We cross the Gulf of California on the Ferry from Pichelingue (La Paz - Baja California) to the mainland Topolobombo (Los Mochis) on the fast 5 hour ferry. Jules did well organising the tickets in her bad broken Spanish and even asked what time the ferry would arrive!
Whilst travelling on the ferry we saw quite a few pods of dolphins swimming along side the boat, were given lunch as part of our ferry ticket and watched some crappy movies.
We met Claas and Patrick, from Germany, riding to Tierra del Fuego on Honda Africa Twins.
The four of us tried to find a camp-ground once we disembarked from the ferry, however after riding around until about 9:00pm we gave up and went to a little hotel/motel on the outskirts of Los Mochis.
Jules spoke to the Manger about how much rooms cost for one bed, for two beds (as we had the intention of sharing the room between the four of us). Once it was settled and we had organised the one room with two beds the man was very concerned that Patrick and Claas did not have a room each.... he was surprised and somewhat confused about two men sharing one bed between them! At first he thought Grant and Jules wanted separate beds and that was even more confusing.....
We said goodbye to our new friends and headed north on a two day ride to Creel. The gate way to the Copper Canyon.
Frank & Brenda
We arrived in Creel and found a hostel right on the main plaza for $US25/night (private room with bathroom) including breakfast and dinner. We met a lot of really great people there including Terry and Mike from the US who were riding thier Harleys around Mexico, Pete from England but lives in France and is building a house out of an old barn, Kelly from Australia but lives in Scotland and is a fantastic artist, Sergio and Maria Jose from Mexico City, Frank (from Aus but lives in Mexico &US) and Brenda (from US lives in Mexico & US), and finally Dieter from Germany but lives in Canda. We had such a good time with everyone, day trips to Divisidero and the Hot Springs, hanging out drinking vino tinto and wandering around town.
For Mexican Independance Day we took a ride down to Batopilas in the bottom of the Copper Canyon.
We travelled an hour along a very winding lovely paved road for 75 km, turning off at the town of Samachic we started our decent into the famous Copper Canyon. We have to say that negotiating this decent gave us new found respect for the Suzuki.
The gravel and rocky road was was very demanding on a semi-loaded two up motorcycle. The constant switch back corners at very steep angles, deep graveled corners (recently graded), potholes, donkeys and goats made for an interesting ride.
The scenery was breathtaking! Jules hardly looked due to the dizzing heights and sheer drop offs, with no guard rails or safety turn outs! NADA!
On the decent (at about 2000m in altitude), we caught up with the Tarahumara shephards who had been chasing their goat heard down the hill and stopped for a breif chat. They were not even out of breath, unlike us even though we were on the bike.
Once in the bottom of the canyon Grant had to negotiate two timber bridges with very interesting (to say the least) timber arrangements.
We survived the trip and reached Batopilas at around 3:00pm and found two push bike riders Rayner and Brad, who took us to a ladies house for lunch. She runs a small restaurant out of her kitchen and cooked us some lovely burritos, spaghetti and salad for lunch. As it was so hot at the bottom of the canyon (our jackets were soaked and had to be rung out) she made us sit out in her garden instead of her dining room!
We found some accommodation and spent the evening enjoying the festivites of the Fiesta.
In the morning we headed off early, to avoid the heat. About half way up a donkey decided that he would just wander all over the road in a blind panic and Grant, whilst avoiding him, ran into a ditch. The ditch was deeper than Julesī foot pegs, but the bike remained upright.
Grant negotiated his way out and it was back on to the road to Creel, almost running out of petrol. We arrived at Creel on the smell of an oily rag at about 11:00am, just in time for lunch!
After a few more days swanning about Creel we headed off to the Colonial Heartlands.
We left Creel and headed towards Zacetecas. We had heard that it was a lovely city to visit and that we should not miss it. Our first stop was the city of Hildago Parral. We spent a lot of time riding around to find a cheap place to stay, but the cheapest we could find was Hotel Turista on the round-about for $US35/night. It was very clean, had secure parking and cable TV, but the decor was very very 70īs!
