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Old 04-08-2010, 12:54 AM   #61
EricD10563
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Wow great ride report, can't wait till the next installment.
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Old 04-08-2010, 01:17 AM   #62
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Great ride.
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Old 04-08-2010, 04:38 AM   #63
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Awesum report and pictures. You know you could of included a pic of the lady in red for us. ;-) Thanks for the work of sharing your fine journey.
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Old 04-08-2010, 07:11 AM   #64
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I like El Salvador. They use American money, the people are friendly, and they have some great riding. It is a relatively small country and I soon found myself back at the Guatemala border. Also El Salvador doesn't charge you anything to come in or go out. Nice! A really easy country to travel in. It did cost another 8.00 to get back into Guatemala. And I headed up the road. I got into Guatemala City in the evening and got totally lost again and had a blast riding around town. I finally stopped and asked directions and headed to the colonial town of Antigua. They really pull out all the stops for Semana Santa (Easter week) and were having a midnight parade a week before Easter to kick off the celebration. It was Sunday night and the narrow cobblestone streets were so jammed with traffic, I had to ride the sidewalks to make it down the streets.

I got a room in a cheap hotel, and the poor kid down the hall is from Oregon and got his pocket picked. YIKES! Must be fiesta pickpockets out milking the crowd. Anyway, I gave the kid a hundred bucks and gave him my address at home to mail me a check. I've been there before when I was a teenager and hitchhiked to Arizona , took a train to Mazatlan Mexico, got drunk at a thatch roofed beachside bar that leaked in a thunderstorm, went swimming in the ocean in my rain-soaked clothes at midnight, and all my pesos floated out of my pants. But the 2000 mile trip back to Oregon with no money is another long story that didn't involve motorcycles.

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Old 04-08-2010, 07:33 AM   #65
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I love this ride report! I could learn alot from your minimalist touring, staying in motels makes the load alot lighter than packing camping equipment. I admire your sense of adventure, crossing boarders on a whim, stumbling on great roads, no real plan, riding in these areas at night, etc.
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Old 04-08-2010, 08:48 AM   #66
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The next day was another beautiful day for riding. I left Antigua and headed up in the mountains towards Quetzaltenango. People call it Xela (shayla) for short. Not sure why, but it is easier to say than Quetzaltenango. So back in the mountains of Guatemala. Passing buses and trucks. I can’t believe how many Toyota 4wd pickups there are down here. I went through one small town and there was literally nothing but Toyotas . It must be the national truck.

So I come to a traffic jam of EPIC proportions. These are no problem on a little bike. If there is no traffic coming, it means either there is a massive accident, landslide, road construction or a strike. I remember one time I was riding my BMW down here and came to one of these at a mountain pass and rode into the oncoming lane past stopped traffic for several miles up to a hairpin turn at the 10,000 foot pass where a truck had slammed into a bus. It was cold and foggy up in the clouds. There were ambulances backed up and EMTs loading the moaning bloody injured folks onto stretchers and a crowd of 100 or so onlookers. Dead people with sheets over them. Pretty gruesome. The truck was on it’s side and there was space between the overturned truck bumper and the smashed bus to get a bike through, but I didn’t want to be a disrespectful idiot. The EMTs were there. There was nothing I could do. So I got off the bike and slowly wheeled it forward with head bowed reverently. Over broken glass and slick leaking oil. The onlookers parted as I slooooooowly moved forward through the crowd and was able to quietly get on the bike, coast down the other side of the pass and fire up the bike and head onward down the mountain back into the sunshine. I can still remember that day. It was a veeeery somber setting. But when traveling in third world countries you have to avoid the obstacles. And find a lateral way through. Whether it is striking workers in Panama, or washed out bridges, there is usually a way.
Today, the traffic jam was caused by a hundred of these:



It was a bus strike. I didn't stop to take an actual picture of the bus strike but they had jammed a whole town with criss-crossed buses like the one above. Literally a hundred or so, jammed like pick-up-sticks at angles. But they left enough room for the bus drivers to walk around, so I figured I could get through. The three wheeled tuk-tuk taxis were wagging their index fingers at me and shaking their heads, like NO WAY you're getting through that mess. But nobody objected as I wiggled through the buses on my skinny bike, weaving back around a rear bumper and over past a front bumper and popping up onto the sidewalk around a spot where the street was totally blocked and through. It took a few minutes, but I made it. And there was NO traffic for miles on the other side.

