One of the best parts of this trip has been all the new places we get to see everyday. After packing up again, we took off but first enjoyed our hopefully last meal from Carmen and Ana. Sopes, amazing once again. We will miss Brenda’s maids, Mateo has told me that the relationship between Brenda, Carmen, and Ana is special, but you can really see it. That they are well cared for and not as some lower class. I wished I could see more of this, people being valued as people and not as a lower class. Which is what normally happens between classes, maids are often expendable.
So we set off, after saying our goodbyes again. Our next big stop is in San Cristobal de las Casas where Laura, Lander and baby Inara live. Lander is Mateo’s oldest cousin from Brenda and Kurt. It has been excellent to stay with people who are constantly speaking Spanish, our Spanish has improved. I am more willing to try with strangers using my Spanish. Mateo understands plenty more than I do so I have fallen into the habit of just letting him do all the talking. But slowly I’m starting to initiate conversation with random people. It is difficult walking into a conversation knowing (not always true, but with high probability) that it is going to be difficult and inevitably some miscommunication will happen. Knowing how much I just smile and nod, it would not surprise me if people do the same to me. One thing I do try to do is cut all of the English slang out of my speaking, it needs to happen anyway. Doing this makes conversation much easier even with Spanish speaking people who speak excellent English.
I felt the moment we left Celaya the ride was up hill. This means we went slower than the usual slow place of the bike. It was super over cast, so it felt cold with the wind.
I get cold really easy, Mateo is a furnace most of the time but by the end of the day he was even cold. Today seemed like a longer drive than normal with the lack of speed and delayed departure. Our route took us in to the state of Hidalgo, this is where Pachua is and just beyond Pachua is where we are to find the basaltica rocks. At some times in the year there is a water fall that runs over the rocks, but it is not rainy season. I have really started to enjoy riding much more. The pass we where heading up was really winndy, These winndy roads I used to have to shut my eyes on and just hold on to Mateo, now I’m enjoying the contours of the road and trust not just Mateo more but also the bike. We arrived in the town and follows the GPS even further to where we had pinned on the map. It was looking like the end of the road was coming up quickly. In a rush to leave we hadn’t picked a definite location to camp. Both of us were excited to set up camp again. Staying in one location for more than three days makes us itch to be back on the road. Our little tent has become sort of an oasis of the feeling of a little house. It’s our little space, this tent has seen more in its short life of two months than most tents will see in their whole lives! We passed by many places that say acampamento, meaning camping, Mateo asks if I want to stop or keep going to the “location” on the map. Reluctantly I say keep going the road was getting really rough it had transitioned into dirt with holes and rocks. This always seems to happens that at the end of the day when my butt is most sore, the road turns to dirt and rocks. This dirt and rock combo is a time when Mateo has the most fun. Not wanting to end the fun I agree to keep on going. I always tend to get a little nervous about where we are going to sleep. We pass the park entrance for the Prismas Basalticos, and arrive a barbed wire fenced-in area. It has a giant sign, bigger than most highway signs, saying something about tourism. We managed to chat up a man that was oddly standing at the front gate. Is there camping here, it looks like some sort of a military compound. He waves us in so we head off to tour this area that we think is a camping area. To my surprise we see tents and a family BBQing, little cabins and a small store. As we loop around towards the entrance again it is set this is where we will be camping for the night. We find what we think is a camp site an turn off the bike. This always brings me such satisfaction to pull the bike into some where and stop for the night. We head over to the little store check in and start searching for the lookout that we noticed in our first drive by. I didn’t think we would be finding a place to camp like this, flushing toilets, showers and cut grass, a very family friendly and pedicured place to camp. It is a nice transition from pampered house to camping again!
