Ves Around the World: Start, Mexico, and Guatemala 5/28/19 - In Progress

It's been quite a few good months here in CO. Spent some quality time with the older daughter's family, including my two grand kids. Certainly came at the right time for them, helping out with baby sitting, a move they just went through, and my daughter is days from graduating with a masters. It's been a long road for her... going to school, two jobs, dealing with two kids. Don't know how she did it, but damn proud of her! Shameless plug... She specializes in women's issues and has her own practice... So, if there's any crazy women out there that need their head examined... ah... am I being politically incorrect again? I have to stop that... right?...

On an even more personal note, a romance has brewed. She's (she, because she doesn't want to be mentioned) not a rider, but we each have our path for the next few months, with plans to see each other as the trip progresses, so we'll see what happens. We've talked about her learning to ride, or maybe doing a Ural (less likely to tip and carries more, or driving a support vehicle. Her dream is to sail around the world, so... bike the land, sail the seas? I'm up for that! Who knows what the future has in store.  She did actually take the MSF rider course and passed with flying colors, just doesn't have the desire, and it's probably a bit of a stretch thinking a new rider could go with me around the world.

On a even more personal note. I consider myself a healthy guy. Try to eat right, exercise, and here in CO it's been snowboarding, bicycle, hike, walks in the sunshine... just a playground. But I actually started developing some kind of intestinal issue... pain when I eat certain foods, some lightheartedness on standing, even weight loss... not good symptoms! After a couple doctors visits and some consulting with some knowledgeable people, I've been eating macrobiotically. Totally changed how I eat, and found I wasn't really eating that healthy in the first place. With all the chemicals and pesticides and GMO's in our foods, it's good luck... I seriously started wondering if I was going to be fit enough to do this trip. You know, how many times do you hear of someone retiring and dropping dead months later? That very fact was one of the reasons I retired early; I saw that happening to guys at work... literally drop dead months after they retire... You never know. I think I have this under control, but goes to show you... if you have something you want to do, and have been putting it off... maybe you should go do it...

And in keeping with go do it... the journey begins. Tears were shed when I left my younger daughter in IL 8 months ago, and more tears were shed saying goodbye to my older daughter and family today. I can't describe all my emotions as a moved from the room I was renting, for the last eight months, to my daughters place knowing that the leaving was just days away. You name it... sadness, excitement, apprehension, fear.  Wondering if I'm doing the right thing, will I survive it, is the world as dangerous as the news tells us?  The questions would be answered.

I've been encumbering myself from stuff, with every move over the last five years I took less with me. And wit this move to my daugter's, I got rid of more stuff, and the rest fits into some dozen boxes now sitting on a couple shelves in my daughters basement, and the reality is that most of that is expendable. My bike and I now weigh significantly more than the belongs that don't fit on the bike, and the only keys I have are for the bike... no house, no apartment, no car... 

The bike, my ass, and I... My ass, the donkey, Eeyore, from WinnieThe Pooh.  I was once compared to him... always glum, shuffling around, dragging.  Well, now I'm taking my ass around the world... pun intended.  Starting mileage 6446 miles on the odometer.

And what a start to the journey. Ran into rain and snow on the first day.  Already delayed my start by one day but wasn't willing to wait another one. when I got to Fairplay CO, it was in the process of getting 8 inches of snow, and I had the pleasure of riding through that. It was coming down so fast I had to wipe my helmet shield off every 15 seconds. The heated gear was on, the heated grips were full bore, the rain gear was on, and it was still miserable... I'm thinking, what am I doing out here and when is it going to stop?... It's day one! Is this what the trip is going to be like? It did slow down as I got out of the mountains, but that was one long hour of riding. After that it was just scattered patches of rain and/or snow and I was eventually able to turn the heated gear off. Spent the night in a hostel in Del Norte and glad to have a warm space.  There were 8 or 9 beds, and two were occupied by a couple Mexican guys who were staying there for a couple months.

I stopped for lunch while it was snowing and was struck by the contrast of people driving in cars vs. me on the bike. Some people were wearing shorts and T-shirts in the gas station/restaurant, and here I was, pants, heated pants, rain pants, t-shirt, heated vest, thermal shirt, jacket with liner, rain jacket, and "Glacier Gloves" with the heated grips on the motorcycle running... Probably sounds like lunacy to the average person, but that's one of the reasons people ride motorcycles, to get the full measure of mother nature, to really feel what she throws at us.

Next day things were looking up. Though chilly, it was sunny and no snow! But the last hour was grueling. A cold front was coming in and crosswinds were hitting 50 mph easy, with light rain. I was all over the road. And that was while on an interstate with cars zooming by me at 75. I just couldn't muster more than 52 mph against the wind...

Spent the night in Reo Ranch New Mexico.  I was riding fairly long each day trying to get to the border.  I was on a budget, and the longer I spent in the US the more the budget would get strained.  My goal for the trip was $50-$60/day average.

31st of May, the day didn't start out great.  I went to the store to get a couple last minute things and as I pushed the motorcycle off it's center stand (standing next to it) it leaned slightly away from me and there was no stopping it from falling.  Not my best moment.  I've never dropped a bike like that off the center stand, but the DR650 was so tall and heavy, with all the gear, all it took was a slight lean.  I promptly tried to pick it up, but needless to say, it wasn't easy; much heavier than I thought.  I did get it back up but it took every ounce of energy I had, and to top it off I tweaked my back doing it.  Being that I had and L4-L5 fusion surgery a year and a half prior, I hoped I didn't do any significant damage.  Time would tell.  Mental note, don't do that again... drop it or pick it up with all the gear on it.  The good news is that the bike just basically landed on it's aluminum pannier and the handlebars, so no significant damage.  Had to take my helmet off and just take a moment after the pickup.  But I thought to myself, Alright, that's enough! Snow, rain, high winds, drop the bike... all in just the first three days...

It was a long day in New Mexico, over 300 miles and 7.5 hours. Just trying to get out of Dodge. Got to within an hour of the Mexico border, Las Cruces.

Border crossing into Mexico was fairly painless. I did my pre-approval to enter and also did my vehicle import online. Only thing to do was jump between a couple of windows, fill out another form to import myself, pay some money and I was off. Glad they spoke English cause my Spanish was ill way borderline. 

I crossed the border at Jeronimo-Anapra and then took the Jeronimo-Anapra road East into Juarez. Definitely sketchy roads, sketchy humanity and some aggressive drivers along the way (lanes in the road, what lanes, make you own lane). In general in Juarez the driving seems to be a little looser than the US, but people do respect each other... Is there such a thing as an aggressive safe driver. I think so, within limits, and the Mexicans seem to have figured it out.  What they haven't figured out is that that putting speed bumps on the roads through small town and places where they want you to slow down, can be really annoying.  Can't we all just go the speed limit?

I decided the night before that I'd spend a couple nights in Juarez, plan my next move, get some pesos (apparently the gas stations in Mexico don't take US credit cards), and send some postcards to the grand kids... that was the deal, send post cards. You have no idea how difficult it is to find post cards in Juarez... Do people still send post cards? 

As with the previous nights, I found my room on Air B&B, $18/night! Taking advantage of the luxury accommodations at nice prices while I could. The lady of the house didn't speak English, so with my meager Spanish and a lot of help from translation programs, I got invited out to dinner with them. Her husband hadn't spoken English for some 8 years, but we managed to have a good conversation and they even showed me some of the town and helped me find those illusive post cards. Amazing people.

