Avoiding seasonal depression when faced with the “Dark Months” - Portland to Panama!

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by 0theories, Nov 27, 2012.

  1. slide

    slide A nation in despair

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    Wander,

    If you read his post, he couldn't find the Funky Monkey.
    #61
  2. 0theories

    0theories Been here awhile

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    This morning I'm on an important mission. It's Christmas (or a “Happy Holiday” if you're waging a war on Christmas :evil) and presumably everything is closed an yet... I must have my coffee. Time for an exploratory ride in the hopes of finding something open. I cruised the streets of Mazatlan, first checking out the Starbucks (closed) then moving on to whatever I could find. Eventually I ran into an open Oxxo and got a cup of plain old (delicious) coffee. It was very satisfying. With that out of the way, it's off to search for the elusive hostel: Funky Monkey.

    The Mazatlan strip.
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    Since I memorized the address I had no trouble finding it this time around. It was right where it was supposed to be, but with no sign whatsoever that it was in fact a hostel and not just someones house. There was a small paper note on the gate which directed me to call a number since the doorbell was broken. Not having a phone, I opted to bang on the gate with a brick until someone answered. That someone was a hung over young lady wearing only panties. Good start.

    Funky Monkey. (Yes, that's my helmet on the handlebars. Don't be a hater :eek1)
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    An aside: Apparently in Mexico people celebrate Christmas by having dinner at midnight on the eve, then drinking all night. The next morning NOTHING is open (as can be expected on Christmas day) but by afternoon almost everything is open again.

    The young lady sent out a gent who let me in and showed me around. The place is really nice (it's new, only open three months) and has a pool. All for about $10 a night. I immediately decided I was moving there asap. I made what little arrangements were required and went back to my hotel to pack and move. After moving into the new place it was time to meet up with Phil and Jayne and their swanky resort hotel (they were staying with friends). We ended up hanging out at the resort under an umbrella having several conversations with old ladies who kept coming by to say hello. Very interesting way to spend Christmas.

    Towards evening we decided to go back to my hostel as the siblings had nowhere to stay for the night. It's nice to see a gang (pack, flock, herd, litter, drove, pride, troop, murder?) of bikes outside and to have some good company after a few days of being solitary. A day of fellowship and beers. Who can ask for more on Christmas?

    Stock photo, not mine.
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    Random Fact: Pacifico beer was originally brewed by Germans here in Mazatlan in 1900. :1drink
    #62
  3. 0theories

    0theories Been here awhile

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    Hey NotAllWhoWanderRLost and Slide. Yeah I found it on the internet, but I just thought I'd cruise around and see it when I rode by. I must have ridden past it 3 or 4 times circling the block but didn't recognize it because there was no sign and I didn't take note of the address. Once I got the address (and saw a photo of it) it was easy to find. Just me not paying attention to the right things. :doh
    #63
  4. slide

    slide A nation in despair

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    Why no pix of the naked chick? You're letting us down and into our own seasonal depression.
    #64
  5. 0theories

    0theories Been here awhile

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    Haha... that would have been rude :eek1 (plus I didn't have my camera ready before she disappeared indoors again...)
    #65
  6. Super Tenere

    Super Tenere Voyager

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    Count me in for your ride. Excited to see where you will go and what you will experience on the way.
    Jeff
    #66
  7. NotAllWhoWanderRLost

    NotAllWhoWanderRLost Lost

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    I'm glad to hear your persistence paid off and you've found the Funky Monkey! :clap

    And, you've gotta love a welcome greeting like that as well! Nice work refraining from shooting photos. :tb

    My family used to own a house on Rio Amazonas between Albatros and Ibis about eight blocks from the FM. I've spent a fair amount of time on that end of Mazatlan and think you'll enjoy the scenery on the nearby beaches.

    You should go by the Pacifico brewery to check out their museum and take a tour while your in town. Their retail store used have the best prices on cases, especially if you go in with a local. :beer

    Have fun and take lots of photos! :thumb
    #67
  8. 0theories

    0theories Been here awhile

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    I got this a bit too late Wander. Thanks for the tip. I usually post a day or two behind which makes getting recommendations inconvenient... :doh Maybe I'll have to change that. I'll have to check it out on the way back if I pass through here again.
    #68
  9. 0theories

    0theories Been here awhile

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    Today was my birthday and I didn't ride. :huh Being born in December, I really appreciate being able to spend my birthday wearing a t-shirt and getting a tan. An aside: I've been trying to reconfigure my sleep cycle to take advantage of as much daylight as possible instead of staying up to the wee hours of the night, so with that in mind, I've made an effort to be up by seven and asleep by midnight.

    So, I woke up early to a beautiful sunny morning and decided to try out a breakfast place I saw last night which advertised great deals. Since Jayne and Phil were still asleep I took a solitary stroll over and met the owner, James (from Vancouver WA, which is as close to a home base as I have right now) while having a delicious ham and cheese omelet. The omelet and the company of James were good enough that I decided to return for a late lunch (the price was no deterrent either).

