Ves Around the World: Start, Mexico, Guatemala,
Temp. CO 5/28/19 - 8/31/2019
Click here to go to 7/23 Update: 7/5/2019 and later
Click here to go to the 8/1 Update: July_24th_2019
Click here to go to the 8/21 Update: Aug 2nd 2019
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 stuff...lol), 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
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
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 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
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
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...
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
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
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.
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
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
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
"...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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
And once again I'm safely behind bars with a rooftop view of the
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
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
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
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
There is so much contrast between the modern cities with low
skyscrapers hotels and condos, and the little places in the middle
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
Behind a triple locked, steel door... The Mexicans take their
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,
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
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? ...so 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
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
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
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
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
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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
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
Quetzaltenango is definitely on the map. It's got McDonalds and
Pizza hut... and the streets are in decent shape... some of them
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
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
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
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...
July 5th 2019
Just wandering around Quetzaltenango. Last day here.
Blocks of people selling mostly fruit.. but everything else too...
so much... so densely packed... sensory overload. And a few blocks
from here you can walk into an indoor, four story, sparkling,
granite floored mall to rival anything in first world. And you can
eat at McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's, and Pizza Hut...
Unfortunately, one of the strong memories I'll take away with me is
walking the streets to the smell of gas, diesel, and cars burning
oil. Sometimes bad enough that I just held my breath. Away from the
main streets it's not that bad. No emission standards I take it.
Sacrificing the planet and the health of the people in the name of
Taking off tomorrow to try and beat a storm to my next destination;
two week immersion course in Spanish on Lake Atitlan, at the
Guatamaya Spanish Academy. Full room and board with a host family.
Plus they support a children's program and the owner leads a
conservation program in the area. Sounded like a good place to spend
my Quetzals. Didn't read anything about the area when I signed up,
but it's supposed to be amazing. Nestled in among the mountains,
active volcano (that's amazing, right? right?). No roads that take
you around the lake to the different towns, just boats across the
water. Of course I've been immersed in Spanish for the last month
plus, but let's see how much my brain can absorb in one or two
weeks, four hours a day... whew!
First time I talked to the head of the school he said take the boat
from Santa Cruz, that it wold be "easier" than taking the road to
San Pedro. I'm like, would a boat take close to 400 lbs of
motorcycle. He says take the road, it's all in good shape except for
one "@#$%" spot. I'm guessing that squiggly area is it? Told him 600
lbs of me and bike is not going to go well up or down hill in the
wet. He says that the uphills and downhills are paved, so even in
the rain should be OK... I don't know... on my map it shows unpaved
starting right near the squiggly... maybe they improved it since...
good news is I'll get to do it in the other direction when I'm
leaving! Assuming I make it down in the first place...
July 6th 2019
Wow, all I can say is if all the roads were as good as the one going
to San Pedro, there would be a lot of happy bikers... and there
were... bunches of them. But let's start at the beginning.
Got out of Quetzeltanango early. Stopped for gas on the way out, got
ignored by two attendants even after I gestured to them and they
took two clients that came after me... Wow, I think that qualifies
as the first dumb-ass rudeness experience I've had on the whole trip
so far. No problem, there were other gas stations.
This was the view back to the city after I got up a little into the
Nice winding road up into the mountains. Stopped to check out the
view a little further along.
The best shot I couldn't take. As I crested over into the Atitlan
valley... Wow... but too steep, no place to stop, and what there
was, was packed with cars. First opportunity I had I pulled over,
went though the brush a way and got this view.
And here it is, a section of the squiggly, infamous, treacherous,
potholed road... not! It was brand new grooved concrete. But don't
get me wrong, there are definitely some really sharp, hairy,
hairpins. If they were gravel it would be really tough. As an
example, a guy was coming up in a car, going around one of the tight
uphill sections, and his tires start spinning, on grooved concrete.
Only place I can recall where the roads were consistently like that,
and four wheel drive was recommended, even though it was asphalt,
was on St. John Virgin Islands. Some crazy turns; hairpins and
Stopped again next chance I had...
There was a section of road in town, about quarter mile, that was a
mess (rutted dust and gravel), but that was the worst of it.
Followed the GPS to what should have been my lodging for the night.
But it wasn't there. So, had to wait a bit for the guy to come out.
Lots of three wheelers and bikes on the island, very few cars. This
street was wide, one of the main roads, but some of the side streets
barely have room for these three wheelers to get through, and talk
about some steep sections.
My host came and directed me to a hairpin leading down off this main
road... says we don't really have parking for the motorcycle... Can
you just put it here in the street? Ah, no, the sidestand was on the
uphill side, so had to go down hill a block, turn around, come back
up, and then find the right angle so I could use the sidestand. Good
news is a neighbor had a garage to store the bike for $20
Quetzels... like $2.60 US. That works. Anyway, the house is here.
First go up these steps through here (that's looking back to the
Then hang a left through here:
Then a right, and here we are on the left!:
I tell ya, with maybe one or two exceptions, trying to find a house
in Mexico or Guatemala... good luck... the streets are never marked,
the houses don't have numbers on them, and now we got mazes... too
Got myself situated (got the whole lower floor of the house; huge
bedroom, kitchen, dining, bath... for $11) and did some walking
around town. Not hard, since the majority of it is like 20 minutes
across. Went down some streets on my way to the lake, wow, just
packed tight as sardines with vendors selling everything from
jewelry to fruit, and at least four pizza places that I counted...
Guatemalan pizza? I didn't now pizza was a thing here... but i was
more interested in the lake view...
Some side streets on the way back up...
Down by the lake is all the tourist stuff; boat tours, bars,
restaurants, paragliding, massage, etc...
But with all that, be darned if I could find a decent grocery
Interesting that the town banned plastic bags, grocery bags, some
time ago. Part of the conservation program the city runs. Nice. And
with very few vehicles, it doesn't have that exhaust haze like
Quetzaltanango did. The side streets are all cobblestone, some in
worst shape than others, but I saw them redoing section.
The town makes a pretty good first impression.
July 7th 2019
Made my breakfast and decided to take a ride on the only road
leading out of town, goes around the volcano. I don't think you can
get tired of these views...
The road was nice, and then the asphalt just ends. On the first
steep section is a bunch of rocks trying to imitate cobble stones. I
guess it was good they were there because it was steep, and the rest
of the road had a layer of dust on it, just enough to give you
hardly any traction. Engine braking in first gear wasn't enough. Had
to favor the rear break. Front and rear going every which way. And
yes that's a tree across the road. There was enough room to get
around it. On the other side was a guy shoveling gravel/dirt from
the side of the road into the ruts, and tamping it down. I stopped,
looked at him, he looked at me, I smiled and started moving and he
got out of the way. I went a bit further but it was still down hill
and didn't get better. That guy has some work ahead of him. That was
enough for me. Turned my self around gingerly and went bouncing back
up hill. Can't imagine doing that if the bike was fully loaded.
Those cobblestones were crazy, and I get amazed at how the DR just
crawls up this stuff.
