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Lost on the way to the End of the World

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by El Explorador, Aug 6, 2012.

  1. fyr

    fyr iRoast Coffee

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2005
    Oddometer:
    1,347
    Location:
    Bytowne, Canuckistan
    Hey glad your reporting again! Cheers and enjoy the ride
  2. El Explorador

    El Explorador Radical Explorer

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2011
    Oddometer:
    372
    Location:
    Guatemala City, Guatemala, and going down!
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    Life in Gualadalajara is rich with experience. The colourful graffiti and crumbling colonial architecture, the bustle of life and music straining the seams of the city. Everything is vibrant. I arrive with no plans or expectations, just the promise of adventure and the memory of those eyes meaningfully gazing into mine. Cities naturally repel me – that looming concrete, the oppressive press of rushing bodies – but here I have found a welcoming oasis of fellow explorers on their own journeys.

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    My new friends open their home and their life to me, inviting me to come and go as I please. Fireworks at night, loud and colourful music everywhere, festivals, art, and parties punctuate my days as I more or less piggyback on the exciting lives of the seven international students living at Garbly house. Supposedly I’m here to fix Lost’s radiator fan, and to that end I’ve made a contact but progress is slow. There’s so much to see and do.

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    The morning after my arrival I’m taken for a walk to admire the Catalinas.

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    Mexico takes its macabre traditions lightly, and as I’m clued in to the telenovela-worthy romantic entanglement I’ve fallen into a pattern emerges. Love and death, gangs and speed limits, religion and politics, all are taken with and irreverent wink and a nod. Life here is rich and intense. Even the food can be a near life experience, as I discover during my epic endeavour to finish my chili-soaked torta ahogada, an almost religious experience in spiciness for the uninitiated.

    My vision begins to clear in the first couple of minutes after trying my first “spicy sandwich” to blurry faces laughing at my reaction this Guadalajaran baptism-by-fire. My ears are ringing and I can’t tell how much of the liquid pouring off my face is sweat and how much is tears. I love it.

    Flow from one day to the next, exploring the city on my own between experiences with new friends. There are rivers that run hot, university lectures, art galleries, football matches where I can’t even keep up with the girls team, permaculture and adobe brick building workshops. I'm spinning around, just trying to take it all in.

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    I’m introduced to friends and family. My friend’s grandmother burnt all her photo albums after her husband died and my camera is called into service; she heats us chocolate on the electric burner and they show me the bike with all the lights, the hundred-year-old clawfoot tub.

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    One “Oh you can’t leave until...” at a time, my visit stretches into a temporary residence.

    I have little moments; they feel important but I don’t understand why just yet. I ask a guy with a pure smile and worldworn clothes for a photo. He tells me he’s got an important contract, and points to the empty styrofoam tray with leftover cheese sauce in his hand. He stands for the shot anyway and hurries on with his mission; buddha smile at full power. I wonder about the kinds of happy.

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    Human passions are enigmas; maybe we prefer it that way. Someone I just met whispers in my ear to tell her I love her while we dance. We don’t believe the words, we just love the way they sound. Couples fight and fuck behind walls thinner than the line between love and hate; it’s never clear which is going on. I join friends for a good cry. In the bar, she’s drinking deep and singing along to melodramatic cantina music. They call these songs corta-venas, veincutters. Now at the beach, to the soundtrack of crashing waves, he’s wondering where his lover is. Drink deep, I watch my friend’s tears join the salty surf. Eating some raw shrimp from a dubious cooler “cooked” a few minutes ago by lime juice, I reflect on all this emotional chaos. Do we even care why we feel, as long as we get that release?

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    I’m used to the flow of the city now, have explored its sights and flavours, and have my favourite market stalls and alleyways. There’s an undeniable, particular charm to Guadalajara. Despite the inevitable dirty concrete, crime, and garbage that comes from having five million Latinos clustered together in one place, it’s a beautiful banquet for the senses of this wanderer.