First breakfast in the town I was sitting in Denny's.  Yeah, Denny's, the quintessential US breakfast place. I wanted to eat at one of the authentic places (arroz y frijoles con verduras?) but I guess the natives are a little slow opening restaurants on Sunday morning... but anyway, I'm looking out the window as I'm sitting, cars going by like any other big city street, but the waiter is in no hurry to come to my table, and I realize the pace is just a little different here. Little bit slower. The guy in my head says, "Hey, where the heck is the waiter? Hola, donde esta mi camarero!"... I think that's part of this trip, I need to kill that voice; teach him to settle down. Get out of that hurry, hurry, mode that just pops up for no reason. Too many years working in the corporate world, where the sky falls if you don't get something done now! I never bought into it, but it's definitely effected my psyche. Anyway, first meal ordered on my own... Yeah, ok, not a big deal for all the experienced world travelers, but something I take for granted every day... I barely knew any Spanish, but now I've proven to myself I can at least order in a restaurant and I won't starve! 

There is this feeling of being off balance, not moving with the confidence that one has when you have a routine in a familiar place. You're thinking slower because you're actually thinking, not just on autopilot. Everything is new.

At the end of my stay (two nights) I found a post office in the morning and attempted to GPS my was to it.  I drove back and fourth down the street where it was supposed to be, and I asked four different people where it was, and three of them knew it was down the street, just not where.  Finally I got a younger guy literally just down the block from where it was and he pointed to it.  I almost laughed.  I'm used to relatively modern buildings.  This post office could not have been more than nine feet across, dingy black painted exterior, the counter was 1 person deep from the door, and more than four people would not fit in the place.

In terms of sketchy, so apparently, from what my host says, Juarez has been cleaned up and it's not the sketchy place it was 8 years ago, but there's still enough crime to keep your wits about you, and as a result of the bad years, pretty much any community worth anything has gates, guards, one way in, one way out. Dorothy, we're not in Kansas any more...

My next stop was Nuevo Casas Grandes, Southwest of Juarez...

Course I don't know why they call it that, there aren't any grande casas around here. But that's that difference again. Different pace, different concept of space. Couple I'm staying with actually has two small casas, and I pretty much get my own during the day. Under construction, but I'm lacking nothing. They're letting me use their makeshift kitchen, so cooking my own meals. From the moment I pulled up we were just cracking up. No English for the lady of the casa, and her husbands is worse than my Spanish. First thing I said was, es caliente... laughs ensued. Ah.. ya... later figured out that it's calor... Caliente is reserved for like.... hey baby, you're mucho Caliente! Fantastic couple. They actually made me a meal, waiting for me on the table after I got out of the shower. Wow. Hospitality. Even drove me around in the evening to show me the town a bit. The laughter with the translation just kept going. But through it he's learning English and I'm learning Spanish. My faith in humanity is being restored daily...

On the way to Nuevo Casas went down route 2 and 10 from Juarez. The road just goes on and on... basically open desert with a couple towns and truck stops. I saw some big dust devils (mini dust tornado). One was right by the road. I just moved on. Have you ever been swallowed up by one? Can't see anything, get knocked over, and pelted with pebbles... It sucks. 

One stretch of road there was two groups of 20's types, walking along the road. Don't know how they got there, and where ever they were going, they had a long way to go in the 90 degree heat. As I rode by each group, there were these thoughts that ran through my head, like... they're gangs, they're up to no good, are they going to block the road, would I stop or put my head down and ram, would I survive, should i wave. There was another group... about seven guys by a car... there's no outrunning them if they come after me... Anyway, stupid thought like that. How quickly that voice just starts to freak out... Maybe some of my thought had validity, maybe it's just self preservation, maybe I need to stop assuming...

Today, did the tourist thing and went over to Pequime which is a few minutes away. Archaeological dig from 1200 AD. Not much standing, basically just the foundations of what use to be a town. That's only 700 years. Wonder what will be visible of our civilization after 700 years. You think "Hey Google!" will be around... our buildings... any humanity?

After a hot ride, I'll take that.



My next stop was Vincente Guerrero.  I didn't make any advanced reservations in Vincente, just wasn't feeling it, but figured I'd get there, see what it was like and decide to stay or move on.  I moved on, to Creel.  It was an extra two hours to get to Creel so didn't arrive until around 6:00 pm, 260 miles total for the day.  I was tired.

I got into town and circled around a bit, but couldn't find the Air B&B place for the night, called the host, told him where I was, and he said he'd come and get me.  Young guy pulls up in a truck, Christopher.  He speaks no English and we came to an understanding that I would follow him.  He promptly starts driving out of town, which I thought unusual because the ad. said they were right in town.  Then he goes down a gravel road, another gravel road, and I'm wondering where I'm being let to.  But we end up 1.5 miles out of town at a property that has multiple cabanas. 

I had made myself some burritos that morning, ate one for lunch, and upon arrival, sat down at the picnic tables in the yard to have the others for dinner.  I promptly made friends with a couple pups on the property.

On 6/6 I took a walk in to town for breakfast.  Figured with all the sitting and riding it would be good get some exercise in. The town was relatively clean and authentic Mexican; women dressed in colorful clothes, brightly painted houses, and a central square where music was playing and people were mulling around.  Like someone said, it's all authentic, but this is along the lines of the stereotypical town, the one we like to see in our heads.

After breakfast I took a ride to Basaseachi, which was about 80 miles North East, to see the Basaseachi waterfall.  The listed time to get there is two hours and twenty minutes, but I made it there in about two hours.  Nice roads between Creel and Basaseachi, but a bit challenging.  The roads are non stop curves, and beautiful scenery, which reminded me very much of California or Colorado.

But the road was in disrepair in many places, big numerous potholes in many of the curves, just where you don't want them.  Motorcycle riders debate about the best line through a corner, in this case the best line was one that avoided as many of the craters as possible, which typically meant a zigzag through the corner. I think I achieved a new level of mid corner directional changes and obstacle avoidance skills.  Nothing like 100 miles of it to give you practice.

At the parking area for the Basaseachi falls there was a guy looking to drum up money, asked me if I needed a guide on the trail, I told him not, then he said he'd look after my bike.  Couldn't hurt.  I noticed in Juarez there seem to be these guys who direct traffic and watch cars in parking lots for businesses and malls.  They are employed by the establishment that owns the property.  But they are always looking for tips. 

The hike to the top of the falls was about a mile and then the descent down the cliff was a zig zaggy near kilometer.  The cliff section was pretty tough coming back up.  Looking down from the top you really got a sense of the distance, though that time of the year the water flow was minimal.  When I got to the parking lot I sat down on a bench with my bike watcher.  He told me July and August there was more water; rainy season.  We exchanged a few more words, I gave him a burrito I had in my back pack, and a US dollar, and went on my way.

Speaking of tips, my previous host told me that in general they tip the old people (like an older gentlemen bagging your groceries), but not the young.  Because old people can't get a job, and they want the young to stay in school, not go chasing after money.  Also, tip are kind of optional but if for example you want to give one in a restaurant, it's usually a set amount, like five pesos, not a percentage of the bill.

I decided to stay another night at this place in Creel.  The plan for the following day was to go to Copper Canyon which is just 50 miles south of there.

