Pan American Adventure [Mexico]

December 6rd 2019 [Day 75]

Bacalar, MX

Free day hanging out by the lake eating and not doing very much else…


December 5rd 2019 [Day 74]

Tulum, MX to Bacalar, MX

We rolled out of Tulum this morning heading for Bacalar, our last stop in Mexico.  Bacalar town is on the edge of a freshwater lagoon and we had lots of recommendations to come here, the town itself had pretty much nothing going on but camping on the edge of the lake was pretty nice.

We were stopped and searched by the military between Tulum and Bacalar, there’s been lots of drug related shootings in this area in the last few months and the military were recently shot at on the highway from gunmen hiding out in the surrounding jungle.


December 4rd 2019 [Day 73]

Tulum, MX

Free day hanging out on Tulum Beach.  This place is busy during the day but not crowded then totally clears out not long after dark where theres nobody left on the, most of the people are staying in Tulum town about 2kms away.

This is so far my favourite beach in Mexico!


December 3rd 2019 [Day 72]

Playa del Carmen, MX to Tulum MX

This morning Miguel gave us the Fairmont Tour on his day off… poor guy!  We took a boat ride around the canals for an hour and saw more wildlife including alligators and tortoises than we have seen on our entire trip through Mexico.  This place is pretty impressive, the 13 kilometers of canals have hotel properties dotted around, some are privately owned and some are for rent, all you need is the correct number of digits in your bank account, or under your sugar daddies mattress…

Most people who stay here never leave the hotel complex, you can catch a boat from the hotel and tour around the canals on one side of the hotel and on the other you can catch a boat to the sea and do snorkling tours and other such activities.  There are also some pretty fancy pools and bathing around the hotel complex itself.  They even have a guy with a hawk to scare away the birds so they don’t disturb the poor guests.  I think I want to set fire to my camping gear after seeing this place :p

We left Playa today and headed for Tulum, along the way I hit all the 5’s on the bikes odometer, hopefully the rides to all the 6’s are as trouble free.  Were camping at a cool place in the jungle on the edge of Tulum beach [Pancho Villa], this beach is even nicer than Play del Carmen, the water is super calm and super warm, we already decided we’re staying another night, it might not be the Fairmont but it’s good enough!  Some of Charles’s friends are in the area visiting from Quebec so we met them for drinks on the beach this evening, that was fun.

 


December 2nd 2019 [Day 71]

Playa del Carmen, MX

We toured around Playa today and checked out Cenote Azul, there’s tonnes of cenotes here on the Yucatan Peninsula, I never really knew anything about them before coming to Mexico but they are openings in the ground with crystal clear water, they can be open to the sky or mostly closed with only a hole to enter through.  People use the open ones like the beach and hang out sunbathing and swimming.  Some of the bigger ones are good for scuba diving and snorkling.

We also checked out the beach area of Playa del Carmen and it’s very nice, the vibe around here is much nicer than any of the costal resorts we have visited yet, it’s like busy Sayulita.  This place is being marked high up on the go to list to escape the Vancouver winter blues.

We ended up  hanging out at Miguel’s place for another night with some beers.  He works at the Fairmount in Playa del Carmen driving a boat around the 13km’s of canals surrounding the hotel so he’s gonna bring us there tomorrow for a boat tour which is only accessible to guests who pay as much for a room for 1 night as we spend in 1 month on this road trip!

 


December 1st 2019 [Day 70]

Merida, MX to Playa del Carmen, MX

We left Merida today and headed for Play Del Carmen to stay with my friend Miguel who lives and works there.   My temperature guage went off the scale today in the sun, I think it was almost at 60 celcius, luckily its not humid or I’d be crying into my helmet for the day.


