San Cristobal de Las Casas, Chiapas, MEX
A lot has happened since my last post. I had not realized how difficult it is to keep up a ride report while actually on the ride. Radioman and the others who do it so well have my deep admiration. Thanks guys for your inspiration too.
I flew to Chile in mid-January and returned here in mid-February. I picked up my bike at my friend Pepe's house and got back on the road on February 18th. Went to Papantla and the El Tajin Ruins and then made my way casually down to Veracruz where I had some great rides and times with ADV Rider Mike Mike (Michael Strah), an affable Canadian, good rider and great photographer. Michael is a great source on riding and riding safely in Mexico and in particular in Veracruz and surrounds. He has lived there for some time now and knows some sweet routes and amazing places that one would not see without local knowledge. He tells a pretty good tale too and can often be found ranting on the Is Mexico Safe thread on this website.
While I was in Veracruz, just before I was going to leave and head for Catemaco and the annual gathering of brujos there, I got word from my lawyer that I had to be in Los Angeles for a divorce trial. Had to scramble to find a flight, and get my gear and bike safely stored for the week that I would have to be gone. Mike Mike to the rescue. He let me store my gear at his place, not only that but he picked it up from the hotel! Stored the bike at MotoPits, the excellent independent moto shop that Mike had introduced me to. Rafael is a great mechanic, got some issues with my bike handled, changed the oil and provided a safe storage place. Had coffee and hung out with Rafael and his friend Juan Pablo the last day I was in Veracruz. JP speaks English, works for United Air Lines (my condolences) so with my improving but still limited Spanish we were having a good time talking over all of the things motorcycle guys having coffee talk over. Yeah, nice round wheels.
I have been laying over/laid up in this little town in the Chiapas Highlands (Altitude 7200 feet) since Tuesday night. I dropped the bike on the way down here from Palenque, really stupid thing, was making a U-turn on my heavily loaded and already top heavy GS, lost focus at a critical point in the turn and down I went. Tweaked my knee pretty badly so have had to stop for a few days. As usual the Mexicans who saw me fall were out of their vehicles in an instant and were helping me get the machine righted and off the road before I could even turn off the key to stop the blaring horn. It was a good thing too. There was no way that my knee would have let me right the bike and move it on my own. I walked it off for more than a few minutes and managed to get back on the road. I rode into some pretty unreasonable weather, cold, wet, foggy, going slowly with flashers on and staying way to the right kind of weather. Fortunately everyone else, even the truckers, was taking it easy too.
I am staying at the Hotel Real Jovel on Avenida Insurgentes #66. It is right next to the OCC Bus Station. It was the first decent looking place I saw as I rode into town and I was not up to looking around a lot. It is quiet and very clean with secure off street parking for the bike and a good deal at 250 pesos/night. It is maybe a half mile or less walk up Insurgentes to the Zocalo. Normally that would not be an issue but it has been a bit of a challenge with the injured knee. Fortunately I put my very lightweight collapsible trekking poles into my kit before I left home. They have been invaluable in getting around.
A "norte" was blowing into town the same day I did and it has been mostly cold and cloudy since my arrival. Yesterday was the first warm sunny day, my knee was feeling better and I got out on the town. Lots of people were out enjoying the sunshine and that went on into the evening. There are several pedestrian streets here that are lined with shops and restaurants. The place is known for amber. There are a lot of tourists, young and old from the US, Europe, South and Central America and Mexico. There is a nice mix or people in the coffee shops and restaurants engaging in lively conversation and enjoying themselves. The place has quite an interesting history that you can read on line or in the Rough Guide book.
There are a lot of indigenous people here. The women wear heavy skirts made from the skin of a black sheep and wear colorful tops. The skirt is held up by a wide handcrafted, often beaded, belt. They are generally selling all kinds of hand made crafts and carrying a baby in a sling on their backs. On the whole they are diminutive people and it is amazing what they carry with them.
Pix to follow. I need to upload a bunch to SmugMug. It is always easier with a good strong internet connection is also connected to a high speed router. That combination is not always available down here.