|11-27-2012, 01:40 AM||#121|
Joined: Sep 2008
I envy you:)
a magnificient RR included wonderful photos and text from princely riders..
sorry I am not well in English.
riding is a freedom
|11-27-2012, 05:43 AM||#122|
Find the world
Joined: May 2012
Location: Wiltshire, Great Britain
An Awesome RR, out standing photo's and two awesome adventurers, I hope you get the Katoom back on the road, and the beaming smiles on your faces!
Good Luck! :)
|11-27-2012, 10:58 AM||#123|
Joined: Sep 2002
Location: Corral de Tierra CA, Ketchum ID
Great job putting all those little baggies of nuts and bolts together to make a whole bike, again!
|11-28-2012, 11:10 AM||#124|
Joined: Nov 2008
When I first bought the bike three years ago, I was afraid just to take the front fairings off. Without this forum, the members and the 950 HOW, I wouldn't have had the confidence or information resources to be able to do this myself. The hardest part of learning something is getting over the initial uncertainties and lack of confidence that comes with a lack of experience. This board has certainly helped immensely.
When I first got the bike, my riding instructor (who had the same bike) and member of this board, invited me over to his garage and walked me through an oil change. Using this board and the HOW, I was later able to do a valve clearance check and water pump rebuild. On our trip, a board member invited us over to his place and showed me how to change a tire.
The rebuild, like anything once you've done it, wasn't really difficult. It was a bit like disassembling and assembling a complex set of Legos. It mostly took concentration and being thorough in labelling hardware, wires, hoses and cables. The hardest part of the entire rebuild was transferring the foot-pegs from the old frame to the new. Those springs are a pain in the ass.
not all those who wander are lost | two earthlings ride around the world
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Rockwell screwed with this post 11-28-2012 at 01:09 PM
|12-19-2012, 04:25 PM||#125|
Joined: Nov 2008
Northern Mexico (October 26 – November 3, 2011)
As we traveled through Canada and the USA we remained in our comfort zone but now that we were about to enter Mexico I was feeling a little bit anxious. Mexico had been having a lot of bad publicity and it wasn’t the safest time to be traveling through it. We spoke to many people, asked a lot of advice and we were warned that the violence was out of control. Mexico was in the midst of a drug war and to make things more complicated the police and politicians were involved in the corruption. I was nervous and I seriously considered skipping past Mexico. Not only had gun shootings become common but many decapitated bodies had been found. I was afraid, and of course, Rocky wasn’t. He believes that the brave may not live for long but the cautious do not live at all. And I on the other hand believed that his new mustache gave him a false sense of security (I still think he deliberately grew it to fit in).
We decided on crossing into Mexico through Nuevo Laredo, Texas. This town reminded me of an 80′s gang movie with all the teardrop tattoos, thick gold crosses and low riding Cutlass Supremes with hydraulic systems and fat, shiny, spinning rims. From what we were told, border towns were the most dangerous. We spoke with various people we had met throughout our travels, many had told us we were going to get killed and the others had given us advise and rules on crossing into Mexico.
We were to:
It was a warm night and the outer layer of the tent was unzipped, exposing the mesh and ourselves to a nice breeze. As we laid in the tent that night watching stuff on the laptop, I had this creepy feeling that we were being watched. Rocky blamed my paranoia on the weed we just smoked and I tried to convince myself that he was right. Almost an hour had passed, I couldn’t shake the feeling and I kept turning my focus outside of the tent. Suddenly, I saw something or someone move in the darkness. My heart dropped and I stopped breathing as my eyes caught more movement. “Rocky, now did you see that? Look over there beside the fence, watch. I just heard a noise in that direction and I saw something move.”
With our faces pressed to the mesh of our tent we both noticed an arm wave through the air in the distance.
“Holy shit Paula, there is someone out there. I’m going to go talk to him, it looks like he’s waving me over. Are you coming with me?”
“Hell no, are you fucking crazy Rocky? I’ll stay here, I’m freaking out. “
I watched as Rocky approached the figure and then walk back over to me shortly after.
“That was weird. I’m pretty sure that man lives in the trailer. He smelled like he’s homeless and he was wearing his belt over his shoulder. I told him that we were going to spend the night here and he told me that he wasn’t from this realm. Everything else he said was in and out of coherence. ” -Oddly enough, I didn’t feel threatened or frightened anymore. The man just seemed to be curious of the the two homeless people camped outside his realm.
The following morning we decided to wait one more day before crossing the border. We wanted to make sure that we were well prepared by exchanging some money, organizing all of our ID and documents, getting a good night sleep for an early long morning and leaving behind the pipe we were given in Colorado to avoid being charged with paraphernalia. So, if you ever find yourself in Nuevo Laredo, Texas without a pipe, look HERE, hidden along the fence.
With everything ready, we decided to spend the night back at our comfy dead end boulevard. We decided to get up at 6:30am so that our things would be packed and we’d be having breakfast by 7:30 and crossing the border at about 8am. It sounded like a solid plan until Rocky woke me up at 4:30am trying to get me going early. It was the middle of the night and there was NO way I was willing to go at that time. For the next hour Rocky acted like a snooze alarm I was ready to smash his button. It was 5:30am and I was not happy to be awake. We packed our belongings and rode in the dark to Subway for breakfast. It was closed of course, because you would have to be crazy to be up that early, so we rode to another subway a few blocks closer to the border. By the time we got there we just had to wait almost half of an hour before it opened. Exhausted and grumpy about getting up extra early for nothing, we finally got to the border.
There was a huge line of people trying to cross from Mexico into the US, I was happy we were the only ones crossing into Mexico. We entered awkwardly as guards just simply stared at us from a distance. ‘Are we going the right way? Do you want to know who we are, where we are going, why we are going, whether we have passports?’ We crossed without being questioned and I wondered if they were intimidated by our helmet camera.
The moment we were in Mexico everything was different. The air was warm and thick, people were on the streets shouting for our attention to sell us insurance and probably other things. We ignored the commotion and drove two blocks and through a parking lot before finding an immigration office I thought it was inconveniently hidden. It was still early morning when we got to the building but after waiting in a few long lineups to have all the necessary documents to enter ourselves and the motorcycle through the country we were finally getting back on the road well past noon.
I had contacted a guy through couchsurfing.org named Orlando and he welcomed us to stay with him and his family in Ciudad Victoria, a city far enough south from the border. We wanted to ride all the way there without stopping but there was no possible way of that happening. We needed gas and became hungry. As we rode though the (allegedly) dangerous and beautiful city named Monterey we decided to stop (even though we we warned against doing so) and we ate at Pollio Loco (Crazy Chicken). We ate quickly and got back on the road as soon as possible. A full stomach was not helping with our exhaustion as we rode down the highway, and Rocky decided he had to pull over. We had already broken a rule by stopping in Monterey and now Rocky pulled over so that he could take a quick nap on the side of the highway. I wondered if he was crazy and I reminded him of the rules we were to follow but he told me we had two options, either crash the bike as he fell asleep riding or take the chance of being hijacked. Uhgg, my nerves were tweaking and I kept attention as he took a power nap. A half hour later we were back on the road, Rocky was refreshed but my eyes were burning with exhaustion.
The sun was setting as we finally arrived at Orlando’s home, it was an incredibly beautiful home that his family had build over many years. He lived with his sweet mother Romy, his kind father Rigo, his younger sister Tania and his 3 dogs named Mick Jagger, Lolo, Chachara. Orlando was excited to hear about our journey and asked us to join him on a tour of the city. We unpacked some things and I immediately took a shower because I was hoping it would wake me up a bit, and living in a tent doesn’t exactly smell pretty. We walked around for a couple of hours as Orlando gave us the history on Ciudad Victoria, the capital city, of the Mexican state of Tamaulipas. We stopped at a patio to enjoy real fruit and herb slushies while exchanging thoughts on life. It was almost 10pm by the time we got back to his house and exhaustion hit me like a ton a bricks. My energy was completely drained, my eyes were crossing and I became very light headed and dizzy. I laid in bed to fight the hot flashes as my body was struggling to fight whatever was overcoming me. I became violently ill vomiting everything in my stomach past the point of anything being left in there but bile and I finally passed out cold. Morning came and we had plans with Orlando to visit his work and meet the kids he taught at school. He was a teacher and the school was having a BBQ party that day, unfortunately, I couldn’t go. I began puking again the moment I woke up and I simply had no energy. Luckily, Orlando’s mom Romy worked at a hospital and she offered to bring me into work with her, I gratefully accepted. We arrived at the hospital and I was immediately taken into a room to lay down. Rocky, Orlando and Romy were all with me for comfort. Soon after, at least 8 student nurses were surrounding my bed as a few other doctors gave orders and lessons on how to treat me.
