Mexico

My 2016: Year In Review

Just as it does every year, 2016 came and went in what felt like the blink of an eye. Equally and fortunately as common, it was action packed. Every year I like to reflect on the past 12 months to see where I spent my time. 20152014, 2013, 2012 were all amazing years. Highlights can’t do justice, but it’s a fun reminder of what’s been going on.

January

Having just crossed the border from Mexico to the USA, we settled into a cozy San Diego neighborhood to celebrate the new year with our friends Cachaulo and Yola, as well as their 2 young daughters. It was a great last stop on our drive north to Cupertino from Cabo San Lucas at the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula.

january-baja

China Trip #1 came early as it seems to every year. Ganbei (bottoms up) as the locals would say!

january-drinks

February

When working for a Chinese company, there is no greater holiday than Chinese New Year. With my factory closed for a week, we took to the skies to visit our families in New Hampshire. It was cold… Our good friend Byron also helped us film and edit a short promo video for SnapType. Thanks, Byron!! And thanks to Sarah and her son for the wonderful location and acting!

Once back in sunny California, Amber and I took advantage of warmer weather to do our first fully self-supported overnight bicycle trip. 2,500 feet of climbing over 10 miles with a fully loaded touring bike was exhausting but very rewarding!

february-biking

China Trip #2 was shortly thereafter and it was back across the ocean for another round of shenanigans with my friend and colleague, Charlie. We took over the children’s exoskeleton robots and terrorized the local theme park.

february-china-machines

On the way back to America I went out of my way to make a stopover in Singapore. First new country of the year! I spent a long weekend doing what I do in every new city I visit, walking around for miles and miles and miles.

february-singapore-merlion

March

China Trip #3. This time I went to Shenzhen in the south of China and walked 8 miles along the bay with 60,000 of my closest friends.

march-china-walk

I’m an uncle! My sister gave birth to a baby girl and I flew home to see her at just two weeks old. Amazing.

march-penelope

What’s becoming one of my favorite annual events is the ADVrider Noobs Rally. Surrounded by friends, we spent 2 days riding through the rugged and challenging landscape. It was as challenging, spectacular and memorable as always. Every year we say we should get smaller bikes… Maybe next year we finally will!

march-death-valley-tree-riding

April

Weird…. A month without a China trip! It was great to have a good stretch of time without a big flight. April was a pretty relaxing month while catching up with friends, like this ride to the famous Alice’s Restaurant.

april-alices-restaurant

May

The one and only Kent Green popped in for a quick visit and we enjoyed his company while hiking through the gorgeous Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park. Kent is a master at classy and artsy panoramas…

may-kent

Yosemite is always a special place – even when it’s swarmed with 9872394738923o7 tourists. Our good friends David and Haley came out to California during their 12 national parks in 12 months tour. Good fun and shenanigans were had by all.

may-yosemite

China Trip #4 with visits to both Shenzhen and Changzhou. Overlanding here I come…

march-china-overland

At the end of the month, Amber and I drove 5 hours north to Lassen Volcanic National Park to enjoy some fun in the late spring snow, hiking through beautiful landscapes.

may-lassen

June

Backpacking through Point Reyes National Seashore with Amber and Vanessa was wonderful. Our campsite was blossoming with wild blackberries that helped make our morning oatmeal on the trail that much more special.

june-point-reyes-hike

The weekend rental of a Polaris Slingshot was thoroughly enjoyed by Amber.

june-slingshot

Visitors from New Hampshire (Matt and Alana) came for a scenic drive through the Santa Cruz mountains and a delicious lunch at a brewery along the beach, even if the service was horrendous.

june-hedrick-beach

My sister Abby is a physical therapist and started her first rotation as a traveller. She stayed with us in Cupertino and over the next 3 months and we went on lots of adventures together. It was great to spend time with her (and eat all the food she cooked).

june-kayak

July

America! Freedom! Indianapolis! With travels to the heartland, we celebrated the wedding of Charlie and Jackie!

july-charlie-wedding

My Dad had a unique and fantastic opportunity to drive a brand new BMW X5M across the country to bring a trailer of BMW motorcycles from Maine to California. We enjoyed spending time with each other in my new backyard. With complimentary tickets to the World Superbike Weekend at the Laguna Seca Raceway, we watched an incredible race and saw riders hurl themselves through the infamous corkscrew.

july-corkscrew

I was even able to fit in a cross country drive home alongside my Dad in the sporty and comfy BMW. We averaged 800 miles per day over four days to reach Maine at the end of the week. It was fun to see the landscape change right in front of us but after 4 days and 3,200 miles, we were happy to be out of the car!

july-dad-bmw

China Trip #5.

august-china-bike

Amber’s family came for a visit and we had fun doing all the touristy things around northern California.

july-family-facebook

August

My sister Molly came for a quick visit and we took her rock climbing at the local gym. We climbed a lot this summer and it felt great (on my back – most days).

august-climbing

Amber and I then headed to Portland, Oregon for the World Domination Summit where we spoke in front of a 1,000+ person crowd and were awarded a scholarship to help fund the Android development of our app, SnapType!

august-wds

The first of several mountain biking endeavors went down in August. It’s been years since I’ve been out on a mountain bike and it felt great! The new bike technology is amazing and the bikes are incredibly light and agile. I’m extremely fortunate that some incredible trails are so close to my home in California! I’ll be looking forward to many more biking days in the future…

august-biking

September

China Trip #6 was an interesting one. I had a break in between two meetings. So along with my partner in Crime (Charlie), I made a weekend trip to Japan to hike Mount Fuji (the tallest mountain in Japan) on the last day of the hiking season. It was a mad dash and whirlwind trip but absolutely worth it. We woke up in China at 4am to catch a plane to Japan, landed in Tokyo at noon, arrived by bus to the final town at the foot of the mountain at 5pm, grabbed a quick dinner and hopped on another bus to arrive at the basecamp at 8pm, laid our heads on a park bench and began hiking at 10pm, hiked all night to reach the summit at 5am just in time for the sunrise (which we couldn’t see because it was cold, windy, cloudy, and rainy at the summit), descended and thrashed our knees to arrive back at the basecamp by 10am, caught 2 buses and arrived back in Tokyo at 4pm before passing out with exhaustion at 8pm. Wow, what a trip!!!

september-fuji

As if the Mt. Fuji trip wasn’t hard enough, I packed up my bicycle the next week to pedal from my home in Cupertino to Mariposa (the foothills to Yosemite) for the Horizons Unlimited gathering where I gave a few presentations about motorcycle travel. 200 miles, up and over the leg-busting Mt. Hamilton and then down through the central valley before ascending again to the edge of the Sierra mountains. I felt whole.

