About Us

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Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Brian & Deya met in Vancouver Canada. After a few years together we were married and made choices. One was not to have children the other was not to take life for granted. The rest is yet to come.

December 26, 2010

Long days in Cordoba

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I would have thought that the days spent here would be somewhat leisurely. The truth is we have been very busy and trying to get accustomed to life in this neck of the woods. It took me a while to say it but I don’t like this city, Cordoba. There I said it, despite its importance and the presence of caring family and friends the city just makes me ill. It is noisier than it needs to be, dirtier than is reasonable and polluted to the point that my lungs hurt. It’s not all bad but I haven’t been here long enough to make a very fair judgement, too bad. There are cool little towns nearby that are great to hang out in and fantastically cool places like Guanajuato.

We got here by December 3rd and by the 4th I was in my first Spanish class, it was interesting and the instructor was pretty good. Folks that we meet wonder why I can’t speak Spanish yet after a few classes, it’s a little frustrating but I’ll manage. The place we are staying in is a small little apartment with a full bathroom, kitchen and dining area. It’s good for the two of us. Since it’s near the Centro it’s noisy all night and there is not much comfort in the way of sitting outside due to the busy streets. It’ll do while we work on our construction project.

The project as it turned out was moving along at a snail’s pace, I was a little annoyed when I saw what wasn’t done and realized that we have lost probably 12 months of revenue. It’s one of the problems of not being on hand to keep things moving. We developed some basic quotes and a contract for moving forward but it’s not nearly the same as in many situations in Canada. Basically down here you just ask a guy to build something and he tells you what it’ll cost without any idea of the material, labour or profit costs. The contractors put all their profits into the project so you never really know what you are paying for. This is okay though because nobody asks for more than one quote anyways and if they do they don’t actually look at what is involved in the job. The lowest price must be the best right? Oh ya and I’ll take 70% up front and the 30% when the materials arrive and if it takes me six months with one guy making $58 pesos a day to get the job done then it’s because you’re cheap! Anyways, let’s just say I’m not going to roll that way.
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We have been to a lot of party events, birthdays, party’s for virgins (it has been some time), Christmas stuff, a good guy’s and bad guy’s parade in Cosco and various other outings as well as we got our haircuts done by an industry expert from Mexico. It was our 4th anniversary and we celebrated with cake thank goodness. The majority of the time for me is trying to pick up the language I hear but to be honest I have just developed a permanent headache. I know I am getting dribs and drabs but it is pretty hard. I can remember when Deya would sit patiently and then get upset about something totally irrelevant as the rest of us conversed. I sometimes think I know what is happening or simply spend all day lost and get frustrated. Everyone is always concerned that I look tired or don’t want to chat, it is because I have only got about 30 minutes of brain power before my mental strength evades me and I am stuck in dumb land. I’ll tell you now though, when I learn this language watch out, I’m going to speak with a vengeance!


We needed to get a bit of a routine; so far we have come up with this: Monday is Asian cooking night, Tuesday is baked goods night, Wednesday is movie night at a private theatre, Thursday is Taco de perro night at a local joint and Friday is up for grabs. That’s all we’ve got so far but it’ll do.Photobucket


We have also had the chance to visit a few more companies, tour the town and go for some short rides with Deya’s brother.

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On one of our walks we saw another example of police performance. An elderly couple had been trapped in their house for two hours as someone was parking in front of their door to attend a party next door. The police were finally called, since you aren’t allowed to contact the tow truck directly, and arrived to manage the scene. After almost an hour with three transit police the tow truck showed up and the people next door came running. They argued with the police, berated the little old couple for calling the fuzz and when they were facing a fine and a tow they called someone they said was high up in the transit authority to get out of the fine and the tow! Well, the poor cop could only agree and let them go. Meanwhile the traffic had been backed up the whole time, the old couple was obviously missing their Christmas dinner and productivity level of the entire city was likely under question. I wanted to go yell at someone, instead we took a picture, the cop looked nervous and took a picture of us taking a picture of him, poor bugger.

In January I gave strict orders to Deya not to speak English to me, we’ll be finishing our floor in the building then tiling. Tucson Tony will arrive to join me in my Spanish lessons and I’m hoping to have large amounts of wine and tequila on hand. This is not a new years health kick it’s called cooping and it’ll be coupled with baked goods, push ups and savoury Tacos.
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Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all!

December 24, 2010

6 Month Budget review

Summary
The first six month held a great deal of learning curves and as we have learned in other experiences whenever we fail to plan and practice risk mitigation the cost tends to mount. Forecasting is also never an easy effort and we have managed to fall short 18.21% of our meagre budget. The primary reason for the bias in our forecasting was not Food, Fuel or Lodging but in the category called Other. In fact we achieved a budget on Food at 74.83%, Fuel at 100.39%, Lodging at 54.02%. The Other category got us at 169.41% but was comprised of only two primary categories which covered about 95% of the overage: Insurance and Maintenance.

Background
When Deya and I set out to travel the Americas we had entirely too much stuff, some the right stuff and some the wrong stuff. Our budgeting strategy was to attempt an absolute minimum budget without having to sacrifice too much experience along the way. We would tent whenever possible, cook our own meals on the road side and limit our kilometres to about 300 per day. Balancing the three main categories of Food, Fuel and Lodging would be the primary focus for controlling our budget day to day. Daily sacrifices would have to be made in order to accomplish our goal of travelling without having to have a camera crew and follow up vehicles. Part of our effort is to help people understand that if all else fails in life they can just go ride. This of course was not our case which makes it an important part of our purpose.

Without exhaustive planning we estimated our mileage and knew roughly when we would use more fuel than other times, the food was not a great leap for us since our regular working budget for food was very thin but lodging was a bit of a mystery. The art of camping is an ever evolving and changing creature as we have determined and have had some trouble, particularly in Mexico finding appropriate camping. This has been an unfortunate case since we have had some of our best experiences camping.

We did limited research on things like ferries and bridges for extra costs as well as some attractions that might become costly and for the most part we were bang on. Our three months of negative budgeting occurred in July (learning curves), September (Newfoundland) and October (We got slammed!).

Evidence
July as mentioned was a learning curve where we had to make several adjustments in equipment (group 904) selection and some equipment maintenance (group 700). We had to make a call on getting a service done on one of the bikes sooner than anticipated, the philosophy when your bike is the whole trip is that preventative maintenance is the better option, unfortunately we didn’t predict this one. The other issue was eventually covered by a good will warranty through BMW.

