July 30, 2006 GMT

Roosters crowing, donkeys braying, church bells ringing, now that's the way I want to wake up in a Mexican town.

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Roosters crowing, donkeys braying, church bells ringing, now that's the way I want to wake up in a Mexican town. You appreciate the simple things in these places, like when I took this hotel room, they told me there was hot water. Well they all say that, you don't know for sure until you try it. It took a long time for the cold water to get flushed out of the pipes, but finally, glorious hot water. When I got out, I stepped fom the bathroom into the bedroom, and Wham! Down I went on the slick tile floor. I caught myself on this kind of curb that seperated the rooms on my right forearm. I immediately had visions of my arm in a cast, having to come home, and tell people what happened.

"Did the bandidos beat you up and steal your bike?"

"No, I did an endo in the shower at my hotel."

That would be the definition of humiliation. Luckily, after a few seconds it was clear my arm wasn't broken, but I have a nasty bruise and two fingers are still a little tingly.

It was actually pretty darn cold last night, and I'm only 50 miles or so north of the tropic. Unfortunately it has been cloudy and drizzly most of the time I have been here. I could see where this place would really be beautiful in a late afternoon light, if there was any sun. I stayed off the bike, and must have walked 12 or 15 miles today, all of it up and down, just checking out the area. there are several roads that lead out of here that look like they merit exploration by motorcycle or mountain bike, but it rained and I am still feeling little beat up after falling getting out of the shower this morning.

I am writng this in a really posh Italian restaraunt, by Real standards, just to give myself a little treat. I have been doing OK on my budget. I could economize a little more, but I'm not in competition with anyone to see how cheap I can travel. I expect the next 2 days to be mostly riding, the next stop I think is Guanajuato.

On my last night here, I thought I had to get a little of the local flavor, so I went to the local bar/pool hall. This was clearly a local crowd, I recognized a few guys that were doing construction work around town during the day. They were playing a version of stripes and solids, but instead of racking the balls to start a game, they would line the balls up against the long bumpers, stripes on one side, solids on the other. The table was so worn, the varnish was mostly gone from the wooden rails, and there were actually depressions in the areas where they got the most use. The felt was in good shape though. Now, I used to play a fair stick in my day, but I wasn't sure if they were playing for money, and didn't trust my spanish to keep me out of trouble, knowing how seriously some people take their pool. I just drank a couple beers (Carta Blanca, a cheap working man's beer) and tried to make a compliment when someone made a dificult shot. All this while Tejano music played and Urban Cowboy was on TV with the sound off and spanish subtitles.

All in all a very interesting couple of days. Real de Catorce has elements of several different places I have been in Mexico, but here the gringo's haven't arrived in force yet, but maybe I am just out of season.

7-29-06 start 29,735 end 30,009

Wel, I'm trying to figure out how I rode all day and only went 200 miles. Actually it's pretty easy. I was packed up and moving by 9, but when I got to the tunnel, I had to wait there a while. there is only one lane and a guy at each end with a telephone to the other guy tells you when to go. Keep in mind this is a mile and a half long. So, he told me to go, and I went. Everything was rosy unil I got past the only turn and saw headlights coming at me, so I dove for the widest spot handy, and a dually truck went past at about 30 mph. He never even lifted. Then down the 20 mile cobblestone road, at least it was dry this time. i could have taken the autopista as far as San Luis Potosi, but that would not have been in the spirit of this trip, so I found a squiggly line on the map that looked like it crossed a mountain range and took it. The mountain pass was no big deal, but it was nice to see some back country little towns, although I got lost in one for a little while. The pavement ran out in the little town of Cerro Prieto, and I continued on the gravel for a while, but after I crossed a river a couple times, through concrete vados (that's a low water bridge to a Texan) and could see it was raining in the direction I wanted to go, I wimped out yet again and backtracked to where I could hit the highway to SLP, where I could conect to a highway going Southwest, where I wanted to go. I was afraid if it rained enough I would be trapped between river crossings until the water went down.

Anyway, I got to SLP and just rode around the outskirts on a ring road to my other highway. SLP is really a hapening place, judging by the southwest outskirts. There were new houses and condos going up, along with concrete and glass office buildings. Also the Monterrey Technologico something, which I took to be a university. Very prosperous looking area. Almost makes me forget the last time I went through here I had to line a cops pocket to keep my drivers license. Almost. At least it is the only hassle I've ever had with Mexican cops. Speaking of the law, I have yet to be stopped at any kind of checkpoint. I think this is a record for miles with out one. Not that I'm complaining.

