Flew through the border around 9:30 AM in Tijuana and nobody stopped us. Nothing…… drove to Ensenada where we quickly got passport stamps ($25 entry fee) and then headed out for Insurance. Everyone gave us different directions for different agencies and by the time we found one (after 3 hours of intercity travel) they quoted us $170 for 60 days. Our original plan was to make it to San Felipe today but decided it was too late and opted for a hotel room in the city. Got the room, got fish tacos, got beer, got whiskey, got online, got our insurance. Then we tried to fire the stove in the room to rid my bags of some of the MRE’s but the alcohol wouldn’t work.
Luckily we did get to secretly roll the bikes into the room when the sun went down so we could sleep peacefully. Headed for pollo and carne asada burritos. Then drank a bit to calm the nerves.
I would say that the real adventure started today. Woke up, got the worst coffee in the world, and snuck the bikes out of the hotel room. Got on the road and out of Ensenada at a reasonable hour. We “planned” to ride to San Felipe and change my tires out for some good off-road riding down the coastline.
Well…..I made an attempt to use my GPS unit and typed in “San Felipe”….hit “Go To”….it dropped a purple line to follow and we started blindly following it. After about an hour of riding and staring at the sun and thinking it is in the wrong place, I zoomed out and my GPS is taking us to a San Felipe in the center of the Baja…..not on the coastline! Too late now, let’s pound pavement until we hit a decent town. Problem was, the next “decent” town was 350 miles away…..Guerro Negro.
We did manage to sneak in small off-roading events when it was time to take a leak. You can jump off the road just about anywhere and hit desert/sandy trails.
90% of this 350 miles was through desolate desert. Granted, there were 20 mile sections through snaking curves that were amazing. As far as scenery goes I couldn’t believe the plateau rock formations, variety of cacti, sand to boulders back to sand……it was quite impressive.
Alex is already nervous about his fuel supply and after 130 miles he hits reserve and is borderline frantic. A few miles later we run up on a hut with the good ‘ol “Gasolina” sign. The gas was straight RED. But it seemed to burn just fine in the dizzers. The funny thing was that these two old Hombres in the middle of the desert spoke the best English we have heard thus far. They also totally ripped us off at $7/gallon but Alex would have gladly given up PIN numbers at this point and time.
At about 4:30 we started getting nervous….the sun was disappearing. We rolled into Guerro Negro at about 6:30 in the pitch black. First hotel wanted $50 and parking didn’t look too good so we dove deeper into town. After a stroll through sketchyville we landed a good place with restaurant and bar….can’t recall the name but the whole palce was based on tourism for the whale watching in Scammon’s Lagoon that Aunt Betty told us about!
We were beat, almost fell asleep at dinner, drank a couple Sol clamato’s and crashed out hard.
We were told to stay in San Ignacio by a buddy of mine and it was only a 60 mile or so ride so we thought we would do that and recoup on energy. Went to look for breakfast and ended up finding an abandoned (or atleast not cordoned off) MX track. Played for a short bit but couldn’t get serious because we weren’t fully geared. Located a shop after the MX track and I ate the best Chilequilas ever for $2.
Got to San Ignacio, checked out the mission, nice but not good enough to waste an entire day at. Back on the rode….. I shit you not I probably ate 20 butterfly’s guts on the way. They were thick as thieves and somehow aimed themselves at the mouth vent in my helmet (too hot to close it).
For the most part everyone is friendly and even some of the truckers honk horns and wave but somewhere along this route I was heading up hill coming into a sweeping corner and a pickup was coming the opposite way. He swerves hard into my lane and then jerks the wheel back and then comes at me again. I was on the far right side of my lane so there was no where I could go. I don’t know if this was some sick joke or if he was trying to get me to react and crash. He also did it to Alex who was right behind me. F*cker!!
We made it to Rosalia which is apparently some kind of industrial mining town…..first industry I have seen on this trip. Not too nice of a place though. Marching on we found ourselves in Mulege (moo-la-hay) on the coast and met some friendly ADVer’s that pointed out some beautiful beaches we should camp on just down the road. SIGN ME UP I’m F*CKIN EXHAUSTED.
Great night on the beach. Met some like-minded Canadians in a Winnebago that gave us drinks and provided a good location to stay at San Pedrito just out of Todos Santos.
Then we ate fish tacos at the small restaurant on the beach. Here is a photo from inside my tent after I struggled to wake up in the morning.
Today’s plan: Only ride a short distance down the beach to Loreto and enjoy the sun, sand, and ocean.
What actually happened: On the road early yet again. Still running my same tires which are literally bald and packing around my new set. Ate more Chilequilas in Loreto that were ultra-spicy and greasy and just knew I was in for the trots (currently happening right now). Loreto looked like a nice place and we thought about staying but it was just too early in the day to stop riding. On a side note, we have friends staying at a resort in San Jose de Cabo until the 27th so that has been lingering in our mind. At first it was out of the question when we had to spend a night in Ensenda but then became more of a reality when we drove the wrong way and ended up in Guerro Negro. So anyway, decided to pound pavement all the way to San Pedrito.
