Ferry from La Paz Peninsula to mainland Mexico

Ferry from La Paz Peninsula to mainland Mexico

Ivanka at the ferry port in La Paz as we head on an overnight ferry trip across the sea of Cortes to mainland Mexico and the town of Mazatlan

 

3000 miles across Mexico to Guatemala

3000 miles across Mexico to Guatemala

Over the last couple of weeks we have been moving pretty fast through Mexico and we have seen some incredible sights.

The journey from the US /Mexican border at Tijuana to Guatemala is about 3000 miles doing the route we are taking. A route which takes us through most of the places we want to go to, however it misses out some of the places we did want to go to but we have chosen to avoid them because the foreign office and the locals tell you not to go there for example: Acapulco, Chihuaha, Monterey, Veracruz.

This has been our route so far:

  • Down the Pacific Baja Peninsula, over to Mazatlan (to the mainland by ferry from La Paz), to San Blas on the west coast.
  • Over to Chapala (a lakeside riviera to Guadalajara)
  • To Guanajuato a historic centre and then onto to the sun and moon pyramids at Teotihuacan,
  • Oaxaca and it’s coast and then we are going to amble the rest of the journey as we read about what there is to see and do!

As I write this we are in a beautiful place called Oaxaca.

Mexico has offered a real diversity. We started with desert lands, cactus forests and colder Pacific seas. Then surrounding Mexico city there were in the central highlands which went up to 3000 m with much needed cooler mountain air.

People have been so friendly but our time with them has been short as we are on such a whirl wind tour.

A couple of days ago we met our first bent Mexican copper who wanted money from the intrepid tourists. He actually wanted to fine us for having 04 in our number plate as a vehicle with this number isn’t allowed on a toll road around Mexico city on a Wednesday. We played the game.

It could have been a more intimidating encounter as he threatened to take the bike off us if we didn’t pay the fine. We ended up giving him 15 US dollars rather than 300 he was asking for after we proclaimed and protested and we told him of our honey moon which maybe helped lower the price? He did congratulate us!
This afternoon we are heading to the coast to meet friends of friends who have offered to take us to the Oaxaca coast and show us around.

The next real challenge is preparing for what Guatemala has to offer and we are pleased to say we have booked a boat across the Darien Gap for 22nd Nov which will take us from Panama to Colombia so we will be in S. America from December.

Internet access becomes more flaky as we go along and I am not sure we will ever be able to upload our latest – very funny – video!

 

More soon.

Five feet

Five feet

Yesterday we arrived in Mazatlan. We got off the ferry at about 12.20.

We were riding towards San Blas when we were caught in a massive rainstorm so we stopped at a little roadside drinks place. I had a beer and Nick had a coffee.

We saw a dog with five feet.

The rain stopped and we rode on.

Now we are staying in a little hotel with a pelican in the garden.

True story.

El Rosario on the Baja Peninsula, Mexico – Video Diaries Part 4

El Rosario on the Baja Peninsula, Mexico

Here is a quick video taken on the 12th September as we travel south to a place called La Paz to get a ferry across to mainland Mexico.

Sorry for the references to dogs and how to deal with them. I am a dog lover too but when they chase you you have to be firm with them.

Viva Las Vegas

Viva Las Vegas

We didn’t place any bets in Vegas but the odds were definitely stacked in our favour.

Let me explain.

The day we rode through Death Valley National Park we woke up at 4am. We woke up in our second hotel room of the trip and Jude, the motel manager, had set the coffee machine on timer so we were fed, watered, caffeinated and on the road by 5am. The motel was in a place called Olancha just outside the park so were set to see the sights before it got too hot.

The park itself? Well, I don’t think either of us will ever be at home in a desert; the beauty is harsh, magnificent and other-worldly and, being in a place where a person’s ability to survive is so limited is scary – no other world for it. It was hard to associate much, if any, of it with the planet I live on.

We stopped for breakfast (yes, another one!) in Beatty in a great little diner, filled up our camel packs and headed towards our agreed destination for the day. We anticipated arrival in Indian Springs at 11am and the plan was to hide in a motel with airconn.

