November 9th, 2005: Juchitan, Mexico, to Pijijapan, Mexico
On the last posting I was a little tired from our drive and forgot to mention the funky tequila factory we stopped at! At first we thought it was only a restaurant, but it seemed quite large to be only a restaurant considering it was at the intersection of two highways with nothing else around. We ordered our breakfast and were asked if we wanted to sample some of the tequila that was made there. I'm not usually one to turn down a free drink, but unfortunately I'm not a huge fan of tequila....especially for breakfast. The service was stellar there though, and we were able to take some pictures of the tequila being made from start to finish. At this particular location, a man would tap an empty Coke bottle on the wooden axel behind the donkey. When the donkey heard the "bonk" from the bottle he would start walking in a circular track, and in doing so pulled a large stone wheel around which crushed up all the cactus leaves. The man behind would scoop out the cactus sludge with a pitchfork and throw the cactus sludge into barrels. The donkey now and then would take a little break to snack on the cactus slop. The alcohol was then distilled in very primitive looking cement vats, but where it went after that was a mystery. Perhaps they didn't want anyone to see how the worms are added for fear no one would drink the tequila again! You could actually purhase a plate of the tequila worms fried up for an appetizer at the restaurant, and of course, they also had the regional specialty of crickets/grasshoppers as well. We spent the rest of the afternoon driving a fairly pleasant route littered with hundreds of the cactus plantations which are for use in tequila production. The latter part of the drive was really windy so I we were mighty tired when we got to Juchitan. That night I finished reading "The Alchemist" (excellent reading Kyla, thanks again!). I actually couldn't have read that book at a more appropriate time. Without giving away the ending, the main character must figure out a way to turn himself into the wind, and I had to keep reminding myself of the book while I was driving the next day. Our drive was so incredibly windy the morning we left that the bikes were blowing all over the place. We would be on approximately 45 degree angles at some points, and the problem was, that the wind wasn't consistent either so you were constantly correcting. The area is always that windy too. The posted speed limit (normally 90-110km/h for that type of road) was permanently posted at 30 km/h, and all the trees along the roadside were completely bare and windswept on one side. It was pretty strenuous, but thinking of the book helped me to relax a bit along the way and stay focused. Our goal was to make it close to the Guatemalan border, but it was getting a little bit late in the day, and we were a bit strained from the wind so we decided to stop in a small town called Pijijapan. Coincidentally, while we were there we met up with two Canadians who were also travelling by motorcycle. Even more coincidentally, Bill happened to live very close to my dad, which is very strange since he lives so far out in the country. His friend, Steve, was travelling from Newfoundland. We all had dinner together at a little tacqueria in town, and decided that we'd make the trip to Guatemala together the next morning.