The Mexican flipper…

December 31, 2010

… or the Yucatan Pancake.  Mexico’s side boob?  We spent a week riding across the flat, flat, FLAT side tail of the Mexican landscape, really rounding out our Mexico riding experience.  We traversed a network of small back roads, some dirt, as we passed through small towns mostly unvisited by outsiders.  We also found ourselves on some great roads neither our map or Google maps would allude to.  With a little local information, nothing makes us smile more than getting to explore roads whose existence go unrecorded.

With a greatly anticipated and highly looked-forward to visit from my mom approaching, we cruised along heading for the Carribean and the adventures that await us in Cuba and beyond.

Quintessential bike touring scene...

...through flat fields and pasture land...

The Yucatan and its subsequent marshes are known as a home for an abundance of varietal birds, making a pair of binoculars and a good bird book something of longing...

Tried as I may, I could not pull this curtain any higher to reveal the face of the Divine Baby Jesus. My imagination has run wild ever since. Awkward fro? Double chin? This cart was part of a carnival set up to celebrate Guadalupe, something Mexico does for the whole month of December...

Ants. Our nemesis, especially the biting ones...

How those ants see us...

Beautiful, but difficult to ride in, gypsum sand...

The way Mexico does decorative mailboxes...

...and the way I do holiday cheer...

As we eat lunch, consisting of our staple fresh fruit and tortillas, the usual curious crowd gathers. As most kids do, they fool around with each other trying to get our attention before a bold young girl plants the inviting "Donde viene?" These times are then filled with wide eyes and many giggles, hands down my favorite part of this traveling...

Rogue cotton plants alongside the road...

As dusk settles in, there is never any worry about traveling these roads well into the night. Aside for the occasional fellow biker, traffic is unseen...

Camping in the Yucatan is ample and sweet. Every kilometer of road offers numerous trails to turn down, mostly used for beekeeping and logging...

 

These one room, thatched roof huts were sharing the living space with the usual concrete structures found in villages...

 

These kids rode along side us for a short time, moving at a very fast pace for their set up. I told them they were very impressive and they were noticeably very proud...

 

Behold the almighty maize seen everywhere, even in the architecture...

 

 

 

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Palenque…

December 31, 2010

More ruins?  Yes.  More ruins.  The Yucatan Peninsula is dotted with literally hundreds of ancient Mayan settlements, and we choose to visit some of the more well-known and sprawling.  This brings us to Palenque.  Outside the actual site, the nearby forest land is quite settled with cabanas and campgrounds full of fire spinners and Rainbow Gatherers giving the area a very hippy vibe.  It was not uncommon to hear trance music blasting around corners.

We set up our hammocks in a marshy field and planned our visit for the following day.  After a quick ride up to the entrance we negotiate leaving our bikes with the men at the gate (for a small fee) and take off to explore some of the most well-cared for ruins in the Yucatan.

 

Some very enthusiastic ducks we met along the way. They are but 3 weeks old...

Palenque spreads out over 15 square kilometers, but only this main section is excavated and cleared for viewing. The map helps to show just how much is going on around the center of the site...

Templo de la Calavera (Temple of the Skull) greets you as you enter the grounds. It's got a very cute but ominous bunny feel, as you can see...

At one time, the buildings were all painted very bright hues of blue and red...

From the rubble in the background you can see there is always some uncovering and discovery still in the process...

The layout as seen from the Templo de las Inscriptiones, which is noted as being perhaps the most celebrated burial monument in the Americas. It's also the tallest of the Palenque structures...

Eye-pleasing piles of rocks, really....

There are several waterfalls cascading from the flow of the Arroyo Otolum river...

... and plenty of dense forest to walk through. Though certainly not as old as the ruins, I find these tall works of nature much more interesting and appealing...

Bonampak…

December 29, 2010

About 15 kilometers off the Carretera Fronteriza, hidden in the dense Lacanja jungle, sit the ruins of Bonampak.  As one of the more recently discovered ruins (1946) they are a pleasant place to visit and proved to be much more fun to explore than some of their more crowded counterparts.  Archeologists are still in the process of uncovering other sites in the surrounding area.  Bonampak is most well-known for its brilliantly colorful murals, the very things that enticed us to pay it a visit one afternoon.

