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Iohan Gueorguiev – MEXICO: ASH, DUST AND CHRISTMAS (JALISCO, MICHOACAN)

Jalisco, Mexico. December 6 2015

The view near my campsite, a day out of Guadalajara.

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Big busy roads, very dusty too. Riding into town was like the season finale of a soap opera. A lot of tears. Somehow I always had somethig in my eyes.

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I bet he’s thinking “God, what did you do to this wheel!” On my way out the owner refused to take my money. They even called few bike shops to see if they had the tires I needed.
Instead, I went to a big bike shop and bought brand name tires, afraid of trying a brand I’ve never heard of before… even if it was half the price.

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After making it tru town, I promised to never visit a major city in Mexico. Busy traffic and crazy bus drivers.
Mandatory stop at the first golden arches I’ve seen in Mexico.

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I arrived at warmshowers host’s place to be greeted by:
“Hey, are you the korean?” Turned out Jin was visiting there too. He cycled down from Whitehorse, YT this summer.

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Next day we went to a bike race and I got my first glimpse of the Colima volcano, guess thats where I go next.

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Everybody was having fun, seemed like nobody cared much about 1st place. Why dash to the finish line when you can do a wheelie!

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Biggest winner was that kid in the yellow shirt. She rode a tricycle for two laps, smiling the entire time and waving!

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I got a 2nd place in the “noobs” category for my first race and also met some people from Guzman, where one can access the volcano.

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Next morning, out of Guadalajara: “Dont do it man, dont drink the water!”

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Furniture delivery at its finest, hope there arent any gusts of wind.

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And the toll highway, I took the “around the booth” special.

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But I wasn’t here for the big shoulder and flat road…

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It was the laguna that caught my eye.

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Maybe I can go hippo-packing now.

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As I reached the water, I decided to get back on the road. Wind had blown all garbage to the edge, not a pretty sight.
This is what happens when fence hopping goes wrong.

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I saw a man pushing his bike on the other side. With my limited spanish, I yelled at him to come over and fixed his flat. He’s been biking since 5am from Guzman. His bike was a relic, the tires were falling apart, while I was fixing them he started collecting empty cans near the road. Gotta keep this in mind next time I think about complaining about something.

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In Guzman, I joined Santiago and his friends to the ghost bike ride. Everytime a cyclist is killed people put up a white bike where it has happened. That explains those in Guadalajara, few times I stopped to look at one thinking there was a bike shop nearby.

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Then we went for a local specialty: “taco del perro.” I was later told that it was a joke and perro means dog. I’m finally learning some spanish!

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On the way up Nevado de Colima, we meet Rojas, selling tamales (corn pure wraps stuffed with cheese or pork). He lived in USA for 20 years and I ask him where he likes it better.
“Here, I make a batch of 100, sell them by noon and make 45$ (USD). I dont have to pay rent, bills, insurance…”

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The road up is about 25km, climbing from 1500m to 4000 and then a trail to the volcano.

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With a late start and the clouds, we turned back at the park gate at 3000m.

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The way down was via a singletrack that Santiago and his friends cleared 9 years ago.

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Looking at Guzman on the way back.

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Then there was a local bike ride.

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At night.

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I met with Hugo and Saul, two brothers who used a drone to video the bike race few days ago.

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They took me down to Colima, via the old (free) road. Around a curve we came onto a semi passing a gravel truck. Holy crap, these roads are dangerous.
Meanwhile, there is a second toll road being built across canyons and valleys.

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Most of the day went like this: so this is a great spot to see the volcano but not now because of the clouds.

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En route back, I offered to pay for the toll road. The narrow windy alternative did not seem like a good option in the rain and in the dark.

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Bummer. Bumper to bumper.

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Nevado de Colima, take #2 this time with an overnight.

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And better weather.

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Looks like they plant trees here too. The seedlings come in flowerpots by the looks of it its way tougher than when I do it in summer in BC.

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Almost heaven.

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Almost in focus too.

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Then I kind of found this nice switchback at 2pm and just sat there, shivering, reading and looking at the sun and the volcano for the rest of the day.

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Pep, a geologist from Spain paid me a visit at sunset.

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They had a whole bunch of equipment monitoring the volcano. Including DSLR doing a nightlapse. Sadly the footage was university property.

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Staying in for the evening, there was even wifi… which also reached my tent. Two years ago Carlos had carried his bike all the way to the top.

