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Old 03-04-2014, 08:57 PM   #1
Candiya OP
Gnarly Adventurer
Joined: Dec 2010
Location: Bremerton, WA
Oddometer: 208
A tropical adventure: my second solo(ish) trip


This is a continuation of my first solo trip from Washington to California. Well, not physically, of course. But the story behind the physical travels was a journey of recovery from grief, from the loss of my boyfriend, Mike. That journey continues here. So, while this ride report stands on its own, it will make more sense if you read the other report first. (Life after death: my first solo trip) Yes, you've barely begun and already have a homework assignment.

Since My Last Ride

In order to place this report in context, I thought I'd start by sharing 2 diary entries. They take place after the first ride and provide little windows into how I ended up riding in Mexico.

Happiness and Future Plans
(Drafted 11-9-13)

I've sat down to begin this post three times this week. Again and again, I stepped away without putting "pen to paper". The problem is, paradoxically, that I'm doing okay. Actually, I'm doing better than okay. There is a simmering happiness undershadowing my life right now. It's there bubbling away regardless of the irritations or successes of daily life. In fact, the moments of mundane quietness are when the happiness seems to come to the forefront, like when I'm driving. Nothing triggers the happiness. On the contrary, it is the absence of a trigger, the absence of any action distracting me from my own essence, which provides the space for the happiness to come up.

The happiness is part of the energy that burst out last week. My counselor described it as a dam breaking, releasing my energy so that it can flow again. Yes, amen. That is exactly it. I spent last year bottled up so tightly. It's like a dam broke after my solo ride, at first with the wild outpouring of energy described in my earlier post. Now with this smoother flow of energy.

The "stuck-ness" of last year is starting to release its stranglehold. I tried two new exercise classes last week, started wearing new clothing, and have put on 5 pounds with my renewed appetite. I have made good progress at work and am almost caught up from a 1.5 year backlog. Hallelujah.

Yesterday I noticed that I'm actively scanning for my next personal project. Lots of ideas are bubbling. Redecorate the house, learn to draw, take up classical/flamenco guitar again, travel. Two nights ago, I was getting ready for bed when I remembered a thread from the motorcycle forum; in it, a member who lived in Mexico offered to host forum members. I sat down and wrote to him right then. The next day, he responded. Yes, he is still hosting people. I looked up flights, and it won't take too many miles to fly for free. My logical side says that I should do more research, but the truth is that I've already made my decision.

For my birthday, I'm going to go ride in Mexico. Writing this statement makes my heart feel tight, bright, and sparkly. Nerves and excitement. Excitement? I didn't know that was possible.
(In full honesty, I should share that while November was a particularly good month, the holidays were particularly hard. The journey continues to be up-and-down.)

Mexico, for Real
(Drafted 12-2-13)

When I looked up flights to Mexico a couple weeks ago, my first thought was, "I'll check with Mike then book the tickets." Then I was struck dumb when I realized there's no one to check with. I don't need to coordinate schedules with...anyone. "It can't be this easy...can it?" A bit of a sense of emptiness there.

Tonight, I sat in front of my computer, paralyzed with freedom. I simply couldn't commit to dates without his blessing. I picked up my phone and tried to figure out who I could call to ask this strange question. "Um yeah, could you tell me that it's okay to book these tickets?" As I looked at my phone, it rang with my brother calling. Relief. Perfect. At a lull in the conversation, I explained the situation, fighting tears, repeating, "I know it's stupid," and "I know it makes no sense." But simply talking it out helped me get past the block.

I just booked my tickets. Pressing the "purchase" button, I felt a sense of preternatural calm. But looking at the confirmation page....

Holy cow, I'm going to Mexico to ride a motorcycle. I'm about to jump out of my skin with nerves and excitement. (!!!)

This strange and twisty journey is taking me to destinations I never imagined.
The Background

Here's a bit more background on the logistics of the trip. My hosts were Lee and Christine, a couple from Oregon who moved down to Mexico about 10 years ago. Lee is an avid motorcyclist who currently owns 3 sportbikes: a GSXR 750, ZX-10, and ZX-14. He has a standing offer for PNWRider forum members to come down, stay with them, and ride his bikes with him. People have wondered why they would be so generous, and the answer is simple: they love their little town and adopted country and enjoy sharing it with newcomers. Also, many of Lee's local friends work so aren't available to ride all the time. Hosting visitors provides handy riding buddies.

Before booking my tickets, I corresponded with Lee, asking him about the road conditions and traffic levels. I also shared my assessment of my riding level (competent without flair, liberal doses of caution applied regularly), number of miles under my belt (under 10k), the types of bikes I ride regularly (CBR250R and F800R), and the schools/track days I've done (3 schools/3 track days in level C).

He responded that the pavement conditions are generally good, and there is minimal traffic in his small town. He shared a photo of the house, one of the bikes, and one of their 4 dogs. He also provided the forum name of another rider who had visited him before, twisties4me (Del), and suggested that I touch base with him. I did so, and Del explained that while the pavement conditions are good, you need to be ready for the unexpected at all times. You need to be able to adjust your line or stop in the middle of any curve because anything might be waiting on the other side. He explained that Lee might ride on ahead, but he'd always wait for me at the next crossroad. This made me smile, since I often joke that the only difference between group rides and solo rides is that there's better conversation during the breaks on the group rides. The main group is always out of my sight. :)

I sent some prospective dates to Lee and Christine, and after corresponding a bit more, eventually booked my tickets. About a week before departing, Lee emailed to let me know that he had some good news: Del was going to be down at the same time as my visit. Well, cool! We'd have a little PNWRiders Mexico group.

The Preparation

I expected that it would be easy to pack for this trip. After all, how hard could it be to pack for a week in Mexico? Throw some summer clothes in a bag, add sunscreen and the motorcycle gear, and done. Easy, right? Don't ask me how, but I managed to make it a major chore. None of my clothes seemed to work together; with the extra weight, my shorts didn't fit anymore; I couldn't figure out which gear to bring; and there was no obvious best solution on suitcases (checked, carry-on, backpack, etc.)

Like my other trip, I vacillated on which gear to use. My options were non-perforated 2-piece leathers, winter textiles (Firstgear Rainier jacket and REV-IT pants), or a lightweight full mesh jacket. Neither the leathers nor the textiles would be cool, and the mesh jacket isn't very protective. I simply didn't have lightweight protective gear. I ran to BMW to check out their multi-season gear but nothing fit.

This packing indecision went on-and-on. I couldn't figure out what my issue was. I travel all the time for work and know how to pack. Finally, a few days before I left, I was texting a friend, describing my revolving wheel of indecision. He responded, "Breathe. It's only a week." Suddenly, I knew what the problem was. In the back of my mind, I was expecting Mike to meet me there, and I wanted to look cute for him. A rush of tears, resolving into deep breaths. Let it go, let it go. I reminded myself that I had no one to impress there, and it was only a week. After this breakthrough, I was able to pack in a couple hours.

For those who are curious about the gear decisions, I ultimately decided to wear my textile jacket on the plane, carry the helmet (with clear, non-pinlock shield) in the dust cover, and check the textile pants, boots, gloves, and other miscellaneous motorcycling sundries, like Plexus and earplugs. Overall, I traveled with one checked bag, a backpack, and the helmet. By the end of the trip, I had reason to regret some of these decisions, and next time I'll bring different gear. (See the Logistics and Lessons Learned section at the end of the report.)