As a child, I grew up in a Portuguese household watching Latin soap operas with my mother. They were called telenovelas and they featured the most beautiful Latin people. At that moment as I laid on that hospital bed I felt like I was playing a roll in a telenovela. The students and nurses were dressed all in white, wearing short mini skirts, tight buttoned blouses, baby doll shoes and adorable nurse hats. Their make up was perfectly painted and their hair looking professionally done. I had nurses touching my pulse, pressing my stomach giving me intervenes and needles in my butt cheeks all while a bunch of students are starring at me and Rocky is snapping pictures. It was quite hilarious and I couldn’t stop giggling at the drama unfolding before me.
I was told that I was dehydrated, exhausted and that I would need to rest until the intervenes rehydrated me, (I still don’t know what the needle in my butt cheek was for). Rocky and Orlando left for the day and Romy worked her shift while I slept, but she checked up on me every half hour until 4pm to make sure I was ok. After sleeping on and off for 6 hours, 2 Gatorades and 4 bags of IV, I was ready to leave with Romy at the end of her shift. I felt much better and I was extremely happy for the treatment I was given by all the hospital staff and my new foreign mama. Romy is such an incredible lady and I will always be grateful for her kindness.
We arrived back at the house and she cooked something for me to eat. Orlando and Rocky would be gone all day so I was invited to join mom, dad and sis to a birthday party. Feeling much better, I joined. We arrived at rented hall decorated in balloons and I was introduced to many kind strangers who kept trying to feed me. A live band played accordions and sang while everyone joined in to dance. It was truly a great moment to be a part of.
After the party, we drove to the mall for some ice cream and we waited for Rocky and Orlando to join us. Rocky and I shared our eventful stories, he was very enthusiastic of how great his day went.
Rocky had spent the day with Orlando, visiting the school at which Orlando taught. He boasted about the tacos he had for lunch that were made by the school lunch lady. According to him, they were the best tacos he had ever eaten. After travelling the length of Mexico, from the U.S. to Belize, Rocky still maintains, to this day, that he has never eaten a better taco. I sort of think he’s just trying to make me jealous. After visiting Orlando’s school, Rocky, Orlando and many of Orlando’s co-workers drove to a nearby town for a work BBQ party. There was live music, tons of food and beer. After the party, Orlando had decided to stop by a resort in the mountains on the way back to the city to take Rocky zip-lining. When they arrived back, Rocky told me that he didn’t try the zip-lining because he said he would have felt bad having so much fun without me, and that he wanted to wait until I was better so that we could both go together.
The next morning, Rocky and I joined Orlando and his father for breakfast in the city. We had what were called Migaldas; fried tortilla with layers of beans, meat, lettuce, salsa, cheese, sour cream. It was cut into four slices and eaten like a pizza; by far my favourite Mexican meal. With full stomachs, we took a walk until we found ourselves in a nearby museum, it was nice to see and learn a little history. After Orlando’s dad went home, we continued to walk around with Orlando and tour the streets and markets. I had visited Mexico previous to this adventure but I felt like this experience was completely different. The touristy places I had visited in the past did not contain nearly half the culture I had noticed in Ciudad Victoria.
It was a Friday and Orlando invited some co-workers and friends over for a BBQ party that night. We all hung out in his backyard and garage, ate tons of meat, drank many beers and danced all night.
The next day, we gathered our energies for an eventful family day. During the first few days at Orlando’s house I kept hearing strange noises, I asked Rocky if he had heard them as well but he hadn’t noticed. It sounded like wild animals, it was really strange. Moments later we were told that we would be visiting a Zoo just a block down the street. I thought I was going crazy when I heard foreign animals roar in the middle of the night but it all began to make sense. After walking around there all day, we all decided go for a walk through more of the city and its markets. Rigo surprised me with a bracelet souvenir/gift and I felt it was really sweet how we were treated with so much heart. We arrived back at their home just after dark after picking up a large order of tacos to go. It was nice to sit around the kitchen table, eating tacos, drinking a bottle of wine that mom and sis had purchased in France during their past vacation and looking through photos of their journey through Europe. We spent the rest of the night preparing to sadly leave the next day, and excited to ride to new places recommended by Orlando and his family.
We woke up early on Sunday and were invited to share a traditional Sunday soup before leaving. We obviously agreed to join for breakfast and join in on the city’s tradition of eating tripe soup. Every Sunday morning this soup is prepared and it is rumoured to be a hangover cure. I’m not sure if tripe is the stomach or the intestines of a cow but it smelled like either one. I tried but struggled to eat it, Rocky didn’t, he ate his entire bowl full. Luckily for me, there was more food to choose from and I wasn’t forced to feel rude for not eating. I adore Orlando’s family and I am so grateful to have shared such an amazing experience in a country I was told to fear. His family is a perfect example of Mexican hospitality and it was very difficult to say goodbye.
Our next plan was to head towards the ocean. I had contacted a guy on couchsurfing.org named Tito and we were welcomed to stay at his home in Tampico, still in the State of Tamaulipas. It took us a few hours before arriving and we had enough time to stop a MacDonald’s for WiFi and coffee. The Mexican McDonalds was strange, the menu was different and a huge jar of jalapeños were placed by all the condiments. My coffee was disgusting. Either it was really strong or there was something horribly wrong with the cream. It took 7 creams to slightly lighten my coffee and it tasted like thick, bitter, powdered milk liquid.
We arrived at Tito’s house before dark and had the opportunity to meet him, his father, Hector and his brother, Eduardo. We got ready and were invited to go meet a few of his friends at a local bar for a few drinks. Tito was a handsome guy with many lovely looking friends. It was nice to party with a young crowd and we had a great time getting to know everyone. Later that night, we stopped at a small sandwich shop for a drunken snack. ‘Tortas Mary’ offered the best sandwiches I have ever had. I thought that maybe it was the Coronas speaking but after trying them again a couple of days later, I was convinced of their deliciousness. mmm… Just please try and imagine… fresh, soft buns packed with very thin sliced ham and cheese, refried black beans, pork chicharron, ground beef, fresh fried Chorizo, shredded beef, lettuce, tomato, onion, sliced avocado and sauced with salsa verde (spicy Habanero chili salsa) And yes, it was obviously a huge sandwich.
Morning came and Tito decided to skip school because he wanted to hang out with us. We took a road trip to the coast on the Gulf of Mexico and I was surprised by how vacant such a beautiful beach was. Tito said that the ocean was going through a lot of changes from pollutants, many fisherman stopped fishing and people have stopped swimming in the water, such a shame on us humans. There were less than a handful of people swimming, I was one of them. I took a 5 minute dip just to satisfy my salty craving but then felt it would be best if I got out.
After walking around for the day, Tito explained that he had to work that night and I was welcome to come with him. He owned a pole dancing studio named Polefit and I was about to take lessons on how to pole dance. It was so much fun! My instructor was a strong flamboyant man who was very well experienced at his job. I learned how to do a few moves but I also learned that I needed much more strength for the rest. After one hour Rocky picked me up and we went back to Tito’s house to get ready. While Tito worked the rest of his shift, his friend Roberto came to pick us up. We stopped to grab some more yummy food and ate at his house and drank a few beers. I began to discover how much I truly enjoyed Mexican food. After many stories and much laughter, we all left Roberto’s house to meet up with Tito at a bowling alley. I love bowling and never imagined doing so while on this trip, it was nice to experience a little familiarity of home. We all ordered beers and I was able to taste a type I had never tried. It was called Michelada, and it was a mixture of beer, lemon, salt, soy and Tabasco sauce. I found it to taste as gross as it sounds and I was glad I had ordered a Corona.
