Day 2: Cancun - Grampies Yucatan Return: Winter 2023 - CycleBlaze

January 1, 2023

Day 2: Cancun

HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYONE!

We woke up at about 1 a.m. with the building vibrating to music from outside, punctuated by occasional blasts of those bomb like fireworks. The music was so incredibly loud that I formed the opinion that there must be a street filling Mardi Gras out there. Eventually I dragged myself out the door to find the street all but deserted, but our neighbours  BBQing outside and playing recorded music. We know that this is culturally par for the course, and it doesn't even have to be New Year's eve. Mexicans have access to the kinds of big amplifiers and speakers that have all but evaporated from our smart phone/ear bud culture up North. Often these will be set up outside stores, just to create an attention getting blare.

I crawled back into our bed and turned on my bedtime story (James Herriot), but I could barely hear it. I needed noise cancelling earbuds!

After lying there sleeplessly for an hour, I decided that I was hungry and I remembered that Dodie had not eaten two of her share of the cookies we had bought earlier. I got up and put the remains of my coffee in the microwave - a super feature of our room here. It ran about 5 seconds before all the lights went out in the apartment.

I went back into bed and listened to James Herriot for a bit more, plus the music from next door. Their BBQ also smelled pretty good, and I was still hungry.  I also realized that with the AC gone, it was going to get quite uncomfortable soon. So I fired up my flashlight and went looking for a fuse box, inside and outside. Outside, it seemed the neighbours were cooking for about 30, but I could only see four people. I was too shy to go see if I could join the party. But I did walk up the steps to Jorge's place, and found him awake. He came down and showed me the breaker, flipping it several times, but to no avail. He then charged off, to "call somebody". I went back to bed, until Jorge returned to report failure, but also that the power was now off in several adjoining houses. Jorge suggested we come sleep at his place, but we decided to tough it out.

So it was back on the now hot bed, listening to the music. The outage had unfortunately not killed the amplifier. I tried to analyse the music tracks, which all featured quite unmelodic vocals, backed by brass, bongos, probably guitar. It was not mariachi, though. I thought about recording some to replay here, but lacked the strength.

About 3 a.m. the power came back on, and Jorge appeared, to say that they had found a bundle of wire "on fire". Oh, ok. I'm glad they found it. I had been considering some investigation of the fuse box  (not fuse panel, only one fuse!) in our room, but its bare wires were scary! Not more scary than the wiring on the street, I guess.

Needs a Marette connector, bad.
Heart 1 Comment 0
Wiring in our street.
Heart 4 Comment 0

The music only went off at 4 a.m. That's from Dodie's report. She says I actually slept all night. But I did have to be up a bit to (maybe) take down the Mexican power grid with my microwave! 

Walking around the neighborhood, looks pretty staggery and probably we were too.
Heart 0 Comment 0

I am writing this about noon. We put Dodie down for a nap. She really was up until 4, and then  at dawn. Around 9 we went out for a look at our neighbourhood and to look for food. The sun was bright and hot. Few people were about and most stores were closed. After all, it is Sunday and New Year's Day!

Certainly our bakery was closed, and the fruit store and the juice place. But a couple of the groceries were open, and two of the hole in the wall torta shops.  We stopped at a torta shop, run by a cute old couple much younger than us!). They invited us into their cubby hole to see what was cooking. We find the people here so sweet!

What's cooking?
Heart 4 Comment 0
More tortas for us!
Heart 4 Comment 0
Only a northerner would photograph this common tree.
Heart 4 Comment 0
Typical local transport
Heart 3 Comment 0

At the grocery, Dodie broke her rule of keeping me outside so I swarmed around looking at everything, and loading up our cart. Here are some shots of just a few of the things that caught my eye.

Hot chocolate from an attractive nun!
Heart 1 Comment 0
But Grandma is a good hot chocolate fallback.
Heart 2 Comment 0
Mole, ready to go. It takes a whole day to make from scratch.
Heart 3 Comment 1
Sue PriceWe like this brand, although it's not as good as what we find in the restaurant
Reply to this comment
3 weeks ago
Refried beans - a good protein staple.
Heart 3 Comment 0
Bakeries will not be plentiful like in France, so we were scouting anti-bonk snacks. How about this one? The government warns that it has too much sugar, calories, and fat!
Heart 3 Comment 0

Back home, I fried up some eggs and made a breakfast sandwich of those, with the characteristic bland Manchego cheese, on a fluffy bun from the Bimbo company. It was ok. Dodie stuck to yogurt. It was from the Lala company, the nickname of our second daughter!

We will now rest up before setting up the bikes. We decided to pass on a ride around Cancun today. We are already declaring things too hot, not that we are dreaming (yet) of frigid Canada. Plus we are beat from so much New Year's partying!

It was mid afternoon before we started to reconstitute the bikes. The first bit was the rather tedious undoing of all the ties we had used to keep the folded bikes folded. Next we set about putting right what the baggage monkeys had managed to set askew. A tricky one was the Ortlieb handlebar bag mount, now somehow pointing to the sky. These mounts are tricky, as they use a proprietary cable that once monkeyed with needs to be replaced. The nearest replacement is no doubt in Germany. We fired up the mounting diagram on the Ortlieb site and loosened the one critical screw. Hooray, we got it straight, without having to detour to Germany!

