Mexico 12/20/2019 - xxxx

11/25/19
Thanksgiving is three days away, and less than a month until we're on the road again. The plan is to loop the Americas; go down to Argentina via the West coast and back up the East. Once we get back to the US in maybe a year or year and a half, then Europe or Africa. 

We, is me and my honey.  If you know me then you know her.  She's not into social media and likes to live a private life, so, I'll respect her wishes and keep her the mystery woman in my logs.

There was a lot of debate regarding the mode of transportation, probably just as much between me and myself as between her and I. Questions like, what's the goal, see the world or ride the motorcycle; or, after three months and 9000 miles of riding Mexico and Guatemala do I still want to do this, am I up to it physically; or, how much stuff do we need to take and how much space do we need? In the end, we'll be taking two vehicles, my DR650 and an older Subaru Outback.  I've also got a towing attachment (not a trailer, more on this later) so the car can tow the bike as needed, which will most likely be most of the way to and through Mexico.  As we go further South, to areas I haven't ridden through yet, and the roads get nicer, I'll be riding.  For the car, other than putting some spring assist spacers on the rear and setting up and bringing a normal size spare, we'll probably leave it stock.  Still debating bringing one of those enclosed rooftop containers, but hey, it's an Outback, not a two ton pickup, so, just as well, we can't take that much stuff.

As when I took off in May, there's mixed feelings and apprehension, though less about borders and do I know enough Spanish to get by!?  The bigger question is will be opt out of some countries? We may need to go around some or get through relatively quickly.  Venezuela comes to mind on the return trip, but who knows, maybe things will be a bit more stable in a year or however long it takes us to get there.  What are we up to now, about 4 million people have left that country?  We took a look at the government travel site and there's a whole lot of places in this world that are not recommended.  Yeah, what else is new?  Maybe if the US and other world powers stopped meddling and sucking out their natural resources, they'd be way better off... so much more could be said... Anyway, we'll play it by ear, and as before, only plan a few days in advance.

And here's how things are looking right now. 



Using honey's place for a staging area (no... we're not taking the ottoman). She's been selling off stuff, giving it away, and figuring out what she wants to pack and keep.  Fire Sale!

In the mean time, we just got about 18" of snow here in the Boulder area.  Eeeeeeeehah!  The car is buried and the bike is sitting in my daughters garage.



Monday 12/16/2019

The packing continues.  A lot of the stuff has already been sold off or boxed and stored.  The place is looking pretty empty.  Some boxes, kitchen stuff, kitchen table and three chairs, mattress on the floor (bed was sold a while ago).  Tonight we're going to see Kahlil, my grandson, at his first violin recital (I hear it's a few seconds of playing.) and then we'll have dinner and say our goodbyes.  My honey's daughter and fiance are coming over Wednesday to pick up the table and chairs and to say goodbye.

Looks like the weather will be sunny come the weekend, so that's a good start. 

Over the last couple months I've been thinking about how to deal with a car and a motorcycle.  Don't want honey to have to pull a trailer all the time, not to mention the extra licensing, title, registration at the borders. But it would be nice to be able to tow the motorcycle for the long and boring stretches, and basically most of Mexico since I've ridden so much of the country already.  I found the MOTOW and a few devices like it, but MOTOW is by far the better design, vs. a similar unit that's all over E-bay, Amazon, and Walmart for $100 and not worth 50 cents!  So, bit the bullet and bought a Motow.

Had to do a little modification to the bracketry to get some clearance at the bumper and took it for a first tow from my daughters to the departure point in Boulder.  It's a neat design, meant to have the rear wheel in the carrier that slips into the hitch receiver.  It has a hinge so follows just like a trailer.  Also, lowers and raises with a screw.





Then on the front it uses straps on the handlebars to lock the bars in place so that bike tracks straight.



The bike does lean a few degrees and sway a bit from free play, and after the first few blocks the bar straps loosened, which had the front wheel doing a shimmy, but once I retightened it, it seemed to be ok.  Since then, I've bought some heavier straps I'll use.  Talked to the manufacturer and they recommended a hitch stabilizer, which is on order, to knock down some of the swaying.  Talked to them enough to get some more confidence that this thing will actually work.  They sent me a photo of a guy hauling a Ducati with hard bags and two tires on it, for thousands of miles. 

Also figured out a way to rig up some lights on the front of the bike, so that people following me will have more than just a couple small flags.  They are magnetic mount and the bike's reflector brackets are the perfect place for them. 

Just have to drop off a few more boxes at my daughters house in the next couple days, and we'll be ready to go.  Thursday night we'll be sleeping on a yoga mat and a blow up camping pad! Some guy is coming for the mattress.  No place to live, minimal stuff, a car, the motorcycle, some food, pots and pans, some clothes, some shoes, and that's it.  The journey continue.

12/20/2019
Alright, and we are off again!

Morning of the 20th, got of out Dodge. Made our way south toward Colorado Springs, stopped for a short hike up to the Castle Rock in ahhh... Castle Rock... then took a walk at Garden of the Gods and continued on to our digs for the night in Alamosa CO.

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With the stops and the hiking we got to Alamosa after dark. Where apparently they had temps in the negative double digits last week... as in -40??? Guess it's one of the coldest places in the country. All of a sudden, towing the bike to warmer climates didn't seem like a bad idea!
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In the morning it was in the negative single digits. Loaded the car back up, took off the bike cover, and cable locking it to the receiver and took off for Aztec NM.

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So far the towing arrangement is working well. The handlebar and the mirror visible in my side mirror was my indication at all was well with the bike. Some beautiful scenery along the way.
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Stopped for gas in a little town called Pagosa Springs. Local guy came over to check out the towing arrangement and we got to talking bikes. He told us about the hotsprings just down the road... so... Pagosa Hotsprings it is! Situated right next to the San Juan River in Pagosa. They have pools from 86 degrees F to 110 degrees F. So we bounced around for a couple hours among the pools. I also took a wade into the river. Not very deep this time of year, but cold has heck. After about 20 seconds I couldn't feel my legs any more... So, back into the 106 degree pool! If you're in the area, it's a must do. Apparently Pagosa means Healing Waters in native American... High sulfur content, along with other minerals. At $26-30 per person (bring your own towel or pay +$4) it aint cheap, but you can stay there all day. They also sell drinks and food right in the pool area.

