Before enduring the almost comical Mexican police officer pay-off, the notorious authoritative scandal and current battles of power between the cartels and deceitful diplomats were stories. Mind you, not only from the news, but first-hand, from the mouths of the locals. Por ejemplo, when in Guadalajara, a fellow Hostel de Maria dweller from Juarez, the gun-fire afflicted Tex-Mex boarder town, saw three innocents killed when caught in the middle of a U.S.-drug-gateway territorial dispute at the local mall when he went to pay his taxes; an obvious waste. And, over a morning cup-o-joe, the hostel’s night watchman described an incident when, upon false accusation by local “authority” figures, drugs were flagrantly planted in his wallet to “encourage” a heftier pay-off. 

But prior to Corrupt-apulco our wheels were rolling smoothly, despite the sporadic and oft-unsigned tope or reductor bump in the middle of the pueblitos that occasionally tested our high-speed suspension travel.

It's like having a surprise speed bump on the back straight of Road Atlanta ... pending I was racing a KLR.

Our first stop of any duration was in Guadalajara, a city I have flashes of memory from when I traveled there to see my retired grandparents at the spongy age of three; although my family didn’t stay long enough for my little sponge to soak up much of the language. I initially decided to route our Pacific coastal tour through Guatemala after getting a rock climbing connection from a guide I met in San Diego when my Brother Bear took me on a Belaying 101 course. Ricardo Ramos, who owns the Punto Muerto climbing gym in Guatemala, took us out to explore El Cuajo with his buddy Will and golden lab watchdog, Chola, aka gangsta. The site was beautiful and the climbing challenging with inverted sections and some corner crack climbing that exceeded my novice skill. Although most amusing was Malcolm’s grunting and brute bicep-force tactic that he persisted on for over an hour (each climb), earning him the title of El Tigre; as described by Ricardo. Now, being more inspired to climb (as an incessant outdoor hobby collector), I’m a smidgen concerned about how to pack my moto with carabineers and rope along with my scuba mask.

Malcolm huffing up the crack and an upward shot of Ricardo as he repelled down another climb.

Guadalajara is big, but friendly, vibrant and more orderly than some of the other chaotic metropolitan zones we zoomed through. It’s ripe with art and culture from the galleries of Tlaquepaque that inspired me to decorate, to the Sunday street fair at Tonalá selling more affordable arts, cuisine and trinkets, like the black-market DVDs and a stunning hand-made necklace I bought to add to my international collection, as well as my new favorite local fare, gorditas; so aptly named.

Malcolm protesting against having to pay for public toilets and being a bad role model for the young lady who gave us all a surprise! And the lovely little joint I tasted my first authentically non-Taco Bell gordita in Tlaquepaque.

We also cruised by the random Edward Scissor Hands look-a-like strolling the pedestrian walk for photo tips and Peruvian xylophone players in the Centro Historico and were awed by the Orozco murals in the Museo de Cabañas.

The massive, muli-dimensional mural painted on the dome in the Museo Cabañas by Orozco and Hostel de Maria in Guadalajara.

After a five night stay, we unlocked our motos from the Hostel’s barred windows and were, once again, off to the coast. The MEX54 heading back to the coast after Colima and the MEX200 heading south consisted of some stunning vistas, smooth asphalt and moto-friendly curves. We landed at Faro de Bucieras (N18 20.680 W103 30.536), a gorgeous harbor lined with textured rocks and topped with a lighthouse. No gratis camping here though. Although at just 50 pesos a person ($4.15 USD), including showers, chairs and tables, the beach was built to supply the demand, lined with palm roofed cabañas and restaurants.

The MEX200 from Faro de Bucieras south until Lázaro Cárdenas, was some of the most stunning coastal riding I’ve done; comparable to California’s HWY1 skating over the cliffs through Big Sur … but more tropical, with forests of palms and vibrant green iguanas darting across the road instead of squirrels.