Visiting Tampico and meeting Tito, his family and friends was awesome. It’s a bit sad to have to constantly meet new friends that I have to say bye to so soon, but, it’s also nice to meet so many great friends I will always cherish.
We left Tampico the following morning and headed to Tamasopo, in the State of San Luis Potosi. The drive there was very beautiful with all the lush greenery around the mountains but it was a difficult ride. Driving through Mexico, you will quickly learn what word ‘Topes’ means on the road signs. Imagine driving down the street going 100km per hour when you see a foreign sign reading ‘Topes’ (sometimes other foreign words are used on signs to describe a Topes) and suddenly, you hit an enormous speed bump that has your tires catch air. Imagine now that these signs are placed randomly to warn you of a huge speed bump that is anywhere from a foot away, up to 50 meters away, also, any where from just one Topes to many Topes and sometimes there are no warning signs at all. Now imagine that you are sitting on the back of a fully loaded motorcycle and every time you ride over a Topes, all the heavy bags stacked on the back of the bike are slapping hard against your back. I don’t hate many things but i certainly HATE Topes. They make for a very annoying difficult ride.
In Ciudad Victoria, Orlando had recommended we stay at a camp ground with waterfalls in a town called Tamasopo. We finally reached it and our next mission was to ask where we could find the waterfalls. It turned it that we had a few places to choose from. We weren’t exactly sure which was best or exactly where it was located but when we stopped at one of them, we immediately decided to stay there. It was incredibly gorgeous and we pretty much had the place to ourselves. There were bathrooms, showers, a restaurant, a lounging area, thick cushy grass to set our tent on, and most importantly at the moment, there was a stunning waterfall surrounding us. Being there felt like bliss and for under $10 per night we decided to stay more than a few days. I loved how simple it was. Heck, I didn’t even care when I found out at night time that the grass beneath our tent was infested with the largest cockroaches I had ever seen (mind you, I insisted that Rocky was careful when entering and exiting the tent because I am super scared and grossed out by them). It didn’t have the nicest of bathrooms, showers or restaurant but that’s what I kind of loved most about it. It wasn’t ruined by greed or tourism. It was simply perfect and definitely a place I would love to visit again.
After three or four nights of relaxing, drinking beers and swimming we decided it was time to move on. We packed up our bags, left our paradise and headed towards the city of Querétaro, located in the Mexican State of Querétaro.
Paula’s illness on our first night in Mexico resulted in a trip to the local hospital the next day.
Paula received a needle in the butt cheek, an IV, and a good part of the day resting in the good care of Orlando’s mother, Romy
Orlando (centre), his father (left) and his uncle (right)
Orlando and his family organized a Friday night BBQ party in Orlando’s garage with his friends and coworkers. In attempt to fit in, I attempted to grow the Chia-Pet peach fuzz seen on my upper lip.
Orlando’s father, Rigo and mother, Romy
Orlando & his beautiful family, in Ciudad Victoria, Mexico
We camped just next to these cascades, one of many located in the region of Tamasopo. We bathed in the water in the morning and afternoon, and enjoyed several days of relaxation.
Paula in Tamasopo, waiting for everyone to notice her.
|01-27-2013, 01:32 PM||#126|
Joined: Nov 2008
November 4 - November 11, 2011
We were back on the road and on our way though the state of San Luis Potosi. The weather was what I would consider perfect and the scenery was beautiful. We stopped for breakfast at the side of the road where a small food cart run by a woman and her daughter was parked. They were nice to talk to but the food was mediocre and if we had ordered meat, we would most likely have become ill from it. We then rode through the state capital, also named San Luis Potosi. It was a cute city but it was a bit too busy, and it didn't help that the roads were narrow and difficult to ride because they were made of cobblestone. We tried to find a place to park but weren't able, so we decided not to stop and instead we just rode through.
We rode into the state of Querétaro and continued riding until we reached the capitals city, named Santiago de Querétaro. I had contacted a guy on couchsurfing.org and we were welcomed to go stay with him and his family. We arrived at his home shortly after dark and I loved the introduction. Alex sat at the dining room table as his mother finished applying home made paint to his face, making him look like a skeleton. Alex was about to participate in a flash mob taking place in the city's center, in celebration of Dia De La Muerte. Meaning, Day Of The Dead, Dia De La Muerte is a holiday celebrated throughout Mexico, dedicated to friends and family members who have passed. The holiday is celebrated by building beautiful private altars honouring the deceased. Graves are visited and gifts are left, such as sugar skulls, marigolds, and the favourite foods, beverages and possessions of the departed. People gather at cemeteries as if it were a family park and they eat, drink and pray, some even spend the night. In most regions of Mexico, November 1st is to honour children and infants, whereas deceased adults are honoured on November 2nd.
We quickly freshened up and joined Alex, his mom, Bachiz, and his dad, Luiz, to the city center. Querétaro is simply beautiful, it is possibly my favourite large city and that says a lot considering I'm not a fan of cities. The city center was surrounded by beautiful colonial buildings with romantic balconies above patio cafes and outdoor restaurants. It was a Friday night and the city center was filled with people roaming around. There were groups of people performing, some were selling or buying things, some where singing or playing instruments and some were even peacefully protesting. We tried some delicious, twisted, sugar and cinnamon donut like treats called Churros and a bread covered in caramel, called Roles. The ambiance and energy of this city was awesome.
The Next day, Alex took us on a tour. While walking through the city, I decided I needed a haircut and walked in to a local salon. My hair was getting damaged from whipping in the wind, wearing my helmet and not using conditioner. I wish I had known how to say in Spanish, 'please trim it straight across' because my hand gestures were instead interpreted as 'chop it up in random chunks using texturing shears'. I wasn't upset though, it just felt good to get it cut.
We continued our walk and visited the ridiculously enormous statue of Benito Juarez, a former Republican president who resisted the French occupation of Mexico and overthrew the Second Mexican Empire. We walked through a museum that taught us of Maximilian, a former Emperor who was barely recognized by other countries, we visited the hill where he was executed and the small chapel built in his honour several years after his death. We then visited the aqueducts, the most prominent feature of the city. It consists of seventy five arches, each twenty meters wide, 1,280 meters long and an average height of twenty three meters and was built to bring water to the residents of Querétaro from the city La Cañada.
It had been a really nice and eventful day spent with Alex, but it wasn't over yet. We went back to his house to meet up with the family and freshen up. We were introduced to Betty, Alex's sister, and we were invited to her fiance's house for a BBQ. It was mid afternoon, the sun was warm, everyone was kind and the food smelled and tasted delicious. Suddenly, Rocky got up to excused himself and disappeared for a while. I found him laying in the shade moments later, it turns out that he wasn't feeling well and he had been puking. We had eaten some precut prickly pears when we were at the market earlier that day, I'm guessing that it may have been the culprit. Luckily, Bachiz was a nurse and practiced with natural medicine. Once we got back to the house she mixed a few ingredients she had bottled asked Rocky to take drops of it under his tongue. I'm not sure what the recipe was, but Rocky felt better a few hours later.
We woke up early the following morning and Rocky and I rode to Guanajuato city in the state of Guanajuato. It is a very cool looking city where many of the city’s streets and alleys run partially or fully underground through tunnels to follow the extreme irregularity of the terrain. The city is filled with mostly colonial era buildings, restaurants, bars, cafes with terraces and small plazas. We walked around for a while, stopped for lunch in one of the markets, watched a bike race through the city and even went to church (not really, we just peeked inside for a picture).
Getting out of Guanajuato took a few attempts. The roads are like a maze, making it very easy to get lost. I think it's funny that they have signs posted “Sal si puedes” which means 'Exit if you can'. Once we finally made it out, it took a couple of hours before we reached a city named San Miguel Allende. It was very pretty but difficult to ride on the cobblestone roads, especially when they became extremely steep. San Miguel Allende is known for its Baroque/Neoclassical colonial structures and has attracted many artists from around the world. It is now populated by many foreigners. We were only able to ride through the city because it was starting to get late but I was exhausted anyway and ready to go back to Alex's.