 

The road into Bonampak. The last 10 kilometers or so are impeccably packed dirt and currently in the preparation process to become paved. There is a fee to travel the road, 20 pesos for bikes...

Huevos de Toro. (Insert your chuckles here) They are not edible in any form...

Bonampak was never a major city and spent most of the Classical period under the rule of nearby Yaxchilan...

The area of jungle has been cleared to make the ruins navigable, but the borders of tangled green are ever-prominent and encroaching...

Within the Templo de las Pinturas...

Bonampak means "painted walls" in Yucatecan Maya. During some of its early uncovering, visitors splashed kerosene on the walls in hopes of bringing out the colors more...

 

Most images depict tumultuous battles and the sacrificing of prisoners...

 

The frescoes of Bonampak are arguably the finest murals known to pre-Hispanic America...

One of the unpainted Edificios located on site...

 

 

Las Guacamayas…

December 27, 2010

Another stop along the border loop brings us to the ecological reserve of Las Guacamayas.  During the 1960’s a group of about 40 families relocated to the area after having been granted land by the government (a touchy subject with the indigenous locals).  They were also given pairs of mating Red Scarlet Macaws and have since been breeding and protecting the rare and beautiful birds.

 

Most of our extended loop was ridden on the Fronterra Corozal Highway, brushing the edges of Guatemala. Here we encountered more military check points than we have anywhere else in Mexico. The soldiers tried to be serious as they asked to open our bags, but you could tell they were just as curious as any other local. I'd often hit them up for drinking or cooking water if their camps had any to spare, which they were always happy to give...

Strong roots, looking very missile-like...

I think about writing odes to the jungle when we are exploring, I love them that much...

A bit of filtered light, while the branches shake from jumping howler monkeys, who were too quick for me to catch a good photo of. Instead I got this monkey to hold still for a bit...

The majestic Red Scarlet Macaw...

Unfortunately, despite several trips down to the river's edge and peering all over the surrounding land, the only ones we actually got to see were in these cages. Macaws will find their mates within the first 2 years and spend the rest of their bird lives being faithful to only them...

There is no organized camping at Las Guacamayas, which worked out great for us, and we were invited to camp in the big open soccer field, lending its hand to a spectacular open view of the sunset...

Then it was back on the road, heading towards Bonampak and the Yucatan. The locals around here have been successful in keeping the Pemex gas monopoly out, so the area sees a lot less traffic than it would normally. People who do venture into this area must purchase gasoline from the local tiendas for a very high price. Luckily, as cyclists, we can only be happy to the fact this keeps more motorists off these excellent roads..

 

Las Nubes…

December 27, 2010

Suckers for spectacular waterways, our first stop along the border is Las Nubes, an area of turquoise colored water pumping through the jungle.  having just experienced a heavier than normal rainy period, the water was certainly flowing, making swimming a more dangerous endeavor.  The area of Las Nubes  offers camping and cabanas and has a restaurant right on the river, though we opted to camp on our own outside of town.  There is a small day fee- $30M, or roughly $3 US, that goes towards maintaining the area.  During swimming season, this would be an ideal spot to barbecue with the family.

 

The landscape really begins to give us the jungles we will be exploring as we head down into Central America. Lots of green and lots of moisture...

Virtually pristine and unspoiled...

... except for areas like these. Much more than a case of bad aim, trash on the ground is as common as tortillas in Mexico...

The bold and beautiful Las Nubes...

...funneling into the jungle, swimmies not included...

With morning hours to spare, we hiked around on some nearby trails, getting lost within the big rooted trees and huge verdant leaves...

In order to reach Las Nubes, there is a 10 kilometer dirt road you must travel. Guide books will refer to it as "out of the way." We would call it "pretty much perfect."

Jungle camping...