september-bike-shadow

October

Skinny Pedal! YEAAHH!!! The boys and I drove the Rubicon Trail in Joel’s Toyota 4Runner. Everyone was impressed that a near stock vehicle could make it through. Joel was a great driver and with enough rock stacking we were able to make it without issue. A weekend in the wilderness with the “Js” was time well spent.

october-rubicon

Another cross country flight to Celebrate the wedding of Samir and Ligia in the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts. Gotta love weddings with friends from college!

october-samir

China Trip #7 wasn’t actually in China (but it makes for easy record keeping). After the wedding I flew to Munich, Germany for a business trip. In between meetings, I enjoyed a day of castle hiking, a visit to the BMW factory museum and a soccer/football match with what I learned later was one of the world’s best teams! Along with copious amounts of beer and meat I survived the trip. And A short drive into Austria for lunch marked another new country!

october-castle

On the way back from Germany I made a quick stopover to Amsterdam. I love the bicycle culture in the Netherlands!

october-amsterdam

November

China Trip #8. Something is a foot in my soup…

march-china-chicken-foot

And then a sudden and unfortunate family emergency had me on the next flight to Boston.

Thanksgiving break was spent with several members of my family on a trip to Ajijic, Mexico along the shores of the country’s largest lake – Lake Chapala. We spent the week hiking in the dense hills that surround the lake. Our trip coincided with the annual local celebration of the San Andreas Festival. Fireworks, beer, street food, live music, carnival games and parades were all thoroughly enjoyed! One of the most interesting and rewarding parts of our trip was the visit to a local school where we volunteered for a day with both kindergarteners and 7th graders.

november-hiking-mexico

December

Go Buffs! My college alma mater had a terrific football season and made it to the PAC12 Championship which was played just down the street from me in Santa Clara – at the new 49ers stadium. It was also a great chance to reconnect with a fraternity brother I hadn’t seen since college. Hi, Weapon!

december-pac12

Another trip back to the east coast to be with family. My step-father is going through end-stage heart failure and underwent an emergency LVAD surgery where the left ventricle of his heart was replaced with an electro-mechanical pump. Under the best of circumstances, it’s an extremely difficult recovery. Unfortunately, he was plagued with several complications which has made his recovery extremely slow and challenging. It has been great to see family so much these past few weeks, but it’s sad that it had to be under such circumstances.

China Trip #9 – the last one of the year! Unlike 2014 and 2015 where I made 10 China trips, I slacked off this year and settled for 9. It’s rare that Charlie and I are in China the same time, but we’ve aligned several times this year and it’s been fun to explore together. On this occasion, we visited the city of Hangzhou and pedaled bicycles around the popular West Lake.

december-china-biking

It’s been several years since I celebrated Christmas / Chanukah / New Years in New Hampshire. So this year Amber and I decided to brave the New England winter and head back to our families on the east coast. No grand year-end adventure this time, but it was just what we needed and there’s certainly lots of exploration to be found in 2017!

december-christmas-hospital

What went well in 2016?

  • I visited 2 new countries! Singapore and Austria (even if it was just for a lunch, 15 miles from the German border), bring the country count to 34 (I think). Return trips to Germany, The Netherlands, Japan, and Mexico were fun too.
  • I spent a lot of time on the east coast with family towards the end of the year. Of course, I wish it were under better circumstances, nevertheless it’s nice to be with them. I love living in California’s Silicon Valley but I sure do miss my family. I was lucky to have one sister come live with us for 3 months and to have another sister come out for a visit. Add a cross country drive with my Dad and it was time well spent with the people I love.
  • SnapType, our education app that helps students keep up in class even when their penmanship holds them back, is hard to classify with milestones throughout the year, even so, it certainly had a big year too. We finagled through Apple’s intricacies to create a company and relocated the hosting of the app. It was no small task and Apple didn’t make it easy for us, and more importantly easy for our users. But everyone did great and we managed to get back on track without too much fuss. We’ve also reached 1 million downloads, which is mind boggling! Revenue for the iOS app has been strong and we kicked off development on the Android app this fall. Unfortunately, it required us to re-write the app from the ground up in a completely different programming language. We had hoped to launch the app by now but development is taking longer than expected due to unforeseen challenges with Android which make some items much more complicated than with iOS. It’s been exciting and stressful, and we’ve learned a lot along the way. We’re about to enter our second round of beta testing and it won’t be long until we launch SnapType on Android to the public!
  • With Amber’s grad school complete, she passed her national boards and became a licensed and registered occupational therapist in the state of California! Early in the year she moved back to Cupertino full time and has been working in several different settings to get as much experience as she can and to explore the different opportunities within her field. She’s fantastic at what she does and has quickly become a valued and trusted supporter for many of her clients and their families. It’s beautiful to watch her pride blossom as she thrives in her new career.
  • “The day job,” which has me jet setting to China all the time, continues to go well. It’s a very unique gig with lots of challenges and rewards. It has not always been easy, but it has been worth it. I continue to grow professionally and enjoy the work and people I work with.
  • Back pain is usually the first thing I list each year under “what did not go well…” My back is far from healthy and it keeps me from doing many of the things I love, but this year I’ve had more good days than bad. I’m not sure exactly what to attribute it too since I haven’t been good about stretching or doing yoga, but a win is a win.
  • I stayed fairly active throughout the year. Even with all the travel, I was able to get in quality walks and bike rides on a mostly regular basis. A few bigger quests also gave a great sense of accomplishment. I need to stay active (for my physical and mental wellbeing) in the upcoming year and I’d like to branch out to some new activities.

What did not go well in 2016?

  • Stress. With the family emergency at the end of the year, I found (and still find) myself taking on more responsibilities in order to help out. Actually, my family has really come together to help out and it’s been really nice. I’m more than happy to help and I’m proud that I can assist. In spite of this, it still adds an extra layer of stress on top of the day job, SnapType and the rest of life’s requirements. So far, I’m managing the stress well and doing what I can to prevent any flareups in back pain. 2017 won’t be off to a smooth start, but we’re hopeful that there are many more good times with family to be had down the road.
  • My motorcycle continues to stand idle. It’s the same bike I rode to South America 7 years ago (wow, time flies)! I simply haven’t had the interest to go out on day rides and I haven’t had the time to take on big trips. Or when I do find some time, I’m leaning more towards the bicycle than the motorcycle. Maybe 2017 is the year I let El Burro find a new owner while I consider a smaller bike. Several manufacturers are coming out with exciting small bore adventure bikes this year… It gets me thinking!
  • Like most recent years, I had a lot of small adventures that I cherish, but I still yearn for another grand adventure. The older I get, the harder I find it to step away from daily life. I’m not really sure where this one will lead. My day job is great and I find it rewarding, but the taste of freedom out on the open road still lingers.

