Sunday, 28 September 2008

entering phase 3

Guatemala city was hard to leave. Not because i had grown emotionaly attached to the city., but because it was physically hard to leave. A massive city. The roads are in easy block formations on the inside, but as the city has grown outwards, different formations have evolved around it, making it confusing to the innocent. Also they had decided to throw sporadic street parties, which looked fun, with kids laughing and families smiling, but i wanted out quick again. I am developing a phobia to these magnifcant cities. The roads being closed all over, had actually speeded up the traffic. people wanted to get their destinations quicker and madder than usual, im sure. Being interupted out of their usual ways of going...... I was definatly feeling vulnerable. witnessing to tragaties the day before coming into the city had left me a bit soft. A kind of shock was hanging around. The city doesnt care. It seemed to take moons to get back into the greenhills, moisture and mist , so familiar in central america. A complete contrast to the great city. 150 miles north easterly on caraterra CA9 to stay in the border town chuquimula. it didnt take long to feel myself again and shake off the shock. riding through the scenery, new faces smiling, car horns sounding with thumbs up and wonder, always fills out a dented spirit with quick ease. rolling into chuquimula my steering went stiff and didnt flow from side to side. "oh me gawd, is this a blown head baring ?". as it happens a macdonalds turns up and after a big mac meal had sucked me in and thoughts of what now, i found the radiator cover had somehow bent out, sticking out forwards catching the high front mudguard. nothing a few cable ties couldnt sort out. with relief i rolled into chuquimula to more street festivities. people all over the roads and pavements. cars at a standstill. multicoloured , small doors to the pavement terraced buildings. simple wooden window shutters all open. i cant help being nosy. Im lost riding around the town for an hour. forgetting i need a room. loving the atmosphere of this colourful town. A kind man finds me, in typical gutemala style and leads me to a hotel. no vancancies. so i find one i had just seen. Hotel posada don adan. a room, a shower, air con, and a locked gate to stash the bike behind. all for 5 pounds equivilant. If you are ever heading across that border at el florido - copan ruinas, you must stay at the place. near the main plaza. ask someone. the town is perfect as the sun goes down behind the local hills.

sitting here now in panama after a few more border crossings, i have almost got used to them. now its getting comical. the same process, but all unique. guat to honduras was easy, no need for help. a stamp for me and the bike, to leave then the same to enter. immagracion then aduana , customs..... honduras was a sinuous perfection of no pot holes roads. through the mountains. all seems reserved though. gone have the car horns and thumbs up. just inquisitive eyes. alls calm. into nicaragua, where the horns and thumbs are back. people bending over backwards to help out even when ya dont need any help. ride past lake managua "de donde va" everyone shouts at me and i shout something back in my shattered mockney spanish. we all smile and laugh. another kind chap finds me lost and leads me out of managua onto the CA1. I get lost again. i find 3 people with a mini bike. i stay with them an hour. they are facinated and facinating. San marcos is their town. more beautiful peeling paintwork in pastal multi colours. Next stop a costa rica beach. most speak english. it easier explaining why im there and what im doing. a man places a link on his global web site to the fxp. Costa rica is very much the paradise you see in films. bizare sounds through the night. heavy rains for an hour. sunsets amazing.mind you there is always a limit to a mans listening to reggae. So then. im in panama. just met TJ and his wife precila. they live here and like what i am doing. their daughter works with autistic kids. we shall contact each other. i need a new back tyre. this ones finally left after 10500 miles. a boat or plane to colombia also. im not sure of the best option yet. next stop south america.
volcan, nicaragua
nicaraguan mates
the beach costa rica

Sunday, 21 September 2008

border crossings - a joy to the insane !

