ADVrider

Go Back   ADVrider > Riding > Ride reports
User Name
Password
Register Inmates Photos Site Rules Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 04-15-2011, 04:20 PM   #16
Archimedes OP
Adventure Researcher
 
Archimedes's Avatar
 
Joined: Jul 2009
Location: The Americas
Oddometer: 181
The Mighty USA

So heading into the USA we planned some maintenance and valve adjustment in Portland, Maine. We stayed with two different couple who were both fantastic.
We were able to get some work done on Deya's bike and I changed my chain and sproket. I had about 35k on them by now and you could almost pull them off the back sprocket.










Our hosts let me use their garage for my repairs and took us out for dinner at a fantastic shusi spot. This is where we also learned that Portland had over 60 Micro Breweriesin fact you would be hard pressed to find a 'bulk' beer at any restaraunt worth attending.
I was going to rant about the ability of good micro brewed beer having a positive effect on the culture of a place but I'll save it for my own biased fantacies.








Now I mentioned previously that a lot of weird coincidences have happened to us as we started out on this journey. Everyone we've met have had been important to us but some people seem as though it's more than just chance. Theres a little story about meeting these folks, technically we shouldnt have but as it turns out we did. I wont bore you but Doug (Elizabeth-right) there will show up on a course at the BMW performance training center later on for a road course with John (Special agent of the FBI) who we met later on the Blue Ridge Parkway and helped us out with a little kidnapping incident in Mexico recently. The weird thing is, not knowing each other, they both took the same course offered at the same time in the same place in South Carolina and ended up talking about us. Maybe I'm nuts but that kind shit'z been happening to us since we left, talk about a small world.

En route south we had the misfortuneof stopping at a gas station where I got in a mildly heated conversation with a dude that all intelligent Americans hate. I know all you travelling types hate this guy because it's him who makes the USA look bad. He was of course beign robbed by the evil government and had it all figured out but when he said matter of factly,"If it wasnt for the Might of the USA, Canada and all the other European countries wouldnt exist."
Deya said she started looking for the exit sign when my face went red and I smile politely. She said I started to ramble out the years previously when 10's of thousands of lives were lost, how the Mighty USA used the sales of war to come out of it's great depression while Canada alone sent over 10% of it's population and how it's tardy start hardly deserves nation saving status. (as a former soldier, not to undermine the actual effort made!) Jerk, I said something about the statue of liberty as well, as you all know was formal recognition, from a 'superpower' (France), without which the other 'superpowers' may not have taking it so seriously and there would have been more trouble, which was forgetten during the 'freedom fry' crisis....(sorry another rant, loose on the facts too but hey...).

Anyways, we started south south west and had numberous encounter with amazing roads, great rest stops and wicked people. By the time we got to the south, Georgia, Alabama, etc. we were so impressed with the country. The USA is a great place to travel through and camp in, the south is way cheaper and easier to hang around than Mexico, in my opinion. The roads and parkways are first rate and folks are very friendly, (Not like Maritimes but that place is special). I have to say everyone we met was interesting and kind. Every place we stayed was good. Anyone who is thinking about touring the USA, should.

We stopped for snack in Massachusetts, when we got back to our bikes there was a crowd standing around them, we walked up behind and asked a lady who was excitedly waiting with the group what she was doing and she responded, "We're waiting for Charlie and Ewan, they're hear somewhere!" You should have seen the look of dissapointment when I anounced that Charlie and Ewan would not be showing up.


On the Blue Ridge we found John G. having a coffee. Trudy (84 year old adventurer) and her dog Rascal, in the middle of the night somewhere in the bushes in a national park being lost. At the end of it we met with Jud (ADV Jud), hung out with Dave Despain; funny note, everybody kept coming up to us asking for a picture, I kept saying sure....they kept grapping Dave around the shoulder..odd I thought...later I asked Dave what he does for a living and he said something about motorbikes and media. Funny....We ate great food with great people like Robert and


bumped into the Motus, Barber, Brown crew of important people doing important things (in my opinion).