...including fresh picked fruit in the morning. As usual, our only visitor was a local out hunting the evening before. He gave us a huge smile and wave, as is the Mexican way, and made sure we had enough to stay warm and dry...

Another day begins...

No good bike trip would be complete without the ever-present dirtstache...

...or an abundant supply of animal crackers. Cheap cycling fuel with a crunch and lots of storytelling possibilities...

Those pockets come in such handy...

Not out of the mountains yet, we enjoyed a few more climbs and windy descents...

 

Taking the long cut…

December 27, 2010

After San Cristobal, the next destination we plan to head for is Palenque.  Though these ancient ruins sit about 230 kilometers away, we decide to greatly lengthen that distance and opt for a big looping route down along the Guatemala border. Luckily those extra hundreds of kilometers we choose to add come included with beautiful big leaf jungles and pairing clear waterfalls, eerily croaking and roaring howler monkeys, a mix of dirt and winding paved roads and our choice of the many mayan ruins that lay hidden in the land.  After a few goodbyes in San Cristobal, we set off in a light mist heading south towards Comitan and beyond.

Always a refreshing thing to see after being bombarded so constantly with Coca Cola and other advertisements. This one simply requests that the evil government and its relevant employees stay out of the area. Chiapas Zapatista communities, alive and well...

We arrived in the small town of San Francisco a few hours ahead of a yearly bike race through the hills. We joined the town and waited in anticipation as the pro riders approached via the PanAmerican Highway...

 

And the winner is...

 

 

Piles and piles of school children unloaded from buses to watch the teams of riders come in. It was quick to figure out who were the local heroes of the day. The race was mixed with international participants as well, mostly from Europe...

 

What a way to start the day. I don't think I'll ever tire of waking up in new places, having found our campspot in the darkness the night before...

 

High desert. The landscape was rolling plains with crisp, clear skies as we ventured down to the Guatemala border. I entered into a Willie Nelson marathon as the cornfields blurred along the sides of my vision...

Mosquito territory. Preparing ourselves for the worst, we kept the extremities covered as much as possible, as well as a constant fire. And who doesn't love a good morning fire?...

 

 

 

 

Holiday wishes…

December 26, 2010

First off, I must say thanks for hanging in there!  It’s been a few since the last posting and I know that sometimes causes folks to worry.  I will remind you that we have been pretty diligent with our SPOT Messenger, allowing us to update our location to you on the daily via satellite.  If you are ever wondering about our whereabouts and there have been no new postings, just follow the link on the Spot page.

Happy holidays to everyone!  It’s never the easiest being away from family and friends around these times, but I will say that there are no complaints from this girl after spending the days swinging in my hammock and fishing in the Caribbean with Kurt.  We’ve also had the arrival of my mom to look forward to and we currently sit anxiously waiting to see if the blizzard on the east coast will release her and everyone else from its grasp.

Thank you to everyone who reads the blog on the regular and for all of your kind and encouraging comments.  I wish you all the best in the upcoming year and greatly look forward to sharing more of our journey with you.

And now, the postings!  I’ll fill you in with our past few weeks, including a big loop gracing the edges of Guatemala, colorful toucans and macaws, overly chatty howler monkeys and the venturing we did across the aptly named Yucatan Pancake.

Photo of the Week!…

December 8, 2010

I am happy to report that one of my photos have been chosen as the Adventure Cycling Association´s Photo of the Week.  It´s a picture I took of Kurt as we crossed over into Mexico on a muddy, monsoony day.  To view, visit the Adventure Cycling Association website and click on the Photo of the Week tab on the right.  Their website is great for checking in on all things bike tour related.  Or skip all that and click here to get to the photo directly.

Spot…

December 2, 2010

For those of you playing along at home, you will notice I added a new page titled “Spot.”

Thanks to Jeff at Papa Wheelies in Durango, CO,  we carry a Spot Satellite GPS Messenger with us.  It’s main purpose is to be used in case of emergency situations, but with this handy device we can also update you on our current location.   Click here to read more. Open the Spot page above to click on the link that connects to our page.  We will try our best to keep you updated with our progress along the way.