November 28th >> 30th 2019 [Day 67 >> 69]

Merida, MX

Merida Merida, Merida… Lots of riding around here today trying to get parts for our bikes without much success.  I wanted to buy a new chain slider since mine fell off a while back, the Kawasaki Stealer didn’t have it in stock, they could order it in for 1,600 pesos and it would take 20 to 30 days, not much use to me.  I also wanted a rear sprocket since these ones are hard to find down here and i’ll need to change it soon but Charles bought their last one 😦

We didn’t really like Merida much, it seems pretty run down,  and it’s hot and busy with people and traffic.

I had another go at inventing a chain slider with junk I found lying around the hostel we are camping at, this time I cut up a strip of pool hose that I glued and hose clamped down, I think it’s better than the stock chain slider now!

We spent a day working on the bikes, first we found a carwash to clean them, which was an experience in itself, the guys there detailed the bikes with some kind of kerosine spray so while the bikes looked like new they were all oily after, the brakes didn’t work, I had to ride with them engaged to burn off the kerosine, and the wheels were super slippy, the bike went down on the way out because there was zero traction.

Back at the hostel I cleaned the air filter, changed the oil and oil filter, invented & installed the new chain slider, fixed my radiator fan as it wasn’t coming on anymore, it was pressed into the radiator after the fall.  It should be good to go for another 5,000km.  I also need a new back tyre, I’m hoping it’ll get me to Guatemala where I can replace it.


November 27th 2019 [Day 66]

Seybaplaya MX to Merida, MX

More Mayan ruins today when we stopped off at Uxmal on our way to Merida.  It was stinking hot there today.  These ones seemed a little more reconstructed than the Palenque ones but they were still cool.


November 26th 2019 [Day 64]

Palenque, MX to Seybaplaya, MX

We got to Seybaplaya on the Gulf coast this evening to camp overnight on our way to Merida.  We found lots of abandoned huts on the coast just off the road where we set up our tents for the night.


November 25th 2019 [Day 63]

Palenque, MX

We stayed an extra day in Palenque and went to see the Cascada de Misol-Há…


November 24th 2019 [Day 62]

Palenque, MX

We walked into the ruins today after breakfast, access to the Museum and the Ruins cost 75 pesos.  The museum is relatively small but is packed full of carved artifacts from the Mayan era that have been excavated and uncovered at this site.  The level of detail that still exists in these artifacts after 1,500 years is impressive.

On the way into the Ruin site after the museum some local kid whispered at us, “Buy mushrooms, feel the connection”  This place was already a trip, on mushrooms it’d be a blast! Next time 🙂  There’s lots of pyramids and stone buildings here that you can explore, one of the pyramids you can get inside and see the tombs, the stone walls maintain a cooler temperature and are a welcome escape from the beating sun! This place is definitely worth a visit!

Only about 10% of this site has been excavated so much of what’s left in the way of buildings and artifacts still remain underground waiting to be discovered by us or some future civilization!

 


November 23rd 2019 [Day 61]

San Cristobal del las Casas, MX to Palenque, MX

We made it to Palenque! The last two days riding from Oaxaca has been through some pretty poor parts of Mexico, travel was slow taking four hours to get 200km in places.  There was millions of Topes [speed bumps] and traffic to contend with.  Food was from taco shacks on route, there wasn’t much in the way of big multinational corporate invasion evident along the way, even gas was sold at many of the roadside stalls along the way in the absence of gas stations.

We setup camp this evening at a small campsite in the jungle just beside the ancient ruins run by a Mayan family.  The surroundings are very nice and there are Howler Monkeys screaming from the trees somewhere nearby.  They’re pretty loud and live in the jungle around here.  The guys running the place are really nice but they seemed pretty lit when we showed up, not sure if it was from alcohol or mushrooms or both.  One kid insisted on taking over dinner duty from Charles while he was cooking chicken, it was pretty entertaining :p

They didn’t really speak a whole lot of english except for we heard a lot of “Welcome to Palenque” & “I speak Mayan”  I guess they exist pretty good here from the stream of traffic that the ruins nearby bring to them.  They offer guided tours of the ruins which were very expensive at 1,300/2,600 pesos for a short/long trip through the ruins and the jungle.

