2up to India via Tierra del Fuego
My wife and I are currently six months into a 2+ year trip which should take us from Montreal to Tierra del Fuego then onto Europe with the goal of eventually making it to India (and maybe beyond). Other than knowing that we want to get to Tierra del Fuego and then India we haven’t really planned our route so we’ll see how it goes.
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We are currently in Ecuador so it may take a couple of weeks to bring this ride report up to speed. Let’s start with some background and once that’s out of the way, some pics of the past 6 months on the road.
Eight years ago we had just returned from a 1 year backpacking trip to Asia and the middle-East and were already thinking about another backpacking trip, except longer. Problem was we came back with less than nothing (maxed out credit cards, no possessions, no jobs, no home). So we set ourselves a goal of getting back on our feet and leaving within 5 years (took a bit longer). About two years ago we decided we’d do it on motorcycle. I’m not sure how this came about but I’m happy it did. It was at about this time that someone suggested checking out Advrider. I spent a good part of the trip preparation on this site which has turned out to have some incredibly useful info.
When we made the decision to do our trip on a motorcycle I hadn’t owned one for well over 5 years so my riding experience at that point was, to say the least, very limited. Since we would be doing the trip 2up we needed something with enough power so we opted for an 1100gs.
The months prior to the departure were a mad dash to sell everything we owned and get everything in order. The getting rid of stuff part was just like our first trip together (really liberating and scary at the same time) but this time around we also had to learn about a new way of traveling. To a large extent that’s where Advrider came in. So with no more home, jobs and possessions (other than what would fit on the bike) we finally took off on the 4<SUP>th</SUP> of October 2007. It was just like old times except now we had traded our backpacks for metal boxes which, thankfully, can be bashed back into shape.
This is what the bike used to look like, before the busted flashers, snapped clutch cable, leaking seals, cracked windscreen, dented boxes and duct tape (God bless duct tape!). Note the cylinder attached to the bash plate, a great idea in theory but I had no idea at the time what kind of beating this thing would eventually take. We ended up getting rid of it in El Salvador.
<o:p>We zipped through the US in only 7 days. We wanted to see more but we had a nasty cold front which seemed to follow us all the way to Texas. Given the tight budget we camped most of the way down. This was our first day of camping on the way through New-York State.</o:p>
<o:p>Again due to budget constraints we did our best to avoid restaurants whenever possible. This photo was taken in the parking lot of a shopping center near Roanoke a few days later. Home cooked meal! Yummm!
After 6 days on the road we finally arrived in Texas. Mexico was just a few short hours away…
Our first stop in Mexico was Cuatro Cienegas, a series of small lakes in the middle of the desert. For the first time since we left Montreal our trip started to feel like a bit of an adventure.
As usual Marie (my wife) had no problem taking things easy…
We then headed to Real de Catorce, a once abandoned mining town that is now a tourist spot. The road to get there is about 30 kilometers of cobblestone. It`s on this road that we took our first spill. (Since this spill happened I almost always remember to put the bike back into first gear before trying to get going again after stopping for directions)….
At the end of the road is a tunnel which leads into the town...
Which looks like this from the surrounding mountains....
We ended up arriving during a religious celebration, the highlight of which was a group of kids re-enacting a funeral procession…
More in a bit....
After about 2 weeks in Real de Catorce we headed for Zacatecas several hours away. This was the first time we had to park the bike in a room (I almost burned out the clutch trying to get over a step leading into the room).
Us enjoying a park in the middle of town...
After a week in Zacatecas (the room was great so we couldn’t bare to leave!) we headed to the town of Tequila. We are, to put it mildly, very big fans of Tequila (the drink, although the town itself wasn’t too bad). We ended up visiting 2 tequila factories, the José Cuerva plant…….
Which is in sharp contrast to another plant we visited...
From Tequila we then headed to the pacific coast in search of a good beach (being Canadians, this was very important to us as they are a little hard to come by back home!). We stopped in a few places along the way but found the prices a little too high so we kept moving on. The farther we went it seemed the more junk we collected. The tank bag was getting a little out of hand...
We ended up getting to Acapulco then heading back into the interior (Mexico City). I have no pics but driving in Mexico city was the first time in my life that I did some lane splitting (against the law were we come from). We love it!!!
From Mexico we headed to Oaxaca about 8 hours away. Oaxaca is a student town (more like a city) with a great atmosphere, especially at night...
More in a bit....
