Friday, September 20, 2013

Moto Mania

Using the moto to transport lumber
How do they make it look so simple?

We have a collection of snapshots, taken in haste, as various motorcycle drivers hurry past; photos of people clutching small children, demur women in dresses balanced side-saddle, or workers holding on to ladders, tools, buckets or large pieces of lumber.  

The photos are blurred by movement, slightly out of focus, but represent an interesting cross-section of islanders. 

In the late 1970’s early 1980’s there were three rental companies on Isla Mujeres that had a few machines available for tourists to buzz around on the mostly sand streets.  Gomar Rentals was the pioneer in rentals on the island, being joined later by Carabela and Honda.  

Riding side-saddle - no problem!
Every two years the rental motorbikes would be replaced with new ones, allowing islanders to purchase the castoffs at a much reduced price.  

Until about seventeen or eighteen years ago privately owned motorcycles, or motos as they are called in Mexico, were rare on Isla.   

A few ex-pats either brought their favourites from the USA or purchased a new motorbike in Cancun.  

The Honda Store
In those years only the fortunate few who did not require a loan to purchase were able to own a new moto.  Interest rates in Mexico can run from 25% to 75% for a loan or credit card, depending on the circumstances and the company.  

In about 1995 Honda made the decision to put a dealership store on the island, and to offer terms: little payments over a very long time enabling many people to own their first motorcycle or scooter.  

For sale at Chedraui Super Store on Isla
An explosion occurred, and the streets were overrun by motos.  Now, motorbikes are so common they are sold in the local grocery store, Chedraui as well as several other appliance stores.  

The Chedraui Super Store is currently offering twelve months interest free and a free helmet if the purchaser qualifies for a Chedraui credit card: a mixed blessing in itself.

Common to see four or five on a motorbike
As the motos became more common islanders invented new uses for these versatile machines.  They became tireless workhorses, or tow trucks, or family vehicles.  

When we first moved to Isla seven years ago we typically saw two or three people on each moto, now the norm seems to be four and occasionally five family members crammed on one bike.  

The law states a maximum of three people per motorbike, but for the most part that is overlooked unless there is a campaign of enforcement in effect.   

Helping a friend with a push.
We are especially intrigued by the drivers who helpfully push a friend’s motorbike to the gas station, or the repair shop, or to their home for repairs.  The drivers will position the working moto slightly behind the non-functioning bike.  

The driver of the operating machine will then place a foot on the foot-peg of the other moto and off they go – cruising along, chatting, not a care in the world.  It’s a feat of balance and coordination unlike anything I have ever seen. 

I’m jealous!  My motorcycle riding abilities consist of applying a painful death grip to the rib-cage of the driver.  Clutching until my fingers turn white, hoping against hope that I will survive.   

I just don’t have the graceful confidence required to ride a motorcycle.  I’m happier in a car or golf cart.

Hasta Luego 

Lynda and Lawrie


Marla Bainbridge said...

Awesome post! I once saw a woman putting on mascara as she rode the back of a moto. Luckily, someone else was driving. Also, someone carrying a birthday cake... uncovered.... at dusk.... Then there was the time 2 guys were carrying a mattress. Oh, and the man driving the moto with his young son on the back holding a tv, not the flat screen kind either.

Bonnie said...

Hi Lynda/Lawrie,

How is Odd and Missy doing?