September’s major overage was a chain and sprocket set which we had budgeted for the previous month but I felt I could get a few more thousand kilometres out of the one I had and I did! It caused a discrepancy in the budget but it worked out for the best anyways, I was eventually able to do the installation myself in Maine, USA at significant savings over the BMW shop rates. Deya had a service tune up which capped off the budget for the month.

October was a heavy hitter, we had maxed out on our kilometres this month, had covered the border costs, health insurances and a multitude of various other events. We had a chance to attend a Ralley in Texas for a cost but it was well worth it. Some cost came from the damage to our tent received during the hurricane in Newfoundland and its replacement but the bulk of the cost came from vehicle equipment: 6 tyres, clutch cables, spare bearings, etc. The other cost which was an error on my part was the vehicle insurance. Mine ran out; if I have gotten an extra month while back in Canada it would have cost me $60 bucks, but as we had intended to be in Mexico sooner I would have been okay. Since the problems at the border were serious we got delayed in the USA, this meant that in order to cover five days in the USA I had to purchase an additional three months of insurance. The cost was about $535 dollars for the insurance, added to the $900 dollars of equipment this cost accounted for the 60% overage for the month.

Here is a simple break down of our daily averages to give you an idea of how we are doing.

Daily Budget Performance Average

 Daily    Budget   Actual      %

Fuel      $13.33   $13.39      100.39%

Food     $5.94    $4.45         74.83%

Lodging $8.06    $4.35         54.02%

Other    $19.78   $33.51     169.41%

Totals    $47.11  $55.69     118.21%

Conclusion
If you noticed our performance on food and lodging you will see that we have done very well. While we have spent a lot of time in our tent and have cooked a lot of food ourselves on the side of the road I must give a warm and special thanks to all those folks out there (you know who you are) who have contributed to our success this far by selflessly offering warm food and a comfortable place to rest, Thanks You!

While fuel is the simpler of the calculations, we will endeavour to increase our maintenance budget and tighten up on the miscellaneous items. It’s difficult to estimate the maintenance as it comes down more to convenience of time, place, or price than it does kilometres or other predefined measures for maintenance. Since we’ve reached Mexico we’ve been higher in lodging as a result of security issues, I’m hoping this will change, maybe it’s as much a change of mind as it is a change of place.

The Family

Coscomatepec is a lovely town of about 13000 people. It sits in the hills at about 800-1200 metres and is typically cool in the evenings. You get to see people wearing sweaters and toques, I love it. It’s quiet and has plenty of topes and cobblestone streets to keep the traffic under guard and reasonable so driving around here is not too death defying.



Our stay with the aunts and uncles in the area was charming and they are very entertaining people. There is just enough English to keep me near the loop in the general conversations but the conversations themselves are always lively enough to stay entertained regardless of the understanding.

While in Cosco, as people call it, we had the chance to visit some companies. This was a great opportunity and allowed for a fairly relaxed pace. The folks in town are very accommodating and their business interests are typically family oriented which includes a great deal of pride in their products, if nothing else. We saw coffee and tomatoe plantations, bakeries of course and very fine leather manufacturers.

Our route to home, Cordoba, was less than an hour away but we were not in any rush to leave. Cordoba is a sprawling city of about 200 thousand people (by 2005, http://www.inegi.org.mx) and has an evening curfew to deter crime. It has everything you can imagine from Wal-Mart to little taco stands on the side of the road. It’s a noisy place at this time of the year because of all the religious events but also has a lot of opportunity for interesting things to do, as many larger cities have.

We made our way easily to the city and arrived to the mother’s home near the heart of the down town core. Prior to arriving we stopped near the Zócalo to visit a municipal official who wanted to see us on our bikes. It turned into a crowd as this official is of some importance and reporters and pedestrians alike gathered around to take pictures and ask for pictures with us. It was fun but always makes me a little nervous having too many people around me, I just want to start swinging. Once we cleared downtown the next step was to settle in and get to work.

December 13, 2010

Winding our way into Veracruz

We left San Miguel de Allende heading West, our stop would be at Pachuca and we would stay with some family there. Distant family, I’m not sure how it works but the youngest of the kids there are uncles? Either way we stayed for a few nights and we were received and treated very well.

We had a tour of the city; I believe there are over 260,000 thousand people there. Its proximity to Mexico City means that people can commute South for an hour versus commuting through Mexico City for two hours. The area is mountainous and there are old buildings and an important clock tower. The town was established by the British for mining purposes and then abandoned but has some particular beauty due to the mountains and surrounding small towns that are very touristy.

Spending time with these new family members was refreshing; they are intelligent hard working and good people. I had a great time and they just about killed Deya and I with good food and attention.

After exiting the route got interesting, we somehow ended up on a short toll road and there didn’t seem to be any escape. Once off the road we got onto another route that we had been warned was very dangerous. Dangerous means curves here and we had a great time. The route was gorgeous and there was enough traffic and enough curves to keep it moving slowly. WAY safer than the maniacs on the toll roads. It was also way more interesting and you can stop just about anywhere for a break.

We stopped at a little road side café run by two ladies and had Café de olla. It was really good coffee. We chatted and they told us some of the local news about some bad stuff in a nearby town. Remember the study? Everyone talks about the bad people in the nearby town, it seems to hold true everywhere we go. As far as security goes here it is more about your regular crimes versus the Narco crimes. We did notice a lot of Police with balaclavas on, though there were also some important government officials in the area. The two ladies sent us away with two kinds of bananas, both no longer than your finger or thumb but thicker. One has a very strong banana taste which is very appealing and the other had an orange flavour and was coloured slightly orange, very cool.

We ended our day near the beach on the Gulf of Mexico, the sea was rough and the water was dark closer to shore. The day was overcast and we had very mild rain. It was cold enough all day that I wore my raingear from departure to arrival. We ate simply with some leftovers and bought a half kilo of fresh tortillas for about 50 cents CDN.

The next morning we left early, the sky was clear and it was warmer, we ended on another toll but this time it was for two bridges so I wasn’t bothered too much. The route was easy and as we left the coast, destination Coscomatepec, it became twisty and the altitude rose up to about 1500 metres. It again got beautiful with bright, natural flowers everywhere and many coffee plantations, the feeling was relaxed and the riding was grand. The area is lush and green and you can see why people will say that Veracruz is rich. They don’t mean in dollars but in land, you can throw anything on the ground here and stuff will grow. I am pretty fond of the landscape here and impressed at the weather, it’s cool and clouding in the evening and often rains at night while keeping a reasonable and warm temperature during the day.