Quite a bit of the road was like this with corn growing along the
sides. Some steeper than others. I came up on some farmers, one of
them was spraying the area right by the street, a steep shoulder
going up to the corn field, with some kind of herbicide. I could see
the weeds were already dying where he sprayed before. But those
weeds were the only thing holding the hillside dirt together. Guess
they must have been encroaching on his crops. No getting away from
Got back to my casa, ate some lunch, and arranged for my next move,
which was only about 5 minutes away. As I was sitting there it
dawned on me that here the concept of outdoor/indoor is a blurry
line. For example, this is the dining room? It's basically open to
the outdoor. There's some plastic corrugation to deflect most of the
rain, but the floor is going to get rained on, which is why there's
a drain in the middle of the dining room. The second floor was even
more open. No windows per say, just lots of view.
Same in the new place. This is the "hallway" from the bedroom to the
And this... is the "sidewalk" to get up to the house from the
street. Very steep, and it keeps going for a while. After I was done
lugging all my gear up there I was breathing like a racehorse. Talk
about getting your exercise for the day...
Sat down with the house owners and we talked about meals, when
they're served (full room and board), what I eat, and we had a good
laugh about my eating habits. All in Spanish with a little bit of
translator help. Good people. Going to be a pleasure staying with
them for a week or two. Off to class tomorrow morning, bright and
early! I'm glad it's at least a week so I can recover from bringing
the stuff up.
July 12th 2019
Alright. First week of class done and dusted (terminado). Whew. It's
intense. Four hours a day, and resulting homework, but it's good.
Guatamaya Spanish Academy. If you're in the area and looking to
learn some Spanish I give it my thumbs up. After one week there's a
lot more Spanish conversation coming out of my mouth already. And
where can you get room and board, learn Spanish, and have included
activities for $175/week? I'm living on $25/day... pffftttt...
Teacher to student ratio is one to one, so you go at your pace. My
teacher Elmer is awesome. He knows English well, as do the other
teachers and administrators there. He's also a professor at a local
school. One of the teachers speaks almost no English but she is
working with a frikin genius kid from Australia, who after three
months of Duolingo, can hold down a Spanish conversation and hardly
ever has to ask how to say something. Impressive. My old fart brain
doesn't work that well, but I'm definitely making progress. Like
daym, did I just say that, en Espanol?! ah ha... [moon walk]...
The other student (there's three of us this week) is a female from
Colorado via Germany, with half her left leg missing... triathlete.
Smashed it in a rock climbing fall... 40 feet? But nothing is
stopping her. She's written books, rides a motorcycle with a special
handlebar shifter, still competes and holds all sorts of records,
and plans on sailing around the world... pffftttt... drop the mic
and walk off stage... Doctors told her she'd be in a wheel chair
rest of her life... clearly she has other plans!
The funny thing about school is that Spanglish (Spanish English mix)
is highly encouraged. Have a conversation, if you don't know
something in Spanish, spit it out in English, and proceed.
Eventually there's less English coming out and more Spanish.
There was a hike yesterday (passed, I was cansado), kayaking today
(yo tengo unos potos), a sunrise hike tomorrow at 4:00 am... ya,
pass on that...etc.. Also, watched a Spanish documentary on how the
big cane and palm companies from the US and Germany have taken tons
of acres of land from the indigenous peoples, and literally chased
them off and burned their houses. This has been going on for years.
The sugar cane is used for sugar and also, like the palm, to create
biofuels, which are sold as "green" all over the world, at the
expense of displacing native farmers. They also divert rivers,
creating water shortages for food growers that still exist, and of
course the plants that produce the biofuels dump waste, polluting
the land and waters. Wtf...
It is raining here regularly, in the evening, sometimes early,
sometimes later, but it gets pretty intense. Lights going out is not
a big event. And apparently yesterday about 6:00 pm there was a
couple small tremors. I didn't feel them, maybe because I was
sitting on my comfy bed. But the lady of the house said it shook her
pots and pans.
The school is only a few minutes walk from my temporary family... up
the street, open a rickety door, walk past a chicken coop (pok pok
pok pak pok! Fresh eggs!), and up these stair:
And that balcony is the congregation area (for breaks), then there's
one level up, my teacher and I sit there, and then one more level
above that. And that yard looks like some of the road I rode on the
other day... ok, not that bad.
And here's the view from the congregation level:
I've been in worse classrooms. Again, inside outside is kind of a
gray line... I think the rule is if it has a wall around it, it's
inside... if it has a roof it's more inside... the breeze is
blowing, birds are chirping... music drifting up from somewhere...
noises of the city...
The lady of the house makes corn tortillas from scratch, on a wood
burning stove. They are delicious, hot off the the stove top. The
other day, fish was on the menu, lake to plate... cleaned, lightly
skinned and cooked up, head and all. Eat it with your fingers so you
can pick out the bones... Yum. Seriously, it was delicious.
Today we were meeting down by the lake for the Kayaking. Walking
there I walked by a Jewish bakery... and the guy is all shalom
shalom, with the yam-aka (how do you spell that) and beard... I'm
like, dude, de donde eres? it's buenos tardes... I got to the
meeting place early and just sat on a street corner watching. There
was a pub across the street and all the Tuk-tuk's (the three wheeled
taxi/cars) were buzzing all around. Guess they know where their
business is... driving the drunks home from the bar... ok, maybe not
all drunks. It's an intersection, no light, no stop sign, and these
guys are zip zip, three across pulling U-ies, backing up, add some
motorcycles and some pedestrians, and I'm breaking out the
popcorn... cause this is going to be good, also the occasional horn
to tell the other guy "yo, over here... look here!" We're talking
tuk to tuk and tuk to pedestrian clearances of a few thousands of an
inch... And it's all smooth as glass... Then there's a guy on the
back of a pickup truck, turning in the intersection and he along
with a relatively thin rope are holding a big refrigerator in
place... and they're about to go up a 30 degree hill. I'm thinking,
you sure you want to be on the downhill side of that fridge? At one
point there were so many tuk tuk's and pedestrians and stuff going
through the intersection it was like a Chinese fire drill. I could
write a book on what happened in like 15 minutes at that
Ok, enough with the intersection. Here's some shots from the lake on
That's probably the same guy that caught my fish that I ate the
other day. Life is good and simple.
We'll see how the weather goes over the weekend. Maybe take a short
ride, or do one of the hikes. Monday is back to class. Yeah, I
signed up for another week... I'm a glutton for punishment...
July 13th 2019
It was a nice morning... lots of nice mornings here... honestly. The
weather is almost ideal. 70's during the day, sunny most mornings
and days until the rain comes in, about 70% humidity (not stiffing),
60's at night for good sleeping. Don't need heat, don't need air
conditioning. Plenty of rain to keep things green. And actually the
lake water is also a very comfortable temperature.
I was looking at the map. Looks like Lake Atitlan is only one of two
big lakes in Guatemala. I was told that the cane and sugar growers
in the northwest want to run a pipeline to the lake to suck up their
water. The president himself came to the area and the people chased
him off, threw rocks at him. That Mayan blood has got some spunk in
it! Good for them!
