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Old 02-20-2008, 01:44 PM   #91
theturtleshead
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Bars

Hello matey! I,m off to work in Oaxaca on Monday for about two months
While you were there did you find any good bars? Oh yeah and anywhere to hire a bike up there?
Cheers Albert theturtleshead
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Old 02-20-2008, 02:20 PM   #92
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Quote:
Originally Posted by theturtleshead
Hello matey! I,m off to work in Oaxaca on Monday for about two months
While you were there did you find any good bars? Oh yeah and anywhere to hire a bike up there?
Cheers Albert theturtleshead
Woot! Two months should be perfect. What will you be doing there?

Honestly I didn't get to know the bar scene well; if I had stayed longer I probably would have. I liked Colectivo Central aka "Bar Central" west of the zócalo; it's a lot like a hip San Francisco bar in both the good and bad ways. A fellow norteamericano and I watched a US-Mexico fútbol game in Bar Caffeine (next to Inglesia Santa Domingo) and had a great time drunkenly rooting and joking with the locals in our respective broken languages.

On the other hand, on my last night in Oaxaca some guy I'd never seen before tried to kick my ass in a nightclub, but it got as far as him reaching for me when his friends jumped all over him. I still have no idea what that was about. I had been having a good time talking to his friend (who spent a lot of time in LA and had lots of gang tattoos - funny, but the tough guys are always really nice in person) for about fifteen minutes. I don't remember the name of the nightclub, but it's the one in my pictures with the red walls.

Hiring a bike? Dunno, but I didn't look - I conveniently brought my own

For two months, you might just want to buy one and sell it when you leave. 200cc bikes are cheap down there. Even new they're only about 20,000 pesos, so they can't cost too much used. Bigger bikes are rare in Oaxaca, and cost way more than they do in the US. If you go this route, I'm curious to know how complicated the paperwork, etc is!

Jeff
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Old 02-20-2008, 03:50 PM   #93
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Oaxaca to Tehuacán

I left Oaxaca on Feb 9th headed for Mexico City. I hadn't bought a plane ticket yet because I wasn't sure when I would be ready to leave, but I needed to be in San Francisco before Valentine's Day.

I assumed I would stop in Puebla, but I got a late start. Thanks to the prior evening's festivities, estuve crudo. This didn't make the traffic any easier (note - the cars in the middle are parked on the old abandoned railbed that runs through town):



Once on the road, the scenery was grand, back into beautiful deserts:





I looked longingly at the road carved into the side of the mountain in the distance:



When I crossed into the state of Puebla, the roads became dramatically worse, potholes everywhere. The vegetation also changed. The road was lined with big sugarcane plantations. All of a sudden the air started smelling of heavy, sticky, burnt sugar. It was actually quite tasty. Then I saw this:



A refinery surrounded with truck after truck of sugarcane, waiting to be unloaded.

It was getting dark, so I opted to stay in Tehuacán. There isn't much to say about Tehuacán, touristwise, but it's fairly cute for a sizeable city and Lonely Planet recommended a hotel overlooking the zócalo:



The next day I noticed something odd about Tehuacán and Puebla. There are countless intersections like this one. Talk about mixed signals...



Tehuacán:

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Old 02-20-2008, 04:28 PM   #94
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Railroads of Oaxaca

There are very few functioning railroads left in Mexico. In the US, most abandoned railroads get pulled up for scrap pretty quickly, but not in Mexico. This excites me.

Some friends of mine constructed a makeshift railcar which we have been using to explore derelict railway in California:





On other trips, I've tried motorcycling the railbed:



...however, hopping over rails on a big bike is tough:



(that's sp4ce looking proud)

Every time I ride by abandoned railbed in Mexico, a little gland in the back of my brain oozes happy juice. You might say I'm a little obsessed.

Here are some pictures of the railroad that once ran between Puebla and Mitla (according to my map). I was told it's been abandoned for 15 years. It's probably too overgrown and broken for the railcar (and too far south anyways) but it's fun to dream about:













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Old 02-21-2008, 12:23 PM   #95
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Buenavista



Google doesn't know about it, but my Guia Roji map shows a dirt road that runs between Puebla and Mexico City right between the two mountains in the picture above. The entire area is some sort of Mexican national park. I had to ride through.

Finding the road wasn't too hard with the GPS (I bicimpapas). The road itself was fairly well maintained, with only occasional soft bits. Sometimes a car or truck would come down the opposite direction; one subcompact filled with kids asked me what was in this direction - "Puebla", I answered.

My bike was getting progressively more and more sluggish. I checked altitude on the GPS - about 11,000 ft. I carburetors!

Near the top I saw this beautiful building perched on the side of a cliff:





I couldn't tell what it was but I had to find it. I found a turnoff and started exploring. The road started out pretty reasonable:



Then it got worse:



Then it got worse:



Then it got *worse*:



About this time I realized I took a wrong turn.

