Separate names with a comma.
Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by swedstal, Jun 5, 2017.
You said it better than me. I'm glad you understood my meaning. Mexico is Awesome. Have fun.
Guanajuato is the BOMB. Favorite city in Mexico. Art, everywhere. only one problem. No motorcycle parking in garages in Guanajuato. I left my bike in the MC only parking across from the theater for 5 days.
Hit me up when you head to Sarasota if you need a place to crash, and someone to show you around my great city.
Well, the Chiefs just didn't realize that the game was going to continue after halftime. Oh well.. You won't have to worry about finding TV reception next weekend. Ha!
Great update. You are doing it right!
Every place has a story, that's for sure. I love the process of taking places that were once just abstract dots on a map and then really connecting with them. Maybe that's the best way to define a traveler: A machine that converts locations into experiences.
I think Annie would make me sleep outside if I did that to her.
Awww... sorry to have missed you. I was there a couple of months ago.
I had a great time though. I could see myself going back.
Chiefs gonna Chiefs. I'm really hopeful about next year though, as long as we keep Alex as the quarterback. You just can't dump him after the year he had. I thought he was great on Saturday too. At least this way I don't have to decide what to do if they make the Super Bowl.
Sunday, December 31st
I left the tunnels of Guanajuato, heading to the next place on my list, Santiago de Queretaro (usually just called Queretaro). I had originally planned to have some time in San Miguel de Allende, a charming city which was on the way. But being that it was New Year’s Eve, I was having a difficult time securing lodging in the city. I decided to just move on to Queretaro. I’ll get San Miguel next trip.
Queretaro is a modern city with an admirable history. During the colonial period, it was one of the few places where Europeans and Indigenous People lived in harmony. They even had a similar standard of living.
One of the things that I was most excited to see was the city’s aqueduct. This engineering marvel was built in the early 1700s and stretches over 3/4 of a mile.
I’m not necessarily attracted to architecture, in a general sense, but when it is something that is so utilitarian, I seem to be much more interested. As much as I love grandiose churches and cathedrals, they’re not really practical, are they? (and that’s coming from a crazy Jesus person) Engineering feats that serve a tangible purpose just resonate more purely with me.
The aqueduct still runs down the middle of one of the main streets. It is truly a sight to see.
It was also an obvious sense of pride among the community. Every time I told someone that I liked it, they were able to quote its age and specifications immediately.
After the previous night’s fiasco in Guanajuato, I wanted to make sure my place for this evening had parking included. I found a guest house called Margaritas Eco Haus, which advertised secure parking. It was just over $11/night.
I met my host Enrique and I could tell right away that we were going to be friends. He spoke English really well, but asked if I wanted to continue in Spanish as he was getting me set up. I always appreciate having options. One of the first things to catch my eye was his motorcycle, a BMW G650GS....2006, I believe
The place felt like home almost instantly. They even had a view of the aqueduct.
I met a nice young couple who were staying in the double room and I was lucky enough to have the dorm room to myself. I’ve really lucked out with these so far.
Later that evening, as I was doing some work and streaming the Chiefs game, Enrique approached me with a proposition. He told me that he had about one week free until he would be beginning a new contract at his job. He had thought of taking a trip on the bike, but didn’t really want to do it alone. He asked me how I would feel about him joining my trip for a week or so.
I told him “no thank you” since I am already perfectly proficient in Spanish and definitely don’t need any help, assistance or companionship in this part of the world.
I told him that he would be more than welcome on the journey. He had some planning and business to take care of, so I decided I would stay there a second night and we would leave the day after. Cool.
But the night was still young. It was New Year’s Eve, so I almost felt a bit of compunction to go out and at least walk around a bit. Generally speaking, it’s probably not a good idea to venture out at night in Mexico and head towards the sound of explosions. However, that’s exactly what I would be doing. Queretaro holds the distinction of being the safest city in Mexico and I was pretty sure the explosions were just fireworks.
I began walking towards the main square, but just found myself continuing to take pictures of the aqueduct.
I eventually reached the church and monastery of Santa Cruz and the Founder’s Plaza. Here there were some neat festivities taking place. There was a ritualistic dance taking place, with half of the participants dressed as American soldiers and the other half wearing the garb of Indigenous Peoples.
I’m not completely sure who was winning, but I don’t think the Americans were the good guys.
I wandered down to the center of the city, which was really busy. It felt like half of the city was out in the streets. Music, dancing, vendors, it was quite a party.
