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Old 04-01-2008, 01:57 AM   #1
Trailblazer OP
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Mexico March Ride

Day 1. Sat Mar 8 2008
Austin, Texas, 114 miles to Devine, Texas

Each March, for five years running now, I dust the cobwebs off my trusty (+rusty) 1985 Harley Davidson Low Rider (aka The Green Hornet) and take it places angels fear to tread. Namely road trip Mexico way. This year were no different 'cept my usual riding partner would not be accompaning me. This would a solo ride. The Lone Wolf rides again.

At 6pm Saturday night, I was finally leaving my casa. Lord, why does it take me so long to pack?

Once on the road all my misgivings evaporate. I don't care about time anymore. No deadlines. I finally feel like I'm on vacation.

Logged 114 miles to Devine Texas, just south of San Antonio, where I checked into your basic overpriced ($60 night) frumpy motel room. Stained carpet. Torn upholstery. (No rooms at the La Quinta in San Antonio.) I was pretty layered-up against the cold, and almost warm actually. Tee shirt, long johns, long sleeved heavy flannel shirt, pull-over goose-down shirt, AlpineStars riding jacket, and finally the rain jacket for its wind cutting properties. The little East Indian man at the Country Corner Inn motel said, in broken English, "You-have-a-lot-of-jackets."
Yeah, lots of jackets.
Oh, you-have-motorcycle.

Oh, and by the way, I have no idea where I'm going. I'm just pointed south. Ok, I'm headed for Cuartocienegas, Coahuila, Mexico, but from there, I'm not real sure.

Day 1
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Old 04-01-2008, 02:09 AM   #2
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Mexico March Ride

Day 2. Sunday Mar 9, 2008. Mexico, otra vez
295 miles Devine, Texas to San Buenaventura, Coahuila



I left Devine at 8:30 am, headed south on I-35 10 miles to Moore, where I take a right off the Interstate and head for Eagle Pass. No lodging available in Moore, so I congratulate myself for the wise choice of stopping in Devine.

Flat empty road across south Texas scrub. Ahhhh, On the road again. Me and my bike and the kaleidoscopic carousel of faces, vistas and observations. Cloudy cold wintery looking day at first, gives way to clear skies.

53 miles to Batesville. Yoni´s (Mexican) Restaurant in Batesville. I'm the only white guy in the joint. The place is packed with Hispanics. I'm directed to the only free table which is in a side room next to stacks of soft drink cases. Many folks are chowing on bowls of menudo. The waitress writes my order on the palm of her hand.

63 more boring miles to Eagle Pass. Auto Zone stop for motorcycle maintenance. Top-off engine oil (low), primary drive case oil holding well. Brake fluid, tire pressure, good. Various bolts and nuts checked for tightness. This poor ole bike has seen it all. On past trips it has lost brake levers, foot pegs, gear shift levers, rear views, all. Even the transmission in 2005. But she´s looking good today.

The reduced traffic at the Eagle Pass crossing to Piedras Negras is a mixed bag. I can find no open Casa de Cambios on the US side. Its Sunday and the two available are closed. (I'm spoiled by Laredo's multiple choice of outfits open 24/7.) And then I almost lost the bike in a slick oil patch on the International Bridge.

And get this, you obtain your vehicle papers 50 miles inland, into Mexico, south of the border. This seemed so strange I found it hard to believe at first, and needlessly waisted time asking other people and chasing wild geese. But sure enough, at the 2nd check point, the inland check point, they processed my papers in record time, 10 minutes max. I was the only soul there. The Mexican Immigration official even filled out my Tourist Card for me. When is the last time you saw that? When he asks where I´m going I answer, "Puerto Vallarta". Seemed as good an answer as any.

Car permits granted 50 miles inland. No long lines here.


The Green Hornet gets right with Mexico


I am finally, really in Mexico. Strip coal mining near Allende and Santa Rosita. Man-made mountains of coal. Man-made mesas of eroding earth. And the landscape changes, now this is different. I make it to San Buenaventura for the night, which is not mentioned in the Lonely Planet tome, Mexico. San Buenaventura is 170 miles from the Rio Grande, technically north of Monterrey and Brownsville, due south of Midland, Texas and Sheffield, near Monclova which I am proud to report, I avoided altogether. The Monclova bypass took me across the wide open boonies thru some pretty rough, poor towns. One had a plaza that looked like the Sahara desert with sidewalks. No plant life whatsoever. I mean, what´s the point?

