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Old 02-04-2008, 04:40 PM   #76
dpaz
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Wonderful Ride report

Wonderful ride report. Keep up the good work and fun I am hooked on it now. If you happen to decide to throw your bike on a boat or plane to Colombia PM me. I lived in Bogota for over 8 years and know the country well. You would love the country.
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Old 02-04-2008, 05:32 PM   #77
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Español

What I learned in Spanish class today:

casar = to marry
cazar = to hunt

la esposa = wife
las esposas = handcuffs

Seriously.
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Old 02-04-2008, 05:35 PM   #78
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dpaz
Wonderful ride report. Keep up the good work and fun I am hooked on it now. If you happen to decide to throw your bike on a boat or plane to Colombia PM me. I lived in Bogota for over 8 years and know the country well. You would love the country.
Thanks! It is in my distant plans to ride through Colombia, but sadly not on this trip. Despite all the bad press, every ride report on advrider seems to rave about the country. I'd love to see it.

Jeff
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Old 02-07-2008, 05:19 PM   #79
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Essential Español II

pay, pronounced "pie", is a delicious dessert.

pie, pronounced "pee-ay", is a is a delicious dessert only in certain unsavory parts of Paupa New Guinea.

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Old 02-08-2008, 07:12 AM   #80
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Storing bike in Mexico City for 2 weeks

My description of Oaxaca will be forthcoming, but first a quick question:

Does anyone know a good place to store a motorcycle for two weeks in Mexico City?

I'm taking a very brief hiatus from the trip, flying back to SF for two weeks for my birthday. Obviously the bike needs to stay and hopefully remain intact for my return. For those of you familiar with the area, any suggestions? In this thread others have suggested hotels, which I will investigate when I get there.

Thanks,
Jeff
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Old 02-08-2008, 08:57 AM   #81
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You could always check with the KTM dealership to see if they would hold it for two weeks, and get your shock preload set while its there

See Jerome's post:
http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/hub...d-globe-9341-2
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Old 02-08-2008, 09:04 PM   #82
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Old 02-09-2008, 11:50 AM   #83
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Quote:
Originally Posted by meat popsicle
You could always check with the KTM dealership to see if they would hold it for two weeks, and get your shock preload set while its there
This is a great idea, thanks! Maybe I will bring a new rear tire back with me from the states too. Any idea if there are problems bringing a tire through customs?

Jeff
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Old 02-14-2008, 07:31 PM   #84
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I Ate Grasshoppers!



[Note: One problem with writing in present tense is it sounds silly when you post a week later. I'm not in Oaxaca anymore.]

I'm in Oaxaca. The language school I am studying with (Amigos Del Sol) arranged a homestay for me with secure parking for the bike and wifi. Here is my new family:



As soon as I sat down, they offered me chapulines, an Oaxacan delicacy. This picture was taken at a market but you get the idea:



The crickets are purged of digestive matter and then deep fried and served with chili and lime. The taste is not unpleasant, but a couple handfuls were enough for me.

I've been studying Spanish for the last week. I had three years of Spanish in high school but that was over fifteen years ago and my last handful of trips to Mexico were not long enough to recover any significant skill. The class, however, is working wonders. Here are my instructors and some students:



The city of Oaxaca is not quite what I expected it to be. It's not exactly cute, but it's certainly not ugly. The zócalo and surrounding parts are nice but not awe-inspiring. The populace is busy but the city doesn't crawl with people the way Guadalajara does. I like it here but after a week I'm ready to move on.

Part of the problem is my homestay. It's about 30 minutes walk from downtown, so I can't just pop in and out. While I have been practicing my Spanish with the family, I'm not making friends the way I would if I were staying in a hostel. The school is very small; most of the other students are either Japanese or retired. I'm having a good time, but I feel rather isolated.

Part of the problem may also be that Oaxaca itself has fallen on hard times. Somehow I missed this news item at the time, but two years ago there were major riots here. It decimated the tourist industry, which is the core of the economy here. It's slowly recovering, but on a smaller scale; many Mexicans had to move elsewhere to find work and businesses like the language school I'm studying with had to move to smaller buildings.

