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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by d_mob, Nov 6, 2013.
David, it was great hosting you for one of the last days you'll spend for a while in US. Sorry about bailing on you in the morning, hope your departure went well. I look forward to hearing more about your adventures south and wherever you may end up.
Days 12 & 13 | Felíz Navidad Desdé Mexico!
Date: Dec 23rd, 2013
Overview: Brownsville, TX >> La Pesca y Tampico
Mileage since leaving Denver: 3,494
Total mileage on bike: 6,595
Well here it is, post number one from the LatAm portion of the trip. I can't believe I'm actually here in Mexico writing this. I woke up early yesterday (if you could even call it waking up - I could hardly sleep) to get through the border with plenty of time to spare for the ride south. I wanted to pass the border town of Matamoros as quickly as possible and make it to La Pesca to find a place to set up camp. I had heard you could just plop a tent anywhere on the beach, but also read that it fills up during the Christmas season.
The crossing itself was relatively painless and I was in and out within 45 minutes. I'm assuming there weren't that many people due to the holiday and my early arrival. Both aduana (immigration) and the banjercito (TVIP - temporary vehicle import permit acquisition) are in the same building. I crossed at the 'new' bridge, which is a straight shot via highway to the border. I would highly recommend this outlet if you are doing a similar trip. There are actually three ways to get across in/near Brownsville (four if you like to swim). I entered the building and went right to the banjercito. They checked my title, registration, and credit card (to ensure I had funds to cover the TVIP - temp vehicle import permit). They did not check for Mexican vehicle insurance. From there they sent me 20 feet across the lobby to aduana. I chatted with the guy for a bit and he stamped me into Mexico for 30 days. He sent me over to make copies of my paperwork, which cost $2 USD, and was then sent back to banjercito where I was processed and given all necessary documentation and vehicle stickers. And that was that! I promised I would be much more fluent the next time I came through and with a load of smiles and waves, they sent me on my way to enjoy their beautiful country.
I left the border crossing with a huge feeling of satisfaction and relief. Not only was I in Mexico, but my Garmin GPS was working like it should! It had moved over to the 'other' map that was stored on my SD card and was routing me along my way perfectly. I purchased the BiciMapas Mexico/Central America kit (link here). So far so good. I'll continue to review and post my thoughts on this product along the way. I have really nice waterproof paper maps as backup, but I'm hoping I can rely on the Garmin as my main source of direction. Directly across the border I stopped at an ATM and took out some cash, which was easy and painless, except being bent over by Wells Fargo for $5. Then I pointed the nose of my bike south and headed for La Pesca.
Let me note two things that happened along the way briefly before continuing. First, topes SUCK!!! For those who don't know, topes are essentially speed bumps, but in Mexico and elsewhere in LatAm, they are more like parking blocks sitting in the middle of the road unannounced. I had heard horror stories, but didn't expect them to be that bad, that frequent, or that hidden. Second, about halfway to La Pesca as I was cruising down the road with great music blasting in my helmet, I felt a little something crawling on my neck. As I went to remove it, I felt an incredible burning sensation building on my neck. I smashed whatever was there and immediately pulled over on the side of a busy highway. Cars are buzzing by as I'm stripping down on the side of the road (I did hear one lady whistle - $hit, I hope it was a lady!). It turned out to be a bee... a dead bee at that point. I pulled the pulsating stinger out of my neck and examined the area. It was red and slightly swollen, but I decided it was fine and didn't need any ointment or Benadryl. The redness and swelling have both receded at this point, but damn does it itch! I hope that doesn't happen again along the way.
I arrived to La Pesca and immediately drove through town to the beach. The town and beach aren't paradise, but there was absolutely no one to be found. A few locals scattered about in town as I passed through, but the beach was deserted. I picked out an area to set up camp and did just that. Oh, forgot to add that I dumped the bike for the first time in the loose sand. I was so tired after getting everything unloaded and the bike back up that I forgot to take a picture of my first crash across the border. Doh! Anyway, after I got everything set up I headed back into town to grab some provisions for the evening and morning (i.e. cerveza, cans of tuna, and crackers - gourmet living!). After my first debacle in the sand, I decided to use an abandoned baño/shower to park the bike in, which worked perfectly as a garage of sorts. Not the best smelling, but worked just fine.