Sadly, this beautiful riding encircled my grimy bubble of realization and reflection because, due to my occasionally ferocious independent, self-sufficient nature (I can see my mother rolling her eyes), I decided that I was on a solo journey and wanted to continue on my uncompromising way. Although, through some solid helmet time and after some borrachos flung a beer at me out the window of their pick-up, I was struck by my faux pas and that I was going to face a challenge hunting down El Tigre in the price-puffed, golf course lined, Miami-esque trap of Ixtapa. The hunt ensued, I finally found him, and with estrogen inflicted watery eyes, I explain that it was “my bad,” and fortunately “we” were again on our way south.

My Cart-her posing pretty on the MEX200 south of Faro de Bucieras.

We ended up camping at the beachfront Los Cuates Restaurant in between the “resortation” of Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo and Tecpán de Galeana. We came upon the place just after dark and asked the owners about camping. They generously said it was gratis and allowed us to park our bikes under their palm thatched roof and use their bathroom. In return, we had a lovely breakfast of ham-n-eggs there and gave a generous tip; more than the standard 10% only given when eating at a nice place.

I was running low on pesos and because I don’t like to use ATMs, (Malcolm is currently fighting with his bank over one that failed to dispense money), I carry AMEX traveler’s checks, which I have found (in Guatemala and Costa Rica, but not Colombia) to offer the best exchange rate as well. However, I had already gone to four banks in Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo who wouldn’t exchange them and another en route that, after a 30-minute effort, told me I’d need to do it at a bigger branch of the same bank in Acapulco. Thus, three banks later, in the center of the touristic muck-a-pulco I achieved success. But, (dun-dun-dun), just as we were mounting our motos to wind our way outta there, we were greeted with the red and blue flashes of corruption.

I snapped shots of the line of cars under the "no parking" sign just before we sadly decided to obey and follow this jackass-thority figure to his pay-off point. I will soon be sending the Corrupt-Apulco HQ a sweet little note about their "officer" on bike 12 on February 3rd at 3pm.

First off, we should have denied that we spoke Spanish. And secondly, after pleading my case about being ignorant to the “no parking” zone (as we were in a line of other parked cars), when the officer told us to follow him to the station and pulled forward around the traffic circle bend out of sight, we should have jammed.

Abbreviated version: we were obliging him by following him to the alleged station until he parked on the side of the road. We made the mistake of handing him our driver’s licenses – I initially gave him an expired one that he noticed and threatened Malcolm that he would detain me, which stupidly pressured me to hand over my real one. He took out a copied list of fines and said we’d each have to pay $540 pesos at the station and be held for five days if we couldn’t. At this point, I had already told him I had no money as the banks wouldn’t cash my checks (I only keep a small amount in my wallet for this potential). It had already been about an hour of arguing and pretending I didn’t understand until he blatantly posed his pay-off fee.

Dos por uno,” he said. We pay him $540 pesos for both bikes and he lets us go with our licenses (although Malcolm had already gallantly snatched them back).

I said I only have what’s in my wallet, $340, and gave him that.

We drove off, but I was furious. It was just $28 USD, but it’s the dang principal; such a beautiful country with such amazing people just smeared with festering disreputable waste. And how embarrassing for the good, generous people of Mexico that I now feel sorry for them and their worthless government. I would hate to be felt sorry for.

We headed south and camped at another beach front restaurant, Playa Aventura, only about 15-20 kilometers south of Corrupt-apulco. The super generous owner, Israel, who let us camp and shower for free and refused our regalo tip, said corruption in Acapulco is common, especially among tourists.

Good morning tent views from Faro de Bucieras, Los Cuates Restaurant and Playa Aventura.

Coincidentally, the following day we came upon two BMW GS 1200 ADVrider guys from Tuscon who reinforced the corruption-avoidance steps of not handing over your driver’s license or paying until you’re at the station. Lesson learned.

“F%@k you, I told the last guy,” said one of the riders about a past bribery attempt.

I’m currently typing from the serendipitously discovered internationally inhabited hippie-town of Mazunte on the balcony of a beach front hostel where one can tour on turtle watching boats, eat “authentic” French crepes and relax on the soft sandy shore as the smell of mota fills the air.