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Old 11-07-2013, 06:42 PM   #91
advFord OP
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Originally Posted by ChrisK7 View Post
Aside from the boarder area's have you found much to worry or be concerned about as far as bad people or situations?
Honestly even the borders I've crossed into and out of Mexico I haven't had a moment where I felt unsafe because of "bad people". Bad drivers? ha yes, just a couple of times, but I've had more close calls on L.A. highways than down here. It's all good. As much as I can I keep a low profile in areas I don't know and if I'm by myself I'm not out late wandering around.

It's been an amazing month of learning about the ways people live down here. The rides and scenery has been great but it's definitely been the interactions with the people I'm enjoying the most. Taking a spanish class has helped a lot and as I continue that will hopefully just keep getting better. Definitely start learning some spanish now - download the free app Duolingo. It's a great place to start.
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Old 11-08-2013, 07:58 AM   #92
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Sorry for the lack of posts lately. I've been busy learning Spanish and having too much fun in San Pedro La Laguna Guatemala.
Have you found the Buddha Bar in San Pedro yet? It was one of the few places on the trip that I was able to find IPA's....not sure if you're an IPA guy.

Which Spanish School are you going to?
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Old 11-08-2013, 12:54 PM   #93
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Have you found the Buddha Bar in San Pedro yet? It was one of the few places on the trip that I was able to find IPA's....not sure if you're an IPA guy.

Which Spanish School are you going to?

IPA's!?!?! Donde estas Budha Bar? I have to find this place!

I'm at Flor de Maiz School.
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Old 11-08-2013, 02:46 PM   #94
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Not Your Typical Hostel - Mexico City

When I tell people that I plan to be traveling solo for 8 months, one of the things people will ask me is ďwonít you be lonely traveling by yourself?Ē
Thatís certainly a possibility and I will no doubt miss my family and friends, but traveling is what you make of it. One way to be lonely is to get a hotel room every night and not talk to anyone. Personally I think you miss out on so much by doing that. Traveling solo doesnít mean youíre always solo.

Iíve written about Couchsurfing on here but I wanted to write about the gem of a place I found in Mexico City and the amazing people who live there. Through the blog and the Places Beyond Facebook Page I have been asking people for suggestions for places to stay, if they have family or friends I could stay with or even just meet along my route. When I asked about Mexico City I got connected with a friend of a friend of a friends guest house called Warm Heart. I looked at their Facebook Page and it sounded like the kinda place and people I would enjoy spending time with.


Warm Heart Guest House is located in the village of CoyoacŠn, which is one of the oldest areas of Mexico City. Close to the metro, great restaurants, museums, and anything else you could want, itís the ideal place. Away from the chaos of centro Mexico City but if you want it, youíre only a few minutes away.


As soon as I arrived I knew this place was different. Warm Heart was started by Cynthia a little over a year ago. She wanted to open a hostel that provided a place for people to experience life in Mexico City and if they wanted, get connected with different opportunities to help the local communities. With the energy, ambition, skills, and support from family and friends, her dream became a reality.
Working along side Cynthia are three other equally amazing staff to work on the day to day operations of the house. I met Edgar, Isabel, and Chelsea the first night I arrived and enjoyed the next few days with them.


The guest house has a couple of dorm rooms with bunk beds, a shared bathroom, and a community kitchen. The tiles of the kitchen and bathroom walls are covered in quotes and messages.


Hostel wall wisdom. So True.

Hostel wall wisdom. So True.

Forget the stale bread and cheap juice that every other hostel gives you, Warm Heart serves up french toast or eggs, coffee, tea, and fresh bread.

Tuesday night is Waffle Night. I made sure to be back in time to not miss out. I was glad I did because on the night I was there it was pumpkin waffle night.


Edgar preparing for the famous Waffle Night

Edgar preparing for the famous Waffle Night


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Chelsea does everything with a smile. Even while washing dishes.

The first thing that stood out to me about being at Warm Heart was how caring the staff was. I donít mean they just cared after me and the other guests, but outside their jobs they cared about the people in their communities, especially those in need. An example is every week the staff organizes an art therapy workshop at a nearby home for young girls and women with mental challenges, many of whom have been physically and sexually abused.


