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The story of how I saved money, quit my job, sold my possessions, and set off to endlessly travel by bike around the world. My Plan

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The Great Secret of Michoacan
Thursday, August 1, 2002  (Sent From Morelia, Michoacan, Mexico)


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We are down the road again.  Guanajuato was fun and I learned a lot but I got the rambling bug and had to get going.  As always, the first day back on the bike was very troublesome.  The ride from Guanajuato consisted of terrible traffic and a blow out that completely trashed my rear tire.  We had to trash it and pull out the small 26x1.25 spare tire that I have been carrying for just such an emergency.  This day got better.  As we were limping into Irapuarto we met Rodrigo who is an avid cyclist.  I knew that he could tell me were the good bike shops were by his shaved legs, Banesto racing jersey, and the skilled way he rode his bike.  He was one of those rare gems of a person that Mexico seems to be so full of.  Not only did he lead us to the better bike shops in town he introduced us to his family who took us in for the night and fed us. 

The following days went much better.  We left the big cities and busy roads behind and rode far back into the farmland and back to the simpler ways of life.  This is rural Michoacan and a place that I will never forget. Tall corn, proud hard working people, and endless kilometers of quiet roads.  We entered a misty land of volcanoes and wild burros grazing on the sides of the road.  People out here have time to stop and talk and we have learned many things from them.  Living in the shadows of ancient volcanoes has its advantages.  The ash in the soil from the previous eruptions grows corn and beans very well.  The people who work this land consider themselves lucky to live among such dark, rich, and productive soil.  When a very old but strong man told me this fact he whispered it so only the wind and I would know.  A great secret of a farmers paradise.  A nearly perfect human who lives in his private paradise. 

Fences in this area are made of hard large rocks that also flew from these volcanoes ages ago.   These are very heavy rocks made of basalt and the labor involved in clearing the land and building these fences is inspiring.  One farmer explained to us the history of his land through the rock fences.  "My father and I built the fences over there (pointing) and my father and my grandfather built those fences next to the pig pen and my grandfather and his father built the fences next to the house and etc. etc..... When my son reaches 12 years of age we will build new ones together in the corn field to our south and he and his sons will build more etc. etc....."  I will never look at those endless rock fences the same after this discussion. 

The ride from Guanajuato to Morelia has been very different compared to the other parts of Mexico we had already visited.  This is mostly because it is the rainy season in Central Mexico and everything is very green and damp. The scenery in northern Mexico was very dry and brown just like southern Arizona.  As we rode south through Mexico we gradually climbed to higher altitudes and things got greener and more humid.  Most of the areas in the north of Mexico are still considered semi-arid and really were just a bit greener than Arizona.  Now we are riding on the high central mountains and have left the brown behind.  Instead of the usual mountains lining the valley floors we are weaving through huge volcanoes shrouded in mist and ancient lava flows everywhere.  This makes for a very rugged and surreal landscape.   Even though this is the rainy season this part of Mexico must receive more rain than the north because there is vegetation that can only grow in wet climates.  Growing wild on the side of the road we have ridden past bamboo, avocados, and unknown plants with leaves as big as a table top.  Another surprise is the green carpet of moss growing everywhere.  The rich smell of humidity lays heavy in the air.  It seems more like western Oregon or Washington than Mexico.   Suddenly, we feel a long way from Arizona.  We love the change in scenery.  

The rain and wetness has changed things besides the vegetation.  Coming from Arizona we had to get used to this new wet climate.  We quickly learned that the rains almost always come in the evening or night.  Since being caught in a downpour would make things very dangerous on the road we quickly learned to make camp before it starts to rain.  We have had to camp in some pretty big thunder storms and they can last for hours and occasionally all night.  I now pick camping locations based on how high and well draining the ground is.  Many times after an all night rain we have crawled out of our tent to find ourselves camped on an island.  It is crazy to think that just a few weeks ago we seldom pitched the tent and just slept under the stars and now we have to dry it every morning. 

The good news is that it is usually pleasant during the day.  The mornings are very cool (sometimes even cold) and usually very foggy until then the sun comes out to burn it all away.  We can ride for several hours in cool pleasant conditions in the afternoon.  At around 4:00 PM the heat and humidity starts to build to uncomfortable levels.  This is our cue to stop for the day.  When the rain finally does start it is a big relief because it cools things off to the point that we need jackets and long pants.  Once we got used to this routine we found our new climate fun and comfortable.  

The rainy season lasts until October and we will miss the excitement when it is gone.   In November our Mexican tourist visa expires and we have to enter Guatemala.   The weeks before we will be experiencing the jungles of southern Mexico.  I expect that going from the high central basin to the low steamy jungles of the coastal lowlands is equivalent to the difference between going from western Washington to southern Florida.  

