The Adventure Begins...
The adventure begins with the simple idea to get out and visit some out of the way places, meet some interesting people and take in some new experiences. It's about moving forward in a non-conventional way. While my route may pass along many notable landmarks, my hope is that the journey will take me to places about which I have never dreamed.
While the dream is to go around the world, the plan is to do it in segments. I'm naming this first segment "Tejas a la Tierra". Or in other words, Texas to Tierra del Fuego. My route may change based on which way the wind is blowing. Right now the plan is to start in Texas and head South... through Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama. Then I'll take a boat to South America. I'll continue through Colombia, Ecuador (with an excursion to the Galapagos Islands), Peru, Bolivia, Chile (with a stop at Tierra del Fuego, the southernmost place on the continent), Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Brazil, Venezuela, French Guiana, Suriname and Guyana. Then I'll head back home to Texas. If I can swing it, I'll try to stop by Antartica while I'm in the neighborhood.
Along the way I plan to share some stories through this website in the form of commentaries, articles, audio podcasts, photos and short films/videos. Some of the stories will chronicle the journey and some will be about special topics . If you would like to join me on this adventure please subscribe to this website, my Facebook page and my YouTube channel.
If there is a place that you think that I should absolutely visit, please let me know and I'll try to check it out. And, if you have family or friends that might be willing to host me for a few days, definitely drop me a note.
You can read the highlights on this website or read the complete story by segments by country on my blog.
The Galapagos Islands
The Road Home
Que te vaya bien!
Tejas A La Tierra... The Bike
I call her Emi. She's a beauty and she's my girl.
The bike that I will ride for "Tejas a la Tierra" is a specially modified Suzuki DR650SE. I selected the DR650 for its nice balance of street and dirt capabilties, reputation for reliability, abundant aftermarket parts, ability to haul gear, simple air/oil cooling mechanics and low profile styling.
Being that the Suzuki DR650 is a Japanese motorcycle, I am going to call my bike Emi. In Japanese her name means beautiful blessing. You may hear me talk about her fondly as my girl.
Below are some links to some of the modifications I've made.
Modifications 1 observations
Modifications 2 observations
The Adventure Begins... Now!
The day has finally arrived. The adventure begins for Tejas a la Tierra. I'm heading south from Austin, Texas to Tierra del Fuego, Argentina. I've resigned from my job, sold many of my worldly possessions, cleaned out my house, modified my motorcycle, packed my bags and said my fair wells. I'm uncertain as to what exactly lies ahead. At this moment I'm feeling ready, but somewhat apprehensive. I've double checked my packing list. I sure that I've left something behind. Oh well, I'll just have to pick it up on the way. Or, better yet, just do without it. The planner in me wishes that I could take more. The free spirit in me wishes that I could take less. I had to cull a few items that I was planning to take - an extra pair of pants, some liner socks, some duplicates of tools. But overall I've been able to fit everything onto my bike. Most importantly I had a good night of sleep and I'm ready to go.
Thanks for all the support and well wishes. This whole trip wouldn't be possible without the support of my family and all my friends that helped me get ready.
The Adventure Begins...Now!
Tejas A La Tierra... The Border
I made it to McAllen, Texas today. The day started out a little bit hectic. I was finishing up my packing, cleaning and vacating my house, storing a few more items and looking around at motorcycle shops for a spare inner tube. I got it all done and set off at about 10:30am. It was later than I wanted to depart, but I think that fortunately I missed some traffic because of the late start. The ride was pretty uneventful. I left Austin taking hwy 183 south. I passed through Lockhart, Luling, Beeville, Sintun and a few random places. I reached McAllen at around 6pm. Cleaned up and ate dinner. I found a nice Country Inn Suite to stay at.
I've repacked to make my gear fit a little better and easier to access. It's an art and not a science. I hope to do a video on packing once I get my system down. Now, it's a night of good rest. Tomorrow I cross the border into Mexico.
Tejas A La Tierra... La Pesca, Mexico
My first stop in Mexico was a small fishing village along the eastern coast called La Pesca (The Fish). I chose the town because it seemed like it would be a calm and peaceful place. And, it was near the ocean. It didn't disappoint. The town centered around the one road which ran through it. Along the road there were a number of restaurants, hotels and shops. At the end if the road was the playa or beach.