We stopped for fuel in Indian Springs pretty much on time. We found a bench in the only shade for miles and toasted a well executed plan with some ice cold Pepsi and ice water. Nick had one of his enviable power kips and we were both feeling like we had survived, maybe even conquered, a new planet!

“Shall we carry on?”

“What? Vegas?”

“Well, we could ride down the strip, that might be cool?”

“Yeah!”

“Yeah!”

Amateurs.

We managed to get to the outskirts of Las Vegas, pull into the car park of a strip mall and collapse in the nearest shade!

To say it was hot would be a gross understatement of one of the most uncomfortable journeys we had had until that point. (Yes, that includes freezing on the Dalton Highway). Riding a motorbike in anything over 35C is silly; when it gets over 40 you need your head read!

After we had recovered slightly (about an hour later) we braved the sun to cross the car park to Starbucks. A couple of hours of airconn and some Internet time later I suggested to Nick that we sit outside in the shade and start to acclimatise. “We can’t sleep here.”

And so we sat. Barely able to breathe in a hot wind that felt like a reasonable strength hand-dryer. We sat and we pretended we weren’t both quite concerned about how we were going to complete the next steps.

“Where are you riding to?” – said a man whom we had clocked looking at the bike as he pulled up in his car.

“Top to the bottom of the world”

“Where next?”

“Grand Canyon”

“Can I pitch you a road?”

Yes. Take a seat.”

Mike pitched us a route and invited us to his house.

“You may as well shower and sit in the airconn – you can leave later as it gets a little cooler, or you can stay the night and leave in the morning, we have room.”

During our chat it had transpired that Mike had a few bikes and had done our journey and many others, more than once.

“Yes please.”

Shower, pool, pizza, chat, info, maps, sleep and an early departure set us up very well for the next few days. Turns out Mike is president of Iron Butt. I discovered this while chatting to his wife who coped extremely well with the invasion of hot and sweaty biker types. Many many thanks to the Kneebone family, and their neighbours for all their hospitality and company.

Despite adding some miles into our original plan we had no choice but to follow his recommendation, did we?

Did we win in Vegas?

I reckon.

Welcome to Mexico

Welcome to Mexico

This week has been a total change to the trip and I am really enjoying it.

Earlier in the week we left the States and headed for a very early border crossing at Tijuana, a busy border crossing entering the Pacific side of Mexico, taking us onto the Baja Peninsula. We started at 4am and got there just after 6.30am. A border town we had read extensively about and had received lots of different views on;  from American citizens, the media, the British Consulate,  BBC websites or fellow bikers. We were nervous, we were prepared and all in all it was really easy – best to be prepared right!

There were border Police everywhere, cars were being checked left right and centre and the authorities just waved us through. So we just followed their directions then, before we knew it, we were in Mexico.

There was a dramatic change in everything! Buildings, people, signage, quality of road and we were there for rush hour Mexico-style…shit! Hitting rush hour anywhere on a fully loaded bike has its challenges but, before we knew it, we had passed straight through the town and we were on our way to Ensenada which is the largest city south of Tijuana just a couple of hours drive away.

Ensenada is twice the size of Brighton in population so it has 500,000 people. It is a busy Mexican tourist town though recently it has suffered with lack of tourist visitors because of the perception of Mexico to the neighbouring Americans. So here you have it, a large tourist area ready to deal with all the visiting tourists but the town is a little quiet in our opinion. The tourist strip is a bit like Benidorm and most days there is a massive cruise ship which arrives in port and keeps all the bars and restaurants busier.

We are here to start a Spanish course and we are staying with a very nice Mexican family/couple called Diana and Roberto. They are our host family as we attend school, enjoy the city and they are looking after us with 3 dishes per day. I think we are eating more than we need to so we are burning excess calories off through Yoga, lots of walking around town – plus we are combining this with lots of siestas… a nice pace I think! I also met Josh in Orange County recently and he introduced me to his ‘Bucket list;’ these are basically the things that he wishes to do in life whether ambitions, targets, personal challenges and he has been doing 100 press ups a day for about 11 months. This is something I am now doing to keep me strong on the trip. The rules are basically you do 100 press ups a day before midnight each day and you can do them anywhere and anytime. Most days I do them when i get up but I have also done them in a lift and in a car park! Thanks Josh and good to meet you!