Another Neptune Fountain. A little smaller than the one in Monterrey.
One thing that has really stuck out to me so far in Mexico, is that no matter where you are, no matter what day it is, no matter what time it is, you will always see people working.
Often times they will have kids with them and often times they will be laboring at a business which surely has small margins.
I haven’t encountered much pushy salesmanship so far, it is more just patient offering. On Christmas Eve in Monterrey, we could see a balloon salesman from our window. Even as the streets became devoid of people and the evening wore into night, he continued to wait patiently for customers. My parents and I began to wonder: When is he going home. I almost went and bought a balloon from him just because I so admired his patience.
Perhaps these are strange observations to note on a night when I should be living it up. I’m not sure why these things stick out to me.
Feeling like I had fulfilled my human obligation of celebrating New Year’s, I returned to the house and was in bed by 10:30. Ear plugs helped mitigate the war zone sounds.
Monday, January 1st
Happy New Year’s!
I don’t really have any resolutions, I guess. I do need to get back into shape, but that will have to wait until real life resumes. Maybe I should eat fewer beans, but they are just so darn efficient. I guess I can resolve to never again overtighten my rear axle nut (page 4), stop skinny dipping (page 6) and to photograph no more giant lumberjacks (I believe we've been giant lumberjack free since page 11). Those sound like achievable goals.
I had a chill day, but there was one thing on my agenda that was an absolute requirement. I had been putting it off for a couple of weeks.
Seeing the new Star Wars! In all of my business, I was really late to the game. I’ve been dodging spoilers like I dodge topes. I was able to find a theater that was playing it in English with Spanish subtitles.
I’ll need to see it a few more times before giving a comprehensive review. My first reaction is that it was a mix of wonderful action sequences and questionable plot points. Additionally, like any Star Wars movie, there was not enough Chewbacca. He’s the true hero of the galaxy.
Enrique’s place was really starting to feel like home.
I took another little stroll around the city, taking some daytime pictures of the aqueduct this time.
There was a service taking place outside of the Santa Cruz church. I understood….. some of it.
Back at the house, Enrique had some bad news for me: He would not be able to join me on my trip. :-( He just found out that his girlfriend was coming to town to surprise him for his birthday which is on the 3rd. I guess that’s a pretty good excuse. He was apologetic and seemed disappointed to miss out.
I was fortunate enough to have the room to myself for a second consecutive night. I slept really well once again.
Tuesday, January 2nd
I had a couple of missions before leaving town. First, I had noticed that my front brake pads were wearing a bit thin. I wanted to see if I could find a replacement while I was still in a large city. Second, I needed to get some good coffee grounds for my french press. The coffee in Mexico (mostly instant) has not impressed me so far.
I rode to the Honda dealer in town and walked up to the desk, promptly forgetting the word for brake pads (“balatas”) that Enrique had taught me. The guy behind the desk came out and looked at Annie and spent some time on the computer. He said they would be about $60, but it would take 4-5 days to order them. Unfortunate. Still, he wrote down the part number for me in case I wanted to try other shops.
I walked to a local coffee shop which was closed. But just up the road, there seemed to be another local place called El Starbucks. They had some English in the store, so maybe they are thinking of expanding to the US soon.
I realized pretty quickly that I had no idea how to explain that I needed coarse grounds for my french press, but I came up with the phrase, “No es como polvo.” (“It is not like dust.”) This got my point across and I left with some perfect grounds.
Back at the ranch, Enrique and I took care of the normal formalities: Signing and pictures.
Before I left, he tried to help with my brake pad issue and called a local bike shop. They thought they could match the pads, so we rode down there together. Having his help to explain exactly what I needed was an absolute godsend. I must confess, I did not catch much of the conversation he was having with the guy behind the desk. We eventually found some pads that would fit, but the clerk was not very complimentary of the brand. He asked me how fast I normally ride.
When he told me the price, 90 pesos (less than $5), I almost got a little worried. Still, I needed the replacement and figured that going with these would be less of a risk than wearing my current pads too far.
Enrique with my new “balatas”
He provided some extra hands during the installation process and we had them installed in about five minutes.
As we worked, I asked him if he would like to join me on the trip just for today. I already had a room booked for the night that had two beds. He thought about it for a bit and couldn’t seem to find a reason not to come. We returned to his house so he could pack a bag.
Happy New Year, everyone! I hope 2018 brings you health and happiness. I have absolutely no idea what I will be doing at the end of this year, but I know it is going to be one to remember. As always, thanks for coming along on my journey.
