Christmas and New Years in San Cristobal de las Casas

It’s a miserable 14 hour bus ride from Mexico City to San Cristobal de las Casas. To save money, I booked a second-class bus, which are very similar to Greyhound in the US. However, I’m just too big to fit comfortably on the bus, and of course I have to sit by one of this biggest Mexican men I’ve seen since I’ve been here. After getting only 1 or 2 hours of sleep during the night, I arrived to San Cristobal de las Casas. Eric & Sabrina are staying at the Spanish Institute of San Cristobal, so I make my way there and book myself a room for a week. The school is very nice – a fully stocked kitchen, friendly workers and teachers, and an energetic dog named Fiona, who I start talking on walks.

San Cristobal is a colonial town is set in a beautiful highland valley surrounded by pine forests. It’s in the heart of the indigenous population of Mexico, with the surrounding towns being Tzotzil and Tzeltal villages known for their artisan crafts. It’s also one of the centers of the Zapatista movement. In 1994, the Zapatista rebels took over the government offices before being driven off by the Mexican army after 4 days. There’s a lot of political commentary in the town, spray-painted on the sides of buildings and integrated into the artwork and decorations of places. Some businesses advertise their support of the Zapatistas, with profits being shared to help support the movement.

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A couple of panoramic shots from the school, near the Catedral de Guadalupe

The house dog in San Cristobal de las Casas
The house dog, Fiona

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A Zapatista painting of Virgin of Guadalupe. Notice the bandoliers strung across her chest and the red bandana over her face, which are typical Zapatista symbols.

A Mexican Thanksgiving in San Cristobal
Eric, Sabrina and I cook up a “Mexican Christmas”dinner, with chicken, mashed potatoes, veggies, and beer.

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An old man takes a nap standing up near his cart of cigarettes, candy, and sweets.

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The zocalo in San Cristobal. Artisans from the area line the streets, selling home made scarves, bracelets, hats, and ponchos made from wool grown locally.

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A parade through town for Barrio de Mexicanos

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A parade in San Cristobal for New Years Eve. A line of trucks tours through the town, with different kinds of trees and men playing music in the bed of the trucks.

Kay and Dachary, from www.corporaterunaways, are also traveling down to Argentina on their motorcycles. I invite them to join us for a day or two, so they swing by before heading to Palenque and Guatemala.

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Kay and Dachary on their F650’s

The 5 of us take a cambi ride (van’s that service rides to local areas for 10 pesos) to San Juan Chamula, an independent indigenous town about 10km away from San Cristobal. The main attraction here is the unique religious practices at the church in town. It’s a mixture of traditional Mayan religion and Christianity. Photography is absolutely prohibited inside the church, but I’ll never forget what it’s like inside. Hundreds of candles are setup along the pine-needle covered floors, in front of statues of saints. A thick cloud of incense hangs in the air, and people pray and chant in Tzotzil to the saints. The religious leaders, men covered in white tunics of thick wool, walk around and chant over people and perform healing rituals with chickens and CocaCola, which is thought to help allow evil spirits to be removed from a person through burping.

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The church in San Juan Chamula

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The ruins of the old church in San Juan Chamula are surrounded by a packed graveyard – some gravestones are piled on top of each other 4 deep.

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I met Dana, from New Jersey, while watching the parade through town. She invited me to join her on a tour of a local artisan shop with the owner, Manuel, who grew up as a Tzotzil in the nearby area. He gave us a tour of his shop, which has rugs and other handmade artisans from the different small communities in Chiapas. He also showed us all of the different types of traditional dress that the people in the towns wear, which differs greatly from town-to-town.

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After our tour of Manuel’s shop, he offered to take us to another local Tzotzil town, San Lorena Zinacantan. Manuel speaks Tzotzil, and was able to let us enter some of the artisans homes where they were making rugs by hand.

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This woman gave us a local beverage, pox (pronounced posh), which is an inexpensive grain alcohol made from sugarcane. I purchased 2 bottles of the beverage, flavored with local fruits like melon. It’s strong and delicious, and only 10 pesos per bottle.

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The church in Zinacantan.

I joined Eric & Sabrina for a party at their school for New Years Eve. A few more students joined the owner, Luis, and one of his teachers for an evening of Spanish-only speaking. I’m definitely the worst Spanish speaker in the group, with only 1 week of formal Spanish training under my belt. It’s still a great time, sharing stories, drinking wine & pox, and eating local foods. Afterwards, Eric, Sabrina and I wander around the town, grabbing drinks and enjoying the energy of the night. Sabrina runs into a friend that works at a local chocolate shop, and he invites us to a rooftop party. Everyone at the party is dancing, singing, passing around bottles of Mezcal and Pox, and enjoying a bonfire. We ring in the New Year by yelling “Feliz ano nuevo!”, hugging and kissing everyone around and watching fireworks explode all over the town.

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San Cristobal is a great, interesting town that you can spend a week in without seeing and experiencing everything. There’s a large travelers crowd here, with inexpensive housing (I’m paying 40 pesos per day for my hostel), great cafes and restaurants, and lots of options for nightlife. Live music, DJs, comedy performances… this town has a lot to see and experience.

I’m still waiting for Mexican post to deliver a package to me here in San Cristobal, so I’m going to make the most of my time and head over to Palenque to see the ruins and rain forest. Eric and Sabrina are already there, so I’ll again join them after a long bus ride through the twisty mountain roads in Chiapas.

Posted in adventure, blog, klr650, Mexico, RideReport, vagabonding | Leave a comment

T-boning a van in Morelia and making great friends in Mexico City

I reluctantly left Guadalajara after having a fantastic time, and decided to make my way towards Mexico City (also known as DF – Distrito Federal). I take the long way there, riding around a favorite weekend vacation spot for Tapatios (nickname for Guadalajaraians), Lake Chapala. It’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.

