Marieke & Arnold
Arnold and Marieke are setting out to fill in the gap of their American West Coast journeys from
has more members overseas at present that in NZ : Annette & Steve in Europe, Maurice
over there as well, Bryan in USA ( a little further north of Arnold and Marieke) and Di and Roel about to head to Europe too.
Well finally we are off on the last link to join the long ride from Anchorage in Alaska to Tierra del Fuego in South America.
On the sunny cloudless day of June the 6 th 2012 we set out from San Francisco south , we left behind the rambling Dakota Hotel build in 1911 and showing her age, on to the R side of the road. ( do not forget !! )
Firstly through the wide boulevards leaving the highrise area and onto the streets of suburbia.
We peddled up and down on the busy road which hugs the coast line, the vistas absolutely magnificent..
All the blue colourings of the ocean ,white surf as she crashes on to the beach, kelp beds swaying with the tide , high rocks sticking out beyond the surf full of seabirds and their guano.
In Santa Cruz we spent tme with vintage car friends whom were fabulous hosts and treating us like VIPs , showing us around town and their friends with precious car collections.
After Santa Cruz we traveled through the vegetable basket of the USA , endles fields with brocolli, lettuce, cabage, artichokes, and stawberries, busy people with bent backs and busy hands in between the rows of produce to get it to market in the shortest amount of time.
Off and on the coast road past an estuary where seals lazed on a jetty, barking , squabbling and stinking.
On a foggy beach Piedras point lives a elephant seal colony in 1990 there were only 9 of them and now in 2012 there are an estimated 30,000 .
Great blobbing animals flopping sand over themselves and occasionally lumbering to the water's edge, amazing!
Onto Malibu where we rode between the mansions up hill and on the other side mansions built on poles vertually in the ocean itself, the ultimate experience ?? wealth hath no bounds!
Into Santa Monica where we walked on the Pier where the famous Route 66 ends.
The beach there is so wide, and catering for such large crowds, they even groom the sand with big machines !
On most of the beaches are fine bike paths which makes for safe peddling for young and old, all kinds of things on 2 wheels are to be found here , roller blades, segways, bikes with attached babybuggies - you name it it's here.
We have arrived in Los Angelos and will navigate our way out of here , so we say good bye for now .
Email received on June 26th
We have now completed our ride down the coast from San Francisco to San Diego.
What a splendid place California is, we met many lovely and helpful people.
Overnighted mostly in State Parks which are frequently situated in the prime real estate sites and visited by international populace.
On the days our kilometres did not match with the distances between Parks we ended up in hotels and that is sooo luxury.
We crossed the border into Mexico at Tijuna our bikes fitted at a pinch in the pedestrian turnstile with a little manouvring we came out off that cage just fine.
The contrast between the two nations was acute, the disorganised traffic, the lack of BMWÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â´s amd Mercedeses, rubbish on the streets , higgeldy piggeldy housing , pavements rugged and very high, metel plates over holes in the road rattling about, in other words another world.
But::::: friendly people, helpful and kind .
On the Baja California,we first rode along the coast where we were treated with similar views as on the California coast however not nearly the rich coast dwellers here.
In land the country is very dry, hilly and very hot, as we had climbed a pass my dearest Arn said when we were at the top, ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â´there are many more hills darling ! he is such a box of birds that guy !
We passed kilometres of vineyards and then again the arid land where the sand and dust is blown about in the fierce wind.
The Mexicans are working with hydrophonics , huge shade houses in use and being build, the water supply coming from the aquiver.
For food we often stop on the side of the road where lovely ladies always have tortillas and burritos.
Close to the Mission CataviÃƒÆ’Ã†â€™Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â±a we rode through kilometres of the most beautiful boulder strewn landscape , in this immense rockgarden grew a large variety of huge cacti at least 6 or 7 metres, this would be the ultimate heaven for the prickly interested botanist.
Inland it gets very hot at 0900 hrs and to get some good riding in we start at first light, meaning getting up at 0400, very very tough for Arnold !
We find the truckdrivers supurb they give us have the road when they pass, and the car drivers do not fall far behind , needless to say that is a great feeling.
NZ drivers could learn a lot.
Last night we did not find accomodation in Puente Prieta as their was none, not the first time though, we ended up in the dusty yard of a little so called restorante ( truckdrivers can eat their burritos there) the kind owner let us in a little dilapilated shed with old car tyres and a sand floor, there we spend the night in amongst the thighty chained up barking dogs and trucks exhoustbreaking past ... yeh but what can you do if the other choice is the great outdoors in the desert full of cacti and other prickly things ??
