Diary & Travel Reports from the saddle
Mexico City - How could I resist ? 15 December 2002
Simon Milward is in Mexico City requesting support for integration of motorcycles in delivering health services to areas without proper roads.
The Director of Prevention and Control of Illnesses of the State of Oaxaca, Dr Armando Altamirano Jimenez met Milward two weeks ago. He told Milward that he wants ten motorbikes for use in delivering vaccinations and other health services to remote parts of the Region of Mixteca.
Milward is promoting the initiative to the federal health department, investigating prices and models with manufacturers and inviting support from interested parties.
Milward is creating a Spanish language Millennium Ride list. Let him know if you want to receive Spanish info. Spanish updates will be different: there will be no real format nor common approach. If you get a press release today in Spanish you are already on that list.
Seasons Greetings to one and all.
Here I am gazing out over Mexico City. My field of vision covers about 40% of the land area that is home to 22 million people, the second largest city in the world after Tokyo. It is at 3,000m above sea level and the temperature just nice.
The colonial type six-floored twelve bedroomed mansion where I am staying belongs to Nicholas Reynolds, a Professor of Mathematics at Greengates International School. Up in the hills north of downtown, it feels a bit like an Indian Hill Station. There is barely a sound from the teeming metropolis below and the downtown hi-rises are just visible today through the smog. On windy days the air is clear.
This area was first settled by descendents of the Sahas from Siberia more than 10,000BC. A number of powerful civilizations ruled from the area before the Aztecs arrived from the north in the 13th Century AD. They settled on an island in a lake where an eagle, eating a snake, landed on a cactus. Thinking it was a message from a god they named it Tenochtitlan (ĎPlace for the High Priest of Tenuchí). Human hearts had to be regularly supplied to appease gods and the Aztecs had a reputation for all sorts of grisly human sacrifices. The Spanish conquest started in 1519 and the foundations of modern Mexico and the indigenous-Spanish mix were laid.
I am enjoying Mexico City. The traffic isnít too bad and filtering on the pereferico is a bit like Paris, quite fast if you have the balls. There is some really majestic architecture. The only drawback is that I have got lost more so here than anywhere since New Delhi.
The view from here is an inspiration. Iíve gone north again. I was in the city of Oaxaca, learning a bit more Spanish with the school Solexico. Then following the pretty heavy Millennium Ride press coverage the least I could do was show the local health authority the motorcycle system. The state illness prevention chief wanted ten bikes to experiment with. The local doctors and medical workers are even more enthusiastic. For me to spend a couple of weeks networking and helping to move the discussion on is nothing. Anyway even if they donít go for it, it has been a useful exercise for me.
A city of colour culture and clashes. Well, the more militant type of street demos ended nearly twenty years ago, but still there are daily protests and demos by groups of impoverished from the regions. I unsuccessfully waited around for a week for a letter from the health chief and managed to visit the ancient ruined cities of Zapotec and Mixtec peoples. Places like Monte Alban, Yagul and Mitla. Monte Alban was the most impressive, built low to the ground because of earthquakes (I felt a good rumble here last week) but nevertheless impressive. I also had time to play my harmonica along to some Muddy Waters and other classic blues at Mikeís place, where I also became the gardener. On the way north I checked out some of the tracks to the rural communities in Mixteca.
At Greengates School last week I thoroughly enjoyed taking the children on a virtual world tour with my PowerPoint presentation, telling them how lucky they were to get education and that they should all live their dreams. Teachers Nick and Johnís personal donations they want considered as a corporate Greengates one.
Kodak Mexico very kindly gave me a new KE85 35mm zoom camera and very nice it is too. My last zoom smashed into many pieces in Mazatlan in October, I dropped it off a sea wall and one part was claimed by the Pacific Ocean.
This is 35mm number six. My digital camera, a gift from ABATE of Indiana in 2001, is still going strong though the flash has packed up.
Well I havenít really gone that far in the last month. Soaking up Mexico needs to be done leisurely. I havenít even made up my mind about when to leave the City here, before or after Christmas. Supreme flexibility. The call of the highway is always there. Iím giving Cuba a miss for now. Cuba would welcome my bike and I, but when it came to leave, the bike would have to stay!
Below is a thank you letter from Doctors Without Borders (Medecins sans Frontieres) Holland for US$15,000 sent to them. This results from many of you choosing MSF for your Millennium Ride donation. Thank you. Thanks also to various groups and individuals in Canada and the USA who donated directly and separately to their national MSF office. The rest of the US$105,000 raised so far is for reaching out by motorcycle with health services: US$65,000 has been sent to the Flores Project, most of the rest is banked with Motorcycle Outreach in the USA, and a little is banked in Europe.
Bye for now,
Dear Simon Milward,
Medecins sans Frontieres - Holland would like to thank you again for your substantial contribution to our work.
We were happy to receive 7000 euros in September 2002 and at the end of October 2002 another 7996,62 euros from the Millennium Ride.
At this moment MSF-H is running projects in more than 30 countries. We provide short-term medical aid in emergency situations, but also long-term aid in areas of chronic conflict. In a number of countries we are the only aid organization on the scene.
You probably passed through many of the countries where our projects take place during your long journey. So you might have seen the ever-increasing need for our work with your own eyes.
We have been reading your travel updates with pleasure and wish you good luck on the remaining part of the road.
Many regards and thank you for your support,
Public Information Department
[Home] [Intro] [Start] [Diary] [Events] [Motorcycle Groups] [The Bike] [The Rider] [The Route] [Press Reports] [Contact]