My Grand Vacation begins

Clark White

Explorer
Hell yeah I was a happy man! Perfect weather, hammock strung from the bike, Tequila in my glass and a full belly!

Clark
 

Clark White

Explorer
We left Mazatlan for Guadalajara Monday morning, which was a beautiful ride.




We turned off on a few side roads and did some exploring, which was great for the view, the locals, and experiencing how the bikes handled off road fully loaded.




Lunch was at a great little family place in the hills above Tepic. Their house specialty was asado, which sounded amazing so despite it being a little more expensive then tacos, we both indulged.












It was such a nice place that we ended up staying there almost two hours, which put us behind for getting to Guadalajara, but it was well worth the stay. From there we blew threw Tepic despite some horrendous traffic jams. After Tepic was a beautiful ride, and thanks to some more great views and trail exploring we were beginning to run rather late even for Tequila.




While stopped on some twisties for the above photos, we also ran into a German couple who have been on their bicycles touring around the EU, US, and Mexico for the last 8 months. They were really neat people, and I wish I could say I got a picture, but right as they rode up I slipped taking a picture of the scenery and tore my arm up pretty bad (picture in my smugmug for anyone interested, I'll spare the rest by not posting it here...) We weren't even close to making it to Tequila, so we just picked a random hotel that looked safe for the bikes and crashed for the night.

Tuesday morning we just hit the road and made time to Guanajuato. My Dad worked with a family that has a ranch south east of Guanajuato that we were told would be a great place to camp. They have no power, no phone, no internet, and no idea we were coming, so we wanted to get there in the afternoon so as not to ride up and surprise them when they were winding down for the night. We made amazing time getting through Guadalajara, but were less lucky getting through Zapatlanejo, which is a big fashion center, and the shoe capital of the world. Fromt here it was a pretty easy ride into Guanajuato, where we followed Dad's directions to a place to eat outside of town called Dona Chuy's.



After dinner we followed the rest of the directions, which were spot on down to 1/10 of a km and found the ranch and Munoz family about 1km across the valley and 25km from Guanajuato. The rancher, Lupe, was out working in the mine near by, so we introduced our selves to his wife Clara and I did my best to explain to her (in my very broken spanish) that I was the son of the American geologist that her husband had worked with a few months prior, and that we were hoping to camp on their property. She understood, and said that Lupe would be back within half an hour and that we needed to talk to him, so we parked our bikes and hung out.


Lupe showed up right on time, and as soon as Clara told him who we were and what it was that we wanted, he got very excited. He came over, shook our hands (which was more like crushing our hands) and then slapped us on the back, which almost knocked us to the ground...did I mention he's a big strong guy who has spent is whole life ranching and working in the mines?


Did I also mention he was very excited to have us there? We decided we would camp up by the mines the first night, but agreed we would stay with them at the ranch house Wednesday night. Dad had given directions to an old adit from the 1890's which I thought would be a great place to find a sleeping bag sized flat spot, but as it turned out the road leading up there was rather steep, loose, and windy. This combination, mixed with being exhausted from riding all day meant that when I went to start after a short break, Porky bucked, sputtered, stalled, then laid over for a nap. Forrest's KTM, not wanting to miss the opportunity and nudged on by a solid impact from Porky, laid over for as well. Ok fine, we'll camp further down the mtn. No pictures of this as it was dark by the time we made camp.

Wednesday morning we awoke late and rode back down to the ranch where Lupe and one of his daughters were working so that we could unload our bikes before heading in to explore Guanajuato. We wanted to stop at Dona Chuy's for breakfast, but they were packed. Dona Rosy next door was almost as good and empty.







I'll only post my favorites of the day as there are many, most of them being of doors, which the town has an amazing plethora worthy of pictures. For those of you who don't know, Guanajuato is an old silver mining town built on a hill side, so for space saving reasons many of the roads are underground which is great fun to ride!















Clark
 
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Clark White

Explorer








While walking around I saw this old guy with a photogenic face, so I walked over and said what I thought was, "can I take your picture?" Turns out what I said was, "tu pictura porfavor?" which translates as can I have you painting...NO clue what he thought of this, but he got very excited and said yes. Sadly, thinking that he had just agreed to get his picture taken I was not very fast about taking the shot. As soon as he realized what I wanted his toothy grin vanished and he got angry and started saying no. Too bad, I had already taken the picture, scowl or no!


