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

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