RTW the Jamie Z Way: Oaxaca Mexico

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

  1. mpusms

    mpusms Been here awhile Supporter

    Nov 21, 2015
    Saint Simons Island GA
  2. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z I'm serious. Supporter

    Oct 17, 2006
    Around Denver
    4 abril 2021

    My kingdom for a tire. Or pizza!



    Our host prepared a delicious breakfast for us in the morning with an atypically large portion of coffee, at the request of Fin.

    Our view from the balcony.


    If you’ve been reading Fin’s report, you might have seen that he likes to interview people along his trip, and this morning Fin set up his camera and asked me a few questions. I’m a little nervous how that’s going to look when he publishes it.

    Fin had offered to pay for the room, but when he talked to our host about the bill, it was substantially larger than we expected. The room itself was more expensive than either of us had paid for any room, plus dinner and breakfast were more than usual. So Fin paid for the room, but we split the meals. Thanks Fin!

    We walked to get our bikes out of hock, and Alex there showed us his keycutting equipment, proudly showing us the tooling, made in Cuba.


    Yesterday evening Amit had messaged us that he’d had a couple of flat tires and that his rear tire was not in great shape. So today, we asked around looking for a tire. Fin is heading in Amit’s direction, so if we can find something, he can bring it to Amit.

    Unfortunately Amit’s bike uses a very unusual 15-inch rear tire. Everyone we asked told us it’s not possible. I messaged Amit: “Looking for an odd-sized tire, in Cuba, on Easter Sunday. What could go wrong?”

    I asked our host if he knew where we could get a tire. He said he could make a few calls, but that it was something that would not be easy. I pointed to all the cars and motorcycles on the road. Where do they get their tires? Is there a tire store?

    This is the enigma of Cuba. I saw nowhere selling cars or motorcycles. Nowhere selling car or motorcycle parts. My host told me there is nowhere to buy such things.

    Without any leads on a tire, Fin and I went our separate ways. He east toward Baracoa, me on a mission. I turned south.

    I had to go through a covid checkpoint. For this one, like many, I just had to get off the bike and someone sprays hand sanitizer into my hands, and then I can go.


    This is the best pic I’m going to get. Here, a guy asked me some additional questions about where I was going, and I really didn’t understand what he was asking. But he let me pass.

    I got to the small town of Cacocum. A while back, @mpusms told me his grandfather used to run the train station here, and asked me for some pics. Here you go:




    Not wanting to go back through the covid checkpoint, I took backroads back north and went through a town where there was a large sugar processing plant billowing smoke.


    In the few minutes I stopped to take this photo, my eyes filled with smoke and debris and I coughed a few times.

    This area is filled with sugarcane fields. Everything around here is flat.


    I returned through Holguin and rode up to La Lome de la Cruz, a famous viewpoint over the city. Technically it’s closed but a security guy came out and told me I could have a look for 15 minutes, but I had to park my bike off to the side.


    The staircase up here reminded me of the Manitou Incline in Colorado.


    There was a Russian bike there too. The owner came out and we chatted bikes for a while. I get a little self-conscious because people here make such a big deal about how big, expensive, fast, and beautiful my bike is.


    On the way out of town I made a (very) quick stop for some anti-American propaganda.


    Late in the day I was looking for dinner. I stopped at one or two stores/cafes along the road, but they didn’t have food. I turned off the highway into the town of Manati and found a pizza stand. The guy inside told me it would be about 30 minutes. So I waited along with a few other people.

    Several folks had questions about my bike. How fast is it? How much does it cost? What size is it? How many gears? Is it loud? No? Start it up. I gave the factory exhaust a couple good revs to the delight of the people watching.

    Soon my pizza was ready and I put them in a ziploc bag into my top case. I thanked the gathered crowd and took a quick photo.


    The guy in red was especially patient with my Spanish. Other people would ask him questions in Spanish, and then he would translate to simple Spanish for me so I could respond.

    Now I had to hurry to find a place to camp. First there was another covid check, but here the guy was more interested in my nationality. He was very happy that I was visiting his country and before I left, his partner gave me the throttle-twisting motion with his right hand, so I gave it some gas and lofted the front tire on my way out. I’m sure they had a good laugh over that.

    The highway was flat and straight and alternated between pavement and a few gravel patches.



