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Photo by Bettina Hoebenreich, At the foot of the Bear Glaciers, eternal ice, British Columbia, Canada

Adventure is what you make it

Photo by Bettina Hoebenreich, at the foot of the Bear Glaciers, British Columbia, Canada.



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  #106  
Old 12 Jan 2013
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Hey Guys,

You two have one of the most amazing blogs I have ever read so far. Great pictures, short entertaining comments, and full of positive fun.

I am glad to see someone that is truly taking time to enjoy the different cultures and not riding from point to point like if they had somewhere to be anytime soon.

Keep it up!

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  #107  
Old 13 Jan 2013
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Fantastic report! Great photos. Wish you every happiness on your travels.
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  #108  
Old 15 Jan 2013
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Thanks for the encouragement, guys!
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  #109  
Old 15 Jan 2013
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It rained all through New Year's Eve and into the first few days of 2013.

While I was still recovering from Tequila poisoning, we opted to stay in for the night while the steady rain poured down on all the merry-makers. The sounds of fireworks and music was a testament that you just can't drown out a good party! We are staying at a fabulous (and cheap) bed and breakfast about a 15-minute walk from the city centre. For the next few days we stayed around the neighbourhood, shopping at the local mercado.


Neda cooks up stir-fry vegetables to make up for all the greens that are lacking in the Mexican food

I have been gaining lots of weight on this Mexican diet of fried tortillas, tacos, and huevos. And it's all so cheap! Good thing there was a kitchen we could use in the B&B. Although the local food is high in fat and carbohydrates, obesity has only become a recent problem with Mexicans. Prior to the 1980s, the numbers were negligible, but with the expansion of US fast food chains, the average weight has steadily increased. There is a McDonalds in every city and it seems like Coca-Cola has focused all its advertising dollars in Mexico.


Regular service at Germania BMW

Thankfully the weather cleared and we dropped the bikes off for service at the dealership and walked around Zapopan, a larger town in the north-east Greater Metropolitan Guadalajara.


Almost every Mexican town or city has a gate


Whistling and skipping amongst the orange trees!


"Oranges and lemons, say the bells of... um the Virgin of Zapopan"

The Basilica of Our Lady of Zapopan is the most famous building in the area, celebrating the likeness of the Virgin Mary. Like all Mexican neighbourhoods, it also has its own market and plaza and we spent most of the day walking around in the hot sun.


Pope John Paul II and a friend


Street musician outside the Basilica


Babysitting.


The mercado at Zapopan. More veggies please!


Restaurants are ready for the lunchtime crowd


While in the Farmacia in Zapopan, these two nuns approached me, and I helped them fix their old transistor radio.
I'm SO totally going to heaven now!



Mural on the wall of a cemetary, now my new desktop wallpaper


Cemetary just around the corner from our B&B


BRAINS! Well, that veggie diet didn't last very long...

The taco place around the corner from our B&B has become our second home. By now, I've tried almost everything on their menu. The report on the tacos de sesos (brains): it tasted exactly like it sounds. When cooked, it's a white meat. Very mushy, but you could still feel the texture of the brain folds. It was definitely an organ meat and not as salty as muscle. It wasn't bad, but not my favorite taco.


Guachimontones

During the weekend, we took another day-trip outside of the city to Teuchitlan, about 60 kms away - not too far from Tequila. It's home to a very unique set of structures called Guachimontones. Although not as grand as the Mayan or Aztec pyramids, these have the distinction of being built almost 1,000 years before the rise of the Aztec empire. They are considered "pre-hispanic".


Main Guachimonton, up close and personal. Several smaller ones scattered throughout the area

Another unique feature of the Guachimonton is that they are round in shape and rise up in smaller concentric circles like a cone. All other pyramids are straight-edged. These pyramids were built to honor the God of the Wind. At the very top, it's speculated that a long pole was erected where Velodores (flyers) would jump off the top with ropes tied around their ankles and slowly descend while rotating around the pole. Hearing this story sparked a memory of a TV show I used to watch called, "In Search Of" narrated by Mr. Spock, and in one episode he was describing this exact ceremony. Not sure why this stuck out in my mind so much...


