The Grand Tour Year 3

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by JackL, Jul 17, 2012.

  1. JackL

    JackL T plus 16 months

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2006
    Oddometer:
    436
    Location:
    Colorado
    This picks right up where year 2 leaves off. That can be found at:
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    January, 2012


    At the suggestion of a biker couple I met at a bar in L.A. I took the long way to San Diego through Joshua Tree. It was much nicer than I expected so I grabbed some food and decided to camp.

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    My campsite, from the rocks above.

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    Traditional biker dinner.

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    And finally Skull Rock

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    From there I rode south along Box Canyon Rd.

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    The around the dead Salton Sea and on to Niland to see Slab City and the Jesus freaks.

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    Slab City radio

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    Of course if you've read my ride reports up to this point you know I like the Weird.
    #1
  2. JackL

    JackL T plus 16 months

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2006
    Oddometer:
    436
    Location:
    Colorado
    From here a beautiful ride over the foothills and on into San Diego to see my old friends Bryce. Patrick, Lauren, Steve, and Ken. Two of them I know from Paris in 2000, the rest from Seattle. We met up at Urge Gastropub.
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    I don't have a picture of my buddy Bryce but I do have a pic of his part wolf dog and everyone loves dogs. This pic doesn't show just how yellow his eyes are. There's something very ancient about his eyes.
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    From San Diego it was up early and across the border into MX. This was incredibly easy. Just ride through. I did stop to ask a woman who worked at the border where I should do the importation of my bike. I was surprised that although she worked 20 ft from the border she spoke no english. Later I found out the answer was La Paz.
    I'm going to include some of the posts I made on Facebook at the time. Here's mine for my 1st 3 hours in MX
    "The smells of Baja immediately reminded me of Thailand. Of real people. A mix of wood fire cooking, a little trash, and animals and agriculture."
    I easily made Ensenada the first day and settled into a hostel. The good sunsets began.
    [​IMG]


    My next Facebook post: "One more night in Ensenada then on the road South. Picked up another rider, a young kid, who'll ride down as far as La Paz with me. He hasn't ridden much so I'll be playing Instructor Jack.
    We had a great adv yesterday. Went to see some wineries. Got dropped off in the wrong place by the bus but the 1st 3 guys we talked to owned wineries. One gave us a lift up to his Ranch and we had a grand ole time. David, a real character. We came back with wine, and fresh oranges, limes, lemons, and mint. Made Mohitos. Thus the reason I'm still in Ensenada. ;)"
    When we met David we didn't know he owned the biggest winery in the area. He invited us up to his ranch. As we where driving along in his SUV drinking beers I asked him what he raised on his ranch. His reply; "Grapes."
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    He gave us samples of all of his wines although here it looks like we're trying Irish Sean's head.
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    Me doing this again. It's become a habit.
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    The random wine tour gang and David.
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    #2
  3. JackL

    JackL T plus 16 months

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2006
    Oddometer:
    436
    Location:
    Colorado
    James, the kid with the cruiser I met, and I finally got out of Ensenada and headed south.
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    We stopped at a blow hole and tourist trap town at La Bufadora.
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    We stopped for gas and lunch. James was obviously enjoying himself.
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    As we pulled into El Rosario for the night I saw a bunch of larger dirt bikes at the gas station. Somehow they didn't look like locals so I asked them about a good place to stay. It turns out they were ADV Riders from Seattle and the Puget Sound area who had driven down in an old bus. We ended up staying next to them at the Motel Estat.
    [​IMG]
    Apparently they have a ride report on ADV. If anyone has the link can you post it here?

    The next day we headed south and then attempted to get to Coco's Corner. Unfortunately the cruiser was sliding around too much up the hills so we turned back. Another time I guess.
    Lunch stop.
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    We crossed the Tropic of Capricorn and decided to push on to San Ignacio. We made it just after dark so broke that rule, but not by much. Was a beautiful sunset that we had to watch that made us late.
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    We got a room at the Rice and Beans where we met some other riders from IN & KY.

    James bike was leaking gas badly around his carbs so the next day he took it to a mechanic while I checked out the sites.
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    The Rice & Beans is a major stop for the Baja 1000 crews who have stickered it up nicely. If you look near the lower left corner you'll see a sticker for Smarty Pants, the bike bar in Seattle I watch MotoGP at.
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    San Ignacio was pretty and very green for Baja.
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    The local mechanic who worked on James' bike made models out of found items. He had one almost identical to James' cruiser.
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    We headed out the next day and made it to San Ignacio, an old French mining town. The work on James bike hadn't helped so he decided to push on to La Paz where he had friends. I had lunch and checked out the town.
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    The old smelter
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    As I continued south, now on the east coast of Baja, I enter Cactus country!
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    I arrived in Mulege early that day but decided to call it good and have a wander around and some drinks. I think it's one of the prettier towns in Baja.
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    I stayed at Motel Squid which was a fine place. While out drinking I met another American, Josh. It turned out he was on a BMW and on ADV. We decided to ride south together the next day.
    After meeting for breakfast[​IMG]

    We checked out the old mission.
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    The ride from Mulege to Loreto is one of the prettiest in Baja.
    Leaving Mulege
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    #3
  4. JackL

    JackL T plus 16 months

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2006
    Oddometer:
    436
    Location:
    Colorado
    After finding a room at Hotel El Dorado we drove up the main street to grab some lunch. As we were sitting there a scruffy looking backpacker walked by. We looked at each other and I knew I recognized him but couldn't place him. Someone from Seattle I thought. He looked at me, then at my bike, then at me and said "Jack". Turns out it was Alex who I'd met in Anchorage on my way back from Deadhorse in 2010. I didn't recognize him without his KLR. He'd broken the frame in half out in the desert.
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    He went and got a room at the El Dorado as well and Josh and I took a ride up into the mountains to the west. It was a great ride. New pavement up a twisty valley and then good high-speed gravel to mission San Javier.
    Looking back down at our ascent.
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    Mission San Javier
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    Working the land
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    On the way back down I was leading. We'd left the gravel behind and were on the tarmac. I entered a perfect right hander coming down and then back up in elevation at about 40 mph. The next thing I know my right peg and then the bike hit the ground and I was sliding along. I ended up sliding under the bike but when it hit the gutter it pitched up a little. I had a moment of complete clarity when I thought I should roll out from under it now. So I did. Josh pulled up and was in such a hurry to see if I was alright he forgot to put his kickstand down.

