RTW the Jamie Z Way: Going to Yucatan.

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Jamie Z, Nov 29, 2020.

  1. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z I'm serious. Supporter

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    A lot of good points in this post.

    Yes, there should be other riders on the boat to Cuba. The other trip was canceled because of lack of reservations, so I'm assuming he consolidated everyone onto this January trip. Though I have to say, I have little to no interest in riding with someone else in Cuba. Anything can happen, of course, but when I picture myself in Cuba--and I do that a lot--I'm always by myself.

    The currency transition is interesting and I'm curious how much I'll be affected. Apparently they're getting rid of the Convertible Peso, the one that's tied to the US dollar and that tourists use. Am I reading that right? So all prices will be in moneda nacional. They're fearing huge inflation. The transition is supposed to be spread out over the next year or so, so who knows what, if any affect this will have on my at all.

    Which brings up a question I have for those who have been to Cuba. I understand they will trade US dollars, but with a 10% reduction. I have a bunch of US currency with me, but should I withdraw a bunch of Mexican pesos to exchange to Cuban pesos or should I just accept the 10% loss?

    I've been trying to keep up with Cuban Covid restrictions... and I'm not sure what's happening on the ground. RTWPaul advised me that when I enter Cuba with my motorcycle, I have to get a Cuban driver's license, and that makes me a temporary resident. He told me if I have any problems paying with local currency, or am asked to pay the tourist prices, to show them my Cuban driver's license. Maybe Covid restrictions might work the same way.
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  2. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z I'm serious. Supporter

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    10 January 2021

    No ground covered today, but I did see some good stuff, and rode through some tough stuff.

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    I had made camp just south of Mulege, so today I had plenty of time to explore the Bahia Concepcion area and possibly find a good place to stay tonight.

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    Chilly night last night. What usually happens is that I fall asleep early, 9pm or so. It’s still pretty warm out. Then around 3 or 4am I wake up cold. If I have another layer to put on, I’ll do that, but sometimes I’m already wearing everything. So I fitfully toss and turn for a few hours trying to keep myself warm until the sun comes up and I sleep for a couple more hours while my tent warms up until it’s like an oven, forcing me up and out of my covers.

    While packing up, I had to deal with wind and sand and I shouted out a few curse words as my tent rolled into a ball in the wind. A few seconds later, an older fellow rode by on a horse and offered a wave and a morning greeting. Oops. I’m never alone, am I?

    I rode south along highway 1. If you’ve ever ridden this road, you’ll know what I mean. The bay came into view…

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    I stopped a few times along the way; sometimes I took pictures from the highway, other times I rode down near the beach.

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    Near the south end of Bahia Concepcion, I turned off the highway east toward San Nicolas. The road was decently maintained, but like all Mexican gravel roads I’ve experienced so far, was awash with washboards.

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    On reaching the community, there wasn’t much to see. A couple of houses, a few men outside working on a new building. I followed the road as it turned back north in a loop.

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    I crossed a bridge and saw these horses… drinking? That can’t be right, surely this is not fresh water. I watched for a while and realized that they’re actually eating some sort of aquatic plants.

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    I rode through a fishing community…

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    And the road suddenly got a lot worse. Sections of large rocks and gravel. Steep descents and climbs. Each section I rode over I wondered if I’d have to turn around and come back the same way.

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    I found a shoreline with a long rocky cliff and rocky beach. This would have been an excellent place to stop for the night (and is listed on iOverlander).

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    I made a long climb up a loose rocky section and stopped at the top for a break, ate an apple and drank some water. The view over the bay was amazing.

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    The loop continued, the road got better. In fact I rode up into a very well appointed homestead with trucks and boats and large buildings. It gave me hope that the road out would be smooth going. Boy, was that the case!

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    When I got back out to the highway, I had just a little daylight left. I had scouted out a couple of free places to camp, and I considered going into an established campground… but it was the thought of a warm dinner and getting out of the wind and cold which sent me back to Mulege.

    I got a room at the Mulege Hotel.