We had a few drinks and a smoke with the family later and one of the guys collects pieces of amber, he gave me a piece and a magnifying glass with a light on it for exploring the inside of the amber.  This piece had lots of stuff in it including a drop of water in a bubble that’s been preserved there for millions of years.  Looking through the magnifying glass is like exploring a three dimensional universe within the amber.

He also had some of these pieces of amber that had been carved by The Mayans, one was an excellent representation of the heart, maybe of an animal as it was smaller than a human heart.  This ancient civilization loved to carve stone so they got some pretty intricate detail into the carved amber.  There are lot’s of these artifacts left behind, still intact, and still in the same condition as when they were carved thousands of years ago.

 


November 22nd 2019 [Day 60]

Jalapa, MX to San Cristobal del las Casas, MX

Mostly riding today as we wake our way to Palenque which is supposed to have some pretty decent Mayan ruins.  We camped at this eco resort just outside San Cristobal.

The bike could use some lovin before we leave Mexico, we’ve been whipping them hard for the last 6 weeks here without so much as a little pat on the head!  We have planned some time in Mérida to get them back in shape again.

 


November 21st 2019 [Day 59]

Oaxaca, MX to Jalapa, MX

This morning we left Oaxaca behind and made a short detour to look at Hierve el Agua which is a calcified waterfall from calcium rich water springs that seep out from the top and flow over.  It was quite touristy here so we were just in and out and on the road again.

We camped at the sandy edge of El Marqués lake for the night where there was a constant stream of fishermen coming and going all night long.

We came across a few “Fabrica de Mezcal” [Mezcal Factories] which were very basic family run roadside operations.  Here they start with the piña which is the heart of the Agave plant with all the leaves cut off and discarded.  The piñas are then halved or quartered and roasted in a big fire pit for days to bring out the natural sugars of the Agave plant.  A mule and grinding stone then work together to mash up the roasted piña which is then transferred to barrels where water is added and the sweet liquid is fermented.

Once fermented they distill the liquid bottling the alcohol mezcal and selling it to passers by.  I bought a small 300ml glass bottle of it which only cost 50 pesos.  We are nearing 10,000kms on the bikes and need a tipple to celebrate the event!


November 18th >> 20th 2019 [Day 56 >> 58]

Oaxaca, MX

We did a walking tour of the city centre and got to check out some cool off the beaten path places and try some food and drinks that we haven’t had before.  We tried Tejate a maize and coco non alcoholic drink local to Oaxaca which tasted almost like chocolate.  We went into someones house where 2 or 3 family generations were weaving cotton blankets and sheets.  We went to a market and ate some spiced crickets, checked out some art galleries before finishing at a vegetarian restaurant.  We got to see a lot over the 3 hour tour.

Oaxaca is renowned for it’s food, it’s all the best parts of Mexico in one place.  We ate a lot and tried a lot of different Mezcal, you don’t need to search for good food here, it’s everywhere!  There’s an old aqueduct running through the city from the distant mountain that was built in the 1700’s by the Spanish to get fresh water from the mountain to the city.  It’s no longer used but much of it still remains.


November 17th 2019 [Day 55]

Vega del Sol, MX to Oaxaca, MX

This morning we left the village of Vega del Sol and made our way to Oaxaca on a twisty paved road that got us over the mountains and down into the valley of Oaxaca City.  On the mountain decent I fried my back brakes to the point where they didn’t work anymore so we had to slow down and take it easy using the engine to brake.  The back break eventually came back once it had cooled down but it took a while.

We tried to check into the Green Iguana Hostel but it was full so we found another a few blocks away and checked in for 2 nights.  We walked around the centre of the city where there were lots of streets closed off to the traffic with lots of street food and people selling stuff.  I tried my first Tamales ever and they were great, Mole Tamales!  This place is very relaxed, all the buildings are very old, well maintained and exceptionally pretty.


