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Old 04-20-2010, 06:23 PM   #241
gypsyrr
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Still following your ride, Jay, and wishing the best of experiences for you.

Really great photos of everything, but I especially like this one from your time in Mexico. Nice.


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Old 04-22-2010, 05:18 PM   #242
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Quote:
Originally Posted by prince_ruben
Hey Jay, any shaggin going on? Can't leave that out man! LOL Glad you're still on good hands. Rock on.

R.
Thanx for thinking about my needs brother. It's being taken care of

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Originally Posted by barko1
OK maybe he is smooth but I think he has some class. Class seems to mean you don't blab it on some forum on the internet. Ride reports with sexual conquents, now that's adventure
on the other hand, I'm no StrikingViking

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Originally Posted by dvwalker
pura vida Jammin!!! What a great start to life long memories. Suck the nector out of every day.
Nice way to put it I know I'm supposed to be enjoying every moment of every day but I'm only human and there are times when I just want the day to be over and dont want to see another speed bump!! Topes in Mexico and now Tumulos in Guatemala, but they're nicer and fewer here.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gypsyrr
Still following your ride, Jay, and wishing the best of experiences for you.

Really great photos of everything, but I especially like this one from your time in Mexico. Nice.
Thanks Kristi. Was looking to capture the breeze and the contrasts seemed to work, too. Your photos are amazing.
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Old 04-23-2010, 12:50 AM   #243
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Mexico Part 3: San Cristobal

April 8 - 14, 2010

I was only going to spend two days in San Cristobal, but one thing lead to another and it became longer than a week. I stayed at CouchSurfer Jose Luis' place and there was a good vibe there. I had planned on taking Spanish lessons in Guatemala for a week but I met two Argentinian travelers who were also staying at Luis' place and they offered to teach me Spanish in exchange for improving their English. One of them, Lucas was a Spanish literature teacher and journalist. I also needed to wind down a bit as I was on the road constantly for the previous two weeks working my way down Mexico. The pleasant highland climate up at 7,500 ft was also much appreciated.


The main house on the ranch where Luis was staying. This is Olivier's house and that's one of his horses, who's pregnant.


The side house where Luis and the rest of us were staying.


Olivier's second horse coming for a drink of water. It was real nice to be living so close to such big, beautiful animals. They came and went as they pleased as it was also their home.


Lucas, one of the Argentinians, besides being a Spanish teacher and journalist is also a marvelous singer and guitar player. He put together a CD album and is trying to go professional. He would just grab his guitar and belt out beautiful songs with a very strong voice. It was so impressive that Luis is holding the phone out and probably said to the person on the other end, "you gotta hear this."


We went into town to check out some local music. This is a group from Veracruz (known for great musicians in Mexico), where everyone had a guitar of all different sizes and people took turns singing. It was lively music with strong messages (I had some translations).


They had a small wooden platform and people took turns stomping to the music. The stomps would be mellow during the verse and get loud and energetic during the chorus.


Once it got too cold outside, the party moved inside. Check out the rhythm instrument, which was a jaw of some animal, probably a cow, filled with beads and a stick was grated against the teeth to create a maracas kind of sound.


The next morning I went to Comitan, about 90 kms towards the Guatemalan border to the consulate there to get a visa for the next few Central American countries. However, to my surprise they said India was now on the visa exempt list, so no visa needed. Yeah, tourist visa reform is slowing happening. On the way back to San Cristobal I saw these horses dragging lumber. Human and animal sharing the load.


And I finally found tacos cheaper than 10 Pesos (the dollar sign is used to signify pesos in Mexico). All through northern Mexico, the cheapest tacos were P10 and above. P5 is around $0.40.


Mmmm, greasy meat from somewhere on a pig.


In complete contrast to road-side food are all the huge supermarkets now everywhere in Mexico. It might be classified as a developing country, but Mexico has some faces that look very similar to developed countries. Buying provisions for the week ahead.


Automatic tortilla oven. Billions and billions of tortillas are made and consumed every day in Mexico.


Luis preparing some dinner for us.


Ham sandwiches with avocado and tomato. Simple and tasty.


