Geckos and Mangos – Sinaloa and Nayarit by bicycle

Geckos and Mangos – Sinaloa and Nayarit by bicycle

Country: Mexico
From Mazatlán to Ixtlán del Río
Lesson learned: There is such thing as a perfect wardrobe system
Most wonderful miracle: Seafood tostadas
Animals we saw: geckos, iguanas, seagulls
Days on the bike: 4
Kilometers cycled: 373
Average kilometers per day: 93.25
Total kilometers cycled: 27,977

Sinaloa and Nayarit by bike

Missed the last entry? Here it comes: The last desert ride – Baja Sur by bike
Blog auf Deutsch: Von Geckos und Mangos – Sinaloa und Nayarit mit dem Fahrrad


The harbor was some 20 kilometers east of La Paz. It was a scenic ride and we reached the ferry in time. In only 13 hours we would find ourselves in Mazatlán on the mainland of Mexico.

Just one of the beaches near La Paz

Just one of the beaches near La Paz

Our bed in the ferry Pichilingue - Mazatlan

Our home for tonight. Good thing we always carry Apit’s Sarong with us (he sells them here). It makes a great emergency blanket.

The ferry was large and not even halfway full. We didn’t spend any extra cash on a cabin and just spent the night with most of the other passengers in a big room full of seats. As there was so much space, we just slept on the floor. The ticket cost 1,102 Pesos (plus 200 for the bike) and included a big and delicious dinner.

Balandra beach

We enjoyed one last swim with Tuly before we headed off to the mainland

Ferry La Paz - Mazatlán

On the ferry

By the following morning it felt as if we had reached another country. Mazatlán was so big, it felt so different. In fact traffic, prices, smells and architecture reminded me a lot of my days as a student in Guadalajara.

The mermaid of Mazatlán

The mermaid of Mazatlán

Cheerleader's training outdoors at sunset

Cheerleader’s training outdoors

We stayed in an empty flat that belonged to Roberto’s sister’s boyfriend’s cousin. And it stayed hot. So hot in fact, that I had to get up several times at night in order to get a cold shower. We had hoped it was a bit cooler in the mainland, but it only got more humid.

Dolphin statue by the sea

There were real dolphins too, but we simply didn’t happen to see any

Rock pool in Mazatlán

The rockpool is always a popular place to hang out, especially for those who aren’t good swimmers.

In the evening we biked along the boardwalk. It was the longest beach promenade I had ever seen and after sunset we met a lot of active people. They cycled, ran, swam, skateboarded, inline skated and even roller skated.

Rock in the sea

At night two crazy men would jump off this cliff over and over again for some coins.

We biked through the historic center with its cafés, restaurants and the many trees, that we had been missing back in the desert. It was simply wonderful. It was the last time we would see the sea, until we would reach the Mexican Caribbean.

Mazatlán's muscle beach

Mazatlán’s muscle beach

The city traffic wasn’t too bad, but it was the humid heat that got us. We reached Villa Union, where the road split up in cuota (toll freeway) and libre (free highway). We chose option 3: a minor road in the countryside.

Sumo loves mermaid

Sumo in love

It was an idyllic and hilly ride until we reached Amapa, where the asphalt ended. We shouldn’t have blindly trusted the google maps. The next fifteen kilometers were super bumpy with a few fields to both sides, cacti here and there and a couple of dry trees.

Mazatlán's beach

Mazatlán’s beach

We could have watered the fields with our sweat. Asphalt returned in Matadero, where we fell onto two chairs outside the village’s shop. This was where we met Mariaelena, a young woman who grew up here and studied in Mazatlán.

Mazatlán's rock pool

Mazatlán’s rock pool

She returned home every weekend. Today her village’s baseball team played in the finals of the local league and the people who weren’t watching, were preparing the village for the big party.

Cheerleading outdoors at sunset

In the air

I guess now that they had prepared everything, in case they lost, there would probably still be a party. What else would you do with all that cold beer and fresh food? That’s the spirit.

Green mangoes on the tree

Yummy mangoes. A little more sun and these will be ready too.

Mariaelena, her sisters and their mother had prepared a huge bowl of ceviche, that’s somewhere between a spread and a salad made of raw fish. Mariaelenas father had caught the fish himself. Mariaelena invited us to her parents’ home where she served us a big plate of the Ceviche and some Agua de Jamaica (iced hibiscus tea).

We better hurry, there's a thunderstorm coming closer

We better hurry, there’s a thunderstorm coming closer

We sat under the tamarind tree, ate the most delicious and refreshing ceviche and simply enjoyed the afternoon and the company. Mariaelena even picked us three large mangoes from here garden, so we would have a snack for the way.

Corn stand in Mexico

My favorite street food and probably also the biggest calory bomb you can get: corn with mayonnaise, cream, lime juice, cheese, chili and salt. It’s so delicious.

What a great time we had in the village that’s name translates “slaughterhouse” and was situated in the oh-so-dangerous Sinaloa. Matadero doesn’t owe its name to any murders. There was a lot of cattle and the train led right through their field and had killed many of them in the past. Now they had fences to avoid future accidents.

On the way to El Rosario

On the way to El Rosario

At 5 pm the heat was bearable, but now there was a thunderstorm coming. We would have made it into the next town before the big rain, if it hadn’t been for the “libre” and its crazy traffic. There was simply no space for cyclists and we spent minute after minute in the grass waiting for the trucks to pass, so we could continue cycling.

Welcome to Nayarit

The most exciting part about the freeway are the signs. Look, we’ve made it to Nayarit!