The next place we stopped was Parras. A 420 year old wine producing town. They made some very nice ports that we were able to sample, perhaps 10:00 in the morning was a little too early. We stayed there for a few days in a very nice little hotel.
There, a man tried to 'pick up' Jules while she was reading in the courtyard and Grant took a nap. He kept saying how beautiful she was and his room was down stairs. She used her old faithful saying 'No entendo' (I donīt understand), but he would not let up until Grant appeared. The he jumped up at break neck speed and introduced himself to Grant and disappeared for the rest of our time there.
On one of our many walks around Parras we found a very neat and tidy machine shop with several beautifully maintained lathes and tools by the hundreds. Parked outside the workshop was this little bike.
Parras was a nice place to visit and walk around, we enjoyed our time there immensley. We also found out that there was to be a Horizons Unlimited meeting in Creel (where we had just come from) and decided that we would go as far as Zacatecas and then go back for the meeting.
After leaving Parras we attempted to find Real de Catorce. We found a lovely little green church in the dying town of Los Muchachos, and took a 50km detour down the wrong way to Estacion Catorce before turning around and heading back to the main road.
100kms later we made it to Mathuala where we stopped for the night before heading to Real de Catorce.
Real de Catroce is a very cool place to visit. If you have seen the film 'The Mexican' with Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts, the town in Mexcio they go to is this one. It is an old silver mining town with a history of ghosts and fortunes gained and lost. You need to drive for about 30km on cobble stones...
...then through a 2km one way tunnel to get there...
Once there you are greeted by an over look of the city where you can park your vehicle and walk to the town, however we chose to attemt and navigate the one way streets. This probably would not have too much of a problem except we had arrived on the weekend of a pilgrimage. The town was full of market stalls and Grant had to navigate through them and the people shopping at them. He started out saying, in polite Spanish, 'Disculpe' and 'Perdon' and finshed with yelling 'LOOK OUT!'
We returned to Mathuala and headed to Zacetecas.
We arrived in Zaceteca, another Mexican town filled with one way streets, and found the hostel recomended to us, Hostal Villa Colonial(corner Primero de Mayo and Cjon Mono Prierto). Victor greeted us and made us feel very welcome.
Ernesto, the owner, was very helpful and gave us lots of information on local attractions, festvals, language schools - you want to know it - Ernestoīs your man!
We had two big surprises in Creel the first one was that Kelly, who we met in Creel, was staying there.
She had been on an excursion form the hostal to Real de Catorce the night before and saw us go past. So we had crossed paths and not even known it.
Whilst staying at the hostel we met Andy (from Italy) and Lee (from Sydney). They had been travelling together for six months through Central America.
We took turns in cooking for each other and who ever else was at the hostal and wanted a feed.
Our second big surprise was when Brenda and Frank (who we also met in Creel)arrived. We stayed an extra couple of nights to spend time with our lovely friends.
Time to go back to Creel!
Time to leave Zacetecas... again, and say goodbye to Frank and Brenda... again.
We headed off towards Durango and decided to call it a day in a small town 7kms off the main road called San Juan del Rio.
We followed the signs into town advertising a hotel, and hoped it would not be too expensive.
We were pleasently surprised to find this hotel for $USS17/night. It was very clean, very comfortable and the night watchman, Jose Gudalupe, was very very very helpful.
We were concerned about bike parking, Jose was determined not to loose the custom and said we could park it up in the lobby.... how to get it up there was another matter!
So we were asking if it was a safe street and Grant was feeling uncomfortable about just leaving the bike on the street. We looked around for a pole to chaining the bike to, but with the very narrow one way streets there was no where near by to do this.
Jose assured us the town was very safe and the police station was just down the road. After some misunderstanding by Jules we worked out that we could leave the bike at the police station! This was a new one for us!
