In & Around D.F. (Mexico City)
I left Morelia with decent weather and a really nice ride ahead of me. I had originally planned to bypass D.F. (District Federal - Mexico City), but a couple of nights before I made the decision to hit it up. I ran into an incredibly heavy rain about half an hour outside of the city just as I was cresting some mountains and heading down into D.F. That made for a drenched and cold ride, but the first half made up for it. I also took cuota (toll) highways for the first time on the trip and ended up hitting seven stops along the way (ranging from USD $1 - USD $5). They really are a pain in the ass, but you pay-to-play and the highways are incredibly smooth and nice. A bit of a welcome break from the smaller rough roads that I've been staying on the majority of my time in Mexico.
I stayed with a nice CouchSurfing host Lianne for two nights while in the city. She has a nice flat and I felt welcome from the time we met. It was real five star living w/ a nice bathroom, and get this, an in-house washer and dryer! Funny the things that excite you after awhile on the road. The first night we took a stroll through some of the neighborhoods and she showed me one of her favorite vegetarian restaurants just outside of a park. Then I crashed early as I was tired from the ride and was accompanied to bed by one of her two dogs who kept me warm all night. She adopted two street dogs when she lived near the beach and they are both cute, and full of hysterical character.
The second day I hit the city running and managed to knock out pretty much all of the sights I wanted to see. I really liked Bosque de Chapultepec and spent most of the morning wandering around the castle, the modern art museum and several other sights. After that, I hopped the Metro to have lunch and see Merced Market. It is an absolute maze of shops selling typical handicrafts. A highlight was having lunch for just over USD $1 w/ drink. I walked from Merced to The Zócalo (w/ a brief shocked stroll looking at the scantily clad street walkers). The city center was an absolute $hit show! I can't remember a time when I've walked in a swarm that thick. I guess that happens in a city of 20+mil people. Following the plaza, I checked a few more items off the list and headed back to Lianne's where she prepared a wonderful meal for us and two of her friends. We ate, laughed, talked, laughed more, drank wine, and had a great night.
This morning I woke up excited to get going. My next two stops are real highlights for me. I'm currently en route to Oaxaca where I'll spend four or five nights eating, exploring, and volunteering during the days. After that, I'm headed to the Oaxaca coast for at least a week to camp on the beach, eat fish tacos, reflect, surf, and be a complete bum. I ended up deciding to stop for a night in between D.F. and Oaxaca as the drive is a bit long, and I'm glad that I did. I'm writing this from Hotel Mex Mar in Tehuacán ($17/night rooms w/ gym and secure parking). It's not that I like this city, but the ride today was spectacular. In 200 miles I passed two snow-capped smoking volcanos, climbed to around 11k feet, saw rocky canyons, lush and vivid green covered mountains, and everything in between. All in perfect 70 degree sunny weather. The road from Orizaba through the valley and White Canyon Nat'l Park was epic and one of the best that I've locked in yet. I detoured through some dirt, hit some unreal twisty sections, wheelied over topes, and was smiling the whole way. :)
For a brief minute, I thought that maybe I'd leave D.F. and head for Acapulco, then shoot down the coast. That would allow me to be a beach bum first, then save the kids in Oaxaca after. However, a bit of research on Acapulco cancelled that idea (currently the world's 2nd most dangerous city statistically). Then I looked at a map and thought, "oh, maybe I can bypass Acapulco by detouring southeast through Tierra Colorada". Well, a trusty Google Image search for 'Tierra Colorada' brought up nothing but gory images of violence and horrendous pictures. So that idea was shot as well (pardon the pun). Mexico is a vast country. It is filled with beautiful scenery, landscapes, nature, culture, history, and kind people. After exploring some of it, it saddens me that parts of this country have been absolutely devastated and scarred by corruption and violence. Alas, I haven't run into anything yet and will continue with my trusty Google Image search for regions and cities to keep me trudging along safely.
Anyway, I'm feeling good. I'm happy, healthy, running strong, and have really seemed to get into the groove. Loading and unloading the bike has become routine. Also, I'm able to communicate in Spanish with essentially everyone I come across. Admittedly, I sound like a mentally challenged six year old to them, but it's still an accomplishment for me! I've covered over 4,300 miles since leaving Denver, and have explored a lot of places and met a lot of great people. Interestingly, I feel untraveled and small. Along the way people keep saying, "you should see this" or "you have to stop in this town". If I took every tip or piece of advice I could literally be in Mexico for years. It's crazy to think how much is out there. This is just one country for God's sake! It has made me realize how 'stuck' I was in the life that I had created. Don't get me wrong, the majority of it was fantastic. But, it's nice to feel like I'm starting to experience other people's culture and different ways of living. I felt it somewhat during past trips, but this is different. I'm doing it rough and proper. I'm eating everything, I'm saying "yes" to everything (well most everything - street walkers mentioned above got a quick decline from me), I'm sleeping and bathing in conditions I never thought I would, and I wouldn't trade any of it. At present, the thought of waking up every morning to slave away doing something that doesn't truly make me happy depresses the hell out of me. Now I just need to keep up the exploration and figure out what I want to be when I grow up right? Or is that feeling reserved for a select lucky few? Who knows... For now I'm content riding my motorcycle, and trying to figure it out.
I hope all my friends and family are doing well back 'home'. I look forward to communicating with you all soon...