The roads this morning were hilly and somewhat narrow again today, but then turned to more open and smooth highways later in the day. We stopped for lunch at a place outside the city of José Cardel, because they had a sign advertising a breakfast special. The waiter told us it was too late for breakfast, but I guess we looked sad, so he said he would have them make it for us.
We proceeded on a freeway leading towards the city of Veracruz, and saw a sign with a symbol indicating “No Bicycles Allowed” (a bike symbol with the red slash through it), but we knew of no other route, so we continued anyway. We passed by some police at a toll gate, and they didn’t care, so it we were alright. We have passed through several toll gates during our riding in Mexico, but they never required us to pay the toll. Usually, they would just tell us to use the pedestrian walkway to the far right to get around the toll gate area before we continued riding.
We also passed many military checkpoints, usually at least one per day. The first time, Ray asked them if we needed to stop, and they just laughed and waved us through. So from then on, we would just ride through and give them a friendly wave, and they usually did the same.
In addition to the military checkpoints, we’ve seen many police cars patrolling the highways on a regular basis, similar to how often you’d expect to see police and highway patrol in the states. They’ve been from the various city police and state police forces, as well as the Polizia Federal.
The highway leading into Veracruz became more and more congested. We decided to take a different highway that indicated by the signs that is lead to the port area. We figured we would get to the port, and then it would be easier to just follow streets along the coast until we got into the city. That section of highway was more hilly, though, as well as very windy, and the wind was blowing sand across the road and into our faces at times. When we reached the actual port, the highway ended there, and we were not allowed to go into the port area. So, we had to back-track just a bit to get back onto the main highway.
We were looking for the Holiday Inn where the local Sherwin-Williams people had made a reservation for us. The main highway ended at the high but very narrow bridge that led into the city center. We wanted to avoid the narrow lanes on the bridge, so we tried to take some side streets around it, but the neighborhood started to look not very safe, so we went back to the bridge and took our chances on the road. We stayed on the sidewalk for most of the bridge, and when we finally got to the end, it left us right in the historic city center plaza, and lo and behold, the Holiday Inn was right there in front of us!
They let us wheel our bikes into our room, and after we got cleaned up, we set out to explore the city on foot. The city is very modern, and there were a lot of people out enjoying the plaza and waterfront area. There seemed to be a lot of tourists, but not Americans, rather tourists from other parts of Mexico. We went back to the hotel for dinner.
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