The Adventures of LoneStar & The Iron Butterfly...

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by LoneStar, Jun 22, 2016.

  1. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus Supporter

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    No, I wasn't but everyone here has one and seems to be on it all day. We pass road crews and they're all texting lol
  2. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus Supporter

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    Apologies for the sparse reports but we've been pushing hard and decent wifi is sparse :D

    Currently in San Cristobal De Las Casas after some hard days in the coastal heat. 105º in stop and go traffic in big cities and we've both been battling stomach bugs and diarrhea for the last couple of weeks. That with the heat has kept us drained.

    San Cristobal is a bit cooler and higher in elevation and hope to be here a couple of days to get some real rest - had to splurge on a nice hotel to recover a bit.

    Hope to post an update soon!
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  3. 230Rocket

    230Rocket Adventurer

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    NSW Australia to McKinney, Texas
    Beautiful pictures as always. Captivating and perfectly in balance with the text. Stay safe.

    ride far
    Dean
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  4. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus Supporter

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    Morelia

    It was with sadness that we packed up to leave Guanajuato. It was truly one of the richest life experiences I've had and Kimberly felt much the same. Each day was filled with color, culture, music, good food and for the first time in my life, I really felt like I was on a vacation.

    Our landlord, Maria Luz and her daughter, had been so sweet and helpful we considered them almost family.

    We took a final ride down the steep streets into the bustle of downtown and then into the tunnels for an exit south towards Morelia. The route was to take as much of the free roads as we could before having to make time in the heat on the tollways.





    Lunch called and we found a roadside taco stand, where Kim had an encounter with a jalapeño. The aforementioned pepper kicked ass and took down her name. The night before we'd had a meal with a grilled pepper that wasn't too hot, and when our lunch food acme with a big green grilled pepper Kim unthinkingly scooped out the seeds with her finger and took a big bite.

    I wasn't paying attention and asked her about the food. There was silence as I shot a pic and then I noticed the tears streaming down her face. A warm Pepsi didn't help much but she finally was able to speak again after a few moments. I felt sorry for her but there isn't much you can do!

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    A couple of moments later, she had walked to the bikes for something, when I suddenly heard her yelling my name. I ran over to find her in severe pain, having inadvertently rubbed her eye with the finger she'd used to scoop out the seeds. A couple of minutes of pouring drinking water into her eye finally brought some relief but it was not a good lunch date!

    Our route was to take us across a couple of lakes on the way to Morelia, and as we neared the region the tell-tale, cone shaped mountains of extinct volcanoes began to appear on either side. We weren't in Kansas no more Toto. The entire nation of Mexico seemed extremely dry as we'd ridden, and I was disappointed to find the lakes dry as a bone.

    Arriving in Morelia about 4, we found the main plaza filled with tents and vendors, as the week of Semana Santa had begun. Traffic was thick and people were everywhere, stopping to stare at us as we looked to park the bikes. We squeezed into a spot next to some other small motos and headed for the nearest concrete bench to peel out of the hot gear and boots.

    Morelia was a beautiful colonial city, more organized and European in its grid-like layout than say, Guanajuato, but striking in it's wealth and stunning cathedrals. It was impressive and very clean as well.

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    Locking our helmets and jackets to the bikes, we made the large circle around the plaza, watching local Indian performers doing a traditional dance with loud clacking wooden sandals, their backs bent as if old men and wearing masks with long blonde hair made of rope. We were to find out later that it was a historical dance mocking the Spaniards from the past.

    Some dude with these trained birds was making a killing. Folks were lined up to pay lots of pesos for the birds to pick their fortunes.
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    We've decided this might be our ticket to fortune when we return to the U.S.

    Stares were more prevalent here than in the other places we've visited, a good sign that gringos were a bit more rare in this area. We made the rounds and waited on a bench for our host to meet us, and while doing so a fair skinned man sitting nearby began a conversation. He was a native of Morelia, but had lived in Chicago for 10 years before having to return to Mexico after his travel visa had expired. He wasn't a happy man, as he had to leave his wife and son there and hadn't seen them in several years. There was no bitterness towards the U.S., and in fact he wanted to live there again. He said Mexico was just so poor and politicians so corrupt that it was very hard to live. Fifty dollars a week is about the average income he told me, and it took six years to be able to buy a car, so he said local people don't have much hope for the future.

