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Our “rest day” in Mineral del Chico didn’t quite fit the standard definition. Rock climbing, and then an amble back from the crag was a great way to get off the bike and ‘be’ somewhere for a bit, but hardly restful.

Mineral del Chico and the rocks we climbed. A very fine place to stop off, but good for the calves as there isn't a flat street or path in sight!

Our road climbing out from Mineral del Chico towards Puebla Nueva. Quiet and shady with a mildly challenging surface to prevent boredom - not too bad from a bit of successful navigation 'zen'

The main task we faced was getting round México city using smaller roads without getting caught up in the urban sprawl. We think we did ok, and we even found some pretty nice riding, but there was a fair bit of fast flat farmland to get through.

We’d decided to rely on the pages from our Guia Roji road-map and our increasing ability to obtain useful directions from the more friendly (and tolerant) locals. Mostly we did fine, though there were a couple of days when we did nicely in the morning, then it all fell to pieces in the afternoon.

The most important thing we need to say is that, having been three, we are now two. Eeyore, who is one of the world’s more well travelled small stuffed purple donkeys, decided he’d had enough of us once and for all. The bumpy nature of this trip, and his preference for a good view from the pocket at the front of Sarah’s bar bag, have meant that we’ve had to retrieve him a few times from the side of the road. This time, despite a near 20km back-track up a hill into a head-wind on Sarah’s part, he was not to be found. I feel that this demonstrates her attachment, as she’d probably not go that far for me! This all caused much sadness, and all we can hope is that he’s been found by someone who’ll love him, or that he’s happy running free with all the other donkeys here (there are a lot).

Alas poor Eeyore in happier times, now lost to us, but running free with the wild donkeys of Mexico.

We spent a happy day pottering through the rest of Parque National Mineral del Chico on our way to Real del Monte, and the hilly terrain we’ve grown used to fizzled out shortly afterwards. In fact this stretch has largely been flat farmland interspersed by hilly bits with the odd volcano thrown in.

Volcanoes and not a clump of trees in sight. Nice fast riding with the wind in the right direction, but not good for secluded camp-sites.

Getting out of Apizaco, with the usual torrent of cars and rubbish, got us a bit flustered. We spent a slightly frustrating afternoon with La Malinche (a thankfully prominently visible volcano) taunting us as we vainly tried to find the road we wanted. The next morning after one of our less invisible campsites forced by gathering dusk we discovered that our ‘zen’ had actually worked. It would have been nice to know that at the time! We had a similar afternoon the next day getting from San Juan Ixtenco to Nopaluca via ‘roads’ we were assured existed.

It's amazing how one farm track leads to another, and finally you're standing eating chocolate for want of anything else to do, completely surrounded by annoyingly unhelpful, silent, head-high maize.

Since then we’ve managed to stay on route for several days at a time, so hopefully we’ve over that phase for a while.

One of our better campsites was in this grassy and helpfully twisty arroyo. Waking up having slept in the deep, dark dell does mean that sunny patches for doing the breakfast washing up are harder to find.

Yes, the church really is purple... Tochapan was a particularly colourful place with bright green tuk-tuks whizzing around the place. One of them even had a spoiler to stop it taking off!

Other than a very fine morning skirting round La Malinche via a route recommended to us by the nice man at the Caseta, our other break from the flat farmland was our cunning route to bypass Tehuacan. After a steady, but pretty climb up to Nicolas Bravo the road skirts along the mountain range. We chose to come back down via San Antonio Canada, but could have continued as far as Calipan. Recommended.

Descending from Nicolas Bravo via Santa Catarina and San Antonio. This road didn't connect up on our map, but the people we asked admitted that it did after remarkably few confused looks at our spanish.

They've even managed to fit a Futbol pitch in at the bottom of the canyon..

Approaching Teotitlan, the mesquites are in flower and the mountains are holding back the clouds from the Caribbean.

Now we’re planning our approach to Oaxaca. I want to go via a cunning off-road route, but we’ll see whether that works out. In Oaxaca we’ve got vital bike parts and some other bits and pieces we’ve been sent.

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