That is about 33 US dollars. The motorcycle was fixed and we picked it up early Monday morning. We were stoked, the mechanic that we used was recommend by Mateo’s family member, he said it was a quick weld, and that there was some additional noises but that it is running great. We thought it would be a good idea to take a day trip some where to make sure it was tuned perfectly. Mateo had really wanted to show me this place Gaunajanto. Its beauty is comparable to San Miegale and “questionably the most beautiful city in Mexico” says Google, so off we were. It is about a hour and a half drive. The majority of Gaunajanto streets are under ground, they used to be water drainage tunnels and were converted to road ways. It was really fun and confusing driving on them, and of course we did not have any GPS so we just went for it trying to find our way around. Our first stop was a bit out of the “city” at the San Cayetano Church. This is an historic church, the inside is fully gold plated, it is said that the man who built this church prayed to God for him to strike silver in his mine, and if he did he would build a church and make everything inside gold, meanig the entire altar to God would be made of gold. This is how San Cayetano Church came about. We toured the inside of this Catholic Gold shrine to God. It was really amazing inside, we were not allowed to take flash photography.
The famous mummy museum was quickly kicked off our list of sites to see as it was getting later in the day and we have still been sticking to no driving at night rule. Mateo had some not so awesome memories from being a kid and going to see the mummies, and it was before they had formal displays, which I don’t know if they do now anyways, so he said he remembers it smelling really bad. I saw mummies in Italy so passing on the museum was not a question as the day burned on. My favorite thing to do in cities we visit is to just explore on foot and by the motorcycle. Seeing the people, checking out the architecture and eating food at shady shacks is what I find most fun. We spent the rest of the day cruising around the city. One place I did have in mind was to see Diego Rivera house, he was a famous Mexican muralist! He was married to Frida Kahlo, she was a famous painter, she is the gal with the unibrow, self portraits.
After passing by all the usual Mexico city fiascos, clothing shops, tacos stands, cotton candy sellers and touristy things alike, we went in search for the frog park. It is a park full of frog structures with a great view of the cities hill side of houses! The motorcycle made it throughout the day magnificently.
I’m really not sure about the “noise” but the bike is running great so we will be heading off tomorrow out of Celaya and up Pachua, where Brenda has recommended we go to Prismas Basalticos. An awesome land mass of basalt rock. I can’t wait to be back on the road and moving again. This was our first break down, it was an easy one being just 20 minutes away from Mateo’s aunts house we were really lucky to not be stuck on the Baja somewhere in the middle of the desert!
Tonight we found out there is going to lunar eclipse with a red moon, we will be setting an alarm to watch it! I have seen solar eclipses but not a lunar!
We hear a crack thud sound, Mateo pulls in the clutch to take the moto out of gear and we coasted to the side of the road. We find oil everywhere, we had a good hunch the seal next to the sprocket had blown again. We had seen this once before in Pismo beach, and replaced the seal right away and bought an extra seal in case it happened again. So we found a shady spot and started to replace the seal in front of someone’s house. Put some oil in the beast and tried to fire her up again. We had an officially broken down motor cycle right out side of Celaya. Well, one of us needed to walk and find a phone and one of us needed to stay with the bike. Mateo speaks better Spanish so I stayed with the bike. Just incase some one stopped and asked what I was doing Mateo wrote down a series of Spanish words so I could explain myself. I was scared after all the things people had told us about Mexico I was convinced that some one would approach me and try to steal the bike and maybe me as well. Yet in reality I have not once felt in danger on the trip at all, just nervous at times (this happens at home too). Mateo was gone maybe 15 minutes and came back with a man who was going to call his sister and have her call his cousin. We were still on a side road so we pushed the bike on to the busier road. After using a neighbors phone to call Mateo’s cousin directly he said he could show up with a truck but not for a while, a while meaning 5 hours. It was hot but yes we had water. And a tree to lean against. Stranded on the side of the road/highway area. There was a restaurant across the median, maybe they had internet where we could look in to mechanics or other options to get back into Celaya more quickly, so we crossed over. The restaurant was closed, must have been too early because it didn’t have that deserted feeling. We crawled under the chain and sat in the shade for a couple minutes, if their soda coolers hadn’t of been chained up I would have grabbed a cold water and left some pesos for them, I was temped to just break in to one. Not feeling good about sitting in a closed restaurant we headed back through the median and sat with the bike. There was a small side road with many people passing by parallel to the high way. Remembering this Doctor Gentlemen who had approached us at Starbucks when we first got into town and said if we needed anything to call him. We started looking for a phone to contact him. Seeing these guys with a small Nissan truck cross over the median and back, walking by us again Mateo approached them to see if he could use their phone. It turned out they had no obligations and we quickly put the bike in the back of their small truck hopped inside and we were heading back to Celaya to get the bike fixed and return to Brenda’s for a nother hopeful couple days of getting the bike repaired. It was Fridayday so we could most likely get the bike into a shop and get a dionossis by the following day, most people don’t work on weekends so I guess we will see the bike on Monday.