So I found my road, and wouldn't you know it, it started raining. By this time it was about 6:00 anyway, so I stopped at the first motel that looked to be in my price range. 100 pesos, with hot water and TV. Looks like most of the other people here are truck drivers or construction workers. I'm not even sure what the name of this town is, but I am warm and dry. So that's how I spent 9 hours going 200 miles. Should be an easy ride to Guanajuato tomorrow though.

7-29-06 start 30,009 end 30,110

Today is one of those small world stories that only seem to happen to me on a motorcycle trip. I rode the 100 miles or so from where I stayed last night to the city of Guanajuato. As I was riding into town, trying to get my bearings, I looked in an open mechanic shop door and saw a motorcycle rigged up for travel in a state of disassembly. I pulled a quick u turn and parked on the sidewalk. Inside were 2 Ecuadoran guys, Xavier and Enrique, who are on their way to Alaska, from Ecuador. It turned out that Xavier spoke excellent English, and we told each other about our trips. The small world part is that we have a friend in common. If you recall, a few thrilling episodes ago I told about a guy named Jeremiah, who I met in Mexico and then again in Colorado just last month. Well, Jeremiah stayed with these guys in Ecuador last winter, as Xavier's family has a hotel there. What are the odds? After they got the fan straightened out on Enrique's bike, I followed them to where they were staying, and we got me set up in a hospedaje close to where they were staying. Pickings are pretty slim in lodging as there is a festival of some kind going on. We spent the afternoon walking around taking pictures, doing the tourist thing, and talking about the things that motorcyclists talk about. You know, tire selection, what country has the most beautiful women, road quality, what age are women the most beautiful, that sort of thing. I have about 15 years on these guys, so my number was different than theirs, but I'm not telling.

Guanajuato is an old mining town, that is built in the craziest little canyon you ever saw. In the old town, every street is crooked, narrow, and steep. Of course that is it's appeal. Many of the buildings date from the mining boom, and most are in really good shape. Makes me think of Real de Catorce, only much bigger and not having spent most of a century as a ghost town, in lots better repair. A fair number of American tourists here, lots of people seem to come here for language courses, and it's just a cool place to hang out while learning. I'm going to spend 2 nights here, and visit some of the museums tomorrow.

7-30-06 start 30,120 end 30,120

I stayed off the bike today and went to several of the museums that guanajuato is known for. The most bizarre that I have ever been to is the Museum of the Mummies. Space is at apreium here, so in the 1860's they dug up a bunch of bodies in the cemetery to make room for more, and instead of skeletons, they found mummified remains. Somebody must have thought, hey, let's make some money off of this. So they built a museum to display them. Now, I have been in Mexico on Day of the Dead before, so I at least had some clue about the fascination with death here, but this was waaayy over the top. The mummies are displayed in glass cases, their shrunken skin distorting the faces into grotesque expressions. The whole tour was in spanish, but judging from some of the clothing styles, I got the idea that some were a lot fresher than 1860. They had a pregnant mummy, the world's smallest mummy (must have been a premie baby), mummy this and mummy that. Too weird. Please cremate me when I die.

Next on the list was the Diego Rivera museum, at what was his house. He must have done pretty well, judging by the house, all 4 floors of it. Rivera was known as a communist sympathizer in the 30's and just recently has he been kind of officially recognized by the state. He painted in a lot of different styles, there were some Van Goghish impessionist landscapes, cubist portraits, and some almost photorealistic still lifes. There were more styles, but I've exhausted my ability to describe them. Knowing a little of his reputation, I expected more political content in the subjects, but they seemed pretty benign, except for one of a worker at his forge, and a strange mural of a column of soldiers with larger faces superimposed that I thought looked very soviet like. I interpreted one of the figures to be a mild caricature of Lenin, but no one there could tell me anything about the subject or even when it was done.

Next on the list was the Museo Iconigrafico, dedicated to art inspired by Cervantes' Don Quixote. Mostly paintings and scultures of Quixote and his sidekick Sancho, as one would expect. This was realy a good display, even for me , who has never read the book. I suppose I'll have to now. If I was really ambitious I would learn spanish well enough to read in the original spanish. Probably won't happen. They also had popular articles on display, like chess sets, playing cards, and coins from various countries with Quixote as a subject.

Guanajuato should definitely be on the list of anyone´s must see places in Mexico. You feel like you are on a movie set or something, the way the streets and alleys snake around between all the brightly colored buildings, and the ever present cathedrals are always in view.

The Ecuadorans left this morning for points north. Adios, amigos, I will see you again in Ecuador. Miah, if you are reading this, I told them you live in Durango, and they should contact you. I will be sending them an email with your email, but figure I might as well mention it here too. They will be going through Colorado, but not sure what route yet. They have a date they have to be in Seattle by, so they may have to by pass you.

Pictures to come, if I can quit having this upload fight me.

Posted by Andy Tiegs at July 30, 2006 11:05 PM GMT

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