Well, went back to that road I was on the other day. It rained last
night so that settled the dust. No turning back this time. Yeah,
some hairy downhills, downhill corners, ruts from water runoff,
exposed rocks, some big puddles, those cobblestone/rocks I liked so
much. Took her slow and made it to the other side.
Might have been that same guy I saw the other day, but he was
working on the cobblestone section. I don't know what he was trying
to say as I went by... can't you see I'm working here? see I'm
making the road nice for you?... one gesture I recognized, thumb and
finger, cash, mula, tip,... right, like I was going to stop in the
middle of this hill on these cobblestones to give him some money...
though I did appreciate his work. There were other people working on
the road at different spots, women, children... They were just
waving and cheering going down and coming back up. Just friendly I
July 14th 2019
Lazy Sunday... took a 2 mile walk to the beach (ok, guess that's not
lazy... but I walked slow), spent a couple hours there, then linner
(lunch dinner) at a hilltop restaurant. Dinner was expensive...
$6.64... Nothing to write home about, but the view was worth it.
Tuk tuk... chicken bus... sans chickens. At least this one wasn't
billowing black exhaust smoke.
Hola senor, cuanto cuesta la casa? Y puedes tirar a la esposa?
Rare to see a standalone house. Most of them share walls with
neighbors in all directions. There's no secrets here.
Enough goofing around, need to do some more homework for class
July 19th 2019
Interesting fact about why Guatemalan's speak Spanish slowly and
clearly, and hence why there are so many Spanish schools here...
Extra credit for anyone that knows!... Bueller?
Because it's not their primary language. Mayan is, and the vast
majority speak Mayan primarily. I hear it all the time when natives
talk. Even in the Spanish school the Spanish and English were spoken
for the students benefit. It has a similar sound to native American,
which makes sense since they share common roots. But it seems to be
spoken relatively slowly, so that speed seems to carry over to their
So, week two done and dusted. The last few days were just grueling;
my brain just can't move at that speed. Understanding, yes, but
recall, not there yet. I felt like the whipping boy. No, again...
no, again... no, again... Muy bien!... faster... again.... again...
faster... conjugating irregular past tense verbs like there's no
tomorrow... at the speed of light!... That will be a lasting memory,
and I'm going to laugh about it every time I think about... It was
Different students had different opinions about it all. Me, though I
despised studying language structure in school when I was young (why
do I need this crap? I didn't.), and as a result never really
learned it, here it definitely helps and I can see how it's going to
help in the future. Once you learn some of the patterns, you can
decipher much more of the language, and it sticks better because it
connects. That's what Duolingo and Rosetta stone are missing,
teaching some structure, as you progress in levels, so you know WHY,
not just what... And the learning is just beginning.
This is like a cookie... Made from corn flour and cacao. That's it.
Bought it from a local lady. Guess the leaves are just there to
separate the cookies. The way it's usually eaten is you break off
chunks, crumble it into water, let it sit a few minutes, add
whatever else you want, mix, and drink. Can't tell you what it is
because it doesn't have a name.
Some breakfasts I had French toast. I call it that, but they don't.
It's just bread and eggs. Also, had these things translated "little
dogs"... yes there are a lot of dogs roaming the streets but
hopefully its not that kind of dog. It's kind of like a tamale. Corn
flour/meal wrapped in corn husk, with a little bit of meat and
veggie in the middle.
Lots of corn tortillas... the sound of fresh tortillas being slapped
between bare hands... day after day, multiple times a day... it's
like the dinner bell.
Simple life, simple food.
Regarding food. Apparently the changing weather; periods of sun more
intense than normal, more erratic rain patterns (not as frequently
as normal or too intense at times) is causing problems. Whereas in
the past a farmer could grow enough corn to store and have for the
whole year, now they're lucky if they can get enough to last six
months. The rest they have to import from the coast. Also, the
sometimes excessive rains causes avocados and coffee crops to rot.
There's a lot of poor people here. Weather, corrupt government, and
money hungry corporations... coming together to make it difficult to
just live a normal life. And not just in Guatemala, other Central
American countries too... Sadly.
This is in the central square/park/church front yard... Or the local
stray dog drinking fountain... Couple nights I walked though town.
Amazing that in a little town like this, even at 9:00 and 10:00 at
night vendors are still out in the street grilling meets and
tortillas, some of the stores are still open. Guess you have to grab
all the business you can, trying to make ends meet.
As Willy sings... On the road again... Going places that I've never
been... seeing things that I may never see again... on the road
July 20th 2019
Riding today was kind of surreal... not sure why. Maybe because I
was getting so used to San Juan. My brain was very quiet...
You want me to think in English or Spanish?... f-it, I'm not saying
nothing today, you can just ride by yourself...
Fiiiineee by me!...
Just under 100 miles, From San Pedro La Laguna to Huehuetenango...
yeah, say that fast ten times... and... drum-roll please... six
hours... yeah, it's like that. It did take the slightly longer way
but there's definitely some roller coaster roads! The
hills/mountains just don't stop. Don't think I broke 40 mph most of
the day, lots of first gear hairpins. There were some amazing views
of the mountains, but no place to stop and take a photo. Few towns
and some scattered housing. Never got that out-in-the-open feeling
A good hour of travel time was just sitting in traffic. The town is
having some kind of saints celebration. My intended road was totally
blocked off, and every road around there was just packed with cars.
Even the motorcycles that normally just zip in and out of traffic
were getting stuck. I did some zipping and then some sitting, then I
just turned the bike off, took my gear off, and just pushed it a
little every couple minutes. Then just finally pushed it to the side
and waited it out. Nothing worse than sitting in traffic idling
behind a bus in full gear, in the sun... When it started moving a
little I just headed back out of town, went down a couple gnarly
dirt roads and a really rickety bridge and circled around
Yeah, aint no none going nowhere, cause the horses are out and
My digs. Nice courtyard and kitchen. But the bedroom is a jail cell,
and there's two sets of bunk beds in it. Caretaker says the're doing
it as a hostel and Air B&B. It will have to do.
Still don't know how I'm going to sit in that chair...
And, made a friend... small kitten... not sure if she belongs to
anyone... but I fed it, so guess it's mine... HA! What's the penalty
for sneaking a cat across the border?
And of course, safely behind locked steel doors...
8:00 at night the parade was still rolling, even past this place...
sirens, horns, chicken buses all lit up and flashing like Christmas
trees, fire engines, trucks, a hatchback full of speakers with
lights around the woofers that synced to the music... Nice...
My bike is seeping oil over on the drive side, somewhere behind the
drive sprocket cover. Normally I'd say just grease from the chain
lube, but it's definitely wet... hmmm... I'm guessing it's just oil
seeping past the stator wires seal. I'll have to look at it tomorrow
and make sure it's nothing serious.
July 21st 2019
Woke up early and took a walk, about 6:15. The city was still
mostly sleeping. A few cars and buses belching black smoke, a few
people walking to school or work. At one point the smoke almost
totally obscured the vehicle belching it... Exchanged buenos días's
with most of the passer by's.
Found my way to what seemed to be the central park. Some street
vendors were out, some people mulling around, a blindfolded man and
a little boy sitting on the sidewalk begging... What can you do
about something like that? Is there enough money in the work to fix
whatever problem put them there? Is it just a natural consequence of
the human existence... the statistical outliers needed to fill out
the bell curve of life? Why does life have to follow the bell curve?