We left “early” from our awesome hostess house around eight. As they left for work we went to Starbucks to feed our coffee addiction and nail down a route, before leaving town. We often only prepare our route the evening before, being on a bike leaves you up to various possibilities of route. We now know that even when the gps guide says 4 hours there is a good possibility that it can take up to 8 hours, between traffic, poor road conditions, hunger, and soreness many short breaks makes for a longer ride and the breaks make the ride far more enjoyable.
As we neared Celaya the traffic slowed, then we arrived upon a seemingly crazy crash where a semi truck had took out a couple of cars and street sweeper. The semi was laid across the four lane highway. We later found out that there was no one died in the crash only 6 people injured. Some of the crashes we have seen have not ended so well, every time I see a crash and we are riding I think of my own mortality, and how fragile life really is. The scenery we have experienced is unimaginable, I am so glad we are taking photos, it is like watching a movie on fast forward and hoping to catch some of it.
We met up with Mateo’s cousin, Ale, at a Starbucks in town and followed him to Mateo’s Aunt and Uncle’s house. Brenda was super welcoming along with Irune, and Mia (Mateo’s cousin and her little girl). And Kurt, Mateo’s uncle, was out of town.
The next day we decided it was about time we both got our hair cuts and with a reliable resource to do this we set off to Brenda’s hair shop. I thought maybe just a trim yet my hair was taking too long to dry every time I would shower, a braid was the best way to keep it under my helmet, and hair is a renewable resource. So I chopped it off up to my shoulders! Now my hair drys in a half hour, I use less shampoo and my helmet fits better.Kurt and Brenda are building a house on a couple acres outside of town. Brenda showed us the plans for the structure, it is to include large shipping containers. There has been a delay on the shipping containers or it would of been finished months ago. Irune has been working hard to get her small farm going including chickens, rabbits, vegetables and fruit trees. We joined her almost everyday out to the farm! I really love small farms, it is a dream of mine to have a small farm.
Mateo and I ventured out to San Miguel de Allende, this is the city where Mateo spent time as a child due to his grand parents owning a house there. San Miguel has a European feel to it. Large towering churches, cobble stone roads, narrow roadways and many alleys lined with colorful buildings that are part home part shop at the street level. We spent an entire day walking around going to many of the Catholic churches. The churches are ornate, some of them you’er not allowed entrée with out proper dress. We were given a tourist map when walking around the street by a sweet old lady attempting to get us to get onto a trolly ride around the city. We declined and took the map. The most exciting Museum we could find was the History of Toys in Mexico Museum. Since Mateo and I are both kids at heart, we loved this museum. I do like looking at art but old toys and culture is so much fun. In addition to the rad toys we saw we also were able to a great view of all of San Miguel.
We then ventured through the city to find our selves in a fine art gallery, it was hidden in a beautiful open air building, since the weather is so temperate here many of the buildings have gorgeous courtyards full of plants. We were meeting Ale at 8 so we treated ourselves to a nice dinner. This happens to us frequently since our Spanish is so poor, confusion while ordering at restaurants. Instead of receiving our guacamole on the side we received and extra side of guacamole. Good for me bad for Mateo, he has an allergic reaction to avocados. Im still figuring out how to compile spanish sentences, that the main subject comes first then the details, so when ordering steak tacos you must first say taco then say what type of tacos. Once in Loreto Mateo needed to use the restroom so I was left to order us dinner, I was trying just a couple of tacos for each of us, fish for me and steak for Mateo. We ended up with a giant steak plate and A couple of tacos. Yes it was tasty, yet it was so much food!