We ended up going through Texas, and again good people the whole way, hit a texas BMW ralley and got a couple of awards for being super kool...lol..went to Beemerchef's photo gallery in Bisbee (Awesome Ara & Spirit) we shared the rug with this gem and Shawn that evening before getting escorted by some other riders to Tucson to stay with Tucson Tony who ended up accompanying us into the Copper Cannon.

This was a great time with great people of whom I have a great respect. Many not mentioned here.

Next I'll blast through Tuscon, our trip into evil Mexico (http://andthenweweregone.blogspot.co...y-bandits.html Attacked by Bandits) the shit I stirred up because of the 'media terror' we encoutered and our final arrival to our current location in Mexico. From there I'll slow it down and go live with my blog and ADV. Hope folks will tag along on the interesting bits.
Archimedes is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-15-2011, 05:25 PM   #17
gallinastrips
Studly Adventurer
 
gallinastrips's Avatar
 
Joined: Jul 2008
Location: Taos NM
Oddometer: 698
Sounds like a good time
gallinastrips is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 04-17-2011, 02:49 PM   #18
Archimedes OP
Adventure Researcher
 
Archimedes's Avatar
 
Joined: Jul 2009
Location: The Americas
Oddometer: 181
Arizona to Mazatlan through the Copper Canyon

Well we spent some time in Tucson with our new pal Tony and had a great time.
Tony has a pretty good routine and is a really good cook. We got a few things for the bikes at Iron Horse before heading into Mexico. We had originally decided to enter Mexico through Texas but the BS was soooo heavy, with tourist being shot for sport and all kinds of nonsense, that we changed to Arizona. Later we realized that it really didn’t matter much and that as coincidences go it was probably more about the opportunities that came up vesus the safety we ‘theoretically’ would enjoy.

As we planned our route, Tuscon Tony and Recon Richard decided to join us. Lead by Richard, a veteran Mexico rider, we would head across the boarder and into the Copper Cannon. We had our border crossing around Agua Prieta and the BS turned into Horse shit and I became seriously frustrated.

At one point we had stopped for some lunch at a grocery in Chihuahua and got approached by a well dressed guy who warned us with all his heart to leave Mexico immediately. He seemed genuine in his concern and his warnings we not dissimilar to other things we had been hearing. For weeks we had been barraged by this kind of media terror and I was about at my limit. 30 minutes later the gentleman returned with his wife to plead for us to leave Mexico for our own safety claiming they were recently victims along the only route out of town. They went on to explain, my wife is originally from Mexico so speaks the speak, that she would be raped and kidnapped that we would be killed and robbed.

Deya was terrified, Tucson Tony was worried and I think Recon Richard just laughed. I on the other hand was furious, if I could have got my hands on an assault rifle I would have gone hunting, no kidding. I was pissed at being trapped by this terrorizing bullshit, we couldn’t go back the way we came or (DEATH), we could leave along our route or (DEATH). Piss me off.

I ended up blogging what happened from the perspective of what I was feeling and what was supposed to happen to us and it stirred up some angst amongst folks reading it. The fact was the threat of assault is no different than an assault itself. Read it for yourself and let me know if you think I was wrong for blogging my frustration at this overwhelming BS. I know that the Striking Viking has thought cautiously when considering his girl on trips through potentially risky areas. As a former soldier and martial artist I know that if I was alone without the language skills to capture me that I would blissfully bang along with my spidy senses alert ready for whatever fate might feed me. This is however not my case now and I would simply kill for my wife put in that situation. http://andthenweweregone.blogspot.com/2010/11/attacked-by-bandits.html

We ended up having a great ride all the way to Creel though the day after we left Creel I believe 7 people were shot in a gun fight. Ha. The Copper Canyon was fantastic, the views, the riding, the road. We got into Botopilas and parked inside a hotel, there was a lot of tension in town and a lot of expensive trucks with very young guys driving them with Sinaloa plate. In all we had a good but exhausting ride, the way out seemed easier except for Deya dumping in the corners, she was tired and making mistakes. I was going to coach her on her mistakes but when she dumped in a corner because she let the throttle off at the wrong time I ran into the back of her and put mine down too….stupid, now I cant even give her shit cause I’m a dummy too.




