Tierra Del Fuego

Day 10 – January 14

We had a fascinating stay in San Miguel – Harriet and Derek’s hospitality was superb and we thoroughly enjoyed their friends. We wanted to stay longer, but Helge has us on a “forced march” itinerary. It was great to see Marge - - she turned out to be a godsend for the trip – not only did she bring the new spring for the shock absorber on my motorcycle, but we were able to leave an entire suitcase of extra stuff with her that we shouldn’t have brought along. With any long trip such as this it’s smart to take at least a one-week pre-trip to determine all that you will need - - I clearly had not taken enough of a shakedown trip or done enough prior planning.
Our bikes in Harriet’s Courtyard

It rained last night which made the San Miguel cobblestones treacherous for motorcycles – the roads are made with rounded brook stones six-eight inches in diameter and this combined with the steep descents and inclines makes even walking challenging.

We have 250 miles to cover between San Miguel and Taxco bypassing the nasty Mexico City traffic.

Determining our route

Modern Mexican Gas Station Convenience Store

Our schedule did not allow a visit to Mary Tyler Moore, my dad’s Mexican half sister, nor my cousins in Mexico City. Ideally, that trip will happen when I can bring the rest of the family along.

Half of this current stretch is at altitudes of 7,000-8,000 feet with a much different eco-system than previously encountered.

We also came upon our first snow covered mountains.

The mountains in Mexico are mostly volcanic – here is a view of one.

There were significant farms at these high altitudes with running streams, corn and other vegetables and big healthy trees. I am still marveling at the tremendous differences between the dry Baja and the rest of Mexico and these lush fields.

At one point there was a two-mile traffic jam apparently caused when large 40-foot semis squeezed onto this tiny mountain road.

Prelude to the major traffic jam

Helge maneuvered between trucks and cars, dodging oncoming traffic to work his way to the head of the line and find a bypass around the blockage. I would expect that this gridlock lasted most of the day.

We rode through a town lined with street vendors – this man was holding up a well-endowed sweater and quickly ducked behind it when he saw my camera (Mexicans are generally modest).

Yet another issue with my motorcycle – the HP2 does not have a balance shaft which causes it to vibrate substantially more than the standard BMW Adventurer. I discovered that one of the three bolts had vibrated out of the kickstand causing the two remaining bolts to bend. So now to park the motorcycle I have to lean it against something – not real convenient.

My bike troubles thus far: a broken kickstand, fasteners which have vibrated out of the windshield, insufficient shock absorber spring, a stance on the bike which crouches backward and changes the rake and the trail of the front suspension and the leather-covered seat absorbs water. In addition it’s difficult to take pictures on the fly – I need to have a sheath to securely hold a camera which is easy to access even when wearing gloves. Helge has this well figured out with a helmet mounted camera that can take stills and video.

Side note – at some point I was served some fish soup for lunch that was so strong that the one teaspoon I had upset my stomach for days.

We arrived in Taxco, a beautiful silver mining town, with San Miguel-type houses tightly packed together.

The city is heavily associated with silver, both with the mining of it and other metals and for the crafting of it into jewelry, silverware and other items. This reputation, along with the city’s picturesque homes and surrounding landscapes have made tourism the main economic activity as the only large-scale mining operation here is coming to a close.

Everything is walled with no yards visible from the street. Our hotel is on the quaint town square, filled with people young and old, a band playing and boys and girls holding hands and snuggling. I was wondering if our public square in Cleveland could ever have this ambience and be a go-to location. We agreed that the culture of hanging-out on a public square was something South American and European – only rarely American.

We sent off one of the hotel personnel to locate some replacement bolts for my motorcycle and he returned an hour later with everything I needed. They are hardened cap screws of a specific length – easily found in Cleveland (Seitz-Agin or Sutton’s) – but I was astounded that they could be found in a small town such as this. I will install the new bolts early tomorrow.

We had dinner at a restaurant overlooking the square and I turned in around 9:00 p.m. When I awoke at 2:00 a.m. there was still activity and music in the square.
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