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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by motoroberto, Oct 31, 2013.
Can't wait to read more.
Great action. I avoided D.F. for years until I decided I was a pussy for doing it and dived in; what a great city. Went to Opera Bar on first trip like you, looking for an old timey bar. Met my girlfriend in Oaxaca as well, brilliant I say. We even stayed at the Hotel Maella last time a bunch of us were there and like you really liked it. Go eat at Casa Oaxaca or the little pizza place across from the museum/cathedral (not the one on the zocalo). You'll love the ride down to P. Escondido. I would take Mex 175 down and Mex 131 back. Hotel Sante Fe is excellent but high; restaurant is excellent as well. Buen Viaje!
The more I read, the more I find myself cheering a'la good 80's hip hip: "G Brooklyn! Go Brooklyn, Go Brooklyn!" And waving my hands in the air like I just don't care!
As an ex-pat New Yorker, I too miss the old NYC of my youth: who knew that the same streets where I could buy a cold six pack of tall-boys, a switchblade, porn, and fireworks just before getting mugged at 12 years old would now be entertaining my 4 year old with Minnie Mouse and some whacked out hello kitty!!!
Glad to see that DF delivered. Looking forward to more! Pics are great.
Wow, pretty cool ride. I get all happy when I cross into Dutchess county, let alone any real border. Great story.
Aha nice report to read with morning coffee!
Wish I were down there instead of Brooklyn.
Be careful on the way back - we're looking at possible snow late next week
Excellent reporting, motoroberto!! I'm along for the ride.
First morning in Oaxaca. What to do, what to do. Well, I needed more cash, so off to the atm. Beautiful weather again, sunny but not too hot. On the walk back to the hotel I was trying to figure out what to do with myself when I passed an open doorway to a bustling courtyard full of people having brunch. Hell, I'm hungry, in I go.
Most people are aware that Oaxaca is renowned for its food. That's one of the reasons I've wanted to come here for so long, I love to eat, and love good, proper Mexican food. My wife, a chef, was also excited about finally getting to go there. This place definitely delivered. Food porn alert:
Breakfast tacos in a mole sauce with charred chorizo. Even the sliced onions had a ton of flavor. The accompanying salsa that came with it (and was a standard at a few of the places I went to) was really delicious with a deep red color and layered flavors with subtle heat. Yum.
The city of Oaxaca is pretty easy to walk around in, it's a grid. I did some more exploring but had to return to the hotel to pack up, checkout was at noon. I had planned to switch over to a 'fancy' hotel (3x the money) to bring wifey back to after I got her from the airport. So pack up I did, and as I paid my bill, I decided to save cash and use my credit card, which was not in my wallet. Hmmmmm... no problem, use the debit card, must be in my pants pocket from last night. I'll look for it later.
Off to the 'fancy' hotel. No check-in till 3. Crap. Left the luggage there and parked out front, and was left to wander Oaxaca in my riding boots and open-fly riding pants for 3 hours. And now it was HOT.
Made it back over to the Zocalo, back to the same place I had been the night before. Different staff but still super nice. Got myself a cold beer and prepared for 2 1/2 hours of people watching. And stewing over my credit card. Where the hell is it? I just wanted to tear through my bags but they were waiting for me back at the hotel. Did I lose it last night? Did it fall out this morning at the atm? Is it in my pocket in my pannier? I would have completely lost my mind obsessing about it were it not for this lovely distraction:
These little bastards are delicious. Roasted in their skin with garlic and arbol chiles, salted and served with lime. Mexico is truly kicking our ass in the 'delicious free peanuts at the bar' category.
While shoving a ridiculous amount of these into my face, I went back to people watching. And I noticed for the first time on my trip that I was in a place visited by tourists. They probably were less than say 5%, but there was this couple probably from the states, and these four from Europe, and that retired couple over there. Giant cameras help give them away. Probably are many more at other times of the year, I was there in low season. As a matter of fact there were only a couple other people at the quite large restaurant. The majority of people in the Zocalo were Mexican families and couples, enjoying the day.
