Archive for March 1st, 2015|Daily archive page

PEI to Panama

Saturday, and we’re in Mexico. Soon, Mexico will be in us.

We had a great ride today with minimal mishaps. But, before continuing, I have to say that for a number of reasons, this blog is going to be fragmented. The reasons? I haven’t got a clue how to construct a blog; where we’re riding has limited access to wifi; when I’m through with riding I’m too pooped to post; and the list goes on.

All that aside, so far it’s been a heck of a find-a-way. The drive to Texas was harsh, we drove through the worst weather almost every state on the Eastern seaboard has experienced in decades. We even had a snowplow in front of us as we drove through Dallas. But enough of that . . .

Before I forget, a big thanks to Dan Dickie, he helped us locate a place to leave the truck and also helped me repair my oil filler plug which had mysteriously become stripped. I met Dan a few years ago, he runs a great adventure motorcycle rent business out of Townsend,Tennessee and Big Bend, Texas. Should you need a thorn pulled out of your paw, some advice on where to ride or to buy into a great adventure, be sure to look him up:

After we rode some magnificent Texas landscape, we went through the Mexican border. Unfortunately, even after being well informed of my travel plans, CIBC Visa felt it would be helpful to suspend use of the card. This caused no end of trouble. To get a temporary permit to use your vehicle in Mexico, you have to pay a refundable holding fee. By suspending my card, CIBC Visa put me in a hell of a pickle! But again, of what interest could that be to anyone? That is, unless you use your own vehicle to travel to Mexico and depend on a Visa card!

But today (Friday, we think) the ride was unbelievable. We rode the Copper Canyon, which is in the heart of the Sierra Madre Occidental mountain range. It’s been said that Copper Canyon makes The Grand Canyon seem tiny. From what I saw today, this may not be an exaggeration. Riding this area was an experience I’ll never forget. The landscape was eye buldging. The road was the most fabulous (and dangerous) I have ever ridden. Pictures will never communicate the experience, but I’ll post a few anyway. The problem is, when the view was the most outstanding, I was concentrating on the ride (IE: too petrified to stop). The pictures here cannot capture the thousand foot rock formations, the thousand feet of drop offs on both sides of the road or the surreal landscapes. Most of the road is still under construction, so at this point there are very few cars. Once (If?) this road is complete, it will be one of the engineering wonders of the world.

It’s hard to wrap your head around the magnitude of the situation; really, it almost hurts the brain. Where the following picture was taken, to the upper right you can see part of the road. In the middle, you can see where the road meanders down to the river, on a wooden plank bridge, before heading up the mountain again. Actually, the road down to the river and up the other side of the mountain all the way to Batopila isn’t much more than a wide gravel path, much as the entire road used to be only four years ago. However, even on the paved section there is rarely a spot where rocks hadn’t tumbled on the road. They ranged in size from golf balls to soccer balls to boulders much larger than a car. Not hundreds, but tens of thousands of rocks and boulders littered the road. It’s almost as if the mountains are scolding the engineers for scarring their surface. Suffice it to say that to lose concentration here comes at a price.


So, here’s the scoop with Batopilas. We arrived here near sunset and found a hotel, no small feat given the town was having a power-outage. A gentlemen had to use lamp light to show us a room. We then cleaned up with a frigid shower. Well, it looked like a shower. Merlin said, “If it wasn’t for gravity you’d have to reach up and pull the water down.” Bikes were also secured in a safe little garden like compound, and even though power was down we took a flashlight and walked the streets in search for a place to eat. Yep, fools go where angels fear to tread.

As we walked along the pitch black streets a gang of young men loaded with artillery jumped out of their truck and charged into a little apartment. A man further down the street yelled at them and frantically pointed towards another apartment in a way that made it quite that clear that the gunmen may have entered into the wrong place. To be fair, we didn’t hear shooting or screams so as far as I know they were just delivering a pizza. I sort of loss my appetite and slunk back to the hotel but a hungry Merlin is a focused Merlin so he searched on until he found a spot.

All that drama aside, in the daylight this little town is quite beautiful. However, the gun weilding youth do put a risky spin on things; Mayberry it ain’t. Perhaps it’s a cultural trait or it’s because of the nature of the local enterprise, but people are not inclined to automatically smile or make eye contact. This is not to suggest people here are unfriendly. However, our habit of gratuitous pleasantries is absent. To be honest, I don’t know how to interpret it so I’ll have to leave it to more experienced travelers to put me in the know.

Interestingly, we were told by locals that it’s the various gangs that hold each other in check and it’s the local “business interests” that stabilizes most of the violence and petty crime. In this, the police appear to be only supporting actors. You’ll notice that the pictures don’t contain people; shooting My camera at gun toting youths would have been an easy target. But, so was I.

At this point I’d like to toss off a thanks to Alan Kohl who helped us secure Mexican insurance. First, he noticed that the Motorcycle registration issued by PEI Motor Bureau was wonky. Actually, it had three errors – how can that even happen? Had he not caught this, our ride through the borders would have been next to impossible. Secondly, Alan has deep rooted experience in this neck of the woods. He has extensively traveled this area nearly 30 years ago when there wasn’t any wifi, or even a telephone line, never mind pavement. It’s hard to imagine what an adventure that would be. So, if you’re reading this Alan, you’ve been a huge help!


Tomorrow we head out of town, backtracking through the mountains the same way we came in. Hopefully, things will go well. I’ll try to keep you posted.