The first portion of the ride was along the mountains on the sea of Cortez. Then back through the desert, then over to the same coast in La Paz, then back through the desert to the pacific side in Todos Santos. We were warned to spend little time in the City of Insurgents and the City of Constitution (about 10 miles apart). However we are also required to stop in one of these places for fuel as there is no other options.
So we roll up on the City of Insurgents and all we can see is smoke blowing across the road and flames shooting up along the fenceline. Oh great! It’s a miniature war zone. Not really, just a brush fire that got out of control. We stop for gas and fill up with no issues. Blow through town and start to enter the city of Constitution. No big deal, breeze through town. THEN, about 7 miles south of the city of Constitution we see a group of about 15 Hispanics only 30 ft off the highway in the middle of the desert surrounding something. They look well dressed with collared shirts, cowboy hats, Levi’s, and shiny belt buckles. Then I notice what they are standing around…..a man has his hands tied behind his back around a fence post with a knapsack over his head. Of course I do a double take and some of the entourage are staring at me and sure enough they’ve got this poor bastard strung up good in this no mans land of cactus and sweltering heat. Looking forward and twisting my wrist I get the hell out of dodge. A few miles down the road we passed tour buses heading the other way. Well aren’t they in for a nice surprise…..”on your right hand side you will see the Cartel beating an in obedient man for failing to deliver the goods”.
After reading about all the people that travel through these areas none of them have actual came across the Cartels. I feel rather privileged to have witnessed this.
San Pedrito used to be a resort area but after multiple rebuilds from hurricane destruction the place finally gave up. It is an abandoned area but still a Surfer’s paradise. There were a few RV’s but mostly burned out hippie type folks that have been there for months. We rolled in on a sand road just before sunset. I dumped my bike in the soft stuff and took everything I had to pick it up. I don’t know how you GS folks do it.
While I setup shop Alex ran into town for drinks and food. After some menacing glares from the locals we have since decided that we will no longer be splitting up. Al returned with a 12 pack of Tecate, flour tortillas, canned beans, and pickled jalapeños. It was actually DELICIOUS!!
Al was not excited about where I set the tent up and I think he stayed up half the night thinking about tides. I was a bit shocked to find the ocean 15’ from my front door after awakening.
Got packed up carrying the least amount of sand as possible. 9:00 AM…on the way to Cabo….already sweltering in my suit…..rolled up to a resort and ate some oatmeal because it was the cheapest thing on the menu. Packed up rolled into San Jose de Cabo 20 minutes later. FINALLY, a shower, sunscreen, shorts, flip flops, f*ck the underwear I’m headed for the ocean.
Tim and Forest are old buddies from high school that just happened to be in the area this week. So glad they put us up for the evening. Forest caught an 8’ Marlin the other day and Tim bought some nice Ribeyes. After a little swimming pool, shuffle board, and happy hour we fired up the BBQ’s and did some proper cooking…..the Marlin was surprising great!!
Spent most of my day sitting in the resort lobby updating the website and checking emails. Did go get some essentials at the supermarket and cooked our friends our new found delicacy of fish and chicken tacos.
We spent our last night at the resort with all our friends and got up at the crack of dawn to see them off. Excited to be back to the adventure but definitely knew there would be few nights this comfortable in the upcoming months.
After a little internet browsing we figured we should check out Cabo Pulma national park. The main purpose was to drive the “highway” around the east side of the Baja peninsula because it was all off-road. I highly recommends this as it is an easy ride with breathtaking beaches and viewpoints.
We rolled into Cabo Pulma and stopped at the Cabo Pulma Resort & Diveshop. Very highly recommend staying here. Maribela helped us out at the front desk and gave us a great deal on a small villa close to the beach (we were splurging and we shouldn’t have due to our last couple of days in a resort….but at least they were free).
Cabo Pulma is only 40 miles or so from San Jose de Cabo so we arrived early. First order of business was to change my tires. Not that they were totally shot but I am sick of carrying around tires. Check out the cupping that was going on with the front tire (these are MT21’s).
Tire changing process: Take off rear wheel, go to bar get beers, remove rear tire from wheel, go to bar, install rear tire/wheel and remove front wheel from bike, go to bar, remove tire from wheel, go to bar, replace front tire and install on bike, go back to bar. Yes we dropped the bike more than once getting the front wheel on. However I did not pinch ANY tubes. GREAT SUCCESS!!
Today we decided to go for a ride…..about time huh? Locked all the goods in the villa and headed up the east side……bike feels like my old CR250 after dropping 80+ pounds. We ran about 30 miles (80% offroad) to Santiago to see a waterfall. The ride was great but being from Oregon and all the waterfall was lacking…..until you realize you’re in the middle of the desert and it’s about 105* and there is a continuous flow of crystal clear water exploding from boulders with cacti sprouting up all around.
Hiked back out of the waterfall zone, suited up in gear, and went to check out Los Barillos (spelling??). On the way out of the waterfall park I had a large 4’ snake that was yellow and black slither in front of me across the sandy washboard road.