The church doors. While taking this picture a little girl started to walk by, and realizing I was taking a picture she ducked and ran which I thought was funny. Forrest happened to be taking a picture in that direction anyway and managed to get a fabulous shot of her running, so hopefully I can get him to post that in here!




We returned to Dona Chuy's for dinner and then back to the ranch where Lupe was waiting for us so that he could make some amazing Cow Boy Coffee and chat with us about what we were doing.



Lupe stoking the fire for the coffee


Clara washing clothes


Their humble abode








We sat around the fire shed and chatted for a while. About the time coffee was ready Lupe asked if we would be interested in some bread, to which we said yes. Turns out that while they were excited about that answer, we felt horrible and utterly confused at what happened next. Rather then just walking to the house to get bread, everyone jumped up, piled in the truck, and before we realized what was going on they drove off into town to buy us some bread. We were extremely honored and horrified that this family, surely making very little money, would drive all the way into town to get us some bloody bread when we really weren't hungry, we just didn't want to be rude and say no to what we had assumed was home made bread in the house :Wow1: They returned about 30min later with a huge tray piled high with pastries...we then understood the excitement at our saying yes! We sat around for another few hours eating the delicious bread they were so proud of and drinking coffee, using one of my flashlights wedged in the roof for light. The girls slowly made their way to bed, leaving just Lupe who would get up every few minutes, remind us that there were more pastries to be eaten, and stoke the fire.

I managed to get this shot one of the times that he got up to put more wood on.


Forrest and I were beginning to feel bad again, knowing that Lupe had to work early and we were keeping him up, but eventually he headed off to bed, leaving us to roll out our bags under the shed roof.


Thursday morning we awoke from a long night of barking dogs, and as we rolled up our bags Lupe and Clara came out and began making a feast of a breakfast for us.

We started with some more coffee



Then Clara began making tortillas






Lupe fried up some eggs




Just in case that wasn't enough, there were of course more pastries from the night before, and Forrest and I also contributed some honeydew mellon, papaya, and pineapple. It was an awesome breakfast, leaving us with happily stuffed bellies


I took a few quick shots around the ranch houses, and then it was time to go as we needed to get to Mexico City at a reasonable hour.


We made good time down to Mexico city where we were able to find Forrest a much needed rear tire and some other parts before following our next host, Lance, to his house in Cuernavaca, south of Mexico City last night.

Today has been a long, enjoyable, and frustrating day, but seeing as how we will now be here for the next few days while Porky gets a new clutch, I will have plenty of time to update all that at a later time. For now, it is 230am and I am totally exhausted.

Clark
 

Clark White

Explorer
Thanks Phil! Lets hope I make it! So far we're three weeks in and only to Mexico City, despite our best efforts.

Clark
 

Clark White

Explorer
Well we pulled into Antigua last night. I have lots of pictures to post, and plenty to tell, including spending the night in a soaking wet sleeping bag, riding all day in soaked gear, wiping out in a giant mud hole, and riding Mock Jesus through Guatemala on the best road south of the US border. Going to explore Antigua and the volcanos today, try to get parts at the BMW dealer tomorrow, my rear shock went out, so we'll see how that goes. I promise I will get pictures and writing updated as soon as I have time!

Clark
 

mtnbike28

Expedition Leader
Great report!

You guys are doing a great job with the story telling and images! The photos always are teh struggle for me and you guys have hit a home run with yours! Thanks!
 

Clark White

Explorer
Wow, I hadn't realized it had been so long since I had done a proper update! As it turned out, Porky doesn't need a new clutch, just a new cable.


That broke while we were riding over to Taxco, which is a really neat silver town, simular to Guanajuato, but even more mountainous. Despite the cable breaking on the way into town, I managed to coax the bike into a parking spot so that we could enjoy the town regardless. It's quite touristy, but also quite beautiful. Sadly, as per most of the places we've been, I don't have any good landscapes because it was just too hazy and you can barely make out the town. I do have some from in town though!

