Thursday, March 12, 2009

9 Days

I took this picture near Juchitan in Chipas. I met these two truckers a day before this and they told me to be extra careful here because of the wind. Can you see the wind generaters in the background? The one truck driver, a huge dude with a bushy mustache and salsa stains on his faded white t shirt said that the wind gets so bad that it can pick up a whole fully loaded big rig and flip it upside down. GREAT! This is going to be fun. This particular day wasnt to flipping here but the wind was crazy. At times I would have a slight down hill and I would be pushing as hard as I could but I was barely moving. Eventually I got to where I was going! Before I left the two truckers the other trucker, a guy who worked in Arizona for some years and a fraction the size of the other guy said I shouldnt go to Baja because it gets lonely and boring. When he said that I slowly looked around the barren nothingness of this part of Chiapas and wondered to myself if Baja was going to be any worse than this!

Powered off of rice, beans and tortillas of all shapes and sizes I have succesfully navigated myself from Guatemala City, Guatemala to Puerto Escondido, Mexico. This was probably one of the most difficult stretches I have seen so far. I biked 1,035 kilometers in 9 days. The days at times were long, hard, a bit boring, a bit lonely and even times of hard suffering. It was an absolute accomplishment to make it to Puerto Escondido.

Before I set out from Guatemala City I was getting really nervous about travelling through Mexico for a variety of reasons. Ive heard horror stories about bad road conditions, crazy bus drivers, banditos... the whole lot. On top of that I was finally able to put a pen to paper and calculate the distance and time. From the border to Mazatlan its approximatly 2,200 kilometers. Given the date and time I had to seriously pick up the pace because I was due back in San Francisco by April 25th for the last fundraising party. On top of that Baja California is another 1,400 kilometers. And on top of that I have to get from San Diego to San Francisco. So much to think about. It was starting to get overwhelming. I calculated all this on about March 3. So I had the rest of March plus a few weeks in April....IS THIS EVEN POSSIBLE????

So I decided to break Mexico up into stages. Guatemala City to Puerto Escondido, Puerto Escondido to Acapulco, Acapulco to Sayulita and Sayulita to Mazatlan. I originally wanted to take a few days rest, maybe 2 days at each of the mini destinations but after giving my giant Mexico map a good hard look I realized that this would be impossible! So I took the attitude that I have to pick up the pace and take it one day at a time. Ive been doing about 100 kilometers or so in Central America a lets see what I can do in Mexico! Here we go...

Someone please cue ESPN Sportscenter music now...

3/3 Guatemala City - Somewhere in a forest near Mazatenango, Guatemala 135 k´s

3/4 Somewhere in a forest near Mazatenango, Guatemala - Somewhere near the Mexican border 95k´s

3/5 Somewhere near the Mexican border - Huxila, Mexico 105k´s

3/6 Huxitla - Pijijiapan 105k´s

3/7 Pijijiapan - Puerto Arista 90k´s

3/8 Puerto Arista - Niltepec 155k´s

3/9 Nilitepec - Salina Cruz 110 k´s

3/10 Salina Cruz - Bahias de Huatulco 130k´s

3/11 Bahias de Huatulco - Puerto Escondido 110k

This is a picture is of Lake Atitlan, Guatemala an absolute amazing place and a true dream for a ride. Getting out of Guatemala City was a kinda nightmare. The night before I spent some time with Ann (from Plan) and her husband Mike. Mike is a big outdoorsmen (hes climbing some huge mountains in Bolivia in a few months) with a ton of information and maps on Guatemala. He suggested this route that took me on some serious backroads but it was worth it because the views of the lake was perfect.

Getting out of Guatemala City was a nightmare. Tons of cars and tons of traffic. Luckily Ann lived on the Pan American highway and her house was also a bit outside of the downtown area. There was no way Id be able to navigate through Guatemala City during morning commute. Unfortunantly there was also a ton of construction getting out of town but luckily I made it! So...back on the some huge days ahead!

So Plan is now behind me. I visited the corporate office in Panama City, I went to the villages of northern Nicaragua to hear the stories and challenges of the people and the community leaders, I saw the communities of El Salvador and visited with the familes and lastly I was able to visit the people near Jalapa where I saw where the school was being built and where I was able to meet my sponsor child and little buddy Medardo. From this point forward its about getting home. The experience has truly been an amazing one. This adventure has taken me to places I have never imagined. Now its all about the bike and all about hitting the $15,000 goal.