After all the work riding, then unloading, setting up, and preparing dinner, I was tired to say the least. I decided to turn in fairly early. As I was about to call it a night, a truck came storming up onto the beach from nowhere with four dudes in the back armed with machine guns. I though to myself 'really, I'm gonna get kidnapped for ransom the first freaking night of my trip?!?!' Well, it turned out to be some military guys from the local naval base just checking things out. They were shocked that I was out there all alone and we all chatted and laughed for awhile. They loved the motorcycle (it has been a celebrity of sorts along the way) and took a bunch of pictures on it. I offered them the cerveza that I was too tired to drink and they politely declined. I know, probably pretty dumb to offer booze to on-duty military. Regardless, I guess they appreciated the gesture and told me they would patrol the area all night for me to make sure I wasn't bothered during my Christmas night on the beach. After that I went to sleep under the stars for what felt like the first 'real' night of my adventure.
This morning I thought I would wake up to rain due to the forecast. Surprisingly, there was none. With that, I decided to make some quick breakfast and then pack up for a ride to Tampico. I was going to head to Xilitla, but figured that might be a bit too much riding. After packing everything up I was sweating like a dog and thinking how difficult this whole experience actually is. It has been epic, amazing, surreal, all-things-good, but at times it is really, really hard. And I'm sure I haven't even gotten to the 'hard' parts yet. I guess when you dream about doing this, you think about all of the grand parts of trip. Things like visiting foreign lands and cultures, experiencing life as you've never before, enjoying a sense of freedom, etc. However, there are parts not quite as grand. Things like packing and unpacking your entire life out of a backpack and duffel every day, crashing, getting stung on the fukking neck by a fukking bee, etc, etc, etc... Anyway, I guess what I'm trying to say is I've realized that this type of travel is equal parts insanity and bliss. I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world at the moment, which is a great feeling. :)
I rode to Tampico today and really enjoyed the road. It was overcast and cool, and for the most part the pavement was smooth and flowing. The funny part was, the parts that were under construction I actually enjoyed moreas it gave me stretches of fun gravel and packed dirt for miles at a time. I really enjoyed ripping along and throwing up a trail of dust in my wake. I did get stopped twice at police roadblocks today and pestered, but everyone just keeps admiring the bike and asking me all kinds of questions (how much? how fast? where the hell are you going? solo??? are you crazy? can I come?). I was sent off with waves and smiles both times. Upon arrival in Tampico, I was surprised to see a sprawling city with roads that snaked into other roads. Add to that a bunch of closures due to Christmas and it was annoying as all hell trying to find a hotel to stay at. I finally did and they have great wifi, which is what I'm enjoying as we speak over a couple of Tecate cervezas. I'm not sure if I'll luck out again tomorrow with the weather, but if so I'll try to head to Xilitla, which will begin the small colonial town portion of the trip here in Mexico.
Until then... enjoy a few pics of Tampico AND Feliz Navidad!
I'm glad to see that the adventure part of your journey is now in full swing. Thanks for the reminder that travel, unlike a vacation, is not all white sand, clear water and relaxation. I can tell already that I'm going to enjoy your story telling style. Thanks for taking the time to carry us along on your journey.
Nice RR. I like your writing style and I pretend I am with you on this trip. Since
I plan my own Mexicotrip for 2015 I take in as much Infos from the road as I
can get and at the same time I enjoy every line.
Thanks for taking the time to take us lurker with you.
Good luck for the trip and be safe.
Greetings From Xilitla!
***Note, this post written last night, but not published until today due to internet difficulties. I made my way to San Miguel de Allende today and will report on the ride and city in a couple of days.***
I woke up in Tampico Thursday morning to the sound of rain. I thought to myself, "I'm in no rush, I'll go back to sleep and see if the rain subsides". That in and of itself was a good feeling and something that is taking some time to get accustomed to. Not having to be anywhere, at any given time. Not having to report to anyone or check-in. The delay also may have been caused by the number of MXP13 (USD$1) cervezas that I sipped the night before at the cantina next to the hotel. It really was a seedy place, and after some later reading on Tampico, probably not somewhere I should have been. I was less than a block away from my hotel, so I figured, if it 'hits the fan' I can just run and duck into my room. Alas, like usual, nothing happened (except for incredible people watching, interesting conversation, a number of smiles, and several cute chicas meandering about). Don't get me wrong, I am and will continue to be ultra vigilant, but I do feel the need to point out that the sensationalism about the dangers of Mexico has been, so far for me, unfounded at this point.
