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Old 12-31-2013, 08:55 AM   #76
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Really nice report !
thanks ace - I'm glad you're enjoying it!
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Old 12-31-2013, 09:04 AM   #77
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21 December

Despite not having to get on the road, we find ourselves waking up at 0530. We enjoy several leisurely cups of coffee and listen to the village of San Lorenzo come awake.

First on our agenda for today is laundry. We’ve traveled light in the clothing department and all of it has been worn several times over already.

Chris:
2 polypro t shirts
4 pairs socks
1 pair long pants
1 button short-sleeved shirt
1 pair Klim Mohave pants

Chanda:
2 polypro t shirts
4 pairs socks
1 pair long pants (doing double-duty as her riding pants)
1 pair Capri pants
1 skirt
1 shirt

We also pull the liners out of our helmets, pull the jackets inside out and give everything a good airing.

By the time the wash is on the line Chanda’s stomach is making queasy noises, so we postpone our plan to hit the markets and she has a 2-hour nap with a pepto-bismol chaser while I update this RR.


She’s feeling much better following a sleep and some lunch and we all pile into the car to take a short drive up to see the Atzompa ruins.

from Wiki:

Since 2009, archeological work has been taking place in an area just south of the town center. A number of significant constructions have been excavated including structures called the Casa de Oriental (East House) and Casa de Altares (House of the Altars) and the Central Shrine of Atzompa which is larger than its counterpart in Monte Alban proper. Next to these is a complex of domestic units, sunken patios and a pyramidal platform.

However, the main find has been a 45-meter-long Mesoamerican ball court with two smaller courts next to it. These courts are surrounded pyramidal structures. The 45-meter court is the largest ever found in the Monte Alban area and investigations indicate that this was the principal ball court for the city, rather than any of the ball courts that are in the Monte Alban site itself. This ball court is situated such that players would have full view of the city located above them. The two smaller courts are secondary and probably used for training ball players.
The site was initially explored in the 1930s by Jorge Acosta. He was only able to examine the ends of the large ball court. He speculated that the constructions at this site were ceremonial and defensive in nature, constructed in the 7th to 9th centuries to protect a growing Monte Alban. Formal excavation was not considered for the site until recently due to its distance from the main Monte Alban site.

Atzompa sits atop a hill neighbouring Monte Alban and the summit provides excellent views of both that immense site and most of the whole Oaxacan valley. We are the only visitors and take our time to see it all.





(overlooking Ciudad Oaxaca)



(Monte Alban in the background)



(all this can be yours - if the Price is Right!)


On the way back to San Lorenzo, we stop in to pay our respects at the main church in town. It’s Chanda’s first experience with Mexican Catholicism and she loves what they’ve done with the place.




If she loves this place, I'm looking forward to seeing her reaction when she walks into Santo Domingo de Guzman in the city...




Back ‘home’ the laundry is dry and supper is a welcome end to our day. It’s early to bed for both of us – although the local barking dogs do their best to keep us from falling asleep too quickly.


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Old 12-31-2013, 09:18 AM   #78
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Enjoying the updates as my adventures usually have a passenger. Thank you for posting your adventure. Looking forward to more.
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Old 12-31-2013, 09:29 AM   #79
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jcm

(little pink hotels for you & me)

you realize this gives away your 'time' ....

yes I have about 4 of his LP's ... they just don't make music like that anymore
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Old 12-31-2013, 10:47 AM   #80
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Enjoying the updates as my adventures usually have a passenger. Thank you for posting your adventure. Looking forward to more.
thanks for that - feedback is always appreciated! Happy New Year

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(little pink hotels for you & me)

you realize this gives away your 'time' ....

yes I have about 4 of his LP's ... they just don't make music like that anymore
glad you caught the reference! who says the 80s were an empty decade?

happy new year!!
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Old 12-31-2013, 11:10 AM   #81
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Happy New Year to you and Chanda, Chris!
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Old 12-31-2013, 11:18 AM   #82
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22 December

Warning – this is a photo-heavy entry



The plan is breakfast in the village of Tamalzulapan Del Espiritu Santo (17°3′N 96°4′W ) followed by the Tlacolula market.


