A Quick Run to Merida

South out of Progresso I went to find some lunch in Merida. The traffic in the city is quite intense, and the roads are difficult to navigate. I rode through the city square mid day and hardly moved anywhere for 45 minutes. I didn’t take many photos because I was far too busy trying to orientate myself.

It is however a great city with an interesting history. There is a lot of colonial influence everywhere you look.

feels-european-here

And they have a massive cemetery on the east side of town.

the-cemetary-in-merida-is-enormous

I walked around the streets a while, explored the side roads on my bike, and got some grilled chicken at one of the 10,000 places serving it street side. It was a little too hectic to hang out though, so I headed a little further south to quieter scenery.

Setting up camp in the sticks, typical:

another-ghetto-camping-spot

swampy-corn-field

The only thing I had really wanted to see was the northern coast, and since I had done that, I meandered back across the Yucatan towards Chichen Itza. I had passed close by previously, but didn’t stop in. Time to check it out.

cool

cool-2

cool-3

ruins

touring-the-ruins

Ok, now what. Get some water and check the maps.

water-break

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The Northern Yucatan Peninsula

I used to follow the motorcycle travel blog of a fellow ADV Rider (stickfigure) who has done some great ride reports down through Central America. I had the opportunity to cross paths with him at a beach bar and exchange notes and beers. I wanted to ride up to the national park (Ria Lagartos) on the north coast of the Yucatan, and he had been through there. He confirmed which trails were worth the effort and I solidified my route.

Getting from the east coast of the Yucatan to the north coast without going to Cancun is a total PITA. There are only a few roads that go diagonally, one of them is blocked by security and wouldn’t let me through, and the other two are seemingly impossible to find. I’ve since found some back roads that circumvent the security stations outside Playa del Carmen, but they aren’t mapped. They look something like this:

jungle-exploring

On this occasion I succumbed to unfamiliarity and went north to Cancun….. ugh.

I hate the pavement routes, but before long I was in the coastal town of El Cuyo and ready to rip along the beach in search of flamingos!

the-xr-looking-boss

Just like Stickfigure promised, I found some of the most fun riding in months!

Long sandy stretches that hugged the beach.

grip-it-and-rip-it

And lots of entry points to hop onto the beach and let the gas drain.

getting-these-photos-timed-right-is-impossible

i-love-beach-cruising

Sometimes there are cemeteries in the strangest places. I always stop to have a look.

i-always-stop-to-view-the-cemeteries

The bird sanctuary is what I came to see, and the fantastic riding continued right through the middle of it. There are large bays of very shallow protected water where all the birds hang out. There are towers scattered around the park for bird watching, but they were all locked. I think you have to be a part of a tour group to get access to the towers. Like always, I take the self guided option.

cruising-along-the-bay

Flamingos in the distance!

i-finally-found-them

Found them. They just stand around a chill out. Way to be.

flamingoes

Did I mention how great the riding was out here?

through-the-mangroves

At one point I dumped the bike and the cheap Mexican hose connector snapped. Go figure. The second I bought it I knew it was crap.

broken-fuel-line

Thankfully I carry spare everything! I removed the T and fuel filter and ran some new hose. Much better.

broken-fuel-line-fixed

Some of the water in Rio Lagartos is bright pink. I’m told it is because of all the salt in the area, but that doesn’t sound quite right to me.

the-water-is-pink-for-some-reason

After I scared off all the birds I browsed around the town of Rio Lagartos and got a cheap hotel for the night. Beach front with wifi.

ocean-front-hotels

The town was quite slow, and once the sun went down there was no one around. So the next morning I packed up and kept moving.

The pavement out towards Progresso was surprisingly enjoyable.

looking-east

There are coconut farms everywhere in the Yucatan.

coconut-farm

And makeshift trawlers.

fishing-boat

Cheap ocean front fixer-upper properties can be found for dirt cheap all along the coast here. I stopped to peek at a few. They were all destroyed by a hurricane a few years back when the beach was washed away. There were some squatters living in this one.

old-ocean-front-building-for-sale

Progresso is a nice little town. It has a cute downtown area with nice cafes and people walking about, as well as a couple touristy bars along the water. An enormous pier jets way out into the ocean, I tried to ride out, but was denied access. I’m told the cruise ships occasionally pass through and tie up.

cute-fishing-towns-are-everywhere

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More Motor Stuff

I managed to collect all the parts I needed for the motor, then got to work.

There isn’t anything too surprising inside the motor, just a lot of carbon build up from 16 years of service. All the valves were leaking.