We arrived at Coscomatepec and were greeted again by family at their bakery. We arrived sat down and were served FANTASTIC coffee and one of my favourite breads from this area. It was the best coffee I’ve had since entering Mexico and my mind was refreshed for the 20 minutes of pleasure. I love sitting at a café, a cool and light breeze, mountain air and fresh strong and hot coffee in my hands. It’s as good for me as a long easy ride and lets my mind wander. We ended the day with a great dinner, family and a plan to tour the area a bit and stay another night.

December 02, 2010

Hope

A Traveller on a long journey was near his destination but received a painful stone in his shoe. The Traveller said, “I have the courage of a thousand men yet I am made lame by this stone” and so he sat on the ground and wept. A young man with no legs approached The Traveller and asked, “Why do you weep my friend?” and The Traveller replied, “I have the courage of a thousand men yet I can no longer see my destination”. The young man with no legs looked at The Traveller for a moment then said, “It is not courage you need now, it is hope” and the young man with no legs carried on his way. The Traveller sat for some time watching the young man with no legs move off into the distance and said, ”This young man has a far greater stone than I!”, and then picked himself up and carried on his journey. The stone was unbearable and he winced in pain yet after some time it loosed itself from the shoe and The Traveller was free from the torment. The Traveller looked up and could once again see his destination and had hope.

The Mayor of Ciudad Juarez, a current area under severe conflict, bordering El Paso, Texas spoke about people not needing more police, army and guns but about hope. The people there need to see that their future can improve, that the stone in their shoe is not permanent and that they can still move forward, with 2000 murders in the area this year alone it is a painful stone to bear but there is hope.

I was going to write a rant called: Mexican Pride – The Façade, because I’m annoyed at the lack of pride witnessed here. I’m not one to paint with a big brush so please forgive the generalizations but I’ve been puzzled and down right upset about the people here pretending to be proud of their country when it is really a smokescreen for something much more painful. While I recognize that a percentage of all humans behave in particular ways the weighting of those behaviours can be more or less favourable depending on geographical location or maybe other factors but it’s not for me to study.

When you see the evidence of the pride and passion of Mexico in the every day life you can see these things in abundance:

- Garbage all over the place, I can not count how many times I’ve seen people just throw pop bottles and other garbage on the ground around them.

- People might diligently sweep the garbage from their door into the street as though their community deserves no better.

- The population takes advantage of each other as well as outsiders, there’s a terrible level of caste and class distinction. It’s most evident in the name calling for me; I’m called Güerito (sounds like Whito, is intended to call you white), does that mean I should call them Yellow? They call me Gringo (likely meaning foreign troop and historically referencing US occupation of Mexico in the late 1840’s possibly meaning “Green- Go”) but does that mean I should call them wetbacks? I typically pay double for everything; today it was quadruple the going rate!

- The lack of regard for the laws of the country, keenly evident in the general traffic. Less evident is the actual ignorance of the laws (Mexico has very good systems in place, we’ve been researching), the lack of contribution, cash transactions not recorded, unfinished buildings that detract from the community so they aren’t required to pay taxes, etc.

- The corruption, contributing to it (cheaper to pay the ‘bite’ than the fine - which is often NOT true), accepting it or worse doing nothing about it.

It doesn’t matter what people say, actions speak louder than words and until we got here I couldn’t really understand why Deya and a few other Mexican born Canadians I know are not very proud of their country of origin. I get it now and for the first bit I too was upset about it but I just realized, after reflecting on what a good friend told us, that people need hope. I have sympathy for the people here now. I don’t know what the answer is but in there somewhere lays hope and while the stone might be big, the destination is still there not far ahead.

November 29, 2010

Guadalajara and the Route of Independence


Thanks to Daniela for hosting us and to Alejandra for taking us around the city. Guadalajara is a very large city with about 4 million people in the greater area. One of the districts we checked out was Zapopan and it was beautiful. Of course there were more outrageous Catholic statues, in my opinion, but in general the construction and atmosphere of the area were fantastic.

The Bike and Rider
The owner of the bike guarding it from speeding
traffic, with his life!
We had the pleasure of getting to witness most of the process of a traffic accident.  It went about like this: Pizza delivery bike makes a wild U-turn in front of a speeding car, car hits bike and then pulls over.  Bike is knocked down, rider is injured (likely a minor injury to the leg) and pinned easily under the bike, 125cc.  General duty cops show up and stand around waiting for the traffic cop to show up, 30 minutes later Paris Hilton shows up with shades and thin moustache, gold chains, etc. and proceeds to ask the driver of the car what happened with the owner of the pizza bike standing there.  Both vehicles had been moved around by now but not enough to avoid obstructing traffic.  The vehicles and the bike, guy removed by paramedics, stay on the road way even though there is no damage until the judge shows up to see what has happened.  The guy in the car who was likely the real victim here has to wait to see if the judge determines, based on the ‘evidence’, if he is to go to jail or not.  Regardless of the verdict his car will get towed away and he'll have to pay to retrieve it.  Meanwhile people are just ripping by, not signalling, driving without caution or helmets or seatbelts, making wild U-turns and nearly running over the police and people around the scene.  None of the witness statements or evidence was preserved and the vehicles were still blocking traffic (in an effort to preserve evidence but nobody asks why).  The police that first showed up, all give the next guy a homie handshake then leave to cruise the block without ever giving statements (not their job?).  Basically the scene is unsafe, insecure, evidence and statements are not preserved or tainted, there's no continuity, everybody is delayed and after two hours of watching this Deya and I left without seeing the judge show up or finding out if the guy in the car was going to jail.  Brutal!

We set out early to avoid traffic leaving the big city, one of rules was not to get into big cities and trying to eliminate the high risk of traffic is a major concern. Despite our best efforts it took almost two and a half hours to get free from the city; on the way out a delivery driver made a dangerous and unnecessary pass and actually brushed my left pannier very lightly with the box of his truck. Deya was impressed how well I kept it together but secretly I had some rage brewing. I won’t rant right now about the drivers here but needless to say, Brutal!

Off the main road the GPS was only giving us arrows to waypoints, we ended up down some pretty rough roads and cobblestone streets in little communities that were blanketed with fog. Winding our way along Deya was getting nervous and I loved it. We had full tanks of gas and it was only a matter of time before we circled into another waypoint. The traffic was slow and light in these little backwater communities and everyone was on their way to work. For me this makes for a great ride and feels safe. Dudes on their way to work or working makes for great travel partners, men hanging around during the day with nothing to do, do not.

As we emerged from the fog, Mexico began. I say this because the route became beautiful and I had, for the first time since we arrived in the country, a feeling that I had arrived now in Mexico. It was tranquil and there were farmers, beautiful views, clean communities and kids going to school. There was no pressure and the tension that permeated the air during the rest of the journey was absent. Both Deya and I felt it and the people expressed it as well. We were now on our way to the Route of Independence.

