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Old 04-07-2011, 07:03 PM   #1
jordan325ic OP
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Joined: Mar 2010
Location: Austin, TX
Oddometer: 245
ninja 250, 2 up TX to Argentina

Initially I didn't plan on posting the blog here, just because I was operating out of a free photohosting account and the bandwidth was getting maxed out just with the minor traffic the blog was getting. I know ADVrider viewings would just be too much. But now that I've finally stopped being a cheapo and paid for a "pro" account, I figured I could share it here as well.

I feel like on this website there is much love for the big ADV bikes. I can definitely appreciate the KTMs and the BMWs. However, I feel that many people get the wrong impression about what you actually NEED to venture into 3rd world countries. Money spent on the motorcycle is money that can't be spent traveling.

As soon as I accidently stumbled across the website advrider.com I knew that was exactly what I wanted to do, though I didn't know when in my life I would be able to. I graduated from college and I knew it was the best time in my life for a motorcycle trip. I scraped up enough money to take the MSF course and buy a 2002 ninja 250. I chose the ex250 because they are cheap (mine was $1500), reliable, good mpg, standard seating position and capable of highway travel (a must in TX). About the same time I met my beautiful girlfriend Michelle. She is more adventurous than me, she speaks Spanish fluently and is incredibly outgoing. Perfect traveling companion. One day she jokingly said we should visit her friend in Ecuador, and the trip was born.

Here is the bike in touring mode. Mods are loud exhaust (previous owner), highway gearing, luggage rack and relocated rear signals (to fit bigger bags). Other than that, completely stock.


Bike gear includes:
Cargo Converti tankbag I got off ebay for $20usd (28L)
Nelson Riggs Sphere saddlebags ebay for $60 (45L each!)
Tailbag that came with the rack (10L)

Camping stuff:
REI 2 person tent $50 used
2 30/40deg lightweight sleeping bags from REI outlet $110
REI outlet sleeping pad $12
2 1.5L nalgene bottles $13

Electronics:
Spot tracker 1 $40 used + $100 service plan
Ipod touch 8gig for a mini laptop $80 used
Quad band Samsung A707 phone $25 used
Michelle's digital camera

This is a minimalist trip. We have scraped together a bit of money and we want it to last for as long as possible.

jordan325ic screwed with this post 01-07-2012 at 08:15 AM
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Old 04-07-2011, 07:09 PM   #2
jordan325ic OP
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*I apologize for my lack of punctuation, I am using a Mexican laptop and cannot figure out the keyboard

Trip begins 12/4/10.

We head from Austin, TX to Fabens, TX. Fabens is a little town outside of El Paso, TX. Michelle's family lives there. We camp in Iraan, TX, at a rest stop.

Next day we continue to Fabens. We spend a week with her parents. Her mother is from Mexico, and is the most hospitable woman I have ever met. She doesn't speak English, which was a good primer for the trip. I played scrabble in Spanish, watched movies in Spanish. Every day, three times a day, she makes enormous amounts of the most amazing Mexican food I've ever had. Menudo, barbacoa, enchilladas, tamales. I probably gained 10 pounds in a week. She would not take no for an answer. She is a very religious Apolostolic Christian, and I attended a service. Very loud, very entergetic. Very Souther-Baptist revival feel. The preacher prayed for us on our trip.

We exchanged money in El Paso. $12.5 pesos to $1USD. Better than we were expecting.

We planned to cross into Juarez on 12/9/10. We were escorted into Juarez by Michelle's mother and her friend - Nubia, who both knew Juarez very well and knew all the procedures for cross the boarder. Everything went smoothly until I realized I had accidently brought my birth certificate instead of the motorcycle title! I called my family back in Austin and arranged to have it rushed mailed to me. Back to the US for a few more days...

But first, we had to run errands with Nubia. We can store the bike at her mother-in-law's. Her mother in law is startled to see her daughter followed by a motorcycle rider. Apparently "encapuchados" are balaclava-wearing motorcycle police, who are not trusted. None of the gun-wearing authorities are. I was told multiple times "do not trust the police/soldiers/military". I heard many stories from people who lived in El Paso or Juarez. The mother-in-law's son was killed a few months before. He was a mechanic and he was shot to death and the shop was burned to the ground. They think his boss wasn't paying the dues on time to the cartels. The shop was close to her house, she heard the shots... Very sad.

After we ran the errands we followed Nubia around the city to smaller crossing. We ended up riding about 70 miles in the Juarez area.Aside from the roaming police trucks with heavy machine guns mounted on them, there was no indication of anything amiss in the city. I never felt even remotely threatened.

Crossing back into the US was easy. No pictures of anything for this section though.
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Old 04-07-2011, 07:10 PM   #3
jordan325ic OP
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While we waited for the title to the bike to arrive, we went to have dinner at Nubia's. My first time having liver. It was... interesting.

12/12/10
Got the motorcycle title and prepared to go into Mexico, again with the escort of Michelle's mother and Nubia.

Here is Michelle staging in the Walmart parking lot on the border.