    He was a nice guy and said he had heard us speaking English and wanted to practice his again. He asked us to say a prayer that he would be able to return to his son some day. We talked a while longer until our host found us, and we said our goodbyes, riding behind our new friend on his café racer into an old neighborhood for the evening.

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    Alan and his girlfriend Valerua, had a small child, Mattias, who kept us entertained until Alan had to return to the main plaza to deliver his bike to it's new owner. Alan had decided to sell his bike so that he and his wife could open a taco stand out of their home.

    We were wanting to see some of the entertainment happening that night in preparation for the Holy Week and all rode together back downtown. A while later, his wife and son arrived and we wandered the streets with them, ending up in a coffee shop and talking until late in the night.

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    Our digs were an upstairs bedroom across the street from a club of sorts, the sounds of ranchero music playing loud and live late into the morning hours. At 5 am, I was awakened to three loud explosions that sounded like a 12 gauge shotgun about 50 feet away, only to hear the tolling of a church bell a moment later. Semana Santa had begun with the celebration of massive fireworks at 5 am, 6 am and randomly forever over the next week.


    The next day was Palm Sunday, and we explored the city a bit on the bikes, seeing various churches with people carrying beautifully devoted and woven palm fronds. Having slept little the night before due to the noise, we found a plaza or two to nap in.

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    After a while we headed for a large park I saw on Google maps and discovered it was a zoo. Had to visit and found a spot for the bikes. Entry was about $1.00 US and we were intrigued.

    Forget U.S. zoos. Here the animals were up close and personal, often behind chain link fences and newly erected ropes were only about 18-24" from the fence. It's an easy reach to stick your hand in the tiger cage, or better yet a hyena.

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    They had several tigers, including a white Siberian that was amazing. We watched him for a long time, until he suddenly sensed someone coming down the pathway on the other side and quickly moved into a hiding position. We watched as a young kid and adult walked past the cage, the tiger suddenly stalking, then leaping at the youth, protected only by a chain link fence. We weren't sure what it was about the kid, but the tiger had nothing but eyes for him. It was a bit creepy seeing how he would have taken someone down in the wild.

    The zoo was far more interesting than an American zoo, I guess because if you really wanted to you could have your hand bitten off pretty easily, but it's the closest either of us have ever been to wild(ish?) animals and it was actually fun.

    The evening was spent in the plaza looking at the myriad vendors and inevitable people watching. At one point while sitting on a bench, a guy with a weird vibe came and squeezed between me and another couple, eyeing my leather pouch. I wrapped it's strap around my wrist and then got up and walked away. He definitely had a bad spirit and since we were in the main tourist area he may have been a bad guy, but if so he needed to polish his technique a bit more.


    One thing I can say, there is no shortage of food nor food vendors in Mexico!

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    Mr. Peanut's bitter brother
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  5. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus Supporter

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    Some random thoughts on finances...

    I had a chance to look at what we've spent in Mexico thus far, and it seems we are averaging between $34 and $39 US per day - for two bikes and two people which is pretty good. We're living nicely and not eating dirt, but also skipping restaurants as much as possible and eating street food or buying a few groceries. This also includes buying the random t-shirt or dress every once-in-a-blue-moon (mainly because finding dresses in my size is difficult) and a couple of massages. We've hit a fine line of not feeling like we're doing without and yet feeling a little like we're on vacation sometimes. Striking a balance of enjoyment vs pushing hard is important.

    Fuel is a significant chunk - more than I expected, but it is what is is

    Our lodging has been a combination of Couchsurfing, AirBNB and cheap hotels. We have camped ZERO times as it has been difficult to find spots on our routes. Couchsurfing is free depending on whether you treat your hosts to food and drink. AirBNB has ranged from $11 to $23 and hotels have been in the $20-25 range for 2 people. Highest we've paid is here in San Cristobal but we were pretty sick and exhausted and just grabbed a nice place.

