Saturday, February 7, 2009

Day 12 & 13

The ride to Zihuatanejo and 400 long hard klm to Cuyuatlan

Yesterday was almost surreal. We were in such a lovely spot and Playa Azul was starting to grow on us. The day at the beach was great and the room and hotel were very nice. But, it wasn’t meant to be.

We both had a very poor night because of all the things running through our minds. Rosi was terribly sad and incredibly lonely because she couldn’t be with her family when she so desperately needed to be. She felt the frustration of being literally thousands of kilometres from home and there was nothing she could do.

I felt the weight of not being able to just pick up a phone and make things right. I so very much wanted to be able to give her everything she needed but no magic wand was going to make the phones work or the airport closer. But, with LOT’s of help from Brad we were able to make the necessary arrangements and all there was left to do on Thursday night was wait.

Neither of us got more than 30 minutes sleep at a time and we were up before the alarm had a chance to ring at 5:15. We debated leaving on Thursday but we needed to stay put while we made flight arrangements etc but then, on Friday we had to hustle in order to make it to Zihuatanejo for Rosi’s flight. We were up packed and out the door by 6:00. The problem of course, is in this part of Mexico it doesn’t become daylight until 7:00. And the iron clad rule of don’t drive at night means just as much at dawn as it does in the middle of the night.

It made for a VERY interesting ride. Interesting in a holy crap, this is REALLY scary kind of way. It was PITCH black as we took the back road to Lazaras Cardenus and from there we dodged the morning buses full of commuters, still in the dark, until we finally hooked back up with Hwy 200 South heading to Zihuatanejo. All the time watching the seconds count down as we desperately tried to make our way south in time to find our hotel so Rosi could shower and reshuffle/repack all her gear for the flight. We made it but nerves were more than a little frayed and it was significantly less than the Norman Rockwell farewell at the airport moment one would hope for under the circumstances.

All ended well though. Rosi cleared security and disappeared from view at 11:00 to catch her 12:00 flight. I talked to her at Dads around 8:00 and she and all her luggage made it just fine. As I type this she’s on the second leg of her journey and she should arrive into Kelowna 5:30 local time. I can only hope and pray that it’s on time.

Now it gets weird. My entries are no longer “we“, it’s now “I“ Not something either of us wanted and definitely not something I like.

I‘m a big believer in “whatever floats your boat..” It’s a big wonderful world and it takes all kinds to make it go around but I’m afraid I just don’t see the appeal to solo travel. Maybe it speaks more to me. Am I so shallow I can’t be by myself? I don’t know the answer but I do know that I’m a social animal. After 25 + years of being joined at the hip I desperately missed Rosi only ten minutes into her being gone. I’m such a suck! And, as the day wore on, rather than exploring the various sights and sounds that Zihuatanejo had to offer I found that all the bars, restaurants and people having fun just drove home the point that I was alone.

I did meet two very cool guys at the bar around the corner from the Hotel. Ramon, from Mexico and Rod, an ex-pat American, both time-share salesman. We had a great conversation about bikes (what else?)and the economy and it was good to connect with someone.

I’m now sitting in the sidewalk café/restaurant of the Hotel Fenix in the very quaint town of Cuyuatlan. It was long hot hard 400 klm/eight hour day to get here but now that I’m here it’s lovely. It’s like a smaller, slightly more laid back version of Barra. There’s a small brown German Shepherd that may belong here or may be a stray, but he’s asleep at my feet, next to the cat on the chair beside me. I've already chatted up a Mexican father/son team about my bike, their bikes and the relative merits of a Suzuki vs a BMW. I SO like it here!

Rosi - you would love it. It’s definitely a “stay awhile” kind of place. The beach runs a very close second to Playa Azul but the town is cute, comfortable and welcoming. Very un-Playa Azul like.

Cat - if you’re reading this I owe you an apology. When you talked about this place before, I confused it with Ciuatlan. A dusty little commerce centre south of Barra - completely different than here.

I left Zihuat at 8:00 this morning and, despite having walked all over the day before, and having a good idea of the lay of the land, I still succumbed to a little of can’t get out of town, syndrome. Not much, but a little. Two wrong turns and u-turns later though I was winging my way northward.

And I mean winging. On my own I’m at least 250 pounds lighter. This ISN’T however, an indication of Rosi’s weight! She’s SIGNIFICANTLY less. But, you take her, all her riding gear, including boots and helmet, all her luggage, plus all the extra stuff I now know I don’t need that I sent home with her, and the bike is WAY lighter. Before, we were a strategic bomber, winging our way south in a sedate flight pattern while we carried a full load to be delivered with precision at each subsequent target. Now, I’m Red Flight Leader, in a sleek fighter jet, speeding north with flair and élan.’