Or at least, why is the curve so wide? Why the large extremes? Why
can't everything be closer to center? Ok, not everyone can be rich,
can they? Or maybe we're all rich in different ways. True, but
probably a copout too. How is that man, and his little boy, rich?
They probably slept there in the parking, because you don't wake up
at 5:30 in the morning, from a warm bed, to go out and beg in the
cool morning air, when there's hardly anyone walking by. Why is the
man blindfolded? Is he blind, ashamed, or is it easier to give a
pittance of money and not have to look the person in the eyes? Or is
it all just a ploy... Blind man, little kid... Surely people will
feel sorry for them?
That's a lot of questions... But no answers.
Walked a couple miles to the near town to see the Zacuelu
archaeological site. Clearly all Mesoamerica used the same
July 22nd 2019
Started the day early, on the road by 8:00. Needed to do five hours
of riding and get through the Guatemala/Mexico border
LaMesilla/Cuauhtemoc and say goodbye to Guatemala for now. If you're
asking why am I going back into Mexico, then clearly you're not
paying attention... My girlfriend is flying in. She spent the summer
in Croatia. We're meeting just south of Cancun for a couple weeks to
discuss her joining me. She's all in, just a matter of how and when.
She took her MSF and passed both riding and written with flying
colors, though I'm not sure she's entirely sold on the idea...
neither am I... new rider, going around the world? That's a rough
break-in... But I'm also not sold on the idea of two up around the
world. Anyway, the meeting is a set date. I was originally going to
take the Spanish class afterward, but I progressed through Mexico
faster than I thought I would, so just figured I'd take the Spanish
class first and go back into Mexico after, so now going to meet her.
Big discussions coming!
There was absolutely no lines at the border. Got out of Guatemala in
like 20 minutes, 5 for the passport, and 15 trying to negotiate an
exchange rate on my money. Current rate is $100 USD to $1900 pesos.
One guy wanted to give me $900 pesos... I'm like, did I calculate
something wrong? wtf... what are you smoking... No way, beat it..
And I'm sure people are getting screwed by him every day. I took
care of my passport, came back out, saw another guy... we negotiated
$1700... that's still really steep, but way better.
Getting to the border was a trip. For blocks, both sides of the
street, nothing but booths selling all sorts of crap. Designer
clothes, shoes, backpacks, jewelry, carvings... you name it, it was
there. I've never seen anything like it. I don't know how many
people it would take to buy up that much crap. Then there was this
truck, open top, that would just randomly stop and start tossing
boxes up. I don't know if it was garbage, or what, but the street
was just barely wide enough for him and a tuk-tuk, so when ever he
stopped he stopped traffic, and everyone is just sitting watching
him load up. I put some grease on my panniers and squeaked my way
past. Just a madhouse... like a shark feeding frenzy... everyone
trying to get the tourist dollar.
The Mexico side was way calmer and almost as fast. No lines. I
already had my import paper, so fill out a form, go pay the banker,
come back, s-stamp, I'm done... By the way, on the Guatemala side,
no one cared about my import paper at exit [shrug], guess that makes
sense, since it's not a deposit like for Mexico. Mexico is like $400
US you get back. Guatemala was a straight $160 Quetzals going in,
which is like $8... Amigo, puedo tener mis ocho dollares? Que? ...
no,... beat it!...
Anyway, most of the ride today took me along a river, high cliffs on
both sides. Scattered small towns. Some open road with sweepers when
I was just getting into Mexico, some mud and gravel. It felt good to
get on some open roads.
And tell you what. My riding is a calm take no prisoners approach
now. Best place to pass slow vehicles, at the speed bumps. I turned
down my rebound dampening a good bit on the rear shock and the bike
is taking those bumps way better. Amazing what ten clicks will do.
And my digs for the night are damn impressive. I'd call it a home,
but it's more like a complex. The man is one rich Mexican. And I get
a whole apartment for like $18/night. I mean the bathroom is bigger
than my entire bedroom the previous two nights. There's a kitchen,
huge bedroom with a couch and a bed, and a front room. It dawned on
me in San Pedro La Laguna, when sitting with another Spanish student
and one of the professors, as they were drinking servesas by the
pint, that I'm spending less on lodging than some people spend on
And I'm down to the wear strip on my rear tire. New tires should be
getting delivered in Turipache, which is about 700 miles away, just
south of Cancun. It's going to be close! I'm getting my money's
worth out of this one. Hopefully there's more curvy roads ahead so I
can even out the wear a bit more.
We'll see what the weather is like tomorrow. I ran into a guy when I
stopped for lunch, he said he heads up a motorcycle club in this
town and he invited me to come by the coffee shop where they meet in
the evening. Mexican hospitality! Now if I can just remember the
name of the place...
July 23rd 2019
Anyway, took a walk around town today. Definitely up there on the
scale of classy Mexico towns. Apparently San Cristobal use to be the
state capital. Though not any more, but it's still considered the
cultural center of the state. Lot going on! Museums, markets, banks,
restaurants. Has a blend of that traditional look and history with a
modern twist. Almost a little too commercialized, but not bad..
Streets are in pretty good shape to and the air is relatively clean
also. 55 Degrees this morning. Up at about 7500 ft elevation?
That one is my digs. Usually that would be like eight houses.
But the place gets 0 points for having one place that sold avocados
for $3.50 US a piece, and no decent vegetable stores. But it does
have like six places you can buy a cover for your cell phone. I
finally found a little corner store run by two little old ladies
that had some fresh veggies and fruits. What I bought was $12 pesos.
Gave her a $50. She says she doesn't have change, asks me where I
live, says I can just bring it by any time and I walk out with my
veggies. Went and got some change and came back. That's awesome.
July 24th 2019
This is where I show you a pretty picture or two and say what a
great road it was going from San Cristobal
True. Miles and miles of winding road through the hills. But today I
got a first hand look at the fact that Mexico has bigger problems
than potholes in their roads and junk in their stores.
As I turned onto the main road headed for Palenque, a couple police
officers waved me down at the intersection. The guy asks where I'm
going, etc.. then tells me that the road is impassable, there's a
block. I asked if a motorcycle can squeeze by, then he says
something about me being a tourist. Other guy joins the conversation
and basically one is saying no, the other is gesturing to go on. It
would have been hours more to take a different road, so I went on.
Maybe an hour or two later I come up on a line of cars on the side
of the road. I go up to the front. There's a truck crashed into a
car, both burnt, the asphalt around them is burnt, totally blocking
the road. One of the people points me to the ditch on the side of
the road. Maybe a steep foot into it. I go in, and there is room to
get by the mess and I get back out. A little further down, right in
front of a bridge, there are two trucks, crashed into each other,
burnt. Doesn't look passable. I get off, go look. There's just
enough room on one side between the bridge rail and the truck. I
squeak by. A little farther and there's a burnt truck and a tree.
Enough room to get around. A little further there's a huge truck
across the whole road. Again the only thing open is the ditch. I
pull in. I'm against the trucks front bumper on one side, and
digging weeds off the bank on the other side. I made it through.