Mateo and I spent many evenings walking down to the central park, playing frisbee and this is where we found our fist churro in Mexico, I don’t think i have ever had a real churro before. They pump the dough straight into a vat of hot frying oil, out of a mechanism that resembles a caulking gun. Churros are typically served rolled in sugar, healthiest way to eat them I’m sure of that. Celaya is famous for this carmel topping called Cojeta, its is a darker carmel than I’m used to and more sweet, and it is made with sweet and condensed milk. It has great flavor and topped our churros nicely, only bad part was they were really sweet.
We both enjoyed and felt really spoiled in Celaya, Breanda and Kurt have maids that have been with their family for 20 years its like they are extended parts of the family, Carmen And Ana, in they new house they will have their own section of the house, and their mother was the maid of Mateo’s grandparents. They are both exceptionally motherly and sweet, making us awesome traditional breakfast everyday and doing our laundry. This time imparticular I really wished I could speak more Spanish to thank them for taking care of us so well. Just super sweet ladies.
We were planning on staying three days in Celaya. So we packed up our bags and took off thursday morning since we arrived on Tuseday. Then moto started up great and we were off to Pachuca where we going to camp for the night. Mateo heard a strange noise coming from the moto, time to pull over.
From Tepic we left early, we passed through the town of Tequila. There were so many agave plants, for miles literally, or kilometers should I say. It was around lunch time when we passed though Tequila. When looking for a taco stand we saw big signs and pulled up to a booth. On this occasion, taco lunch was awkward. The stand we pulled up to was actually a group of four stands all in a row. Each with a cute older Mexican lady waving their menus at us trying to get us to pick their booth for lunch. It was enough for me to want to walk away, yet I had the hunger, with Mateo and I both trying to get the other to pick a booth. Mateo had me pick a number I think it was seven, lucky me there was only four booths, so then I subtracted five and was left with two. We ate our first quesodillas, they were awesome! We did not pick up any Tequila, this whole taking a smaller bike thing prevents you from picking up anything extra, needed or not needed.
Arriving in Guadalajara earlier than expected gave us time to run around and go to this giant market, San Juan de Dios, it was many many layers of goods, phony brands, pirated movies, and of course we had to go to the meat market, a little gnarly, Mateo had spent time here as a kid so he remembered the market well. We drove around town to burn time and enjoy the sights, Guadalajara is the second largest city in Mexico.
We arrived to our second couch surfing host home with no directional issues. Jaun was super nice along with his girl friend and roommates. We then went in search for Mateo’s old apartment from when he and his family lived in Gauadalajara for three months. Juan coincidentally lived only blocks from where Mateo and his family lived, we were not able to find the house, when they lived in the area it was smaller city then, dirt roads even. Chances were slim to start, so not finding his place was ok. The architecture in Mexico has really impressed me, much more creativity than I could of imagined. We finished our night with our host, cheep pizza and a game of Cuben Dominos. Funny thing we call this game of Dominos Mexican Train and they call it Cuben Dominos ha, we had a blast. It has been really awesome to actually stay with people in their environment and not just seclude ourseleves in a hotel. Both Mateo’s and my spanish has improved!
We left the hostel in Maz around 11 am after I had made an awesome breakfast for us and our Canadian, of pancakes and bacon! We seemingly always try to leave places early but it takes about an hour to pack, load our packs and check the bike before we depart. Tepic was going to be the first couch surfing experience that Mateo and I have had together. This is where you contact people via a website who are offering up their homes to travelers. It is a good way to see the city through a locals eyes. Mateo and I are working on our Spanish so staying with spanish speaking people is one of the best ways to learn. I couch surfed in Italy and it was a bit hairy, so I’m really glad Mateo and I are surfing together! We were about half way to Tepic and felt the hunger, I noticed this chicken smoke coming from a chicken roasting deli, (many business are out of people’s homes, there are no zoning laws in Mexico so many business are ran out of homes). Mateo and I took a break from our taco fiesta and had roasted chicken for lunch, mostly likely the best chicken I have had EVER!
