The Motorcycle Chronicles of Jackie & Valentino... The Southern Episode

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by V@lentino, Sep 20, 2013.

  1. AdventurePoser

    AdventurePoser Long timer

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    I've learned that posting a RR from Mexico is a bit short of a monumental undertaking....First, believe it or not, its hard to take pix when traveling by moto...generally there are no shoulders on the roadways; to stop on the roadway is a bad idea at best, suicidal at worst. Second, internet connections are a crapshoot. So, when you find a spot, like the “Casa Mexicana,” our current digs, it's great to try and catch up.

    This is a nice place.My partners and I are planning on Chasing the Summer for Six Months so rooms in the 20-35 dollar range are best, and this spot is a bit more, but it is beautiful, clean, and a decent internet connection. More importantly, it is near the action; the city is a living, breathing organism and we are living right on its flank! More about the city later in this post.

    But enough of that...we are now about 600 miles south of the border, staying in Guanajuato, easily one of the most beautiful towns I've ever been in. The colors, sights, and sounds are even more vivid than Zacatecas, and I didn't ever want to leave there... :)

    J/V continue to be excellent travel companions and they are helping me understand the culture much faster than if I was just stumbling around on my own. It's like a crash course in culture!

    Yesterday and today are walking day. Guanajuato is a city made for ambling around because of its picturesque narrow winding streets and its “Tunnelos de Subterranea,” the vast system of tunnels carved out underneath the city, which allow traffic to flow (somewhat), and its incredible architecture.

    My words cannot describe the people, food, friendliness, and vibe that is Mexico... It is impossible to paint Mexico with a broad brush; the landscapes, peoples, issues are all different depending on where you travel! Just like everywhere else you go!

    We left SLP and its beautiful pedestrian promenades, architecture, and smog for our next city, Guanajuato, another UNESCO city. We rode past huge estancias, cattle, and never-ending fields of alfalfa where farmers were harvesting it by hand machete and loading their work
    onto horse drawn wagons...

    Gradually the high plains gave way to gorgeous, rugged mountains that were scalloped by giant cumulus clouds. Spectacular!

    And so was the riding. What's not to love about endless miles of twisties?

    We love them with respect. Unlike in the States, signage is lacking around some of the dicier curves. That's ok. I'm beginning to enjoy the personal freedom I have down here to chose what I think is safe, not what a flurry of litigation conscious road engineers tell me to think.

    The roads into Guanajuato are like a beautiful woman...sexy, and maybe a bit dangerous. It's important to not succumb to the allure too easily. Animals, especially burros, huge buses, limited or nonexistent shoulders, and gravel/potholes demand your respect.

    Love, but love carefully if you can! Descending into the valley I thought of Ozymandias and thanked him for helping me remember both the danger and the allure of Mexico.
    #41
  2. pceire32

    pceire32 Irish

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    Great Pics !
    Thank you
    #42
  3. AdventurePoser

    AdventurePoser Long timer

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    Hey Paul,

    Thanks...chalk it all up to a decent internet connection and time to burn.

    Right now I'm on a bunuelo fueled writing binge. I little bit later down to the town square to find some lunch. What a great place.
    #43
  4. TealLA

    TealLA Adventurer

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    Yes indeed Steve, those are some terrific images and some great storytelling as well!
    Thank you.
    #44
  5. V@lentino

    V@lentino Inspektor

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    Selection criteria for nomination as a UNESCO World heritage city:

    i. to represent a masterpiece of human creative genius;
    ii. to exhibit an important interchange of human values, over a span of time or within a cultural area of the world, on developments in architecture or technology, monumental arts, town-planning or landscape design;
    iii. to bear a unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilization which is living or which has disappeared;
    iv. to be an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates (a) significant stage(s) in human history;
    v. to be an outstanding example of a traditional human settlement, land-use, or sea-use which is representative of a culture (or cultures), or human interaction with the environment especially when it has become vulnerable under the impact of irreversible change;
    vi. to be directly or tangibly associated with events or living traditions, with ideas, or with beliefs, with artistic and literary works of outstanding universal significance. (The Committee considers that this criterion should preferably be used in conjunction with other criteria);

    The protection, management, authenticity and integrity of properties are also important considerations.





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    Zacatecas is all that and so much more. The city reminded me of the university town of Salamanca, España. Not only the feel of the city, how vibrant it was but the colour of the buildings, a deep ocher that turns to a burnt orange with the flamboyant light of the setting sun.

    The "Centro Historico" lies in the middle of a valley, dominated by la "bufa" where in 1914 as The Great War was ramping up in Europe, Pancho Villa and his terrible Division of the North devastated Huerta's Federales and opened the gateway to take Mexico city.

