Saturday, October 15, 2005

8/02/05 Mexican Motorcycle Diary pt.2

(continued from part 8/02/05 Mexican Motorcycle Diary pt.1)

One thing I've noticed thus far is that the travel info I get from male Mexicanos tends to be far more accurate than that I get from the female counterparts. Not sure why that is. Maybe the females don't drive as much but are too proud to admit they don't know? In any case, the info I got from the hotel dude was dead-on accurate down to the travel time. The ride toward Morelia was a wonderful curvy road in parts, with the lush countryside punctuated by volcanos and gentle lakes. Although most roads give you know shoulder to pull off on at all, some give you a half-lane. I'm guessing that the Mexican department of transportation felt that if they gave people a whole lane as a shoulder they'd just use it as a passing lane. Here is where I discovered why I've been told I should be able to get to where I'm going much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. A half-lane is plenty to use for passing on a bike and makes it easy to get around the loaded dump trucks and semis that slow down to a crawl on the inclines. A word of caution though... you never know when these half shoulder lanes will just stop abruptly, or if there's some campesino shoveling rocks, or a pile of coconuts just sitting there... so, you really need to use this short-cut sparingly. ;-)

I've gradually been getting a bit more cajones when it comes to riding in Mexican traffic now. If finally dawned on me that I was riding according to the U.S. system and expecting everyone else to do the same. Once I realized that it was I who was riding outside of the established system, it began to make sense why if was so treacherous. Don't get me wrong, driving in the cities is still treacherous, but the going is a bit better when you approach it more like dodge ball... just looking for a hole big enough to slip through while constantly dodging obstacles and other vehicles hurling toward you on every side. As soon as you stop assuming that everyone else is NOT following the rules you're accustomed to and just concentrate on not getting hit, the ride begins to make more sense.

Slipped into Morelia without problems and had intended on stopping for a bit, but I really didn't see much of interest to bother with. I'm sure there are very nice parts of the city that I'll have to explore at some other date. However, I was making good time and Ruby wanted to keep on going to stretch her legs out on the toll highway to Patzcuaro. I might have done better to see a bit in Morelia because as soon as Ruby and I were heading straight down the nice autopista to Patzcuaro, we could see a huge black storm in front of us that appeared to be hanging right over the city. Lightening danced all over the region as the temperature suddenly dropped. It was only 50 or so more kilometers so I figured we might make it and find a room just before the storm hit. Wishful thinking. Just 8 km outside of the city the rain came down hard with a fairly harsh wind. I pulled over to a taco stand to wait it out and was met by some Indian women who didn't seem to like the fact I'd pulled over at all. I figured maybe they think I'm not going to buy something, so I ordered a Penafiel refresco straight off. That didn't seem to appease them, so I asked if they had any seafood since their little sign said "mariscos". They said no, but there was a huge plate that looked like it was full of seafood. I asked, "what's this?" and they said, "Pulpo" (octopus). I asked, "can I get an order of pulpo?" but they said, "no."

"Well, what DO you have?"


"How much are tacos?"

"15 pesos"

"15?! for one taco, or an order?"

"15 for just one."

Ok, I gave up. These ladies didn't like the looks of me, or thought I was stupid, or they just plain didn't feel up to fixing some tacos. But, it began to look like Patzcuaro was going to be unfriendly and expensive if a roadside taco stand with nothing more than a blue plastic tarp for a roof wanted 15 pesos for one little taco. I'd hoped I could just blow into Patzcuaro, take a few snaps, and keep on going to Uruapan to avoid the whole touristy scene. I still can't figure out why the more successful a town is with tourism, the more rude the locals seem to be. Seems like they'd be thrilled someone was coming to spend more money in their town.

(to be continued in part 8/02/05 Mexican Motorcycle Diary pt.3)

Thursday, October 13, 2005

8/02/05 Mexican Motorcycle Diary pt.1

(continued from part 7/20/05 Mexican Motorcycle Diary pt.6)

Forgive me father for I have sinned! It has been 13 days since my last trip report. If you aren't up to reading through all this drivel, feel free to scroll down to the end and click on the link to see a new random photo gallery sampling from this trip.

I drifted and floated about Guanajuato's craggy disjointed streets with architecture that resembles a hodge-podge of children's colored building blocks for a couple more days, looking for the spark that had given my spirit a jolt in the past. I never found it. Just wandered around the city like a ghost peeking down familiar alleyways looking for my ol' muse of yesteryear. I don't think the city has really changed that much, and the gringo infestation seemed to just be a weekend fluke. The days afterward were pretty much the Guanajuato I once knew, but she was no longer dancing for me. Strange though, I always thought the place held some inherent mystique that stimulated my psyche. Now, I think it must have been my own state of mind and the unfamiliarity of the place.