The above photo is of a small bay at bahias de huatulco, mexico. It is a bay surrounded in history and folklore. In 1587 the english explorer, adventurer, pirate, whatever you want to call him, sailed into this bay, to raid , plunder and generaly cause as much pain to the local spanish settlers as possible. There was a cross built on the beach, which is surrounded in its own mystical history as apparently an apostle of jesus arrived with timber on his shoulders , from the sea. this was 2000 years before mr cavendish audatiously arrived, sword in hand. The apostle, said be saint thomas apostle erected the huge cross on his own and deemed it very holy. Mr cavendish then arrives in 1587 with his small ship and merry english men, plunders the town and trys his hardest to destroy the catholic symbol on the beach, him being of newly found protestant faith. Axes and swords were used to destroy the cross, that didnt do the job. He tied a rope from the cross to his ship, that didnt work. after all that effort he tried to burn the timber to ashes. No joy there either. Apparently the Oaxaca catherdral, some miles north of the bay has a chair made from that very undestroyed timber, still sitting there, rairly noticed by worshipers and tourists alike. This is a beautiful part of the mexican pacific coastline. Another place i felt like putting my feet up at. A posh resort for the money merchants. I didnt stay for to long. Off along the coast line to salina cruz for the night . A large shipping city, industrial smoke, constant clatter of iron, dust dancing in the air, and some incredible views of the surrounding bays from the hill sides. I managed to sample some pasta there, which i savoured. As the border was nearing the traffic became less dense. Fewer trucks rumbling past inches away, tugging at the stickers on my panniers. the hills to the north became jagged green mountains. the wind became relentless and hard. a cross wind that had me leaning into it riding at 45 degrees. More military check points appeared. Each one asking me poilitly if i was carrying guns. Looking into my panniers and wondering why im out there. All soldiers interested in what fragile x syndrome is. All of them taking my flyers and taking time to read them. walking away with a sticker also. The rains came again in the afternoon. flooded towns and skinny soaked dogs sat by the road, uncaring. I pulled into a gas stop in the rain to meet 3 riders. the first since canada. all mexicans from the town of tapachula, close to the border. I rode with them, which was a bit of luck due to the lack of visibility in the misty rain. they had bright hazard lights which i just followed. After chats on the syndrome and why im there we grasped hands with that bonding rock stlye hand shake and they splashed away into my history. I had a few hours daylight left so i though i would get as close to the border as possible and kip the night. The borders have many people just hanging around . not chatting just waiting. they all waved to me. i waved back only to see them all come running over to me, pushing each other aside and barking aggresive spanish at each other. these people i found out to be "tramistadors" helpers to naive people wanting to cross the border. they can either cut crossing time down or i spose run off with all your papers. I managed to keep them at bay and find a room for the night. the tramistadors were also staying there. Next day, off the border early. 8pm. stamped my passport out for me then i looked for the stamping out for the bike office. nowhere to be seen. After stressful conversations with more helpers, it turns out i had to ride 30 miles back to the nearest city to find the aduana office to get my bike exit stamp. soooooo 2 hours later im back nearing the border, racing ahead of the legions pf tramistadors chasing me on smaller bikes, likely for me. i had the edge ! a 20mph edge !! passed the mexican exit again, over the no mans land bridge and into guatemala territory. The immagracion office is right there. the first place to go. a man comes upto me all offical like and asks for my passport, i hand it to him he scarpers ! i drop the bike on its right side again and chase him. hes just around the corner in a line. the linbe i should be in with my own passport. he ignores my pleas of "give me back my passport". im charged 1 USA dollar to enter guatamala at this window. Thats it its to late im a victim of the tramistador, after all the previous nights avoiding and that morings rracing away from them. i ask him how much this cost me. he ignores me. then another bloke appears, hes there to keep my attention off the helper, who by now has all my neccessary papers. the bike registration, international drivers licence etc. All in all it was a very quick service, using these bods. they ripped me off with the price of entry, by $40. but i was out o fthere and into guatemala in an hour. I wished i had done it all myself, finding th eright buildings and offices, but alas. i have learned a few lessons. Honduras border tomorrow, so lets see me get strong and stay calm. Guatemala. the continuation of the mexican green mountains. the roads have deteriarated and got much much faster. there are less dead animals by the road side. i think the skill it takes to dodge pottholes the size of cows has helped keep the animal population of guatemala alive. Its a short ride to guatemala city. a notorious city. which lives upto its reputation, believe me. Night fell , i found a hotel in a safe part of town ,they say. It has been safe. all the guatemalans i have met so far, on chocolate stops on route and here in the city have been very friendly and inquisitive. My front caliper fell off , coincidently outside a moto repair shop. the chap comes out no words and just fixes it for me. i gave him money for his wonderfulness. Opened the curtains this morning to see the city quiet. all still asleeep . the horizon holding 3 volcanos. all breathing a gentle stream of thin smoke heading in the same direction. they to are still asleep. I found the Aisfa building in guatemala city. easier on a sunday morning. It looks like the company there is not called Aon. They are called AISFA. they are listed in the aon directory as an aon office. No one was in, but i took some pics of the building.
mexcian pacific outside salina cruz
guatemala city on a sunday morning
the aisfa building - a sister company to aon - guatemala city
as above

