• Welcome to the Two Wheeled Texans community! Feel free to hang out and lurk as long as you like. However, we would like to encourage you to register so that you can join the community and use the numerous features on the site. After registering, don't forget to post up an introduction!

GoldMember Exits B.U.T.T. - Ride Harder!

Joined
Aug 9, 2009
Messages
383
Location
Austin, TX
GoldMember Rides Hard!​


goldmember_zune_goods.jpg


After leaving the B.U.T.T. ride from Big Bend Ranch State Park in Texas, Mike, AKA GoldMember continued his trip to South America. GoldMember started in Canada, hauling his XR650 in a little trailer towed by his Honda Civic, getting 50 mpg. He’s definitely not from Texas!

GoldMember was a real hoot on the B.U.T.T. ride and with his permission we are posting his emails from down south.


PB270264.jpg


12/14
I am in Guansamo Bay on the eastern shore of the Baja Peninsula in Mexico.

securedownload-3.jpg


securedownload.jpg


12/15
I am not sure what day it is but I know the last malaria pill was a day late but better late than never. I rode a section of hwy 5 south on the eastern peninsula of Baja that you really could just call it 60 km of washboard and rocks... The builders have actually started paving and what they have done is beautiful, I was cruising the new asphalt without lines for miles and then it ends AND essentially does the road. More to come on that...

Two nights ago I slept on the beach it gets dark here around 6pm so I have this thing about wildlife at night that makes it unessential that I drive plus the conditions of the roads also make one rethink the nighttime travel thing....

The beach was cool just me and the waves... I woke up rode for just under an hour found another totally secluded beach and read my book until noon...

My new tires SUCK in sand, so memo to self-stay off of the soft stuff.


securedownload-5.jpg


securedownload-6.jpg



The rest of the day was spent tackling the nonexistent road, to Alphonsino (it should be on the map) A cool cove where the fishermen hang out with a hotel and restaurant. I had an a shrimp dinner last night and I am sure it was seasoned with a pound of butter and 10 other delicious spices... Quite Decadent.

This Is where I met David, he took the same road in as me but on a BMW R1200GS, if anyone remembers that is the same bike that in Texas Pureed the roadrunner into a mist of feathers... The virtual Winnebago of off road motorcycles, he has enough lights on the front of this thing to do a stadium during a football game...He bought it used off of an old guy and got a sweet deal on
it, already all kitted out.

David is pretty cool.. He is a retired dairy farmer and a Huge Harley guy, he has owned over time about a dozen or so of them...about 57 years old. We had supper and bunked in for the night swapping old wives tales.... This morning we assessed the damage to his motorcycle as he was coming down a sand wash on the section of 60km of non-road and wiped out. He said he was following my tracks and I remember that particular section of road, I was idling down the 100-meter hill praying for the front end not to wash out on me. He said he was doing about 35mph. Owww.

securedownload-4.jpg


He was okay and all he had was some light damage to the crash bars and accessory lights.. We tweaked a few things and then had breakfast. We may end up riding together today for a bit, and might also hook up after xmas.

Today we are going to find a big 2x4 to retweak some of his crash bar, hit a place called "Cocoas Corner" and make our way over to the west coast of the peninsula... to do some whale watching...


For LOU. It is sunny breezy warm and I am looking forward to the perfect riding conditions today....

Loving Mexico have fun and play safe..... If in doubt SLOW Down.... Mike.


Well it was an eventful day as David and I headed towards Guerrero Negro.... On the West coast of Baja, and made it... In reverse order... a bowl full of cheese, and seasoning with tortilla's was the appetizer.. Supper was a dang good shrimp salad...The cervaisa's were flowing quite nicely... I am holding out for the burger sized Scallops... somewhere down the road... If we would have wanted beef we would have hit one on the road... LOL

We are in reverse now remember that. We checked into a crappy little motel next to a kick *** restaurant just after dark... We chased the sun into the hills and the sign on the nice hotel said 6pm and 17C As the sun had already set on our day. We decided we had enough money for tonight and scrapped the ATM until tomorrow.

securedownload-8.jpg


securedownload-7.jpg


securedownload-9.jpg


We raced the sun as it was only a few hundred KM to our destination chasing whales.. The paved road was so narrow that if you went off the edge... you were done, just a white line.. No shoulder.. sometimes up to a 4 foot drop... We stopped by a wrecking yard/truck stop for a Rockola cola and some chocolate realizing that ALL the vehicles in the yard had been ROLLED.. not smashed or vandalized but ROLLED off of the narrow road.. Good point to watch out for... It was a windy day as we rolled in-between the mountains from the east to the west coast... Between the mountains it was like a cactus valley... The bikes faired better in the right side of the lane when being blown by the 18 wheelers and also the strong winds at the same time... Who said vacationing wasn't work..LOL

An interesting point is that the Federalis (military) check points all check for drugs and are funded by the Americans.... Quite honestly they are just a bunch of 20 year olds with guns playing soccer waiting for cars to show up... No Cavity searches or anything like that... Very relaxing if your not carrying drugs...

Yesterdays road was crap.... This morning after a walk on the 2 mile pure sand beach (pics coming) and a shrimp omelet for breakfast... David had pancakes... it was interesting how both meals came with fresh French FRIES ... LOL

We fueled up and hit the road...Er dirt sand and washboard.... The interesting man at the service station mentioned the road south which was still about 60km to pavement was much better than the previous 60km of .... well to put it nicely.. ****. Maximum 40- 50 km/hr. We were less than a mile out of town actually I could still see the gas station in my mirror when I noticed that David was... well not exactly upright and facing in the correct direction.. not really on the intended path, so I turned around and went back for him... LOL He was not impressed... He was OK... but his bike was on its side and facing in the wrong direction in the ditch over the berm.

Inspector Clouseau followed his tire tracks from the road... 2" deep sand into the hidden rock then veering into the burm where apparently some throttle was applied to correct the inherent directional deficiencies which really only spun the rear end around to hit the burm and flip the bike over.... OOOoooopppps.

Hence the trouble with Beemers... The R1200GS with two saddlebags, tank bag, rear top case, and big pack immediately behind the rider weighs.... Hernia weight. It seriously was not a bit of fun, the two of us were slipping in the sand and grunting to get it up... Thank heavens that BMW designed it with break away bags, at least the side he dumped it on... At least I am able to right my own motorcycle by myself.... and it weighs less than half of a loaded BMW. Good news... David has matching broken lights... Road 2... BMW 0...



Tomorrow we will straighten the other side crash bar and recheck all the nuts bolts and screw before hitting the road again... Where to tomorrow??? Unsure don't really care as long as the sun is shining and the tires are contacting the road.... On a quest for cervaisa..Tonight reeelax... let the cervaisa kick in... Maybe answer a few emails... Watch some TV

Be young.. Have fun... Drink Rockola cola...LOL That was my only advertisement for the trip, an unpaid word from our fictitious sponsor... Oh and Play safe .. Mike....

12/17
We have been making our way down the coast for the last few days and only after looking at the calendar on Hotmail I realize it is Thursday dec. 17th. We have bounced from the west to east and back again. Two nights ago we were in Guerrero Negro... That is where this story begins.

We awoke to the sound of cars rushing by the rear of the motel room... Todays mission was for me to hit a bank machine... I was down to my last $5 US dollars, and that won't fill the tank of the XR, it might buy breakfast but I didn't want to bet my cards on it. So I had an apple and an orange I had in my stash, tore David away from all 3 waitresses, and found the bank machine. The funny thing was I had to show David how to use it.... and it wouldn't accept my CARD, either of them... This wasn't good. One card the PC interact one, I should have thrown away at the Canadian border, because by the time I ran out of money a month later in Texas, it was and is still USELESS. The BMO Cirrus/Maestro card should be OK. Apparently not in this machine so I went into the bank for help.. Sorry, there was nothing they could do. I waited and hour and tried again. Nothing. Didn't I feel a bit like a ******** now, with money in the bank, I could get 0.

David was cool enough with the situation, and threw me 500 Pesos, the equivalent of $50. So we rode off to the next town, in search of a bank machine. Now when your in a foreign country, far away from the nearest US border, at least 4 gas tanks away with $55 to your name, and a bank machine that tells you to F-off, you begin to think. Before I left Canada I went out and got 2 new bankcards so there wouldn't be a problem. It reminded me of a conversation that I had with my Sister while in Vegas. "What happens if you need money" she asked... I replied "you'll send it!!!" Of course that was only to be in DIRE emergency but the hour and a half drive to the next bank machine lets you ponder all possibilities and options.... When we arrived in the next town I was somewhat reserved in my mood. When I left the money machine I was doing a Mexican money dance, and Vacation Mike's attitude was restored.

Last evening we were in Santa Rosalia, which is a very authentic Mexican coastal town built in the early years on the riches of Copper. We stayed at the "Motel Victor" which was a local treat. 150 pesos, about 12-15 us dollars. $6 each. Well apparently everything is an option in this motel, a free option but you had to ask for it. For instance I had to ask for toilet paper... and then towels, which were two different colours and sizes. The bed I threw my bag on was right beside the door and luckily was bigger and had no springs coming through the mattress... David was a little peeved at that but I gave him the pick of beds this evening. Oh and there is one TV station and no remote....

We toured the little town for hours and David was shooting coffee and expressos like crazy, I mentioned he may have a problem sleeping but was told to mind my own business... Not a problem.

For supper I had some pretty **** amazing Scallops fried in garlic butter, rice and a salad. David insisted on eating what the locals were eating... Off of a hotdog vendor he had deep fried hotdogs wrapped in bacon, smothered in STUFF. I mentioned that if I wanted to eat Dog-A-Bobs I would get loaded and have them outside the Palomino in Winnipeg at 3am. he was offended that I wasn't practicing local customs.....LOL

I think I was in bed around 11ish and david wanted to get up early and be on the road after sunrise... 6ish, he also had prearranged for coffee with Amelia the coffee woman. I was pretty beat and headed right to bed. David couldn't sleep and went for a walk... (???? Too much coffee???) I awoke early to David clanging around the bathroom, I asked him if the sun was up yet? He didn't know but it was 4:30am, I recommended we catch another hour of sleep before greeting the day... Before he could contest I was asleep again.. He never did get back to sleep... and up at 5:30. This evening we are in Loretto on the eastern coast, and it is a tourist town. enough said about that.

The ride here was amazing... Bay of Conception was beautiful, and the road was twisty mountainous and fun. David doesn't appreciate the twisties as much as I do, and I would often wait for him 5-10 minutes up the road to make sure he was OK, these were great photo opportunities... The trick to these narrow roads is keep away from the centerline on the corners, because everyone else is using it. So it can still be alot of fun, if you play safe.. The views were comparable to the Cabot trail in Cape Breton NS but with sandy beaches... Tonight we are going to go check out the local tourist scene.. and have something to eat.

Anyone not doing the family bonding thing, around Xmas I will be in Mazatlan and have very nice beachside accommodations...and your all more than welcome...

Have fun.... Mike...

1/8
Last night after arriving we went for supper, I had asked for a soup, and apparently it was named Chebugo (sounds like, and may not be spelled like) using my motto as long as there were no fish eyes, I am in.... It was good. This morning for brunch Pedro thought it looked good and at a different restaurant ordered it. So did I, we received a flattened chicken breast with rice and small veggie side... The funny thing is 3 of these guys speak a little spanish, but not enough to know what we are getting for supper... Lost in translation... Oh both the soup and chicken were good.

100percent humidity, 50pct have wet weather gear for riding, 25pct want to ride today = 0pct on motorcycles. I have wet weather gear and a toque.... As should all Canadian travelers. So it is raining and I can see my breath... So what? apparently this is a tragedy to my American travel companions, and the locals do not seem impressed either considering I haven’t seen any woodstoves or furnaces anywhere since we have been in this area... Ok let them have there little beef.

I went for a run down the hill a few KM and then back up again, and it is a mountain... I may need a lung transplant as my cold was purging some vital bodily fluids and I think some intestines too... but it felt good.

So when we decided to hike the mountain in the rain it made two workouts today... and hiking it was near vertical but the locals had built in steps in many spots, many breaks were taken and the pecking order was by age.... I think if I didn’t have the cold I could have led the expedition.... I know I’m a weak Canadian....



So I picked up some fresh fruit from the market, and it is amazing how on the coast shrimp was EVERYWHERE, and cheap, inland you can only find dehydrated beef jerky like shrimp.. which really isn’t all that appealing... As say smoked salmon, or beef jerky, because they leave the heads and the shells on. Making the peeling eating process time consuming and messy. But what they do have are pineapples for 10 pesos (a dollar or there abouts) and in the restaurant they will peel and process it for you with your breakfast.
Coka Light, aka diet coke, is virtually nonexistent, where it was everywhere in all other mexican towns. The true delight comes from walking out of the market with 750ml of orange juice, a quart of the biggest raspberries ever, 2 apples, 2 bananas, and a bag of peanuts for 32 pesos about 3 and a 1`/4 dollars.

Gmember1.jpg


The hotel is spartan and the bathroom reminds me of a typical mexican theme, no bathtub and the whole thing is ceramic tiled with a drain in the middle of the floor for the shower. Ours is so special that you could use the toilet and shower at the same time, all the while filling the sink with the same showerhead for shaving afterwards...LOL I think if I build another bathroom it will use this no tub/ shower surround theme. Ours only had a shower curtain for an external door. Oh just in case you think it is me that is picking these accommodations....Your wrong... It is Pedro because he speaks spanish and has the smallest budget for the trip... Really what do I care I have slept on the beach and ceramic tile floors..... I could be sleeping in a graveyard under enemy fire with sand fleas... So I am grateful for whatever turns up.

So we are holed up here for another day and it doesn’t really matter, we are on vacation... If we make it to Panama, great! if not it doesn’t matter, will we all travel together forever? doesn’t matter, but I have set aside a month in the middle of somewhere to get some spanish training.

I guess the only thing that matters is I don’t go home early because I gave away my season tickets to the theater, the trip is already paid for and I haven’t seen copper canyon, the bullfights, and the nude beaches yet.... LOL

Mexico is also a make work project, there are 6 guys with pickaxes and shovels out there in the rain digging a trench down the center of the road 4 feet deep and 75 feet long, I know they are on a steep hill (I ran it this morning) but besides the military and old movies and the shed in my yard I cannot remember the last time I saw a pick axe in real life let alone used on a major construction project. Not a backhoe in sight.... No yellow crew cabs that sleep 6 either...

100_3108.jpg


It is SOOOoooooo cold 2 guys are thinking about getting a cab and seeing the sights from there.... I would rather eat fish eyes and volunteer for Montazuma´s revenge, than NOT ride my bike in the rain.... I guess that is what separates the Canadians from the Americans, and the hardcores from the woooosies... Oh and because of the 2 guys without raingear I was part of the majority who said hang for another day 75pct. but the 25pct that wanted to ride now wants a cab.... I need to buy that man a teddy bear and ask him if his ovaries hurt.... LOL

Holed up in the rain in an old silver mining town....... Mike.... but still smiling and lovin it.


1/12
It rained for two days in the butterfly area and when we finally made it out the morning of the third it was nice... some donkeys, cows, chickens, goats on the road but then it turned to fog... Well it was pea soup thick for and it affected the riding, Pedro had the most problems and when the lexan on his helmet not only was dirty due to misty mud but the inside was getting rain when he opened it partially to clear the condensation... He has one of those motocross hybrid helmets that has a visor and a lexan shield in a motocross shape... There is a reason I have been using a motocross helmet and goggles for years... At one point he pulled over and said go on without me rather dramatically, what kind of friends would we be if we did that??? Plus I think he owed me $5... LOL

We ended up in Taxco, which is a super cool old silver mining town built in the mountains, you could almost relate it to somewhere in the alps without the snow... Narrow high streets with hairpins and cobblestone, in fact the only paved road was the highway going through it... We walked for hours.... got lost, pulled out my camera found a landmark and figured out our position form the view and the original view from our hotel on the camera... then we got lost again.

We stayed in a 4 star hotel that had a great view and alot of old world charm... Unfortunately it had old world bugs and no hot water... What do you want for $100US???

The next morning we rode the town and had brunch at a 5 star hotel, it was swanky, on the entrance level was a piano player, and in the dining room was a 3 piece string band, and it was a reasonable 17US ( a million pesos to a mexican for breakfast) for a decadent brunch buffet. That morning we wished SD well, as he was traveling to his old language school for an undetermined amount of time. Then we hit the road heading westish towards Acopulco, but not a destination. Until shortly thereafter we were ready to say our kind words to Pedro, as he was departing north for Sayulita (AKA New Years) as he was to improve his spanish skills and look for work on a fishing boat. His last task as Tour Guide Barbie was to find a bullfight in Acopulco, for Jessie and I, and then he turned over his Lonely planet central America guidebook and his spanish phrase book... I told him there are always cold beer and steaks in Canada shook his hand and he was off... Parting is such sweet sorrow.

gmember6.jpg


Jessie and I quickly devised a gumball plan to make it to the bullfights by 5pm it was now 130pm. Too much road too little time. So the straightest distance between 2 points is a toll road….we paid about $30us the most for such a short distance, one hot ride and a mile long tunnel through the mountain, and we were in Acopulco.

We had a local guy who spoke English, find us a hotel and direct us to the bullfights.... It was actually kind of sad he was 47 years old and hustling tourists.

The bullfights were pretty interesting... I knew it would be different and it was... Hundreds of years of tradition goes into it and no matter what happens the bull is always going to be tomorrows supper... I would like to even it out a bit in favour of the bull... Sure he had his chances but by the time he got close to the matador he was on his way out...

So here are some rules I would like to see instigated... Feed the bull.. It looked like a skinny cow with horns... Give me a good old American riding bull, a couple of tons of pure testosterone, raging mad and pissed... and teach the bull about hitting the center of mass, hit the matador, screw the cape... Too any matadors wearing down the bull, only send in the clowns if the matador is truly in trouble, sure he got rubbed a couple of times and nudged but nothing serious....

Now let that skinny little guy with the tights on ride that bull in, Ya that's it you do 8 seconds and see how good that feels, then wear him down, and try to finish him... other rules would encourage the bulls to all be running loose in the ring with all the matadors thrown in at one time... LOL Just trying to shake things up a bit.. everyone would like to see the underdog win one once in a while.

This morning it got real hot, real early, with full riding gear it sucked... We were heading for a motorcycle shop when I met my first dirty mexican policemen... Oh joy, bliss and happy thoughts.... I had read about it in books and on the chat forums and I was prepared, stunned none the less, but prepared... The sirens were wailing and he pulled up beside me and motioned me over, then he caught up with Jessie and pulled him over also, we ended up together, and apparently we had both committed the same crime... Honestly we were 100% unaware of any such infraction but the cop set us straight. We both blew through a red light a few blocks back. We realized that the light he must be talking about was BURNT OUT, and we were following traffic and not speeding... He wanted 800 pesos a piece and took our drivers licenses... I if I thought there was any way in the world I could get away with it would have rode off, because I knew it was a farce and he had my CAA international drivers license, Jessie also had the same. Which coincidentally he never opened, just put in his back pocket.

gmember4.jpg


Jessie is an ex marine and he knows a little spanish... He was pissed he was not going to be extorted for money he wanted the ticket and he was going to the police station to fight it! Right about then the cop was ready to negotiate, he said we could have our drivers licenses back and go if we paid 800 pesos total. Jessie's insurance may not be all above board and I know that if I fart on a mexican road and get a ticket there goes my 10 years safe driving and all my merits and say "Hello!" to higher insurance rates...I realized I needed to confer with my future cellmate at this time and this was the way I put it. This is alot like when we were 16 and the cops confiscated your alcohol... You knew they were going to drink it and that your parents wouldn't find out... So time to cut our losses...

Jessie still not happy because this was his 2nd shakedown by the bad cops, bargained us down to 600pesos for a get out of jail free card. Oh but my friends it gets better. The cop offers to escort us to the motorcycle shop. We blew through stop signs cut lanes and sped through behind him for 10 minutes as he cleared traffic out of the way with his siren and car. Wait a minute didn't you just attempt to ticket us for this very same behavior??? Or is something foul in Mexico????

Today we stopped for ice cream with some spanish looking Americans and they told us that there were two prices... one when they spoke spanish and a higher one when they spoke English... Oh well, in the grand scheme of life I am on vacation and short of fish eye soup it is going to take alot to piss me off. We are shacked up in a motel that charges more than their advertised price... who would have thunkit???

We are ambling south eastern-ish (along the western coast) towards Guatemala in hopes that I can get a set of sprockets and a chain for my bike in a timely manner.

Have fun and play safe .... Mike.....



1/13
The last couple of days have been somewhat amusing. I realized my last update, about dirty cops may have sounded a little bit depressing. Oh contraire mon frere! I am on vacation so I figured I would tell it like it is... I am still not eating fish eye soup in prison so all is good...

