Friday, October 28, 2005

8/19/05 Mexican Motorcycle Diary


Funny story... I'd just ridden from White Sands, New Mexico via a mountain pass through Cloudcroft at about 8700 feet about sea level, ie. very cold, rainy/wet, and not so comfortable ... I arrived in Carlsbad, New Mexico after riding through 3 hrs of rain, wind, etc. and wasn't in the mood. When I rolled into Carlsbad, NM.. some Harley biker with a Banditos vest on and his girlfriend pulled up next to me at a light. They mouthed off something that didn't seem pleasant but I couldn't hear them since my headphones where blasting Interpol. I turned off the vibes to hear something about how I was a [expletive removed] for not riding a Harley and because I was wearing a helmet.

Because I was feelin' like a badass at this point... I followed their asses down the road and turned with them at the next light. Only to find 3 rows of around 150 Harley's! Was I discouraged? Heck no! I spotted a spot right in the freakin' middle and parked my Kawasaki right alongside the Harleys. At first, I got some pretty ugly looks. Then some Harley dude came up and talked to me. He also had a KLX dirt bike and was a huge fan of the KLR even though he also road a Harley for show. After I told him where I'd been... and after he spread the word... I was IN! And, even though I stated I'm a huge NON-fan of Bush, called him a bloody fascist,etc. most of the bikers were anti-bush too! Even though most of them were flyin' American colors with eagles ands stuff. Turned out it was some biker rally with folks from the Hell's Angels, Banditos, Desert Dawgs, Gypsies, etc. And, because of where I'd been, they all wanted to buy me beers! No cover charge for the bike rally, and I took this shot during a "burn out" contest.

When one of the Harley riders asked me where I was staying, I said.. "I hadn't planned on staying, but since it's raining and late... guess I'll stay at Motel 6" He retorted, "Hell no, my brothah! You'll stay at my place... I INSIST!... that is if you don't mind the couch?" His French wife insisted as well and I was treated like a king.

This image is from the rainy burn-out contest. I think these folks are "Banditos". Sorry for the grain, etc. but it was dark and I had to bump up the iso to 3200. I didn't want to use flash and call too much attention to myself... Figured, some of these chaps might not be too keen on gettin' their pictures taken. ;-) Besides... I think it kinda adds to the gritty vibe I was feeling that night. :-)

-Skip Hunt

Carlsbad, New Mexico

8/17/05 Mexican Motorcycle Diary


Today is my birthday. I thought the day was going to go great. I left Vegas and just barely made it to the Grand Canyon by sunset doing 95mph most of the way. I spent the night at a campground and didn't know how freakin' cold it gets at 7000+ above sea-level. So, I froze in my hammock all night and didn't sleep much. But, I decided to make the best of it and catch the Canyon just after sun-rise, then hit the big Crater outside Flagstaff, stop off by the Painted Desert for shots, then on through Roswell to White Sands.

It all went downhill after waking this morning freezing in my hammock. Got to the Canyon and fired off a few shots, then went back to the bike and noticed my tire definately wasn't going to make it back to Texas. Cords were already showing... so, I cut the visit short and rode 80miles REAL slow down Hwy 180 to Flagstaff to the nearest place I could find a tire. Gets even older at over 8000 feet above sea-level by the way. but, the scenery was pretty nice. Paid almost double what the same time costs in Austin, but they did it while I waited. Trouble was... they took about 3hrs doing it. Then they inform me that my back brake pad is nearly metal to metal and they didn't have the pads for my bike. Sooooooo... had to find another shop, pay again through the nose for brake pads installed and was finally on my way.

BUT, about 30miles outside Flagstaff I realized I left my Road Atlas at the first MC shop and wasn't about to ride all the way back. Stood in line at Walmart for 40mins to buy a crummy atlas and try to at least make the Painted desert today. I was almost there when the sign says they close entrance at 7pm... is was already 6:50PM so I had to find a cheap room in Holbrook Arizona and start over fresh tomorrow.

