Thursday, January 29, 2015

Escuinapa to San Blas, January 26-28

January 26
We woke up to a fabulous breakfast of fish tacos with rice and beans cooked by Josefina.  We will not forget her food, nor the hospitality of the whole family.  
Josefina, Pedro Jr., and Pedro Sr

After breakfast, we headed back over to the fire station accompanied by both Pedro Sr and Pedro Jr, where the boss, a somewhat corpulent, jolly man, told us he would be honored if we would sign the town's guestbook, which we happily did.  We felt like celebrities, an unusual status for us.  We just  ride our bikes, something the people of Escuinapa do quite a bit as well.  Everywhere we went were people on bikes; I even saw a guy in jeans and a polo shirt riding a Pinarello! (A very fancy bike.)
After the fire station, the Pedros led us over to a shop that sells TVs.  Pedro Jr knew my dynamo hub wasn't generating electricity as it should, and he figured this guy who fixes TVs could help.  The guy was super helpful and figured out that it was the fault of the hub, not the cables, but only the manufacturer can fix the hub.  Oh, well.
It was good that we went to this store, however, because on the way, Tam realized that a screw had somehow fallen out of her bottom bracket, the part that keeps the pedals attached and turning smoothly.  And right next to the TV store was a bike shop!  They didn't have the right size screw, but it was good that we went there because the owner knew of a store that sells screws.  This guy, who had just met us minutes ago, left his store in the hands of the TV guy next door, and rode with us to the screw store!  They didn't have the right one either, and he continued to ride with us from store to store until we found the right size.  The folks at the third store found a screw of the correct width, but it was too long and didn't have the correct size head.  Most other places at this point would say, "Sorry, we don't have it," and perhaps recommend a place that might.  But these guys cut the screw to the correct length, fired up the welder, welded on the correct size head, and refused to accept a dime.  How's that for service!

I didn't even mention all the exotic birds I saw in Escuinapa, but the people, as usual, were the highlight, topped off by Josefina and the Pedros.  After spending all morning running around town with us, they rode with us for a few miles out to the highway.  I coined a new term in Spanish to describe them: "loco simpatico." Crazy nice.  

With all the morning excitement, we didn't have much time to ride, so we followed the highway for only about 35 miles.  It was hot, and grey hawks soared above while two-foot long lizards basked in the sun on rocks next to the road.  As we turned off the main road heading towards Tecuala, a guy at the corner saw us looking lost, I guess, and came out to talk with us.  He introduced both himself and his son as Marco Antonio, and he invited us to pitch our tent in the yard of his mango packaging plant.  Though we refused food a number of times, because we really do need to eat the food we bought or it will go bad, his wife, Evella, gave us some guayabas (a guava-like fruit about the size of an apple) and some delicious homemade juice, and warmed up some tortillas and beans for us.  Loco simpatico!
"Welcome to the State of Nayarit"

January 27
Marco Antonio Jr. stopped by our tent in the morning to say goodbye before he headed off to school, then Evella made our breakfast infinitely better by heating up our bean, cheese, and veggie tacos to make quesadillas.  And she gave us more of that delicious guayaba juice!  Though we had been planning to leave early, it was at least 8:30 and already hot before we got on the road.  

A friend of ours, a cyclist we met in Canada, cycled through Syria a few years ago, and she told us that while she was there, she worried that she wouldn't get out of the country before her visa expired.  Why?  Every few kilometers, someone would see her riding down the road and ask her to drink tea with them!  Because of these frequent stops, she was only able to manage a fraction of the mileage she had planned.  I felt a bit like her this morning as we rolled out, the sun already high in the sky, and it's how I felt again later when we met another guy on the road and spent some time with him.  Jorge of Nayarit, or Jorge de la Selva (George of the Jungle), as he laughingly called himself, was on his weekly ride back to his ranch after bringing fish to his mom in the nearest town.  On the back of his bike he had a bucket full of jicama and a stereo.  We rode with him for awhile then stopped together in the shade; he wanted to share some of his jicama.  We brought out some limes as well and made it a tasty snack. 

Our plan for the day had been to make it to Santiago, where we would then find transportation to the migratory bird festival, coincidentally happening now in San Blas, which would be at least a day's ride out of the way.  Santiago was a bit out of the way as well, but we were determined to get there in spite of the terrible heat and humidity.  While stopped at a gas station to use the bathroom, we started talking with a gregarious and friendly guy who, as it turns out, was driving an empty bus to Santiago.  He, Wenceslau, provides transportation for students between a nearby town and the small university in Santiago.  He had read reports of Mexico from the U.S, was eager to prove that not all Mexicans are bad, and gladly took us along with him to Santiago.  He also gave us his phone number, you know, just in case.

Once in Santiago, we realized that, although there is a direct road to San Blas that isn't on our map, it was still almost 30 miles away, too far to bike before sundown.  Instead of staying the night where we were, we found a taxi, crammed in our bikes, and went.    And it was worth it.  The ocean was delightfully chilly after such a warm day, and camping on the beach is definitely preferable to a hotel!

January 28
Caroline in Mazatlan had highly recommended San Blas to us for its estuary tour, so that was our first priority in the morning.  We biked out to the embarcadero, where we and a group of 12 from Canada packed into a boat and set off.  
Ornate Slider

The tour first took us through dense mangroves, where we saw a number of beautiful tropical herons, kingfishers, and flycatchers.  Then out in a wider area were the turtles, iguanas, and a coati, a small mammal resembling a raccoon.  And let's not forget the crocodiles; one must have been over ten feet long!  

The tour took us to a crocodile hatchery and zoo, where we got to know jaguars, an ocelot, and a lot of crocodiles, and later it brought us to La Tovara, a freshwater spring set in a large, protected natural area.  There we went swimming in the clear, warm water and enjoyed talking with our 12 new friends.  When we returned, we planned on having lunch with them but couldn't find them!  Oh well, we spent a great morning together.
La Tovara

Later in the day we played in the ocean waves and made a delicious dinner.  We're spending tonight again camping on the beach at Stoner's Surf Camp, a little establishment that rents cabanas and surfboards.  Falling asleep to the sound of the ocean is pretty nice.

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