    I turned down a three-track and followed it back where I found a couple of clearings that would be suitable for camping. Midway I encountered a man with a horse and cart. I’m sure he was very confused about me, so I asked him if I could camp there and he said it was fine.

    I set up my tent. Pic from the next morning.


    And ate the worst folded pizza I’ve had so far. I had to struggle to finish the first one. I didn’t eat the second one I bought.

    Dracula, juno, ChicoProf and 54 others like this.
  3. dixda

    dixda Been here awhile Supporter

    Sep 12, 2010
    Excellent letting us know how you're doing! Thanks there mister...
  4. mpusms

    mpusms Been here awhile Supporter

    Nov 21, 2015
    Saint Simons Island GA

    Holy crap you did it!!! A picture of the railroad station my grandfather was in charge of in the 30s. Dude that is out freaken standing!! I’m forwarding them all to the ALF where my mom is. I’m sure she’s loving it. Her long term memory is good so I’m sure she’ll recognize it. Your RR has been more inspirational than I ever expected. It would be great that one day I can meet my family members in Cuba.

    Thanks again Jaime, means a lot to us.
  5. eakins

    eakins Butler Maps

    May 29, 2002
    Fort Collins, Colorado
    No doubt you are pigging out back in Mexico, the land of plenty.

    Yep no dealers for cars or motos or parts for such in the country. Everything is fabricated or imported somehow. The only new cars come thru government employee buys and then some are sold off privately.

    Most of the moto you saw are just handed down or came in from time to time as several cargo loads, such as the Suzuki 125s. Electric scooters come from Panama as part of a shopping/tourism exemption.

    The whole system is the probably the craziest thing you'll ever experience...a world of lacking. Yep I remember the shitty pizza too...

    Congrats on a bucket list and I look forward to hearing about it sometime when you're back in Colorado!

    Ps did you find one?
    Eagletalon, Sela and chilejack like this.
  6. chris4652009

    chris4652009 Been here awhile

    Feb 20, 2019
    It makes me laugh each time you mention "struggling with updating due to poor internet"......my home internet won't open these pics in the thread, i just get blank squares until I view them from a 4G signal (which I don't have at home)

    lol just saying :D keep up the awesome updates Jamie, be safe
    ozmoses likes this.
  7. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

    Jan 19, 2016
    Sherwood, Oregon
    Wonderful couple of updates @Jamie Z, cool you were able to hook up with @FinTec as you guys crossed paths heading different directions. Had a laugh at the monster energy decal stuck to the tank of that bike - not something I'd expect to see on a Russian motorbike in Cuba...guess their marketing and advertising reaches everywhere...lol.

    Keep the knobby side down man, thread says you're back on the mainland in MX. How's that feel after traveling an island with very little in the way of stores, supplies, etc? Not that it's even remotely close to what you experienced in Cuba, but I don't think I'll ever forget driving north after my ride in Baja. Almost like culture shock after 3 weeks on the peninsula - so much commercialism slapping you in the face...felt surreal.

    Look forward to what comes next man!
  8. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z I'm serious. Supporter

    Oct 17, 2006
    Around Denver
    5 abril 2021

    Crossing the flat part of central Cuba.



    I woke to this view.


    More long and straight roads today. It would be a mileage buster.


    Not a lot to see today. Unlike other days where I frequently pass through small towns, I didn’t see much today, just a lot of agriculture.

    But I did see a train for the first time!


    And then a small engine-powered railcar filled with people.


    I stopped for gas and gave my uneaten folded pizza to a street dog, who ate half of it, then left the rest.


    I rode up to Laguna de la Leche, a lake supposedly known for its milky color.


    Today it was just windy and choppy. Of course nothing is open. Just people standing around. This place is probably busy during a normal summer.


    I hadn’t eaten anything other than a cereal bar this morning, so I stopped in Moron to find lunch. A few things appeared to be open along the main street. I parked my bike and walked up to where there was a line of people waiting at the carryout window of a restaurant.

    Then a well-dressed man came out of the restaurant and invited me inside. It was clearly carryout only, and I think he explained to me why he was inviting me inside, but all I heard was “tourist privilege.” I sat at a table, the only guest. From what I understood, they had only one thing available, fried chicken.


    With a drink, coffee, and tip, lunch cost 250 Cuban pesos.

    The street was mostly empty, with a few people walking past a lot of closed up doors.