Cruising around Lake Atitlan was a dream come true. The road got a bit better and all of Guatemala opened up to me. Check out the winding roads in this picture. At one point I got lost but this old fisherman dude with 4 teeth and 9 fingers pointed me in the right direction. It was a bit difficult for him to understand my accent but luckily I found the way!

The ride was probably one of the best during this whole trip. Its pretty much one of those places thats so beautiful it can make you cry. I turned up a bit of Michael Franti on the IPOD and pretty much sang my way around the lake. There were also a ton of bikers out that day as well. Guatemalans love their bikes. Everyone that passed along the way gave waves and holas whenever possible. Finally after sometime the weather got a bit was a perfect day.
Id like to dedicate this day to my mom. Its her birthday on March 4 and this day spent in Guatemala was just a dream come true. Happy Birthday mom! Can you see the volcanoe in the distance? After cruising around the lake I got a super sweet payoff. Coming into Guatemala city and Antigua I hit a massive hill....guess what PAYBACK! I got a great downhill ride on the newly paved autopista which was about 30 kilometers long. Talk about Lance Armstrong style...I was cruising along at some serious speed!

This was the perfect break...fresh pineapple!
There it is...the first sign to Mexico! Im getting excited...

I stayed in this beautiful ecolodge in Guatemala near the Mexico border. I had a super long day and then on top of that I had a massive 5 kilometer climb at the end of the day. It started to get dark and the only options poping up were wild looking pay by the hour hotels. Then I saw this place and took the opportunity. The forrest surrounding my cabana was beautiful!

Well.....Here we go people....Mexico!!!

Im ready for the food, the beaches, the tequila, the biking, the people... bring it on baby!

Nothing like a beautiful sunrise in Chiapas. I took this on my ride from Huixtla to Pijiapan. Chipas is a very beautiful and diverse place. Mountains one minute, dry land the next and then without much notice I find myself in a jungle.

I met this guy in Pijijiapan who helped me with a bit of translation with the lady working at the hotel. My spanish wasnt that bad but she didnt want to bother with trying to understand. Sometimes I guess I just cant get across. Anyway...the guy was eager to start a conversation so he opened up with this...¨ya man, I used to live near San Francisco in Salinas.¨ That was cool...¨oh ya...what brings you down here,¨I replied. He took a look around, we were standing in a carport behind the hotel and softly replied, ¨I got deported man...¨ What do you even say to that? I took a second to think about what I was going to say but all I came up with was ¨aaahhhhh...that sucks!¨ He chuckled and went back into his room. That was a first for me...

The road crusing through the jungle in Chiapas. Check out the shoulder...hahahah! No worries...even without a shoulder the road was just fine. On top of that there were little to no cars.

This is Niltepec, Oxaca, Mexico. Some of these towns in Chiapas and Oxaca seemed soooo dead. I would somewhere and there would be little to no people. Some seriously boring nights were ahead.
Beautiful church in Niltepec. This was a super long day, somehting like 155k´s. mI took a second and sat in the church. It was nice to get into a quiet place after hearing nothing but cars and buses whiz by all day.
Im taking the 200 along the pacific ocean in Mexico. Eventually Ill have the ocean on my left and the mountains on my right. Lets hope they dont get any closer cause the mountains can seriously slow me down! This day was super long and hard. My body is slowly adjusting to getting up every morning at 5.30 and getting on the bike by 6.30. I want to pick up the place but I cant quite do maore than 130k´s...if that!

Ahhhhh...the beach.

So for the past week Ive been staying in some seriously ruff spots. Ive been getting into towns that NEVER see any tourists. All the hotels are made for truckers who only need a place to lay there head for the night. The hotels can be dark and dingy with my faviorte friends...the cockroaches! BIG BAD BOYS too! Finally I decided to take a short day, 90k´s, a head to the beach at Puerto Arista.

Finally...chilling by the ocean. If you get a chance pick up Open Veins of Latin America, its a historical look at the economics of Latin America starting when Colombus first came. Interesting read and perfect for the beach.
I can be such a dork...

I met this guy, Martin, from Alaska at a taco stand here in Puerto Arista. He was the first english speaking person I say in at least a week. We passed stories back and forth about travelling. He splits his time between Alaska and travelling. Hes been to something like 80 countries, not bad, he also looks like a 25 year old surfer from LA but hes like 50. Wild guy! Anyway...he was really interested in one thing about the trip. He wanted to know what I though about on the ride. He said he couldnt evenimagine what he would think about. That got me thinking the next day on the ride to Niltepec....what do I think about? I realized that Ive been doing a lot of signing. My voice is horrible but thats perfectly fine because there is NO ONE close enough to hear! Mostly... I think about what its going to be like on the last day. I wonder what the air will smell like near the Golden Gate Bridge. I wonder about my friends and family. I think about every turn and every road on that last ride from Pacifica to the bridge. I can imagine it perfectly. Thats what Ive been thinking about lately.