He taught us this board game that night called La Polina. It's kind of like Monopoly where you have to get your pieces around the board and there are various rules on who can kill whom and where the safety zones are. It doesn't reward kindness and I think it teaches you how to be an effective mob boss, haha. Interesting game.


The beautiful cathedral in the central plaza of San Cristobal.


Old Spanish colonial city with cobble stone streets and lots of cafes with outdoor seating. The mood was very jovial.


If you're a CouchSurfer or staying with one in San Cristobal, you have to take part in the Abrazos Gratis (Free Hugs) event on Saturday afternoons.


No one knows who started it or where, but you basically just give out free hugs to passerbyers. Of course, you ask first and most people respond with a smile and open arms and walk away with an even bigger smile.


Selva, a CouchSurfing host from Germany who was doing some Yoga training on the Oaxacan coast, sticking an Abrazos Gratis sign on Lucas.


Having a few drinks after the event with new friends. I offered to cook a chicken curry for about five of us that evening and Mauricio, here on the left, who also lives in Olivier's house, spread the word that an Indian guy was making a chicken curry and what do you know, soon it became a dinner party for 30! More chicken!


I enjoyed being a chef again and put everyone to work chopping vegetables: Joelle (from Quebec), Luis, Aurelie (from Reunion), Maria (San Cris local), Olivier and Ikura (Japanese traveler that we met in the plaza).


Cutting green peppers and onions: Carlos (from France) and Monika (from Poland).


Kal (from Korea) preparing a Korean rice dish with all the vegetables. If you think riding a motorcycle through South America is crazy, Kal here plans to Walk around South America. He's walked around South Korea and is preparing for his multi-year journey in San Cristobal. We had some nice discussions about Zen Buddhism and the energy in the Universe, which was currently being channelled into the food :)


Once it was prepared, the chicken curry disappeared real fast. I couldn't even get a picture of the finished dish, haha. It didn't come out as I expected as I've never cooked for so many people, but with the right spices and adequate salt, no one would complain.


Finally getting a chance to sit down and enjoy some of the food.


Happy feasters.


Selva and Melady (from Madison, Wisconsin) preparing a mango lassi (Indian yogurt drink) for dessert.


A campfire was started outside and everyone gathered to listen to Lucas play the guitar, under a beautiful clear night sky.


Always enjoyable to be around a campfire.


There was some dancing by Mario (the other Argentinian)...


...and story-telling by Lucas who was quite dramatic. I couldn't follow much of it, but the presentation itself was interesting.


A beautiful evening, put together as it happened.


The next day I went with Olivier to see some quarter-mile horse drag racing. This is typical of this region and happens quite regularly.


Everyone stands real close to the raceway to see their horse get ahead and then get smothered in the dust cloud as they pass.


The timing system for the races with some camcorders for video playback.


There was lots of waiting around for each race, about an hour in between. Chicken on the grill and locals mingling about.


This guy was interesting - he was selling small concessions and collecting the beer cans thrown on the ground by everyone else. Maybe he gets some cash for recycling them, but it's funny to see how people care less about garbage down here and just throw things down as soon as it's of no value to them.


The next race started...


...and the excitement was over in less than ten seconds. I like this picture for how the dust trails mimic the horse's tail.


Typical evenings at Luis' with dinner on the porch. Everyone took turns preparing dinner. Soon, more people were staying at Olivier's, Mauricio's and Luis' place as they too enjoyed the vibe here.


Besides the good food and the company, everyone enjoyed being so close to the horses. Some of them even went on horse rides (on the black male as the mare here was expected any day soon).


There was lots of dancing. Here, Lucas and Joelle are swinging away.


Carlos and Aurelie spinning into smiles.


Good times. Nice to mix with travelers from all different parts of the world and see how similar and diverse we all are.


Busting a few moves myself.


Mauricio works for an outfitter company, organizing tours and treks and he got us a deal on a river cruise though the Sumidero Canyon, near Tuxtla Gutierrez.


The steep canyon walls from the river. It was a two hour motor boat cruise with a Spanish guide.


A limestone cave with a shrine to the Virgin Mary deep inside.


And nice big crocodiles basking in the sun. We saw three huge ones and the boat got real close to the shore.


Some more pictures of San Cristobal's interesting buildings.


Shaded tree avenue near the central plaza.


