Recently in Mexico Category

Santa Barbara to Tijuana

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Here we sit at David and Eva Rodriguez’s place overlooking the ocean in Tijuana. We just had an awesome home cooked meal of Carne Asada, beans, and lots of Tecate beer…Thanks to them and their family for the beds and hospitality.

The ride down was uneventful and very fast. People in CA rip on the freeways. We were doing 75 plus and people were ripping by us. Made me wonder what you have to do to get a ticket….

The border was really no big deal. We cruised right through and got our paperwork. It really is just a sticker for the bike and a slip of paper you hand in when you leave the country. 20 bucks for the tourist visa and 30 bucks for the bike sticker. Not too bad…

On a side note we have been asked a few times for lists of what we’re carrying, Lists of the spare parts, lists of cities were visiting and lists of paperwork needed to visit the countries were going to. We really love the fact that people are checking out our blog and want more info, but I’m sorry we have very few lists. While we are not completely winging it – we took a much different approach on this trip. We prepared and setup the bikes for a long trip – packed the tools and spares we thought we would need – but we didn’t plan a specific route or detailed plans for where we would stop. A great deal of the pleasure of a trip like this is the journey and the discovery that comes along with following the front wheel where it leads.

We’ve done a lot of travel around the world and have found that all the research you do about border crossings is usually wrong. Inevitably there is one more stamp you need, one more person to talk to, or one more long wait to get the bribe amount to go down a little more. So we haven’t done much research on borders and crossings.

The prep work we were talking about in our blog entry from yesterday is mostly things we should have done before leaving but we just flat out ran out of time. We tracked down all the details on notifying our credit cards about being out of the country, details about insurance, purchasing Mexican moto insurance, working through the details of search and rescue insurance – cell phone stuff – on and on and on… and each phone call takes 20 minutes because you have to wade through voice menus and eventually the call is dropped for some reason.

Long story short – our lists and details/notes won’t do you much good – maybe after we get through a particular area we can share details with you!

Another awesome sunny day of riding – had a great Mexican breakfast with David and Eva and enjoyed some warm weather while packing the bikes.

We rode south to Rosarito to catch a bypass road north and east towards Tecate. After missing a left turn for the bypass connecter we had to pull a U turn but couldn’t do it for a couple blocks. Pulling the U turn and heading back up we were sucked into a check point and searched for the first time. Kind of funny cause we just rode by these guys on the road and came back – but they looked thru each of our bikes sort of cursorily.

We rode on some great roads up and thru the mountains on the way over to Mexicali. They are proud of IMG_0157these roads judging by the tolls they charge to drive on them – by the time we got to Rocky Point I think we probably paid about $20 for each bike on the toll roads. In places we could see the free (Libre) road and it looked pretty decent – but we needed to make some time today and get some miles behind us.

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We stopped for a break at an overlook and while we were enjoying the view a truck pulled up and a guy came out to look at the bikes. He came over to talk to Dan and the Dan’s school kid Spanish got pressed into service. Thankfully, Carlos could speak better English than Dan’s Spanish and we got to have a good chat about the bikes and his family. He gave us a couple chocolate bars from his truck and we had him sign our bikes with the sharpie. Gracias Carlos!!!

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The run from Mexicali to Sonoyta on Mex 2 was pretty flat and and straight. The GPS was showing that we were frequently within about 50 feet of the US Border and you could see the huge fence running along the border. A regular reminder that the difference in “opportunity and higher wages” lay just a short distance away. You can’t really see how big this fence is in the picture but it is huge – at least 10 feet tall and made of steel and it runs for miles and miles

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We quickly filled up in Sonoyta and hustled down to Rocky Point – arriving at sunset and breaking the first rule of traveling down here – don’t drive at night. Thankfully we had some daylight while arriving but the risks of being on the road at night are too great and we will avoid it going forward.

Lastly – We’ve not had one drop of rain on us since leaving from John’s house a week ago today. Extraordinary really – so we’re thinking of running a little contest to guess the date when you think we will get rained on – just  leave a comment for the blog and claim your date… Earliest guess for a particular date wins and we’ll figure out a goofy prize for the winner. Like a worn out Michelin tire….

