Apr 6, 2009

The 860 Turns Of Mexico’s Highway 120

There are some 860 hairpin turns on Mexico’s Highway 120 which snakes through the Sierra Gorda Mountains in the Northern Central Highlands. Looking down at the valleys while the bus driver navigated 180 degree turns with skill I couldn’t help but wonder what little a guard rail would do (where there were some) to stop a mammoth bus from rolling over the side if disaster struck. The mountains reach 7,545 feet at one point. But not once did I see a wreck below although there were many road side memorials with crosses and flowers for those who perished and occasionally loved ones tending to them.

The highway also traverses through the dramatic Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve, the beauty of which can distract you from the potential perils of two lane mountain roads. We encountered a diversity of vegetation ranging from dry land with large cacti to pine forests. Ranches and farms growing maze whizzed by the windows.

We did not see any other foreign tourists in all the buses we took in the region. The second class buses from Jalpan to Xilitla and eventually a nine hour bus ride from Xilitla back to Mexico City reminded me of Greyhound but with a bit more leg room and on board entertainment. The sounds from overhead television screens of Hollywood B-movies dubbed in Spanish competed with what I assume were Mexican classics played by the bus driver up front. The latter consisted mainly of men belting out ballads some of which no doubt depicted broken hearts or missing home. Little children giggled at the Alvin and the Chipmunks movie while men in sombreros sat in the front seat and chatted with the bus driver. All passengers who departed thanked the bus driver (muchos gracias) before getting off at their stop. This is the custom in Mexico.

12 comments:

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

Wonderful photos and memories Wendy! I would have been white knuckled and clutching the seat in front of me! It is very sad what is happening in Mexico recently with drug violence. I hope their government can crack down on that but as we see in this country that is not often possible.

Rajesh said...

Looks like an adventurous trip.

Lakshmi said...

nice pics ..the highway looks like an adventurous journey

marina villatoro said...

those turns always make my stomach turn! The greatest ones I'd ever seen were on the Argentinian and Chilean borders. they are amazing, you literally see snake like roads in front of you, like a roller coaster and you go down in elevation from like 10,000 feet to 6,000 in less than one mile. it's soooooo crazy!
The Travel Expert(a) and an Expat with a Twist

jen laceda said...

Wendy, you tell a great story! You turned a simple bus ride into something close to magical!

Lola said...

Sounds like a great trip! Already itching to go somewhere else

Final_Transit said...

Fun!

Paulina said...

I so want to go to Mexico !!!
Nice post !
(I put your blog in my blogroll, hope you're ok with it!?)

thx

Pauline
http://iheartbcn.blogpost.com

GMG said...

Hi Wendy! You got everything on that bus trip, including the mariachi audio show... What do you need foreign tourists for? ;))

Blogtrotter is showing you Brasilia. Enjoy and have a great and long Easter weekend!

Fly Girl said...

I guess you didn't see any other tourists on a journey like that!

A Thousand Clapping Hands said...

Wendy -
You are a braver person than I! I would be terrified on those winding roads so high up. But I would have loved it at the same time because I love Mexico. Can't wait to see more! Have fun and be safe.
Catherine

Wendy said...

Thank you all for stopping by!
I was white knuckled on the trip up but on the way back to Mexico City I was much more relaxed. More to come from this trip...