We have arrived in Guerrero Negro about 800 km from ,the US border and another 700 plus to go through this desert land , this town is situated on a lagoon of the Pacific Ocean, the mainstreet and some of the side streets are tarmac but many are packed sand and never fear where there is wind and sand mini sandstorms are the order of the day.
Email received July 6th
Thank you so much for your encouriging words and bringing us up to date with the wet weather , on the baja it has not rained sufficiently in 3 years we were told !
We ended our journal in Guerrero Negro and will now take you south east on the Baja California.
As the road serpentines over the Peninsula we rode down a straight stretch flanked by powerpoles as far as the eye could see, on the (R) side The Desierto de Vizcaine a dun coloured wilderniswith prickly shrubs of about 40 cm height, ocasionally some cacti, they seem to dislike the Pacific fog.
the sun blazing, blue sky,35degrees C and ..........aha a tailwind !
However .. the desert is alive, at times a preying bird drafts over head, flocks of small birds burst out of the shrubs, a lizard dashes away and insects jump up.
The odd cow roams around but mostly their bleaching bones tell us another story.
Then in the middle of this arid world........San Ignacio.
A mission founded in 1716 by a jesuit priest father Picollo, this little pueblo of rustic small houses huddles around the the square shaded by age old trees their trunks painted white.
Above towers the the church which took 70 years to built and finally completed in 1787 it still rings its bells and a few devoted souls sat quietly praying in the blessed cool.
We camped on the side of the lagoon fringed with reeds and palmtrees and listened to the bull frog hooting in their hiding place.
This could have been so peaceful but then what is stillness ?
The highschool graduates had their party on the square and the noise of celebration could be heard 1.5 km away!
We left this Eden at he crack of dawn and rode through the vulcanic landscape of the Tres Virgenes ( a most unlikely name)!.Up and down the hills part of the south end of the Sierra de San Francisco the colours all the hue of brown.
Before the town of Santa Rosalia we met with road works and waited in the burning heat when out of the long line of waiting vehicles came this big American Mexican whom offered us an icecold water, never tasted water soooo good.
Riding along the Sea of Cortez ( Gulf of California) is a joy and a challlenge at the same time, the glorious blue water, little beaches, palmthatch on 4 poles for shade and then the fierce heat of 41 C in the hills.
Swimming is not a cooling experience the sea is lukewarm and you can swim forever while brown pelicans fly overhead in formation.
South of Loreto we stayed in this most luxurious of resorts as we could not be bothered to ride back up the gravel side road in the heat,we were welcomed with a fragrant warm towel to wipe our sweaty faces and given an ice cold drink, needless to say we did not fit in the picture.
In Ciudad Constuticion we were treated to a fine concert of Mexican music and dance.
All were wellcomed so the whole town sat and clapped.
Around this town is some agriculure ( mais ,oranges) and the odd yard with cows under shade thatch on dry feed.
Our dealings with the the military were strictly social, practicing English for them and Spanish for us.
They check trucks routinely for drugs therefore a soldier with a firearm at the ready stands unsmiling by !
We once met a truckfull of soldiers buying lunch , they all bought coconut on a roadside place; this is how the culinair experience goes.... Coconut is fetched out of the chest fridge, top hacked off by the very deft coconut man, juice poured in a plastic bag straw added and quikly consumed by the client, flesh of the coconut hacked into bitesize bits quick as a flash, sprinkled with salt, chilisause and limejuice, popped in a plastic bag and presto, all the soldiers hopped back on the truck lunch on their laps and roared into the yonder.
We are now in La Paz and ended our ride on the Baja California we will take the ferry from here and cross over to mainland Mexica to the city of Mazatlan where we will continue our journey.
So for now to all of you all the best .
Arnold and Marieke
Email received July 21st
It is so nice to read all your mails it makes us feel in touch , a big thank you !
Our last journal was sent from La Paz the city on the Baja California, we will now take you on our continuing journey.
We sailed with a ferry taking 50 trucks , a few cars and our humble bikes, to Mazatlan on the mainland of Mexico.
We slept on deck on our camping mats as the ship ploughed the Pacifico for 18 hours, the mainland looked sooo green in sharp contrast with the Baja what joy !
Disembarking was speedy and we made our way to the centre of town in no time, had a peek around the plaza where people sat and ate icecreams and the churchbells rang.
Then Arnold navigated us out of town southwards with his usual skill, the map being a very large scale ( not found a better one) no other navigation aid is being used bar the compass .