Isabel and Chelsea asked if I would like to come help and even though I know nothing about painting, I wanted to at least pass out paint brushes and hang out with the people who lived at the home. I didnít know what to expect from the night but by the end I was so thankful they invited me. For the few hours we were at the home, the room was filled with laughter. Looking around as Chelsea led the workshop, the girls smiled as they painted scenes of birds, the sun, and flowers. Just as the sun always shines again and flowers grow after winter, we can all have new beginnings after going through different storms in life. I can honestly say I donít think Iíve been in a room filled with so much joy. Just being around that is infectious.


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On my last night in Mexico I walked into the living room where I was surprised with a choir of 10 people singing happy birthday. I blew out my birthday candle and made a wish. Thanks Warm Heart friends!


My pumpkin muffin birthday muffin. Complete with both the Mexican and American Happy Birthday songs.

My pumpkin muffin birthday muffin. Complete with both the Mexican and American Happy Birthday songs.

Afterward, we played Monopoly and nothing can prepare you for how the game is played here. Alliances, backdoor deals, shifty property sales, and high interest loans make Monopoly here unforgettable and if youíre competitive, extremely frustrated.


Anything is possible when playing Monopoly in Mexico City

Anything is possible when playing Monopoly in Mexico City


Monopoly

Monopoly in Mexico City knows no rules

On my last morning at Warm Heart I was going to leave early to drive to Oaxaca, but Isabel made french toast, so obviously I stayed a few more hours and enjoyed the morning chatting with everyone. If I had stayed at a hotel or anywhere else I would have missed out on meeting these amazing people and experiencing a different part of life in Mexico City. So while Iím technically traveling solo, Iím making new friends along my way. Your travels are what you make of them.


Edgar, me, Isabel, and Chelsea

Edgar, me, Isabel, and Chelsea


warm heart 3

Loaded up with my rain gear just behind me because itís Mexico and apparently it loves to rain when I ride.


And I'm off to Oaxaca!

And Iím off to Oaxaca!

Just relying on word of mouth, Warm Heart gets a steady stream of people from all over. If youíre passing through Mexico City or maybe youíre already there but looking for a place to stay or get connected with volunteer opportunities, contact Cynthia at cynthia.ramirezmartinez AT gmail DOT com. Once again this isnít your typical hostel, itís so much more. Thanks Will R. for connecting me with your friends in Mexico City.

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Old 11-08-2013, 08:11 PM   #95
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Originally Posted by advFord View Post
IPA's!?!?! Donde estas Budha Bar? I have to find this place!

I'm at Flor de Maiz School.
It was down in Gringo Land. I can't remember San Pedro well enough to give you good directions. Just ask around, it shouldn't be hard to find. The owner is an American expat (assuming he's still down there and still owns it) and he imports Brooklyn Brewery stuff. Spent more than a few nights drinking in the Budha Bar.
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Old 11-09-2013, 05:31 PM   #96
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I'm sitting in San Jose Del Cabo BCS and have just caught up. I'm in to the end.
Best of luck and ride safe.
Phillip
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Old 11-10-2013, 07:24 PM   #97
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Mexico City to Oaxaca (south of)

a quick update about the road from DF to Oaxaca. I hit the road and somehow managed to not get lost at all leaving Mexico City. It was a miracle. I opted for the toll roads cause I was excited to get to my next destination. I took Mexico 150, 135D, and 190. Leaving Mexico City the road became surround by forests and thick fog. I thought for a moment I was driving around the Bay Area in California. The few tolls weren't very expensive and the traffic wasn't bad. I had 300 miles to cover so I didn't stop for too many photos but here are some.


View Larger Map

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Just when the rain started coming down I pulled over to grab lunch and get my rain gear on.


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After having 4 different paninis, hoagies, I can say that Mexico knows how to make a tasty sandwich.


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Gorgeous vista and trash. Sadly they seem to go together here.


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Stopped at a construction zone. This one was particularly nice because local vendors came up and sold snacks.