Doing an oil change for sanDRina. It had been 3,500 miles since San Francisco and the oil was well used.


I asked the store where I bought the oil if I could borrow an oil pan as I had all the tools needed for a simple oil change and felt better about doing it myself.


Cooking one last meal in San Cristobal. This time it would be all vegetarian. Preparing a broccoli pasta sauce.


Carlos making mashed potatoes with garlic and chillies.


Presenting the food: a cucumber/tomato salad, mashed potatoes and the pasta sauce.


Good to get some greens after lots of fried meat dishes the previous days. Garlic mashed potatoes with a cucumber/tomato salad with avocado and pasta with a broccoli tomato sauce.


And good food always goes well with good company. It would be easy to spend a lot of time wherever the vibes are good, however the road is calling.

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Current Ride Report: Global South | Past Trips: CDR '09, Alaska '08, Mexico '07 | YouTube Videos

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Old 04-25-2010, 04:10 PM   #244
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Spent two days in Honduras, going through some small towns in the mountains: Gracias and La Esperanza, stayed the night in Comayagua. Crossed into Nicaragua today and staying at SalCar's house in Managua. Border crossings have been smooth. But got pulled over today for overtaking on a solid line - cost me $3 (60 Cordobas). Heading to Granada tomorrow.
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Old 04-25-2010, 06:23 PM   #245
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Can't believe I missed this one

I just found this RR tonite (and glad I did). After a few hours have caught up with your last post. Super interesting. Looking forward to following your journey. All the best. In BIG TIME!

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Old 04-25-2010, 07:07 PM   #246
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Jay,
Your chicken curry is definitely going to be famous by the time you get home.
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Old 04-26-2010, 07:46 AM   #247
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I just found this RR tonite (and glad I did). After a few hours have caught up with your last post. Super interesting. Looking forward to following your journey. All the best. In BIG TIME!

Come along for the ride...

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Jay,
Your chicken curry is definitely going to be famous by the time you get home.
It's a traveling cooking show on 2 wheels
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Old 04-26-2010, 08:18 AM   #248
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Mexico Part 4: Naha, Mayan Village Stay

April 15 - 19, 2010

While in San Cristobal, I became friends with Selva and she found out about a rural Mayan village deep in the jungle near Palenque, that outsiders could visit and stay with a local family. Mauricio had been there before and knew a family we could stay with. It sounded like a good plan, so I decided to tag along and push back crossing into Guatemala. Melady, a traveler from Wisconsin, would also be joining us. Since Naha wasn't on any map, I would just be following the transportation that the girls were taking. They of course wanted to come on the bike, but it's not setup to carry passengers.


I first followed the girls in this collectivo, a shared minibus offering services to smaller towns, to Ocosingo, about 100 kms southeast and down the mountain from San Cristobal towards Palenque.


The local market in Ocosingo. It's not much of a tourist attraction but it works for the locals.


The big red bananas are not a common variety and are super tasty. Can also find them in India.


Selva and Melady stocking up on supplies for the rough trip ahead to Naha and buying sweet bread as a gift to the host family.


The girls would be riding in the back of this camionetta, a pickup truck used for even more rural routes. It's also used partly for cargo as some of these villages don't have much else contact with the outside world.


Waiting at the camionetta station after having discussed with the driver that I would be following him and told him not to lose me. I told the girls, if I got lost, I was heading for Guatemala.


We were descending further down the mountain to about 2,000 ft and the humidity was picking up.


Stopping for a break once the route went gravel. It was about 30 kms of nice pavement from Ocosingo and then 50 kms of dirt road into the jungle to Naha, making it a 3 1/2 hour journey. I was adjusting tire pressures here for better feel on the loose surface.


And of course, whenever we stopped, the men who were traveling in the truck gathered around and asked all sort of questions about the bike and my trip. It was nice how we were all traveling together in a small convoy.


Zapatista wannabes. Once the route hit the gravel road, the girls tried to reduce the amount of dust that they were covered in.


Nice exposé of the other passengers in the truck.


Enjoying some off-road riding. The road was pretty mild with only a few hairy rocky-boulder sections. That's my Vision-X Solstice LED headlight. I have two of them and used them instead of the main headlight during the day as they're brighter and provide a bigger light footprint to oncoming traffic. They're skewed a bit off-center.