Riding around Lake Chapala, the largest lake in Mexico

Lake Chapala, the biggest lake in Mexico

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My view during lunch

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Oscar and a huge gaggle of geese in the background

Stealth camping
It’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 you’re smart about where you setup your camp, get there when it’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 haven’t eaten anything in 2 days, am impatient, and a little sick – 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 don’t see an intersection that I’m approaching. Once I see the intersection and a van going across it, it’s too late – 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 didn’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. He’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 it’s contents – 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 I’m going to DF to work and make more money, and after giving him my 300 pesos, won’t even have enough for gas to get there. He believes my lie and takes off while I look for a mechanic. Whew… 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 I’m lucky and make it out only 300 pesos poorer.

Sorry, I didn’t take any pictures of the accident site or the guys car. I didn’t want to pull my camera out in front of him and start snapping pics.

My busted rim after my accident in Morelia, Mexico
My bent rim post-accident.

Post accident in Morelia, Mexico
Post-accident, where my bike sits for the day while I wait for a new rim

I find an open business and some friendly folks who help me with my problems. I definitely need to get my wheel fixed, as it’s tweaked and bent and is rubbing against the forks every rotation. It’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. I’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 I’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, it’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. I’m about to resign myself to getting a hotel room, but I see some folks standing outside. I pull up along side them, asking “Donde puedo acampar circa de aqui?”, or “Where can I camp around here?” 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 that’s happened today are the friendly and helpful people I’ve met along the way.

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Jose and his son, who let me camp in their yard.

Camping in the mountains near Morelia
The campsite is beautiful, tucked up into the mountains. I sleep well, wake up early, and hit the road to DF.

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 don’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 – 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 I’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.

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Standing next to the ice skating rink in 75 degree weather Smile

Sledding in DF centro
Kids go sledding down a snowhill in front of the main Cathedral

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They can also take mini snowmobiles around a small track…

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or build a snowman!

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 – oil change, valve check, chain work, and a general tune-up from Roberto Rojas. He’s a backyard mechanic that comes highly recommended by Eduardo and his group of riding pals.

The service, while slow, is excellent and inexpensive. Roberto’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.

Eric & I have lunch with Eduardo, our host and guide in Mexico City
Eric, Eduardo, and myself having lunch

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***put information about flyers here***

I’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.

Posted in adventure, blog, klr650, Mexico, RideReport, vagabonding | 4 Comments

Want to improve your Spanish? Try living with 6 Mexicans in Guadalajara

The ride from Patzcuaro to Guadalajara was fantastic – smooth, winding country roads through the mountains of central Mexico. Traffic is light, and the weather is comfortable but chilly while speeding along fully exposed to the elements on Oscar. The trip takes longer than expected, as I get turned around and lost a couple of times and have to stop and ask for directions and new routes.

Looks like a safe way to transport newspapers around
A safe way to transport newspapers. I offered to help with Oscar, but he refused.

My Garmin Zumo GPS has been broken since I arrived in mainland Mexico almost a month ago, and I haven’t had an address for more than a couple of days so that Garmin could ship me a replacement unit under warranty. Instead, I’ve resorted to writing directions on a small sheet of paper and storing them on the sleeve of my Olympia X-Moto jacket. It has a nifty see-through waterproof pocket on the left sleeve, which I hadn’t really used before, but has now come in handy for storing paper notes. However, I’ve started to enjoy not having a GPS while traveling by myself for the past week. Instead of depending on another person (or device) for help, I have to do some research (reading ADV and HU, LonelyPlanet, etc.), consult maps, talk to my friends, and do some more thinking about my route than before. I’ve also found it much easier to navigate in a busy city or town by paying more attention to the road and none at all to the GPS. I also really enough getting a little lost and stopping to ask for directions. My Spanish needs some work, but I can ask some questions and understand basic directions from people. I usually ask a few different people along the way to make sure I’m on the right track, because I’ve noticed that people in Mexico will typically say that you’re on the right path and that you’re only 2 hours away. I guess they don’t like to disappoint us gringo travelers Smile

I arrived in Guadalajara and spent a couple of days in Hostel Guadalajara Centro, a nice, inexpensive, centrally-located hostel. However, they didn’t have secure parking for the bike, and the vibe at the hostel was a bit unfriendly compared to the places I’ve been staying recently. But, I’m having a lot of fun with my friends here that I met in Zacatecas and am enjoying the energy of being back in a big city. My friends are studying in Guadalajara, and have a connection to a cheap apartment that I decide to take for a month. The plan will be to study Spanish via Rosetta Stone on my computer and live with Spanish-speaking room mates. At the same time, Guadalajara is located in an area of Mexico that I can take long weekend trips to explore. And… I can have an address for Garmin to ship me a new Zumo! Score. I get hooked up with a friend-of-a-friend, look at an apartment, and decide to take it. Located in the Centro near El Santuario, the apartment is huge, the room mates are friendly, and the cost is only 2000 pesos per month ($160US!).

My house in Guadalajara
Parking space inside my house

My favorite tacos in Guadalajara. $.50 each!
Some of the best tacos in Guadalajara are at Halcon’s. 6 pesos each, and absolutely delicious.

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The Santuario

Fountains in Gualdajara, Mexico
Guadalajara Centro

Sidewalk art in Guadalajara
Beautiful sidewalk art

Most of the month is spent hanging out, exploring the city, eating tons of food, studying, sleeping, and taking weekend trips. I make good friends with one of the girls in a house near me, named Wendy. She joins me 2up on my weekend trips to Tequila, Sayulita, Puerto Vallarta, and Tepatitlan de Morelos.

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Wendy getting ready to take her first long ride on a motorcycle

Tequila is only about an hour away from Guadalajara, and I want to take a distillery tour and learn more about the favorite beverage in Mexico.

Cholula factory in Tequila!
The Cholula Factory in Tequila! My old room mates and I in Chicago would purchase the gigantic gallon size jug of Cholula and put it on everything we ate – breakfast, lunch, dinner, and desert.

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Before our factory tour at the Jose Cuervo distillery

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Out of sheer luck, the English speaking tour is very small (only 4 other people), and our guide happened to be a fellow Michigander and had lived in Chicago for some time. We become quick friends, and he hooked us up by letting us join the other 4 people in our group who purchased the expensive VIP tour tickets.

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The barrels of Tequila aging

During the Jose Cuervo factory tour
Samples were plentiful throughout the tour, all the way from Blanco to Anejo.

