What a Birthday!Thank you all so much for your lovely wishes!!! I really had a great birthday. Sascha woke me up at sunrise with a kiss and a coffee. A big plate of fresh mango was waiting for me already and later on he prepared a delicious breakfast with bacon and eggs. From Pam I received a wonderful shirt out of her great shop-collection.It is not naturally having all that happen on a journey so I really appreciated the location and Sascha’s effort – I love you my dear! For the dinner we prepared a delicious fresh fish together and enjoyed the sunset view on Pam´s terrace with a glass of wine.
The lovely time with Pam in Todos Santos ended with a great day swimming, packing and a dinner in a place with Cuban live music – it was time to say good bye…
On Monday the 27th August we left Todos Santos and drove to La Paz to take the ferry which should bring us to the mainland of Mexico. We reserved the trip via telephone and were curious if everything will turn out right. The Ferry (TMC) guys were all very professional, spoke fluent English and were extremely friendly. Very quick all the required documents were done. We had to go on an scale and WOW we were surprised how heavy we are: Sascha and the bike 430kg and Kerstin and the bike 330kg! Holy sh…!!!
The ferry is a cargo line; only people with a vehicle are allowed. Therefore it was packed with truck drivers and we were the only foreigners. The ferry left at 6pm and we knew the trip would take about 16 hours. Everybody was nice and super super friendly. They even provided us cool drinks and introduced us to the cantina (dinner and breakfast is included in the trip). The weather looked calm and the sea flat – perfect as we would need to find a spot on deck to sleep. With the sunset we saw some dolphins playing around and a big turtle before it turned dark. We found a spot in the wind shade which looked perfect to us to set camp and sleep. So we settled, had one or two sips Tequila and watched the stars. We dozed when we recognized dark silhouettes of some sea birds floating in the sky above us and we thought: wow how wonderful is that!!! But I needed a last pi before real sleep and when I went up I recognized that the whole platform and of course as well us, our mattresses and sleeping bags were full of bird shit!!! Sascha went to research if there is maybe a better place and so we moved everything in the middle of the night. At least we had some sleep. We woke up with the sunrise and could see dark clouds and lightning at the horizon above the mainland but luckily it stayed dry where we were. We went up to pick a coffee and breakfast, pack our “shitty” stuff together and having a shower (yes they do have warm showers!) when we recognized all the dolphins jumping around and diving under the boat. All in all we had a very good time on the ferry. Everything was clean and in a good condition and all the people has been friendly and helpful. As scheduled we arrived in Mazatlán at 10am. We packed the bikes and were sweated in a second and we left the ferry while gesturing `adios´ to everybody as quickly as possible.
We left Mazatlán towards east into the mountains driving the old Ruta 40d. What a difference! Suddenly everything was sooo green and mellow. The road was in a good condition and was climbing up the mountains passing little pueblos, villages, with friendly smiling and waving people. The air became more and more fresh and it was the first time since a looong time that we were not sweating anymore while driving and even not when we were stopping – how pleasant for a change. The Ruta 40d is called as well `El Espinaco Del Diablo´ (The Devils Backbone) and is a real pleasure for motorcyclist cause it is providing awesome views and the 2000 turns are magnificent. The road lies almost entirely over 2.000 meters above the sea level and goes eventually above 3000m. And the best we were driving it nearly entirely alone!Somewhere in the middle at about 3pm we crossed once more one of the several police or military checkpoints. So far we cannot say anything negative about them. They always have been friendly often even smiling and were waving us through. From time to time they are asking where we are coming from and where we are going to but not much more. Usually I am driving in front with Pepe as a pillion (you remember the Teddy bear we found in Canada) with open helmet and saying `!Hola! Buenas Dias/Tardes!´ with a big smile! It seems to work J and if they start to ask more I am just saying `no intendo – hablo un pocito espaniol solo´ with a bigger smile (if possible).
Now the sky became dark and suddenly it started to rain. It seems every day at around this time thunderstorms are coming up here in the mountains. Brrrr… the first time since a long time we started freezing and had to search for additional cloth. In a little village called `La Ciudad´ (the city!) we stopped with lightning and thundering all around us. We found a place renting out cabanas and negotiated a price for the night. When the rain stopped we had a look around for food but have been unlucky – maybe it was too early or just the wrong day of the week, who knows we dint find anything…. Anyhow the next hard rain was coming in and we bought some beers and went back to our cabana. There we cooked delicious pasta with chili tomato sauce and parmesan. Sitting under the shelter of our terrace we enjoyed our food and beer while watching the lightning. Knowing we will sleep dry and warm under heavy wool blankets was a big advantage… what a change! Early morning we woke up to continue. The clouds were still hanging low in the mountains but after having coffee the sun came out.
After a nice ride through the mountains at around 3 to 4pm thick clouds came up and rain hit us again; so we skipped the plan to camp in El Parque Nacional Sierra de Órganos. A little bit further on the `Pueblo Magico´ Sombrerete is located. We checked in a Motel and spend the rest of the day exploring this beautiful place. We walked around, found a real good foot place and enjoyed the friendly atmosphere until sunset; just when the next thunderstorm came in we were back and had a good and DRY sleep.
The next morning we were not really sure how to continue. We used the possibility of an fast internet connection and booked a Airbnb in Zacatecas. Not so far away and made a contact for Couchsurfing in Guadalajara. In Zacatecas we negotiated a good price for two people in an old amazing villa. When we entered the building we could smell the history… and we moved into the suite with a gigantic balcony overlooking the whole town… WOW! We enjoyed the rest of the day walking around and visiting as well a beautiful church `Temple of Fatima´ where the priest welcomed and invited us hearty to visit it.