I finally made it to Xela. I had GPS waypoints but no name for the guesthouse that Drrags had posted on his Guatemalan ADVdental ride report. And I don't use a GPS normally. But I carry a Garmin E-trex with no mapping that a friend gave me years ago. I use it when I am totally lost to get the Lat. and Long. and check my map to see where the hell I really am. I hadn't used it on this trip, since I didn't really get all that lost. Or at least I didn't care enough to know. So I get it out and rest it on the speedometer and cruise around town following the arrow. Going down cobblestone streets like this with houses that all look the same.



It leads me to a wooden door on a non-descript building and I knock. The nice Guatemalan maid answers the door. She is five feet tall and doesn't speak English. But they have a room so she takes me into the courtyard and it is a whole other beautiful world.



Her name is Braulia, and she is 48 I learn later, and just the sweetest most serviceful person. She opens up the larger door and lets me ride in and park. And gives me the key to this room.



The place is so clean and nice. I hate to take off my riding clothes and leave them on the clean bed, so stack my things in the corner. But I came here to go to the dentist. and it is early afternoon, so I get out the GPS and enter the waypoints Arno posted and see that it is only .6 miles. So I grab my wallet, camera and GPS and walk out into the streets. I follow the arrow on the GPS. This is like geo-caching. The arrow leads straight to oral pain. YIKES!

JDowns screwed with this post 06-22-2010 at 03:56 PM
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Old 04-08-2010, 09:46 AM   #67
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Xela, Guatemala is a big city, but there aren’t many tourists. I’m not a big city person but this place isn’t bad. My GPS arrow leads me to another non-descript building with a wooden door and I knock. The polite dental receptionist answers the door and tells me they close for siesta until 3. So I walk around town with my camera for an hour before coming back. I like this Honda 250 Tornado.



It is basically like my XR250 only with electric start. I rode a rental Tornado down in Costa Rica and it was fun. Gets great gas mileage and is easy to ride up the stairs into a guesthouse lobby to park overnight.

These guys were painting a building. They said paint was 800 Quetzals for a 19 liter pail. So about 20 bucks a gallon.



They weren't using dropcloths and were slopping a lot of paint on the sidewalk, so not sure I would use them. But they were nice guys.

I get back to the dentist at 3 and sit in the lobby next to another American who drives tour buses in Alaska during the summer and spends the winter in Central America. Nice kid. This place was recommended to him by a friend, so that is a good sign.

The dentist, Mario Recinos, speaks English and is a great guy. He gets right to work cleaning my teeth and tells me I'll need 8 or 9 appts. if I want my whole mouth done. This includes drilling out a dozen old cracked fillings in my molars, fixing a broken incisor and all the minor flaws in my front teeth and anything else he finds for 3250 Quetzals. Thats about 400 bucks. Sounds good to me. He is taking off Easter week, so agrees to let me come twice a day all week to get things buffed out before the holidays. GREAT! So I don't need any root canals or anything. WOW!

It could have been worse. So I head back to the guesthouse and settle in for a week of dental adventure.

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Old 04-08-2010, 10:09 AM   #68
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Wow, keep it coming mate. I love hearing about all the real people and real life that you meet on trips like this. Its a damn shame that people fly a frickin plane everywhere, and only see the fake resort towns. WTH!
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Old 04-08-2010, 10:25 AM   #69
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I wake up the next morning in Guatemala and it is another beautiful day. Breakfast is included, so the nice cook makes me an omelette, tortillas, frijoles, fresh squeezed juice, and coffee. I could get used to this lifestyle. Breakfast is served on a clean tablecloth on a rooftop garden terrace overlooking the city. Nice.



Here is a picture of the maid and the cook bringing my breakfast. Rosario and Braulia. The sweetest five foot tall women you would ever want to meet.



So my days consisted of getting two or three teeth drilled in the morning at 10 and coming back for more at 3.

In between, I studied Spanish and goofed around and had fun. There was a really nice lady from Germany staying there. Frederika.



She volunteered at a battered women's shelter and invited me to a bingo benefit for the shelter. That was actually a lot of fun. In a bar with a lot of European and American kids who were volunteers. So I had fun losing at bingo.

And the gardener, Saulo helped me figure out how to use the complimentary computer at the guesthouse. Really nice kid.



I would wander around town and took a few pictures. I laugh when I look at them. I didn't take pics of the cathedrals and the town square. Or the shy colorful Guatemalan women. I took pics of badass Guatemalan trucks.



Or a row of Honda Cargos.



Or the not so enticing Yamaha 250 Enticer.



I'm not much good at tourist photos.
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Old 04-08-2010, 11:19 AM   #70
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By Friday I am done at the dentist. He did a great job. Hopefully won’t have to go back for another decade or two. It’s time to hit the road. And soon I’m winding through the volcanoes in northern Guatemala and back across the border into Mexico at La Mesilla. Only one more border crossing and I’ll be back in Arizona. I stop to get gas at a Pemex station. Gas is 3.50/gal in Guatemala and 2.50/gal in Mexico. There are three Mexicans that cruise in and get gas. Here is a shot of them at the convenience store next door. Really nice guys.