There were some cars mulling around on the other side. I ask a
couple guys if there's more like this and they say no, that's all
there is. After that the road was empty of cars for the most part,
but a lot of people and families walking on the side of the road,
and a lot of trucks with blue covers on the back, some kind of star
and dove symbols on all of them. One guy carrying a rifle, with rope
for the strap.
You get the picture? I got the picture. What ever happened last
night, was not good.
As I went further, several times, adults in the towns, or kids,
strung a rope across the road and were collecting money for
something. They let me pass. One group wouldn't. They wanted 100
pesos, to help with something. I gave it to them.
In general I got the impression that the people were poorer than
even other places I've seen.
No idea what was going on, but it's all very sad. I'm just glad to
have made it to my destination.
July 25th 2019
Made it to Escarcega Campache today. Not much to see. The road is
about as straight as they get. Cutting through the plane. I looked
up Escarcega on travel Wiki... Things to do? Change buses... Not
kidding, that's what it said. Apparently a featureless
attractionless town in the middle of nowhere. A place to just pass
through. I took a side loop which included Emiliano Zapata and
Balancan de Dominguez. Rio Usumancinta or Chacamax, depending on
what map you look, winds though that area. Flat, fertile, and green.
Reminded me of Wisconsin... and 95 and humid... whew! Cold shower
felt really good.
There wasn't much of this shady road, but it was very welcome.
My shower buddy... lost some parts... at least he's clean... nothing
worse than a dirty roach...
July 26th 2019
I think papa roach came looking for mama roach... Sorry, I had
nothing to do with it, she was like that when i found her... move
I think this is what you call a Mexican standoff...
Can you see the second set of legs on that spider? That's got to be
as wide as my hand. I just tiptoed around them, they didn't budge,
hoping someone would eat someone... may the best pest win...
Alright already! Stop bothering the wildlife!
I did take a walk through part of town. I don't know, it doesn't
look much different than any other small Mexican town. They gave it
a bum rap on travel Wiki. It's got a busting main street, a market
area selling everything you need and you can walk across it in about
40 minutes. The streets are actually pretty wide and in decent
But at 10:30 in the morning it was already mid 80's and humid...
went up to 99... whew, donde esta la playa? No tienes la playa? Oh
Sobre la camino otra vez manana...
July 27th 2019
The road to Campeche. Took the slightly longer way along the Gulf
Coast. Mostly straight as an arrow. Some nice scenery along the
coast. Lots of pelicans here and there dive bombing for fish. Few
small towns with lots of grass roof restaurants. Lots of empty
The adhesive on that water bottle label just melted... Heat index
100 in the shade.
It was hot and humid. My ass was tired and hungry. Needed to feed it
some avocado to settle it down.
Ahhhh... the open road beckons... and so does that cold shower...
I got settled in and then the afternoon storm hit... No locked gates
here. Getting a much needed rinse.
The place I'm staying at is kind of falling short. They said they
had a kitchen... no stove... And someone else's hair is in my bed...
but what do you want for $11/night... Ok, getting warm in here, need
to find the remote for the AC unit and turn it down...
July 28th 2019
Took a ride out to Edzna', a Calakmul city, about 40 minutes
Southwest of Campeche. It was inhabited from about 200-600 BC to
1500 AD. Out in the middle of nowhere, which makes a good place to
visit and skip the crowds at some of the more popular sites in the
Peninsula. It's a little bit of a walk... the heat and the bugs,
even at 10:30 am... whew...
That grass field is about 40 feet up from the ground; the second
level of the temple.
Also, where I'm staying is about 15 minutes out of town, by vehicle,
and I just can't bear to go walk the town when it's 90's, high
humidity, and sun beating down... whew... but I rode to the store
and the town is quite modern. Main run along the coast looks really
new, there's not one, but two Walmart's in town (Funny how in Mexico
having a Walmart is upscale and signifies the place is on the map,
yet in the states so many people look down on Walmart. Say what you
will, it's the one place stop and shop!), Burger King, all sorts of
restaurants and shops. Several very fancy looking hotels along the
main road. And apparently all sorts of things to do for those that
want to do all sorts of things. Two nights is definitely not long
enough to get a feel for the place.
July 29th 2019
Campeche to Hunucma'... it's a pretty straight inland shot. Mostly
four laner, some two laner. Hunucma' is about 20k people. Decided I
didn't want to hassle with Marida, which is significantly bigger,
and I'm only 25 minutes from the coast. Maybe take a ride that way
tomorrow while I'm here.
And the tree and shrub lined road reads to a green and red gate of
the casa blanca. Nice place. Tough they have that issue with
understanding what's outside and what's inside and keeping them
separate. There's two ports in the living room wall... no glass, no
screen... and I won't be using any lights tonight in the front room
cause I'll attract every bug in the neighborhood. The bedroom is
pretty well sealed up, and there's a gecko running around... I kid
you not... hopefully he eats all the bugs... fast bugger too... so
just keeping that room sealed up. In the mean time my shirt is
soaked, and I'm sitting under a ceiling fan, cause there's no air.
Working well enough (heat index was 108). Hopefully it cools off
enough that I wont be sleeping in a wet shirt.
And dinner is in the pot cooking away nicely... some rice with
cabbage, carrots, and sweet potatoes... Aaaaand, right across the
street is a tortilleria... a lady who makes and sells fresh corn
tortillas... a bag for 10 pesos... like $0.52... Yum, and she puts
something in them cause my lips are a little spicy after eating
That green door is steel, about 1.5" thick, it has two deadbolts,
and latches that go up into the ceiling and down into the floor. You
would need a tank to get through it... but about 10 feet away is a
port in the wall, about two foot in diameter, that anyone could
crawl through... no glass, nada...
The rooftop view ain't bad. Owner says it's really nice up there at
night... apparently the breeze keeps the bugs away.
July 30th 2019
Yeah, so the rooftop view in the evening didn't work out so well...
no breeze and lots of bugs...
But I did get a pic of the Gecko in my room!
Extra point if you know what this is...
It's half of a different Gecko, that apparently wasn't fast enough
the last time someone closed a window...
Ok, got my ass up pretty early and took a 25 minute ride to the
coast; Sisal Yucatan. Took a cruise up and down the main strip, and
a little ways out I saw how the other 1% of Mexicans live... in big
house on the beachfront... nice...
Circled around a bit more and found this entrance to the beach just
a block from the main street that leads to the beach.
Yup that will do... and the place was empty...
The water was somewhere around 80 degrees. Just wade in and float
away... Just a slight breeze, and gentle waves... more like big
ripples... After a couple hours of sunning and swimming, and some
more people arriving (20 tops), figured enough for one day.
I rode back into town, stopped at the market, exchanged some money
at the bank, walked around a bit.
Yes, so there's a lot of these three wheel things roaming around.
Two wheels in back, motorcycle front end. There's also the type
where the riding area is in front and the motorcycle is in the back.
And there's the pedal kind. No Tuk Tuk's. It was funny to watch
these things go down the street. One had the shaft with the drive
sprocket all the way out, and a chain connecting it to the outside
of one of the back wheels. One clearly needed an alignment cause the
bike part was kind of leaning over... Not a lot of cars.