We continued on to Tepic, it was a shorter drive than normal. Around 180 miles, we normally drive 240 or so but have recently made the choice to decrease our miles take our time a bit more and have happier backs, butts, and experiences. We had an address to go by in Tepic so we let Mateo’s iPhone navigate us to where we needed to be. Without any luck on finding the house and circling the area many times, we started our search for internet. Pulling up in front of a copy/fax/internet place we were stopped by a man washing his VW bug. He inquired if we were lost and needed help ( must have seen us circling). Pepe and Jackie were a sweet couple letting us use their internet and giving us directions to the other side of town where our host could be found, yes GPS failed us, I would say it is about 90% correct most of the time. Jackie and Pepe were a sweet and welcoming couple speaking english to us and telling us of their travels to Los Angeles. After contacting Cecillio we were to meet in front of the cathedral at a coffee place. Cecillio and his friend were a hoot. That evening I got introduced to Posole a traditional soup/stew. It was so good! Cecillio set us up to stay with one of his friends.
The next morning we rose early and took off to watch the sun rise.
Cecillio was super hospitable and invited us to the hotel that he worked at for breakfast before we got back on the road to Guadalajara.
My thoughts of a “good” nights rest vanished as soon as we arrived at our hostel. There are many hostels that are more or less party houses. There is only one hostel in Maz and yes it did fall under this category. Or at least it did the first night. To give you perspective when we arrived at 11 am there were many people day drinking.
So we unpacked our things, locked away our important possessions, relaxed for a bit and walked down to the bus line to head into the city for first Thursday art walk. The bus dropped us right into the city next to one of the markets. The second kiosk we found selling tacos caught our eye and we sat down to enjoy a taco. The best tacos we have eaten was in Consituiton, at a taco stand named super taco. I typically try to pick out taco stands by the amount of people out side, if we pass by and there are many people out side I always make note of it when picking a place for lunch. We continued on to the art walk and in search for coffee. Riding all day gives you a strange tiredness, part exhaustion, sore butt, wind blown in addition to the sun, then there is the need I have to start doing something right away. The art walk brought feelings of Portland and Hawaii, when I used to go out drink free wine, rub elbows with people who could afford to buy awesome art and the thoughts of one day I will have awesome art at my own home. Art is a strange tention for me, loving/wanting it and investing in it. We walked the historic distric, and strolled along the beach back to the hostel where the party was still on.
We got a early morning hike in the next day out to the light house, our Canadian friend Leif joined us, the sun was hot, and we received a clear day hike to the lighthouse. Matt enjoyed watching the sounders game and I took a swim in the pool. We finished our night early with a card game. And we got an early start the next morning to Tepic where I had set us up to couch surf for our first time on this trip!
Well yes I know this trip isn’t exactly about comfort. We ride 5 hours a day in the heat on a small vibrating seat, sit in slow moving traffic, and today I spent a total of 7 pesos to pee in bathrooms that lack toilet paper. All these things I knew of prior to coming on this trip. Yet I’m here trying to push my self out of the comforts of home, I have had a good amount of third world travel, cold showers, seen poverty, and lived random houses with out electricity. This all was prep I suppose, we have not really experienced the homeless community, poverty yes but not really homeless. I want to really know that I don’t need to be home to be happy, that drinking that lattè that is so good isn’t really going to make my life better or worse for that day. The moments change so fast, so quickly that my perspective shouldn’t change along with the moments. That happiness really does come from your soul not what is in your pocket, your belly, or what people think of you. I am learning all this. The thought that this trip removes me from my “life” for many months terrifies me, but no I wouldn’t trade it. I think I’m starting to learn the little things but I’m sure I’ll look back on this and really understand what went on in a much better light than I do today. I know the photos don’t show how much my butt hurts or my knees after a long day yet they do show how this trip has been amazing, and will continue to be.
Once entering La Paz we settled down at the cheap hotel we found close to the beach, Mateo was on the internet to find out there was a soccer game on, Mexico vs USA. No wonder there were so many people walking around La Paz with Mexico jerseys on. Mateo tossed on his jersey and we headed down to a pizza shop to watch the game, enjoyed some great pizza, limonada y cervesa.