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    We also took the time to visit the “Mueso Rafael Coronel”. It harbours a intriguing collection of masks of all shapes and sizes.

    On the pathways, under the arches, through the gardens into the masks room

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    We meandered through the streets of the city, savouring the hues of the city, enjoying its festive pace and lazy rhythm.

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    There was some food also

    Relleno de pollo y queso fundido con mole

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    Neat looking bikes
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    This atrium is a bike shop
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    Proud and friendly
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    Did a minor field repair on the Russell Day Long saddle, a nail from my Sidi's took a bite out of it. Found a local "tapiceria" and 50 pesos later is was all done, including pick up and delivery from hostal Villa Colonial, just behind the cathedral which by the way cost us $19.00 Cdn per night.

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    We have now been on the road for three weeks and are starting to find a good rhythm; our packing/unpacking routine is feeling more natural, and shortly after having crossed the Tropic of Cancer, with rounded the odometer at 5000 km.

    We are riding less, as we are linking the former colonial cities of Zacatecas, Guanajuato, and San Miguel de Allende, before we head for the bustling Metropolis that is Mexico city. It feels nice, my mindset in slowly switching from the banality of home life and work, to the pleasant cadence of the road.

    The road from here to there has been painted of rolling hills, high plateaus and the occasional mountain pass. Endless fields of wild flowers peppered by old yuccas, whitehorn acacias, lechugillas, and prickly pear cactus. The latter called “nopal” by the Mexicans and found in a variety of dishes from tacos to deserts.

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    Time is different, at least it feels as such. Awaking when your eyes open, not when the machine tells you its time to do so. Your biggest concern of the day; determine what type of road you’re going to travel, to ride, not exactly sure where it will bring you, not exactly sure what lies ahead, what discovery you are bound to make before day’s end.

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    In short, life is good…​
    #45
  6. V@lentino

    V@lentino Inspektor

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    Once upon a time, long, long time ago, in the city of Guanajuato lived a young man named Don Luis, he was a poor boy working at la mina. One evening during at the l fiesta he saw the beautiful Doña Carmen, the daughter of a successful local merchant. They danced the night away, and fell deeply in love. Alas her father forbade the relationship and promised to marry her to a rich Spanish businessman.


    Stricken by sadness, Doña Carmen spent her days cloistered in her room on the second floor of her father’s house. This was a special house as it was built on the narrowest street of the city. One evening as she stepped on the balcony to gaze at the stars in the hope of chasing her sadness away, she heard the voice of her lover calling her from the balcony across the small street, “the callejon”.


    At last they were reunited, Don Luis had a rented a room in the house across the narrow street and they could, when they both reached across exchange a tender kiss. That very same evening, as a token of his love and a promise to marry her, Don Luis gave Doña Carmen a single rose and vowed to make her father understand how much he loved his daughter.


    It was at this very moment that the fathers, having heard the lovers speak, burst into his daughter’s room and unto the adjacent the balcony. He was furious and with uncontrolled fury, he took out his dagger and plunged it in his daughter heart. Helpless, Don Luis fell to his knees in anguished as he witnessed the rose fall from his dead lover’s hand on the steps of the tiny stairs below.


    Later that night, overcome by sadness, the young miner cut his finger so that he could use his blood to write a final poem to his beloved. Shortly before the wee hours of the morning, the spirit of Doña Carmen came to visit Don Luis in his fitful sleep, vowing to love him for eternity, and to plead for her father’s life.


    Haggard and in agony, the young miner wandered without purpose through the streets of Guanajuato, desperately looking for his lover. When night came, stricken with grief, he climbed to “El cerro de la Bufa” where in the dark of night he plunged to his death knowing that his soul would soon re-joined for eternity his beloved Doña Carmen.



    -"Yikes! That's a tragic and creepy story says he."

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    Nothing so dramatic for Jackie and Valentino, simply a romantic "beso" en "El Callejon"


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    Sans paroles

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    #46
  7. V@lentino

    V@lentino Inspektor

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    I still want to tell you guys about our last two stops; San Miguel de Allende and Morelia, but tonight we are downtown Mexico city, one of the world most populated city.

    We took the Mex 15 from Morelia, "Libre" (non-toll road), and we linked several pueblos through some pretty amazing twisties highest point was 2748m. By the time we made it to Toluca, traffic was pretty tight.

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    Even the final stretch before entering the city on the 15 between Palo Alto (Granjas) and Lomas Altas made for some pretty intense piloting, steep and curvy canyons, with quickly changing inclines dotted with slow trucks on the right lane, and anxious locals lead foot on the left.

