SF to Panama... eventually

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by stickfigure, Jan 25, 2008.

  1. stickfigure

    stickfigure Fiendish Fluoridator

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    After ten days of crazy adventure, I'm finally holed up in a nice quiet hostel in Morelia. I have electricity! And internet access! More stories soon.
  2. stickfigure

    stickfigure Fiendish Fluoridator

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    After a hard weekend of riding, camping, not showering, and exhausting my supply of clean laundry I wasn't especially looking forward to fighting with DF traffic. And then there is a question of what to do with the bike - the hostels downtown have no place to put it, and the KTM shop was closed by the time I returned.

    Usually I try to find lodging as close as possible to the center of town. Instead I found a hostel listed in my Lonely Planet "on a quiet residential street" and in reasonable proximity to Motoaltavista. Here is the Hostel Cactus:

    [​IMG]

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    Unfortunately, when I went to take a shower there was no hot water. After some fiddling, the host apologized profusely because they had run out of gas. I was beyond caring; I took a cold shower, went out for Chinese food, and collapsed in bed.

    Here's the sweet-and-sour fried róbalo I had for dinner:

    [​IMG]
  3. stickfigure

    stickfigure Fiendish Fluoridator

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    The bike is holding up, but I would not say that the bike is holding up well. The 640A is designed as a race bike - light and powerful. Unfortunately that means they had to sacrifice something, and the key missing component is a balancer in the compact single-cylinder engine. It vibrates like a paintshaker.

    The vibration doesn't actually bother me that much, although other riders have complained more bitterly. What worries me is the toll it takes on mechanical components. Bolts do not like to be vibrated. When subjected to such torture, they slowly unscrew themselves and then leap off the vehicle the first moment they taste freedom. Vibrating metal parts tend to fatigue and break.

    Here's the list of casualties so far:

    * One sheared pannier bolt (in AZ) and two pannier bolts vibrating out, one on each side. Partly I blame the design of the Happy Trails luggage rack.

    * The small metal hanger that holds the handlebar cabling in place broke. It's a minor part and not particularly important, but it gives you an idea of the mechanical stresses that are in play here:

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    * The most severe problem so far, found after the WRC trip. An oil leak caused by a loose head bolt:

    [​IMG]

    Overall, these are pretty minor issues and I'm very happy with the performance of the bike. I don't think any other bike would provide the same quantity of grin-inducing fun both on and off-road. When I'm on highways I often wish I had a twin-cylinder 990A instead, but every time I leave the pavement I'm reminded how much this bike kicks ass.
  4. stickfigure

    stickfigure Fiendish Fluoridator

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    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/tags/bike/"><img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2157/2266257384_e4ef1b3837.jpg"/></a>

    The source is a <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Garmin-3-5-Inch-Portable-Motorcycle-Navigator/dp/B000H2W4E6">Garmin Zumo 550</a> hardwired to unswitched power and mounted to the dash with a RAM mount. It's loaded with maps of Mexico from <a href="http://www.bicimapas.com.mx/">Bicimapas</a>.

    The Bicimapas are good but certainly not perfect. The good news is that they include a *lot* of the small dirt roads I like, plus street-level data for most significant cities. The bad news is that the maps are sometimes wildly wrong and you have to be very careful to doublecheck the autorouting. Still, without the GPS my path would be constrained to major highways or "right hand rule" exploration of the maze of Mexican roads. The Zumo+Bicimapas is without doubt the star of my kit.

    The Zumo not only speaks directions (with text-to-speech, highly amusing when pronouncing Spanish street names) but plays MP3s. The music is stored on an 8GB SD card but there is a hard limit of 1000 songs in the device, so I periodically rotate the audiobooks and music from my laptop.

    I use a pair of Etymotics ER-6i earbuds with the foam earplug tips. The earplug-like isolation and sound quality are amazing, but wires are pretty frail looking. I destroyed the plug in a dirt crash on Usal Road some months ago and soldered in a replacement from Radio Shack. The drivers themselves fit nicely under a helmet.

    My backup headphones are Westone UM1s, which I don't like as much as the Etymotics. They don't fit as deeply into my ear canal and the twisted-pair wires tangle too easily. Someone needs to start an "earbuds for motorcyclists" thread so we can find the right combination of isolation, wire strength, and fit under a helmet.

    The extra little brown/black box between the Zumo and the headphones (clipped to the right side of the tankbag) is a <a href="http://www.shure.com/PersonalAudio/Products/Accessories/CasesAdapters/us_pa_PTH_push_to_hear">Shure "Push To Hear" control</a>. It fits inline and has a single switch. When you flip the switch, it mutes the music and activates a microphone in the device so you can carry on easy conversation while wearing isolation earphones and a helmet. The construction of the device is extremely poor but it's incredibly useful anyways, especially when trying to communicate using a language in which I am not fluent.

