Author Archives: Joslyn and Adam

About Joslyn and Adam

We are two good friends from Colorado cycling South through the Americas.

Ruin Fun

Yaxchilán is not the kind of place that gets that much press coverage. Even when reading a guide book about the area you might not take much notice of it, partly because you can’t pronounce the name, but also because it’s only one of many hundreds of Maya ruins in the Yucatán/Guatemala/Belize area. However, as Joslyn and I drew near to the Mexico/Guatemala border it was looking like we were going to be passing right by it anyway.

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Yaxchilán was built right on the bend of a horseshoe loop on the Río Usumacinta, giving the city control over the rivers’ commerce and making the city easy to defend from land. Now, as the site lies in the middle of dense jungle, miles from any road and further from a major town, the only way to access the ruins is by boat.
At 8:30 in the morning we boarded the boat we had hired the night before and headed downriver. The Usumacinta is huge, between two and three hundred yards across and it’s meanders can be many miles long. When we got to the take out, 40 minutes later, we signed the log book and discovered that we were the first visitors to the site that day.
At first while walking down the gravel path there was nothing to see beyond the surrounding jungle. Then suddenly the trees opened up and multiple ruins stood in front of us.

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We have been to several ancient cities with doors into ruins that are closed off to the general public. When we saw the building nearest to us with four or five entrances we didn’t expect to be able to go inside, luckily though I had my headlamp with me because not only could we go in, but the passageways just kept going and turning and splitting into more halls. We spent a good half an hour exploring through this first ruin, for the first time getting a real feel for what all of these pyramids and temples could hold inside. Among bats, lizards, and frogs, we saw a dozen of these monstrous looking insects with legs three or four inches long and pinchers covered in teeth.

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After a few hours we had seen some of the most intact roof combs of any Maya ruins (lattice built of stone on top of temples), howler monkeys, toucans, stelae fifteen feet tall, and caught glimpses through trees and vines of yet to be uncovered ruins. With near 400 structures, Yaxchilán turned out to be one of the best Maya sites we have seen to date. Though it helped to been almost the only people there at the time and the fun of the boat ride there and back.

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Wear Thy Helmet

You look out at the horizon line and the winding road entangled in between, your eyes glance down at your two wheeled friend, that can only be powered by sweat and the synchronous movements of leg and pedal. A smile immediately stretches across your face. It is then your duty to ride down that gorgeous never ending down hill into the wind fury of freedom! And at the last moment you put on your helmet because your mom would probably thank you later…

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Four days ago , this was the very scene before me and nothing could stop Adam and I from flying down this hill… Except for the rough grind of the front tire and the side of my face, that injured but did not debilitate me… Thanks to the cycling god and mostly my helmet!

The blood managed to drip everywhere as Adam to stop it with his bare hand and then bunches of gauze from his first aid kit. He flagged down the nearest vehicle to go to the hospital . ” Was it that bad ? ” I thought to myself as Adam rushed around the calm, laxidazical  Mexican attitudes of nearby onlookers. What the hell was happening?!

We finally loaded into a combi/big van or small bus, with me in the front deliriously looking round, bikes on top, and Adam next to me ( I demanded)! I felt oddly bad for my fellow passengers whom were just trying to get to the Ciudad de Oaxaca. We regressed back down the beautiful curves of the road back to a small town called Villa Sola de Vega. There we backed up all around main street looking for the possibly nonexistent hospital… Ah we are here, which much looks like a pharmacy… Alas it is not the hospital after all, it is merely a shoppe with a thousand bottles of pills!! 😦 Well where the heck is it? It had been hiding all along behind a soccer field slightly out of town. but all the same it was brightly painted and clean looking as to say it would offer pain relief and blood stoppage. Thank the bicycle gods, that finally I could rest my throbbing head and body somewhere and not disturb others.

Immediately I was greeted by rambles of spanish and every once in a while I would say “Me calle”( I fell) and they would say “Si.” Yet they still put me on the phone with the doctor{s wife who asked me what happened in broken English. For goodness sakes I fell off my bike! They made several jokes in spanish which I slowly began to understand after they gave me some pain relief via shots. I was actually pretty happy as displayed in the pictures, and thought that wow my first set of stitches in my head weren{t so bad.

They cut my shirt off which I have had so many pleasant travel memories with from Egypt, Syria, India and beyond. I still have it and might make it into a sweet hanky.  Adam and I walked/hobbled/dragged out of the hospital with no less money than we came, we had an angel with us to pay for the fixings.

