of Casas Grandes to stop for the night, but first we check out a local pottery shop that still carries on the tradition of making pottery in the old Pueblo way. After we helped make some, we naturally had to buy some.
tradition requires the use of a brush made from a few strands of family members’ hair
MotoDiscovery really hit the ball out of the park with tonight’s accommodations in a beautiful hacienda-style inn. We regale our first day riding in Mexico over cold cerveza and tequila, then hop in the back of a pickup and head to a neat house-turned-restaurant for some fine dining. If this is what’s in store of us the rest of the trip, we’re going to come home fat and happy!
riding to dinner the local way: back of a pickup