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After getting thoroughly steamed, we finished off the days drive. Yup, definitely have had worse days!

That "fog" in the distance is actually smoke.  Something was burning, not sure what.  Maybe a controlled burn.
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12/21/2019

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Aztec NM to Lake Powell area. About 260 miles.

Before taking off for the morning we took a couple mile walk from where we were staying to the Aztec ruins.
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All the doors were less than 5ft tall...
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Pretty complex layout. Multi level condos made of stona and wood on the outside and then a large central meeting area in the middle of the city.
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One of the main corridors, half under ground. Very cool in there. As you enter each section there are additional passages to the left; living quarters. Took decades to build.
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Then you gots to grind the corn to make your corn flour so you can make your tortillas...

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Got ourselves back on the road. Some pretty nice scenery along 64 and 160 headed West.  A desolate beauty.

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Planted for a couple nights. We'll see what we can see around here tomorrow.

12/22/2019

So, near Page AZ apparently are a few slot canyons. After doing some research, picked Waterholes to go see, which is about 2 miles long. Compare that to Antelope which is more expensive, more crowded and only about 200 meters long, and Waterholes is a clear winner. Use to be you could just buy a permit from the Navajo and take the tour yourself, but no more.  Now, none of this is cheap... About $58/person for a 1.5 hour tour. They drive you to the start of the Canyon, and you hike back to where you took off from. It's private land owned by a Navajo family. Our guide was 20 years old kid. He knew his stuff and answered all our questions. Pretty straight forward. There are definitely some tight areas, and you have to shimmy down some ladders.

Honestly, I was a bit ticked that I couldn't just go hiking on my own. Felt like I was getting shafted. But I considered it a donation to the Navajos, for chasing them off their land. I also learned about the Long Walk... where the US basically made the Navajos and other natives migrate across three desert states back in the 1800's.  Many of them died in the process. 

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Yes, this is actually a walkable slot.  At the bottom is sand.  If there wasn't any then you would literally be walking on two walls that come to a point.  When it rains, the rain quickly builds up and rushes through these canyons at huge speeds.  The water can actually remove all the sand.  If too much sand gets removed then the slot's have to be refilled by dumping sand from above.

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This was at the end of the slot, and goes to join the Colorado River.

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And the Colorado River right after the dam.
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The dam.

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Overlook onto Lake Powell; Glenn Canyon Rec. area.
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12/24/2019

Merry Christmas Eve!

The day started out a little foggy and got worst from there, but there were definitely some bright spots! Holed up for a couple days in Williams AZ, on historic route 66.

This was 89 headed south out of Page AZ... snow on the ground, fog in the air... winter wonderland!
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Stopped at this place called Cameron. Selling all sorts of Native wares. Check this out, a manual loom (is that what they call them?). A little old native lady was working on it, says it will take her about a year to finish... The smaller rugs on the wall sold for thousands, so I'm guessing this will be about $15-$20G's

There was a basket there that took a year to weave, price... a cool $15,000...
They had sand art and pottery... butt-load of jewelry. Good thing we don't have the money or the space in the car!

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They also had a post office there, so mailed off a couple post cards to the grand-kids, and conversed with the nice lady working the counter. She had hair down past her butt, said she was thinking of cutting it cause it's heavy... Me being a near cueball, have no clue how that would feel. Does your neck get tired?

Also had a restaurant there, so we shared a vegan Navajo taco for lunch (you can have it with Muton I think). MMMMmmmm... Beans, veggies, on fry-bread (yeah, bread that's fried instead of baked). First Navajo taco ever. If you haven't had one... find one. There was a restaurant in Page (Steer89) that was suppose to have them, but they were closed, so this was a nice surprise...
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So, after our taco, we proceeded on toward the Grand Canyon... Yeah... things didn't look so good.

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We got to the gate and they told us only part of the road was open, and we couldn't get to Williams that way, so had to turn back around. Got out of the snow, but as we got closer to Williams, more of the same.

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Made it safely to our Motel, motorcycle still attached! Though definitely in need of a wash when the weather clears up in a few days and we head further South.

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And why is the Subaru sagging in the rear, cause we didn't bring the kitchen sink, but we brought the stove and kitchen! Making Christmas Eve dinner... Rice, salad, some home made sauerkraut... Honey, pass the Soy sauce, would you? Where's the granola?

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12/25-12/16/2019

Two nights in Williams was a good idea. Got another snow storm the second night and clearer skies in the morning.

Took a walk down main street (Route 66) during the day.  This was a tree in the front yard of some motel. Definitely get the prize for largest decorations!
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And this was the state of affairs this morning.

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In Phoenix for the night, where it's a balmy 61 degrees... and NO snow. Head for the border tomorrow!

12/27/2019

They grow some big cactus down in Southern Arizona and Northern Sonora!
Took an short hike through Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument.  The stats on these big cacti are crazy.  Takes them until they about 75-100 years old before they start growing their first arms.  They get to be 30 ft tall!  They bear flowers one day out of the year and then produce fruit.
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That's about 8 miles from the Mexico border in Arizona. And figured that it was time to pull the bike off the MOTOW and ride through the border. Given that I only had about 6" of ground clearance while towing it, and knowing that Mexico has those speed bumps (topos) everywhere, the towing was over for now, unless I lift the rear of the Subaru.

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Well, the border at Sonoyta was not much of an issue, at first. Jabbering back and fourth with the guy giving us our tourist cards went on for a while. But the Banjercito was about 17 miles down the road, so on we went. It was in the 40's and started raining, so put on the full rain gear, turned on the heated grips and heated vest, and we went on our way; me on the bike, honey in the Subaru. Took hours to get the Temporary Import for the Car, because it's a Colorado salvage car, and Colorado gives you a title with a Colorado assigned IDCO instead of the Vin number, and the car actually has two VIN numbers (cause it was pieced together), but people want the VIN number, they don't want some IDCO, so it took conversations, phone calls, looking through manuals, talking to three different guys, taking pictures, and so on. By the time it all got sorted out it was dark already and we were still two hours from our destination... So, riding in the dark, in the cold on unfamiliar roads... sketchy. At one point there was a construction site, where basically part of the highway was missing... just a mess... literally craters, washboard, mud... and sharing it with semi's. Luckily it was only a quarter mile or so, or it wold have been even a longer night. Finally made it to our destination at 8:30... File that under "don't ever do that again!". Next border, get there early, and leave plenty of time!