    One other little trick is that the Zumo 550 speaks bluetooth with my cellphone. It allows me to answer the phone and listen, but since I have no microphone plugged into the Zumo I cannot respond. I don't use this in Mexico (not at $1.50 per minute) but it has been very handy several times when riding in the US and getting calls from people that know I am on the bike.

    This whole setup will get significantly more complicated when my riding buddy shows up with my Autocom. I'll post the updated diagram of my setup then.
  5. stickfigure

    stickfigure Fiendish Fluoridator

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    The fireworks festival of Tultepec approaches March 8.

    Motoaltavista has become my personal garage in Mexico City. I dropped off the bike and took the metro to the airport to meet the first of the California contingent, DGregg.

    This is my first experience with the DF metro system. My first impression: WOW! The trains run every two minutes. They go almost everywhere in the city. They're fast and quiet. What a dream!

    Then I transferred onto another train. I was a little confused that people were lining up, not getting onto the train even though there was plenty of standing room. I stepped on. At the next stop, more people got on. And again. In a few stops we were crammed in, people <b>pushing</b> their way into the overfull car. Then the train stopped for 20 minutes at a time in several stations. It took about two hours to get to the airport. Yuck.

    Here's a typical picture of the hallways:

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/groups/658333@N24/pool/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3005/2342682866_a995c20c0f.jpg"/></a>

    Oddly enough, there is (or was) a small library in one of the stations, deep underground:

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/groups/658333@N24/pool/"><img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2132/2342679572_5f795d2fc4.jpg"/></a>

    I've since spent much more time riding the DF metro. While it can be overwhelming at rush hour, it's still a modern marvel. As a San Franciscan, I'm envious.

    DGregg and I ate some amazing Tabasqueño food at a restaurant recommended by Lonely Planet in the Condesa, María de Alma. Here's some more food porn:

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/groups/658333@N24/pool/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3143/2342001920_cf60a1d4ab.jpg"/></a>

    We stayed for two nights at the house of someone DGregg met on globalfreeloaders.com. It actually worked out pretty well. A couple months ago one of the founders of couchsurfing.com came by the weekly dinner party I host in SF and I had been meaning to try out the concept. I still prefer to stay in hostels, though - more chance of meeting fellow travelers.

    We had a couple days before the hordes arrive, so we spent a day at the
    <i>Museo Nacional de Antropología</i>. We were there 9 hours and saw about half of it, including a very large temporary exhibition of Egyption artifacts. Somehow I went to Mexico and learned about Egypt, go figure. I have put Mexico City on my future "museum travel list"; a good place to fly in for a week and do nothing but visit museums. I'm not even sure a week would do it.
  6. stickfigure

    stickfigure Fiendish Fluoridator

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    DGregg and I checked into the Mexico City Hostel, where our group had reserved a single 12-person room. It's quite a bit nicer and more relaxed than the Hostel Cathedral around the corner. Then we ran off to the airport to welcome our friends.

    Mexico City's airport, it seems likely, was designed by the same assholes that designed the highway system. Here are some interesting factoids about MEX:
    • There are two terminals, #1 and #2.
    • The metro goes to terminal #1.
    • Most international flights go to terminal #2.
    • Terminal #2 is a couple miles away from terminal #1.
    • There is an overhead tramway that shuttles between the terminals, but IT'S A SECURED ZONE. You can only get on it with a departure ticket in-hand. Even arriving passengers can't use it!
    • There is a bus that will take you between the terminals. It takes 15 minutes and costs 5 pesos.
    • The bus doesn't even leave you in a nice bus stop. You have to walk across this parking lot and quite literally dodge the other incoming buses:

      [​IMG]
    I am at a complete loss to explain this design. Just getting all my friends to the metro was an adventure.

    [​IMG]

    After some dinner we wandered around the DF at night, eventually landing at the shrine of "Our Lady Of The Metro". This seems a distinctly Mexican cultural quirk, although usually it involves burnt tortillas. Water seeping out of the tunnel created a stain resembling the Virgin of Guadalupe (a miracle!) so they chopped out the rock and created a shrine. No, we couldn't see it.

    [​IMG]

    Greg (not to be confused with DGregg) had actually arrived a few hours before the others and taken the metro back to the hostel by himself. On the train, a cute Hungarian (who had arrived in the DF at the same time) asked him to recommend a hostel. Since two of our party had become ill at the last minute and couldn't make it, Greg invited her to stay with us. Greg is clearly the most brilliant among us!