It rained off and on for most of the time I spent in Guanajuato, so going for a ride was out of the question. I could have handled a little wet pavement, but the obstacle corse that passes for Guanajuato streets kept my desires at bay. Besides, I was completely blocked in and couldn't get the bike out if I wanted. So, during one of the stronger late afternoon storms I pulled Ruby out from under her awning and decided to give her a little bath. I pulled most of the dried insectos from her hair, scraped off most of the road grime and mud off her ample frame, and buffed her to the best sheen I could with an old towel the hotel loaned me and rain water. Later, Ruby whispered to me that she felt quite uncomfortable being so clean. Said it somehow felt "false" to her and that she longed to dig her heels back into the sweet soil. I think ol' Ruby is a dirty girl at heart and promised as soon as we hit the next town I'd find a little dirty playtime for her. ;-)

Finally, I got a dry window and made my move out of Guanajuato. I got directions and travel estimates from this guy at the hotel and it looked like I might make it all the way to Uruapan before nightfall, with a stop in Morelia and Patzcuaro weather permitting. Essentially, I just decided to drive West and stop as soon as the rain started coming down. Based on the travel estimates, it looked like I had time to get a couple cups of coffee at Spanglish. It was supposed to open at 8AM but no one was there. Not so unusual for Mexico. They sort of start whenever they get around to it. I came back an hour later and still no one was there but a young gringa backpacker. We chatted for a bit and I asked why she had a giant bottle of tequila strapped to her backpack alongside running shoes. She claimed to have started that bottle 2 weeks ago and couldn't get around to finishing it, but something told me it was intended more for show. You know? Like she's one tough gringa and you better not mess with her sort of thing? Anyhow, she seemed like a good kid and told me about all the places she planned on going all the way down to Costa Rica. I explained that I'd been to all those places and that she was going to have to be doing a lot of backtracking to hit all those locales. I doubted she could see ALL of them in the time she had, so I offered suggestions on possible routes that would give her the most varied route, but not be so rushed. Every word I uttered she quickly scrawled into her notebook with markings on her map. She explained that she and a friend would be traveling some of it together and that they were going to Real de Catorce for peyote.

"Oh! I just came from there. I can give you some tips if you like?"

"Excellent! My friend has been there before, but any advice is certainly appreciated!"

About that time her friend arrived. I twenty-something gringa with dreadlocks, tattoos, piercing, etc. And, she looked at me like I was the lowest form of gringo tourist she'd ever seen. Would barely make eye contact and carried herself like she was some sort of bohemian princess. Yeah, I remember being like that a few years ago. Back then I thought I knew everything and I wasn't about to kill any time chit-chatting with some "tourist". The other girl quickly put away the notebook she'd been scrawling my advice into so that her friend couldn't see.

"Your friend tells me you two are heading for Real de Catorce for peyote?

"Yeah, what of it?"

"Oh nothing, I just came from there and have done the same thing many times. I was just going to offer some tips."

"No need. I've been there before and my friends and I just take one of the jeeps to Estacion' Catorce, then out into the desert."

"That's what everybody does, and the policia know it. You'd be better off going on down the road another 5km where the police won't bother you."

"Ok, whatever."

At first I was a little put off by her attitude, but I realized I probably would've had the same attitude just a few years ago. So, I just sat with my coffee and shut up while the dreadlock girl tried to tell me the guy that told me I could get to Uruapan in just 4-5hrs was absolutely wrong. She said it took her over 6 hours to Morelia and there was no way. I reminded her that I'm on a motorcycle and that I didn't have to take the bus routes etc. But, she still insisted my info was wrong. So, back to my coffee I went. ;-) Although I understood the girl's attitude, it still annoyed me somewhat, so I walked right up to their table and stated,

"I know you probably have everything figured out on your own and don't care to hear anything I have to say, but let me at least share one little piece of advice regarding your little 'trip'. About 6 years ago or so, I'd listened to various hippies tell me that the best way to do peyote was to fast for several days. I'd heard this over and over again and decided to give it a try.

Long story short, after about 10 days of digesting the cactus alone without food, I started losing mucho blood out my posterior region and eventually lost over 60% off my total volume. By the time I barely made it back to the states I had to be rushed to intensive care for a blood transfusion. I was told eventually, that it's very important to eat a good meal before putting something that harsh and poisonous in your system and that fasting while digesting poisonous stricnine-laden plants was too much for the human body to take. I just thought I'd share that little bit of advice with you so that you at least eat a few tortillas or something before you partake."

This time her eyes were locked on mine the entire time and it looked as if her face began to lose a bit of color. There was a little delay after the story, and then she pulled her jaw back up and timidly thanked me for the advice. "No sweat! I guess if you say my travel time estimates are severely off I better get going. Buen viaje!" And, off I went.

(to be continued in part 8/02/05 Mexican Motorcycle Diary pt.2)

Photo Gallery Mexican Motorcycle Diary 3

The link above is to a little online photo gallery from the first leg of the trip. You'll need your monitor res settings at at least 1024x768. Disfruta!

ps. next gallery presentation coming after a few more miles down the road.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

7/20/05 Mexican Motorcycle Diary pt.6

(continued from 7/20/05 Mexican Motorcycle Diary pt.5)

Fortunately, I must have just hit Guanajuato on a night there were more gringos in town, because now (three days later) the town seems closer to it's usual Mexican ambiance. However, the place now seems far too familiar to me. I'm usually arriving in this town either from the North with a little peyote still tumbling around my brain, or from the South with a few mushrooms still alight in my mind. Perhaps that's where the inspiration was coming from? I don't know, but now all I see is a tourist town. Yes, it's still a quaint and colorful montage of rich sights and sounds, but without booze, and a relatively drug free brain this time it feels like nothing more. Has the magic gone? Or, am I only just now seeing Guanajuato for what she really is? Again, I don't know... but it's now been 3 days and instead of being inspired by the place.. all I can think about is hoping for a dry clear day to get back on the open road and move on. I was planning a stop in Morelia or Patzcuero on the way to the coast, but I fear those towns will be mostly the same dreary tourist fare that Guanajuato seems now to be. Perhaps I will just head West and stop somewhere along the way in a small town whenever the mood strikes me and my bum reaches the point where a mere leg-stretching no longer relieves the spiked nervy pain. ;-)

I'll likely head out tomorrow or the next day and don't know where I'll stop next, but I'll certainly stop off in Puerto Vallarta to visit some pals for a few days and will update then. I'm sorry that my excitement had languished a bit, but I'm determined to face at least the next few days without the obsession of drogas or booze. I desperately want to wipe away the facade and rediscover Mexico and my life anew. I don't know where this desire is coming from. Perhaps it's the fact I'm reading Aleister Crowley's "Diary of a Drug Fiend" and it's at the dreary abysmal part of the story where the main characters are spiraling downward from a heroin and cocaine infused honeymoon in 1920's Europe. Quien Sabe. All I know is I have very little care for anything else and seek nothing more than pure clarity of thought.

