13 August, 2012

Day 37, 483km: Mexican way of life

Getting out of the air-conditioned cabin to see Mazatlan's port was an interesting experience.
That's maybe because that time I actually passed the tropic of Cancer! It's at 23.26N and Mazatlan is at 23.21N! So I'm now officially under the tropics (and shall remain until I'm somewhere in Bolivia so that'll take a while).
Mazatlan. 35 degrees C, 89% humidity
 Even the camera couldn't handle it and fog covered the lens immediately. Soon after this the boat moored and we parted ways with Amaury. Strapping the bike compressed the suspension and they stayed like this for 20H. It took them a few minutes to get back to normal working order that was strange.

Met these 3 riders at a gas stop outside Mazatlan
 My objective for the day was to make it to Guadalajara, where I'd meet Bruno, a friend of Alex. Stopped for gas outside Mazatlan and met the 3 people above. Mexican riders from somewhere north of Mazatlan (sorry I didn't get it) who were also going to Guadalajara. I speak broken Spanish, they spoke broken English so our conversation was difficult but fun nonetheless.
So the gang set-off to Guadalajara via Tepic.

Oh yeah I exchanged the ugly beard for an uglier moustache
 I'm thinking that the moustache might have played a role in meeting them. Seems it helps me blend in! Haha. So I drove with the Gallardo family, two brothers and their Tio. A Fazer F6 a R1 and a K1600GT. That last one is a real beast. 6 cylinders, 160HP and about all the comfort you can think of. It even has an electrically adjustable windshield and central electronic locking for the side luggage (that last one was a real WTF for me).

They had an interesting way of going through tollway booths. Picture a line of tollway booth, each with their cashier and automatic barrier.
Now picture a narrow space to the side of each barrier just wide enough to fit a motorcycle.
Got it in your mind? Good. Now to this mental image you add 3 Mexican riders and a French guy coming towards the toll booths with no intention to stop, but rather intending to make their way through the gap between the barrier and the adjoining booth.

It worked the first two times and they were cheering and laughing about it when we stopped. It thought it was actually kind of dangerous (I don't want to run-over a toll booth cashier) so I told them in my broken Spanish I'd stop and pay at the next one so they shouldn't wait for me.
So it was somewhat funny when at the next (third) tollway they were stopped by employees of the tollway placing ladders in front of their bikes.
I think the first and second tollways probably called the third to warn them about bike gangsters coming towards them!

The landscape changed to mountains with fresh air once in Tepic
The tollways are actually in very good condition, with reasonably good signage and very few potholes. So I didn't mind paying at all, although it's about the same price as one would pay in France so probably overpriced.

Arriving in Tepic the altitude went up to 1500m and I finally got to enjoy some cool air. That was very welcome after the dry desert of Baja and the moist hell of Mazatlan. From there we soon arrived to Guadalajara, parted ways and I was on my way to meet Bruno. Nice meeting you guys and don't forget to pay the tollways! ;)

Met Bruno and his friend Denis in the center of the city, dropped my stuff at his place (thanks to all the family for welcoming me!) and we went on a session of bar-hopping. Session which was intense, as we'd be painfully reminded the next morning. Still, I tried to learn a few things on the process.

Bruno is working for his own Tequila brand, Casa de Luna so I got to learn about Tequila (which is actually the name of a town 60km west of Guadalajara). It's a "trademark" similar to Champagne, and can be produced only in specific regions of Mexico. That's for the "100% tequila" variety, which you rarely see. Most of the stuff sold in Europe/Asia being blends that do not have to comply with the same regulations.
So it was nice to learn there's actually an entire "quality tequila" industry, in the same way there is a "quality whisky" industry in Scotland. They're both distilled drinks, tequila being made out of agaves.

Another traditional drink of Mexico, probably even less known is Mezcal, another distilled drink but made out of a specific variety of agave, the maguey from which we extract, burn and ferment the plant's heart.
And Bruno is starting to distribute his own Mezcal, Brusco.

Now needless to say the three of us had that night a fine session of mezcal tasting, followed by a slightly less fine session of tasting of whatever came our way. That was a fun night, thanks guys!

Crashed to bed after that long day, with the (weak) intention of waking up to see Mexico play Brasil in the Olympics football final.


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