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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Veselko, Nov 9, 2018.
Hey Dave! Hope you're doing well. I'd be up for that.
Hey man, glad your enjoying it. I've been blogging my trips for a while, but this is the big one. Figured this was the appropriate place to share it. Years ago I was on ADV, and I'm sure some of the ride reports I read were inspiration to me.
Mazatlan to San Blas. Nothing too exciting, just mostly straight and hot. Took 15 again, the more scenic road, vs 15D the more modern highway. Along much of 15 there are miles and miles of mango groves, branches bending with the weight of them all. I considered pulling over and picking a few, but didn't want to be the gringo stealing mangos... not that I had any place to put them; the advantage of having no space can't pick up or buy more stuff...
The town is maybe two square miles with a lot of irregular stone surfaces on the streets. The now typical narrow streets with houses joined together. Now I know why they paint them colors, so they can figure out which is theirs. This is in front of the house where I'm staying.
The place has a nice rooftop terrace!
Went and took a walk around the neighborhood looking at what kind of stores they had and to buy a few things. Sitting on the rooftop eating dinner, Spanish music drifting up from the neighbors, it's a good end to the day.
Ate breakfast on the same rooftop then for a slowl walk in the streets. The streets just all seem too tight and most of the houses have bars, like the other towns. What's the difference between a jail and a house where you're bared in? The keys, who holds the keys. Dogs laying in the shade and a little suspicious of everyone; they move aside when you get near. Slowly reach out to one, the growl in the throat says not today. People sitting in groups in the street in front of their houses, playing music and a lot of conversation and some dancing. Probably outside because the houses are too small and too hot. Ask a local, "Está una panadería circa?" Sí, aquí... Two houses down. The bread store doesn't quite have the selection I'm used to. Some bread, a muffin, a cookie, $1. Further down, the main square, more music, bustling traffic but not congested, people sitting on benches in the shade, restaurants, street vendors selling fruits and vegetables on the sidewalk. Couple big bananas, couple big avocados, some broccoli, an orange, a kiwi, an onion, a carrot... $4.50. Back to my lodging... My shirt is sweated through and it's only 10:30 in the morning. I keep my room at 30 C, cause that's way cooler than outside.
Figured I'd take a ride to the beach. Just enough sand on the road to get to this point to make me twitchy.
Yeah, the beach is longer than the town, and it's the only place I've seen where the breaking wave is just as long. One loooong wave, coming in very rhythmically.
I spent some time in the surf, body surfing then sat in the shade for a few minutes. The water is bathwater temperature.
After five minutes guy comes over, not exactly sure what he's saying, I understand a few words. Basically... Did you pay to sit here, you think this palm tree roof grew here by itself? I counter with, is this yours? He says it is. How much? 100 pesos... No, gracias, not going to pay a guy $100 pesos to sit in the shade, whether he's legit or not. Time to respectfully move on.
Digging the ride report / pics
Keep it coming
Day started out well, sitting on the deck eating breakfast to sunrise and the sound of roosters crowing, birds chirping, and a calf mooing... don't know, guess the neighbor wants fresh milk sometime in the future.
Got myself packed up... I'm getting faster at packing and unpacking... and set my sights for a town called Tlajomulco de Zuniga, South of Guatalajara. Thanked my host, and I was off. Stopped in town to get gas.... pay the lady, start the bike... cough, sputter, die... really? Try again... give it some throttle this time... starts, running rough, dies... really? Wow, bad gas... *^%#%&^^* I told the lady and she just kind of smiled. Now what? Start it, rev it, keep the revs up and go... omg, the thing was sputtering, backfiring, wouldn't stay idling. 20 miles later it started clearing up, and by 30 miles into it, it was running better than new. It was a looong 30 miles; a twisty narrow road, and trying to keep the bike from dying while working the gears. In all my years of riding, this is only the second time I've gotten bad gas. First time was on one of my BMW's and it left me stranded on the side of a road 150 miles from home.
Spent most of the 250 miles today on highway 15. 15D, a tollway, runs pretty much in the same direction. And as much as I try to avoid the tollway, somehow the last section of road always filters into the tollway, so you end up paying no matter what road you take.
Most of the twisty section of road was mangoes, papayas, bananas. The air smelled sweet from all the fruit. Then it got more into the plains, more farmland, looked like pineapple.
