Monday, 7 December 2015

Moving on up!

Mexico is proving to be as diverse in its experiences as it is in its weather! This generally makes for a good adventure!

Shane and I have now crossed Mexico from the Pacific coast to the Caribbean coast and back again. I must admit our planning has not been brilliant on this leg. We have missed many things and experienced many more by accident! Sometimes this is the best way. We have deliberately avoided ancient ruins as we have both had our fill of those lately (more so for me as South and Central America is full of them!) but we were lucky enough to come across the cave of swallows up near Aquismon. This place is a natural wonder. That night we set up camp amongst the trees near the entrance to the cave, which goes straight down for 1,900 feet from it's highest point. It's an attraction for base jumpers from all over the world, but this was not our reason for the visit. Long before people started jumping into the abyss millions of swallows found a home here. 

Every night at dusk they fly home from the coast and circle above the 160 foot entrance, before choosing their moment to drop out of the sky in a synchronised free fall to the bottom where they sleep. Sitting on the edge, it sounds like rain and looks like millions of black arrows being shot from the clouds. We sat for over an hour, mesmerised by the sheer volume and precision in this ritual that occurs every single night of the year. This night we had our own personal show as we sat observing the performance in silent awe!  Later, armed with head torches, we crept back to our tent and slept well. We woke at 5.30am, keen to watch them leaving again for the coast. This time they spiralled upwards in a spectacular death defying air display. We crept up to the edge and looked over to see them swirling below and shooting off as they reached the top. This really was a special moment that I am very glad we didn't miss. It was impossible, though, to get good photos due to the light and the speed in which they moved. Instead we just enjoyed the show and stored it in our memory banks. 

The nature here has been plentiful. From the dive bombing swallows, the enormous crocs, the lizards shooting across the road in front of us and the vast array of sea birds. Watching the pelicans diving for fish was a wonderful experience as well. The cities too, have been interesting. We have learnt that auto hotels are not quite what we had expected. Having arrived late and tired to the city of San Luis Potosi, we searched for a good 3 hours to find a hotel within our budget. They were all surprisingly expensive, until we came across the auto hotel. It seemed perfect. A big sign said it was just 250 pesos. It had a garage below the room and wifi! Brilliant. The one-way mirror between us and the receptionist did not put us off as we parked our bikes and the electric garage door shut behind us. As we climbed the stairs, we found a very plush room full of mirrors, a very large bed, a menu for burgers and a menu for sex toys. All could be delivered through a discrete hatch next to the door! That's when we discovered that we had paid for 4 hours and not for a full night! It was a moment that we knew would be funny later, but at that moment it was not funny at all! This meant we would be thrown out at 2am! We were tired, hungry and just a little bit ratty by now after a long ride, a busy city and no room at the other inns! Certainly not for our budget and we were NOT in the right mood for what THIS room had in mind! We eventually moved out and paid extra for a hotel where we could actually sleep! 

In the last 3 weeks we have ridden through the miles of Agave fields to the small town of Tequila, where I prayed to the Tequila Goddess, tasted her many nectars and then prayed to the white porcelain god a few hours later. We have ridden the underground roads of Guanajuato, that run like rabbit warrens under this beautiful world heritage city, and I have even found the time to accidentally delete my entire iPhoto library and spend 3 days trying to recover it (with only partial success).

Mexico is certainly an adventure and the experiences are proving to be as bumpy and winding as the roads themselves (How many speed bumps does one country need?).

One of the biggest highlights for me has to be our time in Guadalajara.  Here we met some very special people. First we met a biker called Oscar who was kind enough to accept a delivery for me (some parts to repair the inside of my helmet) and also to show us some of the best bits of the city. The next day we met up with Chris, Francesca and Leonardo. Chris is a Swiss and started off on his solo adventure 2 and half years ago, riding an Africa Twin. In Goa he met Francesca and in Australia they had a baby (Leonardo). One became 3 and the journey never ends. Now they have a side car and a LOT of luggage! Chris admits that it’s a little more complicated than before. They have to plan their days around the baby's needs, but it’s working for them and it seems Leonardo is an extremely happy and content little boy. At 6 months old, he has known nothing else! Who knows how long they will continue! 

We were all fortunate enough to meet with the President of the Mexican Motorrad Federation. Ernesto is a very enthusiastic biker, businessman and host! He introduced us to his contacts at Honda Power House who treated Rhonda to an oil change and a good wash. A couple of days later we were all invited to view a private collection of motorbikes and cars which would soon be turned into a museum. Here we found a big surprise in store for us!

Ernesto and his friends had been very busy. After some time viewing this vast collection and meeting the owner who declared this place our home whenever we wished to return, we were then honoured with the title of International Ambassadors to the Federation. We were presented with certificates and a card with our pictures and personal details on. These cards would help us through Mexico, and the Federation, with its vast network of well placed bikers, would be on call should we have any issues at all in Mexico. We were also going to be included in the museum itself, which will be open to the public next year! Our very own wall in the museum! It was a great honour for us all -  even Leonardo, who had his own card and certificate! 

Shane and I are now in Sinaloa state, on route to Durango, via the famous Devils Backbone road. Now we have to be a little more on guard as we head into the Cartel areas of Mexico. We have been advised to keep a low profile and not take pictures of the people (particularly the ones with guns!). Generally there is no trouble for tourists but in the last couple of weeks 2 Australians were found dead in their burnt-out camper van on our route This plays heavy on our minds, but we remind ourselves that many travellers come this way with no trouble, as we push forward towards the US border. 


  1. Another great posting Steph' ... loved the description about the cave of swallows. And don't worry bout not taking photo's, as I took few during my travels. In hindsight am glad, as it meant I could relax and soak up the experience ... And again, to re-assure you of the rarity of bad experiences while travelling the world. I'd guess you're now experienced enough to rely on 'gut-feelings' ...

    BTW. Did you get any contact details for Chris, Francesca and Leonardo? As I'd be interested in following their blog if they have one ... I've heard of people falling in-love during their travels, but it's a 'first' for a couple to travel the world with their baby!

  2. Hello from Utah!
    I found your blog through the latest edition of AdvRider magazine. Awesome article about riding Antarctica. Anyways, I'm headed to the Baja to me some friends down there for a few weeks of riding and surfing, so if you need anything from the states, like a chain and sprocket, let me know. I'll be in mid-Baja by the end of next week, so if you see this before then and need anything, let me know and I'll do my best to bring it down with me. I'm driving a big van with plenty of room, so let me know!
    Ride fast and take chances,

    1. Thanks Jake. I've just emailed you. See you in Baja xxx

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  4. Brilliant read Steph, loved the story of the swallows and it must have been an awesome place. To go across Mexico and back must have been a great experience. I loved the monument to the Tequila Goddess, 20,000 miles is some achievement. I also see you had a Whale of a time ;-) You are the envy of every biker on this side of the world for sure and your Dad is looking forward to your return just like any Dad would be, only you have something special to make him proud of. Safe riding.


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