    Krisztina, adopted into the family:

    [​IMG]

    She and I, well, clicked :rogue
  7. stickfigure

    stickfigure Fiendish Fluoridator

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    We took an additional day in the DF before leaving for Tultepec. We decided to spend it at the floating gardens of Xochimilco. During Aztec times, Xochimilco was a city built by pushing up piles of mud and making chinampa farms in the middle of a shallow endorheic lake. Now it's a district about 20 kilometers south of the DF. A few canals are all that is left of the once enormous lake.

    Still, Xochimilco is quite beautiful. It also provided an opportunity to combine beer and boats, two of my favorite things. It started with a long ride on the metro (cue Berlin music).

    [​IMG]

    We all piled on one of the colorful trajinera boats:

    [​IMG]

    As you can see, it was hard work:

    [​IMG]

    Well, for someone:

    [​IMG]

    One of our stops was "creepy doll island". Apparently a farmer started collecting dolls he found in the canals and created a shrine to drowned children.

    [​IMG]

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    What could make creepy dolls even creepier? Swarming bugs, of course:

    [​IMG]

    The creepy founder of creepy doll island, now deceased:

    [​IMG]

    Back row: Me, Krisztina, Alana, James, Greg. Front row: DGregg, Carol, Dan, Joel, Turtle, Josh.

    [​IMG]

    Afterwards, we went in search of the Luche Libre restaurant mentioned in the Lonely Planet under "Quirky Mexico City". This section included both the Metro Virgin and the Creepy Doll Island, so what the hell. Well, we found it. And we had to order the "signature dish":

    [​IMG]

    It took three of us to eat it:

    [​IMG]
  8. stickfigure

    stickfigure Fiendish Fluoridator

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    <a href="http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=tultepec,+mexico&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=29.910058,76.113281&ie=UTF8&ll=19.526142,-99.137878&spn=2.220917,4.75708&z=8"><img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2376/2352690481_1449497b55.jpg"/></a>

    I left my bike behind at Motoaltavista (now considered my personal garage) and joined my friends in the 11-person van we rented for the trip to Tultepec. In standard Mexico fashion, navigating the 30 km there was an adventure. The <i>cuota</i> roads in Mexico present novel logistical problems that will seem strange to Norteamericanos. Cuotas tend to stretch on for long distances without underpasses or overpasses. To keep you paying, have very few exits and entrances... so these long stretches of highway that effectively act as impermeable barriers. Furthermore, it's often very difficult to find your way onto the few roads that do cross the cuotas.

    We eventually made it to our home, a small school two blocks from the zócalo.

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/groups/658333@N24/pool/"><img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2287/2343770353_bfc559ab29.jpg"></a>

    There were three main events on three different nights. The first was aerial fireworks synchronized with music. It was very well done, and as is typical in Mexico we were much closer to the action than possible in the US. Picutres of the fireworks didn't come out, but I did get a shot of the chicken-foot soup I tried:

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/groups/658333@N24/pool/"><img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2179/2343743499_6f21a3d122.jpg"></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/groups/658333@N24/pool/"><img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2202/2343744929_f1d8eed80e.jpg"></a>
  9. stickfigure

    stickfigure Fiendish Fluoridator

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    The next day was the running of the toros. First the bulls (about a hundred of them) are paraded through town. Unfortunately I didn't get pictures of the best ones:

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/groups/658333@N24/pool/"><img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2263/2344609448_30a4fe7f21.jpg"></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/groups/658333@N24/pool/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3171/2343947981_199492b97c.jpg"></a>
    (the guy on the right is Garry Dymond, a fellow advrider living in the DF who came out to see the fun)

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/groups/658333@N24/pool/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3267/2344719864_5dd5646f5c.jpg"></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/groups/658333@N24/pool/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3145/2343858199_4c24934181.jpg"></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/groups/658333@N24/pool/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3013/2344510314_3fe7391edf.jpg"></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/groups/658333@N24/pool/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3109/2343812507_8ef0130a18.jpg"></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/groups/658333@N24/pool/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3025/2344650870_fa08591648.jpg"></a>

    Even the kids get in on the action:

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/groups/658333@N24/pool/"><img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2025/2343849025_096bdb34ba.jpg"></a>

    This is someone working on a typical bull's frame. Each of the little white cylinders is a rocket that will go flying into the crowds:

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/groups/658333@N24/pool/"><img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2383/2343686949_16e9df78cf.jpg"></a>

    We spent a lot of time mixing with the locals. They would invite us onto their bulls, dace with us, etc. This is one of the parts of Mexico in which gringos are a novelty:

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/groups/658333@N24/pool/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3192/2343491689_a41ff3da8f.jpg"></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/groups/658333@N24/pool/"><img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2345/2344464882_9886b2213a.jpg"></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/groups/658333@N24/pool/"><img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2267/2344637586_2ddb39023e.jpg"></a>

    Then the fun began. One at a time, the bulls were lit and charged through the crowds. It's nearly impossible to photograph, but here's a few. Click through to the whole flickr pool:

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/groups/658333@N24/pool/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3007/2345998632_80dc38dfb0.jpg"></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/groups/658333@N24/pool/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3226/2345223702_7c10ced375.jpg"></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/groups/658333@N24/pool/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3274/2344360481_924ac549d9.jpg"></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/groups/658333@N24/pool/"><img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2347/2345182982_2940f4e2b7.jpg"></a>

    Our party did not escape unscathed:

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/groups/658333@N24/pool/"><img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2289/2344456271_c6b3029527.jpg"></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/groups/658333@N24/pool/"><img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2221/2345241206_52ff2cf60f.jpg"></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/groups/658333@N24/pool/"><img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2270/2344406295_e37992ac1d.jpg"></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/groups/658333@N24/pool/"><img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2136/2345284618_3a331f209d.jpg"></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/groups/658333@N24/pool/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3212/2345251253_4ff8d0575b.jpg"></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/groups/658333@N24/pool/"><img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2121/2345231022_8520bf97f9.jpg"></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/groups/658333@N24/pool/"><img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2283/2345221930_a027a5e7aa.jpg"></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/groups/658333@N24/pool/"><img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2130/2344457279_0cde0d33db.jpg"></a>

    In the aftermath, the entire zócalo was covered in spent rocket cartridges:

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/groups/658333@N24/pool/"><img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2299/2346085904_f81657af82.jpg"></a>
  10. Guateadventure

    Guateadventure DreamRider

    Joined:
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    Guatemala / Redwood City Ca
    Great report !!!!!!!!!!! when are you planning to be in Guatemala ? let me know will pick you up at the Border and hook you up with a nice Hotel in Antigua and couple of nice rides !!<o:p></o:p>
    Regards !!:clap<o:p></o:p>
  11. dirtypumpkin

    dirtypumpkin "Monster Truck Bike"

    Joined:
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    Great report, thanks for sharing and the bump of new stuff.:freaky
    Missed it last month.
  12. stickfigure

    stickfigure Fiendish Fluoridator

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    Thanks! My friend Gavin and I should be riding across the border in about a month - we will take you up on your offer :thumb

    Somehow he convinced me to fly to Atlanta to run a half-marathon with him, which is where we both are now. On the 1st I fly back to the DF and he flies back to Phoenix, where is where he left his bike. We should both be in Zacatecas within a week of then. At that point we will slowly head south... but the schedule is pretty vague :jkam

    Jeff
  13. stickfigure

    stickfigure Fiendish Fluoridator

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    Wandering around the town, we found this neat tortilla-making machine. The totillas make three passes through the heated part in the center.

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/groups/658333@N24/pool/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3039/2347112686_edd7f00af6.jpg"/></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/groups/658333@N24/pool/"><img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2186/2346290819_bde30eceb6.jpg"/></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/groups/658333@N24/pool/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3051/2346294103_2d176abf6f.jpg"/></a>

    My parents love to tell a story about taking me to the LA Zoo when I was a child. Apparently what I found most fascinating in the entire zoo was an old swamp cooler that had been removed from the roof of a hotdog stand and left on the ground with the cover removed. Yes, I am a geek.

    The castillos were set up on the zócalo. The crowds stood in the middle of the action. By this time my group had had enough excitement for one trip and we watched from the relative safety (and relative inebriation) of a restaurant balcony:

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/groups/658333@N24/pool/"><img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2345/2347127464_02277bea10.jpg"/></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/groups/658333@N24/pool/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3123/2346336481_281974d5f6.jpg"/></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/groups/658333@N24/pool/"><img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2195/2347151364_5d550b16ce.jpg"/></a>

    Some great tacos we had that night:

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/groups/658333@N24/pool/"><img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2385/2345276902_a32941b6c4.jpg"/></a>
  14. stickfigure

    stickfigure Fiendish Fluoridator

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    Before returning to the DF we spent an afternoon at Teotihuacán, the ruins of the biggest pre-Columbian civilization in the western hemisphere. It reached its zenith between 150 and 450 AD but collapsed sometime during the 7th or 8th centuries. It was long abandoned by the time the Aztecs showed up in the 14th century.

