Posted on October 31, 2013
What kept me motivated in the 11 hour ride from Guadalajara to Huamantla was that I knew once we arrived we’d have nothing to worry about. We’d be able to roll the motorcycles into a locked patio, a comfy full size bed heaped with blankets would be ready for us and my Aunt Sylvia would feed us something hot and delicious before we crawled into it.
These expectations were fully met when we rolled into town an hour or so after dark and after parking our motorcycles we were whisked off to my Uncle Andres and Aunty Sylvia’s home to be fed and make plans for the few days we would be in town.My Mom was really awesome to organize a pig feed for the family (with help from my cousin Cesar) and so the next day and half was spent doing little errands around town preparing for it.The biggest errand however was picking up the pig and having it butchered 24 hours before the party. (Nathaniel declined to watch the slaughter of the pig.)
As the time for the party approached on Tuesday things got busy around the house and then relatives started to trickle in… and they kept coming for hours. I think Nathaniel had to say ‘Mucho Gusto’ at least 100 times so it’s a good thing I made it one of the phrases he learned before we left California.
By the end of the night the 103 lb. pig was more or less gone and most people left in some state of dizzying food coma brought on by copious amounts of fried pork, tortillas, candy, rice, refrescos and beer.
During the party several of my relatives asked to take photos with Nathaniel (and by relatives I mean young females). I thought it was hilarious and Nathaniel fully embraced his role at the family gathering as ‘el güerro’.
My Spanish got the biggest work out of the trip (even tougher than dealing with immigration) as a bro-mance began to form between Cesar and Nathaniel. They used me to make jokes at each other back and forth for days and I told them I was glad they couldn’t directly talk to each other because then we would all be in trouble.After a few days of puttering around Huamantla and visiting my Grandmother’s grave we finally had to leave yesterday morning and push onward (to Oaxaca). In true Mexican fashion we had a contingent of people saying goodbye to us at 7:30 in the morning and a car carrying my Mom, Cesar, Uncle Andres and other cousin Mavy drove with us for the first 10 miles and said goodbye to us on the edge of the carretera.
Although we did a lot of family stuff I was really glad Nathaniel got to experience Huamantla and meet all the people he’s heard me talk so much about. It was fun yet exhausting and now we are looking forward to some low key adventures surrounding day of the dead.
For all you motorcyclists out there – the drive from Puebla to Oaxaca city is about 5 hours long and the last 2-3 hours are gorgeous well paved and wide mountain roads.
***Note: Nathaniel would like me to add a footnote that he does not agree with me using the photo of the pig slaughter in this post and he is afraid of it offending our viewership.
Posted on October 29, 2013
After a week of being in a holding pattern in La Paz, Alex received her documents in the mail via DHL (thank you Val!) and by Wednesday we had everything we needed to board the ferry on Thursday. We got up early, did a little maintenance on Alex’s bike (which involved taking the gas tank completely off), packed all of the gear (which took longer due to a week of rust) and headed off to Pichilingue to get our importation documents for the motorcycles and board the ferry.
Several hours later, we boarded the ferry without any problems (it’s amazing how fast bureaucracy works when you have all the right paperwork!). Waiting to board the ferry, a fellow motorcyclist pulled up and helped us while away the time with good conversation. Jim was riding a BMW down from Seattle to his second home in Mazatlan. He had great stories of family, and his own adventures riding through Mexico, Belize, and Guatemala.
After securing the bikes on the ferry (which consisted of tying them down with rope) we headed to our seats, which were pretty comfortable and proceeded to watch some movies and sleep for the next 16 hours. Untied the bikes, and disembarked in Mazatlan without any instances, though while on board Alex had determined that we were going to have to ride 700 miles in two days to reach her family in Huamantla.
The first day we left Mazatlan at 11am and rode all day aside from a gas stop, and two tip overs, one by me and the other by Alex, into a car (count is 4-2 with two dinged cars), until dusk to reach Guadalajara setting a new one day record of 300 miles. The country between Mazatlan and Guadalajara is some of the best I have seen, and one name I thought of for this post was going to be ‘The Road of Butterflies’ as there were sections of road with hundreds of butterflies on either side (and sometimes in the middle).
Less than 12-hours later it was back on the bikes as ‘Alex the whip’ drove us on to Huamantla. From Guadalajara to Huamantla was going to be over 400 miles, my reaction the night before was:
“I don’t think we can do it, but fuck let’s give it a shot.”
We left just after sunrise and made it to Santiago de Querétaro by 2:30pm with only one stop for gas and food in between. That is when the things got really tough.
What some that haven’t rode a motorcycle or haven’t gone long distances don’t understand is that there is a slow deterioration of the feeling in one’s gluteus maximus as the day goes on. In the morning you’re fine, smelling fresh flowers and grass, listening to the roar of the engine and the wind past your helmet, meditating in your own world as the country passes you by. But as the day goes on you begin to loose feeling in your posterior, the smell of flowers is replaced by truck fumes, and the wind becomes a relentless howling echoed only by the constant drone of the hell-beast that is your horse trampling down any resemblance of a thought in your head.
At 4:00pm we stopped for gas (again), with rain clouds on the horizon of Mexico City D.F. my spirits were low, reflected in the idling of my engine, that had lowered as well, due to the altitude we had climbed that day. Alex insisted we could make it, and I had to channel a new inner level of zen to sally forth past the thoughts of doubt that continued to haunt me during the ride.A few minutes later, we were back on the road, that fortuitously turned to the east, bypassing most of the clouds (and rain) and took us on a route to Huamantla skirting Mexico City (which everyone under the sun told us to avoid driving in as it is the largest metropolitan area in the western hemisphere).
A couple of drops of rain, some heavy wind, and another 100 miles brought us to the doorstep of Alex’s house in Mexico, in a little town named Huamantla that sits in the shadow of a mountain called ‘La Malinche’. A new record setting day of 432 miles came to an end with empty stomachs (and gas tanks) and sore bottoms. It was all made worth it when we were welcomed by family, given a hot meal, and a warm bed to collapse into.
You always reach your destination, even if it wasn’t where you planned.