Until then, hasta luego!

Skip Hunt

(to be continued in part 8/02/05 Mexican Motorcycle Diary pt.1)

7/20/05 Mexican Motorcycle Diary pt.5

(continued from part 7/20/05 Mexican Motorcycle Diary pt.4)

The rain isn't the main problem. The problem is that in Mexico they generally don't have efficient ways to get rid of massive quantities of rain quickly off the road like they do in the U.S. so the water just stays on the road and you're often riding in a foot or two of rushing water. This problem is compounded by the fact that Mexican taxi drivers evidently have little or no respect for human life and don't care you are only on two wheels in the rain. Either that, or they consider motorcycles a nuisance that need to be forced off the road and out of their hurried way. Why are they in such a hurry anyway? Most didn't even seem to have fares. Add to that combination, the fact that Guanajuato's city roads are a series of one-way cobblestone passages that form a senseless spider web of tunnels that run underneath the city and through snaking narrow above ground passages. If you miss your turn, you'll be riding around in circles trying to find your way back. Add to that, the old cobblestone roads and sections of cement are coated with ages of oil and various motor drippings making for a surface that is slick as snot. I almost lost it many times but managed to stay up only for fear of being overrun by the evil taxi and bus drivers. Add to all of that the fact there is absolutely nowhere to park or pull over to get out of the way and most of the hotels, posadas, and hostels don't have garages. If all of that weren't enough, the Mexican pedestrians just walk right out in front of you assuming that you'll be able to stop instantly on two-wheels and wet pavement. I hadn't thought of any of that since I'd only previously always arrived in this city by bus or taxi and paid no attention to such trivial matters.

Finally, after what seemed like an eternity of being trapped in a hellish and slick labyrinth and a couple inquiries with traffic cops, I found a budget hotel (Hotel 2 Rios) with a small parking area for just $200 pesos a night. I wasn't going to argue. I just wanted off the road and out of the rain and path of those devilish taxis.

After I'd unloaded my bags, had a smoke, and stopped shaking from cold wet fear. I calmed down a bit as the rain let up a little. At last I was in my beloved town of Guanajuato that had always been a source of creative inspiration for me. I made my way to my favorite restaurant, "Truco 7" and ordered a plate of mole enchiladas. But as I waited for my food, I noticed I was completely surrounded by English-speaking American students carrying on in a mixture of exaggerated broken Spanish and English while they swilled countless beers and shots of tequila. I also noticed that the surge of inspiration that had always hit me as just as soon as I'd traversed Guanajuato's cobblestones and colorful angular architecture was somehow taking it's own sweet time reaching my brain. Had the magic gone? Perhaps a change in cafe would be wake things up. But, the next cafe was equally confounded with drunken American students. The horror! Yes, I too am an American tourist, but for some odd reason Guanajuato had always been mostly devoid of the typical gringos and I loved that about the place. Don't get me wrong, Guanajuato has for many years been a University, artisiic, historic, colonial tourist town... but for the most part the tourists were mostly well-to-do Mexicans with just a small spattering of gringos you hardly noticed. Most chose to stay in nearby San Miguel de Allende which was fine with me. Now, it seems my beloved has finally been discovered.

(to be continued in part 7/20/05 Mexican Motorcycle Diary pt.6)

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

7/20/05 Mexican Motorcycle Diary pt.4

(continued from part 7/20/05 Mexican Motorcycle Diary pt.3)

I returned to my room, packed my bags, ate a few chocolate huevitos, and had a wonderful night's sleep despite the unwanted alchohol coursing through my veins. Only, to awaken to a torrential downpour. I figured sooner or later I was going to get caught in the rain.. I mean, it is the rainy season an all and I can't avert a wet ride forever. Luckily, after a couple final cups of coffee and tamales, the clouds separated within an hour and I was on my way again.

The ride wisking down the steep and curvy mountain road on wet pavement was at once terrifying AND exhilerating. I tested my brakes and throttle to confirm my new tires just are not quite up to snuff when it comes to wet pavement, but I continued anyway and tried to keep the visions of losing it and careening off a cliff out of my brain. I cranked up my headphones to "The Smashing Pumpkins" and sang along to "1979" will every ounce of air my lungs could produce. Again, I was flying without a care in the world... or, at least not a care that I let creep into my mind. ;-)

For some reason every time you ask a locale how long a given drive is, they seem to assume that because you're on a motorcycle you can travel at twice the speed of anything else and estimate the travel time as such. The woman at the hotel told me the ride down the mountain to Queretero would only be 4 hours and another hour to Guanajuato. If you're in a heliocopter maybe, but when you have to slow down for hairpin curves on slick pavement, stop for the military checkpoints, gas, etc.... you can count on adding at least 2-3hrs to any local estimation of travel time. I knew the woman's figures were off because in the past the bus from Leon to Guanajuato has always taken at least 1.5hrs and that's the midpoint between Queretero and Guanajuato. Yes, I stopped for a photo or two, gassing up, and to stretch my legs... but the kindly woman's estimate of 5hrs total turned into just over 11hrs.