Ewww smelly biker, but they looked worse than me being covered in a fine layer of dust.


It was good riding and sanDRina was handling it well.


We had to dodge some rain here and there and it helped to reduce the amount of dust being kicked up.


3 hours in the back of a pickup truck and you become friendly with your fellow passengers.


The simple village of Naha. It was this one street that passed through the village and had a population of about 200. Most of the villagers just got by on subsistence living, growing what they could from the land and leading simple lives.


One of the local Mayan Lacondon boys taking me to the home where we would be staying. The Lacandon males characteristically have long black hair and wear white gowns as theirmain clothing.


Going for a hike through the jungle to get to a lake that Naha is known for.


Furry peapod.


Getting to the remote lake.


Selva taking it in.


It was serene and felt untouched.


Making beautiful music from a wooden flute.


Soaking our feet in the cool water.


This is Bor, he's a deaf Mayan man, part of the family we were staying with. He was very energetic and tagged along with us on our treks. He borrowed this dug-out canoe and offered to take us across the lake.


Melady went along with Bor as Selva and I wanted to head to the next village to buy some fresh produce as there was only canned food in the small stores in Naha. Selva is a vegetarian and doesn't enjoy canned food. It also rained regularly in the afternoon around 3 pm, so we wanted to get back before that.


Pictures from Melady on the canoe. Lotus flowers.


Lotus in the feet.


Melady enjoying her Mayan gondola experience.


A Lancondan man across the waters in his traditional clothes.


Walking back to the village.


Selva and I went two-up on the DR to the next town over to buy fresh produce. It was a tight squeeze but for a short distance, it was no problem.


We came across a coffee warehouse on the way back.


It's the local Naha coffee that they're exporting to Europe and the US.


While waiting for a freshly brewed sample, Selva found out more from the manager. They're using only sustainable practices and of course, employ the local Mayans to support the community.


The dirt road leading back to Naha.


Steep dirt switch-backs two-up on a fully loaded DR. No sweat.


Preparing dinner that night in the host family's kitchen. Melady stir-frying some onions. They were using just simple open-fire stoves with a grill on top. Besides having no chimney to direct the smoke outside, I thought about telling them how inefficient this was for cooking as lots of heat was going to waste on the sides, using up more of their precious firewood. However, Selva told me there were plans by NGOs to distribute better stoves to rural communities such as here.


Selva chopping up some cabbage.


Dinner of rice with lentils, tomatoes and cabbage with garlic and chillies. It was all we could find in the nearby stores and was quite tasty.


Trying to capture how much smoke was present in the kitchen area from the open fires. It got unbearable at times and we had to come outside for some fresh air.


They made tortillas everyday and stored them in gourds up on these baskets to keep it away from the animals. Lots of dogs, cats and chickens were wandering about.


Bor holding up one of his drawings. He's known a bit for his drawings and has sold a few to visitors and other interested people.


He was intrigued by the motorcycle and wanted to go for a ride!


He would sign and try to communicate with us a lot. He was telling all sorts of stories and we tried out best to figure out what they were. It was about going up on the ridge, going into a cave, seeing a jaguar and other things that we made up to go with his signs.


Relaxing in the hammocks after dinner.


Grinding up corn into flour to be made into tortillas.


One of the Mayan mothers making her family's tortillas in the morning. A few families were living together and each of them made their own tortillas. If they ran out, they could borrow from another family, but had to pay back. This was the essence of their diet. They said if they didn't eat tortillas with every meal, their stomachs would feel funny.


Heating up the tortilla on a big pan.


One of the little Mayan girls running around the kitchen. She was just smiling a moment ago.


The bathroom.


The shower. Nice refreshing cold jungle water.


They had a toilet that flushed but you had to use water or bring your own toilet paper. Water's cleaner :)


Running into Bor on his way back from clearing a boundary in the jungle. The neighboring village was encroaching on their land and clearing forest for growing corn, called milpas. So everyone in the community had to volunteer to go up and clearly mark a boundary and maintain it.


There was a hut in the village used for teaching art to the kids. That's an albino Lancondon boy working on part of a wall hanging. There were about three albinos in this small community.


