Friday, November 30, 2007

Oasis Hostel

Night number two at the hostel is more chill, without the drunk guy things are laid back a couple clicks. It seemed strange to me that a hostel would sell forties, but its Mexico. Yet, this guy was hurting himself on tequilla and cheap vino. He had some words with Leah and then past out in a drunken stupper, in full gringo style. Seems to me, a bunch of folks from the states enjoy that style of "traveling" drunk.

But met this cool guy, Daniel, that laughed at my plan to trade my bike for a boat. He arrived in Puerto Vallarta by way of sail boat. He said he spent eight days on a sailboat with a captain that did not know what he was doing, thaught he was going to die several times and at day five went stir crazy. But he had some good advice about jumping on a sail boat: "Make sure the people on the crew are cool and you all get along."

Leah and I had planned on leaving today, but then we didn't. We are not purests, or record breaking olympians, we are having a cultural experiance. Well, not in Puerto Vallarta, it is mostly gringos. This town could easily be a lost city of southern California. Whatever. We got lazy and walked around the town a little. I got Leah a massage because she really wanted one and I owed her for the shoes. Ate some popcorn and watched some boob tube. Tomorrow we will hit it hard and climb straight up out of here, vamos a Calima, let's go!

Talked to some dudes about surfing. They kept saying that the ocean south of here is like soap. "For you, it is like soap." I might be able to deal with that. We'll see.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Puerto Vallarta

Oasis Hostel is where we will sleep tonight, tomorrow is a mystery. Here in the comforts of free internet and a kitchen with running water and four, yes, four burners of goodness, bunk beds, and say it ain't so--showers! Yeah, but... no open air, no barking dogs or squawking birds, no free range peeing.

There is a larger more dominant part of me that loves the adventure, the thrill of not knowing where we will sleep, the engine heat of passing semi trucks, the sideways looks of village folks, gypsy charm of constant vagrancy, and the protective layer of sweat and dirt that builds up on my body. But there is the smaller less dominant part of me that loves community, routine, a kitchen. There is that other part of me that looks out and sees my friends and family in the faces of strangers, in different nationalities and with different stories.

I think of you all when I am having the time of my life.

A story from the road:
Language barriers can be frustrating and dammit how I wish I could just communicate with all these generous helpful folks. And also, Leah goes to buy cheese. Quardro sounds a lot like quatra, quardo means 1/4 and quarta means 'how much.' The store owner lady keeps asking how much Leah wants, Leah says, "Quardro." Fine, "Medio." The lady nods and cuts a slice of cheese that weighs 1/2 kilogram. Leah pays for the cheese and is a little distraught, but the sun is setting and soon it will be dark. Later, when we are trying to eat the medio kilo cheese with beans and tortillas, we realize that the cheese is Parmesan.

I write more the next time I see "Internet" painted on the side of a cement building. That is to say, most of the buildings are cement and most of the signage is painted on the buildings.

Monday, November 26, 2007

currently, San Blas

Leah and I peddaled our way out of the gravity that surrounds every big city, Mazatlan included and ended up further south. Less desert and more beaches, we are surely in the tropics now. Yesterday I picked my first watermelon. It was growing alongside the road. We left a few of the smaller ones for those other bikers that might be taking the autopista south...

About biking in Mexico:
Carry water. Duh, but know that few regions have potable water from the tap and that means you´ll have to buy it.
The autopista aka: Mexico 15 quota, is the big highway that goes from Nogales all the way to Mexico City. It is paved and since Sinoloa, has a tremdous shoulder. The smaller highways do not. The Mexico 15 libre does not either. There is no toll or tax for bicycles on the quota, so I suggest taking the well paved, big shouldered quota. Also, maps are hard to find in Mexico. Bicylce mechanics with shops, aka Taller de Bicicletas, are all over the place. They stock 26 inch tires, all of them do. Some stock 27 inch and others also have 700cm, but 26inch are the easiest to find. Older brake systems and gearing are easier to find as well. Newer technology has yet to reach the master mechanics of Mexico and so you run a risk of not being able to find certain parts. However, the bike mechanics here are more inclined to think outside the box than most mechanics in the states. Neccestity is the mother of hobo-riggin´.