I passed through several quaint towns like Jalpan that would certainly make great stops on future trips, but I wanted to get some miles under my belt on my way toward the coast. Again, within what seemed like minutes, the terrain as I descended down the mountain changed drastically back to a barren rocky mountainous, desert vista with a complete absence of foliage. Just dry, hot, and harsh. I already missed the lush forests, but the sudden change in scenery was also welcome. Just blasting along, again leaning hard to the left, then right, then left again.. through the sharp curves all the way down until the highway became flat again and I could open her up to maximum velocity.. alone on the road with the exception of the occassional military checkpoint in which they consistently just waved me through without a stop. You really have to keep your mind intensely focused and off of auto-pilot because every curve is different from the one before... sharper, rounder, tighter with an occassional stray bolder or truck coming around the blind curve and hugging a bit or YOUR lane! I did eventually stop off at a town called Bernal that is seated at the base of this giant rocky stone mountain in the middle of the desert. I took a little break and just took in the seemingly spiritual glory of this monstrous oddity. It seemed the big rock has spurned the town itself as it's own tourist attraction. I snapped a few photos and forged on down the road toward Guanajuato.

After what seemed like endless kilometers of highway, I stopped along side the highway outside of Queretero to stretch my legs and noticed my chain was mostly dry. While I sprayed lube on it, I noticed I was now being attacked by swarms of flies. There was an odor in the air that smelled like a combination of death, rotting garbage, and manuer. I picked up my helmet to try and scrape some of the squashed insectos off the face shield only to find my helmet now covered with flies feeding on their splattered brethren. They had even invaded my tank bag and were covering my CD player. I tried to swat most of them away, and mounted the bike pronto to get back into wind and away from the swarm.

As I approached Guanajuato, there was a giant blackm cloud in the same general direction with lightening shooting down all over what I dearly hoped was NOT the city of Guanajuato in the distance. I was wrong. I was riding straight for a wicked storm and there was no way around it. I throttled to maximum speed to try and make maximum ground and hopefully the city before the downpour but it was useless. A cold rush of wind tinged with droplets began to fall and then just before the clouds let go of their payload, I pulled over under an awning of a closed shop. It came down cold and hard and as the wind picked up it blew the rain sideways right under the awning and threatened to even knock the bike off it's stand. At first I thought I'd just sit and wait for it to pass, but it didn't show any signs of letting up. After a couple damp smokes, I decided to gear up for rain and cover my bags. This was it, I was either going to have to spend the night under that windy damp awning, or brave the rain and find a room. As I was only about 8 miles outside of Guanajuato, I decided to go for it.

(to be continued in part 7/20/05 Mexican Motorcycle Diary pt.5)

7/20/05 Mexican Motorcycle Diary pt.3

(continued from part 7/20/05 Mexican Diary pt.2)

I stayed a forth night and took the bike out for what I thought would be a short run to some nearby caves and one of the world's deepest pits where swallows swirl above and then dive into the abyss at dusk. The ride turned into a fun, but grueling off-road challenge with many kilometers of eroded sand, gravel, stone, and mud. After I'd finally reached the village where the cave was, I parked the bike and began the hike to the cave's entrance flanked by village children. The heat and humidity were really taking their toll, but I enjoyed the diversion. By the time I reached the pit on the bike, I realized I was going to have to return via all those glorious off-road kilometers in the dark! So, I decided not to hike to the pit's edge and begin the ride back. Dark clouds moved over head and it began to sprinkle. The horror of all that dirt, stone, ruts, etc. turning into mud and traversing it in the dark began to concern me. And, when I realized that I'd taken a wrong turn and was hopelessly lost in the dark... well, I won't lie... it was beginning to panic a bit like a frightened toddler and since I'd not taken any provisions like water with me.... well, you can imagine my concern. Finally, I came upon a small village and asked if the trail indeed led back to the paved road. After some confused banter, the farmer calculated that I might reach the city of Queretero in about 300 kilometers or so if I continued in that direction! Ouch! Time to back track.

Eventually I found the original trail and made my way back toward the paved road after several kilometers stuck behind a Corona beer truck choking on it's exhaust and dust cloud since he didn't seem interested in letting me pass. Every time I tried to make a move the pendejo veered over to block me. What a sour sport! I guess he had a laugh or two making the foolish gringo eat HIS dust! Finally, I arrived back to Xilitla by 11ish. I was so relieved the rain held back until I made it back up the mountain to Xilitla and my cozy room.

The rain continued through the night and into the next morning so I decided to stay one more night and then move on the following day rain or shine. I ran into a young Canadian fellow and his Italian girlfriend that I'd met briefly in the desert. He asked if I wanted to get a beer with him while his girlfriend napped. I didn't really want to, but I thought the company and conversation might be nice. The beer wasn't really doing it for me, but we chatted for hours about our own life stories until the conversation became political and his girlfriend rejoined us. They had also experienced Chester's non-stop banter and he asked his girlfriend, "You remember that American man who went on and on about Costa Rica? Well, this guy (me) is just as bad!" I laughed it off and suggested to her that her boyfriend had held his own in going on about his OWN pitiful life for the better part of the last hour or so. ;-) He got me back by asking how old I was, when I told him he said, "Wow! You don't look THAT old!" Gee, how does one take a comment like that? Is is a compliment that I have a youthful appearance? Or, is it a condemnation that I'm nearly at death's door? On top of that, he kept complaining that we had to converse in English. But, I don't speak his Montreal French, and his English was stronger than my Spanish so I opted for maximum clarity. About the 3rd time he complained about having to speak English I started looking for the exit. ;-)