Yesterday we met a couple of Australian bikers called Maggie and Mark. We met them through a motorcycle forum called Horizons Unlimited as I basically posted that we are traveling through the whole of Mexico on this website and wondered if there were any other fellow bikers out there?
After an initial rendez vous in a coffee shop, then five beers in the afternoon we agreed that we would catch up with each other further south in La Paz, then hopefully we will be able to travel through the mainland part of Mexico together. This will be great because there is always safety in numbers, it sounds like Mark is a very handy chef and it is good to hang out with others. Mark and Maggie have been on the road since December 2008 and they have travelled from Sydney to Singapore, Laos to Nepal, plus they have also managed a ski season in Switzerland. We look forward to getting to know them better.

Today is Sunday and we meet our language school for a ‘test’ so they can see how well we understand Spanish. For the following 5 days we will be intensively learning from 8am to 2pm each day.

All is going well. The bike is off the road until next Saturday and then we head south in search for some idyllic beaches and sunshine.   Southern Mexico is very rainy at the moment so we need to take our time.

The beard is getting to a nice stroking length.

Leaving North America. Now the Adventure really begins!

Leaving North America. Now the Adventure really begins!

Tomorrow we set off to the US/ Mexican border at 3.30 in the morning as we leave wonderful California.

The last few weeks have been very memorable indeed and it was a shame our US visa had to be cut short.

We set off down the Oregon/ California Coast and experienced part of the Pacific Highway all the way down to San Francisco.
We experienced San Fran and all its different areas as we were escorted by Mr Cronin as our cycling guide.

Next it was the amazing Yosemite, hanging out with Billy as we wild camped with the locals.
Over from Yosemite we prepared for days in the desert. Death Valley, Escalante, Las Vegas, Marble Canyon, and the awe of the Grand Canyon. Never before have we ever been so vulnerable to the heat and so reliant on our means of transport to get us through these often barren lands. Most days we started the day about 4.30 am just so we were able to enjoy the cooler parts of the day for riding, otherwise we would have baked under the 47 degrees celcius heat. Did I mention scorpions and rattle snakes in the campsites?

Yesterday we experienced the glitz and glamour of Beverley Hills and Hollywood. It was a flyby tour hosted by our good friends the Tomlinson’s. Laguna and San Clemente were my favourite places as well as people watching within the high society of Orange County.

All in all the last few weeks have been amazing and here we are anxiously preparing for MEXICO. Looking forward to attending Spanish school as we live with a Mexican family in a place called Ensenada on the Baja peninsula.

Video Diaries Part 3 – Arriving in California

Video Diaries Part 3

Review: Starcom 1, Helmet Intercom- Get your Freak On

Review: Starcom 1, Helmet Intercom- Get your Freak On

Thanks to a very informative and patient man called Tim at Calgary Sport Touring Nick and I finally have an intercom system that works effortlessly.

Tim is exactly the kind of person I like to do business with: he asked lots of questions about what we have, what we thought wasn’t working and why; he let me rabbit on with all my theories and things we had tried and together we decided what would be the best set up for us.

We left the UK with a starcom1 advance system. Nick had a moulded earpiece and a mic for a full face helmet and I had the same mic but speakers in my helmet. None of this worked very well at all. Also relevant is that Nick’s helmet is an Arai Tour-X3 and mine is a Shoei X3-1100; both described as full face. Nick has a moulded ear piece, I don’t.

What were the problems?

  • Nick had occasional interference that obviously actually hurt.
  • Most of the time all I could hear was wind amplified and fed directly to my ears.
  • Music? Even turning off the vox (voice cut off) completely which stopped the wind cutting it out, in order to get the volume right so it wasn’t deafening Nick I could just hear the music vaguely in the background.

We stopped bothering with it.

Part of the problem is that Nick’s helmet is styled more like a motorcross one so there is a massive gap between the outer shell and his mouth (not sure how else to describe that) which means that the mic being stuck in the helmet is open to the wind; mine isn’t that much better.

