Our mountain-top idyll was maybe too good to be true. We woke up this morning to our hostess demanding an extra 150% for transport (we shared a cab at her insistence) and a tip for her. This is when a better grasp of Spanish would have come in handy. We put up a good fight, with R taking charge of the debate (as he’s on Capitulo 10 of our Spanish workbook and I am only on Capitulo 2) and ended up settling with her for an additional $5 – still a sizable percentage of what we paid for the room. We are not greedy little American tourists, but we don’t like being taken advantage of, especially when we made an agreement – and paid- upfront. Despite about half an hour of hard bargaining, there seemed to be no bad blood as the three of us made our way back down the hill to the office where our bikes spent the night.
We got a later start than we had hoped for, due to the unexpected morning haggling, but were treated to a gorgeous, if somewhat schizophrenic morning. The raincoats and extra layers went on and came off in 15-minute intervals over the fist 2 hours of the ride. We were truly in the mountain highlands and the rolling fog was playing with our emotions. One minute, we had a glorious, sunny stretch of road, then turned a corner and met with grey skies and drizzle. Still, the overall effect was stunning; green, dewy pine forest vistas, quaint, colorful village interludes, and, finally, the downhill we had been promised after a day and a half of riding gradually uphill.
The ciclopista, which turned out to be a really great ride after we got out of the city limits, ended in a gravel road. We were advised to join the highway for the rest of the way into Cuernavaca. This would be our first ride on real Mexican roads (I’m not counting our handful of bone-jarring and year-shaving jaunts in Mexico City) and I was a little apprehensive. We stopped at a Pemex, the main gas station chain, for a tamale break and then hit the road. It was 25 kilometers of downhill. I kid you not, I didn’t pedal at all and held onto my brakes for dear life the whole time.
Mariachis hanging around the Cuernavaca square
Our guidebook made no mention of the hills of Cuernavaca, although I suppose we should have expected it after our day-and-a-half long slog up and out of Mexico City. We rolled into the heart of town, which I found charming right off the bat, but R wasn’t too impressed. Cuernavaca is known as a weekend getaway for the city folks and a magnet of Americans studying Spanish. It’s kind of like Florence, Italy in a way, which is both appealing and obnoxious. It also means that cheap rooms are hard to find. We scouted around for a while and finally settled on a room, without a bathroom, that was a bit more than we hoped to spend, but was clean and centrally located enough for two road weary travelers like us (am I allowed to say that after only two days??).
We debated sticking around for a while and taking a class, but the road is calling and neither of us is so enamored with Cuernavaca that we feel the need to stay for a week. Really, I think we’re just holding out for a beach-front Spanish school, preferably one with a surf board rentals and margarita breaks in the afternoon. The upshot is that it is finally warmer. We are only equipped for Texas-level heat and have a meager selection of long pants and sleeves between the two of us. I guess South is the answer.
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