I had my first meal in Restaurante Costa Lora. It looked like a clean and bright restaurant in the center of town. I had a nice plate of shrimp with tomato sauce and frijoles. It was delicious. I ended up meeting and talking with the owner Marco Antonio. He gave me some great tips on things to do around the area. Namely, visit a turtle conservation project and a biosphere park called El Cielo (The Heaven).
I camped on the beach under the stars for my first night in La Pesca, Mexico. It was magical. I woke up early, went for a swim in the ocean and tried a little fly fishing unsuccessfully. I dropped by the turtle project and the staff gave me a personal tour of the place.
Afterwards, I tried unsuccessfully to use an ATM to get some Pesos. The attendant said that they only had a relationship with six banks. Oh well.
Off to El Cielo.
Hope you don't mind if I follow along. Your doing something I can only dream about at this moment in my life. If I wasn't a caregiver for an aging parent, I'd be on the road with you.
Tejas A La Tierra
Please do follow along. We all have different stages in our lives. This seemed like the right time for me to take this trip. Who knows, you day may come along when the time is right.
A day of dual sport riding
The Adventure Begins: Crossing the Sierra Madre Mountains
Here's a short 2 minute video documenting crossing the Sierra Madre Mountains in Mexico going from Xilitla to Pachuca to Papantla. Just a little taste of the experience.
El Tajin, Mexico
After two days of riding east I arrived in the town of Papantla. The town is known for hosting visitors that wish to visit the ruins of El Tajin.
El Tajin in Totonac is lighting, thunder or hurricane. I didn't want to see any of those, just the ruins. To see photos and more of the story visit...
The Adventure Begins: El Tajin
Have a great trip Troy, I'll be following your adventure also
I landed in Xalapa, sometimes spelled Jalapa, and was pleasantly surprised. The locals are known as Jalapeños. I found a place to stay called Hostel de las Niebla (Hostel of the Clouds). It was a youth hostel, but open to all. It was right in the center of town, clean and well run. It reminded me of some of the hostels in Germany. The manager let me park Emi in the garage at night. During the day I found a nice spot next to the Cathedral to park.
The Adventure Begins: Xalapa
I traveled to Puebla after spending a few days in Xalapa. This is what the sky looked like when I arrived. The photo is unedited.
The ride to Puebla was straight, then mountainous, then foggy, then rainy. I don't like to ride in the rain, much less fog, so I took a break at a roadside stand and ate a jamon y queso pastre (ham and cheese pastry) that under normal circumstances I wouldn't touch. I asked the señorita to nuke it in a microwave in the hope that it would kill any bacteria. I said a little prayer putting God to the test that he would protect me and my stomach from all that was bad. He seemed to be protecting me from my own foolishness. I rode on and on... then the weather cleared up. It ended up being a beautiful sunny day and about 80 degrees. As I neared the city my spirits were lifted by the sun and my clothes had been blown dry by the warm air.
Puebla is definitely not off the beaten path, but it is significant to the founding of Mexico and has some amazing historical sites and architecture. I thought that I should check it out.
I arrived into Puebla at about 6pm and pulled up to one of the first hotels that I could find that appeared to have a parking garage. The hotel was only about two blocks from the zocolo (central plaza) and main shopping area.
I really didn't do much during the first night other than walk around the plaza and have a big naranjada (orangeade) and a cemeta (Mexican hamburger).
I went back to the hotel, watched a little Mexican tv and fell asleep.
Over the following days I did the following...
Arrival The Adventure Begins: Puebla
City Tour The Adventure Begins: Puebla... a tour of the city
Detailed Look The Adventure Begins: Puebla... a detailed look
History Lesson The Adventure Begins: Puebla...a detailed look at history
Senoritas The Adventure Begins: The Señoritas of Puebla
I'm sure some of you guys will skip straight to the post about the senoritas, but I hope you look at the other stuff too. :D
It happened...an accident
First, let me say that I'm okay.
Now, here's the story...
It was Saturday morning. After spending a few wonderful days in Puebla I was planning to visit a small town about 20KM from Puebla called Cholula. I had made contact with a Peace Corps Volunteer named Jan that had agreed to be interviewed for my media project.
