Driving: Mazatlan to Michoacán

(Continued from Mexico Road Trip 2005, Part 1: Baja California, where we took a ferry from La Paz.)

Except for a few hours of driving along the coast south of Mazatlán on local roads, most of Highway 15 east to Morelia is a very nice 2 or 4-lane limited-access toll road. Leaving the coast, we passed through parts of Mexico new to us, with farms and wetlands. Very different from Baja California!

Road - Two Lane Toll RoadRoadWetlands

I liked how this Basura ("Trash") sign indicated where the trash was to be found. Too bad it wasn't in the can.

Trash - Near Basura Can

Tequila

It was now getting late, so we needed to find somewhere to camp. This wasn't Baja anymore — we couldn't just pull over anywhere and camp. This part of the country was far too populated for that. Consulting the map, we looked for nearby microwave towers (which might have a view), and found one on a mountain just south of nearby Tequila. (Yes, as in the fine Mexican beverage!)

Because we were on a limited access toll road, we couldn't just pull off onto the microwave tower road. We had to drive north into Tequila, and then back south under the highway to the mountain.

Tequila central was a quaint place, with cobblestone streets and people on horseback, but the outskirts were strewn with tourist shops hawking enormous clear plastic containers of the namesake beverage. After winding through the maze of streets and frequently consulting the GPS, we finally found the cobblestone microwave tower road leading south out of town. See in Google Maps See in Google Earth 20.871, -103.842 

Road TequilaRoad Tequila

Climbing up the mountain, we passed through the tequila fields where they grow the agave plants, and shred the cores to obtain the fibers used to make the alcoholic beverage. Strangely, we also passed many people in running shoes, sweatshirts, and shorts climbing the hill, apparently for exercise!

Tequila - Agave FieldTequila - Agave Cores HarvestedTequila - Agave FibersTequila - Agave Field

We didn't quite make it to the top of the mountain by nightfall, but we still found a pull-off with a view of Tequila from above. See in Google Maps See in Google Earth 20.81208, -103.8532 

Tequila - Camping Microwave Tower Road - Tequila At NightTequila - Camping Microwave Tower Road - TequilaTequila - Camping Microwave Tower Road - Cobblestone Road - Sportsmobile - Campsite

Guadalajara

On the road again the next morning, the next city along the toll road Highway 15 was Guadalajara. No highway goes through or even around Guadalajara. We were dumped off onto the city streets to fend with traffic lights and people selling things. Perhaps there is a beautiful part of Guadalajara, but the parts we saw were depressing expanses of dirt, trash, pavement, and cement buildings. The city air had a brown tinge to it.

Road GuadalajaraRoad Guadalajara - People Selling StuffRoad Guadalajara - OxxoGuadalajara - Pollution

After a few wrong turns and studying the GPS, we eventually we made our way through to the other side, and picked up the toll road again (after a quick stop for refreshments at the Oxxo quickie mart — just like 7-Eleven).

Guadalajara - Computer on Dash - SportsmobileOxxoTollbooth

Our destination wasn't quite as far as Morelia. We were heading to our friend Brian's place, so we left Highway 15 at Panindícuaro See in Google Maps See in Google Earth 19.97109, -101.7558  and headed south on the lesser road route 37 to Zacapu, where we happened to pass through town during the chaos of Market Day.

Road - Zacapu Market Day

From Zacapu, we headed southeast on Route 15 local and then turned south onto a tiny unnamed (but still paved!) road south through the villages of David Franco Reyes See in Google Maps See in Google Earth 19.75912, -101.7233 , Barranca Honda, Lázaro Cárdenas, Zinciro, La Zarzamora, Yotatiro, and finally our friend Brian's host town of Erongarícuaro.