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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by El Explorador, Aug 6, 2012.
Hey glad your reporting again! Cheers and enjoy the ride
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.
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.
The morning after my arrival I’m taken for a walk to admire the Catalinas.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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!