Tourists from all over the area visit the site




These flat pads used to be the site of large permanent huts, all facing the Guachimonton


The town of Teuchitlan lies in the distance


Relaxing afternoon amongst the remains of an ancient civilization
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  #110  
Old 21 Jan 2013
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After 10 restful days in Guadalajara, we laden our bikes with all our gear once again and set off to explore more of the state of Jalisco. A popular destination for Guadalajarans and others in the region is Lake Chapala, Mexico's largest fresh-water lake. It's only about an hour away and the weather is sunny and beautiful for the afternoon ride.


Riding through the cobblestone streets of Ajijic

We're told to explore Ajijic, which is a very pretty town 5 minutes away from the lake. Our internal organs are given a bit of a shuffle as we bounced up and down over the cobblestone streets of the old city. The weather and scenery here is idyllic, however it seems that lot of Americans and Canadians have also caught onto this fact. There are over 20,000 gringos and Cangringos living in Ajijic and you can't turn a corner without that North American twang of English wafting through the air like a bad smell.

To underscore the point, every other building in Ajijic seems to be a real estate agency...


Lunch at the funky Nuevo Posada Hotel


Giving our kidneys a break by walking the streets of Ajijic


Pretty side streets in Ajijic

The ex-pat community here is fairly old, made up of American retirees, Canadian snowbirds and families who have brought their elderly parents here for the cheap cost of assisted living. We've noticed that ex-pats greatly change the landscape of the culture wherever they tend to coagulate, raising the prices of real estate and food, and creating a very non-Mexican bubble supported by their influx of foreign dollars.

Ajijic is a beautiful town, but we wouldn't want to live here.


San Francisco Church just off the Malecon in Chapala

About 5 minutes away is the town of Chapala, and the main draw here is the Malecon, from where you can watch the prettiest sunsets in Jalisco. We spent the entire afternoon people-watching, while tracking the movement of the sun as it fell from the clouds overhead to a more photogenic position just above the horizon over the waters of Lake Chapala.


Walking the pier on the Malecon in Chapala


Ice cream break! Neda really likes her skirt


The native whitefish population of Lake Chapala was decimated when they brought foreign Tilapia into the waters. Huh? What metaphor...?


Boats watch the sunset like angels on the beach


I see a little silhouette of a man...


The Sun of King Midas touches the waters, turning them to an iridescent gold


Street vendor resting his arms


Walking the Malecon at sunset is a popular activity here


So cute! Stray dogs were running all over the beaches, playfully chasing each other. None of them looked like they wanted for food


We have about 300 more shots like this...


299 more.
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  #111  
Old 21 Jan 2013
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thanks guys for such a briliant trip/blog (whatever ye call it)
i ,ve be following your trip with great interest, your photos and information are first class ,it almost feels like we are there with you
don,t mind if you put up all the 300 photos of the sunset ,because
here in a damp and cold ireland we,re not getting much blue skyes at the moment ,
take care guys
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  #112  
Old 22 Jan 2013
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While we were at Germania BMW in Guadalajara last week getting our bikes serviced, the service technicians gave us some great ideas on places to ride around. One of them told us that local bikers ride up a twisty road to Tapalpa for the weekends and hang out there. When we found out that Tapalpa was also a Pueblo Magico, well that sealed the deal!


Riding the cobblestone streets of Tapalpa

Tapalpa is about a two-hour ride from Guadalajara. The road winds up the Tapalpa mountain range, and the temperature drops precipitously into single digits (C) as we reach the mountainside town early in the evening. Tapalpa is known for woodworking and a lot of the architecture features nice wood finishes to doorways and arches. We spent some time walking around the town square just outside the San Antonio Parish, the main church in Tapalpa.


Disapproving look at my parking job?


I thought this nice old lady said she'd watch our bikes while we walked around town. Neda says to me, "Wow, your Spanish really sucks, cause she just threw a bunch of swear words at you...