Nevertheless, Oaxaca has some great things to offer. For one thing, the food is *excellent*. I have started to notice that there really isn't such a singular thing as "Mexican food"; the different regions of Mexico have distinctly different culinary traditions. Oaxaca is the "land of seven moles", including the famous chocolaty mole negro. I will post more pictures of food soon.

Oaxaca has a large number of very impressive Zapotec and Mixtec ruins, some dating back thousands of years. The grand prehispanic city of Monte Albán looks over the entire valley. I will make a separate entry for my trip there.

Few Oxacaños speak English. This has forced me to develop my speaking skills.

My homestay is actually fairly nice. It has a nice little room on top of the roof, reachable by a spiral staircase:



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Old 02-14-2008, 07:50 PM   #85
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Mitla

I took a day trip to Mitla, a town about 45 minutes by vehicle away from Oaxaca. Mitla was a significant Zapotec city about a thousand years ago and has some relatively well-preserved ruins.

First I stopped at El Tule, possibly the most massive tree alive.









I bought some ice cream at this nievaria. Look at the list of flavors carefully.



This is "tuna" sorbet:



In fact, tuna is prickly pear cactus. It was delicious. The other tuna is atún. With this knowledge, you can now order ice cream safely.

On to Mitla. Lots of stonework:











Notice the continuation of the pattern:



Inside a tomb:







The Spaniards arrived long after Mitla had gone into decline and been nearly abandoned. Nevertheless, they knocked over many of the buildings and temples (for their god is a jealous god) and built a church on top of the ruins:





Afterwards I visited a huge market in Tlacolula. One odd variation on Mexico's pervasive "huge crazy street bazaar" theme were the indoor carnecerias with the bbqs lined up in the center of the isle so you can start grilling your meat immediately:



This is some kind of chocolate, I think:

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Old 02-14-2008, 08:11 PM   #86
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Food Porn

This is the best meal I have had in Mexico so far.

I decided to try to find the finest (read: most expensive) restaurant in Oaxaca. Don't try this at home, folks! I left the zócalo and wandered around the pretty neighborhood near the Inglesia de Santo Domingo:



Checking menus, the Hosteria de Alcala seemed sufficiently lujo:





Let me apologize for the poor quality of the photos in advance. I'm still figuring out how to capture macro shots in low light conditions without making them look like crime scene pictures.

I started with a half-size bottle of Mexican cabernet sauvignon, which turned out to be pretty good despite the late vintage. The first course was sopa de ajo, garlic soup. It was the highlight of the meal, with a strong taste of fresh garlic in a thin but rich tomato broth:



My main course was mole almondrado, one of the seven moles. It was served over lengua de res, beef tongue. I had never tried beef tongue before. It had been thinly sliced cross-sectionally and might actually be the most tender meat I have ever eaten. The mole sauce was excellent, almost like a very delicate Indian korma:



Postre was "Flan de la Hosteria", big chunks of flan over ice cream with pecans and carmel:



Yes, it was delicious. Total bill was a little over 400 pesos (including tip), about $40 USD.

Walking home I stumbled across "those guys" busking in the zócalo:



You know "those guys". You've seen them at pretty much every street faire and farmer's market in the US, playing Ecuadorian folk music with guitars, flutes, and pan pipes. Fifteen years ago I ate some Hawaiian Baby Woodrose seeds while "babysitting" some friends drinking Ayohuasca tea. They put Andean pipe music on the CD changer to add some authenticity to the experience and I've been hooked ever since. My closet contains at least a dozen albums (most purchased from wandering street musicians), a set of pan pipes (which I can just barely persuade to make noise), and a half-dozen other instruments with which I am similarly facile. These particular guys were some of the best that I had heard, several playing guitar and pan pipes simultaneously. I threw a few bucks in their hat and reminded myself to patronize more street buskers in the future, especially in my hometown - it's a rough life but it adds a nice spark to otherwise droll street corners.

