April 29, 2011 6:30pm Mazatlan, MX
Through a series of very fun events our crew of six woke up this morning very tired and dehydrated. We spent last evening at Joe’s Oyster Bar and had a great time screaming over Mexican rap and arguing drink costs with bartenders. In the midst of the festivities it was decided that our group of four will be splitting apart at the end of this weekend. Eddy and Lizzy are heading to Guadalajara on a bus tomorrow and we hope to catch up with them down the road. Charlie and Sarah are going to stick together for a couple more days and then part ways. Alex and I will make our way south; probably Puerta Vallarta tomorrow and Guadalajara after that.
Planning the ride here on mainland is much more interesting because we have so many new options. The entirety of Baja was 1,500 miles on the same road. Now, departing from Mazatlan, we actually have to start thinking a few days ahead. Tomorrow is the big motorcycle parade and after that I imagine Al and I will make our big move. But no reason to dwell on something so far off in the distance.
Today Alex, Charlie, and I set out on our bikes to go find the motorcycle convention near the city center. We had heard that entry was free if you ride a bike. Upon arrival, Alex and I immediately balked when we learned that the ticket price was actually $40 (about a day’s budget for us). We had been crunching numbers earlier today and it turns out we have spent close to double what we intended for our first month. It’s not an emergency; we had to go through some very expensive places to get here and it only gets cheaper as we move south. Even if we stayed at this spending rate we could remain on the run for another eight months. Regardless, the motorcycle convention suddenly didn’t sound so appealing.
Then, like a boss, Charlie pulled out an extra 1,000 pesos and paid our entry. When Charlie wants to spend money there is no point in arguing so in we went. Along with the ticket, we all got a hat, a shirt, and some other memorabilia. We went inside and found all the bike dealers set up under tents around the edges with total chaos happening in the middle of the parking lot. You can park your bike anywhere, but when you get off, be sure to look both ways for someone doing a wheelie in your direction. Everywhere I looked there were tire burnouts, engines hitting their rev-limiters, and guys showing off their acceleration. The organization would never have passed in the U.S., but here in Mexico it was quite mundane.
We walked around talking to bikers and vendors for about an hour. Charlie noticed a BMW touring bike with Washington plates. Jim, the owner, is from Ballard and he is riding north from Panama back home right now. Good luck Jim. Then Charlie went over to the Yamaha tent and started talking bikes with some Mexican technicians. He brought his Tenere 660 over the tent (not sold in this hemisphere) and it was a big hit with everybody. Well done Charlie. Eventually I felt heat exhaustion coming on and rode back to the apartment.
On the way back I was really struck by how far my riding has come in the last 3,500 miles. Surrounded by other bikes, huge busses, and crazy taxis, I weaved up and down the street with ease. I use my turn signals less and your ears more. I rev higher than before to get where I need to be. And I am constantly switching lanes, using the shoulder, or riding the center line. This isn’t out of ignorance or hubris; it is necessity here. The other motorists expect you to control the situation as a motorcycle. They are very aware and so am I. For a situation with zero rules, everything flows very well. I haven’t had any close calls since San Diego so there’s something to be said about the system here.
Tonight we are going to hit the town one last time and then part ways tomorrow. I am sad to see everyone go, but also excited to change up the atmosphere and intensity of the adventure. Al and I plan to recoup some of our losses in the next few weeks by doing a lot of camping and eating a lot of tuna with avocado. Also, this is not the last time I’ll see Charlie or Sarah; or Eddy or Lizzy for that matter. The adventure circuit is very peculiar in that we will be crossing paths again whether we plan to or not. When we do, I’m sure there will be plenty of celebration.
I put two posts up today so if you haven’t seen it yet, check out ‘Somos 14.004’ to get the scoop on the trip from La Paz to Mazatlan. Nothing too incredible, but it is Mexico and it got a little hectic.