    Mi Cocina, just off the strip. That's James "shopping".
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    In the mean time, I wandered back to the hostel to see what the siblings were up to. They were messing around with some blog issues so I set off to explore Mazatlan a bit. I wandered the strip and checked out the beach. It was relatively uneventful. I then returned to the hostel but there was no one around so I went to late lunch.

    Nice beach even on an overcast day...
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    Crappy photo but the other wouldn't upload...
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    Ended up hanging out with James who used to ride bikes before he had a terrible accident and lost half his face (since fixed with plastic surgery). Before I left he recommended a friend in Bucerias (just north of Puerto Vallarta) who could hook me up with a relatively cheap place to stay (it ended up not working out exactly). The friend was Ruben who owns “Dugarel Plays”. I was to deliver his card and pass on a message.

    Mazatlan: The land of manicured trees...
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    After lunch/dinner I went back to the hostel to hang out. Towards late evening a couple of Kiwis rolled up on a pair of made-in-India imitation Vespas. They were traveling slow and steady down to Argentina. Cool guys, but really young so they went off to party with the Australians who were also staying there and I had a more low key evening.

    Tourists out playing. :rofl
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    #69
  10. fourthree

    fourthree Adventurer

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    Following along. My S.A.D. is kicking my ass bad this year. I am planning a similar thing for next winter, can't take this dark, dreary cold crap anymore. Thank you for the photos, gives me something to dream about. Looks like a wonderful journey. Stay safe amigo.
    #70
  11. OldPete

    OldPete Be aware

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    Happy Birthday Oteories! :happay

    VG RR, I've been following from the get-go.
    #71
  12. 0theories

    0theories Been here awhile

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    I feel your pain (well, empathize with it anyway) Fourthree! Next year will come before you know it :thumbup
    #72
  13. 0theories

    0theories Been here awhile

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    Thanks OldPete!!
    #73
  14. 0theories

    0theories Been here awhile

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    It's once again time to head further south. The plan was to head down to Bucerias, spend the night then continue on to La Manzanilla where I'd meet up with Randy (r6-lover on adv) and maybe spend New Year's. But first, breakfast at Mi Cocina (again) to say bye to James. He's a great guy; offered to let me stay at his house and have breakfast gratis (I declined the stay since I was leaving and left a hefty tip for breakfast in lieu of payment).

    Leaving Funky Monkey. KLRs and "Vespas" littering the lot.
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    I made my way down the libre-15 (this time with no toll booths!) for a few hours and turned off on Rt. 54 towards the coast and San Blas. Finally getting off of a major highway, I started running into a lot more “Topes” (speed bumps), some unmarked. Topes, what topes? It was more like Tortas. The KLR just ate them up! I didn't even have to slow down for most of them, just had to stand up. Thank you progressive suspension...

    It says “Libre” there better not be any tolls!
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    A big rock...
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    I cruised down Rt. 54 until I hit a dirt road and realized I went too far. Still having many miles to go, I decided to save the exploration for later and turned around to find the right road.

    End of the paved road. Next time...
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    I eventually ran into coastal Rt. 200 and that's where the fun began! Rt. 200 runs along the coast pretty much all the way south as far as Mexico goes. In its northern (and maybe southern too?) section it alternates between straight sections of coastline with spectacular ocean views and high bluffs with very sharp curves. Here is where I decided listening to some music while riding is not a bad idea. It was a beautiful area but I didn't take many pictures because I was too busy rocking the f*ck out of those twisties while blasting dub step! My new favorite road sign is “Curva Peligrosa” (dangerous curves). I've read how the KLR is supposedly good at cornering, but up until now I had no idea. She's got more cornering capability than I do at this point! More and more I'm starting to really like this bike.

    Twisties!
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    I eventually arrived at Bucerias with a huge grin on my face as the sun was setting. When I found Dugarel Plays I was in for a shock. Instead of a shack on the beach, what I saw was a five star restaurant with cloth tablecloths and waiters wearing button up white shirts and black slacks, and a huge patio hanging over the beach looking out onto the sunset. Hmm... I don't think I'll be camping on the beach under their patio (as James suggested)... I went in feeling slightly uncomfortable in my dirty riding gear and got a table. Might as well try the food while I wait to talk to Ruben. Ruben is a really great guy who was very hospitable. He brought out a complimentary appetizer and seemed genuinely happy to hear from James and try to help me out. As I was in an upper class touristy suburb of Peurto Vallarta, the chances of finding a motel within my desired price range was next to impossible. Ruben made a few calls and told me he arranged a place not far from the restaurant for a decent discount and gave me directions there. After I finished a terrific meal a bit more expensive than I would have liked to pay (but very reasonable compared to what it would have cost in the USA at a place like this), I headed to Hotel Carmolitas (not recommended).