    Whether the following is a random event series or not, our friends F & K had a hit on their debit card here and needed a replacement, Tibor and Anna had a card number stolen, a traveler friend of Hank's got a card hit and we had a replacement card requested by a thief in the US. Our card issue was probably unrelated to being out of the country but it still was a bit odd. I recommend just using a debit card at main bank ATM's and withdrawing minimum pesos as needed.
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  6. asphaltsurfer1

    asphaltsurfer1 CatManDew

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    Sorry to hear about Kim and the caliente jalapeño. Getting in her eye had to really hurt. A Texas girl should know to watch out for those things. Last time I was in Mexico on business the hotel served a hobinaro salsa for breakfast that made me cry. beautiful photos and great story as usual. I can relate to the card issues and haven't even traveled abroad lately. Had my SS# stolen somehow a couple of years ago and had a flurry of cards being opened last week under my name. I like your idea of reputable ATM in small amounts. Stay safe
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  7. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus Supporter

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    Our hosts were young and a lot of fun, Alan being obsessed with cafe racers and having sold his bike the night previous to fund a taco stand they wanted to run from their home. As we prepared to leave that next morning, Valerua's brother and family arrived to see the parade. They were so sweet and excited to see the bikes, that I gave all the kids a ride before we left. It was a lot of fun.

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    From Morelia, our destination was Patzcuaro, by way of Quiroga where we'd been told the best carnitas were to be found. By noon, we'd rolled into Carnitaville and indeed the plaza was swarmed with carnitas vendors. We partook and enjoyed immensely, wandering the artesanal leather shops along the streets.


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    If you ever wondered whatever happened to "Klackers"or "Knockers", they are alive and well in Mexico
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    Jésus Malverde, patron saint of the narcos
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    The heat finally drove us to the bikes and the road south for Patzcuaro. We stopped off to see the archeological ruins in Tzintzuntzan, walking the massive stone structures and trying to cool off in the sparse shade.

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    From Tzintzuntzan (I feel sexy saying it quickly) we headed on. Kim had found a host in Patzcuaro, and we made the last hour into the town as the sky turned orange from the sunset. The heat had taken it's toll that day, and my GPS was again out of it's mind, sending us on a nightmare route through the town that lead absolutely nowhere but into dead end streets and one way alleys. We were both hot and cranky and I was tempted to take it out on the Garmin with the heel of my boot but didn't... The Garmin maps of Mexico are terrible, and if I didn't have Google maps, Sygic and Navigon apps on my phone we'd still be lost somewhere in Mexico. Garmin can get us from one place to another on main roads, but beyond that I stop and use an app, then find the coordinates and program them into the Garmin. When Google builds a GPS I'll be the first buyer.


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    Anyway, the square was absolutely slammed with vendors and white tents around the perimeter, a bit off-putting but we got off the bikes and sat in the shade with a cappuccino for a bit, scarfing down a piece of chocolate cake and some homemade fruit cookies. Folks in native costume arrived for a dance performance on a small stage in the plaza. We watched and enjoyed as the day slipped into night.


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    People stared intently at us, but always broke into big smiles if we smiled, and the place had a good feel to it.



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    It was late when our host, Bruno, texted us a location pin and we headed up into a dark and isolated neighborhood of huge homes. It seemed odd, but the electric gates to an isolated home opened and welcomed us in. Bruno was a guy in his 30's, a world traveler and professional sand volleyball player who lived in Italy much of the year. With my suspicious mind, it seemed odd that a young guy could have such a huge home in a new neighborhood, a new 4x4 and travel so much. Your mind plays tricks and he finally told us his father and he owned a construction company and this was the model home. We stayed up late talking history and the culture of Mexico, Bruno filled with pride of his heritage.



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    He left early but showed us how to get out of the estate through the steel gates, and we rolled out to spend the day in Patzcuaro. There are three large islands in the lake nearby, Isla Janitzio being the main one and we decided to take a boat ride over for the morning. Ravenous for breakfast we found some street tacos near the docks that were absolutely the best food we've had yet in Mexico.


    We waited a while for a tour bus load to get their tickets and on board the little ferries to the island before proceeding.

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    The old boat pilot was training the young boy - maybe his grandson - to eventually take over the business
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    A strange sound from the prop
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    Fisherman still ply the lake in canoes with nets, but near the island they mainly catch tourists for tips


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    Kids waiting on the dock for the tour boats to arrive. The little bastards.
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    The boat ride over was a bit stifling as the heat was already up for the day, but the island had a charm. Though touristy, it was pretty with very steep twisted streets, and the peak was adorned with a huge monument.


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    We took an ice cream break and an older gentleman, a professor from Mexico City, struck up conversation, inevitably turning to Trump. We talked for a long time before leaving for the climb to the top of the island.

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    The steps lead up through a maze of vendors, cocinas, and stores, Kim sampling her first batch of whole-fried minnows straight from the lake. Tasty indeed! I barely got any, once she tried the first one.