And one final note about the preparations: Since the accident, I've been loath to spend my hoarded miles, but putting them towards this trip felt completely fine. I couldn't figure out why. A week before leaving, I woke one morning and realized the reason I was okay spending my miles on this trip was that I had been saving them to go to Mexico with Mike after he returned from his last deployment.

Riding bikes in Mexico is my dream, not Mike's, but traveling to Mexico...that's a dream I had with him. I hadn't even realized it, but yet again, I was pursuing the dreams/goals I had for us. It wasn't a conscious decision, but since the accident, one-by-one I have been completing those unfinished dreams. Wrapping them up and tenderly putting them away.

This trip was a leap into the unknown. On day one, I boarded that plane with no information about the town (except that friends had traveled there and enjoyed it) or my hosts (except that others on the forum had stayed with them and given positive reviews). Like my first solo ride, I wanted to step into the unknown and see what was waiting for me. Who would I meet? Would I be able to handle the riding? How would my rusty Spanish hold up? Would I be lonely in a strange land?

I flew to Mexico on January 25 and returned January 31, richer with an amazing cultural experience, greater confidence in my riding, dear new friends, and an admirer among la policía (the police). Yes, dear reader, this is my poor attempt at foreshadowing. Read on to learn more about my adventure!

Day One
Bremerton, Washington, USA to Barra de Navidad, Jalisco, Mexico

I woke at 3:00 am and quickly prepped and headed to the Seattle airport for my early flight. Driving down, I hit some of the thickest fog I've ever driven through. The lights shining down at the toll readers at the Tacoma Narrows Bridge reflected off the fog like a concrete wall. I couldn't see a thing behind the lights as I drove through. Oddly, halfway through the bridge, the fog spit me out into a crystal clear night.

It felt so strange to walk through the airport in my moto jacket - very protected! At the same time, it felt very strange to wear the jacket without the moto pants and boots. Super protected on top and not at all on the bottom.

Riding the train to my gate

My fellow travelers to Los Angeles, the first leg of my trip

Boarding the plane, I wasn't nervous. Now that the preparations were over, I was relaxed and looking forward to seeing what came next. I was traveling towards a complete mystery. I hadn't seen a photo of my hosts, had never met Del, hadn't seen a pic of the inside of the house. While I was curious, I was content to let the mysteries reveal themselves in their own time. Still, I wondered if I was crazy to do this.

Alaska's new airplanes have nice finishing touches, but everything is small, including the seats and storage

The fog caught up with us before we took off

And it made for some interesting photos in the air

The mountain was incredibly clear.

Coming into Los Angeles

I had been concerned that an hour layover wouldn't be enough time in Los Angeles. After deplaning, I quickly found the reader board and looked up my next flight: Gate 64A. Turning around to locate my gate, I felt like a doofus. It was the gate I had just left! After a quick bathroom break, I reboarded the same plane, same seat and all. At least I didn't need to worry about my checked bag making it onto the flight!

Hope there won't be a water landing!

And we're off... Next stop Mexico.

I amused myself on the plane by reading the instruction manual for my new camera and playing with the different settings. This gave me a basic understanding, but I really need to learn to use the non-automatic settings.

Did someone say Mexico?!

The airstrip in Manzanillo is RIGHT by the beach. Toto, you're not in Kansas anymore...

My first view on the ground in Manzanillo.

Lee and Del came to the airport to pick me up. Lee told me he was tall with gray hair and would be in an orange shirt. Sure enough, he was easy to spot.

Palm trees and lush green hills.

These signs were everywhere, and I quickly learned that you needed to pay strict attention to them. They mark "topes", known in English as speed bumps. However, "speed bumps" are quite benign compared to these. Topes could be narrow and high or broad, multi-bumped, and high. Rarely were they low and broad like the speed bumps at home. They were sometimes marked by signs and paint - but not always. If you missed one, you could easily launch yourself to the moon. I quickly grew to have a dire fear of topes.

On a funny note, when we traveled as a group in the car, if the passengers felt that the driver (Lee or Del) didn't see an oncoming tope, the whole car would yell, "TOPE!" then break into laughter as the driver jammed on the brakes.

To give you some examples, I'll steal some photos of topes I took later in the trip:

Here's the nicest tope of the trip, from a golf course. I never saw another tope with bright paint like this, but it illustrates the ridges well.

Here's a relatively harmless tope that blends well with the street.

And here's one of the topes on the way to Lee's house.

Rolling into the town, Barra de Navidad, we pulled over to say hi to Lee's wife, Christine, and Del's wife, Andrea. They were busy doing volunteer work, helping to paint the mural of the town's history. The mural was designed by local school children. Lee and Christine had come up with the idea of the mural and helped to organize it. Really neat.

Arriving at the house, I settled in, unpacked a bit, and assembled the gift bags. I had packed some gifts for my hosts, along with bags, tissue and a card.

Shutterbug that I am with my new camera, I then went down to join Lee and Del in the backyard and snap some more photos.

Boats on the canal

Dog portraits. Three of the four dogs were street dogs that Lee and Christine took in. The fourth dog, Dakota (unpictured), was adopted from a shelter in Portland and moved down with them.

The amazing gardens and plants

Lee and Del relaxing in the palapa

As we sat in the palapa, Lee said to me, "I have to come clean with you, Candiya." Now, Lee has a lively sense of humor so I thought another joke was coming, but instead he explained that he had serious degenerative back problems and was scheduled for surgery. A week ago, he had been on crutches so in order to make sure I had a someone to ride with, he had invited Del down. Oh my! It turns out that Del and Andrea had scheduled their trip around mine. I was overwhelmed by the generosity of all 4 of them. And this was just my first inkling into how amazing these people are.

The conversation topic of the day tended to center on one motorcycle accident or crazy thing that they had seen on the roads after another. I gradually built a mental list of Things to Be Careful of When Riding in Mexico. Note that all of these came with accompanying stories of avoiding them or crashes caused by them.
- Topes
- Potholes
- Rocks / boulders shed off of hillsides
- Sand
- Vegetables (crates of green peppers / tomatoes falling off trucks)
- Fruit (truck carrying oranges went off the road)
- Diesel dribbled along the road from containers leaking in the backs of trucks going uphill
- Big animals (cows/horses), small animals
- Trucks and/or traffic stopped around the corners where you can't see them
- Cars coming out of side streets without looking
- Cars with left turn blinkers on, which might mean they're turning left or might mean they're giving you permission to pass
- Cars/buses cutting the yellow in the corners

Listening to these stories, I became more and more nervous. By the end of the evening, Del offered to take me 2-up the next day if I was too nervous to ride. This offer was a serious contender because then I'd be able to see the condition of the roads and how traffic worked without also being on a strange bike. (He is a control rider and motorcycle instructor so I felt comfortable with his skill level for riding as a passenger with him.) But they also told me that Sunday mornings had the least amount of traffic, so that helped to counteract the nerves.

I had come all the way to Mexico to ride motorcycles, and I would be very disappointed in myself if I didn't do it. Plus, Del had come all the way from Portland to ride with me! How embarrassing if I didn't ride. But I also knew from past experience that if I forced myself on the bike when my nerves were overwhelming, it wouldn't go well. Tension makes everything tight and jerky, which motorcycles don't like.

