Our plan for today was to ride efficiently so we would have time to visit the pre-Colombian ruins known as El Tajin. A huge Ford plant caught our eye. It’s great to see an important US brand doing so well in a foreign country.
Being at sea level, we were hot. Any Caribbean breeze was not headed our way. Our only stop was for a shrimp lunch at a place on the water. A guy had his boat overloaded with reeds. Maybe they were destined to make a restaurant roof?
Papantla is built on an inland hill and has mostly narrow, cobblestone streets. These are a real treat when riding a motorcycle. One has to stick the motorcycle’s nose into the intersection to see if all is clear. The irregular surface can lead to surprises when one’s foot goes down when stopping. With the temp near 100, we tried to find our hotel. The given directions didn’t make sense so we let the GPS guide us to our destination’s waypoint. Larry and I zig zagged up a steep, extremely narrow street, winding up in a fenced in school yard. The GPS said we were at the hotel but in no way were we there.
My Spanish is very limited. I have, however, gotten a lot of practice asking, “Donde es …?” That means, “Where is …?” A very friendly man attempted to explain how to get to the Hotel Tajin. After seeing Larry’s and my glazed looks, he asked a woman if she would lead us. We zigged and zagged down that same steep, extremely narrow street. Then her right turn signal went on. No – please let that be a mistake! One the way up, we had seen the hill she was indicating was to be her route – it involved an EXTREMELY SHARP right turn on cobblestones, noses sticking out into traffic, onto a VERY STEEP decline.
This was no time to be meek. I revved the engine, let out the clutch, made the turn, and down the hill I went. Larry followed with much less drama. Our leader did her best to guide us through the maze of 1-way streets. Once, a taxi slipped in between us and promptly stopped to drop off his passengers. Fortunately, the lady in the car kept us in sight and got us to the hotel.
It must have been 150 degrees inside our riding suits. When Kevin and Richard saw how beat we looked, they offered to ride our bikes the 3 blocks down other twisty, narrow, cobblestone streets to the hotel’s parking area. We accepted graciously.
After a swim and shower, we realized that our air-conditioned room would be a better choice for the afternoon than the 100+ degree temps at the El Tajin ruins. I smiled and told Larry that if he wanted to see any ruins today, he could just look to my side of the bed!
28-Mar Catamaco to Papantla, Mexico 250 miles
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