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Riding into Mordor. Luckily I ended up missing this storm somehow.

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Old 11-10-2013, 07:31 PM   #98
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A Birthday to Remember

I knew early on in the planning of this trip that I would celebrate a pretty big birthday on the road. On October 24th I turned 30 and was not at all how I imagined Iíd celebrate reaching a new decade of life.


If you had asked me a few weeks ago what I was going to do for my 30th birthday I would have said I would probably be in Mexico City, at a club with a world renowned DJ spinning good music and having a blast. Instead there was an opportunity that when I first heard about it I knew it was how I was supposed to spend it. Hundreds of miles away from the bright lights of Mexico City and outside a much smaller town with the funny name of Tlacolula lies a little piece of paradise in one of Mexicoís poorest states. A short drive down a dirt road and surround by mountains is the beautiful property of Hogar Para NiŮos, a childrenís home.


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Hogar Para NiŮos is a childrenís home for 60 children from the ages of 2 to 22. I learned about the organization through a friend and originally it was just going to be a place where I would stop by for a night. But I asked if I could help out for a few days and they said thereís always work to be done and that I was welcome. I was mistaken when earlier I told some friends that I would be going to an orphanage, thatís not what this is, as almost of the kids there have families. Theyíre living at the home for many reasons but mainly itís because their home-life isnít a nurturing place to grow up. Whether itís substance abuse or the family financially is not able to raise them and abandons them. The home gets requests from families to take their son or daughter all the time.


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The kids live in homes according to their ages and each home has house parents to care for them. Iíve been to childrenís homes in other parts of Mexico and in East Africa and this is by far the best run and maintained place Iíve seen. Not only is the landscape surrounding these kids a paradise, but the kids have a nice place to sleep, eat, do their homework, and most importantly they have a team of people that love and care for them.


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Hogar Para NiŮos is in the beginning phase of construction of a new school building so I helped out with the mixing of concrete for the foundation. I was surprised to see teachers and other staff come out to help mix the sand, rock, and cement. I doubt thatís on their job description. Even if it was, it shows how dedicated these people are to helping give these kids every opportunity possible.


For a few hours in the hot sun, we managed to get about 30 feet of foundation poured. This isnít like in the USA where a big cement truck shows up and pours it for you. Every part of the concrete is mixed together and poured by hand.


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While the concrete was left to dry we moved to another project that needed to be done. A chain link fence needed to be installed around the perimeter. Cutting small strips of steel wire, we secured the fence but tying wire every 18 inches. I spent hours out there securing the fence and installing more sections of fence which allowed me to get to know Ian. He and his wife Elaine moved down to work at the home over 12 years ago. He works on the construction of all the buildings and Elaine teaches art, quilting, and sewing classes to the kids at the home as well as to women in nearby villages. She also quilts a blanket for each child when they come to the home.


Currently they are running the school out of a temporary building for some of the students and the others go to schools in town. One of the things that makes Hogar Para Ninos special is that when a child turns 18 they allow them to stay at the home and will support them through university. Knowing the likely outcomes of 18 year olds kicked out of foster care in the US (I donít know but Iím assuming itís similar in Mexico) itís great to see the support and love doesnít stop when they become legal adults.


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Off to school.

While I was at the childrenís home I got to meet all the staff who dedicate way more than your typical work week. All of them in different ways were inspiring. Jill, Aaron, Santiago, Abi, Pedro, Jeanette, Ian, Elaine, Alondra, Marcelino, and so many more. Mostly it was constantly seeing them go beyond what a job would be. Itís obviously way more than a job.


Saturday night after dinner, Aaron loaded up the mini school bus with any kid that wanted to go and we drove to the next town to play at the outdoor park. Under the spotlights we played soccer for hours. After weeks of riding and little exercise Iím in horrible shape and I had to go up against kids with endless energy and who are born knowing how to play soccer. Although with the current state of the Mexican national soccer team, maybe that inherent talent is slipping :-) My highlight from the night was when the kids from my team picked me to kick a penalty shot. With the ball set on the line and all the kids watching, I took a few steps back, looked at the goalie, ran up, and with my worn out Converse sneakers I kicked the ball. In my head it all happened in slow motion, the ball went higher and higher towards the top of the goal, the goalie reached their hands up to block but they couldnít get to it fast enough and the ball sailed into the back of the net. Goooooooooooooaaaaaaaaaaaaaallllllllllllllllllllll ! So yes, my highlight of the night was scoring a penalty kick on a 12 year old.