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/tags/teotihuacan/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3213/2346354057_2ed2d0208e.jpg"/></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/tags/teotihuacan/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3269/2346366527_28a8daa969.jpg"/></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/tags/teotihuacan/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3048/2347204464_72deae3b94.jpg"/></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/tags/teotihuacan/"><img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2348/2346391979_5f0dc6c69b.jpg"/></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/tags/teotihuacan/"><img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2018/2346377985_b583b773da.jpg"/></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/tags/teotihuacan/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3002/2346369375_d199dd384c.jpg"/></a>

    A butterfly on top of the Pyramid of the Sun:

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/tags/teotihuacan/"><img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2111/2346381231_8b20304ef6.jpg"/></a>

    The city is staggeringly large. However, I thought the ruins at Monte Albán were more interesting, possibly because there were more plaques explaining the purpose of each building.
  15. stickfigure

    stickfigure Fiendish Fluoridator

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    My California friends departed for the airport, leaving Krisztina and I at the Mexico City Hostel. She had to be an an organic farm in a few days but was fascinated by my pictures of the volcanoes to the southeast (see "Buenavista"). I borrowed a helmet from Alejandro2 and we rode up into the mountains!

    The main volcano of the pair that form the mountain range is <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Popocat%C3%A9petl">Popocatépetl</a>. It's apparently still active, and forced the evacuation of tens of thousands of people from the area in 2000. Gulp.

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/tags/buenavista/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3172/2352784976_973f3ed0ea.jpg"/></a>

    Our home for two nights. We moved the bed into the room with the fireplace and kept the fire going all night. It's COLD up here!

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/tags/buenavista/"><img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2067/2352672634_5ebd1d0ba3.jpg"/></a>

    In central Mexico, <i>trucha</i> is almost always on the menu. I heartily approve of the Mexican obsession with pescado.

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/tags/buenavista/"><img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2046/2352668292_2a79e22043.jpg"/></a>

    We spent a day hiking in the area, including a visit to the beautiful monastery that was closed the last time I was here. It's called Ermita, and this time we were able to wander around inside.

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/tags/buenavista/"><img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2337/2351850631_5537cceb65.jpg"/></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/tags/buenavista/"><img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2338/2351852051_30dbd49916.jpg"/></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/tags/buenavista/"><img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2235/2351853315_c268f751c4.jpg"/></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/tags/buenavista/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3135/2351907827_1a397596c8.jpg"/></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/tags/buenavista/"><img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2397/2352687706_34594c75dd.jpg"/></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/tags/buenavista/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3063/2351856457_6ea493b611.jpg"/></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/tags/buenavista/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3108/2351866397_a121c21d5b.jpg"/></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/tags/buenavista/"><img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2032/2351854855_d306f38ea1.jpg"/></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/tags/buenavista/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3180/2351947371_66b48dd517.jpg"/></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/tags/buenavista/"><img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2111/2352772380_138d2eb944.jpg"/></a>

    A waterfall creates a stream that runs through the whole complex:

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/tags/buenavista/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3279/2352692310_e8bdbb6844.jpg"/></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/tags/buenavista/"><img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2030/2352690800_f6ef7496cd.jpg"/></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/tags/buenavista/"><img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2164/2351906503_0bf1653d1f.jpg"/></a>

    Inside the main building. Out every window was a beautiful view of Popocatépetl.

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/tags/buenavista/"><img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2251/2352707640_898dcc318f.jpg"/></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/tags/buenavista/"><img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2031/2352711198_a12b332806.jpg"/></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/tags/buenavista/"><img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2355/2352715646_a69128fda5.jpg"/></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/tags/buenavista/"><img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2288/2351888627_b0c8090818.jpg"/></a>

    The (apparently empty) habitation of monks:

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/tags/buenavista/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3285/2352742758_2591079fe5.jpg"/></a>

    It was beautiful enough that I considered becoming a monk for almost 0.27 seconds:

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/tags/buenavista/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3049/2352756714_eaf041a15c.jpg"/></a>

    Krisztina contemplated it for a few more tenths of a second:

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/tags/buenavista/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3246/2352699094_f6006299fd.jpg"/></a>
  16. stickfigure

    stickfigure Fiendish Fluoridator

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2007
    Oddometer:
    524
    Location:
    Please don't call it 'Frisco
    Doh! I forgot about our adventure before leaving Mexico City. Pretend, for a moment, that this entry predates the last.

    Krisztina and I met a friend of hers in the DF, a 19yo girl named Leslie that Krisztina knew from a previous trip to Mexico. Leslie wanted to show us the university campus where she went to school. One hobby I inherited from my parents (hi Mom!) is "checking out the local universities" so I was all for it.