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    Mucho Pozolé
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    I got robbed by a little old lady selling bread! And I didn't even see it comin!
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    On the way up, a shriveled old lady sitting in a doorway selling breads called to us, her weak voice just above a whisper. Kim looked at me with a sad face and I leaned in to hear her. She grabbed my hand and held tightly, saying much that I didn't understand. I knew she was selling breads, but she was saying "Dios!" and other things and not letting go. She had a grip and as I pulled gently to remove my hand from hers, the grip tightened to one of iron. I was in an awkward position, half twisted and leaning, and she pulled me in further. About to fall, all I wanted to do was buy some bread and escape, but she kept on talking, crushing my hand and pulling. After what seemed like 15 minutes I was able to convince her to let go for "dinero" and bought a loaf from her to escape. I was a bit ticked at the hard sell and said "foto" when I gave her the money, getting a shot or two. Man, did she have a strong grip and a great schtick for robbing tourists! I'd wanted to just pull my hand free, but figured she'd have fallen over and the locals would have seen a big gringo having tossed a sweet old lady to the sidewalk. The next scene would have been Kim and I being carried, bound, to the ruins at Tzintzuntzan to be sacrificed on the high altar. All in all I think it was a good deal.

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    At the top of the island, we watched people and looked over the haze filled valley, spotting a road down the backside. As we walked down, Kim spotted some overhead lines that stretched way down and across to the next island, quite far away.


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    As we wound a bit further down, lo and behold, one of the lines was a zip-line from Isla Janitzio to the next island over, Tecueno. We watched as two guys did the run, the distance being so far the lines were invisible. Later I measured the distance on the map and it was just over a kilometer!








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    Hardest working construction workers! It's been interesting watching building in Mexico. All by hand and strong backs carrying everything up steep slopes and rickety handmade ladders.
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    Kim was caught by a large fresh fish near the water
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    The boat trip back was a slow and sleepy ride, occasionally catching a gust of cool breeze or the tiniest bit of spray through a window, the heat, humidity and haze slowly swallowing Isla Janitzio into it's gray grasp as we made Patzcuaro for the night.



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  8. LookingHard

    LookingHard Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Your trip seems to get better every day.........gotta go buy a lotto ticket.

    As for the zip-line; initially I just thought the sound was a plane spooling up but then I understood it was the
    pulley itself. Hope those don't melt on the way over. WOW!

    Take care and keep living my dreams.

    LoookingHard
  9. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus Supporter

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    Lol - you know all I could think of was how freakin hot that pulley had to be by the time the person gets over there. Being Mexico, I'd be real surprised if the zip line guys sourced some fancy shmancy high temp rig :lol3
  10. Chuckdog

    Chuckdog n00b

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    I"m getting on this blog late but totally impressed you two conquered Ophir. I did it on a GS650 Sertao and it was a challenge!
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  11. ROAD DAMAGE

    ROAD DAMAGE Long timer Supporter

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    Hey Joseph!
    Did you notice how the zipline operators got their trolley and harness contraption back up to the top of the other island? Seems they would have to have several of them, and then boat them back over to the other island, and then schlep them back up to the top? Lots of work just to terrify tourists!! Loving your images, videos, narrative as usual! Hey Kim! Easy on the peppers girl! They get hotter as you head south. Safe travels.
    LoneStar likes this.
  12. Pongo

    Pongo Been here awhile

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    What a fantastic report. You could totally monopolise the ladies and bikes photo category.
    "Fear is the foundation stone that all humans stand on, and travel is the best way to eliminate it." Amazing...
    The rent a cop on the dock in Nanaimo was likely because the shipping of raw logs out of the country with out even the labour to turn them into lumber is a big political issue in this province. Since the 2nd and third growth forests can be harvested by extremely small crews with very big machines cutting the logs down, limbing them and putting them on the truck is one job, driving them to where they are loaded on those ships is another job. Many people do not want to denude this resource with 2 people getting jobs out of it where dozens and dozens would have had jobs in the past. But automation and international trade..
    I really like the balance you strike in your gear expenditures. Buying the 1200 in Alaska, then re-making it to perfectly match Kims needs and likes is an amazing part of the journey.
    It takes about 5 hours to catch up with this ride from the beginning btw. lol
    Safe travels.
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  13. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus Supporter

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    LOL I think it was a draw - and Ophir was being nice
  14. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus Supporter

