Border Crossings Guatemala Mexico Motorcycles Photography Ride South Travel

Ride South – ¡Adios México!

San Cristóbal is a special place. That isn’t just because it’s a ‘pueblo magico’, or ‘magical town’, but because it is in Chiapas, one of Mexico’s most unique states. Chiapas is a humid, tropical state covered in jungles that house various well known and yet-to-be-discovered Mayan ruins like Palenque, Bonampak and Toniná.
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As I mentioned in my last post, all that culture is still very much here. It’s here in the people, in the tiny villages, and it’s very much here in San Cristobál. Like Oaxaca City, it felt alive with the throbbing pulse of a local culture. Chiapas’ indigenous culture has been clashing with the Mexican government for quite some time, and you don’t have to look far to see signs of that.

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There’s marks of the Zapatista (a left-wing, indigenous-rights socialist group) throughout, and there were a lot of words of roadblocks on the roads going out of town.


You also see a lot of people in their native garb.


We were in the heart of the city, in the very pleasant Rossco Hostel. The place has a really quaint charm to it, with its lush courtyard (where we stored the bikes) and friendly house dogs. Being a backpacker hostel, it also has its fair share of colorful characters moving about, and we explored the town a bit with some of them.


I had to do a few maintenance things: I needed a new key for my bike panniers, so I went to ask around town to find someone who could make keys. I was pointed towards a crafty young boy who told me it’d be the equivalent of about half a dollar and to come back in about an hour.

I came back to get this key:


Yep, it was slowly and painstakingly etched by hand. No machines here, just actual handiwork. It works like a charm. Just amazing.

In bike maintenance, since we’ve been in such hot and humid climates I couldn’t help but notice the HP2 running rather hot. Hot, in this case, means ‘at the notch’, which is the top of the engine temperature dash.

I’d gotten several suggestions on the HP2 thread on ADVRider but the most helpful one was just to perhaps cut off part of the front fender that was blocking the airflow to the oil cooler altogether. Wouldn’t you know it, it cooled down the bike quite a bit.

The fix:


An interesting situation arose for me: I have to meet my girlfriend in Costa Rica in about 11 days. We’d had plans to meet up for some time, but she’d finally nabbed a ticket out of Chile where she was doing a trip and the date was now final. That gave me a bit (a lot) less time than I wanted to check out Guatemala, but at least Stu could take his time there.

Some great sights still awaited us: the ruins of Palenque and the beautiful sights of the rest of Chiapas were tempting, but we had very consistent and reliable reports of entirely shuttered roads and violent protest with several tourists gone missing in the days before, so we made the decision to head for the border the next day. Fortunately, Guatemala would offer excellent riding, Mayan ruins and a slightly lower chance of violent mobs.


So with that, we loaded up our bikes in the courtyard, tossed out a half HP2 fender, slapped some Mexico stickers on the panniers and headed for the border.

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Our late start combined with roadworks and roadblocks led to a 90 km ride — which was supposed to take about 2 hours — becoming a 5 hour affair. We had only traveled about 90 km south of San Cristobal de las Casas when we hit the town of Comitan at nightfall with angry clouds boiling in the sky. Forecasts said downpours, and we’re fairly close to the border, so we stopped.

Not wanting to attempt the border crossing at night, we decided to stay one last night in Mexico here.


A beautiful town.


I love this zippy (unofficial) yellow police motorcycle.

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Yeah, those clouds are bad news.

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The next day we rolled through the hotel (this never gets old), off the curb and into the streets of Comitan and bid Mexico adieu.

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It’s a pretty sort of roll downhill towards the border crossing at Ciudad Cuahtemoc / La Mesilla.

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Ah, border crossings.

In Central America, you should budget time. It’s a currency they are generous with, so your budget should be substantial. In the case of border crossings, I usually budget about a day. If we get a border crossing done in less than a day, that’s pure profit as far as time goes. Don’t go into it expecting things to go well, fast, efficient, or in any way normally. That way you’re much less likely to be disappointed.

The Mexico-Guatemala border isn’t half bad.

When we entered Mexico, we put down a deposit when we got our ‘temporary vehicle import permit’ or TVIP. There’s more names for this particular document, but let’s refer to it as the ‘TVIP’ in our posts about border crossings. Much like you get a temporary visa upon arrival that lets you stay in the country for a few months, your vehicle gets to be in a country for a bit by the grace of this piece of paper.

When you enter Cuidad Cuahtemoc, the first order of business is to get your vehicle checked out of the country, and then yourself checked out.


This is the spot for that. There’s a big awning that you cannot park under, so bring some sunblock. Then be prepared to be told to go get copies of documents. You can’t do these in advance: they’ll be stamped documents and of course there’s only one spot in town that does copies at somewhat-extortionate rates. It’s also up here, on the hill behind the adauana offices:


Oh well. We went up to get copies (and water, it’s in a convenience store, hooray!) when a giant bus full of smelly backpackers (not as smelly as us, mind you) arrived. Oh no! The last thing you want is to be stuck behind a 150+ people who need their papers processed.


Fortunately they gave us priority and they refunded our deposit on the vehicle, stamped out the paperwork and got us stamped out of Mexico.


Currency changers walk around here and can give you a decent exchange rate, provided you negotiate a bit. You’ll need local currency at the border and unless you collect international bills you’re better off exchanging whatever cash you have left at a decent rate. Just look up what the exchange rate is on Google and show it to the money changer. They’ll counter at something and if you’re happy with it, go exchange your cash and rejoice in your newfound local wealth.

There’s a little road between Ciudad Cuahtemoc and the actual border between Mexico and Guatemala, and on that exact border line is where you’ll find the customs and immigrations of Guatemala. This is what’s called a ‘no man’s land’.

Right before you get to it, there’s a jaw-dropping lookout of the rolling hills of pure Mayan country.


This is the splendor that the once-mighty Mayan empire ruled over. Images don’t do it justice. The landscapes and skies were vast, with god-rays shooting between scattered clouds over mountains that dramatically erupted from the fertile valley. The very mountains themselves felt like resting gods, perhaps nearly forgotten, their powers slowly diminished over time until they went to rest here, only to be overgrown in thick jungle.


Or perhaps it was this photobombing butterfly that was the reincarnation of the native gods.

Anyway, where was I? Oh, I’d lost Stu, who had left to go to the border already. Time to catch up! Stop here for the initial customs paperwork (passport stamps!)…


Then pull up for the mandatory vehicle import permit.


This little office is the one you want, and they’ll actually check your VIN! We were surprised at how diligent they did their work. No attempts at overcharging, we got the regular 160 quetzals for the vehicle permit and 40 for the mandatory fumigation of the vehicle.

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Stu’s doing the work of getting the KLR legal in Guatemala.

And a hose-down with (likely not really effective) fumigation chemicals.


Interestingly La Mesilla, the border town, really grew an entire little ecosystem around the border. Things are no doubt more and less expensive on both sides, and thrifty people have set up tons of shops with almost everything imaginable on both sides, which grew to this bustling little ramshackle metropolis:


Little taxis shuttle people back and forth, annoying ‘helpers’ dot the area, and tons of merchandise is moved in trucks.

The border crossing didn’t take more than an hour or so and we got on the road. Not having a clear goal for the day, we rode to Huehuetenango, the closest city that should have a bank for getting some currency and perhaps a good spot to grab some food.

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The ride there was pure bliss. Beautiful, twisty mountain roads flanked by epic cliffs and mountains. The road snakes through the valley following a river that splits off somewhere near Colotenango, leaving you to the two-lane ‘highway’ 7W to Huehuetenango. We got in sometime after nightfall.


It’s not a very fantastic town. In Huehuetenango, we looked around to find a kind of nice local’s spot, but really only found some dubious truckstop kind of joints. At the end of the night we did manage to find some Americans that lived in Huehuetenango that were here for ‘mission work’.

I wonder what kind of mission it was?


I think their mission might have been drinking. What a coincidence, that’s ours too!

After a night of chatting with their super friendly community and exchanging tales of travel we grabbed some roadside food to get a true local flavor:


After which we hit the hay. There was a whole new country ahead of us just waiting to be explored.

Mexico Motorcycles Photography Ride South Travel

Ride South – Oaxaca to Chiapas

Come on, do I really have to leave Zipolite? At this point, I’d met locals that had given me a coke bottle full of cloudy (purportedly) ‘mezcal’ that I really enjoyed and we’d made friends with half the town. We never thought we’d find another town like Skagway on our Ride North, but here it was. And it was a nude beach, at that.

We had to go. Stu fired up the KLR and almost steered the KLR into a wall at speed thanks to the 1+ foot deep sand we were parked in, so I decided to spare my (dry, bah) clutch and just push my bike out to the street.


Where we loaded up the bikes in searing hit. Pro-tip: put your helmet in the shade while you do this!


All nicely packed up. We looked our old digs up and down once more and had some breakfast in town, where the local policy was clearly spelled out:

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I’m not entirely sure if all the locals really adhere to this rule…

After a bit of snacking we had the hot air of the road blast the tears off our face that beaded our cheeks after tearful goodbyes… Okay, perhaps it wasn’t quite that sad, but I felt less than motivated to move on.

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This is our route today. The coastal Oaxacan route 200 is super fun, twisty, offers gorgeous ocean views and plenty of great (and not so great pavement). It’s not terribly busy, either.

We pulled right up to two guys really ripping up the road on their smaller bikes and got off for a drink and made some new friends:


We gave them some stickers and patches. One of them was named ‘Galileo’. What a cool name, man.