I told the service manager at the motorcycle shop that was reaming me that it was my birthday... just so I could hear at least one person wish me one.

I told the short little Indian dude from Bombay who's wearing a giant cowboy hat and bolo tie and rented me this dodgy room for $20 that it was my birthday, and he said.. "What about a birthday cake?" I said, "Nah, just wanted you to wish me a happy birthday..." He said, "No, I mean just before you came in I was having a piece of cake. I'll split it with you as a birthday cake."

So, I shared his cake with him then moved my stuff into this room that smells like 20years of mildew. But hey! I gots me some cake.. AND he has FREE wireless!

This is one seriously freaky little town. Kinda creepy, but a writer's paradise. I went to get a bite to eat for my birthday and most of the beat up little cafes had already closed at 8pm. One was open called Mr. Maestra's. I ordered a glass of wine (since it's my birthday and all) and the "red" arrived at my table in a water glass, was cold, very sweet, and had bubbles in it. I had a headache before finishing even half the glass. And there was this old Navajo dude (Mr. Maestra I assume) who only had one leg, was in a wheel chair, wearing a cammo jungle hat and a t-shirt that said "Get Your Kicks on Route 66", and he was wheeling around in his wheelchair with a pot of coffee toppin' folks off.

-Skip Hunt

(to be continued in part 8/19/05 Mexican Motorcycle Diary)

8/14/05 Mexican Motorcycle Diary


Just made it up from San Felipe through some very odd scenery including what appeared to be an ocean of flat salt for as far as the eye could see. Thought about riding it, but when I checked it first my boot sank through the salt crust and down about a foot into mud before I retrieved it.

The border at Mexicali was a breeze. Really diggin this idea of lane-splitting. Honestly, I didn't know what "lane splitting" was, but that's basically what I've been doing in Mexico for the last 4 weeks in Mexico to combat taxi drivers. I lane slit past about 50 cars all the way to the front of the line. The guy just said, "what's in the bags? Just clothes and stuff?" I said, "Yeah, just clothes and stuff." He then just looked at my Texas tag and said "Welcome to the U.S.". I asked, "Is that it? Don't you need to see my passport or anything? Or, don't I need to pass a Mexican check points or something?" He said no, and then asked where I was going. I told him Vegas and he asked how I was getting there. I told him just over to Interstate 8, then Hwy 95 all the way up to Vegas. He told me, "You'll save a little time if you just take 111 up to 78, then over to 95.

That was it. No search or anything. Not even a stamp. There was a U.S. border checkpoint just before going into the Imperial Dunes area, but no one was there. Is this the increased border control I've been hearing so much about? Seems like anyone with a U.S. tag and the right accent could easily pass right into the U.S. with no questions asked at all. Not even a search.

After several weeks in Mexico, I arrived in Vegas only to get robbed. It all happened so fast. I barely saw it coming, but I did notice the "bandit" only had one arm. Not to bad though. I've only lost $140 so far... then dropped a nickel in a slot machine at the Belagio and won $138.75 with one pull!

Internet access on the strip is VERY pricey $5 for 20mins. But, now I'm using the internet at the LV public library for free.

I will look for a U.S. roadmap at Borders after I leave here to find a nice route back to Texas. I need to do it in about 6 days tops since my wife informed me our tickets to see Green Day in San Antonio are on the 21st and not on the 28th like I thought. Still, I should have ample time to make a few stops along the way as long as they aren't too far off course.

I will try and type up a full report with photos that includes from where I left off in Puerto Vallarta, to Mazatlan, the ferry to La Paz, down the Baja to Todos Santos, down and around the Cabos, back up through La Paz to Constitucion, across toward Melage area, up to Rosarita, West to Guererro Nego via San Ignacio, back North East to Bahia Los Angeles, up to Chapala and up the East coast via about 100 miles of Baja 1000 route that passes by Cocos Corner and up to San Felipe, then up to Mexicali with a detour due to hiway flooding to Lake Havasu, a night sleeping in an RV lot across from the AVI Indian casino in BullHead, then arriving in Vegas yesterday.