One factor of sitting next to the Zocalo you quickly become aware of is the constant stream of peddlers trying to sell you something. Handmade fabric, wooden carved bookmarks, bright colored trinkets of every description. I've never said "no gracias" so many times in a single day. It can get a little annoying, but then I felt bad for feeling annoyed, these are poor people and this is their living. I had to muster up extra courage for the hundred-and-fifty year old Indio lady with a handcarved birdbath that had all these little carved birds perched around the perimeter. A weight hung beneath it with a little string going up to each of the birds. As she gently swung the weight in a circle all the birds would each, one at a time, peck into the bowl and sit up again. It was fucking fascinating. I felt myself being mesmerized by her evil witchery. I summoned all of my courage and tore my eyes away. I stared into my peanuts.
It was excruciating making 3 beers last 2 1/2 hours, but make 'em last I did, till it was time to check in. Got back to the hotel and they had me wait another half an hour to finish cleaning the room. Sigh. While at the Zocalo I had made up my mind to just go with the flow. Whenever I got into the room I'd look for the card. If it wasn't there, I'd look where I was last night. If not there, just call and cancel it.
Finally get into the room. The nice man shows me the features. OK, fine. Shows me the weird clunky double door locking procedure. OK great, Thank you. I tear through all my bags. No card.
OK. Shower, clean up. I'll go see if I can find it. Go to lock the door following a procedure similar to kickstarting and old BSA. From the outside, I push on the door. It pushes right in. I try 3 times, same result. Shit.
2 hours later and I'm on my 2nd manager and they're trying to still fix the door. A locksmith is on the way. I leave them to it and go search for the place I had a few drinks last night. Maybe I left my card there.
My wife can attest to the fact that I can generally find anyplace again once I've been there. Well, today the mojo was not working. Must be old age kicking in. I walked around for nearly 2 hours around the area where I thought I was the night before to no avail. I finally had to admit defeat, and head back to the hotel.
When I got back I raised the white flag and called to report my lost card. At least I didn't have to think about that anymore.
The locksmith and manager returned, and then the locksmith gave up. The manager was doing everything she could to assure me that they would be there all night to keep an eye on things and the front gate would be locked, etc. She was very nice and I know, shit happens. What's the likelihood of someone really making it past the gate and into my room? I'll just keep my valuables in the safe... oh wait, that's broken too. GAAAAAAAAAAAAA!Are you fucking kidding me?
Of course I'm too easygoing to flip out but holy shit, for the money of this place to have a broken door AND a broken safe AND no ac (which I don't really care about but what if my wife does and fuck it I'm on a roll)?
The nice manager lady could see the it's-been-a-long-fucking-day in my eyes and offered complimentary breakfast and a welcome mezcal for the wife and me. Well. I suppose that might make me feel slightly better.
I tried to forget the room fiasco and ran out for a quick bite then it was off to the airport to pick up a valuable little package.
Oaxaca airport looked like the opening ceremony wrapped up about 15 minutes before I got there. All gleaming white modernity, brand spanking new. And, it's only about 15 minutes from the center of town.
My wife's flight from Mexico City actually arrived a little early, and soon I saw her smiling face coming towards me. Gave her a big kiss and a squeeze, glad to have my partner in crime back. I wondered what was going through her head as a raced her back to the city, the nighttime sights and smells of Mexico fresh for her and all around.
I must have wondered a little too much because I briefly took off down a one-way street the wrong way and had to jump the curb onto a the sidestreet I meant to be on as 2 or 3 pairs of headlights were coming at us. This did not inspire confidence in wifey. Welcome to Mexico, Lizzy!
Back at the hotel I explained to my wife the bonus features of our room. She wasn't too worried about it but we both felt better after, well, after the mezcal; but also after the manager assured us we would have a different room the next day. OK, thanks. I can deal with that.