Salina Cruz was an interesting town. Coming from a very naturopath hippie micro-beach community, we were thrust into an industrial port town where a gas refinery and trash fields around it burned in the distance. Tons of people were in and about the town, and it had a decidedly different atmosphere and feel than all of Oaxaca we’d seen so far. We found the edge of the state, and not a particularly happy slice of that edge.

The day’s ride had been hot and exhausting and after looking for camping near the water we just gave up and got a cheap hotel instead. We wanted to rest up a bit after hearing some horror stories about the road we’d do the next day, anyway.

We were planning to ride to San Cristobal de las Casas, a ‘pueblo magico’ in Chiapas, the final Mexican state. To get to Chiapas, you have to cross what’s know as the isthmus of Tehuantepec, Mexico’s narrowest little piece of land. As the Sierra Madre hunches down and the volcanic mountains of Chiapas and Guatemala arise to its East, wind gets channeled in from the Caribbean and blows across the isthmus at great speeds. We heard stories of toppled trucks, motorcyclists unable to stay on the road, all sorts of terrible tales of horror.

I recalled the great video from Becky (Motoventuring) where they were blown over on the road.

Well, we went on the ride and while it was windy… it was kind of a joy. Tons of windmills (quelle surprise!) and trucks on this route, but by no means the Death Winds we’d heard of. We probably got lucky, or some aspect of it might have also been the penchant for drama people have. We’ve heard a lot of horror stories and have yet to find a road or place that was quite as bad as people said!

L1003776 L1003777 Hey Stu, what do you think—

Yeah, he’s cool with it.

After the flat terrain of the isthmus, the mountains pick up again. Roads snake up a set of rolling hills which rapidly turn to scenic mountains and before you know it, this gorgeous state of Oaxaca is no more:


This is it, the last state of Mexico! We can’t believe it. Despite having seen so many parts of it, we were still craving more. Every part of this country is a delight.


And would you know it, Chiapas would prove to be no different. Look at this dramatic, gorgeous landscape. Hot, but gorgeous.


The road into Chiapas, towards San Cristobal de las Casas, is stunning. Probably in my top 5 rides of all of Mexico. This unreal, golden set of dry hill vegetation turns to greener and more colorful varieties of scenery before fading right back into dryness and golden hues again. A feast for your eyes — and the road, a feast for the soul.

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And there’s quite a bit of road to cover! We entered the hills near San Pedro Tapanatepec (what a mouthful), to cross the highlands of Chiapas and then make a blast for the hills near Tuxtla Gutiérrez and hopefully ride into San Cristobal by sundown.


The flatlands were smoky. We rode through thick smoke for a good 30 minutes until we ran into the source: burning fields. We were absolutely starving but decided to push through this to save our own lungs, and found a mariscos (seafood, yep, perhaps a bad idea) out here in the highlands to chow down on. Surprisingly good!


In Tuxtla Gutiérrez we gassed up and found a Minecraft bike (?). We debated if we wanted to check out the town but it seemed truly dreadful to us, and we had a bit of sunlight left.


Boy, am I glad we drove up the mountain to San Cristobal.

As we ascended through hills and mountains outside of Tuxtla, we rode through our first small Mayan villages. Unlike Aztec culture at large, Mayans continue to live to this day, still cultivating corn at high altitudes, still speaking their Mayan language and observing a lot of its customs. The dwellings, while somewhat modern, were still dotted on the ridges of mountains by the roadside and were still surrounded by stalks of corn and other traditional crops.

The people on the side of the road looked like they could’ve been here many centuries ago. It was a powerful reminder of just how strong Chiapas’ native identity and culture is to this day — something that is the source of many conflicts with the Mexican federal government.

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There are the hills they live in, and the hills they have lived in for generations upon generations. And we’re just lucky enough to see them as they are in this small snapshot of time, bathed in golden glows of a setting sun.


I suspect the Spanish had something more tangible in mind when they were out here looking for the gold of the natives, but this can’t have been a bad consolation prize. Sunsets in this high country are magical, and the warm light played with the cornstalks in a beautiful fiery way.



Ah, how can I keep going? I have to stop and take photos. I have to keep moving, too, as we hate riding in the dark in unknown places and on mountains without great visibility and into a town we’d never been in… but, the scenery. Just look at it:



I’d stop to take some photos, and Stu would overtake me. I’d keep riding for a bit, and fly by Stu on the side of the road, taking photos. The process would repeat so often that eventually I was trained to listen to that big pig of a thumper’s roar echoing of the mountainside and make sure I had my camera ready to snap him rolling by:


And with that purple glow, the sun had been laid to rest. Only the light from our own headlights poured over this twisty road now, the last few dozen miles to San Cristobal, no doubt scenic but it scenery and views now invisible to us.

It’d been a solid ride, and we checked into the Rossco Backpacker Hostel, which we were told gives a free night to bikers. We were not just warmly welcomed, but for the same price they gave us a full room to enjoy in the back and a beautiful spot in the courtyard to park the bikes. Tomorrow, we’d set off to explore San Cristobal and make plans for Chiapas and what lay beyond the Mexican border.

But first, beers, food, and a bit of rest from our taming of the isthmus and chasing up the Mayan trail.

Mexico Motorcycles Photography Ride South Travel

Ride South – Zipolite

As I was packing up the bike to leave the magical city of Oaxaca, I started to wonder what lay ahead.

Mexico has been a particularly excellent country to travel through. The sheer variety of it is mind-blowing. This would be our first return to one of its coastlines since we went ashore in Mazatlan after our ride through Baja. With the temperatures picking up in Oaxaca, the ocean did sound appealing.


There was a KTM 1190 Adventure in the lot at our hotel, Hotel Paris (fine spot, by the way — and nice secure parking!) in Oaxaca. Stu’s KTM cravings continue to intensify.

After a bit of looping around town to find gas we drove through some very flat and empty terrain before starting the ascent of the mountains the separate Oaxaca and the ocean. Today’s ride would be exceptionally twisty and fun and see a the weather change rapidly and frequently.

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As the first turns and hills appeared it was time to try and put on a podcast to listen to while carving turns.


Not a bad view from here. People build some beautiful homes out here, with little farms and gardens in the loamy fertile soil.


It was very hot out, so the best thing we reckoned we could do was to move quickly to ensure adequate air flow. That does mean you have to really hit those corners hard, but I suppose there is just no other choice. We had to do it, officer, you know how warm it is today!
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But as we gained altitude it started looking like some clouds were meeting right on top of the mountain range that we were crossing.

L1003355 And indeed, not just the temperature dropped: we saw some rain, which was the first time on this trip we’d been caught in it.


We sought a bit of food so we could let the rather violent rain pass. This was… possibly the worst food we’d had in Mexico yet, and perhaps one of the worst meals of my life. I am assuming villagers here eat at home, not at the street-side restaurant.

Look at that, the rain has passed!

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Out from our parking spot we could see a seemingly steaming forest, a bizarre and beautiful play of earth and air as wisps of cloud ran its tendrils through the woods like a million ghostly white hands.


These are the kind of views that are like music to your eyes. Beautiful, classical music, with a range of complex layers and indescribably beautiful textures that a camera or microphone really can’t capture well.


Stu was also very impressed. And wet. Impressed and wet.


As we continued, we basically started riding in the clouds themselves, which still had plenty of moisture to go around. We rode through some sheets of rain, wet fog/cloud, and the roads were slippery as hell. Heidenau K60 tires are great for a lot of things but the grip in the wet sucks sometimes.

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I believe me taking these exceptionally bad photos with my camera is what eventually led to water getting into the viewfinder. Oops. Well, they should’ve sealed it a bit better.

After about an hour of relative cold and rain we cleared a bend and it was suddenly beautiful out. We truly just rode out of the clouds, on the edge of the downward slope that would lead us toward the coast.

A short lesson in Spanish signage:


‘Curva Peligrosa’ means ‘fun turn’. The more you know! Speaking of signage, there was a massive surplus of curve indicator signs in Oaxaca, apparently, because they absolutely studded the hills in them. Almost every turn had these reflective signs showing you helpfully the the road did, in fact, turn here:


I was delighted to find another first on our trip: a proper jungle. The windward half of the mountain range receives a remarkable amount of moisture from the ocean and dumps it onto not just unsuspecting motorcyclists, but also the forests, leading to a truly lush and gorgeous forest full of palm- and banana trees and deciduous trees of all kinds. An absolute explosion in biodiversity.

L1003420 This side was also quite dry, and we enjoyed being able to hit all the turns a bit faster. We did, ironically, work up quite a thirst and found this fantastic roadside family who cut and served coconuts. Highly, highly recommended:


How’s the drink, Stu?


After you finish it, you just give it to the good man and he’ll cut it up, throw in chili, lime and a few other goodies and you can eat the flesh. Delicious. Such a brilliant idea.

The twists and undulations in the road started to even out a bit, villages started appearing, and eventually we found ourselves on fairly flat ground. A massive mountain loomed behind us and the sun was rapidly sinking towards the now-sometimes-visible ocean. We crossed a bridge:

L1003445 … and tried to make it for Zipolite before dark.


Zipolite was something I’d just heard about through the grapevine. I was told that despite Mexico’s somewhat conservative nature there were places where people took the laws and rules a bit less seriously, walked the beach nude, and let others do with their life what they pleased. Zipolite is one of those places, or so I was told, and I from what I heard its menagerie of crazies and eccentrics made for a very unique small beach town.

Being from San Francisco, I enjoy a good hippie beach town as much as the next guy.

We definitely rushed once we hit the coastal highway, having to ride a little bit north (boo! We should be going south!) to make it to Zipolite. A small byroad shoots off the highway after a little mixed sand/dirt/pavement trail takes you right to the famed beach town.