Birds fly (Whisper to a scream)


Statue outside the church heralds the sunset


We ordered tamale de acerga (swiss chard), typical for this region


Bells and crosses dot the skyline

Shortly after sunset, we watched as a crowd of people started lining the streets outside the church. Then a huge processions of dancers, musicians and paraders made a giant circle around the town square. This lasted a whole hour and I was sorry that I didn't have my camera on-hand to take pictures. The waitress at our restaurant told us not to worry, this would happen every night - it was a 9-day festival honouring the Virgen de Guadalupe, and pilgrims from all over slowly make their way to Tapalpa. This fiesta happens every night for 9 days!

Felipe, our Spanish teacher in La Paz, told us that Mexicans *LOVE* their festivals and parties. There seem to be more national holidays than working days, which affects productivity somewhat...


There were several marching bands with brass instruments and also these musicians with fiddles


Then the Aztecs came out, managed to get them still for a picture


A flurry of feathers and headdresses as everyone lined up to go into church after the parade


Fireworks shot up at the end of the parade and kept on going well into the early morning


Walking back from the fiesta

The back streets of Tapalpa are quiet. Most of the residents and pilgirims are still at the plaza outside the church celebrating. Our walk back to our casa is punctuated by the pop of fireworks amidst the distant sounds of a marching band playing well into the night. We love being here in Mexico!


As recommended to me, I had Tacos de Tripita (fried tripe). New favorite taco!!!


There is music everywhere in Mexico. One of the things I *LOVE* about this place!


And of course, lots of shopping for Neda


Not an original idea. I saw little kids doing this last night. Hmm... maybe I shouldn't have admitted to that...


Visitors are not allowed up here, but we sweet-talked our way up the church tower. By sweet-talk, I mean begged. And we also gave a donation to the church as well...

There was an old radio program I used to listen to when I was a kid. It was a late-night program and I wasn't supposed to be up that late, so I would be under the covers in bed with my old transistor radio. I can't recall the name, but it was a Twilight Zone-like show. One of the episodes had the main character climb up a tower, and since he was afraid of enclosed spaces, he counted the steps till he reached the top, to occupy his mind. When he descended, he again counted steps down but to his horror, the number kept on increasing past the number of steps he climbed up!

Every time I climb stairs, I remember that radio program...


I *SO* wanted to ring the bells and yell out to Tapalpa, "DINNERTIME!!!!" Perhaps that's why they don't let people up here...


Inside of San Antonio Parish Church


View of the town square from the church tower

We haven't been getting a lot of exercise ever since arriving in Mexico. And on top of that, we've been eating really badly as well. So Neda found a great place to hike around, just outside of Tapalpa. Las Piedrotas are a set of huge boulders sitting in an empty field. Nobody knows how they got there since there doesn't seem to be any mountains immediately in the area, the field is just bounded by forests. It's speculated that aliens moved them. Really hard-working aliens that don't fiesta 200 days out of the year...


Jumping is exercise, right?


Climbing Las Piedrotas


Unrealistic expectations
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Last edited by lightcycle; 27 Nov 2013 at 19:04.
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  #113  
Old 28 Jan 2013
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Nice one!

Courage is to step outside the comfort zone!

Enjoy, live and love.
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  #114  
Old 28 Jan 2013
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From Tapalpa, we head eastwards further inland. We've been really blessed with sunny weather on this trip, normally it rains all throughout our previous trips. The ride takes us through a lot of farmer's fields and as we approach Uruapan, the geography changes to a tropical jungle, large leafy trees line the roads. We've crossed into our 7th state - Michoacan - supposed to be one of the most beautiful states in Mexico.


From desert cactus back to leafy trees


Spying lunch at the "food court" in Uruapan


Beautiful bass walking the streets looking for a gig


Downtown streets of Uruapan

Neda went hiking through El Parque Nacional de Uruapan, which is right inside the city. It boasts many white water rivers and waterfalls throughout its area, with rainbow trout swimming freely through its waters.


These kids would dive if you gave them a few pesos at El Parque Nacional de Uruapan


White water rivers in El Parque Nacional de Uruapan


Updating RideDOT.com in our very nice habitacion

We're staying a few days in the city in a great little casita, run by a Spanish couple who know the the area really well. They've given us some amazing recommendations for places to see and things to eat. Uruapan is the avocado capital of the world, and the fields we passed through on the way in were avocado farms!


