Mainland Mexico- San Blas to Lazaro Cardenas, We are in the Tropics now!

Leaving the SV Skabenga was not easy.  Captain Bruce and first-mate Marcy showed us an incredible time, we are so lucky to have met up with them!  We were getting pretty used to life on the sea, but we reluctantly shuttled all of our gear off the boat to a beautiful beach in San Blas.  The changes were immediately apparent, we were all sweating and trying to ward off swarms of no-see-ums.  We unwrapped the bicycles and got ready to ride south again for the first time in a couple of weeks.

Kaitlyn substituted for Andrew in San Blas with her personal beard knitted by Barb Mitchell, our former teacher at Gastineau Elementary

The scenery has taken on a huge transformation.  No longer is the road surrounded by endless desert, we have been welcomed to the jungle.  Kanaan and Kaitlyn decided not to push the timing for her flight home, so they hopped on a series of buses and made it to Puerto Vallarta with plenty of time to locate a bike box and get packed up.  Max and Chris rode for a couple of days through the rolling hills of the thankfully shady jungle. After one day of riding we arrived in Guayabitos, a beautiful beach town north of Puerto Vallarta.  Chris struggled in Spanish to explain what our trip is about and to ask if we could camp there for the night.  After many minutes of broken Spanish, the Jefe (Head Firefighter) responded in fluent English that it would be no problem if we wanted to stay!  They were gracious hosts and invited us to play in their nightly soccer game.

From a few comfortable, air-conditioned bus rides Kanaan and Kaitlyn wandered around Puerto Vallarta trying to find a cheap place to stay near the airport. After a night´s rest in a sleezy pay-by-the-hour hotel they went on the search for the bike box. Luckily they ended up finding the coolest bike shop in town, Japodrillo´s, two blocks from the airport. The owner, Javier, had just opened the shop in the past couple months and was overwhelmingly generous and helpful in getting us all our needs. We were also stoked to see that he was carrying Elecktra bicycles, designed by our friend Beno who we met in San Diego while visiting Kanaan´s aunt Kristi and uncle James. Not only did Japodrillo´s bike shop provide us with a bike box and use of the shop tools, but Javier also invited us to go mountain biking in the mountains of Puerto Vallarta, lending us awesome rental bikes! Serendipitously Chris and Max rode by just as the Bauslers were leaving the shop for the beach, and we were reunited again. After sending Kaitlyn to the airport, Kanaan, Chris, Max, Javo, and our new friend Carlos took off for the Rio Cuale bike trail.  Thanks for joining us Kaitlyn!

Groovy art and good vibes at Japodrillo´s Bike Shop in Puerto Vallarta

Javo and Carlos led us through the cobbled streets of a small pueblo outside of PV.  We climbed slowly on the road, further and further from the reaches of civilization.  The road turned to rough and loose gravel and we continued to gain elevation and incredible vantage points of the valley below.  Free from the weight of our panniers we sped upwards, awestruck by the encroaching jungle scenery.  Eventually, we arrived at the end of the road and a short walk down to the river.  We relaxed as the sun set and cooled off in the pools surrounding a small waterfall.

Javier, the owner of Japodrillo's bike shop in Puerto Vallarta, led us on an amazing mountain bike ride.

The perfect swimming hole after climbing the hills of Puerto Vallarta. Bouldering, cliff jumping, and mountain biking in one evening? Obviously we enjoyed our time in PV.

After going out on the town for a few cervezas and hot wings, we said goodbye to Javo and went to crash with a warmshowers.com host who’s son had actually biked the northern section of our same trip. Belin’s hospitality was much appreciated. The next morning we made our move to get out of Puerto Vallarta, feeling it was about time that we got back into bike mode for a while. A long climb out of the city put us in the sub alpine environment of the mountains, where we were surprised to see pine trees and felt a refreshing bit of cool air in the middle of the night as we slept by a beautiful clear-water river under the bridge of the highway. It was good to be camping again.

The coming miles were slow.  We climbed and snaked our way through rolling hills, desperately trying to pedal in the shade.  Each night we made our way off of the main highway out to the coast and the scenic playas to make camp and search for surf! One of the beaches we hit was the beautiful Arroyo Seco, a powerful break surrounded by awesome climbing cliffs. Check out the Arroyo Seco surf shop at http://www.christianossurfteam.org/

Kanaan looks for waves in Arroyo Seco.

Fires are only for cooking now, we don't need more heat!

In the next days, we continued on the road south.  Breaks from pedaling now consist of sitting outside of small stores with cold drinks and shade.  Usually we meet interesting people in the tiendas and have an opportunity to practice speaking Espanol.  Rural areas often require less effort to find camping for the night.  Entering the large port city of Manzanillo, we had to be more creative.  After much confusion with directions, we decided to ask the local bomberos if we might be able to camp there for the night.  They ended up being incredibly hospitable, offering us a chance to do laundry, take a shower, and even sleep in a bed!  Thank you guys so much!