    I got up and we righted both bikes then checked myself out.
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    Although my shirt was trashed I had not one single, tiny, scrape or abrasion on my body. Good body armor and gear.
    The panniers and front took most of the damage since the bike rolled once.
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    Obviously I was a bit shaken up and was sore for a few days but it could have been much worse. We checked the road and couldn't find any reason for my crash. No oil or gravel. The only thing I can think is that I reached the limit of the TKC 80s and the suspension and the rear kicked out.
    I spent the next few days in Loreto getting the bike sorted. A bit of electrical tape to hold the instrument panel on.
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    Some welding for the pannier rack.
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    And some rivet and fiberglass work and I was back on the road. Total cost, US $100.
    My maintenance crew.
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    #4
  5. JackL

    JackL T plus 16 months

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2006
    Oddometer:
    436
    Location:
    Colorado
    Well I haven't had the time or even the desire to update this RR in quite a while. After I finished the ride I left my bike in CO, flew to Seattle to grab my last few possessions and my car and drove back to CO to work for a friends software company. I was going to move to Prague and teach English but the money here (and time to travel) was too good to pass up.
    So, on with the Adventure.

    I hung out with Alex and his buddy, got barked at by a lot of dogs and caught a local boxing match.
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    I also came across this great old guy in a bar.
    http://s83.photobucket.com/albums/j292/JackLowry/2011%20MX%20and%20Central%20America/?action=view&current=Miguel1.mp4

    Then it was off to the south. It was a fairly long boring ride to La Paz. I'm going to past in my comments from FB for this part of my trip.
    So I wanted to give my impression of the people in MX so far. I was going to tell the story of the pickup truck full of guys who passed me yesterday. We exchanged waves and thumbs up cause they were drinking Modello's in the back. I ran into them down the road a bit and they gave me one and we talked about the bike and where I was from and where I was going. That was cool. But that's not the story I want to relate.
    As I was nearing La Paz I was looking for a place to pull over and stretch a leg and adjust my map before entering town. I say a big lot and as I pulled in noticed about 15 bikes there, mostly Harleys. It was a Mexican Biker Gang. Cue ominous music. Actually they were really nice and asked if I wanted to ride into town with them. In town we went to one of their father's house, the leader of the Gang, the Corsairios (Corsairs, I immediately felt at home). After a couple beers they invited me to stay for a bbq and birhthday party and said I could crash there. I wasn't getting a bad vibe from any of them so accepted. Had a great time eating carne and drinking tequila, mescal, and whisky. 2 of the guys were amazing guitar players, especially the 'kid' of the gang, and most of them could sing. We spent most of the night singing Mexican ballads which I didn't know. I even joined in, not very well, with my harmonica. The language barrier was a bit of an issue but a couple of them had some English so we managed.
    So for all those people who warned me about the violence of Mexico, pzzzzzzzzt! The biker gangs are friendlier than in the US.

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    Here we are hanging out and singing the Happy Birthday song in Spanish.
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    Here's a direct link to the video:
    http://s83.photobucket.com/albums/j292/JackLowry/2011%20MX%20and%20Central%20America/?action=view&current=Corsairs.mp4

    So I crashed on their couch and after a big breakfast they made me (and a shot) it was off on the road to Todos Santos. I took the wrong road, twice, on my way there but eventually arrived. As I was driving around looking for a guest house my bike started making an atrocious noise. Just as I shut it off a head popped over a fence and asked me if everything was alright. A quick conversation later I have a place to stay for dirt cheap at a very nice private bungalow and a garage to work in thanks to expat Dean.

    Here's my room which was above the garage.
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    Turns out the noise was a broken radiator fan blade. Kind of fortunate it was right in the center and not one of the blades so I was able to JB Weld it.
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    The finished product. Still on the bike and doing fine 14,000 miles later.

    I spent a couple days in Todos Santos checking out the beaches and drinking with Dean and his buddies.
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    Of course I saw the original Hotel California that the Eagles sing about. Nothing special now. Fairly yuppie.

    When I went to leave the bike wouldn't start. I quickly determined it was the clutch relay that prevents the bike from starting with the kickstand down. With the help of the internet I spliced that out and was back on the road to La Paz.

    I stayed at the Larimar Hotel for 250 pesos which was pretty cheap. It was the first of hundreds of places where they had me bring my motorbike into the lobby for the night.
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    La Paz isn't much of an interesting town but I did come across a good specialty beer shop/pub, I had a good night talking to the couple that owns the place. Unfortunately I didn't right down the name or street. Maybe someone else has found it and can chime in.

    The next day was up, through customs and then a long wait to board the ferry to Mazatlan. A couple things to point out here.
    1st, as of Jan 2012, you don't need to do any Importation paperwork for your vehicle for all of Baja and a strip of northern MX along the U.S. border. I did the paperwork in Ensenada but could have done in in La Paz.
    2nd, there are 2 ferries from La Paz to Mazatlan and they both carry vehicles. One of them is the very nice passenger ferry. One is the truck ferry. Book well in advance if you want the nice one. They are the same price.