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Part of the VIP tour is a special tequila tasting and a tour of the grounds and garden, which are spectacular. I also learned a great tip about drinking tequila – when you put the liquid in your mouth, breath IN through your nose. After you swallow, breath OUT through your mouth. It minimizes the burning sensation from tequila and helps improve the flavors your in your mouth and nose.

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Having a good time on the tour.

I would highly recommend a tour at the Jose Cuervo factory. It cost about 150 pesos per person for a long guided tour, samples, and margaritas. However, plan on staying the night there as well (or taking some other form of transit back and forth). I was only able to sample a few of the Tequilas as I had to drive back to Guadalajara that evening.

Some of my room mates and other friends spent a weekend in Tepatitlan de Morelos, about 2 hours Northeast of Guadalajara, at a friends country house.

Riding with Wendy near Tequila, mexico
The ride there is spectacular, and Oscar is handling the 2-up riding surprisingly well.

My friends country house is fantastic. Way out in the countryside, surrounded by fields of agave, corn, and fruit trees. I take the opportunity to go exploring on an unloaded Oscar for a few hours.

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Cruising through blue agave fields.

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The crew – Mexican, German, Irish, and American

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While I was walking around in Guadalajara, I saw a sign for casting of a Hollywood movie being shot in Guadalajara. The name? Mariachi Gringo. I’m the biggest (literally) gringo around, so I’ve gotta check it out and see if I can make my premiere on the big screen. The casting goes well, but unfortunately there was some miscommunication between myself and the casting agent, as I missed a meeting with the casting director who wanted me to have a speaking role in the movie. DOH! Instead, I’ll play the role of an extra, “Backpacker Gringo #1”. The pay is 700 pesos per day (score) and the work is a lot of fun. My fellow extras and I have a good time on set while filming our mundane parts – walking in and out of a bus 5 times, walking through a bus terminal multiple times, and other scenes in the Guadalajara bus terminal. It doesn’t hurt that the other extras are cute and like to help my practice my Spanish Smile

Photos were not allowed on set, but I snuck a few anyways. Yeah, I’m a naughty extra.

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Mariachi Gringo filming

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Fellow extras. I make friends with them and am invited to stay for free in the Yucatan once I make it there.

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My partner in crime, “Gringo Backpacker #2”.

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One of the stars of the movie, Shawn Ashmore, who also stared as Iceman in Xmen, is playing the Mariachi Gringo. He’s a nice guy, but quiet and nervous during the first day of filming.

While talking with Wendy one evening about how I try to handle security on the road by looking as poor as possible, never washing my bike or riding gear and not having very many nice things, Wendy mentions that I do have 2 nice cameras and a nice cell phone. Time to solve the problem!

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Point and shoot digital camera after scratching it up, taping, painting and breaking non-functional parts.

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Flip Mino HD before

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And after

I spend Thanksgiving by crashing a potluck party with some of my friends, but it turns out to be a great time. We’re warmly welcomed to the party, possibly because of the amount of alcohol we bring along.

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Saying grace and giving Thanks

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You may remember Cara from Zacatecas, who rode along with Saburro to Guanajuato and became a new member of the Adventure Biker gang.

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Clean plate club! Especially on Thanksgiving

Travelers tip – if you’re going to crash a party, bring lots of liquor and wine. The host will go from “Who are you guys?” to “Ahhh come in come in! Welcome to my home!”

The next weekend trip was to the beach at Sayulita. It’s a longer ride to the coast, about 6 hours, but Wendy and I have a great time. We meet up with another biker along the way who is headed to Puerto Vallarta for a motorcycle rally. He’s not the best rider, as is evidenced by his almost hitting a bus head-on while going around a curve. Wendy screamed and I was sure he was going to go right under the bus, but at the last second he leaned the bike over a little more and just squeaked past. Not being too comfortable riding with him any more, I sped up and lose him once the road becomes curve after curve after curve.

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My riding partner for a few hours

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The road to the beach

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We find a beautiful and inexpensive (70 pesos/tent) place to camp on the beach, named Palmar de Camaron.

Exploring the coast near Sayulita, Mexico
I spend the next morning exploring all of Sayulita on an unloaded Oscar, taking every dirt road and trail I can find as well as exploring the beautiful neighborhoods and houses in the area. It’s the most touristy place I’ve been so far, and I don’t stick out as a Gringo here. However, all of the Americans and expats thing I’m loco for riding a moto through Mexico. As much as I do like the beach in Sayulita, I don’t like being in an American tourist town very much. I ask questions in Spanish and get replies in English, am given English menus, and pay the Gringo tax on everything.

Funny story – the rules of driving in Mexico are very chill, especially on a moto. You can pass on double yellow, on the right, on sidewalks, etc. Basically you can drive how you want and no one really cares. The only times I’ve ever been yelled at were in Sayulita and Puerto Vallarta, where old, gray-haired expat grandmothers scream to “SLOW DOWN” and “FOLLOW THE RULES”. I laugh at them, wave, and pull a wheelie instead Smile

The forests near sayulita, mexico
Sayulita
The riding is fantastic through the forests and dirt roads in Sayulita

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Nap time!

I haven’t had any problems getting Oscar up after a nap during this trip. However, I dropped him on a steep incline, in dirt and sand, and had to drag the dropped bike a few feet to where I could get some traction on the ground. After exerting every ounce of strength that I have, I get the bike up and continue riding around the town. I’m sore for days after this incident… eek!

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Walking on the beach and having a mini-photoshoot.

We make friends with a couple camping at the beach. Ryan, from San Diego, and his wife, Liliana, from Mexico, are artists that sell their wares around the country while traveling. They have just moved to Puerto Vallarta and invite us to join them for a couple of days. We didn’t plan on going to Puerto Vallarta, but with a free place to stay with friends, we decide to head south on the coast and check the town out.

Puerto Vallarta and the towns surrounding it are a sharp contrast to the rest of the places I’ve been to in Mexico. We spend 30 minutes trying to find public access to the beach north of PV, and I’m blown away by the number of mega resorts that line the beach for miles and miles. I’m glad we have a free place to stay with friendly people, as PV is very expensive and feels like I’m back in the US.

