Diary & Travel Reports from the saddle
Mayas, beach, goodbye to Mexico - 06 January 2003
Iím emailing from Chetumal right in the SE corner of Mexico in the State of Quintana Roo. Tomorrow I cross the border to tiny Belize, ending my three months in the glorious country which passed all too quickly.
Iíve just been to the magnificent Maya Museum here, the best I have seen. This morning I left Tulum, 250km to the north. The turquoise sea and white sand beaches got the better of me for a few days so my tent was pitched beneath a coconut palm. Sunrise came over the Carribbean Sea beckoning me to an early swim in the warm water before leisurely preparing breakfast. Life is hard, but someone has to do it!
On checking my passport and tourist card, I was given a 30 day business visa on entry to Mexico ≠ I should have checked it earlier. I wonder if they will notice tomorrow at the border.
From Mexico City I rode back to Oaxaca city and on to the south coast, stopping for a while here and there for meetings with medical workers, saying so long to the Legionarios MC and inspecting former Oxfam worker Grahamís carpet factory. Chiapas is Mexicoís poorest State and you could see it in the people and buildings. Then north to Villahermosa in the State of Tabasco (not of the famous sauce, that is made in Louisiana USA) in hard rain where I spent a lovely Christmas afternoon and night with Jorge (from Guadalajara) and his family.
Then further north to Campeche and Merida in the Yukatan Peninsular. Merida is a wonderful city, with free concerts in the evenings on the main plaza where one thousand people dance the salsa. These are mainly Mayan people who are very short. In fact I was among the tallest there, but this wasnít the only reason I stayed for a half a week A brief but very intensive fling with a Jewish girl called Bareena took me by surprise, I shall have to treat it as an interesting supplement to my education about this people, some things are just not meant to be. Look out for the full story in my forthcoming book!
I didnít at all like Cancun itself, a holiday city in the NE of the Yukatan Peninsular. It has expansive expensive hotels, enough glitze to make you throw up, and the police supply the cocaine.
THE MAYAN WORLD
The Maya history started about 2500 BC. No-one really knows why the people deserted their magnificent temples and grand plazas to live in the thick jungle, though the Spanish Conquest in the 1500s certainly didnít help matters. Mayan ruins are all over southern Mexico, Guatemala, and parts of Belize, Honduras and El Salvador. The splendid structures and awe-inspiring pyramids leave me open-mouthed and in wonder. Palenque, Chichen Itza, Tulum are the most memorable ones so far but I have many to go. Iím sure to be templed-out by the time I hit Honduras!
The mathematical and astronomical/astrological knowledge of the Mayas leave you betwitched. Maize is eaten as much now as it was then. It is thought that Mayan children has slabs of wood strapped to their foreheads to give them the sloping back head look. The limestone of the Northern Yukatan results in underground rivers and cenotes are water-filled holes, sometimes 50m in diameter, where the ground has collapsed into the river. The Mayans believed these to be passages to the underworld where they threw human sacrifices, jewels and all sorts. There is so much to learn about the Mayas: the best I can do is point you to the University of Minnesota Duluthís seemingly excellent website at www.d.umn.edu/cla/faculty/troufs/anth3618/mamaya.html
A hearty and big thanks to these latest corporate donators enabling motorcycles to help save lives in Flores Indonesia:
Nikiski Church of the Nazarene, Kenai, Alaska,
Lehman Trikes Inc., USA,
Greengates International School, Mexico City,
Legendarios Motorcycle Club of Villahermose, Tabasco, Mexico.
Progressive Suspension graciously DHLíd me a new damper unit (plus spare!) to Mexico City after my mistreatment resulted in a breakage. My tyres are nearly bald again but Iím trying to sort out if Metzeler can get me some new ones in Central America. My sidestand broke in Oaxaca, it was welded, but keeled over again the other day in a gas station after filling up. Now palm trees, kerbs, walls, other vehicles all lend a hand when I have to park it. Iíd better get it fixed properly, or remade, before the next desert! I found a sheared cush drive bolt this morning ≠ eleven out of twelve will get me to Belize or Guatemala - remember them Kev?). I really love my bike.
POSSIBLE MEXICO PROJECT
If am still waiting to hear if Oaxaca State is prepared to find the cash to buy a fleet of bikes (at hopefully cost price from one of the Mexican importers, all of whom I met in Mexico City). I told them Iíd return to give some more advice as to the next stage. But we may need to find training costs for a fleet manager. My last meeting with the local medical team left me with absolute confidence that they are motivated enough to make a success of it. But we would somehow need to find some training costs. Iím thinking again about the development aid billions spent every year. Or of some really kind hearted company or individual or group with a soft spot for Mexico and some cash. We could give it a really excellent shot for $30-$40,000 and get going immediately, full project proposal and budget (prepared by the local team) is as good as ready, just give us the word.
My Dad died at Christmas. I am so happy to have seen him alive last year, when he was granted a reprieve as a result of prayers, for which I thank many of you. God rest his soul and comfort the rest of my family particularly my Stepmum Mo.
Iím off to enjoy my last night in Mexico.
Simon Milward, on the road
A solo fundraising round the world ride on a handmade motorcycle. Help us help motorcycles and motorcyclists improve the health of fellow human beings.
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