I packed up my things and headed out from the hotel. I had a map that would lead me to the site. I was traveling down the road following traffic. The bus in front of me suddenly decided to move from the right lane, the lane that we were in, to the left lane. I quickly found out why. In the middle of the road was a taxi at a complete stop. I tried to slow down then swerve to miss it. I was able to avoid a direct hit, but I clipped my lower leg on the bumper.
The bike and I went down.
Thankfully, the traffic behind me stopped.
My first reaction... I was pissed. Why was this taxi stopped in the middle of the road. My second reaction... I humbled myself. I realized that I was in Mexico and needed to collect myself and assess the situation. I've lived in and traveled through many countries before. When doing so, I'm always aware that I'm just a visitor and must play by their rules/laws. I knew that I'd have some explaining to do. I quickly realized that I needed to move my bike and get off the road. Before this could even happened there were two traffic police officers on the spot. They told me not to move the bike, they wanted to take some pictures. And, they asked me if I was okay.
Oh yeah, I think that the adrenaline was pumping through me. I hadn't even really stopped to make sure that I was okay. I walked to the side of the road and did a quick body check. Everything seemed to be okay, except that I had some scrapes on my leg and it felt a little numb. I could walk okay. I've always had a pretty high tolerance for pain though. I was riding ATGATT (All The Gear All The Time). A motorcycle acronym that means helmet, jacket, pants, boots and gloves all designed for motorcycle riding. All the gear held up and wasn't even scraped. After a few minutes and a complete body check I felt like I was okay to sort out the mess.
The police had already taken their photos and had picked up Emi, my bike, and moved her to the sidewalk. The taxi driver was out of his car and had looked at the damage to his car. The police officer asked me for my drivers license and insurance. I had both. I provided him the International Driving Permit that I had purchased from AAA in the states because it contains translations in Spanish. I provided him a copy of my Mexican insurance that I bought online from www.mexisurance.com and underwritten by Qualitas. As soon as the officer realized that I had my paperwork in order he was quite helpful. He pointed to the Qualitas logo and said "no problema". I was thankful that I had purchased it and that it was from a reputable and known company. I'd heard that auto insurance was not required in Mexico, but if you do have an accident and you don't have it, you might spend some time in a Mexican jail for a few days.
The police officer filled out some forms. I started talking to the taxi driver. He pointed out two spots that he felt I damaged. I wasn't going to admit to anything, but I was pretty sure that one of the spots was from a previous accident and not caused by me. Anyways, the officer said that we could all go to his office and work this out with the insurance. It would take about 45 minutes. My first thought was, I don't really want to go to a police office. My second thought was, I want to take care of this as soon as possible and get going. I overheard the taxi driver say something about "en effectivo" to the officer. "En effectivo" translates to "in cash". The officer turned to me and said that we could either go to his office or this could be handled "en effectivo". I said, "Cuanto seria (How much)?" The taxi driver said, "Quenientos Pesos (Five hundred pesos)." I did a quick calculation and 500 pesos is about 40 US dollars. I said, give me a minute and let me see. I didn't really need a minute. I knew that I wanted to settle this now and in cash. I walked away a little distance and searched through my wallet to find the cash. I returned and said, "esta bien (okay)".
The police said okay, then we will not need all your paperwork. He gave it back to me. He did ask me to sign their report and write on the report that I agreed to pay the sum of 500 pesos for the damage that I caused. I signed. I handed over the money. And the taxi driver looked like he had just won the lottery.
The police officers asked me where I was going. I told him. He said that he would show me the way. I was a little skeptical, but hey, I'm a law obeying non-citizen. He drove a little distance then pulled over to the side. He got out of this car and then gave me some directions. The last thing that he said was, "Bienvenidos a Mejico (Welcome to Mexico)". I actually found some humor in it and laughed to myself. Yes, welcome to Mexico... the adventure begins...for real, now.
So, I did make it to Cholula. Emi seems to be fine, barely a scratch on her. Me, I'm a little banged up. I decided to take a few days to allow my leg to recover.