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North of PV

Sunset in Puerto Vallarta
Beautiful sunsets in PV

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Our new friends and hosts for the night, Lily and Ryan

After spending a fantastic 5 weeks in Guadalajara, I decide to take off and make my way to Mexico City (DF) and then onto southern Mexico for the Holidays. Has my Spanish improved? I’m unsure, until I meet up with a Spanish-only speaking friend that I met my first few days in the city. She’s blown away by my improvement and my new ability to converse with her, whereas before we did a lot of sign language and Spanglish. So, I guess using Rosetta Stone and immersing yourself around Spanish speakers does help, even if it doesn’t feel like it at the time.

Posted in adventure, klr650, Mexico, RideReport, vagabonding | Leave a comment

Dia de los Muertos around Patzcuaro, Mexico

Dia de los Muertos is a 2-day holiday celebrated throughout Mexico on November 1st & 2nd. Family and friends get together to pray and remember family and friends who have died. This is done different ways, but typically altars are created with the favorite foods, beverages, vices, sugar skulls, and marigolds. The most famous place for the 2 days is in and around Patzcuaro, Mexico, including the cities of Morelia, Tzintzuntzan, Uruapan and Quiroga. I was fortunate enough to be able to spend Dia de los Muertos with a family in Patzcuaro that Sam from Guanajuato connected me with. My “guide” for the weekend was Mayra, born and raised in Patzcuaro, who loves to share her cultural knowledge and had made plans for us to see and experience as much as possible over the long weekend. I had a full itinerary, which I was excited about after the relaxed atmosphere of Guanjuato.

After missing our original meeting time at the bus station in Morelia, I eventually figure out how to use the pay phones in Mexico and meet with Mayra near the Centro of town (remind me that I need a cell phone). She’s with her friend, Chuy, who is going to spend the weekend with us as well. Our first stop is to the Museo de Dulces, a museum where they recreate the old-fashioned way of making candy that’s famous in Morelia. The tour is in Spanish, and I understand about 10% of it, but I do know that the candy tastes delicious fresh off the pot. It’s a fruity sugary candy, and reminds me of thick, sweet apple butter, but instead made with honey and a local fruit.

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After the candy museum, we tour around the city, checking out other museums and the Dia de los Muertos artwork that’s on the street.

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The artwork is done all with flowers, either petals or crushed flowers..

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Hand painted giant skulls line some of the sidewalks in Morelia.

The next day in Patzcuaro, Mayra asks Chuy and I to help her to clean and decorate her grandparents grave in the cemetery in town. We went to the main street market to purchase yellow and white flowers, then went to the cemetery. There, we collected a few buckets of water and made our way to her grandparents grave. After removing any trash and debris, we cleaned and decorated the graves with flowers, and Mayra said a prayer to her family members.

The whole process was very special. Had I not been invited, I never would have gone to the cemetery as I would have felt like I was invading something very personal. And after visiting other larger cemeteries later in the day when they were filled with tourists, it was unique to be at a small cemetery with only other family members around.

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My family for Dia de los Muertos

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Mayra and Chuy gathering water down the street from the cemetery. The young boys were opportunistic and sat at the entrance to the cemetery with buckets full of water for 5 pesos each.

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The cemetery was bustling at 9am, with many of the graves already cleaned and decorated.

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Mayra praying at her Grandfather’s grave.

The next place on our list to visit was Janitzio, a small island in the middle of Lago (lake) de Patzcuaro. It’s main attraction is a giant hallow statue at the top of the island, which you can climb up and have a great view around the lake. There’s also a huge party on the island tonight, but we decide to skip that in favor of a more chill option.

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The boat ride to Janitzio is fun, with a mariachi band playing on board and vendors selling ice cream and potato chips (the Mexican way, with spicy salsa, lime, and salt… mmm delicious).

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On our way to Janitzio.

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Just off the island, fisherman use butterfly nets to catch tiny 2” long white fish. The pescado blanco are deep fried and eaten whole on the island.

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Our boat stops for a photo-op and one of the fisherman stops by for propinas (tips).

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The butterfly fisherman and the island of Janitzio are also featured on the back of the 50 pesos bill.

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A 130 foot statue of Jose Maria Morelos is on the top of the island, and has a staircase inside that winds to the top. It’s cramped and crowded, and took forever to get to the top for the view.

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While climbing up the inside of the statue, I see a friend I had made back in La Paz, Baja, Mexico. Tina and her friend, Claudia, both from Germany, are doing an exchange program for students and travel around Mexico every weekend. We make plans to meet up later on.

That night, we make our way to Tzintzuntzan, another small town on Lago de Patzcuaro. Tzintzuntzan is known for its 2 huge cemeteries that are decorated to the hilt, food, music, and a general party atmosphere. We visit the graveyards and make our way up the hill to the ancient ruins. We happened to be getting to the ruins just in time for a match of Pelota purépecha, an ancient Mexican game like field-hockey but played with a giant flaming ball. The best part? The field boundary was created by the mob of people watching the event, and the ball would get flung into the center of the crowd. It was fun seeing everyone rush for cover.

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We also visit Lago Zirahuen to relax, a smaller but more beautiful lake near Patzcuaro. It’s a perfect evening, with clouds rolling around but the sun still peaking through at times. We snap photos, drink Coke, and talk about traveling.

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After a perfect weekend in Patzcuaro, I’m ready to hit the road and make my way to Guadalajara, the first big city I’ll see in Mexico. I’m looking forward to getting back into a big city, and already have a couple of friends staying there to show me the ropes.

And as a tip for travelers – step out of your comfort zone and meet new people. Meeting Sam and Mike in Guanjuato has allowed me to see so many things that I wouldn’t have been able to see otherwise, and stay in a couple of places for free. Plus, I met some amazing people whom I will be friends with forever. One of the things I’m trying to do on this trip is to not turn down any offers for a place to stay or a friend of a friend to go visit. So far, it’s gone very well for me, and I hope I can continue traveling this way throughout Central and South America.