I´ve said this before, but bicycles are all over here and so drivers see them on the highways and are generous about giving space so don´t mind the fear culture of that USA.

And now to the topic of culture:
Bicycling gives you the oportunity to feel a place, to be a part of the landscape and it seems to give us the power to impress people. "We started in Idaho, it´s close to Canada. Yeah, on bicycles." We have certainly been given our share of generousity from strangers and every day we gain another little glimpse into Mexican culture. Last night we spent the night at the government building. It was a little nerve racking because it was also the police station and we could not really leave until the morning, so it felt a little like we were in jail. I teased Leah about how she got us a free night stay in jail. But, all in all, it was a free night stay in their government building with a bathroom and a sink to wash (dishes, face, shammy). I kept thinking how that would never happen in the states. "yeah, just stay at the county court house, it is dry and there are plenty of cops to keep you safe." But it did happen that strangers went out of their way to help us find a safe place to continue our hobo-livin´.

Now at the same time, there is an expression here that goes, "The US has it´s foot on Mexico´s neck." My heart sinks to hear this. All the while, Mexico has two presidents. One that was elected by the majority of Mexican voters and another that was determined to have won the election by a narrow margin. The first president receives no mention in any large media source and the other recieves millions of dollars from Bush to fight a "war on drugs". I want to puke on the beurocrats that make all this possible. I want them to know the horror of war and the despair of working everyday to eat beans and rice in a tar papered shack with dirt floors. I want to make enough money to buy California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas and give it back to Mexico. I want to be a good neighbor.

Meanwhile, we´ll keep nievely exploring this earth and I´ll keep apracticar mi español.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


It´s our third day here and I don´t feel like leaving yet. It´s a beautiful place with (unfortunately) many gringitos running around, usually in fancy cars. But the ocean is calm and soothing...the seafood is delicious. We met a sweet Italian couple yesterday at the hotel Mexico so we hung out with them most of the day...going to el mercado where they have everything you could ever want or need. I finally found one of my favorite snacks, membrillo con queso cremoso! We used to eat that in Argentina all the time. Met a cool old dude hanging out in the plaza yesterday while we sat eating a melon and jack drew the cathedral. In a matter of a half hour he told me his life´s always amazing to me how many people love to talk with you when they learn you speak their language.
Nobody´s commented on my ´vote for pedro´ shirt...i´m a little disappointed :(
We found the first bike shop yesterday and to my demise, the man working there had never heard of tubes 700c x 32/30 so for other cyclists considering biking down here, bring extra tubes and tires! Jack´s in heaven because they have tons of 27 and 26´s.

Mexico is treating us well so far. i´m excited to find a cool pueblo to hang in for longer than a few days...maybe find a job somewhere and make this place home for a while. If that fails, we´re talking about heading home in the spring, on a boat, on a bus, hitching a ride...time will tell.
love to all of you


Mazatlan is a lot bigger than I remember. There are a lot of people bustling. It has a very distinct Mexican flavor in the old historic distric with the bright colored concrete architecture of stacked blocks; a regular Mexican San Francisco. I forgot how charming it is to walk along the beach and look at all the colors and styles and just smile.

We got a response from a WOOFer farm South of here, but they require a month of commitment and if they are going to be so strick I am glad not to donate my toils. Although it would be nice to have a place to hang my helmet for longer than a couple nights.

I have developed a case of the butt rot. Closely related to the dreaded crotch rot, my cheeks are red and raw from a month and a half of riding. We have covered quite a few miles and quite a few kilometers and the soggy shamey is just not enough against the force of friction on my cheeks and my seat.
Otherwise, my body feels great.

Four nights ago we took a rest day on a beach named Ceurta. It was splended. Swimming in the ocean, few bugs, beer. Unfortunately, I suffered the loss of my boots. I no longer have the super boots. I cried, a little.
Yesterday, Leah bought me some shoes for our two year anniversary. She is so good to me.