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

photos realating to below post

Ivonne, Francis, Isobel, me and Alfredo at lunch in the village of Suchitlan
Tortillas, tacos, pig skin cooked in vinegar, beer with tobasco and great conversation, with independence celebrations as a back drop
Volcan de Colimas - well the tip anyway. imagine that clear horizon. no other peak near except a small sister peak nearby.
el pacifico

New friends. a better understanding of mexico and a radio interview

Solo once more. Petes gone north and im heading south still. nothing could stop me now. We rode well together. Never hard compromising, always swapping the lead easily, spending the evenings in honest chats and loads of laughter. Battling our way through the language barrier (pete doing much better than i). So after hugs and well wishes we split directions out of the town of Tepic. I head for Guadalajara and another Aon office. The sky is white with cloud and im hoping pete takes the raining season back north with him. my hopes seem true to Guadalajara. Half a days ride under a dry sky. The rain is predictable. the mornings are generaly dry but overcast. the late afternoon tends to get wet into the evening. Guadalajara welcomes me with the fast paced manic overwhelming driving i have come to love. I decide, head for the heart and see what happens. 5 hours later im lost in an overcrowded stand still traffic jam, city wide. I have spent the last few hours locating avenida mariano otero, the road the office is off, but there is no col.rinconada del bosque road leading off it anywhere. i ask numerous people " donde este dirreccion" while showing the address on paper, some understand and send me east , some understand and send me west. I know im braking the road laws coz of hoots and shouts from pedestrians, car drivers and the police . The sun is falling, the haze is getting yellow and full of atmospheric glare and i have a long way top go after Guadalajara, so after more broken laws i fly off, out of the city in an unknown direction. That was to much, i was going nowhere. No Aon today. the street system was impossible. the traffic was beyond the amount that makes things hard and im now an outlaw. Luckily im heading in the right direction. Colima is the town i want to get to before night falls and the donkeys come out and sleep in the road standing up, generaly around blind corners. I make Colima at dusk. 50 miles out of town the warm rain strikes, cooling me down no end, both physically and mentally. I need cash , so the first bank i see is the scotiabank. one i havent used before. the cashpoint says , NO! i try again. NO ! im fuming again. i leave to find a couple next to my bike. i assume they are riders on long travels, stopped for the night in this peaceful town. As it turns out Alfredo and Isobel are local. Alfredo has intentions of scarpering off on his 250 honda. So he and Isobel, his daughter, invite me to their family restaurant up the street for a coffee and a chat. i ride off to find a successful cash machine and return. We sit there at the table for 6 hours. i drink some mexican beer. we chat about mexico and motorcycles, while the rest of the family joins us. Ivonne and Gaia lucia, the youngest of Alfredo and Ivonnes 2. Lucky again for me they all speak great inteligent english. I learn about how tequila gets from the plant to the throat. i try 2 local brews, both go down easy and make the brain cells smile. How the local indians march into the desert to find Poyote to find wisdom and manhood. What mexican politics has been like since independence and a revolution. It just so happens that weekend is aniversary time of both the revolution and independence. Alfredo invites me to stay at his apartment , no charge. i stay for 2 nights. On the next day im introduced to Isobels friend, Francis, weho just so happens to manage the family radio station in the neighbouring port of manzanillo. Wonderful for the Fragile X Pedition cause, because he offers me an interview live on air for the next day. We all drive to the local volvano, Volcan de Colima, in franciss cars. A friend to greet every morning for all the locals. This beast of a cone sits alone on a flat horizon, standing over 4000 metres tall. the last eruption was 5 years ago. i missed it riding into Colima coz of clouds. The clouds are still there. we drive to the feet of the cone. a strange atmosphere lerks there. green all around, dry rivers where lava and land have spilt down the hill side over the years. its quiet. there are villages near by, where they have a traffic light system regarding the volcano. green is good, go about your daily business, orange means keep an eye on th emountain, red means get out quick ! shes gonna blow ! I only managed to see the cone from the balcony at Alfredo place early in the morning. incredible sight.. After the drive we have lunch in an old indian village named Suchitlan, where the local language isnt spanish, but Nahuatl, unforgotten Aztec. We eat tortillas, with goat meat in a thin sauce, birria barcacoa. drink chocalate drinks mixed with water. a tradition in mexico because chocolate is older than milk here, so in the old days water was used. I learn more about mexican tradition and feel alot closer to the country than before. i was just skimming the edge. I know now the mexican people are strong, resiliant, refined in their pleasures and always willing to talk openly and welcome strangers into their homes. It was hard leaving A lfredo and his wonderful family, and i thank them with all my heart. i have an interview to do on live radio. Thanks very much to francis. This is my first major break through as far as i know regarding the spread of awareness for fragile x syndrome. I arrive in manzanillo 2 hours late, but it doesnt matter. Im greeted by the freindly receptionist and another gentleman, who i forget the name of, please forgive me. Roberto my translator arrives and we immediatly hit the airwaves, via the DJ. he asks me questions about myself, the trip , my sister, my niece Sian and the syndrome. Roberto brilliantly translates. I use the leaflets that Maggie sent me to make life easier for them all to understand. it works. airplay 10 minutes, reaching a wide mexican base of people ! im chuffed to bits and am told it all went very well...Thanks all at K-lieT Radio. 93.7 FM...