I slept restlessly, waking every 2 hours, until my alarm went off at 6:15 am. The morning of truth had arrived. Would I ride or not?
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Old 03-04-2014, 09:02 PM   #2
dreaming adventurer
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Looking forward to your story. Looks like you flew with Boeing.

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Old 03-05-2014, 06:53 AM   #3
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Location: 15.6 miles from the U.S. Capitol
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Woohoo! Another awesome Candiya ride report!
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Old 03-05-2014, 07:03 AM   #4
Candiya OP
Gnarly Adventurer
Joined: Dec 2010
Location: Bremerton, WA
Oddometer: 208
Day Two
Barra de Navidad to Playa Tenacatita

I woke feeling lighter and more positive than the night before, though still nervous. I decided that I'd sit on the bike and feel the controls then decide from there if I wanted to ride. The fact that this was the shortest ride of the week with the least traffic definitely made me feel that if I was going to ride, today would be the best time to start.

I climbed on the yellow GSXR and tested out the brake lever - a little more travel than mine. I felt the pull of the clutch - tougher than my bike. I lifted the bike off the stand to feel the weight, not too much heavier than my bike. I could do this. I decided to give it a shot.

I asked Lee's advice about the topes, since there were 4 we needed to traverse to exit his neighborhood, and he said to just walk the bike over them. Okay, let's see how this goes! We rolled out with Del first on the black zx-14, then Lee on the green zx-10, then me. I walked the bike over the topes or just went slowly, and they weren't as bad as I expected.

Riding down the side streets, I was SO nervous - don't think I could have been stiffer. When we got to the main road, Lee turned and gave me a thumbs up. "Yes," I nodded. "I'm good." We headed down the main street, and this huge grin came over me. "I'm riding in Mexico!" Even if I didn't ride again this trip, I had met my goal.

We wound through a few small towns with topes then Lee spilt off to meet another friend who would be riding with us, and I continued on with Del. The 2-lane highway wound up into the mountains, with lush foliage bordering the road. My grin wouldn't stop. It reminded me of the roads in the old movie, "Romancing the Stone".

Here's a video of the highway taken from the car later in the week. I didn't bring a Go Pro so this was the only way to get a video of the road, holding my camera out the window. If you skip 40 seconds in, I stuck it out the sunroof so the image is better. You can see that the pavement quality is good, though there is no shoulder, and the foliage comes right up to the edge of the road, impeding visibility a bit. Overall, the roads were great - lots of fun.

Eventually we left the highway and headed towards the ocean. Pulling up on the gritty hardpack of the parking area, I climbed off my bike and wanted to jump up and down. Hell yeah, now THIS was riding in Mexico! Playing it cool (not), I asked Del to take a picture of me. I'll be honest; I love this picture. This is when I realized that the goal I had put in motion months ago - to ride in Mexico - had been achieved. Actually, this goal is much more longstanding that that. I've been dreaming of riding in Latin America since I first discovered the ride reports in the ADVrider forum, over 3 years ago. I just never would have thought I'd ever be able to do it. It still doesn't seem real.

Playa Tenacatita

After a few more photos of the beach, we started back. Almost immediately, we found Lee and his friend, Gilberto, and shortly thereafter, we pulled over for a soda and a break at the shaded tables of a roadside restaurant.

Our rest stop

Lee, Del, and Gilberto relaxing

Tropical sportbikes

On the way back, Del and Gilberto went ahead, and Lee swept behind me. I was finally loosening up a bit and tried shifting my weight in the curves. At one long straight stretch, Lee passed me and stopped in the middle of the road (no traffic behind us) to tell me to stay away from the yellow line on the right hand curves because cars and buses cut the corners. Good reminder.

We had left at 8:00 and were home by 10:30, just about the right length for me. I was hot and starting to melt. My heavy winter textiles just didn't have enough ventilation.

Pulling back into the house, I switched off the bike, dismounted, and started jumping up and down. "I did it! Thank you so much, Lee! You helped make a dream come true!" I gave him a big hug.

We relaxed for a bit, took the dogs for a walk, then went to lunch in the barrio at a restaurant owned by good friends of Lee and Christine. Oh, the wonderful flame roasted chicken with rice and homemade tortillas...yum.

Saying hi to the restaurant owner

Honda down the street from the restaurant

This bird was just hanging out in the tree at the restaurant

Back at the house, I relaxed in the pool, chatting with Andrea and Del. They have been married 27 years and are obviously still in love, like Lee and Christine. They share that easy and relaxed enjoyment of each other, reliance on each other, and trust and respect of each other that's impossible to miss. Seeing them together made me smile. It's good to see a solid couple. It also reminded me of what Mike and I had. I found myself using my camera as a distraction. It would have been wonderful to be here with him.

The pool

We headed into town for dinner, and Christine and I swung by the one ATM in town, where I was very lucky my ATM card worked. I should have changed some money before traveling. We grabbed a water taxi and crossed the laguna to Restaurante Colamilla. It was beautiful!

Walking through Barra de Navidad

The local church

Another street scene

We made a quick stop at the malecon (stone built esplanade) for a few sunset photos

The pier for the water taxi

Our driver


Del and Andrea

The Grand Bay Resort

Where the big yachts live

Pulling up to Colamilla

Hard to get closer to the water than this!

Lee and Christine posed for exactly ONE photo during the entire week. Luckily it came out!

Del and Andrea

Scenes from the beach

I asked this boy if I could take his picture, and we counted down together (in Spanish) before he jumped off the dock.

Returning on the water taxi, with the warm dark air pressing against us as the engine pushed us through the water, I tried not to notice how romantic it was. Or would have been. Snap, snap, with the camera.

Tomorrow would be a longer ride. I was still nervous, but not nearly as much as before. I knew that I could handle the bike, though it was faster than mine. But there would be more heat, more traffic, and the ride would be longer. Still, I was excited to see more sights.
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Old 03-05-2014, 07:13 AM   #5
Candiya OP
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Joined: Dec 2010
Location: Bremerton, WA
Oddometer: 208
Mexico Day 3
Barra de Navidad to La Huerta and La Manzanilla

I started the day in tears. Well, actually, I started the day feeling pretty good but ended up in tears before getting on the bike.

I was hanging around the breakfast table as Lee was gearing up, when he asked if I knew the story behind the blue model bike in the glass case behind him. I shook my head, and he shared with me that he had lost a son, and the bike held his ashes.

Stunned, I immediately flashed on the urn at Mike's service in Kansas. How I had taken photos of it in the church, even though it was probably completely inappropriate, simply because it would be my only chance. Even though I had sat in the front row of the military service in Bremerton, I hadn't realized that the urn was there. It didn't dawn on me that I'd missed it until the next morning, when it was gone.

I remembered, in the days immediately after the accident, Mike's mom asking what wording they should put on the urn, what Mike would have liked. Just one of the many questions for which I had no adequate answer. We ultimately decided on his full name and rank, with the inscription below, "But to Loved Ones, Mike/Daddy".

