It has been a while since the last post guys but just now we got some time and stable internet. I hope you will enjoy the slightly longer updated:
Mexico City and beyond: 12 – 17 of October
When you are traveling for such a long time with a limited budget, like we are, you come to appreciate the simple things: having clean sheets on the bed (oh… having a bed is also a good start), having hot(ish) water and so on. The hotel where we were staying for 2 nights, thanks to the fidelity points, was way above our basic needs, being probably a destination for more luxuriant vacations. For example it has a very nice jacuzzi, set up just in front of the window, with a nice view to the ocean. Being the travelers that we are… we put the thing to some good, albeit rather questionable, use…
I know, probably the designers of the place had in mind a rather more romantic use of the jacuzzi involving soft music, bubble bath and some sipped champagne while viewing the sunset. But hey, we had to adapt to a more stringent reality of acute lack of clean t-shirts…
After 2 days spent there, we felt it was time to move on. While most of the guys who are doing a similar trip with us chose to go by the coast from there on, we decided to go inland in order to avoid the Acapulco area and also because we had an invitation in Mexico City. So we turn towards Guadalajara and we see on the side of the road a lot of places where you could buy “camarones” (shrimp)
A little further away we also see how the camarones are being dried. Dumped from a big truck on a thin fabric, directly on the side of the road.
We are getting close to Guadalajara, a big city and that it shows. On the road panels we see the sign of “western capitalism” right up there, side by side with directions and distances to different cities.
We plan to go around the city (second largest in Mexico) and avoid the 5 o’clock trafic and find a place to sleep on the outskirts. Even since Canada we’ve been hearing from other travelers about these auto motels (or love motels) that exist South of the border where you can get a safe place for you and your motorcycle and a nice sleep. We happen to see one and decide to get in.
Everything looks clean and very… discrete. With difficulty we manage to find someone that works there and is able to tell us a price for a room. We are asked if we want a room with a jacuzzi. Aaa. no thank you, we just washed our t-shirts, we won’t be needing another jacuzzi any time soon.
We find out the price of a normal room and it seemed resonable. I almost decide to stop but I have the inspiration to ask another question “The price is for the hole night, right?”. The lady makes some big eyes and says “Oooo senior toda la noche? entonces el precio es el doble”. Yeah, that figures. It seems in these places the room prices are for only hours. Hmmm… I still can not figure why… a good healthy sleep should be at least 7 hours. Could these places be for something else… mmm
We move on as the “double” price was too high for us and we end up reaching Lake Chapala and find a nice small hotel where I park the bike, for the first time in this trip, in the hallway of the interior courtyard.
We go out for a walk and we find the lake promenade full of people, music and noise. Everybody is trying to sell something (or to buy something) and if not that then it singing and dancing time. It is a nice atmosphere and we realize is the start of the weekend and people are out having fun. Somehow we feel a little bit outside all this. For us it is not weekend. For us it was just another traveling day, with new places to discover, with surprises and with a desire to relax at the end of the day, in a quiet place. Are we getting old?
There are quite a lot of motorcycles in Mexico. A lot of them are of small size. 125, 150, 180 and maybe 250 and people that travel on them usually do not wear any protection gear. Or at the most a helmet. For them these motorcycles are just a transportation means. And if your family is of 3 or 4, and you need to go somewhere then well, you put everybody on the motorcycle and just go. That’s why we are a little surprised when we notice the next day a shiny new BMW GS1200 on the road. Oh, and there are (only) 2 people on it. And they wear full gear.
We find each other in traffic and start talking. Then decide if we stop on the side of the road and talk without riding in the same time. That is how we get to meet Uli, a German living in Mexico and Alejandra. They were out, testing their brand new GS1200. We are happy that we’ve met. We shake hands and exchange stories.
Photo credit to Alejandra and Uli
We share email addresses and hope to stay in contact. Uli and Alejandra are great guys and they plan to go on a big trip as well, rather soon. We start our engines and ride together for a while. Thanks to them, we have an idea of how 2 Romanians traveling on a V-Strom in Mexico look like.
