Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Mexico City for a week, passing by a Butterfly Monarch Sanctuary

I arrive at Ciudad Hidalgo Nov 21st and it's dark. After checking few overpriced hotels I decided to stop to one, just before entering the town. Like a "get a girl hotel". Paid the guy, told I'm hungry, he walk with me down the dark field, then down the dark gravel alley to a taco stand that was closed, keep walking down the dark back alley of gravel to a open tacos stand. Had 6 tacos. The tacos were good, but I was surprised finding one in a dark back gravel alley. Woke up the next morning by I'm not sure what, sounded like machine gun shots and lots of traffic going out of town. Stepped outside to see what's going on, a guy speaking English told me to not worry, the church just blow up some fireworks for some Saint. I realize the hotel was just next to that sign: Bingo! I knew where to go. 

I've just followed to signs, pass by some old ruins.

There are actually many sancturaries for the Monarch Butterflies, I could choose left or right, either way. I've just followed the tour bus to one of them. Funny the bus got stopped to a Police check point but not me. After asking a few locals where the heck I'm going I got there. They've rebuilt the whole place with lots of stores and restaurants, but almost nobody was there. Probably everybody was too scrared of going to Mexico? For 35 pesos I got my own personnal guide included with my entry fee. Probably to make sure nobody is disturbing the butterflies and shaking the branches where they are.  Then we needed to hike there, with my dirtbike boots. Still had sore anckel after being hit from behing by a car. It gave me a few blisters and it was a little too cold for the butterflies to be active, but I'm happy I've seen it.

It's hard to see on the picture, but the branches are full of butterflies. They are darker with theirs wings are closed, it's too cold for them. Maybe 15 degree celcius. 
As soon as some ligh came out, they open their wings and the trees change color. 

After sitting down a little bit I've hiked back with my own personnal guide. So bad my Spanish was too bad. Fortunately, I've met with a couple of French people. They are going to Tierra del Fuego by feet or public transport and they spoke Spanish. We had a good meal together.

I had to go after that, needed to get closer to Mexico City to meet my friend Dan. I've decided to take it easy for that. Too many people told me it's a crazy town so I wanted to be relaxed to get there. Stopped in a very nice "Love, get a girl, cheat on your wife Hotel" in Toluca not too far from the big town. It was cheap, very nice, and secured. I had my own garage to park the bike.

They gave me my complemetery beer and condom. So bad it wouldn't be used that night. And a menu: preservatives, oil, viagra, lights, vibrators, anything you want to have fun. Even porn channels.

I just ordered more beer and food, that came tru that little door up the stairwell so the guy that brings it doesn't see your face while you're there. 
The next day, headed to Mexico City. Throught the free road instead of the toll road. Toll road can be expensive, and usually boring. It can cost a few hundred pesos for a very short distance. It's faster but It's more $$$ than I would spend in hotel, food and beers in a day, not worth it IMO.

It was a scenic road up and down hills and curves. Slow trucks blowing black smoke and slowing everybody, but me. I'm on a bike and I'm happy I've got something with a little power. I used my horn more that day than my whole life. While you pass people over the double line at reverse traffic on a cruve while a truck could decide to take to whole road, people need to know you're there.  
Got to Mexico City, in some traffic but not nearly as bad as I've imagined. My left arm had enought motion to use the horn, frequently. Everybody drive anyhow very fast, very closed to each other. Nobody let you go as you try to merge in, same as in Montreal, just a little worse but not very much. Same thing for traffic, so my Montreal driving experience was quite useful!

I've stopped in downtown to call Dan asking where to meet. We meet at the airport and I follow him to his house:
And I think he own the house across the street because that where I've parked the bike, inside the heavy steel door, very secure.

I was impressed by how secured every houses are: like a cage or a prison, steel bars at the doors, windows, everything. Nobody can get in, or out I guess... 
As soon as I get in he gave me beer. 
and met the dog: Sirillo 
After a few beers we bought more and headed to a show in town with Phitos, on the right. Traffic jam to get there, parking was blocked by a cone but I've removed it so we get in. Then we headed to the show before it's over. 

After that Dan we headed to Gina, on the right, where we drank more before I slep there. Gina had a spare bedroom and Dan's family was over visiting... Dan picked us up the next morning and gave me breakfast. A very excellent breakfast. His brothers, father, mother, grand mother, aunt etc were there too.  Picture at the table with Dan, his brother Said and Gina. They all treated me very nicely, like a family member. I was impressed by everyone hospitality.

 After a good breakfast, Dan Phitos and I headed to the Guatalupe Cathedral:

It was too late to go see the pyramids so we went at his bar to drink, and drank. We also played "The asshole game", a very popular cards game in Quebec.

And finished the night, very late, at Gina's, where I'll be sleeping that night. Took a picture when Dan and Phitos looked serious for one moment.
 Dan picked me up again. We had another excellent breakfast to his place with his family and we headed to the famous pyramids of Teotihuacan with Phitos.