Eventually I found the building. It's some sort of monastery, not necessarily catholic - there was only one small cross. Unfortunately it was closed, but the structure and grounds were beautiful. There were waterfalls coming out of the rock face behind the building.











At this point it was getting late. I liked the idea of staying the night up at this altitude so I found a cabin at a small "eco-resort" in the valley below the monastery.



Unfortunately I didn't get a picture of the spicy foil-wrapped baked trout I had for dinner. A Mexican family invited me to sit at the dinner table with them; I practiced my spanish while they practiced my english. I'm getting better.

Here's the view out the front door of my cabin (which cost 450 pesos):



My cabin had no electricity, but it did have a fireplace! I spent the night reading by fireplace:



It's COLD at 12,000 ft elevation!
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Old 02-21-2008, 04:36 PM   #96
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More!!!!!!!!!
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"I am in California, but my brain spends 90% of it's time in South America"

Over 27,000 miles in South America -- which is NOT enough!

Here is a link to the South American Ride Report...
http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=94531

Trip Index Page.... If you are interested in one spot in South America, you can click on this link http://www.ploung.com/south_america.htm and go directly to your point of interest.
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Old 02-23-2008, 12:39 PM   #97
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Ciudad de Mexico



Mexico City is just as crazy as you hear about. On the positive side, air pollution has been cleaned up pretty dramatically in recent years. On the down side, there are still plenty of open sewers - and they smell terrible.

If you wanted to distill Ciudad de Mexico into one word, that would would be traffic.



There are two problems with traffic in Mexico City:

* There are too many cars.
* The freeways were designed by the criminally insane.


xkcd has been to DF.

Let's say you see a highway ahead running perpendicular to your line of travel, and you want to make a left. There will be six different possible exits near the interchange, all labeled with obscure names of districts miles away. The correct path to the direction you want to go likely involves several right turns, a cloverleaf, a half-mile drive in the wrong direction, a u-turn, and traversing a bridge over the inevitable open sewer.

In Guadalajara there were motorcycles everywhere. In Mexico City they are conspicuously absent. I should have taken this as a hint. Motorcycles (of any kind) are not allowed on the high-speed viaducts or the innermost lanes of highways. Remember what I said about the criminally insane - they like their traffic here.

My first day in Mexico City was just long enough to find the Hostel Cathedral, get my motorcycle booted while checking in (less than two minutes parked in front), pay a 400 peso fine, wait three hours for them to unboot it, and find the KTM dealer. Sadly, I forgot to get a picture of my "jailed" KTM.

I had the address of the KTM shop from their website. Upon arrival, I was informed that this was merely the sales shop and that the repair shop was across town. After 15 minutes of fumbling with maps and the GPS, the guy behind the counter gave up and said "follow me".

This is the point at which real adventure begins:

* Following a 690SM across Mexico City
* Splitting traffic
* At night
* In the rain

My only consolation was that at least I could touch ground with both feet, unlike the guy I was following:



The shop was closed; this exercise was simply so that I could mark the location on my GPS. For an encore, I rode the 45 minutes back to the zócalo aided only by my GPS and a fleeting sense of my own mortality.
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Old 02-23-2008, 02:12 PM   #98
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Make Me Bulletproof

"A funny thing happened on the way to the airport..."

My flight was at 5pm but I got up at 8am to leave plenty of time for the unexpected. The rule while traveling in Latin America is that you do only one thing per day, and I was going to try two - "leave motorcycle at shop" and "fly out of country".

The ride to the shop was confusing as hell and took about an hour of wrong turns. Strategizing a route across Mexico City would challenge Garry Kasparov, and my Zumo is no Deep Blue. The autorouting is useless.

The KTM shop in Mexico City (Motoaltavista) is very nice. I was happy to see about a dozen 640 Adventures in various states of repair, including a 660 Rally. They took my motorcycle, listened to my instructions (new rear tire, increase rear shock preload, replace all the bolts that vibrated out), and stored my gear.

A well-dressed Columbian man who spoke perfect English struck up a conversation with me in the shop. Alejandro has a few KTMs including a 640 Adventure, and we spent a good hour talking about motorcycles. He even offered me a ride to the airport, which I accepted. Then he offered me a tour of his workplace - Alejandro designs bulletproof cars. I accepted!!

Here is Ballistic Protection. They're pretty much the top-end maker of bulletproof cars. They will take almost any car and rebuild it as bulletproof.



Here's Alejandro standing in front of a finished Escalade. From the outside you can't tell that the vehicle is bulletproof:



The interior finish is perfect as well. The giveaway is when you roll down the window and see the thickness of the glass. The Escalade has level three protection, which will stop most small arms:



A different car with level three protection:



This window is thicker. The car has level five protection, which will stop armor-piercing sniper weapons:



Another level five window, this one on a BMW X5. Alejandro had to design a completely new mechanism for electrically raising and lowering the heavy glass:



A work in progress. They pretty much completely disassemble the body of the car and weld in thick armor plate. The armor panels overlap and include the firewall, floor, and roof of the vehicle. It's amazing that they can preserve the original finish of the interior.