We have had a number of dogs try to take us down in small cities and Santiago did not disappoint. Since I have the GPS I am usually out in front when entering the cities so I get to awaken the dogs with the loud exhaust and they run for Alex. At the last turn out of town a large white mutt comes hauling ass after me and I’ve got an Alto sign right in front of me. I touch the front brake and then scoot through the intersection. As I’m blowing the Alto the dog turns for Al. Alex hates dogs and is constantly bitching about them so I get a kick out slowing down and watching the seen unfold. Alex slows wayyyyy down and the dog is barking and pawing at him while he has one foot of the peg jumping around try to keep the dog’s face away from him while he is revving the engine attempting to scare it away. I’m just waiting for his hand to slip off the clutch and watch him wheelie over and try to fend off the mutt….never happened but it was still a good show. I’ll turn on the GoPro next time we roll through a city and see if I can capture one of these moments.
Made it out of Santiago and rolled into Los Barillos. Met some nice folks who pointed us to the best Tacos Pescado (fish tacos) in town. They were probably the best in all of Baja with its own salsa bar to add any toppings you want.
Los Barillos is about half/half Gringos & Hispanics. A little touristy but not bad. We found a good campground right in town that we decided to come up to the following day. Rode back to Cabo Pulma; a few beers and dinner and it was lights out at about 7:00 PM.
Woke up at 5:00 AM and went for a short 2 mile run down the coast line and watched the sunrise as all the wildlife woke up. Crabs were swarming the beaches while the birds dinned in paradise (sorry no camera on the jog). Back at the villa I met up with Alex and we headed for coffee at Maribelas’ mothers place just down the way. Truly fantastic coffee. Back at the room we packed up and headed for the exit but had to stop and get a photo with Maribela. She is a very fine host that took great care of us and I hope to see again one day. Cabo Pulma is known for its snorkeling and scuba diving on the reef less than a mile off the beach…..maybe next time because the $40/day budget doesn’t allow scuba diving.
Arrived in Los Barillos in the morning and secured our campsite. The wind is blowing like crazy and the wind and kite surfers are soaking it up. We are just relaxing catching up on a little typing as we sit and envy the adrenaline junkies. And also debating how we can get a petcock and an upper chain roller shipped safely into Guatemala…..who f*ckin knows??
First day in Los Barriles we meet a few people:
A man named Tom from Oregon whose wife is staying in Cabo with girlfriends while he tent camps in a calmer neighborhood. Tom is into geocaching so talked me into signing up and passed off a “travel bug” that originated in Germany. I have strict instruction to deposit this “cache” at the Panama canal. No problem Tom.
Rinn and Sammi were our next door neighbors at the campground. Rinn is from Georgia, lived in Colorado for 6 years, and comes to Baja for fishing 6 months out of every year. Very nice guy and showed us around town for a bit.
Sammi is a Taiwanese woman who has been backpacking through Canada and US for the past 2 years. She is headed for Argentina and then Africa while she will learn the drums and hitchhike to Paris and become a street performer to pay for her travels through Russia/Asia back to Taiwan…..now there is an ambition plan. She speaks NO Spanish and is a beginner in the English language. Mandarin is no problem. Very cool girl but I think she is a little crazy….or a lot
Kirk Russell, aka “Captain Baja”, owns Baja Tours MX and will gladly take you on a wild ride through baja on his badass KTM SXF’s. Laid back welcoming kind of guy that you would expect from a tour guide. Actually used to live in Medford, OR a while back before becoming a permanent resident on the Baja. After a few nips of whiskey we told him about Alex’s disintegrated upper chain roller and he jumped on the issue and wanted to help. Him and Alex hopped on the quad and zipped up to his place on the hill where he located a replacement part. Back at the campground the new part fit great and is working a charm. Thanks a ton Kirk….we won’t forget it.
In the evening met up with Rinn at Smokies for happy hour and nachos. Then Rinn wanted to take us out to a bar. Super seedy place called the Dolphin up out of town off the highway. Filthy smoky place but they had a decent pool table where we played like shit and drank ourselves under the table.
With head pounding I peak out of the tent to see beautiful pink/purple clouds on the horizon as the sun tries to peak over the edge of the world. I know it is going to be a beautiful day and I’m not going to waste a minute of it on the sidelines. Strap on the Nikes and hit the beach for a rough 3 miles to the far north end of town to sweat it out.
Back at camp I wash up and organize gear and then check some emails. Rinn spots a guy rolling through the campground and says “Hey, that’s Matt and he sells Empanadas if you’re hungry”. Shit I’m always hungry and haven’t had one yet so Matt busts out a cooler full of hot deep fried Empanadas from the Isuzu….one beef, one pollo, 30 pesos later I’m eating well.
Not much to do with little money so I sit and watch the kite surfers and try to spot some whales (only saw one).
Received an email from my mother with news that one of her friends is flying into Guatemala in 2 weeks. Perfect!! I call up Pingle and order a petcock and a vacuum operated fuel valve and have it sent to my folks. Jump on ebay and buy Alex two additional chain rollers (he has lowering links and apparently this causes the rollers to get eaten up much faster). Feeling better about life already we jump on the bikes and Rinn takes to a lookout point just out of town where you can see a huge portion of coastline with the little town of Los Barriles just below you.