Amazing guacamole!


Art gallery inside an old converted fabric factory

On Sunday, while we were coming back to our casita, we saw the housekeeper leave and we asked where she was going. She told us she was going to watch "los luchadores" in the town square. We thought "luchadores" had something to do with a lightshow or fireworks? From the Spanish word for light? When we went down to the square to see for ourselves, we found out "Luchadores" means wrestlers!!! OMG SO COOOL!!!


The town square is filled to capacity to watch the luchadores

So apparently, the WWF or WWE or whatever they call it in America, got its inspiration from Lucha Libres, a very popular Mexican sport founded in 1933. The wrestlers wear colourful masks, which would explain the popularity of all the masks being sold in the souvenir stores all over Mexico. Matches mostly consist of Battle Royales, tag teams or trios, such as the one we were watching today.


As with any wrestling match, there's a lot of this at the beginning...


...followed by a lot of that


This little girl in front of me wasn't very impressed. She was more interested in my camera. SO CUTE!

The crowd was chanting, "Tecnicos! Tecnicos! Tecnicos!", which I guess was one of the teams. So we got into the action, and joined in the chants as well. The locals standing around us thought that was hilarious, as it was obvious we had no clue who or what we were chanting for. Later when we got back to our casita, I looked up "Tecnicos", and it turns out that in any match, there are the good guys, "Tecnicos" and the bad guys, "Rudos". The Tecnicos play by the rules, have the better skills and moves, while the Rudos rely on breaking the rules to win.

While the cheering was strong for the Tecnicos, the crowd went absolutely crazy when the referees got into the action, getting a move put on them by one of the Rudos (or even a Tecnico!). Such a good time! We found out that these wrestling matches happen every other Sunday!


Somebody's gonna get hurt reel bad...


The greatest insult is to be unmasked in public by another wrestler

At this point I realized that we were watching a live action Saturday-morning superhero cartoon. So:

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  #115  
Old 1 Feb 2013
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In 1943, a fissure opened up in a cornfield just outside of Uruapan. The farmer and his wife watched as ash and stones erupted from a small hole in the ground. A week later, that fissure grew up to be a volcano measuring 5 stories high and after a year it was over 1,000 feet tall! During this time, the volcano continued spewing lava and ash, covering the field and burying two neighbouring villages, Paricutin (which the volcano was named after) and San Juan.



We wanted to see this volcano first-hand, so we rode about 15 minutes outside of Uruapan and stopped for lunch in Nuevo San Juan. The inhabitants of old San Juan had plenty of time to evacuate their homes and they relocated their town further away from the volcano and named it Nuevo San Juan. After lunch, we rode further uphill to where the farmer's field used to be. The road crumbled away to a dirt path through a very scenic forest.


"Excuse me!" Neda beeps her horn... nothing.
"Con permisso?"... ah, that did the trick - Spanish-speaking cows...



The trail gets smaller and disappears into the forest


Trail becomes a field of fine volcanic ash

The ash is like sand, which is our sworn nemesis! Our big, heavy bikes with smooth, street tires leave deep gouges in the soft surface. As Neda tries to accelerate out of the dark ash, her rear tire leaves a smokey ash-cloud in the air that hangs in the air behind her until my bike cuts through it. Instead of paddling our way through all of this, we decide to park the bikes and hike 30 minutes to the farmer's field.


From across the field, the volcano appears in the distance, rising 1,400 feet in the air


Although we are assured by many people that the volcano is dormant, we're a bit taken aback
when hot, smelly gases still rise from the fissures in the ground!



For once, I'm not responsible for the smell behind me...


Scrabbling up the very steep summit of the volcano, we take different paths
because whoever's ahead leaves a small landslide of babyhead volcanic rocks



We reach the top, and bask in the... uh, sulfuric gases


Looking into the crater of the Paricutin Volcano


There's an awful lot of heat and activity here for a "dormant" volcano...


Hiking around the rim of the volcano


In the very far distance, my zoom lense captures what remains of old San Juan

Old San Juan lies almost completely covered in lava from the Paricutin Volcano. From the peak, we can see the direction and the shape of the lava flow. The only thing standing in San Juan is the top of the the church. It's too far to hike today, as it's taken us 2 hours to get from the bike to the summit, and the sun is starting to hang low in the sky.