    Hanging out waiting for the ferry.
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    Guess which ferry I got? Yep the truckers ferry. All of the rooms were taken up by truckers and their women. I pitched my tent and had a pretty nice night just behind that white trailer in the center of the photo.
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    A couple of the truckers spoke English and we swapped tails of the road. I got some good info on what to expect and places to go. Interestingly it seemed that all of their 'girls' were native (non-Spanish descent) that they'd picked up in some tiny village somewhere.
    It was pretty heading out of La Paz as the sunset with mainland MX a head of me.
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    #5
  6. JackL

    JackL T plus 16 months

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2006
    Oddometer:
    436
    Location:
    Colorado
    As always, if my pictures are too big for your screen just press and hold CTRL and scroll your Mouse wheel

    It's a nice overnight ferry ride from La Paz to Mazatlan. The sun came up, I packed my up my bike and ate a bit of food I'd brought along (they do have food on the ship). A pilot boat came alongside us and a pilot came on board. It was an impressive maneuver.
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    Off the boat first in Mazatlan. Just kind of pointed south and followed larger and larger roads until I got on the right one. Headed south. Had lunch in San Blas and made it to Sayulita by late afternoon. As I headed south I really noticed the difference between dry Baja and more green and eventually tropical Mainland.
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    I set up camp right down by the beach and checked out the town.
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    Sayulita is a nice place and a good introduction to MX but it's full of a lot of grumpy gringos. I hadn't heard anybody complain from Ensenada to here.
    I was supposed to meet up with an ADV Rider here but we never made the connection and I ended up following a bunch of chicks from San Francisco I met off to a beach party. Sorry about that man I ended up spending the night hanging out with some famous DJ chick from Manchester. I'd never heard of her before though.

    The beach from just near my tent.
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    From Sayulita it was off east into the mountains and Guadelajara. The only problem here, and in all of MX, is the Toll Roads. If you want to make any time or often just get where you're going you end up on these and they can get expensive. More on that later.
    I arrived on a Sat and upon getting up the next day found out that Guadelajara shuts down the main east-west thoroughfare (Juarez st) through downtown every Sun and opens it to bicycles, skateboards, and baby carriages. I grabbed a bike from my hostel and joined in.
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    After 1 more night there it was on through Irapuato and to the amazing Guanajuato.
    #6
  7. JackL

    JackL T plus 16 months

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2006
    Oddometer:
    436
    Location:
    Colorado
    I went to Guanajuato at the recommendation of a couple I met on the ferry and I'm glad I did. There are many Colonial cities in Mexico but I don't know if any rival Guanajuato. My best description is that it reminded me of a Mexican version of Prague. The first thing to know is it was built on silver and gold mines. Later when the mines paned out the miners were hired to build roads under the city so they wouldn't have to tear down buildings to modernize. The major roads form a very confusing series of tunnels, complete with road signs and stop lights, under the city. I spent my first hour there fairly lost going up and down and around looking for the road my hostel was on. It was quite fun actually.
    This is a view from my hostel window with the road I parked my bike on down below.
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    I went out the first night and found a great little restaurant in a plaza. To get back all I had to do was walk out of the other side of the plazza, turn right, and hit the street I'd come down on. An hourt and a half and miles of walking later I decided to just turn around and trace my steps back. I wasn't even on the right hill anymore.
    I started here
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    It was a nice little wine bar. Every night performers ranging from clowns to musicians would make the rounds around the plazas and perform.
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    I should have turned right here
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    Now if I could just see that huge Cathedral I'd know right where I should be. Where is it?
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    I did come across this well painted bike before turning back.
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    Right, my place is just past the University here and then right
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    There was only one other person in the entire hostel so we had rooms to ourselves. David, from Guatemala, had just graduated from Med School in Guadelejara. When we went out to grab a bite I left my card in the ATM machine while I stuffed my money in my shoes. It ate my card.
    Fortunately the bank took pity on me and didn't cut my card and gave it back to me the next morning. We headed out on a tour of the city. I didn't think to ask if the guide spoke English but David was able to translate the high points.
    By the entrance to the town
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    Up to view it from above
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    Through the house of a local serial killer and then on up the hills
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    Through a Mexican Inquisition museum
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    David got The Wheel
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    That pictures should be upside down but keeps getting rotated on here.

    People shouldn't leave these lying around.
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    Then into the old mines. They really do use Dwarves to mine
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    When I go back I'll definitely have coffee at this cafe
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    And things I saw around town
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    And some food porn from the Wine Bar
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    #7
  8. JackL

    JackL T plus 16 months

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2006
    Oddometer:
    436
    Location:
    Colorado
    Here's my Facebook post from January 31, 2012. My last night in Guanajuato.