I don't know about those two people in the photo. One is walking
like Igor and the other one looks like she's about to dodge a line
backer... fake left go right...
Here's a couple crops of the gizmos above...
Small bustling town, just like the others. And for a 25 minute
drive, can't beat that beach... hidden jewel... only one road in and
same road out.
And that's all she wrote for today cause the heat index is back up
to 107... I'm a going to wet my t-shirt again and sit under a fan.
July 31st 2019
Rode from Hunucna" to just outside Valladolid... whew... Even at 55
mph the breeze wasn't enough to keep me cool... Heat index 110...
wet my shirt and barely felt it... ATGATT and +110 = ATHATT (all the
heat all the time).
Coming out of Hunucna' all straight four lane, no shade. Slimmed
down to a tree lined two lane and then like a land and a half, cause
mother nature was taking the road back.
That was a nice shady tree next to what seemed an oasis in the
middle of nowhere.
Last few days it's been a literal killing field. Lots of butterflies
on all the roads. Trying to dodge them with my head, cause they make
a nice splat. But today they were everywhere. Flying across the
roads in clumps. At one point I started putting my hand up in front
of myself to deflect them from my shield. And they were laying dead
on the roadway.
Behind bars again!
And yeah, that's a papaya tree in the yard... I may just be able to
pick one if I stand on the wall just below the tree... Tomorrow.
It's storming now.
So, As I'm going down some of these back roads, I come across very
small, seemingly very poor towns. I don't know how people live
there. I use to wonder that about all the little towns in the US,
but no more. Got me thinking about the Utopian society. You know,
seeking the perfect existence, in a well managed society where
everything is taken care of. No suffering, everyone has what they
need, and they are free to pursue their interests. If you take it
all the way guess you wouldn't need "job" or money.
When I compare the state of many Mexican towns to places in the US,
I think the US in many ways is closer to the Utopian society...
things are generally taken care of. Not for everyone, but for most
people. Or are they? Certainly there are pockets... Like Boulder,
where I stayed for 9 months. College town, culture, arts, well
maintained streets, generally peaceful, traffic doesn't get too out
of control, most people drive nice cars, pedestrians have the right
of way, if you need something there's a handful of stores where
you're likely to find it, plenty of things to do including
nightlife, outdoor life... you name it. But it costs, and only the
one's with money can afford it. Houses are upward of $450k, which is
not bad considering all that you get in the area, but it's
unaffordable for many. So, it certainly falls short of Utopia,
because not all who want it can have it.
But how does the road to Utopia start? I look and I see silly little
three wheeled car/bike contraptions, tuk-tuk's, trucks spewing thick
black exhaust, chicken buses (which are just renovated school
buses), stores that sell prepackaged processed foods, and I think
this is sad. The other day I was offered a drink, I asked what it
was, it was a mixture of Coke, Squirt, and something else I can't
remember... ah.. no, thanks, I'll stick with my water. Is it sad?
Yeah, it's sad that corporations are pushing that stuff, when for
thousands of years these people have lived a simple, healthy,
lifestyle. But if you want progress, somewhere along the way you're
going to get buses that belch black smoke, right? And people are
going to get taken advantage of by those who can and want to. Until
they wise up.
I also see that many people, who don't have a pot to piss in, have
cell phones. Especially the kids. No different than anywhere else I
guess... cell phone companies pushing their wares, convincing you
you need what they have. How do they afford it? Even in these tiny
little one horse or two tuk-tuk towns. But I guess the good that
comes out of that is communication and access to information. And if
you have information, it's not so easy for someone to pull the wool
over your eyes. So, maybe today they're all eating Dorito's and
drinking Squirt, but some day they're find that information that
says it's not good for them. It's out there.
So, seems to me, whether Utopia is a good thing or bad, that's kind
of where everything is going, or at least striving for. Will we get
there? I don't know. But I see that starting on that road can be
really really messy at first, and I get to see that messiness first
hand. And that's why 6000 miles from where I use to hang my hat, I
can pull into a town I've never been in, where people speak a
different language, and reserve a house that has air conditioning,
when it's 110 outside. And the owner can arrange for me to meet his
daughter in the parking lot of an Oxxo (convenience store) and we
can talk, and she can work my Google Maps to show me the location of
the house, and she can pull up a photo of the house so I know what
I'm looking for.
Nope, things will never be the same. This thing called progress is
on a march and it's not stopping, for better or worse.
And I wish it wasn't raining out so I could go buy some tortillas at
the tortallaria. I wonder if they delivery yet? Is there an Uber
August 1st 2019
Bummer, can't reach the papaya's...
Took a walk to the local tiendas to see what kind of food I could
find. I'm a happy man, I found a corn tortilla supplier! And they're
soft, so toss them on the burner for a couple minutes to get warm
and toasty. Muy bien. Walked 1.5 miles and I'm sweating my ass off
by the time I came back... did I mention it's hot and humid here...
at 9:45 in the morning.
Everyone down the street has a life sentence, with no possibility of
parole... the houses are about 12 feet wide and 30 feet long. Ok,
guess that's bigger than a jail cell... I wonder if this is where
the tiny house concept got started? But what more do you need? A
place to sleep where you can turn the A/C to 30 and have it feel
cool, a place to cook and eat, a bathroom with an electrocuting (I
mean electrically heated) shower (yeah, that will wake you up, just
enough current), maybe a spot with a roof for the motorcycle.
The hardships of life on the road, I have to eat my lightly roasted
and cooked oatmeal with a serving spoon...
And I discovered yesterday that Amazon does ship to Mexico
addresses! Shipping and import fees but you can get what you need!
Since I'll be in one spot for a few weeks I'm taking the opportunity
to replace the items that aren't making the cut. In my case a
charging chord for the camera, cause I frog got it, a new waterproof
shock proof case for the phone, and a new cell phone holder for the
Yeah, the case is a disappointment because I bought a good one.
Shock proof, water proof, but the plastic screen protector is
scratched and rough and the water plug for the charging port broke
off cause the rubber cracked, and when the case falls (and I have
dropped it) it opens up partially (can't take the impact). It did
make it through snow and rain storms, but not good enough for a
The phone holder has got multiple issues also, little pads on the
holding arms are lose and sticky and the ball and socket are loose
even though I've got it cranked down all the way. Guess I'd be a
good product test case on this trip, bouncing around the world and
And, Motocity here in Mexico is shipping my new tires to arrive in a
week. My front still has tread on it but the rubber is showing signs
of cracking and the rear is done. I have Heidenau K60's, but I don't
like the front. As the tire leans there is an area where there's
basically no tread, just groove. Not very well planned out for a
street/dirt tire. Going to try the Michelin Siracs, just a little
less aggressive, but the front doesn't have the same issue.
Just replaced my font brake pads yesterday, and it's time for
another oil change when I get the tires installed.
August 2nd 2019
Took the longer way to Puerto Morelos through Tulum. There was more
butterfly killing today... and more garbage by the roadside, on the
way to utopia...
