What can I say, Johan
and Juanita are excellent hosts. We spent 3 full days in Valle de Bravo with
them and had a very good time. Johan had some sight-seeing ideas planned and
some new ideas that appeared as we sat and chatted made for an excellent
We started the day (the day starts after breakfast, at around 11 AM...) with
a visit to Enrique’s place where he wanted to show off his new seat to Jose
Luis who has been complaining about the OEM GS seat being too soft and
uncomfortable for long rides. The "short" visit turned into a couple of
hours as we enjoyed Enrique’s lovely garden and he constantly brought more
drinks and food out.
But, Johan had a plan, and we had to leave. We went to La Torre, a mountain
with an observation tower which also serves as a launching spot for gliders.
The views of Valle de Bravo and the lake are spectacular, and seeing all
those gliders over boats on the lake makes it as if it was out of postcard.
Life in Valle is obviously rough.
Of course, by the time we got down from La Torre, it was time to eat again,
so we stopped along the way back into town at a very nice restaurant where
we tried some local specialties. We had barely made it back to Johan’s and
it was time to leave again. Johan had gotten tickets to a Valle benefit
concert that is held annually before the New Year. This year it was Dos
Guitarras, a guitar concert, given by a very talented local musician who had
studied in the Music Academy of London and his guitar teacher from the
academy. I really enjoyed it.
After the concert, we went to hear Balam give a talk about his motorcycle
travels through South America at the KTM shop. Balam started his trip as a
short vacation and it turned into a 3 year adventure, covering most of Latin
He is a friend of Jose Luis’ from before the trip and happens to live in
Valle now. Unfortunately, the KTM guys didn’t have a covered spot for this,
so the talk was in their back yard. I say unfortunately, because Valle is
rather chilly at night and people didn’t really want to hang out for a Q&A
session after the presentation.
Balam suggested we go see some prehistoric rock paintings that had been
discovered near Santo Tomas (he was involved in the restoration and setup of
the site) the next day and offered to be our guide.
The next day we went to Santo Tomas and had a great tour of the rock
paintings site with Balam and his family. It turns out I knew Gerardo, his
brother who came along on the tour, from ADVRider. Very small world. We also
went to see what’s left of the old Santo Tomas town. The original Santo
Tomas sat in a valley which was flooded after the construction of a hydro
power damn system in the area. The only part that is visible in the lake
that was formed is the top of the church tower. Very conveniently, there are
some restaurants along the lake shore, where you can sit and absorb the
views while eating tasty treats.
We finished the day with an excellent New Year’s paella and cochinita pibil
dinner with Johan and his family at their house.
My plan was to ride up to some spot in the Sierra Gorda on New Year's day.
Joahn had other plans. We went out for breakfast (do I have to mention it
was good Mexican food? He hasn’t disappointed yet, has he?), then he took us
to show off a house his company is working on. This house is perched on top
of a cliff called La Peña, and has breathtaking views of Valle and the lake.
I could live in a shack like that.
OK, it's almost 2 PM and I am getting anxious. We
slowly make our way though Valle traffic (everybody and his brother was out
today) to Johan’s place. At about 2:30 we get there and in no time I am
ready to leave. A quick goodbye and I am off to fight Valle traffic again (I
am going to a road that’s on the other side of town. Luckily, the bike makes
it across town much faster than a car. Johan suggested a shortcut to
Tequisquiapan, and I find it without any problems. The road out of the city
is fantastic. Valle (valley) is surrounded by mountains, of course, and as
you may remember, these guys don’t know how to build a straight road... At 6
PM, after doing my best imitation of Johan on Mexican roads (no, I am not
even close to the master), I roll into Tequis.