    You know, getting a hotel room is a lot like buying a bottle of liquor for me. It seems like a good idea the night before, but it’s not usually worth it.

    I walked around town for an hour or so hoping to find something interesting, but I didn’t find anything going on at all. A few tiendas open, and that’s about it. On the main highway through town was a food stand selling hamburguesas… until I asked for one. But they had good burritos.

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    I stayed up late trying to upload photos and watching the Browns beat the Steelers. I piled up the blankets from both beds, but around 3am I woke up and went down to my bike to get my sleeping bag. After that I slept much better.
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  3. Luna Negra

    Luna Negra Adventurer

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  4. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z I'm serious. Supporter

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    The US and Cuba have had strained relations for decades. I think this means nothing for travel. The Cubans have never cared what the US has done, and I don't think that's going to change.

    If you'd like to read some stories of bizarre international fueds, look up the Guantanamo Bay desalination plant and digging up the water pipe. Or the Cuban spotlights and the American flag incident. Or find out what Cuba has done with all the lease payments the US has sent to Cuba.

    Please understand I'm not dismissing your concern or your suggestion that I keep myself informed. It'd good advice, and I do my best.

    But as one of my favorite Spanish phrases.... no me importa.

    Jamie
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  5. Natgeo14

    Natgeo14 Long timer

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    I always get Euros before I go to Cuba. The Mexican pesos will work too. With them stepping down to one currency it should theoretically make everything way easier. It will be harder to get ripped off I think. One time I was at a small restaurant in the middle of nowhere and the waitress pulled the old trick of trying to tell me that the menu prices were in CUCs and not pesos nacional after the check came. She was trying to get me to fork over $60 US. I think I got her down to $15 US. The main people there who will try to rip you off are the taxi drivers. If you ever need a cab, make sure to negotiate ahead of time and don't go if the guy can't tell you the price.

    I would stay in Casa Particulares when you go there. These are extra rooms that people rent out in their houses. You will see the signs on the outside of the house. Most of them are for international tourists, but they also have them for domestic Cuban travelers on vacation. The rates on these Casa Particulares are usually $25-$35 US a night. Always make sure to do a tour of the place and check out the room, balcony, motorcycle storage before you agree to stay there. I would also bargain with them and tell them you are a student and can only do $20 a night. There are always a lot of different Casa Particulares available in a town, so don't feel bad if you have to tour a few before you pull the trigger. The locals are used to that. Also, before you agree to the $20, ask them "Es veinte dollares con desayuno?" Sometimes the best part about your Casa Particulare is the breakfast that the family makes you in the morning. They go all out. If you don't ask for it included they will charge you an extra $5.

    I understand how you want to ride Cuba alone, but I think part of that is because you do not know any better. When I go, I always go solo, but I always try and meet up with other travelers and hangout because it makes Cuba a million times more fun. I've hung out with all kinds of different travelers there from Russian merchant marines to some giant 6'8 New Zealand Wal Street guy who brought his snowboard to Cuba! lol

    The social dynamic in Cuba is a little different. You will really enjoy meeting the Cuban families in the casa particulares and talking to them. You will also enjoy meeting local Cubans in the towns. Be careful because there are a few bad eggs who will come up speaking English with you and try and get you to go to a cigar factory to buy cigars or some other scam. I think the wealth difference between foreigners and locals does make it a little harder to meet the locals and make local friends in general.

    The other good thing about riding with a friend or two is you will have some added security. Cuba has a very low crime rate, but it is not a place where you can leave a helmet or a tank bag unattended for 15 minutes. Want to go swimming? You better have someone who is watching the cash. You will save a lot of money on the casa particulares by having a friend too. You can find ones with 2 beds and they just charge you the $25-$35 so you can split the room cost and save a lot.

    btw: Don't ever leave money unattended in your Casa Particulare room. I've witnessed a couple people lose a lot of money this way. One American guy I met lost $500 that way.

