Home / Journal / The way to Oaxaca


Humming in the back of our minds during our meandering through central Mexico is the prospect of reuniting with some travel friends in Oaxaca for Día de Muertos (which we covered previously in an earlier journal entry). Because we had to get there by Oct. 31, our time spent visiting sites on the way down was limited: a night each in Durango, Zacatecas, Guanajuato, with a mandatory 2-night stay in Guadalajara for Ehren’s sake. It was wearing on the three of us, but a different sort of reunion was about to take place—one that would energize our trio once again.

We left Guanajuato with a plan to meet up with Carlos in San Miguel de Allende. He actually lived in Querétaro but came over to meet us for lunch. We had originally met Carlos on the ferry ride from La Paz to Mazatlán. If you remember from this entry, he was the one who found where that funny burning smell was coming from on my bike.

Riding down a street in San Miguel de Allende… the quiet before the storm of city center traffic

When we arrived in San Miguel, we found ourselves in a bit of a traffic mess. Roads were closed, and the available ones were clogged with cars. After trying in vain to make it to the meet up spot, we diverted from the plan and stopped near a park a little ways from the city center. Gary walked into the center and found Carlos, who in turn found us a decently close estacionamiento (parking lot) for the bikes.

After parking, the four of us walked into the center and stopped into a cafeteria for lunch. While we were eating, we researched a place to stay the night. Finding one right down the street from us, we decide to walk down to the end of the block and check it out. Situated in a little shopping center/hotel, we were given a full ground-floor apartment as our lodgings for the night. After asking about parking (always our number-one concern when traveling with the bikes), we weren’t satisfied with what they suggested: a public parking lot a few blocks away.

Ehren and I took the loft, where our belongings immediately sprung to cover all surfaces

Such a cool color scheme

The view from the rooftop terrace

Ehren wandering around on the rooftop

Gary enjoys a brewski on the rooftop

Disappointed that we may have to give up such a cool place, we were pleasantly surprised when the hotel owner, Jaime, offered that we park them at his place a little ways down the street. He walked us over to his house so we could see where the bikes would be and agreed they would be much more secure behind his locked gate (plus him and his wife had three inquisitive beagles on guard duty). That settled, we said goodbye to Carlos and grabbed a taxi back to the parking lot to pick up the bikes. We rode them over to Jaime’s, where we thanked him profusely for letting us store them there.

Back at the super-cool hotel, we got ourselves settled in and then went for a walk about town. While in the main square, we watched three wedding processions go by. Each procession included these tall puppet people that were made in the image of the recently wed. And lots of dancing!

One of the three wedding processions we witnessed parading through the square

The clock tower and the parish church, La Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel

The trees in Guanajuato were trimmed squarely, while the trees in San Miguel were circular

Interior of La Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel

La Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel all lit up, as viewed from where we sat talking to our Canadian friend

Then while sitting on a low wall and gazing up at the magnificent cathedral before us, we met a woman from Canada on a weeklong solo trip through north central Mexico. We all went out to eat together and then parted ways; Ehren and I decided to get some ice cream and head up to the beautiful rooftop patio of our hotel. There we watched the stars for a little while before heading to bed.

Enjoying our ice creams


The next morning we packed up our belongings, walked down to Jaime’s house to collect the bikes (and play with their kitty, Tomás), and headed out for Querétaro—only 45 miles away. Unfortunately our route had us going through the heart of town, which added an extra hour to our ride time due to traffic.

Ehren y Tomás

Biding our time while Ehren asserts that he knows exactly where we’re going

We eventually made it to Carlos’ home and he welcomed us in with open arms (and tres leches cake!). We chatted with him for a bit before his family came home, then we all got introduced to his lovely wife and three children. His little boy immediately took to Gary who introduced him to the app Duolingo, which he loved for learning English while the three of us worked on our Spanish.

After a while Carlos offered to take the three of us on a tour of his nearby body shop. We arrive and marvel at the amount of semi trucks crammed into one place. He says the insurance work from trucking companies is the bread and butter of his business, but he gets the chance to work on some cool projects from time to time:

Porsche 928 – this was Britt’s favorite as we were considering getting one on the cheap in Reno a few years back

Porsche 911 Turbo

Datsun 240Z

And the super-cool Porsche 930 RUF slant nose

Ehren was in heaven. He would have happily stayed there all day.