Yesterday we met 3 different riders on the road and they kept on popping up, one looked like Santa Claus and he and his riding buddy had some excellent info on crossing the border into Guatemala which depending on parts outcomes will happen soon... The other guy is a botanist, or tree lover, and when there is no work in that he is a faller for the forest fire service....???? He also teaches botanism about the rain forest in Brazil... I think he has alter egos there. The second time we saw him on the road I told him that Jessie and I hate Americans and we were going to kick his bike over...LOL Jessie is an American and we were messing with him. Jeesie and I were heading for Salina Cruz when it was getting dark and we were racing against the sun and the botanist was following us but we quickly lost him on his big BMW Winnebago.... As Jessie and I were riding the awesome twisties and sweeping up the curves apparently losing the sun because as fate would have it his headlight and taillights went out.... By the time we got it fixed it was dark... 55 minutes to Salina Cruz or 20 minutes back to the last beach???? Hit the beach, well not on an empty stomach... so we stopped for tacos... and we met the Botanist again

Ended up staying the night in a mexican truck stop, but not until we attended the party for some Saint. Which one we will probably never know because the whole town was at the party and all those who spoke English were loaded. It was a seriously cool party, live mexican band and lots of senioritas to dance with, oh and beer.... We staggered back past the taco stand at 1am, in hopes there would be a taco waiting for us. No tacos only beer for the truck drivers was the reply. Now everyone knows why I don't ride in Mexico at night .LOL

Our accommodations were basically camping out next to the highway in a carport. Mexican style, in bed at 1:10am dogs barking...... fall asleep, mexicans fighting.... fall asleep, trucks stopping right next to us... fall asleep, roosters cackling... fall asleep, the owner showing up in the middle of the night and turning all the lights on to park his truck... fall asleep, no further interruptions.. up at 6am. Oh and I slept on the concrete without a mattress, just my sleeping bag... I think I got the best sleep of the three of us, secret... No imminent danger.... Fall asleep.


So we were up and eating and on the road at 6:30, on our way to Salina Cruz for the Motorcycle chain that has been haunting me for weeks... The wind was just about the worst I have seen in years, but we made it to Salina and headed out from there, the wind got worse, and then it peaked while we were approaching a wind farm of all things, for electric power. The whole afternoon while on our way to San Cristobal las Casas was eventful. I broke my second bag mount and will weld it up tomorrow (memo to self, bring less stuff and quit jumping the speed bumps which are in EVERY town minimum 2, but could be lots more, they are designed to slow traffic down and are approachable in 1st or 2nd gear, but much funnier on the throttle jumping them) The winds were returning but this time on the twisties which added a whole new level of riding skill, it is a different feeling to have the wind push you through or slow you down in a corner, I was OK just ride slower and hang on.

At one point I thought an S10 pickup was going to tip over into my lane as he had a mexican rack on the back which, is usually 3-4 ft higher than the cab and over top of it. While approaching I noticed he was listing into my lane and then a couple of gusts of wind caught him... I was truly concerned for my safety.

The afternoon led into the evening and it cooled down considerably, and as we were crossing a mountain pass toll road in the dark the fog came out... It was truly not a fun experience for Jessie, he has never in his riding career had a day which so many challenges... I thought it rocked.

The infamous chain.... **** the crappy chain, I chastise the supplier of such crap. It was new when I left with both sprockets, and I distinctly said I want the good stuff. I noticed early on that it was rapidly wearing out prematurely, and was unhappy to see it unfold before my eyes. It barely made it 7500km. Oh the piece of **** chain how I loath thee.

Anyhow I lubed and adjusted it almost every day, not because I wanted to but because it needed adjusting. A few days ago while we were in Acapulco I decided it was time to take action, unfortunately Jessie got the last chain in town. So I attempted to order one from the Honda dealer and have it shipped to the next town. Not happening, they are not all linked here in mexico. So I rode to the next town and tried there, and the next and so on, and so on, and so on... each and every town said the next Honda shop was bigger and would have a chain... and I didn't just hit the Honda shops, I hit all the shops, who would have thought a 520 chain would be so hard to come by.

Well yesterday we met a man on the road who guaranteed that the Honda shop in Salina Cruz was HUGE. Well we saw the Yamaha shop first and no luck. So I hit the Honda shop next...No Anglais... and he could not order it and did not have it but he was sure the town we just passed through would... LOL I already checked and it didn't. So I walked out into the heat and the bright sunshine and blowing wind feeling a bit daunted. Jessie was talking to a guy who had a friend who fixed bikes so we were off. He has a shop full of stuff, a couple of BMW's a Moto Guzzi and a bunch of used parts.... unfortunately a sport bike chain that was obviously way too big.

So I asked if there was an industrial supply place in town as they may have the correct size 520 chain, there was and we were off. But not on my motorcycle, the old mechanic would not let me take my bike he was genuinely concerned for my safety... Chain history, yesterday Jessie asked me what the life expectancy of the chain was.... I said maybe 5 days max. after it was so bad I had to take a link out to adjust it any more, and it worked for a day, by this morning I was missing a roller and the adjacent one was galled horribly and seized, I reassessed my situation and told Jessie that TODAY was the day. So we hit the industrial supply shop and they had nothing. All the while I have Lou in Winnipeg attempting to get me a chain and a pair of sprockets, and hopefully ship them to me.

So we headed back to the old mechanics garage empty handed. I remembered that Jessie kept his old chain and a piece of his new o-ring chain about 4 inches long. I decided to use his and splice it together with a couple of master links, at least his used chain was higher quality at one time, even if he was also missing a couple of rollers maybe we could splice them out of the equation. but it was not to be... back to square one. Miraculously the old mechanic came up with a used Aprilla chain which was too short, and too wide but none the less a 520 chain. I devised a new strategy of linking his too short chain to jessies spare bit of new Oring chain which almost worked except the chains were 2 different widths and my master links would not fit... Dang that crap *** chain anyway. Things were looking like a deal breaker when my thoughts of grinding the sides of the chain to make the master link fit were jettisoned in favour of another trip to the industrial shop for hopefully some wider master links.

Success, they didn't have a 520 chain to save my life but they had a million master links that were wider to adapt the 2 chains together. After a brief test ride we realized that this was the hot ticket, I was so thrilled that I could ride again at least until I got a new chain we took pictures of all involved and I presented the mechanic with my Canada flag and 200 pesos (20 dollars) and he wanted to give me change... Not necessary. So here we are in San Cristobal de las Casas and we are at a hostel hanging with 30 of our newest closest friends form all over the world….Australia , France.

The chain is holding up well I checked it 5 times today to
be safe and it will work until my new parts can arrive from Canada, Cause there are none in Mexico.

Relaxing tomorrow and dreaming of new chains this evening.... Play safe ... Mike....

1/17
Well we made it out of Mexico and into Guatemala rather easily... Guatemala is all mountains and twisties... and they NEVER get old... The first 160km were pretty cool, narrow winding roads loaded with busses and semis. If you wonder what happens to all those old school buses and semis they come to mexico and Guatemala, the only problem is after we were done riding for the day we looked like coal miners with blackened faces from the diesel exhaust. Lots of pollution and it hangs in the mountains and valleys, it's pretty thick. When we woke up early the next morning to get a jump on the day It was cold and foggy... but in reality it was cold and smoggy. Guatemalans use their horns all the time, if traffic stops moving they lay right on the horn, if something is on the road or in the intersection... horn.

The old buses are painted psychedelic colours with lots of chrome and bling, they love the bright colours.... They have roofracks and there are usually people on top or hanging off of the back ladder, which makes one a bit nervous when following.... Darwinism or Safety first.

We got an early start to the day and decided that we would do the touristing on the way back from Panama and pretty well ride through until then. There are a couple of volcanoes in Antigua and one of them is active, apparently you can roast marshmallows on it and best to wear good boots. No flip flops. I have also heard it is a great place to take spanish languish training so on the way back I will probably stop off for a few weeks.

In an effort to steer clear of all big cities because of crime and pollution, we have taken a southern route along the coast into El Salvadore, and are in Zacatecoluca this evening. Tomorrow we will blow through Honduras and then keep going on through Nicaragua into Costa Rica and then to Panama we will probably spend 3-5 days in Panama so we can change my chain and sprockets, adjust valves, change plug, as well as Jessie and I will both need rear tires by then... After that if there is anything really interesting on the way back we will stop and check it out.

If Guatemala was easy to get into then El Salvadore was... well lets put it this way, you can drive through the country in 3 1/2 hours but it takes 3 hours to do all the paperwork to get in, I am glad it wasn't a busy day for border crossings, I found some shade and read my book while paperwork was being processed, and it was dang hot.

Our thoughts and desires not to become statistics, have helped mould the route for our trip. If either one of us doesn't like the look of the area or the inhabitants, we just leave, and find another place to stay or another route... Jessie and I are on the same page on this item and we have both at one time or another expressed our concerns, whether it be too many young hooligan looking type boys with nothing to do, or agreeing on the local intelligence from the 50 year old guy with a chrome plated pistol saying you don't want to go see the big city trust me. So we don't go. It is that easy.
Last night we spent near the beach in the Tortuga surf lodge. It was my first experience with black sand, and it was pretty cool, we hit a beach party and they had a live drum band, and fire dancers, and a million backpackers from different countries, who all had nothing nice to say about the interior of the busses they were riding in. It is good to be on a motorcycle. We met people from Spain, Switzerland, Israel, and while in the hostel in San Cristobal de las Casas we met people from Denmark, Britain, Germany... there were some pretty interesting stories, and really enlightening people. One of the highlights of the trip for sure.

El Salvadore has its own interesting culture, the cows are herded in the middle of the highway, they dry out the harvested corn on the sides of the highway, on the paved shoulder, so your whipping down the highway and they is a guy with a rake turning and drying out his corn, as if there wasn't enough to worry about with all the dogs, cows, sugar cane trucks... The sugar cane trucks are either single or B trains, today I saw my first B train, as I put my signal on to pass I was about to pull out when I noticed exactly how long it actually was, so I pulled back in.

The problem with sugar cane trucks is unsecure loads, they basically chop the sugar cane into 2 or 3 foot pieces and throw it onto a flat deck with uprights, the actual weight of the load is supposed to hold it all into place.... In theory, but today as I was about to be passed by one going in the opposite direction I saw a piece fly off, into my lane and I was able to dodge it but it has made a new protocol when being approached by one... get into the far right side of the lane... It would suck to get hit with a 1" stick at 100km/hr. I am actually chewing on the very piece that almost got me today, so I can mark that off of my list of things to do. They still use wooden carts and Oxen to pull them here also, they are not prevalent but they are here.

Everyone here carries a machete... because they are farmers? It doesn't really matter. There are also guys with shotguns on virtually every truck that has value. The first one I saw was on a beer truck. Which makes sense to me, the 2nd guy was on a propane truck. If you don't know where the bank machine is... look for the guys with shotguns, they are keeping the peace. Today at a service station I asked to use the Bano (spelling wrong has a spanish sound like Banyo) for bathroom, and a guy with shotgun showed me the way and opened the door for me... I joked to Jessie that he was guarding my family jewels.

Today I took half an hour to do an oil change on the bike and it was quick and easy, I bought some oil and hit a carwash/ speedy lube and asked If I could use a catch tray and do all the work myself, buddy said no problem and seemed more fascinated with my bike than actually doing his own work, I offered to pay him something for his trouble but wouldn't accept it and wished me well on my trip, the oil change was so fast Jessie had bought some chicken and barely got the first piece done before I was finished. It's always a good feeling when I get my bike serviced just right, and it gives me confidence that it will make it the whole trip. I can't elect a governing party but I can change my oil...LOL Actually I have just never actually had the people I voted for get in. So I think I have every right to complain, but choose not to.


We spent the rest of the day searching out the back roads taking pictures of huge trees and eating fresh shrimp, while drinking cervaisas by the beach... It was alot of fun.

Have a great day an play safe.... Mike...




1/18
Well we blasted out of El Salvadore this morning and we ended up staying at a pretty swanky resort last night for about $22 dollars...Somehow we always manage to wake up to the sound of roosters.... I wonder if we are being stocked. Besides the roosters it was pruning day and a barefoot local was climbing the palm trees to cut off the coconuts, and they are loud when dropped from 50ft, and he had alot of pruning to do. We had an awesome breakfast, and I ordered it all in spanish... while the waves rolled onto the beach. We then rode into the sunrise.

We hit Honduras before the heat but it didn´¨t matter, the customs officals took 3 hours. There were some Americans before us and it took them 4. So I was grateful, and they made the cardinal mistake of giving their paperwork to some young kid who runs around and does everything for you. Quite honestly these people are like parasites jumping out in front of you in the middle of the road and hounding you to death, ¨´I can help, I make it go fast...¨´ Most of them don´t even speak English so how do they think they know what I need? After customs we hit no fewer than 8 police check stops, and were stopped at 5 and had our papers checked, You would think that after you spent $40 to enter a country only 180km long they would give you a break, but no. At one of the check stops we were pulled over and they took our licenses, International of course, so they could keep it if they wanted it was $15 at CAA.¨

They didn’t even check the credentials as usual but proceeded to check out the bikes. One guy had the gnads to put my motorcycle gloves on and check them out ??? Ok that really pissed me off. Then they turn to Jessie and demand $20 for not having enough reflectors on the back of his bike. I had already read somewhere about this scam, and it is a law in Honduras, but I told Jessie it was Bull. He said to give him the ticket and he would pay it at the station, Oh no buddy wanted cash then and there. The cop was doing OK until he demanded $20 from me too. Well the back of my bike has no fewer than 4 extra reflective decals not including the license plate, but he pointed to my soft bag holding my tent.

Well I lost it screamed ******** and holy murder and began slapping all the decals on my bike as well as the reflective strip sewn into the back of my Jacket. Then I pointed to the back of Jessies jacket, the cop was insistent for about another 30 seconds and then he relished we called his ******** bluff... Then he came over and admired my Kiss Army boots lifted one inch so I can touch the ground flat footed on my bike. I wasn’t really pissed but I wasn’t paying F-all to a dirty cop without a shred of evidence, who’s friend had the gnads to try my gloves on. Jessie was real pissed and led the rest of the way out of Honduras... as fast as his KLR650 would go.

Once in ..... the leaches were at us again, if it wasn’t for money exchange it was to help us, so there are 3 to 4 windows to go to about 50 ft apart, and I don´t need help so I told him no gracious, the lad was persistent and short of removing my papers from his hand and saying no gracious, he was difficult to get rid of.
Apparently we needed 12$ worth of Nicaraguan insurance which the fine gentleman had no idea what it covered, but was required by law, then someone tried to get a dollar for some cause which looked official because it had a stamp on the ticket but couldn’t quite explain what it would do for me, so I rejected it, customs took less than an hour. For some reason Nicaragua seemed brighter than Honduras, and they also served salad for supper, what could be wrong with that.

Upon reaching a hotel and hitting the shower my joys were short-lived, the water ran out before I could finish, or for that matter really start... The TV has a European plug and there is a north American outlet, so it will be book night.

Tomorrow we have grand ambitions of making it into Panama....LOL depending on border crossings, and dirty cops.
We met no fewer than 5 Americans in 2 groups today who were so upset with the border crossings they were going to fly their bikes home. Obviously they didn’t have a good book to read at the crossings.

ALL is well and we are hoping that my parts will arrive into Panama by the time we get there. Must go pay the crabby internet cafe ladies, apparently I am the last one in and they want to go home.

Have a great day and play safe ... Mike

1/19
This morning we were out at 8am. That was the most efficient part of our day. We were up with the roosters again, where the heck they are coming from in a city residential area is beyond me? Maybe there is one hitching a ride in my saddle bag. That compiled with the 4am drunks fighting with there spouses was part of an interesting hotel experience. Oh I almost forgot the early morning air raid siren??? Why they have one I don't know.

We rode for an hour or so before breakfast... The interesting thing is the food changes with the regions, they are now mixing rice and beans together for the meals, a little bit of both worlds I suppose. The garnishes included pickled onions with some heat... they were good but haunted me for a few hours afterwards...LOL

We have had a few breakfasts with mystery vegetables that we didn't know or could figure out what they were... But they were good, and we ate them, we will probably never see them again but experienced them. It sounds dumb but you can't Google what you don't know.

We rode about 330km today in 10 hours.... How sick is that? It could have been the extra hour stuck in traffic in Mangua, and then getting lost because they were not sufficient signs. If you don't know where you are in central America just go backwards, because every time we have been misdirected the signs have pointed to points NOT on any of our maps??? How messed up is that? The other day we were looking for a beach and ended up traveling through a roundabout to a Port... NO Signage, until we backtracked the signs were for the people who knew where they were going never for us to figure out where we wanted to go... This phenomenon has worked for us on a few occasions. This is not a place to be shy about asking for directions.

Then a few towns later the main roads out were blocked off for a festival, rental cops directed us everywhere but out of the city, and most of it was dirt roads.... I had to laugh a bit because frustrations were getting high and we ended up on the same street we started on 25 minutes later.

A half an hour later while still in Nicaragua the winds picked up and we were riding the mountain tops, they were so bad that we just followed traffic at 80km/hr. We were waived over at a police check stop, and the cop immediately began to point out something was wrong... I was unsure what? We were following traffic and doing the speed limit, but Jessie deciphered that we had passed someone illegally. So I really had to stop and think about it while the cop was writing up the ticket, I asked Jessie if he remembered doing it? He didn’t really care he was flustered about the whole day as it was. If I have been riding for a bit in order to concentrate on the road and what’s ahead, I brain dump what’s behind me. Then it came to me we were following traffic for miles and it was real windy so we couldn't have passed anyone for fear of being blown around. So I called ******** on this cop. He was adamant and kept writing the ticket he wanted cash on the barrelhead. Somehow he finally got it in his head that it wasn't going to happen and he let us go... These dirty cops are getting to be a pain in the butt.


Nicaragua is actually a beautiful progressive country, they are building wind farms, have lots of agriculture, we rode by a few rice paddies, and they still ride horses and bicycles. I plan on doing some serious touristing on the way back through.

We finally made it to the Costa Rica border, but not until we checked out of Nicaragua, the leaches were in full force...'We can help you, make it faster', two of them surrounded Jessie before he even got off of his bike, I quickly lost patience with them, and I am pretty sure Jessie got bilked out of $20 for nothing. Enough said. The Costa Rica border was eventless and there were no leaches attempting to guide us, or sell us Municipal taxation donation tickets for a dollar, of which Jessie has bought 2, I am 0 for 2.

Then we stood in a line with a bunch of truckers for 2 hours, waiting for clearances to be issued. I finished another book, relaxed and had a cold beer, it was a steaming hot afternoon.
We were doing OK in the single line that looked like a bank line until you got to the front, and it fanned out into three windows, well I turned my back and the whole line turned to chaos, everyone was in front of me all of a sudden. I don't have any spanish but my strong English let them know this was not on. I didn't stand in line for two hours to have 3 guys cut in front of me... So I reassumed my position and nothing else was said. I noticed someone had gratified the wall with " Efficiency at its finest"

We made it into Costa Rica and the foliage is thicker the roads are new, it is like traveling into another dimension compared to Honduras and Nicaragua, the first city we hit as it was getting dark is Liberia. The unfortunate part about it is that the first sign we saw was the McDonalds arches. So we knew there would be no cheap hotels and everywhere would accept the American dollar. We had a nice supper and one of the interesting things about Americanization is Coke Zero, and Coka Light, water was really going out of style.

Jessie lost his link to the outside world. The bank machine ate his card. In a regular English speaking nation this probably wouldn't be a problem but here, we now have the language barrier, 1-800 numbers don't work and if he doesn't get it back what does he do for cash back to the US? Why does a bank machine even swallow a card? I don't know it has never happened to me.

All in all it was an adventurous day, saw some neat stuff was seen and valuable lessons learned...

Still on our way to Panama for Chowder.... Until we meet again ....Mike....




1/21

Another early morning, no chickens but something crawling around the ceiling tiles could have been a Gecko. Jessie is back in the game with his ATM card. Before we hit the road we checked out the topographical map at the hotel. Lots of mountains and 2 major cities, makes Jessie a nervous boy...LOL

We checked out the bikes, and I did some chain work... Then we hit the road.

Jessie has been stung 3 times this trip, twice by Bees, once this morning and again this afternoon by the cops. An hour later they had us again. This time it was actually legitimate... Kind of.... Jessie was clocked doing 95k in an 80k zone. Which is an offence. But we were going the same speed as traffic but were singled out, the cop didn't stop the bus or the 18 wheeler, just us. I mentioned this to Jessie before he went for his private talk with the radar wielding madman, and when he returned he also mentioned that the bus driver probably didn't have as much money as the tourist on the motorcycle, and the cop took his $50US and didn't issue a ticket or receipt... So who is in the right now???? Jessie 2 cops 3 Enough said.

To hopefully lesson his internal mourning I paid for supper and beer this evening...

We got lost in San Jose, and there were some 4 letter words coming out of helmets. We were lost again and the lack of signs was not helping, the directions we asked for led us in all the wrong directions. I was used to it by now, and as someone had said before ¨{Embracing the heat} It was hot again and muggy, We stopped for some refreshments and I found some chocolate covered coffee beans, by the time I got them out of the store, I had to eat them with a spoon... I had just finished drying the sweat out of my Jacket from yesterday, and we were at it again, I am consuming alot of water.

We hit a couple of toll roads but they were actually cheap and productive, By the time we arrived in Cartago J was almost done for the day and looking at hotels... I talked him into another hour or so of riding, even though I knew there were some darker skies ahead he took the bait.

Well it was hot and dusky when we hoofed it into the mountains... and the ride made the Day worthwhile. We climbed for about 45 minutes passing trucks and busses, the temperature dropped it was refreshing and it was getting dark quick... The fog rolled in and it looked alot like rain, the fog came and went, rolled and swirled, I am unsure of the elevation but the forest was awesome, vines and thick foliage... Looking over the mountain ridges was spectacular scenery, we were above, in and below the clouds, the forest would block out the sun, and then illuminate the road at another peak or opening.

It got cold towards the summit and that combined with the vibration from the bars, was slowly numbing my hands, I shook them out and got the blood circulating and warmed up again. The wind-chill on my face was bearable and I didn't put my facemask on but did do zip up the vents in my jacket. There were many emergency vehicles and every 10-15 minutes we would see an ambulance patrolling the roads looking for accidents. The road was narrow and twisty and washouts were common. Unfortunately they were also poorly marked. They would put some rocks around them and detour you into oncoming traffic with NO signage whatsoever... LOL not exactly a North American safety standard.