    More thoughts on MX.
    First, I've been wanting to comment on the most dangerous things here. Not the (non-existent) crime. Not the (never-seen) drug cartels. Not even the drunk drivers or ever present livestock. No. The Sidewalks. Bloody Hell these things could kill you. Watch where you're walking at all times. Don't look around at the scenery if you value your life. From tiny unevenness that hide in the dark to massive, unequal steps, to workman's holes that will swallow you to the neck.
    Ok, Guanajuato. I've not been to anywhere in MX this trip I wouldn't go back to but this is the first place I've been where I'd think about buying a winter house (flat). To use another reference from Prague it's very Bohemian. Lots of little cafes, an Irish pub, and Devil themed bar, and lots of street performers. From mimes and jugglers to clowns, 18th century Spanish poets, and punks trying to make a living.
    This reminds me about my thoughts on travel. I realized I'm no longer interested in the dirt cheap travel I've done before. I'm looking for a word that doesn't mean 'old'. Sophisticated I guess is what I like now. I enjoy sitting in a plaza at a wine bar with a nice glass and a cheese plate. Of course I'm watching clowns perform to a song off Balkan Beats Vol 3, Gas Gas. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3jVc8coAUhc).
    Well that's about it for now. Off to Bar Diablo. & days of hard riding coming up to get to Paa Mal to meet Hermes. We'll see how much I'm on line. Everyone take care. See you out there
    #8
  9. JackL

    JackL T plus 16 months

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2006
    Oddometer:
    436
    Location:
    Colorado
    I headed out of Guanajuato west and then south. Had to stop at this place along the road.
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    I decided to push on into my reserve fuel and see how far I could get with the new engine. I probably came very close to running out as I went 25 miles on reserve before finding gas. Good info to know though.
    Not many pictures of this day as I just hammered it down the toll roads past Mexico City and on to Puebla. I made good time but spent somewhere between $40 and $50 US on tolls. At one point I paid a toll, went up on an overpass and less than a mile later had to pay another very high toll. The MX toll roads are pretty ridiculous in their prices and thus are often empty. The only other option is the smaller roads which are full of speed bumps. More on that later.
    I didn't have a guide book that covered Puebla so I just followed the signs towards Centro. Once I got near I figured most hostels are about 2 blocks from the center so I just jogged left 2 blocks and found a hostel about 3 blocks down. A nice town center and met some very friendly people at a couple bars. I just spent one night there and then began my journey east, this time off the Toll roads.
    I saw my first active volcano as I left town.
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    I headed out of Puebla SE and then through Tehuacan on nice roads. I had a rather good but large scale Michelin map of MX which made this look like large roads. As I got further SE the roads became smaller, more potholed, and less well marked. I traveled though a couple towns that were what we in the US would call Reservations for the Native Americans. Only nicer.
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    I was only sure I was on the right road because there were no other options. When I reached Teotitlan de Flores Magnon I knew I was still on the right road. I turned left and wound my way uphill through town. Here, just outside town, I passed one of the most beautiful native Mayan girls walking into town. Beautiful eyes and a happy smile. I continued on just briefly uphill. The road quickly became rough gravel winding up switchbacks. It was at least 60 miles to the next town and potential gas.
    I stopped and looked up the narrow winding gravel road. I looked back down at the town and paved road. I looked at my map for alternate route. Then I looked down at my tires. Knobby TKC 80s. I thought to myself "This is why I'm here. This is why I have this bike. This is why I have these tires. Fuck it." and I headed up. The road wound up. And up.. And up but eventually turn back to potholed pavement. A few buses passed me coming down so I knew I was going somewhere.
    I pulled off to look back down and check out some graffiti.
    I came from the flat bit down there.
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    Some things are universal
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    As I got higher and higher the heat disappeared and as I drove into black clouds I had to stop and put on my jacket. I finally reached the peak in near darkness because of the clouds and dropped down the far side in heavy fog. I figured I'd climbed 6 or 7000 feet from the valley below. The landscape changed from dry scrub to lush green. I realized I'd just passed over the Continental Divide and entered the wet, warm Carribean side of MX. I quickly lost the jacket and started a very long descent.
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    At one point on the ride up I thought "Oh, hello 3rd gear, I haven't seen you in a long while." The way down was similar with constant 1st and 2nd gear twistys and and occasional 3rd or maybe 4th gear straight. After hours of this I finally came out onto straighter roads with a huge smile on my face damp face. Evening was coming on so I drove into the first town I came to, San Felipe Jalapa de Diaz and got a room at the one hotel there. This was the Hwy 182, one of the Best Dual Sport rides I encountered in 15,000 miles on this trip. I Highly recommend it for anyone riding MX.
    #9
  10. JackL

    JackL T plus 16 months

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2006
    Oddometer:
    436
    Location:
    Colorado
    After stopping my gear and grabbing a shower I needed a beer. I had spent about 6 hours and ridden almost 200 miles of twistys to go about 35 miles east in MX. :1drink
    My room in the 1 hotel
    [​IMG]I wandered around the town and found what seemed to be a bar. There were people drinking there and they sold me beer from a cooler and we played music on jukebox. Later I realized everyone there was part of one family and they lived in the back. It might have been their living room except other people dropped by to buy beer. The jukebox was limited but they sre enjoyed it when I played The Beetles.
    Here we are.
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    I left the bar when I realized they were trying to set me up the the gap toothed grandmother of the family. Eeeyuck.
    I wandered around town which was rather pretty. Suddenly a guy in a polo shirt with a bunch of cops started asking me questions. His shirt advertised a grocery store so I wasn't really impressed. He wanted to see my ID. I asked for his. It was on green paper and unlaminated. Eventually I convinced them not to take me to the police station but instead to my hotel were I could produce my green unlaminated ID (copy of my drivers license. That made them happy and off they went. It was fun driving around town standing up in the back of the police pickup truck.
    I guess they don't get a lot of Gringos in Jalapa de Diaz. But it was a nice little town with friendly people.
    I got up early the next morning and hit the road. About 10 miles east I pulled in to grab a bite and some gas and realized one of my panier lids was gone. It had been there when I left so back over the last 10 miles twice looking for it but no luck. I figure someone found it in the road and is now cooking on it. That killed an hour.
    So then just a long boring blast across the isthmus of Mx to Palengue. I broke a cardinal rule and drove at night but arrived only about 30 minutes after dark. The highlights of the day were losing my left mirror (I retrieved it) and launching the KLR off a dirt embankment in a construction zone a head of a Semi then banking hard left to avoid and oncoming truck.
    It was good to get to Palenque. My first Mayan ruins and the only ones where they offered me magic mushrooms. I declined because I'd ridden the bike out there. I wish now I'd taken them up on it.
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    They have a very good museum there which I highly recommend. They had found an undisturbed tomb in Palenque which they have reconstructed in the museum. This is where they found the famous Jade Mask.
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    #10
  11. JackL