Perfect Sunset in Arista.

Not bad!
Crossing from Chipas to Oxaca did one thing for me. It me want to go faster. I feel like Im making good time but I want to be there already! hahaah! One day at a time! Oxaca is dry and hot! The morning rides in Oxaca have been the best. Ive been getting out early and the sunrise have really made for quite the how along the 200. The rolling mountains in the distance turn all sorts of colors from purple to orange to red.

So windy!

Some bizzare works of art!

So...this story must be told. In short I crashed the bike and fell down a cliff! No worries all is ok.

This was on the ride from Nilitepec to Salina Cruz. The day before was a 155 kilometer day and I think I was still a bit tired. The day was super hot and dry. I just came out of a small town and was following this narrow two lane road where the road started to become elevated because of an upcoming bridge. Anyway...I bug or somehting hit my sunglasses and it was annoying me so bad! I took off my shades, blew the bug off but couldnt get the glassses back on. I lost concentration and slowly started to drift to the right. The next thing I knew I was in a bit of shock because I realized I wasnt on the road and falling about 6 feet down the side of the road. I slid the back to the right and my bags poped off. I stopped in a pile of trash that had been recently burnt on this cliff. Luckily I was fine...but the bike got a bit messed up. When the bag flew off it broke a plastic piece that holds in a spring fr the front break. so front brak is rubbing the rim. I brush off the black dirt and realize I have some wounds down my left leg. I get back to the road and tell myself one thing because Im a bit shaken up. ¨GET BACK ON THE BIKE RIGHT NOW!¨ No sense in tinkin about it. Eventually I cleaned myself up and found a solution for the bike. Overall it was nothing much but I was a bit shaken up.

After the fall it was time to get cheery with a corona and some darn good shrimp! I LOVE MEXICAN FOOD!


Long and dry days!

Getting closer to Escondido!

The day getting to Huatulco was long and hard. I was on the saddle for about 11 hours all together. I hit some serious hills. It wasnt like the mountains of Costa Rica but it was a lot of 3 kilometers up 3 down or 6 up and 3 down with 5 up and 8 down. It was beautiful but sooooo tiring! I must have hit hills like this for about 40 kilometers this day! It was nice to get to the beach but I didnt have any time to enjoy. Oh well!

A cool church in Huatulco´s main plaza.

My hotel at Escondido!

I was SOOOO pumpoed to hit escondido. Puerto Escondido is a smallish fishing village with a famous surh scene. I havent seen any people to talk to other than one or two in DAYS! When I saw Escondido on my last hill I lifted myself out of the saddle and just started to screem while pumping my fist into the air.

It was time to celebrate!

Some seriously big waves in Escondido.
Watch out for that undertow!

Time to chill. Im going to take 1 (not 2 like I orginally planned) day off and then back on the road.
I met some super cool girls from London on their vacation. We shared some stories, a few beers and Oxaca´s tequilla of choice. Time to chill! Hola Jodie and Kate...hope all is well! I also ran into my buddy Collin. I wish I had his picture but I forgot my camera that night. I met Collin in Tonka beach in El Salvador. Hes a cool surfer guy from Canada and he was on a few month vacation before going back to school. So check this out...Im walking down the street in Antigua, Guatemala and Collin comes out of this random bar. We catch up and hang out a bit, it was cool seeing a familiar face. On top of that I was riding my bike through Escondido when I saw this goofy kid with a hawaiian shirt and a wild looking sombrero...guess what it was Collin. Not bad...El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico.

Peace, Power and Pedal



coyote said...

love you dude! Hardcore doesnt even come close to doing you justice. I would even be willing to go as far as saying that you could even out bike chuck norris!

Anonymous said...

hey! Is wonderfull your traveling near the pacific beaches but... let me told you that Juchitan isn`t in Chiapas Is in Oaxaca... ok! well there is missing some other places that you could vistit magic and beutiful, like Boca del Cielo, Bahias Marias, Playa del sol, The Mangrooves, Iglesia Vieja here you can find Mayan ruins in Tonala, Chiapas... just if you want to come again...

well see u! greetings...