Sitting in that church in Kansas, I watched Mike's cousin carry the honor and weight of the urn to the podium, struggling to maintain his countenance. Then I laid eyes on it for the first time and just sat in the wooden pew, my body heavy and unresponsive, as I tried to come to terms with the reality of it. That urn wasn't just in honor of him. It was him. It still isn't real.

I listened to Lee share the story of his son, and my heart ached for him. He closed by saying, "You have to keep living." Then we headed out to the bikes, where I broke down into tears. Poor Del was already outside and had no idea why I was crying so I quickly explained. Christine asked if I was okay to ride, and I nodded. The morning was cool and fresh, and I knew I'd be okay once I got on the road.

The first destination of the day was La Huerta. We rolled through the little towns with the topes then up into the mountainous hills again. I had taken Lee up on his offer of his mesh jacket. While it wasn't as protective as my textiles, I didn't trust myself to make good decisions when overheated. The mesh wouldn't be as hot so I thought I'd give it a shot. As we climbed and climbed, I actually started to get cold. Shaking my head, I thought, "Who woulda thought I'd come to Mexico only to be cold?" Rounding a corner at the top of the hill, we ran into thick warm fog and had to open our visors to see the road.

I felt bad for Del, stuck behind me in the twisties. I just couldn't seem to get in a good groove so was going really slowly. Eventually, he passed me, and he and Lee passed a truck. I'm pretty conservative when it comes to passing so it took me a little while to find a good spot. A little while later, I saw the guys pulled over on the side of the road waiting for me.

As I rolled to a stop, they walked up, one to each side of the bike. With no preamble, they launched into a list of riding tips, shotgun style. Loosen up, especially the arms; look and push; not so much braking; and so on. It made me smile, and I genuinely tried to take in the advice. I needed to improve and really wanted to feel more comfortable out there. The day before, I had told them that if they had advice for me, I was open to it, and I guess they heard me!

Soon enough, we arrived in the town of La Huerta. What an experience rolling through the narrow, brick-lined streets, with blue flags strung above for blocks on end. Eventually, we found the town square, where we parked illegally, right by the police station. Obviously, this wasn't a problem because, before we got to the restaurant where we took our break, a cop was standing by the bikes with his machine gun, making small talk with another guy. He didn't even blink at the bikes.

The town square in La Huerta

Policeman standing next to our bikes

Our rest stop

I'm not a big soda person, but the glass bottles of Coke are fun

We rested and enjoyed a soda then decided to head along to La Manzanilla to visit the crocodiles. To get the bikes out, I had to interrupt the police officer with his machine gun. "Con permiso," I said, and he smiled and gave us room to maneuver.

Back on the twisty, tropical highway, Lee and Del again passed a truck, and by the time I found a good passing spot, they were long out of sight. It was really relaxing to roll along by myself and gave me a small taste of what it would be like to travel in Mexico alone. I was perfectly content.

Lee and Del were waiting for me at the turn-off to La Manzanilla. Entering La Manzanilla, I discovered a new interesting feature of the roads in Mexico, water causeways. These have a steep decline before a cross street, then a steep incline up the other side. They were interesting to cross.

We parked and checked out the "cocodrilario," and I snapped some pictures of the crocodiles through the chain link fence. Next, Lee wanted to stop by a construction site, where a friend was on the crew building a beach house. Pretty soon the brick road turned into a dirt road. I thought, "I'm riding a dirt road on a borrowed sportbike. Now that's trust!" I was careful as could be and arrived without any problems. Of course, more photos were a necessity.

Parking to look at the crocodiles


If you wanted to pay to enter, you could walk on these sturdy, ADA-approved, OSHA-certified walkways above the crocodiles.

Del: "hmmm...should I jump the fence to swim with the crocodiles?"

Glamour shot of "my" baby

The dirt road to the construction site

Street view of the house under construction

Walking up the side of the house to the ocean view, I found this chicken off to the side, with a string looped around his leg.

The guys standing around talking

What a spot for a beach house, eh?

I was considerably cooler wearing Lee's mesh jacket.

As we were getting ready to leave, I considered asking for help turning the bike around but coached myself, "No, Candiya, you can do it." Luckily, the road was smooth at that spot, and I didn't have any problems. I let Lee and Del go first, and before I took off, I glanced up to find that all the workers on that side of the house had conveniently decided to take a break. They were all standing around watching to see if I could actually ride a bike. I told myself, "Don't you drop this thing now, with an audience!" And I headed off with no mishaps. Phew!

On our way back to Barra, I got caught behind an ADV couple from the USA. I could have passed but found that they were riding slow enough that I could completely relax and work on body position, especially relaxing my arms while in turns. I found that I was starting to learn my way around and could have followed the signs to Barra if I had to.

This ride was a couple hours longer than yesterday. We left at 8:00 and returned at about 12:00. Using the mesh jacket really helped me to not overheat, and I ended up borrowing it for the rest of the week.

Back at the house, we quickly changed and headed out to lunch. This lunch was a special treat because Lee and Christine had invited the police to join us. They are good friends with the female police captain, Jimena, and she brought the other 2 police officers who were on patrol with her so there were three of them. What a wonderful cultural exchange! They are really neat people.

They must be required to carry their weapons at all times because they sat at the lunch table with their weapons in their laps. Since I was sitting on the same side of the table, they all happened to be pointing at me. I shrugged and laughed to myself. Hopefully, I'd make it out alive!

I sat next to Alberto, who spoke little English, so he was patient with my Spanish. I showed him my driver's license and how the number 3 indicates the motorcycle endorsement. He shared that motorcycle riders in Mexico have a completely separate license, and there are different licenses for driving manual versus automatic cars. Interesting! He showed us his driver's license and also his military ID, which listed all the different weapons he was carrying.

Next, we talked about families, and I asked to see photos of his 7-year-old daughter. He scrolled through his cell phone until I saw his cute little girl wearing pink angel wings.

Of course, I wasn't going to let this photo opportunity go by. With lots of jokes about how I was in so much trouble they needed 3 officers to take me down, they kindly put up with my photo requests. Del, Andrea, and I left the meal feeling that this was one of the highlights of our trip.

Back at the house, Del asked if anyone wanted to go canoeing. Andrea had to do some work on the computer so I volunteered. It was so beautiful on the water. (Unfortunately, my camera isn't waterproof so no pics.) We headed out towards the lagoon, where we saw the coolest bird (pelican?) on the little shipwrecked boat. Crossing the lagoon, I began to learn a bit about Del's adventurous side. First, he suggested that we could pull into the little beach and portage across the malecon to ride the waves on the bay side with the surfers. The wind was up so I wasn't too sure about that idea. Well, why don't we go see what's around the end of the malecon? Sure, we can do that. When we got to the end of the malecon, he said, "Let's just go until we see the surfers." So...we started heading that way.

The little waves were breaking over the front of the canoe, and warm seawater filled my lap and my seat. I eyed the sharp rocks lining the malecon with distrust. "I'm not so sure about this," I said. "Hey, look at the buoy," he responded. "Let's just go around the buoy!" So...we started paddling towards the buoy. The wind was getting worse as we left the protection of the rocks, and finally, I laughed and said, "abort, abort!" We were actually pretty close to the buoy, but by then, he was saying things like, "Hey, we should paddle to Melaque sometime!" Now, Melaque is all the way across the bay. I was pretty sure if I didn't put the brakes on, we'd have ended up in Puerto Vallarta, or maybe even San Diego! Instead, we turned back to the protected lagoon, explored some of the canals, and headed back to Lee and Christine's.