We got in right as the sun started kissing the horizon. I just hopped off the bike and ran to the beach. It’d been a long enough day.


The first order of things was, naturally, a dark beer, but also a quick gander at the local cuisine:


Fish, right off the boat. You can’t just pass on that.


This wonderful open-air ‘kitchen’ makes the absolute damn best fish and shrimp. I think it was the best shrimp I’ve ever had, period. That makes for one of the best and the worst meals in my life all in one day!


This was a great beginning to a stay in Zipolite that went by far too fast. We met some locals and drank the night away. We rolled our bikes into a sandy, crappy beachside hotel so we had a place to stash our stuff safely. It was also right next to a bar called ‘A Nice Place’.

It was a nice place.


Zipolite is a bunch of ramshackle structures all dotting a beach that is flanked by dramatic jagged rocks.

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Around sunset, you can actually see the sun spilling through some of the eroded rocks, spilling it last bit of warm and orange light into the cove.

L1003543 It’s a stunning sight, and it never gets old.

L1003552Then, as the sun starts to set and move against the horizon, it somehow feels like it lingers, as if the light that spilled in past the rocks hangs in the air like smoke.
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We were so mesmerized by this that we routinely forgot about the sometimes powerful waves and nearly drowned our telephoto lens…

It’s all good, we kept it dry.


Zipolite’s a small place, so you see most people come out to watch the sun set. This couple had a beautiful moment as the last light was slowly extinguishing and giving way to a clear starry sky:
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And then that was it. But a purple glow of the sun remained and we had another nice night out with some really great people we met and instantly got along with. It’s fun how easy it is to make friends as a smelly motorcycle bum.


The next morning it was time for Stu to do some work on his fork. What’s the best possible place to work on motorcycles? I’d say a sandy courtyard of a crappy beachside hostel is just the ticket.

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Alright, give me your war face!

Ah, yes, this is our accommodations. The place isn’t much, a sort of driftwood-fire-hazard by the beach, but it was ours for a few nights, and it did great. The owner was a total ass to us, but I kind of love that. Who doesn’t dream of quitting everything and moving to a tiny nude beach paradise far away to heckle strangers every day?

I know I do.

Speaking of dreaming, Stu was looking dreamy so I took his portrait.


It was our third day in Zipolite already, and it was starting to become apparent that if we had any say in it, we’d probably stay around for a long time. Perhaps we should do something productive or keep traveling, I would tell myself.

And then I’d walk by our regular spot:

OK, we’ll stay just a little longer.


Zipolite’s main drag is paved (!) and has all sorts of fun little shops and restaurants. The food’s great almost anywhere and there’s tons of gluten/meat/dairy/cat/dog-free meals available everywhere. I personally eat everything, but despite their laid back attitudes in life a lot of hippie types tend to be very picky eaters.

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Ah, how can you not love this place? Wandering around was a joy, with the town being so tiny. We were offered some exotic psychedelic drugs on the street at times, too — it’s not often you see a kind stranger offering to sell you some DMT. It reminded me of San Francisco a year or 10 back, where in Dolores Park you’d get offered a multitude of fun mind expanding substances if you just sat around with your friends on a sunny Saturday afternoon.

On the beach the drug of choice was alcohol, though, especially in the form of a nice chilled Pacifico. Ahh.


I took a short hike up to the ‘meditation point’ which overlooks the cove. You get to really see the remarkable texture of the jagged rocks from up close — when they’re not covered in cacti and other interesting plants, that is.

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I have to admit, just the salty air and rushing waves really felt calming after what felt like such a long time riding inland.

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A change of pace.


Oceans have a grounding effect on me. I’ve always lived near the ocean, and as a kid I found its sights, sounds and smells uniquely inspiring and important. There’s a saying in Dutch, that goes something like ‘to go and have the wind blow it out of you’; to have the ocean winds clear your head, and cool you down.

Oceans do that. I suppose that’s why this little meditation point was here, up on a cliff being battered by waves, up and away from the town and in a bit more wind than the cove the town hides in.

L1003658 L1003659 I walked back, the wind now playing a softer ballad through the little paper ribbons on the trail.

It’d be our last night in Zipolite.


I wrote a bit in my hammock and had a beer as I sorted out some thoughts. Being on the road every day is nice; you get new sights, make new friends and have adventures every day. It lets you take your mind off a lot of regular thoughts in your mind, and it helped me lift myself out of a horrible depression I plunged into after my divorce.

But you do have to take time on the trip to reflect, and think a bit. Let the thoughts intrude on your mind so you can sort some things out.


But as the light on my sandy feet turned orange, it was time to snap a few photos of the sun dipping behind the rocky outcroppings again. Stu ran out with our new friend Laura, who enjoyed photography herself:

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her brother Alexander and Bregje, our other new friends had already set up a nice little beach base right outside of A Nice Place:

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Where we could grab ample beverages to talk the night away and lament our having to get back on the road. Zipolite would be an easy place to ‘lose a trip’; with how cheap it is to live here, it’s tempting just to stick around for a while and see if you can work out some things in your life or write that novel you always wanted to write.


And sometimes you’re lucky enough to make wonderful friends there, as well.

L1003730 With the glow of sunset vanishing we turned to the glows of a beach bonfire where old, young, hippies and locals all gathered to warm themselves, play music and dance.

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Here’s to the crazy ones.


Mexico Motorcycles Photography Ride South Travel

Ride South – Oaxaca

To get from Tehuacán to Oaxaca you have two options: The toll road, 135D, or the free Ruta 135, which is looking exceptionally twisty and fun. The border between the states of Puebla and Oaxaca is also a unique transition into a high desert.

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This map again: sticking to the twisty 135. Where are we?

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Starting to get pretty close to the end of Mexico! This is where things start getting noticeably different: different climates, environments, our first jungles, and the edge of Aztec Mexico as it starts to transition to ancient Mayan Mexico.

Fortunately, unlike the explorers of yore, we had faster means of transportation than donkeys, and these roads have beautiful, curvy tarmac to carve with our tires.


What a unique landscape out here. It reminded us of Baja, but at such altitudes and with such desolation. Morbidly brown, dry mountainsides with dramatic rock striations.


Stu loves a good rock.


We made occasional water breaks; it was getting warmer as we descended towards Oaxaca. We also stopped just to take some photos, because these curves lent themselves to some dramatic sweeping.



If there’s ever a need for a promotional image of Ruta 153, we humbly submit this one:


Note the green stuff on the next mountain over. We’d successfully escaped the arid region and were now heading into the hills around Oaxaca, which surprisingly bloomed with actual green vegetation. It was wetter here, and the air hitting our faces felt warmer with every turn.

It was also the lower sun that was now shining in our face. It was getting dark by the time we rolled into Oaxaca.

Oaxaca (pronounced kind of like Wa-Hakka) is a state in Mexico that’s very well known for its culture and scenery. It’s pretty vast, stretching almost from the Caribbean to the Pacific, and almost smack dab in the middle of it sits Oaxaca City. Once an area of settlements of warring Zapotec and Mixtec natives, the greatest ruin that reminds you of its past is on hill outside of town called Monte Alban, which is the site of an Aztec fortress that was once used to maintain a military presence to rule the area.

When the Spanish came around, they used a their traditional, exceptional peacemaking technique to finally end generations of fighting between the locals by killing basically everyone and enslaving whoever remained.

They also established what is now modern day Oaxaca city, which gives it its beautiful colonial architecture.


It was far too late for us to make it up the hill, so we wandered town for local specialties: mole, chocolate, art, and one I’d heard of since Baja: mezcal. Oh boy, do I love mezcal.


Side note: apologies for the photo quality drop as we often avoid walking with big cameras in unknown cities at night. You never know…

The streets were slammed with people, music, and food. Oaxaca is a sublime city, one I truly loved the moment I started wandering around in it. If you’re not in the colonial cobblestone streets you’re walking through covered walkways filled with people and stalls.

There was also some kind of party happening (in Mexico? You don’t say!) and people were in costumes, playing music and having an incredible time. There were balloons all around the place and people selling various edibles and beverages including this rather fantastic rig:


Nevermind, I decided to grab a camera. 

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I love the image Stu took of me with this kid, who kept calling me ‘Thor’. There were actual people in costume there, like Captain America, and I guess I looked the part!

Apart from the bucolic zocalo and the partying locals, another treasure of this place that we kept coming back to was chocolate. I don’t think I’ve ever had the feeling like chocolate was a drug. Some people (cough, girls) joke about how chocolate is a drug to them, and something they need to keep them happy. Sound recognizable?

Well, we’re near the birthplace of chocolate. The word “chocolate” comes from the Nahuatl word chocolātl. Aztecs loved the stuff. And sure enough, the chocolate here is insane.

We had a cup at this particular place, Oaxaca en Una Taza (Oaxaca in a cup). It wasn’t just good; I felt invigorated and pulsing with energy until 3 AM. I’ve had highs from drugs that were less intense. If you’re in Oaxaca City, you owe it to yourself to get a hot cocoa or a mocha here. Who knows, perhaps they slipped some amphetamines in our cup, but it was a real experience.

After the joys of mole and chocolate we indulged in some mezcal (ahem, some) and we hit the bed.

We got an early start the next day just taking in the city and its sights.


There’s always an ‘interesting bike of the city’ we find, and this one is awesome. I’d do a RTW trip on it, you?


Some kind of dog show! These good boys were doing a very good job following commands. As far as our experiences with dogs in Mexico go, they must be the 0.1%.

A short walk from the zocalo is the gorgeous cathedral of Oaxaca.