    The National Autonomous University of Mexico is HUGE. 270,000 students huge. The campus covers a gigantic portion of southern Mexico City. Here's the view from Google:

    <a href="http://maps.google.com/maps?ll=19.324711,-99.186759&spn=0.021929,0.035306&t=k&hl=en"><img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2416/2356293757_e790dcfd03.jpg"/></a>

    The campus is so big that there are large numbers of taxis on campus to ferry students between classes. 4 pesos (about 40 cents) per person, as many as well fit in the car.

    We met up with some of Leslie's friends and they gave us the grand tour:

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/tags/unam/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3191/2357079052_fbccc6e21a.jpg"/></a>

    UNAM is pretty much like most university campuses, just bigger. One thing I noticed is that food service is *good*, and it seems as if nearly anyone can set up a torta stand in the middle of campus. Fresh juices are sold almost everywhere. I recall with not just a little bit of anger when Cal Poly San Luis Obispo (my alma mater) signed an exclusive deal with the Pepsi Corporation that guaranteed all beverages sold on campus would be Pepsi products. Even school clubs had to buy food and drinks through the bureaucracy. The food sucked.

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/tags/unam/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3073/2357071306_8c908a664a.jpg"/></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/tags/unam/"><img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2356/2357053390_72bbd757c0.jpg"/></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/tags/unam/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3236/2356208465_6be66c9f1c.jpg"/></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/tags/unam/"><img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2187/2357050016_ffaab74d76.jpg"/></a>

    Many buildings had cool art:

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/tags/unam/"><img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2089/2357063020_d0d4ddd97f.jpg"/></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/tags/unam/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3278/2357080524_f69597c99b.jpg"/></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/tags/unam/"><img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2214/2357064932_b076d39f97.jpg"/></a>

    One area of the campus was clearly the "make-out corner" because there were about ten couples in various states of mutual adoration:

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/tags/unam/"><img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2085/2357083350_4569705f87.jpg"/></a>

    A little "museum" in the medical building had this siamese-twin foetus:

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/tags/unam/"><img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2370/2356210125_94da42d2df.jpg"/></a>

    Even the natives got lost a few times (did I mention this place is BIG?):

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/tags/unam/"><img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2146/2356254695_80e2a635c3.jpg"/></a>

    The art installations were really cool. One was this long wall you could walk on top of; at times it was twenty feet tall (don't slip!). Many other students were hanging out on top, some drinking pulque.

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/tags/unam/"><img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2205/2357098852_4dd7dc16a9.jpg"/></a>

    This was a neatly shaped concrete structure, art you can play on!

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/tags/unam/"><img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2018/2356268857_36349d6f31.jpg"/></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/tags/unam/"><img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2023/2357102018_9d09749cdc.jpg"/></a>

    This reminded me of one of the things I love about Mexico - it feels FREE. No art installation like this (or the wall) would survive in the United States. The first time a student got hurt, the parents would sue the school into oblivion and the wrecking crews would knock over the "public nuisance". We don't even know about all the cool things that no longer (or never will) exist in the US because overwrought nannies are afraid someone, gasp, Might Get Hurt! I'm fairly certain that if the motorcycle was invented today it would never be allowed on the roads in the US, and that makes me terribly, terribly sad.

    At this point our student friends had to go to class and they invited Krisztina and I along. I pondered this for a minute but ultimately translated "when in Rome..." to "cuando esta in universidad, va a clase". I wasn't quite sure what to expect, it was a Human Resources class and the kids said something about the instructor that I didn't quite understand.

    I was <b>horrified</b> by what I saw. The instructor seemed to have no idea what he was doing, barely managing to write on the board what was in the handout and repeat it vocally. The students (about 50) had no respect whatsoever, loudly chatting with each other and trading candy in the isles. I was too self-conscious to pull out my camera and take pictures of the chaos, but I'm pretty sure none of the students would have hesitated.

    Afterwords my friends informed me that none of the other classes are like that; this one is some sort of strange joke in the General Education curriculum. I actually had to stop myself from saying "kids these days..." lest they realize that I'm over 30 and no longer able to be trusted.

