On to Oaxaca

We leave the city of Oaxaca in two days. Oaxaca is the capital of the the state of Oaxaca which is located in the southern part of the country. The city itself is up in the mountains at over 5,000 feet. Oaxaca is a colonial city known for food, (especially mole), art and especially Mezcal, an alcoholic drink made from the agave plants that are ubiquitous in the area.

Our journey brought us into the mountains of Mexico for the first time this trip. We had a couple of road options and of course, we choose the “old highway” that twists and turns into the hills. The old highway is being replaced by a new toll road between the city and the quaint beach town of Puerto Escondido and as such, has had limited repair in recent years. We didn’t mind because that also meant there was less truck and tour bus traffic.

It was a fun road with scenic views for the whole 160 miles. Yes, less than a tank of gas for us but it would take us seven hours to make the trek.

The road was actually in better condition than I remembered it from past years. We stopped at our favorite Tlayuda spot for a sort break. A Tlayuda is a type of Mexican pizza specific to the Oaxaca area. It’s made on a crisp tortilla like crust about the size of a pizza. You can read more about it HERE.

Just outside our table was this dog, he was pretty happy not just having a bone but the whole leg!

I made a short 2 minute video of our ride and uploaded it to my new YouTube channel if anyone is interested….

The rest of this post will be about our time in the city of Oaxaca. So….. since it’s a motorcycle blog I’ll try to keep it short and just to the highlights. However, I really don’t want to diminish what a fantastic city it is and I think everyone should try to visit the city of Oaxaca.

We arrived on a Friday and learned right away that weekend weddings are a HUGE deal in this city. There were many weddings going on and each wedding gets their own parade down the street. This parade was directly in front of our hotel.

The bride and groom are obligated to dance with the parade. All the relatives join in, along with some people that I suspect were just bystanders. Someone else follows with a bottle of mezcal and fills up small cups that everyone has. A true festive atmosphere.

As a musician, I loved the trombone player marching with his helmet in arm.

We explored the blocks around our hotel which was close to El Centro (downtown). It’s an incredibly beautiful place with wonderful people.

For dinner we stopped at an Italian place that had live music. This guy from the US sat in with his mandolin. He was pretty good!

In the main park was a marimba band, they were awesome. Check out the “young” man showing off his dance moves.

Even the street players were pretty good.

At one point we climbed up to a mirador to get a Birdseye view of the city of 300,000 people.

We were glad for the weekend to explore our surroundings but we had two weeks more booked. I was enrolled in Spanish school that was every week day for 4 hours a day plus homework (yuck). Deby spent her time exploring the city. On of the days she arranged for a personal cooking class in our hotel with our new friend Gloria. It was a little funny because our cocina was very basic consisting of one fork and an old serrated knife. Gloria, only spoke Spanish and since I was in class Deby and Gloria managed in sign language and with the help of Google Translate on their phones. I came home in time to take a few pictures.

Dinner was served. Gloria joined us for mole rojo, chicken and arroz. Basic but delicious.

The day’s blurred on and I’m really summarizing here. On our second weekend we took a tour bus to a place we rode our motorcycles to once before and loved it, Hierve el Agua. It’s basically a petrified waterfall that you can hike around and sit in infinity style pools at the top.

I mean, these are pictures from just my iPhone. It’s an awesome place. There were lots of warnings like this…

So…ummmm…..

We were with a friend from Spanish class who took this picture.

This is her standing on the edge…..

On the way back we stopped at a village where you can only live there if you are a weaver, yes really. We had a demonstration on how the color dyes were made using natural ingredients.

Deby found a vest she couldn’t resist buying. A big deal since space is so valuable on the motorcycles.

We stopped at a mezcal distillery. Always trying to out do the Tequila competitors, they don’t put a worm in the bottle, they use a snake! We didn’t try any of that.

Most nights when it cooled down we went for a walk in the neighborhood. Always, we saw interesting things.

You could get almost anything here… probably helped to know a few spanish words.

Every night there was some activity in the square across from our hotel. Mostly they were groups practicing but we loved the show. Check out this dog wanting to get in the act.

Here’s Deby at our favorite tlayuda spot.

During the day we often walked exploring some surrounding neighborhoods. Many of them were full of huge murals. Deby is joining the parade here.

The weeks blurred by… I was pretty consumed with my studies at the “Spanish Magic” language school, and dutifully got right to homework after class.

I have to wrap up by talking about our hotel. We learned that most of the guests were ex-pats who had been coming to this same hotel for decades. By now they were in there “older than us” years. Every day at 4:00 it was Happy Hour. We spend most days with them and it was one of the highlights of the trip.