They were riding Hondas. One was on a Goldwing, one on a Varadero 1000cc big Honda dualsport that isn't imported into the U.S., and one guy was riding a big Honda cruiser. After chatting with them for a while I took off down the road heading toward San Cristobal and was tootling along as they passed me and waved. So I sped up and dropped in behind them for a 100 miles as they took some kicking backroads through southern Mexico. I have no idea where I went since there were no road signs, but these guys knew the good backroads. At one point they pulled over to let me know that they weren't heading to San Cristobal. I had indicated to them that was where I was headed back at the Pemex station. I said, no problem, the road is my destination. Let's ride. It was nothing but cranking and banking and weaving around potholes, passing huge sugar cane trucks. Really fun riding. They were spirited but safe riders and I followed them until they stopped for gas after a couple hours. I still had over a half tank, so just beeped and waved and kept on riding. The sun was setting and I reached a Y intersection after a half hour or so with no signs and stopped to look at my map and realized I had absolutely NO freaking idea where I was. And also realized I didn't really care. That was the beauty of this whole trip. Riding around on a little thumper on any road that looked good, heading in a general direction towards the next country. Watching the scenery go by. Stopping to chat with the locals in my broken Spanglish mixed with sign language.

It was getting dark. I remember riding across a dam. But none of these roads were on my map. I finally reached the big town of Tuxtla la Gutierrez and got on the toll freeway down to Arriaga and stopped for the night.

The next day it was calm and by the time I got to La Ventosa, it was just slightly breezy. I could actually stop and get off the bike to take a picture of the windmills, although you have to squint to see them in the distance.



I guess it is best to try and pass through here in the morning before the late afternoon winds pick up. I'll have to remember that.

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Old 04-08-2010, 11:52 AM   #71
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JDowns

The sun was setting and I reached a Y intersection after a half hour or so with no signs and stopped to look at my map and realized I had absolutely NO freaking idea where I was. And also realized I didn't really care. That was the beauty of this whole trip.
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Old 04-08-2010, 12:06 PM   #72
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The southern coast of Oaxaca is a lot of straight line riding, unlike the mountain roads that curve all over the place. It is hot and dry and perfect climate for growing mangos. There were mango orchards everywhere. They were hanging off the trees on the side of the road.



If you like mangos, you would love the southern Pacific coast of Mexico. I passed countless belching diesel Mercedes trucks piled high with mangos. There were cases of them on the side of the road. The roads are straight but the beaches are beautiful.



Actually you wind up into the hills in places.



Past coastal rivers



Until you get to the coconut plantations. Miles and miles of coconut palms.



There were several lumber mills that were milling coconut trees into lumber. Who knew? I've never heard of coconut lumber before.



The offcuts are piled in front. They slice off all the bumpy coconut bark and make lumber out of the rest. I'll bet it's strong. And it was straight as an arrow. And was clear since there are no knots. It looked beautiful. The color of teak with grain like mahogany. They had stacks and stacks of lumber sliced up from these squared up coconut trunks. All of it was three meters long for some reason. About ten feet.

It was hot out. So up the road in Puerto Angel I pulled over to see if they were giving out free samples at the Corona distributor. No go.



I can't believe how big Puerto Escondido has gotten. Used to be a sleepy little surf beach.

Up the road I stop to get some tacos. It is sunset and the temps are cooling off. Next door the sign painters are still hard at it hand painting a storefront Coca-cola sign.



They do nice work.



It turns out that paint costs 1200 pesos for a 19 liter pail in Mexico. So about 20 bucks a gallon like Guatemala. Inquiring minds want to know. The painters are really nice guys.

I go next door to get my beef tacos and sit and shoot the breeze with the cooks husband. He tells me he makes 150 pesos a day clearing brush with a machete from 8 until 4 in the afternoon. So about a 1.50/hr. I think I could live on that if I had to. But it would mean cutting back on my lavish lifestyle.

It is soon dark, but I'm not tired and it's been a month and it is another full moon. I finally get to Acapulco in the moonlight. It is HUGE. I have been through here before. It is not easy to find the road north. The city is built on tall hillsides and the roads meander. I finally find my way through to the winding road north. A drunk dude speeds past me and just as I think to myself I'd better stop for the night he swerves to miss an oncoming car and does a 180 spin in the middle of the road. Miraculously, he doesn't hit anybody, but I pull off at a love motel down the road a mile and call it a night. These tourist towns are expensive and they want 150 pesos for 3 hours or 500 pesos for the night to stay. So I book a room from midnight to 6 am for 300 pesos.