Getting ready to descend


Spectacular views from the top of Paricuctin

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/f4ZeXooMhto" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

We take another way down the volcano, as it seems a bit more direct, although it's much more steeper. From the video above, we slid down as if we were on snowboards down a Double Black Diamond run - smoke still rising all around us! When we reached the bottom, we got a bit lost and spent almost an hour rummaging through thick foliage trying to find the path back to the field we came in from. We had less than an hour of sun left and I was starting to panic a bit, but thankfully Neda has the tracking skills of a woman in a shoe store on Boxing Day and we made it out into the field as the sun was beginning to set.

Just another 30 minutes to get back to the bike and then a ride through the forest in the dark. Not looking forward to that.


And then, salvation!

Castullo and his brother were also visiting the volcano, and they managed to drive through the ash and park a lot closer than we did. When they saw us walking though the ash field, they offered us a ride in the back of their pickup truck. We had seen tons of Mexicans riding in the back of pickup trucks in our travels, and now we were doing the exact same thing as the locals! So awesome! We were giggling like kids and taking lots of shakey pictures all the way back on the bumpy ride to the bikes, and the two brothers were shaking their heads and laughing at us from inside the truck.


We thanked Castullo for the ride and then negotiated the rest of the ash field


I couldn't put my kickstand down to help, so I had to ride past Neda, park and come back to pick her bike up.
It was getting dark very fast...


We did manage to get back to Uruapan safely, and it was only after a couple of days of rest from our long hike that we felt ready to venture out to the other side of Paricutin to try to find the remnants of the church in the lava.


Had lunch at Angahuan, the closest town to old San Juan


We were a bit worried about eating here, didn't seem that sanitary... but the food tasted good


We rented a couple of horses and descended down the steep path
strewn with volcanic rock



There it is, the remains of the church in old San Juan


This was the only building remaining in the entire town


There are shanties set up just outside the ruins and it looks like people still worship at the church
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  #116  
Old 4 Feb 2013
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Some loners stray out into the sun


This little guy needed some warming up


Mid-afternoon sun brings the Monarchs to life!


When I breathed on the butterfly on my hand, he flew up onto my sweater and then walked all the way up to my ear! It tickled!


This guy seemed to like Neda's backpack


We made tons of friends that day. Muy hermosas!


Someone told the villagers that Ewan and Charley were in El Rosario. Our ride back down to Angangueo was met with a lot of disappointed faces...
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  #117  
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We had our doubts about visiting Mexico City. It's the 7th most-populated city in the world at over 20 million residents. We've heard the traffic and the congestion are killer! Not a place you'd want to ride into by motorcycle. So when Garry contacted us over the Internet and invited us into the big city, we naturally jumped at the chance!


Garry and I yakking about bikes

Garry, along with his wife Ivonne, run the the Garry Hostel, whose mission it is to "give accommodations to intrepid Motorcycle Travelers brave enough to come and experience the marvels of Mexico City". It's actually their home that they open up to any biker riding through Mexico, as they are also motorcyclists as well. Garry and Ivonne have hosted over 90 sets of motorcycle travellers over the years! They are taking their own big trip in the near future and I'm sure all this good karma they've built up will revisit them in spades!


Mexico City subway - normally a zoo during rush hour

Garry had to work during the week, so we took the subway downtown to visit the world-famous National Museum of Anthropology and History. Since our hosts were taking us pyramid-hunting this weekend, Ivonne told us it would be a great way to brush up on Mayan and Aztec culture before the visit.

Truthfully, I'm not really a museum person, I just like taking pictures. I also like taking naps in museums... Neda loves museums and talks about all the things she learns about while I am snapping away. This gives me material for the blog to go along with all the pictures. But because I'm only half-listening while taking pictures, most of these third-hand-half-heard "facts" that I write down are wrong, and then everyone e-mails me to correct me, and then I get to tell Neda how popular we are on the Internet. It's a great system...


Gene: kikikiki...
Neda: Are you 5?!
Gene: Come on! I'm sure the artist was also like, "kikikiki" when he made this...!



