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Old 01-05-2013, 01:05 AM   #661
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The Road of 3000 Curves.

When we met Phil and Jayne at the ferry dock in La Paz a week earlier, they mentioned that they were planning on riding this road when they crossed into the mainland. 3000 curves? How could we pass this up?

Rick had to leave Mazatlan earlier than us, something about getting back to Mexico City and going back to wo... going back to wor... nope, can't say it. Anyway, that left us by ourselves again, heading towards the mountains of the Sierra Madre Occidental. This meant that we were going to leave our sun-drenched beach haven for colder climates, so we had to mentally prepare ourselves for this. The Alaskan winter had scarred Neda deeply and she curses bitterly anytime she's forced to put on her jacket liner: "I thought I was done with this stupid thing!"


Stuck behind a couple of trucks, time to snap a picture!

I found out that another thing Neda curses at are the Cuota (toll) roads in Mexico. They are really expensive. Everytime we see a sign saying "Cuota", I hear a string of expletives over the intercom. So we go looking for the sign for the "Libres" roads. In this case, Carretera 40 Libres leaving Mazatlan *is* the Road of 3000 Curves, and the villainous Cuota road threatens to spoil all motorcyclists fun by smoothing the twists and turns by all manner of technology: bridges and holes through mountains.


Twisty heaven!

The pavement is smooth, but the air gets colder as we slowly ascend the mountains. Every once in a while, the bushes along the side clear and we're treated to a magnificent view of the green valleys below us. Traffic is light in the middle of this weekday, but we still manage to get stuck behind a couple of trucks and have to wait for a straightaway to pass them. I'm amazed at how brazenly these large vehicles cross the median when apexing blind turns. Surprised there aren't more accidents!

There is a sign about 1/2 way through the road reading, "Espinoza Del Diablo": the "Devil's Backbone", a very apt nickname for this piece of asphalt!


A different kind of hazard on the Road of 3000 Curves

Along the way, soldiers and army vehicles have occupied all of the tiny villages. Part of the reason they are building the high-speed Cuota road through the mountains is to make it easier to mobilize troops to combat the drug traffickers who have a stronghold in this region. The soldiers barely take notice of us, and those that do give us a thumbs up on our rides.

We're told it takes between 6-8 hours to make the journey between Mazatlan and Durango. We do it in 5, with an hour break for lunch... :)


Riding through the streets of Durango

The city of Durango is the capital of the state of Durango, and is the most modern city we've visited in Mexico so far. We've opted to stay here for a few days because we don't want to travel during the holidays. Also, we've planned an entire Christmas day of Skype sessions with our family and friends back home, and we take the time to scope out a hotel with fast Internet.

Being on the road for this long is a curious affair. In some ways, we are closer to our family and friends, because we are making more of an effort to keep in touch, without the excuses of work. So far TelCel's mobile Internet infrastructure has been quite extensive and impressive, outclassing any provider in the US and Canada. Not sure what we're going to do once we've travelled past this luxury.


Our favorite place just around the corner from our hotel for cheap eats
Chilaquiles for me and a gordita for Neda


We find a nice hotel right downtown and for the next few days venture out enough into the strip to become very familiar with all the local eateries. On Christmas Day, we treat ourselves to a Chinese buffet, which is I think our first non-Mexican meal in Mexico. The restaurant is staffed by two Chinese women, I think the three of us represented the entire Asian population in the state of Durango! They seemed just as amused as I was to see a brotha! :)


Frolicking in the fountain. During the day, temperatures were beautiful, but dropped quickly in the evenings and early mornings


Fountains and churches - two mainstays in Mexico architecture


There's always someone carrying around some musical instrument in Mexico!




Neda wrestles the camera away from me...


Catedral Basilica de Durango at night

There is a markedly increased police presence in Durango compared to all other places we've been to thus far. I'm not sure if it's because this is a larger city or because it's the holiday season, but police cars and uniformed officers vigilantly patrol the downtown streets. The plaza at night is continuously lit by the Christmas ornamentation and the flashing blue and red lights of the police car permanently parked in front of the Basilica.


Feliz Navidad from Durango!
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lightcycle screwed with this post 01-29-2013 at 10:39 AM
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Old 01-05-2013, 03:54 AM   #662
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WeazyBuddha View Post
I'll go out on a limb and humbly make some suggestions. At the top, where you post the map, if possible, could you include the miles for the stretch? It would give us a sense for the ride. You could perhaps also include a brief descriptor i.e. 'mostly flat', or 'initially hilly transitioning to flat plains', etc.
Thanks for the suggestion Weazy! I've been a bit remiss in posting up the motorcycling aspect of this leg of the trip, instead I've been captivated with the people and all the culture around us. I included a bit more detail about the Devil's Backbone, fantastic riding road!