Close by is La Quemada an archeological site situated and we took the chance to leave all our valuables at the AirBnB and went there the early morning. We were the only visitors at arrival. The site is made up of numerous different sized platforms built onto the hill and it is one of the places visited by the Aztecs in their migration to the basin of Mexico, where they left their elderly and children. We spent about 3 hours climbing the mountain and the hundreds of steps and adoring the views and the peace of this place. For that day we caught enough sun and we used the afternoon to clean our mattresses and sleeping bags from the bird shit which we got on the ferry ride. The evening we walked around downtown and found a Mexican restaurant full of oddities. Later on we joined the musician groups on the streets – funny smiling singing dancing people all around!
The road going south to Guadalajara is a big straight red line on our map. We only have a map with a very big scale and we had no idea how the road would be like. We expected these 370km will be pretty boring but pretty soon it turned into a beautiful winding road through the mountains and we really enjoyed the ride. Just before we reached the Guadalajara a gorgeous view on the `Salto del Nogal´, a 105m high waterfall welcomed us.
We stay with Ernesto, a Couchsurfing place. He is a fabulous guy and living with his German shepherd dog in a little flat at a spectacular place. Such a Buena Vista, outlook!!! One evening we explored the city and we can tell you with the sunset the whole city becomes a `theater´; everywhere artists, dancing groups, musicians and smiling and laughing faces – a fantastic atmosphere! Ernesto and his friend Eva took us to a Mexican breakfast. It had a breathtaking view to the valley with the Rio Santiago. They introduced us all the traditional Mexican breakfast specialties. We learned a lot and that is actually the reason why we love Couchsurfing from time to time. You are with the locals and you learn so much about tradition, culture, food, language, the location, fauna and flora… Today we will meet another friend of Ernesto, a motorcyclist who travels a lot as well. We are curious to hear about his experiences. He can give us maybe good advice and suggestions where to go and what to see… Once again we do not have a clue yet where we go next J sooo many beautiful places around…
Until then we are `working´ on the update in our office with this unique breathtaking view surrounded by all kind of birds, many hummingbirds, butterflies and iguanas
The bikes are shipped; the flat is empty and the storage filled to the last centimeter and tomorrow we are flying to ALASKA! All “good byes” are done and we say once more THANK YOU for all the fantastic helping hands and good wishes!!!
We will keep you updated regularly and we look forward to receive many comments and news on our posts and guestbook from all of you J
TAKE CARE and see you soon,
Kerstin & Sascha
The start of our trip comes closer: Last day of work (for Kerstin) and HAPPY EASTER to everybody!!!
One more step towards our goal is done: Kerstin had her last day of work! She prepared a collection of cakes for her `good-bye´
But the warm good-bye present-table of her colleagues was just overwhelming: Flowers to give us an idea of spring (we still have snow here), sweets for the soul, a lovely memory book of her team, a professional fish-hook to feed us during the journey (salmon take care we are coming!) and they collected an impressive amount of money which may help us to support one or the other person/ family on the road… :) Thank you all once again for this warmly ´good-bye´!!!
Now it was time for a glass of sparkling wine and Easter was a great possibility to meet some family members and starting the `see you soon – round´. Anyhow: WE WISH YOU ALL A HAPPY EASTER, enjoy the spring and take care – we still have to organize some things and time starts really to run now – but of course we gone make it ;)
Kisses Kerstin & Sascha
Suddenly the time is rushing. In three-month already we have an appointment with some grizzlies and caribou somewhere in Alaska – WOW! A number of our tasks we accomplished, some are ongoing and others are still to do or rather we have to find a solution for.
Last year in October Kerstin did a Spanish course in Alicante and both we are learning vocabularies on a daily base since then. Vaccinations we did not have to do much and meanwhile we have new passports, the international driving licenses and as well motorcycle documentation. Kerstin resigned her job and is counting her last working days. Status of today: 23, wowowowoooo!!!
The parents of our landlord kindly provided us their garage to store our bikes for the winter months as well to do the required maintenance there. When we started to do so in January we had a moment of shock: one of the spark plugs of Sascha’s AT was broken in the cylinder head and Sascha came home with the message: `My bike is fu..ed!´ Thanks to the help of the great AT community and a mechanic in our neighborhood Sascha was able to fix it. It took a full weekend al lot of sweat and tricky moments, several evenings after work but finally the AT was running again!!!
Now we could continue the normal maintenance. All this evenings and weekends in the cold garage resulted in a bad cold and later on we both caught a flu virus additional. This compulsory break of 3 weeks was not really what we needed and made us a little nervous. But hey – back on the track! Today Sascha went back to the garage to finalize some electrical issues and Kerstin is sitting at the sewing machine to finish some additional mash-bags for the top of the cases to store wet clothes/sandals, groceries and coffee cups. Also she is sewing some secret-pockets where we can fit some papers.
On Tuesday we have an appointment at the US embassy in Berlin to apply for our 6 month visa – we will go there with the first train in the early morning; cross fingers they will award it to us!
Beside several small things we have to resolve some elementary things: to find a tenant of our flat for this one year period, we need to find somebody who would like to drive our car or sell it and of course we need to arrange the transport of our bikes to Anchorage and build an appropriate box for them. And least but not last we have to book our flights…
Of course we do spent some time as well about the route – the Pan-American is legend and it is quite a distance to Terra del Fuego. Many options where to stop what to see and where to drive in or not… Shortly we received a note of some friends we made in New Zealand 2011, Chris an Marty, who are planning to come in June to Vancouver and spend some time cruising. We are really looking forward meeting them and hopefully we can work out a couple of days together. As well we want to visit Junichi, a Japanese guy whom we met 2013 in Tasmania and who owns a vineyard now somewhere close to Portland. And we are excited to all new people we are going to meet along this loooong way J If you have any hints, tips or “must see” please feel free to let us know.