It only takes a moment to enter Mexico, but the line to enter the US was huge! It was so huge that apparently our escort didn't get back into the US until we got to Chihuahua, Chihuahua (4 hours away)! I was squeezing through the stopped cars to make my left when I realized that there was a line of cars going the wrong way on the far shoulder The line was disrupting people's ability to make a left out of one sidestreet, so they had just invented their own lane. This is normal in Mexico. I actually really enjoy riding here. It's enjoyable to cut free-form through the traffic and around the potholes and speedbumps.

We travelled Ruta 45 all the way to Chihuahua, Chihuahua, Mexico. Michelle has family there who we would stay with for another few days. Ruta 45 was boring as any West TX highway. Long, straight, forever. The toll was 65 pesos. We jumped off the toll just before Chihuahua and took the free road. It was twisty and very fun, even with my heavily laden bike.

We took a small dirt road to where we would stay. Small house with a gated courtyard, just like most. It houses Michelle's grandmother, aunt, uncle, and two cousins. All very friendly and hospitable.

The house:


The courtyard:


While we are in Chihuahua, we go to el Centro mercado:


The Cathedral:


Me, the fountain and Michelle's young cousin.


View from the tower in the center of town:


We go to a Dulceria to search for "Bocadin", these little chocolate bars.

Michelle LOVES these things.
While there, we see these insane bags of Cheeto-like things that are literally the size of a small person. The cost for one of these bags is about $7 USD.


Chihuahua is situated in a valley and is surrounded by small mountains. We see this one and decide to climb it before we leave.
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Old 04-07-2011, 07:13 PM   #4
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12-14-10
I wake up at 7:45AM, and since nobody else has awoken I start reading to pass the time (F. Scott Fitzgerald's Tender is The Night, quite a contrast). I notice there is incredibly loud music playing outside by 8am. There is a big street market setting up outside, happens every Tuesday. The vendor playing the music is one of several stands selling pirated music and CDs (5 pesos for 3). Karen tells us that the cartels control the piracy in this area. Anybody who wants to sell those discs must pay dues to the cartel and sell their drugs in the same stands. I kick myself for spending a ridiculous $7USD on a 24mm socket at an Autozone on the border. There are a dozen vendors selling used tools within the first few blocks.

Next day me, Michelle and Karen (her cousin) hike up the mountain. The route we take is very steep and difficult, but we make it to the top in good time. The view is great, we eat sandwhiches and fruit at the top.




Local kids also come up here to graffiti their love onto the boulders. Karen found a secret admirer.

(Translated: Karen, you are the woman of my life. I love you. J.L 4E)

After spending all day in the sun Karen wanted a "clamato". This is a drink made up of tomato juice, chile powder, salsa, spices and cerveza. I had a canned version of this in the US, which I found revolting at the time. But here, in Mexico, after a hot day hiking, it was delicious. It was also somewhat surreal to have an open alcoholic beverage in a moving car. In the US this is highly illegal.


Tommorow we leave for... Jimenez maybe. We're not sure where we'll end up.
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Old 04-07-2011, 07:27 PM   #5
damasovi
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a young couple, 1 litlle ninja, and all of Latin America to come!! what more could you ask for!!! I am in!!

Damasovi

PS not everywhere in Mexico is alcoholic drinks allow in the car, or in public.
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Old 04-07-2011, 07:30 PM   #6
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2 up on a 250. Wow! Looks like you are having fun though. I look forward to reading your posts.
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Old 04-07-2011, 07:45 PM   #7
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12/16/10
We begin our trip from Chihuahua down to Mazatlan, via Parral and Durango. Free roads all the way. No problems. It became more hilly and the roads became more curvy. Much preferred.
Lots of this:


We had a late start from Chihuahua, so we hit Parral right as it was getting dark. There were a couple of motels along the route that were catered towards lovers (read: prostitution) that charged for a few hours at a time. We decided that we'd see what the hotels in town looked like. We went to the center and found one that looked decent. Pulled into a grocery store parkinglot and Michelle went to inquire about the price. It was closed, but two men came out of the grocery store to talk with us. Salvador and Raul. Apparently, we had been following each other since Juarez. They stayed in Chihuahua the same amount of time we did, left about when we did. Used the exactly same route. He said we passed each other many times. Salvador managed that grocery store and was in Juarez to buy product. Pretty incredible that we should end up in his parking lot. He invited us to buy our dinner in his grocery and cook it on the store's stove. We bought the ingredients for Sopa with vegtables, about $1.60usd. Another employee named Luardez cooked and made us coffee while we chatted with them.

Three people were killed that day, another the day before. Salvador told us the drug cartels battle each other but don't care if civillians get in the way. He has family in Oaxaca. In his mother's village there is an annual feast that one of the village members hosts the entire event. When his mother hosted, she killed and prepared 670 chickens and used 400 kilos of tortillas.

Our hosts:



Unfortunately El Camino will be closing soon, I'm guessing because of the Walmart that popped up a few blocks away. Very sad for the employees, many of which have worked there for decades.

Salvador said the hotels in town were overpriced and recommended Motel Las Palomas. Very clean, with a secure tiled garage.