It comes with blacklights and dim wall sconces that make picture taking a little difficult.



And a lap dance chair and dancing pole in the corner.



The TV only has porn channels. It's kind of surreal. But there are three semis parked out front. And the truckers know where the good deals are. So probably cheaper than other places. It was spotlessly clean with a marble shower with hot water and a flat place to sleep. Which is all I care about.

The next morning I pull back the garage curtain to another beautiful day.



And head out for more adventures down the road.
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Old 04-08-2010, 01:09 PM   #73
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The coast road is beautiful.



But soon wanders inland away from the water although you get glimpses of coves off in the distance.



North of Playa Azul is a favorite section of nothing but curves for a hundred miles until you reach the coastal agricultural plain near Tecoman. I stop in the late afternoon, and this kid tells me there are robbers north of here.



I sure never saw any. The sun is setting as I reach Tecoman and the full moon is rising.



I still have hundreds of pesos left, so decide to take the toll freeway up to Guadalajara and ride until I get tired. So I head off in the setting sun up into the hills.



It is Semana Santa (Easter week) so everybody is out on vacation driving down the road in vans and SUVs with roof racks loaded with party supplies, beach chairs, matresses. You name it. The road winds up, up, up into the Sierra Madres. I stop to put on all my warm clothes at a Pemex station. By the time I get to Guadalajara the place is jammed with vacationers. I slice through miles of traffic, splitting lanes until I come to the 15 freeway north. It is quite cold in the mountains. But the roads are smooth and wide. with reflectors down the lanes. And I keep riding until I get tired at 3 AM and pull over behind a freeway overpass and catch a couple hours sleep next to the bike. There is nothing but long haul truckers, overnight buses and coyotes at this hour of the morning.

By this time I can smell the border. I have been on the road over a month and feel like riding. So I drop down to the warmth of the coast and head past Mazatlan and ride until evening. The freeways are straight and a bit boring. But I have traveled nearly 9000 miles over a lot of topes. So I enjoy just cruising along through the smooth desert byways. The freeways have rest stops with bathrooms.



and recycling bins



But I can't say they are the most adventurous roads. I was heading for the barn. Finally stopped at a little town south of Guaymas.
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Old 04-08-2010, 01:35 PM   #74
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I head off for the border the next morning and before long see my first sign to Nogales.



Not far now. I get to the border and it is hard to miss the place to turn in my vehicle permit.



I get in line and wait.



And soon I am across the border and heading towards Tucson. I MADE IT !
I am grinning from ear to ear. They have a roadblock and are checking for drugs up the freeway a few miles and I take the exit to avoid the crowd. But there are a dozen border patrol folks up at the top that yell at me to stop. So I do. The head man is literally trembling with anger as he walks over to chew me out. But I am so happy I just explain I have ridden to Panama and back. And then he lightens up. Turns out he was stationed in Panama. Has been out to Yaviza. He checks my passport and hands it back and we shoot the breeze about Panama. He lived in David for a while. Hey! That's where I got my rear tire! But he explains that it is a felony to blow through a border patrol check point. I apologize profusely. I'm not in Central America any more. I better cool it. But everybody speaks English at the gas stations. It's amazing!

As I cruised through the desert in southern Arizona which is covered in wildflowers from all the rain this year, I had time to think back on all the wonderful people I met along the way over the past month, and all the great roads and beautiful scenery I passed along the way. It was fookin' awesome!

I finally get to Tucson and stop at some friends house. She takes a picture of me with a bad Honduran haircut and a big Guatamalan smile. WHAT A RIDE! YEEHAW! I am one happy dude!


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Old 04-08-2010, 01:47 PM   #75
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So the final tally was 9600 miles to Panama and back. I left with 3000 dollars and got back with 727.00. Of the 2273.00 spent, 400.00 went to the dentist in Guatemala and I spent 150 bucks on toll freeways on the last 1500 mile leg through Mexico which I would not have done if I had been low on cash. I was gone 34 days. So minus dentist and tolls I could have done the trip for under two grand. It cost about 200.00 total for border crossings and 45.00 for mandatory insurance. And I bought a rear tire and tube in Panama for 100.00.

I am relaying this info since not too many folks report on how much it costs to go on a minimalist tour. So you know what to expect if you decide to head south on an adventure. It doesn't have to cost a fortune if you stay in moderate hotels and guesthouses and ride a fuel efficient bike. But I think you also should know that it is a LOOOOOONG freaking way to the Darien gap and back, and that I am a little nuts, and riding a stock seat on a 250 thumper will give you an iron butt if you don't already have one.
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