Also, we got to spend a day here in Mazatlan, on Vente de Novembre, the day of the revolution. There was a parade of all the regional schools doing marching and wearing outfits, it was nice for twenty minutes. But, we met a couple from Italy and hung out with them for the day. They had come from London were they worked in the best Italian restraut. They had learned English and could speak Spanish in addition to their mother tongue. It was nice to got to market and have a picnic with another traveling couple because they bicker like we do. Maybe more than we do. Probably not. Anyways, it was fun.

The future, who knows? We will leave Mazatalan and head, you guest it, South. In 25 kilometers we can get on the coastal highway and have the option of escaping the heat with a dip in the sea.

Other things learned in Mexico:
Get food when you can get food.
Get water when you can get water.
Rest in the shade.

Friday, November 16, 2007


Sinaloa muchachas! In this particular state of Mexico, they have shoulders along the highways, mostly. Leah and I will be riding along, side by side, enjoying the ten feet of luxurious shoulder and talking about the heat, and BAM! no shoulder. Drop off, six inch curb and no pavement. As if they ran out of asfalt. Done for the day, go home, they ran out. Then, a couple kilometers down the way-right back to ten feet of smooth shoulder.

Also in Sinaloa, people love us. I am getting used to waving at people´s cheers and waves and car horns because people love us. I geuss. I hope. It seems.
Last night we peddled into the last and only gas station for kilometers, before Culiacan, and asked about camping. Usually, in the states, the reaction is a pained look of confusion and then a vague explination about trees and maybe a gesture of the hand, shoo-ing. In Mexico, the usual response is, "You can stay here. Do you want a shower? Food? Conversation? My first born?" Quit frankly, I have been taken aback by the compassion and generousity of complete strangers. Por ejemplo:

Cuidad Obrigon, a big city, lots of people bustling around. We spent all day looking for water, a toilet, and a park. The sun was hanging low in the sky and we needed to find a hostel or a very cheap place to stay because we would not be able to make it out of town before dark. Enter random restraunt, Leah asks waitress about a hostel. She says no. Leah asks about camping. She says we can stay with her.
Her name is Lopita and she has the heart of the sun. Her husband and three kids slept in the same room together so that Leah and I could have a private room and a bed to ourselves, the same bed Lopita and her husband tipically sleep in. Complete strangers. Unbelievable generousity.

Los Mochis, a smaller town, still lots of people bustling around. We sit down at the same table as another couple to eat fish tacos. Delicous. We talk a little and they give us directions to a laundrymat. The lady says she will take us the ten blocks and show us exactly were it is. When we get there, she says we can leave our bikes and she will take us to her house, if we want a shower. We have known each other for twenty minutes at this point. Jaw dropping amazing.

Somewhere along the Mexico 15 interstate highway, nobody bustling. Brick building with a couple inside. Do they know of camping? We should camp in their yard. The lady gets us a table and chairs and offers us a bath. We decline, it seemed unneccesary to have two baths in two days. The couple have a brick building with dirt floors. A farmer goes by in a cart pulled by a horse.

Today we woke up at a gas station where the attendent gave us hot water, a grassy place to setup our tent and free bathroom with sink to wash. I shaved my beard. Now we are in a modern city with lots of traffic and people bustling around and internet. It can be tricky to make that shift from dirt floors, horse drawn buggies to cell phone, bumper to bumper. Mexico does it all the time.

Sidenote for anyone who knows an attention-whore: tell them to visit a country where they are the minority. They will receive all the attention they can handle, all the time.

How do rumors start? For all the bad rumors and comments about Mexican drivers I heard before leaving on this trip, they are totally unfounded, so far.
I think part of it is that there are bicycists here. That is to say, people ride bikes here. We see them all the time, on the highways, roads, fields. It is great. I think because it is not so uncommon to have a two wheeled traveler on the roadway, people know what to do. It warms my heart how many times big trucks have slowed down inorder to move into the far lane, just for us.