More later, if you think of any must-see spots from Vegas to Austin, Texas let me know. I'm not sure what route I'm taking, but the most direct seems to be I10 all the way into Texas. A trucker told me I40 was a nicer ride through. Will decide after I pick up a map.

Bike is still running fabulous. My rear tire is nearly bald, but I'm guessing I might have another 1500 miles left on it max before I get to the layer before tube. I might stop somewhere along the way and just get a new tire, but I'd prefer to wait until I get back so I can start fresh and take my time researching which brand to get. I'm not too wild about this GP110s performance on wet pavement, but that might just be the same story with ANY dual-sport tire. Still, I think my stock Dunlop felt better on wet pavement than this IRC. The IRC front doesn't seem to through as many rocks up at my motor or my shins as the Dunlop did, and both the front and rear IRCs do great off-road.. it's just the pavement that I'm not completely satisfied with them.

Skip Hunt

(to be continued in part 8/17/05 Mexican Motorcycle Diary)

Thursday, October 27, 2005

8/12/05 Mexican Motorcycle Diary

"Ok, so I've now traveled the entire Baja from bottom to top by motorcycle and I'm about to cross the border back into the U.S. Ya know... I haven't seen a single other motorcycle the entire time. I thought the Baja was supposed to be a mecca for motorcyclists?"

"It is, but they don't usually don't come until around December. They whine and cry like women and say 'it's too hot!'..."

"Oh yeah? Well, it IS pretty hot out there... but it's not THAT hot. Seems like there'd be at least one other insane person on a motorcycle out here besides me."

He points to a big round thermometer on the wall that has its needle quivering around 110F.

"Is that thing right? It's 110F? Hey, that IS pretty toasty."

"Yes, es correcto. But, that's how hot it is IN HERE! It's closer to 127F out there. Mucho calor!"

"Oh, yeah... well... I suppose that IS pretty warm then.... Otra Tecate por favor. Con limon!"

About 33km South of the Mexicali/U.S. border


(to be continued in part 8/14/05 Mexican Motorcycle Diary)

8/09/05 Mexican Motorcycle Diary

Yes, I know this is just another typical sunset.. and not particularly outstanding in any way. But, I look at this and it takes me swiftly back into my hammock. Swaying carelessly under a thatch-roofed palapa on the edge of a tourquoise beach on the Baja. A beach that hasn't been developed yet and has no other vendor besides an old Mexican woman who's husband built these palapas shortly before he succombed to cancer. He wanted to leave something for his wife and children so in his absence they'd be provided for.

She has a small fresh water well and fills up your water bottle for a few pesos. And, she rents you a nice little sand-floored palapa on the beach. No hotels, no restaurants, no one selling postcards. Just a few palapas, some fresh water, a sliver of sand and watery heaven, a gentle breeze to lull you to sleep, and a kiss goodnight from el Sol.

About 50km South of Melage, Baja.


(to be continued in part 8/12/05 Mexican Motorcycle Diary)

Monday, October 24, 2005

8/02/05 Mexican Motorcycle Diary pt.12

(continued from part 8/02/05 Mexican Motorcycle Diary pt.11)

After pleading with the woman at a nearby lavanderiato please take just one more load of clothes for the day. I told her I'd already been to three other shops and they told me it was too late. She thought for a moment and then agreed to take my clothes. I thanked her profusely because I really wanted to start the Baja with sweat stench-free clothing. She weighed my load and scrawled out a quick receipt for me. When I looked down at the price I thought there might be a mistake and said, "Why is the price double for under 3 kilos?" She quipped, "Rush charge." and smirked as she whisked away my clothes before I could change my mind. ;-)