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12/28-29/2019

Took a walk around parts of Caborca and came across this. It's a depository for bottle caps, because apparently caps are not generally recycled when plastic bottles are. What do you do with all these caps?
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You stick them to walls to make murals pointing out the need to stop polluting the world... pretty cool..

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This morning in no hurry to head for our next destination. Struck up a conversation with a young Mexican guy that had the room next to ours. He's been riding for three days shooting to get across Mexico, on his 200cc bike, all loaded up with gear. Said it was cold. I bet, hitting low 40's at night, and he came in late. Even with heated gear and heated grips I was getting cold the night before. We said our goodbye's and honey and I took off. Brisk morning, still needed the heated vest and grips to stay warm.

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Not much going on here, four lane split highway... snooooooz...

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Some three hours later we got to our next destination and what was supposed to be our Air B&B for the night. But I got a message from the guy saying, sorry I don't own that property any more... great. So, we looked up some hotels for the night... And here's what $18 dollars gets you in Mexico... A two story with a garage on the bottom, big enough for the car and bike and room to spare, and a room with a king size bed on the second level... S-weeeeeet... Made some phone calls, made dinner, and plans for the next few days...

And yeah, that's a line drawing of a naked woman on the shower with the see through glass and blue light... Ha!
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12/30-31/2019- 01/01/2020

We had a really great place in Mermosillo.  Cristina the host was very nice and friendly and we muddled through a conversation regarding New Year's eve celebration.  She made some recommendations regarding restaurants that were having New Year's Eve dinners.  But we didn't bring any dressy clothes, so Cristina offered to have us join their family.  We agreed and she'd let us know what time to come down (we were up on the second floor of the house).  On the 31'st they stared with music early and the evening rolled on.  Finally at 9:30 she said we can come down, that dinner would be there in an hour.  Eating dinner at 10:30 at night?... We had eaten dinner, and we were getting tired.  I thanked her but said we were going to go to sleep.  Music could be heard from downstairs and around the neighborhood until 3:00 in the morning!  So, didn't sleep great but enough.

View from the rooftop.
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While down below someone was laying on the deck doing her nails... Yeah, it was a rough couple days...
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Well, the bottle caps recycling is a step in the right direction, but still got a ways to go to get things cleaned up...
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Took off from Hermosillo this morning for San Carlos, which is just far enough from Guaymas (which is the more popular spot) to be not near a big city...

Yeah, not much going on on the way there. More four lane highway, though brand new and grooved concrete; 15 headed south.

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Got their early and got checked in. Girl at the counter speaks poco Ingles, and I speak poco Espanol, so checkin was smooth and easy.

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Got our stuff in the room... Nice view from the sliding glass back door, with a path to the pool... and all for less than a Motel 6 in the USA.

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Took off and headed for the beaches, which are just across the street from the hotel. Walked around a bit and got the flavor. Yup, that's a lot of beach, and practically empty. There were quite a few people making a ruckus in one of the grass roofed restaurants. Feliz Nuevo Ano!

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Tons of shells everywhere, about 70 degrees, with a steady West breeze, waves lapping at the shore. Yup, it's going to be rough here for a few days!
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There's also a small Canyon just North of us, so will do a hike to check that out, and see what else we can turn up around here.

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01/02/2020

Got up before dawn to try and catch the sunrise, but the clouds hid it on us..

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Took the main road out West to see where it would take us. Came to a Mirador with a really nice view.
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Hiked down the hill into the bay area, wandered around and climbed some of the rocks along the edges...
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Took the road all the way to the end. Ends in a dirt road leading to a tiny poor town, where they're obviously trying to attract tourists, not sure they're having much success..

Bought some groceries at a couple of the food stores in town, got back to the hotel and ordered lunch from Arbolitos De Cajeme Restaurant... Deep fried fish... they make cuts in the fish on a crosshatch pattern, on both sides, then dunk it in oil, so that you get chunks that are fried crispy on five sides and are flaky in the center... with some rice, a stack of tortillas, a little salad, some sauces...

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Went and took in some sun at the pool, then took another walk on the beach... Yeah, rough day... I think I broke a sweat climbing that hillside...

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01/03/2020

Napula Canyon. A very busy three kilometer hike; about one hour in, one hour out. You feel like you're in another world. And for those who really want the full adventure, they also have zip lines there. There are at least six or seven lines across the canyon, but to get to them you have to climb ladders, suspended bridges, repel on ropes, and climb up rock faces. Didn't do that. Just did the hike in and out. During the rainier season there is a waterfall and swimming holes. Couldn't really take enough pictures, and it's hard to relay the scale.

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These palm trees are huge. About four to five feet across with the dried palms. And just couldn't get the height in the photo.
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You can see one of the zip lines here, but if you look really close, you can see a couple people on the face of the cliff... Hard to see. The place is huge.
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And later at the hotel, sitting by the pool, after lunch and siesta, I got the blessing from a local bee. Just one of those shots...

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01/04/2020

Slow paced day today.  I slept relatively late, not even sure what time.  Doesn't really matter.  I know the date because I look, but still don't know the day unless I inadvertently come across it somewhere.  Honey came from running on the beach at sunrise, I did my morning Yoga, and helped make breakfast, and we discussed plans for the next few days as we ate. 

Some time later we went back to the beach, just walked along the shore (wait, did I take a nap after breakfast... I know I took one after lunch...).  A person on some peddle craft with a small sail went by close to shore and pointed some distance behind her.  Dolphins.  Yes, I saw some fins skimming the surface.  Guess it was morning feeding time.  I took a dive into the water... brrrr... just a little warmer than beer temperature... and splashed around a bit hoping to attract them! Didn't happen.

Honey pointed out that we've been on our Journey two weeks now.  Again, didn't know.  It's been interesting traveling with her.  Of course we get along really well, it's easy.  Even when we disagree, we talk through things, and move on.  I knew going in, that the journey would be different than what either one of us is used to.  For me, we're moving way slower and smaller distances per day.  I wouldn't think twice about doing a 200 mile day, stay two days and move on, but she doesn't really like driving, so two to three hours is the limit, with rest stops every hour.  Also, staying three nights or more in one place will happen more frequently, whereas I rarely stayed more than two nights.  Anyway, slower pace, enjoying each place more, seeing more.  Truly no rush.  Because there is no point in rushing.  I'm glad we're finding this balance.