    We missed our gate (Plaza de la Reforma) out of the periferico for our hotel behind the Cathedral, and by the time we had made our way back to the centre we were gridlock less than a km from Hotel Cathedral located on Donceles 95.


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    Coming from the south we could not make a right turn into the one way street, the bikes were getting hot and we threaded our way to a gated street guarded by fully clad crowd control & riot police unit. In the event that the planned protest that had taken over Plaza de la Constitucion turned sour.

    The police let us park the bikes besides the gate and we let them cool down during "Jackie - Valentino & "Co.'s" 15 minutes of fame.

    Yup it was a pretty crowded place.

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    All in a days work when you are inching your way to Tierra Del Fuego:wings

    Tomorrow we discover what else this busy place has to offer

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    #47
  8. Fat Man Bass

    Fat Man Bass n00b

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    I do not want to interrupt this great story too much.
    Just wanna say I love the pics and stories.

    Good to speak French in Mexico.

    Have fun!
    #48
  9. V@lentino

    V@lentino Inspektor

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    Parral, Durango, Zacatecas, Guanajuato, San Miguel de Allende, Morelia, Mexico, Puebla, and Oaxaca.

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    So many UNESCO world heritage cities joined by hours of riding on perfect tarmac laid out among breathtaking scenery.

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    We are winding down this amazing historical tour of colonial Mexico. The Spanish conquistadors and their religious zealots left this grandiose heritage of religious architecture, and maze of quaint and cobbled streets, and other sumptuous Catholic artifacts. So much so that on numerous occasions you feel yourself transported into ancient Spain. Countless of the UNESCO accredited buildings we saw, had their foundations laid barely a few decades after Columbus landed in “La Española”. The Island now split between Domican Republic, and the ever-rebuilding Haiti, the poorest country in the Western hemisphere, where 80% of the population lives on less than $2.00 per day, some 900 miles from the glitzy beaches of Miami.

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    I guess that brings us, me full circle. I spent some time in Haiti in the early 80’s, I was 16 going on 17, and it first opened my eyes to poverty, oppression, and exploitation. It was there amidst the last years of the Duvalier regime that I first witnessed, in Cité Soleil, kids running half naked in muddy alleyways bordered by gutters overflowing with raw sewage.

    The rhetoric employed in the first sentence used in the CIA fact book to describe the economy of “La perle des Antilles” is laughable:

    “Haiti is a free market economy that enjoys the advantages of low labor costs and tariff-free access to the US for many of its exports”

    I cannot help but smile at the use of the words “enjoy”, “free” (twice) and “low labor” in the same sentence.

    I have been lucky to travel the world, India is deeply troubling, unsettling, its colors, odors, sounds, and humanity, it’s oppressive heat, and its beautiful dancing people. India teaches you to see beyond the poverty, beyond the ubiquitous slums, and find the humanity that bonds all of us, the ones that possess and the ones that do not.

    Last year I completed a postgraduate degree in intercultural and international communication. An emphasis was placed on learning about “Development communication” or “Communication for development”, throughout the completion of the degree, among professors, students, and readings, I sought the answer to the same question again and again:

    Is development without oppression and exploitation possible?

    Think about it for a minute or ten. If you have an idea on the topic I would love to hear it…

    Of course one needs to define development prior to even attempt to propose an answer to this age-old question.

    If you are interested; read this, a noteworthy paper on the taxonomy of development written by Lynge Nielsen.

    Or for something more interactive do this test; you might be surprised by your results:

    What is my footprint

    It had been many years since I last read Paulo Freire’s foundational work “Pedagogy of the Oppressed”,

    Paulo Freire Wiki

    So this summer, to understand more where I was heading I read Eduardo Gaeleano’s iconic book “Venas abiertas de America Latina”

    You can find an open source English copy prefaced by Isabelle Allende here:

    Open veins of Latin America

    For anyone riding the length of the Americas, before you even think about picking up a copy of the latest Lonely Planet, map, or other guide type literature, I suggest you read Gaeleano, no matter how young or old, or how much you think you know.

    Riding through the incredible landscape of central Mexico, a stranger in a strange land, I felt as I had so many times before. I think it is possible at any moment for any common woman or man to perform acts that will have a resounding positive and tangible impact on the life of another human being, or very small group of people. But before doing so, before any act of kindness, or other altruistic intention, your, mine, our task is to listen. Listen to someone’s needs and wants, listen to their complaints without other intention or judgment, simply by committing an act of self abstraction, by heeding and learning, then and only then may we attempt to make the world a better place.