    At any case, the class ended around 10pm and school was over so we hung out in the room for a little while teaching each other salsa moves:

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/tags/unam/"><img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2412/2357107830_a0b4028866.jpg"/></a>

    El Club Desayuno:

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/tags/unam/"><img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2120/2357110670_826f083f6a.jpg"/></a>
  17. stickfigure

    stickfigure Fiendish Fluoridator

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2007
    Oddometer:
    524
    Location:
    Please don't call it 'Frisco
    I forgot to mention: To fit Krisztina and her gear on the bike, I stored my drybag at Motoaltavista in the DF. Because this will become important later, I will enumerate the contents of my drybag here:

    * Teva sandals
    * Waterproof liners for jacket and pants
    * Inner tubes, front and rear
    * Sleeping bag, thermarest pad, and bivvy sack
    * One can of tuna
    * A few extra books
  18. stickfigure

    stickfigure Fiendish Fluoridator

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2007
    Oddometer:
    524
    Location:
    Please don't call it 'Frisco
    <a href="http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=malinalco,+mexico&sll=18.979026,-99.378204&sspn=0.288297,0.501251&ie=UTF8&ll=19.119219,-99.346619&spn=1.152198,2.005005&z=9"><img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2066/2358950997_eff9ea3be2.jpg"/></a>

    Krisztina's destination was <a href="http://www.yolitia.org/">Yolitia</a>, an organic farm near Malinalco (west of Cuernavaca). She plans to spend a couple weeks there as a <a href="http://www.wwoof.org/">WWOOF</a> volunteer. We woke up at a very cold 7am and took backroads most of the way.

    Riding through a national forest west of Cuernavaca, we were stopped at a police checkpoint. The officer wanted to see my driving permit, so I showed him my international driving permit. He read through a few bits and then suggested that it was only for <i>vehículos</i>, not for <i>motocicletas</i>. I firmly explained (in Spanish) that there is only one permit and it is good for both cars and motorcycles. After a minute or two he smiled, handed my permit back, shook my hand, and sent us on our way. Since (according to my DF friends) there is no special license in Mexico for motorcycles, I'm pretty sure this guy was trying to scam me into <i>mortida</i>. First corrupt cop I've found in Mexico.

    Our route took us through the mountain town of Chalma:

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/tags/chalma/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3115/2354100634_2019102d12.jpg"/></a>

    This weekend was some sort of major religious festival (related to Easter, I suppose). Long lines of people on foot were hiking to the town, some carrying crosses and statues of the Virgen de Guadalupe. When we got to town, there were dozens and dozens of parked tour buses. And traffic, lots and lots of traffic:

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/tags/chalma/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3098/2353276103_a812e331cd.jpg"/></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/tags/chalma/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3124/2353270381_c103afdf0e.jpg"/></a>

    Splitting through town, we made it to Yolitia. It's pretty! No internet access, but it looks like a great place to hang in a hammock and read for a few days:

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/tags/yolitia/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3027/2353291845_5a2d63a963.jpg"/></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/tags/yolitia/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3160/2353292631_9250a311cd.jpg"/></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/tags/yolitia/"><img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2167/2354125308_f48e81de4b.jpg"/></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/tags/yolitia/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3292/2354126900_92dee2841a.jpg"/></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/tags/yolitia/"><img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2132/2354130860_dbbf0e1cdc.jpg"/></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/tags/yolitia/"><img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2226/2354131630_3c5ebe4104.jpg"/></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/tags/yolitia/"><img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2187/2354132348_5c509cb931.jpg"/></a>

    Sadly, this is where we parted ways:

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/tags/yolitia/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3242/2353296543_aa45b6550e.jpg"/></a>
  19. stickfigure

    stickfigure Fiendish Fluoridator

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2007
    Oddometer:
    524
    Location:
    Please don't call it 'Frisco
    Leaving Krisztina at the farm, I picked my next destination at random. I had a flight out of Mexico City on the 20th, about four days away. The Lonely Planet had nice things to say about Morelia, so I plotted a roundabout course through the mountains to get there. It was about four hours away, on top of the four hours that morning from Popocatépetl to Yolitia. A long day, so I hit the road.

    Highway 15 (libre) east to Morelia is a wonderful road. It twists, it turns, it carves through mountains and forests. The pavement is immaculate and there is little-to-no traffic. It was getting late in the day when I noticed my steering start to get sluggish, about 45 km away from my destination. Uh oh.

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/tags/morelia/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3046/2354134682_33fc445e74.jpg"/></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/tags/morelia/"><img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2213/2353303987_b20e489c6e.jpg"/></a>

    A tiny puncture created a slow leak. I was in the middle of nowhere and daylight was fading fast. Someone must have paged Mr. Murphy, alerting him that I am - for the first time on this trip - not carrying spare tubes. Ugh.