Anyway, after the beach, came back to the room, made lunch, took showers, went and sat out by the pool in the sun, came and took a nap, woke up, went back for a walk along the beach and to the grocery store to get some more prepackaged, baked, corn tortillas.  There's no Tortillaria to get them fresh; definitely a tourist town.  Came back to the room, snacked a bit, and that's it.  Our last night here; back on the road tomorrow morning. 

01/05/2020

Been a relatively uneventful couple days. 1/5 stayed with a really nice lady in Obregon. We practiced our Spanish, she practiced her English. Just outstanding hospitality. The night we came she gave us some fresh eggs for dinner, as in from a chicken at a friends house across the street... also taught us how to make stove top bread, though it ended up being more like a pie cause we went overboard with the apples, but there wasn't a crumb left! Her dogs were too funny, one looked like a sheered sheep and the other looked like a person with blond hair that parted in the center of her head. When we were leaving this morning she gave us some oranges for the road, picked fresh off a tree the other day. She also knows a guy by the name of Robert; rogueadventures.com who's been doing some world travel. Tied to find him on the internet, no luck.

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Little one was begging for more tortilla.

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01/06/2020

Found a tortillaria this morning, hot a and steaming tortillas, so I was in heaven.

Got moving about noon today. Just four lane highway to Los Mochis. Put the bike on the hitch again and burned up the miles.

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Found this little guy scrounging on the side of the road when we stopped to take a break. Tossed him some tortilla but he wasn't interested. Too bad, you could see his ribs. Not much to him.

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Made it to our destination after the GPS took us for a ride. "We're here." "I don't see you. Sometimes the GPS takes people to the wrong place." Yeah, figured that out after talking to a few people and asking wafakawe...

Was also a somber day. Saw a couple hairy accidents. One car in a ditch all accordioned nose first, no glass, airbags deployed. Another one with a couple guy who were on a motorcycle being tended to while lying in the street. Not good. Had a close call myself, blew right through a stop sign and it wasn't a four way. Couple seconds later and it could have been all over... shit... focus.. focus... focus... yeah, the sign was hidden and yeah we're looking for where we need to go... but damn... as it was, I got away with a horn blowing... Whew.

Safely behind bars again, for a couple nights at least, maybe longer if we like the place. Going to check out the beaches tomorrow, and see what else is around here. Los Mochis is a big town, fairly well organized... still has some really crappy streets though; typical Mexico. But it does have a couple Walmarts, a McDonalds, and a Burger King, so it's getting fully Americanized!

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01/07/2020

Spent the day today going to a local a-burr-eat-em (though there wasn't really any food there so not sure what the eat part has to do with it... ) also know as the Jardin Botanico and after that went down to the El Maviri beach, which is about 30 minutes out of town. The day was high 70's, sunny, and breezy... another rough one...

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This guy was a good three feet long.

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iguanas, turtles, ducks, geese, butterflies, tropical plants, all sorts of cacti varieties...
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Good way to raise awareness regarding bottle disposal.. make a trash can out of bottles..
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And here we have the lovely Vanah modeling the 7 foot wide tree...

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And then, for a little break... mostly very fine sand, feels like mud between your toes when you walk out into the water. It was like that in both directions, hardly a soul...

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You can walk out like 50 yards and still not be in the water to your waist...
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Did nada... laid in the sun, dug a hole, pretended to make a sand castle, bought a bag of peanuts from an old Mexican lady and threw shells at the sea gulls while we munched the good parts.

While the slight breeze blew sand over our towels and nearly made them disappear...
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Yup, another rough day... Back on the road again tomorrow.

I'm kind of liking this traveling with the honey thing. Slowing me down a bit; smell more of the roses along the way...

01/08/2020

Ok, where was I... Yeah, we stayed two nights in Mochis and moved on to Culiacan.  Just as we were leaving I noticed the smell of gasoline.  Found that my auxiliary fuel filter I installed was leaking.  Tightened it up but that just made it worse.  So, turned the petcock to off and pulled the filter off and gas was pouring out of my tank... Ah.. that's not right... duh, turned the petcock to prime instead of off.  Anyway, took the filter out of the line, reconnected the line and we were off... deal with it later... Took route 15 down instead of 15D (the four laner), so got to see a little scenery, some farmland, some curves. Nice break. There really aren't many options along the west coast as far as roads go.

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Had some trouble finding our Airbb for the night, but worked through it (yeah, first world problems in the third world). Turned out to be a four apartment building, and by the end of the night the whole family was there getting stuff done. We were officially the first guests in this place. They built it just to rent out. Everything new and a large enclosed parking area. Hostess spoke pretty good English and had both of her kids with her, who spoke good English. Later the father came to fix the garage/yard door while the kids fixed our wi-fi... hospitality! ... or debugging... hostess was all excited they had electricity... good plan...

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After we got our stuff unloaded, we walked a few blocks to get some groceries. There are some big hills in this town... took a picture of one of the roads peak to peak... it was steep walking, like steeper than some of the Colorado mountains.
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By the time we got back it was almost sunset so went up to the rooftop and got a view.

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01/09/2020

Today I spent the whole morning doing maintenance on the bike. That fancy fuel filter I had was leaking the other day, so had to take it off. Checked it today and the rubber seal got hard (cheap ass rubber), checked the valves (they were right on), and turns out after about 16,000 miles my chain was worn out, so had to replace it and the sprockets; had spares with me. The chain tool I had wasn't the greatest and I don't like the swage job it did on the master link, but I'll see how it goes, if I notice anything going weird I'll just go to a dealer and have them put a new master in it. Speaking of dealers, there was a Suzuki dealer in town so got a couple of iridium spark plugs, so won't have to change those again for a while. Took it for a test drive and the chain didn't fall off!  Maybe I should raise my standards...

Well, no beaches around here and the one an hour away you can't swim in cause it's got bugs like e-coli, stuff that causes pink eye, swimmers ear, and other assorted niceties... So, found another arboretum after lunch and walked around.