We ended up taking the number 16 into Hermosillo to stay with a friend. This is where we parted ways with Tucson Tony and Recon Richard. We would head on by ourselves to Mazatlan and spend three days before going towards Guanajuato and the Route of Independence.

Tony, by the way lives in Tucson and just before we arrived had hosted Ted Simon of Jupitors Travels and another motorcycle author I cant remember, sorry. I call Richard, Recon, because we never saw him the whole trip but enjoyed spending the evening with him. A 747 pilot, I guess he was used to flying and getting there before the passengers…lol..


Deya and I decided to get to Mazatlan in one go because the north is expensive and full of BS, the police were saying there were a lot of hijackings and people were getting shot on our intended route so we did the Hermosillo to Mazatlan (1000km) in one day. It was a good ride but this is where we found out about the BRUTAL toll roads. I wont go into it here but they are crap and really expensive. A total rip off since you can exit one (Federal) only to enter another one a short while down the road (State) and pay again. Bikes pay the same as cars so it’s a scam.


Deya got pissed and told one booth to shove it and blew the booth, I didn’t understand what the conversation was about but figured it didn’t go right. A short while down the road we stopped and I asked, “wholly shit!” I said, we’re going to jail. The next booth had radios, cops with guns cautiously approached us. One cop walked out in front of me with a serious look, I was sweating bullets, he took a good look then stepped over to the chick at the booth, smiled and passed her some lunch. Shit…I though…it’s like they knew and were screwing with me. We carried on, no problemo.

We arrived in Mazatlan intended to spend three days and spent three weeks.

Archimedes screwed with this post 05-08-2011 at 07:21 AM
Archimedes is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-18-2011, 02:49 PM   #19
Archimedes OP
Adventure Researcher
 
Archimedes's Avatar
 
Joined: Jul 2009
Location: The Americas
Oddometer: 181
We have had such a good time in Mazatlan, staying at the hotel Lerma for 150 pesos a night was a big break on our budget. We were actually able to start recovering some budget by not travelling, no gas, tolls, etc. which put us in the green 4 bucks for every day we stayed….yeehhaaa.

We spent time walking Mazatlan, doing oil changes, interviewing top police officials and Consulates, touring Breweries and Tequilla distilleries among other things. Quick note on Agave, if you’ve never tried it streat out of the steamer you’ve missed out, wow! Part of our journey includes looking for property throughout Mexico and Mazatlan was one of the spots that fit our criteria. But what seemed to good to be true turned into a real bummer when we started to look but found only insecurity and fear. People selling their properties said they could not, in good conscience sell to us because of the threat of violence in the area, in fact it’s getting late and you need to leave back to the town center, RIGHT NOW! On at least two evening we had gunfire going over our hotel, what for, I don’t know, bad guys thinning themselves out, we were safe.

Our talk with the Canadian Consular and the police were about the same, 20 people every day murdered in the state. They’re not looking for you but if they’re busy doing business and you happen by, well, no witnesses are good witnesses. Top cop said, it’s not going to change, they’re not going to just pack up and leave and it’ll likely get worse before it gets better. We decided to scratch this state off the list.

We headed south again after saying goodbye to some fine folks that we had befriended while bumming around town and proceeded to get totally ripped off again by the toll roads. Again it’s time or money, we wanted to get past all the areas of BS the police dude marked on our map and that meant toll roads. But the toll roads suck and we passed several burnt out and blown up vehicles on the sides of the toll road. You can see where a ramp is thrown over the culverts and the bandits block the roads. Hard core, but we approach Guadalajara things just started getting better and better.

I got bumped by a nutty driver in Guadalajara but chose to err on the side of caution instead of having a road rage, the traffic was nuts but once we cleared the city, 2 hours at 7 am, it was smooth sailing. We were now on the Road of Independence and we would travel through some of the best places in Mexico. My favourite, Guanajuato.