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    One day I ride out to Guanajuato. On the way I meet a man who built himself a castle. When I ask him why, he simply replies, why not? To each their own beautiful madness. I can barely grasp the clockwork of my own mind as it is.

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    Guanajuato, ah, now there is a place to sigh over. A city of carefully curated delights. Labrynthine tunnels and alleyways make the city a maze to navigate, but somehow it has escaped the criminal cloud that darkens so many otherwise idyllic towns here. The river of tourists flows through its winding pathways along the well-oiled tourist machine. The mummy museum is a jarring experience that interrupts the flow with mummified babies and the world's smallest mummy. It's a fetus.

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    Nights are for the revellers. The callejoneadas collect the curious into groups led by troubadours in traditional dress who play pied piper with songs, jokes, and wine, funnelling us through narrow alleyways – callejones. We’re pushed through to laugh and clap together as the jovial guides steer us around competing groups to reach the famous callejon del beso. Stand in line, a quick kiss, move along, follow the leader; end up where we started, red-faced and bright-eyed.

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    I get word that my friend Luis’ mechanic has sourced me a replacement fan. The cost of an original Kawasaki is prohibitive whether I find it here or get it shipped down. Luck is with me and he’s found a junked Suzuki using the exact same fan. I’ve already strained the budget with the stator and the chain replacements in Arizona so I breathe a sigh of relief. Lost will soon be fully roadworthy again! I get the royal treatment at my new friend Fernando’s garage and he even installs a switch so I can turn it on manually in case the temperature sensor fails, redoing some of the hack-job wiring Lost had suffered in Durango. While I was cautious about Fernando after my last mechanic experience, he teaches me to trust again, taking more pay in stories than cash, and wishing me luck in my journey. I can tell that some people do a better job at inspiring themselves with my story than I do, and wonder what the secret is. I’m just some vagabond on a bike, learning the lost art of living.

    Lost thrums with anticipation; I pack my belongings and say my goodbyes. We’re just getting started.
  3. El Explorador

    El Explorador Radical Explorer

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2011
    Oddometer:
    372
    Location:
    Guatemala City, Guatemala, and going down!
    Hey mate, I've got plenty more to share, invite me for some of that magnificent coffee in the spring and I'll spin you a yarn or two :D
  4. El Explorador

    El Explorador Radical Explorer

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2011
    Oddometer:
    372
    Location:
    Guatemala City, Guatemala, and going down!


    Good on you for keeping it alive brother! At this rate I'll see ya down there before getting to Africa to continue the journey ;p
  5. backdrifter

    backdrifter Wannabe rider

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2005
    Oddometer:
    1,370
    Location:
    Belleville, IL
    It’s been a long time since I’ve searched this thread. I just read it again beginning to end and greatly lamented the many photo links that no longer seem to work. Any chance that you can update the links and bring them back?

    And how long until you wrote a book? Please put me among the first in line to purchase that book. Your adventurous tail is the most riveting that I’ve read. Your writing style, photography, and philosophical perspective are entrancing.

    I hope you are weathering the insanity of 2020 well and anxiously await more tails!

    Be safe!
  6. El Explorador

    El Explorador Radical Explorer

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2011
    Oddometer:
    372
    Location:
    Guatemala City, Guatemala, and going down!
    Well what an opportune time I've chosen to dust off the ol' ADV membership. Just met a fellow rider and got a little nostalgic. Thanks a ton for the kudos, in fact I often remember fondly the many members who have supported me in one way or another. I got an exhaust when I forgot to bolt mine on properly, a surprise 13 degree day in February of 2011 before even leaving on the trip! I got super cheap parts to assemble the adventure, amazing help getting the cylinder swapped in the USA, hell I even got a monoshock when mine bit the dust carrying me through the deserts of bolivia (carrying 7 days worth of gasoline!). And then the encouragement, sweet sweet nourishment (and a few bucks for the gas tank too!) Well you'll be glad to hear I'm writing again. I got hit by a truck in Ecuador in 2017 carrying all my journals and more or less lost steam writing... so much information gone for good. But I've been using this quarantime to go through my old email accounts, messenger accounts, saved files etc trying to piece together the delicious tidbits that may have been lost to memory. I'm still only at 2014 but already have lots good to go!