Looking ahead

As it does every year, the new calendar brings with it new challenges and opportunities. I’ll continue the quest for passive income with big leaps ahead for SnapType. I also look forward to spending more time with friends and family as my top priorities. Adventure is always on the doorstep and I’m trying to set up 2017 to be a big year.

How was your 2016? Are you happier now than you were the same time last year? Have you made progress on your personal goals? What went well for you this year? What could have gone better?

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Categories: Austria, China, Mexico, Singapore, United States | Leave a comment

Now Available: Motorcycle Mexico DVD

Hey folks!

As I announced last fall, I went back to Mexico for another round of adventuring and more importantly to film for my new project, Motorcycle Mexico. I wanted to make the DVD I wish I could have seen before I left on my trip. I hope it will help riders to get inspired, get educated, and get on their way.

Have you been dreaming of a motorcycle trip through Mexico? In this 2-disc DVD set, you will get the advice you need to help you cross the border, buy insurance, organize your documents, interact with police, find safe hotels and camping, break the language barrier, avoid Montezuma’s Revenge and much more to ensure that you have an amazing ride!

In addition to what he learned on the road, I interviewed veteran travelers and local experts who share their hard-earned knowledge with you. This DVD will get you inspired, educated, and on YOUR way! Whether you are riding in Mexico for just a few days or en route to Central and South America, This DVD will help you prepare for YOUR ride!

Here’s a short 5 minute movie trailer to show you what it’s all about.

Motorcycle Mexico DVD Trailer from Benny on Vimeo.

It’s $36.99 + $4.99 Shipping = $41.98.
It’s 2-discs. 5 hours of insightful content 
Available at www.MotorcycleMexico.com

Disc 1:
Intro, People, Culture, Weather, Gear, Border Crossing, Border Towns, Accidents & Insurance, Family Reactions, News & Drug Cartels, Personal Safety, Bike Safety, Women Riders, Riding, Road Quality, Toll Roads, The Left Blinker, Topes, The Bike, Tires, Tools & Packing, Mechanicals.

Disc 2:
Gas, Navigation, Camping, Accommodations, Secure Parking, Food, Drinks, Montezuma’s Revenge, Health & Evacuation Insurance, Health Risks, Checkpoints, Police, Money, Language, Connectivity, Get Gone, Credits, Bonus Footage.

Thanks to everyone that contributed and encouraged me along the way!

Ride & Explore!

Categories: Mexico, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Where Are They Now” Edition

New to the site? Click here to follow the blog in chronological order. Thanks for checking out the journey, enjoy!

Hey Everyone!

It’s hard to believe that I’ve been back in the USA for over 4 months! Spending time with friends and family has been great and the summer weather has been beautiful here in New Hampshire. So… What’s been going on? Well, 6 months without regular exercise coupled with 3 or 4 daily meals of delicious fried food plays a toll on the body. I weighed myself when I returned home – I gained 15 lbs… YIKES!!! Riding the motorcycle everyday was exhausting but it wasn’t stimulating my cardiovascular system. Now back at home I’ve been kayaking, running, biking (of the pedal variety), and hiking on a daily basis and I’ve shed that baby fat. Here’s a few shots from the absolutely stunning Acadia National Park in Maine.

Have no fear though, I’m still riding the motorcycle nearly everyday. My car has only seen a few days of use this entire summer. Being stuck inside the 4-wheeled box is near torture. The KLR, a.k.a. El Burro, has been a true workhorse. He now has roughly 35,000 miles (I say roughly, because I’ve been without a spedo/odometer cable for the past 12,000-ish miles). All that traveling has taken it’s toll and I now have piston slap. It looks like I’ll be rebuilding the engine’s top end…

This Bike Climbed Mt. Washington

I recently presented the my journey through the Americas at the New Hampshire Latino Festival. Latinos and Gringos alike came up and asked all sorts of questions. “Are you fucking crazy!?” was a popular one. I met Salvadorians, Mexicans, Colombians, and Guatemalans. Their eyes opened wide as I described riding through their countries. Many young kids who are still learning about their heritage stopped by to check out my photos. Their parents would point to a picture and say “That’s our country.” Who knows, maybe in a few years I’ll inspire one of these kids to jump on a bike and ride through their country to experience it first hand. I made this highlight map to have on display.

Motorcycle Central and South America

Crucial to the success of my journey were the Micatech panniers and top case. You’ve seem then in every photo with my bike and I certainly put them to the test. With over 50 tip-overs ,they are still in excellent shape and waterproof (although a bit dirty). The boxes are made only 30 miles from my home and since returning home they’ve contracted me to do some engineering and design for new products. The projects has been fun, challenging, and engaging. Designing and building adventure motorcycling products is great. One key element in product development is field testing… Alright, so what’s next??? Ya, it’s about time for a new adventure. Well, in 3 short weeks I’ll be back on the bike, riding 3,300 miles across the country to California where I’ll be presenting my journey through the Americas at the Overland Rally. Are you interested in traveling the world by car/truck/van/motorcycle/bicycle then this is the event for you. So, if you’re in the Bay Area between September 23 and 26, sign on up and check out the rally.

Overland Rally

After the Overland Rally I’m headed south to Mexico! Wooo Hooo! I’ll be riding down the Baja Peninsula and then crossing over to the mainland where I’ll be riding for 5 weeks. While south of the border I’ll be filming for a How To Guide for Motorcycling in Mexico. I’m super excited about this project and hope to inspire others to go and ride their dream. Check out the website at www.MotorcycleMexico.com. Interested in following the new journey? Then sign-up for email updates by clicking here (because I won’t be updating this website anymore). When I make it back home at the beginning of November I’ll have put on another 10,000 miles!

Motorcycle Mexico

That’s about it… What have ya’ll been up to? Drop me a line and keep me in the loop.

Ride & Explore!