One of the first little communities we stopped in, for agua y baño break, was the community of San Diego de Alejandría. It was a bit magical and both of us thought seriously of staying for a couple of days but our destination for the day was Guanajuato. As we stood near the bikes several people stopped to talk, one of the guys was Edgar and he invited us to stop by his work for a couple of medical supplies that we might need. Edgar is a paramedic for the region, supports two hospitals and three communities. When we came over he invited us in and told us about his own adventures. Edgar is a like minded soul and has done some impressive trips via cycle.

Edgar you are Awesome!
The medical station where our friend works is common in Mexico and we learned that if you go to them they can help you with some basic supplies for free, they are called “Centros de Salud”. We received a bunch of electrolyte pouches, medication for basic ailments like muscle pain and soar throats and some first aid supplies. The government of Mexico provides this service for anyone, very impressive.

Having fully stocked up on the basics Edgar offered a taco for lunch, my rubber arm had already twisted itself and he brought us into the kitchen in the back. In short order the stove was going and we had fried beans, pork chops, salsa, tortillas but no cheese for quesadillas. No problem, Edgar jumped on his bike and rode down to the store and back with a couple hundred grams of good cheese before the tortillas he was warming burned. It was a feast and we even had leftovers. Deya and I were blown away, we had only been there 10 minutes and had been treated super well. It’s the simple things like what Edgar was doing that are very meaningful for travellers, and that brief kindness with no need for return is not even explainable. Edgar only said he’s just giving back and you could tell that somewhere in his mind or his heart he was repaying a debt of kindness offered somewhere by someone who didn’t need to. Thanks Edgar, I hope that we have the chance to pay this forward as well as you have!

We left the town encouraged and fully recovered from our near miss in Guadalajara, restocked and re-motivated, sipping on electrolytes and marvelling over the beautiful route before us. We were not far from the tourist city of Guanajuato and just looking at the map it seemed interesting. Edgar had called his sister who is a doctor there and she recommended some places we might stay.


As we entered Guanajuato we had to go through a series of tunnels, it was like a dragons den of passages some going deeper into the mountain, some going up and some just going on into the darkness. There were interceptions in the mountains and every time you emerge from a tunnel you find some other cool part of the city. People were everywhere walking around and the place had a very artistic feel. Having arrived in such a cool place after a good ride made me a little awestruck and super impressed. A World Heritage Sight, we decided to spend two nights even though it is a little expensive for our budget. You can find places to stay from about $200 pesos per person to as high as $2500 pesos. You can stay right in the heart of the city for $700-$800 pesos, which is pretty good. We found a place near the Mercado (Market) for $350 pesos and it had the secure parking we desired.
We met several good folks and toured around the town on foot. I think that this would be a great place to spend a couple of weeks just walking around and exploring. They have a large university and hospital and plenty of things to see and do, even just hanging out at one of the parks drinking coffee would be a great way to spend time. There are theatres, museums and many other attractions worth seeing as Guanajuato is famous for the Route of Independence. We checked out one piece of property and it was in a wicked area for about $350,000 CND. It would probably need renovations of (I’m guessing) no more that $100,000 CND and you would have a blow me down cool place or business right in a major part of the city. Anyways, Guanajuato is an awesome place to visit and I would recommend it as one of the coolest cities I have ever visited.

In the maze








Deya had to take me to an epic alley of romance; it had to do with a young Mexican miner who was not of sufficient class to court a young Spanish lady of status. So in order to be with the girl he rented the home across from her, the homes being so close together that the young couple could kiss at night from their windows. One evening as they embraced, the father of the girl saw them and with a knife stabbed his daughter in the back for shaming her family; her last action was to reach out to the young miner who kissed her hand as she expired. As the tradition goes you have to kiss someone in the alley. Since there were only dudes hanging around I had to kiss my wife but it wasn’t so bad.

After two short nights we left this little gem in the mountains and headed for the city where Independence was declared or known as the Cradle of Independence, Dolores Hidalgo. Here you can get ice cream made from tequila, beer and all kinds of other stuff, it is actually pretty good. Padre Miguel Hidalgo coined the most famous phrase (Grito De Dolores) in Mexican history in a city called Dolores, “Death to the Spaniards” triggering a push for independence which ended in his execution, Independence and the naming of the city after him.




As we entered the town we visited a tile manufacturer that produces some beautiful products, this type is called Talavera. It was an excellent visit and the owner is a fantastic character with a long history of craftsmanship. His products have an international market and are warranted for 50 years! All handcrafted with painstaking detail and care, these products are made with the original passion and commitment of a 9 year old boy with no father for over 70 years now. It’s quite a story and a fine product too. In the town center we hung out for a bit and had a torta (sandwich). When we returned to the bikes Steve from England had left us a good luck note; thanks for that Steve.

We headed out and onto the next stop which was San Miguel de Allende. The city of San Miguel de Allende is another artsy kind of place where a purse snatching would be big news. The city itself was declared a National Monument by the Mexican government in 1926 and by 1938 Stirling Dickinson (American artist) founded an art school. It’s not as dramatic as Guanajuato which also has a proud school of arts but is very nice and has a great vibe. We only spent a few hours around but you can tell right away it is a place to return too. Instead we checked out some property in the area and there are some fantastic homes around here. Can I say beautiful?, this place has some fantastic homes. We looked at some homes in a golf resort nearby, 18 magical holes with beautiful vistas and fantastic homes starting around $230,000 CND; includes a 15 years membership to the golf club, very secure and your neighbours are two of the wealthiest families in Mexico, WOW!!! You couldn’t get a home this cool in Vancouver for any price. It’s not what Deya and I are looking for but we just about didn’t leave.

We spent too long in San Miguel de Allende to make it to our next stop of Pachuca in the state of Hidalgo so we ended up in Queretaro City (in the state of Queretaro) for the evening. A little lost and tired we found the cheapest place we could get. I’m glad we found a place because my guts where grumbling and it would be a long night riding the Route of Independence.

November 25, 2010

Warning: Official Highway Robbery

Not the kind of robbery that you would think. It’s funny how the assumptions that we have and the reality of what goes on are often totally different, yet some of the results are the same. Getting officially robbed simply means that there is a formal process to it, i.e. government, not the chaotic result of random violence or opportunistic offence.

Prior to leaving Mazatlan we consulted the Canadian Consul as well as the Sub-Comandante responsible for all Federal investigations in the area to find out what kind of hazards we might face and try to determine if travelling by toll roads, as we did from Hermosillo-South, would be a better option than by the free highways (Carreteras libres). The Canadian Consul gave us appropriate advice: 4 Canadians shot, 20 people murdered every day in the state and bandits are probably looking for fast vehicles. Highway robberies and shooting in the areas we would be travelling.