I arrive in San Buenaventura just after dark Sunday night and the plaza is popping. Police direct traffic.
Watch my bike, please, I ask in sign language?
Thumbs up, the cop replies.

Hotel Gran Plaza ($30) is the only hotel immediately obvious.

The manager goes out of his way to be nice, giving me extra towels and offering to help me put the bike in my room. (An offer I declined. I love my bike, but... Guess I´m not a real biker.)

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Old 04-01-2008, 03:42 AM   #3
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Looks like a great ride

Putting your bike in your room is an ADV tradition! Plus.. you're sure it's still all there in the morning

Keep it comin'
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Old 04-01-2008, 06:44 PM   #4
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South Austin Unite!

Good to see a new report from you, Milton. Keep it coming. -Fletch
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...it's the excitement only a free man can feel. A free man at the start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain. I hope I can make it across the border.
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Old 04-01-2008, 07:00 PM   #5
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Doh!

I just found the post on the other site....headed back to read some more. -FLETCH
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Old 04-01-2008, 08:53 PM   #6
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http://trailblazer.smugmug.com/photos/273613989_v3WTB-M.jpg

Day 3. 44 miles San Buenaventura to Cuatro Ciénegas

Did some serious goofing off today before leaving San Buenaventura. Taking photos of bell towers and bicycles. Saw several trucks move through the plaza area with beautiful horses in the back, but I wasn't quick enough with the camera.




Compliments
I went to the bank in San Buenaventura to change $100. It was fairly crowded, all the employees were helping customers. I caught the eye of one gentleman behind a desk and asked if I would be able to change money here. He asked if I was changing Euro's.

I don´t know why, but I took that as an extreme compliment. Don´t get me wrong, I´m proud to be American and I'm proud of my country (ahem) but I was really proud to be mistaken for European. I think what I'm trying to say is I'm not always proud of all Americans, if you understand me.
I guess I´m so far off the Gringo trail, only European travelers pass thru here.
And...... another pearl. The bank gave me a better exchange rate than the Casa de Cambio in Piedras Negras. I was surprised. I always thought you got better rates at the Casas, especially near the border. A fluke? Maybe.

The road was under construction, led through some arid mountain ranges.


Cuatro Ciénegas, about an hour away, is a fine little desert town,

upbeat, painted with bright colors, laid back.


And internet.


Poked around, got the lay of the land


There are all these pools, or pozas they call ´em here. In the middle of the desert, and there are lots of them, like oasises. Lonely Planet suggested one in particular for solitude, and that´s where I headed, about 10 miles out, after finding out where it was.

Poza Churince


There were several palm roofed palapas available, the place was deserted.

Spent the afternoon there next to the water, taking photos with my new gigantic big-bucks lens. (Hard to even hold the camera.) Took a swim. Saw a turtle, and a lone duck. Both disappeared under the water and I never saw them again.

Then out came the maps and calculator and it was time to plan the rest of my trip. After careful deliberation, I decided on a big push to Guadalajara, before coming home. Towards the end of the afternoon the wind started blowing fiercely. I toyed with the idea of heading out tonight, towards Torreon, but there is about a 100 mile stretch with no gas and my tank was less than half full.

Then a couple of "older" guys (like in their 60's?)(joke, son) show up in a pick-up truck and proceed to sit with me at the table under my palapa and share their lunch of tortillas, avocados, sandwiches, coffee and sweet rolls. One of them, Raul, was described by the other, Jose, as the owner of this land. Well, Raul said he owned 17,946 hectares of it. That's 44,326 acres! Desert acres, but I was still pretty impressed. It includes these pozas. He admitted it was a lot of land.

Raul, local desert owner


Raul & Jose, after sharing tortillas & sandwiches

With the wind out of control, late in the afternoon, I decide to be nice to myself and go back to Cuatro Ciénegas and spring for a room. Finally nailed a nice room! Woo Hoo! I'm so tickled.
Check it out at Plaza Hotel.

Plaza Hotel. At $47, what a deal

Saltillo tile floors and spacious bath. High, rustic ceiling. Thank you Lonely Planet. It reminds me vaguely of the Hotel Hacienda Santa Engracia... only better.

