This one's going to be more of a photoessay than most - the pictures do most of the storytelling themselves.
The trip to Orizaba was pretty uneventful until right near the end - off in the distance I was able to see a mountain, which I guessed from my reading to be Citlaltépetl, the third highest peak in North America. I wish I had a picture for you, but I didn't have the GoPro on the bike at the time. Suddenly the two directions of the highway split off (always a good sign - not enough room on the side of a mountain for four lanes), and the road started heading down into a valley.
The ride was beautiful - every once in a while I'd round a corner and catch a glimpse of the snow-capped volcano over the walls of the valley, and with two lanes I never had to worry about being stuck behind a truck. Even after descending all the way down into the valley, the clouds followed me down the entire wa and were still not more than a hundred feet above my head as I rode through the valley into the the towns below.
After trying a few hotels, I finally found one that had parking available - a special deal with a garage around the corner where I could park for two days for $1 - and settled into a room. After doing my usual routine of gear off, straight to shower, normal clothes on, I headed out to check out the town. It was pretty busy given that it was a Saturday night, but surprisingly devoid of restaurants. After circling a few blocks looking for something that wasn't a sandwich shop, I finally ended up at the Palacio del Hierro.
|Designed by Eiffel, metal walls and structure. One of the centerpieces of the town.|
I wandered around the town a little bit more, but called it a relatively early night so I could get up in the morning and start on my plans for the day - I'd found quite a few things that looked worth checking out.
In the morning I headed to the "Teleférico" - the cable car that leaves from downtown and goes up the side of the nearby mountain to an "ecopark." Arriving at the bottom of the car, I found a little enclosure with some animals.
|Other than the crocodiles here, there were also about fifty or so turtles around the edge of the pond.|
|The view of the bridge over the river just as we were leaving downtown.|
|On the way up.|
|Map of the park.|
|How I really got up there.|
|View of Orizaba.|
|Ciudad Mendoza, the city on the other side of the ridge.|
|Confirmed my vocab lesson from the flat tire.|
|Lots of flowers and landscaping and cabins at the top.|
|Totally worth the $5.|
|Heading back down.|
|Had to climb up a wall and stick my phone through a fence to get this... but hey, it's Mexico.|
|These guys had just been fed, so they didn't pose for pics very well.|
|The river had a bridge every quarter mile or so, all of them unique and some of them with little blurbs about the bridge on signs underneath.|
|One of the more interesting parts of the river.|
|This guy was sitting on this stick swinging himself side to side.|
|The reflection screwed this pic up, but these guys were posing for a family pic.|
|This guy didn't stop looking around the entire time I was taking pictures. Constantly checking out everything around him.|
|This guy was just hanging out asking to be photographed.|
|Waterwheel on the river that doesn't work anymore.|
|Not as photo friendly as the jaguar.|
|Didn't spit. What a letdown.|
|Looking down the stairs.|
|Heading over the dam.|
|Up the creek that (I believe) eventually leads to that dam.|
|View from a high point.|
I'd heard there was swimming, so I came prepared with a suit and jumped into the water myself - it was, to say the least, rather cold.
|I promise this is the least weird face I made out of the sequence of pics I took.|
I spent the rest of the evening wandering around the main square and the Palacio de Hierro - which wasn't long, as it got dark very early with daylight savings time having just ended that morning.
|This place is really cool.|
|Big band playing in the square, with people dancing salsa down in front.|
|Doused in butter, covered in parmesan, sprinkled with chili powder, and squirted with a lime: not a bad way to eat corn.|
|The beer museum.|
|Dem hips tho.|
|...It was a little foggier this time.|
And had one of the best riding days I'd had since before the hurricane. Curvy, well paved roads with good weather, not too hot or too cold, no traffic... can't ask for better. It was a gorgeous day, and I ended up riding for about 5 hours straight only getting off once or twice for pictures.
|I was limited to only taking pictures where I could pull off on the side... but there were still some pretty good choices.|
Onward, to Oaxaca!