Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Gotta Love a Good Commute

Hello out there in radio and TV land!  Sorry it’s been getting longer between posts but we have to make the stories first before we can tell you about them. We’re currently staying in a hostel in San Cristobal de Las Casas.  Last night we stayed at a hotel in some random town that actually had a 3 hour room rate! 200 pesos for 3 hrs or 270 pesos for all night.  Clearly we are only staying at the best accommodations. On our ride today we saw the following creatures crossing the road: a 2 foot lizard, a 3 foot snake (much to Daryll’s horror), a freakin’ black tarantula (much to MY horror) and a turtle. Actually the turtle was in the driveway leading out of our hotel. I went to the parking lot to tell Daryll to come see it and when we came back, this vendor lady form across the street had come and taken the turtle away – let’s just say I don’t think she was putting it in an aquarium at home.

So back to last Saturday - on our way to the archaeological site of Teotihuacan we experienced some pretty crazy driving in and around Mexico City. We tried to avoid the freeways and go around this capital as much as possible to get to our destination but we got sucked into the vortex of multiple highways, express lanes, construction and traffic congestion. I was actually concerned about driving there as due to the severe pollution they have daily driving restrictions according the last number of your license plate. Mine ends in 0 and as it turns out, that day I was not suppose to be driving. Luckily I didn’t get pulled over.

In the city people drive wherever they want, even if there are painted lane lines that are suppose to mark territory. Motorcycles don’t seem to command any space requirements at all and if there’s physical space they will drive right beside you. In a particularly wide lane section I tried to stay in a dominate left lane position however traffic then started passing me in my lane, on the right!  The strange thing is though, I don’t actually feel in danger in this crazy traffic flow. I know the others drivers don’t want to hit me as much as I don’t want to be hit. Somehow this chaos works and we end up just going with it and try to stay flexible, even if sometimes our tempers and horns get the best of us. The best thing about driving in Mexico City was the really great people we met in traffic. We had random people pull over to give us directions, others called out their windows to ask us where we were from and where we were going, and many gave us the “thumb up”.  One man even took it upon himself to welcome us to Mexico!

The hard work riding Mexico City paid off the next day when we went to visit the archaeological site of Teotihuacan. The night before we had stayed in a small town about 5 minutes away from the ruins so that we could leave our bikes for the day  and take a cab over to the site.  We did not want to carry our motorcycle gear around the 2 km park, and up and down pyramids all day in the baking sun. Daryll and I arrived to Teotihuacan at 7 am, before the sun came up, in the cold wet fog of the morning. We were the only ones at the park, except for 2 dogs that followed us and frolicked in the grass while we walked up the center street called the “Avenue of the Dead”.  In the fog and the fact that there were no other souls in sight, it was kind of spooky but we had a map and we knew what structures to look for. We almost missed seeing the first of the 2 pyramids due to the fog.  We decided to climb the 248 stairs to the top of the the Pyramid of the Sun and were highly rewarded by reaching the top. This structure is the 3rd largest pyramid in the world (the first 2 are in Egypt) and we that morning, were the only one’s in the whole wide world standing on top of it. It was a pretty cool feeling and we set the camera on auto timer.  After we climbed down the pyramid we went to the site museum and noticed the first tour buses and souvenir vendors arriving.  We then had to share the site with hundreds of other people but that was okay – we were so fortunate to have these structures all to ourselves for the first few hours of the morning. 

In the last couple of days we have witnessed some of the havoc that Mexico’s severe rainy season has caused this year. Yesterday we rode very close to the state of Veracruz where Hurricane Karl went through a couple weeks back. Some of the lowlands that we drove through were absolutely flooded and all the cows, donkeys, and horses were highly concentrated on the higher grassland. The temperature of the air was super cool and damp and there was a huge cloud of mist over the area. I guess the sun was working pretty hard to try and evaporate all the extra water in the area. We did not venture into the state of Veracruz though as we did not want to be a burden on the already  limited resources in the community. Instead we chose to ride southwest, through the state of Oaxaca which because of the increased rain this year, has succumb to numerous mudslides over it’s high mountain roads.  We made sure that our route did not include going to Santa María Tlahuitoltepec, Oaxaca as this is where mudslides actually killed some drivers a few weeks back.

This free road that we took 2 days ago from Tehuacán to the city of Oaxaca was absolutely incredible. It was high mountain, curvy road with lush green scenery.  At the bottom of the valley we could see a raging river of muddy water and see that it had recently burst it’s banks. There were butterflies everywhere and every now and then the air was perfumed by the fresh wild flowers along the road.  Absolutely breathtaking. We weren’t actually sure if this road would be open the entire way as we kept coming across mudslides that had occurred from the rain several weeks back. We have photos and videos of riding this road which we will post shortly. There was hardly any traffic and our speed ranged from about 20-80 km/hr depending on the severity of the twists through the mountains and whether or not there were any sink holes in the pavement to avoid.  We were cautioned well in advance against most obstacles as local road crews had highlighted dangers with painted rocks and piled up bushes. 

Mexico has been very good to us and we will miss it dearly. Heading for Guatemala in 2 days. We’ll keep you posted!

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