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On the night of my birthday we were hanging out with a group of the teenagers and they bursted into the happy birthday song. I still donít know what the Mexican Happy Birthday song translation is. But it seems a lot more festive than the standard one. The next night Marcelino, one of the newer staff members, whipped up the biggest birthday cake ever. He took a semester off from college in the US and decided to spend it helping out by teaching a few classes like cooking and english to the kids. These kids are so lucky. Just look at the pics below and youíll know why. Marcelino and I were talking about desserts and he asked if I had tres leches cake yet. I hadnít so off to the store we went.


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These ingredients will make one of the tastiest cakes youíll ever eat.


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The master at work


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The finished masterpiece. Marcelinoís tres leches cake.

When the cake was finished we went over to one of the staff homes and enjoyed Marcelinoís delicious tres leches pastel. While I would have loved to spend my birthday celebrating with my twin sister and family and friends. This was an unforgettable. Not the cake. Well, I wonít forget that. But the days spent here. I definitely hope to return in the future.


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A happy birthday indeed

I wanted to help make a difference on this trip and so Iíve been raising funds for International Justice Mission, an organization who helps rescue men, women, and children from human trafficking, oppression, and other forms of injustice. One of the ways to end these types of tragedies is to break the cycle of poverty and to do that you need to provide people with education, hope, and opportunities. It takes organizations like Cristo Por Su Mundo who are giving these kids a home, eduction, and love which hopefully leads to opportunities for them to change their families lives and in turn their communities. Thereís many organizations that are doing great things but please consider supporting either of these two. The 2013 tax year is coming to an end soon and if you havenít made any charitable donations, both of these are tax deductible. To support International Justice Mission and help me reach the goal of $10,000, you can make your tax deductible donation here. To support the work of Cristo Por Su Mundo by sponsoring a child or through a one time donation click here.


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Sponsor a child at Hogar Para Ninos

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Old 11-11-2013, 05:32 AM   #99
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Good for you to help out. I met a new friend in Baja a few days ago who is also traveling to TDF. He is also raising money for orphanages. He is on his way to MEXICO CITY to visit the first orphanage. His name is Randy Masters and he rides a NEW R 1200 GSA. I hope you two meet up, he a good guy as well.

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Old 11-11-2013, 06:47 AM   #100
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Happy 30th Birthday! And what an incredible, selfless way to celebrate. I really appreciate you sharing your experiences and photos here.

I've been slow to catch up, but will be with you for the trip!

Suerte,
Mike
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Old 11-11-2013, 07:19 AM   #101
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Happy Birthday, what a great way to celebrate it !
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Old 11-11-2013, 10:09 AM   #102
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What a most excellent adventure you're having Dan!
It's quite the story unfolding and you're not even out of North America yet. Beautiful photos too.
Happy belated birthday, a veryl special way to start your next decade on this earth.

Sorry for taking so long to catch up with you, keep on keepin' on, we'll be following along the whole way.


-Finn

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Old 11-11-2013, 10:44 AM   #103
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Awesome!

Happy 30th!
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Old 11-11-2013, 03:17 PM   #104
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Happy Birthday!

Great RR! really enjoying it, keep it up. Need all the info I can get, planning on doing my own trip to TDF in the near future. Need to start those Spanish classes soon
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Old 11-11-2013, 03:49 PM   #105
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I'll try to put in any helpful travel/moto info. Definitely start those classes.
I can get by but with so many people it just stays on surface level stuff. I'm working on learning more and getting better. Get duolingo for your phone and practice everyday for 20 minutes during lunch break or sometime. That will help you so much.

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Great RR! really enjoying it, keep it up. Need all the info I can get, planning on doing my own trip to TDF in the near future. Need to start those Spanish classes soon
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