Saturday´s weddings


Saturday, February 20, 2003 marked the 60th anniversary of the explosion of the volcano Paricutín. It seemed every town within 30 miles was celebrating the day with either outdoor fairs or weddings. We actually saw 3 weddings in three different towns.

Around 2:00 in the afternoon we where riding a very isolated road from Paricutín to Paracho, where the traffic was mostly cowboys, cows, pigs, roosters and dogs. We climbed into the town of San Felipe, a very poor looking town. Most of the house had walls made out of rough milled trees. The fences to keep in the livestock was falling down. Not a single structure had paint.

As we rode past a fence we heard the most wonderful music and thought it might be from a CD. We stopped to listen. It was live. We followed our ears to the origin and found ourselves in the mist of the most festive wedding. Everywhere we saw colored crepe papered bouquets of flowers. All the women had silk ribbons in their hair. Food flowed in abundance, and beer was everywhere. White balloons adorned the blue tarped canopy and the 15-piece Mexican brass band played the most wonderful music.

It was a joy to stop in and have a beer, experience this event and ride on. It left both of us in awe that such a seemingly poor village created one of the most spectacular celebrations of love and community.

We saw to more weddings that day before the sun set and we setup our tent behind a barn. What a great day!



We made it to the beautiful town of Pátzcuaro. This town is reknowned for its artisans. Every third block seems to have a church and a plaza, and vendors selling their handmade wares and home cooked dishes.

The draw to this town is the Pátzcuaro Lake and its many islands. We took a boat to the Island of Janitzio. The boat ride transported both the locals with their goods and a few tourists. From afar we saw a statue on the very top of the island rising 500 meters above the docks. It looked like the statue of liberty from a long distance, one arm pointing toward the sky, but it was the famous general Morelos. We climbed to the top of the island where the inside of the statue had murals depicting the Mexican War against the Spaniards. (1810 - 1814) The fight for independence is a very big event for the Mexican culture especially around this area.

The children of the island kept begging for one peso (about 10 cents US). It is common and a way of life for these people. I have a hard time understanding the need to send the children out to beg for their next meal.

Americans have a wonderful life.

On the way to Morelia


We made it to Morelia.

We have been taking the tranquilo roads, all the back roads, which has been wonderful because we meet great people in small villages. Matter of fact we were adopted last night and stayed in this small rural home belonging to wonderful strangers.

It was very late in the afternoon, getting toward dark, and we needed water so we asked a family in a tiny village if we could have some water. This was the home of Bardamiano and his wife Conselo. Well, they not only gave us water but they gave us their world. We had dinner of carnitas and tortillas, slept in their compound, and Conselo cooked a wonderful breakfast of eggs and chili. They had cows, pigs, chickens, and five dogs. It was a wonderful experience. They were very poor but they had electricity, hot water for a shower which they turned on for us and hearts full of gold. Just incredible. This was the kind of experience I had hoped would happen we we planned this trip and it became a reality.

Tomorrow we have to go back onto a real highway, and the name of the area we'll go through has us scared: Mil Cumbres, which means the Thousand Peaks. We'll be climbing. Hope we're up to the climbing and the traffic on a real highway after all the easy country roads we've been on. We can't find another route to Ciudad Hidalgo...

Thousand Peaks


We left Morelia and headed toward the Mil Cumbres, which translates to the "thousand Peaks". Traffic in the City was incredible but we just wove our way through the capital rush hour traffic. Within one hour we were climbing into the most beautiful forest. And we climbed. The visita offered such breath taking views the climbing was not the focus of the day. We climbed for 25 miles.

When we got to the top we stopped to talk to to Canadian gringos whose car had broken down. Justin and Curtis where traveling to somewhere but they did not know where to. Curtis was going to explore the world for two years. Delightful young guys.

As we talked to them, I watched a fire erupt at the home across the road. As the guys talked about venturing around the world, I went to explore why the three children who set a huge pile of old lumber on fire were trying to put the fire out with small plastic buckets and no adult was present. The flame soon lapped 25 feet into the air. I jumped into action with the 3 guys following suit (finally). We all became firemen determined to save the near by houses and forest and maybe all of Mexico from complete devastation.  read more here... lee mas aquí... »

Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary


Today we climbed up the most insane possible road to go to the El Rosario Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary. Every year untold millions of monarch butterflies make the migration from southern Canada all the way to here, and then they spend the winter here and mate before making the return journey.

It was incredible - the trees looked like they had bunches of leaves on them, but it was really huge clusters of monarch butterflies. And they were everywhere in the air. We just sat for a long time and watched them.

This is an area like many in the third world with a serious deforestation problem - increasing population means people cut down the forest to make open land for crops and livestock, to feed their families. But the Monarchs are severely threatened, so Mexico has set this area aside as a reserve. We can hope that they´re successful and can preserve this incredible group of migrating Monarchs.