This is just a few of the poolside happy hour crowd. The guy flashing the peace sign is a retired emergency room doctor from a small town next to Mazomanie, WI where my brother Kevin lived. Some of the women at the hotel had a small singing group and they practiced in the afternoon. It was fun to listen to.

This was one of the very rare times we stayed at the same place for two weeks. It really took that long to get to know the city. I now understand why our new happy hour friends have been coming here for decades. There is so much to see and do and I feel like we just scratched the surface but we were starting to get a better feel for the culture. Ahhh Oaxaca, we will be back.

So, we leave this weekend for the state of Chiapas. It will be good to be back on the bikes. My Spanish is slightly better than when we arrived and I now have a huge notebook of things to study. That should hold me over until my next visit to the Spanish Magic language school.

More to come….

Donn and Deby

The Coast is Clear – sort of….

We’ve been travelling down the west coast of Mexico for three weeks now. The further south we get the warmer it gets as we dip into a more tropical climate. The riding is fantastic if you like narrow roads with tight turns. Motorcycle riders are strange that way, those are the roads we love.

It seems like weeks, well, it has been, since we’ve had decent WiFi, so I finally have a chance to put together and upload some short videos. I made a short video using the Relive online app that shows our route from an ariel viewpoint. I love that it gives a really good idea of the topology and just how many turns are in the road.

We had fun and took a few road shots with my helmet cam.

Had some views as we climbed into the hills a little.

The following picture just about sums it up. You can see I’m in 3rd gear, 32 miles an hour and the GPS and Google maps show the road with lots of turns. You have to be careful when you see this coming towards you on these narrow roads. Usually the trucks need all of their lane and some of ours as well in the tight corners.

Overall a pretty easy day, 201 miles in just over 6 hours. That would prove to be one of the last “easy” days. I made a really short video to get the feel.

Zihuantanejo is a pretty easy place to stay, one of the bigger tourist cities between Puerto Vallarta and Acapulco. It’s situated in a small protected bay and attracts tourists from all over Mexico, US and Canada. We seem to have our favorite spot, Hotel Irma. We also seem to be settling into another routine that is different for us. Ride for a day and then stay somewhere for at least two… or three… days to explore. Hmmm, is that the age creeping in or the wisdom? Hotel Irma is the pink hotel on the hill in the distance.

Of course plenty of fantastic food every night.

We stayed there for three nights, the internet connection was nearly nonexistent so we were forced to sit by the pool, read books, go for walks on the beach, stroll the Malecon and search for more great seafood all under clear skies and 80+ degree weather. I wasn’t sure I could take too much of that.

Rested, it was time to move on. We did have a destination, the city of Oaxaca where I am enrolled in a two week Spanish speaking class. Everyone I come in contact with would agree that words are coming out of my mouth but they are not much like Spanish no matter how emphatically I speak them. Our next stop is another favorite of ours Puerto Escondido which is in the state of Oaxaca along the coast. It would be our last beach stay before heading up into the mountains.

The distance from Zihua (as the tourists call it) to Puerto Escondido is just under 400 miles but according to the latest mapping technology from Google and Garmin it would be an 11 hour ride. I’ve learned to trust those time estimates after learning the hard way that I can’t beat the time on a motorcycle. We wisely decided to break up the trip into two days.

The logical midway point would be Acapulco but we wanted to skip the big city and decided to stay at a small but nice hotel just south of town on a remote beach. We had been there before and appreciated the solitude and nice staff the Mishol Hotel.

We were looking for three nights booked in Puerto Escondido but we had to do some work to get there. It was getting hot along the coast with increasing humidity during the day. We were on the road around 9:00 and things were going just fine until about 11:00 just as it was getting warmer traffic just stopped. Using the proper motorcycle etiquette, we started riding on the right shoulder, cutting to the left shoulder, lane splitting between lanes and just trying to get to the front of the line to see what was going on.

We were coming into the small town of Marquelia where Mex200 crosses over a river. It seemed like the road was blocked on the other end of the bridge and there was really no way around. We finally got to the front and saw protesters were blocking the far end of the bridge. But wait, this is Mexico and there is always a way! Someone directed us to sneak between two parked cars and jump down a curb and we could get past… ha!

I had time to put together a YouTube video that shows the process. We felt sorry for the people in cars and busses, they were just stuck for what would probably be many hours.