The days here in Vallarta have melted one into the other in a humid haze. The nights have been so hot that I just stand under the cold shower 2 or 3 times a night, actuallly nude ;-), and just lay in the bed under the ceiling fan until I can get to sleep. Normally I would be self conscious enough to at least close the curtains while laying nude, but it has been so hot that I didn't give a donkey's bum if anyone saw me or not. I was only planning on staying here for 3 nights and thought that would be too long. But now I'm getting ready to settle in for my 5th night. It's a strange place Vallarta. You can love it or hate it, but it's certainly like no other place on Earth. Yes, it's touristy, and hot, etc. but there's something romantic and sultry about the place. Something hidden in the sweating palm leaves. And, it always feels like you're home after just a few days. It can get a little confusing if you forget you don't actually live here and have to keep moving on. Besides, I think poor Ruby is beginning to feel neglected so I gave her frame an nice bolt and screw tightening and dropped all my sweat-soaked clothes off to the lavanderia for one last cleaning before I hit the Baja. I hope to drag myself out of bed before dawn and see if I can make Mazatlan in time for the afternoon ferry to La Paz. I thought about just going up to Guyama to catch the ferry over to Rosalitas instead about midway up the Baja since many have told me the North and East of the Baja are the most scenic. Just as many have said that same about the South, so I think I'll just try and see the whole peninsula tip to tip and decide for myself. I visited with an old friend I've made here in Valllarta named Ernie Munoz who told me the Baja is pure magic. Says in the North on the Sea of Cortez at night you can hear these strange sounds from the heavens... almost as if you can actually hear the planets themselves. He's got a beautiful gallery and I absolutely love his work. We chatted for a bit this morning catching up and I discovered his brother who'd always taken care of all the business stuff had died last November. He was still pretty saddened by the loss and seemed lost to manage the gallery, etc. on his own. I shared stories of my own recent loss of my father and tried to console him. He seemed aimless now and wanted to just sell everything and move away to maybe Toledo, Spain.. Guanajuato... or maybe Vancouver, Canada.

After a long and heart-felt conversation, I bid my old friend good-bye and told him that I hoped to see him again one day whether it was in Spain, or Canada, or right here in Mexico. He seemed touched and yelled out "Thank You!" to me as I walked down the sidewalk. I turned and asked, "Thank you? Whatever for?", he seemed to tear up a bit and said, "For taking the time to talk with an old man." I looked at him square in the eyes and said, "The pleasure was all MINE mi amigo!"

I don't know how much access I'll find in the Baja, but I will update again when possible.


Skip Hunt

(to be continued in part 8/09/05 Mexican Motorcycle Diary)

8/02/05 Mexican Motorcycle Diary pt.10

(continued from part 8/02/05 Mexican Motorcycle Diary pt.9)

Soon Ruby and I were breezing down the last 140 kilometers toward Puerto Vallarta. As we approached the foliage got much more dense as well as the humidity and taxis cars. The cobblestone avenues that make Southern Vallarta so quaint are fairly treacherous with dual-sport tires, and the road directions aren't clearly marked so if you don't know your way around it's pretty easy to be going the wrong way down the street. I rode slow and took my time despite the fact gobs of sweat were now pouring out from under my helmet, down my riding jacket sleeves, and down my legs into my boots. I was really getting pretty faint but a room and a cold bottle of water were just around the corner. First I tried the guy who owns the Big Kahuna coffee shop because last time he'd told me the next time I come he'd rent me one of his apartments for only $90 pesos a night. But given the fact it's "temporada" and busloads of national tourists were swarming all over Vallarta, the price was now $300 pesos. He apologized, and I said, "No problemo, just thought I'd ask." I next visited an ol' pal JR, an ol' Brittish chap who lives a wonderfully simple existence in a small flat in the more "mexican" part of town. This guy never ceases to amaze me. He can trot along hiking through the jungle, riding a mule, fix it own car in the dead heat of the day, then settle down for a nice splif and several stiff drinks... AND STILL carry on a great argument with complete lucidity. Stunning to see the man in action! But I digress.. back to finding a room. JR called up a woman who'd offered an apartment to me for cheap, but the access turned out to be a bit more than I felt putting Ruby through, ie. walking her over a swinging cable bridge, down some stairs, under the bridge, through the mud, and into someone else's patio I only hoped wouldn't mind. Ruby and I probably could've have done it, but if just one little Mexican kid thought it'd be funny to watch the gringo try and keep his bike up while they stomped back and forth on the bridge to make it sway (like the little demons are infamous for), it'd be all she wrote for poor Ruby. She certainly topple off and be taking a swim in the Cuale river just after crushing her skull on the boulders below. No, better just try and get a room at my old standby, Hotel El Azteca, and sort it all out later.