Back at the campground we change and get ready for dinner. Heading down the road Rinn picks a taco stand and we place our orders. Dos Tacos Pescado y Una Taco Camaron on Maze Tortillas….Delicious. The restaurant is on the side of the road and our table is 25’ from the centerline in the street. Only our group of 4 and another table with 6 older gringos. Kathump!….everyone turns and stares as a car is moving way to quickly down the little street….bump bump….a dog comes shooting out from under the car directly in front of the restaurant. Immediately welping unable to use its rear legs laying in the center of the street as the car speeds onward. A woman and two men jump up from the table next to us and run to the dog trying to restrain and comfort it. A Hispanic street vendor just up the road comes running and screaming…..her dog is dying.
I have no doubt this is a common incident with the number of dogs running around but as an animal lover (especially dogs) I can’t help but feel a little sick to my stomach. About 5 minutes later the gringos determined that the dog had expired but the whaling in the street continued.
When the woman returned that ran out to help the dog her hand was covered in blood. She seemed very unconcerned and ask the waiter if she could wash it in the sink….thus I figured it was from the dog. Until it was rinsed and I saw them pouring hydrogen peroxide into a series of puncture wounds. OUCH!!
With an appetite that up and vanished we walked further up the road to open mic night. A number of talented gringos performing mostly cover songs the entertainment wasn’t bad but we were beat. Walked back to camp and passed out….didn’t even make it to Baja Midnight (9:00 PM).
Time for a boat ride. Packed up and said Audios to all of our campmates. The first 20 miles to La Paz was great. Twisty mountain curves through small towns built on hillsides engulfed by tropical vegetation.
We took the Baja Ferry out of Pichilingue. After arriving a few hours early we got our TVIP’s from a very cute and helpful Hispanic woman that spoke great English…..this seemed like a very positive start. Then off to another booth where we secured our tickets for the ferry (from another attractive woman) but they were sold out of cabins….no big deal we’ll sleep on the deck tonight. Still very early we hit the Pichilingue Playa and had drinks at the cabana.
Time flew by and we found ourselves in line for the boat loading process…not exactly organized.
Waiting at the entrance to the boat we watched the load the semi-trucks. These guys were hauling ass doing this. This one particular truck was turning sharp but clearly wasn’t going to hit the ramp with both tires….the guy on the ramp continued to wave him on clearly unconcerned about any consequences. As you can see he came up short and knocked the massive chrome bumper off the truck….everyone just laughs and carries on as usual…..no wonder everything is beat to shit around here.
Another biker rolls up on a Honda African twin loaded up. I figure this guy has a tale to tell because these bikes are few and far between in the states. His name is Marnix and he is from Holland traveling around the world with his girlfriend Lisan (Lee-zon). Finally rolled the bikes onto the boat. Right between nice tie down points for motorcycles. Did they have tie downs….they claim not to have any but I suspect a case of laziness. Ropes were much closer at hand and that is what we were given. I’m sweating this after the first tie down gasoline incident but what can you do?
After tying down the bikes we head to the elevator for the lobby. It is small and my bags way too much and the damn thing won’t take me up. I’m sweating crazy and the boat is full of diesel exhaust fumes and I am not a happy camper. Head for the stairs….5 stories up near vertical carrying 80 lbs of gear plus my fat ass in full ride attire and MX boots on. Seriously thought I might black out before I got to the top.
Onto the deck I take a seat, catch my breath, and look around. Disgruntled truck drivers starring at the gringos. I am feeling rather uncomfortable and Alex is sweating this scene pretty good. Definitely not going to get much sleep tonight. Al races to the lobby and puts our names on a list for a cabin in case of a cancellation. 90 minutes later we disembark and learn that we scored a cabin…..Thank goodness, Sleep is possible!
Make it to the room. No dinner….grab a few beers. Boat starts rocking like a suburban at a drive in theater. I’m not too prone to sea sickness but up on the 6th floor this thing has me feeling shitty quickly. Luckily a little forethought was used and we picked up Dramamine in Los Barriles. That calmed things down.
Invited Marnix and Lisan over for a couple beers and talked traveling for the better part of an hour. They started in Holland, rode through Europe, Turkey, Iran, India, Malaysia, Laos, fill in the blank for a number of others until they shipped to LA, rode down Baja and met us in La Paz. Pretty incredible!!
Slept okay but the boat was shifting us from one side of our bunks to the other. Oh well, at least all I have to do is ride a dirt bike for the day. Free breakfast was terrible…cafeteria style with all the truckers…runny beans and powdered eggs.
Down in the hold the bikes were still standing to my amazement. Got off the boat and could feel the humidity had jumped 10 fold and we immediately had cross through a military check point. Questions that I don’t have answers for is the name of the game.
We paired up with the Dutch couple and made our way to San Blas. 170 miles of pavement pounding on toll roads that we were charged an arm and leg for however everyone recommends it as it is much safer. Primarily rolling hills with lots of farming happening. Finally some tropical vegetation (Agave, Cocoa Trees, Jackfruit, etc…).
