Before leaving Florida, Doc and Karen, who we had met earlier in the year at a Horizons Unlimited event in Virginia, invited us to a gathering of riders in northern Florida called the Poverty International riders. This was a fun event where we had the opportunity to meet and hangout with some interesting riders. While there we talked with a few guys that were headed to Mexico around the same time as we were going to be there so we all said we would look for each other while on the road.
We created a Facebook group so we could keep track of each other and while we in Aguascalientes a couple of them wondered where we were going to be over New Years. On the recommendation of some other riders, we had booked a few nights in Lake Chapala at the Hotel Perico, a great little, well-run hotel above the town of Chapala. As fate would have it, the great hosts of the hotel moved a couple people around to make room for almost all of us. Some of us paired up in double rooms and 9 of us shared cooking responsibilities, food and drink, and wrenching skills to turn this New Year into a very memorable one shared with friends. Thanks to Dick “Doc” McCormick and Karen Hudgins, Dave Hand, Jeff Shafer and his Dad, John Shafer, the Aussies Alan “Curt” Curtis and Lynette Williams for such a great few days.
New Year’s Eve we all prepared and cooked a feast on an open grill that had been setup for us by the people who run the hotel with a table high above and overlooking the lake. We ate steaks, drank Tequila and sang the night away and into the near year, me providing the backup music on my Uke, and finishing watching the ball drop in New York City on TV. On News Years day, we all rode down to the lakeside village of Chapala to wander around watching the families enjoying the festivities and promise of 2017. Riding up on the boardwalk amid stares, smiles and thumb-ups, we lined up the bikes for several photos, then quickly rode back off the boardwalk before the local Policia showed up.
A couple days later our group of friends scattered. We took off with our Aussie friends and headed first to Tequila, the home of Jose Cuervo, to check out the town and, of course, sample some Tequila. Tequila is a town in the central western state of Jalisco. The red volcanic oil in the region is well suited for growing the blue agave. Tequila, by Mexican law, can only be produced in this region of Mexico and has been produced in this region since the 16th century.
After drinking our share of Tequila, we turned our handlebars toward the Reserva Mariposa Monarca. Every autumn millions of Monarch Butterflies from the Great Lakes region of the US and Canada flock to these forested Mexican highlands, some 4500kms away, for their winter hibernation. In the warm spring temperatures of March, they mate, and the on the vernal equinox, the pregnant females fly to the southeastern US to lay their eggs. The young monarchs emerge from their cocoons in late May to finish the return journey the Great Lakes. Fascinating, if you ask me! Our hotel for the night was gated with rooms across from one another, and the little restaurant down the street, with an exposed, bare light bulb hanging from the ceiling had excellent meals and cervaza for us all. In the chilly but sunny morning, we walked back to the little restaurant for breakfast before the owner of the hotel drove us up into the mountains to the butterfly reserve. We rode horseback near the top of the mountain at 3700mts, where we walked the final bit to the reserve. The butterflies were in enormous clumps of moving orange and black. Very beautiful!
The next day sucked. On our trip with Curt and Lynette into Mexico City, population 23 million, about the same as Australia, we got separated and lost. We decided to exit the city. We kept being turned away from the road we wanted get out of town on by road attendants. Finally, after the fourth time trying a different road each time, we were told that motorbikes weren’t allowed on that road. It was almost dark by now and out of desperation we headed back toward a city we had passed earlier in the day that had hotels, 30kms away. It was now cold and dark and we were on a toll road and the three hotels we stopped at, same response, NO dogs. Tense was a mild description of our moods about now as we made a wrong turn and ended up on the toll road headed back to Mexico City. Just before the toll booth, I stopped and, in poor Spanglish, tried to explain to the poor girl that I wanted to go back the other way. I was NOT going on that road again and I was not going to pay a toll, and shut off the bike at the gate. Finally, she got the point and had me BACK UP, with a trailer, about 50mts out of the gate, while they stopped traffic behind me. Proceeding through the barriers and back the other way was good until we ended up on a toll road to the airport in a different city. We were low on fuel by this time. In the distance, we saw a Pemex sign and took an exit to get us back to the fuel station. Trying to head back the other way we drove near a Love Hotel, the kind with a garage, room service, fancy beds and sex toys for rent. Melanie got off the bike to see if we could stay there and I had already decided we weren’t going another meter, even if I had to pitch our tent in the parking lot. They said we could stay, I think Melanie hugged him at this point, so we got to our “love room”, ordered room service and, went to sleep. Ha-ha, but not too funny as it was happening.
In the morning, we headed south toward Oaxaca and then on to the beach at Puerto Angel and Puerto Zipolite, recommended to us by a Dutch traveler, Raul Breemers. It was a great, clothing optional, place to relax and Curt and Lynette joined us, followed by a couple other Aussies on an extended trip thought Central and North America, Don Lamb and Julia Day. We all shared some laughs, drinks, meals and sunsets at a wonderful location. The beach was wide with a severe beach break but perfect for incredible sunsets. The days all went too quickly, again, as we said our goodbyes and headed toward Guatemala. We will be seeing them all again in Flagstaff at the Overland Expo West 2017, in mid-May.