Beautiful vignettes of colonial architecture, color and character at every turn. I really, really love this city.

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A piñata? Unsure. Beautiful, though.


This blind man played music. We did ask his permission to take a photo — it’d be rather tasteless not to.


Just your average street decorations:


Mercado Benito Juárez is the most-go indoor market in Oaxaca City. Expect to find everything, including some really weird foods like maggots, grasshoppers and lots of meat. The place was absolutely filled with smoke. Awesome.


The markets go on on the streets, with beautiful little bits of art and culture whichever way you go. We purchased a few skulls to safety-wire to the bikes. Unfortunately mine only made it a few miles before it shattered.

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As we walked back to the hotel, we reveled in the bustle and warmth of this city.


Stu noticed some locals having a very hard time getting a lug nut loose on their car, so we helped out. By ‘we helped out’ I mean that I took photos while Stu did the hard work:


Content with food and sightseeing in the city we rode the bikes up to Monte Alban, the Aztec fortress. The views got staggering:


… and unfortunately that’s where it ended. Monte Alban closed very early, so we weren’t allowed entry. We peeked at it from afar and walked around the old trails up on the mountain. It’s a beautiful hill, and being up there makes it easy to understand why they fortified it so long ago. It has a commanding position overlooking the entire valley, with all its hillsides easily in view. Thick shrubs make it hard to get through the vegetation unless you follow certain routes.


Disappointed, we headed back down and debated whether or not we should stay in this magical city for just another night.

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How could we not. Chocolate, magic, mezcal and superheroes filled the city as the sun went down. Adventure could wait a day.


Mexico Motorcycles Ride South Travel

Ride South – Leaving Puebla

It was a crisp morning in Puebla. It doesn’t really get that cold in these parts of Mexico, but if you’d ask the local they would probably have a different opinion. People were huddled up in thick sweaters.

OK, it wasn’t actually morning. We had a bit of a long night, and I got up without a sign of Stu. He eventually made it back to the hotel just in time for some breakfast — another cemita, of course — and we had a bit of a wander around quiet Puebla.


This helmet, though:


A new year means New Year’s markets, apparently, and the they had all sorts of interesting things to peruse:


Also cats, which were not for sale:

I recalled the Dutch restaurant that we ran across when stopping in Cholula and I’d reached out on Facebook to see if they would be open. They excitedly replied ‘Claro!’, so that was the lunch plan. It would give us a great chance to visit Cholula’s historic church and Aztec ruins.


Time to get out of this beautiful parking spot! It’s a 20 minute ride to Cholula from downtown Puebla. Make it 35 when you’re hungover, hungry and a bit slow.

Today’s route:

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The two dots near Cholula are Puebla and Cholula. Tehuacán is our stop for tonight, and Oaxaca our goal!

Cholula is an unglamorous city sitting in the shadow of the giant volcanoes that separate it from Mexico City. Today, it was quiet; it seemed nobody was out and every shop and restaurant was closed.


Not so much the church, of course! Mexicans really love churches, and today was a special day, with people all about the church and common areas. The church here actually sits on an Aztec pyramid, which has been covered in dirt and grass as the ages relentlessly buried it in time.


I am sure building a church on top of it didn’t exactly help the situation.

Puebs_y_Pops-00724 In some areas, you can still visit the ruins and admire the incredible scale and craftsmanship of the Aztecs. A genuinely fascinating and impressive society that was completely eradicated.

Oh, and for the Dutch restaurant? We arrived at the ruins and church only to find it closed. Just like every other restaurant and shop. A taco stand managed to cool my hangriness, but I was very, very upset.


So I suppose after taco lunch it was time to get on the road. From Puebla we had less of a clear goal: we really wanted to just get to Oaxaca. There’s brilliant riding between here and there, but for now it was a lot of highway in some very urban areas.


Sometimes, the volcanic nature of the landscape surprised you as you rounded a turn…


And light played beautifully on long stretches of roadway.

Finally, we arrived in Tehuacan as the sun was setting and angry clouds were starting to gather. It’s never a really great idea to ride at night, let alone in countries like Mexico, so this would be home for tonight.


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Did I mention we’ve been blessed with unreal weather? This was the first sign of that changing. A very orange sunset betrayed moisture in the air, and the clouds amassing on the horizon made us realize we probably wanted to avoid camping tonight and grab a quick motel.

Tehuacán was an interesting industrial town. After having a chat with the ladies that ran the motel we walked across a myriad of train tracks to a set of working-people-neighborhood restaurants that happily served up food on a day where so many other places were closed.


Another new favorite food discovered: tacos al arabe. Kind of like a kebab meets a taco.

Tehuacán might have many redeeming, beautiful and even interesting sights but as we arrived late and it was a holiday, we’d have to skip most of it. We were on a mission to get to Oaxaca, anyway!


When dawn broke we realized just how colorful our choice of lodging really was! Little did we know this was but a taste of things to come…

Mexico Motorcycles Ride South Travel

Ride South – New Years with Popocatépetl and Iztaccihuatl

It was an early enough morning for us waking up in our tube hotel. Today an interesting challenge awaited us: circumnavigating the periphery of México City as we pushed eastward through the old Pass of Cortés (aka ‘Paso de Cortés).

It’s a pass drenched in history; supposedly Cortés, the Spanish conquerer of the Aztecs, marched his army through this pass to bring the native Mexicans of yore to heel. They fought the Mexicans at Cholula (yes, like the hot sauce…) and then went right up to Moctezuma’s home. Some strong tales of soldiers going into the volcanoes nearby to extract sulfur survive. Hmm, we should try doing that…

Nah, all that wasn’t really on our mind today: it was a lot of miles there, and we’d had some scattered reports that the path which ran through the saddle between two mighty volcanoes was pretty tough. Wikipedia listed it as ‘at least sometimes drivable’. That’s perfect, sounds like fun!

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Our route for today. We rose from our tube home


And got some really rather great breakfast at the local haunt Les Colorines.


It’s a beautiful pink building and you can grab some of the pulque this area is so known for. We also ran into some fellow adventure riders from Mexico City!

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Ahh, this isn’t helping Stu’s KTM envy at all.

Anyway, time to hit the road. I turned the key on the HP2 and it instantly popped my taillight. Cool, nice.


Popped a new one in there. On to the highway!


These roads.

Have utterly.


Incredible views.

We had a bit of highway slabbing until we made it to the short paved section up to the pass. Mexico never gets enough credit for how spectacular its roads are; this is right outside of Mexico City and it is breathtaking. Smoldering volcanoes lie asleep between rolling hills as you ascend slowly through corn fields, lush forest and small farms.


This dip-in was the beginning of a pine tree-studded road absolutely riddled with turns. You couldn’t keep the bike upright for more than about a third of a second. It was pure joy and we took zero photos. Seriously. what a fun road. We saw absolutely nobody go up here and made it up the pass in about an hour or so.


There’s a small cultural center at the top where you can learn about the history of the pass but also the volcanoes. There it is: Popo. Popocatépetl. The big pope.


Not only is it a massive volcano, it’s actually still active. It has small eruptions all the time and you can see the plume of its smoke coming out of it here. It’s quiet.

Perhaps too quiet.

This thing is the 5th highest peak in all of North America, and the 2nd in Mexico. It’s kind of insane that it is sitting within striking distance of the most populous area of Mexico, with all of its massive power able to probably wipe out millions of people. For now, it’s a great backdrop for a motorcycle.


We kept our guard, of course, in case this would suddenly turn into a scene from the 1997 disaster flick ‘Volcano‘. With some help, Tommy Lee Jones would suddenly appear too. Or Anne Heche… on second though, we’d rather have her around.

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Glam shot time! Which one is your favorite? I have a favorite. It’s the blue one.

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After our incessant clicking away with cameras we rode to the visitor center and met this huge fantastic family from Puebla! They loved the bikes and we took a ton of photos with them. I love how friendly they are around these parts, they even offered us candy and snacks (and soda, always soda…).


Anyway, it was time to make it down that supposedly ‘sometimes traversable’ dirt road.

It’s beautiful. As soon as you start descending from the visitor station, it’s a rather sandy and dusty affair, but the views are insane. The entire valley soon stretches ahead of you with Puebla and Cholula in the distance, and turn after turn drops you slowly through forests of pine trees which give way for deciduous forests that grow on crumbling hillsides. The volcanic rock that sticks out at times is beautiful and jagged, and roots and sand washes keep it interesting.

We both kept a pretty good speed and as I’m perhaps a middling dirt rider I’d rate the route a 5/10 in terms of difficulty. There’s definitely some gnarly parts that could wipe you out if you’re not paying attention as well as some deep sand that’s always fun to wiggle around in at speed, but nothing you can’t handle if you take your time or pay attention. We did a bit of both.


We stopped only once for a sip of water. What a ton of fun this road is. We again, didn’t run into anyone else, and quickly flicked the bikes around the final turns down to a disappointingly well paved road.

There it was, we’d finally cleared the pass. Much like history and Cortés, it now lay behind us, and Popo smiled as we left it growing smaller and smaller in our rear view mirrors. I was daydreaming about the pass and the magnificence of the volcanoes… and trying to steer around a pack of stray dogs when I saw Stu’s KLR hit a tope at speed in front of me and narrowly managed to avoid his panniers which comically flew off with a big arc.


He should really fasten these things a bit better, a tope always sends them flying. There they are!


A nice opportunity to snap another headshot. Calm. It stopped smoking. Probably better for its health.

We had a brief stop in Cholula! Right next to a historic buried pyramid and beautiful church, there’s an ostensibly Dutch bar. They might have the snacks I crave the most from home: bitterballen. Fried little balls filled with meat ragout. Alas, they were closed. Holidays.

