I reluctantly left Guadalajara after having a fantastic time, and decided to make my way towards Mexico City (also known as DF â€“ Distrito Federal). I take the long way there, riding around a favorite weekend vacation spot for Tapatios (nickname for Guadalajaraians), Lake Chapala. Itâ€™s the largest lake in Mexico, and once you get away from the main tourist and expat towns on the north side of the lake, it turns into a beautiful winding road through fields of corn, fruit and vegetables.
Lake Chapala, the biggest lake in Mexico
Itâ€™s starting to get dark on my way to DF, so I found a good place to stealth camp behind some trees on a newly harvested corn field. Originally, I was nervous about camping in Mexico, but if youâ€™re smart about where you setup your camp, get there when itâ€™s starting to get dark, and leave when the sun rises, you should be ok. Ben, over at Motorcycle Mexico, has a good interview about camping in Mexico with Federico from Zacatecas.
The next day, I hopped on the bike early in the morning and made my way to DF by going through Morelia. I get impatient stuck in construction traffic, so I start splitting lanes and taking residential streets to bypass. I havenâ€™t eaten anything in 2 days, am impatient, and a little sick â€“ a bad combination while riding. While splitting lanes on the right-hand side of traffic, my view is blocked by 2 large construction trucks, and I donâ€™t see an intersection that Iâ€™m approaching. Once I see the intersection and a van going across it, itâ€™s too late â€“ I slam on my brakes as quickly as I can, but still end up t-boning the van at about 10mph.
It happened so fast that for a few minutes, I didnâ€™t even know what happened. I pull my bike up and push it to the side of the road, and sit there checking over myself while the man from the van comes to check on me. I feel ok, but know that it could just be the adrenaline pumping through my body, so I relax and speak with the man. Heâ€™s dressed up in a suit and tie and on his way to a convention for Mormons. We get down to business settling up for the damage to his van. I pull out my wallet and give him all of itâ€™s contents â€“ 300 pesos. He insists that he needs more to fix the van, but I tell him that I have no more money and none in the ATM either. I lie, saying Iâ€™m going to DF to work and make more money, and after giving him my 300 pesos, wonâ€™t even have enough for gas to get there. He believes my lie and takes off while I look for a mechanic. Whewâ€¦ I was lucky there. I could have been forced to pay thousands of pesos for the accident, or had the police called and had even more trouble, but Iâ€™m lucky and make it out only 300 pesos poorer.
Sorry, I didnâ€™t take any pictures of the accident site or the guys car. I didnâ€™t want to pull my camera out in front of him and start snapping pics.
I find an open business and some friendly folks who help me with my problems. I definitely need to get my wheel fixed, as itâ€™s tweaked and bent and is rubbing against the forks every rotation. Itâ€™s exhausting pushing the bike 4 blocks to their business, but I make it and start the search for a mechanic to fix my wheel.
We stop by 2 repair shops to see if the rim can be salvaged, and they just laugh when they see it. Ok, I need a new wheel. A new one costs about 5000 pesos, way over what I can afford. I continue searching around the city and find a used KLR front rim for 800 pesos. Score! I thank my new friends that helped me on my search, and decide to get the hell out of Morelia after spending all day stuck there. Iâ€™m frustrated, hot, and sore, and just want to be alone in the mountains.
Oscar is not too happy. My steering is completely out of whack, and the entire bike shakes like Iâ€™m going to have a tank-slapper at any moment. I slow down and make my way out of the city and into the mountains. I really just want to get to DF to meet up with Wendy, get my bike to a mechanic, and relax. But, itâ€™s too late and it starts to get dark in the mountains.
I search for some side roads or trails in the mountains but am having no luck. Iâ€™m about to resign myself to getting a hotel room, but I see some folks standing outside. I pull up along side them, asking â€œDonde puedo acampar circa de aqui?â€, or â€œWhere can I camp around here?â€ They insist on letting me camp in their yard for free, give me access to their bathrooms, and hand me an icy cold beer. The only positive thing thatâ€™s happened today are the friendly and helpful people Iâ€™ve met along the way.
Earlier in the week, I reached out to the riding community in DF via Horizons Unlimited to see if there was someplace secure I could park my bike. I donâ€™t want to ride very much in the city, and public transportation is great and incredibly cheap at 3 pesos per ticket. The response was incredible â€“ multiple people offered up a place to park, a place to stay, and recommendations for a mechanic. I take Eduardo, also known as Dudu, up on his offer of a place to park. He lives in Tlalpan, a neighborhood of DF, that is close to where Iâ€™m planning to stay with Wendy and her best friend.
Eric is also in DF for the day, waiting on a flight back to the US. Wendy, Eduardo, Eric and I meet up and tour around the town, checking out the Zocalo, or main square, which is packed with Mexican tourists and has been transformed into a winter wonderland.
Wendy and I spent a week together in DF, waiting for my motorcycle to get fixed. In addition to fixing the tweaked front end, I get some much needed maintenance done â€“ oil change, valve check, chain work, and a general tune-up from Roberto Rojas. Heâ€™s a backyard mechanic that comes highly recommended by Eduardo and his group of riding pals.
The service, while slow, is excellent and inexpensive. Robertoâ€™s information is:
Address: C. Ofelia #33, Tizapan San Angel, 01090
Telephone: 5668 5393
Wendy and I make the most of our time in DF, visiting the sites and relaxing with her friends.
Iâ€™m currently waiting on my stock front brake rotor to be shipped to DF before I can continue on Oscar, as a replacement is incredibly expensive in Mexico (around $400USD). Instead of sitting around waiting for Mexican post to deliver the replacement, I hopped on a bus to San Cristobal de las Casas, in the southern state of Chiapas, to meet up with Eric and Sabrina for Christmas and New Years.