San Blas is made out to be some kind relaxed surfer’s paradise however we didn’t see this at all. Rather run down with a major lack in tourism. Find a cheap spot at an RV park and setup for the evening. Pretty poor conditions with the gnats eating us alive until a few hours after dark. Alex and I picked up our standard dinner of tortillas, refried beans, salsa, and a couple beers. Ate on my fancy tarp as we watched the real travelers cook up a delicious meal of macaroni with onions, tomatoes, garlic, eggs, and probably other good stuff. But we had more beer…they should take notes.
Got up in the morning….wet….damn! I don’t like the rain fly because the wind blows through the tent and feels niiiiiiice. Well, we were right under some palm fronds and the dew dripped on us half the morning. Strung up a line in the sun and took a shower in the filthy bath house thing.
Then packed gear as the gnats began feeding again. Stopped in town and got fuel and more air for the tires. They have sweet air filling stations. Just type in the desired pressure and inflate. Cool.
Finally on the road with the wind in our faces we pounded on the Tequila. Mostly just Agave fields along the roads with the tropics deteriorating as we drove inland (higher elevations and no gnats). We were riding around 4500 ft. most of the time.
The home of Jose Cuervo, Sauza, Don Julio, you name it they are here. After wandering aimlessly though town for an hour or so and sweating profusely we found Hostel Viejo.
After a little haggling we landed in a room for all four of us. Change clothes and get our on the streets for some taste testing.
We took a tour of the El Gran Jubileo distillery. Quite interesting, but won’t bore you with the particulars. However they do get there white oak barrels from Kentucky (used). Tour was great, tasting was great, felt obligated to purchase something so the Dutch couple purchased a nice bottle for $8.
Off to the town square it was quite the happening place. Little to no tourists so we stuck out like a sore thumb but no worries on our part. The scenery is much much nicer on mainland than on Baja if you know what I mean.
After our stroll we grabbed ice, grapefruit, bananas, oranges, and juice. Back at the Hostel Alex and Lisan whipped up some Tequila daiquiris. No bad but nothing to write home about. Then the Americans learned a new game that was a hybrid mix of poker and WAR. The booze didn’t last long but Alex and I gained a lot of valuable information in regards to traveling from these great folks. Salud! To Marnix and Lisan.
After much debate we headed back to the coastline to visit one of Alex’s friends….Franky. Our stopping point was Colima and then on to La Ticla where Franky is staying. A rather boring drive through a flat valley between mountain ranges. We parted ways with the Dutch couple just outside Tequila and made our way into Colima around 2:00 pm.
My gps has the streets of Colima on the screen but none of it is routable…thus useless. Sweating balls and driving around town looking for a hostel that ends up not existing. Needless to say I am frustrated. Lost in a neighborhood on cobble stone streets I take a left and punch the throttle excavating a few stones and tossing them behind. A cop is right in front of me turning out of a store parking lot. Throws the lights on a pulls in behind me. I take a right onto the main drag and pull up to a stop light. Cop just sitting behind iwth flashing lights I turn and give him a finger (pointer finger) indicating just a moment and I’ll pull over. Turns out uneventful because i turn into a Sam’s club and he casually continues down the road. Massive relief! Locate a motel and settle down for some internet time.
Stinky laundry got washed in a dry bag with soap and hung to dry in the room.
Rather uneventful but after some of the spiciest Totstadas in the world; after dousing in some strange red oil sauce…..I did get some melon juice and one of the best pork tacos on the street money can buy (actually it was free at the Sunday market so bang for buck was nearing infinity).
The Cartel’s of Michoacán and Guerrero and currently warring with each other and we read some horror stories about the MEX200 (highway) but decided to go for it anyway.
Entered Michoacán around ten in the morning and there was a massive military presence. More so at this border than any other thus far. The road narrowed and the trees hung over close to the road. Almost like a tunnel. Occasionally you would see a Humvee with a few machine gun wielding sentries set back in the bushes. I was a little concerned…..to say the least. You could tell you were in a different environment because there were no kids playing in the street and the graffiti increased 10 fold.
Made it over to the coastline and the ever increasing views became more and breathtaking. Not to mention the tremendously windy roads required more concentration thus alleviating my focus on how to handle a “situation” of one were to occur.
Never saw a sign for La Ticla (Frankie’s town) but turned onto a nice cobblestone/concrete road right after crossing a specific river that we were informed about. Following the small aqueduct along the road we eventually made it to the beach and met Franky. Lots of gringo (20-30)…strange. Apparently this beach has a great surf break and many of the kids in school around Guadalajara come for vacation.
Sat down with Franky and got beers and the best Ceviche I have ever had. Good thing because we were actually going to camp right under the Palapa of this restaurant/bar.
Then went up to the house where Franky grew up and put our bikes away in the backyard. We sat and talked for a minute while Alex tried to catch some chicks…
Changed clothes and settled in back at the beach. Franky has a lot of relatives and knows a lot of history about this place because of the past generations of his family. I’m not going to get into it but basically the Cartel’s are in charge here. They understand what Tourism does for the community and are not here to discourage it. They deal with problematic people within the community to help make it safe. But when it comes to the military, they are not fans …..Franky knows people…we met people…we’re cool on both fronts. The end.