There was a lot more to this road but I’m cutting it short because I’m getting ready to leave for Guatemala tomorrow morning. Suffice to say it was rad. Later Tucson Tony would ride down for a month and take Spanish lessons with me. We would follow a fellow Canadian (Les), because he was being escorted by a cop, to the local hospital where Doug (Canadian) was taking, his riding partner damn near got killed, broke 7 ribs and a hard cough could puncture his left lung. Helped the boys figure it out and learned a few things about Mexican insurance. Finished our construction project without loosing any hair, though I feel older now and did a couple more oil changes on the bikes. Good times.

Check out the blog if you want more details but after today I’ll be on the road so my blogs should match my posts here with a reasonable delay. www.andthenweeregone.blogspot.com our Cordoba project at www.mdholdings.blogspot.com
Archimedes is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-18-2011, 02:51 PM   #20
Archimedes OP
Adventure Researcher
 
Archimedes's Avatar
 
Joined: Jul 2009
Location: The Americas
Oddometer: 181
Mazatlan to Cordoba













Archimedes screwed with this post 04-18-2011 at 03:03 PM
Archimedes is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-26-2011, 05:27 PM   #21
Archimedes OP
Adventure Researcher
 
Archimedes's Avatar
 
Joined: Jul 2009
Location: The Americas
Oddometer: 181
In Guatemala, The border at Huehuetananco was breeze. I will update soon. Internet too slooowwww...
Archimedes is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-28-2011, 06:21 PM   #22
exotesthrasouden
Adventurer
 
exotesthrasouden's Avatar
 
Joined: Mar 2011
Location: Germany
Oddometer: 77
stay safe

You guys are truly inspiring. Have fun and stay safe.
__________________
Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go. ~T.S. Eliot

- 2009 BMW F800GS
exotesthrasouden is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-29-2011, 04:17 PM   #23
Archimedes OP
Adventure Researcher
 
Archimedes's Avatar
 
Joined: Jul 2009
Location: The Americas
Oddometer: 181
Okay so we finally made it out of Cordoba and headed south towards the infamous highway 200.
Instead of taking that one though we took the 190 to San Cristobal del las Casa and a good deal we did, it was fantastic.
The best bit of road I've ridden in Mexico. I havent been everywhere so take that for what it's worth.
I was soaking wet but still enjoying the route.



The comfort of the 'Yard' was now gone and the three days or so left heading towards Guatemala would soon turn into six.
The 'Yard'

It rained every day in San Cristobal but it's still a nice city.


The tourist trap nearbye was not my scene and I'm not sure why the native hung a lude cowboy from the church.
(I was going to post the pic here but the cowboy has a dildo hanging from his pants) not sure why but I was slightly offended by not understanding the cultural perspective. Pic is at the blog, www.andthenweweregone.blogspot.com

We ended up going Chiapa de Corzo and stayed with a BMW guy named Eduardo who ownes 'Lanchas Rojas' a canyon boat tour company. He's worth saying hi to if your in the neighbourhood.

We took the 190 all the way to the border at La Mesilla, Gua. the road from there was also fantastic, so far I'm loving Guatemala. Lot's of speed bumps to slow down the retards, but not the GS retards ;-), and more twists than I have fingers and toes.

We are now at Lake Atitlan on the north side, Vision Azul is where we are camping and it's only 50Q, includes pool, bath, shower water and electicity. Pretty awesome, totally roughing it...lol... about 5 minute walk to town.

We'll stay a couple more days then head south towards Hawaii.
Archimedes is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-29-2011, 06:11 PM   #24
ozmikl
Gnarly Adventurer
 
Joined: Jun 2010
Location: Sale, Victoria, Australia
Oddometer: 353
Great RR

Mate keep those spidey senses sharp and rely on them!
Looking forward to more posts, Mexico and South is somewhere I have wanted to go for a long time.
Michael
__________________
USA & Trans Labrador trip http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=599798

Ducati ST2 Dual Sport Build http://advrider.com/forums/showthrea...6#post14187216

Do dyslexic agnostic insomniacs sit up all night contemplating if there really is a Dog?
ozmikl is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-29-2011, 09:15 PM   #25
no_clue
Adventurer
 
no_clue's Avatar
 
Joined: Mar 2011
Oddometer: 86
Hey cheers for the report. I'm a bit confused, were you attacked by bandits or did you blog about what it would be like to be attacked because of all the bad media about Mexico getting around?
__________________
http://www.ridingtheamericas.blogspot.com