The cutting and grinding of steel plate. The guys in back are using a plasma torch. Alejandro mentioned they regularly test steel from a variety of sources and Russian steel is by far the strongest.



They put runflats in the tires so you can still drive away. They also beef up the brakes and suspension because this process roughly doubles the weight of the car:



The factory floor. They will convert just about any kind of car, not just SUVs:



I was impressed. It was cheaper than I expected; about $35-40k (in addition to the car) for a level 3 vehicle and $90-100k for level 5. I'm glad nobody (that I know of) is that interested in killing me!
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Old 02-23-2008, 05:52 PM   #99
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lhoriman
Let's say you see a highway ahead running perpendicular to your line of travel, and you want to make a left. There will be six different possible exits near the interchange, all labeled with obscure names of districts miles away. The correct path to the direction you want to go likely involves several right turns, a cloverleaf, a half-mile drive in the wrong direction, a u-turn, and traversing a bridge over the inevitable open sewer.


That's exactly how I felt in Tijuana, too. Glad to hear that I won't be out of my element going farther south into Mexico.

Thoroughly enjoying your trip, btw. Thanks for writing it!
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Old 02-23-2008, 06:18 PM   #100
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluepoof


That's exactly how I felt in Tijuana, too. Glad to hear that I won't be out of my element going farther south into Mexico.

Thoroughly enjoying your trip, btw. Thanks for writing it!
Hehehe... my advice, skip DF!

Hey, I see you're from Danger. How's Life Under Bill? I had hiptops since the 1st gen, even wrote a nifty bartender guide app for the phone - but Danger couldn't convince TMobile to put it on-deck. After I bought an iPhone in anger I started wondering what was going to happen to Danger, Inc.

Jeff
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Old 02-23-2008, 06:45 PM   #101
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Home



I'm temporarily back in San Francisco, soaking up love from my friends and as much sushi as I can get my hands on.

Predictions for the future:

* February 28th, fly back to Mexico City.
* February 29th through March 2nd, join Alejandro and some of his friends at a motorcycle race. Gawk at the KTM 690 Rally race bike.
* March 3rd through 11th, Tultepec fireworks festival + assorted tourism near DF.
* Two more weeks of Spanish lessons in Guanajuato.
* March 30, fly to Atlanta to run a half-marathon with Gavin and some JBoss friends.
* Early April, meet Gavin (and his ADV-ized Multistrada) in Zacatecas.
* Ride with Gavin to Panama and eventually return.
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Old 02-23-2008, 06:58 PM   #102
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lhoriman
Hehehe... my advice, skip DF!
Jeff
Huh, what's DF?

BTW, glad you made it to the Zeitgeist last night. Sherry and I enjoyed meeting you. Thanks for the ADV sticker. Look forward to reading more of your adventures.
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Old 02-23-2008, 07:21 PM   #103
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joefromsf
Huh, what's DF?

BTW, glad you made it to the Zeitgeist last night. Sherry and I enjoyed meeting you. Thanks for the ADV sticker. Look forward to reading more of your adventures.
Mexico City is the Distrito Federal, and sometimes the locals just call it DF.

It was great meeting you and the other advriders! We'll have to do some local rides this summer

Jeff
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Old 02-23-2008, 08:26 PM   #104
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Quote:
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even wrote a nifty bartender guide app
Ha, that was you?? You must know Chris De Salvo. The two of us (plus some others) pushed for *years* to get that app approved by T-Mobile. Frickin' carriers.

Life with Bill isn't much so far. The only immediate change in my life is a nice buyout bonus (enough to spring for a cross-country trip this summer) and the promise of a matching 401k. So I can't complain. Since I switched to program management from engineering 3 years ago, I already gave up any pretense of coolness or development integrity.

Looking at your livejournal...you look familiar. Were you ever in the sfgoth.com crowd?
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Old 02-23-2008, 09:34 PM   #105
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Ha, that was you?? You must know Chris De Salvo. The two of us (plus some others) pushed for *years* to get that app approved by T-Mobile. Frickin' carriers.
Funny! My friend Jon Stevens (who wrote the app with me) knows Chris really well. I'm glad to hear someone was trying... it was super-exciting to finish and then a big let-down when the product went nowhere. I hope the iPhone is prompting the carriers to remove their heads from their asses.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bluepoof
Life with Bill isn't much so far. The only immediate change in my life is a nice buyout bonus (enough to spring for a cross-country trip this summer) and the promise of a matching 401k. So I can't complain. Since I switched to program management from engineering 3 years ago, I already gave up any pretense of coolness or development integrity.

Looking at your livejournal...you look familiar. Were you ever in the sfgoth.com crowd?
Good deal on the x-country trip! Now if they'll only take the handcuffs off and let you leave the desk for long enough...

Nope, I don't know the sfgoth.com crowd, but SF is a small place and I wouldn't be surprised if we know the same people.
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