Beaches, Creatures and a touch of Dengue


The ferry to the mainland carried us south of the Tropic of Cancer and we sure could tell.  The past month of Mexican cycling has been a bit of a crazy, sweaty fiesta.  The music is pumping, the atmosphere is buzzing and the heat of the tropics is all around.  Mexico is regrettably in the news for all the wrong reasons at the moment and we were given many warnings about this country which is trying to deal with a flourishing drugs trade and associated cartels.  Our Lonely Planet had this to say on the matter:

“Thanks to grisly drug murders – including widely reported beheadings in Morelia and Acapulco, you can hardly buy a ticket to anywhere in this great country without triggering warnings from well-meaning friends about the inherent dangers of travel…  The fact is, even while travelling through areas where the cartel is endemic, rare is the moment that you’ll notice anything out of the ordinary. Except that is, for a stretch of the Michoacan Coast, where La Familia, perhaps the most notorious of them all, operates and owns the roads.”

Now it so happened that our route did involve this particular stretch of coastline but even here we didn’t notice anything amiss.  People have been incredibly welcoming and keen to hear about the trip and share their stories.  Although tragic, Mexico’s drug problems seem to bypass most tourists.


The Mexican Pacific coast is home to some stunning beaches and cracking surf.  We stopped at a little place called Neixpa to sip banana milkshakes and watch the local surf competition.  Further down South we came to Zihuatanejo, home to the famous beach in The Shawshank Redemption where Andy and Red meet up at the end of the movie.  It really is a paradise.  Here we met Jackson, an American logger and his wife Barbs, who were taking their first vacation in 15 years.  Barbs had always wanted to visit Zihuatanejo ever since she saw the movie and Jackson surprised her with tickets for their anniversary.


Andy + Red’s beach, Zihuatanejo

Down the road from Zihuatanejo lies the previously mentioned Acapulco.  This sprawling city is the original Mexican beach resort.  Back in the day, Frank Sinatra, Cary Grant and Elizabeth Taylor all came here to sip pina coladas and soak up some rays.  Unfortunately it has recently become more famous for its drug related murders.  It definitely had a bit of a sketchy feel and we kept a close eye on our wallets as we walked to see the notorious cliff divers.  These guys clamber up a sheer rock face several times a night, before leaping into the churning waves below.  We were treated to an awesome display of their bravery, including a striking finale in which the chief diver dove into the blackness with flames streaming out from his outstretched hands.





Left:  Acapulco

Right:  Cliff divers.  The divers jump from the light in the top right corner.




The wildlife has continued to be as jaw-dropping as it was in Baja.  Iguanas scuttle across the road, little geckos peer down from ceilings and neon coloured birds swoop from tree to tree.  A tropical frog joined us for lunch and roadside lagoons house some pretty fearsome crocodiles.  On one occasion Nick swerved into the road.  I couldn’t think why until I suddenly noticed the angry snake hissing away on the hard shoulder.









In early April I clocked up 10,000 miles pedalled so far.  We celebrated with a swim in the pacific and on returning to the beach were greeted by a smiling Mexican boy who chatted away to us enthusiastically.  Now I have previously taken quite a lot of Spanish classes and should really be able to understand a simple question such as, do you want to play football?  Sadly, this was not the case. After repeating his question at least 5 times and receiving in answer only our gormless expressions, the boy despairingly planted his face in his hands and then picked up the football and mimed what he wanted.  We duly obliged and spent a lovely time mucking about on the beach as the sunset.


There have been a few low points during this Mexican party however.  We have had a couple of crashes.  Nick’s was a legitimate fall caused by his having to brake sharply to avoid an overzealous bus whilst mine was more ridiculous…  Of the two of us, I am definitely the more scatty cyclist.  Distracted by the scenery, I frequently cycle off the road – a move which Nick has thoughtfully named ‘doing a Jess’.  On this occasion I managed to fall down a grate.