Hey, it’s my fantasy. If you don’t like the analogy, write your own blog.

There is a definite difference though. I had to back off on the pre-load because I was so high I couldn’t steady the bike well enough. I could have left it but this is a good compromise and I now clear 99% of the Topes, as opposed to 90% before.

About an hour into the ride I had a bit of a moment. My speedo has three odometer settings. The first is just the regular odometer (which is really racking up the klm’s) The other two settings are for recording trip mileage. I use one to record each day and the other I’ve left to accumulate the trip so I can keep track of when the chain needs to be cleaned and lubed. This morning, as I was cycling between the three it hit me; I’m 3,000 kilometres into southern Mexico, alone and a LONG way from home. Just when Rosi needs me the absolute most I’m so very far away and I can’t do anything about it. Then, it hit me. Up until now, each early morning ride, the sun’s been right in our eyes. Especially the further south we came because we were heading East as much as South. It makes the first couple of hours tough and is just one more of the “adventures” in adventure travel. This morning though, I was heading west for the first time. The rising sun was over my shoulder. Instead of holding me back it was a familiar friend with a gentle hand pushing me onward. It whispered; go on, she’s waiting and she needs you at home; go on.

Right about then I must have gotten a bug or sand under my face shield because my eyes started to water. Apparently, tears, suntan lotion and blind corners do NOT mix.

I’m on my way, Sweetie, I’m on my way.

You know how sometimes you’ll drive a route the first time and think it’s long or hard but the next time it seems so much easier? Not this time. The first 50 or so klm north of Zihuat are fine but the next 200 are brutal. After enough sweeping vista’s it’s just another blind corner and just another sheer drop-off to the rocks below. And so on, ad infinitum….without end. No shoulder, no view points or look outs, not even the hint of a passing lane and a humidex to put Hades to shame.

Could I make good time? Maybe, but noooooo, this time I simply HAD to try the helmet cam and video camera I’ve drug all the way from home. It would have been SO cool! By mounting a lipstick cam on my helmet I could have recorded, not just the road, but all the views; you’d see what I see; the incredible coastline, the thousands of emerald green acres planted in banana tree‘s and the young soldiers at the check point that waived me through with high-fives and a thumbs up! But….I tested the set up when I bought the camera, I tested it before I came down, I even tested it in my room last night. But apparently, I didn’t test the freak’n 12V/110 inverter I bought from Canadian Tire!

The remote camera itself needs an independent AC power source so I bought an inverter to plug into the 12V outlet I have on the bike. No such luck. It doesn’t work! And I know it’s not the power outlet because I tested it with my 12V pump and it works fine. Tabernac!


I jury-rigged a setup by bungee cording my camera to the tank bag but it’s not the same. OK, but a fairly narrow field of view.

The other thing I remembered through this exercise is why I didn’t tape much last year, despite all the good intentions. It’s a HUGE PIA. Between messing around with all the gear and wires to set up and then break down the helmet cam - and then mess around with the bungee’s etc - plus stops along the way to check things out - I lost at least an hour and a half. I was determined though, and I think I got some great shots.

I did my best to take breaks to drink lots of water but it’s a difficult stretch to do this (right Sweetie?) so by 2:00 I HAD to stop for a while. I pulled into a hotel restaurant in San Juan and had a great Ceviche cocktail overlooking the ocean. The service was glacial but the view was to die for. I seriously considered calling it a day right then and there but I pushed on.

I hit the road at 3:00 and was SO looking forward to ending the nightmare that the ride had become. By now even my Monkey Butt had Monkey Butt! Hot Hot Hot and a never ending string of tight switchbacks and elevation changes. Followed by the even more sweltering, Colima coastal lowlands. Great for banana plantations but definitely where you want to be pool-side before 3:00!

Oh, how my tune has changed!

And then, as I approached Tecoman I heard it…..the name that needs no introduction….the name that is itself the siren song for Mexican riders….. can you hear it?

Oh, sweet mother of all things good! Oh, glorious Autopista! A black ribbon of loveliness that enfolds you in her arms and carries you onward; faster, safer, and ever closer to home.

I’m on my way Sweetie, I’m on my way…..


Vikki and Wayne; I didn’t get a reply so I’m not sure if you got my e-mail. I’d love to see a familiar face and I’d really like to stop in to see you both. Are you going to be around? . Please send me an e-mail with the name of you complex again and the best way to get there. I’ll check my e-mail one more time tonight.

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