Sunday, 28 November 2010

An eventful week in Mexico

Someone stole my AirHawk seat. I'm really annoyed about this. I had it when I unpacked the bike at Morelia but in the morning it wasn't there. I searched for over a hour around the room and hotel but to no avail. I don't know how or when it was taken but it must have been. This has really annoyed me and has gone a long way to ruining my last day alone.

I tried to cheer up as I headed for the Butterfly reserve. It wasn't easy but I tried. Now I know this is supposed to be an adventure motorbike blog so any mention of butterflies is totally out of place but I'm man enough to admit that I went to the Monarch Butterfly reserve. Situated in the Pine forests at an altitude of 3000 metres millions and millions of Monarch butterflies spend the winter months here. They have travelled 4000km from the Great lakes of Canada/USA, one of the great animal migrations. It was extremely impressive and I got a bit carried away with the camera...

Then things got a bit surreal. I was heading towards Mexico City and got caught in a rain/hail storm. It then started lightening. Oh no here we go again! I was queuing to pay a toll, fretting about the lightening when a BMW pulls up next to me. It was a bit of a shock as I hadn't seen another bike for five days. Not only was it a fellow adventure motorcyclists but he was also British. I can't remember the last time I met a Brit. on a bike. He was in a hurry to get to Mexico City and no sooner had he arrived than he disappeared in the rain. I was left somewhat shocked and bewildered. I turned off the toll road and into Tolima, hoping it would be easy to find the centre of the city and a cheap Hotel. It wasn't. It was dark by the time I found the centre and took me another half an hour to find a hotel. All in all a bit of a stressful day - and I'm still annoyed about my Airhawk. I'm not going to be able to find another one and anyone who's ridden a BMW knows how uncomfortable their seats are.

I had not been looking forward to Monday. Not because Tracy was arriving, I hasten to add. I was, of course, very excited about that. But it meant I had to ride into Mexico City. I started early and to be honest, I found it much easier than I had expected. The traffic wasn't that bad and it all seemed to behave itself. I thought this might be one occasion when it would be useful to have a GPS, but I managed to find my way to Motohaus, the BMW dealership without too much trouble.

New tyres AND washed!

Motohaus pleaded with me to let them put a sticker on the bike

As I had to come into the city to meet Tracy anyway, I thought it would be a good idea to use the BMW shop. I had decided to get my tyres changed and had emailed them to let them know I'd be in. They were very welcoming and extremely helpful. They proceeded to change the tyres (and oil) and they even washed the bike for me. Roberto, the guy I'd emailed, was very helpful and extremely excited about my trip. He asked if he could “sponsor me” by not charging me labour and putting a sticker on the bike! How could I refuse. He also gave me two little jars of visor spray – what a great guy.

This was my GPS that got me into Mexico City

Finding the hotel Tracy had booked proved to be a little more difficult than I had hoped but via an unintended detour around the centre zone of Mexico City I found it and booked myself in. It was only 3 p.m. and Tracy wasn't landing until 6 so I had plenty of time to get the shuttle bus to the airport to meet her.

And there she was, tired, annoyed with airport security and fed up with standing in a queue for an hour but she'd arrived.

Next day we rode a short 40 miles to Teotihuacan. Short in distance but long in time as I found navigating out of Mexico City much harder than getting in and it took us two hours to get there. Nevertheless we had arrived at the ancient capital. Teotihuacan was once mesoamericas greatest
city. Built between the 1st and 6th century's AD about 125,000 people lived here making it the largest city in all the Americas (and world?). Teotihuacan is known for its two vast pyramids, Pyramid of the sun and moon. The pyramid of the sun is the worlds third largest – 222m long on eah side and 72 m high. At its height the pyramids were painted bright red and would have been a magnificent sight at sunset.

Tracy climbing the 250 odd steps to the top of the worlds third highest pyramid

Teotihuacan - Pyramid of the sun behind us.

Tracy sunning herself on the pyramid of the sun

From there we headed south first to Puebla and then on to Oaxaca. Puebla was a bit of a challenge. With over a million inhabitants and very few street signs it wasn't easy finding my way into the centre (I'm beginning to think that a GPS might have been a good idea!) But I did and we had a pleasant evening in the lovely colonial centre of town. Next morning I found it equally as hard getting out of the place but a friendly policeman gave me some directions and eventually we made it 200 miles south to Oaxaca (wah-hack-a).

Colourful street in Puebla

Oaxaca is supposed to be one of Mexico's most beautiful and vibrant cities. A great place to soak up the atmosphere of Mexican culture and colonial elegance. We visited the impressive Cathedral, watched some dancing in the main plaza and then got accosted by a drunk who wanted to tell me that Manchester United was the best football team in the world, over and over again. Mexican culture at its best.

We spent a full day in Oaxaca visiting the nearby ancient ruins of Monte Alban. Standing on flattened hill top this was the ancient capital of the Zapotec. Building started around 500 BC and the place was occupied until the 15th Century. Very impressive. 

Monte Alban

Do we look Australian?

Tracy got interviewe for an English project - if only they knew who they were talking too!

In the evening we went back to the main plaza so soak up some more of that famous Oaxaca culture. This time we were pleasantly surprised as the plaza was full of life. Lots of stalls were selling food, trinkets, clothes and jewellery. Street theatre including fire jugglers, dancers, clowns and those really annoying statue people – who just stand still and expect you to give them money for it.
Oaxaca is famous for its food and although we didn't sample the ant lavae or deep fried grasshopper we did try to famous “Mole negro” (a smoky, savoury sauce with a hint of chocolate), and Oaxaca's favourite hot drink – Chocolate caliente – a mix of cinnamon, almonds and sugar with cocoa beans. Those of you who know Tracy will know that she likes Oaxaca. 

I've just had a look at a couple of blogs of bikers I know who are ahead of me – now in Costa Rica or Panama and it seems that the weather isn't too good down there. La Nina is causing higher than average rainfalls and I'm reading of bridges washed away, riding in the rain all day and flooded roads. Exciting stuff to read if you're not just about to head that way! Most bikers are ahead of me as they are intending to ride down to Argentina and many want to cross over to Colombia using a boat rather than fly. And the last boats of the season leave this weekend. Makes me feel a little left behind, but at least I've got Tracy for company. I thought they'd be more bikers in Mexico and I've hardly seen any. Perhaps we'll catch up with a few stragglers when we get into Guatamala.

Our hotel in Oaxaca - glad the bike doesn't leak oil

Tomorrow (Sunday) we're off towards San Cristobel de la Casas and then the Mayan ruins at Palenque. If all goes well we should be crossing into Guatamala by the end of the week. Oh and for those of you who have read this just to hear from Tracy – tough – this is MY blog :)

1 comment:

  1. Good to hear from you on our Blog. Sorry to hear about your AirHawk, you've still a ways to go...A bit of foam from a mercado is beter than nothing.
    The info on crossing the border into Baja was really helpful thanks. Keep it coming. Not sure when we will be crossing over to the mainland or where to spend Christmas. We are enjoying sun sea and sand in Baja at present. Btw we like the GPS. Sounds as good as ours which takes us places no man or woman for that matter has been before! Have fun both of you. lol Jill & David