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Old 04-01-2008, 09:52 PM   #7
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Day 4. Tuesday Mar 11, 2008
Cuatro Ciénegas, Coahuila to Rio Grande, Zacatecas, 332 miles

Out of my room at 9am. Hotel breakfast. On Mexican TV is a Mexican morning show where periodically everyone gets up and dances a jig. Met an Italian on a bicycle with a trailer. He left San Antonio 10 days ago. We stayed in the same hotel in San Buenaventura and then again last night in Cuarto Ciénegas. I complimented him on his good taste in hotels.

Goofed around the plaza




Mexico knows buses. These superliners are like space ships.




Excited about riding
I ran thru the bike's check list. Load up. Ready to roll at 1pm! Well, there's one thing to be said about being meticulously cautious and ready to go --- when you are ready... you are REALLY ready to go. I was excited about riding today.

It´s 122 miles from Cuatro Ciénegas to San Pedro with little or nothing in between. Tanque Nuevo, which owns a spot on my maps? One abandoned building. Don´t count on gas there. No gas for 122 miles. There were a couple of places that maybe looked like "functioning" stores. Maybe. Incredibly there are dirt roads leading off to other unseen communities off in the horizon distance. I could only wonder what lies at the end of those tracks.

Pretty kool ride actually. Somewhat like Texas' Big Bend area.
Across Chihuahuan Desert. Ocotillo, creosote bush, picaya cactus. Much of the territory is unfenced. The road straight and true, very little traffic. I saw trucks carrying logged trees heading north, (from Durango I imagined), and heading south I saw trucks carrying huge blocks of rock, like 3 blocks at a time.

Laguna = desert (?)
About 85-90 miles into the ride on the other side of a little mountain range called Sierra Las Delicias, the desert turns into white flat NOTHING. No creosote bushes, no cactus. It was shocking. I guess this is part of what they call Desierto Laguna de Mayrón (or Mayran?). Not really sure why they call a desert a laguna.

Laguna de Mayran (?)


Torreón, La Perla de la Laguna
From San Pedro de Las Colonias to Gomez Palacio to Ciudad Lerdo, it was the usual dodge-and-dance traffic around Big-City Torreón. Not only do you have to watch traffic and decipher road signs, but also you watch the road conditions immediately ahead, which can change drastically without notice.

So lets see, the priorities in descending order -- watch road, watch traffic, watch signs. I guess its not all that different from the States. Just seems much more intense here. Don´t look at the 8 people and wheelchair in back of that pickup. Too distracting. Eyes on the road. Taxi whizzes by on my right. Speed Bump!

It's 5:30 by the time I´m finally on the other side of it all. 4.5 hours for the 1st 183 miles.

Autopista (Cuota) Toll plaza, on the south side of Torreón.

And then its the Autopista, that is, toll road hwy, comparable to our Interstates. Also known as Cuotas. $12 toll for 46 miles of super hwy and worth every dang centavo. I say this as they are safer and faster than the "libre" roads. Generally speaking, when I'm headed into Mexico I make use of the cuotas to get as far into Mexico as fast as possible.

The huge Nazas river flows majestically just south of Torreón. I'm out of the desert now, and in the Central Highlands. Setting sun casts long shadows on rock formations and arid mountain ranges.

I exit the Autopista at Cuencamé (it continues on, Durango bound). It gets dark and colder and the road is rough and hazardous with traffic to Juan Aldama, where I finally pause for food. This is a bus stop gas station cafeteria, decorated with scores of paintings and photographs of Marilyn Monroe. 3 huge buses are parked outside. Delicious burritos ($3.50) but I can´t figure out the system as to how you pay for them. The gals behind the cafeteria line watch over me. When all the buses leave, the place is deserted.

It's 9:15, I push on for another 42 miles of good 'ole Mexican night riding. Good choice. The road is much better and traffic is lighter. Just gotta get used to the oncoming cars/trucks passing on my side of the line, with me 'a coming. They expect me to move over. Just a little unnerving.