Spot Satellite GPS Messenger

Sweet, sweet riding…

December 1, 2010

While I was out having my moral cultural dilemma, Kurt ran into Tom in town.  A fellow mountain biker and San Cristobal resident, Tom offered to take us out on a ride the next day to see some of the trails and natural wonders outside the city.   The day was fantastic!  After a chest burning climb (at this point we were pounding up pavement at close to 2700 meters), we turned off into the woods and enjoyed a morning of riding though cloud forests and swoopy, pine carpeted single track.  It was wonderland-like to say the least.

We entered a forest where the sunlight filters through trees similar to madrones. There was a canopy of moss and orchid stalks to marvel at...

New life sprouting everywhere...

...and every shade of green you could imagine...

The ride was a mix of dirt roads and single track, absorbing breathtaking views the entire time...

A few kilometers out we visited El Arcotete, a giant arch in a cliff side, with a subsequent cave to explore as well. Not a bad thing to pair with some awesome mountain biking...

There's nothing that gets Kurt grinning ear to ear like some epic single track...

The moral dilemma…

December 1, 2010

10 kilometers outside of San Cristobal sits a small but bustling village.  It perches in the Chiapan highlands and is nestled amongst plots of land used for growing the usual vegetable varietals.  This town is called San Juan Chamula and it is the epicenter of the indigenous Chamulan people (Tzotzil), most well-known for their unique religious practices.  The Tzotzil have held strong to their rejection of Catholicism, exiling those in the community who chose to convert.

I had read and heard that within the church there is commonly sacrificial chicken killings, chanting and practicing medicine men and women and thousands of candles and worshippers praying to St John the Baptist, whom they revere to be higher than Christ.

Naturally, after hearing such things, I wanted to see them with my own eyes.  I wanted to feel what it was  like to be in a place with that kind of energy hanging in the air.

Herein lies the dilemma.  On any given day, we are riding through similar towns, passing through their markets, chatting with the locals, getting laughed at by the kids, etc.  Chamula, as I would come to find out, was quite similar to most towns we have ridden through.  However, what sets it apart and, quite blatantly, puts it in the guidebooks are these ritualistic practices that occur within their religion and church.  For $20M the townsfolk will let you enter the church and witness the goings on.  All photography is strictly forbidden.

Kurt and I had discussed going several times.  Our debate was whether or not it was okay to intrude on people in this way.  To walk into their religious space like that, to peer at them and see with our own eyes the things we had been described.  Granted they are charging an entrance fee with the mutual understanding of you probing into their realm.  The age-old question of “is nothing sacred anymore?” seemingly rears the answer no.

I should mention we have a thing about being “tourists.”  I think a lot of people do.  The mention of the word and immediately the image pops into my head of a person with a camera around their neck and a fanny pack around their waist  But the reality of the matter is that we ARE tourists everyday.  One can argue that maybe the more appropriate term for us, given the circumstances, is travelers.  The fact we live on our bikes, day in and day out, we have come to interact with people differently then the folks arriving by a bus or out of a van for a few minutes.  Traveling on the bike at our pace makes us more accessible.  Maybe it makes us more real in a way, or perhaps it just heightens our alien status, but the bikes do give us a bit of a twist.  Still, there is no denying we are far from indigenous or local descent and have come to have a look-see.

We went back and forth a bit about it.  Kurt had made up his mind that he was not going to go.  He believed strongly that it was intruding on something, in addition to him lacking an interest in religious devoutness anyways.  Plus, there was a coffee museum to visit in the city.  I agreed that I couldn’t get past the intrusiveness of the matter and let it slip out of my mind for a bit as we walked up the steps of another church in town, taking in the view of the whole city.  But… I just couldn’t stop thinking about it.  What would it look like in there?  What are they doing?  Will it blow my mind?  Will it change me in any ways as a person?

With all traveling and experiencing and seeing, those are the questions that get answered along the way.  Traveling in itself is a way to rhetorically raise these questions on a daily basis.  Your path answers these.  There is a whole lot of randomness to our traveling, but in general we CHOOSE our path, one way or another, with these little decisions.