November 16th 2019 [Day 54]

Boca del Rio, MX to Vega del Sol, MX

We left the camping place in Boca this morning and stopped to get my bike cleaned at a carwash place, the guys seemed excited to be washing the bikes and were taking pictures of them throughout the process. They did a great job on the bike then I asked them in my best Spanish to powerhose all my motorcycle gear while I was wearing it to get all the dust out of them, I think they got a kick out of that :p. fifty pesos for the 20 minute bike wash and hosedown.
Not sure the hell where we are tonight, somewhere between Boca del Rio and Oaxaca city, the riding was pretty sketchy to get here but google made us do it, maybe we proved the road exists for them today.  We had to cross a river on this rope barge where there are 4 guys working on it who literally pull the thing back and forth across the river for 25 pesos per bike, they use these special wooden pegs to grab onto the rope, then they pull against the cable while walking backwards kinda like their winning a tug of war, as they do so they walk the barge forward across the river.  When the end guy gets to the back of the barge he unhooks his peg from the rope and walks past all the other guys to the top of the boat, hooks his peg, and starts pulling to keep it going while the next end guy makes his way upto the top.  They need to do quite a few human chain rotations to walk the barge, the bikes and the people across the thirty-ish meter span of river, they were staring at us as much as we were staring at them!
This area felt very remote, people are looking at us as we cruise by like who the fuck are these two?, We were stopped and pulled over by a cop at a road block along the way who didn’t seem to know what he wanted to do, I think our terrible Spanish got us out of that one after a minute or so when he got bored.  It was rough riding for the last hour to where we wanted to camp for the night.  I’m not sure if you could call this one a road, it was more of a beaten track by the local people through necessity over muddy red clay.  It wasn’t a boring ride!  It was a total waste of time getting the bike washed this morning because now it’s well and truly trashed again.
We camped in this tiny village on a place we found on iOverlander, it was weird when we got here, it’s a big open field, nobody came looking for money so we just put up our tents.  I washed my boots and motorbike pants in the river by the field we were camping in because they were a mass of red clay.  We walk into town and past the 2 or 3 bars/restaurants in the village but they were very very intimate and looked like peoples living rooms, we were too timid to go into any of them so we ended going back to the tents to cook whatever food we had left from our last grocery shop which was lots of scraps of entirely Mexican type food so we made some very delicious Tacos, this is not the usual food we cook but it works here and when in Mexico…

November 15th 2019 [Day 53]

Xalapa, MX to Boca del Rio, MX

Went to a pretty hipster coffee shop in Xalapa for breakfast before checking out of the hotel we stayed in last night, I think most people would say this hotel was a dump but our standards are pretty low and it had everything we needed so to me it was a 5 star dump, as in a good way :p.  We made our way to this other camping place just outside Boca De Rio that we found on iOverlander for 100 pesos per night, were not really sure what this place is, it’s a boat yard come pool come wedding venue come campsite.  We’re there 5 minutes before we see anyone then this kid comes over to enquire, I tell him “nos necesitos un zona por acampar aqui por este noche” then he makes a phone call and responds with “cien pesos por persona por noche”.  Charles drops him two hundred and were home for the night.
I lost the chain guide on my bike a few days back when it came off and got chewed up and spat out by the front sprocket.  I later pulled the top piece of the guide out of the sprocket and glued it back down to the top of the swing-arm but I’m missing  the bottom piece so the chain & swing-arm are starting to wear where they are rubbing together.  I stuck on a piece of plastic with what I had to stop the metal on metal rubbing until I can come up with something better.
We set up shop and decided to walk into town for food since the fish is supposed to be pretty good here on the Gulf of Mexico.  The 1km walk from where we were staying to the town centre on the road was pretty sketchy with traffic & seemingly no shoulder to walk on along the way so we decided to try get a taxi at one point before seeing two local guys walking the same road like they knew what they were doing, we decided to skip after them & follow.  They got us to where we wanted to go, so they did know what they were doing and had no clue that they were being stalked.  Seee, stalking can be innocent 🙂
This place was super empty for a Friday night, after a few dollar beers in an empty bar we find one restaurant that has some people in it from chatting with a security guard to find out the best place to eat. He sent us to this Italian restaurant, the food was very good, I think we lost 60 bucks here with wine and dinner.  We were pretty lit when we got out of the restaurant and decided to walk back to our campground for the night.

