January 17, 2009 GMT
Part 3. 17 January 2009.

Part 3. 17 January 2009.

Mazatlan Mexico; we stayed about a week in an old, cheap hotel called ‘Belmar’, a hotel where in the fifties famous movie stars were staying. It’s situated in the historic part of the town and it has colorful houses and some quiet streets. Mike new exactly where to find good food and cheap beer, so we went out together several times. Mike is good company, he is well traveled, has many stories to tell and he is also a man with an iron will power, a good example for us. He is a bit older than we are, but at 65 is still going strong on his bike!

New Years Eve; 3 Canadians on BMW’s turned up and also a couple from Hungaria/Britain. They had abandoned their bike, because it didn’t do the job. Of course we drunk too much tequila and we had to eat 12 grapes to get happy in each month of this New Year (a Mexican tradition). It took us two days to get ‘fit’ again.

On the second of January we drove on the 15 in the direction of Guadalajara. It took us two days to get there and the Tequila route was pleasant to ride. We had contacted Humberto from the HU community and had asked him where we could get a tyre, which isn’t easy in Mexico. It ended up in him meeting us and escorting us through crazy traffic to his house where we were welcomed by his wife Pili and daughter Freeda (who offered us her bed!).
Humberto is a very interesting person, not afraid to try out new business experiments. He is also very helpful; on a Monday morning he phoned all the tyre dealers in town and found the right one! Happy with the new tyre, but not happy about leaving we had to say goodbye to this lovely and warm family. And Humberto saved me a nightmare by escorting us out of town. The traffic in Guadalajara is horrendous and I didn’t understand the signs at all.

The plan was to meet the South Africans (who we had met on the way to Mazatlan) in Moralia, so we could visit together the Mariposa Monarca (the Monarch Butterflies).
We drove south of Laguna de Chapala on a road with not much traffic to Zamorra, stayed in a quiet hotel (until the fireworks and cockerels started), got lost in Moralia and found finally Johan and Charmaine in hostal ‘Allende’. Our sidecar just fitted in the hall. We bought food at the local market, were amazed by all those hidden ‘tienda’s’ (little shops where you wouldn’t expect to find where you are looking for), explored the town and went to the laundry (God, we were smelly!).

Together we drove in the direction of Zitacuaro, the route of the 1000 peeks, a road with beautiful scenery, which used to be the old road to Mexico City. Johan was very patient with us; we couldn’t drive as fast as he could. The road surface was so bad; it felt like the sidecar had a flat tire.
There are a few parks where you can visit the Monarch Butterflies, we chose the less visited Cerro Pellon, somewhere near Aputzo.We asked for directions in Zitacuaro, which we didn’t understood, so the owner of the garage, Hector, got on his Harley and guided us. He was followed by his employee on a moped, which was much faster than us on these Mexican roads full of surprises (loads of ‘tope’, the Mexican version of a ‘sleeping policeman’).
We celebrated all this with a coke and Hector gave each of us a piece of silk with the Virgin Mary embroided on it. It will protect us on the trip!

We arrived at the welcome centre/campsite where people were still building. We could camp for free and could start climbing the next morning, together with a guide, who you really need, because there are so many paths, you easily take the wrong one and they never see you again.
The climb up the mountain is so steep that you start sweating after 5 seconds. We all were too proud to hire a horse. But after 45 minutes it gets easier and it becomes more fun to walk in the tree jungle. After two and a half hours we reached the area where the Monarch Butterflies gather and suddenly there are millions of them flying around your head, sitting on the rocks, drinking water from the ground, hanging together like a bunch of grapes in the trees… These butterflies come all the way from North America to mate here and after that the males die. Mother Nature is full of miracles.

Johan and Charmaine were heading in another direction and we wanted to contact Balam, a bike traveler who we had met 3 years ago at the Horizons Meeting in Viedma in Argentina. He lives in Valle de Bravo, a nice place near a lake, up in the mountains. And that’s where we are now.

And last but not least; what do we think about Mexico till now?
It’s full of beautiful smiles, sunshine, dust, fireworks, cockerels, exotic fruits, noisy dogs, colors, enchilada’s, tortilla’s, tienda’s, crazy traffic, mountains with thousands of bends, happy villages, loudspeakers, dead dogs, jake brakes and loads of friendly people.
Sometimes travelling through Mexico is hard work, but it’s also amazing that so many people jumped in their car or on the bike to show us the right road. People let me use their mobile phone for free; so many people opened their houses for us and shared with us their thoughts, adventures, philosophies and more. And it’s great that members of the HU communities are so nice, helpful and warm.

Will be continued.

Posted by Maya Vermeer at January 17, 2009 11:21 PM GMT

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