Pretty church, though.


We weaved through celebration traffic (seriously, there was a ton of traffic) to the downtown area of Puebla, where we were sure we could find somewhere to stay.

Did we mention we really never make reservations? We figured it’d be easy enough to find a hostel or somewhere else so we could enjoy the festivities right in the middle of town. We parked on the zocalo (the main square) and started looking around for hotels.


Such a beautiful square. Puebla is a gorgeous town. It’s also a pretty busy town when it comes to festivities, apparently, because we couldn’t find a single hotel anywhere. Just when we were about to give up, we found a sort of refurbished governor’s mansion that was turned hostel… and it turned out they had a spot for us!


What a spot!!! This might be the most beautiful parking spot we’ve ever had on this ride. Did we mention this place was a steal? The only catch was that they were having a gala that night. We weren’t invited, and we’d have to move the bikes into a hallway near the kitchen. Fine with us! We got a spot!

We met some of the fellow travelers at the hostel and went out with them to grab…


Ah, the life giving dark Bohemia beer. I really love this stuff. Damn. As usual there’s several local Mexican treats to try here, and Puebla has a bunch of great ones. Mole Poblano is pretty well known, but the ‘Cemita’ is less famous. It’s a sesame seed sandwich with chicken or pork cutlet, mayo, avocado, and just tons of good stuff. It’s probably one of my new favorite sandwiches!


Mei is one of the backpackers we ran into at the hostel. She’s an NY film student and was fending off practically the entire male population of our hostel, who were all trying to get lucky with her on New Year’s Eve.

Her way of dealing with it was beer. Always a good idea.


After dinner and beers, I did some work on my laptop as Stu got ready for a date with a girl.

As droves of people celebrated in the city, I went to a local bar to make some new friends and drink my favorite dark Mexican beers until the celebration and dancing reached a crescendo at midnight. I couldn’t have been happier to ring in the New Year.

The next day I woke up with a blurry brain, a soft pounding reminder of walking the bustling streets into the city, the round of Heinekens I bought my newly made Mexican friends and a New Year’s Eve party at another hotel rooftop that I snuck into at 2 AM.  It was a night to remember, and a great way to kick off a year of adventure.

Mexico Motorcycles Ride South Travel

Ride South – Tepoztlán

They say altitude sickness resembles flu, or a hangover. What they don’t tell you is the swirling, odd dreams. Under the shadow of Xinantecatl, the Naked Mountain, I slept a restless night with Nahuatl patterns behind my eyes, with smoke in my nose and the sounds of animals and shaking pine needles of the trees around me in my ears.

Waking up in the shadow of Nevado de Toluca is interesting.

It’s December 30th, my sister’s birthday. Stuart was comfortably huddled in his sleeping bag. The temperatures were low — literally freezing, actually. Even the stray dogs around our campsite huddled up for warmth together under a small roof.

We’d spent enough time in Toluca and the area of México City – so once Stuart was up, we decided to set off with a just a little coffee. The road out is a nice, fairly well packed dirt road and is a blast to ride. We saw two other riders on their way in, wheeling heavy 1200GSes over the gravel. We stopped in Toluca for a quick bite of the most Mexican of breakfasts: bread with sugar on it.

They did have a beautiful painting of Nevado de Toluca, though:


We want to spend New Year’s Eve in a nice city that isn’t México City, and we had a fun idea for a ride: from the volcano campsite, we could pop down by Tehuantepec to visit the Nahuatl mountaintop ruins of Tepoztlan, allowing us a night in a hotel before crossing the Pass of Cortez (Paso de Cortez) between Mexico’s biggest volcanoes: Popocatepetl and Iztaccihuatl. The road down from there is a fun if somewhat technical sand and dirt road that eventually rolls into Cholula (yes, that Cholula, from the hot sauce!) and on into Puebla City, our New Year’s Eve spot of choice.

Our route today:

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It was a pretty nice route in, about three hours of riding.


I’d found a hotel that wasn’t completely full (most hotels were sold out, likely for festivities?) and this one sounded just fine. We were slightly surprised to find our cheap hotel was… a tube.


Not the most secure parking for our bikes but it’ll do.

The main attraction of Tepoztlan, the small town south of the grandiose basin of México City, is El Tepozteco. The town itself cowers in the view of a near-vertical range of mountain cliffs, which is in turn adorned with a temple at the very top. Dense forest covers the tops of the cliffs like some sort of dense vegetative foam. We were here, we might as well lock up our stuff and start hiking up.


Tepoztlan is now mostly surviving on tourism, so as you walk the single pathway to the mountaintop, the town gives way to small shacks for a mile on end selling all manner of products. Indigenous woodworks, beads, jewelry, food… ah, food.


We love the cutting of sweet fruits with lime and chili on top. It was hot, absolutely sweltering tropical heat, a strange change from freezing temperatures in the morning. We were melting, and the cool fruit gave a welcome respite despite its spicy kick.

The trail up wasn’t too hard – perhaps a few miles, and tons of people were hiking up. It made us happy, as a trail like this was unlikely to see this much traffic in the US. A fairly steep climb made it somewhat unfriendly to families, but we saw tons families with kids and teenagers hiking up. Once at the top, a small manned gate demands your dineros before letting you into the site. It allows for a free hike up (a rare thing) and a smart upsell: you came all this way, you might as well go see the temple…



Even without the temple, the hike is worth it. Not only is the climb up a crazy, jungly affair of long tangled vines and vegetation, the panoramic views atop the mountain are gorgeous.


It takes little imagination to see how the sheer jagged cliffs could be the birthplace of Quetzalcoatl, the feathered serpent god.

The temple itself was once the shrine to Tepoztecatl, an Aztec god of booze. Particularly, pulque, the agave pulp drink you can find in Central México. I’m not a huge pulque fan, but the Aztecs believed it was one of the best things you could imbibe and even had an entire god dedicated to it.


Disheartening and obnoxious to see people systematically ignore signs put up to prevent further wear to the ruins and climb on the 1500 year old carved stones. We could yell them down, but masses more would come up to take selfies. Not the ancient ruins or meticulous carvings or the views: no, their own ratty faces. It’s unfortunate that sacrificing youth isn’t a DIY affair at these places today.

We spent a few hours up there, as the sun was setting late.


It was the last sunset of the year, and we looked as the mountain ridges all around us shone, glowed, and finally bathed in the blood from the reddened sun that was impaling itself on the ridges. Purple light cast on the face of the pyramid, now quiet from the crowds, and in the jungle around the warm rock life began to stir.


We were the last ones up there when a park worker came to yell at us to leave.

As we turned down the path to the town, a majestic gradient of peach color cooling into cobalt blue dominated the sky. On the cliff above us, the temple lay there, with the resplendent grace of petrified gods.


When we got down, our warm night was spent walking through town and its old, central market. It contrasts heavily to the tourism-centric main streets, which are thinner in crowds and sees more backpackers and resettled hippies. We sat and chatted with one, which was kind enough to brew us some delicious tea to cap off our night as we talked about paths, travels and living all over the world.


Somewhere, a feathered serpent shrugged.

Mexico Photography Ride South Travel

Ride South – Nevado de Toluca

We returned to México City with parts and tools for Stuart’s bike and a deep lust for exploring volcanoes. All in all, Stuart had to pull his bike apart again and get pretty deep into his engine to replace the ‘doohickey’: a common issue with the KLR that, if ignored, can quite literally destroy the bike’s engine.

We got in to the airport in the evening, ate tacos at our new favorite taco stand in México and met up with Garry’s family again. We were up the next morning cracking the engine case with Garry providing us company, tools and space.


Stu turned it around in a few hours and upon starting the KLR again, it was purring along great. No more funny sounds, and no more risk of catastrophic engine failure!


The next morning we were out early and Garry helped lead us out of the labyrinthine streets of México City. He was a fantastic host – and we left our doohickey repair tools at his, so if you are ever in México City with a broken KLR, he might be your best bet!



After Garry led us out of México City we whipped through the curvy roads through its surrounding hills towards Toluca. Quite quickly, the massive volcano Nevado de Toluca came in sight. We let out an audible gasp in our helmet microphones when we saw it. It was a great, clear day to go up it and the bigger it grew, the more we were in disbelief at its sheer scale and beauty.

The road up to the volcano turns into a small country road at some point, with some nice turnoffs with views of alpine villages and fields. You’d never guess that one of the American continent’s largest cities is in arm’s reach from the tranquil vistas the road affords:


Stuart snapped away and I tried to climb up onto a small field where burros were grazing to get some shots.

More excitement built as the pavement ended where the turnoff for the Nevado de Toluca National Park began. At this point the road simply goes up, and winds through evergreen forest as we gain elevation. From Toluca City, elevation is constant, starting at the city’s already impressive 8,750 feet.

The volcano eventually goes up to almost 15,000 ft, and Stu was already feeling it in the reduced power output of the KLR which was somewhat gasping for oxygen in the thin mountain air. My HP2 was losing a bit of power, but mostly just got fantastic mileage. Quite a beneficial side effect of being in the mountains!

We got to the summit gate pretty quickly after ripping around a few slower cars. The road up to Nevado de Toluca isn’t incredibly busy, but there’s more people going up there than we expected, often in regular cars that aren’t very well equipped for the rougher sections of the dirt road. We passed with care. At the gate we paid a nominal fee (I think it was in the order of 40 pesos per person) and ripped right up the side of the mountain.