As well as our cycling scrapes we have also been a bit plagued by illness.  A couple of days after the ferry Nick woke feeling a bit sick.  Now Nick isn’t really a morning person and his enthusiasm for cycling is never at its highest at the start of the day.  So when he wasn’t overly eager to start pedalling, I remained sceptical and thus we duly set off.  One hour later I reached the peak of a hill to find Nick projectile vomiting into the bushes.  He turned to me with puppy dog eyes that seemed to say, “See.  I told you I was ill…”  Needless to say I felt pretty bad, especially as he was then an absolute trooper and continued to cycle another 100km that day.

The dodgy tummies continued down the coast and a few weeks ago something worse struck.  We both developed fevers, muscle aches, rashes and some impressively swollen glands.  We spent a couple of days shivering and sweating in a little village before clambering back onto the bikes like unsteady, new born fawns and pedalling slowly off.  A few days later we discovered that our symptoms matched those for Dengue Fever.  “Wow”, I thought, “Dengue Fever, how exotic!”, before remembering that it’s not spread from person to person, making it highly unlikely we would both have it at the same time.  On reflection, it was…probably just the flu.

Dengue or not, we decided it was time to stop and have a longer break whilst we got some energy back.  And that is how we come to be in the awesomely chilled out village of Mazunte.  Tell you about that in the next post.

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10 comments on “Beaches, Creatures and a touch of Dengue
  1. geoff grow says:

    thanks for the update… keep’em coming.

  2. Sarah Wynter Bee says:

    Dengue Fever, eh – and your reaction is ‘how exotic’! Isn’t that the one where you have to be terribly careful not to be bitten by another mosquito ever again because if you get a second dose of Dengue Fever YOU DIE!!! What a trip, I love the photos. Dad has just taken delivery of his new touring bike and plans to spend today leaning against a wall practicing with the pedals/clip ons, otherwise he will end up as helpless as a beetle on its back when he joins you in Ireland. Love Mum XOXOXOX

  3. Annie Leaver says:

    Hi darling, fantastic to hear from you! Rob’s standard response whenever he doesn’t feel well is that he has Dengue fever, so your one up on him having actually had it!!!! I love the classic pic of your wheel stuck in a grate, it’s definately time for a break. 10,000 MILES, that’s truly unbelievable honey!!! The iguanas kind of creep me out, you never know what they are thinking, we could have shown you some humming birds here by the way. Look forward to your next post, I feel sure Nick will need some convincing to get on the bike again, I seem to remember his lack of enthusiasm when you guys left here after a few days in SB!!! Tons and love and hugs as always. Axxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  4. Sue says:

    We thought things had been quiet and had missed your posts. Hope you are now both on the mend and will look forward to the next update and the latest adventure. Well done on the 10,000 – great achievement and what a lot you’ve seen in that time. Take care, S, T & Mx

    • Jess Wynter Bee says:

      Thanks guys :) Yeah we were a bit unmotivated to do stuff whilst we were sick but back on it now with enthusiasm. See you in the summer I hope xx

  5. Barb Russell says:

    Hi Jess and Nick. So good to hear from you guys. Glad to hear you’re both feeling better. We are so very fortunate to have met you both. We look forward to following your adventure. Please keep in touch. Life back in Idaho is treating us well. Thank you again for the tequila.

  6. Lucinda Day says:

    So enjoying following your travels and great photos. Lucinda

  7. Karen Heath says:

    Well done on your 10,000!!! Fantastic achievement. Love reading your posts, keep out of trouble you two, lots of love from us, K&R xx

  8. Sandra Heath says:

    Your adventure definitely seems to have had its ups and downs these past few weeks. By the way, you could have both had Dengue Fever at the same time as all it needs is one infected mosquito to bite you both on the same day and seeing you’re always together, it could happen. Sarah, only hemorrhagic dengue is fatal so once they steer clear of the aedes aegypti mosquitoes that carry this type, they’ll be fine. However as one has no clue to which mosquitoes are safe or not, they’d better cover themselves in insect repellent from the time they wake up until they reach back to Ireland!!!! Keep on cycling, keep on blogging and more importantly, keep safe.

  9. Sarah Wynter Bee says:

    Dear Sandra, Am leaving for Mexico with a planeload of insect repellant! Love, Sarah xxx

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