Ok, so a week and a day into the trip, what's the overall?  I'm definitely getting into it.  Whereas at first the doubts were high, I'm starting to believe this is actually doable.  I still need to improve my Spanish, but I know barely enough to get by.  My stomach issue is still with me, and it doesn't help that I can't get the kind of food I want.  Literally no one seems to serve brown rice, and a couple of the burrito places in town don't even have rice.  The best rice was actually at Denny's in Juarez.  Hard to believe.  Basically the diet seems to be meat, beans, onions and peppers, heavy on the meat.  And when you do get rice they barely give you any.  Last I heard, rice was a lot cheaper than meat.  There are very few street vendors of fruit and vegetables, though I did find one small place and a grocery store that had some. Sweet potatoes also seem to be elusive; can't find one anywhere.  But there all these "SIX" and "OXXO" stores everywhere, at least one each per town. Basically it's junk, the same kind of stuff you get at convenience stores in the US.  Prepackaged, tons of sugar, etc.. Extremest Muslims look at America as the whore who corrupts the world, and hence one of the reasons why they don't like America; spreading our beliefs and values and corrupting centuries of tradition.  Judging by the way the US's propensity for processed foods is spreading, it's hard to argue with them. So, is shooting someone because they're bringing Twinkies and Big Mac's to town justified?

When I got back into town that evening I stopped at one of those convenient stores.  Near the door, on the sidewalk was a little girl, maybe 7-8 years old.  Thick black hair in long pony tails, colorful dirty dress, dark dirty face, holding some kind of watch in her hands.  She said something to me as I walked by.  I didn't understand her but figured she needed money so I gave her a few pesos.  As I was in the store I thought I should buy her something to eat, so bought a pack of cookies for myself and some relatively healthy one's for her.  Went back out, scooched down and asked her what she needed.  She said she needed some food.  I gave her the cookies and walked to my motorcycle.  I thought a bit, went back and gave her some more money, patted her on the head and rode away.  It later dawned on me that this traveling was a good thing.  I'm living for less than I could live on in the US, I'm experiencing things I never would have experienced, and when I do pay for services, I'm giving it to people who certainly need it.  It's a win-win. 

Last day in Creel I took a ride to Copper Canyon, about 50km Southwest.  It's supposed to be four times the size of the Grand Canyon in the US, but the roads are such a mess I only got a couple views of it.  There was one road which lead to a viewing area and some hiking trails but finding it was near impossible.  At one point I went up this road that was paved in a way I'd never seen; kind of like cobblestone, except the the cobbles were not flat on their tops and just a mess, and it was all curvy up hill.  Talk about a jarring experience.  But that wasn't the road I was looking for.  I came down and figured out it was this dirt road that fed into that rock road.  But it was a worse mess; the part that I could see had ruts, boulders sticking out, and that's going up hill.  Figured long as I was there let's see.  I got to the top and OMG, it was a steep downhill, barely wide enough for a car, rutted, and boulders sticking out.  I promptly and gingerly turned myself around and headed home. My around the world journey was not going to end on some boulder strewn road leading to who knows where, just to go see another view of the canyon.  But that wasn't the end to the fun.  To get me back home the GPS took me on a shortcut.  I saw that it was dirt, figured how bad could it be?  It was bad.  All first gear, standing on the pegs, undulating surface, some boulders sticking up, ruts, spots where it was angled 30 degrees with ruts.  There wasn't a straight piece of dirt in the whole distance.  I was reminded that my previous host had told me that unpaved Mexican roads are really bad.  He was not kidding.  It was only a mile, but it was a long mile.  But watching those off road riding videos on YouTube paid off!

Warning! Technobabble (more than usual).  First shady spot I saw out of Copper Canyon I pulled over and ate some lunch I brought with me.  Couple days ago I noticed that my little metal spacer I was using to put some clearance between my center stand and chain had come undone (so much for Krazy Glue durability).  The center stand did have some light scuff marks indicating the chain had touched it.  So, I did a McGiver; there was some garbage laying around, so took a cap from one of the bottles, cut off a strip and put it around the bold that the center stand touches. This spaced it back out so it's not touching the chain.  When I got to town I stopped at a shop and asked about them welding some metal in place but they said they couldn't do it... Ah well, there's plenty of bottle caps to be found on the roads of Mexico.

Most of the way back to Creel I came across a guy sitting on a BMW on the shoulder.  I pulled over and asked him if he spoke English.  He did, and he was OK, but was sitting there waiting for an ambulance to arrive so he could lead it to his friend, who at Copper Canyon, had fallen and apparently broke some ribs.  I had seen a bunch of guys on high end dual sport bikes entering the main Copper Canyon area as I was leaving, he said those were his friends, and they were about 300 miles from home.  We talked some more, wished each other luck, shook hands, and I took off.  Hopefully his friend will be OK.

Got back to the place I'm staying at, and took the 1.5 mile walk back into town for dinner.  I like walking the town.  Gives me time to absorb it in a way that's just not possible when you're traveling at even 20-30 miles per hour.  Yup, 2.3 miles per hour is about right.  Passing people on the street, walking or sitting on benches. There's benches all around the town, and people do actually sit in them.  Usually it's the older folks, maybe because they don't have anything to do.  But you have the opportunity to look them in the eyes, say buenos tardes, and affirm that connection that exists between all of us.

I've goat about 2500 - 3000 miles to make it to the Cancun, just north of Beliz, the next country in line, and some 57 days, so don't need to do too many miles per day on average.  The riding gets me sore by the end of the day; hips, shoulders, arms, and my back is still feeling that Walmart parking lot motorcycle pickup, though it's definitely been improving. I think it's just my body settling into the riding.  Haven't done any long distance riding since June of 2017.

Saturday 6/8

I had to look at the calendar to see what day and date it was.  Always a good sign.  On vacation you're suppose to forget those thing because they don't matter.  When you're life becomes travel, it matters even less.

Today was supposed to be a relatively short day.  MAPS.ME said 98 miles, 2 hours 12 minutes from Creel to Guachochi.  Ya.  Actually took me about 4-5 hours to do that 98 miles, but what a 98 miles.  When it comes to canyon roads, this one was up there with the best I've ridden.  100 miles of mostly curves and beautiful scenery.  Here's a little section of the road, but it was mostly like that:

I was looking the bike over and noticed this:

LOL! That just seems wrong, to have almost no chicken strips on a fully loaded dual sport bike.  I should probably ease up a bit, but hey you get in the groove.  In the canyon there's no cross wind, just smooth air, the thumper is a thumping, you're focused, stirring through the gear box, trail braking front and rear, rolling on out of the corners... ohmmmmmm... It's all good... Surprisingly most of the road was in pretty good shape, but there were some sections where mid corner pothole/crater dodging was required.

Then there's this:

Seems that every pull-off is littered with plastic... Just over that edge, a ways down is a river.  I'm sure there's plastic in that river.  What are we doing?

By the time I got to my destination the temp was at 104 F, but sure didn't feel like it.  Definitely something to be said for dry heat.

For a bit there I thought I was going to need to set up the tent somewhere, because apparently the only Hotel in town was booked. Also considered moving on, but the closest towns were hours away.  But between MAPS.ME, Google Maps, and especially IOverlander (technology... it can be useful) I found a hotel.  We're talking top of the line hotel with in-house restaurant with cloth table cloths... And get this, I managed to make a reservation, over the phone, with no translator... Mi espanol esta mejorando!... Yeah, but I couldn't say menu so that the waitress could understand me... hey, it's a journey.

Luxury hotel $30...
Fish dinner... $6...
Roadside snack... $2...
Gas to get there... $8...
Hours of twisty canyon road in Mexico, priceless!