At 10:15pm I exit the hwy and enter the town of Rio Grande, Zacatecas. OK, I'm ready for a room now. Rio Grande is a small farming community. Lots of fertilizer smells coming into town. Hotel El Carreton, $18. It's a motel located directly across the highway from one of the bus stations. I'm skeptical, but too tired to care, and in the end, grow to call the place home. I am so adaptable.

Day 4. 332 miles
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Old 04-01-2008, 10:27 PM   #8
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Grease Monkey Day

Day 5, Wed March 12, 2008. Rio Grande, Zacatecas. Grease Monkey Day

This a.m. I'm greeted with a small puddle of oil under the bike.

My friend, Warren sez it ain't officially a "leak" if you can cover the spot on the floor with your hat. Well, I guess this qualifies since black oil is dripping from under the engine, both sides, and along the swing arm to the rear axle.

The Hat test

OK, long painful story short. I traced the leak to a hose clamp that connects to the bottom of the oil tank reservoir. It seemed loose so I tightened it. The chore involved draining all of the oil from the tank. The job took me all morning, performed in front of my room. No shade. I get to know the maid.

Draining oil from oil reservoir in front of my motel room

So it's all fixed? Nope. Still leaking black oil, maybe worse.

Now this Harley has a peculiar set-up. The battery is supported by a bracket that is wielded to the oil tank. (Stupid design, if you ask me.) Vibration and riding rough roads has repeatedly broken one of the battery bracket supports -- and I fear the leak may be coming from a crack in the tank, where it is wielded to the battery shelf support. Which happens to be right next to the hose clamp that I originally suspected as leaking.

Option #1. Ride on, checking engine oil frequently. After a cruise thru town I've just about decided to do just that. Get the bike to Zacatecas and be broke down there. I contemplate the ride back all the way to Texas with this messy oil leak.

On my way back to the motel/hotel I run across a motorcycle repair shop and decide the best use of my time is.... to fix the bike right here and now.
I put the bike into the shop. Mechanic Gabriel and I will do this chore together -- that is, inspect the bottom of the oil tank. As in, remove oil tank for inspection.

1st mishap, we clumsily loose 1½ liters of jet black oil onto the shop floor.

Finally, tank is removed. Gabriel thinks the hose is old and ratty. I ask him to check for other leaks with gasoline, and hear him talking to his boss about that, but somehow this is passed. Of course when the bike is reassembled, I still have the oil leak, so... for my 3rd time, and Gabriel's 2nd, we break down the bike and remove the oil tank. We´ve got it down now. Passing tools, working as a team, we tear it down "volando" (flying). Sure enough, testing with gasoline, now Gabriel finds the suspected tank leak at the seam with the battery bracket, an insignificant looking tiny crack. He's off with the tank to the wielder. Job finished about 7:30pm. I'm done.
Charges? Oh, yeah. The charges were $8 for the wielder + $15 for the shop for a total of $23. I slipped Gabriel a $5 tip on general principal.

Good news. That leak is fixed. No engine oil leak. Just a slight primary drive case "seep" (i.e. it does't pass the hat test) and I can live with that.
Please no comments about new bikes or leaky Harley's in general.

Went into town later that evening. It's a small town, everything closing up at 9:00. Had an excellent burger cooked on a street grill. $3. Skateboard gangs rule the Plaza.

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Old 04-01-2008, 11:51 PM   #9
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Enjoying your adventure into Mexico! Great pictures! Keep it coming!

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Old 04-02-2008, 03:56 AM   #10
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Enjoying your ride report! My wife and I are going to do a trip to Mexico the 2nd week of June. We would like to make it to Veracruz in two days from the border but now wonder if that is possible without riding too hard? Any thoughts riding from Brownsville, TX down MX 180 to Veracruze?

thanks in advance!

Kevin...
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Old 04-02-2008, 05:02 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by schwartzkm
Enjoying your ride report! My wife and I are going to do a trip to Mexico the 2nd week of June. We would like to make it to Veracruz in two days from the border but now wonder if that is possible without riding too hard? Any thoughts riding from Brownsville, TX down MX 180 to Veracruz?
Kevin...
I'm sure there are others out there better qualified than me to answer that question. That being said, looks like your talking about 600 miles or so. I found my comfort level to be about 250 miles per day, so 300 miles per day ain't that much of a stretch. I'm constantly amazed at the difference between "Mexican" miles and miles logged in the USA. They are much longer.