Kanaan thankful for the hospitality of the bomberos.

Continuing south we were excited to find some good waves.  We had heard from several people that there was a good break in Nexpa, so we aimed to get there for some afternoon swell.  Although it did not look far on our zoomed out map of Mexico, we couldn’t seem to get very far.  Every pueblo said that we were only 30 or 40 km away, but as we kept pedaling we realized that the number never went down.  The constant switch backs of the road made the distance much longer, and we didn’t arrive until the following day, Super Bowl Sunday. When we got to Nexpa we were looking to find free camping, go surfing, and watch the Super Bowl. It didn’t take long at all to find all three when we met Martin, the owner of a new restaurant in town called Mary Janes. He offered a place under the restaurant to put up our tents and invited us to come to his Super Bowl party after we went surfing. We were excited to be meeting people from all of the world united in Nexpa to catch some waves.  The day brought perfect smooth sets, a great super bowl fiesta, and a long night of dancing!  We met people from all over Mexico, Quebec, Washington, British Columbia and Italy.  Our new amigos Omar and Areli fed us an amazing ceviche lunch and shared advice about traveling through Mexico.  We even met an amigo with a small craft brewery in Mexico who happened to be offering samples! It was a truly special place and we will certainly be heading back there sometime in the future.

Hanging out with Omar y Areli in our common camp area under the party.

Stretching out before heading into the waves. What better sign could we find on Super Bowl Sunday?

Check out La Bru, craft beer in Mexcio.

After our second night in Nexpa potlucking with rad new buddies Andrew and Mariela from Bellingham, Fred and Kari from Montreal, and Jerry from Nexpa, we packed up and hit the road.  It was tough to leave, but we decided to move on before we got too attached.  We had met a motorcycle rider named Braulio a few days before who had invited us to come stay with him and his family in Lazaro Cardenas.  It was a funny scene, us in our spandex pants speaking Spanish to a large man in full leathers who rides in a Hell’s Angel-esque biker gang called “Los Bandidos”.

Braulio in casual wear on his way to work

We rode to his home, and ended up spending the next two days visiting with him as his family.  Braulio’s wife Debora is an Italian professor at a local university IDESUM, and she invited us to come and meet the students.  We had a great time checking out the school and speaking Spanglish with the students and staff.  The students there are all required to learn not only Spanish and English, but also Italian, French and German.  And we thought just Spanish was hard!

Posing with Debora and her students at the University.

Hanging out with Braulio, Debora and their Family

Braulio and his family showed us incredible hospitality throughout our stay.  We weren’t aware then, but he has continued to influence our journey south.  First, however, we rode on to Saladita to investigate legends of a 1-minute wave.  We showed up in the afternoon and looked out to see no waves!  We were bummed and considered going somewhere else, but decided that we would rent boards anyway and see if it picked up.  It was a good decision! The waves began to roll in, and we were able to catch tons of long rides as the sun dipped behind the horizon.  That night we shared a couple of beers with an adventurous couple from Vancouver.  It was great to talk about the Northwest with Arnt and ValerieArntzen and to listen to amazing stories about exploring the world.

View from the board.

The next morning, we had a great surf session and a huge breakfast with Arnt and Valerie.  They even gifted us a pair of fins for future snorkeling and body surfing sessions.  It was great to meet you guys and hopefully we will see you down the road! Braulio had mentioned that he had a friend, Fidel, in Zihuatanejo that we might be able to stay with, so we gave him a call and made plans to rendezvous somewhere on the highway.  It is quite difficult to make plans over a cell phone in Spanish, so we were not quite sure what to expect.  Fortunately, Fidel was easy to find, as he pulled over with his friend in his crazy three wheeled custom motorcycle contraption.

Thinking about a trade, We will take the tricycle Fidel!

He told us that he wanted us to meet a friend who worked for the regional tourism office.  We agreed and he tailed us in the moto-tricycle for the next 20 km or so.  Climbing the large hill before Zihuatanejo we were completely surprised by a huge group of reporters and on lookers snapping photographs and asking us questions about the journey.  Along with the media, the coordinator of tourism came and gave us an amazing welcome to town!

The welcoming group to Zhiuatenjo.

We followed Fidel down the steep and scenic hill into Zihuatanejo where he led us to his amazing Hotel Casa del Mar on Playa Ropa.  He has put us up in the hotel for the next few days, as we are scheduled for a radio interview on Monday.  Thank you so much for everything Fidel!  Once again, our journey has been packed full of awesome people and gracious hosts.  This journey would not be possible without the generosity of everyone along the way!

Hanging with the crocs at Hotel Casa del Mar