When I did finally decide to roll out of bed it was still raining and the forecast showed that not only would it continue throughout the day, but throughout the next three days. I must say, I wasn't excited to ride the 170'ish miles to Xilitla in the rain, but figured I'd just take it slow and steady. The ride ended up being absolutely exhilarating. The rain added an element that I'm not used to and kept a chill in the air that allowed me to be alert throughout the ride. I always loved road racing motorcycles in the rain, why would ADV travel be any different? The main thoroughfare roads have been nice so far in Mexico (topes aside). The first half of the trip to Xilitla had me traveling on two and four lane highway, but then eventually I ended up making my way up winding roads into the rainforest covered mountains. I stopped for coffee a couple of times as this region is known for it, and it did NOT disappoint. It was creamy, with an almost chocolate flavor. The perfect warm travel companion to stop and savor from time to time.
I finally arrived in Xilitla around 3pm and made my way to the Hotel Hostal del Cafe (after reading a recommendation from ADVrider). The place looked amazing, with rooms trickling down the hillside. After the wet ride, and my epiphany that I can take it slow, I decided I would stay two nights in Xilitla. Hostal del Cafe only had a room for one night, so I ended up staying next door at Hotel Aurora. A good second option for those traveling through (note - I did see some rustic cabins on the way up to Las Pozas that were super cheap and would have stayed there had I known). After unloading the bike and showering, I decided to walk to the main plaza. This is a sleepy little city and there weren't that many people out and about. There is a nice bar/restaurant that I discovered called Casa Vieja that was a perfect place to eat and set up shop (I'd end up returning the second night as well). I had read about Las Pozas, which is a surreal sculpture art garden that I had to see. I went to sleep and decided I'd wake up early to check it out. I also wanted to see the Cave of the Green Parrots, but didn't end up making it due to the rain.
This morning I had four things on 'the list'. Confirm the next two stops and accommodations, adjust/clean/lube my chain, replace the Touratech windscreen extension that fell off into my lap during the rain ride (lucky if fell that direction), and check out Las Pozas. I booked Hostal Alcatraz in San Miguel de Allende for two nights, then Hotel Carmen in Morelia for three to take me into the new year. After copious amounts of locally grown coffee, I performed the maintenance on the bike. Then I set off to explore Las Pozas.
I hadn't even heard of Las Pozas until I started researching Xilitla, but am really glad I found it. Not only is the style of sculpture/art surreal by name, the entire thing is just that
surreal. It is hard to explain. Imagine tons of massive sculptures built up into the rainforest hillside, with beautiful vegetation and flowers all around. To cap it off, there are several cascading waterfalls that are somehow incorporated into and around the garden itself. It really is a must see if you find yourself in the area. The water that flows through this region picks up mineral deposits along the way and creates an emerald color that is indescribable. I'd also read that this place is best enjoyed sooner than later, as there is fear that this relatively undiscovered region and Las Pozas itself is starting to gain international fame drawing people (some say too many) from all over the map. However, I only saw two other gringos and ended up chatting them up. They were a nice newlywed couple from Latvia on a tour of Central America.
When I started the bike and left from Tampico in the rain I had a feeling that I'd be trudging along and miserable by the time I arrived in Xilitla. Turns out, somehow the opposite happened. Something clicked during the ride and during my stay here. I'm enjoying myself immensely and learning to go with the flow. I feel like my journey has really begun and I can't wait to see what unfolds from here.
I'll leave you with a little something from Rolf Pitt's book Vagabonding. I read it when I was in Africa earlier this year and it was one of the final 'kicks in the ass' that I needed to get this trip off the ground. I randomly read this section again last night over dinner and it jumped out at me
Chapter 5 - Don't Set Limits
Buddhists believe that we live our everyday lives as if inside an eggshell. Just as an unhatched chicken has few clues about what life is truly like most of us are only vaguely aware of the greater world that surround us. "Excitement and depression, fortune and misfortune, pleasure and pain," wrote Dhammapada scholar Eknath Easwaran, "are storms in a tiny, private, shell-bound realm - which we take to be the whole of existence. Yet we can break out of this shell and enter a new world."
Vagabonding is not Nirvana, of course, but the egg analogy can still apply. In leaving behind the routines and assumptions of home - in taking that first step into the world - you'll find yourself entering a much larger and less constrictive paradigm.