Walking back to the lake and carrying the leftovers from last night for lunch.


Huge Elephant Ear plants in the jungle. Melady said people would pay huge sums of money for these leaves back in the States.


Nature's art show on the back of a butterfly wing.


Eating mangoes and relaxing in a thatched hut by the lake. It was a lazy afternoon of reading and napping.


The mom of another family making her share of tortillas. They were using a press, which is similar to ones in India, to make smaller tortillas.


Rising up like pita breads.


The kitchen sink with light pouring in after the usual afternoon rains.


Selva conversing with one of the ladies. She's fluent in Spanish as her mother is Peruvian. The Maya speak their own language and we tired to learn a few words. Some of the older women only spoke Mayan.


Nena, the bossiest of the little children around. She was missing all her front teeth and most of them had bad dental health. We saw lots of soda drinks being consumed and junk food being eaten by the kids. In the stores, bottled water was quite rare.


Clutching a tasty bag of chips.


Entrance to the kitchen.


The hut we stayed in.


Parking for the bike in the firewood shed.


Lots of chickens walking about freely, producing heaps of eggs for daily consumption.


Melady teaching one of the little girls how to write. She also wanted to try on her glasses.


One of the elder ladies washing clothes. Melady gave her camera to the kids and asked them to take photos and this one and the next two are from the kids' perspective.


Angelica, the smartest of the little kids.


Nena with a funny expression.


Dinner that night of lentils with rice and this time, potatoes.


Heading back to San Cristobal. Selva and Melady were taking a camionetta to Palenque and then returning home; Selva to Germany and Melady to Wisconsin. It was a good three days spent getting a glimpse of rural Mayan life and enjoying the jungle.


This was Zapatista country but we didn't see any more than this (it's a movement to increase indigenous rights and was strong in the 90s but has died down now).


Riding back up into the mountains.


The dirt road winding its way ahead.


Mini rapids on a passing river.


The bridges used pipes as their bed and it caused the front tire to wander a bit as I crossed.


Taking a lunch break.


Looking back at the valley where Naha is.


Pine trees as the elevation rose.


Hitting the new pavement after 50 kms of dirt. This road was quite remote and had very little traffic. Fun riding.


Climbing higher to 7,500 ft as I neared San Cristobal.


Washed out road. This is why you can't come flying around corners down here. This danger was signed, but not all of them are.


Cleaning my chain after that dirt riding with diesel and a tooth brush. The Pemex guys were nice and didn't even charge me for the 1 Peso of diesel.


Is that a clean chain or what? All ready to leave Mexico and head into Guatemala tomorrow.


Topes, speed bumps in Mexico and yes, some of them are thaaat big! There are just way too many of these all over Mexico. My left toe was starting to hurt after a few days of constantly having to brake and up shift - my bulky motocross boots put more torque on my foot when I shift. I was looking forward to having to deal with much less speed bumps south of Mexico. I know they're needed otherwise everyone would speed way too much through towns but some of them are in the middle of nowhere and not even marked, so you have to keep constantly scanning the road ahead for slight bumps. They are helpful though in overtaking other trucks and cars as they have to slow down much more.


The Mexican Peso. I'm going to try and get a picture of the different currencies I come across. P100 = $8.20.
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J A Y on a 98 Suzuki DR650SE (sanDRina)

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Current Ride Report: Global South | Past Trips: CDR '09, Alaska '08, Mexico '07 | YouTube Videos

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Old 04-26-2010, 03:22 PM   #249
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Guatemala, Part 1: Highlands

April 19 - 21, 2010

I was looking forward to crossing into Guatemala as this would be my first country in Central America. After spending more time in Mexico, I now had about three weeks to get to Panama. I originally wanted to spend about a week in each of the CA countries, but now it was going to be just a few days. I made a loop around Guatemala, hitting most of the interesting sites from Lake Atitlan set among volcanoes, to riding in the remote highlands, seeing the magnificent ruins at Tikal, dipping down to the yachtie Rio Dulce before crossing over into Honduras.


At the Guatemala Consulate in Comitan, Mexico, making sure that I don't need a visa to enter. The small blue and white flag denotes the consulate. The nice guys at the office there even made sure to call the consulates of all the other Central American countries to make sure I didn't need a visa through Panama. Yeah!


