SOUTH OF THE WALL // BMW SCRAMBLER
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” – Mark Twain
Directed by Sinuhe Xavier
Shot by Andrew Laboy
Words & photography by Stephen Smith
"I was in the city of Oaxaca working on a film shoot about the magical powers of mezcal when I met Miguel Lerdo, the owner of Concept Racer, a boutique motorcycle shop in the La Roma neighborhood of Mexico City. Our film had a scene where this gringo is riding a motorcycle through the valleys of Oaxaca looking for something real, something to wake him up from his midlife lethargy. Miguel brought down a beautiful Triumph Scrambler for our film hero to ride. If you know about working on set, you know there is a tremendous amount of downtime, be it waiting for the sun to set or the cameras to get set up. There is no better way to kill time than putting the hurt on an off-road motorcycle. Miguel and I flew down the dirt roads of rural Oaxaca, putting just the right amount of grit on the bike to make it look legit.
We also had lots of time to talk. Miguel Lerdo is a lawyer. He has traveled around the globe via motorcycle and greets every situation with a smile and positive attitude. We later discovered that we must have missed each other by hours in some South American towns while we were both traveling on solo rides around the continent in 2010. During our first day hanging out in Oaxaca, he told me of some very special places northeast of Mexico City where the desert meets the jungle, leading to a surrealist castle built in the 1940s by the largest collector of Salvador Dalí at the time. He enthusiastically described waterfalls, colorful vegetation, delicious food, and kind people deep in the canyons dropping from Mexico’s central plateau toward the Gulf of Mexico.
Shifting gears, he suggested we make it to the altiplano of the state of San Luis Potosí, to a mountain village by the name of Real de Catorce, where the streets are covered in cobblestone and the nearby desert is the home of the infamous peyote cactus buttons. I was sold."