This is where it gets very fun. The road gets rockier, in areas quite rutted, and some loose sand and dirt came in as the road switchbacks up the mountain through a beautiful forest that grows increasingly sparse with the elevation. Before we knew it, we hit the treeline.

As the road wraps around a ridge of the mountain here, you can see all of Toluca and the valley around you. Incredible panoramic views were on our side as we crossed some gnarlier sections of rocky dirt before we rode up to the main gate — rather clearly indicated with about five dozen vehicles parked everywhere there was space and some Mexican Alpine Police (how cool that this exists!).


We had foolishly assumed we’d be able to ride into the caldera and park right up to the crater lake, but that road was now closed for ecological reasons. Makes sense. We packed up some things and secured as much of our gear as we could and set off to hike in our thick Rev’It Dominator GTX riding suits.

Apart from being rather heavy to hike in, they actually were a fantastic piece of clothing to have on because the entire peak and its sides are incredibly windy. The wind up around 14,000 feet is obviously extremely cold and dry, and it was really nice to just close the suit vents and stay warm.


As an added benefit, the otherworldly landscape combined with our suits to make us look like we were space-walking on another planet. It felt like that at times, too, until we ran into some other hikers.

México is amazing when it comes to this: we see families and elders and kids hiking in places like this all the time, even on a weekday like this. What seems like an easy hike is made difficult by the thin air up on the volcano, which makes hiking up the equivalent of two flights of stairs completely rob you of your breath. I was feeling sick at times with how little breath I could get — but then again, I was also born and raised in the Netherlands, which is literally -below- sea level, so I don’t think I am well adapted to altitudes like this.


We decided to hike to the largest lake first (Lago del Sol, or ‘Sun Lake’). The hike is up the steep side of the crater at the top of the volcano and then dips deep into the crater on somewhat loose volcanic rock.

The colors were unreal.


Clouds formed and were quickly ripped apart on the razor-like ridges of the caldera and the wind let down a bit as we were in the shadow of the caldera ridge towering over us.


We hung out a bit, shot a few photos and drank some water and walked the flat trail to the other lake known as ‘Moon Lake’. Both lakes were used as ceremonial sites back in the day of the Aztec civilization, and as such it’s rather expressly prohibited to swim or dive in the lakes as there is a fear or people absconding with ancient cultural artifacts. Honestly, we weren’t interested in that anyway. It was cold as hell.


Stuart set a few steps in the shallow side of the lake and we both enjoyed the scenery. It was getting late, and the sun had sank beneath the ridge. Shadows were getting deeper, bluer and most definitely colder. We decided to hike back up the steepest trail, from the Moon Lake to the caldera ridge on loose, sharp volcanic rocks.


The hike totally kicked my ass, but it felt really nice to be out hiking and exploring off the bikes. Once we made it to the top, orange light was playing with the rapidly tattering clouds at our altitude that obscured our view of what seemed like the entire world.


Against better judgment, we stayed until sunset. How could we not? If you love photography and the immensely humbling beauty of nature, you’d stop in your tracks as well. We were treated to an intense spectacle of light and color as the sun dipped below the horizon and clouds began to percolate in the valley below us. No more cars were on the road.



We turned off a side of the top of the mountain to look around.


The high-altitude clouds colored pink and orange with the sunset light, we watched the sun slip away as all the lights of the cities below us lit up.


We rode the rest of the road downhill in pitch-black darkness. I was thankful for my extra auxiliary LED lights which I set to daystar-like brightness. Once we arrived at the park entrance we were pretty tired and extremely hungry. A small restaurant was open and we decided to just get dinner there, pitch a tent and turn in for the night.


Even though we dropped down quite a bit in elevation, it was still cold, and still high up. I felt a bit hungover without having drank anything, which having looked it up later seemed like it might have been a mild case of altitude sickness. Sick or not, I enjoyed some of the best tacos we’d had since México City: a local specialty of blue corn tacos with green chorizo and nopales (cactus! Not the fruit, the actual green part).

Absolutely delicious with the way-too-spicy red salsa they provided. It sure was needed to keep us warm that night. We crawled into our sleeping bags and fell asleep to the sound of wind in the trees mixed with the sound of stray dogs barking, a sleeping ancient mountain god watching over us.


Mexico Motorcycles Photography Ride South Travel

Ride South: Guanajuato & México City

Before hitting México City, we’d decided to make a stop in Guanajuato. Guanajuato (pronounced a bit like ‘wanna hot dog’ without the ‘g’ part of ‘hot dog’) is, like Zacatecas, a city with rich history and beautiful old architecture.


Much like small Iberian and Italian towns it is largely free of cars, as its narrow windy streets carve narrowly into hills and don’t allow vehicles to go up and down them.


However, rather fascinatingly, the city is built on an extensive network of tunnels, where cars do go.



Thus, walking and riding to and through Guanajuato is going through an underground spiderweb of tunnels and underground intersections.



It’s incredibly cool, and the city above it all is gorgeous and labyrinthine.


Exploring it at night shows all of the warm wonders of a Mexican winter night in a town: zero tourists, outdoor book merchants and small food stands vending tacos or other treats, couples kissing in every corner of the beautiful parks and children playing everywhere.


There is a warmth and careless kind of energy in these towns that is incredibly inspiring and a joy to be in and around.



On the ride to Guanajuato (which was rather… uneventful, and full of grim industrial landscapes) Stu found his bike to be making some strange sounds.



Entirely unrelated to this, some of his left-side handlebar controls came loose…


Which was a quick roadside fix, but the noise persisted.



What’s worse, the sound was coming from inside the engine case.


We decided to hurry up and diagnose it in a good spot. We rode the Cuota (toll road) all the way to Toluca, which was close enough to México City, where we’d meet a local and ADVRider forum member that offered to host us during Christmas.


We were hoping to diagnose and fix the issue with Stu’s bike and ride up the majestic local stratovolcano, Nevado de Toluca, but once we cracked open the engine case we came to a stop.


Uh oh.

This is not good. This particular spring is a coil spring, an essential part of the bike’s timing mechanism. Without the spring, the engine could fail catastrophically. It had already been rattling around inside the engine — though fortunately not doing too much damage — and now we needed some rather specialized parts to fix it.

We were stuck here for a bit.


After deliberating (and walking around Toluca eating delicious tacos – for science) we met up with Garry, our host and fellow rider, and Stu decided to just ride it to México City to fix it up there.

Sadly the KLR wasn’t starting.


… but, after some help of the local hotel, some failed bump start attempts and one pocket battery jumper later we had it running!


We rode the hour and a half-or so into town until we arrived at Garry’s and enjoyed some downtime over the holidays… as well as awaiting our getting hands on the parts and tools needed for a fix.

Many thanks to Garry and his family for being such an infinitely helpful, patient and fantastic host in México City. Not only did he help us by meeting us in Toluca, he let us store the bikes, work on them, and rode us into town and to the airport. What a guy.


We returned with parts and tools in tow, and a renewed lust for fixing the KLR and new adventures.

Volcanoes await!

Mexico Motorcycles Photography Ride South Travel

Ride South: Zacatecas & Guadalajara

From La Cuidad it was a short (and now sadly, fairly straight) drive to Durango. Here, the Libre meets up with the Cuota, teasing you with its perfect pavement.


… before actually merging into one road. Careful, you do have to get off where it is indicated that the ‘Libre’ continues or you’re going to have to pay the full fee for using the Cuota.



The last stretch of road to Durango takes you up and down various hills and through beautiful canyon lands where old Westerns were filmed. We’re told there’s old movie sets to be found here, but we didn’t find any.


In Durango, we had a much needed coffee and lunch break before heading to Zacatecas, a historic city that was fairly nearby. The drive there wasn’t incredibly scenic or exciting, as both lie on the higher plateau of central México. We arrived at nightfall… only to find the hotel we were planning to stray at was long since closed.

We settled for a nearby hotel in the historic center and spent an extra day exploring local cuisine and sights. It’s a beautiful town.


The colonial part of the city is a World Heritage Site, due to the Baroque and other structures built during its mining days. Indigenous cultures mined metals from the area even before the Spanish arrived.



Once they did, it grew as a wealthy city. Its beautiful architecture shows this.


Zacatecas is often called one of the most beautiful cities of México.


From Zacatecas, our next stop would be Southward, to Guadalajara. Guadalajara is one of México’s largest cities, surrounded by epic canyons. As far as riding motorcycles go, taking one of the longer roads there is highly recommended.


Once again, a beautiful twisty mountain road.



You know you are closing in on Guadalajara when you see the — sometimes burnt — piles of trash on the side of the road and the air quality drops rapidly. It’s shocking how much trash is piled on the side of the road here.


It’s tempting to simply frame this out of the photos we share but it is the reality of the country.


Guadalajara itself is a beautiful city, however. Getting into town was a bit stressful — Stu had a stray dog jump in front of his bike at highway speeds, and the traffic is just fairly insane. Buses jump in and out of traffic with zero regard for other vehicles, fast cabs try to weave through it all and every inch is filled with scooters, bikes or other motorized vehicles. Fortunately, you get used to it quickly.

My bike ran rather hot, so we took a break or two before we arrived at the home of our Couchsurfing host. We spent a two days with him, exploring the city, working on the bikes and being taken to a party that was thrown by him and his friends.


Exploring the historic downtown was a pleasure, its beautiful architecture reflecting the evening light beautifully.


When here, absolutely visit the downtown area. The cathedral alone is worth seeing.


Oh, Stuart got locked out of our hosts’ home and had to ride sans-helmet. Fun times!


The generosity and kindness of our host and his family can’t be overstated. Thanks so much, Edgar! I hope you are reading this!

