steel horse odyssey

steel horse odyssey

around the world by motorcycle

Indian police?

MexicoPosted by Jan Lamers 01 Jul, 2012 05:59:26
We tried to escape the Oaxaca rain but unfortunately it caught up on us in the afternoon at Santiago Niltepec. So we decided to spend the night in this tiny village where nothing ever happens. The next day we had no other option than to start riding in the rain as the sky was a one grey fog with no horizon. During the day the weather improved and we arrived in a partly clouded San Cristobal de las Casas. There were some political rallies going in the run up to the elections to be held on July 1st. People running around in political party t-shirts putting up posters, a couple of stages producing a lot of noise, cars with speakers driving around producing even more noise. But by far the best were the mansion high political banners displaying diligent politicians embraced by simple people who put their fate in the hands of these rightious leaders. Today we rode to the Indian villages of San Juan Chamula, Zinacantan and Navenchauc. In Chamula I got stopped by a guy claiming to be police. I had parked my bike in the wrong spot and I had to pay him 300 pesos. In no time I was surrounded by 20 guys who held on to my bike. I was convinced this guy was bogus police and I told him I was not buying his story and that he was just trying to rip off tourists. The situation turned a bit grim. I stepped off my bike to look for somebody official. When I returned from this unsuccesful quest there was an argument going on in the crowd. Some members thought 300 pesos was a bit much after all. In the heat of discussion they had left my bike unattended, so I could hop on and quickly take off. Later I found out from a Mexican biker that these villages have been granted some shady rights and that indeed they do have their own police. I am still not sure wheather this was a scam or not. But either way, I did not pay the 300 pesos.

rainy highlands

MexicoPosted by Jan Lamers 25 Jun, 2012 05:17:33

The last couple of days we have become acquainted again to a phenomenon that didn't seem to exist anymore: rain. It is the rainy season now which means that we get a couple of hours of downpour per day, usually starting in the afternoon. We are in the highlands where Mexico is a lot greener and a lot more beauitiful than in the arid coastal region and Baja. It also is more densely populated. That makes the going very slow, leaving one village and entering the next village at the same time over a carpet of hardly visible speed bumps called "topes". It took us 4 hours to cover the first 80 miles on our way from Puebla to Oaxaca! We have seen some very beautiful colonial cities in the highlands: Morelia, Puebla and Oaxaca, all remarkably well preserved. And we have also seen the greatest collection of men clogged together on the planet: Mexico city. What a depressing, polluted and horrible place that is. Our gps's temporarily gave up on us so we got stuck right in the middle of this monster city and it took us two hours to get out. But we've seen it, never to return. Right now we are in Oaxaca, one of the nicest colonial cities I have ever seen in the Americas. Cobble stone streets, churches and colourful colonial houses erected in the era of the conquistadores.

the mosquito coast

MexicoPosted by Jan Lamers 19 Jun, 2012 00:54:26

We took the overnight ferry from La Paz in Baja California to Mazatlan on the Mexican mainland. This is not a tourist route and the majority of the crowd consisted of Mexican truckers who were busy drinking beer and watching Arnold Schwarzenegger exterminate a few. From Mazatlan we rode to San Blas, a coastal town at the sea of Cortez. It has a very nice beach, a couple of neat colonial buildings and an awful lot of agressive mosquitos. No matter how much repellent you put on they just kept on attacking. Because of the mosquitos and the heat we fled from San Blas into the highlands where the climate fortunately is a lot more pleasant with no mosquitos around. We stopped in Amatitan, a village were nobody stops. We had to ride and ask around for half an hour to finally find a hotel. There also didn't seem to be a restaurant. We ended up eating quesadillas at a street side taco place. We checked out the Amatitan saturday night fever on the central plaza and took some great pictures. In the morning we had breakfast in the mercado municipal, where we were being gazed at by the locals. This was by far our most genuine Mexico experience. The next day upon arrival in Morelia I discovered that my fork seal was leaking again. Although this is taking away my travel joy quite a bit I decided to deal with it Mexican style. I have seen many people with bigger problems than leaking fork seals. I am not going to fix the seal again. If the bike decides to break down I will consider it a sign from the gods that the quest has come to an end. I wil ritually set my bike on fire, piss on it and return home. Until that moment I will continue with a leaking fork seal smiley

oppressive heat and dirt roads

MexicoPosted by Jan Lamers 13 Jun, 2012 05:56:09
After a quiet week of San felipe beach life we decided to move on to Gonzuaga bay. A new road is being built from Puertocitos to Gonzuaga bay and nobody seems to know where this new road actually ends. Well we know now, it ends 12 miles north of Gonzuaga. And it left us with our heavily packed bikes in deep sand. We were struggling our way to Gonzuaga with no apparent directions to follow. Fortunately a truck with roadworkers helped us out and guided us to the old dirt road. That is a truely shitty road and it was a bumpy ride to Gonzuaga. Gonzuaga bay is very nice and very blue but also oppressively hot. Because we arrived in the early afternoon we didn't feel like staying there so we pressed on to Bahia de los Angeles. That meant another 40 miles of dilapidated dirt road. Late in the evening we arrived, totally shaken up, in Bahia de los Angeles. The setting is spectacular, a blue bay dotted with little rocky islands, but the village itself isn't all that great. After Bahia de los Angeles we continued the highway nr 1 all the way south to the city of La Paz. La Paz is the capital of Baja California sur and it is a lively city with a very nice waterfront boulevard, the malecon. We found a decent hotel where we could park our bikes in the lobby to protect them against theft. I found a bar here where I can go see the soccer match Holland vs Germany tomorrow. Let's hope we have more luck this time than in the previous match against Denmark.

illegal aliens

MexicoPosted by Jan Lamers 06 Jun, 2012 04:53:23

After a very long, boring and particularly hot ride through Arizona, where temperatures hit 113 F (45 C), we arrived in San Diego. Of course I had developed a new problem with my bike. This time an oil leak from the oil filter cover. Nothing big so the next day we rode on and hopped in to Mexico via Tijuana. It was clouded and cold (how different did I expect Mexico to be), poor, dirty and un-esthetic by all means. A big long wall running along the border dividing the haves from the have nots. Tijuana is a seedy, depressing and hostile place that I didn't like one bit. Bear in mind all the stories you see on television about the drug kartels and you just want to leave. Fortunately that worked out great. We didn't get checked or stopped once and rode in one run through Ensenada to the coastal town of San Felipe. There we found out that we should have a tourist card and a temporary importation permit for our bikes. We were illegal aliens in Mexico. We decided to ride back to the border at Mexicali the next day to get these documents. We started riding at 6.30 am and returned 3.00 pm after 300 miles with all the necesary documents in place. Today I fixed the oil leak. It turned out to be self inflicted as your humble narrator had put the shim and the oil seal in the wrong order when changing the oil filter at Stephen's place smiley. Now we are finally enjoying the leasurely beach life of San Felipe.