In the planning stages of your travels, this notion might seem daunting. But once you take the plunge and set out on the road, you'll quickly find yourself giddy at how easy and thrilling it all is. Normal experiences (such as ordering food or taking a bus) will suddenly seem extraordinary and full of possibility. All the details of daily life that you ignored back home - the taste of a soft drink, the sound of a radio, the smell of the air - will suddenly seem rich and exotic. Food, fashions, and entertainment will prove delightfully quirky and shockingly cheap. In spite of all your preparation, you will invariably find yourself wanting to know more about the histories and cultures that envelop you. The subtle buzz of the unknown, initially a bit of a fright, will soon prove addictive: Simple trips to the market or the toilet can turn into adventures: simple conversations can lead to charming friendships. Life on the road, you'll soon discover, is far less complicated than what you knew back home - yet intriguingly more complex.
"Travel in general, and vagabonding in particular produces and awesome density of experience," wrote Ed Buryn, "
a cramming together of incidents, impressions and life detail that is both stimulating and exhausting. So much new and different happens to you so frequently, just when you're most sensitive to it
You may be excited, bored, confused, desperate, and amazing all in the same happy day."
If there's one key concept to remember amid the excitement of your first days on the road, it's this: Slow down. Just to underscore the importance of the concept, I'll state it again: SLOW
For first-time vagabonders, this can be one of the hardest travel lessons to grasp, since it will seem that there are so many amazing sights and experiences to squeeze in. You must keep in mind, however, that the whole point of long-term travel is having the time to move deliberately through the world. Vagabonding is about not merely reallotting a portion of your life for travel but rediscovering the entire concept of time. At home, you're conditioned to get to the point and get things done, to favor goals and efficiency over moment-by-moment distinction. On the road, you learn to improvise your days, take a second look at everything you see, and not obsess over your schedule.
Now, replace vagabonding for long-distance/long-term motorcycle travel, and I think it all applies. For now, I'm going to slam this laptop shut and slow down for a bit. A band just went on stage here at Casa Vieja and I'm going to enjoy the sights, smells, and sounds over a cerveza or two.
Ciao for now,
Good points Johnny,
I agree with the route change through Belize. Belize is very non-special but I believe the back route through Guatemala is better than the Pan American.
New Friends | San Miguel de Allende
Date: Dec 30th, 2013
Overview: Two nights in San Miguel de Allende
Mileage since leaving Denver: 3,948
Well, I just had a beautiful and sunny ride from SMdA to Morelia where I'll spend the next three nights. I'm a bit tired and not feeling very inspired to write so I'll cheat a little, keep this short, and just do a photo post this round...
That's not to say that SMdA wasn't amazing. The city is absolutely stunning with a vibrant culture, and lively feel in the air. The historical buildings are stunning, as are the cobblestone streets that run throughout. There is an art district that some say is one of the best in Mexico. Also a vibrant nightlife and restaurant scene that keeps things bumping into the night.
I stayed at Hostal Alcatraz and would HIGHLY recommend it. It is cheap and the staff at the hotel are incredible. Shout out to both Rosa and Claudia who treated me very well. In addition to a nice room, they let me park my bike in their enclosed courtyard, which was secure and very nice of them.
An interesting thing about staying at a hostel is that you are forced into interacting with your roommates. Turns out, the group of guys in my room were all awesome. David G. was in med school and spoke fluent Spanish. A fun loving guy who acted as our tour guide of sorts. Davide was an Italian guy that has been traveling for some time and plans to end up in Buenos Aires eventually. Gabriel is a Mexican comedian who is full of life and has one of the most infectious laughs I've ever heard. Finally, Chinmay is originally from Bombay, but now lives in San Fran obtaining a graduate degree from a prestigious uni in something smart (applied science or something of the sort - can't remember). Anyway, we all hung out throughout my time in SMdA and had a blast.
Prior to our split, the five of us had breakfast and Gabriel shared something that really stood out. He looked at me and said "par llegar a la rosa, hay que tocar las espinas". That means 'to get to the rose, you must first go through the thorns'. I'll always remember that and will remember gorgeous San Miguel de Allende and the new friends that I met.
Update from Morelia soon... ~ D
Good quality RR. Good narrative with select images tells the story. Nice mention of the Potts book. For me that was the catalyst that help free me from conventional regular life, into unconventional irregular living .
Xilitla was one of my favorite spots in Mexico, can't get enough of that place. Thanks for sharing
thanks for taking the time to post up your ride. i'm taking notes as a plan on a mexico trip soon.