Help keep me on the bike and out of that office by clicking on the ads in my blog (if you see something you like)

2010 Yamaha Tenere XT660Z
2008 Yamaha WR250X
no_clue is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-30-2011, 10:26 AM   #26
Archimedes OP
Adventure Researcher
 
Archimedes's Avatar
 
Joined: Jul 2009
Location: The Americas
Oddometer: 181
Quote:
Originally Posted by no_clue View Post
Hey cheers for the report. I'm a bit confused, were you attacked by bandits or did you blog about what it would be like to be attacked because of all the bad media about Mexico getting around?
I gave people what they expected and tried to bring them, for a moment, into the reality that we were facing because of all the threats and media BS. The fact is we havent had any real problems but the threat is so pervasive its just retarded.

I think if we were just blasting through for two weeks and not stopping to find out whats happening with the locals we probably would have an easier time.

Thanks for checking.
Archimedes is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-08-2011, 06:32 AM   #27
Archimedes OP
Adventure Researcher
 
Archimedes's Avatar
 
Joined: Jul 2009
Location: The Americas
Oddometer: 181
Just got into Costa Rica,we'll stay for a bit so I'll update the journey from Guatemala to here. Just a note though, everything everyone says about the border crossing from El Salvador to Nicaragua at La Amatillo is true. Completely F&*K'd. This is not the place to linger, not the place to be at night and avoiding the crossing altogether might not be a bad gig, least to say is that if your getting chased by thugs as you get near the border make a run for it...

I'll update soon.
cheers,

Archimedes screwed with this post 05-08-2011 at 07:06 AM
Archimedes is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-15-2011, 08:30 PM   #28
Archimedes OP
Adventure Researcher
 
Archimedes's Avatar
 
Joined: Jul 2009
Location: The Americas
Oddometer: 181
Laugh

We are staying in a tree house of all things. Just had a 5.9 earthquake yesturday morning and the pad was swinging like mad. Slow connection right now so I'll update tomorrow with some pics.
Cheers,

Archimedes screwed with this post 05-16-2011 at 03:16 PM
Archimedes is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-16-2011, 12:16 PM   #29
Archimedes OP
Adventure Researcher
 
Archimedes's Avatar
 
Joined: Jul 2009
Location: The Americas
Oddometer: 181
Borders, the first and last impression



Instead of heading straight to Guatemala from San Cristobal we returned West to Chiapa de Corzo to visit a BMW rider and the owner of one of the Canyon tour companies there. It’s a nice town that has a significant history with a model of the Spanish King’s crown reproduced as a fountain in the centre of town around 1562 A.D. It’s safe with plenty of tourists coming by, mostly Latino.


After staying with our host, Eduardo, for a couple of days and getting our process together for the entry into Central America we back tracked East along the 190 again, 3rd time, and headed for Comitan. We figured we would get near the border then spend the day investigating the crossing before going in. Instead we got there very early and decided to head straight for it. It was hot by the time we hit the exit on the Mexican side of things and we were well cooked.


The Mexican Migracion and Aduana (Customs) were a piece of cake, Deya walked in and told them we were leaving, they stamped us out, we moved the bikes next door to the Aduana and after ten minutes the guy came out, peeled the stickers from the bikes and we were ready to go.