Next, we changed for dinner then headed out to do some sightseeing at the Grand Bay resort and golf club. The craftsmanship that went into building the club house at the golf course was truly beautiful.

Driving in to the golf course

Walking into the golf club

The ladies locker rooms were quite something. Don't worry, they were empty so it was okay to take photos.

I was entranced with the brick dome ceilings with intricate chandeliers. This one was in the bar.

We climbed up a little 4-story tower to check out the view.

These rooftops reminded me of some of Mike's video games.

Del making himself at home

The lovely ladies

And here's another neat ceiling in the restaurant.

One successful tour down. Now on to the Grand Bay resort!

Driving into the resort

The lobby

We went out to the deck where the view was stupendous - really helped to put everything in context. This spit of land is the malecon, with the lagoon on the right side of it and the bay on the left.

And one last chandelier, this time in the lobby of the resort

I decided that this "ride report" (really, more like a vacation slideshow) needed more photos of bikes so I decided to start taking "candids" of bikes on the streets. Here are a couple. I've never heard of Izuka.

Dinner was at a restaurant called Los Caracoles, which I think was in Melaque. It is not to be missed. Lee had explained that there are lots of cooks in his town but few chefs. This restaurant was led by a gifted chef, and I quickly learned what he meant. The dishes were beautiful and dramatic. I had the catch of the day, which was served with 2 sauces, a corn sauce and a lobster sauce. It was one of the best fish dishes I've ever had, fully as good as Roy's in Hawaii, if not better.

Los Caracoles

My catch of the day

Del had a really good story to tell

Andrea was really excited about the chocolate

In case you want to go...

Full and sated, we returned to the house, where I did a little work and babied my swollen, bite-ridden feet. (The mosquitoes only came up in the evenings, but I had forgotten to use repellent my first night and suffered for it.)

What a stupendous day!
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Old 03-05-2014, 08:40 AM   #6
Ride Along
Joined: Apr 2006
Location: Roswell Idaho
Oddometer: 1,507
Mexico. Sweet. Good to see your life shine, thanks for sharing.
Papa, would you like your old cell?

Yes, please.
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Old 03-05-2014, 10:09 AM   #7
jared p
Joined: May 2013
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i didn't know you were on here too. pnwriders strikes again. great post btw, i keep trying to find the time to get down there and visit them.
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Old 03-05-2014, 07:51 PM   #8
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Mexico Day 4
Barra de Navidad to Peralu...kinda

Despite the huge, comfortable bed, I couldn't sleep well last night. At one point in the middle of the night, it occurred to me that I really should take my cell phone when we ride, along with the number to reach Christine. What if something happens? But when I woke, the phone battery was almost dead so I left it behind.

The ride today was supposed to be a bit longer - a couple hours each direction. We set off, and I simply wasn't able to make the bike do what I wanted while also being relaxed. I tried to remind myself: eyes up-up-up!, relaxed arms, stay away from the yellow on the right hand turns. It just wasn't coming together, and I imagined my companions being frustrated at my slow pace and lack of improvement/progression despite their excellent tips.

I was following Del, when he decided to change tactics. He sat up and started making the hand signals I've seen from control riders on the track. Gesturing to his eyes and pointing to where to look, exaggerating his relaxed arms, and so on. It was one of those moments that's absurd and wonderful and magical all at once. Here I was, riding through a jungle in Mexico with my own control rider. Seriously, who gets to do this?? I felt like the luckiest girl in the world. A moment of intense gratitude passed through me. I had walked into the unknown, had boarded that airplane and stepped into the mystery. And this was waiting on the other side. I could have missed this entire experience and never known it, had my fears held me back.

We continued on until we came up to a truck, which Del passed, no muss-no fuss. I envy Lee and Del their passing skills. Sigh. Recruiting my patience, I waited until I found a passing spot that was comfortable. One thing I can say about the GSXR is that it's much easier to pass with it than either of my bikes.

Eventually, I came to a long, flat, straight stretch and saw that they had pulled over to wait for me. Lee waved me to keep going so I did. A few seconds later, he passed me. Vrooom! Next, Del was going to pass. I was only going about 60, and Del was cruising by me in the other lane, just relaxed and steady, maybe 65. When he was right beside me, I heard a snap-kerchunk, like when a chain derails on a bicycle. He looked down at his foot and coasted to a stop, and I pulled up behind him.

"What's wrong?" I hollered through my helmet.

"I lost my chain," he responded.

"What?" I seriously thought I'd misheard him. Does that actually happen? I looked down at his bike. Sure enough, no chain.

Something's missing here...

By then, Lee had come back to us, and they went walking down the road looking for the chain. They found it and returned carrying the forlorn, droopy-looking thing. In my ignorance, I asked Del if he'd be able to fix it on the side of the road. "No, I don't think so," he answered.

Found it

Well, this isn't good...

We were so very lucky, in so many ways. The chain could have caused his back wheel to lock up. The highway behind and ahead of us was full of blind curves with no shoulders. Things could have gone very badly. If this had to happen, this was absolutely the best case scenario and the best location. I was also glad it hadn't happened when Lee was riding alone.

We all talked it over and decided that Lee would go back to get his truck and trailer. I decided to stay behind for a couple reasons. First, Lee would be able to get there MUCH faster without a slowpoke along. And second, it was the first time I had a chance to stop on the side of the road. All the other times we stopped were at restaurants or in towns. I wanted to take in the environment of the countryside.

Lee heading off for help

It was relaxing. There was a pond on the other side of the fence, which Del helpfully named "crocodile lake". He pointed out clumps of floating logs that could have been crocodiles...but weren't. Phew. Across the highway were some cultivated fields. Passing traffic was sparse. It was quiet, and the air was humid and warming noticeably.

"Crocodile lake"

See the NOT crocodile floating out there?

The road looking to the left

And the road looking to the right

The fields across the way

We had the bikes off the road

Well, how am I going to fill the time? Photos, of course!

Before they came with the truck, we moved the bikes out of the way so there would be room to load the zx-14.

Del gave me some more riding tips when I asked for them, then I asked if he could take me 2-up on the yellow bike on the way back, and he agreed. I just couldn't get the advice to fall into place, and sometimes a 2-up ride helps with that. Eventually, Lee and Andrea returned with the Jeep, and the poor bike was loaded.

Yep, still no chain

Cringe. See the crack?

We watched for traffic as Lee backed out the trailer onto the road, then I climbed onto the passenger seat on the GSXR. We quickly passed the Jeep and wound our way through the curves. THIS is what a bike is supposed to feel like! Smooth and controlled. I was completely relaxed, though we were going much faster than I went solo. Not pushing it at all, just cruising. It was very helpful that the 2-up ride was on the same bike I had been riding, to see how it reacted in the hands of a skilled rider. All too soon, we were out of the hills and back to the flat land.

Sitting around the kitchen table back at the house, it dawned on me that this was the first time I had ridden 2-up on the street since Mike's accident. My eyes filled with tears as I shared that with Andrea. I really miss it.