Great story and pics so far, can't wait for the rest:clap
From Oaxaca we made our way to Zapatista territory to visit some ruins. The ruins were great but the road to get there was fantastic. These little volkswagens are everywhere (two of them on this shot)..
All in all we had a great time in the country except for these, which were everywhere...
As well as these.....
So it was time to head to Guatemala where there was lots of this....
Before leaving Montreal we had decided that we would take the time to learn spanish. We weren't sure where but as soon as we arrived in Guatemala we started hearing about a Spanish school in Todos Santos Cuchumatan. This is a small village surrounded by mountains fairly close to the Mexican border. We decided to check it out and ended up staying a month. While there we lived with a local family. This is a shot of the kitchen in the house we called home for a while.
And a shot of the family....
Even Marie tried her hand at cooking....
More in a bit....
Subscibed. Keep it coming this is going to be good
OK, this next part requires a bit of explanation. After our stay in Todos Santos we decided to go to Coban and then onwards to Languin where there is a great natural river that flows under and over some mineral deposits. I want to state for the record that my offroad experience is really limited. I'm talking a one day offroad course and a few kilometers in some trails back home (I took a spill). I had never ridden in mud before let alone 2up fully (and I mean fully) loaded.
So the road started off real nice and was paved for most of the way, except for the last 28 kilometers prior to getting into Coban. I knew we were in for a rough time the minute we saw the construction equipment. The muddy road led up the side of a mountain at a steep angle and was only wide enough for one vehicle. To make matters worse the rain was intense to the point that I had to raise my visor to be able to see where I was going. Because of the rain we could not take any pics but I'm happy to say we didn't fall (we saved that for a few days later).
We eventually got to Coban and then Languin near which is the river I mentioned....
And a little closer...
This is what the bike looked like from the previous ride...
And the bridge to get to the site. By the time I was halfway across a bus showed up coming in the opposite direction but instead of waiting for me to cross he forced me to back up....
Feeling confident that we were now able to navigate dirt roads a little better (ignorance is bliss) we decided to make our way to the north of the country by taking a road that we were told was difficult and not always passable. Like the road to Coban, this one started out well despite the fact that it was gravel. After about 35 kilometers of this we came upon (once again) some construction.
"The road is only under construction for the first 5 kilometers", we were told. So off we went and about 35 kilometers into some of the nastiest road I had ever driven we took a nasty spill. Despite having the bike fall on my foot, nothing was broken except my pride and my confidence (which I got back in Costa Rica, but more on that later). This shot was taken moments after the fall...
More later, gotta go eat......
Wow!! All the way from Montreal!!! Fantastic, thanks for sharing your awesome adventure :thumb
After the fall the pain in my left foot started getting progressively worse to the point that I could no longer shift gears. So I decided I would rig up a way to shift the gears using bale wire. The concept was simple; When the time came to shift gears Marie would simply pull upwards on the wire.
Once I had finished rigging the thing up Marie took one look and vetoed the idea (it is good to travel with your partner!). Instead she gave me some strong pain killers and the rest of the ride was quite pleasant (we were in the middle of nowhere so stopping was not an option). We eventually got to Flores and the following day I was x-rayed and declared good to go. Despite this I had a bad limp for the next 3 weeks.
We ended up staying in Flores and the surrounding area for a week. This is a lake near the ruins of Tikal...
I forgot to put this one in earlier, some kids in the town of Todos Santos...
This was one of the signs on the road to the ruins....
And at least one shot of the ruins.....
We debated for a while about going to Belize which was just 3 hours away. In the end we decided not to because of the costs involved and our desire to pick up the pace a bit. So instead we headed for El Salvador. Our plan was to spend 1 or maybe 2 weeks visiting the country. Instead we ended up staying a full month for repairs, but more on that tomorrow.
So what are you riding now?? :ear
Hi Gadget Boy,
We still have the trusty 1100 although now it has a new outer rear main seal (after much frustration and wasted time in El Salvador) as well as new transmission seals (replaced in Bogota 2 weeks ago). The bike now runs well except for a serious lack of power. We're thinking it might have been the air filter so we took care of that. We'll be leaving Otavalo, Ecuador in a couple of days so we'll have a better idea then if that was the problem...
This is going to be Gr88888888888t. Thanks for taking us along.
:lurk :lurk :lurk
Thanks for sharing!:beer I have a complete topend - fresh as heck - for an 1100, and many other parts// If you guys get in a pickle let me know, Ok?
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