On the road to San Blas huge thunderous clouds gathered lots of lightning and thunder but only a light shower , the first rain in more than 2 months for us.
We rode through endless mango and pawpaw orchards, on a very long hot and sticky day we collapsed under a shady tree next to an elderly lady busy peeling mangos, she showed us how to peel cooled mangos and bite them off the large pip, we never had mangoes that exquisite before, when she only asked 10 pesos = about 1$ for 4 mangos I gave her 20 pesos she was so overcome she hugged me and gave me a smacking kiss on my sweaty sticky sunblocked cheek....
We have meanwhile also made aquantance with the smaller of the creatures here, a ghecko dropped onto me from the ceiling and narrowly escape being cooked as I was carrying boiling water for our coffee.
One day when I felt something crawl I my neck I ripped off my shirt and out jumped a large black beetle with very hairly legs Brrrrrrr.
And when when we sat in the cool of the evening on the Plaza in Acaponeta watching women chat while their children played, men wearing big cream coloured hats talk about things men talk about, young lovers walking hand in hand and a girl strutting along on impossible high platform shoes, the birds above us in the trees got on with their roosting but .... when we got up they poood on us, I kept my shirt on all next day for good luck.
In Puerte Vallarte the heavens opened , the downpour was massive the streets turned into torrents in no time, water rushing to the Pacific Ocean, people carrying on as per normal soaked to the skin, cars driving through water up to the sills.
Next morning we rode up into the hills and ended up climbing a total of 2000 metres, some hills !!
The downhill ride is magic most times, the most gorgeous views of a beach or a cove where the Pacific Ocean shows her beauty.
Often their are small villages where women have stalls and sell tortillas and fillings of beef, pork and beans with a very spicy sauce sooo hot it burns your stomach !
The coast road is surounded by jungle hiding banana, coconut plantations , orchards and fields with produce and the hardworking man with their sharp machettes.
The men are driven to work at daybreak on the back of trucks and utes, packed like sardines, buying their lunch on roadside stalls causing minor traffic jams, a lot of hooting and shouting as a result.
The coast road is also very busy at times and with no shoulder making biking hazardous, we often get off the bike when trucks come from both directions ,
In little quiet moments we see crabs playing Russian roulette , lizards dashing , big white butterflies darting above us.
We also see the sad sight of dead snakes , armadillos, frogs, lizards all the ones who could not get o the other side fast enough.
On one of the steep climbs a big black dog shot out from nowhere and went for my ( L ) ankle,missed by a whisker and bit into the ( L) pannier catching the strap, I felt the bike pull off course, it gave me goosepimples all over, Arnold roared and he took off in barking fit. Phew !!!
It is so hot and humid here camping is no options also for safety sake so we try to find a little hotel with airconditioning , sometimes it works sometimes not so good it all depends what is available on the end of a hard day.
We have arrived in Acapulco the Pearl of the Pacific, the city is built on the most beautiful real estate but is a roudy place full of congested traffic and noise.
We will go now and see the sights , tomorrow we shall head south once more.
For now we say adios and till next time.
Arnold and Marieke
Email received August 4th
Hola family and friends.
We are always so happy to get your replies and newsy bits thank you all
First we will have to tell you about Acapulco it sounds sooo exotic !
We spent the day having a look around we visited the Fort San Diego, this fort was build early 1600 from a design drawn by a Dutchman called Mr Boot, indeed the fort looked very much like a socalled Vesting Stad in Holland.
Amongst other exhibits was the carriage of Prins Willem whom was king of Holland from 1800-1840, how did that carriage get there ? Arnold looked for a serial number in case it was a Spijker ( saw none).
We peeked into the Cathedral build in the 1930 s , blue domes and apses not much gold and very unlike the churches we have seen in this part of the world.
We sauntered through the back streets , seeing people getting on with live , no sign of wealth very obvious.
On the beach fronts all the highrise hotels but in between higgeldy piggeldy lots of houses some finished some not, lots of buildings in Mexico are a work in progress including roading.
Traffic chaotic and hooting , people every where, kids playing in the water for hours till well after dark as the water is luke warm and the wave gentle in the Bay of Acapulco.
Getting out of Acapulco the next morning was hairraising not only did we have to climb 240 metres but busses, truks and taxis all jostled for space with us in the narrow bends, it.s downright murderous and to top it all off there is forever an agressive dog who has it in for us , ?WHY ?
On the way south the scenery of jungle , mountains and ocean was very much like before , lots of climbs some straight road , little so called ; Restaurants; a thatch roof on 4 poles , plastic furniture, sometimes hammocks strung between the poles with people swinging in them.