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    Hey Bro! There was a tiny little boat that could hold 2 or 3 folks and returned the guys. I think it was by paddling so it took a while. I'm guessing the rigs were brought back with the passengers. The more I thought about it afterwards, the more questions I had :lol3
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  15. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus Supporter

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    Thanks Pongo! Especially for the logging information - love to hear about the stuff you wonder when passing through places. The Alaska ship was a curiosity - as if the logs were going there? Wouldn't seem logical but then...
  16. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus Supporter

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    Patzcuaro was a great place and one we enjoyed much. The previous evening we'd met our host in the square late, and followed her to her home. Elizabeth's family - mamá, sister and brother had been waiting for us in the kitchen when we arrived and we stayed up late talking with them - each struggling with our respective learned languages. Papá had retired to his room before we'd gotten there, his transistor radio echoing the sound of fútbol in the courtyard evening air. Our room had been in a wooden, mountain-style cabin built over part of the courtyard and to remind her parents of the mountains.


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    We'd gotten up early that morning, to find breakfast prepared and the family waiting. Father was there, a bit reserved and cautious, but after a while more relaxed to find the gringo's weren't a threat I guess. He warned us of travel in Mexico in certain areas, as always, being told never to travel after dark. We take all warnings we get seriously, and he was glad to hear that we never rode after dark. He also told us not to travel to Paracho, as there had just been violence between locals and the police there. It was on a loop I had planned, and after talking about it for a while he said that though the town had been blockaded, the locals would probably allow us through. Despite the warnings, we had fun trying to communicate with the family and then said our goodbyes, complete with family pics in the front.


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    The state of Michoacan is known for its forests and mountains, quite beautiful, as well as its abundant and verdant avocado fields. The same terrain has also been home to drug lords and narco activity for years, and the struggle continues though not as savage as a few years back. Morelia and Patzcuaro were very pretty places and we enjoyed them very much, but there was a background tone of subtle tension not felt in other areas.

    Our goal was Uruapan, a big city deeper into the state, and one I'd visited briefly in 2012 on my first trip into Mexico. Though the city didn't impress me, the region did and offered some great riding opportunities. With the breakfast imagery still fresh in our heads, we decided to loop around Lago Patzcuaro before swinging further west for Uruapan.

    The day was hot, and we made our way around the lake over countless topés and through wafts of burning brush and trash piles, the day turned to noon. We reached the turn for Quiroga, only a few miles away, only to find the road blocked with many Federalés and trucks, the roadside lined with riot gear and men waiting in the heat. I motioned to the officers at the roadblock for Quiroga and with a finger wag was told to reverse direction.

    We couldn't help but wonder if the Paracho incident had spread to Quiroga, and disappointed we couldn't have another lunch of carnitas, reversed back for Patzcuaro. As we passed through little town after little town, at the entrance were a couple of kids dressed with a devil's head mask and little bags, slowing the traffic and approaching the vehicles. It was a bit weird and added a strange accent to the day...

    Hunger pangs drove us into a town near the lake, only to find it's streets vacant and deserted. It was disconcerting after seeing the riot police a few miles back and we openly wondered what was up. That and the devil-masked kids combined for an odd feeling. I headed for the church tower and we rolled up to a silent and completely deserted public square. We were seriously creeped out, as never once had we entered a town, or especially a square, devoid of people.

    As I turned the corner, I saw a man lying face down in the street ahead and held my breath as Kim rounded the corner as well. After a moment, I saw him moving and realized he was apparently a city worker doing something in a manhole. We burst out laughing at ourselves and the timing of his "dead man in the street" routine.



    Eventually we found a small abarrotes and grabbed a coke and snacks. The owner knew a couple of words of English and happily served us, pointing to an overlook on a hill nearby. We made our way out of the ghost town and up the mountain road to the top, where we sought some relief from the heat for an hour.



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    After a few more towns and kids in masks with pouches, our steel trap minds realized that since this was a holy week, the kids probably were representing Judas and his bag of silver...



    Eventually we made Patzcuaro again, and stopped along the roadside to look at some incredible woodworking shops. Amazing stuff made there.




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    The afternoon was waning away and we still had a ways to go, taking the libré road for Santa Clara Del Cobre, famous for it's copper craftsmen, and then the town of Zirahuen on a beautiful lake.



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    Pollo break
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    In 2012 I'd attended a BMW Rally event that had come through there and wanted to swing by again. The road from SCDC to Zirahuen was an interesting mix of stone and concrete, and after some searching we eventually found the dirt turn off for the lake.