    Another good thing about traveling with another guy is if he knows Spanish really well. You will save a lot of money that way. The better you know the language, the better you can negotiate in Cuba. Cubans are pretty used to charging foreigners high prices for everything.
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  6. Natgeo14

    Natgeo14 Long timer

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    There are rumors that the CIA used to do night crop dusting in Cuba where they dropped harmful bugs to destroy the crops.
  7. knight

    knight Long timer

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    Hey Jamie
    Is Ludwig offering you any discount for traveling on his new itinerary ? Taking cutas across Mexico isn't going to be cheap

    I've read that some Mexican states have recently raised their Covid status to Red , which could possibly greatly hinder options for accommodation

    It's been a little chilly in the evenings for comfortable camping down here in La Paz , all the popular beaches are currently closed for camping , but there are still many great places to stealth camp with a moto

    A hotel room in town with warm water ,wifi and somewhat secure parking is $16 to $22

    I've been down to Ushuaia and back ,Cuba and aboard the Stahlratte around the Darien gap and been in La Paz for a couple of years

    Give me a shout if you need any assistance , or if you would like to ditch the bags and we'll go ride some sand

    Knight
  8. eakins

    eakins Butler Maps

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    You can always just think of like:
    WWE&RD?
    What would Ed & Rad do?
    ...and they would go...and do some epic shit...
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  9. eakins

    eakins Butler Maps

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    Good point since his other trip is cancelled and this is just an effort by him to fill this trip.

    Even at 1/2 rate for motos the tolls will add up plus the fuel blasting away in that direction.
    That's why I asked how he is going to play out the rest of his winter travel time till he approaches the end of 180 days and has to make a north or south choice.

    If he's just fully exploring Mexico extensively then he will be at a far end to just backtrack north again...but if he wants to head country south and still explore what he missed then there is backtracking and added expenses.

    As discussed in other threads Covid is a wild card that could affect the Mexico/Guatemala border etc. if he continues.

    What happens if Mexico will not let you back in heading north? The US always will for citizens so staying in Mexico is the safe bet for now. Traveling to Cuba is technically never leaving Mexico per passport control & you're just a ship coming and going from Isla.

    Of course for Jamie, it's an opportunity to full fill a bucket list...
  10. eakins

    eakins Butler Maps

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    From what I understand ,you dock in Cienfuegos and offload, then the Shahlratte returns after so long to Cienfuegos to pick you back up for return to Mexico.
  11. eakins

    eakins Butler Maps

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    This might be the only Cuba trip for the Stahlratte in the near future or not? I think it's only once or twice per year anyway?

    I doubt Ludwig has alot of moto riders looking for rides right now anyway so this may be the one and only till next winter.

    Too many unknowns and the developing idea of Central American border crossings and Covid.

    The reality is there are just a trickle of Mexico south riders this winter. No Canadians for sure. When I lived in Sayulita, I meet up with thru riders almost every day.

    So sometimes you've got to go for the known thing today vs the possibly maybe tommorow.
  12. HH

    HH Dahlonega GA Supporter

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    Wait for Cuba.
    Don't create a schedule :nah
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  13. Yinzer Moto

    Yinzer Moto Sloppy 300 rider Supporter

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    @Jamie Z, on those cold nights, when camping. Keep your riding jacket and pants handy. Just place them on top of the sleeping bag for a significant boost in warmth.
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  14. docwyte

    docwyte Long timer

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    That's a tough decision. Right now, with the pandemic, I'm not sure I'd go to Cuba. I'd want to know what was open, what precautions are being taken, can I for sure get in, ride around and then *leave*.
  15. ozmoses

    ozmoses persona non grata

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    My point as well:


    OP, whatever/wherever you decide, keep the Real-Time Ride Report coming! :thumb
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  16. TNC

    TNC Candyass Camper

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    I've got a question about the weather in Baja. While I've been all over the U.S., I've only been to Mexico, Puerto Penasco south of AZ...camped for a couple of days on the beach. I keep seeing Jamie reporting cool/cold and windy. Initially I had the concept that it was warm and mild most of the year down there. Is the temp something like the coastal areas of CA where the cold ocean currents keeps things cool or something else? And is the wind a constant down there? I guess because it's a peninsula between two bodies of water, is there a meteorlogical effect? Or is Jamie just hitting a bad time seasonally?
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  17. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z I'm serious. Supporter

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    11 January 2021

    I slept well, aside from having to get up at 3am to retrieve my sleeping bag from my bike. I woke to some trip-altering news and had yet another windy day on the road.