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I borrowed a blanket to help keep warm at 4000m, my sleeping bag is rated 2C, pad with no R value and it was -3°C and very very windy. (Poor geologists actually had to measure temperature all night at 20min intervals).

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The cloud filled valley cleared up to reveal Colima

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There was just one more thing to do!

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Back in town I borrowed Alan’s laptop. Lets just say that learning final cut and using a mac at the same town was rather difficult. I spent 20 minutes trying to find where the rendered file went. NOTE: nutella was there for moral support

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And the video:

Instead of the coast, I headed east toward the next volcano. I met again with Hugo and Saul who took some drone videos along the way.

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It also didnt make sense to ask them to wait 2 hours while I climb that mountain so we found another way.

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Enjoying the sunset and transfering files. My campsite was just one fence hop away.

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Almost all downhill next day.

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Unlike what Florence has you thinking, the dog days are definitely not over. They are just beginning.

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Dropped all the way to the blazing heat at 500m… yup definitely not going to the coast if i can help it.

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Big climb next morning

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But it was alright. Stopping often at small stores and talking with people in the shade.

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Lucked out with some free avocadoes from the avocado truck!

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Arrived at the small town of Periban and went for a walk.

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Returned to the hotel few hours later to see the owner still watching my video. Really made me happy and so do all these youtube comments & emails.

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Then he showed me the way to the roof, just in time for the sunset.

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Secondary road to the next town, through endless avocado plantations.

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A motorcyclist was sitting by the shoulder, i figured he was out of gas. Luckily i run my stove on gasoline now so i had enough to get him to the next town.

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Next town, $10 cabin and watching the sunset with Marco, who also offered me a 6 hour horse ride to the volcano.

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Not into touristy stuff but spending a day with Ermosa wont be that bad.

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Good thing horses had granny gear, i dont think i can push a horse up a volcano…

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A mountain biker from Morelia turned back near the end. The trail was pretty tough.

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But… the rim ride would have been epic!

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Ah… its so nice being a kid.

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or a horse…

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There was also a visit to the church, in 1943 the lava engulfed the entire town and this is what’s left

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Although beautiful at first sight,

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This little town has some ominous messages over large speakerphones all the time. Somebody told me its for selling food but it was really terrifying.

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En route to Paracho, famous for guitarmaking. White dog by the road ate all my sliced ham I got for lunch… lucky bugger.

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Sadly the big guitar was bein repaired. And i was kind of excited to keep going east.

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Later I kind of got stuck behind a wedding… took a while to make it across town.

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4 people had warned me about this region. Road blockades and donations in cut coca cola bottles. But why were some of them walking around with guns? Luckily they lifted the barrier for me and i just went through. No eye contact, no cameras. This shot is looking back at the last blockade.

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Mexico logging at its finest!

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Then I reached the toll highway, where shoulders are for trucks and slow traffic.

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But my favorite part is sneaking around the toll booths!!!

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Toll highway and trance music all the way to Morelia, the capital of Michoacan.

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Swag neighbourhoods behind electric fences and hilltop condos.

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So it was christmas. The last 20km of road did not offer much camping, 40$ hotel wasnt an option and it was getting dark.

I decided to ride down a dirt road and ask the first house if i can camp.

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Then we went to the Posada at the church.

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And little kids swinging bats at candy filled shiny thingys.

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I dont know what Y’all got for christmas but i got a little mexican baby!!!

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And a great evening with great people. Interestingly we managed to communicate well enough in spanish.

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There was also the sunset duck.

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Perro peligroso. Dangerous dog, after I went to pet him, they said “no peligroso para tu,” and untied him.

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Grumpy dog and couch dog.

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Couch dog also starrs as under the chair dog.

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The attack dog – bonbon.

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Perro loco. Crazy dog, she doesnt know what to do when you are near.

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Gaio combate. They are training this and few more chickens for fights.

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And of course my morning alarm. “Beeeee”

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Next day i rode up with two cyclists from town.

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Into the beautiful cedar forests which start at above 2500m

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“Bread”, right next to political slogans. I would def vote for bread if i could!

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what happens when the towing truck breaks down… note the other truck behind it which was being towed!

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Also, beware of tacos!

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A fine example of carpooling, just out of Pitascuaro.

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Right after sneaking past a toll booth, Psssssst. Flat. Luckily a trucker helped me.

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Oh yeah, i am in Mexico state now! Happy new year!

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the plan is to climb the toluca volcano and ride the rim then head on over to the popocatepl (or something like that), then probably hit some more backroads on the way.

Podaj dalej!
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