Tuesday, February 17, 2015

At Home for a Week... In Oaxaca :D

The Transalp and Africa Twin admiring Santo Domingo
Oaxaca has become a familiar city now. Every time we have mentioned Mexico for the past two years, anyone who knows mainland Mexico has said: OAXACA - GO THERE!!! And since we knew we’d be going there, and had a mutual riding friend who lives there, I was able to give Moto Machines an address where they could send a very nice care package

Anyway, I digress.

So we did go to Oaxaca. And once we got past the traffic (Oaxaca is known for it’s protests these days, which generally cause traffic to come to a near stand-still) and the smog, and found a lovely cheap hotel with secure parking 3 blocks from the Zocalo, we understood why everyone is so keen on Oaxaca. The city is a beautiful blend of old and old-with-new-interspersed, cosmopolitan Mexicans and Indigenous Mexicans and celebrations that reflected this took place every night. The Market on the Zocalo is a great place to grab cheap food from a sit-down stall and an even better place to people watch as many of the wedding celebrations wind up there.

These performers twirled and twirled to the music once the new couple emerged from the church. You can see the bride in the background: she's wearing a typical white dress and veil that most of us are accustomed to seeing.

This wedding party poured out of the church across the street from the hotel we were staying at, and it was impossible not to get caught up in and carried along with infectious energy of the band and wedding attendants. The bride can be seen in the bottom right corner of the photo, standing between the woman in the short red dress and the woman in the long white dress: she is wearing a long red skirt.

The moto-cops detailed the wedding and re-routed traffic as the party made it's way down the street to the Zocalo, dancing and singing as the two bands they'd hired battled back and forth...

The party continued for a while at the Zocalo...

After spending the weekend amongst all of the action downtown, we headed outside of the city to meet Ruben and Aurora, a couple we’d been e-introduced to by our Canadian Fairy Godparents, Carol and Hans (yes, the ones who put us up when we Roel couldn’t get back into the US, surprised us with a visit in Australia and suggested we head to Alaska). Ruben, Aurora and their children have ridden all over Central America and through much of the US and Canada. They are a wonderfully warm couple and gave us an equally warm welcome in their lovely home. We chatted late into the night about moto travels and became fast friends.

The next morning, we tallied up a bike maintenance list a mile long. We rarely are in a position to pull apart the bikes and if necessary, walk away to clear our heads when we hit a wall. Here, at Ruben and Aurora’s, we could do just that. So we were eager to get to work: both bikes needed an oil change and the Africa Twin needed to have it’s valve clearance adjusted.

We had to divide and conquer our to-do list, and since I had some blogging to catch up on, Roel kindly changed the Transalps oil & filter for me Using up the last of our filters from HiFloFiltro

And after a home-visit from Ruben’s mechanic, Luis, it was determined that the slider bolt on the AT’s rear brake needed to be replaced as there was too much free-play. We didn’t even bother riding to the Honda Shop to see if they could order the part: 1. They probably wouldn’t even be able to find it in their system. 2. The part of the brake that the slider bolt fits into has likely worn, too. So the best option was to follow Luis to a nearby Soldadura (welder) who could add material to the current bolt and then machine it down to size. This took a bit of time, but the end result was an excellent fit. For 200 pesos ($14.30). It was a relief to get all of this done.

First he soldered more metal onto Roel's worn slider bolt and then he machined it down to size. Probably not the way most mechanics would recommend getting the job done, but sometimes, you need a little creativity and out-of-the-box thinking to get the job done.

And after some sweaty city riding, it was time to wash the suits. A lot of women have well-founded concerns about the practicality of the light gray/cream KLiM Altitude... Well, for visibility, I think it's great AND it does come clean: LOOK!!

But the real sense of relief came when our package from Moto Machines arrived. Relief at first and absolute excitement! The base of my original top-box, Walter, was cracking a bit more with every tope I crossed. (By the time we made it to Oaxaca, I was practically coming to a full stop (like a bus) before crossing a tope, in an effort to minimize the bouncing of Walter.) And goodness forbid I didn’t see a tope quickly enough to come to a stop, I caught myself looking in my mirrors to see if my belongings from my top box were scattered over the road behind me.

Yes, as you can see, my new Hepco & Becker Gobi top box is a bit smaller, so indeed I had to shuffle some things around (i.e., move some stuff to Roel’s bike - like my oil cans)… But, tis a small price to pay for a replacement top box that mounts and dis-mounts incredibly easily (with a twist of a key), and looks a heck-uva-lot better. The Gobi Trifecta is now complete.

What home decorating looks like when you live out of a box

Moto Machines also sent water taps and luggage loops for the Gobis. Because we wild camp and cook so much of our own food, being able to carry water for dish/hand washing in Roel’s Gobi’s has been extremely helpful. Now, our water-carrying capacity is 12 liters between the two of us. Yes, that’s too much weight to carry all of the time, but provided we stop at a fuel station just before camping, we can fill up everything and then one of us can wash clothes while the other sets up camp. This may not mean much to you, but given how smelly stuff gets after a long day of riding (especially Roel’s stuff ) I’m stoked.

But mostly, my bike looks beautiful. And I love the simplicity of the Gobi System.


Seriously, how GOOD does this bike look, now!!! (You can see here that we were trying to imitate the mounting system that a fellow ADV Rider had made for his RotoPax - it didn't quite work, so for now, Roel is carrying my oil cans as we contemplate another solution. Suggestions welcome.)

A really cool art school campus 10 minutes from Ruben & Aurora's that we NEVER would have found on our own

Ruben & Aurora... our riding family in Oaxaca. Love them!

On the way home from the art school, we stopped at the local bakery to pick up breakfast for the following morning. a.k.a. Roel's new Happy Place. When the baker told Roel "Everything you can eat here is FREE; everything you buy to take home is double-price" - it was GAME ON!!!

Roel is such a creeper - look at him eying the remains of Azure's treat!


Before leaving Oaxaca, Ruben and Aurora took us to some lovely local spots that we wouldn’t have found on our own. And we even managed to squeeze in a visit to Monte Alban, an incredible archaeological site with intact ruins and good explanations for the interesting buildings and cosmic methods the inhabitants of this ancient city used to tell the time and date. We are so grateful to Ruben and Aurora for opening their home to us and for becoming part of our motorcycle family.

Game game. Unlike game courts found at other pyramid sites, it is believed that human sacrifice was not part of the "game" here at Monte Alban. Instead, it is believed that playing this game was used to settle land disputes and such.

One of the 40ish reliefs found around Monte Alban, that they originally labelled "Conquest Slabs" as they were thought to depict fallen enemies. However, upon further investigation, they are believed to portray sacrifices and in some cases, may be representative of a plague or epidemic that wiped out some of the population at Monte Alban.

Checking out one of the many art installations housed in the converted Convent of San Pablo... Ruben brought us here knowing we'd be enthralled with how they've integrated new architectural elements into this building that dates back to 1529.

Roel's supervisor, Oreo, looks on as he worked on the bikes... made him feel quite at home, as he has a Border Collie at home in Holland.

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