    JackL T plus 16 months

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2006
    Oddometer:
    436
    Location:
    Colorado
    Here's my post from this day. A bit of repetition but it's good
    Man, it's been a few long, hard days so I'm relaxing this afternoon and posting some pics and having a couple Dos Equis'. I left Guanajuato and road hard to Puebla. Mostly toll roads which are fast but expensive. There seems to be no rhyme nor reason to them. Sometimes they're long distances for cheap, sometimes short for expensive. At one point I paid $3 US, went up and around a ramp and back the direction I'd been going (no other on or off ramps) only to pay $4 US less than a mile later. Had a quick tour of Puebla in the evening then up early and on the road.
    Decided to ride the free (Libre) road east so dropped SE to Tehuacan no problem. The roads kept getting smaller and crappier (they reminded me of where I grew up) until I turned left at Teotitlan de Flores Magon where I began a climb up a pot-hole infested series of switchbacks which soon turned to gravel. My first thought, since it was 60 miles to the next town was to turn back. Then I thought this is what I'm here for. This adventure. This is why I have a dual-sport motorcycle with knobby tires. On I pressed. Eventually the road turned back into crappy and then better pavement but massively twisty. 1st and 2nd gear stuff with a mountain on one side and nothing but air on the other. I averaged less than 30 mph for about 4 hours.
    I think this might have been the steepest, most vertical in a short distance mountain pass I've ever ridden. It might also be the best dual-sport road in MX! As I descended the humidity hit. I'd crossed over to the Caribbean side of MX. I ended up just before sunset, after barely 150 miles, at the little town of Jalapa de Diaz where with the guidance of a local I got a room at the only hotel in town. A cool little place where I found the local watering hole of drunks and got hit on, for the first time in my life, by a great-grandmother. After leaving there I was stopped by the police and escorted back to my hotel so I could show them my ID.
    The following day I went 10 miles and found my pannier lid gone. Backtracking slowly I was unable to find it and it wasn't at the hotel where I'd last seen it. I figure it had either slide off into a bush where I couldn't see it of had already become someones grill for their stove. A bit of duct tape to keep my stuff in and I set off on a 340 blast to Paleque where I arrived a little after dark. Broke that rule again. But it's mostly a guideline.
    #11
  12. JackL

    JackL T plus 16 months

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2006
    Oddometer:
    436
    Location:
    Colorado
    From Palenque it was a short ride up to Campeche. A typical Mexican town with a very nice old area that's been restored. Had a nice fort there they built to combat English pirates.
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    After a walk along the old city walls I wandered into a bar where they were watching the Super Bowl. I sat around drinking beers for a while enjoying hanging out with the locals watching American football. One of the teams won. I then wandered off and got involved in a big traditional wedding ceremony which was a lot of fun.
    On the way I came across this bike which was the bodies of 2 scooters welded onto a frame with a steering column in the middle.
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    Down watching the bands after the wedding
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    From Campeche I headed out looking for some other ruins but missed my turn. I was able to convince the guys at the toll road to let me double back across the median to find the road I needed. Spent a while at Edzna ruins.
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    I have to admit that I didn't know much about the Mayan ruins in eastern MX and Central America other than Chichen Itza. What I didn't realize was the extent and number of the ruins. They were massive cities that were for the most part larger than their European contemporaries at that time. For instance Edzna was founded in 400 BC and more people lived there at it's height than in London or Paris in 1000 AD. The road networks were also comparable to what the Romans built. The building in the background is 40 meters in height.
    From Edzna it was back across MX to the east. There are 2 main roads that run west to east across the Yucatan. The main freeway that runs from Merida to Cancun, aka the tourist route that runs by Chichen Itza, and the much less touristy Hwy 184 further south. I highly recommend it.
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    This was an interesting site from where I sat at one of the may roadside taco stands. Guys in flannel and bib overalls. I felt like I was back in Indiana.
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    I arrived in Paa-mul on the Carribean coast, about 30 miles south of Playa del Carmen to meet my old friend Hermes. His mother had a house and some property there. They were just off to pick him up from the airport in Cancun so after dumpig my gear I made a shopping list.
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    Then headed off tot he store to get it. Panniers work great for this.
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    Ice, Modello, and pineapple in that side. The rest on the other side.