Time to get my skates on again. its a shame coz now i have had contact and been eduacated about mexico i would love to ride the whole country, but that would take 3 months. i have to get going . i need to be in panama waiting for the boat to cartagena by end of september. next time !!Out of Manzanillo is the coast road running parrell with the Pacific to more or less the Guatemala frontier. The rains are here again for the next few hours till i hit the rural parts of the coast. i pass places called La Ticla, Manzanillere andbarra de nexpa. All amazing unspoiled surf playas. A few spars buildings made from coconut tree leaves dried and places on timber beams for roofing. Afew Surfers relax and greet me with peace signs and smiles. All so relaxing i could stay for a year. the surf keeps rolling in gently crashing on the sand. Night is coming fast again and im inbewteen villages. a lesson i have learned is to stop at the first available motel before at dusk. Night riding is full of suprises. 25mph for hours to the next motel. donkeys as i mentioned earlier, cattle, large lizards and very fast lane hogging trucks appear out of the darkness to test ya reactions. Anyway, i have just left Acapulco. a city splattered over numerous cliff faces. face paced, packed out and loud. potholes on all roads. a safe motel for me last night that ya pay by the hour for. people, moving around cagy all night. The sun is out and i know there is more to write but i cant, gotta get me skates on again ! The gautemala border in 2 days ! a new country ! full of a suffering history of repression. Mayan ruins and jungles ! hopefully will post from there !

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Pete´s thoughts from Mexico.

That is the sunset from outside the Internet office tonight. We spent the day buying a new front tire for Simon and getting it mounted. We were able to fine teh tire aftergoing back to the Suzuki shop and being sent to SoloMoto, where they had a rather good selection of knobbies but not so much I the dual sport variety. We sid find a nlup that will make him a few more miles quite possibly therest of the way. The hard part was mounting it. Much like when I changed mine at home we needed to pinch atube befre we got it done right. After not being able to get any air init with the foot pump, we wondered down to the tire shopp, just 2 blocks away to find out it would not hold air. They we ind enough to have use retun after 4 to have it done properly. So just rememer that from 2 to 4 in most mexican towns thewre is not much you can have done and if you are not in the toolies have the professionals do it. We did meet a group af realy nice people and two of the fellow spoke or should I say tried to speak to use for a hour about our bikes and our ride. Very nice. I just wih I could remember there names.

Here is a distant view of what we have seen in the past few days. Here we are looking at it from afar, but let me tell you we have ridden through alot of it . The paper today talked about a state of disaster that has been declared due to the worst rain since 1979. ¿ho would have thought it would be raining in Mexico and Central America in hurricaine season? Has made it interesting though.
The other news that may be a suprise or,maybe not I am heading back north in teh morning and will be leaving Simon to travel alone again. It has been a great almost two weeks but I have realize this is much bigger than I have expected and am going to go back home. I have realized this last week that I have not prepared as I should have and am going to head back to the states. I feel as if I am leaving Simon short, but he is much stronger than any of you may have ever thought. He is determined to finish this ride and I don´t want to slow him down. So tomorrow we will pack up possible go seee teh coast at San Blas tgeather and part ways. Si sout and me to the north. I will continue to spread teh word and offer my support, just not in peron. So Simon and the rest of you. YOU HVE NOT HEARD THE LAST FROM ME. Onward Frigile X-Pedition. I am sorry for the spelling, those of you who know will unedstand. The spell check just would not work. Pete