    Hopefully this will not be construed as misplaced intellectual vanity, for this humble dissertation is not meant to propose anything new, but merely to trigger a reflection.

    Thank you valiant Parral, festive Durango, studious Zacatecas, romantic Guanajuato, colourful San Miguel de Allende, arrogant Morelia, surprising Puebla, stinky Mexico City, and untidy Oaxaca.

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    On you roads all I did was leave traces of ductile rubber… Your cities and their shades touched my senses, and your people have touched my heart.



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    #49
  10. V@lentino

    V@lentino Inspektor

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    Interruptions are good, at least we know someone is watching:lol3
    #50
  11. ElReyDelSofa

    ElReyDelSofa Desubicado

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    Valentino, I am very glad to read your writing and your thoughts on development/exploitation. Has long been a thought for me of the inequality resulting from exploitation of resources, human included. I appreciate the link to Galeano's book, has been on my reading list for a while. Is it possible for development to occur without impoverishing the country/population 'owning' the resources? Under capitalism, I don't think so. Capitalism seeks to concentrate wealth in as few hands as possible. And S. America has a long history of enriching the few at the cost to the many. That will be a hard ship to turn around, as any country with the political will to go against the system has been severely punished, Galeano's native Uruguay, Chile, Panama, and Ecuador come to mind.

    Intently following along on your trip, enjoying your thoughts, photos, and wish I was there to have a conversation in person.

    Saludos,

    Martín
    #51
  12. V@lentino

    V@lentino Inspektor

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    Maybe this can be useful to others travelling along our route. We have found that the Garmin NA map set (with Mexico) did not work so well :puke1, when entering addresses, so we started to enter coordinates instead.

    If you use Chrome, with the latest version of Google maps (Beta) you need to work a bit to find the coordinates.

    So first enter the address in Google map. This is our hostal in Oaxaca

    El Quijote Hostal Oaxaca
    Francisco Javier Mina 509
    Centro
    68000 Oaxaca, Mexico

    You will get this URL, copy/paste it in any text application

    "https://www.google.com/maps/preview#!q=El+Quijote+Hostal+Oaxaca%2C+Francisco+Javier+Mina%2C+Centro%2C+Oaxaca%2C+OAX%2C+Mexico&data=!4m15!2m14!1m13!1s0x85c7226af65b2db5%3A0xd8d601126b3cb1a8!3m8!1m3!1d21530907!2d-95.677068!3d37.0625!3m2!1i1259!2i634!4f13.1!4m2!3d17.057994!4d-96.729905"

    Then retype the numbers at the end of the “d” and the “!” and it will give you the Lat and Long in decimal

    Like this: Lat 17.057994 and Long -96.729905

    Copy/paste them back in Google maps with a coma in between: 17.057994, -96.729905 and the decimals will be changed into something you can actually enter in any GPS

    +17°3'28.78", -96°43'47.66"

    It also confirms that you did not make a mistake when copying the actual numbers.

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    #52
  13. pceire32

    pceire32 Irish

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    If you are interested in the politics, the state of Chiapas have some of the most oppressed indians in Mexico. All the land is owned by absent landowners. In 1994 the Zapatista's took over the town of San Cristobal De Las Casas lead by
    rebel leader called Subcomandante Marcos who wore a ski mask all the time and smoked a pipe they supported by the Bishop of the area Samuel Ruiz Garcia who fought for the poor all his life, they battled the Mexican army and hid out in the jungles on the border, hidden by the Lacondon Indians for years. They claimed NAFTA was doing a lot for the North but in the South the indians didn't even have a plot of land to grow beans and had been ignored by the government.They wanted indigenous autonomy. The Bishop died in 2011 but he was nonimated for a Nobel prize. Try and get to San Cristobal De Las Casas it is a beautiful unusual little town with a great history. You can often see Lacondon Indians in town wearing a long white shifts. Later Subcomandante Marcos was unmasked as a University professor from Tampico called Rafael Guilen.
    #53
  14. AdventurePoser

    AdventurePoser Long timer

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    Post deleted.
    #54
  15. V@lentino

    V@lentino Inspektor

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    Thanks for chiming in Gents, I appreciate the company and the words, in my daily life I believe I do the right thing, and I often try not to be cynical, but as many others who try, I mostly fail.


    “The Nobodies

    Fleas dream of buying themselves a dog, and nobodies dream of escaping
    poverty: that one magical day good luck will suddenly rain down on
    them---will rain down in buckets. But good luck doesn't rain down
    yesterday, today, tomorrow, or ever. Good luck doesn't even fall in a
    fine drizzle, no matter how hard the nobodies summon it, even if their
    left hand is tickling, or if they begin the new day with their right
    foot, or start the new year with a change of brooms.