    Hermes enjoyed the frozen rum smoothies when he arrived. This is their Palapa where we stayed.
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    We took a trip down to Tulum to see the ruins. They were pretty covered in tourists and lizards.
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    We also rented some bicycles and headed out to a couple cenotes.
    This is the Grand Cenote
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    Hermes mother and step-father had just built a nicer place on the beach.
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    It has a nice view
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    We toured around the eastern Yucatan. One of the cooler places we went was an abandoned resort. I'll get to pictures of that from my 2nd trip there.
    On one fo the nights we were here Hermes and I bussed it up to Play del Carmen. As we were wandering around looking for something interesting to do and avoiding the hustlers trying to sell us drugs we heard some good music coming from the upper floors of a building. Following our ears we ended up walking into a club packed with blondes. Tall, white, european blondes. It was a Valentienes Day party of a local university that had a huge Norwegian contingent. One of the guys came up to me and thought I was with them. When he found out we were Americans he invited us to stay because there were 120 women and 20 guys at this school. I can honestly say I've never been grabbed by that many blonde women in one night in my entire life.
    Hermes headed back to the states and I had 10 days to kill before my dad showed up in Cancun so I thought about heading over to Cuba. That didn't work out so I spent the entire time in Tulum. I really intended to get out and see a bit but I met a great gang and enjoyed some down time after 70 days on the road. I did make it 40 miles east to Coba on my first day there.
    A few interesting things there. The hoop from the ball game they played. Like soccer but only palyed with the hips.
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    And in case there was any doubt about the results of the game, this was in the center of the court
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    Quite 'jungley' out there
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    This only makes sense to one person who will read this blog, but I came across it in the middle of the jungle.
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    It was a good view from the top of the 42m main pyramid. You really get a sense of how these man maid structures can just disappear into the jungle.
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    They had a 500 ft zip line from a 50 foot tower across the lake. That was a hoot.
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    #12
  13. JackL

    JackL T plus 16 months

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2006
    Oddometer:
    436
    Location:
    Colorado
    Well in my fight with this web page not to get logged out and lose my posts it looks like I got a double post. Ce la vie.

    This may, or may not be my last post for tonight. Just 2 things. First what I posted on Facebook at this point of my trip.

    "Today is Day 75 of my travels. It seems both longer and shorter than that. Relaxing around the hostel again. Might go somewhere. Might not."

    And a link to a good article I posted then.

    This Is Your Brain on a Motorcycle

    http://www.motorcycleinsurance.com/this-is-your-brain-on-a-motorcycle/
    #13
  14. JackL

    JackL T plus 16 months

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2006
    Oddometer:
    436
    Location:
    Colorado
    I spent about 10 days in Tulum while waiting for my father to arrive in Cancun. I thought about heading out on a bike trip and tried to book a trip to Cuba but that didn't work out. Basically I laid around in the sun and drank a lot with some friends I made.
    I stayed at a great little hostel that had just opened and met the proprietors, Lea and Camilo.
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    Camilo was a very good flamenco guitarist and I saw a few shows he played out at the expensive resorts on the beach.
    I also met their expat buddy Roy who played keyboards with them occasionally and managed this place out on the beach.
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    This is the center court of the hostel where I spent part of each day lunging. Roy on the right, Lea in the middle, and my good friend Isan from MX City who is a great photographer. I spent a good deal of time bumming around with him.
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    We rode back up the road to the abandoned resort I mentioned earlier and gave it a good exploration. Lots of cool places there but I'll try to limit the pictures.
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    A map of what it looked like originally
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    People had been through and stripped out all the copper wire but left the plastic.
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    From Tulum it's a couple hour ride up to Cancun where I met my father. He had a time-share he was using there. It was a bit more luxury than I was used to.
    Looking out from our room.
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    We sat through an entire day of the hard sell of them trying to get you to buy a time-share there. It sucked but we got free tickets to a good equestrian show and a free rental car for 3 days so I guess it was worth it.
    It turns out that in Cancun, where the water is supposedly good, is o the only place I got sick from it. So did my Dad. We still managed to head out to Chichen Itza though.
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    Chichen Itza is cool but it's full of tourists from tour buses and they don't let you climb on the pyramids any more.
    We then headed on to Merida on the west coast of the Yucatan.
    I really wasn't feeling well so didn't do much there at first. The next day we explored the city and saw some interesting art.
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    We drove up to the Dzibilchaltun ruins or the Temple Of The Seven Dolls, so named because of seven small effigies found at the site when the temple was discovered under the ruins of a later temple pyramid by archaeologists in the 1950s. On the Spring equinox, the sun rises so that it shines directly through one window of the temple and out the other. This is a similar event to the descending snake of Chichen Itza designed to show the power of the gods. The temple is connected to the rest of the site by a sacbe, or "white road," so-called because they were originally coated with white limestone, built over stone-and-rubble fill.
    The Temple.
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    Looking due West from the temple.
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    From there it was a day drive back to Cancun to our hotel
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    I can say that the hotel district of Cancun was the only place I saw unhappy or rude Mexicans. I'm sure this was because Cancun was like a low brow version of Florida during Spring Break. It reminded my of Las Vegas in in its tackiness and desire to remove tourists from their money. And Montezuma was still having his revenge on me.
    So with a final wave to my father I left Cancun.
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    Thanks for bringing me a new riding jersey and glove to replace the ones I trashed in Baja.

    I headed back for a brief few days in Tulum.
    Here's a quick and very poorly recorded vid of Camilo, Roy, and Tanya rehearsing
    http://s83.photobucket.com/albums/j...012 Pt 1/?action=view&current=P1050135-1.mp4

    There was one final crazy party night to send me off (oh and somewhere in all that time we celebrated Carnival. It's pretty vague expect running around with an Italian girl and people in Mayan costumes).
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    I really hate big glasses.

    At my friends suggestion I headed south to Bakalar Lagoon for a night. It was quite pretty and I found a great place to camp right on the lagoon.
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    I met some other travelers who gave me a beer and we swapped stories. You can see him just to the left of my biek carrying beer to us on the right.
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    I went out to dinner and found a pretty cool fort in town which they let me wander around for free because it was almost sunset.
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    When I got back this little guy, one of about 10 puppies, had crawled up into the vestibule of my tent. He'd been around all night and really took a liking to me.
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    If I'd known then that it wasn't that hard to get a dog through customs down there I'd have bought him and taken him with me.

