18 August, 2012

Day 45, 600km: Back in the heat

It's been a while since I didn't have material for your guys who enjoy my hardships (and rightfully so). But today I can tell you anonymous you'll enjoy reading this update.

First of all the day starting by leaving Erwan's apartment. Which meant leaving my brother who I've seen roughly once a year the past few years and leaving the comfort of the place where I spent the past 6 nights (longest consecutive stay so far!).
Plus I didn't have much sleep as I woke -relatively- early for a long day ahead.

So it wasn't the funniest morning, getting on the bike in cold and moist weather. Plus Garmin decided that it would be a good day to start inventing roads in Mexico City, which it refrained from doing until then.

Which makes me think about Google Maps, I mentioned a few days before that they have an offline version, so I'll give a very quick review below. The product's intended use seems to be getting basic directions in a city. You can "download" maps for areas around 15*15km, so Mexico City Centre fitted nicely in that.
Then once the map is downloaded, it can be used even in the absence of a data connection, which is cool.
There are a few limitations however, that make the product still -very- far from a full blow GPS like Garmin's.
- no routing while offline
- no search while offline
- not all street names are displayed even at maximum zoom (I guess they aren't downloaded? very annoying)
So basically Google is still far from having a product that's remotely capable of competing with Garmin's, for offline users.

300km of rain
 Once outside of Mexico City the rain started and didn't stop for the next 4H. Mexico City is at 3400m of elevation, my destination was at sea level. So I knew there'd be rain on the mountains along the way but didn't really expect spending half of my day under showers.
So I didn't stop much to take pictures. Rather I was concentrated on the road.
Rain fills potholes and makes them extremely hard to spot as they blend in with the rest of the road. Add to this the fact that my helmet's visor isn't effective anymore at evacuating rain drops, plus the fact that Mexican drivers have no idea of the concept of safety distances.

That made for an interesting drive. Stopped for coffee somewhere halfway through and I can say I took plenty of time before taking off, I kind of hoped the rain would stop. It didn't.

So even though that was a sad, rainy and cold (around 10-15 degrees C) start for the day, I was happy to be back on the road and back on my way to Tierra del Fuego and Brasil.

Leaving the mountains
 Eventually I left the rain for more opened skies and entered the state of Veracruz. The last mountain range offered incredible views and incredible roads.

Back in the plains, back to straight lines
 Garmin decided once more to remind me that he's a living being and has got feeling. The poor thing apparently felt neglected that the road was a straight line and that I had nothing to do on the GPS. So like an a spoiled kid it started trying to get my attention.

So to get my attention Garmin entered a 30 minutes long cycle of rebooting. Above you can see my calculated route (pink line), where I am currently (blue arrow) and my actual route (black line). The missing parts in the black line are portions of the road where Garmin was doing his little "rebooting dance".
That lasted for 50km or so and I though that this might have something to do with the air pressure.
The battery casing is sealed so protect from the water. Since we went down from 3400m to 0m shortly, it seemed it affected the battery somehow.

Stopped, opened the battery casing, closed it again and all was fine. I'm not sure how air pressure would affect electrical connections but it seemed it did. Or maybe that was condensation on the inside of the battery casing causing short circuits triggering the reboot.

Either way, Garmin got some attention from me and was happy to lead me to my destination again.

Sun, 30 degrees C, high humidity
 Driving in the state of Veracruz, across the back-country of the gulf of Mexico, I found myself in a landscape that furiously reminded me of Thailand. Maybe that's because I miss the place.
Maybe also that's because the climate, landscape and vegetation was precisely the same as that one can find driving around Hua Hin.

There were also pineapple plantations everywhere
Now one difference I found is that here you can buy pineapple juice directly along the road (which is actually nice with the heat and I haven't seen near Hua Hin - or maybe I didn't pay enough attention).
Even nicer, you can also buy cocktails "cocteles" directly from street vendors in the middle of the highway.
And this is an expensive tollway (cost me 20 euros for 100 km!) mind you, not your random state road.

But there it is, pineapple cocktails by the side of the road. I asked for Pina Collada thinking I was smart. Apparently it's unknown around here. Instead they had a lime, tequila and pineapple cocktail and another one where they added chili powder. Had a sip of the second one (it's actually quite good) just to try and was back on the road to Coatzacoalcos.

The place is a large port by the Gulf of Mexico which seems to exist solely for the purpose of supporting the nearby refineries and petrochemical complexes.

Not the most glamour of places, but that should be taken care of tomorrow with the city of Bacalar, strongly recommended to me by Bruno!

Off to bed now, cheers everyone,


  1. Cocktail along the highway.. that's a concept. "The Toll way cost you 20$ but you can drink while driving!!"
    By the way Mustache is getting better and better!
    Keep posting!

    1. Indeed I'm starting to feel as ashamed by my moustache as I was by my beard... I decided I'll shave when I set foot in South America!

  2. Pina Collada every 50km! To keep the motivation and cheer once up.... just remember this famous add from Thailand: "While driving, try not to drink TOO much!"
    Talking about add, I am pretty sure some lawyers at Garmin are gathering pieces of evidence from your blog and that you might face a trial for defamation!:) You must admit there is now enough material to start one… Poor Garmin…. When you start seeing signs in Cyrillic along the road, that’s when Garmin would have lead you the REAL wrong way!

    1. Well I'd be glad to hear from Garmin as I have a support ticket opened with them since July 4th and they won't reply to my emails! So if it has to be a lawyer that'd be someone, at least ...