Next, we went to lunch at a restaurant with a pleasant outdoor patio. Up till this point in the week, I'd stringently followed the rules of what not to eat in Mexico, but today I finally relaxed my guard and had a limonada (lemonade) and ceviche. The ceviche here is interesting. Rather than being served as whole pieces of fish, shrimp, or seafood in citrus juice, the fish is chopped, and it's served dry, mixed with chopped tomatoes and onions. Pretty tasty.

Our lunch spot


The afternoon was quiet, just relaxing around the house for me. Lee and Del worked on the bike, then Andrea and Del went out in the canoe, where he finally achieved his goal of rounding the buoy and riding the waves with the surfers. :) It was a better day for water adventures since it wasn't as windy.

Dinner that night was with Gilberto and his wife, Lourdes, at their restaurant. Good food, and lots of it! After we finished eating, Lourdes sat down with us and told stories. Her Spanish was so fast and used such extensive vocabulary that I missed most of it, but it didn't matter because she was so animated, she had us all laughing with her dramatic delivery. It was a good night.

We looked through a few shops before dinner. Obligatory photos of bright Mexican crafts and textiles.

Andrea in her new sunglasses, since she lost her others when the canoe flipped after riding the waves in with the surfers

If there's a tsunami, go left

Lots of dualsports on the streets

Future motorcycle rider

I thought this was a funny way to sell ice cream. Poor kid.

Gilberto's bike parked in front of the restaurant

After dinner, I saw a glimpse of the sunset, and Gilberto told me how to get to the ocean. I hopped up from the dinner table and quickly walked the 2 blocks to the beach, where I snapped these.

The walk back to the restaurant. Just imagine the warm, humid night, and the streets slowly waking to what nightlife there was...

Gilberto and Lourdes

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Old 03-05-2014, 08:00 PM   #9
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Location: Bremerton, WA
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Mexico Day 5

Today was our rest day. No riding scheduled for today. Andrea and Del spent the morning snorkeling with Gilberto. Lee was busy cutting the grass at the town entrance all morning, his volunteer work. (He's too self-deprecating to tell you, but he actually did all the landscaping as well. It's beautiful.) Christine was working on the mural again.

Christine gave me a ride into town, and I spent a couple hours walking around and taking photos. I chatted with a few shopkeepers but didn't buy anything. It was nice to spend a bit of time alone, to wander the empty morning streets and stop to check out anything that struck my fancy. The town was deserted, except for the few shops that were open and the gringo surfers at the malecon.

Christine working on the mural with some friends. The school children designed and painted most of it. It's almost completed, and Christine and her friends are just finishing up some final details.

More Mexico bike "candids"

This is actually Gilberto's son's bike. I never had a chance to meet him, but Lee had pointed out the bike earlier in the week.

I saw this guy later on the malecon. Apparently, you're not supposed to even ride bicycles onto the malecon, not to mention motorcycles.

I give this one 10 points for creativity on the seat cover. I like the style, though it probably gets pretty soggy in the rain.

And here are some more random shots of the town

Klay, this one's for you!

I liked these little kids' rides.

On the flight down, I found the "high contrast black and white" setting on the camera. That's what I used for all the B&W shots here. I didn't realize just how "contrasty" the pics were until viewing them on a bigger screen at home after returning. Not exactly what I was going for - but still some interesting effects. I don't know how to do any post processing so the photos in this report are just as they came out of the camera.

I found this sandal on the sidewalk and amused myself by making up the back story. "The sandal had a wild night last night. All went well, until she got separated from her friends..."

Surfers heading to the malecon

These two coffee mugs struck my funnybone, kinda like an old, married couple taking a break from their morning constitutional.

The area is known for its fishing. In fact, there was a fishing contest of some sort earlier in the week.

It's also known for bird watching.

Surfers taking a break

When Lee returned, we went into town for lunch at the Sea Market Restaurant. What an incredible view. Much of their deck had been taken out by the hurricane a couple of years ago. They just continued on using the edges of the deck that were viable. I admire their tenacity. Not sure I'd want to eat at those tables though - I'm not a fan of heights!

After lunch, we returned to the house to relax for the afternoon. I curled up with a book on a lounge chair in the shade of the palapa in the backyard. Taking a break from reading to gaze out over the canal, I felt warm and languid and slow. I haven't thought about home for days. My house, work, the dark all seemed hazy and indistinct.

Thinking about home, I realized that I don't have any more plans for the future - not that matter, at least. Since the accident, I've made it through by moving from one goal to the next. The memorial bench, the trip to Kansas for the final memorial service, the Yamaha school, the memorial ride, my solo ride, and now this, my Mexico trip. The thought of continuing on, the thought of the just made me sigh. It made me weary, like a chore that will never end. I put the thought out of my mind. I am here now; tomorrow will take care of itself.

For dinner, we went to Martin's Restaurant in Melaque. It's a wonderful, cozy, open-air restaurant with very good food. Yet again, Lee and Christine knew the owner. Everywhere we have gone, they have greeted people by name, known the proprietors of the establishments and people on the streets. It makes the country feel very friendly.

In fact, near the end of dinner, they recognized a man at another table who came over to join us. He is a French-Canadian who lives in Mexico part-time. He's a motorcycle rider as well, and we talked about his upcoming solo trip to Chiapas. Now, that's a solo trip I'd think twice about doing! I hope he stays safe and has a wonderful time.

Pulling into Melaque


What a view!

We all looked for the green flash as the sun slipped beneath the horizon. Maybe next time...

Lee is going to rest tomorrow so Del and I will do the ride that was cut short on Tuesday. As you may have noticed, Lee has been remarkably active for someone scheduled for back surgery. I feel very lucky that he was feeling well enough to ride for the beginning of the week. While the back pain curtails his movement on 2 feet, he is incredibly graceful on 2 wheels. Not just the movement of the bike, but his movement on the bike. He looks loose and fluid and is a gifted rider. It was a treat to ride with him.
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Old 03-05-2014, 08:07 PM   #10
Candiya OP
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Mexico Day 6
Barra de Navidad to Pérula

Today was the first day that Del and I rode without Lee. His back was hurting him too much to ride. We decided to go to Pérula, our aborted destination when the chain fell off. Setting off, I felt like I was finally getting into a bit of a good groove. Instead of being scary obstacles, the topes were fun. Del took it easy, and I was able to almost completely relax on the ride. I wasn't using the brakes in every turn and was much smoother on the throttle. I'm not sure if I was actually riding better, was getting used to the GSXR finally, or it was simply that Del was riding really slowly. Whatever the reason, I thoroughly enjoyed the ride out. Del entertained himself by doing things like standing up on the bike to stretch...and riding it through the corners like that. The highway was still green and lush and beautiful; the bike felt good; and it was fun to have a new destination for the day.

A little over an hour later, we made it to Pérula, where we crossed the town and turned onto a dirt road towards the beach. This dirt road was a different experience for me. It seemed to be covered with mini moguls, not potholes but small smooth bumps. I just kept the throttle steady and tried to pick the smoothest path through. Kind of fun but also kind of "whoah!"

The little bumps don't show, but here's the dirt road.

The road ends here.

The road ended at the beach, where we parked. I pulled off my helmet and took a few photos as Del walked ahead and disappeared down the little hill. His voice drifted back to me..."Wow". I quickly followed, curious to see what prompted that response. As I rounded the top of the hill, I echoed him. "Wow."

