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Showing posts from October, 2011

On The Road

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After one month on the road and it appears I've traveled about 3000 miles along this route. This line looks pretty straight, but believe me there have been a thousand twists and turns along the way. Sometimes it seems like it was only yesterday when I started, but there have been some long days too. I've had some amazing rides and some that I'd rather not have endured. I think that my little accident slowed me down for a week, but I'm almost fully recovered now. What lies ahead...Guatemala.

Adios Mexico...Hola Guatemala

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It was time to leave San Cristobal and Mexico and move on to Huehuetenango and Guatemala. I headed south on Hwy 190 which turned into CA1, the Pan American Highway. This road would take me across the border and into my next country, Guatemala.

The border town in Mexico is called Cuauhtemoc and the border town in Guatemala is called La Masilla.

When i arrived in Cuauhtemoc, I went to the Banjercito (bank) first to clear my motorcycle permit. I passed by Aduanas (Customs), but they waived me through. Finally I passed by the Migration (Immigration) to clear my tourist visa. I was the only one in line and it probably only took 10 minutes total.

Then I went La Masilla and the Guatemala border. I had purchased Guatemalan Quetzals the day before. I went to the Migration first and got my passport stamped. He didn't charge me anything. I passed by the Aduanas and completed some of the motorcycle paperwork. The officer created an invoice that I took to the bank next door to pay. After g…

Travelers

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Traveling can be very an introspective thing when traveling alone. Or it can be a very social thing when traveling with others. Along the way I meet lots of people. Here's a little bits about travelers.
In San Cristobal it just so happened that I met a number of people and it was a good time to be social.

There was Gloria, a homeopath psychologist from Guadalajara that was vacationing and exploring the spiritual side of life. There was Lukas, a guy from the Check Republic that was heading to Quetzaltenango, Guatemala to study Spanish for a number of months. There was Sue, a Korean German girl that was taking time to travel between jobs and going to explore the ruins in Palenque and Tikal. There was Amaya, a Dutch girl that was studying in San Miguel Allende but taking an excursion to San Cristobal. There was Christian, a local social anthropologist and instructor at a local language school that gave me a tour of the city, introduced me to a really great huaraches restaurant and…

Palenque, Mexico... Day Trip

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While staying in San Cristobal I decided that I would check out some ruins in an area called Palenque. The site was about 5 hours away. I didn't really feel like riding there, so I did the more typical tourist thing and booked a day tour.

The tour minibus picked me up at 6am at my hostel. We rode for 3 hours and stopped at an area called Agua Azul.
I was first greeted by this large blue green pond.
As I walked up the path there were some limestone rock formations forming small water falls.
And still higher the rocks formed shapes. Can you see a turtle?

Back in the minibus and we rode for another hour and stopped at a cascada (waterfall) called Misol Ha.
Pretty stunning.
I suppose the fun thing to do is walk underneath the waterfall.
Don't think for a second that this was a private area. This site draws quite a few tourists.

We arrived at the ruins of Palenque after 5 hours of winding roads in a minibus.
I hired a guide named Victor to lead me around the ruins. Victor is a…

San Cristobal de Las Casas, Mexico

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I'm not really sure what to make of San Cristobal de Las Casas. It's a town nestled in the highlands of Chiapas.
There is colonial architecture...
A zocalo and cobblestone streets...
A modern alameda (shopping and dining area)...
A fairly large indigenous artisan market...
A bustling produce market...
There is the indigenous population...
The hip ladino population (this is salsa concert in the plaza)...
Tourists, students, activists and nuvo hippies.

It really is a mixture of things.

San Cristobal and the state of Chiapas were off the radar for many years. It was an area with a large indigenous population that was pretty much left out of much of the modern diaspora of Mexico. There had been researchers, anthropologists and archeologist in the area studying the culture and Mayan ruins. There were some development agencies working in the area. There were occasional protests and some small armed conflicts. But socially and politically it was largely isolated.

Until about 199…

A Ride Along the Coastal Road

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Although Puerto Escondido was relaxing, I wasn't really feeling the vibe. It seemed like a bit of a tourist trap. There's the beach, fishing, restaurants and all of it at tourist prices.
I decided to head back to the interior and take the coastal road to San Cristobal de Las Casas. The trip would take two days of riding so I'd need to find a place to stay somewhere along the road.
The road from Puerto Escondido to Puerto Angel was straight and flat. It cut through some tropical areas lined with palm trees and papaya farms.
After Puerto Angel the road turned inland and began to wind through some hills. The weather was warm, but the wind from the ocean created enough breeze to make the ride enjoyable.

As I neared the town of Salinas Cruz there was something obstructing the road. There was a line of trucks backed up quite a distance. I gave one truck driver the lifted and twisted hand signal which is generally the signal for what's up. He signaled backed with the same…

Puerto Escondido, Mexico

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It was time for a little rest and relaxation. I headed south and west to the pacific coast. Over the Sierra Madre Mountains, through the cloud forrest, past the pine forrest and to the tropical coast. The first stop was a town called Zipolite.
Zipolite is a fishing village, turned surf destination, turned beach town, turned hippie hangout.
As one French traveler told me, the west end is chic, the east end is boheme. Or the west is for tourists and the east end is for those seeking an alternative lifestyle. I didn't quite feel the vibe of either side of the town, so I stayed the night then headed off to Puerto Escondido.
Puerto Escondido is about 60km west. There are two main beach areas in Puerto Escondido.
Zacatela has is lively beach with breaking waves and is principally a surfers beach.
La Playa Principal is a calm beach with mellow waves and is primarily a swimming, fishing and basking in the sun beach.

I stayed in Zacatela at a hotel called The RockAway, but spent time …

Crossing the Sierra Madre Mountains to the Pacific Coast

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This is a short 3 minute video documenting my motorcycle ride from the interior of Mexico, Oaxaca, to the Pacific coast, Puerto Escondido. It was beautiful day that was mostly sunny and a few clouds. It seemed like I traveled through a number of ecological zones such as highlands, pine forrest, cloud forrest, desert, jungle and coastal plains.

Oaxaca and San Bartolo Coyotepec Barro Negro Pottery

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One of the places in Mexico that I have been looking forward to visiting is Oaxaca. Oaxaca is known for it's artesania (artesian work) - from pottery to textiles to tin shaping to wood carvings. Many years ago I came across some barro negro (black clay) pottery and have always wanted to pick up a piece.
It turns out that this little village 10km outside of the town of Oaxaca called San Bartolo Coyotepec is considered the birthplace of the barro negro style of pottery.
And this Alfareria (pottery workshop) of Dona Rosa (Rosa Real Mateo) is considered the place where it originated.
The clay is collected from around the area of San Bartolo. The pulverized clay, quartz and water are combined to create a workable clay. Then spun into the desired shape on a simple potters wheel made of two plates. The traditional style was plain and utilitarian. The modern style may include elaborate designs and carvings.
The formed shaped is baked in an earthen furnace. An intense and longer baking ti…