So we trusted our belongings to our room with the swinging doors and I took Lizzy out to the Zocalo, I wanted to show her the restaurant where I had spent most of my time, the one with the peanuts. It was getting late so we were just out for a couple beers and a couple bites.
As we approached the place I recognized one of my waitresses from the night before. She exhaled with an exasperated flailing of the arms and ran inside. She soon was running out again saying "Senor ROOsell! Senor ROOsell!" (my last name's Russell) "Su tarjeta credito!"
Holy shit. I had left it at the restaurant the first time I went there. AND, I sat in that very restaurant for over two hours that afternoon stressing about it's whereabouts. Not to mention the marching around for 2 hours looking for the invisible bar. All the time it was behind the desk of my favorite place. Had a good laugh with the wife over the next couple of beers. And mezcal.
Good night, Oaxaca.
This trip is for sure going to be what cements your relationship. And you are right, everything is better with mezcal!
You've got a great story and you're doing an awesome job telling it! More please!
Now, with the company of me luverly wife, another day off the bike just wandering around enjoying Oaxaca. Roaming the streets, stopping in here or there, and making a trip to the market. The main market has just about everything for sale, as well as butchers, fishmongers, and bustling restaurants. We passed many tempting displays of all manner of meats right next to a sizzling open flame grill. The air was filled with smoke and the smell of deliciousness. Some other stalls sell everything from mezcal to local honey to the paste bases for moles. And of course, we had to try some fried grasshoppers.
Even Lizzy had to admit, Oaxaca has nice knockers.
Found the sink doohickey I've been looking all over for back home for 25 cents. Oh, and a bag of fried grasshoppers.
Dinner platter in the midst of being completely destroyed.
Sunshine, good beer, artisinal mezcal, awesome food and fried bugs. Not a bad way to kill the day. And kill it we did, before we knew it night was upon us, and it was time to prepare for tomorrow, the 131 to Puerto Escondido on the Pacific coast.
For those who don't know, 131 is often subject to closures, especially during the rainy season, which we were traveling in. I was actually pretty concerned whether we would make it to Puerto Escondido at all. 131 had been closed just the week before. A massive rainstorm had moved through and caused mudslides and washouts that made it unpassable. I called the place in Puerto Escondido where we had a reservation for the following night and asked if the road was indeed open, and they said it was. Actually, I already knew the road was opened post storm by keeping up with the 'Is Mexico Safe' thread and getting info from adv'ers close by, but things can always change day to day.
I ran into the manager of our hotel and told her our plans. She said, "Oh, no, no. You will not go this road. This road is much too dangerous. You will take the road to Puerto Angel and then...." I stopped listening. Nothing against Puerto Angel or the road to it. Hell, with more time, I would have ridden the coast road from Puerto Escondido over to Puerto Angel to stay there as well, then take the 175 back. But the plan was to take 131, which was open.
The manager's input rekindled a bit of concern in my wife. You see, on my way south, I wasn't sure I'd be able to keep up with current info or even be sure I'd have wifi. So on the phone one night (I think in Ciudad Valles) I asked Lizzy if she could do a little research on the 131 from Oaxaca to Puerto Escondido. Well, that was a mistake. Accidents, deaths, and pictures. Pictures of mudslides, pictures of deaths, pictures of vehicles that had plunged down the side of a mountain. This, by the way, happened for everywhere I told her I was. She would search it, and what comes up but the police blotter. At one point she said she would be happy to stay put in Oaxaca.
I, of course, couldn't wait to take the 131. Just tell me how much I shouldn't do something and I want to do it that much more. Besides, Atlantic to Pacific, man! Going south! Not Atlantic to within 175 miles of Pacific.
But I understood her concern. I said "Darlin, the road's open. That means trucks and buses are going through. Big 8 foot plus wide vehicles are getting through and all we need is less than a foot wide of road to get through. It's only about 300k long. If at any point it gets too hairy and you're really not comfortable, we'll head back."
She looked at me for a second through narrowed eyes. "Okay."
I love her. "That's my little adventure rider!"