Deya and I are either gluttons for punishment or thorough, so we headed to talk to the authorities that are dealing with these problems, El Sub-Comandante. This was a nice guy, professional and obviously holding a higher office (with a beach front view) because he’s competent. The officer explained about the areas where incidents have occurred, the people who are being killed and the kind of vehicles that are being targeted. As it turns out, motorcycles are not useful to the bad guys, very few innocent people with particularly bad luck get caught in the crossfire, and we have already crossed through the most dangerous areas of the route.

We walked out of there feeling a little more hopeful than the Consulate but still had to make some decisions. Toll road or libre? Though most of the robberies seem to have occurred on the toll roads, the toll roads did have some advantages like better conditions, maintaining a higher speed, The Green Angels, etc. So we chose the toll road in the end and we heard that it was a beautiful drive anyways.

We left early as is our method and got onto the road easily; we paid the first toll and began the journey towards Tepic in Nayarit, South. People were right it was lovely and we travelled along the beach, mountains and a range of different environments. As we got further I was continually blown away by the cost of the tolls. It was total highway robbery packaged in booths surrounded by dudes with guns. The cost for motorcycles is exaggerated though because we pay per bike the same as a truck load of people would pay. For example, one of the tolls was $170 pesos each and it doesn’t get you that far, the conditions are not that great and there is still a potential for danger.

Hermosillo to Mazatlan was $80.7 Canadian dollars and got us 1000 kms. Mazatlan to Guadalajara was $126 Canadian dollars for 480 kms. Just a reminder that our budget for food, fuel and lodging is $30 Canadian bucks/day! I would rather buy beer but we always think about safety first. To put that in prospective for the folks back home, the Coquihalla Highway in B.C. runs about 200 kms and used to cost us $5 bucks each, now it is free. The Blue Ridge Parkway in the USA is totally awesome at 750 kms, and free! By the time we finished the tolls here we were well over budget and feeling taken advantage of. This would cause us to change our toll road attitude and start riding the free roads again.

Green Angel pushing a car
The toll roads have guys named the Green Angels, “Ángeles Verdes” (http://www.sectur.gob.mx). If you have an emergency while driving call the Ministry of Tourism's hotline 078 or (55) 5250-8221 (Ext. 130/297) to obtain help from the “Green Angels” (trucks are radioed and dispatched with bilingual crews). Services include protection, medical first aid, mechanical aid for your car and basic supplies. You will not be charged for services only for parts, gas and oil. The Green Angels patrol daily, from dawn until sunset. If you are unable to call them pull off the road and lift the hood of your car, chances are good… they will find you. I understand that if you travel in a caravan they will meet you at the USA border and escort you en-route to your destination. Pretty cool!!!

Our route took us into the well famous town of Tequila. This is a nice little town but when we arrived is was busy and hot. We pulled into a public parking spot at the town center and took a seat in the shade to hydrate. A police officer came over to tell us that the two parking spots are for an important municipal officer and we could not park there, of course they were regular spots. Oh thanks for visiting our town! Deya told him we were taking a break and we would leave soon. Another vehicle showed up and parked in the spot beside us. Eventually the important people showed up and the police officer came by to tell us to get lost. He then waved the important people around to the parking. I wanted to video this and make a complaint but it was hot and we needed to get places. So we left Tequila without taking a tour spending a dime or being able to recommend the place.

Tequila, somewhere
It would seem that in most places people and governments do not understand the potential impact they can have on their own future. Not that tourists are super important but when it comes to business image is crucial and Mexico has earned itself a reputation of being the low man on the totem pole. Well done important people of Tequila for maintaining a stereotype corruption and incompetence.

After we left Tequila and hit yet another toll we stopped for some water and a bolillo with peanut butter. I was getting dehydrated and needed a break; we also took the opportunity to oil the chains. While we pulled out some food, there were some local guys who worked there having lunch. They invited us over and we shared tostadas de atún (tuna with salsa and hard tortillas) and some other stuff. It was a highlight for us, we enjoyed good conversation and food and it was a better rest than we might have had on our own and was a good recovery from our sour Tequila experience.

Thanks for lunch guys!
Near the end of the day we rolled into Guadalajara. Since we don’t have GPS maps for Mexico we circled our way in using the Google Earth Map Coordinates. This works like a charm and we have verified that we can get within 30 metres of something using this system. We can also take a look at most neighbourhoods before we get there, cool. Of course one way streets are the major wrench in the clockworks but it is still manageable.

We hung out for a bit at our destination and waited for friends of friends to arrive and host us. I was fully in the throws of heat exhaustion and would become less and less functional as the night wore on.

Spoiler: Just in case guys, the tolls are abusive in my opinion, it merely feels like organized robbery.

November 21, 2010

I am Canadian!

Some of the proudest Canadians I have ever met were not born there. I often wondered about that and it’s been a discussion Deya and I have had many, many times. I never really understood though I figured it had something to do with what Canada means to them versus their country of origin. Along our path, particularly since we entered Mexico, Deya has been really upset about being continuously questioned where she is from. For me, it bothers me that I’m immediately thought of as ‘gringo’ and not as ‘person’. It seems to be a built in class or caste distinction that as a Canadian I’m unaccustomed to. It comes with benefits and costs and it is neither fair nor equitable so when Deya gets asked about where she is from there is also attached a class or caste distinction.

To get a better idea we’ve discussed over the months how Deya can be a Canadian while still respecting her heritage yet even if I get my citizenship in Mexico I could never be a Mexican. In an effort to help Deya to be confident about who she is and where she fits in we would go over all the things that she’s done and how her contributions are what really matter. That, what she does is more important than her colour or social status or where she was born. A good example of this in Canada is when a non aboriginal person gets accepted as a tribe member for their contributions to the community even though they are not of aboriginal decent. It’s about perspective and I knew it was bothering her so when a fellow working in the tourist industry approached us with very good English and started asking questions Deya began a rant that nearly killed me. This is about how it went:

Q. Where are you from?

Deya. Canada!

Q. No, No, really where are you from?

Deya. (An immediate frown formed and I knew she was pissed off when her fingers popped out to start counting)

“I was born when I crossed one of the largest nations in the world and soaked my feet in both her oceans, when I skied in the Rocky Mountains, crossed the Arctic Circle in the Mighty Yukon Territory and drank wine in the valleys of British Columbia. When I crossed the great plains of the Prairies, spoke French in Quebec and something else in Newfoundland. I have visited the home of Prime Minister Chrétien in Shawinigan and eaten lobsters on the beach in the Bay of Fundy. I am from the place where I work, pay taxes and contribute in a meaningful way. I voted liberal provincially and conservative federally and I have the right to complain about both parties plus the weather. I sometimes say: “Qué Pasa?, Eh!”, and enjoy good beer. I appreciate the heritage and culture of others including my own and that makes me Canadian!”