Keep resolving, everybody!
Realtime update: I'm currently in Oaxaca City. I just got here so I will probably spend a couple of days seeing the sights. Then I think I will go check out some of the Oaxaca coast. Not sure what beach yet. After that, will be a couple stops in the state of Chiapas then we'll be in Argentina. Doesn't it border Mexico?
For being a rather loquacious ride report (in a good way), containing more words than both books I've read, that is the best string of words yet. My wife had to come downstairs to see what I was laughing at!
Oaxaca, great, have a Tlayuda for me
Quietly loving this RR. Keep it up, Brett, and best to you!
Be careful out there
Yes, this blog if full of great advice like that one. Fun fact: I don't keep a word count on this RR, but on my blog I should be exceeding the number of words in the New Testament (175,000 ish) in a few weeks.
Too late. I had two.
I read this in a whispering voice. Thank you. I appreciate that.
Good looking out. Before the trip began, I took a map of Mexico and used colored pencils to label each of the states green, yellow or red depending on the US state departments advisory. The only red one that I will be spending any time in was Michoacan.....I just had to see the butterflies.
This segues nicely into my next post!
"Good looking out. Before the trip began, I took a map of Mexico and used colored pencils to label each of the states green, yellow or red depending on the US state departments advisory. The only red one that I will be spending any time in was Michoacan.....I just had to see the butterflies."
Awwwww man, we're a red state?!!
I was stalking you on your SPOT tracker, I can't wait for the pics from Monte Alban.
Yeah, so I wanted to frolic with the butterflies. Do you want to fight?
Wednesday, January 3rd
Happy Birthday, Enrique! This was undoubtedly an unexpected way to begin his new year. He hit the road fairly early, as his girlfriend was already back in Queretaro waiting for him. I hope he didn’t get in too much trouble for joining me on this brief excursion.
The route for the day:
(That one didn't come out very well. The Preserve is the most eastern of the dots. I really wish we could embed google maps here.)
I finished a bit of computer work before taking off and heading to the Sierra Chincua Monarch Preserve. There are a few different ones in the area, but this one seemed like it was the least touristy. This is always a priority for me. I had about an hour ride to get to the preserve. The last part was a steep climb from the city of Angangueo.
After paying a few pesos to the parking attendant, the pavement ends and it is a rough dusty path to the parking area.
I had a little confusion right at the beginning about whether I needed a guide and if so, where I would get one. After paying (about $3), I kind of just kept on walking through the gate and passed the shops. Nobody said anything to me, so I’m guessing it is not required.
Early on, I had a decision to make: To hike or to horse. Physically speaking, I think I have a pretty sturdy constitution. There are very few circumstances that really throw me off of my game. However, altitude is one of those things and I was now at 11,500 ft. of elevation. Over two miles above sea level. Plus, I’m in really poor aerobic shape right now. I knew the hike wasn’t super far, so I decided to continue on foot. The horse renting people were not super pushy and soon I found myself going up a steep incline following butterfly signs.Once I passed a group of middle aged women hiking in designer boots, I knew I would probably be OK.
The hike was a breeze and as I neared the viewing area, I saw my first monarch. At that moment, I knew I was going to really enjoy myself.
I guess now is probably time for a disclaimer: I do not have any great pictures. I tried for a little bit, but eventually just tried to be fully present in the moment. Oftentimes, experiencing something and documenting something are at odds with each other. I saw plenty of people with howlitzer sized lenses that barely took the camera away from your faces. There are times when I place a value on good pictures, this was not one of them.That said, I tried to take a few.
There was something quite peaceful about being up there, even though it was fairly crowded. Additionally it is kind of inspiring to think about these diminutive creatures taking such an epic journey. Other migrating animals, like a Sandhills Crane or Wildebeest, sort of look the part; they are built efficiently and capable of covering large distances. But the monarch? Not so much. It seems like a rare occurrence to even see them fly in a straight line.
Without getting too philosophical, I guess there’s a lesson here, right? The migration of the monarchs is more about perseverance than power. It was a good reminder for me to continue to take this trip one flap at a time.
On the way back down I noticed an interesting cultural thing with Mexicans and greetings. When I would say “Buenas tardes” (Good afternoon) to someon, they were really serious about responding in kind; even if it took two breaths (Buenas *deep inhale* tardes *deep inhale*)Now that it was afternoon, the horsemen all gathered at the top of the trail to take people down.