Tamalzulapan is predominantly Mixe and situated in an area never militarily conquered by the Zapotecs, the Aztecs, or by Hernan Cortes. Local legend has it that the Mixe came to the area from the South American Andes to found an independent kingdom and their customs and traditions are still unique. The village is roughly a 3-hour drive from San Lorenzo, high up in the mountains to the south and west of Mitla.





We load up the car and get on the road by 0700 and follow Mx190 out of the city, past Mitla and begin the climb up into the hills. The road snakes around gullies and ridges and Chanda & I are in the back seat of the car. I keep trying to lean into the curves.


(climbing out of the Central Valley)



(fowl play)

We get to Tamalzulapan and park near the turkey-selling area. These big birds seem quietly resigned to their fate and all are silent as we walk past them on our way to the food stalls. Breakfast consists of tamales and local coffee served in bowls. It’s filling and feels good in the belly.




(om nom nom)



We stretch our legs and walk through the village. There is vaguely familiar singing coming from the church and poking our heads in, we recognize the hymn: “blowin’ in the wind” by Bob Dylan.




With breakfast done, we climb back into the car and make the long spiral down to the Central Valley and Tlacolula, where the Sunday Market awaits.
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tlacolu..._Sunday_market)


I’m nowhere near articulate enough to describe the Tlacolula Sunday Market but hopefully the following photos can better speak for me.








Taking a quick break from the crowd, we step into the parish church.











Then back into the fray...





(pork skins)






























Chanda is 5'1" (159cm) tall









(Christmas decorations)














Having walked and sampled and purchased, we retrace our steps back to the car. We’re all feeling a little hungry and decide to go to the Oaxaca Zocalo for food at Bar el Jardin.




(Zocalo corn)



(here's something you don't see every day...)

With full bellies and rested legs, we make our way to Santo Domingo de Guzman, whose cornerstone was laid in the year 1570. Chanda is moved to tears when she walks inside.






It’s been a long, full day and we’re glad to get ‘home’ and off our feet. We settle in to watch Boardwalk Empire, while roosters crow and dogs warm up for their nightly barking sessions.

It’s been a good day
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Old 01-01-2014, 08:38 AM   #83
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Happy New Year to you and Chanda, Chris!
thanks Mike - and all the best to you and your family as well!!
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Old 01-01-2014, 08:38 AM   #84
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24 December

‘twas the night before the night before Christmas and all through the places, every rooster was stirring while dogs barked off their faces. The music was blaring til the hour of three and fireworks boomed, like artillery.

With a noisy and restless night behind us, Chanda and I get up early to take the bike out to see some sights. After three days out of the saddle, it feels good to be riding again and without its usual load of supplies, the bike feels light and nimble.
Our first destination is the Tule Tree, in the village of Santa Maria del Tule.






From Wiki:

In 2005, its trunk had a circumference of 42.0 m (137.8 ft), equating to a diameter of 14.05 m (46.1 ft), a slight increase from a measurement of 11.42 m (37.5 ft) m in 1982. However, the trunk is heavily buttressed, giving a higher diameter reading than the true cross-sectional of the trunk represents; when this is taken into account, the diameter of the 'smoothed out' trunk is 9.38 m (30.8 ft). This is still slightly larger than the next most stout tree known, a Giant Sequoia with a 8.98 m (29.5 ft) diameter.


The height is difficult to measure due to the very broad crown; the 2005 measurement, made by laser, is 35.4 m (116 ft), shorter than previous measurements of 41–43 m (135–141 ft). According to the signboard by the tree (see gallery, below), it has a total volume of 816.829 m3 and a weight of 636.107 t (701.188 short tons); these figures are however not independently verified, and given the same signboard's claim of a girth of 58 m (190 ft), must be treated with suspicion.


It is so large that it was originally thought to be multiple trees, but DNA tests have proven that it is only one tree. This does not rule out another hypothesis, which states that it comprises multiple trunks from a single individual.


The age is unknown, with estimates ranging between 1,200 and 3,000 years, and even one claim of 6,000 years; the best scientific estimate based on growth rates is 1,433-1,600 years. Local Zapotec legend holds that it was planted about 1,400 years ago by Pechocha, a priest of Ehecatl, the Aztec wind god, in broad agreement with the scientific estimate; its location on a sacred site (later taken over by the Roman Catholic Church) would also support this.