The prices have risen a bit, but they remembered me from my last visit and agreed to a lower rate. And they also welcomed Ruby into the hotel's little foyer. It was a chore getting her in, but with the help of a couple passersby and some motor assistance, we put the ol' girl to rest among the potted vegetation. Ruby seemed ready for a little tropical rest and I was definitely ready for a cold shower. The shower helped for about 2 minutes and I was reminded why so many gringos give Vallarta a miss during the rainy season. The humidity is such that not only do you sweat constantly, but you almost ooze something else more viscous. JR told me it hadn't even rained it several days so there really hadn't been any relief at all. I began to really wonder why the heck I'd left Faro de Bucieras or Chamela?! Vallarta can be a virtual hell hole when the humidity hits peak season and the sun is boiling your brains out.

I popped back over to JR's place and felt it was time for one of those "medicinal" substance treatments. Soon, with the help of JR and whatever "attitude adjusters" he had handy, we were off to meet some locals and visitors at a local seaside bar. Between JR and I sat this nice woman named Pat who was smartly dressed for the occasion and had a button on identifying which "group" she was with. After both JR's and my rambling on about the government and mind control, etc. We decided Pat had probably had enough, and so we changed the subject. Another somewhat odd and older woman sort of floated over like a small cloud towards our table and took seat next to mine. She had a very serious and stern face that contrasted her loose bohemian attire. She didn't seem that interested in communicating with mere mortals and chose to focus on the setting sun instead. I made a comment about this other dude's shirt that was made up of a patchwork of paintings that looked like Diego Rivera's work, and how I liked it. His name was Ira and he said he didn't have a clue who the artist was, but that he just liked the shirt. As soon as the conversation began to dissolve into "art" the woman next to me began to come alive and join the conversation.

She began to tell me of a strange Huichol Indian ritual a girlfriend and she had participated in just down the beach the other night. She said they were two nude gringas watching as the Indians performed a strange ritual for the crops that involved sacrificing a goat. "A goat?" I said. "Yes! And it just came itself over so willfully and peaceful. Like it knew it was giving itself over to the greater good... and did I mention we were nude?". I told her that didn't sound like any ritual I'd ever heard of and that I didn't get the significance of she and her amiga being nude for it. "Well, we had simple robes on, but completely nude underneath." I told her, "Well, that's not exactly nude now is it? I mean, I too am completely nude underneath my t-shirt and shorts, but that's not really the same thing now is it?" She ignored my little quip and continued, "And I was so touched how gently this goat just gave over its life without a sound... well, actually at first the goat got away during the ceremony and the poor Huichol priests were scrambling around in the sand trying to catch it again." At this point I lost it hand laughed uncontrollably out loud at the thought of the goat getting away and disrupting the "show". The woman kept her very serious and stern face and I tried to contain myself long enough for her to finish her touching story.

(to be continued in part 8/02/05 Mexican Motorcycle Diary pt.11)

Sunday, October 23, 2005

8/02/05 Mexican Motorcycle Diary pt.9

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

The coastal ride continued to be nothing less than spectacular along an excellent road through thick canopies of shade through mountain curves and nice straight aways. Ruby seemed content with the smooth road and wanted to continue all the way up the coast. But, I realized I'd likely not make it to Puerto Vallarta before dark so I stopped at the first roadside restaurant that sold seafood. After a splendid fish dinner at a little place called La Buda, and a couple cool papaya licuados the owner's brother asked me about Ruby and my journey. We shared less than favorable comments about each of our respective governments and he suggested I should stay on the beach there at Chamela for the night. He claimed their little playita was the most beautiful in the Pacific and that I could just stay on the beach for free. I asked if there where rooms or palapas I could rent and he said no. But that I could just put up my hammock in one of the little palapa restaurants if I wanted. He urged me to at least have a look. And pointed me down a little dirt road off the highway.