-Ben

Categories: Mexico, United States | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Mexico/Belize/Guatemala – Laguna Bacalar, Altun Ha, El Remate

Loaded up and ready to leave Tulum, I start the bike, vrooooom! Pull the clutch lever and SNAP! Broken clutch cable. Oh the joy… Fortunately, I had a spare cable and was able to make the swap easily and hit the road about an hour later than planned. Once on the road I thought about how lucky I was to have a spare cable and for it to snap while I parked in a safe location. This could have easily happened on the road in the middle of nowhere with no spare…

Laguna Bacalar 001

I rode south to Laguna Bacalar, a beautiful freshwater lake near the Belize border, and camped at what might be considered a campground. Although it was more like a grassy patch next to a local’s shack. Nevertheless, the setting was beautiful.

Laguna Bacalar 004

The lake is crystal clear with a white sandy bottom and a few limestone “lilly pads”– absolutely stunning. A swim felt mighty good!

Laguna Bacalar 008

A view from the tent door:

Laguna Bacalar 014

I met back up with Justin that night and the next day we headed for the Belize border. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect at the border after hearing so many Central American border crossing horror stories, but the cross was quite simple and were in and out in about an hour.

First, we went to the migration shack office to cancel our tourist visas and then about 50 meters later to cancel our temporary vehicle import permits. Then as we crossed the bridge we stopped traffic to take a photo. (Oh god, I hope my kickstand doesn’t fall through the grates…)

Border (1)

After the bridge we were flagged down by a few guys in a shack to have our bikes “fumigated” or sprayed with water for about 2.5 seconds for $3USD. OK????

Border

Now in Belize the culture is very different, very Caribbean, and not Latin. No more Spanish, we’re back to English. It’s not a standard English though, we’re talkin’ very Caribbean mon! It’s getting late in the day and Justin and I went fast down the Old Northern Highway (single lane dirt road) dodging pot holes until we reach the Mayan Wells Restaurant (and campground). We roll in just as night sets in and set up shop for the night. The owner, Simon, is very friendly and we cooked some dinner under the palapa right next to a train of army ants. These little buggers are straight out of an Indiana Jones movie. We painfully learned the next morning not to step in their path. Turns out their path moved right through our tents and within seconds of standing there Justin’s legs were covered with nasty biting army ants!

Altun Ha 004

Early the next morning we awoke to the wild sounds of jungle birds. We the visited the ruins of Altun Ha about a mile down the road. Images of these ruins are on the Belize currency and beer labels. The site was beautifully manicured but tragically restored with concrete work over all the steps.

Altun Ha 009

Justin left afterwards and headed for Guatemala (he spent less than 22 hours in Belize).

Altun Ha 021

The next afternoon the owner of the restaurant tells me they have crocodiles and jaguars in the area. Cooking dinner in the dark under the palapa later that night had my senses on high alert when I heard a deep purring coming from the jungle… I lived through the night and the next morning took a few pictures of the beautiful flowers around the grounds.

Altun Ha 028 Altun Ha 020 Altun Ha 024 Altun Ha 026

Oh, and I’m not sure who Bob is or what he stands for but every telephone poll in the town tells me to vote for him.

Altun Ha 023

I spent another night waiting to hear from Charles. No luck the next morning (Christmas Eve) either. I wanted to see more of Belize but I’m also shocked at the sticker prices in this country. I made the executive decision to move onto Guatemala to meet back up with Justin. I left Mayan Wells on the small one lane road. Tour buses were speeding towards me on way to the ruins without slowing down or moving aside. Each time I had to jump onto the dirt shoulder 4 inches below the level of the road. Riding for a few hours I passed through most of northern and western Belize admiring the architecture and culture that was quite different from what I’d grown accustom to over the past 6 weeks in Mexico.

I feel a bit sad though that I stayed less than 48 hours in Belize. I didn’t try any food or even the beer. Although, I did try to buy a can of beer at a grocery store near the border but they were sold out… Oh well… Next time I’m in Belize I’ll have to explore more and certainly make it to the famous islands and ATM cave.

I crossed the border into Guatemala with ease. So far the tales of heinous Central American border crossings haven’t lived up to the hype. Bienvenidos a Guatemala!

Border (Belize & Guatemala) 002

Instantly life changed across the border. The people are no longer of Caribbean and African decent, they are Mayan and Spanish. English was forgotten immediately and I was back in Latin culture. The road turned to dirt for a few miles and then to spectacular pavement. Green forested rolling hills lay in the background and several herds of cattle and a few random pigs crossed the street every now and again. A short ride later and I’m in El Remate, a beautiful town that sits on the lake’s edge. Justin and I spent the afternoon out on the dock, swimming in the crystal clear water, diving off the dock, drinking liters of beer, and taking photos and GoPro videos.

El Remate 002

El Remate 005

El Remate 009

El Remate 013

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El Remate 018

Here’s a short video from the afternoon. (If you can’t see the video below in the email, click this link: http://www.vimeo.com/8382683)

Mon Ami Hotel advertised a delicious Christmas dinner. A bit pricey at $9 USD but we figured it would be well worth it to celebrate considering we’d both been cooking our own meals for a few days now. Unfortunately, the cold mashed potatoes, few vegetables, and turkey bones weren’t quite the meal we had envisioned. Oh well, so is part of the journey… At least the homemade hot chocolate was tasty!

El Remate 019

Charles’ Update:

Charles trucked his bike out of Colorado and then continued riding south. In Texas his bike basically ate itself (ya, that’s technical talk) but luckily he noticed the problem moments before his engine would have completely died. Fortunately, he met up with another motorcyclist and got together with a mechanic who got him back on the road with only a day lost. He cruised through Mexico pulling 12 hour days just rolling out the kilometers until he cut across the Yucatan peninsula when his bike broke down again. I don’t have the full story but he was able to find a mechanic in Chetumal who will be able to fix the bike. However, parts need to be shipped in from Cancun and with the Christmas holiday it’ll take a few days before he’s back on the road. A few days rest will do his body good and he’ll be here shortly. Charles, I can’t wait to ride with you finally!!!

Merry Christmas from Guatemala! Enjoy the snow at home!

El Remate 008

Categories: Belize, Guatemala, Mexico | 9 Comments

Mexico – Yucatan Peninsula Loop

After splitting from from Sam and Justin I set off for a loop of the Yucatan peninsula. Heading north, I worked up to the colonial sea side town of Campeche. I began the hotel search and the first place I stopped had no parking. I came back to the bike and met Mike who is doing a winter in Mexico on his KLR. He decided to ditch the Canadian cold this year – not a bad idea! So, this makes number number 8 (I think) on the “bikers I’ve met in Mexico” list. Mike showed me to his hotel where I rode the bike up the front stairs and into the lobby for secure parking.

Campeche 012

Campeche is a nice city that was once surrounded by walls after being attacked by pirates in the 1600’s, YARRR! There’s a great sea side walking/biking path and a colorful city center.