We rode across a bridge and over a hill entering into Guatemala and the small but busy community of La Mesilla. It’s an obvious entry and there is a gate, the first building you come to is the Migracion (Immigration), we stopped, we didn’t have Quetzales (currency) so had to get some from a money changer. It’s always more expensive but it’s convenient. We didn’t change much, a few pesos so it didn’t matter. Deya went into the Migracion, it took about 40 minutes, the ‘system’ was down and the football (Soccer) game was on. The agent asked if it was our first time in Guatemala, Deya said yes and he said it would be 20 Quetzales for the two of us. Deya asked if she could get a receipt and he said no, they don’t make receipts. She paid thinking that it was dirt cheap anyways, about 4 Canadian dollars. My job is always the same, watch the bikes while all the locals ooooh and ahhhh and say, “Beee M, Mucho Deniro! Do you have a dollar?” I try to reply, “Not anymore but I’ll take yours if your offering” then they leave.
Then we moved next door to the Aduana, very professional, they had all the prices posted on the wall with a notice of when the prices had been adjusted, they inspected the bikes, no sprays or BS. We didn’t have enough Quetzales to pay so Deya wandered into town to find a bank, it was a long and super hot hike, she returned haggard but had the cash. I stayed with the bikes since me only speekee the Iglish. Deya wears her gear, pro rally II (BMW), which you may know weighs in at about a thousand pounds wet, so you can imagine the walk up the hill she had. Took another 40 minutes for the walk and 15 for the Aduana, they issued a receipt and the total was 160 Quetzales each. We put the stickers on the bikes and left. I talked to Deya afterwards about the charges, reminded her that there is no charge for entering ourselves into Guatemala. She was pissed at getting ripped off even 20 Quetzales, in her defence though both of us were overheated and at the bottom of our game when we got there. The topic won’t end there though; we have a plan to ‘stir’ the pot.
Guatemala is pretty cool, the roads were great for motorcycling except for the sudden appearance of huge holes, tumulos (speed bumps), and various animals. There were a lot of tumulos which in my opinion is great and kept the drivers at reasonable speeds. The bus drivers however are all nuts and when you see these flaming, flashing monsters coming it’s best to stay clear. The riding in Guatemala is good and there are lots of good gas stations and relative security for travellers, people are nice and don’t seem insecure about their position in the world. I noticed, not sure why, that people started to look me in the eye, were more interested in us and never jumped straight into the racial imprinting. Maybe that’s why I felt so much better about the place than Mexico, generally speaking.


We made it to Lake Atitlan, normally I don’t like tourist traps but it is better to get your bearings where there are some familiar services. On the way in we saw a sign for camping and decided to stay. We ended up staying for four days; it was cheap and had a lot of services, close to town and easy living. Only 50 Quetzales a day, included bathrooms, showers, pool, electricity and a covered area. In town we found a good breakfast place owned by a German lady called “Llama de Fuego”. Nearby was a designer clothing store with fantastic clothing that had Deya hooked, I pretty much had to drag her out of the place which is unusual for Deya and make promises to return one day to load up.


Lake Atitlan is a nice place and worth spending some time there, riding around and checking out the sights. We were camped beside the property of the owners of Pollo Campero, similar to KFC and probably as rich. These folks had helicopters and all night parties going, the result was a bit of fatigue for us enduring the noise and action, despite their excellent choice of music.
In town (Panajachel), we walked around and bought food at the local market. The selection is limited because they simply don’t grow a variety of stuff. On our walk along the main strip I kept getting approached by people trying to sell a boat ride to the other side of the Lake. One young lad was persistent and when I refused the boat ride he began offering drugs. I don’t care if people want to fry their brains but I do know what the money from illegal means does to innocent people and it certainly makes you wonder about the people on the street offering seemingly legitimate boat rides to tourists and their motivations. What are you going to do when you’re in the middle of a lake going some place you really don’t know for sure with a drug dealer as a captain. There are enough tourist police in town but once you are out of sight…..who knows.



Despite this we had a great time and left having a really good breakfast at the same joint. We were going to head South to Monterrico on the Pacific Coast, check it out and take a ferry a short ways inland to carry on route CA2 to El Salvador. We ended up taking a route around the lake that I must admit was beautiful, short, dirt, somewhat technical epic.


Instead of the longer paved route we ended up climbing a mountain in 35 degrees heat. What should have taken 30 minutes turned into almost 2 hours with no water. Coupled with three sleepless nights, Deya had suffered a serious injury which resulted in her total lack of mental and physical stamina. I had to leap frog two heavy bikes up some difficult roads for almost two hours in the heat. Riding up and walking back, trying to encourage Deya to pick herself up and move on without unleashing the evil eye. Most parts of the road, if you stopped, you’d start sliding backwards, there were washouts and ruts, large stones and sand. If the bikes were unloaded and we were at full strength I would probably be saying it was epic awesome but under the circumstances it was epic brutal.