After a little drinking and BSing we head to his uncle’s place for dinner. Lobster and fried fish. Only locals can catch/eat Lobster (and turtle eggs) so we are feeling quite privileged.
The pitcher on the table above is full of Hamikah (spelling??). It is sort of like an iced tea but made from a local flower. Very refreshing.
After dinner we walked outside and Alex continued to discuss how much he wanted to float down the local aqueduct on an inner tube…
La Ticla is a community of longstanding generations. Nobody owns land so nobody can buy land. No big hotels or vacation homes. Almost every dwelling has an ocean view.
Back at camp we watched the sun set and continued to have fun.
At one point I fired up my headlight to get something from the tent. The ground was moving….what the hell!! Alex runs to the nearest chair hops up off the sandy floor. “Franky what the fuck is this”, “chill out man they’re just hermit crabs”…”well what am I supposed to do, I don’t want to hurt them”. “hahahahahahaha”. This was pretty funny but I have never seen this quantity of hermits in my life. The pictures do not do it justice. All around us they were just shuffling around moving to and fro. I’ll keep my bare feet propped up on the table during evening hours in La Ticla.
Had a fire on the beach and quickly hit the sack.
Watched the sun rise and then headed up the hill into town to Frankies where we were going to get a traditional breakfast. Before we headed into town we spotted a sea turtle that had come up to lay its eggs. Dumbass was at the wrong beach…..you’re supposed to be about 10 miles further south silly turtle. Back into the ocean it swam.
Quesadilla’s with homemade tortillas and local cheeses…..and salsa made right on the spot. Our cook had soaked the maze to break down the enzymes the night before so it was ready for the “stone grinding” process before being pressed flat. Really a fantastic process cooking on the earthen clay fire stove.
Then we hopped on the bikes and cruised south to stop in a see the local beaches that Franky grew up on. The first was where the turtles all come to lay their eggs.
The last stop was the swimming hole where Franky learned to swim. It was my favorite. Up high on the south hill is a lighthouse. Centrally located on a rock formation is a Palapa for drinks and a view. To the north is an inlet where the ocean is calm and deep for swimming. The crescent shaped nook of white sand beach is lined with Palapas but nobody dining.
We order more ceviche and cerveza’s. Finally decide to get into the water. Alex and I have been in Mexico for 2 weeks now and have not set foot into the ocean. Pathetic huh? Well, within 3 minutes of swimming around I get stung by a jelly fish. I’ve been stung before in Australia so I know the feeling. This one wasn’t too bad at all but left a line of red dots along my forearm with a nice stinging feeling. A little lime juice and it subsided pretty quickly.
Back to La Ticla the sun was setting and I was beat. After a garlic fried fish dinner I passed out in the hammock.
I can’t tell Franky thank you enough because this experience has been the highlight of the trip thus far. Salud!
Today we got back on the bikes and road to Troncones. Only 120 miles or so but we didn’t hear good things about Zihautenajo or Ixtapa and those were the only other towns we were willing to ride to.
I stopped in the middle of highway just to take this picture because I have seen the Shawshank Redemption at least 10 times. Great movie.
Arrived early afternoon and immediately got flagged down by a guy in a Jetta who said he has a hotel. How much? $25. Cool we’ll take a look. Follow him back to his place. It’s about ½ mile out of main hotel territory, it has a pool, decent parking for the bikes, WiFi, and looks clean on the surface. Sure we’ll take it.
One of our biggest downfalls is getting to a town and spending 2 hours in the sweltering heat trying to find a place to stay with everything we need (WiFi, good parking, semi-clean). Otherwise you might as well camp.
We settle in and the place is crawling with ants. Not that big of deal. Hang by the pool and do the email thing. Back in the room I spy a giant rat turd on my bed. This pisses me off. I wish we would have checked the other hotels. Especially because they were all in a row, on the beach, and we got in early.
Then ride into town and get tortillas, beans, canned hot peppers, and spoil ourselves with sour cream and a little chorizo sausage. Cooked dinner in the outside kitchen and finished up with the internet.
Brushing my teeth and go to spit in the sink and there is an ant the size of pinky finger pulling some large egg looking thing up out of the drain. I don’t like this place. I roll out the tent on my bed, unzip the door and climb in. Rats can scurry all over me tonight.
Woke up….not really because I didn’t sleep all last night. Totally exhausted we gear up and get on the road by 7:00 AM. First I check the internet and my little sis sees that we are close to Acapulco and warns me to avoid it. Shit! We were planning on staying in Acapulco for 2 nights to rest up, change oil, etc… This is probably the 5th person that has told me to stay away from the once party/money/vegas style mecca.
Acapulco is 180 miles away and this is a solid days’ ride. We like to keep it around 200 or less if possible. The next town on the list is Puerto Escondido. Another 240 miles past Acapulco.
We roll into Acapulco around noon. Large houses on hilltops that appear to have vegetation sprouting through the windows…..abandoned. Deeper into town it doesn’t seem like a friendly place but not too bad. Eventually it gets super busy, hot, and the commuters are fussy. I make a wrong turn and lead us off the highway and into the center of Acapulco.