Posted in adventure, klr650, Mexico, RideReport, vagabonding | 5 Comments

Staying in Guadalajara for the next month

I’m in Guadalajara now and may stay here for a month to study Spanish and relax. It’s nice being in a modern big city, and reminds me a lot of being in a major city in the States – the people, the energy, and the driving.

I’ve realized how much more I will enjoy my trip by knowing Spanish, and I don’t want to wait until I get to Guatemala to study.

Yes this will probably make for a boring blog for the next month, but I’ll be making trips to the surrounding area to visit the sites. Current ideas include volcanoes near Colima, banana bread in San Blas and beaches in Manzanillo. Any other suggestions?

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Crashing Cervantino 2010 in Guanajuato, Mexico

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We picked up a few more bikes from Japan (Saburro on a BMW 1200GS and Sato on a Suzuki DR650), and a spare passenger, Cara, on our way to Guanajuato.

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We kitted Cara up as much as we could – spare gloves, glasses, jackets and hats, as it’s cold in the morning on a bike. She loved the ride, except for the raccoon-face she had afterwards from the sun and the wind. Luckily, the ride was smooth and fast, with the only holdup being the most thorough police checkpoint I’ve had in Mexico so far. They pulled us all over and wanted to see our registration documents. Then, they radioed our VIN numbers to check on the bikes. After hearing something that settled their nerves, they let us leave with no other questions. I was nervous about this stop, since we were traveling with 4 bikes and 5 people, and while I know how I like to handle police interaction (act like a dumb American and speak only English), I was hoping that the rest of the group would be cool. Luckily, Brian, Saburro, and Sato don’t speak Spanish, and Cara was smart enough to stay quiet Smile

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When I saw Brian ask for this photo, I was just hoping the police officer wouldn’t freak out. She didn’t, and I was jealous I didn’t get a photo with her and her gun.

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Arriving in Guanjuato, we promptly got lost, supposedly .01mi away from the location of our hostel. 3 GPS units and a Spanish speaker (Cara), and we still couldn’t figure out where we were going. Even worse, we got separated. At least we all had the name of the hostel. The streets wind through the city with no apparent system, going through old canals converted to underground tunnels, and most of the roads are one way. Basically, it’s hell on a motorcycle when you don’t know the town.

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After 4 loops of the city, Brian and I ended up hiring a taki to drive us to the hostel, and one of the hostel employees volunteered to lead us to secure parking on the other side of town.

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Arturo could wind through traffic easily on his 75cc scooter, but Brian and Sato couldn’t split the traffic at all while fully loaded.

Guanajuato was in the middle of a month-long festival, Cervantino, which is one of the biggest and most popular festivals in Mexico. It’s an art festival, with live performances from bands and other performance groups from around the world.

One of the evening performances was a music/Circ-de-Soleil type group. They played music while spinning in the air, and gymnasts performed stunts a hundred feet in the air. Here’s some great pictures from Eric and his beautiful DSLR. He has lots more over on his post about Guanajuato.

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Saburro appreciating the view from Pipila, a statue at the top of the city.

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Pipila himself. The story is that he was able to set fire to the wooden doors of the Spanish fort in Guanjuato by putting a huge rock on his back, which blocked the shots from the enemy. This allowed the Mexicans to storm the fort and defeat the Spanish.

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Classic Mexican cinema was shown regularly outside the University on the steps.

I had heard of one museum in Guanajuato that sounded very interesting, Museo de Momias, or the Mummy Museum. The bodies come from a graveyard in Guanjuato, where the soil preserved the bodies instead of breaking them down.

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Mirror mirror on the wall

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The newest adventure rider, Cara, was thoroughly creeped out by this baby. Ok, I was too.

Brian, Saburro, and Sato decided to take off for Mexico City, while I wanted to stay longer in Guanjuato. However, I needed to find cheaper housing, as the hostel we had was doubling the prices over the weekend for Cervantino. Eric and Sabrina had come into town and were staying in another hostel, Estacion Esperanza. It was a definite “hippy hostel”, and much cheaper. There were people sleeping on the floors until noon, and they let me camp on their roof for 100 pesos a night.

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Camping on the roof of the hostel.

Eric and I met a couple of Americans living in Guanjuato, Robert and Mike. After spending the evening at my new favorite cantina, Famous Bar Incendio, Mike suggested that I check out the new property that he and his wife, Sam, had just purchased.

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Cantina Incendio. Homemade fruit infused Mezcal was the drink of choice. Mike, Robert, and Eric in the background.

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Mike offered to let me camp on his property for free, which I graciously accepted after seeing the view.

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My campsite for the rest of the week.

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Mike and Sam’s neighbor, who I camped 20 feet from, raised fighting cocks. I learned to sleep through their 5:30am awakenings.

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My view every evening.

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Paco and Celda. Celda worked at the Hostel and was letting people camp in her yard. She had lots of barbeques and parties and invited us all to join.

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Ruthanne, from Tennessee, and I talking and drinking caguama’s (40oz beers) during a BBQ.

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One night, Celda’s dog ate a special cookie and was going insane. So, of course, people start to mess with the dog. He started attacking the wall after this wonderful impression of a dog.

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Speaking of dogs, here is a typical site in Guanajuato – roof dogs. Since people don’t really have yards, and they don’t like to keep a dog inside, they head to the roof. At night, the dogs will communicate with each other and try to protect it’s property from up there.

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Full moon rising over the hills.

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The easiest way to get cement up the winding narrow alleyways in Guanjuato. Mike and Sam have been doing heavy construction on their property, building giant walls for terracing. I couldn’t believe the amount of labor that goes into building the walls. The workers would manually carry 3 bricks at a time up the narrow alleyway to their house, as nothing else would fit. It’s a completely different world than construction in the US, where efficiency is key.

After spending a week in Guanajuato, I’m headed to the most traditional location in Mexico for Dia de los Muertos, Patzcuaro. Sam introduced me to her friend, Mayra, who was born and lives in Patzcuaro, and she offered to show me the sites and live with her family for the next 2 days. Stay tuned.

Posted in adventure, Brian Gohery, Mexico, RideReport, vagabonding | 5 Comments

Getting cultured and learning Spanish in Zacatecas

We arrive in Zacatecas, a beautiful colonial town tucked into a valley. We drop into the city, following incredibly steep cobblestone roads that wind all over. We promptly get lost, so we head towards the center of the city and park the bikes outside a cathedral. Ben and Brian go look for lodging while I watch over the bikes.