Deya, as the ladies can empathize, was suffering from her monthly injury and so I could forgive her for the weakness displayed. She really was beat and when one of the team falls down the other one must pick them up. Deya appreciated the tremendous physical effort and the heat exhaustion I suffered for her and I’d do it again and again, despite how pissed off I was. We made it through and regardless the ordeal I would think that this route and all the routes around the lake would be fantastic. The lake is worth seeing if you are in the area.
There is garbage everywhere??!!
We ended up with an easy drive to Monterrico, it costs 5 Quetzales at the bridge to enter and takes about 20 minutes to get there. Once there we stayed at a place on the beach, it was hot and the town was dirty. The beach has a lot of potential and we heard that it was beautiful, but to be honest it looked more like a garbage dump than a beach. I have a pet peeve about garbage and in order not to drive Deya nuts I try to refrain talking about it. But simply, people who throw garbage should be whipped, it damages the environment and what potentially could be a world class beach is just disgusting. For that, we left the next morning headed for El Salvador. A note to people who live off tourism, pick up the garbage and police it carefully, we would have spent a week there if it wasn’t a dump. How hard is that to understand?


We took a short ferry ride inland through a swamp, it cuts off a lot of time and kilometres and only cost 85 Quetzales for both bikes. Unloading was difficult though as we had to back the bikes off the barge uphill. It ended well and we were on our way until we got stuck in cattle traffic. I had a very brief standoff with the head bull, not sure if I won or if he just realized I wasn’t pining for his cows.


We got to the Frontera (Border) on the Guatemalan side at Pedro de Alvarado, La Hachadura on the Salvadorian side and immediately had a crowd of ‘helpers’ around us. This pisses me off a bit, while I respect that they are trying to help people with the confusion of the border for a living, they often create the very confusion they suggest that they can help with. I told Deya not to talk to these guys and go straight to the office, she continued to ask questions. I left pissed off, they we’re pointing her towards a guy with a clip board sitting on the sidewalk, bullshit. Once I road away, she got it and simply road over to Migracion office. Once there the situation changed and Deya was able to get our documents done fairly easily. We also got the contact to make a formal complaint against the fellows who charged us 20 Quetzales on the way in and an apology from the supervisor there. We’ll let you know how that goes.
All 'helpers' waiting to run at you at the same time, bike are so they can chase you down
The Aduana is on the other side of the building and there are 3 stations. I think it was somewhat inefficient of a process though not complicated. There are requirements on the wall near the office in English of what copies you need to get to cancel your stickers for the bikes. It doesn’t cost a thing to exit the country and shouldn’t either. The only hiccup was the volume of truck drivers but Deya said she would be documenting this clearance process and they started jumping on board. Good stuff.

It’s important to have your papers in order, the clear out documents need to be presented to the Salvadorian officer, in this case, on the bridge entering El Salvador. We drove past him but were stopped and told to go back to get him to stamp our papers. It was professional and well organized. We returned and the guy just laughed, made sure our documents were in order, stamped the Guatemalan exit documents and let us go in. When we entered it was obvious where the Migracion and Aduana were, there was a total absence of ‘helpers’ only money changers and police all over the place. The Migracion was simple, cost nothing and took about as long as the short line up. The Aduana process was clear and transparent at no cost but took over an hour. It was long because they are thorough and go over the documents carefully. You need to produce the exit documents that the guy on the bridge stamped and the agent reminded us that if you run your permit for the vehicle out then you get billed $622 USD per month of excess. Now imagine you leave without clearing and return a year later to get stopped and fined $6000-$7000 bucks. Smart for them, but better for us to make sure we take no shortcuts; I wondered how many other countries we’ve been to or will go to with similar rules, probably most.

In all Guatemala and El Salvador have good border crossings with the potential to improve. In my opinion, if they police the ‘helpers’ out of there the simplicity of the process will move the country to streamline their Migracion and Aduana process.


