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Old 01-01-2014, 12:41 PM   #76
d_mob OP
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Feliz Año Nuevo de Morelia!!!



First off, happy new year from Morelia!!!



The ride from San Miguel de Allende was stunning. Partly because I was finally able to ride without rain, which was a first in some time, but also because the scenery and roads were perfect. Another shout out for BiciMapas, which is the 3rd party map set I purchased for Mexico and Central America. It is working flawlessly and routing me through some of the best this beautiful country has to offer.



I'm staying at Hotel Del Carmen, which is a decent spot. The rooms are a bit cramped, and the bathrooms look similar to what I would imagine they offer in prison, but the price ($27 USD/night), location, and secure parking make it all worth it. In addition, the staff is very nice and did I mention the location? Two blocks from the main plaza, which is close enough for a brief stroll, yet far enough to avoid the crowds. Briefly, if you end up visiting here, don't eat in the main plaza. You will pay approx $20 USD for a meal w/ drink. Head a few blocks in any direction and you can find tons of incredibly inexpensive restaurants/kitchens. I had a wonderful quesadilla plate yesterday w/ rice and beans w/ drink that cost me approx $3 USD.



This city is stunning! In fact, all of these colonial cities are stunning. I can't get over it. Although not quite as large, the beauty in Morelia and SMdA rival any of the cities in Spain (at least within proximity to the city centers). It's hard to believe these beautiful small cities are even in the same country as places like Tijuana, and some of the other cities I've passed through in years past. It really is a shame that Mexico gets such a bad reputation from mainstream media and most Americans. There really are some absolute gems here. Not just the cities, but the people, history, culture, music, women, cuisine, etc, etc, etc...



Yesterday I spent the day walking around checking out the sights. I followed this Frommer's walking guide. After putting in some miles, I went back to the room and read for a bit. I'm currently reading Catfish and Mandala by Andrew Pham. One of my good friends Peter back home gave it to me as I was about to set off on my journey. This guy can seriously write! Although Andrew was on a bicycle during his adventure, I can certainly relate to the rigors of travel... "Touring solo on a bicycle (or motorcycle), I discover, is an act of stupidity or an act of divine belief. It is intense stretches of isolation punctuated with flashes of pure terror and indelible moments of friendship. Mostly, it is dirty work particularly suitable for the stubborn masochist. I was suckered into the adventure, the elegant simplicity of its execution, and yes, even the glory of its agony."



Last night I went out expecting a right piss-up, since it was New Year's Eve and all. Well, turns out they don't celebrate it here like we do in 'Merica. Back home we get dolled up and go out with the expectation that it will be the best night of the year. We spend twice as much on dinner for food that is only half as good. Then we wait for what seems like hours amongst throngs of others in line at the bar for an overpriced drink. Here it turns out, they close most everything and spend the night in with family and friends, where the booze and food are cheap, and easily accessible. I'm starting to think we have it all wrong. Hmmm... I did end up meeting a really cool guy named Luis at a bar who invited me to a spot he knew about with live music. It turned out to be a really good time. Luis is quite the ladies man and introduced me as "Fuser" all night (the name will make sense for those who've read/seen Motorcycle Diaries). He was set on showing me a good time and did just that. If you read this, thanks Luis!



Today I was going to take a day trip to Patzcuaro to see the town, and the nearby lake. However, I'm quite content exploring more of Morelia, and am currently writing this while sitting on a bench in a quiet park taking it all in. Tomorrow I head to Mexico City and am staying with a gracious CouchSurfing host named Lianne. I'd like to explore the city a bit, attend a CS event, possibly catch a bullfight at The Plaza, and maybe see some of the nearby ruins. We'll see. From there I'm not exactly sure what the plan is. I've been in touch with an organization in Oaxaca that I'll probably spend some time volunteering with (Oaxaca Street Children Grassroots). Then I definitely want to make my way over to the Pacific coast to lounge on the beaches of Puerto Escondido and Puerto Angel. Ahh, decisions, decisions! Life definitely does not suck at the moment. :)



Since I left on my trip I've been writing down one 'profound moment of the day' in my journal. Well, yesterday I had two, so I'll leave you with those. First, as I was wandering aimlessly around the streets of Morelia I randomly came across a man. He looked like an old hippy who had been traveling for years and years. I said hello and immediately got a sense that something was very interesting and different about him. Something wise in his eyes, calmness, and the creases in his weathered face. As we chatted a bit, dogs started coming up to him from all directions (he started out with two and ended up with around 15). As I was saying goodbye I wished him a happy new year. He replied with "no existe el futuro, el futuro es hoy", which obviously means the future does not exist, the future is now. After saying that, he turned and walked away slowly and disappeared with a trail of obedient dogs following along behind. I sat there and thought about what he said for what seemed like an hour. It dawned on me that instead of putting such an emphasis on making grandiose resolutions for the upcoming year, I should simply live in and enjoy the present. So I sat there, in that park for a long time just enjoying the breeze and watching kids run around and play amongst themselves. It was a magical moment. I asked several locals and that man is a mystery. Apparently nobody knows why, but dogs love him and come from all around the city and simply follow him. Strange.