After the summit we found more light, on the other side of the mountain and through the fog the sun looked like a round globe of a 100W bulb trying to burn its way through... It didn't make it and we ended up descending the mountain following an SUV at somewhere between 30 and 60 km/hr... Which was just fine, as I was coming off of a high from the ride I didn't need to be racing down the mountain in the dark. Again, It Was Spectacular...

Tomorrow we should be out of Costa Rica and into Panama. It really only seems a short time ago I commenced another trip and then ended up on this one... I honestly don't know what day it is, but I realize I have been gone since about Nov 1st. So about 2 and 1/2 months... Wow... I am almost tempted to find Revenue Canada’s email address and ask for an extension on my taxes, so I can return later than April.

Doing some figuring we have 791km to Panama city almost half a million people, and about 2 days to get there knowing the shape of the roads, traffic, border crossings, and tainted constabularies. In Canada 791km is a 1\ 2 day ride and if on hwy 1 or an interstate 1600km on the BMW is a full days ride when fully prepared... Kind of an interesting comparison. Trust me no one wants to ride an XR650L 1600km in one day. OR would that just be a Baja 1000?

Heading for the Panama Canal for chain, tires, and some chowder..... Mike.....

1/22

I really didn't have time to take pictures on the way down cause we were attempting to gumball it ( Hee Hee Hee on 650cc dirt bikes), but since we are 2 hours from Panama city and just about ready to search out some Chowder, we are officially Japanese tourists snapping photos like Paparazzi at a gala opening.

We have probably been traveling for a week now? Actually I just looked back a bit and I would say about 10 days straight on the road. This brings out the best and the worst, in my motorcycle seat, the best being that I have it all to myself and can slide forward or back almost 2 feet. The worst is that it is VINYL. So while in Panama I am going to search for a chunk of sheepskin. I have had one since the 90's that Athol, Roy's father in law set me up with,
and I absolutely love it, it makes 16 hour days on the BMW like heaven with the stock seat. It has been fairly maintenance free, and SOoooooo comfortable, but it is in Winnipeg. OK I know it seems soft of me just 10 days straight and I am already looking for a sheepskin, but really it has been 10,000km on the stock Honda vinyl seat. So if I can find one I will treat myself, OK my butt. LOL

Today went rather well, the borders were quick and easy, and the last 200km of Costa Rica were nice roads... Once in Panama we realized that most of it was freeway. So we made excellent time, Panama has the best PEOPLE MOVER roads in Central America, without a doubt.

The plan is to hit Panama city tommorow..Friday. Pick up all of our parts and both do a MAJOR servicing to our bikes, check out the sights and catch a hockey game Saturday night and a football game Sunday, since Panama city has 500,000 people and alot of Americans it shouldn't be too hard to find a place. Jessie misses football and I haven't seen the Leafs in a few months, so they probably need my morale support. Plus I am sure they must be about ready to kick the Habs butt, and I could use an extra $5.... LOL.

Then we will head North on Monday, and turn into tourists. We have ridden past alot of stuff and now it is time to check it all out. We are in a swanky hotel, that originally was supposed to be $65US, before we even walked in I mentioned to J that we may not be happy with the price by the look of all the high end cars out front. When the clerk told us how much it was we giggled... Then Jessie asked if there was another hotel in town, the woman did not understand him, and showed us the price sheet again, then another woman showed up behind the counter, and J asked again, is there a cheaper hotel in town, the 2 women bantered back and forth a bit and then said we could have the room for $38US. Jessie didn't realize that he was a master negotiator..LOL and also just because American is the currency it doesn't mean they can understand an American attempting to speak Spanish.

I can understand why Americans like it here, it is inexpensive, we have eaten 3 meals and they have all been under $4us each, and they were pretty substantial, also the beer even at the hotel bar was less than a dollar.

Exciting news and a prediction. When the earthquake happened in Haiti J said that they will somehow find a way to blame the Americans, immediately I used the conspiracy theory about underground weapons testing. We laughed, then today Hugo Chavez actually is blaming the Americans for the whole deal, with support apparently of the Russians. I could be a dictator of a country if I only had some ambition. LOL
Looking forward to Panama city and some chowder.... Mike....

1/24
We rolled out of the swanky hotel (just inside the Panamanian border) late cause too early would have put us into rush hour in Panama city... No thank you. It took about an hour and a half, with only one bit of excitement, Jessie rolled into an 80K uphill turn doing about a 100k, and was doing Ok until he reached the peak and caught the 90k crosswind. I saw his bike do a little funky chicken and I am sure his shorts fill up.... I led the rest of the way into Panama city.

It was also nice to see the local constabulary out giving citations to real law breakers and not shaking down the tourists for milk money. We were spared that wrath today but looking at the map it is a long way home yet. We rolled into the big city on the newer northern bridge, I think I heard it called the confederation bridge but could be wrong. We have no accurate maps, but picked one up so we could find the airport this morning.

Luckily for us we rode an hour through slow traffic to the airport where the email told us the parts would be. Only to find out they were not. Oh another chance to get lost following directions over the phone. Whoopy. Ya, after paying 2 tolls and stopping for a coke I called back for redirections... "Oh you took the first exit marked Casa del East, you should have taken the second one...." was the response. Ok now I was real happy... As in the rest of Central America if there even is a road sign it is probably not on your map, now we have 2 exits marked the same.. Highly improbable, but it happened, A man named Carlos was getting an earful from me... but he went above and beyond the call and left the DHL office to come get us so we could follow him back, I apologized profusely.

We picked up the Moto parts and he then asked if we wanted an escort to the motorcycle shop for the other parts we needed to purchase... WOW!!! We spent the whole day bombing around behind Carlos's car and then he showed us where to get some awesome seafood for supper. Mark chowder off of my to do list. We will probably head out to have a few beer with him tomorrow night also.

It was dang hot again, and getting stuck in the worst traffic we have seen thus far this trip didn't make matters any better. I drank all of my 2 liter camelback, my riding jacket is soaked in sweat and will hopefully find a drycleaner tomorrow.

So we actually hit 2 motorcycle shops, because as popular as the Kawasaki KLR is, from Panama to Puerta Valarta there were only 2 oil filters, and they were both here, at a Kawasaki shop. So bad that J didn't change his oil filter the last oil change because he couldn't find one. I picked up some necessities also and thought it would be ok to use my MasterCard for the purchases... NOT. It would not work, luckily it isn't my only means of cash, in fact I have 2 bank cards and only one works in these machines and a MasterCard NONfunctional as of today and a backup visa that I haven't even thought about using in years... So if I call asking for money you know the story in advance, just because I like rejection I think I'll call my ex first...LOL

It's late and we shacked up in a bed and breakfast for the night. it is highly probable that we will spend the next 2 days here also... it is hot and muggy, and the AC gets turned on at 1030. Can't wait.... but it is close to the heart of the city and a nice area...

Day 2 Panama. Up at the crack of it's not too hot yet went and did some exercise. Then we tackled our motorcycles for maintenance. it all went smoothly and while installing the chain, all I had to cut a link out of the chain was my Gerber multitool with a file integrated into it. I was actually going to wait for Jessie to get his bike back together and then take it somewhere with a grinder because I wasn't relishing the thought of wrestling with it even though we were in the shade and it was before noon, with a 2 1/2 cutting surface of the file attachment. J had problems in that he needs to go to the dealer for shims to adjust his valves (mine are adjustable with a wrench feeler gauge and screwdriver) and his rear caliper seized and took out his rear shoes... So I clamped the chain to my muffler with a set of Vice grips, and started filing... I am truly amazed of the quality in the Gerber multitool it worked perfect, plus it is good practice should I ever be deep in the bush and really need to repair something to get out.

Yesterday afternoon Carlos graciously offered to show us around the city, since we were starving we hit the fish market first, and after we waded our way past all the fish vendors and our senses took a beating of dead fish I wasn't sure I was really all that hungry still... The fish market is in a big open warehouse and on the second floor is a restaurant open air also... I was beginning to wonder if the smell of raw fish was going to spoil my meal.. but it didn't, somehow the wind was just right and we dined in an odor free, pleasant area and the fish dishes were great, as well as the beer to wash it down.

We spent a few hours touring about in Carlos's car and there is alot to see, lots of history, and Carlos knew it all, much more than the typical Canadian about their own city or country... lots of history from the French trying to build the original canal and failing, to gaining independence twice from Spain and then Columbia.. To the Americans invading.

Carlos had mentioned earlier that his family wanted to have us for supper, and he said we couldn't refuse because they wanted to meet us. So I have a motto about free food and graciously accepted. Supper was simply elegant his family owns a modern 4 bedroom house, and we ate drank and chatted for hours, it wasn't until after desert and a few rum, that we realized it was 12:30am and decided it was probably time to get back to the hostel rather than wear out our welcome. In retrospect I am glad that DHL screwed up delivery points and that I don't speak spanish because we would have never met Carlos, or his family. They truly made Panama one of the best experiences of the trip.



gmember3.jpg


securedownload-6-1.jpg


gmember7.jpg


Day 3 Panama. We are going to do some shopping attempt to get some money from one of my unused bank accounts and watch a football game this evening.

Living the good life.... and playing safe... Mike...

1/26

It was Sunday and the Vikings let their super bowl dreams fade away with a field goal... Jessie was heartbroken, even the Hooters girls couldn’t cheer him up. So in usual fashion we got lost on the way home to the hostel... We stopped and asked for directions and the oriental people at the store were not much help, but the police were. Jessie said they were either going to lead us back to the hostel or shoot us, I was hoping for the former not the latter. Well not one but two different police cars lead us home... Now if that isn’t the royal treatment I don´t know what is.

The hostel was AWESOME, we met all sorts of people from all over the world with "The Spirit of Adventure" the two most notable were a Greek couple and a couple from Luxemburg. The Greeks were on an around the world tour driving a land rover, coincidentally so were the couple from Luxemburg. Both had about 2 years planned to complete the trips... The only difference was that the Greeks were working, writing articles for magazines and covering the Dakar rally... etc. The Greeks were much more stressed out than the other couple who had no planned itinerary but to be back home in 2 years... I choose to travel like the couple from Luxemburg.

During our maintenance Jessie found his rear brake pads were almost metal on metal. He called the Kawasaki dealership right away and found they had a set and were closing until Monday, so our Monday morning was set... and I was not looking forward to it.... Riding through Panama city sucks, you know there will be traffic jams and it is going to be dang hot, on top of the getting lost factor... I recommended Jessie catch a cab... He didn’t bite on that one so we were destined to burn up the morning in our riding gear... and we did only to find they did not have his pads in stock... So now his rear brakes are for emergencies only... We were so deep in the city we now had trouble getting out, but when we finally did we were fortunate enough to get some nice pics of the new bridge, and IT was kind enough to take a bite out of one of my saddlebags... When it is hot muggy and midday the best way to get rid of aggression is to get out on the open road... So we did and it was a 500km day in the end.

From the thought you had seen it all files. The drivers here surprised me when I was about to pass a large truck and he put his signal on to pull out into the left lane... but didn’t, after a few bouts of this behavior I realized they were signaling to me it was safe to pass. This is a common practice here but one never knows if he is signaling me or signaling that he is going to pass someone else? So last night I was about to pass a grain truck on a 2 lane highway and he puts his signal on and pulls out into the left lane... No one else is on the road but the 2 of us. So he sits there a few seconds then pulls back into my lane??? A short time later he does it again... I hammered it down 2 gears and headed for the shoulder, passed him on the inside and got out of there, although I am unsure where he learned how to drive I knew I had seen enough.

We stayed in David Panama and ended up hanging out at a baseball game for the evening, Crackerjacks and cold beer, what a way to finish up the day.

This morning we were close enough to the Costa Rica border that we caught it early before the rush... and it was absolutely painless... smooth...

At breakfast we discussed the trip through either taking the coastal route or back through the scenic mountains we had already traveled but didn’t get prior pics of... I was ready to flip a coin when J pulled a quote from the guidebook that the 3500M ridge was called "The mountains of Death" Well we had to ride "The mountains of Death" and we did.

This time they were even better... If you want to have a great experience on a twisty, winding mountainous region for over 250km, do it during the day and eliminate 90% of the traffic... and that is exactly what happened.

With the smell of fresh cut sugarcane lingering in the air, the pineapples growing in plantations surrounded us, The fog rolled up the mountain over the road in sheets, fighting against the sun all the way, the trees stretched out over the road, vines and moss were prevalent, flora everywhere, and no animals... It was hot and humid at the bottom but by the time we were half way up for our second set of photos we needed to close up the vents in our jackets and put on warmer gloves... When we would hit the odd expanse of open road where the sun was shining the warmth was a good friend to have. I had the "4 None Blondes" song in my head and was enjoying every second of it. It wasn’t until about the third set of cars that I passed that I realized that whenever I needed to concentrate on passing, the music in my head would stop...LOL

I guess flowing through the turns was less tasking than concentrating on passing. The reason they call it the "mountains of death" must be because Big white Mack dump trucks license plate number ….seem to have a tendency to take up more than their share of the road when in oncoming traffic and cornering. Little red Honda motorcycles Brake extremely hard and move right.

Also when I mentioned before that the washouts of which we already knew there would be two from the week before, which reroute traffic into the oncoming lane... Have NO markings or warning signs, the 4 cars in front of me, were almost in a pileup and the oncoming semi was not impressed... Jessie and I waited for the smoke to clear and worked our way around the chaos onto the open road.

On our way down the leeward side we stopped for lunch, and discussed the prior events, I decided that it was on the top 10 list of riding roads, and I better start keeping track of where they are because I have found 3 of them this trip. The bad part of the mountain roads were that they led to San Jose, where we became hopelessly lost on the way to Panama. And in fine fashion the roadsignless city is up 2, motorcyclists 0. A nice cab driver showed us the way out of the city, after his seemingly simple directions seemed to be baffling Jessie, and thank our lucky stars he did, or we would still be there now.

Now holed up in San Ramone, after turning down a $90US airport hotel, we did the $50 breakfast included instead. Tomorrow we have our sights set on Leon Nicaragua, as it is an older city and has some historical significance, and I am sure it will have a flavor of beer that we have not at this time tasted.

It’s Late and I need my beauty sleep...

Have fun play safe ...Mike....
 
Last edited by a moderator:
Joined
Aug 9, 2009
Messages
383
Location
Austin, TX
GoldMeb1.jpg


1/30
It was a new day and we were up with the mosquitoes in the room.
We knew it was a nice place by the price... but didn’t realize how nice until we got into the room.. spacious, queen size beds, stereo, ok it was a ghetto blaster but still sweet, we could have played floor hockey in there.

This morning I craved a tea for breakfast (breakfast was included for the $25 each), unsure why it could have been the chill in the air but I haven’t had one for a few months and there were 11 different types in the wooden case all laid out and in Spanish. LOL I found some NEGRO, which is black and indulged. A breakfast of fresh cut fruit, an omelet and toast was a great start to the day. For some reason I noticed sweetener on the table and it was Saccharin, If I remember correctly they banned it in North America in the 80's because it caused cancer in laboratory rats....LOL At least the junkies can still get it here.

A quick once over with the bikes and we were off... To a slooooowwww start... after 60km I relinquished the lead to Jessie... Traffic was unbearable on the single lane roads of Costa Rica, just before getting out of the country, don't these people realize I am on vacation??? Not in rush hour traffic? The border was as bad as it could possibly get... We passed 4km of semis, stopped and shut down on the highway just before the border of Nicaragua, when we arrived there were 3 busloads of passengers, the lineup stretched to eternity. If there was ever a time to pay someone for help this was it.

So I asked the young gentleman if there was a way around the whole chaotic mess? He said for $10 each he could make it all go easier... I agreed and 45 minutes later we were on our way. Before we headed out of Costa Rica and into Nicaragua I paid the crooked young fellow. Oh but what about me he said? I replied we had a deal $20 for both of us. No he said $20 was just for the bribe for the policeman so he would let you in line. It is tough to say tough beans but I did. We had a deal. So we rode 100ft into the Nicaraguan checkpoint and it was no fun, first for $3 they fumigated our bikes. Then again 3 busloads and lots of people, an enterprising young lad offered to watch our motorcycles, I didn't really care as I was locking up my helmet and stuff, but Jessie took the bait. I am sure if it wasn't for all the derelict young boys hanging around the border bumming money and offering to help, the bikes wouldn't need to be watched.

Then the one lad who was helping us was approached by another who had helped us a few days earlier and there was a turf confrontation in spanish, I don't know what words they were using but I have heard French guys swear at each other and had I been listening closer, I might have picked up some good words. In line I met some bus passengers (backpacks) who had spent 3 hours on the other side trying to get through customs, not happy campers.

Once out of the Nicaraguan customs another 4km line up of trucks to pass and we were on the open road. In Nicaragua we were hoping to make it to Leon the first day, it is supposed to be the ex capitol and full of historic stuff... Well The new capitol of Mangua was such a treat, with lack of signage that we spent a few hours getting lost..LOL

So we caught the first hotel in town at the top of a hill with a great view, and also hit the first restaurant... The hotel was a half star, the restaurant was 5 star, the Cervaisas and garlic shrimp were the highlight of the day.

A bit of exercise in the morning, is a great way to start the day... and then we off to Leon in search of culture... that is when we ended up on the highway with no speed limit... It started out rough with barely legible faded road signs but at least there were signs... Then it degraded from there, at least we had the proper motorcycles to avoid and if need be ride out the potholes.

There were young boys I would say 8-10 years old with wheelbarrows along the road filling in the potholes with dirt. At least they were trying, then the road degraded again, from ugly to find the best line and look for the pavement but actually alot of fun and challenging. Then there were 3 large round hay bails with a young lad atop guiding traffic around a crater in the road, we never stopped to assess how large they were but the 3 hay bails seemed to indicate it was a rather large recess in the road... We passed a fuel stop and I turned around and urged J to go back just in case... who knows when we might see fuel again. This lasted all of 60km, and then we hit nice highway. We knew we had to be on one of two roads, we deduced from the signage and proximity to the lake that we were on the GOOD road.

Leon has a real old world feel to it and the cathedral is the largest in Central America. We took pics of the restoration work going on, the artists were touching up large paintings the size of walls, and the outside was also under reconstruction... We did lunch and ultmately concluded that we had seen all we really wanted to see.

So we booted it towards Honduras, with the thought of blasting across the 200km country in record time because Jessie has a thing about the cops there and they ...him... I had forgotten that it was $35 to get in the country each time so we were now into them for $70, and quite honestly we would have preferred that they bought us dinner rather then play shake the baby and kiss the cops asses, 7 times through various checkpoints through out the country, the 8th we just rode through because the policeman’s hand motions were so vague that we felt they didn't meet CSA guidelines to properly shuffle traffic. He did absolutely nothing to stop us. Really they were a total waste of time theirs and ours, sometimes they would ask for passports and not even look at them.

Jessie and I voted and will probably get backlash for this but in our books Honduras is the unanimous ARMPIT of central America, look on the map it fits. J used more descriptive words after I found out that one of the cops tried to shake him down for money, I realized why.... but we'll stick with armpit for terminology.

El Salvadore.
At the border departing Honduras we met 2 guys on Kawasaki KLR's, they were not having good luck, one was using a milk crate for his left saddlebag, we never did get the full story on that one, and the other had no rear brake lever. He had a blow out of the front tire at 60mph hit the ditch wiped out and broke it off. They were both in good health and had the spirit of adventure, they were heading back to Oregon. We met them in the heat of the day when we were blowing our last few local dollars on Seagram’s coolers and M&M's from the duty free shop.


GoldMem2.jpg



Into El Salvadore they were through long before us, and we had the up and up on the border crossing. The immigration official came out and in broken English asked us how long we wanted to spend in the country, I said 3 days would be enough to see it all, as we had already spent a couple there.

He in no uncertain terms explained that we had 24 hours to get through the country. This policy was founded by the new unelected government, as our first tourist visa was good for 60 days expired when we left the country. So in essence we felt like we were being deported, they didn't want our tourist dollars and we had 24 hours to get out or... the fine was $1245 we wondered how they came to this number and butt headedly came to the conclusion that is was the gross domestic product in one month for the whole country.

By the time we cleared customs, we were hungry and our deodorant had refailed again and it was dark and late. We decided in a country full of shotguns on every corner it was best to get the first hotel and food. Well we found a hotel quick enough but the rest of the town was locked up like Fort Knox. So we pooled all out food, and we had an apple a banana, some raisins and Jessie had 3 pieces of sealed cheese. We dined like kings, oh and liquid wheat was the refreshment available at the front desk.

We awoke to the thought that we now had 15 hours to get out of the country, which is only 350km long so it shouldn't be all that difficult. At breakfast I wolfed down my food in order to go next door and change my oil before hitting the road, J asked for directions... In 20 minutes we were lost. We can get lost at the drop of a hat, and we do, really. Smile and ask for directions again, no use getting mad there are no useful signs. None of the countries are a good place to be if you are too proud to ask for directions. By the time we knew where to go, my map had been desecrated with ink..LOL As useless as the map is, J has told me to throw it away 3 times, it shows all of central America, and is in tatters....

So we zig zagged across the country and we were wondering if the immigration people really didn't want us out of the country in 24 hours and maybe had called ahead to slow us down..Conspiracy theories.... Well by the time we hit two police directed detours each about 20 minutes out of our way the theories were beginning to look like facts. We knew later there would be two bridges out, one had collapsed and the other a huge tree fell on, these were already out when we first rode through. The rivers wouldn't be difficult to cross even if they weren't detoured because there were locals washing their semi's in them.

