Day 60 – Calvario, MX to Puerto Escondito, MX

Day 60 – Calvario, MX to Puerto Escondito, MX     10/20/10     Mileage:  365

I was up with the sun this morning and on the road shortly after. After two hours of riding I rolled into Acapulco and was surprised to find a huge bustling city choked with traffic, and not the quaint seaside resort down I had envisioned. I made my way straight to the waterfront and found a nice restaurant on the beach for breakfast.

Acapulco beach...

Acapulco beach...

Nice little restaurant on the beach...

Inside the cute beach front restaurant...

 After my huevos and coconut water, I high tailed it out of there for the less hectic countryside. The riding was good but average and the scenery was the same.

Passing through another dirty dusty town along the way...

and another...

Entering a military checkpoint...one of dozens I passed through in Mexico. They don't like having their picture taken, but they didn't notice the camera mounted on my handlebar.

Here's another military checkpoint later in the day...

The road south on MEX 200...

MEX 200 south...

Getting my fill of twisty roads!

It was dusk by the time I pulled into Puerto Escondito, and as I’ve been riding since dawn, I was not up to spending an hour searching for a cheap hotel that met all the criteria. So I consulted my AAA Mexico guide and they had 3 hotels listed, the least expensive of which was the Casamar at $42 per night. It was over my budget (as most in the AAA guide are), but wow what a nice place! It had a gated courtyard for the bike, an inviting pool and the room was great….complete with a river stone shower and full kitchen.

The hotel Casamar in Puerto Escondito...not bad for $42!

The Casamar grounds...

Secure courtyard parking for the KLR...

My room at the Casamar was great...

So after a dip in the pool and an overdue shower, I was off to the luxury of clean sheets and a soft bed.

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Day 59 – Manzanillo, MX to Calvario, MX

Day 59 – Manzanillo, MX to Calvario, MX     10/19/10     Mileage: 336

 This morning I was up early to give the KLR some mechanical TLC while I had a good spot to do it.

Giving the KLR some TLC....

The road south today was again filled with twists, turns and curves…all which are normally great fun. The difference here compared to the US is the unpredictability of the road surface and any number of obstacles that lie around every blind corner that makes it nerve-racking. As for the road itself, around every corner it could turn from near perfect pavement to loose gravel, dirt or have a bike swallowing pothole. The lanes themselves are narrow and rarely have any kind of shoulder. So, run a corner wide, and you’re in the ditch or over the cliff. 

A deserted beach along the road south...there are too many to count...

....and another...

...and another.

As for what’s on the road, there could be a bus or truck in your lane either to avoid a truck eating pothole in their lane or simply because they are going too fast and veered into your lane! I had a number of these close calls and was forced to swerve to the very edge of my lane, while avoiding the other road hazards. And by other road hazards I mean rocks, coconuts, dogs, chickens, cows, donkeys, pigs, cats, goats, horses and any and every other domesticated and non-domesticated animal! Fences, leashes and other forms of quadruped confinement are simply not used and they are free to roam wherever they like. The herbivores seem particularly fond of the lush grass that seems to grow on the side of the road(where the shoulder should be), and the natural perch from which to graze is of course your lane. Other hazards include slow moving horse drawn carts, broken down trucks, bicycles, pedestrians, etc…all in the road because there is absolutely no shoulder. Sunlight faded before I could reach the next town, so I was forced to stop and look for a place to rest for the night. There was a grouping of restaurants right on the beach, and I asked one of the owners if I could camp on the beach in front of her place. They were already closed, but I did buy some tortillas (and beer) to make a tuna wrap with the tuna I had with me. So, after dinner and a quick dip in the ocean that would have to stand in for a much needed shower, I was off to my tent to be lulled to sleep by the crashing waves.

Sunset on my beach camp...

Day 58 – San Blas, MX to Manzanillo, MX

Day 58 – San Blas, MX to Manzanillo, MX     10/18/10     Mileage: 286

 Morning in San Blas came with the bellowing mixture of advertisements and local music emanating from a truck with large loud speakers that must charge for ads to blast to the local populace, and the occasional gringo tourist. Not being interested in anything they were advertising, even if I understood what they advertising, I packed up the bike and split. Today was mostly about making miles south, with the notable exception of Puerto Vallarta.

Welcome to Puerto Vallarta!

The beach in Puerto Vallarta

Too bad I couldn't stay...the beach looks nice!