The following morning, we were invited to eat a delicious breakfast prepared by Bachiz. She made chilaquiles! It is quartered tortillas fried with onions, garlic and salsa, topped with cheese, sour cream and served with a side of refried beans. It was truly delicious. After we ate, we packed up our things and said our goodbyes. Bachiz even prepared us a goodie bag filled with snacks for our travels in case we got hungry. It was a great experience to stay with this kind family in the lovely city of Querétaro.
Back on the road, we went on our way to Mexico City. It only took a few hours to get there but driving through the thick of the city seemed to take forever. Mexico City was extremely congested. I don't think it would've mattered how bright the sun was shining because the smog was thick enough to hide it. As we rode through the city searching for a WiFi connection, we stopped at four different McDonald's before finding one with Internet that worked. OK, it barely worked, but what else is new. After many attempts, I was finally able to respond to a couple I had contacted on couchsurfing.org and I wrote to tell them we would be arriving shortly. Unfortunately, that turned out to be a lie. When we got to the bike we noticed that the front tire was completely flat.
It would soon get dark and we had no choice but to take out the tools and figure out how to fix the problem. It was the first time that we had to do an emergency repair to the bike and I felt a bit anxious. It obviously took a moment to fix but I was surprised by how quickly Rocky was able to take care of it. Before long, we were on the bike and on our way to meet Damian and Lilian. It was just past 10 pm when we reached their home and we weren't even sure it was their home. They lived on the hillside and there was a maze of small roads with houses numbered randomly. After final figuring it out, I felt bad about how late we had arrived but I was very happy to be there. Lilian and Damian are a beautiful, young couple that live with their adorable Doberman Pincer, their two cats and a tiny little kitten. Since it was almost 11pm when we arrived, we were given a quick tour of their gorgeous home and then went to bed.
Have you ever woken up in a strangers home? Cuddling their pet, and feeling like you're cheating on your cat. No? Well it's kinda weird. Especially when the home owners aren't even there. Damian and Lilian had to go to work in the morning and they let us sleep in. Since Rocky and I have been on this trip there have been a few times that strangers had left us alone in their homes. It is the kindest compliment to be treated with such trust. I felt as if I woke up in an art studio, their house was extraordinary and i couldn't help but look around. Damian is an artist and his work was presented throughout the entire house. From the renovations to the oil paintings to the sculptures and the metal work, I was in love with the creativity that surrounded me.
Rocky and I spent some of the day removing the front wheel off the bike. The tire was still slowly leaking so we decided to replace it instead of patching it because it was time for a new one anyway. The following day we took a taxi through the city to stop at a ktm dealership. All the taxis seemed to be old Volkswagen Beatles. Since it was a two door vehicle, the front seat was removed for easier access into the back seat and* there was a lever like the kind used on school buses for the driver to conveniently open and close the passenger side door. It was an interesting cab experience but because Mexico City is very busy, it took much longer to travel through by car because it can't lane split.
The following day was spent replacing the tire and when Damian and Lilian returned we went downtown and enjoyed tacos at a great little restaurant. I even discovered a new favourite drink named Horchata, made from rice, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla, it is delicious. After walking around the city and picking up some Churros for dessert we dropped Lilian off at the bus station. She worked restoring art and had to go away for a few days.
With the bike ready to ride, we decided to spend the next day exploring while Damian was at work. We rode out to the town of Tepozteco, a popular tourist destination near Mexico City. Famous for the remains of a temple built on top of the nearby Tepozteco mountain but also for the exotic ice cream flavours prepared by the townspeople. As soon as we got there we stopped at a small shop for coffee and ice cream, of course.
I was really excited to see the pyramid of Tepozteco, I had never seen one before. It was located at the top of a cliff and we were about to burn all the calories we had just eaten. After climbing up steep trails and some stairs for about an hour, we were greeted by somebody collecting an entrance fee. I found it humorous because I doubted it mattered what the cost was after the hike to get there. I wonder if anyone has ever reached the top and said 'I have to pay to see this? Screw that idea, I'm turning around.'
We paid 37 pesos (approx. $3) each and we were granted access to the top of the pyramid. It was all well worth it. The view of the Earth, from that height, was truly sacred. I sat on a ledge starring out into the horizon and I imagined the history of at least 5 centuries worth of humans to have possibly sat exactly where I was seated, admiring the beauty of nature. I also wondered if anyone had ever been sacrificed on the highest ledge of the pyramid but my thoughts got interrupted by by a cute raccoon looking creature (Coati) standing a couple of feet away begging for food.
Tired, from the days adventures, we headed back to Mexico City. The ride seemed to take much longer than earlier and it didn't help that it started pouring rain. We were drenched and unprepared for the downpour. Traffic was horrible and the rain hit so hard that my thighs felt like they were being stabbed by hundreds of knives. Rocky was lane splitting through most of the traffic but there were many times that he wasn't able. I felt that it wasn't safe to be on the road but the rain wasn't about to stop any time soon and we weren't that far from reaching Damians, house. At one point, Rocky thought that he should pass on the right side of the vehicles along the shoulder but that was a bad idea. I noticed a meter long rectangular sewer hole was missing one third of its grates just as Rocky rode around it. I told him that I was glad that he also noticed the hole and he responded by saying he didn't, he was just avoiding the bumpy edge. We made it back to Damian's house alive and all I could think of was a hot shower, comfy dry clothes, deli sandwiches and a couple of beers would be a perfect way to end the night.
The next morning, we went to visit more pyramids. Teotihuacan is an enormous archaeological site containing some of the largest pyramidal structures built in the pre-Columbian Americas. It was the sixth largest city in the world during its period of greatest prosperity, according to an estimated population of 125,000. The city seems to have functioned for centuries as a well-developed urban center until its rather sudden collapse, possibly in the seventh century. We walked approximately two kilometers down 'The Avenue of the Dead', the main street of Teotihuacan. We climbed the steep steps to the top of 'The Pyramid of the Sun', were we had a great view of 'The Pyramid of the Moon'. And with a birds eye view, it was still difficult to absorb the enormity of the city.
After a lot of sight seeing, we rode back into Mexico City to meet up with Damian. Since it would be our last night in Mexico City, Rocky, Damian and I took a city bus downtown to enjoy a nice dinner. We walked through the city before arriving at a really nice restaurant that featured live music and mainly served Italian food, it was a nice a change. After dinner, we had a fun late night roaming around. Mexico has a lot of entertainment on its streets, whether people are singing, playing instruments, performing in a fire show, cooking, crafting or juggling, something always seems to be going on.
Once again it was time to pack and say our good byes. Damian and Lilian* were such kind hosts and our experience in Mexico City was awesome. I won't miss the traffic but I will miss everything else.
Paula & Alex in Querétaro’s city center
Paula in Querétaro
Inside the Basílica Colegiata de Nuestra Señora de Guanajuato
There happened to be a bicycle race on the streets of Guanajuato on the day we visited the city.
Two Mexicans on the streets of Guanajuato
Inside Damien’s Home
Damian & Lillian
Climbing The Pyramid of The Sun
Atop The Pyramid of The Sun
Resting Atop The Pyramid of The Sun
Paula on The Pyramid of The Sun
Riding the bus in Mexico City
Walking the streets of Mexico City
|01-27-2013, 09:17 PM||#128|
Joined: Nov 2008
|02-10-2013, 10:08 PM||#129|
Joined: Nov 2008
November 12 – November 22, 2011
It was difficult leaving Mexico City because the traffic was terrible, I doubt it is possible for anyone to ever get a speeding ticket there. We decided to grab a bite to eat as we drove through, and of all places to stop, Rocky chose Subway. I'm not sure how he isn't sick of eating there.