    At the hotel I was greeted by a shady guy who wanted to charge me twice what Ruben quoted me. He said it was impossible to give a discount because I was there at the pinnacle of tourist season and all the hotels were charging more. He was correct on all points although he just spoke to Ruben and agreed on the price, so I left his (completely devoid of customers) hotel and decided to try my luck just riding south. That may not have been the best idea... The hotel manager was right. There was not a reasonable priced hotel anywhere near Puerto Vallarta. I ended up riding south for hours in the dark, dodging potholes and negotiating twisties through the jungle (which was a little scary but mostly great fun since nothing bad happened) until I finally came upon a village with a beautiful little hotel: “Real Del Valle” (coincidentally, Randy randomly stayed here as well). By then I was beat and didn't much care what it cost (still cheaper than anything I saw in Puerto Vallarta) so I crashed there for the night.
    #74
  15. NotAllWhoWanderRLost

    NotAllWhoWanderRLost Lost

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    :lurk

    Hope you have a Happy New Year! :beer
    #75
  16. 0theories

    0theories Been here awhile

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    Thanks Wander. Happy New Year to you to! And to everyone reading! :freaky
    #76
  17. 0theories

    0theories Been here awhile

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    The morning greeted me with sunshine and warmth. I packed up the bags and headed out without even the usual coffee jump-start. It was time to get to the beach and spend some quality time with salt water sand and sun.

    Riding to the coast.
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    The ride down Rt. 200 to La Manzanilla was pleasant and surprisingly short. I must have made many more miles the night before than I realized. I arrived in the busy little town towards noon, running deep into my reserve tank as there wasn't a gas station for the last 50 Km or more and the next one was in Manzanillo, 20 Km further south.

    Almost there.
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    When I found Jolanda's Restaurant I was greeted by a herd of bikes filling the parking lot. Inside was a motley collection of bikers relaxing to some coffee. Now these are my type of people! I didn't hesitate to join in. In the party were Jolanda and Leon (the owners, rode around the world on bikes), Randy (r6-lover), Ken and Carol (Australians traveling around the world on a BMW for five years now http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/tstories/duval/) and Spencer and Mary who live in Manzanillo (Spencer has traveled the world by BMW). They mostly post to Horizon's Unlimited.

    From left to right: Mary, Spencer, Ken, Carol and Randy.
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    The rest of the day was spent sitting around Jolanda's drinking beer and telling (mostly listening to) stories of world travel by bike over every continent. I spent close to seven hours (we switched to beer shortly after my arrival) just hanging out there without so much as touching the ocean not 100 meters away. Tomorrow.

    Sunset.
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    As it was getting dark, Spencer and Mary went home and we rode over to Jolanda's cabanas in a big bike pack. The cabanas were a couple of kilometers inland down a dirt road. It's a pretty spot and we spent the evening hanging out and talking. It's so nice to be in good company! Then I went to sleep in my comfy, king sized bed.
    #77
  18. 0theories

    0theories Been here awhile

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    In the morning and with daylight I got a chance to take a look at my surroundings. Jolanda and Leon have a few cabanas circled around a small pool with an outdoor kitchen, surrounded by fruit trees and a garden. It's really lovely.

    View from my veranda.
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    I made myself some coffee (first time using my stove on the trip) while taking in the sunshine and the beautiful surroundings. The place was full with the group from the previous night and we spent the morning telling stories and relaxing. Then it was off to town for brunch and the beach.

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    The next few days were an exercise in relaxation and recuperation. I lay out on the beach (and finally got some color), hung out at Jolanda's restaurant and generally vacationed in a traditional manner.

    The beach.
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    Ken and Carol are a non-stop motorcycle story resource with Ken mostly telling the stories (and Carol serving as external memory for the details) and I learned all kinds of interesting things from them on topics ranging from Carnet de Passages to the Dakar (which I knew very little about before this). The food at Jolanda's is fantastic and the company couldn't be better (well, I guess there could have been a few more beautiful women my age there... I'm just sayin').

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    La Manzanilla is bordered by a swamp to the north, and that swamp is full of gators. Randy and I made a small trek over to see them. There's a “preserve” that charges 10 pesos to get in, with the proceeds going to maintain the beach and protect the gators. Some of the gators were huge (over 12 feet long). After a visit to the gators we got some of the best fish tacos I've ever had (especially once you get the chipotle sauce on them) at a truck on the corner of the main street.

    Crocs (not the shoe).
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    As we're basically heading to the same place, it made sense for Randy and I to travel together. This arrangement will last for the foreseeable future. I think this trip will be even more fun with good company. Before Spencer and Mary left they invited us to their house for New Year's Eve and we decided to head that way on the 31st. They have a house across the street from the beach in Manzanillo and I could not think of a better place to celebrate the coming of the new year.
    #78
  19. woodly1069

    woodly1069 Long timer

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    Heck yeah! Subscribed! :D
    #79
  20. eakins

    eakins Butler Maps

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    aw man you missed Sayulita.
    glad you made it into mex. enjoy!
    #80