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Brian has a great description about our arrival to Zacatecas.

After parking up & literally walking to where we needed to be we then returned to the bikes & as we only knew the route we had walked, we rode across pedestrian zones, through city squares & bounced down kerbs. It reminded me of a scene from the original Italian Job. Good fun, urban off road could be the start of a new craze.

After an hour, they return with good news – they found a nice, inexpensive hostel downtown. It doesn’t have secure parking, but the city is safe, quiet, there is a doorman working 24/7, and there is already a BMW F650GS Dakar parked out front. The bike belongs to Eric and Sabrina from Colorado. Their ADV Ride Report, A Year of Summer (2up to South America), is great, so check it out. We are staying at the Hostel Villa Colonial, which I HIGHLY RECOMMEND. It’s an old rowhouse converted into a hostel with incredible views of the main cathedral from the rooms as well as the rooftop terrace. We grab a private room with 2 beds, a bathroom, and TV for 340 pesos a night ($9US each). Quiet evenings, hot showers, daily room cleaning and bed making, 2 kitchens, 10 peso beers, 25 pesos all-you-can-drink margaritas Thursday nights (uh oh), friendly staff, free wi-fi, interesting and eclectic clientele – basically anything and everything you’d want in a hostel.

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Highly recommended – Hostel Villa Colonial in Zacatecas.

After unpacking the bikes and settling into our new digs, the 3 of us take a walk around the city. I see a beautiful girl on the street, and decide to go say hello to her. Most conversations I have with someone in Mexico last about 2 minutes until I’m out of my Spanish material, but luckily, my new friend, Rocio, is an English teacher for elementary school as well as a psychology professor at the University of Zacatecas. Smart, and speaks fluent English. Score. She invites the 3 of us to join her and her friends later that evening. We grab a bite to eat and go track Rocio back down. Finding her in the same place I met her, Rocio and her friends, Edith and Caro, take us on a tour of the city. Edith has a passion for stories, and takes us to locations where some of the legends of the city are from.

Ben has a good recap of one of the stories on his blog, www.motorcyclemexico.com.

200 years ago, a woman in this building had many dogs. She treated them very badly and didn’t feed them. One day she came home and the dogs were so angry and hungry that they ate her. The neighbors feared the dogs and the entire building was boarded up – all the windows and all the doors were sealed. No one has entered since…

The boarded up entrance to the dog woman’s house.

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Edith giving us a history lesson.

After a great introduction to Zacatecas, we call it a night, but not before Armando has one last bite to eat.

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Fried pork skin, filled with pork pieces, lettuce, tomatoes, chilis, corn, and spices. 15 pesos, or about $1US. I still can’t get over the prices of things here in Mexico.

Brian and I decide to sign up for Spanish language school at Fenix Language Institute. It’s $110 a week for 25 hours of lessons, and because the school is not very busy, we have 1-on-1 or 2-on-1 lessons. Brian and I are in the same class together, as our Spanish is pretty bad. I do have a couple of years of Spanish from high school, and have an easier time with class since it is entirely in Spanish. Plus, I’ve got some extra help as Rocio offered to tutor me in the evenings.

The next week consists of Spanish class, tours of the city, and spending time with Rocio and her friends. Here’s the week in pictures and captions:

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After dinner at Wendy’s with Edith, Rocio, Caro, and Frederico, who owns a hostel and is a fellow dual-sport rider and traveler. His hostel, El Hotel Ruiz, is a great place to get stay downtown and get any work done on your bike while in Zacatecas. Frederico knows everyone in town and can source any parts you need.

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A free concert every Thursday evening in one of the main plazas. See Eric and Sabrina’s Ride Report for some incredible photography of the concert and the rest of the city (yes I did snag some photos from him for my post!)

A great local bar, Las Quince Letras (The 15 Leters… count em up). Being the only gringos around, we attract a lot of attention (some unwanted), but we have a great time enjoying the mariachi band, drinking mezcal and cervezas. I learn the proper way to drink Mezcal – “Pa’rriba, pa’bajo, al centro y pa dentro” (up, down, center and in) before taking the first shot.

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The Museo Rafael Coronel Zacatecas is a museum located in a restored ruin. The roof of the main hall is open to the sky, and the grounds are well maintained with flowers and bushes growing around broken walls and arches. The museum contains over 3000 masks.

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At the Quinta Real Zacatecas, a beautiful hotel built into an old bullring. It’s expensive and classy, so we just grab drinks at the hotel bar along the floor of the bullring.

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My Spanish tutor and guide to Zacatecas, Rocio.

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Our Spanish teacher at Fenix, Lolita, with her daughter.

The Fesitval Cultural began while we were in Zacatecas, so there was live music, dancing, and performances available every night for free.

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After spending a week in Zacatecas, I start to get the itch to move. A couple of other motorcyclists have made it into town and are heading to Guanajuato, so I join them with Brian. Zacatecas has been a wonderful city, and I look forward to going back.

Posted in Ben Slavin, blog, Brian Gohery, Mexico, RideReport, vagabonding | 6 Comments

Couchsurfing in Durango

After arriving in Durango, Ben and I track down Brian and meet his Couchsurfing host, Jake. He offers us a place to stay, which we gladly accept, as the accommodations provided to Jake by his school are top notch. His apartment complex is affectionately known as “Gringolandia”, where the foreign teachers who work for the American school in town live. Jake starts to show us around town, and some of his fellow teachers decide to join us for a night out. It’s Friday, so everyone is prepped to go out and have a good time.

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Brian, Ben and I try a new drink called a Michelada. It consists of beer, worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, tabasco sauce, and lime. The rim of the glass is coated with salt. It’s an interesting drink, but not one of my favorites. The Michelada doesn’t sit well with Ben, as he heads home to recover from some stomach issues. It’s too bad, as we had a great night out with our new friends.

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Ben, Jen, myself (say hello to Armando), Vicki, and our couchsurfing host, Jake

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Next up – drinks at a local pub.