Since then I have been feeling pretty useless and strange since riding a bike is slightly difficult but I cannot wait till my face is not swollen and my head does not throb. Until then I will just enjoy the pain meds and love from Adam 🙂

Oh ya… I am so glad I wore my helmet because now I need a New one!

– Joslyn

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Guanajuato: The City of Kisses

Much like the popular legend of Romeo and Juliet, a similar tale of romance occurred in the alley of kisses deep in the town of Guanajuato. In its unexpected beauty, we explored the winding alleyways and bustling cafés with awe. We happened to arrive during the annual festival “Actores Urbanos” and saw a variety of street performances ranging from mariachi bands and mimes to clowns and statue impersonators.

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We also visited the disturbing yet intriguing Museo de Momias, that showcased people who where mummified in the nearby cemetery crypts due to the dry climate. The "most important" piece of the museum was the worlds smallest mummified fetus… that was also the most terrifying piece.

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Despite the mummies, our favorite feature of this time-bounding city were the numerous and confusing tunnels. Built after the last major flood, these tunnels provide alternative ways of navigating the city for the rivers, pedestrians, automobiles, and of course cycle tourers.

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As stated by our 'Lonely Planet' the food in this city was off the hook. To say the least our experience in Guanajuato was priceless and warrants a return visit.

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Cruisin’

054After finding a couple who was willing to take us on their yacht to cross the Sea of Cortez, we started to get used to the cruising life. Luckily our most gracious hosts, Rob and Char, were enjoying our company and invited us to continue down the western coast with them. All told we where on their boat for two weeks, cruising from La Paz to Mazatlán then on to La Cruz de Huanacaxtle. Along the way we saw some amazing sea life such as sea turtles, dolphins, manta rays, humpback whales, and even a bloated dead sea lion!

Some of the spans between anchorages or marinas can be great enough to require running the boat through the night. While the boat is on autopilot and the throttle is set to a constant rmp, some monitoring is still required to make sure everything goes smoothly. So we took shifts through the night, watching the radar for other nearby ships, making sure we were still on the correct heading, and trying not to fall asleep, because although Joslyn and I were excited at the idea of running the boat for some hours, Char was correct in telling us that it would get boring quickly.

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One leg of the journey, as the sun was starting to set over the Pacific, we could see a storm brewing in front of us. All the weather forecasts called for clam winds and little to no waves, but we held little hope to that as it started to get darker and all we could see was the lightening ahead. Joslyn and I had to try to get some sleep early in order to stay awake for our night shift. Try was all we did because by eight o’clock the boat had entered the storm. After being repeatedly thrown off our bunk for a few hours we took our shift at the helm. Wave after wave slammed into the side of the boat, it felt like being in t-bone car crash, for 10 hours. With the little boating experience I have I started to imagine the ship breaking in half under the tremendous force.

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As day broke so did the storm and at around seven in the morning I finally started to get some sleep. When I got back up at nine the water was almost glass smooth, which was convenient for watching the whales jumping and breaching as we entered Bahía de Banderas.

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Good people on bad roads

A fellow cycle tourist, who Mason and I were fortunate enough to spend some time traveling with, told me not to be so surprised by the unbelievable happenings that occur while putting oneself out there on the road of life. He said to be grateful with the gifts and the amazing company you get but that I needn’t be shocked by the almost daily happy chances that take place when you put yourself in the position to receive them.
Regardless a few of those moments are worth mentioning. Like the time Mason and I were buying groceries as it was getting dark and we were worrying about riding to our planned campsite another 10 miles or so through heavy traffic. At that moment a couple offered to give us a ride in their minivan (yes the bikes somehow fit) and took us directly to where we wanted to camp, even though it was out of their way. As we thanked them and said goodnight the man handed us twenty dollars and told us to buy a nice dinner the next night.
There was the time that after a three day hike we were getting back to our bikes and planned to go camp and fish for dinner on the beach. Before we could even get packed up, and with no mention of out intention, two fishermen looked at us and said ‘Hey! Want one of these fish we just caught?’ It was a five or six pound fish that I put half in a plastic bag, tail still sticking out because it was so big, and bungee corded it to the back of my bike. No need to fish that night.
Right as Mason and I pulled into La Paz we stopped on the side of the street to figure out where to go for the night. A cycle touring couple from Portugal, whom we had spent a few days on the road with already, saw us and started yelling out their car window. They happened to be riding with the warmshowers host that they where staying with. She did a u-turn and pulled up next to us. Glenda, the host, and four other cyclists jumped out of the car. I couldn’t believe she was offering us a place to sleep when she already had four other travelers staying with her, she responded by saying that there where in fact nine others already staying in her home and what difference would two more make?
Joslyn and I were trying to find a private boat, that might take us from Baja to mainland, by going to the marinas in La Paz to speak on the morning cruiser news called ‘the net’, posting notices of our plan, and just socializing at the coffee hour at the marina. On only our second day of doing so, a man who knew what we where attempting to do came over to us and pointed us in the direction of a boat called ‘Outtahere’, that he said he knew the owners where planning to cross the sea fairly soon. We walked down the dock and timidly knocked on the side of their 60′ foot yacht. Rob and Char invited us aboard before we could even fully ask if they would be willing to take a couple of stowaways. They were in fact excited to take us across, and though it would be a number of days before they left, they offered to let us stay aboard so we wouldn’t have to pay for the hostel any more nights.
I could list many more great moments from what is only the beginning of what will be a very long journey. I’m not expecting to run into anymore wonderful people with amazing offers, but I know we will, and I will only take it in stride.