Wasssup, Brad! Long time no see... I hear you and JJ have been doing some cool trips.
As an ex-pat New Yorker, I too miss the old NYC of my youth: who knew that the same streets where I could buy a cold six pack of tall-boys, a switchblade, porn, and fireworks just before getting mugged at 12 years old would now be entertaining my 4 year old with Minnie Mouse and some whacked out hello kitty!!![/QUOTE]
Remember the Playland arcade in Times Square? The best.
Not as cool as Mexico but we're trying. Hope all is well...
Last day of the great push south. Again could not ask for better weather to start. All that's standing between us and the Pacific is 300k of soaring, dropping, truck and bus menacing, mudslide and washout threatened, occasionally closed, winding blind-cornered mountain road. I couldn't be happier.
So we head out. Just south of the city past the airport to where the road splits. To the left, 175 to Puerto Angel, the recommended 'safe' route. To the right, 131 to Puerto Escondido, death and destruction. If I had taken my hands off the bars, the Komanche would've gone right on it's own.
My excitement and normal 'spirited' pace brought me close to the bumper of a lazy car in front of us. My wife informed me through our helmet communicator that she believed I was riding a bit aggressively, and to remember to ride responsibly so as not to incur her wrath. I immediately started to dismiss her just as a massive pothole emerged from beneath the car in front with no time for me to react. We bashed right across it so hard that I thought I may have bent the rim.
Right. She's got a point. Leave room for reaction time, especially on a potentially dangerous road you've never been on. Stand up and check the rim. It's fine.
Then I passed the fucker soon as I could and resumed the 'spirited' pace.
This road, this day, delivered the goods. We had a bit of everything. I wish I had taken more pictures or go-pro'd the entire thing, but I'm sure most of you guys know how it is: you are riding and in the moment, and taking it all in while keeping it all good. Sometimes stopping for a photo would be dangerous, sometimes I was just loving being in motion, hitting apex after apex and letting the scenery seep in like light on the film of my memory. The mountains take all of your attention. I came upon many (but not as many as I thought) cars, trucks and buses, and came upon very few straights. This made passing interesting. Gotta know the roll-on ability of your bike. I'd be slow rolling on an uphill behind a smoke belching truck, road easing right. Swerve left for a peek, back in quick for the oncoming bus. Swerve back out, about 500 ft to another bus headed downhill. HIT IT. Drop a gear, a nice throaty BRAAAP and the fully loaded Komanche shoots past the truck and tucks in to the right again. Sometimes the corner was blind but I could see the road rising and winding up the mountain ahead, with no oncoming cars. Pass four cars at a time that way.
Actually the majority of the time was just us and the road. It's just when you do get stuck behind a slower vehicle, it's really gonna hold you up if you don't get around it.
Soon we started to see the effects of the storm. It started with the dirty residue in corners where water was coming down the mountain, collected then crossed the road. Eventually we started to see washouts. They began small, then got big. If you don't know, it's when the water erodes dirt away from the downward slope side of (usually) a corner. The pavement, without support, then crumbles away down the mountain. It's a bit of a surprise to come full tilt around a corner to see your lane is gone. Often people will place large rocks as if they were cones around the apexes of these. The places where the mud gave way from higher elevations were getting much more prominent as well. They went from the dirt trails I mentioned before to a slide taking up the shoulder to a full lane blockage to places where obviously the entire road had been buried and a bulldozer cleared just enough for 1 lane of traffic.
Here the dirt had been cleared enough for one lane, the mountain dropped off quite steeply to the right.
Then the skies darkened. Here it comes. Had I put on my rain gear right away, the sun would have come back right away. But we both thought let's chance it, maybe it's just a passing shower. It wasn't. It got heavy. Now pull over and pull on the gear. And now I have all the little worries creep in that I don't tell my wife about. Like how all this rain is gonna carry all this freshly exposed dirt across the road at every corner but now it's not dirt, it's slippery brown snot. Or what if this is gonna be a LOT of rain and there are places where the dirt is just waiting to give way. That plus the normal visibility concerns, with these oncoming trucks and buses who don't give a FUCK about you and take that single lane around the slide whether you got there first or not because might makes right. I had already seen buses especially go for passes on two lane road making oncoming traffic get onto the shoulder to get out of the way. Except here, there was no shoulder.