The second profound experience came as I was sitting at a bar near the plaza having dinner. I had finished my sandwich and had a plate of fries remaining. There was a guy trying to sell handmade jewelry from table to table, but since he was a little dirty, and obviously not well off financially, people kept shoving him away. When he got to my table I was tempted to do the same, but instead I offered him a seat and my plate of fries. He sat down and was incredibly grateful. His name was Jose and we ended up talking for about an hour. He was patient with my broken Spanish, and gave me a lesson of sorts. He thanked me for the fries, and said "people rarely show me this kind of generosity". I thanked him because I realized that it was the first time that I'd had an hour long conversation in Spanish, and it made sense! Turns out, he gave me the gift. It seems all I needed was to get over the fears of simply trying to have a full conversation, and of sounding like an idiot. I did just that and Jose and I had a wonderful conversation. He gave me a pair of earrings for the girl he says I'll meet someday on my journey (hoping that prediction comes true!) and refused any payment for them. It was an amazing interaction, and definitely taught me that sometimes I should push away my initial thought/reactions and make an effort to get to know others more.



I guess that's it for now... Ready to get back in the saddle for another ride. More to come from Mexico City soon,

~ D





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Old 01-01-2014, 02:12 PM   #77
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Keep it coming and ride safe, amigo !
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Old 01-02-2014, 05:07 AM   #78
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my wife loves a good romance. she's now following you in anticipation...I need a new gps--which one are you using?
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Old 01-02-2014, 07:24 PM   #79
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kitesurfer View Post
my wife loves a good romance. she's now following you in anticipation...I need a new gps--which one are you using?
Ha... No pressure eh?

I'm using a Garmin Zumo 660 and am happy so far. The first unit I purchased was defective, but Garmin mailed a new one no questions asked.

I'd recommend the package w/ locking mount here: http://www.touratech-usa.com/Store/P...-Mount-Package

I had them send a crossbar as well for my F8 to mount it on. The kit works great and keeps everything sturdy and secure.
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Old 01-04-2014, 05:46 PM   #80
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In & Around D.F. (Mexico City)



I left Morelia with decent weather and a really nice ride ahead of me. I had originally planned to bypass D.F. (District Federal - Mexico City), but a couple of nights before I made the decision to hit it up. I ran into an incredibly heavy rain about half an hour outside of the city just as I was cresting some mountains and heading down into D.F. That made for a drenched and cold ride, but the first half made up for it. I also took cuota (toll) highways for the first time on the trip and ended up hitting seven stops along the way (ranging from USD $1 - USD $5). They really are a pain in the ass, but you pay-to-play and the highways are incredibly smooth and nice. A bit of a welcome break from the smaller rough roads that I've been staying on the majority of my time in Mexico.



I stayed with a nice CouchSurfing host Lianne for two nights while in the city. She has a nice flat and I felt welcome from the time we met. It was real five star living w/ a nice bathroom, and get this, an in-house washer and dryer! Funny the things that excite you after awhile on the road. The first night we took a stroll through some of the neighborhoods and she showed me one of her favorite vegetarian restaurants just outside of a park. Then I crashed early as I was tired from the ride and was accompanied to bed by one of her two dogs who kept me warm all night. She adopted two street dogs when she lived near the beach and they are both cute, and full of hysterical character.



The second day I hit the city running and managed to knock out pretty much all of the sights I wanted to see. I really liked Bosque de Chapultepec and spent most of the morning wandering around the castle, the modern art museum and several other sights. After that, I hopped the Metro to have lunch and see Merced Market. It is an absolute maze of shops selling typical handicrafts. A highlight was having lunch for just over USD $1 w/ drink. I walked from Merced to The Zócalo (w/ a brief shocked stroll looking at the scantily clad street walkers). The city center was an absolute $hit show! I can't remember a time when I've walked in a swarm that thick. I guess that happens in a city of 20+mil people. Following the plaza, I checked a few more items off the list and headed back to Lianne's where she prepared a wonderful meal for us and two of her friends. We ate, laughed, talked, laughed more, drank wine, and had a great night.



