At noon Saturday, it was already hot. The bike thermometer was indicating 100 most of the ride and opening the visor for relief only provided a warm blast from a hair dryer set on HIGH. The lining’s been out of the coat for a few days but I may need to find a way to pack it away and just wear a long sleeve on days like this.
Riding Mexico 69 south from Rioverde, the scenery gets more beautiful each day. 69 runs through a pass between two mountains, their slopes completely blanketed in green vegetation. Spotting a roadside restaurant with a backyard view, I stopped at Restaurante La Palapa for a couple of shrimp tostadas and a beer. What was I thinkin’? It was too hot for a beer. Next time… water!
Sixty miles south of Rioverde, the town of Jalpan de Serra makes an abrupt appearance and is designated a Pueblo Magico, or Magical Village. Initiated in 2001 by the Department of Tourism, the Magical Village Program recognizes towns that offer a “magical experience” based on their natural beauty, culture, or history. As of 2012, there are 83 towns so designated. Jalpan made the list based on the fact that it’s at the heart of an ecological zone called the Sierra Gorda and is also home to Franciscan missions built during the mid-18th century. Jalpan was also declared a World Heritage site in 2003.
Rising from the town square, one of the five area Franciscan missions looks over the population of 9,000. Stone buildings are painted in swirled earthtones of red, orange, brown, cream, and green. No decaying or decrepit facades here… everything is like new and well maintained. The square on this day was hosting a Science Fair. One entrant was showing off their home made beer. Ah, the kids today! They had small samples set on a table that I tried. Not too bad. I grilled them on their technique and they knew their stuff. Since they were all too young to drink, the students offered me a bottle in a chest filled with ice. Sure. Thanks!
A few hundred yards from the town center I visited an open air market set under a ragged awning of tarps. There I spied a woman grilling prickly pear cactus. I’ve never tried it and thought I’d give it a go. Lite, fresh clean flavor. Lightly grilled, it retains its bright green color and has a firm texture. Further heat breaks down the fibers to something like heavily grilled onions and the color descends to that of worn avocado with the flavor becoming sweeter.
Sunday, I basically lost a day – involuntarily. I was awake at 3:00 AM and Oh, Oh… I was hosed. Affected for the next 12 hours, I didn’t venture out until 4:00 in the afternoon. I nursed down a bowl of chicken broth and drank about three liters of water. Sunday evening I stayed in and watched movies on Netflix. But all is well now. Or rather, butt is all well now. Great way to get back on budget!