I love Mexico.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

hemos llegado a mexico

Aqui estamos, sufriendo de calor. Pobresitos, verdad? Tenemos que preocuparnos mas de tener suficiente agua porque ayer Jack estaba volviendose medio loco sin agua y suficiente comida (no te puedes llenar solamente con nueces). Pues cuando cruzamos la frontera en Nogales me impacto muchissimo la pared grande que esta alli...un tristeza profundo senti por el dolor de la gente que intenta pasar y algunos sobreviven.
De alli decidimos tomar el autobus hasta Guaymas donde bajamos con la puesta del sol y fuimos a Miramar...aprendimos que es mejor buscar un sitio para campar con la luz del dia porque lo que pensabamos que era la playa fue realmente un sitio aparte donde lleguen los pescadores a trabajar como a las 4 de la mañana! Que sorpresa para ellos encontrar dos vagos con sus bicis durmiendo alli! ja, ja Pues, no dormimos nada esa noche asi que decidimos usar el proximo dia para descansar en la playa en San Carlos. Alli estaba bonito, un paisaje hermossisimo con pelicanos (sp?) y otros pajaros bonitos...muy tranquilo y el mar estaba precioso...Ayer andamos todo el dia hasta llegar a un pueblito que se llama San Ignacio. Hoy estamos en la Ciudad de Obregon y seguimos con la aventura...
Saludos a todos

Ciudad Obregon

We´re in Mexico!
idaho to mexico... and now what? Well, last night we heard something scratching around outside the tent. Kinda sounded like plastic. Grabbed Leah´s headlight and shined it on the culprit. A dog with a bucket on it´s head!

When Gay dropped us off at the border, we were going to look into taking a bus or riding our bikes. We found a bus line that would take our bikes, if we took the wheels off. So we took the bus from Nogales to Guymas, five hours and three movies later we got off in Guymas, a bustling Mexican town with people, cars, buses--everywhere. Then the sun went down and it was dark. What to do, what to do?
We had tacos. and soda.
The man who worked the tacorilla said the public beach was only five kilometers away and it would be a nice quite place to camp. We had to ask two more people before we foudn what we thought was the playa. The next morning we woke up with shrimpers and fisherman in there boats looking at us while they were unloading their boats and every time someone would walk by they would say,¨what´s with those guys¨ only in spanish... we had camped on the sand of the inlet with the beach behind us, thirty meters away. Yet, everybody was really nice about it and just gave us wierd looks.

We have been traveling on the main interstate and then some secondary highways. Most everybody has been really nice and slow down or go way around us. I am thankful. Also, we have seen lots of people on bikes. That is really nice.

I am practicing my Spanish and Leah has made me ask the directions a couple times... so maybe I am improving. Leah is emailing some of the WOOFer farms right now, that could be really cool. It would be nice to be in one place for a little while, could help a lot with learning español.

I have yet to understand the link-deally with pictures and all that with the what-what and the deallies... but for now here is a link to my picasa account:

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Leaving Tucson

We plan to leave Tucson tomorrow morning. Gay is going to drive us 50 miles to the border and we will peddle across that imaginary line that so effectively defines two distinct nations. From there we will either board the bus or bike, depending on their policy of un-boxed bikes.

Tucson has been nice. Lots of eating and drinking. Ed taught us how to make Presidente Margaritas, which fueled our painting project. Brauts, beer and booze, what could be better? Did I mention Ed and Gay have a hot tub? And cable. Basically, all of those muscles we developed over the last 500 miles are gone and now we "well rested".

The Dias de Muertos celebrations have been happening. Leah and I went to an old Mexican movie made in the 1950s. Then we got to see a parade. It was a great goulash of cultures mixed into Day of the Dead theme. There were Somba groups and marching bands, but the best were the bagpipe players with there faces painted like skeletons. Yeah, Tucson is pretty cool. The bus costs a $1, "bicas" is awesome, and "the Ordinary Bike Shop" traded my old dead armadillo tire for a new one--without charge--Sha!

Last weekend Ed and Gay took us down to Nogales for a taste of Mexico. We walked across the border, ate some Mexican food, drank some beers, did some shopping and walked back across before dark. The city was bustling with people everywhere, the sidewalks are all uneven, people are friendly or loud, and Spanish is spoken all over the place. It was awesomely over stimulating. I am getting excited to be there for longer than a day and all this fear and caution is well intended, but also... a culture of US, fear.

I can't wait to be sending word from the other side. Love. Love. Love.