    From ther eit was just a short, damp ride to the Belize border.


    #14
  15. JackL

    JackL T plus 16 months

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2006
    Oddometer:
    436
    Location:
    Colorado
    I'm going to insert some more notes from Facebook since they help me remember this trip. I'm only partially writing this ride report for the ADV Rider crowd. it will also go out to my family and all my friends world wide so not all of you will care about everything I say. Cope.

    Mar 2, 2012
    Ha, just had a woman recognize the Smarty Pants sticker on my laptop. A Seattelite and friend of Tim Ptak's. She gave us some Snake Oil."

    "Hey Apple."
    This is a recurring gig that Lea and I had and still have going from when I was in Tulum. There's a series of them.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZN5PoW7_kdA

    The Norton Commando Transformer video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=iKqpvriKZuA

    And one last thing. It was Mar 7. With Leap Year I've been on the road 90 days. I've only been on 3 other motorcycle trips this long before.
    #15
  16. JackL

    JackL T plus 16 months

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2006
    Oddometer:
    436
    Location:
    Colorado
    I crossed into Belize on what turned out to be Election Day. In MX I was warned not to but I thought being able to experience this little part of history would be interesting. I was.
    This was my first border crossing between 'Central American' countries. It was pretty easy. I did get a helper at the border who spoke perfect English (it's Belize, they all do). I paid him $20 US which was too much but oh well.
    After the border it was a short run down to the town of Orange Walk. Belize was a big change from MX. It got less flat than the Yucatan, the people changed from brown to black, the language changed from Spanish based to English based, and the level of poverty seemed to increase. I found a bank and got some money while waiting out a rain storm. Not much was open because of the elections. Like in the States the 2 parties were Blue or Red. That's about all I can tell you about them. I couldn't get a clear picture of their difference but people in the shirts of their color were out everywhere. The roads were literally packed with them in the towns. Unlike in the US they all seemed to mingle together in great jovial crowds with little tension.
    I arrived in Belize City in early afternoon and didn't have too much trouble finding a guesthouse with secure parking, the Sea Breeze. I then explored the city and got some dinner.
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    It seems one of the parties didn't like a Mr Barrow, who I later found out was the current Prime Minister.
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    That would be $3.50 US.

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    I'd heard some very negative things about Belize City and there were certainly a lot of guys out trying to hustle your money. I ended up meeting what I thought was a young kid but turned out to me a tiny, seriously dread-locked older woman named Mary while out wandering. There was no beer being sold all day in the country but she hooked me up with some and while sitting on the deck of her family's flat she explained the politics. Sort of. They were the Blue party who was trying to get rid of Barrow.
    The northern part of town we were in, where my guest house was, was only kind of rough. When I went off to get more beer she said "Don't worry maaan. If'n anybody boder you jus tellem you're friend o Mary." Nobody did but I was reassured as she was the Matriach of the area.
    I drank and partied with here extended family until about 4 am. The Blues lost.
    #16
  17. JackL

    JackL T plus 16 months

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2006
    Oddometer:
    436
    Location:
    Colorado
    I'd been talking to an ADV Rider RodRut. He lived down in Placencia which is known as the Caye you can drive to. I'd had the panier lid I needed sent on to him so headed down that way. He thought he might ride up and meet me but that didn't work out so after stopping in Belize's new Capital, Belmopan, I headed on his way on the Hummingbird Hwy. Now things were getting interesting. Hills and curves for the first time in weeks.
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    A typical little bridge.
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    I made it to the Barefoot Bar, gave Rod a call and had a drink while I waited for him to arrive.
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    Now all that Rod had said to me was "I am building an international airport, and a few other projects here in Placencia." I figured he was an engineer down here enjoying the sunshine for a while. Turns out he's the owner of the airport and the nearby resort hotel.
    So he put me up in his McMansion and took me over to the resort and just said "This is Jack, he's on my account." So then it was roughing it for a bit.
    At the pool
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    On the beach
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    My post from my first morning there, "I feel like a Colonialist sexist pig-dog. I wake up this morning and there are little brown women running around waiting on me. Coffee, breakfast, and somebody washed my motorcycle for me last night. I feel guilty but good at the same time. :)"

    I liked all the different variations of these signs I came across.
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    Parts of Placencia were nice, traditional areas.
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    And parts weren't
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    Hey here's Rod in the foreground. He has a pretty nice life down here.
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    Remember I mentioned speed bumps. Yeah. Here's more
    Let me take a minute to talk about speed bumps, or Topes as they're called in Mexico. They're obsessed with them. Every little town and burgh has as many as they can. I think it's a status symbol. If the town down the road has three, we gotta get four kind of thing. They come in all shapes and sizes but are normally about 8 in high and 2 ft wide. Those are the Topes. The Velocidades are like our normal American speed bumps. They also use plastic turtles which are a pain on the bike since you don't quite fit between two.

    These can come up quite suddenly when hidden in a shadow or unpainted and are quite, um, exhilarating. They really slow down your ride and screw up your rhythm. The only good thing about them is they make excellent places to pass trucks, buses, and slow cars. And at least on the bike you can stand up and pound over them.

    I thought maybe I'd got away from them in Belize. There weren't any up north. However on the 11 miles of road between where I'm staying at Rods and Placencia there are exactly 30 of them. 30 of the fuckers. Somebody must be getting kick-backs. It's a tedious drive each day.