Headed Southwest out of Guachoci to see if I can get across the mountains to Boborigame. Finding what I thought was the right road I ended up in the forest, which wasn't awful, but the photo here is deceptive. There were some deep ruts and some rocks sticking out. Had a little stream crossing.

Then it got ugly. Turned into a downhill loose rock mess and as I looked further ahead the rocks were thicker and bigger. No way I was going to make it down that. So, picked a spot to turn back around. Problem was I was already on the steep section, best I could do was get the bike perpendicular to the road, and then I was stuck. Couldn't go forward cause there was a drop-off, couldn't go back because the rocks were blocking my wheels and I couldn't push the bike back. Couldn't put it on the side stand to clear some rocks because I was at too much of an angle... so I layed it down on the uphill side and lifted and dragged the rear end more down hill until I was at about 45 degrees, then picked it back up. There is something wrong with putting a bike down to drag it on rocks! The pic below is after I got it turned around and slightly up hill. Had to take a breather after that. Got back on it let out the clutch, rocks flying, bike bouncing, handlebars going every which way and made it up.

Got back up to the main road and thought why is the GPS telling me to take this ridiculous road. The paved one I was on headed in the same general direction, so decided to just stay on that. About half a mile down I saw that these roads joined... Ok, headed in the right direction. The paved road looked like it was recently constructed. Aside from the rocks and boulders strewn in my lane, not bad. Then the pavement ended. If it was all as good as these two pics I would have been great.

But it wasn't. There were ruts, ditches, boulder, but I made it past the near visible curves and then some.

I'll tell you what. I set up the suspension on the bike for the load I was carrying. Without the load it's just stiff, with the load the front end is still a bit stiff on the asphalt. Going downhill across ditches and boulders it was soaking the stuff up like there was no tomorrow. Then it got uglier.

I was coming down a downhill past some construction equipment (guess this is where they stopped) and I hit this fine powder. Basically I think it was cement, like 6-8 inches thick on the road. If I had know what it was, maybe I could have slowed down. I was doing about 10-15 mph because I just got over some ruts and rocks. Soon as I hit this stuff my front end started back and fourth, I tried the rear break but I had no traction. It's like I was hydroplaning. I started gaining speed, it got thicker, the handlebars started lock to lock and down I went in a huge ball of dust. Good news is it was thick and soft. Stood up, turned the bike off, and tried lifting it... no way. Took my helmet and jacket off and set them aside to prepare to unload the whole thing and then lift it. Then two guys came out of nowhere, they must have been in the construction equipment? I did't see them, but I was a little preoccupied. They helped me lift the bike. The three of us could barely maneuver it in this stuff on the road. They told me this was the only area where there was this thick powder, the rest of the road was similar like up to that point (just ruts rocks boulders and ditches). But even to the nearest town it was a minimum 5 hours, and that was way short of my destination. I was already over two hours to that point. So, did I want to go through 5 hours of bouncing off ditches and boulders? No... On the trip I'm sure there will be roads like this where I'll have no choice but to follow them, but here I had a choice. Trouble will find me, I don't need to go looking for it. We talked about alternatives and decided on one. I shook their hands, muchas gracias, and charged back the way I came, which was no piece of cake either. 

There was that voice in my head "what are you doing? You can do it. Go back. Go back." I told it to shut up, and enjoyed the rest of the ride, which was again a sweet road. Some of the white dust blew off but I had some cleaning to do, myself and the bike... manana...

Holding up for two nights to think it through. The alternative route will be over 10 hours and just over 20 miles of unpaved road. Or forget the West coast and just keep heading Southeast?

Ok... did some research... so much for my alternate route across the mountains...
"...the unfinished segment [of 24] on the west is at about 820 meters elevation at Soyatita. Just outside Los Frailes, the road coming from the east is at 2,750 meters elevation. The traveler crossing this gap will have to negotiate this dramatic change in elevation traveling a good deal of the way on unimproved dirt roads. Travel times in this central section can be quite slow. This central portion of the highway passes directly through the region known as Mexico's Golden Triangle, notorious for drug cultivation, drug trafficking, and related violent drug incidents..."

The elevation is probably not a deal breaker. The unimproved section might be, but I can probably do without the drug cartel. South it is!

Can't beat days like today... The road to Santiago Papasquiaro. Crossed over from Chihuahua to Durango.

This near white ribbon of road was somewhere around 80-100 miles. Nearly flawless concrete, winding it's way across the hills, through the mountains in the distance, and the farmland. Apparently the farmers like the road too, to drive their cattle... Ran into a couple herds, and there was a dead something by the side of the road, looked like a calf... maybe got hit. There was at least six or seven buzzards feasting on it...

Stopped for lunch. My idea of a lunch room... no chairs required...

Shades of Colorado, Utah, New Mexico. If you plunked me down here I'd be hard pressed to tell the difference.

On the asphalt road there was again some pothole dodging.

First interesting thing in town... Santiago Papasquiaro... the cemetery.

Ate breakfast at Manuelitos both days I was there. Great food. You get your plate of food plus a cheese spread and chips, bowl of perfectly ripe fruit, home made apricot marmalade, with home made cookies. Here's a pic with the owner and his wife. Great people!

After stuffing myself at breakfast and posing for pics, I headed for Mazatlan.

The road (40) a ways south of Durango is just amazing. Here's a close up of one of the sections. Crazy, reminded me of the Tail of the Dragon. Just non stop curves.

The road went on like that for dozens of miles. It was slow going, in the 20-30 mph range mostly. Interesting that 40 and 40D run right next to each other. I think 40 is the original and 40D is the new two lane highway... a lot less squiggly. Anyway, I spent most of the time on 40, winding though the mountains. It was surreal. I definitely wasn't in Colorado any more. It was moist and cool, and the smells were heavy with pine needles and something I couldn't identify. Maybe it was the cow crap from the cows... Yeah, there were a few spots where they were just grazing along the side of the road. There really wasn't much room for anything or anyone along the huge cliffs, but there was an occasional house here and there.

There was an army checkpoint before the real squiggly stuff started. No big deal, they asked me for my identification and I was off. They are men of few words and many guns... made me nervous!

Also, as I was zooming along, two younger guys were on the side of the road with their motorcycle. They waved and I wasn't sure if they needed help, so I turn around, and yeah they had a flat. So, whipped out the tools and the patch kit and helped them go at it. We got it patched and partially inflated. I had two CO2 cartridges, but it wasn't enough to seat the bead all the way around, but it's the best that could be done. They tried to offer me money, I told them to use it to buy a new tire. I've never seen such a bald tire in my life. I put my stuff back together, and zoomed past one of them again by the side of the road. Looks like they ran out of gas, but I saw the other guy was already with two guys getting a big jug of gas off the truck.

So, the Mexicans are big on roadside churches, especially of Mary... Mother Mary speak to me, whisper words of wisdom, let it be...Apparently Mary drinks Coke, but at least she doesn't throw her bottles all over the highway like everyone else...

At my digs in Mazatlan, I'm not sure this shower would pass code. After a long day (300 miles) who needs hot water anyway.

I've taken to just showering with my clothes on. Soap it down, peel it off, work it, rinse it... fresh clothes tomorrow.

You know, when you were a kid the ice cream man would come around the neighborhood playing his song. Here in Mazatlan, anyone that's got anything to sell uses a megaphone and drives through the neighborhood. Feel like I'm listening to to commercials for Lucha Libre! Yesterday it was a guy in a truck selling water jugs, today I think the same guy is coming but it's some guy on a tricycle (two wheels and box-o-something in front).

