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Old 03-23-2008, 10:40 PM   #136
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Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

Doh! I forgot about our adventure before leaving Mexico City. Pretend, for a moment, that this entry predates the last.

Krisztina and I met a friend of hers in the DF, a 19yo girl named Leslie that Krisztina knew from a previous trip to Mexico. Leslie wanted to show us the university campus where she went to school. One hobby I inherited from my parents (hi Mom!) is "checking out the local universities" so I was all for it.

The National Autonomous University of Mexico is HUGE. 270,000 students huge. The campus covers a gigantic portion of southern Mexico City. Here's the view from Google:



The campus is so big that there are large numbers of taxis on campus to ferry students between classes. 4 pesos (about 40 cents) per person, as many as well fit in the car.

We met up with some of Leslie's friends and they gave us the grand tour:



UNAM is pretty much like most university campuses, just bigger. One thing I noticed is that food service is *good*, and it seems as if nearly anyone can set up a torta stand in the middle of campus. Fresh juices are sold almost everywhere. I recall with not just a little bit of anger when Cal Poly San Luis Obispo (my alma mater) signed an exclusive deal with the Pepsi Corporation that guaranteed all beverages sold on campus would be Pepsi products. Even school clubs had to buy food and drinks through the bureaucracy. The food sucked.









Many buildings had cool art:







One area of the campus was clearly the "make-out corner" because there were about ten couples in various states of mutual adoration:



A little "museum" in the medical building had this siamese-twin foetus:



Even the natives got lost a few times (did I mention this place is BIG?):



The art installations were really cool. One was this long wall you could walk on top of; at times it was twenty feet tall (don't slip!). Many other students were hanging out on top, some drinking pulque.



This was a neatly shaped concrete structure, art you can play on!





This reminded me of one of the things I love about Mexico - it feels FREE. No art installation like this (or the wall) would survive in the United States. The first time a student got hurt, the parents would sue the school into oblivion and the wrecking crews would knock over the "public nuisance". We don't even know about all the cool things that no longer (or never will) exist in the US because overwrought nannies are afraid someone, gasp, Might Get Hurt! I'm fairly certain that if the motorcycle was invented today it would never be allowed on the roads in the US, and that makes me terribly, terribly sad.

At this point our student friends had to go to class and they invited Krisztina and I along. I pondered this for a minute but ultimately translated "when in Rome..." to "cuando esta in universidad, va a clase". I wasn't quite sure what to expect, it was a Human Resources class and the kids said something about the instructor that I didn't quite understand.

I was horrified by what I saw. The instructor seemed to have no idea what he was doing, barely managing to write on the board what was in the handout and repeat it vocally. The students (about 50) had no respect whatsoever, loudly chatting with each other and trading candy in the isles. I was too self-conscious to pull out my camera and take pictures of the chaos, but I'm pretty sure none of the students would have hesitated.

Afterwords my friends informed me that none of the other classes are like that; this one is some sort of strange joke in the General Education curriculum. I actually had to stop myself from saying "kids these days..." lest they realize that I'm over 30 and no longer able to be trusted.

At any case, the class ended around 10pm and school was over so we hung out in the room for a little while teaching each other salsa moves:



El Club Desayuno:

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Old 03-24-2008, 04:07 PM   #137
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Contents May Have Shifted In Transit

I forgot to mention: To fit Krisztina and her gear on the bike, I stored my drybag at Motoaltavista in the DF. Because this will become important later, I will enumerate the contents of my drybag here:

* Teva sandals
* Waterproof liners for jacket and pants
* Inner tubes, front and rear
* Sleeping bag, thermarest pad, and bivvy sack
* One can of tuna
* A few extra books
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Old 03-24-2008, 04:47 PM   #138
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Yolitia



Krisztina's destination was Yolitia, an organic farm near Malinalco (west of Cuernavaca). She plans to spend a couple weeks there as a WWOOF volunteer. We woke up at a very cold 7am and took backroads most of the way.