We did leave eventually, and headed back to the house. A short time later it was time to head out again as Carlos and his family were taking us out to dinner at an Argentinean steakhouse. We traveled in two separate cars, and on the way to the restaurant he realized his Mini Cooper had a flat tire, so he tried to get it fixed at the first vulcanizadora we see, to no avail. After driving around to five other places, we finally found one who was willing to get the job done.

Getting a quick patch job on the tire

With the tire fixed, we went straight to the steakhouse. The dinner was lovely and delicious, and a great time was had by all. After we ate we decided to go to the colonial center of the city and walk around for an hour or so. Carlos gave us an unofficial tour of some of the historic buildings scattered about the centro, including one where the Mexican Revolution was planned in 1910. We then went back to the house, chatted for a little longer and headed for bed.

The historic La Casa de la Marquesa just off the city center

The next day, after Gary and the two of us got finished packing up, Carlos offered to lead us to the pueblo magico of Bernal and show us around. We agreed. He and his family got in their car and we followed them with our bikes out of Querétaro on the road to Bernal. As we approached the town, we could tell right away why he was bringing us there as we could see the giant granite monolith towering over the village.

Heading into Bernal—wowzers!

We spent most of the day wandering around the town and up to the base of the monolith, ‘La Peña de Bernal’, which was buzzing with Mexican tourists. After looking at the clock and realizing it was much later in the day than we thought, we headed back toward the bikes and said our goodbyes to Carlos and his family, thanking them for putting us up and showing us a lovely time in Querétaro.

Posing at the base of the monolith with Carlos’ son

Enjoying some amaranth ice cream on the walk down from the monolith

Thanks for showing us a great time Carlos and family!!!!


After leaving Bernal so late in the day, it was clear to us that we wouldn’t make our planned destination of Puebla by nightfall. One of our cardinal rules of traveling in Mexico and the rest of Latin America is to never ride after dark. Mainly due to unseen animals, road conditions, and other cars not using their lights.

Getting a little late in the day…

We changed our plan and set our sights on the odd-sounding city of Pachuca, somewhere that seemed within our reach. While we weren’t quite able to make it completely off the road before nightfall, we were only about half and hour into darkness by the time we arrived at the hotel. Still, having seen two terrible motorcycle accidents on the highway earlier that day, we weren’t feeling very good about the ride in general.

After being pleasantly surprised by the excellent and secure parking for our bikes and the enormous size of our rooms, we decide to head out and scare up some food along what seems to be the main drag three or four blocks behind the hotel. We dip into an unassuming place and order up some enchiladas suizas for the three of us.

As we are finishing our meal, an eager-looking guy in his late-20s to mid-30s walks up to us and starts telling us about how wonderful it is that we are visiting his city, Pachuca, and goes on to tell us an abbreviated history of the place, along with his earnest affirmation that since he shares a birthday with Benito Juarez (of whom there is a statue at the entrance of the city) he shares the same aspirations—coming from nothing to make something of yourself (Benito Juarez was the first indigenous president of Mexico, coming to power in 1858).

He then pulled out a teddy bear wearing a soccer sweater and told us it was the mascot of the local fútbol team and proceeded to make the bear dance while singing the team anthem. To be honest, while we normally would have been weirded out by someone coming up and yakking our ears off like he did, we were amazed at his enthusiasm for his hometown and how willing he was to share that with us.

Then the owner of the restaurant (who had been serving us the whole time) came up to us and introduced himself and asked what brought us to Pachuca. There was a fun exchange between him and Ehren when he said his name was Aaron, and then he mentioned that he had spent some time in Minnesota for school a few years ago. He told us about some really neat places to visit nearby: some grottoes to the north, a waterfall flowing over columnar basalt, the national park just out of town. Pulling up each of these places on Google Images, he showed them to us and we were hooked. We told him we’d definitely be back in a couple weeks!

We then thanked him for the delicious food and headed back to the hotel for a much-needed night’s sleep.



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