There were alot of distractions from locals selling fresh Cashews to young lads selling live iguanas, they knew our weaknesses. The iguanas made for cool pics, and the cashews would later help us make it through a border crossing sanely. The best part of El Salvadore is the western most part about a 100km from the Guatemalan border. The coastal road winds through 4 or 5 tunnels and has beautiful coastline views, lots up undulating road and sweeping corners.... Simply heaven...

Have a great day and play safe.... Mike.....
GoldMem3.jpg
 
Last edited by a moderator:
Joined
Oct 9, 2007
Messages
11,226
Location
Far East DFW
Someone should enter him in the clouds contest with the second from the last shot. Winners there for sure. Thanks for sharing!
 
Joined
Aug 9, 2009
Messages
383
Location
Austin, TX
2/1

Goldmem8.jpg


It was a no day and because it was Sunday we slept, read and lounged about. But saw some great sights from the roof of the hostel. The first is one of the 2 inactive volcanoes spewing a bit of ash, and then the next pics are the same one at night.

Welcome to Antigua Guatemala. We have been here a couple of days and my mission was if I was going to see a volcano it was going to be a good one. That is why we are here. The ride in was interesting and we stopped in a restaurant for light to read the map and maybe directions through Esquintla. The ladies running the place were genuinely concerned for our safety and drove 20 minutes to show us the road to take, apparently there were kidnappings nearby.

Yesterday we awoke in the El Gato Negro Inn, aka the Black Cat hostel, the rooms are dormitory style and it has hot water... I don't ask for much and for like $7 a night including anything off of the menu for breakfast, it is a smoking good place to stay.

We researched out where the active volcano was from the tourist information bureau, and were given the easiest route to get there. Since we can see two volcanoes from the top of the hostel, we figured it would be easy, one of them regularly spews a little plume of ash into the sky and looks real cool, so the thought was to just ride for it. Well it is not the active one is actually Pacaya which is about 60km away, and the directions sucked. We fought our way through downtown Guatemala for an hour through the smog, busses and crap. Not very impressive... but with the bigger volcano goal in mind we asked for directions frequently, and made it to about 4 km away from the volcano on our motorcycles. We would have went on but were stopped by men with shotguns and they seemed to be in charge.

There were young lads selling walking sticks, that were Necessito, we refused and began our assault on the volcano. We were harassed by Guides most of the way. "Horse is bueno" "Lava is 3meters deep" the scare tactics were not working, and they eventually got fed up and left us to our climb. It was difficult, the kingcans we consumed were not helping our efforts either, and if we had probably cooperated and paid the guides we would have not been directed up the wrong mountain. So the good news is that coming down was much easier, had it not been so cloudy we could have gone down the other side and right up the volcano but we couldn't see Jack Squat. On our descent we saw the volcano and small groups of people on horseback going up to it. We regained our strength and began to climb it also. A guide with an empty horse again tried to sell us his services... LOL

On top are where the pictures came from, it was the second mountain and I was sweaty... the last beer went down real good, quite honestly it was an accomplishment just climbing the two mountains. People were roasting marshmallows, it was interesting but it wasn't fire breathing lava and dragons, just red hot spots. At the risk of being "Reply All' ed I would say it was gay or should I say Lame. By the time we were descending the volcano it was DARK, and it reminded me of something I will quote out of the guidebook.


goldmem10.jpg


goldmem9.jpg


Climbing the Volcanoes... (from the guidebook)

"Although foreigners climbing the volcanoes around Antigua were sometimes robbed, raped or murdered, recent tourist safety measures have REDUCED the problem dramatically."

It took longer to get down, as we backtracked when we came upon some unfamiliar buildings. We were by ourselves as the other tourists had approached from a different route.

Upon arrival at the bikes the guards were still watching them and Jessie had confessed that his faith in his battery was dwindling... it turned over 3 times before heading south, we let it sit 30 seconds and then it started up.

By the time we reached the intersection to head home I had devised a longer route by about 20km, but was not traveling through Guatemala city again. So we headed south to Esquintla and took the 14 north to Antigua. It was painless and there was NO traffic.

We somehow managed to miss supper and had a quick snack after the volcano and hit a rum bar with an Australian named Shawn who was working at the hostel making enough money to fly home. This is where I was introduced to Mojitas... fresh mint crushed and mixed with other good ingredients with rum made for an awesome drink so I indulged. The bar was a mix of locals and tourists from everywhere, there were probably only 25 people in it max, and I am sure I had conversations with all of them at one point or another... and although we didn't feel like partying we found our third wind, closed the place and went looking for an after hours party.

Sunday was a complete NO Day... J had been out since the crack of dawn, looking for a battery, since everything was closed we hung out at the hostel and chilllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllled.Went out in the evening in search of food, chowed down a salad and a pizza. So a little bit of Ying and Yang there. Came back with the intention of heading out to another pub later, but our beds called to us instead.

It is a new day. Jokingly I scolded J noting that laziness breeds more laziness. He is searching out a battery and I am enjoying another complimentary breakfast burrito plate. My third, so we have been here for 3 mornings.

Time to get a battery and move on. The funny thing about finding a battery in a foreign country for a 650 Kawasaki, which is 3 times larger than most of the bikes down here, is that J found something that will "work" but was told he would have to wait 4 hours because the battery shop doesn't stock the acid to put in the battery... LOL

"I am going to do something today".....From the Laziness anonymous handbook.... LOL

Have a great day and play safe .... Mike.....
 
Last edited by a moderator:
Joined
Aug 9, 2009
Messages
383
Location
Austin, TX
I am posting up GoldMember's emails and pics with his permission.....so whatever he sends from South America is it! :thumb:
 
Joined
Aug 9, 2009
Messages
383
Location
Austin, TX
2/3



Well Monday was much more productive than Sunday, which after all is the day of rest. We hit the market and J installed his new battery, by the time that all transpired it was well after lunch and a better part of the day had been drained away, and since the sun was beating us hard we refreshed... In anticipation of the last evening in Antigua. The plan was to have a few beer and be in by midnight. LOL Lets just say we were Bells of the Ball, Social butterflies.

Canadians, Americans, and Brits were all buying rounds, things got a little out of control, people were having birthdays, playing air guitars on bar tops. Live musicians, set the tone and we ended up at the after hours bar... and it was real late. The interesting thing about the after hours bar is they never ask you to leave, but at $10 a drink why would they. I only needed one, I was pretty well full when I arrived and was basically being the good wing man, but some of the bar tabs were as high as $180. I made new friends, exchanged email addresses, and stayed out of jail.........Played safe.

goldmemb19.jpg




goldmemb18.jpg


That morning I was up at the crack of something and consumed my 4th free all inclusive breakfast burrito, I think I may be a trendsetter because just about everyone else at breakfast had the same or they were out of everything else. The ride through Guatemala for the last time was memorable. We almost didn’t make it out of town. Pulled out the bikes and once again we were celebrities another hour out of our day but I have a date for a beer in the Midwest somewhere, upon my return towards Canada.

The road was typical, looking for signs and mayhem for the first 30KM, then it turned into the smell every motorcyclist loves. Fresh asphalt... So fresh the only thing marking it were dead carcasses, so fresh asphalt with a slalom thrown in for good measure... and it was 4 lanes wide, with no lines it was essentially a race course. OK at 100km/hr it was just plain fun without traffic. In a few hours we arrived at the border, this time without the coal miners faces. If you want to have fun on a road, eliminate traffic.

goldmemb17.jpg


The border was like driving home at 5pm.. punch out, wash the car, and put your feet up on the couch... It was almost to good to be true, of course I am sure it will bite us in the *** somewhere down the line. We pulled up on the Guatemala side, got 2 stamps a quick fumigation, and rode into Mexico. That was it. No Mexican border guards, customs or stamps. Nothing. But if I remember correctly when I first rode into Mexico back in December it was exactly the same from the US, the only 1.5 hours after were my own doing as I needed to register my Moto with the Mexican customs.

In a way it is a relief to be in Mexico for the remainder of my time. No 2-6 hour border crossings, not having to figure out the currency or its exchange at every stop. Not worrying if we will be hassled by local authorities. In each different country. You could say Mexico is predictable. We shacked up right across the border, and the hotel was 200 pesos, until we gave the nice lady 500 pesos and then it became 300 pesos. I let J and his master negotiating skills take charge. We paid 300 Pesos, I would have found another hotel, because I despise devious people.



goldmem10-1.jpg


goldmemb14.jpg


Today was all about RUINS, so we headed eastish towards Palenque which was about 500km, but with lots of different ruins along the way. The first set was a stop in the fog and it was 99% humidity, I figured while we checked out the ruins it might burn off a bit, the ruins looked like they had been RUINED. LOL and J managed to lay down his Moto at slow speed on gravel, he was OK, and during the preceding investigation, the embarrassing crash was blamed on the overuse of the front caliper(brake) and the lack of a rear set of shoes. His pride was hurt but he learned.

goldmemb15.jpg


On a positive note we found an actual dugout canoe which was way too cool not to take pics of, and a massive bullfrog, the largest I have ever seen, at first I thought it was a cowpie. LOL. The ride was sweet, first 100k were in the mountains in the fog, slow but it was in the 70´s and when the blanket lifted it was scenic. I would almost have to say that the highway bordering Mexico and Guatemala was an unknown treasure but when we passed a Winnebago from Ontario hauling an SUV behind I knew it was a lie. The rest of the day could be described in this way...
´´If riding were business, business was good.´´



goldmemb13.jpg


GoldMem11.jpg


The road appeared to be cut out of the forest with the trees still covering most of the road, and when the heat of the day was upon us the shaded areas were welcome. Although now that we are back in Mexico, speed bumps are in fashion in all the small towns. They in most areas are marked well with signs and painted yellow. But not on this road. Nothing like coming out of the shadows and grabbing a fistful of front, and a hard right foot on the rears, to haul her down from 100k to hopefully pass over them at a sensible speed. A couple of times J would fly by on the inside as he was daydreaming. LOL at the next set I could hear him swearing under his helmet, compounded by the fact that he has no rear brakes. He spent some time way back in seclusion watching my brake lights for the rest of the day.

So we hit a second set of ruins on the way to Palenque but they were closing in 15 minutes so we wouldn’t have time to see them. Why would ruins close? They have been there for thousands of years... what are we going to steal rocks???

J is having problems because he speaks spanish. Every time we stop at a police checkpoint for drugs, he spends like 5 minutes with passports and explaining himself. I say ¨´Whatsup, NO espanol¨´ and they usually wave me on no passport or anything. Now I am just therorizing here but if I was manning a checkpoint and a foreigner came up and didn’t speak English I would detain him until I knew exactly what was going on. Strip search them and do other humiliating things until they learned the queens good English, in fact if they had any kind of accent they would get Gertas calloused hand. LOL

goldmemb12.jpg


goldmemb16.jpg


I like Mayans, they are cute and cuddly kind of like Oompa Loompas, they don´t spend all day on the street smoking, swilling beer, they usually have a load of firewood on their backs, they are short and always trim (Texans could learn alot from the Mayans) or are gainfully employed doing something... Every time I see one I just want to start a whole Brangelina adoption agency and take them home with me.

Gotta fly ruins to research... Have fun and play safe ... Mike.....



goldmemb20.jpg
 
Last edited by a moderator:
Joined
Aug 9, 2009
Messages
383
Location
Austin, TX
2/4
In country where ceiling fans and bias ply tires are the norm, and where cows and chickens run free, while dogs roll around the centerlines of the highways scratching their backs. Where at any given place I am the tallest person in the crowd and the palest. I was up at the crack of... the hotel doorbell... Ding dong.... Now if you live in a richer country you might have this happen a few times a week if you say, have children. But in Mexico, I didn't even know they had doorbells.

Nothing like a little bit of exercise and getting lost in a strange city, to start the morning.



We headed out for the ruins. The Palenque ruins. In the spirit of doing one set and making it a good one... Palenque is the one. There are 2 square km of them, a bunch of trails through the jungle, and a separate interpretive center. We spent a better part of the day roaming about them, and hiking the jungle. At one point we came upon a fantastic waterfall that I had to get pics of, so I leapt off of the suspension bridge into the 1" of water to get a good picture, as I was lining it up and getting the best shot possible, I heard a whistle much like a referees, halfway up the side of the mountain, glancing upwards I noticed there wasn't a feminine figure being abused, and I had not tripped someone on a breakaway, but a policeman blowing rapidly and pointing at me. I am pretty sure he was unhappy with my positioning in the riverbed... he continued to blow and I knew that he wasn't serious about arresting me because he was too far up the mountain, and never would have made it down to arrest or caution me by the time I would have been back in town.

goldmemb21.jpg


goldmemb23.jpg


Oh I'm sure they have problems with liability and stuff, and I am also sure that I was not causing an ecological disaster. If I die in 1" of water while taking pictures please ensure my heirs do not sue the Palenque ruins, or the friends of the jungle society because I was not smart enough to roll over and save myself from drowning.

Factual moment for a second here, the Mayans (correct spelling) at one point had 8000 people in this small area, apparently it works out to 4 people per square meter, (do the math if you want) so they eventually ran out of natural resources and had to relocate, I am guessing water was a major factor. The cool fact is that they get 3 crops per year because of the sun and annual rainfall.

This is an after thought, for Lou, it warmed up considerably in the afternoon, well into the 90's and the jungle and the shade for the ruins kept us pale faced Gringos cool.

Non factual stupid thought for the day. If all these Mayans were such small people why are the steps Sooooo far apart in the vertical measure? We climbed everything and then hiked the jungle. It was much easier than doing 2 mountains in one afternoon.

We met the most ???? Interesting woman which was the cherry on top of the whole Mayan ruin experience. We had just walked out of the interpretive center and were looking for the way back to town when she came strolling down the sidewalk. We asked her where she was from, she said she was from "The Universe," although she had some type of European accent and looked kind of white, and that the gods told her to go to Guatemala where they confirmed she was a Mayan Princess, and she was baptized in the lake by a Shamin. Someone had stole all her credit cards and she was living in the jungle.

goldmemb22.jpg




I asked about the cuts on her legs and she did have alot of bug bites on her body and some bruising, indicating she was spending some time in the jungle, she was adorned in a backpack, and a robe of some sort with some sketchy looking boots. She told me they were from running through the jungle naked.......Who were we not to hear out whatever a Mayan Princess had to say????.........She was obviously royalty........

The topics of conversation between her J and I ranged from Fluoride and it's use to sedate the general populous, to her escape from the Masons of which Obama is one, to the 5th brain which is our heart and located inside our chest but if your heart is in the correct place it will center itself. The reason it is to the left is because of our left brain thinking which is disabling our inner selves. A woman walked by and asked if she could join our conversation and we readily accepted her. She asked the Mayan Princess where she came from, and she replied "The universe" The new lady looked at her as if she were crazy. I don't think we ever really found out her name, and I am sure that if J or I were more committal we could be in the heart of the jungle repopulating it with a Mayan Princess right now.

Pics to follow. Oh and she gave me a good luck kiss after I gave her my water bottle, later J and I pondered if the water I gave her could be poisoning her mind in case the water was fluoridated??? I almost wanted to take her for dinner and a beer to hear more about her fascinating life but J was already running for the curb. LOL



The Mexicans have redefined the salad as we know it and I don't like it. They took a basic salad and made it warm, Yup served it cooked, with some cold lettuce, ham, avocado, cheese, tomato and cucumber. The eggs were hardboiled but hot, there were cooked hot potatoes, carrots, and Yams thrown in, I am all for the veggies, but please don't cook them in big chunks and chuck them into my salad. It was still ok with beer, but be wary when ordering. it may be a Mayan Princess plot to get little boys to eat their veggies, cause I am sure my mom has no influence with the mexicans or their culinary works.

Tomorrow is another day and we have no plan or destination... but I am sure there will be riding included...

Winging it one day at a time, having fun and playing safe... Mike....
 
Last edited by a moderator:
Joined
Aug 9, 2009
Messages
383
Location
Austin, TX
2/6
As I sit here in the late afternoon sipping Jack Daniels Old No. 7, while eating the 10 lbs of cashews I purchased in Guatemala wondering if I should have declared them at the border or not. I ponder the recent events and wonder what will happen next... Every day is a new adventure.

Yesterday we departed Palenque in the dew and fog of the early morning, the forecast predicted light rain and 60degrees for most of Mexico and since it was to be only a few hundred Km day, we rode it out.

The plan was to hit one of two waterfalls along the way to San Cristobal. So we stopped at the first one because it was a less than desirable day. At the top of the hill some enterprising young gentlemen, were just setting up there rope and charging 20 pesos admission, we paid and proceeded down, it was about 4 km and we were chased by dogs and avoided chickens the whole way. At the bottom a few more enterprising gentlemen were about to swindle us out of 20 more pesos. Well this was not on. J and I agreed that if they couldn't get their **** together, we were not paying twice. Because neither knew of the others actions. So we rode back up the hill and demanded a refund of our Pesos. We are all about free market enterprise, but were unimpressed with their tactics. We would have paid 50 pesos no problem. But it was their delivery.



goldmemb25.jpg


goldmemb26.jpg


So we hit the second one instead. At the intersection there was a cop sleeping in the front of his police car. How did we know he was sleeping? The pillow and the drooling head against the window. At the top of the hill there was a sign that decreed the monies we were paying went to help the local community. We were given a receipt for 20 pesos and moved on. At the bottom of the hill there was another booth and it was also 20 pesos. Deja Vue?????????????? We were sick of arguing took our receipts and went to the falls.
The rest of the day was winding roads and mountains, it took us all day to do 235km, it wasn't hard to be slow on the donkey trail with a small town with speed bumps every 10km. On the ride down the mountain I was vaguely reminded of the BC
interior.

goldmemb27.jpg


We ended up in San Cristobal for supper and in a second rate dive hostel……but met the Cooolest people. The highlight would be a threesome from the San Fran area, on two different trips. Josh, met Karina and Miss crabby pants on the road and they had been hanging for 3 days, the next day they would separate in two directions. We sipped a few coolies and went out for a nice dinner and dancing later, another amazingly late night had us pushing our bikes into the hostel foyer, whispering.

Karina a little bit of a germaphobe had spent 10 hours ralphing in a bus a week earlier. Some food poisoning thing, at the end of the evening she refused the strawberries that were left out, and related her dislike of fresh salads because of the water they were washed in... and attributed her sickness to them... As she was pulling out her toothbrush from its sealed container I asked if it was still wet? "Yes" she replied, I told her to Google wet toothbrush bacteria, and she was surprised. But she was a ray of sweet youthful sunshine on the whole evening. Nothing really to say about Miss crabby pants... she was just there.



Today J and I parted ways as he has to go back and work. He was an awesome riding Partner and I gave him the whole Me casa sou casa thing, although I don't anticipate seeing him anytime soon, he gets the highest marks for being a totally cool guy, an awesome novice rider who learned fast, and a cool headed ex marine. I will miss his Tequila sipping demeanor.

I also found the worlds best clubhouse... At the Hotel Ciudad R´eal restaurant... Quite honestly the reigning champion was not in recent memory, but I do remember the runner up which would still be the champ if not for closing down, or changing ownership. It was the Hatt Cafe in St. Andrews NB. The new flag holder made a quadrupledecker sandwich. I was a little confused at the separation with the 6" toothpick, I should call it a spear, and after the first quarter I figured it out. The chicken was cut into small pieces and melted in with the generous portion of cheese, separated by bread was the fresh bacon cooked to perfection, then the third had avocado, tomato, onion and hot peppers, the fourth was the standard ham. It was a taste sensation. At 67pesos it was reasonably priced also. I see myself there again on a few occasions, as I have signed up for Spanish training for one week anyways, if all goes well 2 maybe 3. Nate and Marni's wedding will help to structure my timetable.

I made it to the Backpackers Hostel and I would highly recommend it for the atmosphere. I also anticipate being here for a few weeks.

Living small and playing safe.... Mike...

goldmemb28.jpg
 
Last edited by a moderator:
Joined
Aug 9, 2009
Messages
383
Location
Austin, TX
2/11

Just when I thought things would slow down, I started Spanish lessons. Took up salsa dancing, and saw 2 political films about the Zapatista's and the El Salvadorians. So this "IS" turning into the Motorcycle Diaries... Aaaack.

Ok it is real sloooooow... compared to the last few months, but new travelers with interesting stories come through every week, and I have to resist the temptation to "Rock and Roll all night and Party everyday" in the name of Spanish training, besides if I wore myself out what would I do for Nate and Marni's wedding.

I knew before I arrived that Central America was a hotbed for political unrest, and I would still not consider making any long-term investments in these countries. I have now spoken with 5 people with different experiences... and bad ones.

Couple 1: Were robbed at gunpoint in their truck while in Antigua Guatemala. The result was they didn't feel confidant enough to continue to Panama city and returned to the US via San Cristobal.

Dudes 2: Were robbed on the very volcanoes that Jessie and I felt unsafe, coming down at night.

Chick 3: The bus she was traveling on in Guatemala was stopped by police, she was asked to disembark where they told her out of sight of the passengers, to travel you pay. She was essentially singled out as being fair skinned, and robbed by the police. On another bus her backpack and all her cloths were stolen.

Chick 4: It was raining at the market and she took cover as did the rest of the world it was crowded. When she arrived home she noticed her wallet was missing out of her purse. The reason why? Someone had cut her purse with a razor and removed it without her knowledge.

J and I: Have been shaken down numerous times by dirty cops. At least they are HONEST criminals.