Friday, 12 September 2008

MEXICO - culture shocks & the warm solace of rain

I was contemplating whether to buy fluffy bunny , or just plain leathery slippers last week in Phoenix, Arizona. With Debbies wonderful, kind hospitality , the bako boily heat & just plain getting way to relaxed in her lovely home i was ready to stick it out there for 10 years, without a care. Lucky for Debbie, pete and i managed to get our wheels rolling again , with the excitement that the mexican border was just 200 miles away. A 3 hourish ride through the desert, 100f heat again and through, terracotta Tuscon. Arizona suprised me more than most places so far. I was expecting pure desert all the way. Arrid heat haze vistas. Spiders the size of babies and the sound of moracas in the night time grass. It was all that and more. Sodona, i think the town was. A red forest in a hidden valley, not far off the main highway, but hidden enough to seem like another planet. Lush foothills, tall trees, only highered by vertical red cascades, such as monument valley. the buildings all terreacotta, matt finished grand designes, only for those bohemian hearts, that flock there in search of apparent mystical qualities. We just rode through. me in amazment, pete used to it, but still head moving from side to side as he rode. A man with a stick , poking a curled up rattle snake as we ride passed. i only hope the beast had died curled up and wasnt faking it.... ................ We hit the mexico border at Nogales. A crossing i and pete had been recommended. Thanks you lot from pilipsburg ! you was right. We first went straight across, through a green light , where the states meet mexico. A guard stops me, i say im heading for argentina. he looked the bike up and down then into my bloodshot sweat ridden eyes and just smiled. PAHHHHH ! I THOUGHT ! WHAT DO YOU KNOW !... that wasnt it. 21 kilos away is the immigracion and banjercito. You are aloud into mexico a certain distance without sorting papers out. we want to go further so we find the immigracion building get us as people into the country , via a stroppy officer, in his 50s who hated me as soon as i said "hola". i tried at least to say hello in espanol and not english. he wouldnt talk to me, only pete. he handed pete the papers to give to me to sign instead of just handing them to me. I was shamed at the time. He couldnt smile if he tried . his wringles set in stone, unable to crack even the slightest. He is the only one so far after 6 days in mexico that was rude. Anyway enough of that. after we are in, the bikes have to get legally tempory importation papers. The banjercito office right next to the immigracion office. A delightful young lady sorts me out in english. making me shamed again, but relieved. Pete just deals with it brilliantly in spanish. An hour, thats all it took. Nerves calmed we off into MEXICOOOOOO ! at last ! this is where i always knew the adventure would deepen. 200miles south down the autopista, a toll road. a straight line. No desert on each side. well it is a desert but its mostly green. hardy shrubs and little trees. growling at the bako sun. surviving always. A town comes and goes , with its rammed out packed streets of multi couloured paint pealing tiendas, taco stalls, shoeless kids smiling and waving. whistling adults, all smiling and waving or just staring with asking eye, asking what we are doing type eyes not begging asking eyes. Road kill is rife. A rigor mortised rottweiller face up by the curb. another dog then another. The dogs lie in wait in the long grass along the autopista ready to jump out in suicide. The smells move from what i think is lavender to the smell of dead animals. perfumes unrecognised by me fill the gaps. Always something to smell. There are mountains to the east. covered in forest. no snow caps yet. We reach hermisillo late afternoon. The traffic is fast and carefree. we get into the flow. you must. surfing a large speeding tube with a thousand other surfers. carefull , gracefull and fast, all over every lane , back and forth. we see the hostel we read in the sjoerd bakker guide. a photocpoy guide from a top man on the horizons unlimited site. The pima inn. $25 for the 2 of us. 6 poundsish each. reminds me of a chenobul documentary i saw once... next day we turn off the red roads and onto the sketchy thin red roads on the map. the map hasnt a clue. all wrong, leading us gawd knows where. small towns with 15 houses and 2 tiendas. very friendly people who help me with my awful spanish. a few attempts at miming and bad words and i get the chocolate bar i need. adios and we are off again following that near usless map. we need gas. a town has turned up on a hill side. small square buildings all pealing white, irraticaly splattered over the hills. the hills all green. the road has become a potholed maze. all fun to ride as they curl relentlessly around the hills and trees. its hot but there is a calming cooling breeze when riding, not like arizona where even the riding face breeze is very very hot. The gas comes from a ladies shed in her front yard . an excited 10 year old helps here get the light purple gas from a drum, into a jug, then the jug pours into an old litre bottle of lemonade. we pour the ex-lemonade into my tank . 