On the left the Pyramid of the Moon, on the right the Pyramid of the Sun. 
We climbed up some smaller pyramid because everybody else were doing it, took some pictures. The place in huge!! The Calle de los Mortos (Street of the Dead) was about 4 km long! I could not beleive how  big it was!

 There was pool
 And residential neighboorhoods.
Walking by the place we tried to imagine what the place looked like back then. 

Picture from the Pyramid of the Moon, the smaller one.

Picture of the road of the deads with Dan.

 Then all of us.

Then we had to climb the Pyramid of the Sun: a person on that pyramid look like a small dot so big it is. 
It was funny to see Phitos trying to keep up with me climbing up, he did not die, but almost LOL

Then we went to Dan's bar, "Iguana Rock", to then go see a soccer game with Phitos and a guy I forgot his name, I think he was Chibba, or it sounded like that. 

 We bought tickets from some tickets scalpers and got in, with like 30 police officers checking you out.
The stadium was full and we got 1st row ticket. The Pumas VS Monterrey.

I don't care so much about soccer but this was quite fun, good ambiance at the stadium. People screaming all kind of insults at the players, referees, police officers standing by, it was quite funny to watch.

 I think we had the best crowd. They had compressed air gun to blow tee-shirt far away in the crowd. All of us won a tee-shirt and Phitos won a soccer ball 
Lots of people on the way out 
We finished to night at the bar again, drinking.
The next day woke up late, Dan brings me to the BMW dealer in Mexico City, but we were too late. We go the the bar, they serve food and Said is doing the cooking. It's Friday and it's full of people. My glass is alway full. These guys know how to party. I met Gustavo and his girlfriend Itzel, and other cool people. 

My job was to throw to chicken wings bones to Rene, the dog living on the roof. picture from iphone. His owner doesnt care too much about him, he just gives him water, he survive from the chicken wing leftovers we throw at him. As Itzel was mentionning to me, Mexico doesn't have much laws to protect animals. She said she sometimes sees drunk people beating up homeless animal and torturing them and the Police can't do anything about it... I believe it as I've seen many homeless dogs scared of people, for a reason. 

Some night we slept at around 9am, wake up late and couldnt do much the next day, but Dan's family always gave me an excellent meal. They live walking distance to the bar so they don't need to be in traffic jam, and when we were it's because they wanted to show me something in town. We sometimes made shortcut tru "bad neighborhood" but I've never felt in danger. The big town is not nearly as bad as I've imagined, but you see everything; people changing car engine out the street, a fat guy with his girlfriend pulling a larger garbage bin with one hand while driving his scooter the opposite way of the traffic, the police driving everywhere always with theirs flashing lights on, 20 cars going tru a red light while the police is there, 3 guys on a scooter with no helmet driving on sidewalk dodging people to avoid traffic and a red light, people in pickup box, even the police, kids sitting on top of the garbage truck or on the top ledge of a gravel truck. You get the picture, you can almost do anything you want. I actually like it. In Calgary I got ticket for crossing an invisible line, ticket for going 5km over the limit, parking tickets while I was out of country, they go by the book and it's a pain.  

Anyway between the drinking and party's I've been able to change my oil, brake pads and check air filter for my 20 000 km service I've done myself. I was suppose to check the valves but I'll do it later. 

I did not mentionned the guy living in the house across the street from Dan's house, where my bike is parked, is actually a well known artist: Reynaldo Velazquez. He read lots of books and was very knowledgeable. He's doing a lot of wood scupture and was very talented, even though most of his his art had a penis somewhere...  When he saw my bike he start drawing on wood and he'll make a scupture of my bike. I was quite surprised and touched actually. Before leaving Mexico city he had one of his piece expose to an art gallery about "body and flesh". We went there and took a picture from my iphone:

I left the next day, December 1st already, said goodbye to Dan, his mom and dad:

They've all threated me like a familly member, giving me a food and a place to stay without asking anything. I can't thank them enought for their hospitality, it was amazing. Dan's other brother, Eric ont the left, was there and also spent lot of time with us. His mom even made me some tortas for lunch.

I really enjoyed my time with everyone I've met in Mexico city and now that i have lots of friends there I would definitely come back, no hesitation. Everyboby were so good to me I can only hope I could pay that half back by receiving them at home in Canada, wherever it might be. Thank you so much for it guys!

Following: Acapulco and Puerto Escondido, the paradise surf.


  1. Allô Simon
    Je suis contente pour toi de cet accueil chaleureux que tu as eu à Mexico. Et qui sait, tu auras peut-être de la visite mexicaine au Canada ou au Québec! Un bien gros merci à Dan et à toute sa famille. Vous êtes super !
    D'une mère qui apprécie votre générosité.

  2. Hey Simon, neat to see the experiences that you have been having! It looks like you are traveling slow and taking it all in. That is the way to do it. Hope you have a great rest of the trip!