Mexico Motorcycles Photography Ride South Travel

Ride South: Espinazo del Diablo to Durango

Mazatlan can at times treat you to a fantastic sunset.


Sunsets like this can really ruin your plans of getting up early…


In the morning, we found ourselves leaving somewhat later than expected after breakfast and hit the turnoff for the MEX-40 ‘Libre’ (free) around 11.


México has an elaborate system of ‘Cuota’ and ‘Libre’ roads, often designated with a ‘-D’ suffix behind the route number. Cuota are well-paved, well-maintained but pricy toll roads. The Cuota to Mazatlan was said to be a true engineering marvel, as it has one of the highest suspension bridges in the world. Nevertheless, we stuck to the ‘Libre’.



Not only is the road free, but it also is one of the most twisty (and dangerous) roads in México, with incredible hairpin turns at high altitude with sheer cliff drops.


Somehow, this type of road just never gets old.



We were absolutely gasping non-stop at the views and delighted with joy at the pleasure of riding such a curvy road on the bikes.


Fun fact: we crossed the Tropic of Cancer while on this road, as we wound up going a bit North onto the backbone of the Sierra Madre Occidental. It would be our second time crossing it, and not the last time…




I think the Devil’s Backbone is easily one of the best roads for motorcycling I have ever been on.


From the Libre, the Cuota is at times visible, sometimes as a massive overpass…


Or intersection.

But sometimes fairly far away. We caught a look at the incredibly impressive suspension bridge at one point:


Around 4:30 we stopped for some food (delicious, tiny local burritos) and assessed the remaining light.


Stuart also assessed the puppies of the area.



While our pace was pretty high, with our plentiful photography stops we did not have enough time to make it to Durango before dark.



We have agreed not to ride at night — far too dangerous with poorly lit vehicles, wildlife and possible local cartel activity — so we had to find a spot to camp.


A short, beautiful ride later we found ourselves at a military checkpoint on the Sinaloa – Durango border and asked the soliders if there was a place to stay nearby. They recommended Mexicillo. As the last light slipped away we rolled into the town of La Cuidad.


La Cuidad is nestled in a valley at the top of the massif of the Sierra Madre Occidental. At its high altitude it is encircled by thick pine forest and rocky outcroppings, trapping the wood fire smoke of the town. The entire town seemed to be in a blanket of blue smoke.


We asked around and got conflicting information about a possible campground or hotel.


… but eventually two boys hopped on a scooter and rode us into the forest to the local ‘Parco Turistco’.


We thanked them with a few pesos. A gregarious old man waved us inside his cabin and we warmed up a bit next to his fireplace as we inquired about the prices for cabins.

The cabins were a bit out of our price range, so we opted to camp for the night, instead. Once we set up the tents we headed into town to find food and spent the entire evening at a fantastically kind family the invited us inside by the fire and cooked for us and brought us beers.

We retreated into our tent filled with delicious Mexican mountain food and passed right out after an exhausting day on the road.

Mexico Motorcycles Ride South Travel

Ride South: The Baja Ferry

From Baja, we departed for the mainland of México.

First came the task of getting the bikes out of our hotel:



It took some moving, shifting, and rolling, but eventually we made it out of the courtyard. Never a dull moment.


The ferry from La Paz to Mazatlan is fairly pleasant. It departs from a port slightly north of La Paz. For our ferry line (there are two – one is a bit less comfortable), the ship’s three decks accommodate many trucks and cars, and motorcycles are kept on the top deck where you strap them to the railing.

If you’re considering taking this ferry, it might be worth to note that you need to bring your own tie-down straps — we’re glad we brought a set!


We’d gotten our paperwork in order a day before departure, which I’d recommend — in all, it took us about two hours to get our Temporary Vehicle Import Permit (TVIP) processed before we were even beginning to look for ferry tickets. The TVIP is a permit you need when you are traveling by a motorized vehicle through México, and requires you putting down a deposit of 200-400 US dollars depending on the model year of your vehicle. Do double check it when you receive it — the clerk made errors three times issuing mine, and it has to be 100% correct if you want your deposit back!


The TVIP is issued at the Mexican federal bank (Banjercito) at the ferry terminal, and tickets are also sold nearby for the ferries. We had to buy separate tickets for ourselves and our bikes.

Returning the next day, we rode the beautiful road snaking out of La Paz to the port again (slightly slowed down by a bicycle race that was going on that day) to get on the ferry proper.


These kind of ferries are an effective bottleneck for travel and as such make great places to meet other travelers. No exceptions here: when we passed a customs check (which uses a button to randomly select whether or not you get searched fully — I was unlucky enough to get the full search) and our papers were checked out we lined up to board and ran into Matt.


Matt (Dawson) is traveling to Tierra del Fuego as well, but by bicycle. Pretty badass! We chatted up a storm in line and a few minutes got waved onto the top ferry deck where we boarded with two other motorcyclists; a couple riding from Utah and a friendly fellow BMW rider from Guadalajara.


The ferry left (predictably about an hour late) and all in all took about 18 hours to cross the Sea of Cortez to Sinaloa. We spent the time socializing and drinking beers with a group of bicycle travelers (including Matt and his friends Shane and José, from Australia and México, respectively) and sleep.
I made myself popular with the strip of Dramamine I brought aboard, which I judiciously handed out like candy to people who got sick on the rocking boat.


While you can buy a cabin for cheap, the ferry had no more available when we checked in and we were forced to sleep in our designated seats. The seats are fairly big and comfortable, but the cabin is so cramped that you’re almost always sleeping an inch away from seven other people crammed onto the floor and in seats around you. Cozy! At least there’s free dinner and breakfast.


Around 5:30 AM I went to the top deck and watched the night turn slowly to a dim glow…


and eventually a beautiful sunrise.


Shane and a few other guys had spent the night sleeping up here on the sun deck, which I wish I’d had the insight to do as it was a perfectly pleasant warm night.

Dreary and sleepy we socialized up here with our new friends. Juan José, the BMW rider from Guadalajara, bought me a michelada to introduce me to Mexican beer cocktails. Verdict: not bad.



By the time we rolled off the ferry we were hungry and tired, and so we met up with the bicycle gang and went to find ceviche and beers, rather successfully. Altogether we finished off a bunch of buckets of Pacificos and three huge servings of ceviche.



When here, indulge in seafood. Mazatlan has fantastic seafood.


We said our goodbyes to the bicycle travel troupe and rode into town.



We checked into a hotel in the historical centre of Mazatlan for the night, hoping to get out early the next day to forego our planned route to Guadalajara and instead riding what we’d heard was a beautiful ride inland known as ‘El Esponiza del Diablo’ (the Devil’s Backbone).

Mexico Motorcycles Ride South Travel

Ride South: Baja California, Part 2

After coffee with Coco, we zipped up our jackets and got on the bikes to ride… the road. The Road We Were Warned About.


The road was certainly rough. Parts were sandy and gravely, but by far the greatest annoyance and danger was large rocks and rocky sections that were very bumpy.



We made it over fine, and it wasn’t a very easy track, but it certainly wasn’t too hard either. I’d say it’s a stretch to say it was ‘the worst road’ — we’d seen far worse in Alaska in roadworks, and it’s not a jeep trail by any means.


Having crossed the ridge of mountains separating the Sea of Cortez from inland Baja, we started encountering more plant life again. Cacti, Boojum trees and shrubs popped up with increasing frequency and before we knew it we were muttering ‘whoa’ into our headsets as a cactus forest revealed itself after a turn.



We were in for a long day. We really had to make miles now, to compensate for our playing in the dirt which eats time in exchange for adrenaline and sheer joy. And miles we made: we actually left Baja del Norte, and saw a whole host of landscapes.


The road was straight for long stretches but there were some fun turns, too. On top of a particular windy hill we took some awesome shots of the landscape. I was almost blown over by the wind.



Hello, Baja California Sur!


So many beautiful landscapes, and so many cacti gave way for some sheer vast emptiness for a brief moment.


Roosting vultures only accentuated the desolate area.


Entering Baja California Sur at Guerrero Negro, the temperature went way up. Finally we got the hot desert we’d been expecting.


We also reveled in the many plentiful open and functional Pemex stations everywhere. The Mex-1 is clearly one of the main (if not the main) road through Baja, and it shows.

Our goal that day was San Ignacio, a historical mountain town but we made it even further, into Santa Rosaliá.



We stopped to take photos of the volcano that popped up on the Horizon…



And proceeded to find it.


The final drive from San Ignacio to Santa Rosaliá is insanely beautiful. It goes by the huge Volans de les Tres Virgenes and subsequent twisty, mountain roads, dipping down to the coast. Much appreciated after the straight roads inland, and gorgeous around the golden hour.


We rolled into Santa Rosaliá tired and intensely satisfied after 260+ miles on the odometer for the day, about 20 of which were rocky dirt.

Fun fact: we’d started the day essentially on the coast of the Sea of Cortez, had ridden all the way to the Pacific Coast, went over 150 miles South and then went all the way back to the coast of the Sea of Cortez. What a day.



Great hotel, too!

A quick lunch and maintenance in the morning. Chain lubing for Stuart, mostly, as the dirt roads get the chain nice and dirty — no such issue on the BMW shaft drive. I practiced my packing, which is getting better (slightly) by the day. Washboarded and rutty dirt roads rocked my fuel cans so loose they were on my seat, so I was now tying them down much more directly.


It wasn’t quite as necessary today.



The road from Santa Rosaliá to Loreto was an increidble road, easily in my favorite rides of all time. The beautiful coastal road reveals cactus forests, deciduous patches of trees and incredible views of rocky coastlines and beaches with vivid blue waters.


