I’m not going to lie, I was a little scared driving south from the Copper Canyon. The road was deserted; the country side was beautiful. It all seemed too good to be true. My Mexican friends had warned me about roadblocks where bandits would block the road and then when you stopped, would jump out of the bushes and steal your vehicle.I eventually bucked up and got out of my van and went exploring though. On my last bike ride, part way down the Copper Canyon, my brakes ground right through the last bit of brake pad and I front braked down the remainder of the trail. So when I got to Durango, I was on the hunt for pastillas de freno. What was news to me is that Shimano has Latin America on lock. That would be great if I had my XT brakes on my other bike. But this craigslist burner has Juicy threes. The first shop I went to, the official dealer for Trek in Durango, was closed for 20 de Noviembre, a national holiday. The next three only sold Shimano pads. I went to sleep a little worried that I wouldn’t be able to bike anymore, but hopeful that the first shop would have them when I return the next day. That night I stayed with a family of couchsurfing experts. The week before they had hosted 13 people at once. Eli was super helpful and gave me a tour of the city the next day in between jobs. I found the brake pads I needed and got an extra pair to be safe. I couldn’t locate any mtb trails in the area and the guys I was staying with were working so I trucked on down the road to camp at a state park for the night. That was another spooky situation for me, mainly because I never found the park and ended up camping in a field off of a dirt road. The wind howled all night, and I was sure somebody was going to come along and tell me to get my vehicle off their land, but they didn’t. In the morning I found the sign I had missed, and subsequently made my way into the park. 20 pesos later I was hiking around Sierra de Organos. Its called that because the rock formations look like organ pipes. After a short hike I returned and made some breakfast. Driving down to Zacatecas, getting gouged by toll roads (probably 40$ in one day), and trying to arrange lodging for the night was a bit of a gong show. Without hearing back from couch surfers in the city I planned to stay in a pueblo west of Zacatecas. But before that, I explored the city of Zacatecas. I went to an old underground silver mine, and ran up the hill to an overlook of the town. I didn’t get a real feel for the place, it was just another city.That night I met up with Evlia, my next couch surfing hostess, in Jerez de Garcia Salinas, Zacatecas.
Jerez is a pueblo magico: old (hombre only)cantinas, caballos in the street, more churches, mariachi/horn bands all over the streets and dancing etc. And Elvia’s family was amazing; they made me feel right at home immediately. I must have met 15 different members of her family in the couple days I was there, because they are all so close. I ate dinners with her family, watched live music in the street, partied with models, and ate the late-night Mexican version of poutine. The small town feel and festive atmosphere made Jerez one of my favourite stops so far.
From Jerez, I pointed the MPV west and b-lined for the coast.