Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Not Mountain Biking in Tapalpa, Jalisco

by Scott

There is No Mountain Biking in Tapalpa. I just want to get that out of the way as a public service announcement.  Tapalpa is in the mountains, and you can ride your bike in Tapalpa, but that's not the same as mountain biking in Tapalpa. We were fooled because the mountain biking event for the 2011 Pan-Am games was held here. As it turns out, half of that 6.2km course was on the cobblestone streets of town--certainly rough terrain, but not really mountain biking. The mountains outside of town would be ideal, but it's all private property.  We trespassed with permission from someone collecting firewood. I'm sure he was not the owner. There are miles and miles of logging roads, and loads of potential, but no single track. Sigh.

Horses and mules outnumbered us on our back-road adventures around Tapalpa

Despite the lack of mountain biking, we've spent a week here enjoying the lovely weather. While the coast was unbearably hot and humid, the 7000-foot elevation provides comfortable days and downright cool nights. For the past few nights, we've bundled up in our down vests to walk around and have dinner in the town square. Our first meal: chard filled tamales and chile marinated pork tacos, accompanied by Bohemia, my favorite Mexican beer, for about $13 total!  The weekend was the best part, when all of the street food vendors came out of the woodwork.  We gorged ourselves on 10-peso (80-cent) chard-filled tamales, atole (sweet maza-flour drink served hot), and tortas ahogadas (french rolls stuffed with pulled pork).

Chard-filled tamale and char-grilled pork with all the fixins

El Salto del Nogal
North of town, one of the major tourist attractions is Las Piedrotas (The Round Rocks). We biked out there and were thoroughly unimpressed. So unimpressed that we didn't even take a picture. It's just a few large boulders in a pasture--the kind of tourist attraction that would be right at home in those sections of Kansas that try to get you to stop to see the 3-legged steer and the 2-headed snake. Less publicized, but way better, was the nearby Piedra Bola (Rock Ball). The lookout from the top of Piedra Bola over the lake and the valley was great. We should have brought a picnic. South of town, and a little difficult to find, is El Salto. It is an impressive 340-foot waterfall. The surrounding countryside was uninspiring pasture, but abruptly, the earth just fell away into a gorgeous canyon.

We had to return to El Salto the following day to look for a bike lock we'd left behind. We didn't find the lock where we expected, but when we asked a elderly man hanging out in the area about it, he walked off into the forest without a word. Puzzled, we asked his machete-wielding friend if he was going to come back with our lock, and he nodded yes. He didn't speak much -- Spanish or otherwise.

When the old man returned, we discovered that he spoke a lot, and in English. He told us about living near Portland when Mount St. Helen's erupted. He told us about running from US agents in Montana near the Canadian border. He then told us something about anteaters and blue-eyed gorillas that live in the El Salto canyon. When he told us about Martian dogs from Bozeman that communicate by getting close to the TV, we got on our bikes, thanked him again for our lock, and said "adios".

No story here, just a cool picture Heather took of one of Tapalpa's old churches

Pictures from November


Stevie said...

Eat eat and eat some more!!!! After Mexico, your culinary experience will decline rapidly and won't start to pick back up again until Colombia, reaching a new peak in Peru (but not as consistently or nearly as cheap as in Mexico).

I am so jealous of your chard-filled tamale and Bohemias!!! Yummmmmy!!!

Love the new posts...keep 'em coming.

brydanger said...

Alien dogs? Good time to leave!

hey guys, we are in guadalajara and planning to be on the other (north) side of lake chapala on friday for the end of the patron saint festival if there's any interest to you two. sounded like fun before we continue cross country...

i know you were thinking of heading back to the coast, but thought id throw it out there.

bryan and jen