    The nobodies: nobody's children, owners of nothing. The nobodies: the
    no ones, the nobodied, running like rabbits, dying through life,
    screwed every which way.

    Who are not, but could be.
    Who don't speak languages, but dialects.
    Who don't have religions, but superstitions.
    Who don't create art, but handicrafts.
    Who don't have culture, but folklore.
    Who are not human beings, but human resources.
    Who do not have faces, but arms.
    Who do not have names, but numbers.
    Who do not appear in the history of the world, but in the police
    blotter of the local paper.
    The nobodies, who are not worth the bullet that kills them.”

    Eduardo Galeano
    #55
  16. V@lentino

    V@lentino Inspektor

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    Just like Amsterdam said Alexandra smiling as she rearranged the flowers on the table of our beachfront condo in the sleepy little village of Zipolite.

    -"You might notice a certain familiar smell in the air, and don’t be too alarmed if your neighbour comes knocking wanting to borrow a cup of sugar, wearing just a towel around their neck"

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    From Oaxaca we took the 175, and covered the 260 km or so of twisties in about 6 hours. We had been forewarned that the hurricanes had recently washed out the road on a few places and they had not completely repaired the damage.

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    - Be conscious of “ojos” large pothole, said Emilio the kind owner of hostal El Quijote as he waived us goodbye.

    Some of the sections were indeed pretty torn up, but it looked worst then it really was.

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    The great news was no trucks or buses, and even little car traffic. Indeed the hurricanes have done a number on the sinuous road that joins Oaxaca and the pacific coast, but all and all it was a great ride through beautiful mountain valleys and high passes.


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    Slowly the vegetation changed from pines to palms, we maintained good speed and landed in Zipolite just in time for cocktail hour. Indeed Zipolite is a relaxed place; The routine was implacable, and difficult to follow. The orders of the day required a significant decision making process. Since I am a process kind of guy; I did well for the next few days…



    Swim in the pool? Go trashing in the wave?

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    Some breakfast,

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    Go back swimming,

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    Isn’t it about time for that first cold cerveza of the day?

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    -“Okaye” orale… otro taco the res por favor, pero con un poco mas de salsa picante.

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    -"No Taco for you Meeester, it's you time to cook tonight", says Jackie :babe

    -"Ok d'you got it babe, here comes the camarones, complimentary sunset included"

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    Ok, ok, it was not all fun and games. We also engaged in all the activities in “ing” like sleeping, tanning, walking, s---ing, f---ing... there was also some eating, and a bit of planning and routing.

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    There was also live football everynight

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    We followed Byron for a while

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    He took us here

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    And showed us this

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    And eventually this happened

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    Not everybody was working as hard as we were

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    Finally some well deserve R&R

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    There also was a fair amount of soul searching accomplished, and Adventureposeur, aka Steve, aka “& Co”. Decided that these past few weeks had been enough adventure, and opted to point his bike North and make his way back home, safe viaje Steve, thanks for the friendship and company, see you state-side.

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    … No problem for Jackie and Valentino, or for the readers of this here adventure, we’ll have plenty more to report in the coming months.

    Tomorrow we leave for Chiapas and head to Palenque, and the Guatemalan border…


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    #56
  17. TealLA

    TealLA Adventurer

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    "There also was a fair amount of soul searching accomplished, and Adventureposeur, aka Steve, aka “& Co”. Decided that these past few weeks had been enough adventure, and opted to point his bike North and make his way back home, safe viaje Steve, thanks for the friendship and company, see you state-side."


    Are you for real????
    #57
  18. V@lentino

    V@lentino Inspektor

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    Truth be told
    #58
  19. V@lentino

    V@lentino Inspektor

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    Along the coast till Salina Cruz, it was hot and very humid. We then darted to La Ventosa, which undoubtedly got its name; from the slight draft we experienced riding through the immense wind farm.

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    Here is more on this project if interested, it is carried by Électricité de France (EDF).

    La Ventosa project

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    The picture does not do it justice, but I can’t remember Mojave being this windy. It was perfect practice for Ruta 40.

    We entered Chiapas via a picturesque mountain pass, and immediately appreciated the cool fresh air.

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    Tomorrow we head for lunch in San Cristobal de Las Casas and dinner in Palenque
    #59
  20. salcar

    salcar Riding 4 Health

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2005
    Oddometer:
    1,085
    Location:
    Nicaragua or Mexico or ?
    Great RR :clap

    Thank you for the email and hopefully we get to meet in Nicaragua! :freaky
    #60