Then, more drinks and a live U2 cover band. The singer didn’t know English, but the band still killed it.

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While watching the show, Brian and I notice a mean looking guy in a Harley Davidson jacket. We start to chat him up in our broken Spanish, basically saying “tu moto? si! mi moto tambien!” and trying to explain that we’re riding our motorcycles around the world. He seems to understand after looking at some pictures on our cameras and showing us some of his pictures.

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The man is a bit intimidating at first, but he loves bikes just as much as we do.

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His girl. We sneak pictures with her while he takes a bathroom break :) Jake’s friends think we’re crazy and are worried that we’re going to get jumped, but we know it’s all in good fun (and holy jeez she’s hot).

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A quick photo outside the bar on our new friends bike.

Brian and I are still going strong, and decide to head to a late-night dance club. We make some new friends and are continually handed free drinks, so we stay until closing at 4am.

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I was invited to hang out with my new friends the next day, and decide to meet up with them. I have no idea what we’re doing, but I figure there’s no better way to see a city than with the locals who were born and raised here. While I’m waiting for my friends to show up, guess who I see ride by?

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Appropriate riding gear be damned.

Luis and his boyfriend, Marco, pick me up from downtown and give me a quick tour of the city. We head up to their favorite spot, then to Maria’s house.

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Overlooking Durango.

After picking up Maria, we head to an area away from the city called Little Country. From the little Spanish I could understand from Luis, Marco, and Maria, the Little Country used to be populated by a poor group of people until Durango decided to damn up the river running through it and create a reservoir. The entire Little Country was flooded, and the inhabitants were forced to move to new locations. We do some light hiking around Little country and take a boat ride on the reservoir.

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Maria, Marco, and our boat captain, who’s been doing tours on the reservoir for 25 years.

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It’s beautiful here, and has been the site of lots of Hollywood “Wild West” movies.

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Dinner consists of fresh-caught fish from the reservoir. Delicious!

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Beautiful sky as the sun starts to go down.

I meet back up with my Gringolandia friends and we head to the Plaza de Armas (the central plaza in town). There’s a rock band playing a free show to kick off a month-long festival in Durango. We all enjoy the music while people watching and grabbing some street food.

Armando is pleased with my selection – beef, 2 cheeses, ham, bacon, lettuce, tomato, ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, jalapenos, a little chili, and a toasted bun. 25 pesos… or about $2!

After the concert, we head back out to the bars and clubs, finishing the night at a posh place where we play pool with some locals. Everyone is so friendly and inviting, asking us to join them and swapping contact information and photos at the end of the night.

Ok – now this is a ride report, so I guess I should talk about riding at some point (instead of food, drinks, and girls). Ben, Brian and I pack up and leave Durango, heading to Zacatecas. The ride is about 300km, and on some of the nicest roads I’ve seen in Mexico. I’m reminded of being back in the US riding on freeways. They are smooth, straight, and pretty boring, but it feels nice to be back in the saddle and getting some miles under my belt. I’ve realized that this trip is less about the bike and riding, and more about the people you meet and the places you get to experience.

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Here’s a video of the most interesting part of the ride. We hit traffic in a small town and start passing trucks and cars until we see the source of the traffic – the locals are having a parade with their horses!

 

Riding Through A Small Mexican Town from Benny on Vimeo.

We arrive in Zacatecas, excited to spend some time in a beautiful colonial town.

Posted in Ben Slavin, Brian Gohery, Mexico, RideReport, vagabonding | 1 Comment

The scariest ride of my life, Devil’s Backbone

Ben and I leave Mazatlan in the morning, dodging buses and trucks that pull in front of us and looking forward to getting out of the city and into the Sierra Madre Mountains. The route is nicknamed “Espinazo del Diablo”, or “The Devil’s Backbone” because of the incredibly twisty and dangerous road that winds through the Sierras.

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The road is nicely groomed, twisty, and we’ve got a riding itch. Dangerous combination.

 

El Espinazo Del Diablo from Benny on Vimeo.

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The scenery makes it even more difficult to ride this road.

We’ve crossed the Tropic of Cancer a few times already, but this is the first time we’ve seen a sign.

Ben and I are in riding bliss, hitting the turns hard, from one switchback to another. Suddenly, I hit the apex of a turn and see an 18-wheeler completely in my lane. I grab the brakes, sit the bike up as quickly as possible, get to the right side of my lane, and narrowly slide past the truck. WOW. My heart is racing, adrenaline pumping through my body, and I slow way down. I wait for Ben to catch up and tell him what happened – the truck did the same thing to him. We tell each other to slow down, and as we continue, I keep visualizing myself hitting the semi head-on. I start to spook myself and lose concentration, and my confidence drops further when I almost have a low-side fall around a corner that has some gravel and water at the apex. I feel my front tire come off the tarmac and skip 3 times. I hold on tight and give the bike some gas to try and settle the suspension, which luckily works. Whew… spooked again. We slow down further, and I ask Ben go ahead of me as I am starting to freak out and need to have him in front of me to try and settle myself down.

Not long after, the road starts to get a little patchy with construction, and as we go into a turn, there’s gravel all over the apex. Ben stands the bike up to avoid low-siding, and runs off the road onto a small shoulder that happened to be there. Thank god for the shoulder, as most of the road just drops off a thousand feet. I’m able to slow up enough after seeing Ben’s issues to stay on the road, but my tires lose traction again and I’m continuing to freak out. I keep hoping that the twisty road will end soon and we’ll be in Durango, but looking at my mileage, I know we’ve got another 150 miles to go. All I want to do is pull off the road, curl up in the fetal position, and sleep. I start to question if I’m experienced enough for this trip, and getting myself into a serious funk. However, I realize this, slow my breathing, say a prayer, and concentrate on the road in front of me. Being mentally distracted can only make the ride worse.

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The scariest ride of my life (so far :)

Having enough of the near-death experiences, Ben and I slow WAY down and concentrate on not dying. One way to force ourselves to slow down is to look for good photo opportunities. We stop at a few possible places, and finally settle on one that Ben can climb up into the mountain side and get some great pictures of me riding through the mountains.

But first, Oscar decides to take a nap.