One of the first little restaurants we saw was covered in these flower...


As we walked into the Zocalo (central park or the like, depending on your translation), two little girls came running up asking if I wanted some gum for 10 pesos, so I told them gum and picture for 10 pesos...they thought that was a fabulous!




A view from our beer drinking patio looking East. This is upwind from the edge of town, hence why it is clear.


A rather colorful store...


Another shot of a little girl in town. She was apparently confined to the store and was not pleased to be there...


While walking around I found a perfect gift for Ustadza, but didn't have enough cash on hand and needed to find an ATM. While we were out looking for a functioning ATM, we got caught up in a parade celebrating the patron sait of the town? Or at least thats what I think it was all about.








Another girl on the square stuffing her face. For the record I'm not sexist, there were far more little girls then little boys.


The center of a hand made straw floor mat.


Church steeple. Apparently the son of a very rich miner wanted to be a priest, so the miner built the cathedral with his own money and the blessing of the Catholic Church in a record 10yrs. The interior was Godly with 24k gold plated everything, and different kinds of elaborately carved wood, etc. I tried to take some pictures but I didn't have a good lens for low light, so they were all way too blurry.


After having a good look at the town, we hit up a moto repair place on the way out of town to get a universal clutch cable installed. Just out of curiosity, has anyone tried driving a manual anything in heavy stop and go traffic and world class rude drivers with no clutch? Let me tell you, you are NOT missing anything!


It is a long confusing story of miss communication and lack of mechanics knowledge, but we were lead to believe that not only had the cable broken, but that the clutch was completely shot. With this news we rode out of town trying not to think of the impending delay waiting for a new clutch. With the air cooling it was also clearing up, so I was able to get this by putting the camera on the railing of the moto shop and taking a long exposure. Gives a good idea of the town and it's prize cathedral.


The next day we left my bike and Lance was nice enough to let me borrow his 1200GS (he rides the GSA) and we took off for Tepoztlan. Lances girl friend and her two daughters came along in the car, and they treated Forrest and I to a feast of local foods. I can't even begin the remember all the names, but I will caption them with the simpletons version;
Yes, those are grasshoppers, and they were delicious when all made up!




Squash flowers made into stir fry. Again, delicious!


And in our opinion, the best thing we had was the corn fungus! Trust me, it really was amazingly good, and I would eat it on a regular basis if I could find it!


The salsa was amazing as always, and I love how they make it from scratch and serve it in these bowls.


Waiting for our food to arrive...




Afterwards we wandered around the town for a while watching some local indian celebration, eating cotton candy, and looking around the mid 1500's Spanish cathedral before heading back to Lances for the night.

We took it easy Sunday, not even leaving Lances. On Monday we took the bike in to the local BMW expert who played with the clutch and said it was adjusted wrong, and that while the clutch is worn to the last 25% or so, it should make it to Argentina no problem. This was amazing news, as that meant we could leave Tuesday rather then Thursday or Friday, giving us more time to see the sights while getting to Panama in time to sail on the Independence. We agreed however, that since we had to ride through Puebla where the well known BMW mechanic was and who had all the needed parts, we would still stop in and get a second opinion, if he didn't like it he could go ahead and change the clutch starting right then. More good news that night, as Clay finally showed up, looking like the Beverly Hillbilly.




Clark
 

Clark White

Explorer
We stopped at the BMW dealer in Puebla, where the head mechanic took Porky for a spin and said the clutch was good to go. We made it as far as Alvarado for the night, just south of Veracruz. The next morning we headed off at a decent hour, had a good breakfast, and made it to Catazaja, just north of Palenque. Obviously Wednesday morning we spent the day exploring Palenque.


