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These trees are just freaky. They let out roots from branches, and when they hit ground, they root and become a new trunk. They will wrap them selves around themselves or even other trees.

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Some pretty cool banzai trees too...
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And that's a wrap... back on the road tomorrow.

01/10/2020

The road to Mazatlan... the most important thing... the newly installed chain didn't fall off! Also the bike had a 14 tooth front sprocket, the one I installed is a stock 15 tooth. Now it's a little easier going faster... Took route 15 again, the road less traveled. Not bad, just enough curves going through some high hills / low mountains, and some small towns, to keep it interesting, and use up some of my side rubber. Honey bought some corn on the cob from a roadside seller, so took a corn break a little while after.

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Got to Mazatlan and the traffic was just clog city. But it was familiar from this summer; the first West Coast city I visited.

Made it to our digs. Basically six days in a small condo with full kitchen, a block from the beach, for less than one nights hotel room in the US. Gots to love it! And they use bars and spikes in their decor...

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Got our stuff unloaded, had a quick dinner, and took a walk down to the beach and down the strip. Talk about a lot of stores selling a lot of crap... Alart!: Major Tourist Trap... Hey, you want to be a guest for our 90 minute presentation, then we'll give you a free cruise? Yeah... we'll let you know. Then there was the "Beer Boutique" store... didn't even ask. Everything from hand painted sinks to blow up floatties for the kiddies. Did see a place where you can get breakfast to $2.50 US. Cars, noise, lights, tight sidewalks with merchandise intruding on your space.

The beach side of the strip is all "All Inclusives" far as the eye can see. There was a stiff breeze on the beach, though nice and balmy. The weather will be in the 80's for the next few days.

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Saw a t-shirt that said: Relax, you're on the fun side of the Wall.
and another one about a Trump sandwich, White Bread, a lot of bologna, with Russian dressing, and a small pickle...
Even a "Trump 2020" license plate... good to see they have a sense of humor about it.

01/11/2020

Today, I think we set a new record... three beaches in one day. Went to Playa Cerritos, but the tide was so high there was no beach. So went further north and found a massive empty expanse. That will do...

Pelicans flying in formation...
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When it looked like the tide was low enough, headed back to Cerritos. Walked the rocks and enjoyed the captive pools which had some small fish and crab roaming around.

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Then back to the main strip, and Playa Brujas.
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Yeah, it looks like a postcard, but it's just too commercial for me... certainly makes the spread between rich and poor more readily apparent. I would say there's no less All Inclusives here than there are in Cancun, though maybe they're a little smaller here. But the water here is murky because the sand is brown and very fine, so makes it look muddy when it's not.

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Rooftop view back at the domicile...
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01/12/2020

Went over to the Fero Lighthouse (visited there this summer) to do the hike again.

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The place has gone to the cats... Someone actually cares, they put out some water.  Off to the right there was a couple dogs hanging around too.

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This guy was just lounging around on the steps up to the lighthouse, and there were more cats up there too.  I went over to pet him, he barely lifted his head and went back to snoozing.
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It's about a 30-40 minute hike with about 300+ steps. Climb is about 500 vertical feet total.

Just below the lighthouse is a peer/barrier to protect the port. From 500 ft up it looked like a gravel road. Part of it is, but most of it is these huge boulders and concrete shapes. So we went bouldering.

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and at the end there's nothing but a small tower, with razor wire and vultures...

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After getting back we went to the beach and rented a small catamaran for an hour (honey's a skipper) and sailed along shore.

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01/16/2020

Lazy days in Mazatlan. Walked the beach some more, swam, made Nopales cactus for the first time. Taste kind of like green beans, and the liquid behaves kind of like okra; strings liquid when you pick it up. Played bocci ball on the beach with a couple that resides in the building we were staying in. Stopped up for some chips, nuts, and wine after dinner. Interesting couple, been all over the world in their 70+ years. Currently reside in Canada during warm season and Mazatlan in the winter.

Today we said our goodbyes and took the road to Acaponeta for the night, a small town half way between Mazatlan and Tepic, on 15. Stopped along the way to buy some roadside shrimp tamales from a lady and her daughter. Two big shrimp in each one, shell, legs, eyes, antlers and all (is that what shrink have, antlers?). Put a little lime on it, spit out the unwanted bits and delicious. But there is something about biting into it and seeing two eyes staring back at you...

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Got to the hotel and it was like stepping back a century. Sure, you can pull the motorcycle right through the lobby to the courtyard... works for me.
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Big blue fabric closes off the opening in the courtyard, giving everything a blue color while the sun is shining.

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The room is small, has a bathroom where the toilet, sink, and shower share the same space, no curtain just a drain on the floor, and literally has 15-18 foot ceilings...
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Photo on the wall...

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The church next door, from the balcony.

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Went for a walk through parts of town...

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Scored big with some fresh vegetables and apples without stickers on them... yum...

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The central square from the balcony of the hotel...
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View from the room...

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Honey by the water fountain...

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There's all sorts of sounds coming through the window. People mulling around the square, car and motorcycle exhaust fading, street vendors selling their wares, kids yelling and playing... It's alive! There's even a pretty nice restaurant next door. These are the kind of towns a like. Big enough to have a decent economic base, but small enough to be personal. But, moving on tomorrow.

01/17/2020

Took 15 South again toward Tepic. Avoided the tollway again (15D) until the last toll. Again, there's a bunch of people at the toll booth, none of them in the actual booths, and they have a rope strung across the lane to prevent you from passing. So, what are you going to do? Pay the man. Honey was in front with the car and paid, but they waved me by without paying. As I was sitting waiting, I was trying to figure if I should challenge them. But just past the tool booth I saw what looked like a police truck with lights flashing, so guess they were legit. I'm wondering if the state allows groups to collect the normal tolls to support causes?