4 times me then 4 times pete. we off again after smiles , laughter and missing them alreadys. the map lies again. the road we want isnt even here where it says it should be. the surface is good tarmac now, then bad again, then the road has disapeared over the hill side. must have been a big storm that night ! lucky we are riding slow enough not to start the new sport of base jumping bikers with no parachutes. After back and forth we find the road we want. nowhere near where the map says it is. we end up in the rural village of rosario for the night. The real mexico i see. im scared. my confidence has gone. the rains hammering it down , the sky is that heart braking black. we eat tacos de carne after the friendly server only chats to pete. im lost. i feel like my bag of a thousand marbles has split and im chasing all of them everywhere at the same time, whilst the town is laughing me ! that night whilst the rain bombs the corrigated irons roofs & the wind shakes the windows i try and understand what i am doing here, out of my depth. north america was easy. this is latino america now. a totaly different place. no one understands my terrible accented spanish. i could die here by the road and just get walked over, then nibbled to nothing by stray cats and dogs. What nonsense !!!!!! in the morning after eventually falling asleep, i have find my marbles and we are off. im grinning from there to there. im loving the rich stench. the thick mist. the green elephant type grass and the nutcase truck driver trying to pass me on the curves. oops is that a snake i just squashed, hope not. culture shock ! NUTS TO THAT ! i can handle this ! we are back on the autopista, but have realised there is generaly a road running parrallel to th etoll road. a more scenic ruta, which is faster than the real rural roads where miles are hard to do and we need to pick up the pace a bit, still having the curvascious riding smiles. We bang out the miles today. a huge storm hits the pacific coast and we are riding with it. the rain means sorrow on a bike for hours, but this time the rain is warm. its hard and warm. after 2 hours and 100 miles we stop , laughing with the locals at our warm wetness. im so far away from the shock of the night before. the main road life is as interesting now as the rural life of the mexicans. the way they rely on the road. each town is beautiful. never the same even though it has all the same as the last one. more friendly people everywhere. the rain has flooded everywhere. we stop for the night in culiacan. the town dips are 3 foot deep in water. next day off to mazatlan. more floods. a famous port, used by the spainsh in the golden days, raided by the english and the french. rusted batteries still surving. A now resort. mexican holiday makers and a great rock band in an open bar. the guitarist cracks me up with his massive grimace and eccentic brilliant playing. next day mazatlan to tepic in the terrential again. in and out of it. seems like its linked to the sierra madres to the east. A new tyre today. a front tyre. the last one an avon distanzia has done 7000 miles. mainly pavement. im happy with that. the rear is still going strong. i have done over 7000 miles now and i recon the rear will live till panama. guadalajara today and the first latin aon office. full of colonial beauty i hear. I will make the border with guatemala this coming monday when the mexican insurance runs out. now the shock has gone. im just pure excited. well maybe some fear still lingering, but not getting the better of me... Mexico is wonderful. cheaper all round than the states. full of friendly people, great munch and forever interesting and beautiful at every head move. even the so called notorious police have been great, trying to wheely past me grinning.
oops the roads gone . lucky no peg scratching coming into that bend
rural sonora - northern mexico
front yard gasolina - helpful and fun locals