Ok, I think I got this Mexico driving thing...
1. No one uses signals.
2. If I get to a space first it's mine.
3. Motorcycles can do anything they can get away with. Well, so can cars, but motorcycles can get away with more.
4. If you don't like what I'm doing, let me know by blowing your horn.
5. ATGATT is whatever. Right now it's 93F and feels like 117, though still not bad if you're moving.

Mostly driving is like skiing, watch out for the guy downhill from you... That's reasonable! But, I'll just go easy... whew, talk about sensory overload when trying to find something. Traffic and businesses packed tighter than my panniers.

Found a Suzuki shop and went and got my oil changed. Manager said it would take a "Mexican hour" but they got it done in less than an hour and used the good stuff, synthetic, $30. Muy Bueno! I cleaned my air filter, and I'm good for a while!

Typical big city with a lot more horn blowing. Traffic cleared up after rush hour.

Meh... I've seen bigger...

Got a tip from the salesman at the Suzuki shop about which beach has minimal tourists.  Went out to get some sun... Can you spot the crab on this towel... bugger started crawling up my leg... He was half the size of the roach...

This one was a lot bigger than the roach, but just the shell...

View of the shore and beach area from out on the rocks.

Went hiking along the shore.  Pelicans flying overhead and skimming the water,  the waves crashing on the rocks.  Warm water.  Mariachi bands playing on the beach.  Walking through shallow waters looking for shells.  Laying in the surf and letting it sway me.  Warm sun on my back.  Crabs scurrying across rocks.  Siting in a beachfront restaurant, warm Corona with lime.  Shrimp with cucumber and onions, and just the right amount of spice.

The view from Mariscos Rosita. 

Well, my last day here in Mazatlan. Moving further south.

Took a ride and then hike up to the highest lighthouse in the Americas. Whew... a squiggly path and then like 500 steps... it's up there... like 98 degrees feels like 115 kind of hike. My ass was sweating through the pants.

This is the main strip along the shore. They are just building hotels and condos like they are going out of style. Nice few mile drive. There's also a walking and bicycle path... Kind of like Chicago, but with palm trees.. :)

This guy was a little bigger than the last one, and the legs were still moving. Yes Mildred, they grow them big aqui...


Mazatlan to San Blas. Nothing too exciting, just mostly straight and hot. Took 15 again, the more scenic road, vs 15D the more modern highway. Along much of 15 there are miles and miles of mango groves, branches bending with the weight of them all. I considered pulling over and picking a few, but didn't want to be the gringo stealing mangos... not that I had any place to put them; the advantage of having no space can't pick up or buy more stuff...

The town is maybe two square miles with a lot of irregular stone surfaces on the streets. The now typical narrow streets with houses joined together. Now I know why they paint them colors, so they can figure out which is theirs. This is in front of the house where I'm staying.

The place has a nice rooftop terrace!


Went and took a walk around the neighborhood looking at what kind of stores they had and to buy a few things. Sitting on the rooftop eating dinner, Spanish music drifting up from the neighbors, it's a good end to the day.

Ate breakfast on the same rooftop then for a slowl walk in the streets. The streets just all seem too tight and most of the houses have bars, like the other towns. What's the difference between a jail and a house where you're bared in? The keys, who holds the keys. Dogs laying in the shade and a little suspicious of everyone; they move aside when you get near. Slowly reach out to one, the growl in the throat says not today. People sitting in groups in the street in front of their houses, playing music and a lot of conversation and some dancing. Probably outside because the houses are too small and too hot. Ask a local, "Está una panadería circa?" Sí, aquí... Two houses down. The bread store doesn't quite have the selection I'm used to. Some bread, a muffin, a cookie, $1. Further down, the main square, more music, bustling traffic but not congested, people sitting on benches in the shade, restaurants, street vendors selling fruits and vegetables on the sidewalk. Couple big bananas, couple big avocados, some broccoli, an orange, a kiwi, an onion, a carrot... $4.50. Back to my lodging... My shirt is sweated through and it's only 10:30 in the morning. I keep my room at 30 C, cause that's way cooler than outside.

Figured I'd take a ride to the beach. Just enough sand on the road to get to this point to make me twitchy.

Yeah, the beach is longer than the town, and it's the only place I've seen where the breaking wave is just as long. One loooong wave, coming in very rhythmically.

I spent some time in the surf, body surfing then sat in the shade for a few minutes. The water is bathwater temperature.

After five minutes guy comes over, not exactly sure what he's saying, I understand a few words. Basically... Did you pay to sit here, you think this palm tree roof grew here by itself? I counter with, is this yours? He says it is. How much? 100 pesos... No, gracias, not going to pay a guy $100 pesos to sit in the shade, whether he's legit or not. Time to respectfully move on.

Day started out well, sitting on the deck eating breakfast to sunrise and the sound of roosters crowing, birds chirping, and a calf mooing... don't know, guess the neighbor wants fresh milk sometime in the future.

Got myself packed up... I'm getting faster at packing and unpacking... and set my sights for a town called Tlajomulco de Zuniga, South of Guatalajara. Thanked my host, and I was off. Stopped in town to get gas.... pay the lady, start the bike... cough, sputter, die... really? Try again... give it some throttle this time... starts, running rough, dies... really? Wow, bad gas... *^%#%&^^* I told the lady and she just kind of smiled. Now what? Start it, rev it, keep the revs up and go... omg, the thing was sputtering, backfiring, wouldn't stay idling. 20 miles later it started clearing up, and by 30 miles into it, it was running better than new. It was a looong 30 miles; a twisty narrow road, and trying to keep the bike from dying while working the gears. In all my years of riding, this is only the second time I've gotten bad gas. First time was on one of my BMW's and it left me stranded on the side of a road 150 miles from home.

Spent most of the 250 miles today on highway 15. 15D, a tollway, runs pretty much in the same direction. And as much as I try to avoid the tollway, somehow the last section of road always filters into the tollway, so you end up paying no matter what road you take.

Most of the twisty section of road was mangoes, papayas, bananas. The air smelled sweet from all the fruit. Then it got more into the plains, more farmland, looked like pineapple.

Some pretty impressive scenery

And this was like, did I just land on the moon? Just these huge black boulders all over the landscape. Almost looked volcanic. There is smoke in the distance, so maybe this was just the result of a burn? But the grass around the boulders wasn't burnt.

Something about Curvas Peligrosos, and a steep downhill. More good stuff starting.

Digs for the night. Full two bedroom, three bathroom house, for $20/night... in a secured neighborhood.

It was a long day. What should have been less than 200 miles and just over 4 hours, turned into 250 miles and 9 hours. Partially because I took route 15 instead of 15D, which is a twisty slower road that goes through towns, and partially because I blew my last exit, and the next place to turn around was 20 miles further... really? Wasn't even an exit, I just pulled a U at the next toll station... So, yeah, did an extra 40 miles of four lane interstate on top of the longer trip time.

And I'm itching like a mother, cause I think the sand flies or something got me at the beach the other day. Time for a long shower..

I didn't know what got me, but it got me good. Bites on the arms and legs that itch like crazy. Tried Cortisone cream, barely touched it. Couldn't sleep from the itching. Finally about 1:45 am took an antihistamine pill, which took the edge off enough that I could fall asleep.  Talked to my host and she said that it's definitely sandflies, that they're all over the beaches. 