On Thursday we got up early and took off down to the dock where the ferry leaves from. We where able to get our vehicle import permit and purchased some of the last tickets for the ferry. Score! The check out time for our hotel was noon and we didn’t need to be down to the ferry dock until three pm, for a departure time of five. We had the whole day to enjoy La Paz. The waters here are a deep aqua color and different shades depending on how the sun is hitting the water. Purely mesmerizing, Jaques Casto said that La Paz was the worlds aquarium. Despite the water being choppy, and the windiness we decided to rent stand-up paddle boards and hit the beach.
This was the first “paid” activity. It was a lot of standing up and falling over into the water, yet it was surely fun. Made it back to the hotel in time for a quick shower and turned in our keys right at 11:56! Meandered around town until it was time to catch the ferry.
18 hour long ferry ride, I have never been en-route for that long. We got to the dock and right onto the ferry. They had me walk on and Mateo stayed with the motorcycle. We came across another Adventure rider Leif, his trip will be a total of 6 weeks down through the states from British Columbia, Canada, through Baja, to Mazatlan and then heading back north. It has been nice for Mateo to have someone to chat motorcycles with. I mildly understand his talk of motorcycle maintenance. The ferry is more of a cargo ship for semi-trucks than a passenger ferry, we did receive dinner and breakfast. There is a small top deck, with a cafeteria. I had spent some time reading reviews on trip adviser, about half the reviews were horror stories. It was more about perspective than anything else, I did understand this is not our US passenger ferry, any thing more than getting us there safe is awesome. Granted, sleep was hard to catch, between the loud noises and children running around. We are staying in Mazatlan tonight at a hostel called the Funky Monkey, I’m looking forward to a good nights rest and possibly some art looking. Matt has also requested I call him Mateo, and I think it is cute.
There are so many Volks Wagons here!
So I thought that I would be getting the feeling of really missing home, yet I’m not. I defiantly miss my friends faces but I know they are home praying for me and cheering me on! Sunday the 30th of March we only drove about 66 miles before we arrived in Loreto, we had a late start in the morning and suffered some in the heat of the morning. The tactics are simple do not put on your riding gear until the very last minuets, have everything ready to go before the riding gear is donned and then its go time. This is difficult when our beautiful beach camp spot is down on the beach and I am walking up the boulder trail, and Matt and I are meeting at the top. I start sweating the second my riding pants are on.
I had read some where Loreto had good breakfast, so after the welcomed short ride we pulled into town. It was a cute town right on the Sea of Cortez (on the east side of the Baja). The day before had just wiped me out 250 plus miles on a bike going no faster than 60 miles an hour is rough. We found a restaurant that advertised they served breakfast and stopped there. This is the first town we decided to stay in over night and unpack our bags and walk around. First we wanted to get settled somewhere so cheap hotel hunting was necessary. Most established towns you can find a hotel for 50 dollars a night. We pulled up to a couple hotels and they both had no vacancy signs out front. I saw this tattered sign that said Cocos, we followed what looked like a card board sign, around the corner and onto a little dirt road, not promising at all. Then a well put together building stood in front of us. Yep the signs were deceiving and this was a smaller but nice hotel. we talked with the owner he had no rooms for rent only bungalos, that were too expensive, we asked if you knew any one who offer tent space. In larger towns its hard to find a spot for a tent. He was quickly on the phone trying to reach a friend that he knew had two suites. Cell phone… no luck…home phone, nothing, and then house keeper of the place. yes she will meet us there in 10 mins to show us around. Bruce showed up right as we did. He had built a house with two suites in the back. They cost 45 dollars a night, this was just a way for him to make a bit of money, not really a business. He certainly didn’t want to catch himself actually working hard at it. The rest of the day was spent at the beach, walking around Loreto, and getting a good nights rest in a air conditioned room. Oh and i got good and sick after dinner, but then I felt better after losing the battle.
The next morning we were offered breakfast after Matt helped the other couple staying in the suite next to us with some technical help. Free breakfast was really good, I had sausage and eggs, also known as hot dogs and eggs, I found that you never really want to order the food that seems to be the “American food” it’s never really good, just stick to the Spanish stuff they know what they are cooking there.
Now we are in Ciudad Consititucion, about 50 miles off the Pacific Coast in an RV park on the edge of town and we are off to La Paz today. Hopefully a ferry is in our future tomorrow! 18 hours to Mazatlan Hoot Hoot!