This morning I woke up excited to get going. My next two stops are real highlights for me. I'm currently en route to Oaxaca where I'll spend four or five nights eating, exploring, and volunteering during the days. After that, I'm headed to the Oaxaca coast for at least a week to camp on the beach, eat fish tacos, reflect, surf, and be a complete bum. I ended up deciding to stop for a night in between D.F. and Oaxaca as the drive is a bit long, and I'm glad that I did. I'm writing this from Hotel Mex Mar in Tehuacán ($17/night rooms w/ gym and secure parking). It's not that I like this city, but the ride today was spectacular. In 200 miles I passed two snow-capped smoking volcanos, climbed to around 11k feet, saw rocky canyons, lush and vivid green covered mountains, and everything in between. All in perfect 70 degree sunny weather. The road from Orizaba through the valley and White Canyon Nat'l Park was epic and one of the best that I've locked in yet. I detoured through some dirt, hit some unreal twisty sections, wheelied over topes, and was smiling the whole way. :)



For a brief minute, I thought that maybe I'd leave D.F. and head for Acapulco, then shoot down the coast. That would allow me to be a beach bum first, then save the kids in Oaxaca after. However, a bit of research on Acapulco cancelled that idea (currently the world's 2nd most dangerous city statistically). Then I looked at a map and thought, "oh, maybe I can bypass Acapulco by detouring southeast through Tierra Colorada". Well, a trusty Google Image search for 'Tierra Colorada' brought up nothing but gory images of violence and horrendous pictures. So that idea was shot as well (pardon the pun). Mexico is a vast country. It is filled with beautiful scenery, landscapes, nature, culture, history, and kind people. After exploring some of it, it saddens me that parts of this country have been absolutely devastated and scarred by corruption and violence. Alas, I haven't run into anything yet and will continue with my trusty Google Image search for regions and cities to keep me trudging along safely.



Anyway, I'm feeling good. I'm happy, healthy, running strong, and have really seemed to get into the groove. Loading and unloading the bike has become routine. Also, I'm able to communicate in Spanish with essentially everyone I come across. Admittedly, I sound like a mentally challenged six year old to them, but it's still an accomplishment for me! I've covered over 4,300 miles since leaving Denver, and have explored a lot of places and met a lot of great people. Interestingly, I feel untraveled and small. Along the way people keep saying, "you should see this" or "you have to stop in this town". If I took every tip or piece of advice I could literally be in Mexico for years. It's crazy to think how much is out there. This is just one country for God's sake! It has made me realize how 'stuck' I was in the life that I had created. Don't get me wrong, the majority of it was fantastic. But, it's nice to feel like I'm starting to experience other people's culture and different ways of living. I felt it somewhat during past trips, but this is different. I'm doing it rough and proper. I'm eating everything, I'm saying "yes" to everything (well most everything - street walkers mentioned above got a quick decline from me), I'm sleeping and bathing in conditions I never thought I would, and I wouldn't trade any of it. At present, the thought of waking up every morning to slave away doing something that doesn't truly make me happy depresses the hell out of me. Now I just need to keep up the exploration and figure out what I want to be when I grow up right? Or is that feeling reserved for a select lucky few? Who knows... For now I'm content riding my motorcycle, and trying to figure it out.



I hope all my friends and family are doing well back 'home'. I look forward to communicating with you all soon...

~ D
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Old 01-06-2014, 07:40 AM   #81
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Originally Posted by d_mob View Post
Ha... No pressure eh?

I'm using a Garmin Zumo 660 and am happy so far. The first unit I purchased was defective, but Garmin mailed a new one no questions asked.

I'd recommend the package w/ locking mount here: http://www.touratech-usa.com/Store/P...-Mount-Package

I had them send a crossbar as well for my F8 to mount it on. The kit works great and keeps everything sturdy and secure.
Kitesurfer knoticed your a softy for Latin ladies... I'm in this RR late but could have pointed you to a couple of fun days in Patzcuaro. Sorry I missed that chance to suggest.You also apparently missed the Mariposas sanctuary in mtns of Michoachan-they are seemingly close to taking the "passenger pigeon" route into history due to lost habitat in USA.
Have some fun!
I'd forget Acapulco & spend time in Oaxaca-city & state! Dot eh roads from highlands to Pacific-everyone of them you can find to do! Wander Chiapas until you've done it well...
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kantuckid screwed with this post 01-06-2014 at 07:47 AM
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Old 01-06-2014, 01:50 PM   #82
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thanks for the great pics and story, enjoying your RR. subscribed!
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Old 01-06-2014, 08:02 PM   #83
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Subscribed!! I just happened upon your RR today. Enjoying your writing and your quality pictures. I lost my dad several years ago, he was 53. Since then I've tried to live life NOW, while also making time for my family.

