Tuesday, February 15, 2011

What 2 Canadian Gringo's learned in Mexico

View out our window on the way home

Ok there was no kidnapping, raping, shooting, bribing or beheading….as a matter of fact is was very civilized….That's the media for you, got the facts wrong again!

One of the things I was personally concerned about before heading down to Mexico was safety….I hear the news so I went onto the Canadian immigration and travel site to see what they  said about the dangers.... they were cautious but nothing like the media and their anti Mexico frenzy…..I have to thank one co-worker who actually took the time out of their busy day to let me know how safe it actually is in Mexico, and how much his friends (Canadians) enjoy working and living in Guadalaraja…after so many people telling us how bad it's going to be and how dangerous they heard it was. 

Just for the record…there was not a single second on this trip that I felt afraid for my personal safety…not while riding a motorcycle through a busy City centre, not while walking around the many Towns....Not while being swarmed by children and the locals at the top of a plateau parking area for the hike up to see the butterflies….and not after having a fantastic dinner and a great bottle of wine and walking in the dark back to our hotel!  I'm not saying there is no issue down here…and if you're looking for trouble then you will probably find it….but for the rest of us normal folks…..Mexico is a wonderful place for a vacation....End of storey…No more safety talk.

My next concern was: Will I hold up the group with my riding ability?
That an easy answer.....No I did not hold up the group, and neither did anyone else…we were all very compatible, even with the definite difference in rider ability.  

Ray, our guide, gave us a "this is what you can expect from today" talk every morning at breakfast, and with a few of those meetings involving a group decision as to what type of road to take…do we want to spend a bit more time in Town x or do we want to ride a 2 hour detour of tight twists? We all got the ride we came here for!

Next was the question of if we would all get along together for the 8 days of riding ahead of us……Can you imagine spending 8 days with someone you hate....Hell I can do that at work.....again there was no problem with group dynamics, This was a great group (Tim, Ron and Aron...man you guys are the best).  I think as riders we have a great guarantee going into this adventure..... we are all motorcyclists with a common interest in bikes.  Aron, Tim, Ron and Mike and I got along so well that we have traded e-mails and are planning our next trip together back in Mexico!

We learned a lot about the Mexican people as well....they are very friendly, willing to help you out, vibrant and full of life.  
The sounds, smells, and sights were wonderful.  the Mexicans are a loud people where music is concerned…it was blaring out of every house window and car, and in areas without power the people played guitar or sang...wow loved it! 

The car horn is used for everything from beep beep I'm passing, beep beep I'm behind you to Hi there I love your bike….Thankfully it was always quiet at dark and never loud too early in the morning.

Most of the smells in Mexico that we experienced were wonderful, like the smell of chicken and beef cooking over a wood bbq, or home made enchiladas being formed and pressed in front of us then heated up on a grill, or the amazing smell of vegetation and flowering plants.  Occasionally our noses were assaulted with the smell of renderings being cooked down at meat markets….this was a weird smell because at first it smelt amazing like bacon cooking until your nose detects the secondary bad smell. 

Lastly the sights….we saw everything from dry desert (with cactus and other prickly items) to palm trees and lush vegetation.  Mexico is a country of colour, left behind in North America is walnut coloured wood, builders beige paint and people wearing black.  Colour was everywhere in Mexico, from the tablecloths and napkins at restaurants and hotels, in women's and children's clothes and in the buildings themselves where a building would be painted half orange and half blue with a decorative stripe separating the two.  Colour was in the sidewalks as each house is responsible for the sidewalk in front of their place, decorative stone work including tiles would be worked into the sidewalk.

We learned to carry toilet paper and Peso’s in a pocket of our riding gear as toilet paper was lacking in a few washrooms and some required a fee to use.  We did stop in a lot of Pemex gas stations….the only station in the Country for gas once or twice a day and washrooms were clean, usually free and they even carried knock off Hagen Das ice cream bars.

We were never hungry on this trip….the food was cheap, delicious and plentiful.  We ate Cactus, drank rice milk (very sweet) and found out that the salsa can be really mild to killer hot…as can the peppers…..Oh yeah….the jalapeño is about a 2 on and scale of 5 peppers so only try a small sample until you determine the peppers strength… or wait for someone else to try it first…

And finally we learned about the roads, driving on those roads, and the drivers themselves.

We learned a lot about driving…like if you don't want to take the full driving test or are not able to perform a certain task such as parallel parking…you can simply pay the tester an additional fee and get your license…..or if you are approaching a stop sign 'Alto'… the people around you are not necessarily going to stop….this applies to red lights on occasion as well.

Signals do not mean what the do back in Canada….a left signal usually means it's ok for you to pass me, the road ahead is clear, and not I'm turning left.  Four way flashers could signal a slow moving vehicle or a problem up ahead.  Cars flashed their lights at us on the motorcycles all the time (they do not have daytime running lights on any vehicles)…..  I guess they were telling us our lights wee on, or they were just excited to see 7 beautiful BMW’s in a row.

Now even with that disregard for traffic signs, the Mexican drivers were much more cautious than any driver back home…they all look out for each other and actually let each other in when someone is trying to move over.  Wow nice!  We did not hear and shouting or horns sounding in anger…can you imagine…

As for the roads themselves, yes there are potholes and Topes (which are randomly placed speed bumps, usually heading into a reduced speed area such as a Town) the size of both varies enormously, but in general the roads a great, well marked and smooth.

Considering in general most Mexicans have a lot less than North Americans they are a lot happier with the little hay do have.  Maybe we can do a bit of learning from them….Less is more??

Here I am on the plane blogging!

1 comment:

  1. Well writen...
    My wife and I are taking "Mountains and Beaches" tour in February 2017. Looking forward to it.