    No, that’s really the name. I know it’s not as good as Poop…


    I’d like to show more pictures of Cuban people, but it’s not easy for me, and I feel like I am showing pictures simply to demonstrate the hardships here, and I’m not comfortable taking photos like that.

    But cattle, sure!


    Fin had recommended a place to stay near the town of Caibarien on the north coast, so I headed that way, and stopped for a quick shot.


    And then I arrived.


    Officially it's closed. He has a couple of rooms here, offers dinner and breakfast. During normal times there is a beachside bar and restaurant, but as he told me, Fin and I have been the only tourists in a year.
    Dracula, BillUA, juno and 64 others like this.
  9. lookatdirt

    lookatdirt Long timer

    Jun 1, 2009
    The Tri-State area
    Great report. Thanks so much.
    olderigetfasteriam likes this.
  10. Hill Climber

    Hill Climber Long timer

    Feb 11, 2007
    Kaslo BC summer, Yuma AZ winter
    I was messing around in the SpotWalla website and came across this.... Jamie is in the top 10 view list !!
    Spotwalla Top 10 Views.jpg

    He's been well looked after (at.... :-) )
  11. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z I'm serious. Supporter

    Oct 17, 2006
    Around Denver
    6 abril 2021



    Breakfast this morning: two eggs, toast, coffee, juice. Right next to the empty beach.


    I rode along the shoreline in Caibarien.


    And out onto a spit looking back at the town.


    I followed the road out to the end, but there was really nothing there.


    Last night I was reading in my guidebook and learned the name of the sugarcane juice: guarapo. I’ve seen this advertised a few times but never knew what it was.

    Today I saw a sign and pulled over. The guy was making it to order. He had some sort of processing machine that squeezed the sugarcane. The juice flowed out into a five-gallon bucket.


    I had him fill up one of my empty water bottles for 15 pesos. It was ice cold and refreshing. While I waited, two people spoke to me. I didn’t catch everything, but basically they were telling me that I had to drink the juice right away, and also not to drink too much.


    While I drank out of my 1.5 liter bottle, another guy came up to me and spoke in pretty good English. He explained that the juice turns dark quickly and isn’t good. He also reiterated that I shouldn’t drink too much because, well… it’s pure sugar. He told me I could pass out. Sounds like an old wives tale to me.

    I spoke to the guys for a while. My guidebook had pointed out that this area is home to a lot of the workers from the all-inclusive resorts along the north coast, and that was these guys, except that those resorts are closed, so they haven’t been able to work.

    Down the road just a short ways, a guy and a girl on an electric scooter pulled up alongside me, and the guy was trying to tell me something. I pulled over and he stopped. He came back to tell me how much he liked my bike. Had his girlfriend take a picture of him with me and my bike. He gushed over the hard cases, the lights, the switchgear and the GPS.

    This is Yasmani.


    He told me (I think) that he led tours on electric scooters like the one he was riding. He told me his dream is to tour Cuba on an electric scooter. I asked him the range of one, and he told me about 70 kilometers.

    He told me again how much he liked my bike and thanked me and they got back on their machine to leave. I had a quick thought and I caught him before he took off. I pointed back to my bike, “Do you want to ride it?”

    I warned him that it was very heavy.

    While his girlfriend took pictures (or video?) he expertly rode off down the street. I have to say I was very impressed with how bright and visible my taillights are, even in the daytime!

    He was gone for no more than three or four minutes, then came back up the street at a quick pace, made a U-turn and parked right in front of us, posing for a couple more pictures for his girlfriend.


    He agreed that it was very heavy (in retrospect, I should have removed the cases to make it a little easier for him) but as he described it, like flying. I think he was overjoyed, and it made me feel good to see him so excited.

    Here’s Yasmani’s YouTube channel: https://youtube.com/channel/UCzx1J0c-tUM-p82r4eXJQTA

    Full disclosure: I have not watched any of his videos yet. I have no idea what his channel is about.

    I rode away with renewed enthusiasm and a reminder at how fortunate I am.

    Saw this boarded-up house along the highway just outside of town.


    ...and down a random gravel road to the beach.



    By now it was getting late and I hadn’t eaten anything since breakfast. I stopped at three places before I found a stand which had food.

    Here’s a typical sort of menu that most of the shops around here have. They can swap out items as needed.


    I’m guessing the shopkeeper here is also a hospitality worker because I told him I was looking for something for dinner. He went into the back and came out a few minutes later with two egg, ham, and cheese sandwiches, and they were excellent.

