So where does the name "Latitude Fifty Four" come from?
The final destination for this motorcycle adventure was the city of Ushuaia located in Tierra Del Fuego, Argentina.
The latitude of this city is 54° 47' South.

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Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Day 24 to Day 26

October 31st: Zihuatanejo, Mexico to Altamirano, Mexico
November 1st: Altamirano, Mexico to Taxco, Mexico
November 2nd: Taxco, Mexico

***Hey Everyone! Sorry for the delays in posting...... we have been in some areas lately where Internet was hard to come by! At any rate, I've added a few more postings (more below), and I've also tried to update some pictures from the postings that didn't have any. Also, if you want to see the pictures a bit bigger just click on them...then use your back button to get back to the blog. Enjoy and hope to hear from you all soon!***

Our Hallowe'en drive proved to be the worst drive ever! We left from Zihuatanejo, and hopped on the 134 heading towards Altamirano. It was only about 150km's give or take a bit so we figured we'd make in a few hours, including riding breaks. What a nightmare that turned out to be! The road was bad. Not a little bad, not a lot bad.... it was absolutely and completely horrendous. At the beginning of the drive there were a few potholes and bumps, but they were doing some work on a bridge so we figured it was just due to that. We drove another few minutes and the potholes got worse. We're not talking your average North American potholes either. It wouldn't have been so bad if it was just one or two here and there, but the entire surface of the road was missing in some spots, with only flakes of pavement here and there to remind you that at one point there had been a proper road there. Add to that the rocks on the like a little bit of gravel here and there, we're talking boulders. In some spots the rock slides were enormous. No work was being done on the road, so the boulders were all over the place. Sometimes there was enough rubble to block off an entire lane. This was also the case with the overgrown shubbery alongside the road. It was so bad in some places that you'd be down to less than one lane just from all the weeds. The worst hazard, though, was the areas where landslides or erosion had taken out complete chunks of the highway. The worst part of it being that there was no warning. If someone that lived locally on a farm nearby was so inclined to do so, they might just put a boulder infront of the abyss to warn you, but for the most part you just hoped you'd notice your entire side of the road missing before plummeting 500ft down a cliffside. Taking a peek down one of the eroded areas was enough to make you queasy. After battling that for a good 5 hours we hit a military checkpoint. So far we've just gotten waved through all of them, but I suppose we were the only ones stupid enough to have tackled that road in the last few days, so they took the opportunity to stop us. Then the (extremely official) question period began. They started off, of course, with "how fast do your bikes go?".....satisfied with our response of 150km/h they then asked us about our Chatterboxes. We told them it was for communication and they said "oh... are their others coming behind?". We told them "there just might be" incase they wanted to get too frisky with us. Then they asked about my coat and we told them how it "had armor in it...for protection". The captain of the team looked at us wide-eyed and said "for bullets??". Surrounded by a flock of heavily armed men, the smart response, perhaps, would have been "of course", but we didn't want them to think we had any reason to need them! The whole while this was going on a few of the men were trying (and failing miserably) to figure out what the heck was going on with our luggage. In the end a few squeezes of the luggage and a peek where they could find a zipper seemed to satisfy them that we weren't smuggling drugs throughout the country. After a quick photo with our new found friends, we were on our way again. Only 70km's bad can it be? Very bad, apparently. This is when things went to just plain worse. We now got into a 'loose rock' zone. This isn't the same as a gravel road....this is the equivalent of someone putting a 6 inch layer of golf balls on a windy curvy hill-filled mountain road, with no guard rails or barriers saving you from a 1000ft cliff. It was like maneuvering through one of those gymnastics ball pits with your bike. A 17km stretch of highway took us TWO HOURS to drive!!!!! When we finally hit smooth pavement again I think I cried tears of joy..which was a nice change from the screams of terror and bawling for fear of my life just moments earlier. Oh, and after all of that, I forget to even mention the livestock and donkey crossings every few hundred feet. Some of them weren't so lucky, judging by the pile of bones we found on one corner. Overall, our 150km drive took us 8 and a half hours.
Our November 1st drive was a lot nicer. We drove a relatively smooth route from Altamirano to Taxco. Taxco is where all the silver mines are, so you can buy silver in just about any shop here. Taxco's built into the side of a mountain so there's some incredibly steep hills. It's unbeliveable how narrow and steep some of them are. On the 31st it still seems to be Hallowe'en here for a few kids, but it seems that November 1st is the night when they celebrate here. November 2nd, is the Day of the Dead. They were selling "bread of the dead" in some of the bakeries and there were elaborate shrines put together here in the town square. The kids were all out trick or treating, and they would sing songs to the store owners, etc to get some candy. They also had some fireworks in the square, and here at the hotel they had a pinata to break after they came back in their costumes. It looked like great fun for them! We decided to dress up as gringo bikers for Hallowe'en and I think our costumes were pretty convincing.

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