One recommendation that I'll make... Purchase BiciMapas for your Garmin device (if you have one). It is working splendidly. Routing me perfectly through towns, villages, up and over mountains, through dirt, etc... I have cuotas (tolls) turned off, so it is routing me away from highways, which is nice. Seriously, I've been really, really spoiled with BiciMapas and would HIGHLY recommend their product (for Mexico at least - test in remainder of Central America soon).
Problem is, now that I've been spoiled with perfect GPS, it will be a challenge to have to rely on my back up paper maps when I arrive in areas where it doesn't work as well.
Feliz Año Nuevo de Morelia!!!
First off, happy new year from Morelia!!!
The ride from San Miguel de Allende was stunning. Partly because I was finally able to ride without rain, which was a first in some time, but also because the scenery and roads were perfect. Another shout out for BiciMapas, which is the 3rd party map set I purchased for Mexico and Central America. It is working flawlessly and routing me through some of the best this beautiful country has to offer.
I'm staying at Hotel Del Carmen, which is a decent spot. The rooms are a bit cramped, and the bathrooms look similar to what I would imagine they offer in prison, but the price ($27 USD/night), location, and secure parking make it all worth it. In addition, the staff is very nice and did I mention the location? Two blocks from the main plaza, which is close enough for a brief stroll, yet far enough to avoid the crowds. Briefly, if you end up visiting here, don't eat in the main plaza. You will pay approx $20 USD for a meal w/ drink. Head a few blocks in any direction and you can find tons of incredibly inexpensive restaurants/kitchens. I had a wonderful quesadilla plate yesterday w/ rice and beans w/ drink that cost me approx $3 USD.
This city is stunning! In fact, all of these colonial cities are stunning. I can't get over it. Although not quite as large, the beauty in Morelia and SMdA rival any of the cities in Spain (at least within proximity to the city centers). It's hard to believe these beautiful small cities are even in the same country as places like Tijuana, and some of the other cities I've passed through in years past. It really is a shame that Mexico gets such a bad reputation from mainstream media and most Americans. There really are some absolute gems here. Not just the cities, but the people, history, culture, music, women, cuisine, etc, etc, etc...
Yesterday I spent the day walking around checking out the sights. I followed this Frommer's walking guide. After putting in some miles, I went back to the room and read for a bit. I'm currently reading Catfish and Mandala by Andrew Pham. One of my good friends Peter back home gave it to me as I was about to set off on my journey. This guy can seriously write! Although Andrew was on a bicycle during his adventure, I can certainly relate to the rigors of travel... "Touring solo on a bicycle (or motorcycle), I discover, is an act of stupidity or an act of divine belief. It is intense stretches of isolation punctuated with flashes of pure terror and indelible moments of friendship. Mostly, it is dirty work particularly suitable for the stubborn masochist. I was suckered into the adventure, the elegant simplicity of its execution, and yes, even the glory of its agony."
Last night I went out expecting a right piss-up, since it was New Year's Eve and all. Well, turns out they don't celebrate it here like we do in 'Merica. Back home we get dolled up and go out with the expectation that it will be the best night of the year. We spend twice as much on dinner for food that is only half as good. Then we wait for what seems like hours amongst throngs of others in line at the bar for an overpriced drink. Here it turns out, they close most everything and spend the night in with family and friends, where the booze and food are cheap, and easily accessible. I'm starting to think we have it all wrong. Hmmm... I did end up meeting a really cool guy named Luis at a bar who invited me to a spot he knew about with live music. It turned out to be a really good time. Luis is quite the ladies man and introduced me as "Fuser" all night (the name will make sense for those who've read/seen Motorcycle Diaries). He was set on showing me a good time and did just that. If you read this, thanks Luis!
