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.

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.

November 10, 2010

The Border into Mexico

The Truth about the border and our entry into Mexico is that it was a pleasure, a great ride and a good experience. The other truth is that there was a great deal of stress from all the doomsayers and armchair news anchors.  If anyone felt stress or anxiety while reading that last post, thank you for joining our journey because as rewarding as it is there are other darker moments that need passing.

We left Bisbee and headed for the Mexican border across from Douglas in Agua Prieta, Sonora. As we approached the border Richard went first. The goal was to approach the border then park and go inside whether they let you through or not. You must get your visa and passport stamped and you must get your vehicle sticker and document before proceeding.

Sure enough Richard set off the big red alarm, meaning an inspection. The young lady flagged us all in since we were together. This was funny because she was along trying to search four motorbikes, check passports, etc. She barely got Richard’s pannier open, with the rest of us hovering like flies trying to show our documents, when the other two lanes started setting off big red alarms. A mild kind of chaos ensued and you could see that the young lady was immediately overwhelmed. Poor thing, waved us on without ever looking at Tony’s or my passport or giving any of us a real inspection.

That was fine, we still had to go inside and figure out the visas and such. What I immediately noticed though was some shady characters hanging around the office. These guys want to help you park, tell you where you should park and likely want some compensation for it. The trouble here is that they ask you to park where you shouldn’t, there is no security even though it’s closer to the office and the office parking has its own government security officer watching your stuff just around the corner.

Richard knew this so waved off the vultures and led us around the corner to the office parking, the vultures following. Richard’s Spanish is pretty good so he chatted up the birds and talked to the security guy and we were ready to go inside. The process was going to take us about an hour and a quarter for the four of us. Here is how it worked.

To admit your person, get a visa, you must have:
1) Valid Passport
*when you approach you should say, “I would like an entry visa, please” – “Me gustaria obtener una visa, por favor”
2) Payment fee Visa (second line up) called FMM (Forma Migratoria Multiple)

To admit your vehicle, get a sticker, you must have:
1) Valid Passport plus one copy
2) Driver’s License plus one copy (we used our International Driver’s License)
3) Ownership title of the vehicle plus one copy
4) Payment fee (made at the bank line up -Banejercito- must be an international credit card, otherwise you must pay a large deposit)
5) Visa plus one copy (obtained in the first line up)

There are separate line ups for this process in which you first get your visa documents, then go to the bank line -Banejercito- to pay for the document, while you’re there you get and pay for your vehicle permit. You then go back to the visa line up, you have had to go stand in the photocopy line up to get a copy of your visa first, show proof of payment and get your documents stamped. Now, from a production viewpoint there is a lot of low hanging fruit here and this long process could be completed by one person instead of three in about 10-15 minutes. So don’t be surprised or upset when you feel like it’s inefficient because it just is.

It’s possible that you may be escorted outside so an agent can place the vehicle’s sticker on your windshield, in this case they trusted us to do that our selves. Don’t forget this important step: there will be check points that will stop you and check. Outside we returned to fully intact vehicles, got on and rode away. The folks inside the border office were professional and polite and though it took some time it was a reasonable experience. In general I only had a mild tingle from the ‘Spidy’ senses outside and was happy to be under power and on the road again.

On the way out of the city there was a large police presence and the policia tend to stick together in groups, I don’t blame them. We made it out unmolested, paying attention to the hidden stop signs and unsure of the speed limits, we were assured that the local policia were not chomping at the bit to nail us.

On route towards the Copper Canyon we came to the fair sized town of Nuevo Casas Grandes. It was an ugly town but the place we stayed was nice. The next day we stopped in Buenaventura for water and a bite to eat prior heading onto Creel, this is where we were approached by a well dressed fellow with a good command of English. He proceeded to tell us about how the hoodlums just outside of town are just lying in wait for tourists, because of that the tourists have stopped coming and he has lost his job. He urged extreme caution, 30 minutes later he would come back with his wife to tell Deya that we would certainly be raped, robbed and murdered and pleaded with us to leave Mexico as soon as possible.