 

Tecoripa to Creel Mexico

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Another epic day – this road was a motorcyclist’s dream. Literally 250 miles of no straight aways. I mean twisty! we clocked 250 miles of every kind of turn you can imagine, from swipers to switchbacks.This is the longest road of constant turns either of us have run. It took us 6 hours to go 250 miles and we were carving the turns up. You really do have to ride with alot in reserve though. Trucks routinely use they’re lane and half of yours! On some switch backs they have to use all of the road to make the corner without the trailer going in the ditch. We hit a straightaway at the 255 mile mark and it was 1/2 mile long and we both remarked that it was the first one and the longest for a long time. This combined with several thousand feet of elevation gain/loss/regain/reloss and road surfaces that were largely new or excellent made for some incredible riding.

IMG_0203The terrain today was widely varied – from tree less high desert to pine tree  covered mountains – both John and I thought it looked remarkably like eastern Oregon. The buildings in the mountains were largely made of wood and scrap metal instead of the lowland buildings which are predominantly made of concrete blocks and stucco.

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In the states you see a sign now and then saying “open Range” They should just put one at the border to Mexico saying “Mexico, Open Range” so as if watching for trucks in your lane is not enough, we had to dance with some cows here and there – John seemed to like this one in particular…

She was kinda cute!

 

 

 

 

 

Jim-on-gsWe met another motor cyclist from the states on the road today – he was stopped and looking at his gear when we pulled in. Jim (didn’t get his last name) was from Estes Park Colorado and was riding around Mexico to get out of the cold weather for a bit. He was riding a loaded BMW 1200GS Adventure bike. Jim had just come from where we were headed so had a lot of info to share about a road that was closed and some difficult areas in the copper canyon area. Thanks Jim! He also told us “when things get tough just remember that we were the luckiest f*ckers he had met in a long time!” – he was of course referring to our trip and not John’s unexplained ability to skunk me in cribbage that evening.

 

 

 

 

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We had some Internet connectivity at the hotel here and John took the opportunity to make a call or two while relaxing.

We ended up at the Best Western in Creel and we were very tired after having done about 330 miles of twisty roads.

Thanks everyone for the comments and the rain guesses!! Fun to see everyone following along – We had the “threat” of rain on the way in today – with a few drops hitting us but remember the rules are that we have to dig out the rain gear and typing this in the morning it looks like a gorgeous day to ride with no rain expected!

Cheers! 

 

 

Creel to Batopilas

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We spent the night in Creel and it was an interesting town. Our “Spidy Sense” went off as soon as we cruised into town. Then after checking into the nicest hotel. We walked into town for something to eat. We passed about a dozen cops out in full armer including combat helmets, machine guns and a truck with a mounted turret…. There were very few people out and about and it felt just plain wierd…. We walked by one hotel and the parking lot was full of about 30 or 40 police in riot gear (helmets, vests, the works…) We had a pizza and got our asses back to the hotel bar for a beer.

 

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Before blowing out of town in the morning John wanted to do a few laps on an Italian bike – I had a pocketful of 2 pesos coins and John put in a few hot laps and then switched to qualifying tires for a speed run – he was disappointed when I ran out of coins…While he was on it from across the street some guys were yelling Vroom Vroom!!

 

 

 

IMG_0224Todays ride was unreal. We got a late start partially on purpose to avoid traffic down the canyon road and also trying to take care of as much computer stuff as possible while we had internet connection. The road heading south of Creel was spectacular as usual – with lots of twisty sections, elevation up, down and nice new clean pavement -

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The terrain also began to change with lots of rock outcroppings and interesting rock formations.

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P1000423We had probably 50 miles of nice asphalt road leading up to the turn down to Batopilas. We missed the turn the first time because it wasn’t marked but after 3 or 4 miles we decided to turn around and found a sign. We had been told the road was horrendous and that it would be a challenge – so we were very surprised to see the road as you see here on the right – a super highway of gravel roads. We both were wondering what everyone was talking about – after about 10 miles we ran into the road crew who were rebuilding the road and after that the road slowly degraded until it reached the rim of the canyon.