The guy looks at her with confusion and says: “But where are you from?”, Deya looked exhausted dropped her head a bit and said, “I was born in Veracruz”. The guy replied happily, “Oh so you’re one of us, Amiga!” and broke into his sales pitch with a local’s price. I thanked the fellow for chatting with us but didn’t want what he was selling; I knew I needed to get Deya away from this mess. I was laughing the whole time and patting her on the back for such an outstanding display of patriotism. The only thing Deya could say is that she didn’t accept that label, I couldn’t agree more.

The sad truth here is that the bulk of the people you meet have a limited view of their potential, of the importance of meaningful contribution and having pride in themselves. If they did they might be able to rant about what role they play for their country, not just for themselves and that who you are is more about what you do than it is where you were born, or to who, how much money you have or what shade of colour you might be.

Mazatlan, TRAPPED in a bubble

We arrived to a very relaxed feeling; it was by far the easiest part of Mexico so far. We got settled into the hotel Tucson Tony recommended and budget wise it was pretty good. You are looking at about $160 pesos ($11 pesos to $1 dollar) for a simple but clean room with private bathroom and secure parking. The folks here at Hotel Lerma (carlos_lerma8@hotmail.com) are nice and we are about a 3 minute walk to the beach, beer, tacos or what ever you need. If we didn’t run the bikes every day and stuck to our food budget we would actually gain 4-5 bucks a day just by hanging around the beach. This was a good thing! Our intentions were to stay about 3-4 nights then head South but we had some things to accomplish first.

We set out the next morning to walk the city, as it is our M.O., find oil to do some oil changes on both bikes, find a place to dump it and generally just look around. We noticed right away how beautiful the beach is and how friendly and open the city itself feels. The typical cabs are more like golf carts than anything so you see tourists and locals alike cruising around from place to place. There are tourist police, transit police, municipal police, federal police and sometimes military around but it’s never imposing.

We were taking our time along the Malecon (boardwalk) when I saw a realtor’s office. I told Deya we should go in and get an idea of the local situation. We entered and we’re greeted in the language of our choice and with professionalism. Shortly after our entrance we had a tour of a few different opportunities and properties for the next day. We had just met Sylwia DeSoto and were about to meet her husband the following day, Kristopher. This would turn out to be a great experience for us as these folks are honest, professional and competent (see www.boardwalkresidences.com and www.investmazatlan.com). They showed us homes from a range of prices and introduced us to some fantastic people that they know. We were put to think and right now Mazatlan is a good place to invest despite the trouble that you hear, and will hear from me, there is a lot going on here to be impressed with.

Mazatlan city is fantastic but unfortunately does not have what Deya and I are looking for on this particular mission but I could see something being done in the future. So we left the office and only a few blocks down we saw a small Motorbike/Seado shop so we stopped to ask about were we could drop our oil. The owner, Temo was there, www.moto-jet.com and he said he would take the used oil and we could do the change at his haunt right there across from the beach, cool. Back on foot patrol and headed to the Walmart which was the only place where we could find oil that was okay to use in our machines. Everybody else wanted to give us the good stuff, which is actually the bad stuff because we have wet clutch and the extra ‘good stuff’ is too slippery. Anyways, we made it back to the hotel and cooked up some food.

The following day made my brain hurt, Kris is a great guy and there are potential opportunities in Mazatlan, so the things he showed us made my head work harder than it has in a while and off our particular task. The end result was an invitation to a birthday party of some folks that are selling their home. So we decided we would go and Kris and his wife Sylwia would pick us up and take us to the home. By now Deya and I are able to randomly show up to events but this one was pushing the envelop a bit, showing up to people homes we don’t know with people we’ve just met with a bunch of other people who we also didn’t know, awesome!!!

We had a great time and met, once again, a group of really wonderful people. The birthday boy was turning 78 and he and his wife (Burl and Sharon Pettibon www.pettinbonsystems.com) are absolutely fantastic, funny and intelligent people. I’m not sure if I’m blessed, lucky, charming or crapping horseshoes but when good people like this keep finding us I’m very thankful. Burl and Sharon invited us back the next morning to have Burl work on our soar backs, because of all the riding both Deya and I were suffering from various aches and pains. Burl as it turns out, knows a thing or two about you and me, and that thing or two is not only very useful for our health but also applied in such a medically ethical light that it might piss you off the next time you go to your provider back home. Burl is the real deal and Sharon is the motor behind the wheel.

As it goes, the Pettibon System is a holistic approach and considers all the ‘systems’ in the body when exercising a way to rehabilitate a person so that they can reach their maximum potential health. It’s not a magic pill, Burl simply understands all the different functions of the body and how the autonomic systems, subconscious, react to the environmental conditions placed on a person at a molecular level. Understanding this chain of systems and how they interrelate allows for analysis and programming of activities that will have your body do what it’s supposed to do, heal itself. It’s as simple as understanding that gravity forces you down, once you get that you can understand the tremendous benefits to what the Pettibon system is trying to accomplish and at this stage in the game, the help is genuine. Thanks to both of you Burl and Sharon for your attention and caring, our time with you is unforgettable.

We only intended to stay for few days; instead we stayed for over 12 days downtown. We had a beautiful dinner with Kris and Sylwia and watched the Pacquiao versus Margarito fight in a friend’s garage. It was awesome, Pacquiao destroyed Margarito, the funniest thing is sitting in Mexico with a room full of Mexicans routing for a Philippino. We had a great time. Our daily schedule began to emerge; 6am go for Bolillos (bread) and groceries for the day at the market, 9am go to Burl’s place for some stretches, 10-2pm visit companies or the municipality and look for property. It kept us pretty busy and not a lot of time to lounge around. One evening we were walking back home and a shop keep asked us in Spanish, “Habla Espanol?” to which Deya replied, “Si” to which the shop keep replied in English “Meee Toooo”. It was funny enough to make us go back for a drink and a dessert.

We also decided to take a tour, it was a pretty good deal and we would get a boat ride, lunch and free booze. What’s not to like, well free booze isn’t free but first let’s talk about the tour. When a guy on the street offers you a good deal and is willing to get down in price then drive him to the bottom, then walk away and go to the next guy doing the same thing. Tell him the last guy’s best price, if he’ll beat it then you are probably close if not then you hit the bottom and it’s probably a decent deal, make sure they have a business permit to sell tours. Back to the free booze bit, Don’t drink too much for god sake it’s only 11am and it’s hot out. We were screwed for two days!