One good thing about settling in for a bit has been finding the best restaurants in the city and sampling all the different varieties of foods... I have had a few kick *** salads in the last few days, shared a few pizzas with lovely company and drank cold cervaisas

I have made it out for a few runs, and chosen a challenging route. 285 vertical steps up to the church. Not quite able to run them all yet without pausing, but Rocky only did the steps in Philadelphia, and I have ran those already. Maybe I should ask God for help... with that... LOL.

It is winter in San Cristobal so the weather is moderate, and I like it, I would not fare well here in the summers. Cause sometimes it is "Mucho Caliente" .... Too hot for a fair skinned Gringo (white boy).
Jessie hooked up and is on his way to Puerto Escondido to meet with Gabriela, a cute 24-year-old Swiss girl. He ended up spending an extra day here cause he was Twitterpated.

On the first day of Spanish lessons I managed to shock an Australian Nurse with my total lack of Spanish, and the fact that I have been traveling for 2 months in Central America without it. The 2nd day I was put in my own class so I wouldn't slow her down. I am in a league of my own!!!! ..LOL I have to admit she seemed to be a bit uptight and admitted she hadn't slept in 36 hours because she was coming off of some sort of Peyote high that made her sick.

Today she seemed "More Alive " and I complimented her since she had let her hair down... and wore more relaxed clothing. I will ask her to lunch one day and find out who she really is. I am sure quite nice. I later found out that before she got all Peyote'd up and sick:

Chick 5: She was robbed and assaulted at about 9pm walking home downtown, so she has had a pretty rough week. We are heading out with some classmates for dinner and drinks later.

Week 1 is almost coming to a close and I know a lot more than I knew when I started. Salsa has an 8 beat, and I suck at it, San Cristobal flooded a lot before they built a tunnel through the mountain to drain the water out of the valley in which it is situated. Extremely poor urban planning. French IS somewhat close to Spanish in vocabulary... but has totally different accents... and I now know why Elisabeth says "PONE" instead of "phone"

I will "Ride" this weekend as being trapped in a small town with congested streets is not conducive to Fun.

Happy to be of the masculine gender and playing safe in Mexico... Mike.....
 
Joined
Aug 9, 2009
Messages
383
Location
Austin, TX
2/15
Apparently 5 billion years ago a meteorite slammed into earth inclining it 23 1/2 degrees with the sun and making all life possible... Would Disney lie?

Just short of 5 billion years after this occurrence I was born, and ever since I have been misinterpreted. Mostly by uptight women who feel it is their duty to save the world... from Men. All this stems from the day which I just lived through...LOL
I ended up at a Festival in a neighboring town, where they have some cool rituals and party all day and evening long, this is a huge festive atmosphere that the Indigenous people take very seriously, they dress in brightly colored clothing, play 5 notes of music continuously for hours on home made guitars, accordions, and horns as they parade around the Centro of the city... Lots of fresh fruit and food BBQ ing chickens in the open air, children playing in the streets. Rick myself and 5 women on Valentines day... could it get any better?

I put away my camera for the day as it appears that you steal their souls by taking their picture. There is a church that the minister was abolished from in the 70's so the indigenous peoples could practice their own rituals. Strangely enough, they still worship the Spanish Saints??? It was really interesting though, they are burning Pine sap in incense pots and the whole place has the scent of pine needles, they also spread the needles all over the floor and then make spaces where they light candles and make offerings, eggs, sacrificing chickens, drinks etc.

It is quite an atmosphere, there were a few holes in the roof and the sun shone through the haze of the burning sappy incense to spots on the floor that I am sure if the planets were aligning just correct would point to the tomb of Jimmy Hoffa or the secrets of the universe. All around the inside walls of the church were statues of the Saints with literally thousands of candles flickering away.... Mayans and Mexicans were praying in the open area with their gifts to the gods and it was very spiritual. I was on my best behavior in the house of God and observed quietly for about 20 minutes...

I noticed that Lila and her friend Betty were also in the church. As I stood dutifully by the entrance watching the sunbeams cut through the hazy air and listened to the hum of the Indigenous language as the people prayed. Betty came up and said Hi. Betty and I have a repertoire, as she is 23 and a huge partier, she naps twice a day so she can party with Spanish men until 4am. So I quietly turned to her and mentioned that I heard this was a great place to meet women. She mentioned that I was bordering on Creepy and we both quietly giggled.

As the Festival has a lot of drinking, it wasn't long before one man could barely kneel to pray, and Lila was offended by this, not quite as much as when the Belligerent drunk fell down yelling phrases that would probably be suitable in a church, but not acceptable when one could barely stand, 4 locals carried him out screaming. Ok the whole band was loaded and they were playing in a circle with a case of beer in the middle, the animal horns by their sides held a sugar cane derived alcohol, and most of them were empty. Hence the song they were repeating monotonously had only 5 notes... I am unsure of the age of majority but am convinced that there was underage consumption going on.

As the drunken worshipper was being removed by his 4 limbs, it was apparent that the other men laying about the square in awkward positions were not having Siestas. The conversation ultimately led to the reason why we were warned to remove ourselves from the festivities at 4pm... Apparently it is an abusive culture and some of the men get belligerent in the evenings after drinking. It is not uncommon for men to abuse their spouses and children in their society. The party gets so bad that the women and children on the sidelines usually end up carrying their drunken men home. If they don't end up in Jail which apparently a minimum 3 day sentence is administered, if they are found doing dirty deeds. The three day stay in jail is not a pretty one, as it is in... say Canada, the families are responsible for feeding their relatives and I am sure if you pissed them off badly enough you were going to be hungry.

The jail was in behind the municipal building and the whole town can walk by as the gate or securing bars face outwards for all to see and I am guessing enable the townsfolk to see and mock, as well as feed those in detention. Our trip past had 3 drunken inmates screaming obscenities at all who dared to pass.

At one point as the parade was passing during its marathon run around the center square (The Centro) A very old Indigenous woman walked up and thrust her hand out begging in front of Anna, somehow Anna managed to let her know that she was not feeling very charitable. Leading to this were numerous young children begging for pesos. We were told not to give them anything by the locals as they were just being pests... A short while later the same woman came back, and it was indicated again that Anna was not charitable.

The band was still continuing its rounds the flags waved wildly, the parade danced feverishly and the men behind us in front of the church were setting off a fresh bunch of cannon intensity fireworks behind us, the old lady came again this time she snatched the bag of peanuts right out of my hand and thrust her hand into Anna’s face again, someone from behind her attempted to reason with the begging lady as we decided it was high time to vacate this spot and head for the busses home. Half way up the hill the women were *****ing about men, and the fact that they were afraid to eat the BBQ chicken because it may not be safe, one woman dropped a 50 cent bracelet down a storm grate and retrieving it was more important than the poor mans vending cart nestled precariously on top of 2 orange crates, sitting atop the grate.

I was gallant enough to save the cart and the bracelet before Pandemonium broke out... It was about this time that I had had enough as I figured I was not going to be able to eat until after the 1/2 hour ride home on the "Collectivo" a minivans. I excused myself and told them I would catch up later as I had a hankering for a banana and a beer. Unfortunately enough they were still at the top of the hill when I returned. The conversation somehow turned to the satirical comments in the church, Oh blasphemy... Lila asked how I could possibly think of picking up women when a sacred ceremony was going on? I replied with... "Do you ever get the feeling that we won't fall madly in love and be married one day?" She absolutely has no sense of humor, and I am sure has an ex husband to back me up on that one.

The other day we saw a play called Palenque Rojo (Palenque Red) before the play commenced we were on the street waiting inline on the sidewalk and a pipe burst on the roof sending rain into the streets... It reminded me of a scene of "Singing in the Rain" as the simulated rain showered down onto the streetlights and into the gutter below. The play was similar to the Ballet, but with fight scenes, way cooler costumes, burning incense pine needles, men running through the theater with torches, and cool 15 foot skeletons.... oh and little people, so it had everything... except for words or a storyline anyone could understand. If I didn't have season tickets to the theater in Winnipeg I could almost say it was bordering on gay...LOL

Tomorrow is week 2 of Spanish training and I can understand more than I can speak but it is an awesome experience...

Have fun and Play safe .... Mike....
 
Joined
Aug 9, 2009
Messages
383
Location
Austin, TX
2/17
Week one ended in me offending a few women but as I am on vacation and not really planning on dating or marrying any of them.... Que sera sera... I should mention that they were humorless by my standards anyway.

The early mornings are commenced with church bells... 0630... I attempted to count them but there is no rhyme nor rhythm to them. If I was a much lazier person I would hit the snooze button... But alas no need, the bells ring from another one of the churches at 0645, and another again at 0700. So let's say you were to attempt to sleep through all this at just past 7am the water truck rolls by playing "Raindrops keep falling on my head" over the MEGAPHONE.... and if you were down enough and under the influence, you might not hear the PROPANE truck rolling down the street dragging the chain and bearing races behind it so it makes a distinct sound like metal high pitched rolling across pavement, similar to jingle bells. It is so distinct that every propane truck from here to Panama uses the same sound system.

Safety question????
If you haul propane cylinders in the back of a small Toyota with wooden sides. Is it recommended to drag a spark generating machine under your rear bumper? Or are the chain and bearings just removing static electricity from the truck In order to reduce the chance of accidental explosion.

The week of Spanish started with a new pupil in my class, her name was Maureen. Notice past tense there. She lasted one day just like the last one... I honestly thought they were making women tougher these days. The next morning she asked for private lessons...LOL So I still have a student/teacher ratio of 1/2 meaning it takes 2 of them to handle me for 3 hours. It is awesome and I am learning a lot faster than last week now that I have a little bit of a base, it is fun and challenging.
San Cristobal has some seriously decadent restaurants, and would never even think to eat out every night with this caliber of service and food in Canada or the US. I usually get away under 100pesos for drinks and food, do the math it is 13 pesos to a dollar.

The evenings are even more exciting than the mornings..... In that if you choose to stay at a hostel, the number of people that roll in and out of one in a week is phenomenal... and every night is a new party waiting for a place to happen. I could do it but am sure my liver would divorce me and ask to be sent in for medical experimentation.... maybe something a little calmer than EVERY night partying downtown... and then ending up by the fire swigging sugar cane alcohol 40% for 18 pesos a bottle. The mix is more expensive.

So if you think your going to relax in the bunkhouse and get a good nights sleep.....LOL Your more naive than Michael Jackson’s fans. In the last hour no fewer than 30 firecrackers have gone off, a marching band made its way down the street which is coincidentally right outside my window, and a woman from the other room ran in and screamed shut the X6%&*)$ up to a British woman from London, who seemed to be a little quieter than the fella from Belfast, who must be partially death because he is definitely a few decibels above a jet engine.

The other evening they attempted to coerce me out and I reasoned with them that I would have a beer when they returned at 3am/ Seemed a good enough plan and I knew they would be DONE by then, so it was a safe plan also.

At 3am they all rolled in louder than freight trains, lights all went on.. and I was expecting it... so I rolled over and went back to sleep, it did take me a few minutes because the woman from London was snoring like a Jake brake on an 18 wheeler coming down a long grade in low gear... She... and we... eventually all fell asleep and survived.

Oh my I seem to have neglected to speak of the animals present. No chickens, but 3 cats make their home in the hostel, on two nights they have been doing a crazy mating/fighting ritual on the metal roof... It is really quite funny because it starts out like moaning for a few minutes... intensifies and then ends up being a huge scrap with cats racing around the roof until they find somewhere else to go... In the mornings one of them is usually taunting me by sleeping on my motorcycle.

The weather has been a sun haters dream. 10-20 degrees Celsius, cool in the morning and hot enough that the afternoons require sunscreen or a hat. A few clouds with no chances of precipitation.
I LOVE IT.

This is definitely not for woosies who have difficulty sleeping and require beauty sleep without interruption. My naval training of spending all those years overtired with diesel generators howling a deck down, bow thrusters and props cavitating during turns, and people coming and going, doors slamming all hours of the night. Oh and living in the North end. Has prepared me for this vacation... LOL

This weekend will find me searching for beaches and points beyond on my motorcycle, As I really need to turn this stay back into the motorcycle vacation I am on. I will be back for Monday as I am sure one more woman will step up to the plate and attempt to learn Spanish in "MY" class, and since I have been having a way with the other half lately, I am sure at least one will find me virally offensive.

Have fun, and play safe ....Mike....
 
Joined
Aug 9, 2009
Messages
383
Location
Austin, TX
2/20

This email is being completed in the sunshine 20C while consuming cervaisa. Originally started out as a 4 4 2 which meant two nights of 4 am each and 2 hours sleep. But in light of recent events namely last night the numbers have changed and unfortunately I have no motorcycle stories to tell. But the TSX is up 2.1% this week so I can stay on holidays for at least another week. LOL

If the 2 young Chicitas from London don't stop running around the dorm room half naked I will never leave San Cristobal.... But they are serious partiers so I am holding my tongue in my cheek so as not to offend them.

Two nights in a row I was out to 4 am, the first morning I woke up early enough to make it to school but realized I was not legal to drive anywhere in the world (Even in Mexico). So I ate some food, brushed my teeth, because the horrible taste in my mouth was preventing me from falling back asleep... So that the alcohol in my system could run its course. Oh and I skipped out on Spanish classes for the morning. The only other time I have ever skipped out of school was coincidentally during French class years back and it was for a beach thing... With a very persuasive woman.....

The second morning I woke up on the other side of town after being chivalrous and walking Ana home from the bar, after it closed and they told us to go away. I resisted the urge to stay for breakfast as I was in a good enough shape to go conjugate a few verbs at school after 2 hours of sleep, and I felt that a little guilty for missing the prior day at school. LOL So I went... after all I was paying for it and I am sure they teachers missed me.


I thought it would be good to relax after school so I did, no sleep to compound my 2 previous hours, just some homework, and relaxing watching movies. Another night by the fire with all the hostel people and some silly drinking games.

Last night was a wee bit longer, 5:30 am by the time we all got to bed. Oh but what a night. Although I must digress, the two 18 year olds REALLY wanted to go out and party. Coincidentally so did I. A large dinner was in order and a Wal Mart chewable vitamin, which I don't know how effective they are but I am taking all precautions...LOL

There were people from every country there during the 3 nights and the dance floor was always full, there were fights, broken beer bottles, blood and last night a vagrant who was attempting to get in the bar inebriated was ejected and sedated with his own bongo drum. It was a little bit of everything all wrapped into one cool place. Did I mention that beer was 20 pesos each or 35 for the 710ml bottles?

Same pub 3 nights running. What a cool dance bar literally a hole in the wall on an almost vacant street, 1st night live band... but not what you would expect. The instruments included a flute and the lower mandible or jaw of a horse skull and when used with a drum stick made a distinct sound. They were on fire and that is what turned the evening into an all nighter. Their second night it was a punk band and they were also rocking hard. Last night was just a DJ but he did a good job.

Today I am hungry. Taking a break as I am not out to set a world record or anything stupid like that. In fact I spent most of the chilling on the upper terrace eating pizza, and chatting with the locals. I received an invite to go out and witness a piercing but decided to hang out with Dean Koontz and the "Intensity" novel. It is the first "NO DAY" since Guatemala and I am enjoying it.

Tomorrow I have an invite to a dinner party and apparently my cooking skills are required...LOL One week of Spanish training left and then heading for the coast, on the eastern side to check out the beaches and the wedding. At the end of this writing I have just committed to going out for Beer whatever that is.

Have a great day and play safe...... Mike.....PS I may not make it to church tomorrow so someone please pray for me.... but I will go for some serious exercise..
 
Joined
Aug 9, 2009
Messages
383
Location
Austin, TX
2/21

This email may seem satirical or even funny at times.... Don't let the lighthearted banter fool you! read between the lines. M.

In order to train for survival in Mexico one must consider many factors. Sure I have had people recommend and were more than willing to supply me with firearms for the trip, but that 's not one of them. Mostly there are state of mind factors.... First of all come ready to lose everything you own.... and if you cannot possibly live without something, because it might get lost, wrecked or stolen then staying home might be another consideration.

Apparently getting shots for Hep A, B and yellow fever, rabies if you have ever been chased by a dog on a motorcycle, Kevlar boots, if you have ever been caught by a dog on a motorcycle, loggers Kevlar chainsaw pants may also be a consideration. First of all if you are on a motorcycle we know there are no airbags and at every turn we could lose our lives. Like the Luge dude in the Olympics. We all know the consequences of wiping out at speed and although we respected him his accomplishments and attitude, we can only say he went out in a blaze of glory. Doing what he loved......

Life is a lifelong game.... Have fun and Play safe......

Training Day 1:
Take a chicken out of the freezer or even fresh from the supermarket. Ensure it is the biggest one they have, look hard for it, small chickens are for dinner parties and will not have the desired half life needed for training. Leftovers are important here and who knows who will show up for a beer to help you eat it.
Call your sister for cooking directions... Even though you have probably done it a million times call her anyways she will at least be happy to hear you are eating correctly.

Cook chicken, but at half heat or for half of the recommended time. As the Manitoba pork producers say "Just a hint of pink". Consume said chicken but not all of it always save some for later (eating more than a third may be considered gluttonous). With said chicken, serve rice, salad, and cheese. Rice is simple to prepare, No explanation required.

Cheese should be aged enough so that when you pull it from the fridge it has a slight white chalky coating on most of it and the ends should be cut off because they are turning a bit moldy. This is exactly right for training. Feed the ends to the dog, she will appreciate it and it will help her immune system also. Your choice of cheeses may vary but purchase at least a kilo at a time so it will last, small blocks are consumed in omelets in and Keesh. We don't want to be known as keesh eaters. Cheese will also help to ensure the waste disposal process is a solid one, cause were really working on both ends of the spectrum here.

Preparation of the salad should include forgoing the cleaning process, cause whatever doesn't make you sick makes you live longer. Consume said meal and the throw leftovers back into fridge... Ensure they are not completely covered, so they can all breath... Leave the rice on the back of the stove but ensure there is some chicken residue on top of it. Now eat out a for a few days.... Work with me here I am attempting to save your life. Are you planning on traveling with a partner? Ask them over for supper.

Timeline Day 4,5,6:
Nuke one of the remaining 2/3's of the chicken cause it always tastes worse that way, but if you mix it with the rice and add a layer of freshly sliced AGED cheese to the top, and some beer it will hit the spot. Ok after this meal you should be out of rice and salad, but fresh vegetables are plentiful and cheap.

Day 7:
Ask your girlfriend over to watch a movie, offer to make her a chicken sandwich, she will ask and I am unsure why? How long the chicken has been in the fridge, partially covered, your response will dictate which topping she chooses for the pizza, if you say longer than 8 days she will order vegetarian, if you say 4-6 she will still be ok with meat lovers. Never say 7 days it appears to be a magical number, and it only leads to bad vibes and mostly a loooooooong lecture about food storage and preparation. Oh, if she questions the cooking process, throw her a curveball like a secret family recipe or something, never ever divulge details like cooking times or heat settings those are secrets for you and your sister.

So now you are set you have leftover pizza and chicken in the fridge... If it takes 2 more days to eat the leftover pizza, then your not trying hard enough, because I know you ordered extra large. Most of it should be gone by lunchtime, if you were astute enough and knew what we were attempting to accomplish here you would have left the pizza on the stove overnight and had a few nuked pieces for breakfast with what was left of the 2 liter coke that came with it. Of course you were quick enough to seal the Coke up and refrigerate it, cause warm Coke and ice... is a sin.

Ok stick with me here.... This is the difference of say 14 hours on a bus running to and from the head, or an evening of changing bunks (top)cause all of a sudden you didn't feel well enough to climb down off of it and ended up throwing up in it, cause you thought the chicken would settle down. To a mere mortal it would be food poisoning. To us it is training... cause we are on our way to Mexico.

Day 8:
Evening....or 9 or 10 depending on your personal schedule, the later the better. Find the bread under all the newspapers on the kitchen table in the sun, remove the first 4 slices, discard into bushes beside house, they are already green and we are in training.... WERE NOT STUPID. Remove chicken, cheese, and mayonnaise from fridge... remove all meat from chicken, feed skin to dog, throw bones away. Fat may cause high blood pressure, and really is the key ingredient in gravy, which is really just fat, flour and water, which by no strange coincidence are essentially the key ingredients in "Paper mache" which when hardened makes cool piggy banks, but not so cool hardened arteries. Under conspiracy theories I am sure women know this but keep feeding it to us because it is the way to a mans..... Hardened arteries.... Oh and cause it tastes friggin great on everything.

Make a hero sandwich, after scraping up some pickles and tomatoes and add lots of pepper for seasoning. This is a low salt program so if you happen to be hooked up, throw it all away your significant won't be impressed but she will thank you in the end. The shakers, the big box in the back of the cupboard that has been there forever... throw it all out... or give to neighbors.

Remove Coke from fridge, shake to check freshness, discard if necessary... Presentation is everything, place nicely on a plate and cut in half if you so choose. If you feel compelled to remove the crusts... Please delete this email and forget you know me. Bon Appetite. Catch a game on tv, relax and see if your training is working out.

If you have time Google food poisoning. I have seen this phenomenon take about 3-8 hours depending on the average persons fortitude... followed by an evening of serious unhappiness, that sometimes results in phone calls to a local restaurant in order to lay a superficial blame factor on someone’s inability to live up to the challenges everyday life throws at us. If you happen to feel slightly dizzy or other side effects you may need to repeat this process again. If you are Ok and have been following the training regimen exactly as specified….You are ready for Mexico.

I personally have only had food poisoning once, and it was no coincidence that I was married at the time... I ralphed and slept for about 3 hours, then I think I was OK. I narrowed it down to a plate of nachos and cheese that had spent a day in the fridge and then upon coming out of it's hypothermic state decided to turn on me for not finishing it all in the first place. I was so young and naive back then, not to finish the whole triple layered cookie tray of nachos in one sitting. I broke one of the cardinal man rules and the food turned on me, call it bad karma like littering if you choose.