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From the rim of the canyon down to the river at the bottom the road switches back and forth to descend 4500 feet in about 5 or so miles!!! It then continues along the river following a clif ridge up and down for another 15 miles into Batopilas. There must have been 25 plus Very narrow steep switchbacks. The road surface varies from loose sand to softball size rocks. Lots of washboards. Most of the road is not wide enough for two cars and barely wide enough for a truck. With no guard rails and drops ranging from 100 feet to 4000 Feet!!!! Very technical riding and very taxing. In the picture on the left – those are roads about a zillion miles down in the canyon!

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If you look at the picture below closley in the right switchback, you will see a dot in the middle of the road – that is one of us in the distance to give you some scale of the magnitude

 

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All along the road there are these worship shrines and memorials to people who failed to negotiate the road. If you left the road anywhere you were not going to survive. So folks would stop and pray before, during and after traversing cetian sections of the road. 

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P1000445So after Decending 4500 feet of technical switch backs, rocks, narrow roads and the like. We came to this simple little bridge crossing. I (John) unfortanatly was in front when we got there and without thinking I started across on the boards running length wise. My front tire got caught in the grooves between the boards and I lost balance. I went to put my foot down and it was in the middle of the two tracks. As you can see the middle is about 6 inches lower than the raised parts. As I started to fall over I had Dan in my ears saying “There he goes!! There he goes!!”  Much to Dans delight I was instantly on my side with him laughing in my helmet. (we have a comm device that allows us to talk while on the bikes.) Prior to falling I thought the comm device was a good idea. Anyway we picked it up and the only damage was to my pride, so we continued on another 15 or 20 miles of nasty roads to Batopilas.

So let the crap fly in the comments people. I assure you its no worse that what Dan has already given me ;-)

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Batopilas is a neat little town. It was settled in the 1600’s due to silver being mined in the cayon. It is between the clif and the river. Very narrow and long. Pretty much one street with a nice little town center. When we got there we saw 3 bikes in a hotel lot so we checked in there and met 3 guys from Colorado on KTM’s. While Dan was checking in these cute little girls came over and started trying to chat with me. I was surprised to see some of my Spanish working. I guess I have the Spanish of 6 year olds. If they were only the ones that run stores and hotels I would be set. Anyway I asked If i could take thier picture and they were hesitant. After I took a picture I showed them it on the camera screen. They both lit up and wanted to pose for a better one. Very cute, Don’t you think?

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No rain today – not a drop – when we got Batopilas we were super dusty from the 50 miles of gravel, silt and dust.

 

Batopilas to Las Nieves

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P1000448We got a relatively early start today and after walking thru the town of Batopilas we geared up and poked our way down the street to get some gas. Not your average gas filling situation but not too bad actually - it worked well and we didn't bother asking how much per liter/gallon the fuel was - just fill it up and pay the total. Inside that building are about a zillion barrels of gas - or what they claim is gas - anyway - it burned fine and we didn't have any troubles with it.

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Truck-passingOur trip up the canyon went much faster than riding down into Batopilas. We weren't stopping to take pictures quite so often and we were able to make our way to the rim of the canyon in about 2 hours or so. Along the way we watched these 3 trucks do the dance of figuring out how to get past each other - it took them 15 minutes or so to work it out and we hung back about a 1/4 mile to watch from afar - no need for a motorcycle to get ground up between the trucks.

 

 

 

 

Dan-on-bridgeHere's a shot of one of the wooden bridges - we managed to both make it across all the bridges without incident today

Notice the mother Mary shrine behind Dan. Painted on the rock wall. These are all over Mexico.

 

 

 

 

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OK - check out this dump truck - they were working on the road in sections - to give you an idea of how rough this road is, Just the wheels and tires on this truck are roughly the same height as we are while sitting on the bike. (6 Feet)- it looks tiny here but you can also see the school bus in the right of the picture for scale....we had to follow it through this ditch and it had rained a bit last night so the mud was super slick.

