El Gran Payaso
Joined: Apr 2006
Location: San Antonio
I am an addict. I am addicted to Mexico. But I didn’t need to tell you that. More precisely, I love the people of Mexico, and their culture. I don’t believe in reincarnation, but if I did, I’d bribe whatever God owned the process to make me Hispanic after this life is over. While its still ongoing, I’ll settle for returning to Mexico – different parts of it – as much as I can. I guess I’m what is called a Mexophile.
Ray is our UPS delivery guy. We’re on a solid first name basis. Amazon.com lets Ray deliver me endless books on Mexico and the Spanish language. Ray also likes motorcycles, and he finds me more often than not tinkering in the garage on one of my bikes. Ray just recently bought a KLR, so he is interested in my latest project, taking my own KLR with 31 miles on it, and taking it down to the frame and doing a series of mods, to get it ready for really rought off-road use, such as well, around the Galeana area south of Monterrey. All the parts for that mod, Ray has brought in addition to the books.
The KLR is coming along nicely, but so has the BMW R1200 since the crash. And come to think of it, so have I. You might have read in Vaquero (my previous ride report, see the link below), that I dumped the beemer in a curve near Mascota, in the mountains near Puerto Vallarta, this last October while riding in the Mexico national BMW rally. They say everyone is going to crash someday, and that day was my day. I had carved two weeks out for that trip too, and the crash occurred near the end of the first week. I wasn’t sure I would keep going for the second week, and I wasn’t sure I would keep the bike. At the time I thought I would get the bike and myself back to Texas, heal up, sell the bike, and start fresh. Hank, my BMW mechanic, happened to be on the rally, and he fixed the bike in the parking lot at the hotel in Puerto Vallarta and we did the second week in Mexico. When I got home, I took her to Alamo BMW on I-10 (they used to be on Broadway in downtown San Antonio), where she received excellent care (at a very fair price) and was put back together. I healed too, from a (technically) broken ankle and a very, very sore back. Marriage counselors convinced me not to break up with my 1200, which at the time of this writing I still have yet to name.
I have a huge map of Mexico in my house. Really huge. And I’m drawn to the Yucatán. Its just – out there. I’ve been there before, but like many of us, it was a flight into Cancun to stay at a resort, perhaps try Cozumel. Playa del Carmen. But to ride a motorcycle there, even from Texas, isn’t your usual quick trip to San Miguel. I shared the idea with Sterett, who like me, is an adrenaline junkie. I’ve know Sterett since our diving days on Roatan, in the Bay Islands of Honduras. I was living in Champaign, Illinois then, close to Indy, and rode the backroads of Indiana in the summer, at the time on my Fatboy and Sterett on the bike he had before the GoldWing. Lots of serendipity, like the time we happened into Story, Indiana, and found the most delicious maple syrup on earth, no kidding, 10 times better than anything I ever tasted. And I am a Connecticut boy and know New England maple syrup.
Sterett, now quasi-retired but still consulting for DOW Chemical, was all over the idea or riding our bikes to the Yucatán. As divers, the idea to throw in diving was natural, you know, just to make sure we got our dose of adrenaline that topes, cops and backwoods speeding wouldn’t provide. Sterett isn’t the Mexico addict that I am, but he loves his adrenaline. I was a member of a soaring club back in Illinois, my choice for thrills in flying after my Air Force days ended. Sterett once rode over from Indiana to go for a ride in my glider. One of my few passengers I couldn’t spook. Or at least he made a brave show of the experience.
When to go to Mexico was only slightly influenced by the Indianapolis Colts and Peyton Manning. They were supposed to make the Super Bowl again, according to Colt-o-phile Sterett, and that meant not leaving for Mexico until the Big Game was over. OK, Mr. Season Ticket Holder. Besides, the weather in Mexico peaks, IMHO, in two months, February and October. You can enjoy yourself other months, but to avoid the heat and rainy season as much as possible, those are the two months I’ve found most favorable. It seems to work, in all my time in Mexico I’ve been in the rain exactly two days, and both of those were the days leaving Mexico when I was in sight of the border.
Sights were fixed on crossing the border February 6th, a Friday. That would mean Sterett and his Land Yacht, a.k.a. GoldWing would have to trailer down the 1,500 miles one-way to get to my house the Wednesday before. No problem. The man can ride, and drive, like there is no tomorrow. But on the way down, he’d be thinking about how Peyton and his Colts got bounced from the Playoffs. Sorry, I was rooting for the Cards. I was also rooting for the Wing, since privately I had my doubts about a bike like that in Mexico. The topes. They’re killers. I gently tried to prod Sterett into seriously having the underside of that bike welded with some type of bank vault plating. “No problems with the Wing”, he told me. We’ll see.
A PM, private message, is on my advrider mailbox, from someone I don’t know. The guy says he’s heard about the planning for this trip from a mutual friend, and how about the idea he might tag along? I sit back and think. This could be good, this could be bad. Unknowns are always a roll of the dice. It would be a good thing to have another rider, the strength in numbers thing. Perhaps we could outgun the narcos. A cop looking for a mordida would be less likely to stop a group of three versus two. I don’t know, but the thought crossed my mind. Plus the mutual friend was is a good guy, and vouched for this guy. Still, an unknown adds a level of exposure. An unknown personality is one thing, but so is an unknown bike. Battery? Tires? Mechanical condition? Every additional bike brings with it a multiplier of a breakdown . It can stop eveyone’s trip. OK Mark, you’re in. Please make sure your moto is in great shape. Be at my house by Wednesday, please. And one more thing, we’re all going to have our permisos, bike import permits, done ahead of time. The plan is to hit the border and be gone, stopping only for tourist visas, which can’t be done online, yet. Mark gets his permiso done, at the consulate in Dallas. Sterett and I do it via the online Banjercito website, as I have been doing for some time.
We sort out scuba gear, but decide to rent most of it at Mahahual. Mark goes for a refresher, as it's been 10 years since he's been on a major dive. We have no plan for this trip, other than to be in Mahahual the middle weekend. We have only the Guia Roji and an idea. Each day's path will be selected the night before. We really don't know how we're going to get there. The next Mexico BMW rally is this October in Tampico, so a little more inland route though the mountains might be nice, since the upcoming rally will take me to the coast anyway.
We're ready, for moto-scuba Mexico.
Paperwork is ready, all the insurance, fake drivers licenses, money stashing, map folding, bike stocking. Mark shows up in San Antonio and we size him up. Nellie, my yellow lab, seems to approve. Both Mark’s R1200 and Sterett’s Wing appear to be in great shap. We’re ready. The night before we head to McAllen, we turn on the news. The State Department has issued a travel warning for travel to Mexico. This is great news, for adrenaline junkies.
We’re off to the border.