Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Playa Azul to Morelia

Tues 30th August

It was a surprise when the battery actually turned up this morning. Bonus, it was the correct one too, although it took a bit of jiggery pokery to get it in.

We were eventually ready to roll around midday after trying to remember where everything packed away on the bikes. Surprising how quickly you forget.

The staff at the hotel have been terrific, especially the manager Felippe (centre stage) and our receptionist/waitress, Maria Gaudelope (hiding behind the screen on my bike). A big thank you to you both and all the others who have looked after us over the past 12 days.

It is now going to be a bit of a slog to get across Mexico to Cancun where we are due to meet Carol and friends a week tomorrow. With a speed of around 50-55mph and around 1500 miles to Cancun, we are going to be riding on the equivalent of our motorways for much of the time to cover the distance and hopefully still have time to see some of the sights.

Our target today was Morelia the state capital of Michoacan. It's a vibrant university city full of well preserved colonial architecture that deserves more time than the couple of hours we managed to get to look around.

If you like the buzz of city life, Morelia is well worth a visit. Apart from all the historical buildings street cafes, theatres and restaurants, there are street entertainers, vendors and people aplenty if you like to people watch.

One of the many illuminated buildings in the historical centre of the city that is buzzing pretty much 24hrs a day.

Monday, 29 August 2011

Playa Azul (still waiting)

Sat 27th to Mon 29th August

Our hopes of moving on today (Saturday) were dashed as Terry’s new battery failed to materialise. The manager of our hotel who had hoped to get it from the local DHL office a few miles away arrived after the office had closed. So we are here until Monday at least.

So another couple of days twiddling our thumbs, fiddling with the bikes, watching the rain and a daily walk to the beach.

Even the fish are getting a little bored now

There was one piece of excitement, the Mexican army with fingers on triggers, took up positions around us whilst we were minding our own business in the restaurant area of the hotel. A few minutes later one of the State's ministers and his minder came in for lunch. He was apparently in town to cut the first turf on a regeneration project.

A sort of record was achieved today (Sunday) when we didn’t wake up until 10am. After breakfast/brunch we settled down to while away another day.

Sunday evening, rather prematurely as it turns out, we decided to celebrate the end of our enforced stay here in Playa Azul. The beer flowed. We had the most expensive dishes on the menu (about £5) and party'd the night away (well until about 10 o'clock).

Monday, and the news we were hoping not to hear today. The local DHL office in Lazaro Cardenas can’t find the battery that was supposed to have been delivered on Saturday. Enquiries indicate it is still in Mexico City where it was allegedly delivered last Thursday by the BMW agent but we have no confirmation of that. We are not now expecting it until Tuesday or Wednesday at the earliest so have decided to research other methods of getting Terry to Cancun.................

.............. Bob test rode this state of the art machine but

....... we think we'll get there quicker if we get him a pair of these.

With 1500 miles to Cancun and only a week in which to do it, things are starting to get a bit tight but don't worry girls, we'll get there one way or another!

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Playa Azul (waiting)

Sun 21st to Fri 26th August

We are still stuck at Hotel Maria Terese, Playa Azul. This is now the longest we have stopped anywhere so far on this trip and although it is giving Bob a chance to recover from the aches and pains resulting from his spill, I think we are all ready to move on.

Resident Gecko

We believe we have discovered the source of Terry’s problem. The wire that came off the alternator brushes can apparently cause an open circuit and allow unchecked voltage to the battery and ignition module and fry them both. We are now awaiting a replacement battery from a supplier in Mexico and an ignition module plus Thunderchild Diode board from Jonathan Souders in the States. Hopefully both will be here by Friday.

Playa Azul Beach

Playa Azul is a beach resort catering for the Mexican holidaymaker and very few foreign tourists venture to this part of the coastline. Apart from weekends the town is effectively shut up as the children are back in school and apart from the beach there are few attractions to entice the visitor.

Rain, rain and more rain

For a couple of days (Tuesday & Wednesday) we were effectively prisoners in the hotel as torrential rain from Hurricane Henry kept us from venturing out too far. Having said that, we all feel a little lethargic, not really wanting to do much whilst we wait for the parts to arrive, so it is not really affecting us.