Next morning we decided to try our luck in the “cuota” or “autopista”, the toll road. We pushed the bikes through the toll booth and tried to appear natural and confident. It worked! There was much less traffic and we had a big shoulder all to ourselves. Of course bikes were not allowed, but nobody ever cared too much. We stopped at some wild mango trees and Roberto picked a nice and juicy breakfast right off the trees.

Autopista Mazatlán Guadalajara via Tepic mapa

At the toll stations we check the map. What is that little guy there in the bottom right corner? It’s a bit creepy I think.

The ride was incredibly boring. There were no villages, no shops, and no people. Only cars, trucks and buses. But at least it was safe. Out of boredom we bikes 130 kilometers. That was good, because it meant less kilometers for the next day. I emptied several sachets of electrolytes and many litters of water. Yet at night I was quite devastated. Now that I think of it, I guess the Baja’s dry heat wasn’t that bad after all. But hey, here we’ve got geckos and iguanas.

Cycling past an Agave field

We were surprised by a field of Agaves. Maybe they produce Mezcal here?

We got up early because it was going to be a long day. We would climb from sea level to 1000 meters within 80 kilometers. During the first 45 kilometers we constantly biked up and down and 35 kilometers west of Tepic we found ourselves at sea level again. When we finally reached the start of the big climb, we had spent so much energy in sweating, that we were exhausted before we even started. The following couple of hours were a mix of 70% sweating and 30% cursing. But we made it. It was about to get dark when we reached Carla’s and Andres’ house.

Roberto, Andres and Carla at breakfast

Roberto, Andres and Carla at breakfast

Roberto and Carla had studied together in Guadalajara and they hadn’t seen each other in about ten years. Her little daughter was fifteen now, the son nearly three and ten days ago a fifth family member had been born. He was so cute I wanted to hold him and keep him.

Cute little guy didn't have a name yet, so Roberto called him Fulgencio.

Cute little guy didn’t have a name yet, so Roberto called him Fulgencio.

We stayed with Carla’s father Don Arturo, a very tidy and funny man. When he showed us around the house, he explained us his wardrobe system. His clothes were not only sorted by style, but also by time of year, color, length and use.

Nachito and his family in their shop "Hecho a mano Creadores Mexicanos"

Nachito and his family in their shop “Hecho a mano Creadores Mexicanos”

His golden rule was to wear whatever hung in front, and hang washed clothes at the back, so no piece of clothing would end up not been worn. “So what do you do if you feel like wearing a shirt that is not in front?” Roberto asked. For Don Arturo that was not an option. In fall, he and his partner are expecting a baby. The baby will be uncle to Carla’s three children.

Our presentation at the Mukti Shala in Tepic

Our presentation at the Mukti Shala in Tepic

We did a mini presentation at Andres’ yoga studio, where we met Héctor Alejandro, the town’s most active warmshowers member. Of course he knew Tuly from la Paz, Othon from the Casa ciclista in San Ignacio and Sandra from Tijuana. Hector Alejandro and his friend Nachito took us out for seafood next day. Even though Tepic wasn’t situated at the sea, it was famous for its seafood tostadas.

Huge seafood tostada

Isn’t this awesome?

We ordered the house specialty and were left with our mouths open, when the food arrived. What we got was raw and boiled shrimps, octopus, clams, fish and “Callo de Hacha”, a very special kind of scallop with lime juice, cucumber and a bit of chili on top of three tostadas. You would eat all that with soy sauce, hot sauce and more limes. It was incredible and our bellies were big and round when we left the restaurant.

Deliciosness on tostada

Deliciosness on tostada

Back on the road we continued on the autopista. That meant no villages and more ups and downs, but a big shoulder. Up here the temperatures weren’t as extreme anymore, but it was very humid every day. Today and tomorrow we would have to climb a total of 3700 meters.

Green Nayarit

The rain kept everything so green!

On the third day it would be “only” 500. Back in the Baja, a 500-meter day would be a tough one. Here it would be the easiest. Standards were different here. Knowing that we had somehow managed to climb up to Tepic, we felt like we could do it. So slowly but steadily we climbed all those boring mountains.

Ciclistas de Ixtlán del Río

Fun company for some kilometers

Just before Ixtlán del Río we met another group of cyclists. Some of them were on road bikes, others on mountain bikes. We biked together for a bit and they showed us their town’s cheapest pension. It was 200 Pesos for a room with our own shower and toilet. Back up in the States and Canada that was as much as we spent for a night of hiker biker camping in a state park.

Mexican Hot Dog stand

Three hot dogs for 35 Pesos? What a deal!

We washed off all the sweat, sun cream and dust and went for a stroll to the main plaza. This was where young and old came together. There were students in uniforms who walked in circles, while chatting constantly, there were elderly men in shirts and sombreros giggling on the benches.

The plaza of Ixtlán del Río

The plaza of Ixtlán del Río

Young parents watched their young ones drive rented electric mini cars around the plaza while lovebirds stared each other in the eyes. Two ladies sold three hot dogs for 35 pesos. A young man from Michoacán built his new small balloon business. Next to him a man in his early forties put aside his cigarette to prepare a cup of corn for a client. It was so calm and peaceful, people even took care for each other in traffic!

Church of Ixtlán del Río

Usually the big plaza is situated right next to the main church

The states of Nayarit and Sinaloa have truly spoiled us with fruit, picturesque villages, yummy seafood and green landscapes. I guess that more than makes up for all the climbs. Now we were on the way to the fifth state: Jalisco, home of the Mariachis and the Tequila. More in the next blog: Home of Mariachis and Tequila – Jalisco by bike

Balloon sale!

Balloon sale!

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