Saturday, 15 December 2007

San Cristobel de Casa...

For some strange reason today has exposed me to more bad driving than the rest of Mexico put together. For the first time I've used the toll roads, almost exclusively. I felt a real need to reach San Cristobel, my last stop before hightailing it straight across Guatemala, I hope to get that over with in a day! So all I've done today is to hack down their version of a motorway, some is hardly up to the standard of our average farm track; and I kid you not. It isn't so much the Quality of the road you pay for, simply to avoid the multitude of towns on routes; particularly in well populated areas. Handy though, it takes so long each time you hit a town, with ten million sleeping policemen to contend with, it takes an eternity.

In many ways the driving on the toll roads is a bit better, if there is only one lane and the shoulder, the average driver will move over and allow you to pass. This changes when there is a bit of a queue behind a large vehicle, then it's every man for himself. The driving is as bad as that in Turkey, people will pull out from the other direction and expect a motorcycle to move out their way. As in Turkey, the only bikes most people get to see here are Chinese 125cc heaps of crap. There are a few small Honda's and Yamaha's, for the affluent; actually these are more normal to be delivery bikes for business'.

There is enough to contend with here, without the tank slapper I got thrown into yesterday! On a lovely smooth stretch of highway, which lasted for miles, I was cruising along at over 80mph, enjoying the view. A groove appeared suddenly, over an inch wide, and only as deep. It wouldn't really have been a problem, but then it suddenly veered off to one side; taking my nice grippy front tyre with it. The result a high speed wobble; they are virtually uncontrollable! Your front wheel and handlebars flip from side to side, often bringing you off immediately; if you fight it, you'll be off without doubt, braking will have the same result! You can only really relax and ride it out, unless you carefully try easing off or rolling on the throttle. I´ve heard so much different advice, all different! I've experienced this a few times, on different bikes, each one behaved different; none managed to get me off though. Gently easing off only seemed to worsen this one, so I tried the other way round! Accelerating up to 90mph with a wobble is frightening to say the least, but it was only 5mph or so difference. It's a situation which allows an unbelievably clear mind, everything slows down, thoughts are precise and complete calmness reigns supreme. And ain't I glad about that! Only after does the shock really hit you, then you can stop and have a cigarette; and change you're underwear if you need to.

Yesterday I realised my attempts to ride at a faster pace were out of frustration, not for the thrill. Such realisations are good, that type of riding is treacherous; it takes your mind off the ride, you focus on the idiots who frustrate you instead. It was such a change from the day before, then I was so in touch with everything around me, including my head and heart. Then I admired everything around me, noticed all the little subtleties. I could smell the tropical greenery, how lush it smelt; even the tang of oranges as I passed the orange groves. I noticed how extensive the groves were, how they stood; regimented, rank after rank, marching up the hillside. Oh, how the Grand Old Duke would have been proud of them!

So things change, from day to day. And we must be aware of how they are, stay in touch with the here and now. Self awareness is our chance to change ourselves, to be how we'd prefer to be; or allow you the chance not to be someone you are ashamed of. I owe it to myself to be a better person! In who's eyes? Why my own of course, but I also have a brilliant example in my son. If I can become more like he was, I can feel proud of myself; or should that be more proud of myself? Despite being a cynical old git, I do feel you can change and improve the person you are, no matter how old, or set in your ways you have become.

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