Joel who is heading for Bolivia

Joel a fellow traveller from New Zealand appeared at our hotel on Tuesday evening looking like a drowned rat. He arrived soaked to the skin and has had to spend two nights here to dry everything out. We first met Joel on the Baja and he has been roughly following our route since. We spent a couple of enjoyable evenings with a few beers before he set off again towards Cancun where coincidentally he is also meeting up with friends. If you are interested in travel blogs, Joel’s trip is chronicled at:

Playa Azul

Wednesday. You wouldn’t think it could be so difficult to source a battery. The original distributor has said he can’t source one after all, so we have now ordered one from the main BMW dealer in Mexico City and hopefully it will be here on Saturday.

Friday, the first package we were awaiting turned up today. The new ignition module was fitted along with the battery from Bob’s bike. With fingers and toes crossed the starter was pressed and thankfully Terry’s bike burst into life. The charging system was tested and appeared normal, so all we need now is the new battery.

The rest of the day was spent rather lazily like the previous few.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

San Juan de Almi to Playa Azul

Fri 19th to Sat 20th August

Today didn’t start too well. When we got the bikes out from the hotel garage there were oil drops on the floor and I could see it was leaking from behind the front engine cover again. This first happened back in June when oil was found leaking past a broken stud. A quick check found the same problem where the previous repair had failed. Botch No 2 was carried out and we set off.

Our road, Highway 200, was very rural and twisty for miles on end today with just the odd view of the coast and the occasional small village. For the rest of the time it was high vegetation on both sides which became a little tedious after a while.

A couple of hours into the ride I found Terry parked by the side of the road. He had come to a cough and spluttering stop.

A quick check found the battery was deformed and bulging on all sides. A sign it was overcharging and had been cooked. We weren't going anywhere. Bob was ahead somewhere oblivious to the problem. No phone signal here, so off I went to find him. Bob was despatched to get a new battery (very hopeful) or recovery, whilst I stocked up with water and biscuits and went back.

Several hours later Bob returned with a pickup full of locals. On the way back he had come to grief on a patch of diesel. Fortunately it was a slow speed tumble and both he and the bike suffered just minor bruises and scratches.

Once loaded we all set off to the nearest decent size town Lazaro Cardenas some 75 miles away. It was just getting dark when we arrived and the first couple of enquiries about getting the bike fixed proved fruitless so we got Mario to take the bike and us to a hotel (Hotel Maria Teresa) at the nearby beach resort of Playa Azul where we’re likely to be for a few days.

........... happens

Sat 20th August

The 2nd knight in shining armour appeared in the guise of Filipe our hotel manager who took on the task of sourcing a new battery which hopefully will be with us on Tuesday. Unfortunately it’s never quite that simple. This afternoon we set about trying to discover why the battery exploded. The cable to one of the commutator brushes was disconnected. Reconnected with Bob’s battery, we tried to start Terry’s bike. Nothing. A few checks, try our spare ignition module, still nothing. Try the ignition module off my bike, bingo. Problem now is we don’t have an ignition module for Terry’s bike and we haven’t determined whether it is still overcharging. Monday’s task is to source a second-hand module (they were apparently used on lots of VW cars and there are plenty of those over here). If we can’t find one, mine will be used to check whether there are any further problems and we will order new ones from the UK.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Barra de Navidad to San Juan de Almi

Thur 18th August

The day started lazily. Our kit hadn’t dried out so we decided to have a look around the town in daylight. Barra de Navidad was all San Blas could have been……

There are unspoilt beaches..........

The town is clean and well cared for with a certain sophistication but retaining its Mexican heritage and charm. There are no American shops or fast food restaurants here.

Even though this is the quiet season, the parasols have been put up..........

......... and the girls are still trying to sell their wares.

Apart from the beaches this is also a main centre for the sport fisherman (marlin & tuna etc) which is perhaps why it still attracts the American visitor in sufficient numbers (not that there were many about today)

Bob chose the hotel pool again rather than face the sun and heat and persuaded the hotel staff, Christina and Alheli, to have their photograph taken with his bike by promising a starring role on the blog (that boy will say anything for a free beer).