Photo credit to Alejandra and Uli
Photo courtesy of Alejandra and Uli
This day is mixed. We have very nice meetings like the one with Uli and Alejandra and then we end up totally missing the historic center of Morelia (UNESCO heritage) and due to our hotel’s wrongfully advertised location, we have a nice view of town’s periphery
Little boxes, little boxes… A view that will repeat itself on a much grater scale in Mexico City where we are heading today. There Alex and Dagmar are expecting us. Luckily for us, they are not expecting us in the city but some 100 kilometers outside the metropolis, in a nice and natural spot. Then they guide us through the madness of the traffic.
I remember with nostalgia the lane splitting in California, with Doug in Monterey. At least there, there were some actual lanes that you could “split”. This is another level. Here there are no lanes and if they are, there are 3 in a space for 2. Everybody is driving following some rules that are not always the known ones and it is a madness for an outsider. Dagmar and Alex have lots of patience with us and thanks to them we manage to arrive safely and easily to their home.
Then we have 3 days of the bike, just relaxing and “being a tourist” in Mexico City, which is a great and diverse place to visit. We even take for the first time in our lives the bus tour as it was the cheapest way to move around the city. A great and complex puzzle, with modern and spacy buildings
but also small and cramped houses
We’ve seen elegant office guys (even tough some of them were talking on the phone sitting outside of windows…)
and also people dressed in (Aztec?) national costumes dancing in the plaza for money
We also get to visit our Embassy and have a meeting with the Romanian ambassador in Mexico. Turns out that there are around 400 Romanians living in Mexico – not such a great number. The meeting is quite informal and actually we get a lot of good advice from Ms. Ana Voicu. She wishes us best of luck for the remaining of our trip.
After that we end up at the German Embassy (no pictures from there
) where a friend of Dagmar’s and Alex helps us fix our photo camera. Hmm a Japanese camera, fixed with German tools, by 2 Romanians, in Mexico. Things cannot go wrong!
But soon enough it is time to leave and we say good bye to Alex and Dagmar who have been excellent hosts for us. We wish them all the best in their Mexican adventure.
A morning which seemed to be an easy get out of the city turns out into a veritable struggle with the streets and the traffic. We had very clear directions from Alex. We had a GPS with a functional map of the city. So navigating the maze should have been easy.
And yet we manage to miss the right exit and then everything turned into a funny story which included some quasi-legal maneuvers on the green areas…
… and culminated with a 2 hour detour on some parts of the town which are quite far (in space and looks) from the central parts of the city and which I don’t think are visited so often by tourists.
Well that is not so bad. We get to experience this part of life here as well. And we get to see some extreme ways of using your car. For example this guy probably tried to see if he can move the hole planet with his truck. And each time he was deciding to change lanes it was an adventure for everybody around him. The picture is correctly aligned vertically. And you can see that the left rear wheel is off the ground…
Finally we find the way to Oaxaca. But it is quite late and we have a lot of miles to go. So we only admire the Popocateptl vulcan from a distance. Maybe it was better this way as it seemed to be with a mood…
The open road is good for us. No more traffic and the mountains are here again.
Here get to be to be stopped by some gathering of people which were demonstrating for something (or against something) and were asking for something. And they were just sitting on the road, blocking it and stopping everyone. I have to admit that I was happy that we were not the only vehicle around as the feeling was not an easy one. Fortunately we are let to move one quite fast. They were very organized. At the command of one guy, half of the human blockade moved to the side, letting us go and then immediately moved back on the road, blocking the next car behind us.
We get to think a little bit of what just happened and how this would have been such a crazy thing for Europe. Everyone would have beenoutraged that they stopped the road traffic and probably would follow up with a Police call and some very harsh complaints. Here, it seemed a normal thing and nobody seemed to care much.
In Oaxaca, we start again the dance of finding a safe, cheap and clean accommodation (the 3 Morganas of accommodation) and then we go out in the historic center of the town ( also a UNESCO heritage)
Again we end up well, meaning we end up in the middle of a fiesta. Some sort of employees day as everybody had the day off, there was music, there were candies thrown at bystanders (much better than tomatoes, eh?) and everybody was singing and having a good time.
Seeing this, we take our national costumes as well and join the party on the streets.
We are stopped and a gentleman is offering some drinks. He drinks with us as well. There might have been some alcohol involved in the drinks found in the bamboo glasses but I guess we would never know. What it can be known for sure is that we had a great time with the people from Oaxaca!
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Next time we are, literally, in the jungle. And we find out how much Andreea likes the monkeys. Stay tuned!