The beach was stunning. We were the only people at the restaurant, our table on the sand. As we ate breakfast, we watched the pelicans and other birds we couldn't name. They walked in the surf, bobbed in the waves, and flew above, diving for their breakfast. The sun glittered off the water and illuminated fish in the curl of the waves. I was very tempted to run into the water. It was ideal. I could have spent all day there.

Coming over the rise, we were greeted by this view

The restaurant

The rest of the beach

Tropical helmets

Birds feeding

A lone stand-up paddleboard surfer

This photo makes me laugh because of the perspective. Either the man is the size of a toy figure, or he's about to be eaten by a dinosaur sized bird.

Another tropical bike photo

Near the end of lunch, I decided to check the time on the satellite tracker. I patted the pocket...hmmm...too flat. I reached in and my heart sank. The pocket was open and the tracker was gone. Worse, when I checked the rest of my pockets, Christine's cell phone was gone too. I never lose things. I couldn't believe it.

We started back to the house, and I had to wrench my mind back to the road. I was so frustrated with myself. I had to remind myself that losing their phone was one thing. It would be far worse to mess up the bike. Time to pay attention. The ride home felt much faster than the ride in.

I really thought we had a decent chance of spotting the bright yellow tracker. The phone was a small, silver flip phone so I wasn't as optimistic on that score. But...we didn't find either.

Pulling into the house, I confessed my sin to Christine, and she was very gracious about it. Luckily, the tracking function was on so we were able to look it up on the online map. I was curious to see if it would be moving (aka someone picked it up), but no, it was stationary. Unfortunately, it was almost all the way back to Pérula. Zooming in and out on the map, we were able to pinpoint the location, just past a long, concrete bridge.

Del and Andrea were kind enough to offer to go back and look for it with me so we hopped in the car and headed back. We found the stretch of road where it should have been and walked both sides of the road...but no luck. The tracker (and phone) could have been right next to the road, but the foliage was so thick, it was impossible to see anything beneath it. Oh well. At least I have a good story for how I lost the dang thing!

You can consider it a treasure hunt the next time you're in Mexico. Here's the view from the satellite tracker map.

And here's the same spot on Google maps. You can see that it's just after the town of Emiliano Zapata, after you cross the bridge over the river, Rio Cuitzmala.

A few more road photos from the drive back

It wasn't all forest/jungle. Sometimes the landscape opened up to fields like this.

Drinking a Coke with his girl on the back, just putting along.

Searching for the phone and tracker...

On the way back, we stopped in Tenacatita and visited the tequila/raicilla distillery.

The distillery

Getting a tour and review of the history of raicilla and tequila

They age it in casks.

The bottling equipment

Of course, we had to taste a little!

Our guide's hobby was building this...

After the distillery, we went to the beach at the end of the road. I sat on a log in the sun took some photos while Andrea and Del climbed the rocks around the far end of the beach. Finally, I just sat and watched the waves.

I missed Mike. He would have loved this whole experience. He would have loved the riding. He would have been paddling to Melaque with Del. He would have jumped up to help with the bike maintenance. He would have fit into our little group perfectly. Of course, logically, I know that if he was still alive, we wouldn't be here. I wouldn't have pushed my riding so hard last year. I wouldn't have reached out to Lee. But see, the logic doesn't matter. I just wish he was here.

Playa Tenacatita at low tide

Black and white gives it a different feel

The guide at the distillery described this area as a natural aquarium. Andrea and Del walked out to see the sea life.

Heading back to the car

Returning to the house, Christine was glazing the rum cake she had made. It smelled amazing! We changed and went outside to pile into the car for dinner, when we saw the police driving down the street. This was the second time today that we ran into them as we were walking out of the house. They stopped and got out of the patrol truck to say hi.

As we stood in a circle talking, Christine mentioned that I would be leaving tomorrow. Alberto came up with question after question about when I would be coming back. In six months? In February? For Christmas?

Eventually, we headed off for dinner. As we drove away, Lee said to me, "Candiya!" (I always imagined an exclamation point after my name when he said it.) "There's one good thing that's come out of your visit!"

"What's that?" I asked.

"We've never had so many police patrols before. They've been up and down our street 5 times today!"

We went out to dinner in Melaque. The view was gorgeous, like a Hollywood movie set.

Driving home through the warm, tropical darkness, we told stories, and our laughter rocked the Jeep and spilled out into the night. Back at home, we lingered over the rum cake, as I avoided packing. I couldn't believe the week was ending already.
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Old 03-05-2014, 08:09 PM   #11
Candiya OP
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Location: Bremerton, WA
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Mexico Day 7
Barra de Navidad to Tenacatita to Bremerton, Washington

This was the first morning of the trip that I woke early enough to join the regular morning dog walk, which happens at 5:30. Christine, Del, a family friend, Able, and I walked the dark neighborhood with the dogs. Returning to the house, we bid Able goodbye, and Lee, Christine, Del, and I drank coffee and chatted around the kitchen table. Seized by an impulse, I brought up the photo threads of Mike to share. "I know I've been talking about him this week so I thought you might like to see him." We scrolled through the photos as I told the stories behind them.

My flight wasn't until the afternoon so we had time for one final ride in the morning. I asked Del if he'd take me 2-up. I'd been good this week, stepped up and challenged my fears. This was my reward. Riding 2-up doesn't provide the sense of accomplishment of riding my own. But still, I love it. I'd say it's pure pleasure, but it's more like 90% pleasure, and 10% "damn, my knees hurt." (At 5'10", there's no way around the fact that I'm not built to be a sport bike passenger.)

We headed off to Tenacatita on the green bike. That bike is a monster! Certainly no lack of power there. What a fun ride. About halfway there, I found myself adjusting my position. I couldn't seem to get myself straight on the bike, which seemed ridiculous. It's a tiny seat with two pegs. How hard can it be to sit straight? Well, I later found out that the bike had been dropped before Lee bought it, and the pegs were wonky - not entirely even. Mystery solved.

We stopped for another break at the same restaurant as the first day. My wrists, triceps, and knees appreciated the chance to stretch, but I had a grin a mile wide. After a quick break, we returned to the house. The ride back felt fast and smooth. What a treat for my last ride in Mexico.

Stopping for a break

Del borrowed one of Lee's mesh jackets for this ride

There were a couple kids playing with piñatas

Back home in the garage. Yippee - I made it through the week without dropping the yellow bike! (Gotta celebrate the little things.)

For lunch today, we decided to grab a water taxi and eat at the resort across the water. Before taking the taxi, we stopped to complete an errand: buying Christine a new phone. (Still can't believe I lost it.)

It was another beautiful ride across the water, and it was interesting to see the resort's pools up close. As we sat down at the table by the pool, I looked around. All of the resort guests seemed to be from the US, and the only language I heard was English. I was so grateful for the Mexican experience that I had had this week: meeting Lee and Christine's Mexican friends and hearing their stories, eating at restaurants where the staff didn't speak English, and the food was more authentic. A resort vacation would have been beautiful and relaxing, but it wouldn't have provided the rich cultural experience of staying with these new friends. I felt very lucky.