Typical Mexican Family


Our friend Luis from the lavadero invited us to his inlaws’ house to camp. We had no idea what to expect but thought it would be great. We followed him up the hill and down a couple of dirt roads to his family’s house. At the end of the road was what we believe to be a very typical Mexican family home. The gate to where we’d camp was two old rusty bedsprings standing up to enclose the barnyard, to keep in the four sheep, 15 turkeys, and a dozen chickens.

The barnyard was not much larger than 100’ by 50’, but it was terribly well utilitized. Besides being a barnyard for the animals it had fruit trees (avocado, mango, peach, guava, and several other). The barnyard animal smells were powerful to my nostrils, but I shut up and smiled. I knew it was a lifetime opportunity.

We followed Luis up to the main house for introductions to the family. Father-in-law Antonio couldn’t hear us too well. Mother-in-law Simona was quite old, but rose at 3am every day to make donuts and then got to the market at 8am to sell them. Luis’ wife Elvira was working diligently making some pastries for sale on Ash Wednesday at church. They’re raising money for a 6-day walking pilgrimmage to the Basilica of the Virgin of Guadalupe in Mexico City.  read more here... lee mas aquí... »

Washing at the Lavadero


We rode around Zitacuaro, a good-sized city of 50,000 or so looking for a laundromat, and we found them, but they were all closed because it was Sunday. So we asked for a place to clean by hand and were referred to the public “lavadero,” the place where the poor folks with no water in their houses go to clean.

Usually when we look for something we ask directions, go a little ways, ask again, and so on. We never completely understand the answer. When we got close, a kind, portly man named Luis walked us right over to the lavadero. It was sheltered from the strong sun with a wooden roof held up by concrete posts, nestled in the side of a hill. Spring water was piped directly from the side of the hill. The center compartment is a big basin for the fresh water. On each side is a work area made out of cement, with rough pebbles lining the bottom. The basin is slanted in and has a drain. We took the fresh water from the basin with our cooking pan and soaked our clothes and used laundry detergent and scrubbed against the rough surface until our clothes seemed cleaner. It was a LOT easier than washing in a hotel sink, like we usually do. But we could have used quite a lot of professional instruction!

As we washed we talked with Luis, who invited us to camp at his in-laws’ home. As it was late in the afternoon, and since getting to know people and their lifestyle is our first objective, we happily accepted. More in my next post :-)

Valle de Bravo


Lots of new pictures on the photos page
We are in Valle de Bravo, a beautiful lake in the mountains. To get here we rode
52 miles, up a mountain pass for 15 miles, which took about 4 hours, and then down for 25 miles, which took just a few hours more. This was the longest
descent I have ever done. I felt like I was in the Tour de Mexico, speeding
down the pass at 40 miles an hour with a fully loaded bike. I was motivated to
not let the tour buses catch up with me. They pass way too close. It is so strange that in the mountains you can hear what kind of vehicle is struggling up the mountain and how many vehicle are behind it. If there are more than two large vehicles like dump trucks, or full size buses and an assortment of cars behind that coming up behind me as I climb, I have plenty of notice from the sound echoing up the mountain pass to know when to get off the road and wait until the horde of metal monsters pass. Going down a mountain pass is not as hairy because we go at the same speed as everyone else or close to it. The similar speed makes working with the traffic a lot easier and more harmonious, the larger the difference in speed makes for more contrast and chaos. I can see a lot in my helmet mirror. Sometime I see multiple cars passing each other in the far distance but as they get closer to us the chaos melds into a manageable line of cars and trucks We all work together.  read more here... lee mas aquí... »

Lost in Mexico


We like the backroads so much we decided to branch out and try a road we knew little about. Even the locals did not know about the road we chose to go to Taxco. Well to make a long story short, we climbed for a half a day on this steep road. We took a break at a new church where this wonderful bell was ringing. We got invited up to the bell steeple but this very old Mexican man, who was older than dirt as well as being the bell ringer. It was Ash Wednesday and we got a lesson on ringing three huge bells with two ropes.

After an hour's break we continued down the road until the asphalt road turned to dirt, and then to a poor dirt road through agricultural fields. We knew we were lost but we being the adventurers we are continued until the sunset. We set up camp at an abandoned schoolhouse in a little agricultural village way up in the hills.

We woke up to an orcherstra of sounds: Pigs on the bass. sheep on the percussion, birds on the clarinet and chickens and roosters as the oboes. The sun rose around pea fields planted all around us and the far mountains appeared as a painted background. Wow, what a way to wake up.

We made it up another 5 miles of the dirt road to a real highway and worked our way to today's destination, Coatepec.

Taxco and Caverns


Yesterday and today are big tourist days. We went to the hot mineral springs at Ixtapan, rode 40 miles, and then ended the day with a tour of the incredible caverns at Las Grutas. There are two rivers that run through an incredible cave system, taking 6 an 8 hours to traverse the cave. You can actually do the trip in a raft with the right equipment.

Today we rode an incredible uphill to get to the famous silver city of Taxco, then spent the afternoon shopping for wonderful silver jewelry. Nancy went crazy.

Tomorrow we start working our way toward Acapulco and the coast.

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