Perfect pavement made it highly enjoyable.


We stopped a few times to shoot photos.


This always tends to add an hour or more to our estimated travel time: stopping to take photos, riding, stopping… more photos, more riding. It’s worth it, though.



The road eventually turned inland, snaking through an interesting rough mountain landscape of low, eroded peaks covered in vegetation rising up from an epic prehistoric looking forest. Baja had turned lush.





Despite being over 150 miles away, we were in Loreto before we knew it.


Loreto is a nice, friendly beach town, but we weren’t sticking around. The first few days of December, the nearby mountain town of San Javier has an immense festival where thousands of local ranchers go to celebrate the local patron saint and dance, sing and get massively drunk.


The road to San Javier was only fairly recently paved, but was incredibly beautiful.



We stopped just kilometers in for this view.


It only got better from there, with beautifully windy roads leading into a dense canyon-like landscape.


A small portion of it was still dirt, but this was quickly washed off the bikes in the many slippery water crossings. At many places in Baja we’d seen the sign for dips in the road possibly being waterlogged, but here they actually were. Some were slippery enough to make the bike slide around quite a bit, but we kept them upright and (more or less) dry.


Arriving in San Javier, we immediately stood out like a sore thumb. As the only non-Mexicans there, the locals looked at us with a combination of awe, confusion and interest. I immediately built a fan base:


These boys (and one cool girl!) were all interested in the bike, us, our clothes, our story… and were incredibly polite and patient through all of it. I only speak a bit of Spanish, but the pack leader (Guillermo, red shirt) was extremely patient with me and broke down his questions in words he knew I understood.


After we set up our tent — everybody camps at the town, which is essentially just an old Mission — he offered me a tour around the entire fiesta and I couldn’t turn it down.



Fantastic local music, arts, delicious food and lots of good times were had. I learned a lot speaking with the kids (… the mountains were so eroded due to their soft, pumice like volcanic rock!) and talking to the locals, and we got great photos.



We turned in somewhat early but the party went deep into the early hours. As I was shivering in my sleeping bag in the cold mountain night at 3 AM the music was still going strong, even after the generator was turned off.


It was time to say goodbye in the morning, and I gave the boys some stickers. They promptly surprised me by returning with a silver piece of jewelry their family had made, insisting I have it.


Incredible people. Really, it was such an experience to see how these people live. A profound sense of frontier-like mentality and living permeates their culture, and they still proudly live on the land here. Many rode up on their horses, as is tradition.

On the way out the air was chilly, and I got myself pretty wet in some of the water crossings.


Beautiful views of the valley and Loreto ahead on the way out.


Quick lunch in Loreto (beef head — Cabezas — tacos). Fantastic food.


After Loreto, we rode out through some of the few mountain curves and got on some of the perfectly straight, rather boring roads out to Cuidad Insurgentes and Cuidad Constitucion to the South Cape of Baja Sur, where we’d stop at La Paz to catch a ferry to the mainland of Mexico.


And that’s where I’ll leave this report – as I am writing this, the ferry is rocking gently on the waves and we are well on the way to Mazatlan. Baja treated us incredibly well, and we’re sad to leave with so much yet to see. La Paz (and the incredible hotel Yneka) was a great way to say goodbye.


I spent an extra day exploring La Paz, and Stuart spent his day riding around the South Cape (famously known for Cabo San Lucas and other well-visited tourist towns). Mexico has far more to show us.

We’ll update you when we get to Mexico City. For now: Adios!

Mexico Motorcycles Photography Ride South Travel

Ride South: Baja California, Part 1

It was a warm San Diego morning next morning, and after some of the previously mentioned maintenance work we headed to the border crossing at Tecate.


The ride there is a beautiful, twisty road, opening up to views of green pastures and rolling hills.


Lovely.The border came up quickly.


I stayed with the bikes while Stuart and his friend Tristan did their paperwork. At the border, you can typically just roll through (no checks of documents done whatsoever!) but in our case, we wanted the tourist card. The Mexican tourist card, or ‘FMM’ is required for longer stays in Mexico and any trip to the mainland. It costs about $20 (US).


We were losing light fast, and after all the border paperwork we headed down the Mex-2 to find our turnoff to the first dirt trail we could find. Out of light, we opted to camp at a campground instead of riding the dirt South more.


I know deserts can be cold, but this night surprised us. The wind was already whipping us and as the sun dropped and we ate some roadside tacos and drank Tecate tall boys (of course) the temperature dropped from the low 50s to about 45, and kept dropping.

We approaching freezing temperatures that night. It was really something. With no real fire pits we just turned in for the night and slept.



The next morning we finally got up to do what most motorcyclists come to Baja for: trails and off-road fun. Our campground was mere miles from the turnoff to the nice and fairly easy Compadres trail, which connects the roadside town of El Hongo to Ojos Negros, on the Mex-3. It’s a perfect way to connect from Tecate to Ojos Negros and get further South towards the Mex-5 on the coast of the Sea of Cortez.




The Compadres Trail is an immediate showcase of the diversity of biomes in Baja California. Many think (– myself included) of a place full of stereotypical cacti*, plain desert and many rocks.



In reality, the variety of landscapes is astounding. As we crossed the 100-or so kilometers of the trail we saw high desert, steppe-like plains, deciduous and pine forest and many zones in between. It was beautiful.


* (in Baja, this would be the Cardon cactus. They get huge, as they are the tallest cactus species in the world! I hugged one.)


And an incredibly fun ride, too! Some somewhat gnarly parts involved sandy washes, roots and rocks but nothing incredibly challenging. A perfect introduction to Baja dirt riding.

We came upon an entirely burnt down area, too, which made for otherworldly landscapes.





Ojos Negros was reached and we had some (incredibly great — probably my best ever) roadside al pastor tacos before slabbing it on the highway to Valle de Trinidad. Light was essentially gone by the time we rolled in into a dusty road to the hotel where we happily charged our devices and showered some dust off.




Still hungry for more dirt, the next day we set off to head to the motorcyclist staple spot in the nearby mountains known as Mike’s Sky Ranch.


The road to Mike’s famous rancho is about 31 kilometers of pure unadulterated dirt fun (unless it’s wet, in which case it can be a bit of a nightmare).



While may rip on it with much lighter bikes at higher speeds, we still ripped it up pretty good.


Stuart got off his bike to take a photo and his bike promptly took a nap in the sand. Whoops.


Deep ruts of sand, rocky turnouts, downhills, and even a little creek crossing at the end. We were pulsing with adrenaline. It was awesome, even on our huge, heavy loaded bikes. Mike’s was sadly completely empty save for us.



We put some stickers with its new (and plentiful) companions…and ate some lunch and had a beer before heading back the same way, now even faster.



From the highway, we made it to San Felipe before we lost all the light, which is a cool if somewhat touristy beach town with a beautiful lighthouse.


After stopping I broke out some tools to ensure all bolts were still properly torqued after all the bumpy dirt roads. I’d lost one bolt in my bash plate already!


San Felipe is on the Mex-5, a road that isn’t yet fully paved. It runs by the coast of the Sea of Cortez and eventually connects with the Mex-1, and was a significant leg of the old Baja 1000 off-road race track.



We had some great fish tacos (Baja is made of great, fresh fish tacos) and toured town taking photos. It seemed really apocalyptic with boats on dry land and many derelict buildings.


The next day we rode down the Mex-5, treated by incredible views of the Sea of Cortez from the volcanic landscape.



Incredible landscapes.


It’s unreal how some parts of this coast harbor absolutely no life, just sharded rock and pumice from long-dead volcanoes. Some beach spots (Puertecitos, for instance) still have hot springs that you can dip into at low tide, emanating that classic sulfuric smell.


Incredible turn after turn on this freshly (and excellently) paved road. We stopped at the oft-visited Alfonsina’s at Gonzaga Bay. Gonzaga Bay seems to be a quirky community, complete with its own security guard, runway and airplane.



We met a few other travelers, including a Canadian couple driving this beautiful 1953 car up and down from Canada to Baja and back.

Great fish tacos here, too (no surprise there).


The Pemex gas station (Pemex is the state-run and only gas station company in Mexico) at Gonzaga Bay was completely out of gas, and we decided to just push our luck and head down the road.

We’d heard some horror stories of the unpaved section of this road connecting with the Mex-1. Some people at Alfonsina’s called it bad — so bad, in fact, one man told a story of a girl traveling North from Argentina who supposedly called it the worst road she’d ridden, ever. We did find the spot the road ran out, and gave way to dirt:

Mexico’s working very hard on it, it seems; I’d be surprised if it isn’t all paved by next year. It was a pleasure riding some of it on dirt.

We made it to the turnoff for the connector to the Mex-1, and right there it was:



Coco’s Corner. A famous stop of the Baja 1000 and of many trough-travelers. Coco has lived here for 26 years and is an incredibly friendly, generous man. We lost most of our light and really loved the desert scenery… and started debating if we should make it over the worst part of the road.



Coco chimed in and said we could stay in one of his trailers for free. Incredibly cool. Thanks, Coco.



It gave us a chance to shoot desert sunset…


… and the crisp, clear desert night.

And we even recorded some time-lapses. Coco seemed to really enjoy the company so we watched a movie with him — the hilarious 90s erotic thriller ‘Fear’. We ate some ramen he offered and turned in early.


(Coco also collects underwear and other garments. Yup)


At the crack of dawn Coco invited us inside to drink some coffee. We paid him some cash for the beers, water and hospitality to reward his generosity and chatted a while. He offered another movie but we had to be on our way… the rest of Baja awaited!


Until next time, where we go over the pass and explore Baja California Sur.