We eventually got on the bikes to leave and continued heading south along the coast.

Highlight of our short ride (about 100 miles) was when we stopped at a fruit stall. Fresh coconuts, mangos, pineapples, melons, kiwis and more exotic fruits were all available…….

……freshly cut and prepared by these young girls, who thought it hugely funny when three old gits who couldn’t speak the lingo descended on them and wanted to try everything and all for 15 pesos a pot.

We eventually got going again and stopped at a hotel on the beach in the middle of nowhere. Once unloaded it was straight into the warm Pacific Ocean.

Dinner was on the beach too, watching the sunset. This is one of those occasions when our nearest and dearest should be here to share the experience.

Now I'm sure you’ve all seen the out-takes on television where they show you clips that didn't quite work out. I'm inviting suggestions for a caption for this shot. The prize 'your name in lights on the blog and a couple of beers if we can get them to you. (Entries via the comment box)

A couple of Sumo wrestlers!! (don’t forget you can double click to enlarge if you must)

Thursday, 18 August 2011

San Blas to Barra de Navidad

Wed 17th August

We left San Blas this morning and continued south along the coast road towards Puerto Vallarta and from there to Barra de Navidad.

This part of the coast is described as the Nayarit Riviera where there are some large resorts .......

...........and pretty little coves like the one here at Platanitos.

With the breeze from the coast and the shade of the sub tropical jungle, we had a pleasantly cooler ride today

Spotted at a petrol station. I hope he's the driver having a rest and not a passenger or drivers mate!!
Pelican with the beach to himself

Puerto Vallarata on the other hand is jam packed with resort hotels, apartments and seems to have been taken over by America as all their major players are here, from the hotel chains to the fast food restaurants, health centres and supermarkets.

It was here we lost Terry. The arrangement to meet him down the road didn’t work out and with only the name of the town for our overnight stop known to all, that’s where we headed expecting to meet him somewhere over the following 100 miles.

We rode into the hills and through periods of heavy rain, not arriving at Barra de Navidad until it was just getting dark and not having seen 'hide nor hair' of Terry. Quite remarkably, however, we stopped at a hotel and found him booking into a single room, having assumed we wouldn’t make contact until we managed to get phone signals or internet access.

A little fine tuning needed on the contingency plans for these occurrences me thinks......

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

San Blas

Tues 16th August

San Blas is a small fishing village located just north of Puerto Vallarta, that also boasts a beach resort and mangroves.

Sounded idyllic, so we decided to spend a second night here and take our time exploring the place.

Terry and I decided arrange a boat trip to the mangroves. Bob whose seen it all before decided to stay at the hotel and make use of the pool. Wandering down to the port area we spotted their deep sea fishing fleet. Apart from the ones that were actually sunk, we thought the others were waiting for the scrapyard but apparently are still in use.

Terry and I arranged a two hour trip on this boat. The owner said 'un memento' then proceeded to start bailing the water out of it. Mmmm we thought.

As anyone who has been through mangroves will know, they tend to be teeming with wildlife. Well here I think they must have been suffering from the heat as much as us and stayed well under cover.

Apart from pelicans, cormorants, a few egrets with yellow feet.....

..........all we saw were local fisherman in small boats looking for shrimps.

Back on dry land we walked into the town centre to find the nearest bar to rehydrate. The old colonial buildings are in a poor state of repair with the main plaza dominated by two churches, the government offices and a bandstand. Similar in fact but not nearly as well cared for as those in El Fuerte and Alamos.

One of the two main churches in the plaza

and the other one with all but one of its bells missing.....

.......and the crosses stacked up around the back!

The beach reminded me of Goa with bars and restaurants under straw canopies lining the waterfront. There were also straw roofed huts on stilts to rent.

Judging by the number of hotels and apartments around the town, many of which appear disused and falling into disrepair, it is, or at least used to be a bustling tourist destination. I wonder how much the media, especially in America, has affected tourism here.

San Blas looked and felt a bit like this sign, somewhat faded having seen better days. Lets hope Mexico starts getting a better press as it has a lot to offer.