His Italian girlfriend had been studying international law and wanted me to explain why the Americans had reelected Bush. She shouldn't have got me started with regards to that fascist, but in the end we were all in complete agreement about the whole situation. We all speculated on how the American population had been cleverly and surrealistically bamboozled into an illegal war, etc. and each of us hoped for a change in direction for the world. They both felt that perhaps before the civilized world is reborn into a new enlightened era, there might have to be a painful transition before truth could once again come to light. Again, who knows but I'll refrain from any more discussion of this nasty business out of respect for those of you still under the illusion that your boy Bush is just a good ol' boy lookin' out for the little guy and neither he, Halliburton, Cheney nor their countless conglomerate New World Order minions care not for absolute power, control, and oil, but only for "freedom" and the good folks of the U.S.A., spreading democracy and the lovin' good word of Jesus with a little help from Rupert Murdoch's Fox News network, their wealthy corporate pals, defense contractors, and a handful of 5 ton bombs delivered with a kiss and Jesus' and George's blessings. I do sincerely hope that I'm just a "clueless, freedom-hating misinformed lefty liberal" who can't see the forest for the trees. I really do hope my eyes and ears have deceived me and that I'm utterly wrong about all of this. But, for the moment, I couldn't care less about the whole mess. I merely want only to "be" and let "be" and try to stay out of THEIR well-financed holy crusade... with the faith that it will all eventually work itself out some how, some way.

(to be continued in part 7/20/05 Mexican Diary pt.4)

Monday, October 10, 2005

7/20/05 Mexican Motorcycle Diary pt.2

(continued from 7/20/05 Mexican Motorcycle Diary pt.1)

Then, there is the fact mushrooms apparently grow there as well. I asked a group of young Mexican guys smoking grass along the trail toward Las Pozas and they claimed the hills above are covered with little bajarito mushrooms that are red with white spots! I only needed to hike up into the hills and pick them off the ground. I had a plan for the next day. ;-) I also asked one of the jewelry-selling hippies in the plaza about srooms as well and he said you can actually get them at Las Pozas as well by hiking up the mountain a little bit. But, this is where my "trip" seemed to take a turn. I don't know what happened. But, for some reason I now had an aversion to taking any drugs at all. Perhaps I've been like this for awhile and was only just then realizing it. Or, perhaps the higher planes I achieved with the peyote in the desert spoilt me? Or, the rush of being one with the motorcycle and open road has surpassed any adrenaline high I've experienced on drugs? For some unknown reason I began to be honest with myself and felt the problem with getting high is that it's just plain unsustainable. You can only fly so high for so long and then you have to come down and face the real world. Add to that, eventually the drugs don't quite get you there anymore or the place you go becomes so familiar it is no longer so interesting.

In any case, it felt like the "Skip" I have previously been and believed myself to be, was only a habitual facade going through the motions. And, I must confess... I wasn't entirely keen to take peyote this time either. I delayed several days before going out into the desert to greet Mescalito. Don't get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed our little rave in the desert with cocoyote, but somehow the thrill was waning. I lied to myself that in a few days I'd wake up from this stupor and be hungry to rearrange my brain's chemistry once again. But it never happened. I waited, one... two... three days in Xilitla for the desire to "get off" to return. It never happened. I made excuses for myself and took little excursions by foot hoping the old "Skip" would return. He didn't.

There was an older American chap named Chester that the woman at the hotel introduced me to. At first he didn't seem interested in talking and he stayed in the same hotel in one of the dark lower, cooler windowless rooms. But soon he hunted me down at every turn and talked incessantly about the 12 years he lived in Costa Rica, how he had to leave the country in a hurry due to false immigration papers... how he'd taken a Nicaraguan wife but she now wanted to claim half of his assets... how his back was troubling him... how his blood pressure was high... and how he wanted to find a nice place to build a simple house in Mexico... etc. It was all very entertaining the first time he told me, but I heard the exact same story every time I saw him. He'd stop me in the plaza, pop into a cocina where I was drinking coffee, and eventually he'd invade my very room and begin the same story once more with only minor variations. I tried to imagine when I hit 65 and want to share my stories that I'd hope someone might be interested in listening... so I remained polite and listened again, and again, and again. Good chap that Chester, but I felt like he was stuck in his own recent past and just needed to move on with his own story. Bingo! That was my problem as well! I'd been stuck in my own recent drug-laced and alchohol-laden foggy past and it was time to move onto the next chapter in "Skip's story". I don't know if my old pals Jesus, Buddha, Krishna, and Mohammad were tapping me on the shoulder and saying, "Enough's enough old boy! Time to get on with it." Or, if they'd been there all along and I finally stopped to listen. Or, if I was finally "maturing"? Or, just plain gettin' old. Quien sabe. But as a champion of truth, I had to be honest with myself and the truth was that I no longer was interested in driving in the fog. I don't know how long it will last, and it poses a new problem, what to do with my time? Perhaps I'll finally do some of the things I've always aspired to? Or, perhaps I'll just sit and observe others and remember when. I don't know, but without a desire to "get off" or drink myself into oblivion, I find myself seeking refuge in my own clear thoughts and longing for nothing more than a good ride in the sun, a restful night's sleep, and a strong cup of coffee. For the moment that is. ;-)

(continued in part 7/20/05 pt. 3)

7/20/05 Mexican Motorcycle Diary pt.1

I left Ciudad Valles in a rush of sweltering humidity as the beat down on my helmet, the motor heat rose from below, and sweat poured across my face... under my riding jacket... and into my boots. But, soon I reached a comfortable velocity and began to rise in altitude and into cooler air. The ride from Valles to Xilitla was nothing short of spectacular with the dramatic juts of black rock mountain covered in lush greenery, brilliant blue sky, and winding twisty roads hugging majestic stony behemoths.