This didn’t make anyone feel well, as far as I could tell Deya and Tony were worried, Richard may have been concerned about what we wanted to do and I was just severely pissed off. It is like when the news media asks some random person on the street what they think about an important topic and present it as though this person is somehow an expert, currently involved or somehow has extra knowledge not just an opinion. I hate that and refuse to be afraid, cautious yes, afraid no. What would we do if we can’t go forward, go back! Surely we would have been killed at the border or worse if we listened to every terrified person who hasn’t left their house. The town we were in was not likeable enough to spend the rest of our lives, I hate that. And so, I have a quote that I’m not sure who owns it but it fits my feeling, “I would rather die on my feet than live on my knees."
After some discussion we headed out and onto our next stop. It turned out to be awesome, the route was beautiful and the drivers polite. We had a nice ride into town and stayed in a place Richard knew well. We had a bit of stress since entering Mexico, it would seem that budget wise it is more expensive here than in the southern USA. In the first 5 days we would be at 50% of our lodging budget. Deya and I would have to develop a plan to mitigate this. Some of the problem is the security issue and not feeling comfortable enough to tent.

In Creel, at the head of the Copper Canyon, we already had lodging picked out. The town is interesting, touristy and the place we would stay is very comfortable. We would leave our spare tyres and some kit for the evening as we headed into the Copper Canyon, due to the technical difficulty of the road and return to it on the way out. We would be backtracking but the scenery and route is totally different depending on which way you go. Permeating the states of Sonora and Chihuahua was a general feeling of tension, likely because of the news and the drug war. It is similar to the feeling people had in Vancouver after the Surrey six killing. Everyone has their opinion, no one is happy to live in conditions of possible violence and no control seems to be on the horizon.

November 08, 2010

Attacked by Bandits!

Our morning started out ominous with the potential troubles ahead, I kept telling Deya not to worry and our companions seemed confident that if we didn’t stop for anything we would be okay. We got to the border by about 11 am and the party started, first you have to ride over these brutal little metal bumps intended to slow people down, but they tend to throw a motorbike around a lot. As the first of us entered the gate the barrier slammed down, a big red light lit up and a siren started screaming, this meant we were going to be inspected.

As each of us went through we got pulled into the inspection station and ripped apart. They pulled everything out, casually checking for stains on underwear and having their drug dog sniff every piece of clothing, bolt or toothpaste we might be carrying. It was brutal, of course we could have made things go better if we had simply paid the poor fellows a tip for their extraordinary service. You know, they have families to feed , blah, blah, blah. An hour and a half later we were clear to go line up in the office to get our passports and vehicles stamped into Mexico. Of course it’s 35 degrees out and we are now all dehydrated and upset and so it goes on that we must stand in “this” line to have someone tell us to go stand in “that” line when of course the first guy forgot to stamp the paper so we have to go back to the “other” line to get the payment made so the first guy could finish the process before we go to “another” line to play the same game for the vehicles. Meanwhile a bunch of dudes are outside standing around our bikes pissed off that we wouldn’t pay them 10 bucks each to make sure the bikes remained in one piece on our return. Another 2 hours and we were on our way.

It’s now afternoon and we are bombing through town to try to rid ourselves of the poor feeling and frustration and regain some confidence in the fact that we made it through without any problems when we get pulled over by the local authorities. At first I thought they might tell us to be careful about our route and to watch out for all the crazy speeding drivers, or maybe it was to check on us after nearly getting smashed by a drunk guy in a big truck who was driving on the wrong side of the road. Nope, we had run through a stop sign that used to be posted but no longer existed, that doesn’t matter because, “you should have known better”. Of course he wouldn’t release our passports until we paid him 100 USD each and he was going to take Deya to jail for being born in Mexico. Another hour and we talked him down to 10 bucks each and were on our way stopping at every intersection whether it had a sign or not.