Today I was going to take a day trip to Patzcuaro to see the town, and the nearby lake. However, I'm quite content exploring more of Morelia, and am currently writing this while sitting on a bench in a quiet park taking it all in. Tomorrow I head to Mexico City and am staying with a gracious CouchSurfing host named Lianne. I'd like to explore the city a bit, attend a CS event, possibly catch a bullfight at The Plaza, and maybe see some of the nearby ruins. We'll see. From there I'm not exactly sure what the plan is. I've been in touch with an organization in Oaxaca that I'll probably spend some time volunteering with (Oaxaca Street Children Grassroots). Then I definitely want to make my way over to the Pacific coast to lounge on the beaches of Puerto Escondido and Puerto Angel. Ahh, decisions, decisions! Life definitely does not suck at the moment. :)
Since I left on my trip I've been writing down one 'profound moment of the day' in my journal. Well, yesterday I had two, so I'll leave you with those. First, as I was wandering aimlessly around the streets of Morelia I randomly came across a man. He looked like an old hippy who had been traveling for years and years. I said hello and immediately got a sense that something was very interesting and different about him. Something wise in his eyes, calmness, and the creases in his weathered face. As we chatted a bit, dogs started coming up to him from all directions (he started out with two and ended up with around 15). As I was saying goodbye I wished him a happy new year. He replied with "no existe el futuro, el futuro es hoy", which obviously means the future does not exist, the future is now. After saying that, he turned and walked away slowly and disappeared with a trail of obedient dogs following along behind. I sat there and thought about what he said for what seemed like an hour. It dawned on me that instead of putting such an emphasis on making grandiose resolutions for the upcoming year, I should simply live in and enjoy the present. So I sat there, in that park for a long time just enjoying the breeze and watching kids run around and play amongst themselves. It was a magical moment. I asked several locals and that man is a mystery. Apparently nobody knows why, but dogs love him and come from all around the city and simply follow him. Strange.
The second profound experience came as I was sitting at a bar near the plaza having dinner. I had finished my sandwich and had a plate of fries remaining. There was a guy trying to sell handmade jewelry from table to table, but since he was a little dirty, and obviously not well off financially, people kept shoving him away. When he got to my table I was tempted to do the same, but instead I offered him a seat and my plate of fries. He sat down and was incredibly grateful. His name was Jose and we ended up talking for about an hour. He was patient with my broken Spanish, and gave me a lesson of sorts. He thanked me for the fries, and said "people rarely show me this kind of generosity". I thanked him because I realized that it was the first time that I'd had an hour long conversation in Spanish, and it made sense! Turns out, he gave me the gift. It seems all I needed was to get over the fears of simply trying to have a full conversation, and of sounding like an idiot. I did just that and Jose and I had a wonderful conversation. He gave me a pair of earrings for the girl he says I'll meet someday on my journey (hoping that prediction comes true!) and refused any payment for them. It was an amazing interaction, and definitely taught me that sometimes I should push away my initial thought/reactions and make an effort to get to know others more.
I guess that's it for now... Ready to get back in the saddle for another ride. More to come from Mexico City soon,
Keep it coming and ride safe, amigo !
my wife loves a good romance. she's now following you in anticipation...I need a new gps--which one are you using?
Ha... No pressure eh?
I'm using a Garmin Zumo 660 and am happy so far. The first unit I purchased was defective, but Garmin mailed a new one no questions asked.
I'd recommend the package w/ locking mount here: http://www.touratech-usa.com/Store/PN-Z660PKG/Garmin-Zumo-660-LM-GPS-V2-0-Locking-Mount-Package
I had them send a crossbar as well for my F8 to mount it on. The kit works great and keeps everything sturdy and secure.
In & Around D.F. (Mexico City)
I left Morelia with decent weather and a really nice ride ahead of me. I had originally planned to bypass D.F. (District Federal - Mexico City), but a couple of nights before I made the decision to hit it up. I ran into an incredibly heavy rain about half an hour outside of the city just as I was cresting some mountains and heading down into D.F. That made for a drenched and cold ride, but the first half made up for it. I also took cuota (toll) highways for the first time on the trip and ended up hitting seven stops along the way (ranging from USD $1 - USD $5). They really are a pain in the ass, but you pay-to-play and the highways are incredibly smooth and nice. A bit of a welcome break from the smaller rough roads that I've been staying on the majority of my time in Mexico.
I stayed with a nice CouchSurfing host Lianne for two nights while in the city. She has a nice flat and I felt welcome from the time we met. It was real five star living w/ a nice bathroom, and get this, an in-house washer and dryer! Funny the things that excite you after awhile on the road. The first night we took a stroll through some of the neighborhoods and she showed me one of her favorite vegetarian restaurants just outside of a park. Then I crashed early as I was tired from the ride and was accompanied to bed by one of her two dogs who kept me warm all night. She adopted two street dogs when she lived near the beach and they are both cute, and full of hysterical character.