Day 1 in Cholula - found hotel, bought water, bought Dominos pizza, layed on couch with leg elevated. I contacted Jan the Peace Corps Volunteer and let her know that the interview probably wouldn't be happening right away.
Day 2 in Cholula - ate day old leftover pizza, watched tv, caught up on blog, read ADVRider posts, sent emails, checked Facebook, layed on couch with leg elevated.
Day 3 in Cholula - went outside of hotel, walked around plaza, ate a decent meal, layed on couch with leg elevated. Rescheduled appointment with Jan the Peace Corps Volunteer.
Day 4 in Cholula - watched tv, watched YouTube, ate a good meal of pazole.
Day 5 in Cholula - rest and recovery, writing post.
After reflecting on this experience I've come to a few conclusions.
1. God was watching out for me. Yes, I'm a believer. And, I believe that he saved me. The accident could have turned out much worse. I could have hit the car directly. I could have hit the street much harder. I could have been hit by the traffic behind me. I could have injured my leg much worse. I've had a number of people praying for me back home and I believe that prayer works. God is amazing. He has a plan for my life. For some reason, He kept me alive to live out that plan. If you're a none believer, that's fine. But if you knew the God that I know, you'd know that he is pretty awesome.
2. I made a few judgement errors. I was in a bit of hurry to make an appointment, when I should have been taking my time. However, I wasn't speeding. I was navigating with a map, when I should have studied the map more thoroughly ahead of time to familiarize myself with the route. I had a space cushion, but could have created a larger cushion. What typically causes an accident is a series of events. I believe that these were the series of events that led up to the accident. Hopefully I've learned my lesson, I'll be mindful of these series of events and prevent them from happening again.
3. ATGATT! I ride with All The Gear All The Time protection designed for motorcycle riding. The Gaerne G Adventure boots were the last item that I purchased before I left on my trip. I believe that they saved my leg from a much more serious injury. The Olympia jacket and pants held up well. They didn't even have any scrapes on them. Also, I'm using soft luggage on my bike, a Giant Loop Great Basin Bag. The bag made contact with the ground, but barely had a scrape. I think that it may have even prevented damage to Emi. Good stuff.
4. The locals were great. The two police officers were very professional. First, they asked me if I was okay. They helped me move my bike. They helped facilitate the settlement. And they even provided me directions. I'm wondering if they will share those photos with me. I didn't take any. They'd be great to add to the blog. There was a bystander that stopped and asked if I needed a translator. There was a shop keeper that came out and made sure that the police were being helpful. I must say, that even the taxi driver was pretty understanding. Thanks, good people of Puebla, Mexico!
5. Up until now, everything had gone smoothly. The boarder crossing was easy. The towns and sites were fantastic. The rides were amazing. The lodging was great. I'd been taking some chances with some food, but even that wasn't causing any problems. I've always told myself and others that trips that go according to plan are rarely memorable. When I've taken an organized trip like a cruise, I usually can't even remember what I did the week after it is over. No, adventure is unpredictable, sometimes dangerous, sometimes bad things happen... but it's always memorable... and worth it. You just have to work your way through it... and live to tell the tale.
Now I'm taking a little time to relax, recover and reflect. My leg is better, but not totally healed. I do have health insurance so I may have my leg checked out if it isn't better in another day.
I just wanted to let ya'll know that I'm okay... and that the adventure will continue.
If you have any thoughts, post me a comment or send me an Email.
The Adventure Begins...Oaxaca
From Puebla I decided to visit Oaxaca. There's an autopista (toll highway) that goes from city to city. Once I got on the autopista it was about 5 hours of smooth straight riding. The weather was cooperating as well. It was a beautiful day - sunny, cool, blue sky with light clouds. It was a perfect day to get back on my bike for a long ride.
The scenery didn't change much until about an hour before I reached Oaxaca.
I took a break to admire the scenery.
Some winding roads.
A nice ride overall.
I arrived in Oaxaca and decided to stay at the Hotel Alcala in the center of town. Here are some links to the stories.
Over the next few days I explored the city and some of the surrounding area.
Oaxaca City Tour
Oaxaca and Artesania
San Bartolo Coyotepec and Barro Negro
Wow Troy. Good to see your recovered from the accident. I will be following you as your trip continues. Good luck sir.
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