Whew, I’m glad we made it. I wasn’t sure because blocking a bridge doesn’t really give an out for even a motorcycle. We were glad to get to Puerto Escondido almost 7 hours later as the sun was getting ready for a spectacular show. I took this picture of a statue on the beach in front of the hotel.

I took one more picture to wrap up the day.

True to our new favorite habit, we booked three nights at Hotel Santa Fe on the beach. Darn, no internet again so we would have to just rough it by talking, walking on the beach and now we play cards at night. Deby always wins…..

Ok, I’m going to stop here for now. Thanks for the comments, I’ve been really delinquent in answering them but we appreciate getting comments and e-mails from our friends. I was asked about Deby’s center stand. I took it off and it’s just attached to her motorcycle bags. We don’t really need it except it helps when I need to oil the chain. Every stop I threaten to just leave it behind.

I created a new YouTube channel where I’ll just keep motorcycle related stuff. My other channel is a random collection of videos from over the years. If you want to visit my channel click here. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClf6gNdOZULjlGWbhiics7Q I call it the ADVdonnh Motorcycle Channel, pretty original right? I’m told it’s good if people subscribe and click the like button. Well, that would be nice but I’m not trying to make any money off my channel so it’s up to you. However, if you DO subscribe and like it, I think you will get notifications when I upload something. At last check I had exactly 1 subscriber and I think that is Deby. Ha.

We are in Oaxaca now and school starts tomorrow. I want to get another post in the next few days with our ride up the mountain road from the coast. We decided to take the “old” highway which was a lot of fun.

More to come, Donn and Deby.

Cartel Trouble

We’re Ok, as I write this we are at a nice resort hotel in Mazatlán, Sinaloa Mexico. Getting here was an adventure of sorts. I’ll get caught up with a quick summary of our trip to Sinaloa where Mexican authorities arrested the son of El Chapo of the Sinaloa Cartel on Thursday Morning. Article HERE.

Mexican authorities have again arrested cartel leader Ovidio “El Ratón” Guzmán, son of incarcerated Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, and leader of the “Los Chapitos” faction of the Sinaloa Cartel. According to official sources cited in the newspaper Reforma, the operation occurred around 4:40 a.m. Thursday morning in the city of Culiacán in Sinaloa. 

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Soggy California

(Note: thanks for all the e-mails and letting me know that the comments section is not working. I have a support ticket submitted and hopefully it will be fixed soon.)

Wow, I thought we had a lot of rain in Washington State. We drove three days in driving rain to Escondido. The weather report called it an atmospheric river. Yep, that pretty much sums it up. I’m not really complaining because the people of CA really do need the rain and we were plenty dry in the truck.

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Ready to Ride 2023

My last post was 10 months ago when we returned from Mexico. After an exciting year of travels we leave tomorrow and are heading back to Mexico. I hope you don’t mind riding along. Thanks to everyone who is encouraging me to continue with this blog. I’ll try to keep it interesting. If you no longer want to get these e-mails you can unsubscribe by clicking on the link or e-mail me at donn@advdonnh.com and I’ll remove you from the list. No worries.

I did add a tab at the top of this website for our 2021 Alaska trip. It was pretty epic and I didn’t have it uploaded to this blog until recently. I hope you find it interesting.

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Home after 12,795 miles

Burrrr, we arrived home to record cold temperatures in the Seattle area, 22 degrees F. Yes, a few weeks earlier than planned but for some reason we were ready to be home.

The motorcycles returned with almost 13,000 more miles clocked than when we left. We felt that we explored a large part of Mexico and covered most of the states. Truthfully, we only scratched the surface of places to visit and only saw a few of the 121 “Pueblos Mágicos” (Magical Towns) in the country. I’m sure we’ll be back for more.

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Ride – Rinse – Repeat

Once we left the state of Quintana Roo which is the furthest East in Mexico, and actually in the Eastern Time Zone of the United States, we realized we were now pointing closer to home rather than further away for the first time. According to Google, we were 3,609 miles from home via the fastest route. That number was in my mind as I checked the condition of my back tire after almost 10,000 miles already.

Hmmm, is that a crack?? Yup, it seemed like this tire was about due but we had more riding to go before we could get that taken care of. After all, it still held air….

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New States of Mind

Officially Mexico is known as Estados Unidos Mexicanos or in English, the United Mexican States. There are 32 states in Mexico, I’m beginning to wonder if we’ve been to them all. Hmmm.Our destination after leaving Kevin’s group was what gringos commonly just call the Yucatan Peninsula. In actuality the peninsula is made up of three states, Campeche, Yucatan and Quintana Roo.

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