Quote:
Originally Posted by eakins View Post
you infact did make a smart move on taking the cuota road vrs the extremely slow & bumpy road through Culiacan.
Thanks for all the info, the Cuota roads are very fast, but since we're in no rush, I think we're going to save our pesos and just take normal roads. I can't believe how expensive they are!

Quote:
Originally Posted by daysgoneby View Post
As a life long boater who get's sea sick try taking Garvol the day before and the day of your boat trip. Three shots of cognac straight down works the best.
LOL, I don't believe you, but it doesn't mean I'm not going to have fun trying your suggestion the next time we're on a long ferry ride!
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Old 01-05-2013, 06:27 AM   #663
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Googled crime in Durango and looks like there has been a few events over the last month or 2 that would likely contribute to the heavier police presence.
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Old 01-05-2013, 09:53 AM   #664
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"The Alaskan winter had scarred Neda deeply and she curses bitterly anytime she's forced to put on her jacket
liner..."

I'm still laughing. Thanks and stay warm
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Old 01-05-2013, 01:31 PM   #665
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Incredible trip
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Old 01-05-2013, 05:17 PM   #666
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cool you rode the Espinazo and made it to Durango.
great pics. we don't see too many of colonial Durango. beautiful city.

make sure to PM Steve (SR) as he lives in Durango.
http://advrider.com/forums/member.php?u=79025
like i said he has info on that newly paved southern route back to the coast that he describes as even better the the Espinazo. it goes through Jesus Maria and spits you out at near Ruiz and and quickly you're heading down to the San Blas and costal 200 and no tolls.
https://maps.google.com/maps?q=ruiz+...gl=us&t=m&z=14
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Old 01-05-2013, 06:55 PM   #667
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Cell Phone Question about TelCel...

You mentioned Telcel....When you crossed the border did you get a new SimCard for your phone, or did you get a whole new phone? What type of plan did you get? And, how is the ease of calling back to Canada or the US?

The reason I'm asking is that I am leaving in 10 days from Scottsdale, AZ and I willing following a similar route as both of you.

Great RR and any info you can share is much appreciated.
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Old 01-05-2013, 07:42 PM   #668
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Originally Posted by BullShatter View Post
You mentioned Telcel....When you crossed the border did you get a new SimCard for your phone, or did you get a whole new phone? What type of plan did you get? And, how is the ease of calling back to Canada or the US?
Yes, we just got a SIM chip for the phone, available from any TelCel outlet. The cost is 150 pesos ($11 USD) for the chip and will work with any unlocked phone. From there, we had to purchase a pre-paid plan. We don't actually make any calls with the plan, we have a Skype-to-Landline account, so all we care about is the data. However, to buy a data plan, we had to put a nominal amount of money on the voice account, I think we put like 20 pesos (less than $2 USD).

Then, you can go on the internet to http://www.mitelcel.com, register your phone, and add data to it. I bought the high-usage plan, which is 500 pesos for 3GB over a month. There was a special at the time, and I think I only had to pay 399 pesos ($30 USD), they have specials all the time. Unless you're planning on downloading movies over mobile, 3GB is pretty good and we've come nowhere close to using that, since most hotels have wi-fi as well.

Look into the Skype plan, for $14/month, you can call any landline in the world flat rate.

Also, the TelCel calling plans are very confusing, more so if you don't speak Spanish. You'll have three different balances: Amiga, Regalo and Data. Amiga is the regular calling account, where you can make calls to non-TelCel Mexico numbers and LD calls. Regalo is the TelCel-only account, so if you're calling TelCel mobile numbers, it'll decrement from this account. And Data is Data.

When you start making calls, you'll get an automated message, and if you don't understand Spanish, you'll be confused why your call isn't going through. It's just a reminder to register your name and setup your voicemail, but if you wait till the end of the message, it'll put your call through eventually. The only way to get rid of this message is to get a Spanish-speaking friend to call the TelCel operator and register your name and setup your vmail for you.... 2 weeks of Spanish school wasn't enough for us to figure all this out!

Oh yeah, TelCel will send tons of SMS spam to your phone. This one is my favorite, an English lesson!

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Old 01-06-2013, 07:24 AM   #669
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keep it coming

love your RR.
subscribed!
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Old 01-06-2013, 11:07 AM   #670
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Amazing trip!