It wasn’t in the cards to stay the night there, but I did head downtown to check out the scene. It has a very walk-able downtown area with cobblestone streets and all the typical tourist shops. It has a nice waterfront where I found a bar serving great fish tacos and cold Pacifico…nice!

A great little bar on the beach....

Living the life!

I spoke with one of the waiters who gave me some great advice for the road south…which was to always pay attention to 1) the pot holes and 2) the vehicles in your side of the road avoiding the potholes in their side of the road! He couldn’t have been more right, as the coast road was horrendous south of Puerto Vallarta and was nerve-racking having to constantly dodge potholes and cars around blind curves sandwiched between the mountain side and the cliff. Nightfall would catch up to me in Manzanillo where I found a nice hotel on the water with secure parking for the motorcycle in the center courtyard.

More posts are on the way…

Hi All!

I’ve haven’t been able to find a reliable internet connection to upload all the pictures, but more posts are coming as soon as I do. Thanks for all the great comments!

Here is a sunset from the other day…

Sunset on the Pacific...

Day 57 – Topolobampo, MX to San Blas, MX

Day 57 – Topolobampo, MX to San Blas, MX     10/17/10     Mileage: 464

 Morning came when the phone rang at 7am and I think they were looking for money to extend my stay. Instead, I packed up the bike and beat it south towards Mazatlan. I took the “cuota”, or toll road instead of the “libre” free road as it is in much faster, well maintained and has much less traffic. The problem is it is bloody expensive even by American standards…it cost me over $40 US to go around 300 miles….ouch.

Welcome to Mazatlan!

Mazatlan seems typical of most Mexican resort towns in that the resorts that most people see (and may never leave) are separate from the town itself. I of course skipped resort row and went to the downtown waterfront which was pretty cool and has a nice vibe.

Looking back towards the resort area of Mazatlan...

The Mazatlan town waterfront...

Having a light lunch on the Mazatlan waterfront...

The Mazatlan downtown waterfront...

The Mazatlan downtown waterfront...

I found a little cafe on the water for lunch, and while sitting there I was approached by an older fellow who was interested in my bike. Richard is retired and has been living in Mazatlan for 15 years now. He also rides, so we swapped war stories from the road and he gave me some good info on the road south…including a town called San Blas, which he said was a nice spot to spend the night. After lunch I pointed the KLR south again, now for my new destination for tonight…San Blas. I got sick of paying the tolls on the “cuota” road, so I veered off and started making my way over to the “libre”. Well, it wasn’t long before the road put me in a hopelessly confusing town built like a maze. After making approximately 65.3 wrong turns, I pulled over and asked 3 hombres in my pigeon Spanish if they knew where the Rt 15 free highway was. They miraculously understood my question, but the answer came at me hard and fast in Spanish and I didn’t understand a word. The one guy must have seen my blank stare and saw that we were getting no ware…and I was literally getting no ware…so he motioned for me to follow him in his truck parked across the street. Within a few minutes, and a dizzying number of right and left turns…we emerged from town. He pulled over and I thanked him profusely…and might still be wandering around that town were it not for him taking time out of his day to help the stupid lost gringo find his way. So after another 45 minutes and several more wrong turns, I finally made it to San Blas. This was a quaint Mexican beach town free of anything gringo…I like it! I found a hotel for $24 complete with air conditioning and wifi…sweet! They also said hot water…but like the last few places I stayed…the words hot water are rather ambiguous it seems down here. “Less cold” than the regular cold water would be more accurate. Or, like a lot of buildings down here, they were never plumed for hot and cold running water…just cold. So if you want hot water in the shower, they have shower heads with an electric heater built in, but usually there is no temperature adjustment. Anyway, a cool shower is better than no shower at all! After getting cleaned up I went out to the main square in town and it was alive with people eating, kids playing and teenagers talking and hanging out.

San Blas town square....pretty lively for Sunday night in a small town!

San Blas town square...

This was a cool second floor bar overlooking the town square...a great perch to take in the scene!

I had a few beers at a bar overlooking the square and took it all in and then some tacos from a street vender wich were pretty tasty! Fed and watered, I went back to the barn for the night.

Day 56 – Los Barriles, Baja, Mexico to Topolobampo, Mexico

Day 56 – Los Barriles, Baja, Mexico to Topolobampo, Mexico     10/16/10     Mileage: 94 + a ferry ride!