Nomansland between the Mexican and Guatemalan border. The land was flat on the Mexican side and looming mountains were ahead in Guatemala.


Welcome to Guatemala. La Mesilla border crossing.


Getting the bike fumigated - sprayed with a disinfectant to not transport bugs across the border for Q12. $1 = 8 Quetzals (the Guatemalan currency). No cost for immigration stamp and Q40 for importing the bike.


Grand mountains ahead and lots of garbage on the road side.


Nice to see lots more bikes around and a good use of helmets.


Lunch at Huehuetenango of grilled chicken with rice, beans and tortillas for Q15. The tortillas were smaller and thicker.


Riding high into the mountains of the Cordillera de los Cuchumatanes.


Brand new four lane twisty mountainous freeway heading south to Guatemala City.


The road was cut right through steep parts of the mountain and you wonder why landslides happen...


The road climbed higher and higher, riding into the clouds.


In the clouds at 10,000 ft. Visibility was reduced to around 100 ft.


Dropping quickly in elevation as I descended to Lago de Atitlan, a beautiful lake surrounded by numerous volcanoes.


The tight switch-backs heading down to the lake. The village of San Marcos up ahead.


The gnarly road heading to the town of San Pedro. Good reason to have a dual-sport bike down here.


The beautiful expansive Lago de Atitlan, which fills the mouth of a huge volcanic caldera that erupted about 84,000 years ago. It's the deepest lake in Central America at around 340 meters (1130 ft) deep.


The touristic town of San Pedro la Laguna. It's a backpackers hub with lots of services catering to travelers.


Dock side lined with boats as they ply the waters to the various towns around the lake


View from the restaurant I had dinner at across the lake at sunset.


Sunrise views across the lake. I wish I could've stayed longer as I know the photo opportunities would've been better.


Hospedaje Xocomil where I spent the night for Q40 ($5).


Nice to park the bike right outside my room and away from the evening rains.


The Guatemalan Quetzal. $1 = Q8.


The infamous dodgy hot water element in the shower head. Not having the capacity for a water heater, this is the next best thing for hot water, where a heating element heats up the water right before it exits the shower head. You wont get a shock as long as you don't touch the shower head when it's running and you're wet.


Clear view across the lake from the village of San Juan to the mountain the road climbs to get back on the main road.


The trusty Bajaj Autorickshaw from India, called tuk-tuks here, being used all over Central America as cheap taxis.


Clear day for riding back up to the top. The lake is at around 5,500 ft and the main road on top is at around 8,500 ft, climbing real steep up the mountain in about 25 kms.


The steep, narrow, beautiful road back up to the top of the ridge.


View of Volcan San Pedro and the town at the base of the volcano from the top.


Typical sight of firewood being collected from the forest for daily cooking and heating use.


Riding nice mountainous twisty roads past Chichicastenango, heading to Coban.


Taking a lunch break past Uspatan. Lots of rural schools were abound all across the country. Good to see education reaching far into the countryside.


Lunch of a corn meal soup that was flavored with a few beans, hot sauce, salt and lemon. Tasted pretty good and was very filling for Q2.


Riding remote twisties along the scenic Huehue to Coban road.


A collectivo assistant hanging on to the ladder while talking to someone inside. He climbed down from the roof as the van was swaying around the corners. And note the passengers on the roof, drinking beers.


The road turned to gravel about 25 kms shy of Coban.


The road was pretty smooth but I knew something was coming up...


A huge land slide took out the road recently, (peligro = danger, no hay paso = do not enter). I knew about this from another motorcycle rider who passed through here a few months before me.


Looks like the whole side of mountain came sliding down.


The original route is on top and the detour heads down and around the land slide.


The detour was quite gnarly and steep with lots of tight switch-backs.


Looks like more rocks fell across the detour.


I made it out and had some lunch past Coban of Chicharron, fried pork skin with some meat and a radish salad for Q16. It was the only thing offered at the place.


Riding some relaxing sweeping corners heading north to Lanquin.


The 20 kms of dirt road heading to the town of Lanquin and further to the scenic limestone pools of Semuc Champey.


