Sunday, 17 April 2011

From Nogales to Creel, my first week in Mexico

So I'm in Mexico... Have been for two weeks now. I crossed the border at Nogales on the 2nd or 3rd with a recently faked driving licence. Mine has expired you see and I didn't realise. I only actually found out a day before I had to cross so rushed to the copy shop and did a quick bit of editing. Added an extra 7 years to the life of the licence though I am expecting my new one in the post eventually. The border crossing went very smoothly all things considered. I expected a lot of hassle with documents and language difficulties but in the end it was a rubber stamp job. Even getting the temporary import for the bike was easy if not very quick.

As was always my intention I wanted to get away from the border areas as quickly as possible. This is where the drug wars are carried out. The town of Juarez is considered the murder capital of the world with almost 6000 murders last year alone. I assume most of them were drug related. So, with this knowledge in mind I proceeded to drive for nearly two hours along the border.... My crossing was considerably further east of where I wanted to go than I expected but the ride was worth it. A mix of vast empty expanses and mountains. A combination I found very agreeable. When I was bored of long straights there would be a long twisty section and just when I felt like my arms would give out a straight would appear. Towards the end of the day my arch nemesis showed up and I spent 100 or so clicks riding at 20 degrees off vertical just to cope with the wind. I have developed quite a technique. Hang off the side of the bike into the wind and pretend you are trying to turn. It works and at least it saved the rubber from the center of the tire.

I arrived in Neuvo Casas Grandes well before sunset and found the Hotel California down a backstreet. This would be home for the next couple of days while I orientated myself and made a proper plan. As far as plans go mine didn't last long. I intended to visit Pequime on Monday followed by a ride to a small cliff side settlement and then back to the hotel. Nothing is open in Mexico on a Monday so instead I took photos of random things

A friendly horse

A small shrine at the side of the road. There are hundreds
of these all over mexico. Also there are many crosses by the
side of the road, sometimes a group of 4 or 5 crosses.

Inside the shrine

A cross on top of a hill near Casas Grandes

The classic Pequiem photo.

Inside the cliffside settlement

And the view from the settlement. Not bad to wake upto huh?
So instead I visited on Tuesday and planned to go to the cliff settlement and ride straight on through to Madera. It took a mere two hours of riding to reach the cliffs and then a further two hours of riding to reach..... Casas Grandes, back where I started. The road had been closed after the settlement so I had to break the cardinal rule and ride the same road twice.

The off roading was gorgeous and I managed to get a video clip using the gopro. What beat everything though was the genuine, ten gallon hat, boots and oversized belt buckled cowboys. I passed several along the road and each gave me a tip of the hat. I was half expecting gunslingers to come running out of the brush.

I finally reached Madera as the sun started to set. It was beautiful as it went down behind the mountains the sky was lit up with shades of reds, pinks and blues. I even managed to howl at it a few times while grinning like an idiot. (the howling probably implies the idiot part but there ya go)

The sun setting just outside of Madera, Unfortunately the
camera failed to capture all the colours
I stayed in Madera two days. The weather was pleasantly cool and the people were kind enough not to rush my halting spanish. I also managed to finally lengthen my sidestand. If you remember back in Nepal I raised the bike by about 3cms, one unexpected result of this was that everytime I put the bike on the stand it would feel like it was about to fall over. It also meant it was heavy to pickup off the stand. Now with an extra 2cm it is as close to perfect as I need. When I tried to pay the owner of the shop refused to accept my money and even handed me a bottle of engine oil for the trip. I got a few contact details for the next town and called it a night

The next day I headed on a short ride to Cuatemoc. Here I was to meet a Honda dealer who was going to help me get a new bash plate made for the bike. I found him easily enough on the side of the main road into town and, for the first time in a week had someone who spoke fluent English to talk to. We were soon visiting one of his employees brothers who was going to make the plate and planned a trip to see the Mennonites while the work was being done. The Mennonites are blonde haired, blue eyed Germans who used to live in Canada. They like to stick to their own ways without government interference and, in Mexico it seems, they have found their home. Just north of the main city is their “town” which has a better resemblance to heavy farming communities in America than it does to anything in Mexico. We spent the day seeing the sights and doing quite a lot of business along the way. By the time we got back the bash plate was finished..... I am now fully prepared for IEDs in Afghanistan!

My new bash plate
Some modifications will be done to slim it down a tad.

The following morning I said my goodbyes and headed off.... in, you guessed it, gale force winds. The kind of language I discovered I knew that day does not need repeating. It did eventually calm down though and I made it to Creel in the Copper Canyon. There was one small stop along the way. We had to wait for two hours for a mixed class road rally. I took the opportunity to practice my filming and editing skills. The short clip below is just around the corner from the police checkpoint we had to wait at.

So Creel.... I think I will leave it there for now. Its been a long day and there is a lot more to write about. Right now I am down in Mazatlan on the West coast. Going to get a new tire tomorrow and maybe modify the bash plate. For now though I am going to eat Tacos, take a Spanish lesson and hit the sack.


Andy said...

another great update, looking forward to the next!

Claudia and Oliver said...

Oliver! Glad to hear things are going well, mate! All the best and keep the great updates coming.

Bronwyn said...

Gorram wind - had hoped we'd both left it behind us in Arizona. Sounds like good times in Mexico so far ... ride safe and enjoy the journey!

Anonymous said...

Another new tire already, have you worn out the Knobby so soon?


Unknown said...

the knobby held out really well for about 2k miles of straight roads. Infact I saw almost no wear at all. I think its because all the weight is on the back as the rear is already down to the wear limit. :( not that'll stop me. Hoping not to have to put any new ones on until I hit southern central america and then I will go for 50/50 DS tires.

No, the front decided to give out when I hit the twistys. They were like a rollercoaster so lots of heavy breaking and accelerating. On the plus I got rid of my chicken strips.

Anonymous said...

Glad to see you're on the move. We were camped next to you at Overland Expo a few weeks ago. We were on the 2 GS's with our 9 year old son.

Safe travels to you


stacato said...

Oy mate! what's up with the updates of the rest in mexico?

I feel un-mentioned on your blog. ;)

Martin said...

Hey, would you mind if we added your site / RSS feed to ?

Unknown said...

Hi Martin,

That would be fine although I dont post at the moment as I am taking an extended break. Back on the road in 2013