    A little later I followed another gravel road toward the beach.


    And I found what might be called a tidal flat. I think this area floods during rainy season. There were shells and dead crabs here and there, and though it didn’t offer good protection from the wind, the ground was flat and soft.


    I had planned to sit down to write for a while, but I felt exhausted and I crawled into my sleeping bag and fell asleep listening to music.
    Dracula, Mofrid, juno and 55 others like this.
  12. bigjohnsd

    bigjohnsd '14 BMW R1200 GS Adv Supporter

    Jun 1, 2014
    Spearfish, SD
    Several years ago we took a cruise to Cuba, I wanted to go back and ride, haven't made it yet but have enjoyed living vicariously through your trip.
    Jamie Z likes this.
  13. FinTec

    FinTec Been here awhile Supporter

    Sep 27, 2013
    So if I am on the same trip as JamieZ and our paths cross, it is not a "Thread-Jack", isn't it more of a "Thread-Bomb"? I am going with thread-bomb.

    Great to see Jamie in Holguin and appreciated his patience as I dealt with Cuban law in Gibara. Had a great dinner with him at the Casa and was cool to trade notes and experience in Cuba.


    Not sure why Jamie does not talk about on his ride report, but he is an absolute slayer with the ladies. When he first showed up he had some 50kg “lady friend” on the back of his bike. But at dinner he came back from town with a new girl. And then the next morning he left town with yet a third and different girl wearing only shorts and a tube top with a small Hello Kitty back pack holding only a bikini on the back of his bike. Man, I think he is playing the “Kevin Costner” look-a-like card here in Cuba.

    snglfin, orv, Dracula and 40 others like this.
  14. Hill Climber

    Hill Climber Long timer

    Feb 11, 2007
    Kaslo BC summer, Yuma AZ winter
    Ah ha!! The cat's out of the bag, JamieZ.....
  15. ozmoses

    ozmoses persona non grata

    Jul 3, 2009

    That's step 1.

    The finished product is Cachaça or Aguardiente.

    I can assure you from personal experience that drinking too much of either is inadvisable. :deal
    glittleman and Bapeter11 like this.
  16. davidaid

    davidaid Been here awhile

    Jun 13, 2008
    Jamie must be a gentleman and doesn't kiss and tell. lol
    Hill Climber and falcofred like this.
  17. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z I'm serious. Supporter

    Oct 17, 2006
    Around Denver
    7 abril 2021

    Havana and the Beatles



    Packing went quickly this morning and I rode back out to the highway.


    I found a large empty concrete building, which I think was probably a sugar processing plant.


    And then into the tourist town of Varadero. I suppose there’s more to it than just hotels, but that’s about all I saw.


    Leaving Varadero I stopped in a small town for lunch. Pizza. This town actually had quite a few shops and food stands open.


    Nearing Matanzas, I stopped on a bridge for a photo.


    I wouldn’t normally stop for a picture of Che. He’s everywhere, but this one is made from colored tiles.


    And what I think is the tallest bridge in Cuba.


    I rode out on the bridge to get this shot, making a couple of U-turns to line up my bike on the right side of the road. It’s not like there’s any traffic.


    When I left, I encountered a police checkpoint. The officer stopped me and pointed back at the bridge. I heard him say “puente” a couple of times, and he made U-turn motions with his hands. When he finished, I told him, “No entiendo.” And he waved me on.

    Coming into Havana, I pulled off the main highway to check out this stadium.


    From the outside it’s hard to tell if it’s still in use. On the inside, there were people training and exercising. The field looked great.


    I had only a couple of things I wanted to do in Havana. I would have liked to visit some museums and other such places, but nothing is open.

    I went first to the Plaza de la Revolucion, where there are iconic sculptures of Fidel and Che, but twice when I stopped for a photo police officers approached me and waved me on. No stopping.

    So instead I went to John Lennon park, where there is a statue of John Lennon.


    The Beatles had been banned in Cuba because of the “American” influence. Fidel later changed his tune and appeared at the unveiling of this statue.

    Next I went to the capitol. I didn’t want to get yelled at again, so I parked my bike down the street and walked back for a photo.


    When I left Havana I got stopped by the police because the street I was on is closed to motorcycles.