Within the state of San Luis Potosi is a region called Huasteca. I have been told the area held much promise, but I'd always given it a pass because much of San Luis Potosi is arid, dry, and desert like. I'd already seen much of it and had always wanted to change terrain after a couple weeks in the desert. But within what seems like minutes after leaving San Luis and climbing into the Sierras, the terrain changes quickly into a perfect blend of lush mountainous greenery dotted with rivers and waterfalls. The drops off the roadside are dramatic as well, but I tried to keep my eyes glued on the road that twists sharp left then right, then left... snaking up the mountains and flanked by damp black walls of stone and tropical foliage, dotted by occasional small villages. I felt my rear tire losing traction around the tighter corners and attributed that to slightly damp pavement, but more on that later. You could easily spend an entire trip just discovering all the villages within the Huasteca region alone!

My mind raced and soared in tune with the motor's effortless flight into a truly magical scenery as if I were gradually ascending into heaven. When I spotted the sign that read "Bienvenidos a Xilitla" I just kept going for another half hour before I turned around to sort out my lodging. Traveling on a motorcycle offers the obvious additional obstacles like where to put the damn thing. The first hotel I checked had no place to put the moto, and the second had a garage but was expensive ($550 pesos or $50 a night). The third hotel (Hotel San Ignacio) seemed out of my budget, but had a convenient covered garage space as you enter. The friendly woman said the room was only $170 pesos a night so I checked out the room. It had a nice view, private bath with hot water, TV, large soft bed, etc. I already knew I'd take the room but I asked if I might get a little discount if I paid for 3 nights in advance and she quickly dropped the price to $11 a night! Ahhhh! I was indeed in heaven and after a short walk around the town I knew I'd fallen in love with a new place in Mexico. The area is covered with coffee plantations and I could count the gringo tourists on one hand.

If feels like you're high in the Sierras but I believe the altitude is only about 2000 feet above sea level. You can sip coffee and eat delicious tamales wrapped in banana leaves in small cocinas with the local campesinos and stroll about the plaza essentially unnoticed as a tourist. One of the main attractions in the area are the magical gardens of Henry James called "Las Pozas". I'd never heard of the guy, but evidently he was an eccentric and wealthy British surrealist who poured millions into creating private gardens with bizarre towering structures in concrete resembling giant mushrooms and twisted stairways and passages leading nowhere. If you have ever scene La Segrada de Mi Familia in Barcelona, Spain... its very similar. Not quite as large, enclosed, or ornate, but the heavily tropical forest setting is quite mystical to intensify the overall effect. The grounds also include several beautiful pools fed by lovely waterfalls and the sculptures go right up to the edges of the pools and blend right into the waterfalls themselves. Pure magic! I expected to see tiny duende popping out from behind every tree and twisted imaginary habitat. The man had obviously sampled the local fungi. I thought, "What an amazing place to take mushrooms! Hell, you didn't even need them! The man had already materialized an entire sroom trip for you in concrete. Why bother with eating any?!"

(continued in part 7/20/05 pt. 2)

Photo Gallery Mexican Motorcycle Diary 2

The link above is to a little online photo gallery from the first leg of the trip. You'll need your monitor res settings at at least 1024x768. Disfruta!

ps. next gallery presentation coming after a few more miles down the road.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

7/13/05 Mexican Motorcycle Diary pt.4

(continued from 7/13/05 Mexican Motorcycle Diary pt.3)

The road was in good shape, but the curves were indeed very dramatic. Luckily there weren't many trucks so I just took it slow. Until I started noticing a strange noise coming from my rear tire. I found a little grove to pull over, rest, and have a smoke. It was quite beautiful, but when I inspected my rear tire, it seemed kinda low. I checked the pressure and it only had 5lbs psi in it!!! OUCH! I can't believe I road on those roads with a near flat tire and cactus spines stuck in it.

I pumped the tire up as much as I could with my small bicycle pump, but it took nearly 500 pumps to get it up to 30lbs. I waited for about 15mins and checked the pressure again. Only lost 2lbs of pressure so I decided to continue until I could find a small town to get more air. The first town had a small Vucanizador (tire repair shack), but they didn't want to mess with patching a motorcycle tire assembly. But, they gave me some air and said I should be able to make it to RioVerde to get it repaired.

"Gracias, but how do you say Patch in Spanish"


Oh! Easy enough. ;-)

I tried to keep the speed down and made it to RioVerde. The first repair shack told me they could fix it, but I had to pay them first and they'd take me to the other shop across the highway where they do motorcycles. I knew I was getting taken with the 80peso price, but $8 dollars was well worth it not to have to learn how to do it myself. When I asked the guy doing the work what the cost is, he said $30 pesos... and that the other guy was a "cabron" who'd just ripped me off. But now I knew the real price for the next time and was just glad it was going to get fixed. Plus, I could watch him and see how its done.

I looked like it was enough work that if it happens again and I can make it to a Vucanizador, I'll gladly pay someone else 100 pesos to patch it. ;-) I do have a spare tube for the front and back, but since I still have several weeks to go, I decided save the spare tubes and just go with a patch in case I have to change it myself next time.

