Tuesday, December 14, 2010

12/14/10 Another Crash! Topolobambo- Los Mochis - Mazatlan: 5 Hours, 270 miles. Mazatlan - Rosario - Guadalajara: 320 miles

I fucking crashed AGAIN but overall was VERY lucky and the day turned out to be memorable in a good way. But before I get to that....Arrived to Topolobambo on the ferry and there is only one overpriced hotel in town, so I ride 20 kms to the much larger city of Los Mochis. I end up lost for over an hour and head into a bar to ask about a hotel nearby. Bad vibes, people here are getting fucked up on a lot more than liquor, and this part of town is sketchy as hell. Back out on the street I see a sign and ride down an alley. Police lights behind me pull me over and I know this aint gonna be good. The cop and his buddy have me trapped in this alley and demand my license. I give it to him and he says Im going the wrong way down a one way street. It is not marked and everyone does that shit in Mexico, total shakedown here. He says he is going to keep my license. I always feign the " no speaky Spanish" in these situations and usually the cops get frustrated and just let you go. An older gentleman walks by and he speaks English and starts to translate, saying the hotel is out of business and reiterating what the cops already said. This guy is a witness to what is going on at this point, and this would explain why the cops get all friendly all of a sudden and offer to lead me to a hotel. I follow them down the alley (the wrong way!) and I have visions of being led under a bridge and having the shit beaten out of me, but we roll up to the hotel, have a few friendly words and then I unload my stuff into the room, not needing anymore drama. I am hungry though, but its midnight at this point so I end up getting food at the OXXO (Mexico's version of 7-11) and the doors are locked, so the guy passes me food through a slit in the door. Bad neighborhood indeed. On the way back to the hotel, the bar I was in earlier is being raided and shut down.
Next day, headed to the seaside city of Mazatlan, another touristy but picturesque destination that I'll be staying the night in before heading to Guadalajara, where I plan on staying for a few days. The ride is pretty uneventful and a few hours later Im in Mazatlan, where I get a room at the Hotel Oro for 10 bucks. Its a couple of blocks from the bay and I spend the rest of the evening walking around downtown through the Friday night crowds and madness before turning in and getting ready for the 6-7 hour push to Guadalajara.
Get my things together in the morning and take a look at the Pacific coast/beaches for a while before I roll on down Hwy 15 to Guadalajara. About 30 miles out of town, the front end wobbles a bit and I immediately worry. Before I know it, I have a serious tank-slapper on my hands ( handlebars whipping back and forth violently) at highway speed and I know Im gonna crash. I manage to slow down and roll off onto the shoulder which is covered in tall grass before wiping out. I manage to shut the bike off and notice the gas leaking out of the top. Both of my side bags have exploded and clothes are everywhere. Im in a daze and the bike is too heavy for me to lift so I manage to shut the fuel off with the bike on its side. I assess the damage, the bike seems fine but the luggage rack and cases are a different story. Cracked and broken in several places, Ill need to find an aluminum welder eventually. Meanwhile, NOBODY has stopped which is surprising and pretty shitty, especially by whoever was behind me. I sit down on my topcase and assess the damage to myself, which is minimal. Skinned knees and shins, but just a little bit and a couple of marks on my face from where my head rubbed the inside of my helmet. My helmet itself is a different story. Lets just say Im glad I was wearing one, and Ill need to replace it soon.
An old man pulls over and helps me right my bike. He says he will get some help and comes back with a friend. They leave again and an acquaintance of his, the head of the local motorcycle club arrives with his two sons and a rickety trailer. Luis and his son Luis JR. and his 10 year old Miguel help me load up all my shit and we head into the town of Rosario. We pull into his dirt driveway and Senior props my bike up on a stand while Junior replaces the inner tube and patches the punctured one. We find the culprit, a 1cm long cactus spine, about the size of splinter. That little fucker caused all this! The handlebars are bent pretty badly and they use brute force to bend them back, and also adjust the chain. My big contribution to all of this is buying everyone a Coke. In my defense, I'm still pretty out of it. Luis takes me to his mother's house where we eat a homecooked meal and I meet his sister and niece as well. This day is turning out really well, to say the least. Then we head off to a welder friend of his who is able to weld aluminum (need special torch) and me and Junior (me on the Yamaha, him on his Dad's Harley- he is 16!) head on over, where Manuel and his brother and friends hook up my luggage rack and even give it a coat of black paint on the house. Total cost about $20, and the guys were super funny on top of it. On the way home, Junior runs out of gas and I go to the Pemex to get a liter full of 87 in an empty soda bottle, bring it back and we are on out way again. I try to slip Junior a few bucks at one point and he refuses, saying that helping me out is a favor. Amazing, my ass would have snatched up that $ at his age! Back to Luis's house and we hang out for a while at the auto shop across the street that he works at. Luis insists I stay the night at this point. He has also refused any money up till now, just saying I dont have to worry about it yet, no problem. We pick up his youngest son and all go out for tacos, where he again wont let me pay. I decide to just go with the flow and not worry about this kind of thing until the morning. Me and Luis head back to his mom's, surprisingly. Luis is staying there because of some marital problems, and has a pretty sweet setup, including wireless where I catch up on some things before turning in.
Get up and head back to Luis's house where I manage to patch up my side luggage pretty well and quickly and Im ready to leave in an hour. I ask Luis how much for the tow and everything else and again he refuses any payment! I dont know what to say anymore, I just thank him for helping me out and promise to stay in touch with Junior on Facebook. I tentatively head down the highway and all seems fine. Heading inland now, and the terrain is getting mountainous as I take a left at Tepic, the capital of Nayarit (I had just been in the state of Sinaloa) and the roads are getting twisty, windy, up, up, up. Cross over into the state of Jalisco, where I later discover the clock goes forward an hour and am now in tequila country, with rows and rows of neat blue agave plants covering the steep montainsides. Pass through the town of tequila, the busy and crowded city suburb of Guadalajara known as Zapotan and pretty soon Im lost in the center of town as usual. This time, guidebook has the hostel listed wrong, but an hour and a half later Im where I need to be and get a bed for 4 nights for about $40. After walking around for a bit I come back to the hostel and reflect on the past 2 days. I got so lucky in that crash, so many things could have been different. I was lucky there was a shoulder on the road at all, not just a steep drop-off, that it was soft and grassy, that there was not traffic around me, that I didnt break any bones or worse, that my bike was mechanically fine, that Luis came along and helped me out the way he did (would that have happened in the U.S.?) and that I am once again on my way. God must really be looking out for me.
So now I am in a coffee shop in Guadalajara posting this. It's a modern, fun, and exciting town with a great mix of the new as well as a rich history from the colonial days. I've spent the past couple of days checking out the sights, going to the gym, a visit to the dentist (awesome job, spoke English, cost $32 for a cleaning and check-up!), much needed boot shine, again an awesome job which took 20 minutes and cost 2 bucks, and sampling the local cuisine, which is still going right through me, but which I refuse to stop eating cause its so damn good. Looking ahead to Mexico City for my birthday and Christmas, but the fast toll roads which are boring costs like 50 bucks to ride, and the backroads will add hours to the trip. I decide to stop halfway and stay in Morelia for a day or two, capital of the state of Michoacan. There has been some bad drug-war shit going on, streets were closed and stuff outside of town, butsupposedly thigs have clamed down. Then off to Mexico city if all goes as planned. Tomorrow, a tour of a tequila distillery, haven't decided which one.

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