Went out this morning to check out the town and get a few groceries. Wow! This is way too close to Guadalajara, too congested. You have the main 6-8 lane highways, which have limited off's and on's and places to make U-turns. Some parts of the roads are smooth, others where the patches have been patched and it's just a mess. The side streets are anything from smooth asphalt to pot holes, to rock paved, to unpaved with huge standing puddles... have to do a river crossing just to get to the grocery store... And then there's points where it looks like they just gave up, and it's ruts and rocks and sand. What is this, the third world?! :)

Pedestrians, cars, buses and trucks with smelly exhaust, motorcycles weaving in and out of traffic, tailgaters... one point, I look back and put my hand out to say, "Dude, you're up my exhaust pipe and you're going nowhere!" He did back off a bit.

The energy is just crazy... and it feeds off it's self in a bad kind of way... There's no feeling relaxed. You're on high alert. Is it just me, because I'm not used to it? And it's way worse than Chicago.. :)

Got myself out of the Guadalajara. Four lane highway, trucks, not much scenery, so took a jog off the main highway. Mixed bag, especially the potholes getting closer to my destination. If there's more hole than road, is it still a pothole? There should be a different name for that. Tried zooming over all of it at higher speed, said #@$% a few times, then decided that first gear and slowly picking through them was a better choice for the long term durability of the motorcycle.

Other than the potholes, it was a pretty good ride. At one point there was a big sign over the road that said Carterra de Tequila... Tequila Road. Saw a lot of what I though was pineapple, but actually the spiky bushes are agave, to be used for making Tequila.

Rolling hills and valley road. Some nice scenery. I'd say some of this route was the most fertile land I've seen so far, almost black in some areas, red in others.

The town is bustling. I was a little thrown, just a few blocks from me are McDonald's, Burger King, Popeyes, and a Chinese restaurant... $2.55 for a Chinese dinner... living on the cheap!

I have to say, again, I'm not impresses by how Mexico is adopting the modern American lifestyle and all it's trappings. Convenience stores, fast food, plastic bottles and bags strewn everywhere. I've literally seen piles of garbage at many rest areas along the road.

Observation. Motorcycles here, in many cases, can be found right next to the washing machines in the big department stores; commodity items. I guess that makes an actual Honda or Suzuki dealer kind of a boutique store.

And once again I'm safely behind bars with a rooftop view of the town.

My room is literally so small I'm about 8" from being able to touch both sides of the room at the same time. But it does have a common kitchen and two level deck, so guess that makes up for it.

I've gone through an entire tube of hydrocortisone cream and taking antihistamines. All the bites are still itching like crazy, and if I don't take it I can't sleep.

It's thunder storming outside, and I see rain predicted for the next week...

The good news is the itching is down to the point where I don't need drugs any more.  :rayof

Made my way to Pachuca today, some 200+ miles. There's a whole lot of civilization between Irapuato and Pachuca. Guess it's the urban sprawl from Mexico City. Saw it all, modern towns that would rival any town in the US, old dilapidated ones, industrial areas pumping out smog. And it was pretty much all four lane interstate.

The highlight of the day was definitely stopping at the Tula archaeological site along the way. Apparently it was the capital of the Toltec Empire at one time.

And I'm safely behind bars again! The owner thought my bike wouldn't be safe outside so it's also behind bars two blocks away at a relatives house. They would have let me put it in the living room, but it wouldn't fit through the door. So far everyone I've met has been totally hospitable.

A few random notes. Sometime back I asked of one of my hosts, can I drink the water from the sink? They said no, it has too much chlorine in it... Hah! Different guy said, yeah, the tap water is fine.. I drank it... from a hose... I didn't die. But, I'm not making a habit of it.

There's Coca Cola signs everywhere and Coca Cola is the major bottler of water here also. Guess Mexico hasn't gotten the word that Coke will kill you... and when they do, well, Coke still has the market covered.

If you love meat, this is the country for you, I think even more than the US. They're selling it and grilling it in the streets!:dukegirl

To try and clean the country up they post signs saying things like a clean road is a safer road... I drove past one area where they had a cleaning crew out with one of those big street sweepers... who was cleaning up after it? Two guys, one with a broom and one with a dust pan! :hmmmmm We're going to need more dust pans and brooms!

Since every gas station has multiple attendants to help you pump gas, how many jobs do you think that supplies to the economy? A whole messload...

There is so much contrast between the modern cities with low skyscrapers hotels and condos, and the little places in the middle of nowhere.

Dogs in Mexico are mean. Maybe because no one feeds them. Saw one that must have just got run over, on his back, trying to get up but obviously too damaged, the cars in it's lane didn't stop, just centered over it so as not to hit it.

Took a ride out of town to Parque Nacional de Chico. One of Mexico's first preserves. After a couple bad turns that ended up rocky/grass dead ends, I found the main road. Also got a good view of part of the city on the hillside. Stacked like legos, similar colors too. My bad turns took me though some of that. The streets are narrow and steep, uphill and downhill it's all first gear, favoring the rear brake on the way down. And hairpin turns on bad partially wet roads, that will pucker you up.


On the road to Theuecan, Puebla. The day started out with light rain and about 60F, and the need to put the rain pants on for warmth and keep the legs dry. The drizzle stopped about 30 miles after I got on the road. Happens to be pouring rain out now also, so guess it's the rainy season? Last hour of the trip I was dodging some big clouds. I put on the full rain gear early, which pretty much meant it wasn't going to rain... until I got into town and took it all off...

It was rough going most of the day. 8 hours, 200+ miles... Four laner running through a lot of humanity again. Big towns with choke me traffic exhaust (you know... it's a four stroke engine but burns more oil than a two stroke). Smaller towns with those speed bumps everywhere, and you can't just zip over most of them, they're serious, first gear work... Accelerate up to third, if your lucky, time for another one. And they're all different, so you can't figure out a best speed to hit them. I swear, the auto parts stores and mechanics union must lobby the government to install those things, cause I can't Imagine how quickly people wear out their brakes and shocks stopping for and going over those things all the time, not to mention the waste of gas from accelerating. Use to be that four-lane was a dirty word to me, now I come on a four lane with no speed bumps and I'm happy as a pig in slop. But I can crush rocks with my clutch hand now...

That one spot where I must have tried four different ways to get to the street I needed. This street structure take some time to get used to. Lanes that go over, under, to the right, and if you're in the wrong one for your turn, well go down the road a ways, turn around, try again, no can't turn here cause it's bus only.

At one point on a two lane we're barely moving in first gear... A few passes here and there and I get to the front... there's a colony of bicycle riders, being led by some truck with some kind of alter on it (it's the best way I can describe it, it looked like a moving Buddhist temple). Don't know if it's a race or a funeral, but it was holding up traffic something serious. On that note, I did see a couple funeral processions during the day.

Then construction from hell. A major four lane down to two lanes and my road was closed, so had to take a different route, through more city and speed bumps.

OK! Enough with the griping! It occurred to me this morning that we struggle against what is, and well, that's just the way it is. Deal with it and move on. No matter how much I dislike those stupid speed bumps, they're here, they're everywhere! ... sorry... lost it again for a second... And no matter how much I don't like packing my bike up while it's raining, it's going to rain. Let it go... let it go... let it all go...

My ass on my bike...

That is a big mountain up ahead... headed toward Tlexcala I believe.

Feeding my ass some rice (dry) and carrots, cause my ass is sensitive to different kinds of food now...

Time for ALL the rain gear...