You're LIVING, Enjoy your trip!!
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Old 01-07-2014, 09:53 AM   #84
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Great RR my friend, touring Mexico looks even better than I imagined. Snow on the ground here so this is my only two wheeled escapism!
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Old 01-07-2014, 09:47 PM   #85
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Old 01-08-2014, 07:13 AM   #86
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USA climber died on one of those "snow capped mtns" you mention very recently! If you voulunteer in Oaxaca-many of the kids I did Spanish school with there do so @ the orphanage in the city. If you like "real home made ice cream" find the plaza where several families serve it at night! I saw the guvner of state there one night-as pointed out by the guy buying my ice cream from his wifes family! It's real near Domino Pizza downtown area.
If you ride to coast @ Puerto Angel the hotel there near beach (with womans name escapes me now) is good stay-tiny pool good to soak your bones. Restaurant across road(sand floor) from there is OK, not my favorite either.
Good RR! My MX juices are flowing!!!
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"If I had my life to live over,I'd dare to make more mistakes next time...I'd relax,I'd limber up.I'd be sillier than this trip, take fewer things seriously, I would take more chances... take more trips...climb more mountains...swim more rivers...eat more ice cream." Jorge Luis Borges, at age 85
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Old 01-09-2014, 07:05 AM   #87
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Originally Posted by kantuckid View Post
USA climber died on one of those "snow capped mtns" you mention very recently! If you voulunteer in Oaxaca-many of the kids I did Spanish school with there do so @ the orphanage in the city. If you like "real home made ice cream" find the plaza where several families serve it at night! I saw the guvner of state there one night-as pointed out by the guy buying my ice cream from his wifes family! It's real near Domino Pizza downtown area.
If you ride to coast @ Puerto Angel the hotel there near beach (with womans name escapes me now) is good stay-tiny pool good to soak your bones. Restaurant across road(sand floor) from there is OK, not my favorite either.
Good RR! My MX juices are flowing!!!
Headed out to Escondido shortly. Can't wait...

I actually met a guy named Frank from Guatemala when I was checking out Monte Alban. We went out for dinner and drinks here in Oaxaca and he was actually asked to be a part of the rescue team to go up and extract the body. He was pretty moved and saddened by the whole thing. The accident happened Saturday late in the day. By the time they had compiled a team and doctor it was midnight. They didn't arrive on scene until around 3:am... Unfortunately the boy had passed, but they were fairly certain it was instant due to the fall anyway.

Two other climbers (father/son) had to be extracted via helicopter earlier that same day. They were able to self arrest, but not without injury. Pico Orizaba is no joke! Apparently a LOT of people make the attempt to climb it, and apparently a LOT fail (unfortunately).

God speed to Charles King and prayers to his family.
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Old 01-09-2014, 09:29 AM   #88
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Really enjoying this ride report. You have a great writing style in that you put down more than pictures and facts. You're sharing your thoughts and emotions and that right there is what draws people in and takes your ride report from good to amazing.
Also just ordered myself a copy of Vagabonding because of the quote you posted
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Old 01-09-2014, 05:14 PM   #89
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thanks for sharing your ride with rest of us corporate slaves!

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Old 01-10-2014, 08:04 AM   #90
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Oaxaca... Amazing...



I rode into Oaxaca not knowing what to expect. I knew I wanted to eat a metric $hit ton of food as I've heard it's the cuisine capitol of LatAm (didn't let me down). I also had plans to volunteer at an organization called Oaxaca Street Children Grassroots. I pulled up to the hostel (Hostel Cielo Rojo) and was greeted at the door by Mauricio. He is a friendly guy that started the hostel with a friend a few years back. In advance I had sent him a note and he offered to put the bike in the plaza of the hostel, which was really great. 150 pesos per night w/ secure parking and a community of fantastic people makes for a solid deal.