Riding through a national forest west of Cuernavaca, we were stopped at a police checkpoint. The officer wanted to see my driving permit, so I showed him my international driving permit. He read through a few bits and then suggested that it was only for vehículos, not for motocicletas. I firmly explained (in Spanish) that there is only one permit and it is good for both cars and motorcycles. After a minute or two he smiled, handed my permit back, shook my hand, and sent us on our way. Since (according to my DF friends) there is no special license in Mexico for motorcycles, I'm pretty sure this guy was trying to scam me into mortida. First corrupt cop I've found in Mexico.

Our route took us through the mountain town of Chalma:



This weekend was some sort of major religious festival (related to Easter, I suppose). Long lines of people on foot were hiking to the town, some carrying crosses and statues of the Virgen de Guadalupe. When we got to town, there were dozens and dozens of parked tour buses. And traffic, lots and lots of traffic:





Splitting through town, we made it to Yolitia. It's pretty! No internet access, but it looks like a great place to hang in a hammock and read for a few days:















Sadly, this is where we parted ways:

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Old 03-24-2008, 09:23 PM   #139
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Morelia

Leaving Krisztina at the farm, I picked my next destination at random. I had a flight out of Mexico City on the 20th, about four days away. The Lonely Planet had nice things to say about Morelia, so I plotted a roundabout course through the mountains to get there. It was about four hours away, on top of the four hours that morning from Popocatépetl to Yolitia. A long day, so I hit the road.

Highway 15 (libre) east to Morelia is a wonderful road. It twists, it turns, it carves through mountains and forests. The pavement is immaculate and there is little-to-no traffic. It was getting late in the day when I noticed my steering start to get sluggish, about 45 km away from my destination. Uh oh.





A tiny puncture created a slow leak. I was in the middle of nowhere and daylight was fading fast. Someone must have paged Mr. Murphy, alerting him that I am - for the first time on this trip - not carrying spare tubes. Ugh.

I have a CyclePump I can run off bike power. I reinflated and rode another 2-3km, stopped, reinflated... I kept this up for about 15 km (long past dark) until I reached a small store, which was sadly out of fix-a-flat. The owner of the store took pity on me and her husband drove me all the way into Morelia to buy a can. I have to admit that the ride, while much appreciated, was terrifying - he drove his pickup at speeds that I would have considered reckless even during the day in a sportscar.



1.5 hours and 500 pesos later (120 for the can, the rest I gave to the driver) my tire stayed inflated long enough to get me to a hostel in Morelia, at which point it oozed the last of its goop into a small puddle on the floor and quit.



I don't have a lot of pictures of Morelia. It's a very pretty town but it feels a bit like Disneyland. There are thousands of perfectly preserved colonial buildings (including a picturesque aqueduct) but there seemed to be relatively few stores and restaurants. There are no street vendors. It really doesn't feel like Mexico, more like a living postcard.

I stayed three nights in an inexpensive hostel near the center of town, the Hostel Allende:





I had dinner with my neighbor, a cute french girl on vacation from working in the consulate in the DF. She does human-rights work.



We had interesting conversations about world politics, and even more when her boyfriend and a a friend of his showed up. Spanish was the only language all four of us could understand, but fortunately beer improves my conversation skills:



More food porn, trucha al mojo de ajo:



This was an oddity, the first female mariachi band I've seen in Mexico:



Finally it was time to head back to the DF. I found a Motoaltavista shop in Morelia, my tire staying inflated just long enough to get there!



They patched it up in less than an hour. Total bill was 115 pesos, about $10 US.



Morelia is the first town I've seen that uses KTM 640s as police bikes! There were about a dozen in the shop, waiting for repair:





The ride back to the DF was uneventful. I dropped off the bike at Motoaltavista, spent one night at the Hostel Mexico City, and got on a plane to Atlanta the next day. Since I've spent so many nights in this hostel, it seems like I should have at least one picture (look for the tiny oval yellow/blue sign):

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Old 03-24-2008, 10:17 PM   #140
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Atlanta



First impressions of Atlanta:

It's freaking COLD here!!! Dammit, I was expecting Hotlanta. I'll have to come back in the summer.