Campeche 011 Campeche 006

The next morning I continued north to Merida. I was stopped at about 4 military checkpoints on this short stretch of road and they were always carrying large automatic weapons. Here’s my Mexico military checkpoint procedure:

  • Officer flags/waves me over.
  • I point over like I don’t know where to go, he nods yes, and I give a thumbs up as I pull over. I say “buenos dias” and turn off the bike.
  • He says something about opening the panniers and wants to see my passport or vehicle import papers.
  • Very slowly, I get off the bike, take off the gloves, remove the sunglasses, take off the helmet, and say buenos dias again with a big friendly smile as I reach to shake his hand.
  • Homeboy asks again to open the panniers and I pretend that I don’t understand what’s going on and that I don’t know much Spanish (which isn’t too far from the truth).
  • Eventually I comply and I give him a copy of my passport (never the originals! If he decides to give me a hard time, he has little leverage if I’ve got the originals)
  • We do a quick open and peak into the panniers. I make small talk while he does this so he can’t concentrate on my gear (no need for him to get curious and start playing with and asking for toys).
  • I tell him where I’m from and where I’m going and he can’t believe that I rode all the way from the USA and that I’m going to Argentina.
  • He asks all the questions: How big is the engine, how fast does it go, how much does it cost, what make is it, how long have you been traveling, do you like the women in Mexico?
  • If all else fails I give him a small picture of me and the bike (I printed out some of these in San Cristobal for dirt cheap). He’s excited when I tell him he can keep it. By now he’s forgotten all about searching my bike and checking my papers.
  • Another handshake and I’m on my way. Hasta Luego Amigo! No bribes, no fines, no tips, no hassles.

In Merida, I went for a walk to the Zocolo (Center square – every city has one). I sat down on a bench and watched all the old folks dance the night away (this goes down every Sunday night). A woman walks over, smiles and sits down next to me. She says hola and asks if I speak Spanish. After the small talk (the night is beautiful, nice weather, pretty city), she asks what hotel I’m staying at. No big deal, Mexican’s are friendly and I’m often approached on the street for a chat. She asks what I do for work and I ask her the same (she’s a masseuse). She asks if I’m married and I ask her the same (she’s not). Then she asks if I want to get a drink. No thanks, I say. Eventually she asks if I want a massage and it hits me that she’s not interested in chit-chat… she’s a prostitute! Although I’m tempted to ask how much (for curiosity’s sake), I respectfully decline. After a few minutes of “accidentally” poking my arm she asks again. No thanks, I say and she says goodnight and walks away. I go back to watching the old folks dance. A nice relaxing evening.

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Valladolid is next on the list. An uninteresting city that has a cenote (cave) not far from the city center. I go for a look and the girl at the gate asks for the $15 peso entry fee. I tell her all I have is a credit card (even though I have cash). She says she can’t accept it. I smile and and ask if it’s ok to go for free, just this one time. She agrees and I save $1.25 USD – Hey, I got a long way to go on this trip and money doesn’t grow on trees!

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The cenote is amazing and beautiful and has been extensively manicured by concrete workers to make it a thorough tourist trap. Nevertheless, it’s quite a magnificent feature.

On the road again and I’m headed to Cancun. YIKES! There’s English everywhere and the beach strip is shoulder to shoulder with 5-star resorts. It’s WAY too pricey for me. I stop to make a sandwich at the only stretch of open beach. What a beautiful view. 3 different guys selling soda/juice/ice cream/fruit/chips/etc ask me about the bike and my trip. They’re always amazed and friendly. I have to say, the people of Mexico are genuinely friendly and a pleasure to talk to. I ask one fella to take my picture to capture my “Cancun vacation” and I’m back on the bike and going to Playa del Carmen.

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Playa is a much less expensive city and the beaches are lined with only small 3-star hotels. My first order of business is to jump in the ocean – awww refreshing! But there are way too many Europeans. I walk a few blocks from the beach, the fancy tourism stops and a real Mexican city emerges. Yes, this is the type of place I like. Deliciously cheap restaurants, friendly folks, and pleasant mariachi music fill the streets.

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After 3 days in Playa I continued south along the coast for Tulum. I met Jean-Charles from CouchSurfing and am staying at his place along with a German couple. JC has great advice: BE HAPPY!

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Tulum has wonderful beaches that have far fewer people than Playa del Carmen. While most people are taking photos of the ruins, I’m taking photos of paintings in the alley ways or town…

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Some off roading along the coast was spectacular too as the road went into the bio-reserve. What’s this, a 25 pesos entrance fee??? But I only have credit card *wink wink*. Oh, It’s ok to go for free just this one time? Thanks! Braaaapppppp!!!

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I met another biker (I can’t hardly believe that Mark is the ninth biker I’ve met in Mexico)! He flew from England to Anchorage, Alaska and rode up to Prudhoe Bay (the top of Alaska) and is working his way down to Tierra del Fuego and then to Africa. Amazing.

Good news, with some 11th hour clutch mechanics, Charles has left Colorado and is on the road!!!

I’m leaving Tulum in the morning and headed south along the coast. Stay tuned!

Categories: Mexico | 4 Comments

Mexico – Tonina, Agua Azul, Palenque

My last night in San Cristobal happened to land on Vera’s birthday. I’ve run into Vera in 4 cities now but unfortunately I won’t see her again as she’s staying put to study Spanish. Torben and I picked up a piñata for Vera and stuffed it full with candy. The next morning Sam decapitated the piñata and used it as his new riding helmet.

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Before heading out of town, I had to help myself to more of the delicious 2.5 peso ($0.20 USD) tacos. Yum!

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Sam, Justin, and I decided to ride together for a few days. We had grand plans with lots of mileage but as it turned out we made very little distance, changed our route, and had tons of fun. Until now I had been riding alone and it was so much fun to ride with other motorcyclists. It was so magical to see their bikes winding around the twisty mountain roads!

The first stop was the ruins of Tonina. These unpopular ruins were awesome as we were the only tourists at the sight. We found some cheap camping near by as well. Here’s a shot of the beautiful valley and an abstract shot of the jungle vine.

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Singing the Indiana Jones theme song we ventured into pitch black passageways using our camera flashes occasionally to light the way. On the right are the local drunks archeologists who are unearthing an artifact. They weren’t happy to have their picture taken.

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It’s believed that Tonina brought down the powerful civilization of Palenque. The Palenque king was decapitated at the top of the pyramid. Here’s Sam summoning the gods from atop the giant structure.