Aztec Calendar Stone

Speaking of wrong facts, the very famous Aztec Calendar Stone, which is a Mexican cultural symbol, is now believed to be a basin or altar for human sacrifice. Now that's a lot cooler than some lame calendar!


Aztec head, sacrificial basin in the background


Outside the museum, there's a park with lots of vendors selling trinkets


Tweety-bird looks on as Neda gets a gold tooth put in, rapper-style

When we were in Guadalajara, we met a couple from Montreal who had come down to Mexico to get dental work done. The prices down here are much cheaper than in Canada, so Neda takes the opportunity to score some novacaine.


Outta the way! One-Two-Fives in da house!

My battery is not holding a proper charge, so after Garry gets back from work, we go searching for a Yuasa YTX14-BS. Garry's got a couple of smaller 125cc thumpers that are more suited for zipping in and out of Mexico City traffic, so off we go into the city zooming around on these tiny bikes! I got to ride his reverse-shift Honda on the way back, and I was stalling and hopping that rear wheel all the way home! SO MUCH FUN!

We didn't end up getting a battery that day, but we did go to the BMW dealership where they tried to charge me a million pesos for a BMW OEM battery. With the currency conversion, it would have been like a couple of thousand Canadian dollars. Whatevs...


Break dancers in Coyoacan

Mexico City is not in a state, it's inside a Federal District. One evening, our hosts take us to the historic centre of Coyoacan, one of the most popular places to visit in Mexico. With it's cobble-stone streets lined with restaurants, cafes, bookstores and other cultural attractions, the place is packed with a flurry of people and activities. We also discover another of our favorite foods - churros filled with Nutella! Neda is in heaven!


Cruiser parked outside one of the many cafes in Coyoacan

On the weekend, Ivonne drove all of us to the pyramids in Teotihuacan about 45-minutes north of Mexico City. Garry made up some stories about how northern Mexico City was the dangerous part of town, 'cause that's where they cut people's arms off. But when Ivonne hit the automatic locks when we were driving through the north, it scared us a little...

All throughout our trip in Mexico, we have been picking up bits and pieces of Spanish, but nobody has ever taken the time to teach us all the swear words. Until now. Ivonne's colourful vocabulary sprang to life as she negotiated the congested streets of Mexico City. "Chingo"!, "Ai Cabron!", "Tonto!"... ok, that last one wasn't that bad, but our SpanishDict apps on our iPhones were working overtime as we were shuffled around in the back seat while darting in and out of traffic!

We'd titter like little kids everytime Ivonne threw another Spanish cuss word at an errant driver that got in her way...


Hat and sunglasses commerce at the pyramids in Teotihuacan - tons of vendors everywhere!


We must have climbed over a thousand flights of (very steep) stairs going up and down three different pyramids during the day


Garry takes everyone of his guests here. He's climbed this pyramid over 90 times in his life!


Couple takes a break at the half-way mark


Ivonne fashionably surveying the land. I wish we had brought hats too...


Pyramid of the Sun is the largest pyramid in MesoAmerica. The people at the top look like tiny hairs!

There are three pyramids in Teotihuacan, the Pyramid of the Sun, the Pyramid of the Moon and the Pyramid of the Feathered Serpent. I found it interesting that like the Aztec Stone Calendar, the larger Pyramid of the Sun was misnamed. It's actually dedicated to the god of Water. So it should really be called Pyramid of Water, but it's been called the Pyramid of the Sun for so long that they're not going to bother changing it.

Reminds me of the Skydome back in Toronto. When Rogers Communications bought the rights to rename it to the Rogers Centre, everyone still calls it Skydome... Whole lotta money wasted...


Second pyramid-climb of the day


Pyramid of the Moon


Ivonne meditating in the shade. She's resting since we all fell asleep in the car as she drove us all back


Our bikes resting at the Garry (and Ivonne) Hostel
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  #118  
Old 14 Feb 2013
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I love sportbikes. We sold our sportbikes before we left on our trip, but we both miss them dearly. I used to take a lot of weekdays off with a couple of buddies to ride the twisty roads a couple of hours north of Toronto.