The tube had two cactus spine holes, but after about 45mins I was on my way again. The tire dude said the road was easy from there on to Ciudad Valles and on a motorcycle I can ride fast through the curves and make Ciudad Valles within an hour and a half. WRONG!! Maybe in the daylight, but at night and a cold dark mountain curves with semis and busses riding my a$$ through the curves, it took 3.5hrs of nail-biting fear!

I made it though, but decided to take a cheap room for the night here in Ciudad Valles. Xilitla is only about 85km more so after a fresh orange juice and coffee, I'll be on my way. The little hotel let me park my bike right in the hotel lobby by bringing through two long hallways inside the hotel. The hot shower was pretty sweet too!

more later, next stop Xilitla.


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(to be continued in the 7/20/05 posting)

7/13/05 Mexican Motorcycle Diary pt.3

(continued from 7/13/05 Mexican Motorcycle Diary pt.2)

Soon, he told me that one of the girls was going to try it. I was a little fightened for her, but still intrigued. I mean, what would they do if she had some bad reaction? We were many kilometers away from any hospital and getting there would be impossible in the night. Not to mention it'd several take hours to get to Matehuala from there even if they had a vehicle.

They filled a small pipe with cigarette ash to form a small bed to put the fine DMT powder on and lighted it. They gathered around the Mexican girl to offer support as she took one long drag. Almost immediately her eyes rolled back as she kind of melted backwards into a bed of sleeping bags behind her. They all got very quiet and stayed by her sides as she sort of oozed and writhed in what appeared to be ecstasy. When she came out of it slowly, it'd only lasted about 20mins but I asked her what it was like.

"The first 5 mins felt like an eternity and I was scared. Many colores I was spitting from my tongue, and things I cannot explain. It was like my spirit had left my body and gone far away. I saw many things and faces I couldn't understand and worried I might not come back. When I slowly started to come back, I saw you and your glowing pants dancing like you were welcoming me back. YOU should try!"

"Oh no, I've already been to those places and will take a pass this time. ;-) "

We continued through the night until the sun came up. It was pure magic and mystical, but after a short nap I decided to ride back toward Wadley to prepare for departure. I thanked them all for the incredible party and set out into the desert with 3 plants Russ gave me. After a quick shower, a trip to fill up on gas, and a nap I ate the 3 plants with an orange and chilled out listening to the Beatles in my room until I drifted off into space.

The next day I packed up and paid Don Thomas. He told me I could save 150km by riding the road through the desert until I hit the highway. He said there was just 10km off road. WRONG!! It was about 50km of rough off-road through gravel, mud, and sand. It took around 2 hours just to go that 50km, but I was thrilled I'd survived the desert without a flat tire.

Several kilometers more and through several little villages I finally hit San Luis Potosi and gassed up. I was hoping to make Xilitla in Huasteca before nightfall, but that seemed impossible now. So, I figured I'd go as far as I could then find a room.

I asked directions to the highway going toward RioVerde and Ciudad Valles, but was warned the free road was very dangerous on a motorcycle. That the road was bad with steep inclines, sharp curves with no shoulders to pull off on. If I was forced off the road I'd likely go off a cliff. But, the alternative was riding back up toward Matehuala to go around the Sierras instead of through them. I decided to take the faster more dangerous route and take my chances.

(continued in part 7/13/05 pt. 4)

7/13/05 Mexican Motorcycle Diary pt.2

(continued from 7/13/05 Mexican Motorcycle Diary pt.1)

He asked if I wanted to join their party and said that they'd all discussed it and decided I was cool for riding a motorcycle alone out into the desert and that they'd like me to join them. I accepted! And when the others returned they brought me a cold coke and started preparing their total of 50 plants to make what they called Cocoayote. Basically peyote boiled down over a fire with chocolate added. Russ said he was a chef and knew how to reduce thing down and said we'd likely get 5 pots out of all these plants by reducing, adding chocolate, drinking, then adding more water for another batch. He said basically, "We're gonna get f&%ked up!".

I offered to help clean the cache with the three women as they took turns going off toward the woods to throw up. They'd all eaten raw plants too, but I was able to hold onto mine thankfully. ;-)

As the sun was setting the clouds broke for a glorious sunset. I went to the far end of the Tanke to photograph the sunset on the water with the wild horses in the background. When I returned to the camp they were playing some techno music and offered me a hot quesadilla. I was feeling a little queezy, but after the quesadilla my stomach was alright again. And, just in time for the first batch of cocoayote!

The chocolate did a fine job of disguising the bitter peyote taste and took effect quickly without any sickness. And, although I wasn't too keen to listen to techno out in the middle of the desert while taking a power plant, I began to enjoy the surrealism.

As night fell and the clouds all cleared, the sky became aluminated by a pristine myriad of diamond stars with just a crisp sliver of moon. The techno got pumped up and Russ said we were moving the party out into the middle of the oasis where they'd prepared a circle of stones and a second fire. They also brought out some glow sticks tied to twine to spin around in
geometric patterns.. swinging into the air and all around. They broke some of them and painted themselves and myself with glow paint so we could see each other in the night and pass the bound multi-colored glowsticks around in a circle.

After a while my head was going 100mph so I took a rest in my hammock to watch the glowing forms all dancing in the night. When I returned, Russ asked me if I knew about smoking DMT.

"I've read about it but never tried."

"You said you've had Auyahuasca in the Amazon... this is similar, but it takes to straight up without sickness!

