You're here for a good time, not for a long time.

You're here for a good time, not a long time.

April 30, 2011

1 Month Done: Planning and Musing

Short story shorter, the original crew of four is spending one more night (Saturday) here in Mazatlan and parting ways tomorrow morning at checkout.  It sounds as if we will all start out the same direction towards a city called Durango.  The road to Durango is 120 miles fully paved and is well known for its scenic views and terrain.  Now, Durango is known to be one of the more dangerous cities in the area so we will not be spending any time there.  At most we will stop on the main drag for a taco.  Another reason not to worry, there are 14,000 other bikes scattering like cockroaches tomorrow and I can only imagine we will have some company heading to Durango.

Al and I intend to continue on further towards Zacatecas or possibly some other little village off the grid.  Hopefully, we can pitch a somewhere and earn some Merit Badges for a night of camping.  Then, we will peel south towards Guadalajara or Puerta Vallarta.  Alex met a fellow rider in PV who has floor space for us should we make it down there. 

I can’t believe it, but I actually committed to a timeframe for once on this trip.  Several summers ago I studied in Cuernavaca, MX for six weeks for Spanish credits.  I made a lot of good friends there but lost touch with most of them.  Unfortunately my host family lives in Canada now so I won’t be seeing them.  Determined to return to my old stomping grounds, though, I was able to get ahold of my good friend Cintia in Cuernavaca.  I told her we would arrive in Cuernavaca Friday afternoon.  I hope to hang out with Cintia as much as possible as well as track down some of my other favorite people (Miguel, his excellency). 

Also on the agenda, Las Estacas or El Rollo.  I went to both of these parks last time and had an absolute blast.  Las Estacas is a water resort built up around a river; it is full of entertainment along the banks ranging from raft rentals, rope swings, and blue lagoons.  It is also where Jesse Plevel lost her big toe nail that summer.  To this day, one of the worst images I’ve seen.  El Rollo is an actual theme park like you would find win the Wisconsin Dells but without American regulations.  Everything is more extreme with far fewer safety precautions; I can’t wait.

After the Cuernavaca fun it will be time to keep making our way towards Guatemala.  Mexico is definitely one of the biggest countries we will travel through, but after an entire month here I am starting to get in a hurry.  Admittedly mainland is very different from Baja, but there is no better sign of progress in a trip than crossing borders.  I also want to get to cheaper areas. 

Finances have been occupying my thoughts.  I can still make it down to Argentina easily; but I am ready to change my spending habits to the absolute cheapest side.

Plus, I have my cash stockpile, my motorcycle, and some backpacking gear.  They first two are the only real assets to my name for the foreseeable future.  So as the cash continues to draw down, the bike’s liquidity will increase.  Just like when you are lost and starving in the woods with only your dog, you eventually will eat the dog.  It’s a given; even if he’s a really good dog.  I love my bike, but if it ever comes to that point and I’m not done running, I will have no qualms selling the bike and continuing on $3,000 heavier. 

Now that’s getting desperate.  A far better option would be to hold on to the bike and use it for transportation while I live in Buenos Aires as a windsurfing instructor for the summer.  I’m too American to live somewhere without wheels, so selling the bike at any point doesn’t sound too enticing.  I do foresee it as a backup plan for the plane ticket home whenever it comes to that point.  These bikes are so cheap at home you are better off taking the loss and buying a new one rather than shipping one with 30,000 miles on it from South America

 I talked to a guy in San Diego who’s buddies did this very trip two years ago.  They never made it.  Instead, they just stayed in Colombia and live there today.  At first I thought these guys had failed but now I get it.  The second you start this trip, you realize that it is so much more immersive than expected.  I didn’t foresee getting caught up in the culture of the city just by talking to the random people you run into.  I can imagine how a person could simply end their trip south and just stick around when opportunity really knocks. 

What will happen when it’s knocking on my door?  I’ll have to see, but Tierra del Fuego is not the biggest priority anymore.  I do intend to come home, but not until I’m ready.  That’s why I keep exploring all the possibilities I have.  When it’s over, I will have to go back to work so I better not regret any of my time out here.

Update: Everybody rode in the parade today.  It was a five mile stretch on the beach with people lined ten feet deep the entire way.  All the bikes were constantly trading spots riding about four across in two lanes (at 10mph max).  I took my side cases off beforehand and I’m glad.  With that close of riding you only need to know what is right in front of you and the rest works itself out with the other riders. 

To great surprise, I ran out of gas about two miles in.  I asked some people at the parade to help me get my bike on the sidewalk.  Up there, I laid it down and tipped it back to get all the gas on the left side of the tank (where the gas drains).  That worked for about a half mile but eventually I was flat empty.  I ended up walking it through the crowd to get off the main drag.  From there I walked the bike eight sizeable blocks to nearest Pemex.  I arrived drenched in sweat (95F outside) and feeling the effects of severe dehydration.  Al and I were the only two bikers in the entire parade wearing helmets; we were also the sweatiest.  I put a 100 pesos in, drank a Gatorade, and went straight back to the apartment. 

We ran into Jim from Ballard again and had a great time; I want to stay in touch.  Eddy and Lizzy left on a bus for Guadalajara tonight.  And the rest of us are splitting tomorrow.  It’s bittersweet but I’m confident it will take me in an equally awesome direction.

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