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    Entering a rundown resort area, the attendant came over and I pointed to the Rally sticker on my bike. He smiled and waved his arms as if "the place is yours". We peeled out of our sweat soaked gear and laid on the cool grass in the shade, the sound of lapping waves and breeze lulling us to sleep. It took everything in me to get up and on the bike, as we both wanted to just sleep in the shade of that place.


    We noted it for the future and clambered aboard the bikes in earnest for Uruapan, as the sun was beginning to sink low.

    Racing along through the forests and mountain areas in the setting sun, we saw grove after grove of avocado trees on the hillsides. Licking our lips in anticipation of getting some of the green gold, but they didn't seem to be in season. Our host in Patzcuaro had told us the aguacate trees bloom and fruit twice a year, but I wasn't sure if it was random or regular.





    It was sunset as we made downtown Uruapan, only to find the main plaza entirely covered, and I mean entirely, with white tents housing vendors for Semana Santa. It was disappointing and a madhouse, made worse by the fatigue and heat of the long day. Luckily the hotel I'd stayed in before was nearby and we headed for it in hopes of a room.

    In front of the hotel were about 25 Federalé trucks, with about an equal number of officers in the black masks standing around with their body armor and M-16's in hand. Turns out the hotel was the base of operations, and probably a hundred or more officers were staying there. As we stood in the lobby, a constant stream of SWAT clad men flowed around us in and out. I told Kim either we were in the safest place we could be, or the most dangerous!

    Luckily they had a room and after dragging gear inside, barely able to fit in the elevator with men and rifles, we rode the bikes down the block to the parking garage. The second floor was entirely filled with the ubiquitous pickups with machine gun mounts and rear racks for the troops. We were directed into the lower floor, ducking the low entry and riding around to the parking place assigned, a lone Federalé racking a pistol and dry-firing it for the benefit of some young guys in front of as we rolled up to him. Welcome to Uruapan!

    Our room was good enough and we hoped the next morning would bring a nice, new day.
  17. asphaltsurfer1

    asphaltsurfer1 CatManDew

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2011
    Oddometer:
    540
    Location:
    By the pool
    Wow! Just wow!
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  18. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2006
    Oddometer:
    2,241
    Location:
    Texas, Zip Code EIEIO
    The "nice new day" arrived much too early, to the deafening sound of explosions, of course the monster fireworks announcing something to do with Semana Santa.

    We staggered to the breakfast area to discover it swamped with officers and weapons, and we sat quietly amidst about 50 brown-skinned and black-clad men, trying to look as inconspicuous as possible. Breakfast was good and the men were courteous but somewhat enamored with the blonde woman at my table, methinks. The previous night, we were definitely the topic of conversation as it doesn't seem many gringos come this far down, based on the stares and stops of onlookers and street-goers. One can't help but feel conspicuous and wondering about the Trump issue is always at the forefront of your mind.

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    The heat of the city made us fodder for the hotel room, chilling and repacking gear, washing out clothing and trying to catch up on things. The day slipped away until we felt it was time to head out in lessening heat for a walk and some pics.

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    The city was busy, and the people were swarming about. Neither of us felt particularly comfortable, as the stares weren't followed by smiles like we've seen in other areas. There seemed to be a tension and harshness in the air that probably echoed the tension of the region for so many years. I don't make sweeping statements based on one trip to a place, but Kim felt the same as I - a certain unease to the town and to our spirits.


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    We walked the streets looking for interesting things and people, doing some street shooting but feeling as conspicuous as the people we were. Cars would pass and people would stick their heads out the windows or circle the block to look at us. At one corner, I stood for a few minutes looking to capture a shot when a young woman walked up across the street. She stopped, obviously not wanting to be in the photo. We tried to indicate to go ahead and I wouldn't shoot, but she stared with disgust, then shot us the big finger and began shouting at us. Across the street, an older woman and younger girl had been sitting for a while, unconcerned with us, but when the girl began yelling they stood and joined in. I assume they were family members, but the mother began shouting at us and waving her hands. It was a tense situation and being in an iffy neighborhood with angry locals, I calmed TIB down a bit and told her we needed to bail out asap.

    An older man near me on the street tried to tell me what was going on, but spoke Spanish too quickly for me to comprehend. It wasn't hard to figure out that he was telling me what she was saying and for us to go. I wasn't entirely sure whether he was trying to help us or was joining in.