Another crazy one came as we put our bike batteries on their chargers.  About half refused to flash, showing that they were charging. We tried turning them off, set them to hibernate, turning them back on, using the needed special button presses on each one. No luck. It took a while to realize the problem. The batteries had (somehow)  become unevenly discharged. Now those that were more charged were not going to be given any boost from the battery management system until the less fortunate batteries were brought up in level. Very Liberal (liberal) of it!

We whiled away the afternoon and early evening chasing problems like this. Ah, here is one more sample - special for our cycling friend Ken Nicholson in Kamloops, for whom this is a special bug. I had no luck inflating my front tire, and eventually had to pull the tube. I found the valve stem had disintegrated. So we used one of our two spare tubes before even cycling one km.

Look, Ken!
Heart 1 Comment 0

At last the bikes were assembled, and I went out for a test spin. Down by the local bandshell several stalls were set up, some with dry goods and one with bakery. And one in particular with helado - ice cream. I went home and grabbed Dodie.  A (sort of) cool evening stroll in a (sort of) market is lots of fun.

Christmas at the bandshell
Heart 5 Comment 0
Some of our favourite accessories - like bike cell phone mounts and USB chargers.
Heart 2 Comment 0
Lots of kid's toys
Heart 0 Comment 0
I like the dragon a lot
Heart 1 Comment 0
The yellow duckie looks out of place.
Heart 1 Comment 0
Ah yes helado! Great quality and good flavours. Just 20 pesos, best deal of any country!
Heart 2 Comment 0
The baked items were about 9 pesos each.
Heart 2 Comment 0
Dodie has the courage and patience to pay with small coins.
Heart 3 Comment 0

Back home again, we found one of our two bike  battery chargers had failed. It's the one that failed in England and then came back to life in Canada. Fortunately we don't anticipate doing a really lot of battery charging  here in mostly flat Yucatan.

So there it is. The bikes are ready and loaded. We are already sick of tortas. We found the helado. It's time to blow this town!

===================================================

Well cancel that, maybe! 

After my test drive and my smug "we're ready to go" pronouncement, we just puttered about, doing things like finding a place tp stay in Playa and cooking up some spare Egg McManchego's to take along tomorrow. That was until we casually shifted my ready to go bike.  Flat tire in the rear! Some experimenting made it clear, this valve stem had also failed!

The theory is that our tire pump requires just a slight wiggle to get it off the stem once the tire is inflated.  Clearly these tubes could not tolerate that little wiggle. In the old days tube stems were threaded all the way and had a little lock ring. Not these ones!

OK, so we did have one last spare tube. But that rear wheel has the motor. Fortunately this bike has derailleur and not an internal hub, because that would have been really a bear. But this was bad enough, because there are locking bushings that clearly have a big role in holding the motor. Once off, I just could not figure how they went back on. I fought with the bike for an hour, slowly despairing. I realized that if I thought there was no real help in dealing with this bike in  England and France, then I was really on my own in Mexico. 

If I can't figure this, we're doomed!
Heart 3 Comment 0

I had the axle partially in the dropouts and was almost going to gamble on it that way, when bingo! I realized which way the darn bushings had to go! Quickly the bike was then back together, and I pumped up the rear tire, containing  our last tube. Right now I am eyeing it skeptically, giving it a squeeze now and then. So far so good.

So let's try this again: We are ready to go!

Rate this entry's writing Heart 8
Comment on this entry Comment 6
Marvin PaxmanWhew! I hate frustrations like that. I always use the phrase "Useless piece of junk!" instead of swearing.
Reply to this comment
3 weeks ago
Ben ParkeSchwalbe tubes have the threaded stem. I’ve no idea if the stem on those can be replaced though, but they might last longer than what you’ve got. Might be tough to find in Mexico though.

You also might check your rim and make sure there isn’t anything sharp cutting into that stem. Who knows what those baggage gorillas did to your poor wheel. Beyond that, it’s maybe just some sort of Mexican curse.
Reply to this comment
3 weeks ago
Scott AndersonTo Ben ParkeI agree on this. Threaded stems are much better and less likely to result in this kind of fatal injury. On a side note, it’s worth carrying the grommets that fit into the rim hole, so you can adapt it to accommodate presta tubes, which are usually all that I can find overseas for 20” wheels.
Reply to this comment
3 weeks ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Scott AndersonGood points. We will soon be at Walmart in Playa, where for now all our wildest needs should be covered - like 20 inch Shrader tubes!
Reply to this comment
3 weeks ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Ben ParkeThese are points worth checking. My current theory though is that the tubes were too weak to withstand the flexing involved with being pumped, specially when pulling the pump head off.
Reply to this comment
3 weeks ago
Sue PriceLoved the bit about New Year's and loud music. Here in La Paz there is a parade of loud music blaring cars going up and down the malecon every Sunday night. They play every kind of music, from rap to mariachi to Sinatra and you hear it all at once! Lucky us our apartment is far from all the fun!
Reply to this comment
3 weeks ago