Some pretty impressive scenery
And this was like, did I just land on the moon? Just these huge black boulders all over the landscape. Almost looked volcanic. There is smoke in the distance, so maybe this was just the result of a burn? But the grass around the boulders wasn't burnt.
Something about Curvas Peligrosos, and a steep downhill. More good stuff starting.
Digs for the night. Full two bedroom, three bathroom house, for $20/night... in a secured neighborhood.
It was a long day. What should have been less than 200 miles and just over 4 hours, turned into 250 miles and 9 hours. Partially because I took route 15 instead of 15D, which is a twisty slower road that goes through towns, and partially because I blew my last exit, and the next place to turn around was 20 miles further... really? Wasn't even an exit, I just pulled a U at the next toll station... So, yeah, did an extra 40 miles of four lane interstate on top of the longer trip time.
And I'm itching like a mother, cause I think the sand flies or something got me at the beach the other day. Time for a long shower..
I don't know what got me, but it got me good. Bites on the arms and legs that itch like crazy. Tried Cortisone cream, barely touched it. Couldn't sleep from the itching. Finally about 1:45 am took an antihistamine pill, which took the edge off enough that I could fall asleep.
Went out this morning to check out the town and get a few groceries. Wow! This is way too close to Guadalajara, too congested. You have the main 6-8 lane highways, which have limited off's and on's and places to make U-turns. Some parts smooth, others where the patches have been patched and it's just a mess. The side streets are anything from smooth asphalt to pot holes, to rock paved, to unpaved with huge standing puddles... have to do a river crossing just to get to the grocery store... And then there's points where it looks like they just gave up, and it's ruts and rocks and sand. What is this, the third world?! :)
Pedestrians, cars, buses and trucks with crap exhaust, motorcycles weaving in and out of traffic, tailgaters... one point, I look back and put my hand out to say, "Dude, you're up my exhaust pipe and you're going nowhere!" He did back off a bit.
The energy is just crazy... and it feeds off it's self in a bad kind of way... There's no feeling relaxed. You're on high alert. Is it just me, because I'm not used to it? And it's way worse than Chicago.. :)
As if traveling doesn't have enough complications.... from Wikipedia:
To prevent bringing bed bugs to one's own home, travelers are advised to take precautions after visiting an infested site: generally, these include checking shoes on leaving the site, changing clothes in a garage before returning to their home, and putting the used clothes in a clothes dryer outside the house. When visiting a new lodging, it is advised to check the bed before taking suitcases into the sleeping area and putting the suitcase on a raised stand to make bedbugs less able to crawl in. "An extreme measure would be putting the suitcase in the tub." Clothes should be hung up or left in the suitcase, and never left on the floor. The founder of a company dedicated to bedbug extermination said that 5% of hotel rooms he books into were infested. He advised people never to sit down on public transport; check office chairs, plane seats and hotel mattresses, and monitor and vacuum home beds once a month.
Hmmm... so you think it's bed bugs. I spent two nights at the same place and was perfectly fine the first night, wasn't until the second morning, morning after I went to the beach, that I stared itching. If I didn't know better, I would have said Chiggers. I got them once in Missouri, and these feel exactly the same and show up a day after you get bit. But you're right, the red itchy spots could be from either... Well, if it's the worse thing that happens on my trip, I'll be ok...
Asked my host about it. She says it's sandflies, they call them jejenes, and she says they're all over the beaches, especially at sunset and sunrise...
Got myself out of the Guadalajara. Four lane highway, trucks, not much scenery, so took a jog off the main highway. Mixed bag, especially the potholes getting closer to my destination. If there's more hole than road, is it still a pothole? There should be a different name for that. Tried zooming over all of it at higher speed, said #@$% a few times, then decided that first gear and slowly picking through them was a better choice for the long term durability of the motorcycle.
Other than the potholes, it was a pretty good ride. At one point there was a big sign over the road that said Carterra de Tequila... Tequila Road. Saw a lot of what I though was pineapple, but actually the spiky bushes are agave, to be used for making Tequila.
Rolling hills and valley road. Some nice scenery. I'd say some of this route was the most fertile land I've seen so far, almost black in some areas, red in others.
The town is bustling. I was a little thrown, just a few blocks from me are McDonald's, Burger King, Popeyes, and a Chinese restaurant... $2.55 for a Chinese dinner... living on the cheap!