Veracruz is a neat place. Personally, I would avoid (as in go around) Tampico. Bypass it on a secondary road to Ebano. Tuxpan is nice, and of course Papantla. The ride from Papantla to Veracruz should be the highlight. Don't forget El Tajin near Papantla.
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Old 04-02-2008, 05:06 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by schwartzkm
Enjoying your ride report! My wife and I are going to do a trip to Mexico the 2nd week of June. We would like to make it to Veracruz in two days from the border but now wonder if that is possible without riding too hard? Any thoughts riding from Brownsville, TX down MX 180 to Veracruze?

thanks in advance!

Kevin...

I made that same trip in a cage in 3 days...we left Matamoros early one morning...stayed in Tuxpan on day 1 and Jalapa on day 2...hit Veracruz about mid-afternoon on day 3...
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Old 04-02-2008, 05:27 AM   #13
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It's Thursday and I'm still headed south

Day 6. Thursday
Rio Grande, state of Zacatecas to Tlaquepaque (Guadalajara), Jalisco. 332 miles (same as yesterday!)

It's Thursday and I'm still headed south. I call home (my cell phone works!) and quickly arrange for more time off.

Sierra Chapultepec, north of Fresnillo


A double 53 footer, Zacatecas bypass


Mexico's Central Plateau


I feel I'm making a mistake by NOT going into Zacatecas. But I pass on it, taking the Cuota road bypass. Beautiful day, sky so blue. I just remember how congested Zacatecas was the last time I was there (2001?). I would need to spend the night to do it right.

Zacatecas in the distance, from the bypass road. Feeling uneasy


The wind continues to be down right cold. Mexican Highlands. Finally, in Aguascalientes, for the first time on this trip I feel overly warm in my riding jacket, but soon the sun goes down and it's frio time again.

Day 6, Rio Grande to Tlaquepaque


Know your Cuota roads
I've taken the Autopista route, as suggested by the hotel people in Rio Grande. At a gas stop at the Jalisco state line, south of Aguascalientes, a guy in pick-up and I are talking. When I tell him where I started this morning, he laughs and sez I shoulda taken Hwy 54 out of Zacatecas! He sez I've come the long way. Well I'm steamed. A through map check reveals that indeed, the Hwy 54 route from Zacatecas to Guadalajara is 200 miles, whereas my route is costing 242 miles. So Hwy 54 is 42 miles shorter (these are Mexican miles we're talking), but not the 100 miles shorter the guy teased me about. Still, its late in the day and I've got another 140 miles to go. I stay steamed.

I pull into super crowded heavy traffic Guadalajara at 9-10pm. Tired burnt by the sun I've 'bout had it with this Mexican Central Plateau. I'm plateaued out. The last toll plaza had 12 toll booths. I'll admit I was a bit rattled with all the night time traffic, unmarked hwy lanes, everyone in a hurry. Can't see s***.

Tlaquepaque
I exit Tlaquepaque (that's TLA-Kay-PAH-Kay) and land at the first Pemex station. Its huge. Four buses are gassing up at the same time on one side. 6 cops fly in on Honda 250's. They are like 'skitters. In fact, there are cops all over the place, some in flak jackets. One hour to unwind, clean up and regain my dignity. I study city maps on the filling station wall. What to do, where to stay? Downtown Guadalajara? I'm a crispy critter.

Somehow I wind up in centro Tlaquepaque, the real Tlaquepaque, and I fall in love with it. Tlaquepaque is a part of Guadalajara. Funky old town. 6 square blocks of pedestrian only streets. Run into a motorcycle "gang" of young kids, 15 bikes. Orlando leads the Black Dragons. They pretty much don't know what to make of me and the 'Hornet. But smile big when I say I came from Rio Grande today. Giant moto rally in Mazatlán next week end. I'll have to miss it.

Many streets closed to car traffic but at this hour, I follow the Black Dragons' lead and enter the pedestrian zone. Great chow at an outdoor restaurant that takes up a whole city block, actually its made up of many different eateries and bars. Gouged with a bill for $19! That's the most I've paid so far.

The Swing Room
At 12;30 a.m. I get a room at the very first place I can find, the Caprice Motel, located across the blvd from the Pemex station where I first landed in Tlaquepaque. For $26 it comes equipped with fancy TV, free porn and one of those sex swings hanging from the ceiling. I kid you not. Plus my own private garage.