    I have a CyclePump I can run off bike power. I reinflated and rode another 2-3km, stopped, reinflated... I kept this up for about 15 km (long past dark) until I reached a small store, which was sadly out of fix-a-flat. The owner of the store took pity on me and her husband drove me all the way into Morelia to buy a can. I have to admit that the ride, while much appreciated, was terrifying - he drove his pickup at speeds that I would have considered reckless even during the day in a sportscar.

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/tags/morelia/"><img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2419/2354136614_5f5af2a1ac.jpg"/></a>

    1.5 hours and 500 pesos later (120 for the can, the rest I gave to the driver) my tire stayed inflated long enough to get me to a hostel in Morelia, at which point it oozed the last of its goop into a small puddle on the floor and quit.

    <a href="http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=morelia,+mexico&ie=UTF8&ll=19.55979,-99.942627&spn=9.184267,16.040039&z=6"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3044/2359539993_aa82d2387f.jpg"/></a>

    I don't have a lot of pictures of Morelia. It's a very pretty town but it feels a bit like Disneyland. There are thousands of perfectly preserved colonial buildings (including a picturesque aqueduct) but there seemed to be relatively few stores and restaurants. There are no street vendors. It really doesn't feel like Mexico, more like a living postcard.

    I stayed three nights in an inexpensive hostel near the center of town, the Hostel Allende:

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/tags/morelia/"><img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2100/2359579191_9ca4e26388.jpg"/></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/tags/morelia/"><img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2273/2360417136_a62c7be773.jpg"/></a>

    I had dinner with my neighbor, a cute french girl on vacation from working in the consulate in the DF. She does human-rights work.

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/tags/morelia/"><img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2148/2360404724_f396423950.jpg"/></a>

    We had interesting conversations about world politics, and even more when her boyfriend and a a friend of his showed up. Spanish was the only language all four of us could understand, but fortunately beer improves my conversation skills:

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/tags/morelia/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3242/2360412854_0cacf42286.jpg"/></a>

    More food porn, <i>trucha al mojo de ajo</i>:

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/tags/morelia/"><img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2110/2359577899_86bc297792.jpg"/></a>

    This was an oddity, the first female mariachi band I've seen in Mexico:

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/tags/morelia/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3184/2359571245_6bce6ff081.jpg"/></a>

    Finally it was time to head back to the DF. I found a Motoaltavista shop in Morelia, my tire staying inflated just long enough to get there!

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/tags/morelia/"><img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2407/2359587343_16b4e9346a.jpg"/></a>

    They patched it up in less than an hour. Total bill was 115 pesos, about $10 US.

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/tags/morelia/"><img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2140/2359584705_9f65efa330.jpg"/></a>

    Morelia is the first town I've seen that uses KTM 640s as police bikes! There were about a dozen in the shop, waiting for repair:

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/tags/morelia/"><img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2258/2359583387_4dabc3536b.jpg"/></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/tags/morelia/"><img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2306/2360422260_2a7a82fc50.jpg"/></a>

    The ride back to the DF was uneventful. I dropped off the bike at Motoaltavista, spent one night at the Hostel Mexico City, and got on a plane to Atlanta the next day. Since I've spent so many nights in this hostel, it seems like I should have at least one picture (look for the tiny oval yellow/blue sign):

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/tags/hostelmexicocity/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3175/2360425034_f3a24f96cd.jpg"/></a>
  20. stickfigure

    stickfigure Fiendish Fluoridator

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2007
    Oddometer:
    524
    Location:
    Please don't call it 'Frisco
    <a href="http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=atlanta,+ga&ie=UTF8&ll=31.840233,-84.946289&spn=16.540026,32.080078&z=5"><img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2210/2359721539_434a40dc07.jpg"/></a>

    First impressions of Atlanta:

    It's freaking COLD here!!! Dammit, I was expecting Hotlanta. I'll have to come back in the summer.

    It's very clean here. Lots of modern buildings, not much trash. True, I'm staying in an upscale neighborhood (Buckhead), but all the parts I've seen so far are pretty nice. Lots of cool bars and clubs in Midtown.

    Atlanta is very spread out. You have to drive *everywhere*. It's worse than Los Angeles.

    Good BBQ.

    Gavin has pretty nearly moved out of his place here in Atlanta. His fridge:

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/tags/atlanta/"><img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2182/2359656597_0bd179717c.jpg"/></a>

    There are stores like this:

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/tags/atlanta/"><img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2369/2360495462_128355b3dd.jpg"/></a>

    The food section in a paper I randomly picked up reviewed McDonalds' new menu items. Seriously.

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/tags/atlanta/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3185/2359660745_a86f386c78.jpg"/></a>

    We're doing a lot of running and weight training. The race is a week away and I'm already sore.

    The JBoss offices are pretty nice.

    I miss my motorcycle.