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WARNING: The following content is graphic and some readers may be disturbed… I certainly was! I had to pee in the middle of the night but I didn’t want to leave my tent because it was raining and unfortunately I didn’t have a pee bottle with me. My NEMO tent has a small zipper along the side that gives access to the air beams. Quite cleverly, I moved close, unzipped the zipper and began peeing out the side of the tent. “Genius!” I thought. Moments later I had a stinging feeling. “I’m probably rubbing against the zipper” I said to myself. The stinging increased and I finished peeing. I rolled over and pulled up my boxers but the stinging was getting worse. I quickly struggled to find my headlamp and turned it on to see more than a dozen red fire ants on my private parts. AHHHHH! I desperately cleaned them all away with my sock. In the end I had about 15 bites and a stinging pain that lasted all night. I couldn’t sleep just thinking about having to go into town in the middle of the night to find a doctor if this thing swelled up… It turned out to be OK and 4 days later the bites are almost gone. I’ll save you from a photo of the wound but here’s a shot of all the fire ants swarmed around the tent’s zipper the next morning. Justin and Sam had a good laugh when I told them what happened. Thanks guys…

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Leaving Tonina we ran into Vince again. By coincidence we stopped in front of a military training camp. This officer came by to tell us we had to move our bikes. We complied, but first we needed a photo. This guy owns a Honda Goldwing too!

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Once on the road we had a great time riding as a pack and weaving in and out of traffic. The guys showed me a new trick to wheelie over the topes (speed bumps) that allows the bike to remain at high speeds comfortably. We cruised the afternoon away until we reached Agua Azul. A beautiful tourist trap waterfall in the jungle.

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A dip in the river was a great cool down.

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Downstream we found a camping spot.

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It gets dark around 6pm and after dinner and a few games of gin-rummy it was still too early to head to bed so we played around with our headlamps and made some light painting photos. 

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The next morning we set sail for the ancient Mayan ruins of Palenque. Not more than 10 miles down the road, Sam got a flat tire. A few hundred meters later we pulled over to a tiny town to fix the flat. Sam doesn’t have a center stand so we went looking for something to support his bike. We found some cinderblocks behind a house and used them even though they began to crumble under the weight of the bike. They build houses out of this junk?

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Popping the bead.

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Sam and Justin (a.k.a. cuteboots – ya, it’s an inside joke) inflating the tire as a few local kids watch on. Rather than be in school, they just seem to run around the road all day long…

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The patch was successful and 90 minutes later we were back on the road for Palenque. Before heading to the campground we stopped in town at the grocery store to pick up some supplies. I noticed this kid placing cardboard over car windshields to block the sun. When the owner returned he would argue for a tip – and quite often he was successful. Who needs school when your making money… Although, I might try this when I return home for a few extra bucks on the weekends.

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Back at the campsite, I put my Micatech cup holders to good use.

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Sam is 6 feet 5 inches tall. He bought a tent at Wal-Mart that’s not quite big enough for him… Sam also had his muffler die a few hundred miles back. He went to a muffler shop and got this sweet custom made unit. His bike now sounds like it has a V8 engine. BRAAAAAPPPPP!!!!

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Sam placed his order for breakfast and the lady behind the counter says “What’s your name.” “Sam” he says. “Did you say ‘Sam’?” she replied. “Yes, Sam.” She then writes down his name on the ticket as S-E-M-E-N. We all share a laugh at the table when she calls his name a few minutes later. “Semen – omelet.”

The Palenque ruins were beautiful but overrun with tourists. We discussed how we would attack the ruins by coming in over the mountains if we were invading hundreds of years ago.

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Sam getting his Indiana Jones on.

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Carvings.

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Ball court.

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Amazing jungle tree.

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At night the howler monkeys are in full tune. I swear it sounded like there was a Tyrannosaurus-Rex in the woods. And of course, what trip would be complete without an impromptu acoustic motorcycle song by a friendly traveler at the campground.

The next morning we all set off in different directions. I had a great time riding with Sam and Justin and I hope our paths cross again. I left town heading north for the colonial beachside town of Campeche. The roads are flat so far here in the peninsula and I already long for the mountain twisties. The military presence has increased in the states of Chiapas and Campeche too and I’ve been stopped at many checkpoints but they’ve all gone smooth so far (knock on wood).

I’ll do a loop of the peninsula before I meet up with Charles near the Belize border just before Christmas.

Stay tuned.

Categories: Mexico | 4 Comments

San Cristobal de Las Casas

Riding up to San Cristobal was amazing. Gaining elevation with beautiful winding roads made for a great trip. My first night in town I walked around and found 3 more big bikes! I met up with Jeff, Arno, and Kevin (and Vince who I met in Oaxaca) who are also headed to Ushuaia. They left the next morning for Guatemala.

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The next day I met ANOTHER rider on a KLR. This makes 6 riders I met already who are headed for the bottom of the world. It’s good to know I’m not that crazy after all. Torben is stuck in San Cristobal waiting for parts to rebuild his top end on his KLR. He is from The Netherlands, flew to Los Angeles, bought a bike, and is headed south. Leaving Copper Canyon in northern Mexico he road through a marijuana plantation and passed many guys with machine guns. One group of guys followed him to his hotel and he suspects they opened his oil cap and put in a brass nut in hopes that he would abandon his bike. He was able to make it out of town to a mechanic, take out the nut, and reassemble his bike. Days later he noticed he was out of oil. His bike’s top end had been trashed by the time he made it to Chiapas. He’s been stuck for 2 weeks waiting for parts and most likely will be waiting for 2 more before he gets back on the road. He has such a positive attitude and reminds himself that this break is good for his Spanish lessons.

A little walking around San Cristobal up to the church.

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Passing through a parade

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And the foreigner who ruined the shot…

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I met a girl from Argentina. Her English is just slightly better than my Spanish. We had a great conversation. I spoke in Spanish and she spoke in English. It worked out well because I couldn’t understand her Spanish and she couldn’t understand my English. It was really fun.

I met up with some other travelers from the hostel and we all boarded a collectivo (group taxi) for a Zapatista village. The collectivo was a new experience for me. Even now, just thinking about being crammed in that little van, being tossed around as we drove up the mountain and over all the topes (speed bumps) is making me feel sick… Again, I’m so happy to be traveling by motorbike!

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The Zapatistas are comprised mostly of indigenous Mayans who are at “war” with the Mexican government.