Ok.... So our training is complete and we know all the risk factors and have physically prepared our bodies for Mexico.

Another reason I brought up this point is because I didn't just have to be nice to one but two roommates last night and it was disrupting my sleep, sure it is Mexico, but with proper training we all could have had a good nights sleep and not worried about cleaning bedding or garbage cans out this morning.

Have a great day and play safe...... Mike.......
 
Joined
Aug 9, 2009
Messages
383
Location
Austin, TX
2/24
One of the cool things about Mexico is that they have parades just about every weekend, for what? who knows...? The other day I was coming back from getting lost on the other side of the mountain after running the 285 steps up to the church and I ran headlong into a small parade. Rather than attempt to run against the bulls I joined the crowd for a few blocks in Ferris Bueller fashion, unfortunately there were no Floats with music, just women throwing out candy. Men shooting off fireworks, and lots of children chasing clowns.

An unusual day in Mexico is when you find a public bathroom with a toilet seat. They more often than not, they do not have toilet paper and you have to ask for it when you pay your 4 pesos. Once a man at a gas station after I paid him the exorbitant sum, took a little grilling to come up with the goods so to speak. When he started to rip up a newspaper I courteously declined, and walked over to my motorcycle to retrieve the emergency roll. I have found that if the men’s room is full use the women’s and usually there is a seat... Leave it up... A cardinal man rule..LOL It is like marking your territory.

The interesting thing about staying at a hostel is that, it is like you have 19 roommates at any given time and all of them end up drinking your beer when your gone. So buy in small drinkable quantities.

How exciting is life??? Today in my floundering state I exercised, went to school, ate lunch, hung with my Spanish BFF, took a field trip with my instructor, almost ate a restaurant recommended by the New York times, was in a school documentary about France, (Cause a guy on the street was holding up a handmade sign in French, and I said Bonjour in passing). I had dinner in a restaurant where the lights got dimmer by the minute and someone crooned out 80's hits slowed down on a piano, solved the Mexican indigenous issues, (Okay it would take a giant leap of faith and a non corrupt Mexican govt... so in theory I did), watched a woman cry as she got a nose piercing, stopped into a bar that had a live acoustic guitar for the third night in a row, and now am about to indulge in a cervaisa by the fire... Whew!!!

Oh and I had the hostel do my laundry. Since it was 25C I wore my shorts, my blackest T shirt, sandals and sent the rest in.

Tip#2345.7 If you absolutely love a certain piece of clothing don't bring it here, the laundry detergent is Fierce on cloths, and I am not the only one who has noticed.... they will wear out prematurely.

This weekend I will roll..... as I pack up all my Spanish conjugated verbs into my little notebook and head for the coast and towards Belize, I hear the snorkeling and diving is awesome and I have an inkling there may be some seafood about. In a way it will be nice to depart San Cristobal, as just the other day I realized that I have wore out 3 Spanish teachers, only one guy has survived the wrath of Mike.

I have from Saturday until March 3rd....ish to show up in Cancun, so I think another 7 days at least of exploring which I am looking forward to. As it is as if I have been in an airplane here.... Not on the ground but in the air... waiting for the OK to land...on my motorcycle.... cause if I were on the ground there is a chance I may never take off, in the air, sooner or later I would have to come down... and ride into the sunrise on my moto.

I was never able to see how people could spend 6 months in Canada, and 6 months here for the winter, but I do now. There is so much to see and do, being in the hostel every night is like grad night, parties, people departing for places unknown, tearful goodbyes. The restaurants are simply awesome, pubs with live music, street performers, everything is a 15 minute walk maximum from the hostel.... of course it is all in the name of tourism.

Plus the fact that I have met some super cool new people, that if I was in a bar Winnipeg would never even get a chance to talk to. It may be my introverted personality (thanks Paul) or the curiosity, that made all the new friends and killed the cat... but everyone has a pretty cool story from 18 to 78 years old, and they all have their own interesting reasons to travel.

Today one more person spent the day in bed, due to lack of "Mikes Mexican training" program and our heartfelt... "Can we drink your beer while your down" went out to her. I should knock on wood or something cause I know my time will come.... then I will deserve it.

Have a great day and play safe...... Mike.....
 
Joined
Aug 9, 2009
Messages
383
Location
Austin, TX
2/26
And I take a deep breath and I get real high
And I scream at the top of my lungs what's going on?

Not exactly what the Marching band was playing at just past 6 this morning as they rolled down the street in front of my window, and they appeared to stop to serenade me so I took the hint and joined the day with all the enthusiasm I could muster. A wee bit of exercise was in order and I took the back streets. They are not as pretty as the centro and there aren't people tasked to clean them either, the dogs are more prominent.

San Cristobal is alive at 6am the sun is bright the streets are a bustle... but it is Mexican time... People are setting up their carts in the market the Collectiveos (minivan busses) are in full swing. They also have their big meal at 2pm in the afternoon. They slow down for the heat of summer and also time their slow periods during the rainy season where everyday it rains at somewhere just past noon. I will have to prep up after 3 weeks here, as I have arranged to borrow some cloths for Nate and Marnis wedding. Some hair gel will probably will be in order, as I have been showering everyday, not quite hippy status yet, but I lost my comb over a month ago... so the hair does what "It" wants.

Flip Flops... I just love to make fun of them... cause they are consumable like pop bottles and useless like desert forks.
Tip #3672.9
If you are traveling in beach areas buy a decent set of sandals that strap on. Too many people get attached to the useless items and spend more time adjusting, looking for, and buying new ones, cause they suck.

As I sit in the Centro in the morning the sun shines warmly as it crests over the church, American music form the 60's- 80's plays in the square, greeting the tourists as they disembark. The street vendors scurry away to their next customer as I resist eye contact and greet them with a gruff "No Gracias" for I am stationary doing my homework (Tarea) Shoe shine boys hustle customers for 10 pesos a pair, the pigeons flutter about wings clapping ever so softly, I wonder what they do for food??? They never seem to leave the square, and my thoughts turn to what will kill me first? Artificial colors, sweeteners, flavors, or will it be the plastic bottle my drink came in? Or will I die in Mexican prison after killing the vendor who has been meowing his imitation Cat call for the last 45 minutes. Who would buy such a stupid thing??? Who needs to imitate a cat?

Young children who should be in school are peddling bracelets and trinkets, unfortunately their whole life will probably be doing the same thing, as I have seen 3 generations of the same family in the Centro doing it..... Until?? the next Zapatista uprising? Who are the Zapatistas? Google it.. They have spent over 15 years fighting for the rights of the Indigenous peoples and unfortunately not making much headway.

Now as much as it hurts to say this, they seem to have turned out to be theme park fodder. With there black balaclavas on, he tourists visit their villages on busses, they sell dolls and pens with the Zapatista characters. I personally think it is a bit of a mockery and will not be on that tour. From my point of view they have made some accomplishments, but they have essentially been held at bay and given false promises time after time by their government.

Speaking of Mexican time, I had to do a consent form as my child is traveling and it needed to be notarized. I seemed to remember doing one before I departed Canada, but it wasn't acceptable any longer. It was as painful as my buddy Ray driving 8 hours roundtrip to drop off new passport photos so his family could travel. I inquired an was told that there was a law school just down the road, who unfortunately could not help me, but sent me to a lawyer or Notary Public, who would not touch the document unless it was translated into Spanish..

So I headed for the Translation school, it took a week and about 4 hours of me coming and going. With the lawyers goofing about and the running around it was another 10 hours, and I still haven't mailed it yet. Cost: translation 250 pesos, cab fare 40 pesos, Notary public 1000 pesos, shipping??? Damage to my brain from the aneurism I had getting it all done ....Priceless....

Canadian time..... 2 hours including calling to find an officer who can sign and stamp it, mailing it and chowing down on a bucket of chicken on fat Thursdays for an hour. Cost $4.50 priority post.

The other day I was in a small art gallery and part of the display was pictures of the floods in San Cristobal, which were quite frequent in the 30's - 60"s... I thought it was interesting and went back the other day. The gallery is so small the exhibit had changed, now it was some kind of half naked women statement about the environment. It looked like Zena posters from the 70's but with lots more flesh. So I was now on a mission to find out more. To rectify this flooding problem they tunneled through the mountain to drain it out the other side. Quick Geography spot, San Cristobal is situated in a valley, that will flood if there is too much rain.... I tracked the creek running through the city to the South west end. The creek is raw sewage, with chickens littered about. What one would expect of an undeveloped country. When I finally found the tunnel and it wasn't anything one would write home about, but alas I am. I imagine it is large enough that you could probably drive a car through it but sewage disappears to who knows where?

I am out tomorrow at the crack of whatever rolls by my window at 6am, I wonder if I can order a marching band wake up call? For parts unknown, shooting for Belize or the east coast south of Cancun apparently there is some diving and snorkeling I need to check out. Ok I just checked a calendar and I have 5 days to arrive in Cancun, so tomorrow morning when I look at the map I will have to formulate some kind of a plan.... LOL

Have fun, play safe .............Mike.....

2/27
Spelled backwards because I have already done it once, but this time it is in reverse. The Marching band definitely has my number.... The other day they strolled by trumpeting merrily at 6am. I was dumb enough to mention in an email that they would be a good wake up call. This morning they were at it again, and I figured it was a good enough reason to get my *** out of bed because I wanted to get an early start on riding today.

So I rolled out of bed and out the door to the Baño across the courtyard to relieve the late night refreshments, only to find the hostel lights were a bit blinding, the night guard was napping on the front desk all cozied up in a blanket. There was a cat sleeping on my motorcycle. On my way back as my eyes adjusted to the light I looked upon the wall above the comatose guard to see that indeed the Band did have my number…and that number was 5am. Well mother****er those homosexual ****ing bugle boys really got me this time, it is like they have no boundaries, almost an invasion of personal space. But a well planned attack on my sleep.....TOUCHE......

So I went back to bed until the sun came up...LOL and I was cheery and chipper... others at breakfast were not so amused as to the on goings their windows that early.... LOL

The road to Palenque in reverse, is also the way around the Yucatan peninsula. I attacked it right after breakfast and it was awesome for the first 30km then there were a group of 500 people picketing the road against the privatization of government services such as water and hydro... I think the privatization is supposed to take place in the next few days... I was vehicle 4 stopped from the south... I looked down the side of the mountain and and saw an alternate route... and I considered it for about 3 seconds... It was doable but I wanted to feel the locals pain so I took a leaflet and joined a group rebelling against the gov't... most of the instructions were in Spanish and I am sure as the only Gringo I was elected to assassinate someone important but probably will be negligent in my duties, They were a peaceful bunch and I am sure will be hit hard by the privatization and inevitable rate hikes, as well as the disruptions in service that will follow as the growing pains are worked out of the system.

Ok so this is a motorcycle journey and to build the perfect morning depart before the traffic and busses can hit the road so I did... The road to Palanque on last trip through, took Jessie and I all day cause we were sightseeing and stuck behind busses and stuff.

This time I was alone and on fire!!!!!!.... the road is 210km of mountains...all twisted turning, undulating, hairpins, sweepers, rutted, potholes the size of semi tires, the road is actually shifting in a bunch of spots and sags up to 8 inches and has one million speed bumps on it. Did I mention the scenery was spectacular and the temperature was crisp, warming slowly as I rode. My clutch hand was actually getting tired by the time I hit Palenque. I all charged up by the marching band at 5am, I attacked it with the utmost throttle available, and all the brakes I could muster into the corners. OOooooooh it was ****ing awesome! Oh and I broke another bag mount jumping something but was able to wire it up until I could get to a welding shop. 100 meters down the road.

So now I am holed up in some town 450km away and a heading for the far eastern side of the Yucatan peninsula on my way to Playa del Carmen near Cancun for the wedding. Tomorrow I will hit the coast and hopefully get some diving and snorkeling in.

General interest item the guidebook says that nudity is tolerated on 3 beaches in the area... I will send pics..lol

Playing as hard and as safe as my saddlebags will let me... You do the same..... Mike....
 
Joined
Aug 9, 2009
Messages
383
Location
Austin, TX
2/28

285 steps.... who's your Daddy.... run em with me... No stopping.
Goldmem30.jpg


The resistance to privatization... outside San Cristobal........
goldmemb33.jpg


Sometimes you just have to stop and smell the flowers..... and take a siesta
goldmeb32-1.jpg


Mexican drag tire but seems to run smoother than your standard knobby..LOL Good when it turns soft quick...
Goldmemb34.jpg
 
Joined
Aug 9, 2009
Messages
383
Location
Austin, TX
3/1
I have stayed in some pretty nice hotels and some dives for $100US a night, with bugs and no hot water. Two nights ago took the cake. I was still reeling from the 5am band incident and made it past Panlenque to find some pretty straight open highway. My rear Mexican racing slick was doing its job and the KM were accumulating on the odometer nicely, and it was getting a little later in the day... I decided to catch the next city on the map cause anything after it would have had me riding into the night.

Supper, Internet and a bed were all I needed. The first inkling that it was not going to be good was a 50 foot Burger King neon sign, this place just reeked of culture already, and believe it or not it was the only illuminated sign in town besides the PMEX (petroleum Mexico gas station sign). I ate a generic meal, opened up the guidebook and read the overwhelming one paragraph, they had spent obviously days reworking to make it all just right.
Quote "Unless you must break your journey to rest, there is no reason to stay in this town at the junction of ....) Unquote. I found a hostel checked in and chased down some Internet.

The room was Spartan, I would say cabin like, the window was nonexistent but it did have chain link fencing and a bug net across it, the door was rough wood slats joined with an upper and lower horizontal board and a hasp and staple locking it on the outside, inside there was some type of a recycled latching mechanism, that was rusting through the many layers of chipping paint. I didn't care I was tired.

The evening guard was watching Mexican wrestling on TV just outside my door at the front desk... and it was pretty loud.... About 1/2 an hour later I started to itch a little, and my mind raced, from bed bugs to fleas, the last Coke of the nights caffeine was sufficiently taking hold. I got up turned on the light and itched my back on the doorframe while turning on the fan for some white noise to drown out the wrestling. I decided to give sleep one more chance.. I was really hoping the bites would stop and I didn't relish the thought that would have to shower and get a new room or even new place to stay that night. I eventually fell asleep.

I awoke to the sound of Monotooth Vampires, and figured if I could just get another hour of sleep I would be fine, but it was no use. here were mosquitoes in my room and more than 3 of them because that’s all I could confirm killing with the lights out. I considered getting up and digging through my luggage for the Deet industrial grade repellant, and lathering it on, but rolled over and put my head under the covers instead. That worked for about 15 minutes before the reinforcements arrived and I realized that the evening watchman was listening to the Top 10 accordion hits of the 60's, the only thing that could have got me out of bed faster would have been Bagpipes.

So I jumped out of bed and greeted the day with vim and vigor. Packed up my **** pushed my bike out of the lobby and hit the road. It was still dark and I figured the sun would be up any minute now. It was below 10C and the wind-chill was noticeable. The road was straight but it was dark as heck so I followed a semi form New York with vanity plates that read "Squiggy". I figured he could clear the wild animals out of the way, and provide instantaneous road condition updates with his rear tires from 200 meters ahead of me.

I followed him until the sun came up... It was 155km later..

Ok so I don't mind staying up until 4am but getting up at that time is not usually on my top 10 list of things to do. I rode for another 2 hours before I was able to find a place for breakfast. I took a siesta later in the day and exceeded my own expectations, for distance when I arrived in Tulum just after lunch.

It was fate because my intel had led me to believe that the Canada US hockey game was at 6pm, I was walking by a bar at 3ish when I glanced in and realized it was game on. How to find 7 other Canadians in a foreign town? Put a hockey game on TV. It is like bait to a mouse you know they are going to go for it. I only wish the rest of Canada loved the Leafs and then I could see all the games while on vacation. It was comforting to see Gordie Howe, Wayne Gretzky, and Willam Shatner, our beloved Prime Minister, and others at the game.. I am fully confidant that the country is being run well when both of the Canadian hockey teams won Gold, not that any other sport even mattered to me at the games, but when we clean up in women's and fight for it in overtime in the men's it is just one more reason I am a proud Canadian.

Tip #264.78 Don't stay in ESCARCEGA....

It is Monday and I have a day of snorkeling and changing my oil, ahead of me. I was going to swap out my Mexican racing slick on the rear but if the highways, stay this flat and straight I may enjoy the Smooooooth ride a few more days. I have a Pirelli MT70 strapped to the rear of my bike ready to go.

Have fun and play safe .... Mike.....
 
Joined
Aug 9, 2009
Messages
383
Location
Austin, TX
3/6

TULUM Mexico.

Okay I truly feel sorry if you spent the day playing guitar hero.... but I feel pretty sorry for myself because it was too windy to go snorkeling, and apparently too cold for all the women to take their tops off at the beach, but just right too go body surfing and out for a fresh seafood dinner.

MMmmm Oh look I even changed my own oil... The oil change places in Mexico and central America will let you buy their oil and change it yourself for no extra charge, they just want to ogle your motorcycle like it was a piece of meat. Oh the sacrilege. My bike is more than just good looks... but seriously the 3 times I have stopped in the oil change places and bought about $10, 2 liters of oil, they have been more than happy to help me out and dispose of my used oil and filter while I do the work and I have offered on all three occasions to pay them. It is pretty cool. Mind you it takes me 15 minutes in and out and I don't make a mess, rags are not real common but I have my own stuff.

I ended up meeting 3 Norwegian women at the hostel and that is who I hung with at the beach, one named Marie was a lot of fun and we ended up body surfing and swilling beer all afternoon, the evening was a seafood bonanza and on the way back to the hostel on a whim we stopped in dive shop. 10 minutes later we were signed up for a dive at 9am.

The dive was at one of the many Cenotes, which are underwater caves full of stalagmatites and other cool stuff. Apparently there are something like 8000 cenote in Mexico. The one we saw was fresh water and the 2 dives were at about 15-30 feet deep. I have done a lot of diving over the years, most of it in the Navy and ALL over the world. but quite frankly this cave dive was one of the coolest ever. It could be pitch black and no clearance at times as well as bright as day because of holes in the cave ceiling, stalagmites hung from the ceiling and formed from the floor up, it was truly a memorable experience. We ended up down for about 2 hours total with the 2 dives and Wow!!! I didn't buy the pictures because I have no room, but if you were to Google cenotes you would see some really cool ones.

After the dive and supper I proceeded to Playa del Carmen, the 45-minute journey was not without its moments.... Like the moment due to an oversight I realized my camera was missing. Never to be seen again. As I said earlier if you’re not willing to lose it don't bring it. In an attempt to rationalize my shortcomings I deduced that a new smaller camera would be more in tune to my needs. The new one would not use special $15-25 batteries and it is also smaller and pocket size. On a sad note I also lost my spare goggles, Snap on pocketknife and Maple leafs shaving kit.

Off to the resort. Oh what a resort it was... 5 star, and I couldn't eat another morsel of seafood, by the time I left. Shrimp cooked a million ways, lobster, sushi, smoked salmon and bagels, Coby beef (I didn't even know what that was before I arrived). It was truly insane, the grounds were impeccable, beachside, swim up bars in the pools, every activity you could possibly imagine. Oh and ALL the alcohol you could drink was FREE. There were actually 4 resorts in the same area under the same secured fence and beach arrangement, each had their own armband, and if you had a silver like we did you could go anywhere, which meant about 15 different restaurants to choose from, since we were staying at the expensive one we could go anywhere but the common folk could only do in their area or below.

Even the beach gear was nicer in our area. The building was huge.. all marble, paintings, statues, full size wooden horses, fountains, each area had its own entertainment venues. The rooms were sweeeeeet, the bar fridge was always stocked and free, they refilled it each day, anything you wanted, the room service menu was available 24 hours a day. A dude would serve you on the beach and also bring you food there. I had smoked salmon and shrimp on toast. There were massages, para sailing, scuba diving.... Seriously you wanted for nothing. If you decided to go somewhere in the resort, say to the shopping complex. A dude would take you in a golf cart and pick you up. They had their own ambulance and small first aid facility…everyone wore a smart looking uniform, the security guards looked like they were about to go on safari with their round top hats... It was beyond decadent.

The wedding was the most original I have ever seen, it was done in a theme park at the base of some ruins that looked like a place for a good sacrifice.. Not a lot of women can pull off the hair up thing and still look attractive but Marni did, and she was hot, Nate had us all rolling when his reply to the vows was "I guess so". Not too many guys can get away with that one... It was a true testament to Marnis sense of humor and demeanor... Simply spectacular.

I spent last evening a few hours south of Playa Del Carmen in Chetimul, and this evening I am about a hour or so from Veracruz, so it was a 1000km (600Mile) day, not too bad considering all the construction and potholes.

I am gumballing it too Creel which will be a good place to meet other riders and see the best parts of Copper canyon. Another day or so and I should be there. I also need to decide when exactly to change my rear Mexican racing slick, which is awesome on the straight flat roads, but will need to go before copper canyon.

I hope the next couple of days are as nice for riding as they were today as it was sunny, mild, no wind, the sweet smell of sugar cane wafting through my nostrils... The coastal air... Oh did I mention that I almost met my untimely demise on 2 occasions today, both in the same big city, (which only serves to remind me why I hate big cities) where I witnessed at least 7 other cases of retard drivers.