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Old 02-14-2008, 08:32 PM   #87
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More Food Porn

This meal started with an Oaxacan salad. The green beans are steamed and then lightly marinated in something. It was served chilled. As a lover of pickled things, I thought it was very good, although it could have fed two people.



The beverage in the top right corner is tejate, a traditional prehispanic drink. I'm not sure what it's made from but I know there is corn meal in it. The experience is something a little like chocolate protein drink. It's interesting but I don't love it.

The main corse was mole verde with pork. This is one of the lighter moles, made from tomatillos. It was tasty but hard to compare with the other, richer moles.



Not pictured is a límonada I drank afterwards.

Total bill was under 200 pesos. As you've probably figured out by now, that's about $20 USD.

Digging through the photos, here's another traditional Oaxacan dish. I can't recall what it is called, but it's basically cecina (salted beef) and quesillo (Oaxacan string cheese, much like mozzarella) in pizza format. This came from a market vendor, it was cheap:



Here's some fried fish with garlic made by the mother of one of my instructors, Adolfo:



Adolfo turned out not only to be a language instructor but also just graduated from university with a CS degree, so he was a geek like me. He taught me quite a lot of computer-related Spanish lingo.

Here he is between a couple other students on my last night in town... we had all had varying amounts to drink ranging from "a large amount" to "an excessive amount". You can guess who was who:



After helping Adolfo carry that girl back to her home, I need to find her and make sure she gets this photograph (a classic in every country):

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Old 02-15-2008, 11:27 AM   #88
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lhoriman
This is a great idea, thanks! Maybe I will bring a new rear tire back with me from the states too. Any idea if there are problems bringing a tire through customs?

Jeff
Jeff,

What a great report!!! I'll be following along your entire journey with you.

I just recently took a tire along with me to Panama City and had no problems getting it through customs. The only strange thing was the airline made me package it in a cardboard box before they would ship it.

I think the suggestion of checking with the KTM dealer to store your bike is a good one. You might also check with the BMW dealer in Mexico City if the KTM dealer can't store it. I think they are pretty close together.

Keep the rubber side down.
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Old 02-20-2008, 12:58 PM   #89
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Monte Albán

Monte Albán is the ruin of an ancient megopolis perched on a low mountain overlooking the entire Oaxaca valley. It's about 15 minutes by van from downtown. I've seen a fair number of ruins; European castles, Anasazi cliff dwellings, abandoned General Motors plants, etc... but this is bigger. Monte Albán was one of the biggest cities around for over a thousand years, with a population of tens of thousands of people. Then it was simply abandoned.

Here's what it looks like today (if you were 2,000 feet tall):



This view is pretty much what you see looking 360 degrees around the mountain - the populous Oaxaca valley. I'm sure the city commanded quite a presence to all the people living in the valley, but it must have been tough to get water.



This is the middle of the dry season, so all the grass is brown. When it rains the scene turns green.







One of the ball courts, for the Zapotec equivalent of fútbol:



Here's what the city must have looked like before excavation:



The experience is what I imagine it would be like to walk through a post-apocalyptic Manhattan, only with little placards explaining the purpose of each building.
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Old 02-20-2008, 01:36 PM   #90
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Your Tax Dollars At Work

If you are American and you want a six-month tourist visa to Mexico, you cross the border and pay $20 at the immigration office. If you stay in the border regions you don't even need to do this. If you travel by airplane the cost is already included in your ticket price.

If you are Mexican and you want a tourist visa of *any* duration to visit the United States, you must:

* Pay $140 USD for the privilege of having an interview with US Customs.
* Travel to Mexico City to interview with an agent.
* Let them keep the money even if they deny you a visa, which is 3/4 of the time.

This is horrible and demeaning and makes me embarrassed for my country.

Adolfo recently went through this process. Two minutes into the interview the agent told him his application was denied. Adolfo has no criminal record, an education, a good job, and family in Oaxaca. The fact that he can't get a tourist visa makes me really upset. The fact that he and lots of people like him are getting screwed out of a significant amount of money by a boldfaced money-generating racket worthy of any corrupt third-world bureaucracy makes me really angry
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