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We passed through the gates where 2 women with masks asked us for our passports. Next, we entered into “holding cell” where 5 locals gathered and one young boy did all the talking and writing. He asked each of us our name, nationality, political affiliation, and profession. After about 30 minutes we went to another building to meet 2 more masked locals who asked us all the same questions. They then began to tell us the history of their struggle. Between them they spoke in their indigenous language but to us they spoke in broken Spanish. Fortunately, we had a traveler from Spain in our group who was able to translate everything for us. Here I am joining the movement.

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The masks seem to be more for theatrics than function. The Mexican government knows where they are and knows who they are; so why do they need masks? After our education, we went to yet another building where we were asked all the same questions and finally given a piece of paper with a stamp (they love stamps in Latin America) that was permission for us to walk around the village. Unfortunately it was pouring rain (a first for me in Mexico) and very foggy. I walked around for a bit taking pictures of all the beautiful murals on the building as I became drenched.

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They had a small gift store where they sold their local handicrafts – which were simply beautiful.

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Me with my official EZLN mask.

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It was getting late in the day. We waited around for an hour for a collectivo but it never came. Becoming very wet and cold we decided to split up and hitchhike back to town.

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Back in town, I helped Torben forge a title for his bike. I’m not going to lie, it’s quite good. I have to give thanks to Mike at the New Hampshire Institute of Art for all the Photoshop instruction even if it’s not quite what I had imagined doing with these skills. If I run out of money perhaps I can sell my services.

The town has heaps of colorful handicrafts that are all handmade by the local indigenous people. At the risk of ruining the surprise for someone’s Christmas gift, here’s a photo of me wearing an authentic Mexican Lucha Libre (wrestling) mask.

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Oh, and another KLR rider came into town Yesterday. Sam is from Australia and is riding from Whistler to Chile. I had no idea I’d meet so many other moto riders.

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Tomorrow, I’m headed to some out of the way ruins near the Guatemala border with Justin who I met a few weeks back. Stay tuned.

Categories: Mexico | 4 Comments

Mexico – Oaxaca and Puerto Escondido

Random mural painted on a building in Oaxaca…

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I enjoyed the culture filled town of Oaxaca for 2 days. I did the usual, walk around, see the sights, take pictures of the churches but I also had a chance to do some volunteering at an organization in town that is a sort of community center for underprivileged children. I hoped to spend the day with the kids, but they had a greater need for some administrative help – not as glamorous but just as appreciated and I still had a chance to play with the kids for a little bit.

One afternoon I walked around town and saw big orange KTM 990 parked inside a hotel. I stopped in and met Vince who is riding around the world over the course of a few years. We had a great time “talking moto.”

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That night in the hostel I learned that the lockers had been broken into and money, a camera, and a laptop were stolen. Fortunately, I lock up all my valuables in my Micatech luggage but it was a reminder that you can’t let my guard down, even when you think you’re safe. Later we found out from the Police that this was the 8th theft this year from that hostel – looks like an inside job. For those of you traveling to the area, think twice before staying at the Mezkalito Hostel.

Before I left town I had to have some of the local delicacies, home made hot chocolate and Chaupolines – smoked grasshoppers in chili powder and lime. This one’s for you, Lisa!

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The close-up:

Oaxaca Chaupolines

I left Oaxaca early in the morning for a long days ride through the mountains down towards the ocean town of Puerto Escondido. The road quality was the worst it’s been so far. Lots of pot holes, gravel and sinkholes. Cruising around one corner I found part of the road missing! After getting lost and backtracking, I eventually made it to Puerto Escondido where the temps and humidity were much higher than in the mountains.

Walking around town one afternoon another big KTM 990 was rolling around. I waved my arms to signal the rider to stop and I shouted across the median that I was on a bike too. I met Justin who is riding from Colorado to TDF. He almost didn’t stop because he thought I was a local Mexican trying to sell him something. Am I that tan?!? I grabbed a taxi and he followed back to the hostel. It had been a rough day for him. Leaving Acapulco, he ever so lightly nudged a taxi’s bumper. The taxi ran him off the road and a cop soon met up with him and he paid a $150 USD fine/bribe! Understandably he was pissed off but he realized that it was lesson learned and a great story for his journey. Justin left the next day for Oaxaca and we plan to meet up again for some more riding together.

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Amber came into town for a long Thanksgiving vacation and we had a great time relaxing on the beach, body surfing, boogie boarding, eating, and enjoying the sunsets from our ocean front bungalow.

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Looking over the Playa Principal and Marina.

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Sitting in the hand sculpture and napping in the hammock.

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I always thought it was odd when people drank Corona in the middle of winter in New England. This is how a Corona is meant to be enjoyed – on the beach at sunset in Mexico.

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Gymnastics on the beach.

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We hired a boat to go out into the ocean to see tortugas. After 30 minutes of cruising our “captain” killed the engine, grabbed a rope, and jumped into the sea. OK… Seconds later he grabbed hold of a giant sea turtle and we pulled him back to the boat. He then yanked the gentle creature onto the boat and told us to come pet it. Never in the USA… The turtle must be thinking, “Shit! This is the third time today!”

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Diving off the boat into the middle of the shark infested ocean.

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Next thing I know I’m being chased by some Mexican guy!

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The captain tells me to grab hold of the tortuga (I think… He spoke very little English and I had no idea what he was saying in Spanish). Nervously, I grabbed onto its shell and prepared for a ride around… Moments later it dove straight down with amazing power and I couldn’t hold on. Again, never in the USA…

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  Drinking and then eating coconuts on the beach.

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Lounging in the ensuite “hot tub” which didn’t have hot water or working jets. It filled up about 2 inches deep in 30 minutes. I ended up doing laundry in it instead. I felt like a little kid playing with toys in the bathtub.

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Amber devouring the most delicious yogurt known to mankind. I might have to start an import business to bring this to the States.

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A truly artistic photo of two overweight Europeans in budgie smugglers enjoying the sunset. Their 3rd friend (who was much larger) didn’t want to leave his hammock chair. This one’s for you David…

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I left Puerto Escondido with a cold and stopped into a quaint little town of Tehuantepec. There was a wonderful market that overflowed into the streets, some delicious street food, and a Christmas musical/play being performed in the square by the elementary students. The town was full of a type of tuk-tuk taxi that I’ve never seen before. I can only imagine that some local guy started pumping these out.

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The next day I crossed into the state of Chiapas and headed up the mountains for San Cristobal de Las Casas.

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My health was improving and the winding roads up the mountain gave beautiful views and delightfully cooler weather. These signs are everywhere in the mountains. They translate into English as “Dangerous Curve” or into Moto as “Fun Roads.”