We were on our way to Valle De Bravo, still in the State of Mexico. It should have taken us two hours to get there but we've come to realize that riding through Mexico takes twice as long as riding through Canada or the USA. After finally escaping the city traffic, we had to deal with the country roads where there was one topes (speed bump) after another. Anticipating when we'd ride over the next one was exhausting. When the topes seemed to finally end we began riding through rolling hills that finally led us to Valle de Bravo. It was a really nice town and seemed like the perfect vacation destination for any nearby cities.
We went on a mission asking people if there were any campgrounds but we weren't having any luck. We kept being given directions that didn't make sense or we were directed to an RV park that didn't rent space for tents. They weren't even busy, I couldn't understand why they'd turn us away. We finally took a wrong turn in the right direction because we ended up at the lakes edge where the police kept their boat docked. I asked the officers if they minded us camping there and their response confused me. They looked at me funny and said in Spanish, 'of course you can, but I don't know why you'd chose to. There are so many better places to sleep'. Silly cops hadn't a clue. We set up our tent on flat land of soft grass just far enough from the waters edge giving us an incredible view. It is probably safe to say that it was the most perfect spot to sleep in this town.
We packed up the next morning but we weren't ready to leave. We stopped at a KTM dealership, enjoyed some coffee next door and then went out riding around the town. It was too bad that we had all of our gear loaded on the bike because we had found a perfect spot for off-roading. Hungry, we stopped and ate delicious pizza that really hit the spot and then went back to camp at the same place as the night before to watch the sunset and spend the night.
We organized our things the following morning and rode along the coast. That ride turned out to be the toughest most annoying ride we had been on yet. The terrain was mountainous taking us into high altitudes through some clouds. The weather kept changing from warm, to fresh, to humid, to chilly, and I began feeling a bit nauseous. I think that the altitude may have affected me because I felt weird. I resorted to humming for the rest of the ride, I'm not sure why but it seemed to help distract me from what I was feeling.
The roads were winding and Rocky had to be very careful to avoid hitting fallen rocks, roosters or donkeys. We actually found a donkey limping up the mountain and stopped to offer it some attention and Gatorade (we didn't have water). There are two things I can think of that really bother me about Mexico. Malnourished, limping, flea infested, skin diseased animals. I wish I knew how to help hurt animals because it is a serious problem in Mexico. The other thing that broke my heart was the litter. Plastic wrappers, bottles and cans are littered in a man made river of trash on the side of the roads. You can be looking at the most beautiful display of nature at its finest, while standing on a mountain of rubbish. It's sad.
The elevation finally dropped and we soon reached a city called Ixtapa. It was very modern and it looked like a foreigners typical vacation spot. Hungry, Rocky stopped for more... Subway, of course. Uhggg!!! How can he do it? I can no longer stomach a bite or stand the smell. It will be a very long time before I am able to go to Subway again. After eating, we stopped at a cafe and enjoyed the first good cup of coffee I had in Mexico. It was nice to relax on the patio as the sun was setting.
One of the locals there recommended a campsite we could stay at, close to the beach. He told us that he goes there all the time and it only costs 50 pesos ($4). So I checked online and found the website to confirm. I was excited, the place sounded great! We rode past a bunch of resorts down a dark road until we finally reached the campsite. I walked up to the fence and asked the guy working there how much it would cost us to camp and he said 90 pesos ($7.50). He opened the gate for Rocky to ride through and then asked me for 180 pesos ($15). I asked why the website advertised a different price and he explained that the cost went up without the website being updated.
Frustrated, we refused to stay. It's hard to justify spending $15 to sleep in our own tent,* just to be able to take a shower and flush after we pee. We got on the road and headed back in the direction from which we came. I was worried because it was already night time and we weren't sure where we would be spending the night. We then turned on what seemed to be a dead end street that surprisingly led us directly to a huge secluded beach. It was our own private area and we were eager to pitch the tent and jump in the water before bed. Morning came and it was awesome to step out of the tent and see the scenery under the warm bright sunshine. It was simply beautiful. We spent all morning and most of the afternoon laying on the sand and swimming in the ocean.
We eventually got hungry and decided to go back to the same cafe as the night before, having WIFI there was a definite bonus. I had received an email from Nancy, we had met her through www.couchsurfing.org at the beginning of our trip and stayed with her in Grand Forks BC in Canada. Nancy has a sister named Carol who lives with John in Zihuatanejo, Mexico. Since we were a short distance away, Nancy recommended we stay with Carol. Throughout the day, I tried calling Carol but the payphone kept eating my money, so Nancy recommended we show up because we were expected. The only problem was that the directions we were given, were in typical Mexican style, "look for the wooden house on the beach."
The sun was about to set and we decided to try and find the wooden house on the beach. We rode around, up and down different streets until we finally reached a house with a wooden fence. I didn't see the beach nor did I see a wooden house but I was getting desperate at that point and just wanted to ask somebody. A lady was standing nearby and she handed me a tiny little black kitten. I thought it was random but I took the kitten because I couldn't refuse the furry little creature. She pointed behind me and asked if we were looking for the English people, to my surprise it was a house made of wood behind me. She told me that I must deliver the kitten to Carol, she would know what to do.
This was awkward. With a kitten in my hand, I knocked on the gate and greeted the stranger I was hoping was Carol. I introduced myself, Rocky, along with the kitten. We were immediately welcomed,* and I was relieved. It turns out that the kitten had been found in the dumpster and Carol's neighbor had hoped that Carol would accept the furry creature or find it a new home. Carol and John, being the sweet people they are, couldn't reject and immediately adopted the kitten.
After drinking some wine and sharing some stories Carol suggested that John show us our room. He told us we had to drive to it and that confused us a little but we followed. Just down the road we pulled up to a house with a large Tamarind tree out front. When walked through the gate my jaw just dropped. Carol and John owned a gorgeous bed and breakfast. It is stunning. We had a beautiful room with a king size bed and a private bathroom. There was a common area with hammocks and a hot tub. This place was a wonderful surprise and treat.
After a great night sleep, John came to pick us up to go surfing. I had never surfed before and I believe it was Rocky's first time as well. We picked up John's friend and the four of us headed to the beach. Surfing was fun but also very exhausting, I probably would've been much better at it had I ridden the waves and not ridden against them. After a few hours, bruises and mouthfuls of salt, everyone was out of the water and John said he got stung by a Stingray on the bottom of his foot.* Stingrays have one or more barbed stings on their tail, and its underside has two grooves with venom glands. I'm not sure what it's supposed to feel like to be stung but he handled it very well. Not only did he drive, but he even made a stop on our way back to the house. There is an herb used for the sting and it is called Riñonina in Spanish. Riñon means kidney and the herb is known to be excellent for kidney ailments, but along other things it is also used to ease the pain and inflammation from the sting of a Stingray. When we got back to the bed and breakfast, Carol boiled some water, added the Riñonina and John soaked his foot.
Later that night, Rocky and I walked to the town center to wander around and grab a bite to eat. I think it's hilarious that we can walk down the street drinking a 40 of beer, super classy. We were catching a good buzz when we met one of the store owners, it turned out that he too had caught a buzz but pee'd his pants because of it. He was a nice guy though, we talked for a while about life and politics. We all spoke the same language of drunk and somehow understood each other.
We were supposed to go surfing again the next morning, Rocky went, but I couldn't function, I was hungover. Later that day, we met Carol, John, and some of their friends by the beach for a bite to eat, and again, some drinks of course. Rocky and I, then joined John on a bar hopping tour of the town,* it was fun. The following day, John invited us to eat a traditional Thursday soup called Pozole, made of hominy (white corn soaked in lime (as in the mineral, not the fruit) and cooked with pork and chicken broth, and served with accompaniments of avocado, crisp pork rinds, radishes, oregano, chile, lime, chopped onion, and sometimes taquitos and pieces fresh Mexican cheese. It is often served with Mezcal,* a distilled alcoholic beverage made from the Maguey plant. So, even though it was only noon, we had to try a shot of it. It's tradition!
I had a serious good time meeting Carol and John. They spoiled us with kindness and treated us like true friends. Staying in La Tamarind was beyond perfect. I hope to visit again sometime and even rent the same room. If you are interested in visiting Zihuatanejo to rent or purchase property, check out John's real estate website at www.mbprealestate.com* (Mexico Beach Property).* And, if you're interested in a healthy lifestyle and delicious recipes, you can find Carol at www.zihrena.net* (Zihrena's Mexican Garden).