I stayed the night at this jungle resort near the pools, where I met a traveler from the States who worked a whole year at the South Pole, Antarctica. She was a safety inspector and also worked in the oil/gas industry in Nigeria. She was winding down in Guatemala and said how amazing it was to see precipitation fall from the sky as the snow/ice blows horizontally almost constantly at the pole. She was the 1231st person to ever spend a winter at the south pole where it's a constant -80F and 9 months of darkness.


I stayed in the dorm in the attic of this cabin.


Q25 for a dorm bed as Casa de Zipolite.


Heading to Semuc Champey with the early morning jungle mist in the valley.


Hiking over to the pools. It cost Q50 to enter and Q10 for parking.


The clear water at Semuc Champey.


A very idyllic place with water flowing around limestone features, collecting in various pools.


The turquoise water color was a sight to behold.


Some early morning swimmers taking a dip in cool pools in the jungle.


The greener lower pool at Semuc Champey. Interesting site, but not sure it was worth the entrance fee if you weren't going to swim.


Heading back up across this bridge. Doggie taking a nap.


The road was quite steep in places and they're put in concrete tracks in really steep sections for grip when it's wet.


Climbing back up to the main road from Lanquin.


At the junction where the pavement ends. To head north to Tikal, there's 40 kms more of dirt road heading to Fray or you can take pavement back to Coban and through Chisec. I went straight ahead to Fray.


Looking back at the valley where Lanquin and Semuc Champey are.


The gravel road heading north to Fray. It was in fair condition but mostly going 1st and 2nd gear averaging 20 km/h.


Passing a few small towns in the mountains, which were crowded and chaotic. Lots of old Nissan pickup trucks everywhere.


Enjoying some beautiful sections of the route.


Scenic valley with volcanic rock strewn about.


A gnarly downhill section of baseball size rocks. I kept reminding myself not to tense up and be lose with the handle bar and just let the front wheel find its way down and there were no pucker moments.


The road opened up about halfway through and construction crews were busy at work. Looks like it's going to be paved soon.


Filling the tires back up once I reached the end of the dirt section.


Handy little air compressor doing its job.
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Old 04-26-2010, 03:31 PM   #250
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Guatemala, Part 2: Tikal

April 21 - 23, 2010


Finished with the mountainous section of Guatemala and now riding the hot tropical plains with high humidity heading north to Tikal.


A super long straight section, about 60 kms, running up the west side of the country.


The ferry at Sayaxche across Rio de la Passion.


Sharing the ride with a semi-truck (note the long line of trucks waiting to cross). Cost Q5.


The ferry was powered by this little outboard motor on a dingy. It worked and got us across.


Slash and burning the jungle away.


The roads were well marked with directions. Guatemala is referring to Guatemala City.


Setting sun across the picturesque Lago de Peten Itza.


Entering Tikal and taking note of the dual pricing structure where foreigners have to pay Q150 ($19) and local nationals pay Q25. A lot of other countries do it as well and I guess they're milking the rich and giving the locals an affordable chance to take in some of their heritage.


Riding the 17 kms of park road heading to the visitors center.


Not your usual animal warning sign.


Meow. Jaguars ahead.


I camped in front of the Jaguar Inn, which is in the main visitors area as I wanted to enter the site early in the morning when it's cooler and less crowded.


Camping for Q25 at the Jaguar Inn. It was safe to leave all my things here when I walked around the ruins.


Not realizing that Guatemala and the rest of Central America don't follow daylight savings like Mexico, my clock was one hour ahead and I got to the site entrance at 5 am instead of 6 am when the site opens. I bribed the watchmen to let me in instead of wasting an hour.


Hiking through the jungle to get to the ruins at Tikal at 5:15 in the morning. I was the only person in the site for at least 2 hours.


Temple I covered in the morning jungle mist. Tikal was the capital of one of the largest Mayan kingdoms and prospered mainly from 200-900 AD. Some buildings on the site date as far back as 700 BC.


Temple V, where I waited out the fog. Tikal was abandoned by the end of the 10th century and was rediscovered in the 19th century. After abandonment, the site was quickly recaptured by the jungle with thick vegetation covering most of the temples. The tops of a few of them were visible above the canopy.