It's very clean here. Lots of modern buildings, not much trash. True, I'm staying in an upscale neighborhood (Buckhead), but all the parts I've seen so far are pretty nice. Lots of cool bars and clubs in Midtown.

Atlanta is very spread out. You have to drive *everywhere*. It's worse than Los Angeles.

Good BBQ.

Gavin has pretty nearly moved out of his place here in Atlanta. His fridge:



There are stores like this:



The food section in a paper I randomly picked up reviewed McDonalds' new menu items. Seriously.



We're doing a lot of running and weight training. The race is a week away and I'm already sore.

The JBoss offices are pretty nice.

I miss my motorcycle.
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Old 03-26-2008, 10:18 PM   #141
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Thanks, I have been living the dream via you great report your pro.
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Old 03-29-2008, 08:32 PM   #142
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Poor Decisions

Marc Fleury invited Gavin and I to fly down to Miami on a Gulfstream he and Chris Klaus chartered for the weekend. "Party like rockstars" doesn't even begin to describe what they're doing right now.

Instead we're getting up at 5am tomorrow to run 13 miles in the rain.

What the HELL was I thinking??
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Old 03-30-2008, 11:08 PM   #143
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Run Jeff Run

This journal entry is brought to you by PowerThirst!







The good news: It didn't rain!
The bad news: It was still THIRTEEN MILES.

I ran the race today on less than a week's worth of training. I guess that means I'm in pretty good shape... or incredibly stupid. I guess I'll find out tomorrow. From what my muscles are currently telling me, the later is more likely.

I came in at 2 hours and 17 minutes, enough to place me at 5073 out of some 15,000 runners. Not having run this far before, my only goal was to run the entire race without walking. My legs turned to rubber at mile ten but somehow willpower was enough to keep going. I'm sure I will regret it all tomorrow but it was actually a lot of fun.







Gavin and I got up at 5am (EST, you late-sleeping westcoast bitches) to meet up with our friends and hop on MARTA. The train was full of runners:



It was freezing cold. And dark. At this point I'm seriously questioning my sanity. If we had gone to Miami with the gazilionaires, we would still be awake partying from last night.



First people to start are the wheelchairs. Some of these chairs looked faster than my motorcycle:



The start was pretty crazy, but somehow 15,000 runners got moving without trampling anyone:



You can tell how seriously I'm taking this - I brought my camera. Unfortunately I don't really have any good pictures of the race since there wasn't much light on an overcast day at 7am, and a running jogger doesn't make for a very stable camera platform.





The course followed a roundabout path through the most beautiful parts of Atlanta. We even ran by Martin Luther King's house. People were cheering at most street corners, and in quite a few places there were live bands playing good rock music.

Some favorite moments (I noticed too late to get a picture, and I wasn't exactly going to turn around):

* The girl with a tshirt that had "Race Official. Do Not Pass." printed on the back.
* The guy on the side of the road with a keg of beer encouraging everyone to "drink more fluids, keep hydrated!"

Cheesiest aspect:

* Everyone shouting "Think positive!" "Kill! That! Hill!" "You look fabulous!" "Great job!" "Way to go!" "Looking good!" over and over and over. I half-expected to hear Stuart Smalley shouting "Gosh darn it, people like you!" I would have been more amused by a couple guys with a keg and a bullhorn shouting abuse at the runners, burningman-style: "Move it, slackers!" "My grandmother passed by here fifteen minutes ago!" "That ass isn't going to shrink by itself!"