Feeling fantastic, rested and refreshed, we had to get back on the road and deal with more topes. Topes should be illegal, I hate them. We weren't really sure where we were headed but we were going to ride through Acapulco. I wasn't to excited about it because, as it's a large city and I heard it was very dangerous. I really didn't like it once we got there because it was dirty, busy and sketchy. I may have liked it more had we ridden by the coast but we didn't bother. We kept going until we were back on the highway and slightly passed the city. It was getting dark and with no idea of where we were staying we decided to camp on a grassy area on the side of the highway.
We woke up the next morning and still weren't sure where we were going. We continued riding the coast and knew we'd eventually find a great place to stop. Mazunte was definitely more than great. It was a backpackers haven, a perfect place for us to venture. We rode down the main strip and stopped to ask a lady at a shop if she knew of a place to camp. She said yes and asked us to follow her up the road. I thought it was nice that she would show us the way, but I didn't realize, at the time, that she wasn't taking us to a campground.
We arrived at a small two-story building that had the name Arrecife written across the top. The woman asked me to follow her inside and led me up a set of stairs into a large open area with a roof top, table with chairs and a couple of hammocks. She told me that we could either rent one of the three rooms down the hall or we could pay 80 pesos ($7) to set up our tent in the large room. We were happy to rent out the large balcony, we even had a bathroom with a shower. And, since nobody else was renting a room, the entire area and bathroom were private.
Mazunte is a small village wedged between a wide, one km long beach. It is, known for many of the eco-friendly cabins and other buildings which consists mostly of palm fronds, adobe, bamboo, shells stones coconut shells and wood, designed to blend in with the landscape, and it is famous for sea turtles, due to the many turtles that go there to lay eggs.
We decided to explore more in the morning because we were tired but we probably should have gone out because we didn't get much sleep anyway. It was a weekend and a beach party thumped the speakers until 4 am playing old school rap and reggae. I didn't mind it so much because it was music I haven't heard in half my life but shortly after it stopped, our morning was filled with the sound of roosters crowing and dogs barking. It wasn't the best night of sleep that we've had, …but the next day was spent laying in a hammock, watching T.V and shows on the laptop.
We went for a walk on the beach in the early evening, and picked up some Coronas and limes on the way home. That night, we drank beer, ate snacks, and watched a documentary. The woman whom we were renting the space from, came to visit us that*night. I thought it was a sweet surprise. Her and her daughter told us of things to do and see in the area and we showed them pictures of our travels.
Being a Sunday, we slept much better that night. I woke up to the sun and the birds singing and we headed over to a beach-side restaurant for some breakfast and to use the internet. Later that afternoon, we went to beach and laid under the sun. I went in the ocean a few times but the undertow was really strong and I kept seeing large shadows in the water. To be honest,* I think I was paranoid of being stung by a Stingray. I don't want to encourage living in fear but it was a good thing at that moment because I noticed a bunch of jelly fish washed up on the shore. Moments later, I saw that a few people had been stung. As much as I love the ocean,* it really creeps me out.
We woke up the next morning to another sunny day. We went for brunch and had another lazy day lounging at the beach. I could get used to this kind of lifestyle. That evening, we went for a delicious fish dinner, had a few beers and watched a movie before bed. We were planning on leaving in the morning to head towards San Cristóbal de las Casas. Life was hard.
After arriving in Valle de Bravo, we found a spot down by the lake to set up our tent. Paula and I watched the sunset and spent the night in this beautiful location.
The sun setting on Lake Avándaro, in Valle de Bravo, Mexico
After searching for a place to camp in the dark the night before, we stumbled across this spot next to the ocean. We had the entire beach ourselves that night.
Paula and I spent a good part of that day cooling off in the ocean.
Ruv, true ruv, will forrow you, forever...
Laying on the sand, a wave came in and took Paula by surprise.
Quite a distance away from the tourist area, we had most of the beach to ourselves (uncensored photos on our pay site HERE).
As we searched for Carol's house, we met her neighbour who handed us this day-old kitten to give to Carol. It was found in a garbage bin, and her neighbour knew that Carol would take it in and care for it.
We headed down to the beach to meet John, Carol and a few of their friends for some drinks.
Playa La Ropa
Paula, John and I continued the night as we bar-hopped around the town of Zihuatanejo.
Mazunte, Mexico - We stumbled upon this little paradise along the southern coast of Mexico.
|02-11-2013, 07:04 AM||#131|
Joined: Nov 2008
I use the Canon 5D Mark II (I want the Mark III, but I'd prefer to save more money fro the trip). The lens I use the most is the Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM, then the Canon EF 14mm f/2.8L II USM and I seldom use my cheap-o Canon EF 50mm f/1.8.
The only problem with this type of camera setup is that it's much easier to get out a point-and-shoot camera. I am going to have to work on this on the next part of the trip.
|03-01-2013, 12:42 PM||#132|
Joined: Nov 2008
San Cristóbal de las Casas (November 23 – December 10, 2011)
We left Mazunte and planned on riding in the direction of San Cristobal de las casas, located in the state of Chiapas. After an hour and half of slow, windy roads divided by small towns and villages, the roads finally straightened out and we thought that we were going to be able to make good time. Its not often you can ‘make good time’ on the roads of mexico, and this day turned out to be no exception. It wasn’t long before traffic came to a complete stop and we found ourselves getting deeper into the thick of it. We pulled off to the the side of the road and sat at a table under the shade of a plastic hut above us. The entire area was lined with tables, overhangs, cauldrons and BBQ grills. We ordered some food and asked the lady what the traffic was about. We found out there was a protest but I had a difficult time understanding the dialect and couldn’t seem to figure out what it was about. Regardless, it was nice to see such a huge gathering standing up for what ever they believed in. Even though it took us a lot of effort to get away from the crowed road, we were eventually able to pick up some speed.
It had been a long day and we still weren’t sure where we’d camp for the night. We considered a field, across from a store we had stopped at, but it turned out to be a military base and we weren’t allowed. We continued driving on the highway until we reached a toll booth. Exhausted, we decided to camp behind a small building, by the toll booths, on the side of the highway. Early the next morning, Rocky woke up and left the tent. While I was in there alone, I heard a bunch of women talking and laughing hysterically. What I heard them say was something along these lines (in Spanish), “Where are you going white boy? I was just about to drop my pants. Jajaja!” “Don’t be scared, we are just a group of ladies! Jajaja” “Can you pass us some toilet paper, we all need it to wipe our ass? Jajajajaja.” Shortly after, Rocky came back to the tent and I heard the women giggling. It turns out that they really needed to pee but the building was closed and they had to go behind it. They were surprised to see Rocky there but with good humor, they joked amongst themselves. when I walked out of the tent, their giggle turned into full laughter cause they weren’t expecting to see a women after all the naughty jokes they had made. But the best part, was when I greeted them in Spanish and they realized that I understood everything that they had said.
We continued on the road and stopped in a town named Tuxtla Gutiérrez, for some breakfast, at a corner side patio. Women walked the street balancing large baskets on their head. Some were filled with breads, pastries or flowers. We then continued riding through the beautiful State of Chiapas, making a few stops along the way, until we finally reached San Cristobal De Las Casas. I had contacted a man named José Luis on couchsurfing.org, and after stopping for some tacos we arrived at his house. Most Mexican houses have a tall gate surrounding the perimeter, at the doors of this gate was a large sign reading La Clave de Sol*. Jose Luis came out to greet us with a firm hug and said “Follow me this way my friends!”. We followed him around to the side of the house where he opened a different gate leading us to the backyard. We parked the bike on the lawn and followed him into the house.