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The Missing Jesus

This post has been much awaited and I apologize for not writing sooner. As many of you know I am Joslyn and I have taken a plunge into travelers paradise as I join Adam on this grand adventure. I did not come to Mexico with a bike but after graduating I felt extra lucky.
    Image  I arrived with a gigantic green duffel that I have carried around for a while backpacking through other parts of the world. It was strange because instead of having a 65 liter backpack inside I had four poorly packed panniers inside that desperately wanted their rightful place on a bike. That night we stayed in a fairly cheap hotel and enjoyed the christmas decorations along with a nativity scene that was missing Jesus! Although it makes more sense than not, we were nonetheless shocked and were relieved when jesus was placed in the manger Christmas morning.

Los Cabos is a town clean as can be with a empty but heavy presence of toursim, foriegn art and expensive restaurants that mostly appeal to the retired American.  All encompassing a local people who are ready at 7 am to sell and create thiungs that would appeal to tourists; a hint of mexican tradition but not too different from home. Blasting 80s and 90s hair band music from shops, most of the shop owner speak excellent English and even shout out colloquials like “you know you wanna get in here!”. One thing I expected but not to the extent of which it was present, was what are called big box stores, mega marts where you can buy anything for a low price. They inhabit large sections of land with equally as large parking lots of which are never full. Some of Walmarts cousins are called Sobriana, Mega, Ley, Chedderaui… We walked a few miles each day in hopes of finding a used gear shop with the perfect sized bike but were unlucky.The town took christmas very seriously as what seemed like every house had typical christmas characters, like mickey mouse, in form of blow up dolls which flopped around day and night. 

We had arrived to Los Barriles after my first session of hitchicking in Mexico, which took a while but were finally picked up by a retiree of sorts who was a restuarant owner and a real estate agent in Los Barriles. After that the bike hunt began and we posted a sign in a Rv-windsurfer community which indicated that we were looking for a bike. We stayed on the beaches at night and by the kindness of a couple named Bob and Sara, were adoped for a short time. I also very excited to see Mason again and hang out with him. I remember falling asleep to the cool ocean breeze, the light of the crackling fire, and the stars above. This trip was already amazing!

December 23rd we decided to leave the company of Sara and Bob and as we were leaving (without a bike for me), Sara called us back and said “look!” I began to feel giddy with excitment, it was an old turquiose specialized Rock Hopper with hot pink writing, with a back rack and happened to be Saras bike which she had sold the year previous. Somehow, Sarendipitously it came back just at the right moment (donated to me)! We recieved a couple of goodie bags from Sara which we used quite fast while waiting for a ride. We caught a ride to La Paz with my new friend and no name with a pleasant local guy in a small small truck. I got to sit on Adams lap which was the most comfortable seat ever! 

After arriving to La Paz we rested our heads at the home of a warm showers host where we could wash clothes and sleep. For christmas eve, we biked to Balandra and camped out at one of the coves which had crisp light blue water perfect for lounging in. Christmas day we enjoyed ourselves on a nearby beach called Tecolote where we met a very aimiable and generous couple (of which one was a cyclist) at a small eatery. They insisted on getting us a meal and a drink as we exchanged travel stories and life stories, the kind you dont wanna miss. We slept on the beach and enjoyed the Beatles as we cooked a curry for dinner. The day after christmas we moved on to the Pension Baja California which was much like a hostel in that it had a kitchen in the common area with ammenities.  I also got to try my first fish taco in mexcio and was not disappointed, muy delicioso! We looked far and wide along the streets of La paz for bicycle parts to fix her up but to no avail, we hope that the Mazatlan will have the parts I need. 