 Last night turned out to be a late one after all. I ended up meeting the owner of Rico Loco’s…..Crazy Rick himself…and ended up partying with him and his friends until 5am after the bar closed to the public. He then invited everybody back to his house 3 kilometers away, a great house right on the beach! Rick is an ex Baja off-road racer, now bar owner, and apparently donates quite a bit to local schools and charities…pretty cool. So after shaking out the cobwebs and saying adios and gracias to Rick, I was off to La Paz to catch the ferry to Topolobampo on mainland Mexico. This will be ferry ride number 4 for me and the KLR and will take 8 hours to cross the Gulf of California (Sea of Cortez).

The California Star....my home for the next 8 hours...

The KLR strapped in for ferry ride number 4...

Inside the Baja Ferry California Star...

A view from the bridge of the California Star...

Good bye Baja, next stop mainland Mexico...

The ferry ride was great and very comfortable, complete with a cocktail waitress in a mini-miniskirt that also sang 4 sets of Mexican folk songs. Needless to say she was popular with the local Mexican gents.

Here's a shot of this little latin number....while doing a latin number....while doing a number on the local Mexican gents!

 The ferry pulled into Topolobampo at 9pm…well after dark, so I was looking for a place to stay as soon as I got off the boat. The main road out of town goes towards Los Mochis, and along the way I found a no-tell-motel, and decided to give it a try. “Motels” in Mexico are very different from hotels, as they are rented largely for one purpose…and that is to shag someone you probably shouldn’t be in the first place. This one was 150 pesos…or around $12. Each room has its own garage to put your car in, so that your wife won’t see it when she drives by with her boyfriend.

Even the KLR got her own room tonight. Like me though, there was no one else to fool around with...

The front door to my shag palace...

My room was relatively clean and came complete with running cool and cold water, breath mints and a brass stripper dancing pole.

That pole is not there to hold the roof up!

Swingin' babay, yeah!

The bedding looked clean, but I didn’t take any chances and put the ground sheet for my tent on the bed and slept in my sleeping bag liner.

Not taking any chances...

If you extend your stay and they need to get more money from you, there is a convenient pass-through in the back wall so you don’t have to leave your room and risk being found out!

You put more money in here and spin it around to pass it to the hotel staff to stealthly extend your stay.

So after a cool shower, I was off to bed to catch up on some sleep from the night before.

Here's a shot the next morning of all the empty "rooms"!

Most of these motels also have walls around them for additional privacy.

If you're ever in Topolobampo, MX....give motel Popeye a try! Lol!

Day 55 – Ciudad Constitucion, Baja, MX to San Barilles, Baja, MX

Day 55 – Ciudad Constitucion, Baja, MX to San Barriles, Baja, MX     10/15/10     Mileage: 333

 The morning fog burned off to bright dry sunshine and I was on the gas to make time. The first stop would be the Baja Ferry terminal in La Paz to get a ticket to mainland Mexico and do the import paperwork for the KLR. As I was leaving the ferry terminal, I saw two other bikers on Honda XR’s, so I went over to chat. Luke and Toby are from the Vancouver Canada area….right where I was 10 days ago! They are on the road for a few months on their way to Panama…maybe farther. We exchanged emails and may cross paths again in Central America.

L to R: Luke and Toby from Canada...and their Honda XR's

After that I made a B-line for Cabo to check things out.

On my way to Cabo, I crossed the Tropic of Cancer...cool!

Well, I came over the hill to see Cabo…complete with a cruise ship, a Home Depot, Walmart, Costco…and every other chain and box store in anytown USA. So, I hung a left, and were it not for the numerous traffic lights, I might not of even put a foot down.

On the way into Cabo...

I’m sure there is a nice part of Cabo, but I wasn’t willing to spend the time to hunt it down.  So with that I moved on to Los Cabos which is a bit more low-key, but still pretty geared towards big resorts and “2 week” tourists.

Los Cabos resort beaches...

I stopped off for some fish tacos and a beer, explored the kind of quaint “downtown”,  then moved on to my next target…Los Barriles. Now this town was more like it and I immediately liked being there! I imagine that it is now what Cabo was 30 years ago. There’s a tiny downtown with a few bars and restaurants…but still has that sleepy backwater vibe. I parked myself in Loco Rico’s which is a cafe (with wifi) by day, and a bar by night.

Loco Rico's

Loco Rico's...internet cafe by day, hopping bar by night...

Tonight was karaoke night and the bar is filled with ex-pat gringos…retired and otherwise…singing oldies and other sing-along favorites. It’s a big Friday night in Baja!  😉