Road Notes: Puerto Angel to Melaque

If you happen to stop in at Playa Banco de Oro, stop in at Restaurante Hermanos Galinda. The proprieter, Carmen, is super nice and makes a mean fried huachinango. Plus you can camp at her restaurant. Miss Lousiane hangs out at Restaurante Hermanos Galinda

Fish for breakfast!                                                     photo by Gina Dilello

Restaurante Hermanos Galinda                                               photo by Gina Dilello

A massive renovation of Highway 200 seems to be underway. Entire sections are being created, and some are already drivable.

We were pleased to note that free camping beaches can still be found on this route.

We got pulled over by crooked cops in Acapulco for a (supposed) seatbelt violation and they ran the usual number on us: threatened to keep Rich’s license, told us we’d have to go to the cop station to pay our fine, told us the fine would be 1200 pesos because (supposedly) neither Rich nor Gina were wearing their seat belts and had (supposedly) only put them on when we got pulled over. After many protestations, they offered us the typical compromise: a 600 peso fine that could be paid to them directly, “in order to avoid a ticket on our permanent record.” I probably could have argued more, but I was tired from driving through Acapulco traffic and just wanted to get the hell out of there. We coughed up the 600 pesos and bitched all the way to our next stop. On a brighter note, this is the first time on the trip that anyone has tried to extract a mordida. In fact, the last time I remember paying one was in Guadalajara in 2001. Corruption in Mexico is not what it once was…

Guerrero                                                                                                 photo by Churpa

The entire coast of Michoacan is virtually abandoned. We had trouble finding a restaurant that was prepared to serve food, and apart from a few local pick-ups, the other traffic was all cops and military personnel. We noted a lot of vacant “ecotourism” projects—nice looking thatched bungalows marked by big federal signs. I was salivating at all the gorgeous empty beaches. I mean—wow. Despite the eerie quiet, we didn’t run into any problems and everyone was friendly. I hope that the new and improved Highway 200 will allow for higher speed travel and eradicate coastal Michoacan’s reputation for highway robbery.

Hoping to avoid another Acapulcoesque rush hour nightmare, we decided to bite the bullet and take the short stretch of toll road that begins at Tecuman and bypasses Manzanillo. I figured that 43 k of toll road couldn’t possibly cost more than 50 pesos, but I was proved wrong. 117 pesos! Talk about highway robbery. However, as I rolled by Manzanillo on the bypass, I couldn’t help but notice that it went on for an awfully long time…The question is, what is sanity worth to you? As for me, I’m still not sure…

5 Responses to “Road Notes: Puerto Angel to Melaque”

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  1. El Codo says:

    One tactic that seems to work pretty good…
    “Se recomienda un hotel cerca de la Comandancia?”

    This usually sets them back on their butt.

    “You’ve GOT TO BE kidding señor, that barrio is muy peligroso!”
    “The juez (judge) is on vacation in Reynosa and will not return until April”
    “Big surprise for you, the judge will charge you 12,000 pesos”

    When chatting about the weather with the ladrones, throw in the word “SINDICATURA” it’s like a vampire biting into a bulb of hot garlic.

    All the while, smiling and shaking hands with the fools. They’ll huff and they’ll puff and in the end decide your thighs and rear are a little too chewy.

    But get the car patrol unit number, and their names. Remember the date. When you run across a Green Angel, file a 15-minute report. The cops will fondly remember you as they dot every i and cross every T taking three hours to fill out a federal complaint form. They don’t respond, it is a federal charge. Their capitán meanwhile will be drawing blood. Wotta Hoot.

  2. El Codo says:

    Highway robbery. Infrequent for many years now. A KenMex loaded with rebar (varilla) from the Lazaro Cardenas encountered a couple of pickup trucks blocking the road in the dead of night. This enraged the driver. He gunned the 50 ton truck engine, and smashed both trucks to bits. Later at the puesto de control south of Cerro de Ortega, the marinas halted him. It was there I saw the truck. One marina said that they found shreds of clothing in the grill and blood all over the bumper. They would not let me approach the truck. I do not know what happened to the driver. But it almost caused a strike in Lazaro. Truckers protested with signs, and bullhorns.

    La Familia Michoacana takes unkindly to bad people victimizing “los innocentes” on their turf. As remote and quiet that highway seems to be, I have driven it something like forty times and feel extremely comfortable. Sometimes the indigenas in the “X” villages stage protests and close the highway to vent (voice) their grievances to the public, but when the see my “extraneous” license plates they wave me through.

    Buses and flatbed trucks cutting corners is -the- hazard on that highway. Day or night. Also some truly well camouflaged topes north of Maruata.

    But Michoacan is like La Costa Alegre 30-years ago. Tenacatita may be screwed up now, but I fell in love with Michoacan. The project Dos Mil (2000) highway project, is wonderful. Great pressure is on to make Mex 200 four lanes from Melaque to Acapulco.

  3. BC says:

    One of the slickest mordida that I have encountered was at a traffic stop North of Los Mochis. After a long day of driving in the August heat and avoiding all the toll roads, which made the trip sooo long and sooo hot. Got to a traffic stop and the guy asked if the thing in the leather scabbard was a navaja. I said no but he wanted to look at it. It was one of those stainless steel multi-tools made by Gerber and cost about $40.00. Right after I handed it to him he handed it to the guy beside him to look at and said so softly to the guy next to him, that it didn’t register till I was miles down the road “a present for me”. Then he turned to me and said in very good English, Looks like you’ve had a rough day. That’s when I unloaded on all the crap that had gone wrong that day and suddenly a couple of cars had backup behind me and he said that I needed to move on but that he hoped that my day got better. It wasn’t till I was many miles away that I realized that he had indeed received a gift, my Gerber multi-tool. I’ve been through the direct bride bit a number of times and been either lucky or ignorant enough to get through them without any payment other than a couple of cold beers. But this one came out of the blue and was very slick.
    Moral, I learned that there is more than one way to get bit!

    • El Codo says:

      Mr BC, yours is not the first story I have read about the seeming foaming-at-the-mouth lust Mexican cops have for multi-use tools. Like Leather Man. I don’t own one but if I did it would be buried so deep in my luggage it would take a metal detector to find it. But ten or more write ups is enough to have caught my attention. Thanks for sharing. I’ll pass it along to friends and at campfire get togethers.

  4. BC says:

    Looks like a really nice beach!