    We walked away and entered the mercado area to find some food, people watching us intently and we didn't feel comfortable. We ate some enchiladas and headed back for the hotel for the night.


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    Exiting the elevator and turning the corner for the hallway to our room, two Federalés stepped aside to let us pass, which seemed a bit odd. Then we saw down the opposite hallway and understood. The hallway was filled with officers... and some affectionate women who were NOT dressed like nuns. We both did our Seargent Schultz "I zee nothing!" routines and hit our room. Man what a day.

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    Uruapan is a busy, bustling city, a bit dirty but still an interesting place. Within the city limits lies a National Park, and the region is filled with some great roads and places to see. One of those, and one of the main reasons we had ridden down, is the remains of a church in a town buried by lava from the eruption of the Paricutín volcano in the 1950's, which literally grew out of a farmer's corn field.

    We got a reasonably early start for the place, and after riding into the surrounding mountains, we reached a dirt turnoff that my GPS insisted was the proper turn to get to the town. I had an old GPS track of the route, but it didn't seem to be working. We took the dirt road up into the mountains, passing through farm after farm of avocado trees. The road was decent, with the occasional rain ruts and such, climbing higher and higher in the pine forests. After a while a solo rider on a little bike passed us, looking at us quite surprised.

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    As we continued on, the road began to branch off and get narrower and rougher. Several times I had to run ahead up through rough sections to see if the road was doable. Kim did great in the long uphills as we got deeper into the forest. From the GPS I could tell we weren't getting anywhere near the church and my alarm bells were going off. Riding deeper into mountain terrain on two track rough roads in Michoacan could lead places you don't want to go, so I finally called it and we backtracked back out, losing a couple of hours in the process.


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    Back on the main road, we followed it for miles, until it turned to gravel and we saw hand painted signs for "San Juan Parangaricutiro", the remnants of the village. Eventually we hit the valley floor and long stretches of volcanic sand, with the requisite wallowing and a couple of dumps for Kim on the 1200, before reaching the massive lava flow fields. I HATE GS's on sand and if my legs hadn't been so long for dabbing I'd have bitten the sand a couple or three times myself.


    Volcan Paricutin
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    Lava fields ahead!
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    Riding through the lava fields was cool and surreal, as if being on the moon. Here and there along the road bulldozed through the porous rock fields were shrines and memorials.

    To one side lay the remnants of the volcano, and to the other we could see the lone bell tower of the church sticking out from the black lava fields, incongruent and surreal.


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    At the turn off of the road, the sand was deep and tricky until we reached the huts of the local indigenous folks making hand ground blue corn tortillas and food for the tourists. Again, Santa Semana had struck with tons of people on vacation. BTW, something I didn't know was that the "blue" corn tortillas got their color from a mold or fungus, thus the blue coloration...

    It was hot and we were tired, but clambering around on the high piles of jagged lava engulfing and surrounding the church were engaging. To one end we found the original altar which had survived. To the other end were the remains of the entry, the wall of lava having burst into the church and filled it.


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    "Knock Knock", "Who's there?", "Lava", "Lava Who??", "Lava how you've decorated the place!"
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    Kim found a way into a couple of rooms and the bell tower, the original spiral steps leading down into pitch darkness.


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    They teach 'em the Gringo Finger early don't they...
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    We spent quite a while there, a remarkable place and worth the effort despite the heat. If you are ever in the region it's worth the work to get there.


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    As the day waned we struggled the bikes out of the sand in the parking area and back onto the road, heading for Anguhuan. The road quickly turned into 4 miles of deep, black volcanic sand and after an hour we'd only gone a couple of miles, the soft stuff being a foot deep or more.

    After burning clutches and sweat filled boots, we finally made some red dirt and rocks as the road led up into the hills. The rough and rocky road was far preferable to sand, and eventually we made blacktop as the sun sank low. It was a race back to Uruapan to try and get some cool air through the gear.

    We were starving when we made the hotel and found a taco place across the street. It had been a long, hard, day but the ruins were worth the trouble.

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  19. steved57

    steved57 Been here awhile Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2007
    Oddometer:
    846
    Location:
    East Texas
    I've been reading the report since the beginning - again thank you both for the excellent pics and storytelling

    Be safe and keep it coming - you guys rock !!!!!
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  20. Zubb

    Zubb he went that-a-way...

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2002
    Oddometer:
    2,662
    Location:
    San Diego
    Your Lava Church day was epic!!
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