The tree is occasionally nicknamed the "Tree of Life" from the images of animals that are reputedly visible in the tree's gnarled trunk.

Coming from a life spent in the desert. Chanda didn’t know that trees grew so big and she’s more than impressed by the size of it. I’m humming the Circle of Life song as we walk around it.






Then it’s back onto the bike, next stop: Monte Alban!








(you are here)












(play ball!)




Back at the casa, we unwind for a little while and I break out the little bag of Chapulines that I’d picked up at the Tlacolula market...


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chapulines


Before we left on this trip, Chanda had promised to try one and I made sure she didn’t forget









Tonight is the Radish Festival at the Oaxaca Zocalo, so we get a ride downtown and set out to see the sights.

Wiki:

The Night of the Radishes is celebrated every year on December 23 and it began in 1897 in the “zocalo” of Oaxaca city. Although it lasts only a few hours, it attracts thousands of people to this plaza each year.
It is one of the most impressive vegetable festivals around the world. Mexican craftsmen carve giant root vegetables into human figures and other vivid forms.


Although the competition last only for few hours, the celebrations do not end on December 23. The festival continues on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with other joyful activities like float parades, fireworks displays and street dances.


The event consists of an exhibition of sculptures made from a type of large red radish which can weigh up to 3.00 kilograms (6.6 lb) and attain lengths up to 50 centimeters (20 in). These radishes are especially grown for this event, left in the ground for months after the normal harvests to let them attain their giant size and unusual shapes.


The sculptures are made by professional craftsmen and aficionados, who are mostly radish growers. Themes include complete nativity scenes, party scenes with dozens of figures, Baile Folkorico, models of real buildings built with much detail, and saints. The sculpted scenes include other materials such as dried flowers and corn husks but what makes a sculpture stand out is the creative cutting of the radish itself for effect, such as carefully peeling the red skin back and perforating it to create a lace skirt. A contest is held with the first-prize winner getting their picture in the newspaper









The line is huge and neither of us are feeling keen to stand in it, so we sneak peeks at the exhibits as we circumnavigate the Zocalo. There are at least four varieties of police throughout the square and we notice a distinct caste system in place amongst them, with the Federales appearing to be at the top of the food chain.

With sights seen and sunset fast approaching, we find a sitio that’ll take us back to San Lorenzo for 150$. It takes a good long while to make our way out of the downtown throngs and I’m glad we aren’t paying metered time. Once clear of the crowds, the Nissan Tsuru beginds rattling and shaking over every pavement deformity and we wonder alound of the body is still bolted to the frame.

We get the driver to drop us off in the heart of San Lorenzo and we flag down a local ‘tuktuk’ to take us back to the house. The 16 year old driver and his girlfriend are scrunched into the single front seat and we hear them giggling as he ferries us home. The ride costs 5$ apiece.




(note the rear spoiler)


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Old 01-01-2014, 11:44 AM   #85
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24 December

(had the wrong date on the previous, December 23rd, entry)





We are leaving tomorrow morning, so today is our Quiet Day. There’s nothing on our agenda but wash the bike and repack our gear. We donate some stuff to my family to make room for accumulated souvenirs.

While cleaning the bike I discover that the ride down here has loosened both the clutch and the front brake reservoir covers. A consequence of all the topes perhaps. As we wash the bike, I check fasteners, inspect the tire treads and look for damage. Other than the loose reservoir covers and tope scrapes on the underfairing, the ST is as clean and ready as the day we left.


In the afternoon we all go for a walk in the nearby hills, up behind the village of San Felipe. It’ll be our last good walk before the drive back to Arizona and we enjoy the opportunity to stretch our legs and work up an appetite for dinner.



(mooo bitch, get out da way!)



(San Felipe hills)








(Mexican Ent?)



(skeptical toddler is skeptical)



Dinner consists of a glazed Christmas ham, good wine and an aperitif of Rompope. It’s a sumptuous meal and we deeply appreciate the great hospitality and food we’ve enjoyed while staying here.