Mmmhmmm... Actually this area, especially the last hour or so of the ride, is very mountainous. Could of fooled me that it's Colorado...

Can you see them? Windmills in that line of clouds...

Just a small slowdown... I just took the motorcycle lane to the front of the pack... Ok, It's not the motorcycle lane but it sort of is. This is the Mexican solution to passing lanes. The idea is that if you see someone coming up from behind you you move over into the "half lane", which gives the person enough room on the left to pass you, and if not, well they go over the double yellow, and then the guy coming from the other direction, also gets to move over on his side, to make room in the middle for the passing vehicle. People pass everywhere, doesn't matter if it's a passing zone or not. The first time there was a semi coming at me in my line I was like wtf... The trucks basically straddle the line, half their wheels to the right, half to the left, gives the guy behind a good view and room to pass... Not an entirely bad system. Everyone gets to pass, and the road doesn't need to be as wide... Genius I say. Well, and it is kind of the motorcycle land, because most of the bikes here are 200 cc's and under, and they tap out, so you do see a few motorcycles just riding that small lane.

And when you do have a motorcycle, and you split lanes to the front, no one cares... probably cause that's one more space for them...

And my bike, my ass, and I are nicely tucked away for a couple days...

Behind a triple locked, steel door... The Mexicans take their security seriously...


Was doing a little research about all these bars and gates, apparently not only common to Mexico but Latin American countries in general. US desert Southwest too. They're traditional, and it doesn't mean it's a bad neighborhood, though there may be some that really need the bars. I just wonder, if you're been living behind bars all your life, do you start to believe that you need them?

Yesterday I took a 40 minute walk around Tehuacan. Business stacked one next to the other, on and on. Many of the places are maybe 10 feet of storefront. Restaurants with 3 or 4 tables, pharmacies with a couple counters, barbers with a couple chairs. Saw one place that sold nothing but kids backpacks. Similar stores maybe a block or two away, and no one is shy about sending you somewhere else if they don't have what you need. It's like everyone owns a business, regardless of how small. I wonder how these places make enough money, so small and specialized, and hardly any customers. Saw a few caretakers sit filing their nails, others on their cell phones, etc..

This morning made my way to Oaxaca (O ha ka). 150+ miles and just over 5 hours, and over 100 miles of that was all curvy road running along some huge mountains, through the valleys and up and down the cliffs, mostly 30 mph curves or so, hairpins, and some sweepers; it's a noodle. On the main Federal highway you can make it in about 3 hours, but what fun is that?

In some spots these huge cactus lined the hills. They literally get as big as the trees, and their trunks are just as thick.

These guys just kind of sat there until I started approaching them.. guess they liked the view too...

And I'm just down the narrow dirt road here...

Safely behind a concrete wall topped with chain-link and barbed wire...


Did some riding and a walk around around and near Oaxaca.

In a way I'm really starting to like the driving habits here. I struggle to describe it, but I guess the best way to put it is no assumptions, and be courteous because I'm driving here too... Do onto others. For example, back home, I would assume the guy is not going to turn left from the right lane, and since people generally don't, all is good, and when someone does it's like wtf? I assume people will use their turn signal and not just slam on the brakes to turn right but get stopped by pedestrians. I assume peoples brake lights work. I assume some guy is not going to run across the street carrying a ladder that takes up both lanes. That if you're behind me you're not going to go around me just because you think I'm too slow... All these little things that you don't even think about. But they define our driving world, and when someone breaks those common assumptions, we get ticked off. Here, you can not assume anything. You're always told that on a motorcycle, don't assume anything, don't assume the other guy sees you. The funny thing is, here, I think everyone sees everyone. They certainly see motorcycles, because they are used to seeing them. There's way more of them and they are constantly zipping in and out, lane splitting, filtering to the front. Fact is when you're not sure what they guys around you are going to do, you have no choice but to be completely aware of what's going on around you, always be ready, and you always leave that space to react...

Warning, technical paragraph! I have to say, sitting in 90 degree + traffic I'm really impressed by how little heat the DR650 puts out. This is the first air cooled motorcycle I've had since that '75 yamaha back in 1980. I'm so used to getting my legs toasted by the air blast off a water cooled bike radiator, it's really nice not to have that happen.

Ok, anyway, went to the Basilica in town center, cause it's from the 1690's and all that. Inside a lot of the decor is actually done with real gold. I didn't go in because there was a service in progress, but here's a shot from the outside.

Also took a ride up to Monte Alban to see some more ruins. Supposedly this was the center of the Mesoamerican culture for 1000 years, starting around 500BC. And you can tank these guys for inventing corn. Yup, invented, by hybridizing different grasses. Corn is not a naturally occurring veggie. 2500 years later, Monsanto thinks they know something... pffffftttttt...

You stand there, look around, and wonder, what was day to day life really like for these people?


Today, the road to Juchitan, where the town sign says "La Inmortal Sandunga"... I thought Jesus was the only immortal... who's this talking about? I'm about some 250 miles from the Guatemala border. In a couple days I'll pull up short of the border and then cross over the following day. Going to take me a Spanish class for at least a week, maybe two, we'll see how the first week goes. It's four hours a day and homework. See if my brain can process that much information.

The main road today way 190. Most of it is another beautiful twisty road. More beautiful scenery... and way too much garbage. Damn shame people thing every roadside stop is a dumping ground.

In the mountains it was nice and cool, but soon as I came into the flats about an hour before town, whew... 90-something. Had to soak my shirt in water to get some evaporative cooling action. About half an hour out of town, wow, the crosswinds, crazy... 15 minutes into it I had to stop and give myself a rest. Closer to town they have crosswind signs, as in tip your truck winds. Later at dinner, as I was watching the wind blow the trees around, I asked the waiter and he confirmed it's windy all the time.

Few days ago I started seeing these little three wheeled cars/taxi things. The streets are full of them here. Went to a couple grocery stores, and the parking lots are just packed with three and four wheel taxis. Guess it's the way to get around.

I've lost track of the days. Monday, Tuesday, no idea... had to look because the host was talking about Sunday and I'm thinking when is that?...

No joke, the whole hillside, just filled with crap...

These are actually two very large supermarkets, right across the street from each other, not at all typical. I walked into Bodega Aurrera and it was like walking into a Sam's Club or Costco in the states, even arranged the same...

These things are tiny... maybe 10" wheels? And the streets just packed with people selling all sorts of stuff...
The unfamiliar is now becoming familiar...

This is the street where my digs are for the night. I came to what should have been the street and it was literally a wall. They walled off the street, so had to go around a couple blocks to find the other end of the block... weird...

And yeah, safe again behind a concrete wall, chainlink and barbed wire... basketball anyone? I don't think that hoop is regulation height...

Roach report for yesterday. This guy was too big to fit under the door, so as he swiped by it, he actually opened it. Then he went under a rocking chair leg, and that was the end of him... had to do it.

Coming out of Juchitan hit those crazy crosswinds again, and they're taking full advantage of them; they have the densest windmill farm there I've ever seen. Both sides of the road from one mountain range to the other.

Nice ride overall after the crosswinds. Either two lane or divided four lane. Very lush and green, low mountains on both sides, very few towns, and what there was were small. Some small cattle ranchers and other farms (Duck as soon as you smell them, cause after the smell comes the flies). Just the occasional car, truck or motorcycle. 90's F and 94% humidity... whew!

