Garry has decided that we are all going to ride up to Tres Marias for Mexico City's weekly Sunday motorcycle gathering.
If you've been to Alice's Restaurant west of Palo Alto, it's a bit like that, except that instead of taking over a restaurant at a crossroads, the motorcyclists take over the entire town. Garry rides two-up with Ivonne on his V-Strom 1000 (basically Darren's bike but with a bigger engine), while we ride our trusty steeds, free from baggage.
The ride to Tres Marias is twisty and goes up through the mountains and high plains that surround the city. The weather was lovely and clear with absolutely no hail. We got passed by a number of crazy riders, much as in the states when one rides such a road.
Tres Marias itself did not disappoint, with hundreds of bikes of every assortment. Garry said that usually it's busier, but there were enough for me.
Our meal consisted of empanadas at Ivonne and Garry’s favorite little joint, and when I saw fillings that I didn’t recognize, I had to order them. They were:
–Flor de calabaza (squash blossom): Tasted like squash but with a greener, firmer texture like nopales (cactus)
–Huitlacoche (corn smut): A fungus that infects corn and considered a blight in the USA, this Aztec delicacy tasted earthy and slightly bitter with an unsurprisingly mushroomy texture.
–Cow brains: buttery taste, quite delicious. If I develop Creutzfeldt-Jakob Encephelopathy, it was because of this, because this is the one and only time I intend on eating brains, even though they were tasty.
My stomach sloshing with strange ingredients, it’s now that seems best to get on the bikes and do the hour-and-a-half ride back. When some clouds seem to be forming, we don’t think much of it, but as we turn toward the darkening horizon it quickly becomes apparent that we aren’t going to make it home before the skies open up. It becomes dark out and lightning starts coming down, and I consider putting on my rain gear, but really what’s the point of doing that before you’re already wet? So we keep going and then I get hit by something like a series of big bees, but there’s too many of them and they’re making a racket bouncing off my visor. Turns out we are riding in a hailstorm, and it’s now that pulling over seems a good idea.
Some keep riding, but these people are fools, as hail coats the ground while we huddle under a tree to protect ourselves from the lightning. For those of you who think that trees are dangerous in lightning storms, I'd like to point out that hiding under trees during lightning storms is just a part of Mexico City's culture. Who are we to judge it? Anyway, eventually the storm passed and we all rode home and took a nap.
By this time we've become pretty adept at riding in Mexico City, and I'd like to pass on some tips that we've learned, since no other gringoes seem to have the chutzpah to ride here.
–Anyone driving a Seat is a d*ckbag. According to Garry, this is the car bought brand-new for upper-middle class teens to go out and wreck. Stay away from them.
–You can do illegal stuff in front of cops and they generally don't care. My dad once told me that the lines on the road don't matter, and he once drove a Fiat on the sidewalk, so I know he's serious. The cops take a similar view, so go ahead and do what you gotta do.
–Red lights are mostly suggestions, so beware stale greens.
–Lanesplitting is allowed, but an extra level of difficulty is added by the presence of hawkers, whom you must also dodge, along with their wares.
–When driving in the oncoming lane, be sure to watch for people turning into your lane who aren't expecting you because you're actually driving more crazy than the locals.
–A dual-sport moto is a great way to cut across traffic islands and bus stops.
–Likewise, with a dual-sport you don't need to slow down for topes (speed bumps), just stand on the pegs and glide over them. The locals will stare at you with envy while the theme song from "Team America" (http://youtu.be/3BN1jSpiyIM) plays in your head.
Meanwhile, when not riding, you'll discover that unfortunately Gotye's song "Somebody That I Used to Know" has taken over the earth, playing here and everywhere, as remixes and clips and bites and loops, in bars and clubs and shops and on the radio. Don't fight it — we are all Gotyeans now.
Also, I went to buy some condoms. I didn't bring any because I assumed I wouldn't need any, which is really twisted when you consider that I thought I'd survive riding a motorcycle halfway around the world and back, but that I wouldn't score somewhere along the way. Well, it turns out Mexican girls dig me, so I bought some, and let me warn you, there's this cool-looking Trojan three-pack that comes with a little plastic condom case. Great, right? Well guess what, the thing has such poor design that it actually poked holes in my condoms. Let me repeat that: I bought something to PROTECT my condoms that DESTROYED my condoms. It's little logistical issues like this that can ruin a trip. You know, like unplanned pregnancy.
And finally, I would love to give a shout out to our lovely hosts, Garry and Ivonne. Garry loves to host adventurey motorcycle peeps and Ivonne absolutely insists on feeding you, and they both provide great meal time conversation about all the interesting characters that have graced their home. Their domicile is invite-only, so say "Yes" and feel honored if they extend it. And do your best to be a great guest and to give them amusing stories for them to add to their canon. Garry and Ivonne, we hope to see you again on the way back.
Next stop: Puebla, wherein we ride in the back of police truck for the first time.