We camped in the park that night, and all thought it would be real slick to sleep in the hammocks. Just a little foreshadowing here, Forrest looked at the starry sky and asked, "you don't think it's going to rain do you?" I of course looked at the same starry sky and said something to the effect of, "no way..." WRONG. All our gear was sitting out, strewn about where ever it had been convenient to set it, and Forrest had his tent up with no fly just as a place to store things during the day when we were gone. Well come about 1am? (I really don't have a clue) it started to sprinkle some, to which we all pulled the hammocks over our faces and went back to sleep. Well long story short it soon began to pour, and despite our best frantic efforts, the tent had standing water in it, our riding gear was wet, the sleeping bags were soaked, etc. I got lucky as I woke up faster and managed to get my tent set up and sleeping bag in it while it was only damp, but we had moved all our gear to a covered area, which as it turned out merely funneled the water through holes in the roof and straight onto all our gear. We got up in the morning, feeling rather depressed about the whole thing, and slowly slogged off towards the Guatemala border. It rained most of the way, and my rear suspension gave up the ghost just south of Palenque. We made it all the way to Paso Hondo where we spread everything out to dry, and stunk up the room something fierce with sweaty wet clothes, and I managed to find an internet caffe where I could order some anniversary flowers for Ustadza to be delivered the next day.

Saturday we had an easy border crossing and met a Brit, Alex, who is traveling around in a van with surf board. He was pretty excited to meet some people who spoke english, and is now a member of the group until San Salvador in the next day or two. With nice clean dry gear, I promptly dumped the bike in a mud hole going through some construction, coating the right side of the bike, and me, in heavy mud.




A view of my dash and the scenery riding along CA1.


Forrest patiently waiting while I play with the camera.


We made it to Antigua in record time from the border, and had a blast riding there as CA1 is hands down the best road we have been on since we crossing into Mexico, and very windy through the mountains, enabling us to just rip along. I have very depressingly few pictures of Antigua as we went out for breakfast, which overall wasn't too photogenic, though I have a shot of my plate, which was eggs, chorizo, and beans.


After that we went back to the hotel and dropped off all our gear thinking we would just walk down to the corner for coffee. Turns out leaving the cameras was a huge mistake as we walked around the whole city, used up all our exploring time, and didn't get a single bloody picture of this beautiful city. Here are the few I took walking back from breakfast.






Clark
 
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Clark White

Explorer
These next two are from the hotel we stayed in in Antigua.




We got the bright idea from reading other peoples trip reports that we would ride up and camp on the side of one of the volcanos. We were gong to follow the guide book to Santa Maria de Jesus, but the owner of the hotel said that wouldn't work so we followed his directions. It gets hard to explain, as we're not really sure where all we went, but 5hrs of rough off road riding (whith Alex following in a 2x4 van) we ended up in Santa Maria de Jesus, just 20min from Antigua. Completely lost and confused, we asked for directions from yet another local, who brought over an off duty Municipali (city cop) who said they had a safe place to park the bikes and van and we could camp in the central park. Turns out the safe parking was just in the park, and after a small bribe we felt almost safe enough to sleep...almost. It really never felt dangerous as no one was hostile and all our gear was in the van next to us, but with drunks and stray dogs everywhere we really didn't sleep well, and any hope of sleep ended when the shops began to open at 430am playing loud music (probably to chase us off...) I got up, loaded all my stuff form the van, and headed for the dealer in Guatemala City to get some maintenance done, hoping they would have parts in stock that weren't easily available in Mexico.

Volcan de Agua...the wrong bloody volcano as it turns out...


Where the bikes were parked, Alex slept in his van.


And where I had slept on the ground, with Forrest and Clay in hammocks.


Turns out Bavaria Motors has the fork seals, the proper clutch cable, and a complete rear suspension setup in stock, so I should have the bike good as new by noon tomorrow. The others did finally manage to climb their volcano, though only half the glory since it wasn't even the right volcano.

I apologize if my writing isn't as good, but I really wanted to get updated tonight since it has been so long, and I am pretty damn tired form not sleeping last night in the park. Don't plan on doing that crap again!

Tomorrow after I get my bike we are off for the El Sal border, which we will cross early AM Wed and make it as far as we can.

Clark
 

Clark White

Explorer
Awesome photos and story Clark! If you dont shave your beard soon, you're going to need an open face helmet....HAHA!!

Haha! My goal is to keep it until Ustadza sees me in Lima Peru, then I will probably be trimming everything that same day since she arrives in the AM.

Thanks for the complements everyone!

Clark
 

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