Since then we have been biking around La paz and feel like real locals already, going to our favorite “spots” to grab food or a beer. Needless to say, I must thank Adam for being patient with me as I learn to bike with panniers and move around in traffic. We have met two other groups of cycle tourers who are also looking to cross, one of which has started in Alaska and the other in Canada. To catch a boat to Mazatlan we were told to go to one of the local Marinas where a group of cruisers would chat and have morning coffee as well as talk on the radio that brought up announcements everymorning. We tryed that, along with a post for two days until we were kindly pointed in the direct of a couple who were believed to be leaving soon. We approached their gleaming yacht to ask if a ride was possible. They invited us in and said “of course!” . Having caught a ride we only wait to depart and are excited to see more of Mexico. 

Tonight is the New Year and as we pass through time it is easy to forget that the adherence to time itself, sometimes clouds our ability to enjoy the present moment.

Happy New Year! 

Jos

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Safety Third.

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Before the thought “Oh hey there you sexy thing” had strolled into my mind, and before I had finally accepted that these crazy-colored skintight jeans really turn me on, I was turned on (I mean entertained) by the idea that safety actually shouldn’t come first. For the perverse minded out there, I’m hoping that this story goes exactly where we think it’s going, but yes, we’re wrong.
When you’re really in the zone and going at it so hard, just hammering down, the last thing that needs to be going through your head is a step by step procedure. Even the best of us would be messed up by that eventually. And that’s exactly why I’m not going to write a standard operating procedure explaining how to safely ride bicycles down ridiculously narrow roads and blind corners with no guard rails next to cliff bands that have ten different types of cactus lurking at the bottom. Like that last sentence, it’s just too much. So if you’re reading this please, regardless of the act, please put common sense and fundamental strategies above your “Safety First” mantra that ultimately might get you in a sticky situation.
Unexpectedly, I do have a few words for the cyclists out there. Don’t be intimidated by narrow roads, for they are completely manageable. Being open-minded and using creative methods will get you a very long way. Riding along the outside of a blind corner is a great tactic. The long semi trailers tend to cut very sharp corners, naturally, so keep that in mind. Also, it IS okay to take your lane and force the traffic behind you to slow down. Preferably to that method though, is pulling off of the road when necessary. Unlike motorists, the cyclists (who were using roads long before the invention of the car) aren’t generally in any kind of hurry. So, blah blah blah, just another uncreative way to end an immensely interesting blog post while saying something catchy or cliche.

-M

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This mode of travel is not really about the bicycle or getting far, it is about reveling in every moment, easy or hard, simply because we are here. With the exception of being more content, traveling via bike gives me a fairly similarly life to the one I’ve always lived, one that is day by day, with little sense of direction.
The mind plays tricks and tries to make you think that you should stop or that you would be happier back in the real world. It makes you think that you can’t make this next climb, let alone the whole journey. Having Mason here along side me makes every hurdle easier. I really have to question whether I would be able to do this at all without him. I feel stronger knowing he takes every pedal stroke that I take.
Life is dynamic, this journey makes sure we know that. We have to be prepared to take an extra night or two to get to anywhere, or maybe we encounter 40 miles of down hill and we are in town a day ahead of schedule.  Ultimately, one is best off when all that is expected is to find a place to prepare a meal and a place to sleep.
-A
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Intro.

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People have been blogging for years. If there’s one thing to be realized at this time, it’s that all I can seek to accomplish with this blog is the promotion of cycle touring. Others become encouraged to spend more time outside, and I become happier.
Tonight’s main course, and I know it’s exciting already, is a tomato sauce based, and salsa verde infused chicken that is luckily paired with macaroni and cheese, served on a bed of coos coos garnished with goldfish treats. Best enjoyed with a warm water. Said Adam. It was a gracious meal we made while camped out under an Arizona highway.
That guy, the one who invented the wheel, deserves a warm round of applause.
It never ceases to surprise how the simplicity of two wheels can create such enjoyment, even on a bike that’s well over two decades old. Bicycle Touring isn’t just about the bike or the touring, but the opportunities you can take along the way. It’s a sense of belonging in some of the most foreign and isolated places. It’s not concerned with arriving at a destination, but just how far your legs can take you to fulfill dreams of travel. The time-shortened notion attached to “Touring” is only a reminder that it’s a temporary journey.

-M

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