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Saturday, June 25, 2011

Day 36 Village - San Cristobal de Las Casas (902 kilometers)

Good news, I am safely in San Cristobal de las Casas.

Bad news, Fricka and I are a bit beat up from the trip.

I was feeling the itch to keep travelling so I decided to head out from the village and explore some of the rest of the country. Everything was going very smoothly and I was in Palneque ahead of schedule. San Cristobal de las Casas is not that far away milage-wise and I knew of a good hotel there, the sister hostel of the one I stayed at in Mèrida. I decided to go there and use it has a "home base" to visit the archaeological and scenic sites in the area.

Turns out this is one of the twistiest roads I have ever seen (this would be one of the greatest driving roads in the world if it were not for topes). It was great fun and I was loving all the turns but because there were so many and they were so sharp my travel speed was reduced significantly. About halfway there I had to slow down even further as it started to rain. It started getting dark quickly and soon I was driving in the dark.

I was being extra careful and alert but I really wanted to get to town and get to bed. I saw a sign "San Cristobal de las Casas 28km" and got really excited, "almost there!". That excitement loosened me up a little too much.

As I entered a left hand turn the a car going the other way, with their brights still on, crossed the middle line forcing me wide. When I recovered from the lights and could see again I found that the turn bit more sharply than I had anticipated. As I tried to correct my course I rolled off the throttle and leaned in to the turn but I started sliding on a bit of gravel. Next thing I remember was the pavement approaching my face very quickly. After going down we slid for about 15-20m and off into the rain gutter. Thankfully this was a turn that went into the mountain rather than away from it.

I is not a pleasant feeling knowing what is about to happen when you start going down. As I slid across the pavement I was more concerned about Fricka then myself. When I came to a stop I checked for movement in the extremities, "all working". Next, I picked myself up, still pump up on adrenaline but starting to feel the damage to my left side. The adrenaline boost helped my pick Fricka up and get her on the side stand. I toggled a few switches and tried to start her up, after a few tries the engine was running. Knowing that I at least had a ride out gave me a bit of relief, any small bit is a lot after a motorcycle accident on a small mountain road in a foreign country. With that sense of relief came a sensation of pain from my left hand, forearm, and knee. I fell back into the grass behind me...

It could have been 10 seconds or 10 minutes later but I heard a car coming to a stop a little ways down the road from me. I got up and a man approached me asking how I was doing. He also started looking around for things that had come off the bike. While searching we found my GPS, windshield, mirrors, sunglasses (found these by stepping on them), and gloves (they had come off in the crash). I carry a flashlight on me and several on the bike so we were able to find most all of the parts and items that had been damaged or fell of the bike. He and another passanger in the car were very helpful and friendly, asking if I needed medical attention or a ride into town. I told them I would be ok and that they did not have to stay around, thanking them before they left.

Reassessing, Fricka I found that the back rack was completely ruined. That meant the the top box was useless as well as I had no way to carry it. The engine was in good shape, the guard bars doing their job. The front fairing took the brunt of the damage and was cracked, the windshield in pieces, with both mirrors damaged beyond repair. The rest of my luggage and Fricka were in good shape though. I had to cut my loses with the top box and take everything out of it and repack without it. Thank you for led flashlights as it made this task much easier on the pitch black mountainside (of note were the stars as they were especially bright).

With everything repacked I was going to take a picture but found that the impact had rendered the camera inoperable, so sorry, no more pictures for the trip. I started to make my way down the last little stretch to San Cristobal de las Casas very slowly and carefully. It was a bit depressing seeing how close I was to the highway that would take me the rest of the way. Fricka performed beautifully the whole way and should be in condition to make it home fine.

I was able to track down a internet cafe and find the location of and directions to ROSSCO Backpackers hostel. The man on staff there was very helpful and they had a courtyard for Fricka to stay in. I cleaned up my wounds, thankfully I had randomly bought a small vial of alcohol the week before, and went to bed.

I am thinking of staying here for 4-5 days as it is pretty cheap and will give me a chance to recover physically and work of Fricka mechanically.

The most important thing is that everyone is ok and still intact to complete the journey. And now I have a cafè project when I get back home.


  1. Are you trying to give me a heart attack?!?!?
    I am SO glad you are OK & so is your bike.
    Sorry, about the camera ~ I loved your pictures.

    Nicole is here staying the night and says "HI"!
    Love you to pieces and be safe :)

  2. Aw dang, glad you are ok Richard. Take it easy.

    Jon D.