I chose to ride up to Chamula.  I justified it with the $20 entrance fee, the fact it was in a guide-book.  It didn’t feel right, but I had to give myself a reason.  I also figured it would be a nice ride up into the mountains and I’d get to see a whole ton of other things along the way.  Kurt and I parted ways, I went and consulted with Joaquin on some directions and headed up.  The ride was pleasant enough, pretty much straight up for those 10 k, and it turned my brain off completely from thinking about where I was going and what I was going to do upon getting there.

Once I got into town, I made my way through the streets lined with the usual woolen wares, embroidered clothes, blaring music stalls and taxi stands.  It was Monday, the middle of the day, and I was alone on an unladen bike, a nice way to arrive in a new town I thought.  Aside for some homes scattered in the hillsides and those tiny roadside shops, the church and its zocalo drew all the attention.  Naturally the road I was on ended there, and I hopped off my bike and began to walk through the market, where I felt comfortable zig zagging through the rows of fruits and vegetable and colorful clothes.  I kept my eye on the church the whole time.  There was a line of children and adults sitting outside, definitely not of the tourist kind, and a gruff looking man with his arms crossed near the door.  Nothing felt right about me going up to that door and going in.  There was no denying the feeling.  I realized at that point that I just couldn’t do it.  I couldn’t justify locking up my bike, buying a $20M ticket and walking through the door to stand in a place that I had no business being in.  For really all I was there to do, as pleasantly and unobtrusively as I could, was to gawk at what was inside.

I left the church grounds behind and began to walk my bike through the market again, back towards the street I had entered on.  A man stopped to chat with me about my bike, asking about the trip with the usual questions.  I immediately felt more comfortable with the whole situation.

I know these situations are going to arise over and over while traveling.  The whole point of traveling is to see and experience things different from what you know.  I descended the mountain feeling good about my decision and in the realization that these things will have to be taken on a case by case basis.  And in this particular case, I left the people of Chamula and their religious practices be.

 

I cruised down the mountain despite the ever-present rain storm over the city of San Cristobal...

...and took shelter under the awning of a coffee union as the rain poured down...

Gettin’ the hair did…

December 1, 2010

Peluquerías are common all over Mexico, especially in the cities.  Upon arrival you’ll get to peruse some charts that are very helpful in aiding with your style decision.

Keeping it fresh...

The flat flat flat top caught my attention...

And these two look uncannily like my two brothers, sporting some amazing beard work...

Prolonging pedal life…

December 1, 2010

Slowly but surely, there was a little click that sprang up in my right pedal as it went round and round.  Rather than replace them, which I’m sure Shimano would have wanted me to do,  Kurt showed me how to remove the bearings, clean them of the old grease and put some fresh grease in there.   The pedals are Shimano M324 half clipless/half platforms.  I love tedious projects, and as this one was quite fun and rewarding to do, I thought I’d share it with you…

 

After taking off the pedal cage, we removed the old bearings to find them covered in dirty grease and grit, the cause of a repetitive clacking while I pedaled...

They were polished clean again and kept a good watch on so they wouldn't roll away...

Kurt packed new grease into one side and I carefully pressed the clean bearings into place...

The same was done on the pedal spindle. As one of the bearing cups was too deep in the pedal to reach by fingers and arrange them properly in place...

...the trick was to put the bearings in the grease first, before slowly sliding the spindle in to the other pedal side and tightening it down down. No more clacking...

Street art…

December 1, 2010

Street art is common all over the world, whether it be a stencil on a wall, a full mural or an impromptu live performance.  San Cristobal had much of the same, with examples seen subtly on every single street I walked down.  I appreciate this very much.    Clearly showing the city’s political past and present, the art has a wonderful way of representing the general sentiments of the area.

Murals...

...and graffiti...

...stencils...

...and taggings...

...are all part of the routine of the street artist...

Some statements are bold...

...while others are mini message boards...