My favorite was 2 dumptrucks... One being towed by the other with a small rope crossing a divided highway with 4 lanes of traffic at extremely slow speed. Another was at dusk when a cab just about took out another motorcycle and all I heard were the squealing brakes and the ensuing smoke show. I probably could have stopped and mentioned to the motorcyclist that had his light (which are not mandatory during daytime in Mexico) been on, he may have been easier to see. But alas as every time I pass a bike car or truck they flash at me because they think I don't know my lights are on..LOL

With all the sights and scenery on the road I see a lot of vultures. Usually they are in groups, I guess I should call them flocks. Of 10-25, and they are doing well. There seem to be more than enough stray dogs, cows, horses, and the such littering the roadways... Which leads me to ask the question??? Are Vultures cannibals???

As my evening draws to a close I don't have the brainpower to finish with the most exciting story of the week which is how to stay at a 5 star resort for almost free. Which I will undoubtedly have to sit down and recollect the events that led up to my 3 night stay.

On the road and playing safe hopefully your doing the same...... Mike....
 
Joined
Aug 9, 2009
Messages
383
Location
Austin, TX
3/7
This email is entirely devoted to how to stay at a 5 star resort for virtually free. I had to wait until I was out of the Mexican province and jurisdiction to write it. The wedding was at the swankiest place I have ever stayed... On the evening when I showed up, I had trouble finding the place because it was 16km north of Playa Del Carmen. I asked a cop cause they know everything and he had to use his radio to call and ask for directions... When I arrived the entrance was huge and it was manned by a security guard, as I had predicted. I showed him my ID and he asked if I had reservations? I said no but my friends were expecting me for the wedding. A few phone calls later he let me pass and told me where to go. The resort is composed of 4 separate resorts all on the same grounds... and it is about 3 km long.

I was instructed to go to the pyramid (who the heck builds an almost life-size pyramid??? expensive resorts and Vegas that's who) and the Grande hotel complex was just behind it. When I arrived I asked the clerk to call my 3 contacts, they were not in, so she left messages... I inquired if I could go find them? She agreed that it was an option and said to wait a security guard would escort me. Cool. So I kicked back and relaxed in a big comfy chair and watched the world go by.

In the clerks defense I was in my riding gear and hadn't showered or combed my hair that day as I was up at the crack of dawn went for a dive, ate lunch and rode north... So when 10 minutes later I asked her when might the security guard be coming she said that he wouldn't, and asked me if I would like to speak to manager?
Well it is and exclusive resort and a pass for the day is $190US, for the evening it was only $100, but I didn't really want to spend it if I wasn't going to be able to hang out with my friends, and no one knew where they were.

I knew in advance that it was pricey but had arranged to stay in a friend’s room for the few days I was to be there, not a big deal... So I had planned to blow about $1000. The manager came over and I asked her what was the problem with the security guard? She said I would not be escorted and if I didn't want to buy the evening pass for $100 I would have to leave the resort. I assured her that the money was not the problem and that I just wanted to ensure my friends would be there or I would be wasting my time.

Her response was curt. I was asked unceremoniously to depart the grounds, or security would escort me off of them. OW!!! I have to admit it took me by surprise, my friends knew I was coming and she knew I was going to be attending the wedding. So I apologized, suited up and rode down the hill. Now this is one large resort as I previously mentioned, and I really did not want to ride back into town find accommodations and show back up the next morning.

So I rolled down the hill found a nice private looking parking lot where my bike would not bother anyone and set out on foot. There was the shopping center nearby and I found a phone and proceeded to call my contacts and leave messages. I doddle around for another hour before I finally got a hold of one of them. They agreed to pick me up and were there in 10 minutes in a golf cart. I went to the front desk and paid my $100US for my evening pass. All seemed well. The receptionist informed me that I had to leave the resort by 3am or I would be charged $650 for a room. This was also a new thing to me.

I though that this was a little steep but already had a place to sleep and figured I could somehow make it all work out. As the night rolled on we ate drank and were merry, around 1:30am I cut my arm band off and asked someone to drop it off at the front desk. I instructed them to tell the staff that I was on my way out of the resort and would pick up my drivers license the following day. (I gave them the same photocopied ID I have been giving all the dirty cops at the bogus stops where they shake you down for money). 10 minutes later the person returned with my armband... The desk would not accept it unless I dropped it off in person and was then escorted out of the resort. So PLAN A was shot to ****. I waited about a half hour finished the alcohol I was consuming and rolled up to the front desk like I had just returned from down the road.

I was well over any limit and was not even thinking about riding that evening... The clerk informed me that I had to return the armband to get my drivers license returned... Like I cared about it. So we (meaning a security guard and I) went to the friends room after a phone call failed to bring them out of their alcoholic slumber. We knocked on the door but there was no answer. Back at the front desk the security guard confirmed our findings and the clerk eventually gave me back my ID and loaded me into a golf cart, as well as he assured me that my motorcycle would be ok to leave in the parking lot.

I was a bit taken back by the whole Nazi-ism of the whole evenings proceedings and realized that I now had no place to sleep. At 3 am I didn't relish the thought of cabbing it back into Playa Del Carmen and attempting to find a hotel. So I asked the security guard to stop by my motorcycle so I could grab my hoody and sleeping bag. I didn't really care where I slept that night but I did want to be a least a little comfortable. At the gate there were no cabs anyways so I walked North for about 300 meters and saw a dirt road that I deduced led to the beach. Heck I love sleeping on the beach. So I trucked on down it. It was about 700 meters, and at about 500 there was a security post, manned by a guy. I asked him if he spoke English and he said a bit. I asked if it was ok to crash on the beach, he nodded and let me pass. I think he was there to stop pilfering from the neighboring resorts building project.

Along the way there was an 8 foot chain link fence which led to the resort and I contemplated scaling it but didn't want to play hide and go seek with the security staff all night long. The plan was???? Sleep it off and pay again in the morning. Head to town and find a place to stay the next day. So I pulled up one of the hundreds of beach loungers and passed out.

What actually happened was at just after sunup, a security guard came by and asked me to see my armband. Apparently the beach was as private as the resort, I didn't want to cause a scene on the beach either so since I was wearing my hoody with long sleeves I pretended to show it to him and mumbled a lot as he spoke no English.... It was a suave ploy.... That worked. I had three hours sleep and needed to get back inside the resort as my passport and stuff was in my motorcycle, so I just walked in.

I wandered around for about 20 minutes attempting to find the pyramid again and eventually did. Where I made my way back to my friend’s room and found them just waking up at 7ish..

PLAN B: Tape armband which was lying on the floor to arm and purchase sunglasses, lose everything that would say motorcycle guy, put on clean cloths, and cleverly disguise myself as one of the guests. So I would not have to leave the resort again at 3 am and find a place to stay or leave the party when everyone else was having fun. Plan B worked very nicely for three days and when I was ready to leave I gave the armband to someone else at the wedding who was in the cheap seats, and wasn't able to visit the expensive side because they were only paying $150US a day, and they were staying at the hotel so who knows how much it was costing them for all of it.

Do I have "Ever so guilt ridden" feelings about the whole affair? You tell me what you would do? I was unimpressed with how I was treated with them knowing full well that I was going to be a guest of their resort, but was equally happy with their laxidaisical security staff who I could accurately describe as ushers. Their mistakes were that if they wanted me to depart the resort the first evening they should have escorted me to the gate, before I could find an inconspicuous place to park my motorcycle... Which was innocent enough on my part I just wanted to find my friends. 2nd they had crappy night watchmen on who let me through to the beach and 3rd if you want to see my armband visually inspect it.. 4th DON'T treat anyone like **** no matter what they look like... Only for what they do should they be judged. Oh and they should have followed up on the missing armband thing.

So no, I don't feel bad, I was willing to spend a Grand on the whole affair but what do they care if I stay or go??? Apparently a lot. Let me also say that the night of the wedding the reception was held in the expensive end and the guests who were all staying at the resort in different areas were granted passes but only until 11pm, then the had to turn in the passes and return to their respective areas. Sounds like Stalag 13 to me.

A new day brings new adventures.... Have fun and play safe ..... Mike....

3/8
As I sit here just minutes from Durango Mexico, the last 3 days have brought me from Cancun, up the coast and across the vast wasteland they call the desert. Oh and over the tropic of Cancer... it seems cooler now.

Goldmemb37.jpg


Goldmemb35.jpg


goldmemb36.jpg



3/9
Welcome to Durango... is what the sign would say if I didn't get pulled over at the military checkpoint randomly, and the previous 50 cars, trucks and busses I just finished passing before the highway turned into single lanes, just rolled on by. It was a good time to call it an evening. The sun had just dropped and I could feel it in my internal thermometer that the temp. had dropped below 60F, the Google site told me it was 59F.

I have been on the road for 3 1/2 days and left much sunnier skies in Playa Del Carmen(Cancun) and the sunny beaches of the Caribbean I rode south and then across to Escarcega and then followed the coastline of the Gulf of Mexico up to Veracruz and on to Tampico where I headed due west. There are a million toll highways in Mexico, and if your not on one, you are about to be. Once you get North of Veracruz the highways turn for the worse and then in-between Tuxpam and Valles they turn to ****, absolute utter sloppy potholed, dirt ridden, unpredictable...****.

Which is exactly perfect for my XR650L. When I say potholes the size of tractor trailer tires I mean it. On the worst section of road it was extremely common to find cars on my side of the road, and visa versa, I really only hit one pothole hard and it was because the Chevy truck coming at me wanted my lane more than he wanted the potholes in his lane. My choice was to slow down as much as possible and hit the pothole, or the ditch... I chose the pothole... On the other hand there are some really nice roads in Mexico, interstates you could call them.

Yesterday I received my Mexican driving diploma. LOL I can now choose the side, passing lane, or ditch, whatever works the best to pass 5 cars at a time while waiting for them to pass over the Topes (speed bumps)... While driving up the coast it was common fare as the small towns were common, and I was making excellent time until my clutch cable broke.. LOL It was a good time to get a snack and some other maintenance out of the way at the same time... Memo to self... buy another spare clutch cable.

I would say in 3-5 years all of those roads will be really nice... since I have a pocket full of toll slips and there were hundreds of pieces of construction equipment on the sides of the highways, just none in use. The road changes from coastal green and orange trees (orchards of them) to mountains at Ciudad (city) Valles, where it becomes a beautiful sweeping mountain highway, with no traffic and it was in the heat of the day which earlier was about a nice 75F... Perfect riding conditions.

Well that was until I was cornering moderately and the rear end slipped out from underneath me, caught fresh pavement, whiplashed the bike straight up and made it wobble like a hippo on roller skates!!!!! I quickly recovered and finished the curve while slowing down and pulled over on the first safe piece of road... I took a second to thank my lucky stars. Breath in breath out. I checked the bike over and nothing was off, the rear tire did seem to have a few oily spots on it though. I went back and checked out the spot and sure as ****, it was a shaded area of the road and I hit an oil patch, someone must have blown and oil pan gasket or seal and dumped a few ounces there, by the time it spread and a few vehicles ran over it was about a foot square... very slippery. I threw some dirt on it mushed it around and carried on my way... 10 minutes later I was singing a song in my head and dreaming about.

It was the only real close call this trip, that there was nothing at all I could do, all the other times I could brake hard or swerve to avoid the world... It happened and by the time I realized it, it was over... I would have missed everybody, but I would have went doing what I loved...LOL After the mountains I was in the dry grasslands, which quickly turned into cactus filled deserts, the landscape reminded me of the drive to Las Vegas. Only the wind was in my face 1/4 of the way, then relentlessly pushing me from the West, and then it just cooled down the evening enough to put the liner back in my riding jacket.

I sent a couple of pics out today and I happened over the Tropic of Cancer, picture worthy, the picture I didn't send was the other side of the freeway, were a dozen bulls, lots of horns going on there. All roaming freely grazing away. Free beef if you hit one... and live, they were all over the place.

So here I sit relaxing and I actually find myself planning... Wondering how long it takes for saddle butt to go away and I now know what day it is...LOL. I have been reading up on Copper Canyon and it all looks good... I am excited.

On a side note of how bad Mexican maps are I purchased a BOOK of maps the 2009 edition cause my last map sucked and went the way of my ex camera, also I was sick of getting lost all the time, and now that the highways have improved the road signs are of an American standard it is much more difficult to get lost. The 151 page map book is easy to read and even shows the bypass roads around the major cities. Since it is HUGE I keep it in my saddlebag, but write a small note on some paper of cities road numbers, approximate mileage, and tape it to the foamy on my bars... I can even roll it to the next city. The only problem is when the map book doesn't know the road numbers change... LOL So I have found myself double and triple checking and then just plain going with the road signs and forgetting the map book.

Tomorrow I will head into Durango see a man about a clutch cable and then head for Copper Canyon through Chihuahua...

Have fun and play safe ... Mike...

3/10
Wow where do I start? where did I finish? Ok Durango was a good place to pick up a spare clutch cable as it was the only one in stock and a whopping 50 pesos. Ok the town smelled of raw sewage on the way in and it wasn't a destination. The guy at the bike shop recommended the toll highway as the fastest way to get to Chihuahua ...LOL... What was he thinking?

I took the #45 it was hard to find I am assuming because they want you to take the toll highway, but well worth it since I had about 600km to do, toll hwys are boring. The bike shop guy described the 45 as desolate. I would call it tranquil and an excellent place to make up some time.. Just not on a dual purpose bike.. If I was say on a street bike or in a Corvette it would be a serious blast. It was actually shorter and quicker than the toll hwy cause there were no cars on it. Besides the mountains at the start and finish it was about 600km of flat desert.

About 400km into it I hit a small town called Hildalgo Del Parral, this is where on July 20 1923 the Great Pancho Villa was murdered. Coincidentally it is also where my rear tire said "Goodbye", as it was done. Pancho was buried in Parral with 30,000 attending his funeral... I changed my tire at a quickie mart with 2 Mexicans watching. Shortly after his burial Pancho was beheaded by unknown raiders. There is a star marking the spot where he died next to the "now" library. His body was moved to Mexico in 1976.

My rear tire in its beaten state now lies next to the dumpster at the quickie mart its fate lies in the hands of the Mexican people. The beautiful day was receding as night loomed I was heading west towards Cuautemoc, and as darkness fell I found myself in a small town called Anahuac. I managed to stay off of the toll highways and it was rewarding for the last hour as the roads were nice and twisty.
I was pretty burnt out and stopped at the first decent looking hotel. For 150 pesos for off the beaten path, it was pretty nice, hot water and heat what more could a man ask for??? This morning when I woke up it was real cool out. Cool enough for me to put a sweatshirt on under my riding jacket for the first time this trip, and as I thought and according to Google it was 48F this morning, add on a 90km wind chill and the fact that the wind was sooooo strong this morning that it was all the bike could do with wide open throttle, when I can usually cruise at 120Km/hr and pass at about 140, that is one strong wind.

So in order to not sound like a whiny American ( I apologize in advance if I have offended anyone) I rode on, although it would have been nice to have heated handgrips. My only vice especially when it comes to my BMW.... They rock.

It was 179km of backcountry roads, dirt or logging roads before breakfast and it was a beautiful ride. Sure I could have taken the paved road but there will be plenty of time for those later. The back roads were haphazardly marked with signage that looked like it had been through a rebellion, gunshots, rocks, if they were even on a post I was pretty lucky, but it all felt right and my new map book actually did a pretty good job of guiding me to Creel.

Well in the ask and ye shall receive department I have met two different groups of riders in less than 3 hours and the second set are heading my way. How frigging cool is that? Coincidentally all 5 guys in both groups are from Canada, BC and PEI... They were heading out for beer, when I went to do my oil change and drop off my laundry... I told them just because they were from Canada, it didn't mean I was going to bail them out of jail if they got all hammered up.

Creel is extremely touristy. If it wasn't for tourism it would be just another small Mexican town with nothing, but tourism is BOOMING here. My hotel is 250 pesos a night and it includes supper and breakfast. The area coming into it after leaving Cuauhtemoc heading towards Creel was like farmland but quickly turned into pine laden mountainous forest reminiscent of the interior of BC with its White grey dirt and rolling mountains... Although these mountains do not have peaks like the Rockies they are a haven for the grasslands that cows survive on.

Tonight I will rest up, and tomorrow I will get some exercise in the morning, as the last 4 days daylight was for riding.... there is a natural hot spring about 35 km away that I will attempt to find and take it from there.

Have fun and play safe ...Mike......

3/11
Ok so it is 0C or freezing in the morning and who do I meet in Creel 5 Canadians on motorcycles, two groups, in the group I rode with today 2 guys are 70 years old. They are freakin awesome... Not another bike for miles.... No one else. I hit the hot springs which were 2.5km down a mountain side, more pic coming.

Goldmemb41.jpg


Goldmemb41.jpg


Goldmemb39.jpg


Have a great day ...........Mike


3/11
Not very commercialized and it was a 2.5km hike in, down a mountain and back up again, but experience isn't worth a little work... Note the pool is filled with hot water flowing right out of the mountain side.

Goldmemb38.jpg


http://i684.photobucket.com/albums/vv210/Buell78753/Gol
dmemb44.jpg

Goldmemb43.jpg
 
Joined
Aug 9, 2009
Messages
383
Location
Austin, TX
Re: GoldMember Exits B.U.T.T. - Gunfight in Creel

3/11
It was early and I didn't need to Google the temperature, all I needed to do was open the bathroom window to feel that it is almost freezing. A quick run down main street confirmed this, with ice forming on the road. The roosters were singing and the dogs barking, garbage cans had been overturned into the streets... Welcome to Mexico! Along the way I heard the familiar clinking of the chain drive of a tortilla machine spitting out its days work... Unlike a morning in Canada where one might run by a doughnut shop and smell the sweet sensation of fresh baked goodies, here it is all business, doughnut shops except in large cities do not exist. Coffee brewing is also a rarity, they drink it but not to the extremes where one would need to wait 10 minutes in a drive through waiting for it.

Today we meaning three other Canadians and myself tackled the hot springs, it wasn't much of an interesting ride in, but I shed my saddle bags, and it was like an albatross had been removed from my neck... Wow I was able to open it up and not worry about extra weight getting ripped off my motorcycle if I jumped something or wiped out.... So it was fun for about 30km off road. The other guys all from PEI brought their BMWR1200GS (the motorhome) a V-Strom and a Suzuki DR650, the larger bikes did exactly as I predicted and they made it in, but were bottoming out and were toooooo big for anything but a country road. The riders were all about 70 years old and I now have a new set of Heroes... It was 0 Celsius this morning and they are out there riding... One guy has been sailing around the world for 20 years and only settled back in about 4 years ago. He has no major medical problems and he still rides... I like that... Alot.... Plus he's one ****ing **** of a nice guy.

Did I mention that the walk, ahem I should I say hike down to the hot springs was misinterpreted by the guidebook, and the man tending to the gate was also in discrepancy. Guidebook 600meters, gate guy 200 meters, actual distance 2.5 km... So I hiked it and alone.... ok these guys can ride but they are 70... At the bottom there were 2 atv's...Oh was I seething under my breath, the gate guy made me park my bike at the top and it was a loooonnnngggg haul back up probably vertical 600 meters and 2.5km distance. Exercise hasn't killed me yet... LOL




Tomorrow we are heading for Batoplas which is one of the entrances to the canyon, the guys I am riding with are not fortitudinous enough to travel through to the other side so I may be taking day trips for a bit until I can find someone who would like to ride deeper, but quite honestly I am sure that everything I really need to see is within 2 hours of where we will be staying for a day or so.

The road is speculated to be one of the best in North America, as foretold by the gentleman on the Suzuki V-strom, so tonight I will fall asleep with visions of sugar plums and twisties in my head and I will let you know in the next day or so how it works out... But these guys all lived near and have done the Cabot trail in Nova Scotia, and one guy owned a motorcycle dealership for a bunch of years..... they seem a bit reputable....
So for me it is like Christmas eve....

goldmemb45.jpg


goldmemb48.jpg


goldmemb47.jpg


goldmemb46.jpg


Have fun and play safe..... Mike.....

I left Creel early in the morning with the 3 old guys from PEI, (hey that kind of rhymes...) it was just above 0 Celsius and we rode. I will take this moment to NOT apologize to anyone I may have offended on ADV rider or Horizons unlimited, for telling them. It is cold in Creel and all the ******* should stay home. Quite honestly the people who answered my query for someone to ride Copper canyon with have been described in the previous sentence. Have taught me a valuable lesson, except for the Texas riders, on the Big Butt Terilingua Tour, most internet riders ¨¨Virtually ride¨´ they never make it out of there basements... So I showed up at the trail head and met lots of hardy riders... If you want to ride with people... Just show up!!!!

The road to Batapilas was supposed to be one of the best in North America as rated by someone??? and it was a nice road for the paved 75km, it was old and weather cracked like a mechanics hands after weeks of grime and dirt had been worked into them, and I am sure would have been quite exciting if it wasn’t early in the morning on a frosty day that I rode it, with dew on the ground... So I will leave my rating on this road as undecided... I planned on riding it out at a later date in the afternoon to get a good feel for it... Plus it is also best to know a road before opening up and burning ones way through it.

I was riding at the back of the pack for the last 75 km of dirt road and it was cut out of the mountain, switchbacks could be seen for miles down, it was steep, and loose, The bigger bikes, BMW R1200S and the V strom were not enjoying this ride, even the rider on the DR650 wasn’t to happy... I was in the back loving it all up, the scenery was awesome and the day was beautiful.

Just a short distance into the dirt road I saw a guy named Doug who we had met the evening before, and he was hitchhiking, he had slept on the side of the road and had been waiting for a ride, for a day.... He is married to a local woman in Batopilas and was a wealth of information about the indigenous peoples... He invited me for a beer later if he made it to town... Coincidentally later he came ripping by in the back of a cattle truck while we were resting, he was holding on for dear life as the driver skidded around the corners, I later found out that the driver was the one who was littering the road with Tecate (beer) cans.