    For the night I had a plan where I thought I’d be able to stealth camp, but I hadn’t been able to find anything to eat. I probably should have gotten something in Havana earlier. I stopped in a small town and talked to some people who sent me down the road where they said I’d find a place which was open.

    They were right. There was a restaurant/casa particular called Las Piedras. I pulled in and asked about dinner. Bingo. Ropa vieja, and the first time I’ve seen Coca Cola in Cuba.


    They had rooms available, too. In fact… this place was basically a hotel. After I finished my dinner, night was coming soon, and not knowing for sure if my stealth campsite would work out, I asked about a room. 600 pesos. It’s clean and modern. I decided to stay. I caught up a bit on my ride report and thought it would be a good evening to watch “Yesterday.”

    Oh, and I got a bottle of rum.
    Dracula, Mofrid, ChicoProf and 42 others like this.
  18. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z I'm serious. Supporter

    Oct 17, 2006
    Around Denver
    8 abril 2021

    Why do I do this to myself?



    Woke up with a hangover and a mostly-empty bottle of rum.

    I packed up late and aimed for a place nearby where I had been thinking about stealth camping yesterday. It’s a former coffee farm.


    Several buildings are still standing.


    And a man came out from somewhere (???) and told me about the place. Unfortunately, I understood very little of what he said.



    This place would have been perfect for stealth camping. Big wide open grassy lawn. If only I had known last night.

    I rode up a small track where there is a Che monument on the top of a hill, requiring a short hike. But instead I found a camping area along a small creek with a waterfall and swimming holes.


    The facility is on the opposite bank of the creek, and there were a couple people sitting outside on a patio. One of the guys called out to me that the place is closed. I told him I was going to take some pictures, and so far as I could tell, he was good with that.

    But then a few minutes later a lady came out and was clearly annoyed that I was there. I didn’t catch everything she said, but she basically told me I couldn’t be there.

    The road led into the town of Las Terrazas. There are cabins here for tourists and places to hike and ride horses and other outdoor activities. That was in the before times, but now everything is closed.

    The road through town goes *under* this apartment building!


    As I was leaving town, a loud red Honda pulled up beside me and the guy wanted to chat. I took this terrible photo.


    Unfortunately, he didn’t comprehend that I barely speak Spanish, and he spoke very fast and I couldn’t understand much of what he said.

    His bike has a foot operated clutch which would look right at home on Fin’s machine.


    He told me to follow him. We went for gas nearby, that was a good idea. And then we got back on the road for a few miles at 30 km/h, what seemed to be the top speed of his bike. But I got a weird vibe from the guy. Probably in part because I didn’t understand him, but he seemed a little reckless, so I waved to him and accelerated away.

    I rode toward El Salto de Soroa, a scenic waterfall. Naturally it’s closed. There is a restaurant, a shop, and maybe some cabins. A guy there said I could walk back to the waterfall if I wanted, but he added that it was very dry.


    Instead I continued on, going over Cuba’s east-west highway. Almost completely empty.


    Fin had been through this area and around this time he sent a message recommending the roads along the coast. I took his advice and turned back to the north.

    Tonight I planned to make it to Viñales so I messaged the family Fin had stayed with a little while back. Mileidys replied quickly that her room was available and she was looking forward to my arrival.

    On the way I found some fruit stands, so I stopped for a watermelon and a couple of pineapple.



    It’s a beautiful road, though in very bad condition in quite a few places.


    I turned down a new-looking red dirt road toward the coast.


    And then onto a smaller track.


    Nearing Viñales, I started seeing mountains.


    I had arranged to stay with Mileidys and Papo, where Fin had stayed early in his trip, and Klaus and Jorge stayed just a few days ago. This place is amazing!


    I told the owners I’d like to stay for two days. For dinner, they served me enough for three people.

    Dracula, BillUA, ChicoProf and 60 others like this.
  19. dixda

    dixda Been here awhile Supporter

    Sep 12, 2010
    Your trip is amazing! I can understand your thoughts of Varadero, yet enjoyed the small town and it's wonderful people away from the resorts. I had brought a big Halloween bag of the old 2cent Chicklets and discovered that young and old alike were very fond of them. Thank you for your posts!
  20. Surcease

    Surcease Fng

    Jul 25, 2020
    Good on ya for letting Yasmani ride your bike, especially after your last expierience. I can only imagine how cool it was for him. Really enjoying following along! Thanks Jamie.