Other than that, relatively uneventful until we got into town. The address was across town so had to go through downtown traffic getting there. Then, dirt, and hills, and ditches. I can't believe there are actually streets like that in places. At one point I look at where I'm going and it goes up a steep hill with ruts and rocks, and there's a road going to the left, but narrow, and a chicken in my way... well, it's going to move cause once I get some momentum going up this thing, I'm not stopping. I make it up, take the turn and stop. I look back and see the hood on honey's car and then I see her going backward... I'm thinking she's not going to make it. But she gives it another run and comes around. The road ahead is worse than what we just came up, so I tell her to wait and let me scout it out. I go a few blocks and it's a dead end and yeah, there's no way she can make it with the Subaru, not enough ground clearance, the ruts are too deep and irregular. So, I come back, point back down hill at the next block, but she doesn't think she can manage it. So, I go down on the bike, and walk back up to take the Subaru down, and then send a message to our host, like wafakawi? I give him an address and number and hes says we're in the wrong place. I'm like WTF, it's the location that's in AirBB. Turns out he's 30 minutes across town in the direction that we just came from. Great. Honey and I discuss it, and she doesn't feel comfortable going down, so I just tell her I'm going to take a path, just make sure two of your wheels are on it as you follow me. She does and we get out of the mess.  Mini adventure and first world problems in a third world country.

We're in for the night, in a house where the entire first level has no windows and the garage is right next to the living room. I doubt the FBI could find us. Got here late because of the shenanigans so no town walk. Maybe tomorrow, but only staying one night here, so maybe not.

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01/18/2020

At breakfast today, our host, and nine times grandmother! gave us a demonstration of making tortillas from scratch using this contraption; basically a press, with two pieces of plastic. So, you mix Masa (cooked and blended corn) with water, make balls, stick a ball between plastic, bring the press on it... boom.. tortilla. She cooked them up for us and they were delicious, also gave us some home made picante, not too spicy.... mmm.. mmmm...


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After breakfast we mulled it over and decided we should just take off so the days journey wouldn't be rushed. Good move, because Nyarit is on a different time zone so we lost an hour. The route from Tepic to the Puerto Vallarta is a nice two laner for the most part, but it was kind of crowded, with some slow moving trucks, so not idea, but nice blend of curves, lush greenery, and small towns.

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Stopped for and afternoon break and snack.

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We got into town and as we got closer to our stay for the night we're on a dirt road again, thinking it was going to be a repeat of yesterday, but never got that bad, and at the end is a series of nicely paved roads and gated communities. We met our host and the place did not disappoint. Turns our we're their first guests. I like this, people are opening up their homes just in time for us to stay there!

Nice bedroom, private bath, full use of the kitchen, and... a community pool across the street (which we promptly enjoyed), complete with palms and coconuts.

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We're here for two nights, so we'll probably check out the nearby beaches tomorrow. Far enough north of Puerto Vallarta to avoid the city mess and congestion. Our next day will be going Southeast to end up in the midst of a dozen or so Volcanos, found a small town there and I'm guessing the volcanoes are not active... but let's not get ahead of ourselves... enjoying one day at a time. At least doing this story keeps me in touch with what date it is, though which day it is gets lost occasionally.

01/19/2020

Another day, some more pool time, some more beach time, some more smelling the flowers along the way...

Da flowers...
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Da boys at the homestead...


Da boat on da beach... and the fancy beachfront properties...


Da beach... Playa Bucerias


Da chillin on da beach...


Back on the road again tomorrow morning, headed for those volcanoes. Host tells me the road is all up and down and back and forth...

01/20/2020

Yesterday was one month since we took off from Boulder... Somewhere over 2000 miles.

Started out the day by making our own tortillas for breakfast. Bought some Masa (dry corn kernels cooked with ash then drained, washed and mashed) at a local store. Nothing like fresh tortillas...



Took route 70 Southwest. Not bad, after a bit there's some nice scenery going up into the mountains, and in some places the road is s-weet, in good condition or repaved, with some nice sweepers. Other places, not so much; rough and potholed. Chain still hasn't fallen off either.





Ended up just outside of Mescota at the Villa Cantabaria, down a gravel road off of 70, an old villa converted to a hotel some 15 years ago, according to the staff. There's hammocks, and sitting areas, bungalows, huge rooms, a pool, nice view of the mountains, open air lobby, open air kitchen, temps in the 70's... and we're the only guests. Apparently September is the busy season, very popular with the motorcycle community... come for the road, stay for it all.

We got the room at the far right end of the place, so yeah, just pull the vehicles around.





Huge old tree in the front yard of the place, like one of those we saw in the arboretum a few days back.

We can just make out the town in the distance. Muy tranquilo aqui!


Open air kitchen, with industrial stove for cooking massive amounts of food. They will make you breakfast from a short list of options.


The kitchen assistant helping us with dinner... nicest mild mannered humble dog...
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There was some rain just after we settled in, so got the official welcome rainbow. A little after this photo a herd of cows went across this grass... the leader out front and the rest of the herd following in line... that explains the hoof prints over in the grass by where we parked. Couple horses mulling around too.
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Someone went for a swim, but I was content with mid thigh, cause it was chilly and that water was beer temperature! Brrrr... I'm sure it would be great in July-Sep.
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After dinner sat in the open air lobby, listened to music, danced a bit (well, honey danced and I faked it). And there was a bit of Jose in a bottle behind the bar, so yeah, why not?

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Short day, only about 70 miles for the day, about two hours with the slow traffic, the speed bumps, and the curves.
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Staying here a few nights, seeing what we can see around here.

01/21-22/2019

Apparently the kitchen helper is a nap helper too...

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and that's kind of how it's been. Just did absolutely nothing yesterday; some sun time, some siesta time, making meals, enjoying the birds chirping in the yard. Tranquil definitely describes this place. I think we've reached a new level of relaxation. And with views like this, how can you not?

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This morning after breakfast, thought we'd venture out try to hit one of the volcanos (showed a hiking trail around it on the map) and a Municipal Park (Petrificado el Malpais). No idea what to expect. First attempt was a fail, road was crap. Talked to a local, he suggested not going further, rather turn around and go through town. Well, the park was closer so went there instead, also rough road, nice scenery (river steaming in the cool morning air in the distance)

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but a closed gate that we opened, and we end up in some guys front yard, next to the stable with cows and horses. Fail again. So, went back through town to go to the volcano. The town roads are all rock, some worse than others, so slow going, but guess it wasn't slow enough for some so they actually had rock speed bumps across the rock road... nice...