The first full day I trudged the eight or nine blocks over to OSC. I walked in and met with Cliff (one of the founders) and Peppo (the volunteer manager). It really is a great organization and I'd highly recommend getting involved if you have the urge to help. Their mission is too... "provide Oaxacan children living in extreme poverty with an education. At our center we provide nutritious meals, medical care, and all support necessary for more than 600 children to attend public school." Along the way I also heard about another orphanage/school called Los Hijos de la Luna. OSC is very well run and there are actually quite a few volunteers around. The other (Los Hijos) is also well run, but there was a real lack in assistance from volunteers, so that's where I spent a bit more time. The first time I walked in I was 'attacked' by 30 or 40 kids starving for attention and interaction. I hung out, kicked the football, smiled, laughed, and even taught a beautiful little girl a little bit about riding a bike. It really was magical and put things into perspective for sure. If you find yourself in Oaxaca I would recommend stopping by both organizations.



One of the highlights from Oaxaca was visiting Monte Alban. It is a pre-Columbian archeological site with ruins overlooking Oaxaca from a beautiful vista. I explored a bit on my own and then ran into a small group of English-speakers. I met Frank, who was a Guatemalan traveler currently living stateside. He was a really interesting guy as-is, but he told me an incredible story as I got to know him. The route from Tehuacan to Oaxaca took me through the town of Orizaba. It sits at the base of Pico de Orizaba, which is an 18,500 foot glacier-capped mountain. The largest peak in Mexico and third largest in North America. Frank was there to summit the peak. However, a 25 year old American named Charles King fell the day Frank got there and he was asked to be a part of the rescue/extraction team. He gave up his goal of summiting to hike up the mountain in the middle of the night to retrieve the body. By the time they organized a medical and extraction team and reached the area it was 3am. He said it was obvious Charles didn't suffer. It seemed to really move Frank emotionally. Sometimes we do the things we love in life, but don't think about the dangers or consequences. The phrase "at least he passed doing something he loved" is thrown about quite frequently. In this case it seems fitting. Godspeed Charles King... Prayers and best wishes to you and your family.



Another highlight from Oaxaca was meeting and hanging out with my new friends Josephine, Gabriel, Erick, and Lisa. They are a great group who were driving around and visiting from D.F. (Mexico City). They invited me into their clan for a day to replace their amigo who was thrown in jail for the night for pissing on the street in front of a cop (long story - he got out safe and sound). After eating crickets in the market, they drove me up to Calpulalpam. It is a beautiful, tranquil, small village considered to be one of the magical towns of Oaxaca State. We drove for a couple of hours listening to amazing music, sampling mezcal, laughing, and exploring viewpoints and sights along the way. It really was an incredible day. Even the flat tire and visit to the vulcanizadora (tire shop) didn't change that.



When it came time to leave Oaxaca I was a bit sad actually as I enjoyed it so much. However, duty calls and the road was quite long to Puerto Escondido. I started my ride around 10am and didn't finish until around 9pm. Yeah, I know, I know... Rule # 1 of motorcycle travel, don't travel after dark. It is a long story but I ended up taking a very, very, very remote route through the mountains to Escondido. After riding for what seemed like forever, we ran into an impassable section only 20 miles from Escondido. We had to backtrack almost 40 miles back up and over the mountain to the main route. I say "we" because I ran into my first fellow motorcycle adventurers during the ride. I encountered Fred and Karen just after leaving Oaxaca. They were headed the road 'more' traveled, I was headed the road 'less' traveled (in the end we ended up on the road 'least' traveled). We agreed maybe to meet up in Escondido. Well, fast forward a few hours later, we all ended up randomly stopping at the same roadside grill for a rest, and some food and drink. Their GPS routed them the wrong way. We had a quite an adventure and I look forward to connecting with them sometime in the future. They've traveled quite a bit around the world on their 650, and Fred's blog can be found here.



Anyway, I've finally made it to Escondido. When I arrived last night to Vivo Escondido (a killer hostel started by a couple of friends - one of which is a fellow ADV Rider) I was greeted at the door by Mallory. They've let me park my bike in the secure pool/courtyard area. When I pulled in I was surprisingly greeted by Walter and Martin. These dudes are great. I met them at the last hostel and didn't expect to see them here. Walter is a cool guy from California, and Martin is a really hilarious, interesting guy from France who has been traveling on/off for approx four years. I was greeted with a beer and a plate of fish tacos. What an entrance!



Anyway, I'm being pestered by Martin to go to the beach, so I'm going to run for now....

Life on two wheels is good. Life in general is good. More to come,

~ D





















PS... I fell in love last night briefly, but the feeling wasn't mutual. More to come on that as well. :)
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