I really enjoy checking on this report! You both have a great eye for photography and tell an interesting story. It must be tough to update from the road but thank you.
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Old 01-06-2013, 03:46 PM   #671
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We took a leisurely two days to travel from Durango to Guadalajara, opting to bypass the Cuota roads to take the non-toll highways instead. The roads are flat and boring, skirting the far eastern side of the mountains and nothing eventful happens, save for my Sena communicator, which stopped transmitting just as we arrived into town. The problem with constantly being on the move is that if we do need parts shipped to us, where do we send them to? And how long will it take? The logistics involved are annoying. So for the time being, I was in listen-only mode, which suited Neda just fine! :)

Guadalajara is Mexico's 2nd largest city. Our bikes are due for regular service (again, so soon?!?!) and we had originally thought to schedule an appointment in Mexico City, but after some research, we found a dealership just less than 10 kms away from our hotel! The only spot they had open was next Friday, so I guess we're here for a while! We took the opportunity to get acquainted with the city!


Main streets are really busy, so we took to the side streets

A lot of Mexican life centres around three things: the church, the market and the plaza. Every neighbourhood has a local version of this triumvirate. We rode to the center of town to the Marcado Libertad, which is the largest and most popular market in the city, right beside the Catedral de la Asuncion de Maria Santisima, which also happens to be the largest cathedral in Guadalajara.


Snack-time: Watermelons drenched with lime, seasalt and chilli! *delicious!*

Limes are Mexico's beloved condiment, they use them like Americans use ketchup. You can put them in beer, on tacos, watermelons, etc! We met a local girl the other day who just got married to a Belgian and had moved overseas to be with him. She told us that in Belgium the limes are so small and expensive, and this is one of the things she really misses about Mexico!


The moment the camera came out, this guy started doing tricks with his knife, flipping and tossing it up in the air. Very entertaining!

Mercado Libertad is huge; sprawling through indoor buildings and spilling outside into the open-air stalls. The air was alive with the sounds and scents of vendors selling fast food, groceries, toys, clothing. We had a great day snapping pictures and interacting with the locals, with Neda honing her ever-increasing Spanish skills. As for me, I was skilled enough not to need a knife to butcher their language...


Grabbing some lunch, over-the-counter-style, inside the Mercado

There are so many places to buy food, so we've developed two criteria for deciding where to eat: 1) no gringos! 2) it has to be busy. If there's nobody eating there, there must be a reason! I've fallen in love with the taco asada (shredded beef) and chorizo (sausage), but one item on the menu intrigued me - Brain Tacos! Walking Dead Style? It sounds much more appetizing in Spanish: tacos de sesos. Mmmmm! I've made up my mind to try this the next time.


Mercado is alive with bursts of colour everywhere!


Fruits and vegetables here are so much more juicier and flavourful than back home


Ice skating? In Mexico?

Outside the Catedral, there was a long lineup and when we investigated, we found that a large outdoor skating rink had been built, complete with skate rentals. Everyone wanted to try ice-skating, which I assume is a novelty in Guadalajara. It's 28C outside! Ice-skating skills must be a rarity here, because this girl target-fixated on my camera and I barely got out of the way as she careened towards me, arms flailing. :)

Also, no zamboni, so the ice got pretty funky after a while...


A different kind of taxi around town


Pedestrian traffic is heavy on this beautiful, sunny weekend. Catedral on Neda's left


Inside of the Catedral de la Asuncion de Maria Santisima

The inside the catedral is so beautiful and ornate, however there was a pre-recorded mass playing over the speakers, and the record kept skipping over and over again in the same spot. So we had to leave because it was a little bit annoying and slightly creepy :) A friend of mine told me that this catedral is a popular place to shoot TV shows, a lot of Spanish soap operas are filmed here!


A family is surprised by a toy bird flying overhead, set aflight by one of the vendors in the plaza


Boys playing by the fountain


Pensive? Or slow day for shoe-shining? I love the look on his face, so lost in thought!


Church spires compete to reach the sky


Catedral de la Asuncion de Maria Santisima, the centre of Guadalajara


Selling beads and other religious trinkets outside the catedral
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Old 01-06-2013, 05:21 PM   #672
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the photos and ride report have been wonderful.....happy new year to the both of you....all the best and continue well,
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Old 01-06-2013, 05:36 PM   #673
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Great shots, Thank you. I love the market, also go to the "Plaza Dos Le Mariachi's". Great music most of the time it is near the market.
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Old 01-06-2013, 06:10 PM   #674
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Really inspirational! Thanks for keeping us in the loop. Subscribed.
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Old 01-06-2013, 08:56 PM   #675
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oh nice to went to Guad.
when you check out Lake Chapala don't miss Chapala at sunset on the dock and the these hot springs west of Ajijic http://www.accesslakechapala.com/201...la-balnearios/
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