I removed all the carbon the old fashioned way, with a flat head screwdriver. Everything cleaned up quite nicely. The head, valves, and piston all looked great when I put them back together. I lapped the valves by hand with some valve paste, and put in new OEM rings. As far as I can tell this was the first time the motor has ever been opened up. Also ran some new oil lines because the originals got mangled in the accident. This bike has been through a lot, but at least now the motor is sound again. Still need to replace the front axle, do the fork seals, linkage bushings, and replace some electrics and bearings. Thankfully I have all those parts at hand. It’ll soon be ready for another decade!

The motor popped right away, but it took a few kicks to clear out all the assembly oil. Once it started in ran fantastic. I tore around town for a while and it didn’t even hiccup. The compression is VERY strong now and the motor has more pep – it’s very noticeable.

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Still Hanging Around

Greetings from southern Mexico!

I’ve been down here a while now and couldn’t be having a better time. I have no specific timeline for getting to Ushuia, I am in route and just enjoying life as it comes. I’ve been on the road since September and have nothing but time.

The bike is doing better. It’s in the process of being completely overhauled – motor, chassis, accessories, etc. I had about 40 different items shipped to WB-PDX who is going to condense them into one box and mail down to me. (Including an Acerbis 6 gallon tank that I was able to finally find!).

A small local scooter repair shop helped me get that stripped bolt out. I went back the other day with the piston and cylinder hoping they could measure them. The guys were practically rolling on the floor when I showed them the piston, they aren’t used to anything over 150cc’s around here. Of course no one has any decent tools, so I wasn’t able to get any help, but I eyeballed things as best as I can and ordered the required parts.

Not too shabby!

I’ve got a sweet workbench/kitchen in the little beach pad I’m squatting in.

The XR waits patiently…….

Carnival was tons of fun. They set up a fair in the streets with all sorts of carnival type games. And there are lots of dancing shows and parades as well.

The Kiteboarding World Cup Tour was just on the beach here. It was a blast to watch.

Otherwise I’m just taking in the sights, the food, and the bars. Back to pounding pavement shortly!

** Credit to Raechel for some of these photos (the good ones, mine suck). Visit again any time! **

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Typical Dinners

Last night I was sitting at a little restaurant having some tacos. A cute mexican girl sat at the table across from me and ordered food. We catch each others eyes. I say hello, she asks if I’m here with a friend. I say no. She motions that she might join me. I invite her over and she moves to my table. This should be fun, I love meeting new mexican girls. Things go south very quickly.

We do the standard greetings – who are you, where are you from, mucho gusto, etc. I’m having a beer, she only has food.

“I’d like a beer.”

Ok…..

Are you going to buy me a drink?

No.

Why not?

I just met you.

You should buy me a drink.

No thanks.

She looks dumbfounded and becomes agitated very quickly. I of course see what’s going on right away. She begins eating her tacos and is an absolute slob. Salsa and taco fillings are flying everywhere and her body motions are very erratic.

She says, “Do you not have any money?”

I have money.

You should buy me a beer. It’s nice for a guy to buy drinks for a girl.

I don’t want to.

The waiter is standing near by and can tell this isn’t going to go well for me. She is speaking extremely fast and is obviously not interested in becoming friends – my spanish is improving, but I was having a very difficult time understanding her. I had to have her repeat everything a couple times.

“Come to my house.”

No thanks.

She continued eating, very sloppily, reaching across the table for chips, being very graceless and rude. The waiter came over to check on things. She ordered a beer and told the waiter I was paying for it – but I understood – the waiter looked at me and I shook my head slightly, we were in silent agreement. I couldn’t help but laugh to myself.

He brought over a beer for her and she started drinking while cramming more chips into her face. It was a pity because she was actually quite cute, about my age, and if she was at all friendly or hospitable I would have offered a drink.

I said, “I’m only going to pay for my drink and food.”

She slams her hands down, “Eres codo!”

What’s codo? I don’t understand.

“You, you’re codo! Eres idioto!”

I still didn’t know what codo meant, but I got the message, hah. Her head began sulking as she realized she wasn’t getting a free meal out of me and she was going to have to pay for the beer she ordered.

“Where do you live, I want to come to your house.”

Normally I would ponder for a moment, but in this case the response was easy. “No!” as I shook my head laughing a bit. “I’m tired. I have to work in the morning.” etc.

She mutterer something under her breathe and began splashing her soup around with the spoon.

The table was a mess, she was steaming, I was ready to go. I mouthed for the waiter to bring my bill and motioned to my beer and plate. He asked if I wanted to move tables and stay for another beer – it was happy hour and the second beer would have been half off! I declined and handed him some money as she sulked.

“Well, have a good night. Bye!”

She didn’t lift her head or say a word. I got up and left. As I walked out I looked back at the waiter, we were both laughing.

—————-

Codo means cheap. Hah.

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