An Aussie Abroad - (Taking Lucy Home, from Chile to the US)

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Junipertravels, Jul 21, 2019.

  1. Peter640

    Peter640 Peter 640

    Jan 7, 2007
    Great report and love your writing .... loved Mex and plan to be back there and deeper in in a couple of years.

    Thanks P
    Junipertravels likes this.
  2. Normlas

    Normlas Been here awhile

    Jun 24, 2011
    New Zealand - JAFA

    Unfortunately, the KLR sparkplug is hidden down inside a depression in the top of the engine and lots of dirt and crap tends to accumulate around it, which can then drop into the engine when you remove the plug. It's important to give it a real good clean with compressed air / vacuum / brushes / whatever before pulling the old plug, last thing you need is a pebble in your cylinder. I just changed mine out a couple of days ago and had a good 20 minute session trying to pull out a tiny bit of rock stuck beside my half-out spark plug, if it had dropped it would have been a full top-end tear down!! Even with the fuel tank out there was not much room. In the end tweezers and a vacuum cleaner did the business, and she runs much nicer too! That iridium plug had about 25,000kms on it and my bike ran noticeably better, your one had about 50,000 kms on it which is why it looked like that :hide !! In my defense, they're supposed to be able to do 100,000 kms!

    So I would strongly recommend taking the fuel tank off and having a good clean down there when you swap them out.

    BTW - how long is your Arg TVIP good for? you still need to do the plate swap right?

    Happy travels bro! I LOVED Mexico city and as you say, the food....OMG
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  3. Junipertravels

    Junipertravels Adventurer

    Mar 30, 2019
    A valid point mate! And good to hear you're getting your bike back home ready, summer is coming! Hope you get some good trips in

    The TVIP is valid until the 28th of March, and still need to change the plates over. I was going to nip over to San Pedro de Atacama and change the plates before I left for Mexico, but the roads into the town were blockaded, the situation in Chile was a bit grim when I left. Will see about another border crossing when I get back there
  4. Junipertravels

    Junipertravels Adventurer

    Mar 30, 2019
    Okay so my first weekend in Ciudad de Mexico (CDMX) is relaxed without any real plans, this is thanks to my sensitive stomach (what the locals call Montezuma's revenge - food poisoning of gringos). My lack of eating leads to fatigue which leads to early bedtimes and consequently I'm awake before dawn most mornings. This is actually the best time of the day to wander a city and see it without the crowds. Perhaps a strange metaphor but I'd liken my early mornings watching the city wake up to that of watching your partner wake and dress in the morning. The city is naked of almost all people (there is the ever present police) but as the sky lightens people appear; fluorescent workers begin cleaning the streets; the police force change shift (literal police-marked buses are used to move the 100's of police in this district); punctual delivery drivers are dropping off boxes. When the roller doors begin to open men and women in suits with take away coffee cups appear, thicken but are then overtaken by screaming school kids. Soon the perpetually overcast sky of CDMX will be bright enough to be called daytime and the streets swell with my lot - the tourists, and with them come the merchandise hollering, the street performers and the beggars

    It's interesting being in a large city again after spending so much time in the relatively quiet Argentinian cities. That being said, CDMX wasn't as hectic as I was expecting. After travelling Asia I was expecting a similar chaos with Mexico City, but it wasn't. Population density of CDMX is relatively low and I was surprised with how tranquil it was. The historic district where I was staying would shut down at sunset (6.30pm) which caught me off guard a few times, and I suspect it's because no one wants to travel home on the public transport network after dark. Anyway, I really enjoyed the city. Vibrant and not overcrowded. And the food...!!! The best thing about Mexico is the food. As soon as I was eating again I became a regular and recognized customer of the street vendors of Plaza de Santo Domingo, and I try every variation of Tacos, Gordita's, Quesadillas... :happay

    :deal One of my regular's, the waiter was 10 years old and a real character


    :dukegirl And some snaps of the street food here - it's delicious and deserves all the space on this post...

    Vaso de Choclo - corn cooked in butter, with cheese, chili powder and lime juice (30MXN / $2.20 AUD)


    Assortment of kebab like meat used in the Taco del pastors - slow cooked and tender (Typical Tacos del Postors 60MXN for 5 tacos / $4.40 AUD)


    Gordito (in ENG Little Fatty - a word also used to describe chubby friends!) - basically a large corn chip, shaped like pocket-bread, served with a red bean paste, cheese, mushrooms or meat, lettuce and pickled chilies. The one below is made from Zea Mays (Black corn). 40MXN / $2.95 AUD

    Below, one of the many Tortas I ate. A bun fried in oil so the outside is crispy, inside can be a range of meats, cheese, beans, mushrooms, salads... Best eaten with pickled chili salsa. 50MXN / $3.70 AUD


    Below, the making of a chicken and cheese quesadilla. 40MXN / $2.95 AUD


    Also, another interesting point with CDMX was the immense police presence and the vehicles those police used. Dodge chargers seemed the most common, though there were streets lined with troupe carrying canopies. My favourite were the below bike (Harley's?) - something about police on bad-ass motorbikes made me think I was about to see a Terminator-like show down​


    How many cop cars can you count in the below photo?