A few miles out of town there was a military check point, I couldn’t help but feel shell-shocked at this point and figured we would probably get shot. I noticed that each of them was carrying M16 assault rifles, they wore black military fatigues and balaclavas. Boots were bloused properly and their demeanour was serious, unlike the border. I was expecting some kind of thorough check of a rather serious nature, instead we came to the check point, one soldier came out from behind sandbags with the rest manning the machine guns, asked us our nationality and said in broken English, “Carry on and don’t stop for anyone”, a reassuring note I’m sure.

It wasn’t 50 km later we came to another check point with sandbags and safety cones, I think we were all glad to see more military guys since the last stop left us feeling we were going into no mans land. As we approached Richard was in front followed by Deya then me and finally Tony. Richard was stopped by a guy with an assault rifle, as he walked out in front he was wearing camouflage uniform but carried a rifle I could not immediately identify. That’s when I noticed the other two guys, one was unarmed and the other was carrying a medium machine gun. The two guys with guns were dressed differently and both had poor weapon handling, they waved their weapons around without much consideration of muzzle direction, none had balaclavas. The machine gun guy was leaning against a beat up white pickup truck.

I was now fully freaked out, the third guy ran over to Deya and grabbed onto her handle bar on the throttle side, Richard figured out what was happening and started to go but the guy with the rifle ran up and butt stroked him in the head and he fell off his bike and onto the ground. I motored up to Deya and the guy with the rifle came running at me, I got off my bike and stood beside it, the rifle pointed at me, Deya two meters to my right. The guy with the rifle came right up to me pushing the barrel into my visor; I could see the rifling of the barrel.

He was busy yelling at me and pushing the weapon into my face, I slipped my head to the left and at the same time as the barrel went over my right shoulder I grabbed him by the neck with my right hand and the stomach with my left and pulled. I had a death grip of fear on his throat and I could feel about a pound of flesh in my left, I rammed my helmet into his face as hard as I could. I could feel my nose hitting the top of my own helmet and could hear a crunching cracking sound. I wasn’t sure if the sound was the guy’s face, my helmet or the rifle in between us hitting something. He went limp and fell backwards releasing his rifle.

The rifle was now cradled in my arms as I let the fellow fall backwards to the ground. I fumbled slightly to position the rifle into my shoulder, pointed it at the guy on the ground and pulled the trigger. It didn’t fire and at that moment I thought it was on “safe” and looked at the guy on the ground, he was unconscious. I was having severe tunnel vision and knew there was screaming and stuff going on but could barely hear anything, let alone see much. I looked at the rifle like I was reading a book with fine print and saw a safety switch, I moved it to the upright position and thought how weird it was that everything was moving so slow. I looked up towards the machine gun guy and he was now in the back of the truck doing something with his gun. I squeezed the trigger and several rounds flew at the truck, I began walking towards the truck. I saw the guy who was holding Deya run behind the truck and the gunner dropped down in the bed of the truck. I continued to fire about a round every two seconds, maybe, and was screaming, “GO,GO, GO!”, I tried to look over and saw Richard waving back at Deya and Tony to ride. I looked back to yell at them but they were already moving.

I ran back to my bike, turned and put some more rounds into the side of the truck, and the front and rear wheels. The gunner in the back never came up. I squeezed the last round out and chastised myself for having no idea how many rounds I fired. There was still one guy on the ground and two unaccounted for. I dropped the rifle and got on my bike, it seemed to take forever as I mentally walked myself through the process of getting on the bike, making sure the key was on, putting up the kickstand, starting the engine, making sure it was in first gear and then accelerating away without stalling, I would need to dodge a bit in case some one was fixing a bead on me; there would be no room for errors here.