When Garry took us for a weekend ride, about 45 minutes south of Mexico City, we were all of a sudden surrounded with supersports! They were ripping up the curves on the way to Cuernavaca and the town in between, Tres Marias, looked like a scene out of Biker Boyz! Hundreds of motorcycles lined both sides of the main road, and tons of bikers are walking around in full leathers, to see and be seen.


Riding the twisties south of Mexico City


Every weekend, Tres Marias becomes a full-on biker town


On-lookers line the main street watching impromptu stunt shows

Neda asked Garry what happens if the cops show. He replies, "Well, they close down the street to other traffic until the stunt show is over". Now *THAT'S* the way it's done!


Endo in the streets


Helmet convention in one of the restaurants


I decide to give sesos (brains) another chance... this time in Gordita-format... Jury is still out...


Aprilia Pegaso and Harley V-ROD! Some non-sportbikes!


A couple of familiar faces in the crowd...


Newer R12GS and Ducati Panigale S. Such a sweet-looking sportbike!


R1200S and CBR1000RR Repsol


Matching bike and leathers


Hands up!


Lots of people were very curious about where we were from and where we were going. This family saw that we were from Canada and wanted to get our picture with them!


Yamaha Tenere. This is a big bike and the guy riding it was even bigger!


A couple of RossiHeads


What time is it? 12 o'clock baby!


This kid needs a new sweatshirt for this season... or he can dust off his old one from 2008...

Mexico City is not what I expected. Sure, there are tons of people and cars on the road, and the hillsides of the sprawling city are slathered with houses and buildings, like a fungus spreading over the land. But life here is pretty much the same as any large city. We went out for pizza and sushi with Garry and Ivonne, and we were treated to "the world's best tacos" just 15 minutes away from the Garry Hostel!


South Side Motorcycle Club listens attentively. Actually, they are trying to figure out what the heck I'm saying...

The night before we left Mexico City, Garry asked me to do a presentation to his local motorcycle club. The only catch was, it had to be En Espanol! This was my first ever presentation in Spanish! In reality, it was only 10% Espanol, 40% Espanglish and 50% Charades...


Ivonne bids us farewell

We spent a whole week with Garry and Ivonne and really got to know them well. They are such a generous couple, opening up their home to us and we stayed an extra few days at their urging, "Oh you can't leave on Monday, the traffic will be horrible!", "You can't leave on Tuesday, I told my motorcycle club you are coming in to do a presentation"...

I think a lot of motorcyclists are afraid of riding into such a large city, but with Garry and Ivonne's invitation, we we're glad we ventured into Mexico City, they are amazing ambassadors for their home town!
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Puebla is about an hour and a half away from Mexico City. However, most of that hour and half was spent in thick, grid-locked traffic trying to escape the sprawling, over-populated metropolis. We breathed a sigh of relief as we reached the outskirts of the city, thrust into the open spaces of the central highlands of the Sierra Madre. The city of Puebla is the largest in the state of Puebla, but at *only* 2 million people, it paled in comparison to the human sardine can called Mexico City.


Excavation of some of the ruins at the bottom of the pyramid in Cholula

We're really here to see the pyramids in neighbouring Cholula, about 10 minutes away from Puebla. It's the largest archaeological site in the New World, and most of the great pyramid is still buried and looks like a really large hill. It'll probably remain so, because on top lies a large church built by the Spanish in the 16th century.


There are tunnels inside the pyramid that you can explore!


Almost all of the passages are blocked off so it's a single way in and out,
otherwise you'd get lost inside



Tunnels are narrow and spooky!

Cholula's site is interesting because at least three different civilizations over the centuries have built on or next to the existing ruins, not including the Spanish church at the top of the buried pyramid!


Velodores!

Outside the pyramid, we saw a group of velodores perform the ancient ceremony of bungie jumping. I can't explain it properly, but this was such a cool sight to see live, ever since being captivated by a TV program I saw of this when I was a little kid. No harnesses or safety wires, just a guy at the top cheering them on by playing a flute as they slowly descended while spinning around the very tall pole.


This was the closest I got to performing dangerous stunts. Unless you count riding around in Mexico City traffic...