Along with the new climatic differences the wildlife has changed.  The blood sucking mosquito is now a problem for us.  I am sure that the mosquito situation here is tame compared to many parts of the globe but we are not used to it.  In Arizona, as well as the northern Mexican deserts, we seldom see one.  In Prescott, Arizona we often slept with the windows completely open.  Nothing comes flying in to bite you.   Now we can expect mosquitoes every evening; especially if it does not rain. 

There are also now Fire Flies or Lightning Bugs flying around in the evening.  To my knowledge these do not exist in the desert.  This really reminds me of growing up in Indiana.  I had forgotten how much I liked them.  It is like having our own personal light show.  Other new bugs include ticks and grasshoppers.

The people who live in Michoacan are great.  We have met so many wonderful friendly people here that I would consider moving here someday.  Often locals invite us to stay with them in their homes and eat a meal with them.  It is very moving when people are so generous to us when they have so little for themselves.  They have no motive for this except that they want to meet us and see that we are roughing it.

Well I got to go, we are going to the grocery store to buy food for our next leg of our journey through the desolate mountains of eastern Michoacan.  I feel like we are packing to take our covered wagon across the Oregon trail, - 1 kilo of coffee, 1/2 kilo of sugar, 1 kilo of oatmeal, 1/2 kilo of raisons, bananas, oranges, a variety of soups, pastas and other dried goods.  We buy fresh fruit and vegetables from people we meet along the way.

 

Green Grass and High Tides (The Outlaws) - Tim Travis

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DownTheRoad.org's RoadNews Newsletter Past Newsletters Index

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Newest to Oldest

Suddenly, In The Blink of An Eye - How the gap year tour was interrupted
Aug 2013 (Kalispell, Montana, USA)

Greetings from America's Great Pacific Northwest
June, 2013 (Sent From Prospect, Oregon USA)

11 Years Down The Road: Looking for my second wind
March,
2013 (Sent From , Death Valley California, USA)

A Decade Down the Road: My ten year anniversary reflections
March, 2012 (Sent From Rajasthan, India)

Notes from Bangladesh
January 2012 (Bundi, India)

Earthquake, Robbed, and All Day 18% Grades - Sikkim, India-A place to remember October, 2011 (Sent From Calcutta, India)

Darjeeling, India was Great for Monsoon Season
September 2011 (Sent From Darjeeling, India)

Up The Road to Darjeeling, India With My New Travel Partner
June 2011 (Sent From Darjeeling, India)

The Divorce of Tim and Cindie Travis: Troubling times on the road
April 2011 (Sent From Katmandu, Nepal)

Tangled Up in Blue: How I found myself on the road alone
November 2010 (Sent From Rishikesh, India)

Goodbye Mcleod Ganj, India and The 4–5 year “India and Neighbors” Bicycle Touring Plan
September 2010 (Sent From Mcleod Ganj, India)

Greetings From India
July 2010 (Sent From McLeod Ganj, India)

Our Touring Bike Sponsorship
April 2010  (Sent From Batesville, Indiana, USA)

Two one-way tickets to India and our books are now in Amazon's KINDLE!
January 2010 (Sent From Batesville, Indiana, USA)

Digging Through The Past
November 2009 (Sent From Batesville, Indiana, USA)

Greeting from the East Coat of the USA
August 2009 (Sent From Binghamton, New York, USA)

Cindie's Daily Journal Now on Twitter and Email Interview
June 2009 (Sent From Pueblo, Colorado USA)

NPR Mp3 radio interview, Newspaper coverage, and one dead computer
May 2009 (Sent From Delores, Colorado, USA)

Seven Years DownTheRoad: What has changed and what we have learned.
March 2009 (Sent From Phoenix, AZ, USA )

Back on the road and you are invited to our public appearances.
March 2009 (Sent From Ajo, AZ, USA)

A quickie before I go
Feb 2009 (Sent From Yuma, AZ, USA)

Mp3 interview download, itchy feet, and continued 50% off book sale
 February 2009 (Sent From Yuma, Arizona, USA)

Winter Break in the Arizona Desert
January 2009 (sent from Yuma, Arizona, USA)

Return to America and 50% Off Autographed Books
December 2008

Computer Crash and Selling Books at El Tour De Tucson
November 2008
(sent from Tucson, Arizona, USA)

Hear our latest radio interview (mp3) on KGNU Metro with Roger Wendell
October 2008
(sent from San Jose, California, USA)

Wind, Rain, Cold, Cindie’s Illness, and Forum Trolls
September 2008
(Sent From Victoria, British Colombia, Canada)

The Book is Done and We are Back on the Road in Alaska
July 2008
(Sent from Eastern Alaska/Wester Yukon)

Six Years Down The Road: breaking even and meeting friends.
April 2008

(Sent From Twizel, South Island, New Zealand)

New Zealand: One of the Most Beautiful Places on Earth
February 2007
(Sent From Wanaka, New Zealand)