Problem 1: our GPS maps are not very good. There are new roads/HWY’s/etc…. that are not always shown. (I’m using OSM maps)
Problem 2: Signs are not posted in Mexico until you are right at the exit/turn/etc… No ¼ mile warning luxuries here.
Problem 3: We are too busy trying not to get run over to pay much attention to where we are actually going.
Center of downtown is not moving. Horns blaring and heat radiating off every surface distorting vision that is already poor due to sweat running down the inside of my glasses. We are stuck and not happy. Everyone is glaring at us and we are sitting behind a large school bus from the 70’s hauling unhappy folks. Two younger guys walking down the side walk eye balling us pretty hard. One steps into the street, I nod to him, no reaction, keeps going but a little close for my comfort. Alex sitting right behind me. They stop about 5 feet behind Alex just milling in the street talking looking over at the back of Alex’s bike. I’ve got the handle bars cocked, left hand holding the clutch in, right hand down on the extendable baton strapped just behind my right calf, watching the rearview waiting for some action.
Talking to Alex on the intercom and ask him if we should just try to go around the bus. “Yeah dude this isn’t cool let’s get out of here these guys are watching me hard”. Sharp to the right then left and I’m alongside the bus. I can’t fit between the bus and car parked on the side of the street. Now we’re sandwiched in next to a bus with a bunch of people staring at us. The guys behind us take a few steps but keep talking with each other still looking our way. “Hey Al should I jump the curb”…”Uhhhhhh, I don’t think so”.
Granted, the sidewalk is full of people but I will say that I am much more willing to make illegal maneuvers on the bike than Alex. With all the traveling I have done I feel that bikes for the most part have their own set of rules….and I’m not sure I could name a single one.
After what feeling like an hour the light changes, the bus starts moving, and we zip away. Only a few blocks later we reconnect with the highway. “Fuck I need a cigarette”, “I’m not stopping in this shithole Alex”.
It’s half past noon and we’ve decided to ride all the way to Puerto Escondido. We gotta move quick because arrival time is right around 6:30 and that means dark = not friendly people.
We drive as fast as the bikes will allow us = not very fast. We make up time in two ways. 1) corners, twisty sections, etc… 2) Intercity (explanation below)
The highways (2 lane roads) run directly through the center of all towns. Exits are not required. There are speed bumps called Topes. They vary in size, shape, and quantity. Usually at the beginning and end of town as well as a few dispersed throughout depending on city size….sometimes. They also have them in the middle of fucking nowhere. I know you are picturing a nice yellow sign 100 yards prior to this nicely painted bump in the road but you are mistaken. Picture no sign. Picture no paint on said bump. Picturing hitting said bump at 50 mph with no warning whatsoever. I’ve looked at my rims more than once looking for dents. Many of them are painted and marked but a few of them can really jump up and scare the piss right out of you. The good part about these is that all vehicles come to a halt when crossing them. This allows us to zip right past large sections of traffic rather easily and somewhat safely. Much better than doing it in the winding hilltop roads.
About four in the afternoon we exit Guerrero and enter Oaxaca (wah-haka). I have read good things about Oaxaca and am quite pleased to be here. The landscape isn’t quite as nice but the towns are obviously more upbeat and a positive vibe is radiating. I feel good. Only 3 more hours to Puerto Escondido.
My ass feels like I went down a 100 foot water slide that had 4 feet of sand paper glued right at the exit chute. Wet and raw I ask Alex what he thinks about trying some Maxi pads in the future.
The last 30 miles before hitting PE were gorgeous. Rainforest vegetation, cattle, people working in the rivers, lagoons, etc…. still a little shy on wildlife but we’ll get there. Sorry for the lack of pictures on this day but we were really pushing our limits and I didn’t get the camera out much…..you should see my stressful process of shooting while riding
Drive into town, sun is gone but still putting out a bit of light. Thank God we made it. Now to find a hotel. We try to head for the beach, get a little lost, then spot a large pink hotel that looks good. We are going to spend a little extra today because we’ve been camping and we just drove 420 miles on dirt bikes. They want $75 for a room. I get it for $40. Score, first room with air conditioning. Pool right outside our room, decent WiFi, decent parking, and beds that don’t have springs sticking out. To top it all off the bar serves great food with prices matching most of the ‘street’ food we have eaten. Sign me up for at least two nights.
We deserve Tequila shots!
…..And Nachos AND fried chicken tacos (all for $7)
First order of business is to get oil. Went to the supermarket. Didn’t find oil but Alex got a new camera to replace the one he left in Troncones & Tequila. I got some oatmeal for future breakfasts and some beer. Found an autozone that doesn’t carry motorcycle oil. Then happened upon a half Yamaha half fishing/marine gear place. I got some Yamalube and Al bought a hand reel for ocean fishing.
Back at the hotel I got some breakfast and did some typing. Then on to do laundry. We sat in the heat for 25 minutos until the washer completed. Al grabbed the laundry and tossed in the machine just opposite the washer. Fed in the money, hit go, and the clothes are dancing in a torrent of water…..fuck all another 25 minutos later we get to the dryer. I walked down to the beach to kill some time.
With semi-dry clothes we hung them in the room and prepared for an oil change. Needless to say we made a mess in the hotel parking lot. Oops.