Friday, 5 September 2008

photos relating to the below post

says it all
along the old route. Its all but disapeared now they say. with many tears from the harley boys
Aon Phoenix
The view from Aons floor in the Viad tower. The southern mountains as a backdrop. Phoenix has the best road system i have ever ridden in. Its hard to get lost, aye pete ?
The Viad tower
Moument valley. strange and wonderful. where the mind wonders & wanders
modern gypsies - arizona
the grand canyon from the south rim

dirt devil pete. valley of the gods
valley of the gods

pete and the sky at mexican hat
riding into the monument valley

ride with us through the last leg of monument valley.

Out of Colorado, Pete's land. Through, up and over the southernish neck of the rocky mountains. The mountains that have kept me company all the way from the Yukon Territory, Canada.... Colorado is up there with Alaska, for shire beauty and hugeness. Up there in sky, where just stepping down a few steps from a house is a chore for the lungs. We rode south leaving the mountains and altitude. entering the plains and the vertical red rock mountains that glow at sunset. One night in Norwood, (a tad lovelyer than norwood se25). stayed with john and berry at the back narrows inn. an inn built in the wild days of 1880. The wood structure still the same as it was then. A huge beautifully engraved, ornate stove greets you on entry, built in those golden days. We had nowhere to stay before then. all was closed or no vacancy. A small town , one street big. John says to me, "speak english and we'll see what we can" , i knew we'd be mates after that. Their guest hadn't shown up for a banquet, so lucky pete and i scoffed the lot. steaks, trout seasoned perfectly, shrimp kebabs, melon and strong subtle tasting beer. A night of laughs and stories then south once more the next day. Colorado turned into Utah. the mountains became bigger red and bare of pine and spruce. Utah became desert , which meant Arizona couldn't be far off. Through the Valley of the gods, an aptly named desert dirt road through huge monoliths, acting like bringers of doom or gods caring for the world around them or just strangely shaped mountains, like in the shape of hands and upside down boots, that water and wind have designed over millions of years. The best dirt road so far. skinny and hilly. loose gravel, sliding the bikes from one road shoulder to the next. steep ups and downs close together, that any experienced motocross rider would be air born out of. corners that slide the rear then the front end, scaring the rider into doing what he shouldn't. Pete realised there is a problem with the front end on his bike, named number 5 , by the way.. mines named number 8. He was thinking it might be the back load of luggage that's making the front end light and insecure. A problem he overcame and road the road flying up dirt and dust in his wake. off and out of the valley of the gods into monument valley , via the weirder that all the rest Mexican hat, into monument valley. no descriptions needed for this place. just think back on those 50s and 60s even earlier westerns we all grew up with. A night in the Indian reservation town of kayente, no beer aloud, prices of accommodation and food all raised and a few nice meetings with inquicitive people. The ride the next day was the ride taking us into phoenix, arizona, where Debbie, petes sister, kindly invited us both to stay at her house. It was a bigger than usual ride, 400 miles needed instead of the 300 regular days. I have done a couple of big for miles days this trip and it sucks the life out of me leaving a wild talking , endorphined person. superb, but not all the time. We made it. 3 hours in total darkness. me with no back light, where pete came to the rescue, riding behind me with his back light, so as speeding rascals in trucks and cars didnt squash me without noticing. he was there like a rock, reliable and consistent. top rider ! it was a spell binding riding in the dark following the centre lines in the dark, where my speedo decided to stop also. a fleshy computer game. 12 hours in the seat, flat bums and big smiles sweating like never before in the 9pm 90f heat of phoenix. Debbies house is beautiful. close to all that we need , like the bike shops, newspaper offices and the next AON office to visit. We visited Aon Phoenix. An office 30 floors i recon high. Aon have 20 people working there. we were welcomed by Karen Mildenhall after meeting the friendly , helpfull receptionist, ( i wish i remembered her name). Karen spoke with us, showed us the magnificent views from their office windows and wished us good fortune in our ride. A nother great stop in the Aon chain. All are interested after we invade their day with strange requests. Visited the Arizona republic newspaper, where they couldnt see us coz of deadlines. another email there then. Pete has sorted out his front end problems. he has helped me with my brake problems in the 106f heat. and we are almost ready to hit the Mexican border. Thats a place that we both have premature worries about. The reputation, language barrier, all that comes with mexico. A place we are looking forward to, the real challenge starts here i think. Mind you its not as dark thoughts provoking than bombs going off the other day in Cali, Colombia. HEHEHEHE ! Lets hope if there are any new born revolutions, we are on a cozy balcony looking down with cameras in hand rather than at a road side cafe beers in hand. Its all gotten better, if that was possible, now pete is along side. he has a perfect knack of making situations easier. and has the best ideas !

Thursday, 4 September 2008

A couple of pictures

" Can you belive what we have gotten into." Simon ponder where we go from here.
Grand Canyon
Valley of the God's

Thanks for the BBQ and backyard camping boys.