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Well, got to where the trail around the volcano starts, and we're greeted by a big gate with a sign that basically says NO!... Ok, then... Thought about going south to a lake area, but figured we'd save that for tomorrow. Went back, made lunch, reserved the place for one more night, got some more sun and more chillin...

In the later afternoon we chucked a frizbee around and the horses from the farm started doing some edge trimming around the trees and stone walkway. There's also a whole herd of cows that comes walking across the front lawn every day like clockwork; out in the morning, back in the evening.
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Took a walk into town, less than a mile away, stopped at a store and bought some locally grown avocados. Like 21 pesos ($1.05?) for five. Brought them back, chilled for a bit, made dinner... rough day.  Couple dogs followed us home from town... I don't know, guess they just liked us.  Speaking of dogs, as we were driving around earlier, found that quite a few of the dogs in town have a striking resemblance to our kitchen helper... someone gets around.

Speaking of town, there's suppose to be about 100k people living there. Could have fooled me; relatively empty streets. Lot of agriculture in this valley, nestled between a couple dozen volcanoes, the youngest one of which could be as young as 1000 years.

We'll see if that lake has a locked gate around it, ma(nj)ana...

01/23/2020

Well, last day in Mascota (Pueblo Magico)...

Sunrise at the homestead...
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The herd going out to pasture...
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My new "hugs" emoticon... On the road going to Presa Corrinchis... (Corrinchis dam). The usual mix of rock roads, gravel roads.. The gravel feels like a superhighway after bouncing around on those rock roads.
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La Molcajete restaurant... mess of a road getting there and a mess there... guess they're doing some renovation off season.
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The restaurant has a view of the lake and surrounding hills. Talked to the caretaker about a road (shows as a hiking trail on Maps.me). He confirmed it goes around the lake, and we missed the turnoff somewhere.

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So, after a plate of guack and chips, which was very good by the way... $3.25... we headed back up the road to find it.
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But it was another gate... sigh... so much for hiking trails around here.

On the way back to the homestead stopped in town center.

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So, the Mexicans have this tradition where the 15 year old girls have a coming out of sorts... so they get all dressed up and have their picture taken, etc.. We've seen a lot of that as we're traveling... the hearts are standard town decor..
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Back on the bouncing rocks to the homestead... to feed the calves!.. apparently they don't like apples...
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And took a walk around the homestead... the herd... looked like they were ready to come back home... Those flat topped cones were the near volcanoes.
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That's a wrap for Mescota... pubeblo magico indeed...

But like all paradises it's not quite perfect. The place we're staying in has this musty smell, which was just rustic, for a couple days, now it's annoying... they need to clean some mold off the shower curtains. And the whole place is kind of damp, and I have a series of bites on me (similar to this summer) which seems to say sand flies or bed bugs or something...but can't find any evidence of them... other than the very itchy bites, but they look very familiar and feel the same... So far way less then I had in the summer, I'm sleeping with sweat pants tucked in my socks, long sleeves tucked in my sweat pants, and a hat... and honey is somehow immune..

Time to gooooo..., and hopefully not bring them with...

01/24/2020

Ok, and off we went. Soon as we got out of Mascota the road takes you up into the mountains where you can see the whole Mascota area.

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The entire route we took (starting with 70/90) was a mixed bag). Some really nice sections of new curvy pavement and some teeth jarring, potholed, badly patched stuff.

Stopped at a small town along the way to buy some groceries and have a lunch snack before moving on.

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And carried on...

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Got confusing as we got about 2/3 rd's of the way along. The GPS was doing some crazy things; one telling us the route was impossible, another one routing us up north and than back down (ah.. no..). So, played it by ear and made adjustments as we went along. About half an hour out of Jocotepec, or destination, traffic came to a standstill and was just c-r-a-w-l-i-n-g... Some work was getting done at a major intersection and the lanes were filtering down and having to cross another highway, so everyone had to wait their turn to go... Oy. What should have been about a four hour trip was 6.5 by the time we got to my Aunt and Uncles house. They insisted we stay with them while in the area and it's awesome to see them.

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Today they took us around the town a bit. Hilltop view of Lake Chapala, then down by the lake... Joco(tepec), as they call it, is like retirement mecca apparently. The weather is relatively mild all year round, at about 2500 ft above sea level. A bunch of ex-pats (25k+), from all over the world, choose to make their homes here. And it's not cheap. Houses are about what they cost in the US or more, in the gated communities.

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A lot of fruit is grown in this area and a lot of the silver things in the distance are covered fields,like greenhouses... Which by the way are intended for export to the US, not for local consumption, so the food will sometimes get imported back from the US.
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Down by the lake are all sorts of sea birds...
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The greenery in the forefront is not grass, or even ground, it's some kind of water plants that grow thick and cover the surface near the shore.
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Introducing the new hit band ... Jocote... ok, not really... honey, me, and my Aunt and Uncle.
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After walking around the park and shore we went to dinner in a near town. Yves is the name of the place and there's a story about some old man feeding a mule... so they had some artwork and well...
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a couple of hairy mules!
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The place was actually really good. Prices maybe a bit lower than the US, but good food and something for everyone. And besides the mules, it has a large pool with fountain, inside or outside seating, and American music playing on the speakers. It is what the ex-pats expect! And the waitresses speak Spanish, but answer to English...

How long we going to stay? Not sure. I've got some papers I need notarized by the US consulate (at $50 a signature... sheeeesh...), which is in Guadalajara, about 45 minutes away, but couldn't get an appointment for two weeks. So, unless they agree to see me sooner, we may get to know this area pretty good.

01/28/2020

Some action from the last couple days...

Can't put my finger on it, but there's something fishy about this picture... The lakefront at Jocotepec.
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and clearly the pelicans think there's something fishy here too... Lakefront at Chapala...
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Some hand made crafts... Made by five native Mexicans all dressed in their native colors...

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The walk on the right of this photo goes on for a mile, we never did get to the end of it... Pretty cool. There's a skate park there, vendors, people mulling around. Don't go on the weekend, you'll have to park three blocks away; popular place.
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Statue of Jesus the fisherman...

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At one time this bridge wasn't there, so you had to take a boat out to the Jesus statue...