I phoned Tim with the idea of ordering us some boom mic. He was concerned that they might not fit in the helmets very well and we started talking about the Starcom1 digital. Tim obviously rides a motorcycle. He also rides a motorcycle with his wife riding pillion. He and I were able to discuss all the ups and downs of the setup and after a bit of counting pennies I decided to go with his recommendation and replace the whole thing.

That was the right decision. The starcom1 digital gives you much more control so you can fiddle with setup for rider and passenger separately, and it is clever enough to deal with the external noise; the boom mics fit perfectly in both helmets.

Thank you Tim for all your help and advice!

Our new problems?

Well, I can’t yawn noisily any more because Nick tells me off, I am not allowed to sing and I have to try really hard to keep still when we are listening to music – not the worst set of problems to have!

Camera lost far from the madding crowd

Camera lost far from the madding crowd

We have been on Quadra Island for 2 nights. It is one of those places we drifted over to because we met someone and talked to them. It happens.

Quadra is beautiful. Nick and I were riding around some of the dirt tracks and paths and enjoying some of the lovely views and scenery when we realised that we didn’t have our camera any more! Disaster! We would not have lost absolutely everything but it would have been seriously inconvenient to put it everso mildly.

We retraced our steps. Last photo was taken at Village Bay Lake so we went there slowly looking at the side of the road just in case we could spot it. Nothing. We got to the lake and there were some people there, they hadn’t seen it. There was a car parked so I scrawled out a note but they got back just as I had finished writing it. They hadn’t found it.

There wasn’t that much swearing.

It was getting quite late and we hadn’t found anywhere to stay so we had to make that a priority. No camera, lots of private land with ‘No Tresspassing’ signs – it really wasn’t looking like a fairy tale ending to the day.

We had just gone up a track that ended in a spot to turn around and despondency was setting in. I got Nick to pull up next to a guy who was working on his house:

“Excuse me!” – I said – “Is there anywhere round here we can camp?”

“Hmm…nooo…” – said Jerry as we later found out his name is – “…wait, some friends of mine sometimes let people camp on their land…”

Jerry went on to explain how to get there and then changed his mind.

“I need to go down to my phone anyway. I will call them for you.”

“Thank you!”

So, off we went, following Jerry. We arrived at a telegraph pole where he plugged in his phone (bit remote roudn here, it is) and made  a call.

“They are expecting you!” – he said with a smile. More thanks and a wave and off we went.

As we were pulling down their very long driveway Nick said: “If I scratch my head we are leaving.” “OK.”

We pulled round a corner and there were Allen and Jude and their beautiful property. And so we camped.

Eating our porridge in the morning, looking out over the little lake and enjoying the sunshine, Nick remarked that the little spot was just perfect. For two people who love to talk it is remarkable how much enjoyement we get from being able to camp out far from any crowds. It is such a pleasure.

We packed up and then spent a solid hour, if not longer, discussing the world politics and camping with our hosts. I loved every second – I love putting the world to rights over a good cup of coffee! Allen got us the number for the local RCMP and left their lost and found a message and Nick and I agreed that we would go to the police station and try to report the camera missing and then the plan was to put up a couple of posters – one in the ferry terminal and one in a busy looking coffee shop we saw. A quick hug to our new friends and we were off!

We were pulling into the police station and suddenly there were blue lights behind us. “Shit” – said Nick – “did I stop at that stop sign?”

The policeman in the car was smiling. “No” – I said – “I think they have our camera.”

I was right!

Martin and Chad had been given our camera which was found on one of the trails. They had looked at a couple of photos, found our website and left a message and, as they had realised the sort of trip we were on, they had even gone to the trouble of printing off a few photos and putting them up in the very places we were intending to put up out posters.

We cannot thank them enough.

We did photos, we got chatting, we followed their lunch recommendation, met them for views of the sea and a barbeque and even stayed in Chad’s 19ft trailer!

I call that a fairy tale ending.

Big thanks to everyone involved: Jerry, Allen, Jude, Chad, Martin and their families and thank you to the people kind enough to hand in the camera they found.

Village Bay Lake

 

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