Let's get started in New Zealand and 50% off our first book
November  2007

(Sent From New Plymouth, New Zealand)

Hello to friends and family of DownTheRoad.org:  Crisis in Cindie's Family

Going to New Zealand!!
August 2007
(Sent From Katherine, The Northern Territory, Australia)

Back in the Outback
July 2006

(Sent From Normanton (home of the big crocodile), Australia)

Five Years DownTheRoad:  a Different kind of endurance
April 2007
(Sent From Port Macquarie, NSW, Australia)

5 min Video Postcard from Tasmania
February 2007

(Sent From Canberra, Australia)

How do we stay married while traveling together 24/7? and Australia Video #1:  Bike Touring Down Under
January 2007

(Sent From Bairnsdale, Victoria, Australia: On the way to the Snowy River National Park)

Downloadable Malaysian Video Postcard From the Road
November 2006
(Sent From Strahn, Tasmania, Australia)

Culture Shock in Australia and Keep Your Ears on the Road
October 2006

(Sent From Mt. Gambier, Australia)

Two 1-Way Tickets to Australia Please and 5 minute Thailand Video Download (37 mb) 2 Thailand Bike Tour Video
 July 2006

(Sent From Parit Buntar, Malaysia)

Laos: Eyes of the World
May 2006
(Sent from the Cameron Highlands, Malaysia)

Four Years DownTheRoad
March 2006
(Sent From Bangkok, Thailand)

Out of China: Slipping Past the Watchful Eye of Censorship.
January 2006

(Sent from Luang Phrabang, Laos)

Into Occupied Territory: Tibet
November 2005
(Sent from Dali, China)

The Many Faces of China: Inner Mongolia and Shanxi, Provinces.
September 2005
(Sent From Kangding, China)

Made in China: Free Birds in a Caged World
 July 2005
(Sent From Beijing, China)

Three Years and Still Going
May 2004
(Sent From Long Sheng, China)

Cambodia: Poverty Does Not Equal Crime.
February 2005
(Sent From Dalat, Vietnam)

Thailand: Landing in a Whole New World.
December 2004
(Sent From Siem Reap, Cambodia)

Crossing Over to the Other Side: Relocating to Asia
November 2004
(Sent From Bangkok, Thailand)

The New Global Bicycle Touring Plan.
 August 2004
(Sent From Mooresville, Indiana, USA)

Northwest Argentina: The Wrong Way In the Right Country
April 2004
(Sent From Bariloche, Argentina)

Bolivia: The Calm After the Storm
January 2004
(Sent From Mendoza, Argentina)

Peru #2:  Been Doing Some Hard Traveling
November 2003
(Sent From Copacabana, Bolivia)

Peru #1 Riding Between The Extremes
September 2003
(Sent From Huanuco, Peru)

Ecuador #2: The Magic of the Andes
August 2003
(Sent From Chiclayo, Peru)

Ecuador #1: Riding on top of the Southern Hemisphere
July 2003
(Sent From Riobamba, Ecuador)

USA: CULTURE SHOCK
June 2003
(Sent From Quito, Ecuador)

Costa Rica #1:  Green Grass and High Tides

Nicaragua: Travels Through a Troubled Land
March 2003
(Sent From Santa Elena - Monteverde, Costa Rica)

Honduras: From the Guatemalan Border to the Nicaraguan Border
February 2003
(Sent From Esteli, Nicaragua)

Antigua, Guatemala to the Sea
January 2003
(Sent From Omoa, Honduras)

Guatemala: From Paradise to Despair
December 2002
(Sent From Antigua Guatemala)

Guatemala:   Riding Through the Highlands
November 2002
Thanksgiving day in the USA
(Sent From Quetzaltenango, Guatemala)

Our Final Weeks in Mexico
November 2002
(Sent From Comitan, Mexico)

Six Months Down the Road
October 2002
(Sent From Amecameca, Mexico)

So Close to Mexico City Yet So Far From Anything
September 2002
(Sent From Amecameca, Mexico)

Toluca
August 2002
(Sent From Toluca, State of Mexico, Mexico)

The Great Secret of Michoacan
August 2002
(Sent From Morelia, Michoacan, Mexico)

Adios Guanajuato
July 2002
(Sent From Guanajuato, Mexico)

Hello Guanajuato
June 2002

(Sent From Guanajuato, Mexico)

Greetings from Mexico
May 2002
(Sent From Cuauhtemoc, Mexico)

Heading into Mexico
May 2002
(Sent from Douglas Arizona)

Enjoying Arizona
April 2002
(Sent from Sierra Vista Arizona.)

Our first week Down the Road
April 2002
(Sent from Tucson Arizona)

Good bye Letter
February 2002
Written while living in our RV

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WB00771_.gif (436 bytes)  See the complete story on how I made the decision, saved up, and finally left on my life long bicycle tour

 

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