Fuck it, push on. Probably rained for about a half hour more, then started to clear up. Passed a couple of spots where the dozers were out clearing the road. Glad to see them at first, but had to be careful because they created a good couple hundred feet of thick wet mud on the road.
Now the rain diminished to a drizzle, and the road surface took a turn for the worse. It was a potholed moonscape for what seemed like maybe 40k. That with the occasional collapsed section of road kept me constantly changing my line. Then we saw something in the road... "What is that? A crab? No, it's not a crab, its... AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!"
A tarantula crossing the road. I can add that to the list of animals that have crossed the road in front of me. Should've stopped for a pic, kept going.
Finally the skies dried out and we were endlessly winding our way toward the coast once again in bright sunshine. After just about 5 hours of the infamous 131, Puerto Escondido, and the immense Pacific, came into sight.
I was happy to finally be there, but I was pretty fatigued from the ride and now it was HOT. I stopped to check the map. Just then a surreal moment happened. There I was, the farthest south I've ever been in Mexico, the culmination of the trip, and up rolls a car with a couple surfer-dudes in it. They were probably about 50 years old, but looked 30. Michigan plates. "Hey man, what kind of bike is that?" I guess I half expected some kind of encounter like this, I knew that Escondido is a huge surfer destination. Still, it was funny that that was my first contact. They were really cool, knew exactly where we were staying and helped me backtrack to where I needed to go. They looked like they've been coming there for a LONG time.
Following their instructions I made my way toward our hotel, in Carrizalillo, a quiet bay just west of the bahia principal. A left off the main drag, then a right, then I see the sign for our hotel, pointing us down a little road that will take me the last couple hundred yards. Of sand.
Shit. I hate sand. Here we go. Not so bad, not very deep, stick to the hardpack, we're doin fine, a little wavy here, a little wavy there, oh, getting a little deep, I'll just gas a little to lift the front... and now the out of control snowplow and we slam down to the right. Shit. I have to laugh about it. I help Lizzy up. She says she's OK. We pick the bike up. I've knocked off the right pannier. No big deal. Catch our breath.
I'm not good on sand to begin with, let alone two up with gear. Probably about 900 pounds all up. Add 6-8 inches of sand and we're on our asses.
I'm ready to go the last hundred yards or so to our destination, but I see Lizzy has lit a cigarette. She says "I'm good, I'm gonna walk the rest of the way." OK, I say. I start to go slowly. I realize this is new for her. I've slammed the Komanche around trails from North Carolina to Ontario and been off way more times than I'd like to admit, but this was her first time, and she was a little shaken up. I stopped, waiting for her to catch up.
I said that she should get back on. It's important to psychologically move on from a fall, and put trust in yourself (or in this case me) and the bike again. Besides, I didn't want it to be said that I came 3000 miles only to not deliver my wife's golden ass directly to the doorstep of our hotel.
She trusted me and got back on, and I slowly paddled our way through the thick stuff then onto the hardpack then then to the front door of Villas Carrizalillo, our home for the next couple of days.
Just the place you'd send your kid to play today!
Keep this up and I'll have to reward you with a steak at Peter Luger's back in Brooklyn.
Great report! enjoying it from back here in NYC. My father and I rode a similar route last year and hit the Pacific in Puerto Encondido. If you have any flexibility in your schedule I recommend a night at Zipolite beach about 50 miles south of PE by Puerto Angel. You can hit it and then return to Oaxaca up 175. It was one of our favorite spots we stayed on a trip that covered most of C America.
Side note- saw the Roaming Rally sticker on your bike- Looks like we live in the same city and we've ridden together. Hope to connect one of the days.
I'm guessing no Internet access. So far loving it. Safe travels.