Arriving in Tulum was a shock. Saw a couple billboards for hotel
suits upwards of $130,000 pesos... Wow! That's like $6000? Leading
into it and everything north of it is four land highway. People
driving way too fast to get wherever it's urgent they get to... You
can just sense the change in attitude when you get to a more modern,
touristy, city like this.
Another hot and humid day. Pulled over under a bridge to get some
shade and have a snack, and watch traffic zoom by.
Thought I'd have a good view of the Ocean going North, but no. Road
is too far away from the beach and there are all these huge, gated,
resorts between the road and the beach. The resort land is fenced in
and they actually have makeshift guard towers along the fence, I
guess where they look to make sure no one is sneaking over the fence
and onto their beach... Billboards everywhere with all sorts of
attractions being advertised... some more risque than others...
I got into Puerto Morelos, which isn't that big, so just did a
circle around the main strip. Along with the restaurants and shops I
came on this. Morelos is actually one of the major ports in Mexico,
where they load and unload containers from ships.
A storm was coming in so I headed to my digs for the night. Gated in
And another 12 x 30 ft home.
Fruit and two beers in the fridge included... Nice!
Veggies in the pot and cooking for dinner.
Tomorrow morning off to the airport to pick up my honey, chill out
for a couple weeks, discover the town, enjoy the beach, and discuss
the plan going forward! It's going to be interesting...
August 3rd 2019
August 7th 2019
August 8th 2019
We did end up going to the Puerto Morales beach last night just
before sunset. Layed under a palm tree for a bit, took a walk
around, had some awesome burritos, and watched the cruise ships go
by on the horizon...
Today, in our relentless pursuit of the perfect beach, went up
toward Cancun... and I think we found it! Playa Delfines. On the
way there had a police check point issue... left all my papers,
except my license, back in Puerto Morales... The only day I've
done that and that's when they pick me... after being read the
riot act they let us go on...
Anyway, in season this beach would be packed, but today it was
relatively empty. And the grass umbrellas are first come first
serve. The water temp was just cold enough to counter the hot sun.
Plenty of waves to play around in... serious body surfing!
August 13th 2019
August 17th 2019
Few days back... in two days that hand will be in a cast...
Went to the beach again today... yeah, it's a rough job but someone
has to do it... It was pretty empty. Surf was wild. Could barely
stand in the water. Waves coming from every direction. Me and the
boarders were the only one's going out any distance. Heavy waves
dragged up all sorts of seaweed.
After getting tossed around sufficiently and getting my share of
rays, figured I'd go see about some wheel weights so I can balance
those new tires. Drove to a couple tire shops. One says no tengo,
other says no tengo... but as I'm leaving I spot a whole cart full
of wheel weights, mostly the clip on kind, but they had some sticky
backed one's too, so I ask the manager about them and he says see
the man... so I worked out a deal with the mechanic... two strips of
weights for 20 pesos! Yeah, I overpaid but they were worth it. Got
to my place, and one wheel at a time, used the axles and my panniers
to make a makeshift balancing stand, and proceeded to strip off the
old weights, spin, and add the new one's. Worked like a charm! And
yeah they needed balancing. I guess when you're tooling along on a
125cc bike at sub 50 miles per hour, like most of the people here,
it's not really a problem... or is it? Ignorance is bliss...
August 19th 2019
Well, back on the road again... making my way back to you babe, with
a ... sorry, got carried away.
From Puerto Morales, straight down to Xul-Ha and then west to
Xpujil. 270 miles. It was a loooong day, and not just because of the
mileage. If was on and off sun and downpours, so had to stop a
couple times to put my rain gear on... and found out that my pants
are no longer water proof... Soon as I started moving and the rain
starting hitting hard I could just feel it running down my butt, my
legs... And this was no drizzle, it was collecting on the pavement.
In one low spot must have been a few inches. Didn't realize it until
I was plowing through it at 60 mph... yikes... The new tires work in
All just straight, and congested in a few places. Kept the pace up
where ever I could, but still took 6.5 hours. What added insult to
injury was the bike started stalling again. If I pulled in the
clutch and cut the throttle it would just die. It restarted if I
kept the revs up. So, now I'm thinking that incident I had weeks
back may not have been bad gas. Maybe something is mucking up my
idle circuit. So, I turned up the choke and that gave it enough gas
at idle that it didn't die. Didn't idle great, but it didn't die.
So, now I'm thinking I'm going to have to pull the carb and clean
it, but I'm only staying in this town one night. Will I have time,
should I just run it with the choke until tomorrow night, where I've
got a two night stay planned, probably not a good idea.
Anyway, got to the place, got myself situated and walked a few
blocks to get some dinner.
Interesting little town, two miles square would be pushing it, but
it's got a few restaurants on the main strip, one open 24 hours with
a hotel. Streets are wide, relatively clean, seems to be a lot of
construction going on. People mulling around. It's got potential.
The Kalakmul restaurant made me a dish of rice and veggies, and a
stack of hot corn tortillas... Bien!
Over dinner I though about it, and figured I'll have about two hours
before sunset... so...
I like how in the manual, they give you instructions to remove that
airbox assuming the engine in not in the frame... Yeah, that helped.
But between the manual and some observation, got the airbox and the
carb pulled... Then couldn't get this float bowl screw out for
Just screwdriver, no way... beating on the screw driver for impact,
no way... vise grips on the screw (that got one of them off), the
other, no way... finally I used a screwdriver on the side of the
screw and whacked it with a hammer to spin it off... that worked!
The screw looks like crap now, still usable but I'll need to replace
it. Took out all the jets, sprayed them through, sprayed all the
passages through, put it back together, and... she fires up! And
idles! Whew... Just as the sun set.
Man that cold shower felt good...
August 20th 2019
Got up and took a walk to breakfast at 7:00 am... Apparently I was
disturbing the wildlife that early in the morning...
Hey! Why are you walking though my bedroom when I'm trying to sleep
in the street here?...
I ain't moving... go around... grrrrrrr..... but I suppose it's more
like No me estoy moviendo... andar... grrrrrr...
I quack don't quack like quack the quack looks quack of quack this
After breakfast, got my self packed up again and headed out. Made my
way from Xpujil to just north of Villahermosa. Pretty much a
straight shot. The weather was nice until about noon... partly
cloudy, 80's. Then it just kept getting hotter and hotter. Last
three hours were rough. Just melting... If I stopped in the sun it
was like being in an oven... stopped a few times in shady spots to
wet my t-shirt and stay hydrated.
My digs for the night turned out to have bars... imagine that... but
also a guarded/gated community, so I think I'm safe.
The place has some things missing... like a working stove, nothing
to cook in, nothing to eat with, no table and no chairs... but it
does have cold air and a shower. I tell the owner, he sends over his
brother, sister in law?, and mother, and they bring me food
(spaghetti with cheese and hot dog??? and some chicken potato stew..
A for effort), all the kitchen stuff, drinking water and a tank of
gas for the stove.. So, now it's more like a bachelor pad... Still
no table or chairs...
Home is where the jacket, bags, and helmet reside...