    As far as riding, today was mostly uneventful. I got a late start after I woke up and learned that my April booking to Cuba had been canceled and my only other option to visit Cuba was in two weeks. Two weeks to cross from the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico.

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    I spent a couple hours looking at maps, checking travel time, mileage, and trying to come up with any alternative other than, go.

    …so I went. I figured I’d ride for a day and sleep on it and make a final decision about Cuba tomorrow.

    My path took me past Bahia Concepcion again, and I made a few stops, notably at Playa Coyote, a place which had been recommended to me, but I’d passed it by. I wish I’d paid a little more attention. I could see myself in a palapa down by the beach.

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    Another windy day, though most of the day it was a north wind, giving me exceptional fuel mileage. I stopped to take a photo of a dust storm in the distance.

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    When I arrived in Loreto I stopped along the malecon and parked the bike. I sat on a bench to have a snack, but eventually I had to take shelter behind a building because of the wind.

    Once again I found myself in a city with nothing to do. I have this problem with cities. Loreto had been recommended by numerous people, and now I was here, but I had nowhere to go, nothing to see, nobody I knew. I spent at least an hour looking at Google Maps, TripAdvisor, and other websites to try to create some sort of itinerary.

    Eventually I suited up and rode a few blocks around the downtown area to decide if I wanted to stay or go. I decided to go. I checked iOverlander and found a couple of stealth camping areas a few miles out of town. The first was no longer accessible due to construction, and the second was sending me down yet another very rough gravel road, so I stopped. I decided to go back to the city and find a room.

    Using iOverlander, Google Maps, TripAdviser, I found a couple of popular traveler hotels, though both of them were empty when I arrived, and nobody answered phone calls when I tried to call. But now it was nearly sunset and my options were diminishing, so I sprung for the fanciest room I’ve stayed in on this entire trip at the Hotel Angra. It’s 1000 pesos and not entirely centrally located, but made for a good walk into the downtown area.

    Several attempts to eat at recommended eateries were stymied as well (Monday?) but I ended up at Asadero Super Burro. Delicious food, great staff, and I have to point out that I was extremely impressed with their Covid related procedures.

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  18. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z I'm serious. Supporter

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    "Mild" has been a good way to describe the weather I've experienced. I don't know if it's typical, but here's the forecast for Bahia de los Angeles, which is pretty similar to what I experienced in northern Baja.

    Screenshot_20210112-093225_AccuWeather~2.jpg

    Daytime has been comfortable, sunny, if a bit windy. Night time has been chilly.

    Looking ahead as I go south, the weather looks to be much warmer. I see 80F highs and nighttime lows around 60F.
  19. road hammer

    road hammer have map will travel

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    something "to do" when in or near Loreto is go to San Javier Mission, there's a great fun new paved road to the mission and it's surrounding small village. Do it as an out n back.
    As to the weather, after having been on the Baja many times it sounds a little out of the ordinary wind wise which will makes the temp seem much colder. nights almost always require a jacket for walking around.
    A bit late, we've stayed at the Hacienda in Mulege right off the main square many times, not fancy but has a secure courtyard, warm water and a short walk to everything (that is open during covid times). The fish taco stand in the plaza early in the morn is awesome.

    All this time spent thinking/planning/worrying is taking you away from the trip you are on.
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  20. misery goat

    misery goat Positating the negative Super Moderator

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    +1 on San Javier Mission, didn't realize they have a paved road now. Wrt to the cities, you're a traveler now so you'll get used to creating things to do and more importantly meeting people and getting immersed in their lives. It's the best part of travel imo. Baja is pretty great but when you get to mainland MX you're really in for a surprise. It really is a fantastic country to travel in, especially the Sierra Madres.
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