Winding down the soft dirt road as it wound around small lagunas full of water lilies and flanked by giant magical looking trees, I finally came out of the little forest onto a small inlet on a bay that hosted 9 small islands. There were about a dozen small fishing boats on the shore in front of 3 or 4 small palapa restaurants. The sun was nearly fixed to set as the light turned a magnificent golden orange. I pulled Ruby under one of the palapas, got off and inspected the premises for hammock worthiness as the owner, Gladis, and her girls watched me. I then asked without even introducing myself,

"Hey, do you folks mind if I hang up my hammock here and sleep for the night?"

They looked at each other and then she said,

"I don't see why not. Let me ask my husband if he thinks it's OK."

Her fisherman husband was lounging in a large colorful hammock and said it was fine with him. I offered to pay for the rent, and they refused. I insisted on at least $30 pesos or so. They thought about 2 seconds and then the husband said,

"Nada! You don't have to pay anything."

His wife moved a couple of the plastic tables and chairs aside from the middle of the restaurant and suggested I hang my hammock in the middle in case it rains I won't get wet. She pointed back down the dirt road into the forest and said there's a small tienda where you can by water and juice if you like, and asked if I could please try to move my hammock by lunchtime before the customers arrive. She told me they'd have fresh fish if I were hungry the next day, and they all loaded up into a truck and drove off leaving me there with the sunset. I couldn't believe it! I found heaven once again! So peaceful and quiet. I jumped onto Ruby to pick up cigarettes, water, and an ice cold Coke and made it back into my hammock just as el Sol was just kissing the horizon.

With only a few miner disruptions of crashing in the cocina that turned out to be 2 or 3 kittens rummaging for bits of fish to eat, and a fisherman or two heading out into the night to collect lobster, I had a peaceful sleep until the sun rose and the next round of fishermen were heading out with octopus spears. I just lounged for most of the morning and Gladis' husband made me coffee before he headed out for octopus himself. After a nice swim, Gladis prepared me a fresh fish lunch. She said the price was $60 pesos, but I explained I only had $50 pesos since I hadn't changed money in awhile. She said, "That's OK. I'll just give you a little smaller fish." and, winked. After I'd finished the delicacy, and handed over my $50 pesos, she said that she was only charging me $40 pesos so I could buy a nice cold Coke with fresh cut limes if I wanted.

Can you imagine?!!! A foreigner rides up to a restaurant in the States, dismounts, inspects the premises, then without even introducing himself asks if he can hang a hammock inside the restaurant to sleep for the night? My guess is that the FBI would be promptly called to investigate a suspicious character and the poor foreigner would be more or less out of luck! I'd bet a pretty peso he would not be welcomed as one of the family and made as comfortable as possible. But, I suppose stranger things have happened. ;-)

(to be continued in part 8/02/05 Mexican Motorcycle Diary pt.10)

8/02/05 Mexican Motorcycle Diary pt.8

(continued from part 8/02/05 Mexican Motorcycle Diary pt.7)