We saw fireworks and heard music during the oil change so we set off on foot and found out that it was the first day of “Carnival”. A multi-day festival celebrated immediately before Lent. Many people dress up or masquerade during the celebration. Puerto Escondido was no exception. There was a gaggle of tranny’s performing dance routines on the main stage. Things would have seemed out of place in America with all the Hispanic families eagerly watching on….quite entertaining.
The highlight of my evening was winning a chicken piggy bank for hitting balloons with darts. Cost me a dollar and felt bad for even taking anything. Figured I’d take it to a Mayan village in San Cristobal and give it to a kid.
Today we are going to Zipolite on the beach only about 60 miles away. Short day.
Arrived in Zipolite and drove down the mainstreet. This was supposed to be a beautiful beach area full of friendly people (so I read). The beach was nice but the streets only contained the hippie variety most of which appeared very burnt out with frowns on their faces. I have no problems with hippies but I was not feeling very welcome here.
Not very impressed we decided to push on to Salina Cruz. Exiting the small town we hit the first military check point that actually made me open one of my bags (we’ve probably crossed two dozen or so).
SC appears as a large dot on the map next to a lagoon so it must be a nice city on the coast right. 160 miles later we roll into a shit hole that doesn’t feel quite right. Pickups with machine guns mounted atop roaming the streets everywhere. The first hotel we stopped at a guy outside (appeared to be drunk) said, “youuuuuuu better be careful boys, this town is fucked up”. Great! Sun going down, everyone is staring, we drive to the end of town with no luck. Back into the cluster we spy a hotel with an automatic roll up gate for secure parking. Knock on the glass….cage opens up and we score an overpriced room full of black mold and a dead cockroach under the sink.
Realizing our plan of not planning is not so great we begin to map out the next week.
Once accomplished we watch movies and check bikes until 2:00 in the morning. 4 hours of sleep and wake up excited that we have bikes and ready to GTFO. I do not recommend Salina Cruz to anybody.
The plan is to get into San Cristobal (220 miles). The first 180 miles is boring paved highways.
Then once passed Tuxpl Guitierrez we start climbing into the mountains. At one point we stop for the view and take a photo.
Then I tell Alex to snap a picture while I ride a wheelie up the highway. Pull out, shift, slam the throttle, front wheelie barely off the ground, little clutch work, only a foot off the ground. What the hell! Check the GPS and realize we are over a mile high, the bike is running way rich and I’ve got no power.
Climbing through the mountain landscape the indigenous Mayan people dotted the roadside carrying supplies, riding horses, herding sheep, etc…
We crested the hills at over 7K feet and dropped into San Cristobal. Followed signs to the city center and then stopped at the first decent looking hotel (Hotel D’ Monica). Nice, clean, wifi, locked garage, Perfect!
Cleaned up and ate some cheap quesadilla’s then headed out for town on foot. Rough cobblestone streets and pavers created the sidewalks. We walked through some of the old churches and explored the market place. Thousands of locals selling their wares on the streets and was quite the bustling little city.
In the evening we even walked in on a mass service in procession just to listen/watch for a few minutes. Didn’t understand anything….
Today we drive to Palenque to see the blue waterfalls (Agua Azul) and ruins (Tonina & Palenque). 120 miles of pure motorcycle bliss through the roads that snake up and down mountain passes (minus all the topes). Our highest point was 7,800 ft. and the lowest was 500 ft right at the campground in Palenque (The Maya Bell).
Lots of villages in the high country for the first 60 miles. Looks just like Central Oregon with all the pine trees. The last 60 miles was all rainforest habitat. Beautiful but very humid.
This is the home area EZLN and the Zapatista movement. Lots of signs designating territories of the EZLN.
First stop was Tonina. Nice bit of ruins on a hillside. Hiked all the way to the top in my MX boots. Coming down was a bit tricky.
Next was Agua Azul. Very beautiful falls. We grabbed some Epanadas, bannanas, took some photos, and then back on the road.
Landed in Palenque around 4:00 and went straight to the first RV/hotel that we had written on our list; the Maya Bell. The rooms were two much so we went with tent camping under the Palapa. So hot and humid in the jungle at this low elevation we went for a swim in the shady (ie circumspect) pool. Drank a six pack for dinner and tried to sleep with all the Howler monkey’s making a fuss.
Up and adam we threw on some shorts & tennies, made some oatmeal, and headed for the ruins (only 2 miles away out in the country side). We paid some kid $2 to watch the bikes and make sure nobody parked behind us (never saw him when we returned).
We were 20 minutes early before opening but were 2nd in line. After ten minutes we notice a fight had broke out between 2 of the tour guides. Literally rolling around punching each other on the ground….the whole market place looked on.
Finally we got our tickets and were the first ones into the park. Got to check everything out and snap some photos before the tour buses arrived (and before the trinket peddlers were set up).
Nice ruins but I’ve seen better. The tomb in the museum was probably the coolest thing there.
Packed up camp and shook the cockroaches out of our riding gear (literally) and enjoyed another 120 miles of great riding back to San Cristobal.
Dinner, beers, lube the chains. We are ready for a new country. Look out Guatemala!