    ...The answer is 11

    Janin arrived after I'd recovered from my gut poisoning. We were in town for the Day of the Dead festivities, but before the weekend we have time to explore the city - some interesting photos and facts which I will include at the end of this update. We also managed to get out to the large pyramid complex North West of the city



    ...Continued on next post...​
  5. Junipertravels

    Junipertravels Adventurer

    Mar 30, 2019
    Teotihuacan complex, photo overlooks the Lunar Temple Courtyard with the Sun Pyramid in the background

    Two return public buses and a tourism entrance fee came to a grande total of 190MXN ($14 AUD). A very reasonably priced day trip instead of using a tour operator (600MXN). All thanks to Janin and her fluency with Spanish... The pyramid complex was massive and ancient. No one really knows who originally built the complex but it dates back to 100BC and was estimated to house up to 200,000 civilians at its height. We were able to climb the larger of the pyramids - the Sun pyramid, and get an appreciation of what the landscape would've looked like surrounded by temples and palaces, all covered in white plaster and murals. For now there is scant little of this left, and only the exposed foundation stone is left behind

    Some remnant plaster with some paintings... This would've covered all the walls and structures in the complex


    There was also a temple left to Quetzalcoatl (the feathered snaked god) which still had impressive sculptures over the ruins



    It felt very Indiana Jones (or at least it would've if it weren't crawling with other tourists)

    The highlight of my week was in fact a night spent at the wrestling. The Lucha Libre was an incredible, crazily comedic, very talented wrestling act. The performance was impressive, how they can throw their bodies around so violently without hurting each other. Throwing themselves onto each other from height and using each other to break their fall, very impressive, and very funny. A lot of the fighting reminded me of the classic moves of Black Widow from the Avengers movie franchise - lots of wrapping legs around necks and throwing each other to the ground this way... If you every find yourself in Mexico City you have to go to Lucha Libre - no need to understand Spanish, it's all pretty clear and very fun!


    We also tried our first beer cocktails - this one was lime juice, beer, paprika and tamarind paste coated the rim of the cup. Let me describe it as very different, it didn't really taste like beer haha. We had our faces painted thanks to a spur of the moment decision and a good sales pitch from a street vendor


    On the day of Dia del Muertos, we arose early and made for the nearby markets. I had picked up a suit jacket from a flea market for $4 (still had the tags on it - score!), will be perfect for my Dia Del Muertos attire and I can also use it for the wedding (yes I am a cheap bugger, but the jacket fits perfectly and is in new condition. No one will even notice!) We get our faces painted again and join the crowds to watch the parade. We meet up with some more travelers from our hostel (some Brit's and American's), and I'll summarise that fun times were had...



    Spiced rum in take-away hot chocolates... Genius way to keep warm in what was a relatively cold day watching the parade:freaky


    An example of the parade :lurk

    And some videos of the dancing which was happening all around the central plaza

    In the morning I drag myself out of bed for some delish tacos, wander the local markets and otherwise spend my time relaxing. The following day we'll be making for Puebla - 2 hours South West of here, the smaller city is a UNESCO world heritage site, famous for their architecture. Also it's surrounded by 3 volcanoes, one of which has recently been quite active - I'm yet to see an active volcano!

    ..Continued on the next post...
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  6. Junipertravels

    Junipertravels Adventurer

    Mar 30, 2019

    So I mentioned in the earlier post Some Fun Facts about CDMX, gathered from one of those free city walking tours. If these things interest you, awesome, if not no dramas, feel free to skip :*sip*

    So you probably already know that Mexico City used to be a massive lake, the Incan empire built their capital on a small island within this lake until it gradually expanded and took over the lake ( obv there is no lake any more). They did this with these interesting man-made floating island, using trees to stabilise their position. Why did the Inca's build here? I suspect it was a tactical advantage to build your base surrounded by water, however the legend goes the that Quetzalcoatl had spoken to the emperor, and told him to create the capital where they found an eagle eating a snake whilst standing on a cactus. Very specific instruction. Anyway the Inca's found exactly this - a snake-eating-eagle propped on a cactus, on this little island and so the built their capital city here. This is now the image used on their national flag an the backs of all their coins



    The Plaza we were staying next to was at the heart of this little island, and the government is carefully excavating the ruins which are beneath the historic Spanish buildings. There are literally layers of history in this square and the government has to weigh up which layer of history will be preserved