After unpacking Miss Piggy we took her down to the police station and left her for the night on the verandah.
We walked around town, did a little shopping, used the internet cafe and eventually had some dinner at a hamburger stand.... they made great burgers - even if she did not put any beetroot or pineapple on it!
At about 11:00pm we woke to banging on our hotel room door. Stunned we opened up and were asked to go down to the police station and move the bike.... to where we wondered.
We went down to the police station and were told that they wanted the bike moved inside the jail! About 14 Police Officers were very pleased that Grant parked the bike away from TV! They were working all night and changed shift at around 8:00am.
We chatted to them in Spanglish about where we had been, and where we were going and that we were going to take some Spanish lessons. A few of the guys had worked in the US for varying times.
Some of the inmates wanted to sell us some horse whips that they had made. We asked what we would do with them and one of the Officers thought we could use it to make the bike go faster! This was met with a lot of laughter.
Back to bed we toddled and were woken again, but this time at 5:00am by fireworks being exploded at the church! We got up and decided to go to a bakery to get some sweet bread (pan dulce) for the Police Officers to say thankyou for looking after the bike. However bakeries open at 9:00 not earlier like in Aus.
Jose came to our rescue again! He took us to the bakery and banged on the door until they opened up. We had the pick of freshly baked rolls and took them down to th police station and took Miss Piggy out of jail!
Back at the hotel Jose was very curious as to why we were up at this time of the day, especially as it was still dark outside. He asked if it was the explosions from the church! Very perceptive. He made us coffee and spent about an hour explaining our trip and he told us about his life.
On to Parral and then back into Creel
We arrived in Creel, with the intention of staying a few nights at Marguaritas but noticed some guys already at the camp ground so we moved in there.
We settled into the Camp ground. Russ, Andy and Federico were there and bought to our attention that our rear tyre was showing steel. We had only checked it at San Juan del Rio, 2 days ago and it was fine.
With the help of Federico we organised a tyre to be shipped from Gudalajara to Chihuahua where we could pick it up.
Our first night in Creel started our lovely, we had made a nice fire on the grill, Federico was making quesidillas with cheese Andy and Julie walked 10kms for and Jules made some lovely rissoles (hamburgers to those from outside Australia). Then the storm hit, we got soaked quickly, we slavaged what we could and headed for the cover of the Verandah of the main building.
Whilst we sat about chatting and drinking red wine the stray dogs in the campground ate the whole block of cheese, guacamole, chips, anything that may have been left out was gone! The dogs must have had a belly ache all night because there was an awful lot of howling for the rest of the night.
We disapeared to Chihuahua overnight to get the tyre with no hassles and Grant changed the tyre using the tools we carry and a lot of grunt.
The HU meeting got underway.
We were very glad we came.
We got to meet lots of people who are interested in motorcycle travel and a few other RTW'ers. We attended some of the sessions about travel, photography etc. Grant attended the 'How to change a tyre' and learnt a few tricks of the trade whilst Jules went to the Womens session.
Andy, Jules & Federico
We had lots of lunches and dinners with people, as well as a few rides. Including a ride to a waterfall we could not find!
We made lots of new friends and met lots of new people: Andy (USA), Federico (Mexico), Russ (USA), Deb & Dave (USA & Canada), Garry & Ivonne (Mexico), Richard (USA), AT (USA), Arturo (Mexico), Michael (Sth Africa), Chris (Canada).
After leaving the meeting we headed off back to Zacetecas with Federico and Andy. We said good by to Andy in Chihuahua.
We stayed in Delicias and Torreon where we met Federicoīs friend Lordes who took us to a really neat Kareoke bar where we stayed until the wee small hours.... did not sing though!
We had breakfast in Torreon in what Federico described as 'the ugliest restaurant he had ever been to'. However, they made very good food.
Our veteran travellers share their tips (and great stories) for staying healthy, happy and secure on your motorcycle adventure.
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