The second day I hit the city running and managed to knock out pretty much all of the sights I wanted to see. I really liked Bosque de Chapultepec and spent most of the morning wandering around the castle, the modern art museum and several other sights. After that, I hopped the Metro to have lunch and see Merced Market. It is an absolute maze of shops selling typical handicrafts. A highlight was having lunch for just over USD $1 w/ drink. I walked from Merced to The Zócalo (w/ a brief shocked stroll looking at the scantily clad street walkers). The city center was an absolute $hit show! I can't remember a time when I've walked in a swarm that thick. I guess that happens in a city of 20+mil people. Following the plaza, I checked a few more items off the list and headed back to Lianne's where she prepared a wonderful meal for us and two of her friends. We ate, laughed, talked, laughed more, drank wine, and had a great night.
This morning I woke up excited to get going. My next two stops are real highlights for me. I'm currently en route to Oaxaca where I'll spend four or five nights eating, exploring, and volunteering during the days. After that, I'm headed to the Oaxaca coast for at least a week to camp on the beach, eat fish tacos, reflect, surf, and be a complete bum. I ended up deciding to stop for a night in between D.F. and Oaxaca as the drive is a bit long, and I'm glad that I did. I'm writing this from Hotel Mex Mar in Tehuacán ($17/night rooms w/ gym and secure parking). It's not that I like this city, but the ride today was spectacular. In 200 miles I passed two snow-capped smoking volcanos, climbed to around 11k feet, saw rocky canyons, lush and vivid green covered mountains, and everything in between. All in perfect 70 degree sunny weather. The road from Orizaba through the valley and White Canyon Nat'l Park was epic and one of the best that I've locked in yet. I detoured through some dirt, hit some unreal twisty sections, wheelied over topes, and was smiling the whole way. :)
For a brief minute, I thought that maybe I'd leave D.F. and head for Acapulco, then shoot down the coast. That would allow me to be a beach bum first, then save the kids in Oaxaca after. However, a bit of research on Acapulco cancelled that idea (currently the world's 2nd most dangerous city statistically). Then I looked at a map and thought, "oh, maybe I can bypass Acapulco by detouring southeast through Tierra Colorada". Well, a trusty Google Image search for 'Tierra Colorada' brought up nothing but gory images of violence and horrendous pictures. So that idea was shot as well (pardon the pun). Mexico is a vast country. It is filled with beautiful scenery, landscapes, nature, culture, history, and kind people. After exploring some of it, it saddens me that parts of this country have been absolutely devastated and scarred by corruption and violence. Alas, I haven't run into anything yet and will continue with my trusty Google Image search for regions and cities to keep me trudging along safely.
Anyway, I'm feeling good. I'm happy, healthy, running strong, and have really seemed to get into the groove. Loading and unloading the bike has become routine. Also, I'm able to communicate in Spanish with essentially everyone I come across. Admittedly, I sound like a mentally challenged six year old to them, but it's still an accomplishment for me! I've covered over 4,300 miles since leaving Denver, and have explored a lot of places and met a lot of great people. Interestingly, I feel untraveled and small. Along the way people keep saying, "you should see this" or "you have to stop in this town". If I took every tip or piece of advice I could literally be in Mexico for years. It's crazy to think how much is out there. This is just one country for God's sake! It has made me realize how 'stuck' I was in the life that I had created. Don't get me wrong, the majority of it was fantastic. But, it's nice to feel like I'm starting to experience other people's culture and different ways of living. I felt it somewhat during past trips, but this is different. I'm doing it rough and proper. I'm eating everything, I'm saying "yes" to everything (well most everything - street walkers mentioned above got a quick decline from me), I'm sleeping and bathing in conditions I never thought I would, and I wouldn't trade any of it. At present, the thought of waking up every morning to slave away doing something that doesn't truly make me happy depresses the hell out of me. Now I just need to keep up the exploration and figure out what I want to be when I grow up right? Or is that feeling reserved for a select lucky few? Who knows... For now I'm content riding my motorcycle, and trying to figure it out.
I hope all my friends and family are doing well back 'home'. I look forward to communicating with you all soon...
Kitesurfer knoticed your a softy for Latin ladies... I'm in this RR late but could have pointed you to a couple of fun days in Patzcuaro. Sorry I missed that chance to suggest.You also apparently missed the Mariposas sanctuary in mtns of Michoachan-they are seemingly close to taking the "passenger pigeon" route into history due to lost habitat in USA.
Have some fun!
I'd forget Acapulco & spend time in Oaxaca-city & state! Dot eh roads from highlands to Pacific-everyone of them you can find to do! Wander Chiapas until you've done it well...