I have to say, again, I'm not impresses by how Mexico is adopting the modern American lifestyle and all it's trappings. Convenience stores, fast food, plastic bottles and bags strewn everywhere. I've literally seen piles of garbage at many rest areas along the road.
Observation. Motorcycles here, in many cases, can be found right next to the washing machines in the big department stores; commodity items. I guess that makes an actual Honda or Suzuki dealer kind of a boutique store.
And once again I'm safely behind bars with a rooftop view of the town.
My room is literally so small I'm about 8" from being able to touch both sides of the room at the same time. But it does have a common kitchen and two level deck, so guess that makes up for it.
I've gone through an entire tube of hydrocortisone cream and taking antihistimines. All the bites are still itching like crazy, and if I don't take it I can't sleep.
It's thunder storming outside, and I see rain predicted for the next week...
The good news is the itching is down to the point where I don't need drugs any more.
Made my way to Pachuca today, some 200+ miles. There's a whole lot of civilization between Irapuato and Pachuca. Guess it's the urban sprawl from Mexico City. Saw it all, modern towns that would rival any town in the US, old dilapidated ones, industrial areas pumping out smog. And it was pretty much all four lane interstate.
The highlight of the day was definitely stopping at the Tula archaeological site along the way. Apparently it was the capital of the Toltec Empire at one time.
And I'm safely behind bars again! The owner thought my bike wouldn't be safe outside so it's also behind bars two blocks away at a relatives house. They would have let me put it in the living room, but it wouldn't fit through the door. So far everyone I've met has been totally hospitable.
A few random notes. Sometime back I asked of one of my hosts, can I drink the water from the sink? They said no, it has too much chlorine in it... Hah! Different guy said, yeah, the tap water is fine.. I drank it... from a hose... I didn't die. But, I'm not making a habit of it.
There's Coca Cola signs everywhere and Coca Cola is the major bottler of water here also. Guess Mexico hasn't gotten the word that Coke will kill you... and when they do, well, Coke still has the market covered.
If you love meat, this is the country for you, I think even more than the US. They're selling it and grilling it in the streets!
To try and clean the country up they post signs saying things like a clean road is a safer road... I drove past one area where they had a cleaning crew out with one of those big street sweepers... who was cleaning up after it? Two guys, one with a broom and one with a dust pan! We're going to need more dust pans and brooms!
Since every gas station has multiple attendants to help you pump gas, how many jobs do you think that supplies to the economy? A whole messload...
There is so much contrast between the modern cities with low skyscrapers hotels and condos, and the little places in the middle of nowhere.
Dogs in Mexico are mean. Maybe because no one feeds them. Saw one that must have just got run over, on his back, trying to get up but obviously too damaged, the cars in it's lane didn't stop, just centered over it so as not to hit it.
Learning about the Toltec Empire for the first time. Thanks, very interesting reading on Wikipedia. Enjoying your adventure and impressions of Mexico.
I know, masters of art, agriculture, engineering, architecture... and... human sacrifice... kind of like modern society... but we're much less obvious about the human sacrifice part.
Try a lime on the bites, when in Borneo n our bite meds werent workg our friend told us about limes and they hafd many trees.
Thanks for taking us along on your ride The island scooter ride is a great idea for a winter break.
Hmmm... Have to keep that in mind. I tried vinegar, didn't help.
Glad you're enjoying the ride.
Took a ride out of town to Parque Nacional de Chico. One of Mexico's first preserves. After a couple bad turns that ended up rocky/grass dead ends, I found the main road. Also got a good view of part of the city on the hillside. Stacked like legos, similar colors too. My bad turns took me though some of that. The streets are narrow and steep, uphill and downhill it's all first gear, favoring the rear brake on the way down. And hairpin turns on bad partially wet roads, that will pucker you up.
On the road to Theuecan, Puebla. The day started out with light rain and about 60F, and the need to put the rain pants on for warmth and keep the legs dry. The drizzle stopped about 30 miles after I got on the road. Happens to be pouring rain out now also, so guess it's the rainy season? Last hour of the trip I was dodging some big clouds. I put on the full rain gear early, which pretty much meant it wasn't going to rain... until I got into town and took it all off...