November 14th 2019 [Day 52]

Tolantongo Hot Springs, MX to Xalapa, MX

We found a hotel on booking.com for 430 pesos for a double room for the night so we make our way to it after getting caught out in the dark with no place to stay.  The place we were supposed to stay at closed at 5 and we couldn’t get in when we arrived at 6.
We head to this Mexican steak joint close by the hotel and order more chunks of cow than we can bargain with, it was very delicious but it was also a shameful amount of animal to remove from the table before bedtime.

 


November 13th 2019 [Day 51]

Tolantongo Hot Springs, MX

Yeah, we ended up staying another night because it’s nice here and another night is easy.
We checked out all of the hot springs, caves, pools and tunnels it was great. One tunnel goes 50 meters into the mountain with hot water rushing through it and its walls, it’s a natural sauna in there. There is another cave half full of water with a jet of hot water gushing out from the roof and some people swimming in there, it’s behind a waterfall that gets you with cold water on the way in and the way out.

We rode an hour to get gas because we were nearly out, I had to switch to the reserve along the way since the first two stations were closed so we had to keep going but we made it before hitting the reserve reserve, Charles’s 1 gal jerry can.

Sitting by the campfire tapping this out for the last 3 days, my phone has data so my laptop is connected to the hotspot.

 


November 12th 2019 [Day 50]

CDMX, MX to Tolantongo Hot Springs, MX

This place was totally worth the detour, thanks Hector!, it’s pretty fucking amazing, and the road we took in was fun, Charles thought he was going to wreck his bike on the way in with the amount of times he was bottoming out his suspension.

Realized I don’t have my wallet when we stopped at the Grocery store between CDMX and Tolantongo, think I must have left it in CDMX at the place we were staying, it’s hard keeping all your shit moving in the same direction as you are, especially when you’re moving every other day, at least I still have all my fingers :P! The only thing I care about is my drivers license which I need to cross borders with the bike, I have a spare but I’m down to my spare on a few things now so I want this one back!

We set up camp, had a quick look around before sunset, made some dinner and sat around the fire. I went for a swim in the hot river before crawling into bed, was weird swimming in a warm river, in the dark, by myself, somewhere in the middle of nowhere… hello sleepy time…

 


November 11th 2019 [Day 49]

CDMX, MX

Last night camping in CDMX, the big city was nice for a few days, we met Alejandro’s cousin Hector, who rides bikes in Mexico, for breakfast 20 kms south of CDMX, we took an Uber there & when he showed up he had loads to tell us, gave us some good pins on the map as well, we spent 2.5 hours chatting but it only felt like a few minutes.  When we got back into CDMX we had a few beers watching the people walk by.  We decided to spin a coin on whether to take Hectors advice to skip Puebla, where we had the next 2 nights accommodation paid for or go to Tolantongo Hot Springs, which is out of our way, 3 hours north.  The coin [and] Hector sent us to Tolantongo. Charles sent a cry baby response to the non refundable booking company to say we broke down and couldn’t make it! [we got our money back :), it was cheap but so are we.]

We went for burgers with Bob since it’s all our last night in Mexico City. Bob flies back to Vancouver at silly am in the morning and we hit the road north for Tolantongo Hot Springs a few hours later.

Night time is definitely fix the city ‘O clock around here with kango hammers pounding its guts out all over the place, the party was in full swing at 1am, stereo pounding.  Seven stories up it sounded like the city was bleeding from everywhere as I was falling asleep, zzzZZZzzz.