We met Doug in town and he told me about the situation in the Canyon. His father in law had burnt his hand and let it go for over a week before Doug showed up and insisted that he seek medical attention, when he found him he was hauling wood into the house with his good hand... After getting him to the hospital he found out they had to amputate 4 fingers.... His wife had 3 children before they had met and although it was years back they were all born in a cave. The town is poor and relies on tourism and the drug trade, as the once thriving mines, have all been depleted, sure there are mines miles away but they are not supporting Batoplas. The young people are lured into the drug trade and paid when the boss gets paid at the end of the year, if they all don´t get busted. There are enough Cadillac’s SUV´s and fancy pickup trucks around to support his drug trade theories.

That evening there were many new bikers at the hotel and we were regaling war stories and drinking cervaisas, when one of the guys reported that thieves were in the compound stealing items from our motorcycles.... Guys lost spot trackers cameras, bike keys, and all sorts of stuff. I had all my gear stored indoors, so I was lucky. We are very sure it was 5 young guys in a half ton, and ended up seeing them later on the street. Without being incriminating, one of the guys mentioned there would be a reward for the return of some of the stuff and asked them to put the word out. When we reported the incident to the police, the military guys were right there and none of them wrote down a statement, or took a list of the stolen items.... As of yesterday the rumor is that one of the thieves hit the SOS button on the spot tracker and it was being tracked by the good guys. Whoever they are supposed to be.

Doug and I went for lunch after I dumped my bike in the river getting to his house... I really didn’t need the right side mirror anyway... He lives in a two bedroom cabin without electricity, there was a light outside that the hydro company put up, but someone broke it... He has a propane stove, for cooking and the place is modest. His water comes from the aqueduct just outside his front door that supplies the town with water and he has a crude but effective shower and outdoor toilet... that eventually drains into the river... He only lives here for the winters, as he has had it with American snowstorms. We trucked on down to his neighbors because he was buying some fresh goat cheese, and we were invited for Simolte??? Which is a cow intestine and corn based soup, and quite honestly once you get over the thought of the intestine thing was really good, the corn has an awesome texture and it was filling.... His neighbor has many fruit trees, grapes, goats, mules for guiding and is mostly self sufficient. The fresh goat cheese was also a nice treat.

On the way back to Doug´s house we noticed a young lad lurking by the side, obviously up to no good... We were quiet and I mentioned to Doug that there was another person in the shade we could not see, as the 1st teenager was talking to someone... We approached with caution as it was Dougs house, I was there for backup. They were two teenagers from town who had just come off the mountain and were filling up a plastic water bottle they had found behind the house, in the aqueduct, they had returned from harvesting 2 large green garbage bags of Marijuana, and they were placed by the front step. We could smell the newly cut load and Doug mentioned that the Armed Patrols had just passed down the highway in the truck. The boys took their drugs and headed for town.

I headed back to the hotel and managed not to dump my motorcycle in the river on the way back across...

Have fun and play safe... Mike....

The night all the motorcycle guys were having their gear ”Liberated” from the compound I met a motorcycle mechanic named Mike. Who built his own motorcycle out of 4 different bikes and has a lot of war wounds from 2 wheelers and they are all covered with motorcycle related tattoos. Mike was thinking of taking the back roads back from Batoplas to Creel which entailed heading southwest through some river crossings and territories that were not on the tourist maps.... Mountain crossings that separated the riders from the BMW GS guys... I being of sound mind and body wanted to also see the seedy underbelly of Copper Canyon you couldn’t see from the main roads and were unmarked on the maps... Also I knew it would be foolish if not extremely idiotic and feeble minded as well as just plain ****ing stupid to tackle them alone... So we agreed over many beer that we would do it.
The next morning after breakfast, I saw Mikes Bike, what from a distance looked like a beaten BMW F650 was really a 22 year old, Honda NS650, with some fancy fiberglass covering its origins... The front end was XR650R with a big huge disc... It had pelican cases mated to the frame which were obviously homemade, but sturdy and battle worn. He was also supporting a GPS, and drab bodywork with BMW airplane decals... LOL

I had to do a double take and when I realized he was making fun of BMW´s with his creative handiwork, we were both essentially riding the same bike. Same engine a 650 Honda. I realized he knew what he was doing and mentioned I wasn’t about to race over the mountains... But he was in it for the ride..... So all was well.

We headed out and the scenery was awesome, Copper canyon has soooo many mountains it is unbelievable, the rocks formations are every size and shape imaginable and the backloads were tight and fairly well maintained. We weren’t running a race and stopped for pictures often. Some of the highlights were the peacocks, the goat skeleton hanging from the tree that Mike almost rode into... LOL All the children who would run out to see our motorcycles, and Mike would give them stickers.

The back country was littered with what seemed like an endless supply of newer but beaten or stripped vehicles, some burnt, with police tape, surrounding the scenes... but obviously stolen and dumped, probably from the drug trade. We rode by a few mines and they are also strip mining Gold in the Canyon. Vehicles were rare but dangerous as most of the tracks were single there were no places to pass.

At one point I was passed by an almost new Chevrolet Avalanche, and the well dressed driver seemed visibly upset that I was in his way. Going up a hill I saw a newer 1/2 ton coming down by the plumes of dust and when he passed me from his drivers side he waved, little did I realize until I had reached the top of the hill he had just had a collision with Mike and his motorcycle, taking off the mirror and smashing all his front fairing... Mike was visibly shaken although ok... He told the tale as seeing the guy flying down the mountain, seeing Mike at the last second, Mike went left and it was the correct choice, because the Gold Mine´s 1/2 ton slid for 10 feet in the direction it was pointing with all the brakes locked up, Mikes bars apparently scratched the way down the right side of the truck as it slid past... The driver did stop and asked Mike how he was... Once he collected his thoughts he said he was Ok, before the guy could jump in his truck Mike was kind enough to scream UNO OTRE MOTO, over the blaring music coming from the open cab door. The guy drove off before they could exchange information... Hello! ... it is Mexico, he was fleeing the scene, luckily for me Mike warned him I was coming up and he slowed down.

We checked out all we could and we were off... At the bottom of the hill there was more fun to be had, I heard a bang as a rock smashed off of the underside of something I was riding, and it didn’t sound good, when It was safe to, I pulled off to the side and realized I had NO REAR BRAKES. The Caliper mounting bracket that is held in place by the rear axle had snapped in two... LOL This was to be a fun filled day.



Now I was almost dreading the thought of crossing all these mountains without a rear brake and knew it would be a long arduous process if not a painful one. I bailing wired up the rear caliper to the bottom of my saddlebag, so I would not cause anymore damage, and proceeded onwards, Mike was at the bottom of the hill concerned that another Mining truck had gotten me. He was astonished that the caliper bracket had broken in two and in all his years never seen such a thing. It was comforting to know I had broken new ground..LOL

There was another problem and it was that the caliper mounting bracket was actually what spaced the rear wheel and stopped it from sliding back and forth across the axle. It was a fraction of its former self and I attempted to wire it in place... Mike thought this was extremely dangerous as if it were to fall out the back wheel could move back and forth over and inch quite possibly derailing the chain thereby locking the rear tire and sending my *** into the cactus at an inopportune time. Tell me something I don´t know, that is why I put the bailing wire on it. As fate would have it we came upon a mechanic site a few km later. and the mechanic although knowing no English spoke fluent ¨Please help me with whatever you have¨ and we were able to round up a big nut and washer to put in place of the residual fractured mount. I had 400 pesos in my pocket and gave him 200 of them, and thanked him. Alot... So we were now back on the road again, and all be it safer but without rear brakes.

There is a water crossing where they are just starting to build a new bridge, (Apparently the bridge and a lot of other infrastructure is being completed to service the mines. The indigenous peoples were not the reason, or so I was told) Mike was given a handwritten map detailing where to cross. It was a fairly simple crossing, only about 18 inches deep... I had my computer in my hardbags and their watertight integrity has always been in question... We were smart enough to walk it first to see where all the big rocks were and chose a route. We were willing to trade wet boots, for being 100% soaked and losing all of our electronic gear. It was a wise move and the crossing although making for cool pictures was uneventful.

Mike told me at the other side that the water crossing is where all the Big bike riders get spooked and actually have paid trucks to cart their motorcycles out of the bush. After the crossing we tackled the most difficult slope of the day, it was 25 yards of uphill silty sand, it was about 3 inches deep, with a 45 degree turn at the top. Otherwise it was a fairly nicely maintained bunch of logging roads, that were a pleasure to ride... The end of the day although slower due to my lack of rear brake and wheel control was an easier ride. All in all we covered about 160km of back roads, before we hit the pavement at San Rafael... or was it 160km after the pavement? It was a long fulfilling day. The pavement back to Creel was a welcome sight and flowed effortlessly running over the train tracks many times.

Later over supper the topic came up that we should start a motorcycle shop here because there are a lot of bikes coming through. We could service all the big ones and rent out smaller ones that would actually be suitable for riding through the canyon, to the owners while their bikes are being serviced. Have guided motorcycle tours, accommodations and the whole works. Alot of banter was exchanged and it was decided that we would rather ride and write about the best riding roads in the world. Have magazines supply motorcycles and pay us to ride. On our schedules of course.

Having fun and playing safe... Mike....

THE SHOOT OUT IN CREEL
I awoke this morning after a good nights sleep in a hotel in Creel, a town that I loved the last time I was here. It reminded me of the old west, the train and station, the buildings but with paved streets and cars.... This morning I got a taste of the new west. I awoke to the sound of roosters and fireworks nothing unusual for a Mexican morning. I was feeling energetic around 7am and put my gym gear on for a run, out the door and down the stairs onto the street. As usual the garbage cans had been turned upside down by the dogs and refuse littered the streets. It was around 0 Celsius as frost was on my motorcycle seat again, I donned my toque and gloves and headed west down the deserted street Just me and the morning not a soul in sight. Then a newer suburban and an SUV with darkened windows careened around the corner and whipped by at full speed down the street heading east. It seemed kind of odd at this hour but didn’t really concern me at all... I plodded along on my morning jog.

What did concern me were the 3 trucks that pulled into the intersection shortly afterwards loaded with Banditos in the back, all brandishing rifles. At this time I was sure I was not at Disneyland for the wild west show and turned around and headed back for my hotel, it was only 400 meters away and I barely looked back once to see if they were turning my way, which luckily they were not. Safely in my hotel I told my roommate Mike the story and we came to the conclusion that the earlier noise was not from fireworks but gunfire. In another 10 minutes our suspicions were confirmed, somewhere very nearby there was ALOT of Automatic gunfire. We reasoned the safest place to be was behind the concrete walls of our hotel. So we kicked back relaxed and pondered the meaning of life. About an hour later all the commotion had ceased and the locals were heading out onto the streets.... We went for breakfast.... 15 minutes later 4 police vehicles streamed by... We thought this seemed a little late, but it was not our concern.

The plan for today was to relax and maybe check out some of the canyon from Diversidaro which is about 20 minutes from Creel, as Mike was burnt out last night from our intensive ride through the canyon... It turned out Mike felt Ok after all the shooting and stuff, so I mentioned we could head Northish for a few hours and check out the waterfall, where we would make a new plan after lunch. On the way North towards the next town we were passed in the oncoming direction by 3 military trucks with the machine gun turrets on top of them. all armed, they were being followed by no fewer than 8 police or military undercover pickups, with strobes flashing, also at high speeds all heading for Creel... It seemed like a good time to get out of town.
At the next town the main street was blocked off by the military, police line tape blocked off a smashed SUV, a bunch of blood was on the street and apparently someone had died we didn’t hang out to find the full story, but there was also a shootout in this town in the morning. The drug wars may soon affect tourism....????

So we headed North towards Basaeachic the waterfall and it was a hard 160km ride... The road was anything but typical, it was paved, gravel, loose stones, under construction, it would for seemingly no reason turn from pavement to construction just after a turn and also become one lane without warning, just the presence of dump truck piles of gravel letting you know the lane had ended. We were up around 8000ft and there was snow in the mountains, so it made for an interesting morning. The waterfall was spectacular, and we took a few pics and opted not to hike to the bottom, instead to ride towards Hermosillo in anticipation of hitting the coast for some sunshine the next day. Which would also put me a few hours from the US border when I felt like crossing over.

Highway 16 out of Basaeachic towards Hermosillo is a sick twisted piece of work that requires every ounce of concentration and skill you have. If you let up for one millisecond you end up like the 18 wheeler on its side. He was lucky he was in a treed area. For the first 275 out of about 400km, it is all twisties. We never got into 5th gear, and since my rear brake caliper mounting bracket went ¨South¨ yesterday, I was revving like crazy in 2nd 3rd and decompression braking the whole way.

There were the usual cows stampeding, potholes, trucks parked in the middle of the highway Stopped Dead, with no flashers marking their presence, busses holding up traffic with their brakes overheating, I smelled my 1st Mexican skunk just before he ran out in front of me an I grabbed a mittful of front brakes... but seriously, it was a lot of fun, a real challenge. The smell of pine trees lingered in the air, we rolled through the turns, and after 265 of 275 km we were feeling the burnout. We were stopped by a military checkpoint after we almost rolled through because no one was manning it. If it wasn’t for the guy at the far end running out with his rifle and shouting we would have rode on through without stopping. They seemed a little embarrassed that we had caught them ¨asleep at the wheel¨ so to speak. 10 km later we stopped for a break. I was just riding the turns at that point, almost like an old lady. I had lost my concentration and so did Mike.. We stopped had some snacks and relaxed. It was definitely the right thing to do.

Back on the road the scenery changed to more rolling hills than mountains and they were covered in Pink Lilac bushes, it was a cool sight mountains shrouded in pink and Lilacs wafting through the air. I stopped to take a few pics as Mike rode on ahead he was waiting a few miles up and obviously concerned, I had taken a while, I was looking for a place to park my motorcycle and get a real good picture, the lilacs lasted about 15 km.

Ok now we were racing against the sun towards Hermosillo, and losing, as the orange sun lowered itself behind the black mountains, I pulled in behind a large pickup truck and used him as a cow catcher, as my light sucks on my dirt bike his reached much farther and in reality I could watch his headlights and let him take the brunt of an impact should there be a wildlife encounter. The last 120km were all straight roads, and it was appreciated.

We made it to Hermisillo well after dark settled in for the evening...

It was am eventful day an I really appreciate having met Mike who as I do, just Loves to ride. No questions asked. Just go.... The twistier the roads and more diverse the terrain the better....

This morning I Googled to see if there was any news on the Gunfight in Creel or the neighboring town, and there was nothing, I suppose that unless a Canadian or American is involved it is not print worthy. So we are heading for the west coast of Mexico to the beach.

I will reiterate.. Have fun, play safe ..... Mike....
 
Last edited by a moderator:
Joined
Aug 9, 2009
Messages
383
Location
Austin, TX
Re: GoldMember Exits B.U.T.T. - THE END!

3/20

Baja Kino was a pretty cool beach and the hotel had a pool and WIFI. We were able to park our bikes inside the courtyard. Which was very nice... The hotel clerk insulted us by insisting we put cardboard under them... Please!!! They are Hondas not Harleys.

I have quickly learned that if you ride with anyone in Central America, they will know someone else you meet, who rides, in CA. In Batopilas I met a guy who met David (aka BMWR1200GS Motorhome fame) and knows my first riding partner... Small world.

Last night at supper we met a guy who said his brother rode to Panama on his R1200GS... I asked if he rode with 2 other guys? and he did... I met these guys in Panama when I was riding with Jessie. They all hated the border crossings so much they flew their bikes back from Panama city. Maybe I am a cheap *******, or I believe that if you ride in... you ride out, and trucks and airplanes are for *****'s….but it seems that on many occasions Dudes with BMW's have the money and the lack of riding skill or patience to ride back.

So the brother flew his bike into Mexico city and Mexican customs wanted like $4000 duty...LOL After he hired a customs broker it only cost him $1100. Add this to the probably $1000 for the flight or maybe more... Well that is money well wasted...

I am going to solve all these problems for you BMW guys... (I can make fun cause I have a K75) Email me and pay my expenses and I'll ride it out of ANYWHERE you got it into... I will sleep on it, defend it, love it, eat 10 peso tacos 3 times a day. **** I am a mechanic I will service it for you also... Just give me a fuel card and I will put it in your garage... Case closed.

That night, I snuck out with black face under cover of darkness, and removed my front tire and rim from my bike….The reason? The night guard was pretty crabby when we pulled up and I didn't want to risk pissing him off more. So we pulled the front wheel off late and changed my tire in the room, had it back together within the hour. Mike the motorcycle mechanic had mentioned that my front tire had more peaks than the mountains we had rode over. The tire wasn't really inspiring me, and like any semi dirt tire wore unevenly.

Yesterday in true vacation fashion I checked my emails and realized it was Wednesday... I thought it was Tuesday, so this morning I bailed early... real early. Why because I was dumb enough to turn my phone on last night the first time since November, considering I needed to know if it was charged... and it rang at 6am......... I didn't answer it.

goldmemb52.jpg


goldmemb51.jpg


Mike rolled out before I did. If you ever meet a guy on a Honda NX650, that looks like a BMW F650, and you get to ride with him.

Put your game face on. Mike rides hard... Real hard...No, really ****ing hard... I Like Mike... He has an addiction, and it is riding, and I share his addiction. How do I know I'm addicted? I rode over the border today, into Tucson, loaded up my bike on the trailer (cause it was snowing in Canada when I left, and is probably still snowing now) drove Pepe the little red clown car out of storage and immediately missed my motorcycle. Besides the fact that I have no rear brake and my insurance has expired. I feel incomplete without it. Ya I miss it already, but I can see it right outside my hotel window.

Crossing the border was simple. Check out of Mexico, 10 minutes, turn in tourist visa and get a receipt for exporting my bike out. Stamp passport. Checking into the US was simpler, remove helmet to expose cleanly shaven face, open passport.
Question from border guard: "Do you have anything to declare?"
Answer: "No, I have been out of the US since December, I am a Canadian, and I am riding home."
Border crossing guard: “Have a nice day.”

With the end of my motorcycle vacation comes a bit of sadness.
I have had blisters on my hands, heat blisters on my feet, a red *** for days on end, Montezuma’s revenge for 5 days straight, the worst chapped lips of my life, razor burn from no shaving cream just soap, wet boots for 3 days straight, sand storms pelting my face, marks in my shins from rocks, cactus in my side.

I lost my camera, harmonica, spare keys, and pocket knife. I rode 20,295km in about 4 months, which really isn't a lot (give me 750cc and a sheepskin and I'll do it in less than a month). I rode the last 1500km without a rear brake, and 1/4 of that was on dirt, 1/2 in the twisties where 5th gear was never seen. I did 6 oil changes 2 valve adjustments, in the past year the bike has had 3 different fuel tanks (cause bigger is better).

About ??? who knows how many tires it ate (a railway spike through a sidewall), it has wore 3 different sets of chain and sprockets, 2 clutch cables, some levers, soft and hard bags, at one point it was spitting out master link retainer clips like popcorn at a movie theater. It needs a starter rebuild, right side mirror, new side covers (the exhaust was way too close and not much remains) and another oil change. Oh and a wash would be nice.

I met some of the most awesome people in the world all with the "Spirit of Adventure". I rode behind my Hero's from Baja, I found new Hero's in Creel, I rode with a lot of really solid people, and I deleted 3 email addresses. You can't win them all.

I ate, drank, and slept Central America.

Tonight I went to the B.U.T.T home page:

http://ridedualsport.com/forum/index.php?topic=643.0

and relived some of the trip I hope Christian has the time to finish it, he has done an awesome job of posting my emails. I actually am hoping he is on his own adventure right now, and has no time.

Goldmemb49.jpg


I sat in the car today with the Cruise and AC on, and CD blasting. I passed a roadside display that said, "Prisoners cleaning litter Do not stop" I am guessing that is their only taste of freedom. I was feeling a little less "free" in my car, even with my bike 12 feet behind me on the trailer. But I am Planning my next assault on the world... I'm thinking Australia... but then again I also need to pay taxes, hang with my daughter, summer in mosquito ridden Canada, and I won't want to miss another hockey or hunting season. Which brings up the saddlebag sticker of the trip "Give Blood... Play Hockey"

I remember talking with someone during the trip about sports medicine... The highs, the lows and the depression that people experience, after completing a major high, like a marathon, or going to the moon.

What is next? Sometimes there is no bigger, and people fall hard. I am attempting not too fall, by planning on learning to fly, finishing some major projects I have been working on, like my Mercedes (Veggie) powered 47 International on an S10 frame. Refinishing my Shaggin Wagon for the summer. Spend time learning how to ride my new (used) trials bike, but what will most likely happen is I will get deeply immersed in my work for 10-16 hour days, cause money is a huge aphrodisiac...take long weekends, buy more toys, date women who think I am a workaholic, learn piano, invest in my future... besides become Prime minister, an Engineer, or a Professional Hockey player. My options are limitless.
And then one day take another 6 months off, plus a day, and always feel like the richest man in the world during that time and …
"LOVE EVERY ****ING SECOND OF IT"

Have fun and play safe ......Mike......

PS. Anyone seen "Gumball Rally"? Wanna Play????????



Mike, you are a total inspiration to all of us. We all need some of that free Canadian spirit you have! Funny that you met your 6 degrees of separation other, in Mexico, named Mike too!
Thanks for sharing your adventure with all of us, and giving us a glimpse into your twisted mind! :o)

PB270264-1-1.jpg
 
Last edited by a moderator:
Top