San Cristobal de las Casas proved to be everything and so much more than I had anticipated, launching it easily into one of my top 3 favorite places in Mexico thus far.  The energy and vibe of the city and its people, including the surrounding mountains and villages, did much to warm my heart, excite and inspire me over the week we decided to stay.

Though originally the state capital, the city has remained on the quainter side for many years.  The indigenous presence is still large.  During the colonization, the take over of the land left the people in slavery, sickened with diseases and unable to recuperate their incredible losses.   Over the course of history, many groups have fought for, and gained, the rights of the indigenous people back.  The most well-known, and still active, is that of the Zapatistas, an autonomous self governed group of Mexicans (both indigenous and non) who focus on land reform for the people, among other things.  Chiapas overall is well established with  Zapatista presence and as San Cristobal is the heart of the state, the leftist political energy can be felt all around.

We started with a settling into El Hostalito, where we were offered a night of free sleeping thanks to the incredible Joaquin and his Warmshower ways.  Originally from Spain, Joaquin did his own bike tour across the US and couldn’t get enough, so he continued down into Mexico and settled in San Cristobal.  He’s a fixed gear fanatic and has recently started a bike shop along with the hostal.  Along with his friend and business partner (and incredibly creative pants maker) Marie, they run a place that easily felt like home after only a few hours.  We unloaded our bags and explored the city and its awesome market of fresh produce, picking up supplies for our planned dinner feast.

The days flew by and were both super fun and very productive.  Marie let me use her sewing machine to remake a better fitting bug net for my hammock, getting it more ready for the approaching jungle country.  We shifted our stay over to our Turkish friend Cihan’s house, and together him and I visited the Traditional Mayan Medicine Museum and  the Amber Museum, while taking a massive walk around the streets of San Cristobal.  Kurt and I also got in some extra rides on unloaded bikes outside the city, which is always a huge highlight in a new place for us.

We’ve done quite a bit of research and route planning, and with our brains and imaginations spilling over with local advice and recommendations, we are both antsy and excited to get this next bit of travel under way.  I know for sure this is not the last time I will visit the city of San Cristobal.

 

The streets of San Cristobal, so colorful and festive...

One of the black fuzzy skirts so many of the ladies rock quite fabulously...

outside the bustling market we enjoyed scouring so much for fresh fruits, vegetables, cheese, etc. ...

The market and individual produce stands throughout the city all have their products arranged in a careful and aesthetically pleasing manner, which adds to the whole experience...

 

Inside Pura Bici...

Outside Pura Bici, the usual question/answer session...

Many of the soft drinks in Mexico are still sold in these continuously recycled thick glass bottles...

These little stoves are a must have for the cold winters spent in a concrete room. Recycled out of different sized tins, they serve as a portable heater and run off charcoal or wood...

Sunday afternoon strolling...

A work in progress...

The Cathedral, which has been restored many times over the years due to destructive earthquakes...

The Palacio Municipal, one of the buildings overtaken by the Zapatistas during their 1994 defiance of the signing of the NAFTA agreement...

As it has been brought to my attention that people really like seeing pictures of Kurt and I doing things together, here is one of us helping prepare a big feast on the day of Thanks. Kurt ended up not chopping off of my hand and the beets turned out... (Photo: Ginger Roberts)

...just delicious...

The view from the steps of Cerro de Guadalupe...

Heading up…

December 1, 2010

So this climb.  It starts in Tuxtla and heads up into the Chiapan highlands, destination San Cristobal de las Casas.  Tuxtla sits at a mere 530 meters, while San Cristobal is a much more oxygen gulping 2,160.  And when it was all said and done, it was within a beautiful pine forest that we found some cool air camping and looked at each other to exclaim, “Damn!  That was a great day of riding!”  We took the old route, rather than the newly blasted out autopista and every twist and turn seemed more rewarding than the last.  It was a well graded continuous climb for about 45 kilometers.  Along the way we traveled through many Tzotzil and Tzeltal villages, getting our first true glimpses of the ladies with their black fuzzy skirts and exquisitely hand embroidered shirts, dripping with color.  San Cristobal awaited us but 15 kilometers from our camp spot (where we had an amazing feast of pancakes with apricot jam!) and we rolled through the remainder of the climb in the early morning hours, arriving in the city’s center with a whole day ahead of us to explore.