It was rough going most of the day. 8 hours, 200+ miles... Four laner running through a lot of humanity again. Big towns with choke me traffic exhaust (you know... it's a four stroke engine but burns more oil than a two stroke). Smaller towns with those speed bumps everywhere, and you can't just zip over most of them, they're serious, first gear work... Accelerate up to third, if your lucky, time for another one. And they're all different, so you can't figure out a best speed to hit them. I swear, the auto parts stores and mechanics union must lobby the government to install those things, cause I can't Imagine how quickly people wear out their brakes and shocks stopping for and going over those things all the time, not to mention the waste of gas from accelerating. Use to be that four-lane was a dirty word to me, now I come on a four lane with no speed bumps and I'm happy as a pig in slop. But I can crush rocks with my clutch hand now...
That one spot where I must have tried four different ways to get to the street I needed. This street structure take some time to get used to. Lanes that go over, under, to the right, and if you're in the wrong one for your turn, well go down the road a ways, turn around, try again, no can't turn here cause it's bus only.
At one point on a two lane we're barely moving in first gear... A few passes here and there and I get to the front... there's a colony of bicycle riders, being led by some truck with some kind of alter on it (it's the best way I can describe it, it looked like a moving Buddhist temple). Don't know if it's a race or a funeral, but it was holding up traffic something serious. On that note, I did see a couple funeral processions during the day.
Then construction from hell. A major four lane down to two lanes and my road was closed, so had to take a different route, through more city and speed bumps.
OK! Enough with the griping! It occurred to me this morning that we struggle against what is, and well, that's just the way it is. Deal with it and move on. No matter how much I dislike those stupid speed bumps, they're here, they're everywhere! ... sorry... lost it again for a second... And no matter how much I don't like packing my bike up while it's raining, it's going to rain. Let it go... let it go... let it all go...
My ass on my bike...
That is a big mountain up ahead... headed toward Tlexcala I believe.
Feeding my ass some rice (dry) and carrots, cause my ass is sensitive to different kinds of food now...
Time for ALL the rain gear...
Mmmhmmm... Actually this area, especially the last hour or so of the ride, is very mountainous. Could of fooled me that it's Colorado...
Can you see them? Windmills in that line of clouds...
Just a small slowdown... I just took the motorcycle lane to the front of the pack... Ok, It's not the motorcycle lane but it sort of is. This is the Mexican solution to passing lanes. The idea is that if you see someone coming up from behind you you move over into the "half lane", which gives the person enough room on the left to pass you, and if not, well they go over the double yellow, and then the guy coming from the other direction, also gets to move over on his side, to make room in the middle for the passing vehicle. People pass everywhere, doesn't matter if it's a passing zone or not. The first time there was a semi coming at me in my line I was like wtf... The trucks basically straddle the line, half their wheels to the right, half to the left, gives the guy behind a good view and room to pass... Not an entirely bad system. Everyone gets to pass, and the road doesn't need to be as wide... Genius I say. Well, and it is kind of the motorcycle land, because most of the bikes here are 200 cc's and under, and they tap out, so you do see a few motorcycles just riding that small lane.
And when you do have a motorcycle, and you split lanes to the front, no one cares... probably cause that's one more space for them...
And my bike, my ass, and I are nicely tucked away for a couple days...
Behind a triple locked, steel door... The Mexicans take their security seriously...
Was doing a little research about all these bars and gates, apparently not only common to Mexico but Latin American countries in general. US desert Southwest too. They're traditional, and it doesn't mean it's a bad neighborhood, though there may be some that really need the bars. I just wonder, if you're been living behind bars all your life, do you start to believe that you need them?
Yesterday I took a 40 minute walk around Tehuacan. Business stacked one next to the other, on and on. Many of the places are maybe 10 feet of storefront. Restaurants with 3 or 4 tables, pharmacies with a couple counters, barbers with a couple chairs. Saw one place that sold nothing but kids backpacks. Similar stores maybe a block or two away, and no one is shy about sending you somewhere else if they don't have what you need. It's like everyone owns a business, regardless of how small. I wonder how these places make enough money, so small and specialized, and hardly any customers. Saw a few caretakers sit filing their nails, others on their cell phones, etc..
This morning made my way to Oaxaca (O ha ka). 150+ miles and just over 5 hours, and over 100 miles of that was all curvy road running along some huge mountains, through the valleys and up and down the cliffs, mostly 30 mph curves or so, hairpins, and some sweepers; it's a noodle. On the main Federal highway you can make it in about 3 hours, but what fun is that?