    Anyway I'm gonna post some bits that haven't made it online yet and a couple that just never got transferred from the blog to here. Thanks again for the encouragement!

    I will definitely check into the links, though I am going to be cancelling my flickr account because now they want to double the subscription to 70 bucks so I'll have to look into what people are using to link to photos these days.
  7. El Explorador

    El Explorador Radical Explorer

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2011
    Oddometer:
    372
    Location:
    Guatemala City, Guatemala, and going down!
    p.s. What are your thoughts on a part 1 book? This is going to be at least a 6 parter I imagine and ideally I can condense them into smaller (cheaper) versions because the whole thing will probably cost over a hundred bucks to print with photos.
    ...maybe without the photos?
  8. El Explorador

    El Explorador Radical Explorer

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2011
    Oddometer:
    372
    Location:
    Guatemala City, Guatemala, and going down!
    Maruata, Michoacan. Giant snakes, walls of poison-tipped needles, turtle dicks, and tons of weed. You won’t find that in any guidebook. Well, maybe the weed.

    Park the bike and wander through, small beach town vibe. I watch some kids spar on a home made video game console, marvelling at the resourcefulness and ingenuity of bored youth. Somehow I manage to break my left sandal. As I sit on a bench melting the split plastic with a lighter so I can fuse it back together, a local wanders up to me and nods approvingly. He tells me that’s a real mexicanizacho repair, like I’ve accomplished something. I guess in today’s disposable culture, I have. He tells me that the military guys are tough on marijuana use here as he passes me a joint to light. Last time he got caught they searched him, took his stash, and made him do push-ups in the plaza until he couldn’t go on. Seems like they’ve figured something out here.

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    I explore a bit and there’s only one hostel to stay. I still have to repair my budget, and besides, the beach is the most comfortable bed that money can’t buy. The billion-star hotel. I survey a rocky pinnacle jutting out of the sea, framed by a small canyon that creates a powerful tidal current around it. I decide to talk to the locals before risking it. Some friendly fishermen wave me over and spark up a joint, passing it around while teasing me to watch out for the military guy they’re hanging out with. It comes to me and I look at him with curiosity for a moment, but decide not to let fear guide me. We all laugh together for some time, sharing jokes and stories, and they tell me to visit again tomorrow to borrow some fishing gloves – if I try to climb the rock tower without them I’ll be pincushioned by the sea urchins covering the rocks. They tell me it’s called El Dedo de Dios, the Finger of God. Don’t get slammed against the rocks.

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    A couple of French guys from the hostel hail me as I park the bike near a nice sand dune to end the day; we walk around talking travel for a while and discover locals running a sea turtle conservation program. They explain to us that people are digging up the eggs to sell as luxury foods to wealthier locals who believe in exaggerated health benefits or just want to show off. Now there are so few nests at nesting time that they are guarded at night and the babies are helped on their way to sea to avoid being picked off by seabirds. As the sun goes down we see a leatherback turtle the size of a monster truck tire obstinately ploughing her way through the sand to reach a suitable place to lay her eggs. She huffs and sand flies around her in great arcs. I think she’s stuck and move to help, one of her deceptively thin fins hits me hard and I’m awed by the power in her. The guy taking care of the site tells me she’s just digging a place to lay, and sure enough she lays her eggs and covers them with sand before dragging herself back into the sea. Her role fulfilled, she struggles to heave herself back into her element, and I wonder about mothers and the weight of the world.