* Of course, everyone gets a medal, because everyone is special:



I spent most of the race thinking about getting warm, and getting beer:



My race buddies (mostly JBoss/RedHat folks):

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Old 03-31-2008, 11:33 PM   #144
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Vintage Motorcycle Porn

A couple days ago Gavin and I visited a motorcycle museum at the Blue Moon BMW dealership. The owner has a large private collection of vintage motorcycles, several dating back to the 1920s. Here's a quick tour of the highlights.

An old BMW single in excellent condition:



A German motorcycle with a boxer engine, not BMW:



A Hercules motorcycle with a Wankel rotary engine!



An old single-cylinder Moto Guzzi. Gorgeous:



Notice the exposed flywheel:



A 1950 Imme R100. This 100cc two-stroke single has single-sided fork and swingarm and incredible lines. The exhaust exits through the swingarm, connected to the engine with some sort of gimbal. It's worth zooming in on the engine. This bike was way ahead of its time:



Look at the engine on this Burgmeister. I love the art-deco streamlined look:



The oldest bike in the stable is this 1921 Triumph Knirps. It was built by a German division of the British Triumph Company. It still runs!



Features include a 276cc, 3-hp two-stroke engine and two-speed transmission:



"Belt drive":



Nevermind HID. This bike includes head and tail carbide lights:



The metal canister at the center of the handlebars is the generator chamber; calcium carbide is dropped in water, producing acetylene gas that is carried to the lamp reflectors by rubber tubes.



We heard some sirens as we were leaving the shop. When we got to the road, we found this:



Unfortunately, the passenger compartment of the SUV was crushed and there was a lot of blood on the ground. This was one of four major accidents I saw while in Atlanta. Ride/drive carefully!
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Old 04-01-2008, 12:24 AM   #145
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Georgia Hijinks

I went to Georgia and got more than a lousy t-shirt! Actually, the half-marathon t-shirt isn't too bad. But nevertheless...

Marc rented out the VIP lounge at an Underworld concert and invited us along. Great music, although I'm still a little puzzled by electronic music concerts. I can listen to computers playing music on my iPod! They had some neat inflatable blinky stage props though:



We got a ride home from a friend in his new 500hp convertible BMW M6. I'm pretty sure it's faster than my motorcycle, even off the line. I think I see why JBoss development has slowed to a crawl since being purchased by Red Hat: Everyone's off playing with their shiny new toys.

Gavin and I spent a day driving through the Appalachian mountains. We did a short loop through Tennessee and North Carolina. It was sad to be in a rental car and not a motorcycle (or an M6...) but the roads were gorgeous. Some random pics:





"Bikers welcome":



A giant graveyard of cars, oddly placed in a beautiful forest:



By the time we got to Tennessee, there was no question we were in the Bible Belt. Churches outnumbered gas stations by a wide margin.



There were signs with the ten commandments here and there. As we passed one, Gavin said "hey, we should take a picture of one of those". I responded "there will be more". A few minutes later we passed this:



Driving back through northern Georgia, we hit a thick patch of fog. It was cool.





Speaking of weather, Atlanta had a tornado a couple weeks ago. It even damaged the skyscrapers:

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Old 04-01-2008, 05:03 AM   #146
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Just a great, great report!!
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Old 04-01-2008, 02:06 PM   #147
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Originally Posted by bavarian
Just a great, great report!!
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Old 04-02-2008, 01:47 AM   #148
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Antiques

Great pictures and I loved the old bikes too. I remember potholing with carbide helmet lamps in my youth. I suppose they use elctricity these days. On motorcycles too probably. Harumph.
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Old 04-03-2008, 11:40 PM   #149
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go Man Go!
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Old 04-04-2008, 09:53 PM   #150
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Thanks for the comments! I'm glad you're all enjoying it. This is the first time I've tried blogging a trip, and now I'm wishing I had done this for my other adventures so my remaining brain cells will have some help recollecting what they've done after the trip is over

I'm back in Mexico and more importantly, back on the bike!! Oh, how I miss my red-headed girlfriend when I'm away...

More stories when the pictures finish uploading.

Jeff
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