    This plaza is called Zocola. Now zocola in Spanish is a word used to describe the base of a statue (direct translation is socket or base). The government had commissioned a large Angel statue to commemorate their independence but had only built the base before construction was halted for decades after the US war. As a result everyone began calling the square Zocolo, and to this day is still called this despite there being no statue base now. The statue ended up being built elsewhere in Paseo de la Reforma and the independence square is remained relatively empty, and is often used as an arena for concerts, as well as a great central place for the Dia Del Muertos (Day of the Dead) parade. I thought it was interesting that now other Mexican cities and towns have come to call their central plaza's Zocalo, even though the term started as a nickname for an incomplete monument

    Ironically the iconic parade for the day of the dead festival, seen in the James' Bond film Spectre in the Zocalo, didn't actually exist before the film created it. The film popularised the idea of a large parade and so the city commissioned one after the film was released

    Back to the Inca's, the pyramid in the centre of the town (ruins in the below photo) was dedicated to the god of war - one of the Inca's most important gods. This pyramid was used to recreate gory acts of violence and sacrifice captured enemies. Their legend goes that the mother of creation, who had only 1 daughter out of her +400 godly children, fell pregnant with a child who would become the god war. The one daughter, jealous, plotted and convinced her brothers to turn against this new unborn child. The goddess of creation was scared and so by miracle gave birth to a powerful full grown man. The god of war. Immediately following his birth he killed his sister, casting her head into the sky with such force it became the moon, her body was cast down the steps of the temple leaving a bloody trail. The stars in the night sky represent the brothers who scattered in their fear. Each year the Inca's would recreate this story with an honoured sacrifice who would then have a place in the upper level of heaven for giving their life. Some sacrifices (often of their enemies) would have their still beating hearts cut from their chests... Very Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom...

    Model replica of Inca City Centre, with the remaining ruins in the background:


    Below, the original gold plated statue head of the angel of independence, in the 1957 Earthquake the statue fell and was smashed to pieces. When authorities came the head of the statue was already missing. It was only recovered when someone tried to sell this giant gold head to a pawn shop some 10 years later


    Below, is what local Mexican's have come to call as the first statue of corruption. The story goes that Viceroy Miguel was doing a terrible job ruling Mexico. When his king, Charles the fourth, planned a trip to Mexico he feared he'd lose his job. His response was to commission a grand, handsome statue of the king (looking nothing like him in reality). When presented with this statue the King allowed the viceroy to continue. Though it was not long after Mexican's rose up and took their independence from Spain. It's the second largest cast bronze statue to have been created, weighing 26 tonnes. Reader beware... the below photo isn't PG rated!


    For those of you familiar with the Paris Underground you'll recognise the below metro station entrance. The Parisian styled metro entrance for only the Bellas Artes station. This is a little ironic, as it was a gift to commemorate an exiled dictator who attempted to recreate Mexico City as another European City (and all-round seemed racists against the locals). He spent his exiled years in France and after his death the French government gifted this metro station facade to the City of Mexico to celebrate the notorious dictator - despite ousting him in a violent coup, they actually assembled the facade and kept it for the station astride his infamous Palace of Fine Arts - An overly ornate marble monstrosity with ancient Greek architecture



    Cathedral de San Francisco, has sunk several meters in the past 100 years. Below look to the chandelier and the angle it is sitting at, the whole has sunk but not equally and the foundations are wildly askew. Walls and floors are all at strange angles so that walking around inside this church feels very odd

    Cathedral in CDMX.jpg

    This alludes to one of the biggest challenges CDMC is facing - it's interesting (or at least I find it interesting), but the problem with Mexico's sinking foundations is simultaneously due to a lack and an excess of water. How does this happen? So you know that CDMX was originally a giant lake which was built over and drained during the last 7 centuries. Due to poor drainage and a clay foundation water has frequently collected and flooded the city for most of these centuries. So there is an inherent culture now among the locals to fear water. The systematic creation of urban landscape has been developed to siphon the water away from the populace. This wasn't an issue until the mid 20th century when the population boomed causing water shortages, the government began bringing up water from the aquifer beneath the lake's clay foundation. So much water being has been removed, which, combined with the inability to recharge the aquifer thanks to the concrete and clay surfaces, has crippled the foundations, causing the city to sink. And not by any small amount, the city is sinking between 7 and 30 centimeters per year. Some parts of the city are 30 feet lower now than 100 years ago. The challenge the city faces is to recharge an aquifer that is all but blocked by original clay bottom of the lake and pavement above. At the same time parts of the city's population is often without water, and yet it is within a very high rainfall area
    More info here:

    Fun Facts about Dias Del Muertos:
    The below photo is a diagram of the Inca afterlife - the gateway into heaven leading into the 7 levels of heaven. The centre most is reserved for the gods and those sacrificed for the benefit of the Inca empire (the inca's did a lot of sacrificing). The orange petals are from the Samir flower which have heavy association with DDM. These petals are used to help guide the departed loved ones back home for their day on the Earthly plane (but only if their photos have been left on someone's ofrenda)


    Below is a photo of me and Janin next to the ofrenda in our hostel

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