I pushed the bike as hard as it would go and I caught up with the rest quickly, together we rode at a steady but fast pace, probably 120 kph for about 30 minutes until we reached a town. We stopped at a policia station to tell them that we were just attacked. Richard was laughing and saying, “Holy crap that was insane!”, Deya was crying, Tony kept saying we need to do something and I just sat on my bike feeling empty and stunned.

Fiction is fun but real stories blended with people’s opinions and imagination can be down right stressful; this is our case. It is often what we face on our way through an area and while there are certain risks inherent with any travel, it’s important to plan and try to mitigate them without being too afraid. We’ve been told that we’ll get hassled at the border, that the policia will stop us relentlessly and that the bandits will blockade the road, rape, murder and steal from us and while I don’t disregard these warnings they often carry the same sound as the grizzly bears that were sure to eat us in Alaska or the roads that would certainly be impassable, or the Quebecers who would definitely spit on us as we approached.

I’ll tell you the truth about our journey across the most dangerous part of Mexico later and recognise that there is some risk but if you are willing to hang your food, the bears aren’t likely to bother with you.

Tucson Tony

The days spent in Tucson were grand, we were able to get some spare parts and tyres from Iron Horse BMW and a friend of Tony’s who is a competent mechanic, named Lee, helped me to put Deya’s new TKC-80s on. I learned a few things as well, it’s always nice to do these things with someone who has a lot of experience, it ends up rubbing off on you.

Before that, we had the opportunity to meet some of Tony’s friends and hang out around Tucson. It’s a nice city, Tucson, and the weather there is fantastic. Deya and I are both really impressed with the architecture of the place and many of the homes are just beautiful. The environment plays a role in the construction materials used and what looks best, it’s easy to see examples of adobe and stone building that look beautiful and natural versus the typical northern style home which is not quite right.

After sorting out some details we headed North to New River through Phoenix to see our friend Rich, who we met in Whitehorse. It was a long ride and we got detoured into the city which was painful. We went through some beautiful neighbourhoods but it was stop and go traffic for about an hour or so. There was an odd town called Florence that was along the Pinal Pioneer Parkway, it contained a massive prison and not much else. The road up to New River was fantastic though and more beautiful homes where dotted along our route. I kept thinking about what kind of home I would want to have, the features, how to save energy, how to make it blend with the environment. It’s a nice thing to be able to daydream for hours, warm wind and sun shining, fresh air and little traffic with vistas bonitas.

We arrived at Rich’s place and spent the night. Rich and his wife are very charming people and they have three entertaining dogs which liked me better than Deya, sorry Deya! It was a nice visit but short, the next time we see them might be in Florida, if plans work out, so I hope it works out well for them.

We routed back to Tucson and decided to take the Interstate, maintaining our 90 kph rule was not a problem that morning and we were able to avoid the city. The risk presented on the highway is less than the multiple intersections in the city where the people tend to be rather brutal drivers. We had been told that the drivers in Arizona simply don’t care about each other and would not give you a break or assistance; I got that impression just from the general behaviour of the traffic.

By the time we had returned to Tony’s he had already decided to go with us into Mexico; Richard, one of the fellows that met us in Bisbee was going to go as well and would be our guide as he is very familiar with the route to and from the Copper Canyon.

Deya and I had already decided that if we went alone we would stick to our original plan which was to enter through the border at Nogales, hit the toll road and haul ass straight to Hermosillo en Sonora, if we went with the boys we would go through Agua Prieta back towards Bisbee and take a lesser travelled route down to Creel and into Batopilas en Chihuahua inside the Copper Canyon. Since the boys had decided to go with us we would take the secondary route and hope for the best. The word on the street was that there were a lot of problems in Chihuahua, the government sights were recommending not going, some personal contacts said be careful and the general feeling was not good. We had been told the border would be chaos and the police would stop us often to extort cash. So we decided to give it a shot!

That morning we packed up our gear. Deya, Tony and I headed to the Bisbee coffee shop to meet with Richard and his wife by 9am. It was a nice cool ride to Bisbee and a good warmer before taking a shot at the border.