A little later, and just a few short kilometers down the road I followed Irma and her friends to the next playita where there was a single sea turtle laying her eggs. The group crowded around the tortuga as she struggled in the late afternoon sun to dig her way out and back into the sea. One of Irma's friends, a pretty young Mexican woman named Barbara seemed a bit put off from the spectacle and she worried that we were all scaring the poor thing. I snapped a few photos until little Elizabeth came running up to me and deposited a single turtle egg into my palm. I asked, "Uh.. aren't you supposed to leave the eggs be? I mean, aren't they protected here?" Irma said no, and that many of the eggs get scooped up by the locals to sell or to eat. I learned they also sell scrambled sea turtle eggs back at the palapa, but I couldn't bring myself to try them. I took a couple snaps of the egg then deposited it back into the pit the mother had worked so hard to dig and then covered it back up with sand. I entertained the thought that just maybe this little guy would make it and end up as someone's desayuno before he even had a chance. I know that at Maruata the turtles and their eggs are guarded by armed Mexican military, but evidently that level of protection is few and far between. After another vacationing Mexican family came screaming onto the beach with cameras in hand and posed for a few snaps before the ol' bird managed to drag herself back into the surf.. we were all on our way again. We visited a second beach called La Ticqua (I think), and I left the girls there while I took Ruby for a drink in the next town. That beach was also nice with bigger surf, but far too many gringos with surf boards and emply liter beer bottles strewn about for my taste.

That evening Irma informed me that the young Mexican woman, Barbara, was a skilled masseur and that she'd massage me for a bit over an hour for just 100 pesos. Perfect! Laying in the sand, lulled by the late evening breeze, and getting massaged by a hot Latina as the sun set? I can't think of anything better. :-) About that time I was again laying in my hammock when one of the other Mexican visitors came over and gave me a plate of ceviche with tostadas as a gift. I happily accepted the massage date, but after Barbara had finished most of those waiting for massages, it'd had already crept past midnight and I figured she'd be too tired so I allowed myself to slowly sway off into a midnight slumber.

For some reason, I felt I needed to keep moving on. So, after Ruby was all packed up and wiped nice a clean for the road I bid my new friends adios. Barbara said,

"You're leaving?!"

"Yes, I must continue on."

"But, I thought you wanted a massage?"

"I did, but it was so late last night I thought you might be too tired."

"You should have said something, I thought we were disturbing you with our talking so I just went to sleep. You can't leave now. Join me for breakfast."

"Ok, but I really need to be getting on the road if I'm to make Puerto Vallarta before dark."

"I have a massage after I finish breakfast, but you must allow me to give you a massage before you leave."

"Fair enough. I'll wait for a massage and then leave."

Barbara told me she was going to Oaxaca in few days and I asked her if she liked mushrooms. She said she wanted to try them sometime, but felt her head should be right before and not troubled.

"You're troubled? Why?"

"Now I'm not troubled because I'm here on this beautiful beach, but I was before."

"Well, what is your trouble?"

"Come, join me for breakfast!"

"I will if you'll tell me what's troubling you.

"Ok, I'll tell you over breakfast but I must hurry because that man is waiting for his massage."

We chatted for nearly an hour over breakfast and discussed our lives, travel, religion, love lives, etc. She told me she almost married an Israeli man named Jose, and had decided she could settle down and have children with this man. She figured that maybe she'd got too possessive of him and scared him off. This is when she broke down and started to cry.

"I'm sorry, I'm feeling very vulnerable this morning for some reason. Please excuse me."

"That's Ok. How long has it been since you were with Jose?"

"Only 2 months ago, why?"

"Just curious."

About that time Irma came running over to let us know another sea turtle had found its way onto the beach. A large excited crowd had gathered around her and I expected the worst. Surprisingly, one of the boys saw the ancient tortuga's plight and lifted her out of the pit after she'd deposited her eggs. She frantically tried to scoop sand into her pit to cover them and to my amazement all of the Mexicans joined in to help her. All the children and adults scooped mounds of sand into the pit to help cover the precious eggs and then helped her along the softer part of the beach until she could get better traction. We all watched the waves carry her off into the sea and all went back to whatever we'd been doing before.