 


November 10th 2019 [Day 48]

Mexico City, MX


November 9th 2019 [Day 47]

Mexico City, MX

Free day in CDMX, we take an open top tour bus to Zócalo where we roam around & get some freshly made Churros. We head to an early family Christmas party at the place we are camping before hitting Zona Rosa for a few drinks.


November 8th 2019 [Day 46]

Toluca Volcano, MX to Mexico City, MX

My bike battery was low this-morning because I used it to charge my drone batteries last night so it wouldn’t start, we had to nudge its ass around a bit to get it going which isn’t easy at 13,000ft.  We also met 2 other local Mexican dirt bikers on KTM’s who came by and saw us camping so they stopped to chat.  Their able to get over the rim and down into the lakes in these bikes.

We hit Mexico City this afternoon, the biggest city in North America and we are super lucky because my friend Bob from Vancouver just happens to be here for 5 nights and is staying with a friend of his in one of the best parts of Downtown CDMX and we get to camp on the roof of their penthouse apartment 🙂

The traffic into the city was nuts and it took us an hour to get the last 10kms into the centre of the mess. Our bikes are like cars in this city, a little too wide with all our crap to weave in and out through the stopped cars, all the other bikes just make their way through like there was no traffic.

We hit some crazy Mexican dance club “Patrick Miller” for a few beers.


November 7th 2019 [Day 45]

Valle De Bravo, MX to Toluca Volcano, MX

Another cool day today where we rode up to the top of the Toluca Volcano which sits at over 14,000ft, at this altitude pilots must use oxygen at all times.  We hiked about a kilometer near the top to summit the rim of the volcano with views of Lago de la Sol [Sun Lake] & Lago de la Luna [Moon Lake], two lakes within the crater of the volcano and the highest lakes in Mexico.  Hiking at this altitude exhausts your breath pretty easily.  We sank 2 Cervezas sitting on the rim before finding somewhere to camp for the night.

We found the perfect place @ 13,000ft to camp about half a kilometer down a dirt trail off the main dirt road up the volcano, at this point we were above the clouds with a sunset over the cloud horizon, pretty sweet!  I checked my weather app for night time temperatures in the area and it showed positive Celcius temperatures for the night…  It got down to 0°C not long after sunset, there was loads of wood to burn but it was so hard to keep the fire going with the lack of oxygen that I had to retreat to my tent to stay warm while cooking dinner.  All the big gun garments came out tonight to stay warm, I had on a t-shirt, long sleeve wool polo, down jacket, hoodie, wind breaker jacket, thermal long johns, jeans, 2 pairs of socks and a down sleeping bag…  All of these and you can comfortably sleep in your fridge 😉


November 6th 2019 [Day 44]

Monarch Butterfly Reserve, MX to Valle De Bravo, MX

We got what we came for today and saw lots of butterflies in the air on the reserve.  We got there and met a local volunteer guide who hiked us to the best place to go see them.  There were lots arriving in the air but nowhere near as many as there will be at the end of their season here in February/March.

These butterflies are fascinating and before this trip I knew very little about them.  The Monarchs just arriving to this place in Mexico, left Canada/US two months ago and flew up to 7,000km taking advantage of air currents and winds to over winter in this very specific part of Mexico.  This particular generation of Monarchs that migrate from North America live for 6 to 8 months but the normal lifespan of these butterflies is 2 to 6 weeks apart from this migrating generation.  They stay in Mexico until March when they begin to make their way back to Canada/US again, this time, instead of 1 generation of adults flying all the way back to Canada/US they make their way north over several generations.  Adults will fly hundreds of kilometers north, reproduce & die, then the next generation will fly hundreds of more kilometers north until they reach their final destination in Canada a few generations later.  They remain there until September before repeating the whole cycle all over again. Each year they entirely cleanse themselves from both locations before returning as a next generation, that’s pretty nomadic.