    I'll finish with a story of a night at the Barefoot Bar. I headed down there on my own and had some drinks. It was a fun night and I got to talking to a couple of people at the table next to me. It was a group of about 8 women and a couple guys and was one of the womens birthday. I bought her a Chocolate Cake shot which they had never heard of. I then decided to talk to every single person at the table. They were all down from Belize City celebrating the birthday. They were all very friendly except for one of their fathers. it turned out one of the girls, Bea, had gone to college in Washington state, just a 6 hour drive from Seattle. We had a long conversation and all wandered off to more partying that night.

    From my Facebook (FB) post the next day, "Well, now I understand why most of my girlfriends and lovers didn't have many female friends. They make lousy Wingmen. A guy will encourage you in going home with someone. A girl will complicate or negate it.
    OK, I have to be honest. This statement pretty much doesn't apply to my female friends. You are, mostly, above that. A couple of you (Hi Sue) are the best wingmen (wingwomen?) in the world."
    #17
  18. JackL

    JackL T plus 16 months

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2006
    Oddometer:
    436
    Location:
    Colorado
    I'll leave you with this today. Panty Rippers are a drink that the people in Belize like. And my FB post of Mar 10, this day of the ride.

    "Started reading a new book yesterday. The beginning got me hooked immediately:

    "We were wanderers from the beginning. We knew every stand of tree for a hundred miles. When the fruits or nuts were ripe, we were there. We followed the herds in their annual migrations. We rejoiced in fresh meat. through stealth, feint, ambush, and main-force assault, a few of us cooperating accomplished what many of us, each hunting alone, could not. We depended on one another. Making it on our own was as ludicrous to imagine as was settling down. Working together, we protected our children from the lions and the hyenas. We taught them the skills they would need. And the tools. Then, as now, technology was the key to our survival. When the drought was prolonged, or when an unsettling chill lingered in the summer air, our group moved on—sometimes to unknown lands. We sought a better place. And when we couldn't get on with the others in our little nomadic band, we left to find a more friendly bunch somewhere else. We could always begin again. For 99.9 percent of the time since our species came to be, we were hunters and foragers, wanderers on the savannahs and the steppes.
    There were no border guards then, no customs officials. The frontier was everywhere. We were bounded only by the Earth and the ocean and the sky—plus occasional grumpy neighbors. When the climate was congenial, though, when the food was plentiful, we were willing to stay put. Unadventurous. Overweight. Careless. In the last ten thousand years—an instant in our long history— we've abandoned the nomadic fife. We've domesticated the plants and animals. Why chase the food when you can make it come to you? For all its material advantages, the sedentary life has left us edgy, unfulfilled. Even after 400 generations in villages and cities, we haven't forgotten. The open road still softly calls, like a nearly forgotten song of childhood. We invest far-off places with a certain romance. This appeal, I suspect, has been meticulously crafted by natural selection as an essential element in our survival. Long summers, mild winters, rich harvests, plentiful game—none of them lasts forever. It is beyond our powers to predict the future. Catastrophic events have a way of sneaking up on us, of catching us unaware. Your own life, or your band's, or even your species' might be owed to a restless few—drawn, by a craving they can hardly articulate or understand, to undiscovered lands and new worlds.

    Carl Sagan - Pale Blue Dot.
    #18
  19. JackL

    JackL T plus 16 months

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2006
    Oddometer:
    436
    Location:
    Colorado
    I decided to head back to Belize City to see my new friend Bea. I took a different route back along the Coastal Hwy which turned out to be a lot of fun.
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    I stayed at the same guest house, the Sea Breeze. I looked around for something else because I wasn't wild about the place but nothing else in my price range had secure parking. It had rained and the roof across from me turned into a pond.
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    Bea's mother, and now Bea, work for the Prime Minister. She picked me up in her SUV and we went out for Chinese food, which is quite good in Belize, then she showed me around her city.
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    This is from my Facebook post of Mar 15, "So 2 days ago, when getting ready to ride into town to get my pannier lid, I noticed my rain gear had gotten pretty moldy in 4 days stuffed in a plastic bag. Especially the gloves. When I got to Belize City I took the gloves to my room with me to dry. This was fortunate because some one climbed the 8 ft wall, got over the razor wire, and broke into my 2 front, soft panniers and stole my rain pants and coat. Or more likely it was an inside job. The owner's son, who worked nights seemed a bit sketchy and kind of a dick the whole time. He would have known when I was asleep in my room. The owner's of the Sea Breeze guest house wouldn't even refund me my $25 for my nights stay for not keeping my bike safe.

    I still have my normal riding jacket which is slightly water proof, and the gloves. This is good because of course yesterday it rained like cats and dogs. Fortunately I was able to pull into a tiny restaurant, Shena's, for the local meal, ride and beans with chicken. I spent an hour there letting the rain pass off to the west. As I was leaving one of the zippers on my riding jacket failed a couple times."
    Shena's, a great place for lunch.
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    Of course this was the first day I'd been hit with heavy rain the entire trip, and I had no rain gear. Fortunately I wouldn't need it for another 2 months. I made it to San Ignacio, Belize that afternoon. Got a room at the Hi-Et GH and checked out the town. Met another American named Brian and did some drinking at Greety's Bar.
    [​IMG].

    #19
  20. JackL

    JackL T plus 16 months

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2006
    Oddometer:
    436
    Location:
    Colorado
    The next morning I was up and out through the fog. Got a good breakfast at Benny's Kitchen.
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    Then headed off to Xonantonich ruins.
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    I was the first one there for the day and had the place to myself for about an hour. It was amazing to walk in and see this rising through the morning mist
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    I heard my first Howler Monkeys here then headed back in San Ignacio and met up with Brian. We hit another ruin and then an Iquana hatchery.
    Brian from CA
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    Iquanas everywhere
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    And that's it for Belize. With a last view of the stairways to nowhere I was off to Guatemala.
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    #20