We would roll up and ask for coffee, or food there was mostly a welcoming smile , we tried our best Spanish which is of course not nearly good enough but it WORKS!
In Salina Cruz we spent a while in the cool watching people on the square, listened to a boy playing his accordeon his little sister collecting pesos ( only few ) avoiding drunks lying around, people selling everything on the pavement from lychees to hairclips to mansize crosses complete with Jesus hanging on them.
We finally turned inland towards the mountains, past the town of Juchitan de Zaragoza there is a gap in the mountains where the wind howls from the Carribean Sea to the Pacific Ocean, the Mexican Government has build the largest windfarm in Latin Ameria just here to catch it all and it BLOWS.
There are more than 1000 wind turbines generating 350 megawatt, good for a town of 1/2 million people.
To get to San Cristobal which lies at 1940 metres ,we had to climb most of the day 44 km up, we rode at times in the clouds a nice cool feeling for a change.
San Cristobal was founded by the Spaniards in early 1500, in the centre houses and churches are preserved or restored over the ages and this makes for a charming town.
The indigenous people the Chiapas are well represented and make for a colourful scene especially the women with their embroidered blouses.
We had a few restdays and saw the things which are a must, so we took a bus to Palenque one of the largest sites of Maya archeology in Mexico, the site is in a flat part with huge old trees the temples are a sight to behold .
The park is also the sanctuary for the Howling Monkey but they must have hidden when we came to see them.
We do not mention distances heights or weather often but if there was any suspicion at all that this is a sunday ride with a latte and muffin break ? OH NO !
Our bodies and bikes have had a hard time.
Bodies: They had to bike not only about 5000 km sofar in heat 37 to 40 + C endless hills and mountains but they had to cope with a moderate to severe chest infection, so the Zonnies struggled on calling themselves the coughing couple .
An invasion of stomach bugs followed for good measure, made us feel weak like kittens , it.s difficult to make yourself eat and drink when you don.t feel like it.
Only willpower got us where we are .
Bikes: One wheel rim cracked early in the journey and was replaced, thank goodness in the USA.
One tyre delaminated ( Shwalbe , for the bike:experts ) SHAME! should not be allowed !
5 flat tyres one of those a dramatic blowout, just as well we were standing under a tree in the shade when it happened , omg WHAT WAS THAT ?
Weather :sunny , hot, humid and not to often headwind sofar very little rain.
So that dear amigos has been the live of the kiwibikers sofar in Mexico.
Arnold and Marieke
Email received August 14th
Men work on the land using sharp machettes or wide hoes,
Guatamalan staple food is very much the same as in Mexico, beans, rice, eggs, tortillas only thicker and smaller and spicy condiments.
We spent some time in Antigua Guatamala once the Capital, a beautiful preserved Spanish Colonial city dating from the early 1500 s.
We did photograph the famous arched gate but no vulcano in the background as she was hidden in the clouds.
The morning we rattled out of town over the cobbled streets we had to climb 500 metre in 5 kms, so so steep we had to walk some parts, just imagine US! Walking?
The end of this steep road brought us to the town of Santa Maria de Jesus lying in the foothills of the vulcano De Agua , early in the morning the squalid mist clad streets were busy with men leading their heavy produce laden mules, women carrying plastic bowls full of tortilla dough on their heads,others washing clothes in communal concrete tubs, cold water only !
The road out of Santa Maria de Jesus to Palin looked a perfect road on the map but it turned out to be the most atrocious unsealed road ever, worse than the bottom of a quarry,washouts, big rocks, heaps of stinking rubbish.this was 15 km downhill and we had to walk 7 of them our poor bike shoes already hanging together with ducktape had a battering.
The border crossing into El Salvador went without a hitch, on the wide shoulder we passed oxcarts,kids and men on bikes ,dodged fallen branches,drying corn,cows, dead dogs,and a dead horse being eaten by flock of evil looking black birds.
The little shops selling their items through metal grilles.
On the coast are spectacular surf beaches the international surfies say they have a great time riding the waves..
The vulcanoes San Vincente, Tecapa and San Miguel even though hazy and their tops covered in cloud were a glorious sight !
We have now crossed into Honduras, a smart guy whom spoke some English obviously tried to make a living , he helped us with the formalities, just as well, the border officials wanted a registration number for our pushbikes and money for fumigation of the bikes , which never happened.amazing is it not
Whether this was all true or not we will never know but it made live a lot easier.
This sofar is how we have experienced Latin America, what a lively different world it is !!
Arnold and Marieke
Main Photo Index Page
Want to tell the