 

 

 

 

 

We hit the asphalt road after about 3 hours and 45 miles of gravel - and both of us let out a cheer cause the road was smooth and we were cruising again! It was pretty cold at the top (8,000 foot elevation) and we suited up with heated gear on.

We cruised across a wide variety of terrain today - emerging from the canyon country we came into some really broad sweeping high country plains and grasslands. The road routinely ran along the very ridge of a high bluff area and the views were fantastic.

Aproaching the town of Balleza we came to a military checkpoint (our first in a few days) - unlike some of the other ones we've hit - these guys were strictly business - vests, helmets, lots of big guns etc.. They looked in John's luggage and talked at us for a few minutes before pushing us onward. On leaving the town - literally 1 mile and 2 minutes later, but just out of sight from the other checkpoint we were stopped again. These guys seemed even more serious than the last bunch and were wearing masks over their faces and several guys questioned us before letting us go onward without a search. We both remarked that it was very uncomfortable and they seemed pretty nervous.... Coming into the next town we went through yet another search but it was much more routine and we pushed onward. We were reminded how nice it is to have the comm system between us. As they would always ask each of us the same questions and the second one can here the questions/answers. Making it easy for us to make our stories match. Would have come handy as kids for when mom and dad asked us where we had been when we got home late.

We rolled into the forgettable town of Las Nieves about 4:30 with plenty of time to find a hotel and we dug up a swell one - 300 pesos for the night for a double room in the "1st class" section... but it's freezing cold in  the room and there is no heat - we're both sitting around in sleeping bags typing in the blog entry for the night. Having a dinner of Ruffles Queso, Canelitas (crackers) and coke.

Rain report: while we had a few sprinkles today - nothing that you would consider rain and we definitely didn't have to drag our rain gear out - so, the streak continues!

Cheers!

 

YALD (yet another long day) – we somehow managed to get an early start (2 days in a row) and it was pretty chilly in the morning while riding out of town. Zacatecas is at about 8200 foot elevation so it takes a bit of sunshine to warm the air in the morning but by our first gas stop we were stripping off all the thermal gear and back into the mesh stuff. 

We did about 450 miles today and when we arrived in Barra we were both fried. The roads out of Zacatecas down thru Guadalajara were mostly flat with occasional twisty sections to keep us awake. After negotiating the traffic thru Guadalajara we were running on highway 80 and for maybe 50 miles it was pretty boring stuff but as it climbed over the coastal ranges it turned into a fantastic roller coaster with unlimited curves including banked corners and not too much traffic.

Very interesting to see the terrain and vegetation change as we came down from the high plains. A slow transition to almost jungle like plants and the accompanying humidity – a short burst of rain began a debate between John and I about whether that qualifies as rain but we didn’t get our rain gear out and decided that if we hit that sort of thing back home we wouldn’t stop – so – no rain was declared.

WaterfallWe stopped just north of Guadalajara to see a tall waterfall cascading on a sheer face of rock – Cola de Caballo - Horsetail waterfall. Not much water flowing over this thing but the height of it was very impressive. They say it is 670 meters (just about 2200 feet) – and the overlook platforms were kind of spooky.

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We rolled into Barra around 5:30 and were trying to find Dan’s friend Rob Kirby when all of the sudden someone is yelling at us from a balcony and we look up and it’s Rob. Great to see him and he had ice cold beers ready for us. By the way Rob roasts  what is routinely called the best coffee you’ve ever tasted – check out his site at: Local Goods. We found a great hotel that is on the beach and they  let us park the moto’s inside at night – here is Dan riding into the lobby…

A housekeeping note – we changed the entry name of our blogs to be both of us – we were getting questions about who was writing and so forth. Mostly we have written the blog entries together – John will write something then Dan will add pictures and color commentary or the opposite. Anyway – going forward we will post under both of us unless its just one of us.

OK – cheers!