Salvador insisted we come back for sweet bread in the morning. Of course we obliged, and enjoyed a whole bag of pastry for only 7 pesos. We bought some food for the road and we were off.




We camped outside of Durango. Did a bit of offroading through the thorn thickets to find the appropriate location. The little ninja handled it easily.


Sidenote: Asking directions in Mexico is... interesting. When we asked people how long it takes to get from Parral to Durango, we recieved answers from 3.5 to 8 hours. We asked how long it takes to get from Durango to Mazatlan we recieved answers from 2.5 hours to 8 hours. We were told 7 hours from Tepic to Guadalajara (actual 4, with traffic). Taking the average of all of your responses is usually pretty accurate, at least for us. Signs saying how many kilometers to go are also routinely wrong. Anywhere from 5-60% off. Also, if people advised against a certain road, I generally found it to be highly enjoyable. Take information with a grain of salt.

12/18/10
We awoke earily and began the trip to Mazatlan. We had been advised to avoid the Mexico 40 libre, which goes through the mountains. They called it "The Devils Ribcage". With a name like that, there's no way we were missing it.

The road was incredible. Took about 5 hours to go from Durango to Mazatlan, and it was all tight, twisty mountain road. The views were incredible.


Guardrails for safety:



El Salto, halfway point:




It was exhausting, but very memorable. Best road I've ever been on. We made it Mazatlan just as it got dark, and we navigated through the city looking for a hotel. We had been riding since 8am, but it was still fun to cut through the traffic. Michelle was having a great time too. It's fun to ride around a foreign city with no idea where you're going. After checking half a dozen, we found one that was affordable. About $15usd a night.
We could park the bike in the hallway or in the room.


12/19/10

We spent a few days in Mazatlan. Definitely a bit more touristy, and the prices reflected it near the beach. In the markets and near the ports, prices were very good. Breakfast plates could be had for $1.30usd, tortas for $1.60usd. Very delicious. Seafood was also plentiful, and fresh.


Motorcycles routinely park on the sidewalk in Mexico. Very convenient.


We took the hike up to the highest natural lighthouse in the world.




Took a boat to La Isla De La Pierda. Wonderful eternal beaches, although looking at it on google maps, apparently it's not an island.

It is populated by a good population of retirees, so prices are in line with american prices. I recommend eating in Mazatlan.

The Devil's ribcage also wore out what was left of my rear tire. It was impossible to find a 130/80/16 tire in Mazatlan, so I got a slightly taller 90/130/16. A brand called "Duro", which according to everyone I talked to, is a pretty well regarded china tire. $100 for the tire and installation, which was steep, but apparently just the cost of things in Mazatlan. I talked to a fellow biker on a sweet little Yamaha 125 and he said the price was fair. The guy replacing my tire said they don't do balancing in Mazatlan on motorcycle tires anywhere. The wheel weight on my wheel also got knocked off during instalation, but I haven't noticed any vibration so it's all good. The taller rear tire plus my 15-44 gearing make for very liesurely highway cruising. 80mph is now 8,000 rpm, compared to the stock 10,000 rpm. Since I generally don't rocket from stoplight to stoplight, I'm pleased with it. MPG is also stellar, haven't hit reserve yet. Somewhere north of 55mpg fully loaded with passenger and luggage, even through the mountains. When I was in the mountains, there was a hesitation between 8-9000 RPM, which was disconcerting, so I kept it below that. It went away when I got to the coast, so I'm assuming it was just the altittude.

After a few days, it was time leave for Guadalajara
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Old 04-07-2011, 07:55 PM   #8
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Good stuff, adv ninja
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Old 04-07-2011, 07:58 PM   #9
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Grabbin the Shiner for this one!

I've been pondering an older Ninja 250 for commuting for a while myself, I just can't quite get myself to go there. I like my sub-$1k old Jap bikes a bit too much.
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Old 04-07-2011, 08:00 PM   #10
halfthrottle
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Looking forward to your posts.
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Old 04-07-2011, 08:13 PM   #11
bk brkr baker
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The title made me say out loud "Yer nuts".

But it seems to work for you.
I dig Mexico and beleive they're some of the warmest a friendliest people on the planet.
Too bad the rouges get all the ink.
Stay safe and enjoy!
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Old 04-08-2011, 07:00 PM   #12
tocs
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Wow

This is a rider report that I am looking forward to reading. Have a great time and post often.
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Old 04-09-2011, 08:00 PM   #13
ride4321
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Great start and pretty companion you got there. Any title that has the words "Ninja 250"and "2 up" has me subscribed. Rock on dude and dudette
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Old 04-09-2011, 08:18 PM   #14
irishdec
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Wink Good on ya !

Enjoying the rr so far ,great pics .I thought that road was called "THE DEVILS SPINE"!.
Rode it twice so far ,was a blast .
Looking forward to more pics
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Old 04-09-2011, 11:04 PM   #15
ranadrew
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you're my wife's hero

for validating the Ninja 250. She now rides hers with an all new sense of pride. Be safe, fare well.
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