At the resort

After lunch, it was time to gather up my bags and head to the airport. I hugged Lee and Andrea goodbye, and Christine, Del, and I hopped in the car. As we drove, Christine said that she was sad to see me go, that I was a successful mystery guest. That made me feel good. I had tried not to be too intrusive or a burden and to be a good guest. I felt a true friendship with them and hoped it was returned. Christine walked me into the airport, and all too soon, it was time to say goodbye.

Waiting for my flight

This little building is the whole airport - all 4 gates in one waiting area.

Goodbye Mexico! It was wonderful getting to know you.

Landing in LA

Like on the way down, my layover was at LAX. I stood in line for Customs, and the agent called me up and asked, "What were you doing in Mexico?"

Holding up my helmet with a big smile, I said, "Riding motorcycles!"

He laughed and responded, "Oh, you're one of THOSE women!"

I laughed too. "Yes, but I'm not sure what that means. What does it mean?"

"You're out there doing things. Like Nike, 'just do it!'"

"Well, yes. I'm still afraid, but I do it anyways."

He smiled, handed my passport back, and waved me on my way.

After dinner at the airport, I boarded the flight back to Seattle. Sitting on the plane as the rest of the passengers filed in, I checked the motorcycle forum on my phone. A PM notification popped up. The message was from a forum member who had shared my first ride report with a friend. She had been inspired to book a solo road trip in a couple weeks. I was so touched.

Leaving LA, heading home

As we took off on the last leg of the trip home, I reflected on what I had learned in the past week. Perhaps this diary entry says it best:

Sitting in the Manzanillo airport boarding area, my heart is full and empty at the same time. I want to cry. Saying goodbye to Christine and the crew was so hard! Now I am sitting here feeling simultaneously blessed, incredibly blessed, and weary and afraid to pick up the daily round again. This has been an incredible interlude. If I am looking for reasons to choose life, this trip has reminded me of some dear ones: the fact that there are good people in the world, who welcome strangers into their home and show them a new culture, introduce them to their friends, and share the richness of their lives. Green and beautiful highways with new friends to lead the way. Adventure and exploration. Pushing my limits, stretching myself so that the new me will be able to reach beyond my boundaries.

I am starting from scratch in constructing a life. Step-by-step, I will get there.
A few weeks before the trip, someone had posted a thread on one of the motorcycle forums; in response to the documentary film "Why We Ride," the thread asked, "Why do you ride?" I've struggled to articulate the answer to this question since the accident. When people, especially non-riders, find out that I still ride, a look of pity and incomprehension passes over their faces. I never know how to respond. When I posted in the thread, this is what came out:

I ride for the sensation.

I ride for the community.

I ride because challenging my fears reminds me that I'm alive.

I ride because, while I can talk to my lost love anytime, it's the one time I know he's listening.
This is why I did the trip to Mexico - for the riding itself, for the community, for the challenge, and because it's a way that I could honor Mike while reaching for something new. The phrase "moving on" is so difficult because it implies moving away. It implies distance. Maybe this was a way that I could "move forward" instead, while carrying him with me.

When I stood in front of the crowd at the memorial service to deliver the eulogy, I read from a prepared statement. The eulogy had been written in advance, except for the last line, which came out of me as I spoke. While it wasn't on the page, I couldn't hold it back when I reached the end. The last line was, "I will carry him in my heart forever." And that statement is just as true today.

It's not about being wedded to the past but about carrying that love forward, as I move forward. As I said in the introduction to the first ride report, I want this year to be about choosing life. This Mexico trip was a step towards finding that new life.
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Old 03-05-2014, 08:26 PM   #12
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Post them up with pride!

Originally Posted by Candiya View Post

Klay, this one's for you!

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Old 03-06-2014, 07:22 AM   #13
Candiya OP
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Joined: Dec 2010
Location: Bremerton, WA
Oddometer: 208

I found this ride report much more difficult to write than the last, for a number of reasons. Since I had to work the week after returning, the writing dragged on, and by the time I reached the end of the report, I wasn't in the same mind space as when I returned. While I could still recite what happened, it was difficult to give it the right tone since I wasn't there emotionally.

Plus, on a totally different note, it was difficult to write because I wanted the report to be good. As anyone involved in any creative pursuits could tell you, that's the kiss of death. I rewrote sections and fought with myself - just generally made myself crazy with the thing.

Also, it was intimidating that I was writing about people who would be reading the report. I wrote to them privately and offered to remove/rewrite anything that made them uncomfortable. They reassured me that it was fine, but I still second guessed myself quite a bit.

Next time, I'll try to schedule half my vacation for adventuring and half for writing. Each post takes 5-7 hours to assemble - maybe a little less if I have a bunch of travel notes from that day that won't take long to edit. It's a labor of love. Well, to be honest, I love it at the beginning, wonder what I've gotten myself into in the middle, and find it completely worthwhile at the end.

On a different topic, I wanted to say something here about fear, challenge, and intuition. I know that by many people's measures, my adventures aren't very adventurous. On my first trip, I rode fairly well-traveled roads that many of you have visited before. This Mexico trip involved staying with locals and being guided by them. To some people, this would be a walk in the park.

It's all what you compare it to, and everyone has a different scale. I have one female friend who won't get out of her car on the ferry because being by herself on the upper deck makes her uncomfortable. She couldn't conceive of traveling by herself or staying with people she hadn't met before. On the other extreme, another friend just returned from 2.5 years of solo motorcycle travel around the world. But even as well-traveled as he is, I'm sure there are still things that he finds challenging.

Last summer, I found a ride report from a TAT ride. The author was an extremely skilled rider (former pro stunt rider) and mechanic (factory trained). As I read his report, I had a moment of envy. I thought to myself, "I wish I had his skills. Solo motorcycle travel must be easy for him." Literally the next paragraph down, he described how intimidated he was by camping solo, and how out of his element he felt. It was a revelation to me. No matter how skilled you are in one part of your life, there will be another part where you feel a novice. Solo (or solo-ish) travel encompasses so many skills that I doubt anyone is good at them all when they first set out. Reading his report gave me courage. Maybe I don't have the riding or wrenching skills, but hopefully there is something else I bring to the table that will help me survive this journey.

At first, I felt like I couldn't go on an adventure without having all the skills lined up. But I quickly realized that for me, for the reasons I was going, I couldn't wait. I'm such a slow learner on motorcycles, it could be years before I'd truly be "ready". I needed to go now. I couldn't tell you why. I couldn't tell you why I've done anything this past year. All I know is that each step of the way, I've closed my eyes, trusted my gut, and taken that step.

Like all the other steps, this one (this Mexico trip) was completely worthwhile. Looking back from this vantage point, I can see why it made sense...but before I left? All I could have told you was that I had to go.
Candiya is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-06-2014, 08:40 AM   #14
Ride Along
Joined: Apr 2006
Location: Roswell Idaho
Oddometer: 1,507
"I wanted the report to be good. As anyone involved in any creative pursuits could tell you, that's the kiss of death."

You write with an honest introspection that makes it hard to conceive it's not being good. Thanks again for sharing. Great pics too.
Papa, would you like your old cell?

Yes, please.
PapaYolk is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-06-2014, 08:41 AM   #15
Gnarly Adventurer
Joined: Dec 2010
Location: Salt spring Island the Hawaii of Canada
Oddometer: 204
Well done and thank you . Lost my wife in April . She too preferred pillion to riding her ninja .
B50Paul is offline   Reply With Quote


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