BarraDe Navida to Ixtapa

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IMG_0354Before leaving Barra we had breakfast with “the Fixer” Thomas. This guy could be his own reality show. He has spent 5 months a year in Barra every year for the last 25 years. He stays in the same hotel we were in. He is from Chicago and has the gangster accent, “Any fooking thing you guys need you just let me know”  “I’ve got people”  This dude all but runs the town of Barra. He mingles with guests of the hotel like he owns the joint. We walk down the street and  everyone in town waves and years “TOOMAAAAS”.  We had a great time hanging  with him. Thanks Tom.

 

 

 

 

 

Dan-near-beachWe hit the road for Ixtapa and we were reminded right away why it takes sooo long to get anywhere in Mexico: Checkpoints, Topes, busses and little towns every 20 clicks or so. We had heard the next 150 miles or so used to be called “Bandito Alley” but they “have cleaned it up”. Well we found out how very quickly. 4 checkpoints and 4 searches for me. For some reason they only searched Dan once. I guess I look like trouble. These stops can be as much as 20 minutes and we stand there in the sun with our black riding gear on and marinate…. Its 80 plus and the humity is brutal. (I’m not complaining about the heat, Just telling you about it”) The first part of the road was awesome. Right on the coast, twistie and good pavement. the second half was fairly boring with no curves no view and tons of traffic as we closed in on Ixtapa.  We were pretty used up after 340 miles in about 7 hours.

Ixtapa is your atypical tourist spot. Big hotels, Expensive bars, and lots of junk shops with hustlers begging for your money. I really didn’t care for it much. It was quite a change from the small town feel of Barra. We ended up at the “beer Planet” as they had buck beers. After a few we struck up a conversation with some folks from Minnesota. Then we find out she has sold real estate in Mezzeppa and Zumbro falls area. Which is where I went to High school. Were talking a town of 600 people. It is a small world…

We’ve had a couple folks mention that our “where are we” page is not up to date – we know and we’re working on changing it up a bit. In the mean time – you can hit our “spot device” page and see where we are in real time – here is the link.

Cheers!

Ixtapa to Acapulco

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IMG_0369We got a late start from Ixtapa and headed south. We had a short day as we are on schedule to get to San Jose, Costa Rica by the 10th of Feb.  The road was uneventful with a few spots where it got near the coast otherwise it was allot of little towns, more topes and very straight roads.

We cruised downtown Acapulco and it was crowded! Traffic was tight and people just basically go where they want, If there is room for half a car in your lane they put the whole car in there. I ended up trading paint with a lady who after Dan went by her left side, she decided to whip into our lane to go around a stopped bus. I was already right by her window and she just kept coming over. I gassed it and just as I thought I was ahead of her she caught her front bumper on the rear corner of my saddle bag making the bike kinda bump to the left. It wasn’t really a problem but it did piss me off.  She didn't even know she hit me. She left a little rubber on the saddlebag…. and Dan was giving me a bad time about getting stressed in traffic while we are in big cities!! Anyway we found a nice hotel just off the beach and Dan worked his magic on the room rate. The dude started at 1500 pesos (130 bucks)we paid 800 pesos (65 bucks.).

IMG_0370We went for a walk on the beach. To look for cocktails and food.  It was a really nice evening albeit a bit muggy. when we cruised in front of all the restaurants they each have someone out front trying to convince you its the best place to eat. This one guy had a pretty good pitch and he convinced us with “free Margreeta's for you and your Bro!” after we sit and order food.The drinks show up. You can’t see it in the pic but the free drink is about the size of a shot glass. Neither of us could taste any booze in it either. However dinner was great! We both were pretty shot and we headed back down the strip and went to bed watching the Xgames.   We have gotten plenty of emails about the mapping not working….Dan has spent an amazing amount of time working on getting the mapping deal working. He has downloaded many programs and after finding most of it dosen’t work the way he wants. He is now writing his own program to get-r-done. We it comes to computers he is like a pit bull once he gets going. So be cool and he’ll get it working soon.

Today we thought we would change it up a bit and head south!!

Cheers.