 

Pleasant grade on a beautiful day...

...gave way to the valley below we had left behind...

The fresh air was welcomed whole heartedly after the weeks of coastal heat and humidity...

A mix of traditional Mayan designs with some modern twists, these fabrics more than caught my eye. I had to go inspect...

...and was rendered speechless with the minute details and the thought of time put into each piece...

As with most mountain ranges this high, the greenery found along the way...

...is the result of some heavy moisture hanging in the air way up there...

Along the way we were surprised to pass the town of Navenchauc, with many of its buildings and structures sitting in great amounts of water. We did a bit of uncovering and found out, very depressingly, that the runoffs for the town's high altitude lagoon are, and have been for 2 years, clogged with plastic bottles and waste from all the greenhouse pesticides they have been using. Flowers are a high commodity in the area, specifically marigolds, and the switch from growing maize in fields to these greenhouse endeavors has inadvertently caused the back up. With such high rainy seasons and lack of drainage, this is the unfortunate result. The option to pump the water out is also on hold as all the water pumps in the state are being used in other cities and towns. More than 100 homes are out of commission...

Turtle Camp…

December 1, 2010

There’s certainly something to be said about watching 1,000 plus baby sea turtles scramble their way towards the ocean each night.  Kurt and I had the pleasure of experiencing this two nights in a row while staying at Campamento Tortuguero in Puerta Arista, a place where volunteers help hatch and release Olive Ridley turtle eggs on a daily basis.  The incubation period for these type of turtles is 45 days.  It is estimated that 1 out of every 1,000 survives.

 

Every day over a thousand baby turtles hatch and are gathered up to be released later that evening...

Yes, that is a bucket just teeming with little baby sea turtles...

On your marks... get set.... go! Turtle races on the daily...

Off on their own to battle the odds...

Amazingly, the one turtle that does survive will return to the very beach it was hatched on to lay its own eggs...

The turtle camp has been in operation for over 20 years, saving 1,000+ turtles a day from poachers, 4-wheeled vehicles and the hungry bird...

The whole experience was quite awe-inspiring...

 

We split from our coastal jaunt and headed the little ways inland toward Santo Domingo Tehuantepec, where we hoped to get word of parts delivered to Oaxaca.  No luck, so we decided to extend our journey down the coast a bit more.  We still had hopes the parts might arrive any day (with our optimism combined, you should hear the stories we tell each other) and planned to stay in bus range of picking them up.  Puerta Arista was but a day’s ride away anyhow and we had been briefed with some incredibly amazing turtle videos taken by Wolf and Javier.

Puerta Aritsta turned out to be the kind of beach town one might dream about.  Currently in the off-season, the scene was mellow as could be.  The locals were more than friendly and treated us like they see us everyday, something we really appreciate as we very often get the traveling circus stare.  One man, upon witnessing us breaking out our stoves to cook with, came over first with the offer of salt or other spices from his home.  Then he came back with a bowl of what was a tangerine lime cross.  Eaten straight they proved to be a kick in the mouth, but good.  Squeezed into our beers, the taste was incredible.  Free beach front camping was easy to find after leaving the one lone strip of hotels and tiendas behind and we whiled the days away in the shade and swimming with every chance we could.  It was hot.  Sweaty drippy hot, even when not moving.  When we left, we waited until the sun went down to scoot back inland, enjoying the 40 or so kilometers in the moonshade.  So long pacific!  It will be a few months until we see it again, the next time being in Central America, perhaps Guatemala.

 

Sometimes I was lucky enough to leave my bike behind and act as cargo on the daily rides to town from our beach camp spot...

The location of Campamento Tortuguero, where we stayed for a few days releasing baby sea turtles into the ocean...

Keeping a keen eye as we head away from the coast. Unfortunately, I did not see any giant flourescent green iguanas on the way up...