Again they weren’t too pushy. The hike down the mountain was a breeze. At the bottom of the trail there were kids with brushes offering to clean your boots. If this journey didn’t need to be so budget conscious, I would probably pay for more things like this, if for no other reason than to support the locals.
It seems like there is still a lot of potential for butterfly tourism to be more of an economic boon to the area. Of all the people I saw, there were maybe only 8-10 gringos and zero Asians. I don’t mean that to sound racist, but when you pull up to an area and see Asian people pouring out of a tour bus, you know you are somewhere pretty cool.
What a nice detour! The way down was fun once again.
I would have a little more adventure on the day: Finding a place for the night. Though there are always plenty of hotels around, I am still at the stage where I like to have something set up beforehand. I want to know the price and the facilities (specifically relating to parking) before I arrive. I think I could waste a lot of time going from hotel to hotel and still not find the best spot.
But planning ahead does not ensure everything will go smooth. I had found a “hospedaje” in the community of Senguio. I’m still learning what the word “hospedaje” means, but I think it generally means you get a room to yourself. Maybe “Inn” would be the best translation?” Anyway, I plugged the place into my phone and navigated towards it.
When I arrived at the destination it was a place of rest, but it was generally more suited to those on the other side of the ground: The town cemetary. I decided to ask somebody and I came upon a group of gentlemen drinking beer and tequila in a lean-to adjacent to a little store.
“Well…this should be interesting.”
They were all very helpful and friendly, so much so that they all tried to help me at the same time and I couldn’t understand the mixture of directions. Eventually, one of them walked out and pointed me in the right direction. He told me to go to the pharmacy which was right next to the church in the town square. They invited me for some drinks, but I told them I would like to find my place first.
At the pharmacy, the lady behind the desk said that the hospedaje was “aqui” (here) and got me checked in. It turns out it was right next door. The price was about $13 and it was a private room in a gated courtyard. Perfect.
After getting settled, I bought a couple of bags of chips and walked across town (maybe 1/4 mile) to reunite with my drinking buddies. They had all dispersed by this time, so I ate the chips myself while sitting in the town square.
I had a nice, safe, productive evening and night.
Thursday, January 4thThis would be a fairly long travel day. My goal was to get all the way over to the city of Puebla.
Doing so would mean being on toll roads most of the day, but the toll route cut off over 3 hours of travel time from the free version. Even though it cost almost 200 pesos ($10), I guess that’s fair.I had made the decision to skip Mexico City. Nearly everyone I have been in contact with has said that visiting the city is a “must do” while in Mexico. However, I felt that my time in Mexico had already been too “city-centric” for my taste. Accordingly, I bypassed it.
I made a quick stop shortly outside of town in a Pemex (gas station) parking lot. Without thinking about it, I put my helmet on the ground and began getting things situated before entering the toll road. Soon, a lady wearing riding apparel approached me asking if I needed some help.They informed me that putting your helmet on the pavement is a sign to other riders that you are in need of assistance. I’ve never heard of this before, but I was glad to find it out. I may need to be both a giver and a receiver of help during my time here.
(I just realized I totally forgot their names) The gentleman rode to Argentina a few years ago, so we had plenty to talk about. They also advised me to head east for a while on the free road before hopping onto the toll route. What nice people!
Their route advice gave me a little nice riding to begin my day.
The normal drudgery of a four line highway was mitigated by the scenery. The route passes around and by many mountains and was actually fairly painless.
There’s usually always something interesting to see on Mexican roads.
I haven’t talked too much about Mexican food in this account so far. It seems like taking pictures of meals is almost a requirement for a trip like this. I’m trying to limit these photo-ops to special circumstances.
That said, I think I’ve found my favorite thing about Mexican food.
Yes, these long sleeves of “Japanese peanuts” that only cost about 50 cents. Ridiculous efficiency. They seem to be a little crunchier and tastier than normal peanuts. You can buy them at any Oxxo store, which are pretty ubiquitous in Mexico. In case your having trouble finding one, here is my three step method for finding an Oxxo:
Step 1: Find an Oxxo store.
Step 2: Look across the street. There, you should see an Oxxo store.
Step 3: If there’s not one across the street just go to the one that you found in Step 1.
Some see toll booths as obstacles, others see them as selling opportunities.
I made it to Puebla with no problems.
Not much else to say. A couple of regular irregular days.
Keep flappin’, everybody.