*La Clave- A Clef is a musical symbol used to indicate the pitch of written notes. De Sol- of the Sun*
What happened next was extraordinary. We walked into a large kitchen/dining/living room and we were introduced to many friendly faces. It was Jaana’s birthday and everyone was celebrating. Drinks were poured, dinner was made and about to be served and everyone was doing something towards contributing to the festivities. The energy was high and we were overwhelmed with all the beautiful chaos that surrounded us. Jaana, with her sweet accent and gorgeous long blond dreads was traveling from Finland and is married to Pablo, the creative jewelry maker and empanada king from Argentina. *Empanada is a popular Argentinian meal* There was a French couple visiting from France, named Aurore and Julien. The stylish couple, Miss Charleigh from Scotland and the incredible chef Jimmy, from England. Robin was visiting from BC Canada. The hilarious Chiky from the Canary Islands, her friends, América from Madrid, Mar from Spain, and a girl whose name I have forgotten. Jose Luis then introduced us to the calm, cool and collected artist Jonathan, from New Orleans. Jonathan was renting an apartment on the property but was leaving to visit the beach for the week. We were surprised and very grateful when he invited us to stay in his apartment.
The party continued until late that night, Rocky wasn’t feeling well so he retreated to our apartment. I stayed up drinking cheap liquor called Tiburon, it cost me an entire dollar for the bottle. Charleigh was my new drinking buddy and we stepped out on the porch to join others for a cigarette. I was already catching a buzz and not expecting what came next. As I starred out into the darkness, I felt like my eyes were playing tricks on me. I was trying to focus on the faint outline of a figure when I suddenly recognized what was starring back at me. It was a horse! My goodness, there were more than one. I was shocked and elated, I had no idea this place could have gotten any better. Not only did Jose Luis bring together a great crowd to create the kind of atmosphere that all human beings should be exposed to, but he also chose the perfect location to share with strangers from all around the world. Jose says he was once a politician, but I adored his hippy side. Thinking of him will always remind me to smile. His laugh, his heart, his kind eyes and the way he always said in a high pitched voice, “whoowhaaaat”. I loved his crazy stories, even the one about Lake Atitlan, a few friends, a few ladies and something about avocados.
What an incredible place! It was already dark out when we had arrived and it was difficult to register exactly what the area was like. But, from what I could gather, there was the smaller house that Jose Luis lived in, where the party was taking place, it was called “Two Moons”. To the side of it, was a huge three story house that was actually separated into thirds, creating three different apartments named, Solstice, Eclipse and Equinox . There was a large backyard with a vegetable garden on the side of the large apartment complex, and stables in the back, for the horses. As the night continued, I found myself in a conversation with Oliverio. He was the one who owned the land and built this magical place. Oliverio was the manliest man I had ever met, or as Rocky calls him, the “French-Mexican Marlboro Man”. He was a jack of all trades, tall, dark and handsome. In the morning, I would meet his lovely girlfriend Catherine, an artist from southern France.
I woke up the next day slightly dehydrated, most likely alcohol related. Rocky was already awake and I found him outside in the backyard doing yoga with Jonathan and some others. I laid in the hammock on the balcony under the warm sun until Rocky was done. We took a ride out though the City for a bite to eat and a little site seeing. San Cristobal is located in the Central Highlands region of Chiapas and sits in a small valley surrounded by hills. Its Spanish colonial layout, with narrow cobblestone streets, roofs covered in red clay tile, the facades of the buildings painted in various colors and wrought iron balconies with hanging flowers, is simply beautiful. Much of San Cristobal culture is associated with the city’s large indigenous population, which is mostly made up of Tzotzils and Tzeltals. The traditional culture associated with these indigenous groups is the making of textiles. Gorgeous fabrics are sold and worn by them. Amber is also very popular along with ceramics, wrought iron and filigree jewelry. We returned to La Clave De Sol and relaxed until dinner was made. Jimmy prepared an incredible Indian inspired meal for everyone and we all sat by the fire place for more drinks that night.
A large greasy breakfast was great for my morning hangover. We found a restaurant down the road that served eggs, bacon, pancakes, fruit, coffee, juice, etc. I couldn’t remember the last time I had eaten what I consider a traditional breakfast. The only thing missing was Canadian maple syrup. After breakfast, we stopped to pick up some groceries because I planned on making some Coke Chicken for dinner. Coke chicken is chicken cooked in Coca Cola. When heated, the Coke caramelizes and coats the chicken with a sticky delicious glaze. Unfortunately, I figured out later that night after cooking the chicken for 4 hours, that it would not caramelize because the Coke in mexico was made with real sugar cane, unlike the Canadian/American Coke that is made with cheap substitutes. At least the chicken turned out really tender.
We woke up early the following morning despite going to bed late. I made a large pot of soup for everyone and relaxed most of the day. While Rocky napped, I hung out on the back porch with Charleigh and Jimmy and we drank Tequila out of the bottle. It makes me laugh to think back on that, I really enjoyed their company because I’m not much of a drinker, especially hard liquor out of the bottle, at noon time. Jaana and Pablo planned on making pizzas for dinner that night. Most of us joined at Jose Luis’s house and just as dinner was being prepared, the electricity went out. Luckily there was a fire burning in the fire place and we all grabbed whatever flashlights we had. It turned out to be such a fun time that as soon as the lights came back on, we turned them off and continued to use the flashlights. The pizzas were yummy and of course, we drank more liquor and even smoked a few joints.
It was cold and cloudy the following morning. Being located in the mountains, San Cristobal was always chilly, but with the sun hiding behind clouds made it much cooler. Rocky and I went for tacos in the morning and found a great bakery that served good coffee and pastries. Before retuning to La Clave de Sol, we picked up some firewood to heat up the apartment. Regardless of the whether, it was a dark depressing day, I would be saying good bye to my drinking buddies and sidekicks Charleigh and Jimmy. As they cabbed it to the bus station, we followed them on the motorcycle to say our last goodbyes. The next few days weren’t the same but at least the sun was out.
We had been waiting for some motorcycle parts to be delivered in the mail and they had finally arrived. Although we kept the chain on the motorcycle spotless, it was due to be replaced. Being a motorcycle owner as well, Oliverio spent some time with Rocky, looking over the bike. Oliverio asked to test out her power and Rocky allowed him of course. The gate was opened, they exchanged bikes and both rode up and down the street a few times. It was obvious that Oliverio enjoyed the KTM because I tried taking pictures but wasn’t able because he was riding too damn fast. He even rode past one time with both hands in the air! Oliverio invited us to join him and Catherine out that night. Catherine and I went shopping during the day and met up with the guys after the sun went down. We walked through the city center, tasting cheese samples and stopped to buy some coffee beans at a local coffee shop. After bar hopping and doing a few shots of Mezcal, a Mexican alcoholic treat, Rocky realized he had lost his helmet. Luckily we found it at the coffee shop. We had such a fun time hanging out together that Oliverio suggested we go out to a place he knew we would enjoy the following day.
We woke up the next morning and rode the motorcycles to go see a waterfall. After at least an hour and a half on the road, we reached Cascada El Chiflón. We hiked up stream for a long time, admiring the teal colored river. Our visibility was limited to what was directly in front of us and it wasn’t until we were a short distance away that we had seen the falls. It truly blew my mind. It all began with a light mist as we climbed higher up the path. Suddenly we reached an area where we were given view of the largest most powerful falls in Mexico. I was not expecting this at all. I can only describe this moment as the most magical one I have ever shared with nature. I climbed a bit higher and walked onto a platform that extended out in front of the falls. I stood with my arms in the air as the mist soaked me completely and the sun kissed my face, embracing me with a rainbow.
After an awesome day and a delicious bite to eat, we dried up as much as possible and headed back home. The ride back seemed to have taken much longer. The sun went down and it got cold very quick. Being a bit damp still from swimming earlier was not helping at all. I was so cold that I spent the entire ride fantasizing about sitting in front of the fireplace. The moment we returned, we immediately started a fire. Since staying in San Cristobal, Rocky became quite the fire maker. Nothing beats a wood burning fireplace.
To our surprise, Jonathan had finally returned and we were excited to get to know this kind stranger a bit better. We woke up early the next morning and it was great to join him outside for his yoga lesson and then a nice cup of java. Jonathan is a coffee snob as he would call himself and staying with him taught me to appreciate a strong cup of coffee. After a relaxing day, Rocky prepared a huge pasta dinner and invited everyone to join us. Most of the same friendly faces showed up but also new ones like Alex and Mia traveling from Quebec, Canada. Once again, we ate, drank, smoked and laughed lots.