The Swing Room. As nice as this place was, notice there are no closets or shelves to put your stuff.


If these walls could talk


Nice TV


Know what? I don't care. It's brand new, super clean, and the bike is safe. A respite from the mean ole wind and sun out there on the Central Plateau. I didn't see the sign warning "No Children or Minors Allowed" until I left in the morning.

Of course I knew something was up when the Administration is behind a one-way-glass mirror. A voice comes over a speaker from nowhere, Dr No style, telling me to go to Room #57.
Just go to #57?
Si.
Ok, I putt around to the back and find the garage for #57. As I'm parking the Green Hornet two "maids" show up, at least they were wearing maid costumes, uhhhh, uniforms. Nice looking girls, friendly, they ask for the $26. Paying for your motel room away from the Administration office/one-way mirror is kinda strange, but OK. $26. Then one of them asks me if I want anything to eat. Well it's 12:30 a.m. and no thank you, I just ate, but in retrospect this may have been a chance to upgrade my room.

You gotta love it. So much for one of those classic old colonial hotels in the Guadalajara center.

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Old 04-02-2008, 08:44 PM   #14
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Kudos to Ajijic
Day 7. Friday Mar 15. Ride to Ajijic (say Ah-hee-HEECK), Lake Chapala, 40 miles.

I studied maps upon waking and thru the morning. I'm so close to the Pacific coast I can taste the sea salt. Puerto Vallarta, Barra de Navidad. Do I dare? After map study I evaluate the oil tank supports, another one has broken but I make it OK.

Leave motel, fool around in Tlaquepaque. Breakfast in the market. Shoot photos.

Tlaquepaque, outside the market


About 6 square blocks of pedestrian only streets, Tlaquepaque


Tlaquepaque




Find high speed internet and disappear for 2.5 hours. Back outside the place has become inundated with tourists. Day trippers from Guadalajara. Time to go.

Day 7, Short blast down to Ajijic on Lake Chapala


Short blast down to Lake Chapala. The hard part was trying to get out of Guadalajara. And then Ajijic, I park in front of the police station. And....

Ahhh.... Oh yeah. This is why I came. The town is so tranquil, the sense of well being is immediate. Laid back. Lots of Americans and Canadians but the locals have no hostility. They must bring in the bucks and the locals know it. Whatever. Everyone seems to get along. No hurries here. Suddenly my trip seems very short.

Ajijic police station


Chapel on the square


Ex-pat hangout on the square in Ajijic. I'll admit, I didn't go into this place. Local places were more fun.


Mexican electrical engineering, Ajijic


All this, and.... real coffee houses too


Now all I've read about Lake Chapala is that the water level is down, no it's fluctuating. The water is polluted with fertilizers. Well, I walked down to the shore of Lake Chapala, and let me go on record as saying, it is beautiful.

On the shores of Lake Chapala


Watched an amazing sunset.


The colors just kept coming long after the sun had disappeared behind the distant hills.


I was so full of peace. I returned to the plaza in stunned silence. Last night, coming in off the road into Guadalajara in the dark, burnt, rattled, overwhelmed, was the low point of the trip. No doubt.

At last I've found my groove. At last I feel in sync. Ajijic, regardless of what you read about the gringos taking it over, real estate prices, yada-yada-yada, has earned 4 stars in Otto's book. And I'm pretty picky. Kudos to Ajijic.

Stayed at Ajijic Hotel, right on the plaza. My room is right next to a little fountain pool with running water. No AC here, they just leave their windows open. $40.

My suite, Ajijic Hotel, $40 and I don't care


Hotel Ajijic, the next morning


Unpretentious Hotel Ajijic, right on the main square

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Old 04-02-2008, 09:39 PM   #15
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Location: Austin, Texas, USA
Oddometer: 246
Good Bye Lake Chapala

Day 8. Saturday, March 15, 2008 Ajijic to Mazamitla, 60 miles

Morning soft light. Hotel Ajijic garden.


La Nueva Posada hotel



Hotcakes and no beans
I walk down to La Nueva Posada for breakfast. A big gang of gringos cluster around the front door. Old gringos. "Mature" gringos. They're probably not that far from 60 but they still make me nervous. They are part of some sort of walking tour and chatter away in English.