    I wake up nestled in my sleeping bag with the next dawn, curled up in my little dune not a hundred metres from the hostel the french guys are staying at. As I pack up they arrive and tell me excitedly that they just saw a massive python trying to get into their hostel and the owner killed it with a machete. They see my sleeping bag and ask me incredulously if I slept here. When I tell them I did, there’s no need for words. We’re all silent for a moment while we think about a traveller taco,waking too late to even struggle against cold relentless coils.

    I meet my fisher friends by the beach to grab the gloves and they invite me to hang out, next thing I know they’re hauling a huge fish out of the water and it’s on the grill with fresh vegetables and a quick homemade sauce. They are happy for new blood to stimulate the cotorreo, conversation, a play on the local word for parrot. I guess days and conversations repeat themselves when nothing else changes. Small beach town life, just passing time talking and watching the shadows stretch and shrink under the sun.

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    At one point they pass me a cup with a drink made mostly of fresh sea turtle eggs. This is a pretty big deal but I don’t really know what role I can play here. On the one hand they’re endangered and need to be protected, but on the other hand this one small group isn’t the real problem – it’s the trade in their eggs that causes large numbers of nests to be raided. I ask them what they think about the problem, but they don’t really want to talk about it. A familiar situation; the hardest part of confronting ignorance is people’s resistance to any information that challenges their status quo.

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    The military guy comes over and shows me a packet he’s had under ice in the cooler and offers to sell it to me for $250. Ha! he has no idea who he’s talking to. It’s a turtle penis.

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    “This will give you a hard-on for a whole week!” I tell him I have to ride my motorcycle soon and frankly that sounds mighty uncomfortable. Conversation fades in and out like the tide, my hammock is set up and before I know it night has fallen here for me with my new amigos. My belly is full of the freshest and most authentic fish tacos I will ever have, and we fade out together in the comfortable silence of camaraderie.

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    When I wake my friends are mostly gone, but they’ve left me the gloves. I head over to the Dedo de Dios and watch the tide sweep in and out for a while. The current intensifies where the rocks funnel it around the spire. The ocean churns with elemental violence, but I can see I see the pattern and strike out to sea. I time it so the great mass of water lifts me like driftwood over and on to the base of the spire. The water retreats to drop me on a bed of neurotoxic needles, but my gloves save me from the thicket of urchins covering the rock as I scramble to gain purchase before being swept away. More through good luck than good management I make it above the waves without spiking myself. Naturally, the spire looks twice as high and steep now that I’m on it, and it’s almost impossible keeping three solid holds as I begin to climb.

    Maybe I should turn back. Ah, that voice of reason again. Or is it?

    Okay, if I start to lose my balance just push off and land in the water, right? Try and avoid the wall of urchins is all. I keep telling myself, this last ledge and then back down; waves pound with bone-powdering force against the bed of spines below.But with each small ascent another handhold taunts me with the promise of victory against my own fears.Slowly, keeping my centre of gravity close to the stone, I keep tempting fate until my hands feel the top and pull me up to the glorious summit.

    The French guys are back on the beach waving. Waving back, I stand on the very finger of God,laughing blissfully at myself and this glorious world I’m so lucky to explore to all horizons.

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    Now I just have to figure out how to get back down.
  9. El Explorador

    El Explorador Radical Explorer

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2011
    Oddometer:
    372
    Location:
    Guatemala City, Guatemala, and going down!
    p.p.s. props to ADVrider for making this so easily copy and pasteable. Not the so at KLR650.net! I do always feel I owe it to them to post first but maaaaan they gotta up their game!
    Dirt Road Cowboy likes this.
  10. WHYNOWTHEN

    WHYNOWTHEN where are the pedals?

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2009
    Oddometer:
    933
    Location:
    closer to Baja
    I’m really happy that you are back with well written tales and excellent pics.
    Thank you for the time that you put into this!
  11. Ghostyman

    Ghostyman Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2011
    Oddometer:
    510
    Location:
    LA face with the Oakland booty
    Welcome back! This has been one of my favorite reports.