Barbara and I sat down again with both our spirits lifted by the kindness everyone showed, and then the conversation shifted to world affairs and how she couldn't understand how this man she loved with all her soul could have killed so many Palestinians while serving in the Israeli army. "Such a beautiful man to have such a horrible past.. but, I accepted all of it." I explained to her that militaries are very good at convincing soldiers that killing people is a good idea. I mean really! Would any reasonable person, when told they should go over that hill and kill all of those people they've never met, risk getting killed themselves, and all for something as abstract as "a country"... do you really think any reasonable human being would comply with such a request? I think not, but I was in the military and I know how good they are at distorting the average person's mind set. They must make you believe that you are killing and possibly dying for a much bigger "cause", and that because you are "serving" a far superior cause than the other guy, they must be killed for the greater good. Oftentimes they don't even say in so many words that the enemy is inferior and deserves to die, but they communicate this insidiously by pumping up THEIR cause and superiority to such a level that anyone else MUST be "inferior" and not worthy by default. They also through in a little religion for good measure so that the soldier believes he is not only killing for a greater good and superior cause, but for ol' Jehovah, or Allah as well! How else could any reasonable person live with the fact they'd killed so many who'd previously never hurt anyone?

"So, you see.. I'm sure your Jose is a reasonable enough chap whose mind has been temporarily distorted by the military."

"You think so? How then has the U.S. made so many people appear agree with all of this killing in Iraq?"

I told her that personally, I believe these same techniques that have been historically used to sculpt the minds of young men to make more efficient killing machines has also been used on the American public at large. They are so kept sheltered from anyone else's cultural history from their earliest years in school. They are told they live in the greatest country the human race has ever known. Are instructed to pledge allegiance to their country in the name of God, and how so many have died to protect their freedom. It is drilled into their collective heads for so long how superior they are, that when a very few of them manages to visit another country they tend to just walk all over the locals and profess how inferior this or that country is and how they can't wait to get back to the good ol' U.S.A. Eventually they come to believe through carefully controlled media messaging that they are the true heirs of God's grace and that everyone else is essentially insignificant. So, you see... the same sort of mind sculpting that militaries have effectively used for over a thousand years to build better soldiers has now been used on the public as well. It's not that the people are bad, it's just that their minds have been twisted by an evil and greed lusty agenda.

I believe you can take the same culture, lift it up and retrofit it onto any other group of reasonable folks and you'll get a similar effect. And, it's not the first time either. How do you suppose the Third Reich was able to convince an entire country of otherwise reasonable folks that it was a good idea to exterminate millions of Jews? First cease control of all the newpapers and media outlets and begin a campaign about how superior the German was, and how inferior others were... and that for the good of the superior race and country, many would have to be done away with. Same thing. At least, that's what I think.. but don't listen to me. What the hell do I know? I'm just a dopey guy on a motorcycle who's brains have been likely scrambled by one too many drug experiments, whose screws have likely vibrated loose, and has had a melt-down from the extreme helmet heat. ;-)

During an absolutely magical massage, I thought about Barbara's lost love and asked,

"Do you have Jose's email address?"

"Yes, of course. Why?"

"Do you ever send him a note or give him a call?"

"No, never. I swore I'd never speak to him again."

"I can't tell you how I know this, but I think you should send him an email the first chance you get. But, not as a girlfriend.. just as a friend. And, no matter what don't rush back to wherever he is. Wait. Send another friendly message to let him know you're OK and what you're up to and leave it at that."

"How do you know this?!"

"Like I said, I don't have a clue why I told you that. But in the past I've been correct about such things."

She began to cry tears of joy and thanked me. Said she was going to do it. I told her not to thank me. It wasn't "me" who told her that. I was just passing on information. I tried to pay her for the massage, but she wouldn't take it. I insisted and said $10 for an hour massage on the beach by a beautiful senorita was money well spent! She asked if I wouldn't just spend one more night talking with her, but I noticed a large extended Mexican family with a dozen screaming and laughing ninos had arrived armed with what looked like enough provisions of beer and diapers to last a week. I said, "No, I think I'll move on.. something tells me our peaceful little beach is going to be a little more noisy tonight." She looked around and grimaced. "Yes, I see what you mean. I think I might try to move on South before it gets too late myself." I bid her fond adios, mounted Ruby and took off into the soft sand before Ruby began to get too jealous. ;-)

(to be continued in part 8/02/05 Mexican Motorcycle Diary pt.9)