At the outdoor restaurant garden overlooking the lake, the Americans order in English. I overhear someone ordering,
"And I want.... two eggs..., over-easy..., hotcakes...., and no beans".

The ex-pat crowd in Ajijic is definitely older. I'm somehow reminded of the younger hip crowd I encountered in Sayulito last year. Ahhh, Sayulito. The walking tour comes in for breakfast and as tolerant as I am, there comes a point. Ok, they ruin the ambiance. I go.

Hotel Casa Blanca B & B



Hang out at the Lake Chapala Society. An outfit run by the ex-pats here. Nicely done, gardens, library, snack shop, something for the local kids. Nicely done.

Ex-pats at Lake Chapala Society. The signs are in English.


View from "la cruz"


Climb "Camino a la cruz" a hill overlooking Ajijic, for the views. Its got the 12 stations of Christ along the way. About 30 min strenuous hike, 50 min from the hotel. Oh My God, when crossing the hwy I see long lines of cars at the light. The tapatios (what Guadalajarans call themselves) are out in force. In hordes. Its Saturday. From my view point, overlooking the lake, I can see that much of the newer development is on the mountain side of the hwy. The old Ajijic is between the hwy and lake. All of the north shore of Lake Chapala is slowing being developed, as an extension of Guadalarara.

On the hwy thru town


Hard to leave Ajijic, I kept meeting interesting people.

Dr Jesus Martinez is a retired pediatrician who wants to sell me a house for $81,000 on the otherside of the lake. His daughter is married to the manager of my hotel.

Vince, sholder length white pig tails. Claims to be of American Indian descent and is doing his best to prove it by being alcoholic. Wears red bandana Indian style on his forehead. White pigtails.

Ever been shot in the back?
Then there was Ricardo. Ex law enforcement. Ex Colorado county sheriff. He didn't like No Country for Old Men.
"I guess that law enforcement job isn't all that glorious, like they depict in the movies I mean," I'm trying to be sensitive here.
"Oh it was a kick in the a**!," he sez, "until some sonofa***** shot me in the back..... And I saw my buddy killed."
"Have you ever seen a man shot in the gut?" he goes on. "With a shotgun?"
"I've never seen anyone shot," I admit. "I've barely even fired a gun."
He also served as the law in Texas, but I never got where. He talked about Tom Russel and Joe Ely, Townes Van Zandt, and his favorite, Guy Clark. He knew all the words to their songs.

Scott
And then there was Scott, my favorite. Scott tells me he rode a Harley Davidson Low Rider all the way down to Tierra del Fuego.
"It's in Argentina, now." I'm in shock and awe.
He crossed the Darien Gap in a sailboat! He said there was a video clip of it on YouTube. I got his email address but..... no answer, yet. He said he was a geologist, and he had a house in Guadalajara and Lima, Peru. I'm wondering if its too late to change professions. I wanna be a geologist too.

I finally say farewell to Ajijic and move on. Around Lake Chapala. Nothing could be finer than a slow putt around Lake Chapala on a Saturday afternoon. Nothing, 'cept maybe chasin' my buddy Richard Black thru the Texas hill country on any Saturday morning.

Day8


Leaving Lake Chapala, still heading south, looking back


Approaching Magical Mazamitla


On the other side of the lake I climb into the hills, finallly leaving Chapala behind.
Into the Jalisco hill country. Small town of Mazamitla. Everybody has a cabana. I am not prepared to be picky here. I pick Cabanas Gloria. It's a "cabana" right on the main road into town. Oh, well. It's just one night. And I wanted to be near town. It's a suite for $50, includes kitchen, living room, as well as bedroom. Plus a working fireplace, which I fire up in the middle of the night.
Eat at El Troje, a big restaurant on one of the roads into town, nice but I wish I'd picked a smaller more local place in the center of town. The place is hoppin'. It's Saturday night and many young people from Guadalajara make a weekend of Mazamitla. There were a couple of discotecs that are going strong way past midnight. I hang with the all-night crew camped out on the church steps. They were making these palm weavings for Palm Sunday, tomorrow, and work on them all night long.

Trailblazer screwed with this post 08-01-2008 at 06:23 AM
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