Stairway to heaven? Steep steps to get to the top of Temple V.


Soaking it in on the top of Temple V at 58 meters high. The downside of coming so early was all the fog and limited visibility but I enjoyed the solitude among the ruins.


Looking out across from the top of Temple V.


The fog slowly starting to clear with the rising sun. The structure of the residential area coming into view on the right.


Ceiba trees to the left.


Looking across the top of Temple V.


Temple I and the Gran Plaza coming into view as the fog slowly clears.


The main steps of the temple were eroded and not safe to climb.


The steep front side of the temple.


As clear as it was going to get. Temple I (right) and II (left) in full view from the top of Temple V. It was magical to see the ruins slowly appear through the fog above the canopy of the jungle.


Detail of the ruined wall.


View across the jungle canopy.


Taking it all in once the fog cleared.


Looking down the steep steps. It was safer to go down backwards using it as a ladder.


Temple V in all its glory. This was the most impressive looking temple as it was the most cleared of vegetation and the looked the grandest. Restoration began only in 1991.


The yet to be fully restored pyramid in the Lost World section of Tikal. There are four other older pyramids under this outer face as the Maya had a tendency to build new structures on top of old ones. The oldest pyramid dates back to 700 BC making it the oldest structure at Tikal.


A leaf-cutter ant hauling his prized leaf across the walkway in the site that many Mayans toiled over the centuries hauling rocks to build this magnificent city.


A stela detailing stories about the kings at Tikal.


Detail of the stela.


Another round stela, looking similar to the Mayan calendar...


The tops of Temple III, II and I from Temple IV.


Tourists soaking in the view from the top of Temple IV, which was still being excavated. Only the roofcomb was clear.


Temple III covered in heavy vegetation, yet to be excavated. You can see the roofcomb behind the tree trunk in the middle.


Temple I and the Gran Plaza from the top of Temple II.


The profile of Temple II.


Beautiful birds on the park grounds.


Info on the Ceiba tree.


The unique looking Ceiba tree, which is the national tree of Guatemala and is worshiped by the Mayans.


The trunks can get pretty large and the trees sport wide buttresses to support their heft.


Heading back south, passing the beautiful Lago de Peten Itza.


Tasty lunch of chicken in a gravy with rice and potatoes for Q10.


Heading south towards Rio Dulce on the eastern side of Guatemala.


Staying at Hacienda Tijax on the river.


There were a lot of waterways around and they used lots of suspension boardwalks to get above the water and reduce human impact on the protected area, where lots of bird-watching was happening.


Staying in a thatched jungle room for Q60.


Rio Dulce is popular among yachties as it's the safest place to spend the hurricane season in the western Caribbean.


Last meal in Guatemala of a thick tortilla with beef, green onions, sauce and some mayo sauce. It was quite tasty for Q15. At this comedor (road-side shack), just as I was finishing up my meal, a group of guys walked in all brandishing pistols in their belts. They seemed friendly and struck up a conversation about the bike and my trip. One of them spoke good English, probably the boss. They pulled in on 3 Toyota pickup trucks and had guards from their pose surrounding the whole comedor as lookouts. I figured they must either be some gang or political group or just rich, powerful people. The funniest thing was when I told them I rode through Mexico, they asked, "Isn't Mexico dangerous?" and they were all carrying guns, haha. I guess everyone is scared of what lies beyond their boundaries.


Taking the busy highway towards the Honduran border. This highway connects Guatemala City with the port on the Caribbean and was crowded with semi-truck traffic. Onwards to Honduras.
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Current Ride Report: Global South | Past Trips: CDR '09, Alaska '08, Mexico '07 | YouTube Videos

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Old 04-26-2010, 04:28 PM   #251
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Simply wonderful and amazing place, thank you for showing us.

Morinite
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Old 04-26-2010, 06:33 PM   #252
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Morinite
Simply wonderful and amazing place, thank you for showing us.

Morinite
+1...
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Old 04-26-2010, 09:25 PM   #253
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Awesome.
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Old 04-27-2010, 10:19 AM   #254
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Great updates
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Old 04-27-2010, 11:38 AM   #255
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Respect Jay!

Some of those pics are just ... well beyond words!!
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