(continued in part 7/13/05 pt. 3)

7/13/05 Mexican Motorcycle Diary pt.1

A couple Cubans from Miami and four other Mexicanos from D.F. arrived a couple days ago. They seemed pretty cool and left two cars at Don Thomas' place. I asked Don Thomas' where they were headed and he told me Tanke Nuevo for three days. Told me I could get there by driving straight out into the desert for about an hour on the motorcycle. So I packed the essentials and headed out into the desert.

About 2 hours later I still hadn't found it and began to see my own tire tracks again. I hadn't really packed much water, and to add insult to injury.. my speedometer cable had come loose so I was no longer tracking kilometers or my fuel use. Started getting pretty nervous, especially with the water situation. I'd see a desert farmer and ask directions, but he'd just wave his hand this way and that mumble something about going straight and around the white mountain, etc.

The terrain shifted dramatically from soft powdered dust to sharp rocks to mud. After I'd seen my own tracks for the 6th time I started heading back toward the village with my tail between my legs, but then I decided to try one more time and took the only path I hadn't taken yet. Had to find some big rocks to hold down a partially fallen barbed wire fence to ride over it and kept going. Finally I saw some campesinos on an old Honda and asked directions once again. The Tanke was only about 5km away and I could now see it.

When I arrived the trees opened up to a lovely oasis of soft grass, large mesquite trees, and a small body of water. There were wild horses grazing and a herd of goats lit by late afternoon gold sun. I saw about 4 bohemians sitting cross'legged watching the vista and stopped to ask if this was Tanke Nuevo. "Si! Welcome amigo". Their eyes were all wide from Peyote with huge smiles. I noticed one other camp and it was indeed the Cuban and Mexican group of six. The were well set up with coolers, tents, fire, a big boom box, etc.

They welcomed me offered me water and asked if I wanted to join them for peyote hunting nearby. I was pretty exhausted so I hung my hammock nearby and relaxed for a bit. Soon, they were off into the desert with knives in hand so I joined them.

I wasn't sure if I was crashing their party unwelcomed or not so I held back a bit and kept to myself. After I'd found 3 peyote plants I went back to my hammock to take a break from the sun and prepare my heads for consumption. I ate all three with an orange and laid back in my hammock. Started to drift away when one of the Cubans, Russ, came back from the desert. He said he'd hit the peyote matrix and had cut over 40 plants!

(continued in part 7/13/05 pt. 2)

Photo Gallery Mexican Motorcycle Diary

The link above is to a little online photo gallery from the first leg of the trip. You'll need your monitor res settings at at least 1024x768. Disfruta!

ps. next gallery presentation coming after "7/20/05" posting.

07/09/05 Mexican Motorcycle Diary


Made it to Mexico without problems. Took the Columbia toll road to cross the border and there was no wait, and no other cars. And, I didnĀ“t even have to pass through Nuevo Laredo! FYI: if you want to save $2, bring a copy of your passport, vehicle registration or title, and your license so you don't have to pay them $2 for copies. You still need the originals, but they keep copies.

Continued on toll roads that were a bit pricey, ie. 180 pesos for the toll (cuota) from Laredo to Monterrey. But, after the free road I took from Monterrey to Saltillo, I figured it was worth paying tolls to not be sandwiched inbetween hundreds of semi trucks, slick road, and heavy winds in the foothills around Saltillo.

My a$$ really started to ache after the first 400 miles so I took breaks more regularly. It took me 15hrs to get from Austin to Matehuala, but that's with loads of smoke and a$$ breaks. And, a stop in a truck stop for a chile relleno. Quite sureal that place. Just me and a few Mexican truckers. Walls covered in small colorful semi truck paintings, various saints, and two large TV screens playing some VERY hard core pornography. Naturally, I had to sit for a bit uh.. to have a couple cups of coffee. ;-)

Made Matehuala by midnight and took a cheap room. Hit the desert the next morning and have been off-roading ever since. The road to Real de Catorce is MURDER! Its paved but with hugh stones, so the whole bike gets squirrely. Once in Real de Catorce its not much better, but the REAL fun starts when you go down the mountain on the other side back into the desert. Major inclines with large loose stones, hairpin corners, the road sides drop off to cliffs, and the road is a very narrow dirt and stone pass. I think I was in 1st gear and riding the break for the first 10km are the worst, and then the grade levels out a little. I've never been so terrified, but luckily I was so exhillerated and scrared, I forgot to soil myself. ;-)

The nut that holds the steering column vibrated loose and I don't know how long it had been like that, but after scouring the village for a wrench I could fit on the column to tighten it, I went to Matehuala and got some small vice grips that did the trick. Now its MUCH better! No more clanking over the bumps. Other than that the bike is holding up nicely.

I'll likely head into the desert to commune with mescalito, but I'll probably do that on foot.

Been hangin out with loads of Italians here in the desert. Can't figure out why that little nowhere place attracts so many Italians, but I'm greatful because those loco pendejos can really cook!

I can't upload photos from here, but hopefully when I get to Guanajuato. That will likely be me next stop with a short visit at the hotbaths near San Miguel de Allende.


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I just got turned on to "blogs" the other day. I've been active in online communities since the beginning, and before the common use of the Internet when BBS's were used. I guess I just couldn't figure out what the big deal was and how it really differed that much from personal webpages and forums. But now I think I get it.

I recently went on a motorcycle odyssey in Mexico after not riding for over 10 years. And, I documented the journey via forum posts, emails, photos, etc.

So, I decided to recreated all of that in one place... this new blog. But to preserve the nature of my original updates, I'm going to only post the various entries chronologically as they were orginally presented.

Hope you enjoy.

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