The pyramid is right inside Cholula. Neda surveys the city from the ledge.


At the very top of the buried pyramid, we walk around the Spanish church


Chapulines! Tasty!

In the markets around the ruins and in Cholula, we saw baskets of Chapulines for sale, or as the English-speakers call it, Grasshoppers. Feeling a little adventurous, we bought a bag and tried some. They were dry-roasted with garlic and chilli, and they were very delicious, crispy and salty. I didn't really mind cleaning the wings and legs from my teeth, however for the next few hours I was burping up grasshopper, and that didn't taste pleasant. So no more Chapulines for this guy...


More traditional fare in the markets in Cholula


Festive restaurant decor. We had some of Puebla's famous Mole Poblano, chilli and chocolate sauce!


Cool bike, ma'am!

Neda was excited to see a female police officer on an F650GS! Until she tried to hit us up for a bribe... JUST KIDDING!!!! She was very cool about us taking a picture. There were actually two female biker cops, but the other one was riding a Suzuki, so we didn't really care about her...
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I think we're crossing into our 10th Mexican state, Oaxaca, today. It's a 3 hour ride on the Cuota roads (yes, we finally succumbed and dished out a small fortune) from Puebla and the weather was sunny and pleasant as we headed south-east. The terrain here is arid, and we've lost a lot of the lush green tropical trees that we saw in Michoacan.


Nice winding roads outside of Puebla


(un)Controlled burns seem to be a popular way of clearing grass in Mexico

Because we left Puebla pretty late in the day, we arrived in Oaxaca, the city, as the sun set. Unfortunately, while in Mexico City, the headlight wiring on my bike has broken so I'm forced to blind traffic around me with my high beams. As we head into the city, a fellow local R1200GS rider pulls up beside us and asks if we have a hotel for the night. "Nope". He says he knows a good one, so we follow him into the city, glad that someone that knows what they're doing is leading!


Lots of vendors in the main square in Oaxaca

Carlos the GS rider checks all of us into a very nice hotel, maybe a little bit above our budget, but it's very central and we run into them later on in the town square to have a drink and chat about Mexico and motorcycles. The main plaza is alive with vendors selling brightly coloured trinkets and lots of tourists wandering around. Neda remarks that Oaxaca is the cleanest Mexican city we've been to, so automatically she loves it here! I reserve judgement until I've tried their Brain Tacos...


Street performers playing in the main square

We also ran into another Canadian motorcycle couple, Kari and Rose from Thunder Bay! They trailered their Kawasaki Super Sherpas to Texas and rode across the border. Just two weeks into their trip, their 250cc bikes are outpacing us as they race towards the Guatamelan border and parts further south. We've been in Mexico for over two months already! We get a lot of helpful hints on accommodations from them and will probably run into them again if they slow down and wait for us!


Photo courtesy of Kari and Rose


Serious Scooter-Face in the streets of Oaxaca


VW Bugs used to be made in Mexico and is the country's most popular car


Colonial-style buildings in the historic part of Oaxaca


Vibrant nightlife in the city streets


Striking a bargain in the main plaza


Oaxaca from above, surrounded by mountains


Strolling around the back streets of Oaxaca

Neda found a great swimming hole called Hierve el Agua, Spanish for "The water boils", an unusual set of rock formations about a couple of hours outside of Oaxaca. The dirt road that leads up switches back on itself many times as it rises up into the mountains where the attraction lies.


Terrific views of the Oaxacan mountains and the valleys below


Taking a scenic break from the ride


Enjoying the ride through the mountains


Hierve el Agua

Hierve el Agua looks like a waterfall, except it's made up of rock. Rising up almost 100-meters, it was created from mineral-rich water that has bubbled up from the ground. Over 2,500 years, the water has dribbled down the face of a cliff, calcifying into what's known as a "petrified waterfall".


Mineral-rich waters create psychedelic pools of water at the top


Although the water bubbling up from the ground looks like it's boiling, it's actually carbonated and quite cold


More natural pools of water at the top and the funky patterns the minerals leave on the ground


Natural infinity pool and a model poses for us


Riding back down from Hierve el Agua
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