Thursday, September 30, 2010

30 Days In!

Daryll writes:

This post was inspired by some of the questions that Joey & Colleen (good friends of ours) had asked on our Skype video conversation this morning, so thought that it would be a good idea to answer some of their questions (mainly on Mexico) through a blog post.
Despite what you hear and read about Mexico in the media, Mexico is a safe place to travel to as long as you use your common sense.  There are certain places that I wouldn't wonder through late at night in Vancouver, so why would I want to tempt fate in a foreign country.  We tend to have early starts and we've been on the road anywhere between 6am-10am.  We try and get to our destination by 2-3pm and the latest would be 5pm.  We do not travel after dark for various reasons; safety being high on the list, potholes, and animals wondering on the road at night being another.

The roads on the Baja were in excellent condition with smooth pavement, unless if you wondered off somewhere to find a beach.  Where the roads were bad, there were road crews working on them.  Several new bridges are being built to accommodate new over-passes as well.  Most roads on the Baja were single lane highway and sometimes with a shoulder, so we could pull over to let others pass.  None of the other drivers obey the speed limits and will pass on solid double yellow lines.  We've learned to do the same - when it is safe.  One needs to be slightly assertive when riding down here as once you get into towns, there are several lanes of traffic that are not marked, so you need to push your way through traffic to either get into or out of a traffic circle.  I love it!

On the mainland, traffic is the same, just a lot more traffic.  Most highways have a "Cuorta" (toll road) or "Libre" (free road) and guess which ones we take.  Yes, the free roads which have all the trucks and farm vehicles as well.  The bonus of these roads are that they take us through some very small towns and cut through some amazing terrain vs the toll road which is pretty much a double lane highway to get you to the next big city as quick as possible.  The roads we take are worn due to the heavy traffic and tend to have cows, horses, donkeys and dogs along the road.  Most of the animals are just grazing, not attached to anything and wonder around freely, so we tend to slow down when passing animals.  The only down side is that you tend to see several dead animals lying on the side of the road or smell them before you could even see them.

The food is amazing and if I haven't mentioned this already, I love tacos.  They can vary in price depending on where you get them from; however we have learned to wonder around town and find the little taco stands or shops were all the locals are gathering.  A bottle of beer costs the same as a bottle of water or a pop, so we tend to have beer with our meals.

Guess what's for dinner?
The bikes are performing well.  The only issue we had was getting the cam chain adjuster seal replaced on Angela's bike in Santa Cruz.  I was carrying 2 spares just in case.  We had the mishap with Angela's pannier coming off on a dirt road at slow speed, learned from that mistake - we check them daily.  Done one oil change on both bikes since leaving home and check and tighten all bolts weekly, so just regular maintenance stuff.  We did have to replace one camera, luckily we were still in the US when the screen on Ang's camera cracked.  I use it now as a quick P&S camera, though really have no idea what I'm focusing on.  I had to replace my pair of sandals that gave up on the Baja - considering I had those sandals for the last 12 yrs, I think they held up quiet well.  We still need to find someone that can place a patch on my left boot as the shifter lever is starting to wear a hole through my boot.  Even though I don't need them now, I am going to need them in the Andes, my winter gloves have a hole on the left palm that needs a patch and I accidentally burnt a hole on Ang's gloves by trying to dry them off on a heater after we rode in the rain from Port Angeles.

The people we have met, both in the US and now in Mexico have just been incredible, kind, friendly and so interested in what we are doing.  It makes up for sitting in the saddle for long hours and the heat beating down at around 40 Celsius.
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