August 21st 2019
Sat on the kitchen counter this morning, just looking out the
All we have is today. Now. All the travels are passing away like a
dream, like you kind of know what happened, but the details are
fuzzy. The miles on the odometer, the photos, and the fading
memories are all there is. Same for life. Over half a century on
this planet (I'm going to assume there's others) so far, and there's
just faded or fading memories. My journals, my photos, my kids and
grandkids are the indicators that something happened along the way.
And of course none of those are long lasting either... especially
the public photos... they last only as long as I pay my internet
service provider bill...
Needed to run out, hit the ATM, replenish my food supply, so looked
to see what there is for shopping around here. Villahermosa is a
pretty big city. Lots of four and six lane roads and everything you
need and want. Noticed that there are four Walmarts in town, and a
central distribution site... Hmmm... Walmart is taking over the
second world. The war to conquer the world today is not fought by
armies... those kinds of wars are just remnants of a less civilized
world, though I'm sure they will be around for a while yet... the
war for the world is fought in the boardrooms of the corporations.
Fighting for the dollars of the consumer. Cookies, doughnuts, chips,
pop, cappuccinos, organic, non gmo, apple juice, spotless apples, or
shiny techy things. Whatever it takes, uncle Wally wants you to
joint the battle for your country, he's fighting day and night so we
can have what we need and want. You want it? We'll get it for you.
And we'll be slashing prices! That's a lot of power that we as
consumers yield. Though I probably don't consume as much as a good
Anyway, Wally has everything, but he doesn't have fresh corn
tortillas... those you have to go hunt for, off the four lane
highway, though not very far... where horses still graze along the
Couple miles of that, a rickety bridge, and I'm on a single track
back in time, on what looks like it could be the downtown of a small
Mexican town 50 years ago. My reward? A small place where a lady and
her little daughter are selling steaming hot fresh corn tortillas...
beautiful, nutritious, non-gmo (hopefully), and delicious... The
simple pleasures of life...
How long before the family owned tortillarias are all gone and all
you can get is the bag from Walmart...
****Warning, processed food rant ****
It takes time to make tortillas the old fashioned way, and who's got
the time anymore? Have to get moving. Time is money! Isn't it? ...
store tortillas are colored because we don't like inconsistent food
colors, preserved because it has to sit on the shelf and be shipped,
with "aceite vegetal y canola" cause... I don't know... and "sal
yodada"... making you think iodized salt is good for you when it's
just chemical with the wrong kind of iodine added... why do we even
need iodine added? It's in our foods naturally, isn't it? No,
because it gets stripped out during processing, leaving foods that
don't satisfy us nutritionally. So, we add back chemicals to try and
make up for the natural stuff we took out. But, you can't. It's not
Oringally it wasn't intentional... just ignorance... trying to
satisfy the food needs of a constantly increasing population. It's
amazing that they can do it. But now we know. Not ignorant any more.
So, now what? How do we fix what we broke and what is ingrained in
the system... money talks, corporations listen... But Mexico is
still fresh, they don't care about non gmo and organic. Anything can
be sold here if you advertise it well.
************ end rant ****** as you were...
Oh, yeah, had to fill my bike with another 12 liters of gasoline...
technology is good... forget what I said about the tortillas...
August 22nd 2019
Made it to Veracruz today. 300 miles, exactly. Rough 300 miles,
battling the buffeting from all the trucks, and the heat. No pics
from the road... they're on my camera and I lost my cable for it...
But, not much to see. Mostly four lane tollway from Villahermosa.
Geeesss they raked me for over $250 pesos in tolls. One toll was
$110 pesos... No more tollways for me...
Memorable moments... there's a lot of guys selling pineapple juice
and pina coladas from carts on the side of the tollway, just stacks
of pineapples... Saw clouds of crows, just bunches of them together.
Must have been a corn field near by. I saw a few guys selling some
kind of fruit on a stick... like about a three foot long stick with
two or three clumps of what looked like green or white fruit, until
I got a closer look and realized they were parrots! Just sitting on
the stick... I'm thinking, where would I stuff a parrot? Could I get
one across the border? That can't be legal...
Ah... How is that possible? Feels like 136?? I mean, yeah, it was
hot, but feels like 136? 1.3.6... can you fry an egg at that
temperature? I guess an egg doesn't feel 136, it would just feel
Digs for the night... full furnished house, with two bedrooms, and
cold air, $9 US/night... pffffttttt...
August 23rd 2019
Went out about 8:00 am to take a walk and it was melt city already.
Almost 90% humidity. I'll take 93 dry any day...
We're getting there! Feels like 131.
Was walking to the hardware store this morning and the owner of the
house rides up on his Suzuki 125. Tell him where I'm going and he
says the hardware store wouldn't have it, so took a ride across town
to a screw supply store... yes they have a place that sells nothing
but screws, because the hardware stores generally don't sell machine
screws. Lost one off my exhaust pipe shield. One small screw, one
washer... I ask the guy how much? He says trescientos... It's not 3,
not 13, not 30... I was expecting something in that ballpark... It
didn't compute... Que? I'm like here's tres pesos... he took it and
walked away. The guy wanted 300 pesos for a screw and a washer...
pfffttttt... should have been more than three pesos but he didn't
counter, so 3 it is..
Anyway, it's a fairly big town, about 25 square miles. It's got all
the modern conveniences, and two Walmarts!, so it's definitely on
the map. Was reading that the beaches are not the greatest given all
the boat traffic that comes into port. No problem, I'll pass on the
heat and sun, had enough yesterday and this morning.
August 24th 2019
Whew! Another hot one... Only about 160 miles. At 2:00 it was 100 F,
feels like 116 and by 4:00 it was 102, feels like 119... but way
better than 136!... Not...
Tried to stay off the tollway, but somehow they still got me twice.
180 (Carretera Costera del Golfo) along the Gulf coast was a pretty
nice run. Not a lot of traffic, but good percentage truck traffic.
Some curves, some hills in the distance, some views of the Gulf. For
the first time in weeks I actually felt a few cool spots, but they
didn't last long.
There's some small areas along there where it's pretty touristy
(Casitas, Monte Gordo, Colonial Palmas del Mar, Playa Oriente, La
Vigueta)... sort of touristy... lots of small Hotels, lots of camp
on the beach places, several apartment complexes that look like they
either never got done or still aren't finished, lots of land for
sale on the west side of the road (coast area is taken), guys
standing by the side of the road waving menus for their
restaurants... couple of guys at the topos, in wheelchairs,
collecting money... really? What are the odds that there are two
guys in wheelchairs, like a block apart? Maybe they use to be the
guys selling nuts and fruit in the middle of the street and someone
hit them... guess they didn't learn anything.
Got myself to Poza Rica and settled into my place for the night...
UNfortunately... NO AC... didn't I check of AC on the list of
I've wet my shirt three times since I got here, and it's dry again.
I think I'll just pour some water on the bed so I can sleep in a
But, the kitchen is functional, so set about making some mixed
veggies (sweet potato, cabbage, zucchini) and rice with lentils...
cause that's how I roll...
And then for after dinner, some boiled and fried plantains... mmmm
And what did I pay for this place? $16.51... Yup... all things
considered... it's a good day.
August 25th 2019