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Now here's some entertainment (see video below if it loads)... these guys climb this pole, then they wrap those ropes around the pole by spinning around on the thing they're sitting on... then they hang upside down by one leg while they spin and lower to the ground... while one of them plays the flute... then they come around asking for donations... ok, that was worth a few pesos...
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and here we have the latest in Mexican gringo fashion... I wouldn't mess with the short guy... he looks tough...
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This is a huge restaurant on the Chapala shore... we went and ate a couple doors to the left...
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Red snapper bathing in the sunset... yum...
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Sunset on the shore...
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The moon, Venus (I assume), and the shore...
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Not a bad couple days...

01/29-31/2020

So, been doing important things, like playing with noodles and blowup toys...

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So, if you shoot one of the pool water supply jets through a noodle, you can float the ball ... one of our important discoveries...
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Then a discussion ensued as to why honey can float and I start sinking feet first... has to do with muscle mass, body fat distribution, and such...
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Then yesterday we decided to actually go do something. Kind of a overcast rainy day but went over to Mazamitla, which is about 1.5 hours Southeast into the mountains and about 8000ft. Temps in the low 50's. Most of the road getting there is actually pretty nice. Curves and mountain scenery.

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Town center is definitely kind of touristy, and there were signs about Pueblo Magico... must be some kind of designation they assign to particularly charming towns... Anyway, after we had lunch figured we'd go check out a nearby waterfall, Cascada El Salto, about 15 minutes further South. Ended up at a gate where you could proceed by foot (no thanks) or by riding horses (in the rain, no thanks). We see cars coming out and ask why they can drive in and out, and he says they live there, so some kind of gated community in the forest. Confusing conversation ensues and he wants 500 pesos... we're like wtf.. later! But more conversation and we settle on $20 US and they give us a visitor pass and let us through... The road winds through the wooded hills, with some pretty big houses scattered around. Someone has money... we speculated this is where the cartel lives... secluded in the mountains only one road in and out... But anyway, after bouncing around the rock roads, getting lost once, making a 12 point turn, cause the road was really narrow, we got to the end and a small walking path...

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then you end up at what is the top of the falls, so you have to go down this rocky staircase...
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And you get to the bottom and get your reward...
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The fall is over 200 ft tall. And actually there's suppose to be another one very near by, but we weren't that adventurous.

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On the way back we stopped to just one side of the gate as you're about to leave town. A whole row of metal mariachi players. A couple of them holding empty tequila bottles. Seems fitting...

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On the way back we had three police trucks pass us and they were in a hurry... little further down they were at an intersection looking all riled up in their full bulletproof outfits... My uncle says maybe someone got shot. Yeah, well, maybe... It's a beautiful area, but I'm sure there's trouble if you go looking for it.

02/01/2020

Lazy day... woke up at like 8-something, made breakfast by 10, did nothing until about 2:00. Then my aunt and uncle took us over to Cajititlan, which is on a lake that goes by the same name, just North over the mountains from Chapala. On the way there we stopped at what is supposed to be the best burrito place in the area. It didn't disappoint, but it definitely leans toward the meat menu. The place was huge, a couple lines, one for eating inside and outside. The burritos are on the small side, so you have to have two or three. I opted for the Chillie Rellenos (sp?). If you're in the area, on route 23 in Santa Rosa, it's a definite stop.

Los Burritos da Nayahua or now Los Milagros de Daliila; view from inside the dining room...


El gato en el Burro alado de caballo... (I think I got that right) in the restaurant courtyard.


The main food line... with interesting fake parrot water falling pool kind of thing... They're fast! Gave me a number for my dish, and by the time got to a table to sit down, the girl was right behind me with the food.


After getting pleasantly stuffed we continued to the lake... There was some kind of fiesta going on, so streets had all sorts of vendors, and the shore area was just packed with people. They had three bands within 50 feet of each other all playing at the same time.





There were a few places selling these Gorditas de Nata (not sure what the Nutella is in the picture for, maybe should be a topping?), which are kind of fat, sweet, corn flour pancakes. Bought a stack of four, hot off the grill, for $1.30. Yum...


Also bought two hats, one wide brim ladies straw hat, for honey, for $1.50... and my uncle bought a nice brim hat for like $7.00... How do they even make stuff that cheap?

Local architecture... there's always a church in the square...




And that's about it. Still no word from the consulate regarding moving up my appointment to have some papers notarized, so looks like we'll be here through the 6th, so will start thinking about where we're headed next.

02/03/2020

Dinner at some awesome neighbors and some thoughts about the "cartel".

Been just hanging around, temps are barely hitting mid sixties and it's been cloudy and rainy. My aunt says it is very unusual for this area. Global weirding again! Got invited for dinner by some neighbors of my aunt and uncle, Frank and Rose, and not just any dinner but make your own pizza! And normally they would do that in their outdoor brick oven, but cold and rainy, we did it in the regular oven. They are originally from England, Rose was in the air force and retired at 40! And Frank was a firefighter for many years and traveled around the world, they both have. Awesome people, do a lot for the community. Enjoyed talking to them. They have an amazing place too, which they bought for a song and dance and renovated themselves.





So, they have a full sliding door in their living room that opens up to the patio, and the world becomes their living room! Not a bad was to live. Outdoor grill and brick oven to the left...



So one of the things we talked about was the cartel, and thieves, etc.. The cartel has businesses, some normal stuff like restaurants and stores, and then other stuff, and they don't like trouble for themselves, or the community. They don't like to attract attention. They don't like tourists getting robbed cause it's bad for business. So, petty thieves in Mexico not only have the police to deal with (sometimes people just disappear, or get the crap beat out of them, when they get caught; who's got time for courts) but also the cartel (like people getting dragged away and having their hands cut off to set an example). But, there is still crime, like in this neighborhood, a housekeeper got threatened into helping would be robbers. The house was completely cleared out... came with a truck... loaded up and took off... but I'm guessing that's not going to happen again. But there are other deterrents... like one neighbor with the guns who asks the police, can a shoot a guy that comes on my property? I can't tell you yes or no, but don't shoot anyone in the back... good enough! He did shoot a guy. What the exact relationship is between the police and the cartel, I don't know, but it's all very interesting. I'm guessing if they each keep to themselves it's live and let live.

And how does that effect me as an obvious tourist? Well, If I don't go looking for trouble, I'm hoping trouble stays away from me. Some common sense, and respect brings respect.