Okay, as you can see we’re having a great time here, we’re busy, having fun, saving on our budget, meeting great people and practically ready to find jobs, so it’s time to GO! But first we had to visit Judy and some of her buddies for sunset snacks at her pad near the pool and go out of town to look at some properties that fit Deya and my fancy.

We showed up at Judy’s place and sun was setting, well I’ve seen some beautiful sunsets in my time and this was one of them. It was stunning, just stunning. Much better than any sunrise you’ll see on the East Coast, my opinion. So as we’re sitting there people start to come around; it’s like a little community, everybody stops by to say ‘HI’ and a really comfortable feeling pervades. One of the fellows who was there was a heavy hitter in the ethereal world of internet, Jon Morrow www.copyblogger.com, may just be one of the most important editors in the world right now. This guy is an expert in his industry and listening to him commenting about what he does is fascinating. He has a particular charm and passion for his work that obviously helps him to be successful and he adds a lot of value to people through his advice and writings. He has also sparked some ideas for us, though I’m not here to make money, I’m here to adventure. But if I’m doing something important in the future, the internet is certainly an important tool. Thanks Jon.

Prior to visiting with Judy we got some leads on property outside of the city so we headed out early to take a look around and ask locals. The problem, and this is everywhere, is that everybody recommends we don’t buy outside the city. The city is safe, it is fun and you can get everything, come and go as you please, fly out of the International Airport or sleep on the beach. You could live here for 20 years without leaving and probably be very happy, just don’t leave right now, it’s not safe in the hills. So when Deya and I rolled into a pretty little town of La Noria and started hunting around we say and felt some stuff we didn’t like. We did find a local who was selling a nice hectare for about $40000 pesos ( about $3400 CND) but said she could not show it to us now because it was too dangerous and really couldn’t live with herself if she did so she won’t, besides, “it’s 4 o’clock and you need to get back to town fast”. We baled on the idea, part of me says get it and leave it until the trouble goes away, the other part says just leave.

Part of our daily routine had us heading to the market every day. On this day we had a special event, we were getting the ingredients for a soup that required a single chicken thigh; not the whole leg just a thigh. Deya had me approach the butcher and asked, “Yo quiero un muslo”, to which the butcher became confused. I thought I said it wrong but I didn’t, the butcher didn’t understand how I could only be interested in one thigh. As Deya intercepted it got more dramatic with the butcher telling his amigo how poor we must be and feeling dramatically tormented by our situation. We left with our measly thigh but had a great soup. Deya was upset about the butcher’s drama but I was happy because it was about to bring several days of torturous enjoyment as we would return with our own happy news, “Señor, el negocio está bien, quiero DOS muslos hoy, por favor!” That is, “Sir, business is good, I’d like two thighs today, please”.

We registered our agenda with the Consular service of Canada, met the Consul and confirmed the death and destruction that was lying in wait. We were told that in this state alone 20 people a day are killed. Of course it’s not tourists but statistically the odds are higher. Well that bummed me out some but I’m not ready to pick up an AR15 and fight my way out of town so we’ll do it the old fashioned way and ride like mad down the toll roads into another bubble of relative safety and try not to become trapped there too.

Another highlight was meeting a young fellow who is doing some good work for a Not-for-Profit organization here in Mazatlan. He’s a lean expert and is helping the local business improve its processes. This guy reminds me of a good friend who I admire a lot and wish him and his family all the best in their goals, in my books he is golden. I would look to hook this guy up with any business needing an expert in lean manufacturing or leadership. Good job Steve, I hope to bump into you again somewhere on this big journey of life.

We’re on our last day here and I’ll miss Mazatlan, it’s been good to us and the people here make it worth staying but we have a journey, the adventure awaits and so we’ll leave this attractive bubble of ease for the tension and stress waiting for us just outside in the mountains. I know we’ll be well, it’s not our time to be other than that, it’s not the lesson we need to learn, it’s not the thing that will help us to give back.

Our final day ends with a large parade to celebrate 100 Years of the Mexican Revolution, impressive to see the turn out. I won’t go into the details but certainly Mexicans have good parades, I’m sure I’ll see more of them as we head East. Related to holidays, we decided not to camp on the beach for a couple more days so I have to apologize to the good folks out there that we said we’d visit and cook for but we need to get to Veracruz to take care of some business before the festivities commence in December. We have a lot to do and little time to get it done.

November 19, 2010

Hermosillo, I never knew you...

North to Hermosillo, the destination we would have attended if it had not been for our great pals Tucson Tony and Recon Richard. Instead of heading directly there to visit Liz, a friend of Deya’s I first met in Vancouver about 7 years ago, we headed to the Copper Canyon. Thank goodness we did that but at the same time it was nice to arrive to a friendly face and sharing family.
It was hot and we didn’t know exactly where we were going but Richard circled us in like a pilot out of gas and we landed safely on the doorstep we needed to be at. The neighbourhood was nice and we had indoor parking so there was very little stress.

We went for dinner at a well known Taco joint and had a feast, I think Tony had the plate of the night, but the tacos were fantastic. The prices in the northern states are a little high but the quality was certainly there. That evening the boys stayed in one room and the girls in another, I can not speak for the girls but the boys racked out early and hard. The next morning we said our farewells to Tony and Richard, it was sad but the time had come and the journey continues.

Unfortunately, both Deya and I were knackered and I’m afraid we didn’t share ourselves with the energy our host deserved. I know we missed out on several fun events because I could barely keep my eyes open after 7pm. It was great to be there though and we ate well and recharged our batteries. One of the foods Liz took us out for was a ‘World Famous’ hot dog, I am not too sure how it became world famous but after splitting one with Deya I would have to agree that for a hot dog served out of the back of a truck, it was damn good!

We planned our route to Mazatlan, it was pretty simple so to speak and we would make a straight shot down the Toll Highway about 1000 km South. The goal was to leave very early, 4:30 ish and get a steady high rate of speed. With proper breaks and maybe a nap or two we should be able to get there 6 pm. The tolls, as we were told, would take our credit card so we didn’t have to carry a bunch of cash. The bummer about the tolls is that a single passenger motorcycle pays the same as a full size car or light truck. Seems unfair to me but there doesn’t seem to be another acceptable route for us to travel. We wanted to make it in one day to offset the high cost of the tolls, about 90 dollars, which we hadn’t budgeted for. We were already way over budget from the first week in Mexico so we needed to be careful.

