September 01, 2002 GMT
Entering Bandit Country...

Thelma was finally ready, one last evening at the George and Dragon for me and I was off - following the coast through Washington and Oregon - stunning coastline and a road that was made for bikes. The forest fires were going full-swing but I managed to avoid them. I reached San Francisco where there was a warm welcome from my friends there, they had been following my travels avidly and now, Janet (my friendīs Mum) spoke up, she said she wanted a bit of adventure in her life and so I invited her to join me for the trip down into Mexico.
She borrowed her sonīs leather jacket and, at the age of 62, Janet climbed on the back of Thelma for her first ever motorcycle journey - a mere 2600 miles!!
We had a ball together - Yosemite Park, Death Valley - not such a good idea in August wearing black leathers, Las Vegas and across the border into Mexico. Janet even slept out in the open for the first time when we ended up in small town Baja where the town had shut down for the season and nowhere was open.
We took the ferry from La Paz in Baja to Mazatlan on the mainland and then I dropped Janet off in Puerto Vallarta where she was greeted with astonishment by her friends there - fellow retirees in condominiums. I enjoyed a spot of luxury for a day and then set off once more on my own - it was back to rough camping from here on.
The ride through Mexico was great, except for those bloody topes. At first I was riding along wondering what topes are as there was a sign warning about them the next thing I knew, bang I had hit a speed bump, ahh, so that's what topes are. Believe me, there are a lot of them in Mexico and not all of them are marked.

I was spending the night in a variety of places. When the sun set I would stop at the nearest pueblo and say who I was and where I was travelling, explaining that I needed somewhere to camp, often this would mean that I would be given pride of place on someone's patio, (yes, in my tent with Thelma alongside). One time though, in Chiapas, they decided it was too dangerous for me to camp out like that and assigned me an armed guard, who happened to be stationed on the garage forecourt where I had to go and camp. I think I was more at risk from his amorous advances than from any guerilla activity.

Posted by tiffanycoates at September 01, 2002 03:32 PM GMT
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