Motorcycle riding at its best. It’s nice having a Team Photographer as well.

My drag my sidecases as I head around this turn.

Can you spot me?

Ben turns on his GoPro camera and attaches it to his topcase, facing rearward, to get some interesting shots.

This heard of cows jumped in front of us and ran across the road. Gotta be prepared for anything here in Mexico!

Double yellow lines are a suggestion in Mexico. Just make sure your bike has enough power to get by!

Ben and I get out of the mountains and make it to Durango. Whew! What a ride. We head into town, where I feel more comfortable in the traffic, and lane split our way into the Centro.

Finally in Durango. Now to find Brian, and a place to sleep.

Posted in adventure, Ben Slavin, klr650, Mexico, RideReport, vagabonding | Leave a comment

Riding the ferry across the Sea of Cortez to Mazatlan

 

Boarding The Baja Ferry from Benny on Vimeo.

Brian, Ben and I strapped our bikes down inside the ferry next to tour buses, jeeps, semi trucks, and passenger cars.

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It’s over a hundred degrees inside the ferry cargo hold, and I assume that the rest of the ship will look the same way as the hold. We walk into the lobby and are surprised – the ship is nice, and the staff working the front desk are beautiful. We flirt with the desk workers, get checked into our room, invite Brian to join us and explore the ship.

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Eating cookies and cakes in the room with Brian

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The most unimpressive meal I’ve had since being in Mexico. But hey, it comes with the ticket.

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Brian’s original seat with the woman he would have been sitting next to. Brian was pretty happy that we invited him to stay with us.

We have a few beers at the ship bar, but the Mexican banda music and videos are too much for us to handle, so we call it an early night and head back to our cabin. As we’re getting ready to get to sleep, I give Ben some of my floss to use. I guess my floss sucks, and it gets stuck in his teeth.

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Ben trying to remove the floss. No success.

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Dr. Sper tries to help out with some needle-nose pliers. Still no luck. Good thing Ben plans on heading to a dentist in Mazatlan.

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I was a little concerned about the ride on the ferry, since I do get sea sick. However, the ride was smooth, and I slept well. We make it to Mazatlan without incident, and ride around to find a hotel.

Exiting the ferry into the tourist beach city of Mazatlan.

Riding along the coast in Mazatlan looking for a hotel.

We are all baking in our motorcycle gear in 100 degree heat, riding around an unfamiliar town looking for a hotel that meets our requirements – secure parking for the motorcycles, and a cheap price. Good thing we’re not picky – we find one quickly along the beach, negotiate a fair price, strip off our riding gear and jump in the pool.

I have a few dents in my front rim from somewhere along the way the last 2 months. The KLR vibrates so much while riding that I don’t typically care, but it’s gotten to the point where I can watch the front wheel bounce as I go along a smooth stretch of road. I need a new tire anyways, so I figure it’s a good time to get the wheel fixed. Brian and I walk around Mazatlan looking for a garage and food.

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Brian’s got a sweet tooth. His diet consists of street food, chocolate milk and cakes.

How do you find a garage in a foreign city where you know no one? There’s a few things I’ll typically do. First, I research online. I’ll check ADVRider and Horizons Unlimited to see if any fellow travelers have a recommendation for a garage. Next, I’ll ask any locals that I know. If I see another motorcyclist on the road with a nice bike, or one in great condition, I’ll ask for a recommendation. Otherwise, I’ll look for a busy shop with lots of motorcycles parked around.

Today we got lucky. While walking around looking for food, I see a handful of motorcycles parked outside a garage. I step inside and start speaking with the owner of a Kawasaki dealership. I go over what I want done to my bike, and he says he’ll take care of it. Again, I would typically stay at the garage while the mechanics work on my bike, but I decide to leave the bike with them and come back the next day to pick it up. The garage services all of the motorcycle police officers in the city (80 bikes total), and they are always swinging by to chit-chat and get service done. That’s a vote of confidence if I’ve ever seen one.

In addition to getting my front wheel trued, I purchase a new tire (a cheap Chinese tire for 800 pesos), and get my sidecases sorted out. The supports are bent and twisted, causing the cases to vibrate and shake while I ride. It’s been getting worse and worse, and is one of the reasons that my case fell off the bike while riding on the freeway in LA. I might as well get it fixed now.

Total cost for the new tire, a trued wheel, and fixing my side cases? 1000 pesos, 800 of which was for the tire itself. Perfecto. Labor in Mexico is incredibly cheap. I almost feel bad for paying so little for all of the work the mechanics did. They were running around town picking up parts, sweating in heat, and banging their knuckles all over Oscar.

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Ben gets a new blinker installed for a couple dollars.

My bike is going to stay overnight at the shop, so Ben offers me a ride back to the hotel. El Burro isn’t too happy with the extra 225lb load of my fat-ass on the back, and we laugh the entire way as the bike scrapes on any and every bump in the road.

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My first time ever riding “bitch”

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Ben asks why I didn’t ride side saddle like this woman. Maybe next time buddy.

After dying in the heat for a day, Brian takes off to Durango in the highlands to cool off and stay with an American school teacher he met on Couchsurfing. Ben and I stick around Mazatlan for another day, waiting for my bike to get fixed and for Ben to get some dentist work done. In the hot parts of Mexico, the city transforms in the evening. People go running and exercise outside, and the entire city comes alive. It’s just too hot to be active during the day, but everyone takes advantage of the 20 degree drop in temperature of the evenings.

Ben and I decide to take some pictures along the boardwalk near the beach. Ben has an external wireless flash that we try to use, but it isn’t working, so we improvise by waiting for it to get a little darker outside, increasing the time the shutter is open, and having me manually force the flash to fire. We get some interesting shots.

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The sunset over the ocean, just across from our Hotel.

Bikers, joggers, and rollerbladers are out in force once the sun goes down.

Futzing around with the external flash. The locals think we’re crazy.

After not riding much for the last week, and suffering in the sweltering heat, Ben and I decide to do the same thing as Brian and head up into the mountains to Durango.

Posted in adventure, Ben Slavin, blog, Brian Gohery, klr650, Mexico, RideReport | 2 Comments