The following day was reserved for fixing the bike. We accomplished most of it until the chain tool broke, repairs had to be put to a stop until the following day. With no other responsibilities, we decided to get stoned and meet the newcomers, Kate from New Zealand and Floris from Belgium. Oliverio took Rocky to a tool maker the next morning and got the chain tool fixed, after we finished working on the chain Oliverio and Catherine invited us to have dinner at their apartment. Oliverio told us how he was from France and his father was a famous Mexican actor. He showed us old pictures and shared many stories of how his father began his artistic career in 1938 until 1947 in Mexico before being contracted as a singer and musician in Libya, Egypt, France and many other European countries until 1978 when he returned to Mexico and worked in Televisa (television) programs until he passed away in 2003 at 80 years of age. It was fascinating to look at all the great, old pictures Oliverio had saved, Rocky even scanned a few pictures for keepsake.
The next two days were spent relaxing, smoking weed, drinking coffee and preparing for Oliverio’s birthday. Rocky planned on digitally restoring the picture of Oliverio’s dad and spent a several hours doing so. On the day of his birthday, we stopped at the grocery store to pick up some cake and conveniently found one that was made with tequila. That night, everyone gathered together at Oliverio house for the festivities. What a great party! There was never a dull moment at La Clave De Sol.
We slept in the next morning, I thought everyone would have until I caught Jonathan downstairs with the coffee already brewed, a large pot of soup cooking on the stove and a painting being drawn on the wall. I hung out with Jonathan most of the day while Rocky napped but, once he woke up, I helped him do an oil change on the bike. Later that night we spent watching documentaries on the computer in the living room. As we were sitting in the dark, Rocky asked what was running across the floor. I turned on the light and to my surprise I saw a big, fat spider the size of a large gum ball. I immediately grabbed the broom and gently brushed the spider towards the door. I was seriously petrified doing so but I couldn’t let the spider stay inside. There was a short step to the doorway and I was panicking because I wasn’t sure how to lift the spider up. With another gentle brush I tried maneuvering the broom a certain way but it didn’t work. Instead, the spider rolled against the step and actually made a loud thud. Oh my goodness! I was so scared and Rocky wasn’t about to help me, he just told me to leave the thing alone. How the hell am I supposed to ignore a spider that thuds when it slowly hits a wall? I finally managed to lift it up the step and I continued to brush it safely out the door. For the first time since staying at La Clave De Sol, the night was so silent I could hear the crickets, everyone was asleep. Just as I noticed the silence I almost broke it with screams as I also noticed I was surrounded by at least ten spiders the size of the one I just let out.
The next day, Jonathan told me it was margarita day and I was excited. Rocky and I were still waiting for one more package to arrive in the mail, so we rode to the post office and it had finally arrived. Once we returned to La Clave De Sol, Rocky spent the day napping while Jonathan and I hung out. He wanted to make nachos so we took a walk down a few wrong streets but eventually found a store. We purchased everything we needed and went back to make some salsa, guacamole and Margarita’s. Jonathan is one of the best people I have ever met and it made me sad to know that Rocky and I were leaving the next day. Once morning came, I was really sad because I felt as if I was leaving something incredibly special behind. Today, I know otherwise. La Clave De Sol is forever with me.
Passing through Oaxaca on our way towards Chiapas, we passed through a large wind farm just outside of the town of Iglesia del Nazareno.
La Clave De Sol was always full of travelers from all over the world. From left to right: Paula (Canada), América (Spain), Pablo (Argentina) & his girlfriend, Jaana (Finland), Charleigh (Scotland) & her boyfriend, Jimmy (England), Mar (Spain), Jose Luis (Mexico), Auror (France), Robin (Canada), and Auror’s boyfriend, Julien (France)
Charleigh, Jose Luis & Jimmy “The Brit”
Having arrived in San Cristóbal de las Casas after dark the evening before, we didn’t notice the stables and horses until one appeared out of the darkness.
After over an hour motorcycle ride and an hour of hiking, Oliverio, Catherine, Paula and I finally arrive at Cascada El Chiflón, one of the largest and most powerful waterfalls in Mexico.
The power of the falls sprayed a tiny water droplets everywhere, enveloping us in a cloud of mist.
I saw Catherine taking a close-up of this little critter on our hike up the river.
On our hike back to the motorcycles, we all took a dip in the cold, refreshing waters of the river downstream from Cascada El Chiflón.
Oliverio In Exaltation
Nights in San Cristóbal de las Casas in November/December can get quite cool. During the day I would take the ax and gather firewood (until I realized that there were shops on the other side of town that sold them by the bundle for quite cheap). We enjoyed the warmth of a roaring fire every evening.
Jonathan usually started the morning with a either some form of alcoholic beverage, a marijuana cigarette and some yoga – sometimes all three.
In the middle of changing the chain on my motorcycle, my chain press tool broke (probably my fault). I rode on the back with Oliverio to his friend’s machine shop to have a replacement piece made.
There were always travelers coming and going at La Clave De Sol. Jose Luis’ smile and laughter were infectious.
Flores (Belgium), Jose Luis & Kate (New Zealand)
At one point during our stay in San Cristóbal de las Casas, there were eighteen travellers who, at one time, gathered together at La Clave De Sol.
Cooking With Jonathan
Paula & Catherine at Oliverio’s birthday party
The Three Stooges
Oliverio’s Father (left) was a famous Mexican actor. His began his artistic career in 1938 until 1947 in Mexico before being contracted as a singer and musician in Libya, Egypt, France and many other European countries until 1978 when he returned to Mexico and worked in Televisa (television) programs until he passed away in 2003 at 80 years of age. This is the photo that I restored for Oliverio for his birthday.
In his state of inebriation, I didn’t know if Oliverio realized that the cake wasn’t round. I didn’t have the heart to tell him.
The night was a blur…
When Oliverio wasn’t climbing up trees and chopping them down with a hatchet, he tended to his horses.
Oliverio’s stallion (who prefers his right side)
Paula & Oliverio On Horseback
Oliverio – The Man, The Myth, The Legend
After tending to the horses, we rode in the back of the truck with the wind in our hair and the sun on our faces.
The Dude abides. If there was a refined and artistic version of “The Dude”, Jonathan would be it.
After about two weeks at La Clave De Sol, it was time to move on. We will always remember the moments and the people we shared them with while we were there.
If you are planning on visiting San Cristóbal de las Casas, Oliverio has rooms for rent, rents horses and gives guided tours. He also makes jewelry, rustic furniture and sells organic vegetables.
not all those who wander are lost | two earthlings ride around the world
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Rockwell screwed with this post 03-01-2013 at 02:48 PM
|03-01-2013, 04:43 PM||#133|
Joined: Sep 2007
Location: Okie near Muskogee
Paula makes that beach look good
Edit: Just read up to that last page and heard of the news of the crash and breakup with the gf. Hope things work out for the two of you to continue on, it will be very rewarding to make a good go of it, only makes you stronger when you can make it through the difficult times without giving up. Best of luck to you both.
Got to be wonderful to have found a beautiful girl like her who loves riding motorbikes
She got any sisters??
Great report btw thanks to both of you for sharing you wonderful two up trip, looks like you two are having a grand time of it
Throttlemeister screwed with this post 03-02-2013 at 03:40 PM
|03-02-2013, 03:07 AM||#134|
Joined: Nov 2010
Again, thanks for the posts, even with the delay. And the web site is great, thanks for setting that up too.
|03-04-2013, 05:37 PM||#135|
Joined: Nov 2008
Paula and I were apart for a few weeks last year. We were living with her family, and that added to the stress of things.
Since the bike took so long to return to Canada and order a frame took so long to arrive from Austria, Paula and I decided to get an apartment and work through the winter. We're heading out again on the trip this June. There's a countdown timer on the main page of our website. As of today, there are only 88 days to go!
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