(feliz navidad!)
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Old 01-01-2014, 12:26 PM   #86
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Your photographs are fantastic...such vivid colours you're been able to capture, and what beautiful colourful places you're visiting...thanks!
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Old 01-01-2014, 04:05 PM   #87
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pre

"Local legend has it that the Mixe came to the area from the South American Andes to found an independent kingdom and their customs and traditions are still unique..."

you learn the darndest things on this site ... have an interest in all things pre-Columbian, but had not heard this one .... fascinating
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Old 01-02-2014, 09:49 AM   #88
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Your photographs are fantastic...such vivid colours you're been able to capture, and what beautiful colourful places you're visiting...thanks!
thanks Mike! Mexico gets all the credit for the content of our pictures. Whether it's the roads, the people or the colours, there's nothing dull about Mexico!
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Old 01-02-2014, 09:55 AM   #89
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"Local legend has it that the Mixe came to the area from the South American Andes to found an independent kingdom and their customs and traditions are still unique..."

you learn the darndest things on this site ... have an interest in all things pre-Columbian, but had not heard this one .... fascinating

it definitely sounds worthy of a thesis!
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Old 01-02-2014, 10:07 AM   #90
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25 December

We wake up before 5am and it’s chilly outside. There is coffee and grilled ham to warm us up as we load the bike and get motivated for the day’s 850km (530 mile) drive to San Luis Potosi.

Saying our goodbyes and final thanks for the hospitality, we roll out of the gate at 0610 and through the town of San Lorenzo as it still sleeps in the dark before dawn. Turning onto the cuota, we point the bike towards Tehuacan and bring the bike up to 120kph. The temperature is steady at 8C (46F) and the morning fog lies low for the moment, but it’s going to be a beautiful day.





(puente Calapa)



Chanda and I are both happy to be back on the road, looking forward to new sights and byways. We’ve settled into a terrific traveling routine able to rely on each other to take care of things, like a good team should. I make a point of wishing all the toll booth staff we meet a Feliz Navidad because I’m sure they’d much rather be home with their families than sitting in a toll booth at 7 in the morning on Christmas Day.


Traffic is very light and we make good time to Tehuacan and up towards Pueblo. Popocatepetl huffs and puffs in the distance and I wish we had the time to climb it. Add that to the list of reasons to return…






We get onto the Arco Norte – the northern loop road around Mexico City. The population of greater Mexico City is about 2/3rds the entire population of Canada – a statistic I find amazing. As Crocodile Dundee said “all those people wanting to live together…it must be the friendliest place in the world!”


The Arco Norte is a well built, smooth-as-a-baby’s-bottom highway and we roll on at a steady 140kph, eating up the miles while the landscape slowly broadens. As with all the toll roads, the only real issue is watching out for the greasy smear that accumulates at each toll booth. When coming to a halt to pay the toll, there have been a few times where my right boot has almost slid away on the oil drippings.







(greasier than a politician's promise)



(back into desert country)


We find ourselves on the outskirts of San Luis Potosi by three in the afternoon and begin scouting a place to stay. The big hotel chains line the main road into town and prices range from 700$ to 1100$, all of which are beyond our budget. Trundling along, we find the Quinta Imperial Auto Hotel and decide to give it a shot. The receptionist is a little confused when we stop the bike and knock on the office door, as she’s clearly not used to interating face-to-face with the clientele. We negotiate an all-night rate of 400$ and she directs us to room 51.


It turns out to be the swankiest, best appointed place we’ve stayed. In addition to the personal garage, there’s hot water, room heat, two televisions, wifi and room service. Neither of us have eaten very much today and we order up some enchiladas. To preserve anonymity, there’s a rotating passway in the wall for food & drink service and we startle the chambermaid when we open the room door to pay her instead of using it. The day’s temperature never climbed above 11C and Chanda is feeling a deep chill, so we crank up the heat and enjoy our enchiladas.



(private parking)






Chanda calls the front desk to get the wifi password and it arrives in the passway on a slip of paper. Also arriving is an ice bucket filled with a dark liquid. It has ice cubes and fruit pulp in it and neither of us know what to make of it. Chanda looks at me oddly when I take a sip. It takes peppery and kinda nasty so we leave it alone. It turns out to be a Michelada ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michelada
).







We spend our Christmas night snuggled in our Love Shack

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