It turns out there are federal and state tolls on the route South. Some of the toll roads are simply entering a city, paying the state, detouring through a mess of traffic and construction and emerging out the other side to end up at a federal toll where you have to pay once more. Total highway robbery, but at the end of the day it is an advantage and is a reasonable route. Just remember that if you go that way you have rights, like free mechanical assistance and compensation for damage due to highway neglect.

We were only about 100 kms from Mazatlan and we got to one of the final state tolls, it didn’t take credit card, only pesos. Deya was pissed and argued with the attendant when she told us we would have to go back and find the money somewhere. Deya told her something about not doing it since we were just about out of gas and could not go back if we wanted too. The woman shrugged, which pissed Deya off even more, so Deya told her we would just go through to the next gas station, the attendant just shrugged again so Deya started her bike and went around the barricade. I was confused but followed, sure that we would be in jail in the next 15 minutes. We stopped to fuel up and Deya tried to make me feel better but it didn’t work. We took off towards the next booth, I was confident they would have called forward to have the guns trained on us two rebels.

An hour later as we approached our final toll, I was sweating. We pulled up and Deya handed them the credit card, the lady at the booth looked at us curiously then up at a police officer who was walking over. She told us to wait a moment. The police officer walked straight towards us looking at us to see what he could recognize. This is when I knew we where in trouble, his walk had a sense of purpose, the attendant wasn’t releasing us, Deya’s eyes were getting wider and I was sweating bullets. The officer walked right up to the front of our bikes, a bag of something in his hands, he regarded us for a moment, squinting slightly in the sun and stepped over to the attendant in the booth.

The officer stepped close to the attendant and whispered something, keeping one eye on the two bikes sitting there paralyzed. He then handed her the bag and I made out the words “la cena” or “dinner”. The attendant took the food and handed back Deya’s credit card with the receipt saying that the printer is slow.

We pulled over to have a laugh and wipe the sweat from our faces and neck. It was a great feeling to know we weren’t in trouble, it’s likely that the federal and state booths don’t talk at all. We took a break in the shade there near the toll and a truck full of marines pulled up, fully loaded with M16s and grenade launchers. It was good to see these guys because they are competent but Deya was a little worried it might be a good location for a shoot out, of course it’s not. One thing that does comfort me in Mexico is being around the military, they are good lads and have good weapon handling.

As we rolled in to Mazatlan, now about 9 pm, Deya and I were buzzing, it was dark out so we would miss the view coming in but get the surprise the next morning. We were both fully functional but bagged. It was a long day and we were both definitely dehydrated and fatigued. On route we saw a lot of Canadians, it was a good sign as our fellow countrymen and women have particular sensibilities that tend to help define a place.

November 13, 2010

Copper Canyon, Mexico


        The Copper Canyon is awesome.  There was a bunch of road construction going in the paved sections, even the construction sections were enjoyable though.  As we got past the road work we entered a little town, immediately the dirt road stated and was rough.  As we proceeded the road got more exciting.  I wouldn’t say that it was very difficult but definitely needing your full attention.  Likely the most difficult part of the journey is the other vehicles; often the road is only wide enough for a pickup truck and many of the drivers are hauling ass around blind corners.  If you could eliminate the two way traffic this would be totally outstanding!

The route there was long and we moved at the slowest person’s pace, it was hot and we had a late start so dehydration was a factor.  We drank all of our water and started taking more and more breaks as we got closer to Batopilas.  We were feeling very fatigued, a little grumpy from the heat and dehydration but all those things improved when we finally rolled into town and secured our place.

The spot was nice, we had fun parking the bikes and finally getting to the beer and patio.  We ate simply and enjoyed an evening of chatting the evening away.  The town was loaded with trucks driving around town in circles, full of young people.  Different than you might imaging from a traditional native village, these young guys were driving trucks I couldn’t afford.  Makes you wonder how they can afford such things but all the wondering only leads to the obvious which adds to the permeation of stress.

On the way out Deya was struggling, I could go on about technique and competency, blah, blah, blah, but at the end of the day Deya has the skills required and just needs time to develop.  She was feeling pretty low though by the time she dropped the bike a second time and damaged the pannier.  It’s not hard to drop your bike on the canyon road but no one was hurt so no big deal really.

After exiting the canyon and spending another nice night in Creel we headed towards Hermosillo en Sonora.  The road was wide, curvy and enjoyable.  We kept a steady pace and I enjoyed the relaxed nature of the ride after a few days of strenuous riding. 


En route we stopped by a national park to view a waterfall, it was okay by my standards, but the park which had an entrance fee of 5 bucks and camping fee of 15 bucks was dilapidated and insecure.  Again drivers are ignorant in some places and we almost got hit by a speeding truck down a single track two way road.  When we arrived at the top there were three dudes there hanging out by their vehicle.  Now my spidy senses where tingling and it made me so tired that I just wanted to sit down by the bikes.  Deya, Richard and Tony felt fine, the three dudes politely told Deya that we should not leave valuables on the bikes and that they would only be there for another hour or so to keep an eye on our stuff for us, which was nice of them.

We headed down the trail to look at the waterfall.  I just didn’t want to go and only went half way, I couldn’t help but to keep looking back at the bikes, they never left my sight.  When the other three where out of sight of the bikes the three dudes, after waiting only about 10 minutes, got in their truck and slowly moved it over to park beside Deya’s bike out of sight of the trail.  I started back towards the bikes to improve my view, the driver got out of the truck and moved behind a tree to watch the trail, signalling to the other two with his hand.  The other two stood near the truck looking at the bikes while Deya, Tony and Richard took pictures of the waterfall.  I left the shade I was in and started walking towards the bikes, the guy behind the tree looked surprised and walked back to the truck, the other two jumped in and they left, total time “keeping an eye” on our bikes turned out to be 15 minutes versus the hour plus they had promised.  After they left I immediately felt better, more energy and more alert.  Maybe the feeling was just a coincidence?

Memories of Yecora
We ended the day at a bit of a dump of a town that served good food called Yecora.  The place we stayed was alright but it was kind of noisy and drunk and we had more than one person approach us with blurry eyes and gut rotten breath.  Uneventfully we left the next day and made it into Hermosillo, our friend Liz and her family waiting for us.  As we neared Hermosillo we hit a military check point and Deya had a nice conversation with one of the officers there, he said that we had gone through the most dangerous place in Mexico but that was relative to what you do.  They checked our stuff without really checking and let us go, it was a good experience. 

The town of Hermosillo is large and has some serious manufacturing and infrastructure.  Richard was a champ leading us into the center of the city, we circled our way in, hot, tired and feeling a little lost we arrived to a warm welcome, beer and the comfort of home.