Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Having a sand blast!


Protests in Oaxaca City
 Shane and I were hoping to have a riot on our first day on the road together. We hadn't expected it to materialise within 5 minutes of leaving our hotel room though!

Actually it's not uncommon to find protesters on the road in the Americas. Sometimes you have to gently negotiate your passage through, with people lying in the road, rocks strewn on the tarmac to stop the cars, and fires blazing amongst the banners. Sometimes it can be a little intimidating and sometimes they take some persuading to let you through. This time though, despite the hundreds of riot police at the ready, the teachers union did not appear to be preparing for a battle of the violent sort. The police were pretty relaxed behind their shields and spent much of their time texting or chatting! We got through without confrontation from either side.


The dancing farmers in Mexico City
The best protest I have seen to date was also in Mexico, during my short visit to the city a few months ago. Here we had come across around 300 farmers protesting in a most unique way! They had gained everyone's attention and almost certainly their support, by dancing in their underpants in the middle of the city, with a photograph of the politician they had issues with pinned to their pants! They had danced for hours in the midday sun and had really given it their all! There was certainly no shortage of passion in their moves and the point was beautifully made without violence or too much disruption. Instead it brought a smile to the faces of the hundreds of passers by and I, for one, was compelled to find out more about their plight! Genius!

Within an hour of leaving Oaxaca city, we were well and truly marinated in Mexican rainwater. There was no stopping its relentless quest to seek out and destroy all dry areas!

Rain all the way to Tuxtepec
The mountain road between Oaxaca and Tuxtapec is around 200km of wiggles! It carves its way through the beautiful Sierra Madra mountain range with no thought for a straight line. Even in this torrential rain, it offered beauty in the way of fresh waterfalls, and adventure in the way of landslides and fallen trees. We suffered from the cold and we dared go no faster than a crawl on these slippery roads, but we could not help enjoying ourselves.

Salvaging the paperwork
By the time we got to the top, the wind had joined forces with the rain and it was a struggle to keep moving. We pulled in at a roadside cafe, and there we sat shivering as we wrapped our numb fingers around a welcomed hot chocolate. Our camping ideas were definitely out of the window by now and our worst fears were answered when we enquired about any nearby cabanas. There was nothing on this road until Tuxtepec and that meant another 100km of riding. We were only half way and it had taken us 4 hours to get this far! Shane suggested asking if we could stay in the cafe for the night but it was only 2.30pm and I was keen to push on as it seemed a better option than to sit around in our soggy clothes. There was no telling how long this weather would last and I actually felt warmer ON the bike!

Tuxtapec was lower down and warmer, although the rain continued late into the night as we set up camp in our 200 pesos a night hotel room (about £8). Here we sieved through the wreckage of what was once our luggage! Actually my Kriega side panniers had once again stayed strong and everything inside remained dry. The bag (Patagonia) I now used for my clothes had been saved from the worst of the wet by wrapping it in bin bags, and the top box, with all my electrical equipment had managed to fend off the attack with no casualties. My tank bag however, had, for the first time, failed me. I discovered the front pocket, home to my passport and all-important bike documents, were now paper mache. It took some time to prize it all apart and lay it out to dry on the hotel room floor overnight.

hotel room camping
Hotel room camping is great! Camping stove = fresh coffee and Spaghetti Carbonara out of a packet. The damp smell did hit you quite badly though each time you walked back in the room. The soaked riding gear was draped over every inanimate object, and the boots were beginning to let off a rather special aroma! It was around 11pm when the neighbouring table dancing club kicked off, around 1am when the posse of dogs in the hood began to howl, and perhaps 8am when calm was restored once more! That's when we discovered our clothes were no dryer than the night before and we laughed as we packed up and debated which was worse - putting on soggy trousers or a wet helmet! Personally the helmet wins for me every time. It's cold clamminess grips your cheeks and forehead in a vice-like grip and threatens to never let you go!

That morning we spotted a place on the map called Chacalacas and both agreed, without debate, that
we had to go there. We knew nothing about it except that it was on the coast that we were heading for and that it had a REALLY COOL NAME!

Taking a dip in the Caribbean Sea
Playa Chacalacas turned out to have much more than a cool name. We had inadvertently struck off-road heaven AND it had stopped raining! The next morning, with our clothes all dry and a replenished sense of adventure that can only be found after a good night's sleep, we headed out on our naked bikes to ride down the beach and into the dunes!

I have a love/hate relationship with sand! The first five minutes is always torture as you try to remember how you ever managed this before! I had dropped my tyres down to about 24 PSI but still Rhonda wriggled and squirmed in
Finding my sand Rhythm 
an unpredictable fashion as I rode into the soft sand. My arms fought against it until I remembered that that is exactly what I shouldn't do! More speed and relax the arms. Never is there a more appropriate time to say 'Go with the flow man!' Once you can relax and go with it, you find you don't fall off nearly quite as much as you first thought you would! Once you find your sand style again, that's it - the fun begins! Weight on the back wheel, let the front do what it wants and smile as you feel the rhythm coming back to you once more!

Playtime!
Shane is 'technically' still running his new Honda in, and Rhonda has carried me and a pile of luggage
for 45,000 miles without complaint! We should have shown some respect, but sand has a habit of turning even the gentlest of riders into a hooligan before too long! With faith in the big H engineering, we pushed the bikes hard and took respite from the long road miles. It was playtime - ready or not!














26 comments:

  1. It has to be wet boots for me, every time 😒 Brilliant sand photos, any video? Enjoy! X

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