P1000475We got another late start out of Acapulco pretty much because we’re lazy. It was already very hot and humid. We took a few wrong turns and we toured the airport, then found our way south. By the time we got out of the city we were both soaked in sweat. Heading south on 200 it was pretty uneventful and pretty straight road. The map showed it being close to the ocean but we rarely caught a glimpse of the ocean jus jungle, trucks, and busses. Not much to tell you about other than when we approached San Marcos.

 

 

 

 

P1000486It  seems the way some people protest something here is to blockade the road and stop everyone and everything from moving through. Well they were doing just that in San Marcos. We stopped at the back of a line having no idea what was going on. Then this cab driver in front of us sticks his head out the window and just starts spewing a whole bunch of spanish at us. We have know idea what he is saying and Dan say’s “TIMMY FELL IN THE WELL?” the guy goes “SI” and waves his hand like go around… Well THAT we understood. So we get into the oncoming lane and slowly cruise by everyone till we get to another backup of buses and trucks still going the same direction. Now in the oncoming lane. This is a two lane road with no shoulders and cars,trucks,buses you name it all backed up for miles…. We SLOWLY work our way between the rigs using any gap possible, middle, shoulders you name. Then when we ran out of gaps we went into the ditch and started moving forward in and out of the ditch. Some of the drivers were sleeping. Thats how long this had been going on.

P1000485 It seems nobody cared that we were getting ahead of everyone. In the US I’m sure we would have been verbally assualted or worse. We were riding in the ditch and came accross an Army dude with a machine gun. The road shoulder was about 6 feet up to the road so we were commited. Well he just stepped aside and we rode right past him.

 

 

 

 

 

P1000484After what seemed like 30 minutes of this we reached the protest. There was about 100 people yelling and screaming at each other. The blocking trucks were all of the same colors and paint scheme – aparently some transportation organization. We decided to chill and not piss anyone off and it was fun watching the crowd. We only sat there for about two minutes and they seem to come to an ageement. shortly there after they moved  the cars and we thought SWEET! We’re through! Only to find the cars,trucks,busses all backed up in BOTH lanes coming the other way…. Well we worked our magic in the ditch,gaps,shoulders and bingo we were through. VIVA MOTORCICLETA!!! (MOH-TOH-SEE-KLEH-TAH)

 

 

After that the road was wide open and we looked for a Hotel as it was getting late. We found a nice place for 21 bucks. It was clean and they had a resturant. We had couple of nice cold beers. Then ordered the 4 dollar steaks. When the steaks came it was apparent they had been cut using a dull popsicle stick from a cow that must have been standing in the mexican sun with fecal matter spattered on its hind quarters. Then they were cooked using a desiel powered blow tourch to a point just short of being able to make a jacket out of them. We ate em and went to bed hoping….

Oaxaca to Oaxaca

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We enjoyed a relaxing day here and what a gorgeous city. I think I could spend a month or so here exploring the various museums and old buildings.

This morning we walked over to have another look at the Santo Domingo de Guzmán church. An amazing structure and as ornate as any church I’ve seen in Europe – check out more about it here on the Wikipedia.

I spent most of the day working on the computer - writing a program for processing our GPS logs and such – hopefully I’ll be done with it in a few days and our “where are we” page will be better, faster, smarter and better looking.

John spent some time wandering about town and checking things out a bit more. We toyed with the idea of a ride out to see the ruins at Monte Alban but decided that we needed a down day.

We did have a funny moment when we decided that the maid didn’t need to clean the room today – we just needed some clean towels. So John decided to go ask her for some clean towels. I helped him rehearse the Spanish several times and when he felt he had it about right he went out into the hallway to work some magic on the maid (literally about 3 steps away so I could still hear him). When he got out there he locked up and out spewed some of the strangest sounding words I’ve ever heard… something about he only needed 3 shoes with red cheese on them. Of course the maid was confused but he managed to work through it and we ended up with clean towels and a good laugh.

We’re off southbound tomorrow – we have about 10 days to get to Costa Rica – about 2,000 kilometers and 4 borders to get through.

Cheers!