In some spots these huge cactus lined the hills. They literally get as big as the trees, and their trunks are just as thick.
These guys just kind of sat there until I started approaching them.. guess they liked the view too...
And I'm just down the narrow dirt road here...
Safely behind a concrete wall topped with chain-link and barbed wire...
Did some riding and a walk around around and near Oaxaca.
In a way I'm really starting to like the driving habits here. I struggle to describe it, but I guess the best way to put it is no assumptions, and be courteous because I'm driving here too... Do onto others. For example, back home, I would assume the guy is not going to turn left from the right lane, and since people generally don't, all is good, and when someone does it's like wtf? I assume people will use their turn signal and not just slam on the brakes to turn right but get stopped by pedestrians. I assume peoples brake lights work. I assume some guy is not going to run across the street carrying a ladder that takes up both lanes. That if you're behind me you're not going to go around me just because you think I'm too slow... All these little things that you don't even think about. But they define our driving world, and when someone breaks those common assumptions, we get ticked off. Here, you can not assume anything. You're always told that on a motorcycle, don't assume anything, don't assume the other guy sees you. The funny thing is, here, I think everyone sees everyone. They certainly see motorcycles, because they are used to seeing them. There's way more of them and they are constantly zipping in and out, lane splitting, filtering to the front. Fact is when you're not sure what they guys around you are going to do, you have no choice but to be completely aware of what's going on around you, always be ready, and you always leave that space to react...
Warning, technical paragraph! I have to say, sitting in 90 degree + traffic I'm really impressed by how little heat the DR650 puts out. This is the first air cooled motorcycle I've had since that '75 yamaha back in 1980. I'm so used to getting my legs toasted by the air blast off a water cooled bike radiator, it's really nice not to have that happen.
Ok, anyway, went to the Basilica in town center, cause it's from the 1690's and all that. Inside a lot of the decor is actually done with real gold. I didn't go in because there was a service in progress, but here's a shot from the outside.
Also took a ride up to Monte Alban to see some more ruins. Supposedly this was the center of the Mesoamerican culture for 1000 years, starting around 500BC. And you can tank these guys for inventing corn. Yup, invented, by hybridizing different grasses. Corn is not a naturally occurring veggie. 2500 years later, Monsanto thinks they know something... pffffftttttt...
You stand there, look around, and wonder, what was day to day life really like for these people?
Today, the road to Juchitan, where the town sign says "La Inmortal Sandunga"... I thought Jesus was the only immortal... who's this talking about? ...so I'm about some 250 miles from the Guatemala border. In a couple days I'll pull up short of the border and then cross over the following day. Going to take me a Spanish class for at least a week, maybe two, we'll see how the first week goes. It's four hours a day and homework. See if my brain can process that much information.
The main road today way 190. Most of it is another beautiful twisty road. More beautiful scenery... and way too much garbage. Damn shame people thing every roadside stop is a dumping ground.
In the mountains it was nice and cool, but soon as I came into the flats about an hour before town, whew... 90-something. Had to soak my shirt in water to get some evaporative cooling action. About half an hour out of town, wow, the crosswinds, crazy... 15 minutes into it I had to stop and give myself a rest. Closer to town they have crosswind signs, as in tip your truck winds. Later at dinner, as I was watching the wind blow the trees around, I asked the waiter and he confirmed it's windy all the time.
Few days ago I started seeing these little three wheeled cars/taxi things. The streets are full of them here. Went to a couple grocery stores, and the parking lots are just packed with three and four wheel taxis. Guess it's the way to get around.
I've lost track of the days. Monday, Tuesday, no idea... had to look because the host was talking about Sunday and I'm thinking when is that?...
No joke, the whole hillside, just filled with crap...
These are actually two very large supermarkets, right across the street from each other, not at all typical. I walked into Bodega Aurrera and it was like walking into a Sam's Club or Costco in the states, even arranged the same...
These things are tiny... maybe 10" wheels? And the streets just packed with people selling all sorts of stuff...
The unfamiliar is now becoming familiar...
This is the street where my digs are for the night. I came to what should have been the street and it was literally a wall. They walled off the street, so had to go around a couple blocks to find the other end of the block... weird...
And yeah, safe again behind a concrete wall, chainlink and barbed wire... basketball anyone? I don't think that hoop is regulation height...