Low Ratios

Almost exactly 2 years ago I spent some delightful days in Urique.https://thequietripple.com/2019/01/15/eureka/ They were as pleasurable as the journey to get there had been terrifying! https://thequietripple.com/2019/01/14/road-to-ruin/

There are 2 roads out of Urique, the main one that I came in on and another mountain road over to Batopilas. I intended to take that road but the recent heavy rain had made it very muddy, slippery and generally muy, muy, peligroso. I chicken and take the road I came in on, which is only peligroso.

Finding myself in Batopilas, I feel honor bound to take the mountain road to Urique.

I wonder what Kim Kardashian is doing now?

Folks in Batopilas tell me that it will take about 4 hours. Behind the town there is a sheer rock cliff that must be 1000 meters high. I see no way that you can drive up something like that .

Every thing starts well and the noble Tacoma, in 4 wheel drive and low ratios, grinds up to the bottom of the cliff. Then the exhaust pipe falls off. I notice this because of loud clattering and much enhanced engine noise. Oh dear.

Oh dear

I manage to rig it again using a bit of string and a USB cable. This works fine for about 10 minutes then more crashing and loud engine noise. I refine my USB cable set up and change string. Remarkably, this stay strong until I eventually get to  Urique many hours later.

Batopilas used to be center of silver mining and the produce was carried out on mules. This mule track has been widened  a bit to allow one way motor traffic. It is about  4 meters wide, on one side is a dizzying drop and on  the other is the rock face. I try to stay in the middle.

Up and up we go and the most beautiful views unfold. Hundreds of kilometers of mountains and valleys stretch away to infinity. Everything is going swimmingly. My impression was that when you reached the top, you gently worked your way down to Urique. Not really.  

No left turn.

The track goes on and on; up more steep climbs and down vertiginous descents. Of course there are no signs and I try to ignore junctions. I  keep to the road that looks like the most travelled. I meet nobody and I am racked with doubt. Am I going in the right direction? Every time the track starts downhill I convince myself that this must be the final descent into Urique, only to have to labor up another very steep incline in 2 gear of low ratios. During the whole trip I only used 2nd and 3rd gears always in low ratios and never exceeded 10 mph. Crash, bang, lurch, shudder, shake, rock and er roll. It is hard going.

Notice proximity to the edge

I do not want to give the wrong impression, the trip, although very nerve-wracking, is glorious!  The mountains, the canyons, the sky, the isolation ! This is the real thing. I am lost in Mexico in a 4WD truck. What more could you want?

Miles and miles and miles of this.

After about 5 hours, two boys appear from nowhere, first people I have seen. I point down the track, “Urique?” They look at each other hunch their shoulders and say, “Si.”  “Quanto kilometros?”  They look at each other again and one says ten in Spanish.

I am heartened even though I realize they have no idea where Urique is, let alone how far away.

Fresh air

I start a particularly clenching descent. Going down is much worse as each time you go around a hairpin, the front of the truck is right over the  void and the tires only feet from the edge.

Only a few more ranges before I get to Urique.

My courage is rewarded by the occasional small farm and the lower we go, the more signs of human activity. I realize we are finally heading down towards the Urique river. I get to Luis and Teresa’s camp site, I mean garden, after nearly 7 hours on the road. I am beat. They remember me and look after me like a long lost relative.

On the wood fire, Teresa cooks me big chiles stuffed with cheese,  there are refried beans, rice. To drink, she gives me liters of passion fruit juice that she has squeezed from fruit from the garden.  This is followed by peaches, from the garden, with syrup. One of the best meals.

This is an epic journey. Everyone should do it.  Hats off to the remarkable Tacoma, her 4 wheel drive, her low ratios. Luis says we can get the exhaust fixed mañana. All is well.

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6 Responses to Low Ratios

  1. Alan says:

    Hooray! Great journey and it takes me back again to places with no signs and no sign of human habitation. Well done for getting through those hills. That passion fruit juice sounds great. Hope that Luis finds someone to deal with the exhaust. Where next?

  2. Harry says:

    Amazing story and great photos. Thank you and well done!

  3. Alan says:

    Just had a look on Google and Cabanas Y Camping Del Rio gest very good review comments. Luis & Theresa are noted for their friendliness and the excellence of her cooking. Luis apparently does tours of the area so hopefully he knows where to go to get that exhaust fixed!

  4. calderi says:

    Weather looks nice. 4 degrees and grey here

  5. Paula Fotopoulos says:

    Good work! What a colossal adventure!

  6. MikeT says:

    Fifteen years ago my daughter spent a year in Tepic and several weekends in San Blas where she recommends Panaderia Jose Bananas, famous for its, er, banana bread. Go try !

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