In Escuintla for another night. Small town in the middle of nowhere, maybe a mile square. Took a walk around. It's bustling and has all the essentials. Soon as I arrived and parked so I could figure out where I was staying, a guy pulls up. His wife, him, and a very young kid on an Italika 150cc bike. Asking how fast the DR goes. I think he was disappointed when I told him maybe 100 mph (~140kph).

Staying at a place that has an enclosed courtyard and this guy: 

He's tucked away in a corner so didn't see him at first. When I got into my room, I heard a woman screaming outside at the top of her lungs, like she's getting murdered... It was the parrot. He makes various noises but that blood curdling scream is something...

At this point we could call this the RTW ABB Tour... Around the world Air B&B tour. Except for one night, I've stayed at Air B&B places. And I'm amazed at the fact that even smaller towns always have at least one or two places. And I'm renting entire homes sometimes for as low as $10/day. Even when I'm just renting a room I can use the kitchen, so I'm also saving on food by cooking my own and not eating in restaurants all the time... not that the restaurants are that expensive (meals for a few bucks) but buying food and cooking it is still less expensive. So, room $10-30 ($30 is the extreme, averaging about 18-20), gas about $7/day, and food maybe another $5-7/day. And it's getting less expensive as I go further south. Nomad insurance is about $2.70/day. Full coverage motorcycle insurance was about $3xx for six months, but I'll only use it for three months in Mexico, so it's a good chunk. Borders. Tolls. Tires. Oil changes. Eventual shipping costs ($8/day assuming shipping once every six months). It will be interesting to add it up and see what it comes out to on average.

Tomorrow, border crossing into Guatemala.

And I just accomplished a feat of complexity i didn't think was possible (maybe I'm exaggerating a bit). Ordered new tires from a Mexican supplier, to arrive in Cancun in August, when I'll be there... going back up that way after the Spanish class for a few weeks, to spend time with mi novia.


The worse part of the border crossing was the heat and humidity... by the time I was done my shirt was just soaked. Yeah, got attacked by people trying to tell me to stop and I need this and I need that. Based on MplsMoto's writeup on how to get through the border I kind of had an idea, but a couple of these guys were actually helpful and got me though the process faster than if I would have muddled through it, so payed them a few bucks for the help. The money exchanges were there too. Wow, talk about needing to know the exchange rate... At first the guy was going to give me like $600 Quetzal for $2000 pesos. I showed him the current rate is around $800 Quetzals to $2000 pesos (used a little app called currency XE), so we got to something more reasonable. It beats having to find a place to exchange.

Like I said, MplsMoto wrote it up, but I'll summarize.
- As you approach the border the rush of helpers starts. I just kept going, slowly.
- To the right there is a parking lot with security patrolling it. So, I just left my bike and stuff there. Money changer came there. The helpers came there. I exchanged my money.
- Walk back to the street, go right along the sidewalk, through a one way turnstyle, left across the street, left again, on the sidewalk, little ways down are double doors with a guard. Enter there and get in line to cancel your Mexico Visa.
- When done, exit, go right a little ways, then left back across the street into the parking lot.
- Get on your bike, out of the parking lot, turn right go up the street, up a little on the right is the fumigation guy. I drove right buy him actually... they spray just the underside of the bike I made sure they weren't going to spray my tank bag and bag in the back. While they spray, there's a window right behind him. Pay $16 Guat.
- Pull up like 1/4 block, on the right is the building where you get your Temporary Import. I just parked the bike there. There's guards, there's cameras, it's safe.
- Then I walked back about 1/2 block to the Guatemala Immigration. Gave them my passport, said I had a motorcycle to import, they held my passport, I filled out a form, brought the form back, got my passport stamp and copy of the form.
- As you face the street, to your left is a copy service. $1 Guat per copy... Passport main page and visa page, title, registration, your Mexico Temp Permit (by the way, I did not cancel mine coming out of Mexico, it's good until November, Guatamala had no problem with that), a copy of the copy of the form you just filled out at immigration, and your license (they don't care about international license).
- Take the originals, of the above, and the copies, to the building where I left my bike up the street.
- A nice lady comes out from behind the window, checks the papers, walks with you to see the bike, check serial number etc...
- You come back in with her, she prints you out a bill for $160 Guat, sign it in two places
- Walk out the entrance opposite where you came in, to the left is a bank. A guard lets you in. You give the paper and your money to the banker, he stamps your receipt.
- Take it back to the nice lady. She comes out, gives you your originals, walks out, gives the papers to a guard who verifies her work.
- She slaps a sticker on your bike.
- Your done and dusted... Welcome to Guatemala!
- Took about one hour, very little waiting, and it did help to have the guys who knew this routine.

It is a little crowded around the border. I went up the road a ways, parked it in the shade to have some water and a snack. Struck up a conversation with one guy asking questions about where I was from, going, etc.. Talked for a bit, he knew a little English I know a little Spanish, it works... Pleased to meet you and I was on my way again.

I was disappointed to see speed bumps again, I thought that was a Mexico thing... guess not. The road to Quetzaltenango was a narrow twisty thing going up into the mountains. A lot of first and second gear work. It got downright cold, and it felt good! More slow trucks belching dark smelly exhaust, cars burning oil, big trucks trying to go down narrow streets made for some slow spots. Two hours from the border, took about 3+.

Horses and cows grazing on the side of the street. A guy walking a cow across. Herds of goats munching their way through town. Chickens doing their thing. Street vendors selling mostly fruits.

My digs for the next few days are a humble room in a humble house with a very hospitable and humble family. The mother speaks no English, the teen age daughter speaks some, and with google translate, we're communicating. Communication is a good thing. Language barriers suck, make us think we're different, but we're not.

Quetzaltenango is definitely on the map. It's got McDonalds and Pizza hut... and the streets are in decent shape... some of them anyway...

Gas here is about $12/gallon. In Mexico it was just under $10. Both crazy numbers. And the US is pissing it away at $3/gallon. Good news is today I calculated and the DR is getting just over 59 miles/gallon! Can't beat that for a fully loaded bike! I keep my tire pressures high and use synthetic oil... Engine and exhaust are stock.

The weather here is comfortably cool, in the mountains. I'm told that in January it does get cold, but does not snow. This is the rainy season (April to Novemeber), which means it usually rains every day. From the pattern over the last couple days, seems to be mostly in late afternoons and evenings. So, when traveling, good to get an early start and hopefully make it to your destination for the day before the rain starts again. Going on a steep twisty road like today, in the wet, would really slow things down and add pucker factor.


So apparently there's a lot of volcanos around Quetzaltenango, active one's. Santiaguito, Santa Maria, Almolonga, Chicabal... One of them had a once in 200-300 year blowup some years ago and the dust reached California. Killed a mess of people in Guatemala. There's a viewing spot, 20 minutes out of town and then a three hour hike, for Santiaguito, which blows up every couple hours. There's something you don't see every day. Did some research to see where this trail starts, found it, and took a ride down to scope it out for a possible hike... Geeeees.. they got come crappy roads around here... Here's a better section of the road that goes out to the start of the trail... It gets worse...

Where it ends the road has it's worst section and it just narrows and ends. No nice sign saying volcano this way, no parking, no one trying to sell you beads, just a rocky ditchy road that just becomes an uphill rocky ditch... The red dot mid screen is where the road ends.

Before I got there I thought, maybe I could just take the motorcycle on the trail... No, that's not going to work. And can't very well leave it there in a dead end for six hours if I want a bike when I get back. Take a cab to the start of the trail? Is seeing a volcano blow up from a mile and a half away worth a six hour hike? Meh...