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I’ll be enjoying the culture and weather here in San Cristobal for a few days as I get some logistics squared away.

Categories: Mexico | 6 Comments

Mexico – Pachuca, Teotihuacan, Puebla (Cholula)

I left Xilitla on a cloudy day. Actually it’s always cloudy in the cloud forest… I headed south to Pachuca through some of the best scenery of the trip so far. The road twisted and turned up and down the mountain side as I skirted along the rim of the Park Nacional El Chico. The landscape reminded me of New Mexico. However, I wasn’t in New Mexico, I was in regular Mexico. Strange…

With the daylight coming to an end I spent the night in Pachuca – a colorfully painted city. The hotel I stayed in was terrible though. The room had no natural light, it was very dirty, and I think someone/thing may have died in it. I spent some time in the central square people watching. The center is packed with traffic cops blowing their whistles in so many different patterns. This one officer noticed a car had double parked and it pissed him off. Blowing his whistle furiously from afar he had no luck. He went up to the car to find out there was no one inside. He continued blowing his whistle and circling the car for the next 20 minutes. Eventually the owner came out and he whipped out his ticket book in excitement and the woman started crying. Guess you should have thought about that before you double parked… This is way more fun than visiting tourist attractions!

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Early the next morning I set out for ancient city of Teotihuacan. The city was established sometime around 500 B.C. and the pyramids were built sometime around 100 A.D. Here’s the Piramide del Sol (Sun):

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And here’s the Piramide de la Luna (Moon) as seen from the top of the Piramide del Sol:

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Panoramic view of the pyramids

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After walking up and down the Calzada de los Muertos (Avenue of the dead) for more than 3 miles, I departed for the Teotihuacan Trailer Park (lovely name). Oddly enough, it’s a beautiful little grassy sanctuary in a rather uninteresting town just a few miles from the Pyramids. It’s cheap living and I enjoyed the relaxation before continuing south to Puebla.

I stayed at a hostel in Puebla where I met Vera. She and I took a bus to the town of Cholula – the home of the widest pyramid ever built, Piramide Tepanapa. Unfortunately, the pyramid has been so neglected over the centuries that it’s difficult to see that it’s a manmade structure. In fact, when the Spanish arrived, they built a church on top of their “hill” without even realizing it was a pyramid.

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Vera taking a break after walking up the pyramid’s steps. It’s a tough climb at 7,000 ft.

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Isn’t it great to live in the age of science…?

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It’s common in Mexico to have a “roof dog.”

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The next morning I was back on the road for an 8 hour, 270 mile ride to Oaxaca via Highway 190. On my way out of town I had my first run in with the police. A motorcycle cop pulled me over. Immediately I didn’t speak any Spanish 🙂 The only thing he could say in English was “red.” Maybe it’s because I turned right on red or because I went through a yellow light that was turning red. I’m not sure, I just played dumb (and friendly). I could see that he was getting frustrated by not being able to tell me what I did wrong. I flipped the situation and asked for directions by pointing at my map. He came to the rescue with his machismo and showed the way out of town. I made him feel like he saved the day and I didn’t get a ticket or pay a bribe!

Once again, the mountain roads were spectacular. Many of the backpackers I’ve met sleep all day on a bus. I feel fortunate to experience so much more by riding through all the small towns and interacting with the landscape and people. The motorbike is such a beautiful mode of travel!

p.s. I ran over a snake today.

Categories: Mexico | 4 Comments

San Miguel de Allende & Xilitla

After leaving the quiet mining town of Real de Catorce I passed the Tropic of Cancer and onto San Miguel de Allende. The town boasts about 10,000 expats who come to enjoy the beautiful colonial architecture and year-round mild climate.

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I met two Polish travelers who are hitchhiking around the world and using CouchSurfing to find places to stay along the way. I decided to give it a shot and met up with Michael who is a retired American now living in San Miguel. He has an awesome condo just outside the hustle and bustle of downtown that’s located next to a local market.

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Walking around this beautiful town I was drawn to the plethora of doors. I started a little photography project to find and photograph interesting doors in San Miguel. Here are a few:

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By the time I reached San Miguel I had ridden my bike over 5,300 miles! It was time for an oil change. I emailed the owner of Motos y Mas, Alberto. He let me know that they were on holiday but he offered to come in nonetheless. We changed the oil and filter, added a small inline fuel filter (I’ve already had to clean out the jets twice…), fixed the broken turn signal wiring, and tightened the shifter. Alberto also leads group rides for MotoDiscovery and is headed down to Ushuaia in a few months. I mentioned that I had seen numerous KLR’s around San Miguel. It turns out that Alberto imports them. If you’re in San Miguel on a bike, be sure to check in with Alberto.

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By the time I left Alberto’s shop it was noon and I had 230 mountainous miles to ride before the next stop, Xilitla (pronounced hey-leet-la). The roads were beautiful; lots of twisties up and down through the mountains. I realized I couldn’t let my guard down after I saw a few folks passing on blind corners…  The dry desert eventually changed to luscious green cloud forest at about 8,000 feet with fog so thick that I could barely see 10 feet in front of the bike. It was spectacular scenery but unfortunately, I only stopped once in the mountains to grab a photo.

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Before entering Mexico I was given three pieces of advice from friends:

  1. Don’t get stabbed in Barcelona – I think I’ll be ok on this side of the Atlantic.
  2. Buy a nice camera – I bought a Canon G11 to replace the cheap point and shoot.
  3. NEVER ride at night…

I was concerned that my shadow was getting longer and I still had many miles to ride. I kept on, driving perhaps a little too fast through the mountains, passing trucks and buses when the coast was clear. Coming around a corner, without any warning, the road was under construction and the smooth pavement immediately turned to gravel. I struggled to reduce my speed and remain in control as I eased on the brakes. Phew… that woke me up. Shortly there after the sun had dropped behind the mountains and a light rain had started. Finally, I arrived at Xilitla as night set in. I quickly found a hotel to get out of the rain and get some rest.

By the next morning the rain had stopped and I went to visit the the main attraction – Las Pozas (The Pools/Wells). This interesting place was created by the imagination (and wealth) of the surrealist Englishman, Edward James. Although it looks like ancient Mayan ruins, in fact it was built only 5 decades ago. I enjoyed walking around the funky creations (that lack handrails – try that in the US!) where the jungle has begun to take back its land. Although it was very creative, I found it hard to connect to these “ruins” as they aren’t ruins that were constructed by an ancient civilization.

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I’ll be back on the road in the morning for another full days ride. Cheers.

Categories: Mexico | 4 Comments

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