As soon as we left the border we were confronted by a police check point, they wanted to see our documents for the vehicles we just entered. Once that was done we could go, however, the road heading out is a toll and a young lady wanted 5 bucks each. As luck would have it, we had no money, and had just used up our spare fuel too. We had been unable to find a bank, ATM, or anyone else who accepted credit cards. The girl phoned her boss and got us cleared to leave without paying. I’m not entirely sure it was official but my guess is that, it would be if they could issue a receipt.


The first thing I noticed about El Salvador was the lack of speed bumps compared with Guatemala, and the beautiful surf. The people seem a little more serious but in general a welcoming sort. We stopped for gas near Acajutla on the Pacific Coast, don’t go there it’s a sketchy dump, we had been warned about it but needed gas and when we got there, there were masked gang members looking dudes checking us out. Some local riders stopped to say hi and chat, they confirmed that we should get our fuel and head elsewhere, there is a bad element. Enough said, we headed for Puerto La Libertad.


We stayed the first night in a quiet safe place just entering town. It was 30 bucks which just kills me when I consider our budget but we couldn’t find camping or anything better and I was suffering from heat exhaustion again, nearly puking at this point. It had been a long day so Deya was calling the shots. That night we had Pupusas and beer, a local dish and went to sleep. I slept like the dead, the next day we found a place in town right in front of the beach with the surfers doing their thing and waves crashing in, way better (Hotel Renacer $15 USD). The beach here is rocky but the surf is very good, lots of surfer dudes around and clowns. We’ll stay a couple of days before getting to the Honduran border.
The Honduran’s day should be epic, we’ll punch out of El Salvador, clock into Honduras, ride for 118 kilometres, clock out of Honduras and punch our way into Nicaragua. I’ve heard that entering Honduras is full of shitz and giggles so this is going to make for a long day at 30-40 degrees… Celsius.


Later I’ll get a summary of the border crossing details for each country we have been in.










Archimedes is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-16-2011, 05:16 PM   #30
Archimedes OP
Adventure Researcher
 
Archimedes's Avatar
 
Joined: Jul 2009
Location: The Americas
Oddometer: 181
Frontera Honduras – El Amatillo to Costa Rica


Bullshit! Absolute bullshit, I know people complain about this border and I’m sure a few have had an easy cross but ours was brutal. But I’ll go back to our trip through El Salvador first.

El Salvador is nice and we had heard good things about it. Of course the advice on the streets is to avoid Honduras but not El Salvador. It was hot and we were making average time, the roads are pretty good and we stuck to the coast. The coast for the most part is mountainous and rocky beaches. By the time we got to Puerto La Libertad it was getting late and we found a safe place to stay. It was out of our budget but again, the locals are all keen on telling us about the murderous gangs looming in the bushes. They say it is not like the more civilized Cartels in Mexico who just go about their business and bury those in the wrong place at the wrong time or just those involved. It’s more about the vicious youths who group together and get involved in gangs that used violence to get anything they want, even valueless things.
It just about got really ugly here, the first border check going into Honduras
After three nights on the coast we headed for the border early, our intention was to tackle this well known and difficult border during daylight with plenty of time to spare. I told Deya that about 5 kilometres before the border we would stop, rest and water up and get prepared for the difficulties of the crossing. I’m not sure why this never seems to work but as we rounded a corner about 5 kilometres out, there was a gas station on the left, I thought we should stop there and get ready then I heard on our right some guy yelling and running out of the bushes towards us. We kept riding, I figured better to hit the next stop instead of stopping where people come out of bushes.
The road is long and straight, it’s hot and dry and other than the GPS telling us we are close you get a sense that you are out of sight and out of mind. That is when I suddenly found a blue Nissan truck beside me in the oncoming lane. The truck had 4 or 5 young men in it, wearing wife beater shirts and ball caps. They were yelling at me and pointing to pull over and using their truck to try to herd me off the road. I held my ground and waved them passed mouthing, “Get the fuck off the road!”. Meanwhile I was thinking, is this an attempted robbery or hijacking? An oncoming car was forced into the ditch because of these maniacs trying to overtake me. I decided to hit my breaks, they would either overshoot and come to a stop or slow down in parallel. They slowed down with me and started pulling in front to cut me off, just then Deya dropped two gears and hammered it passed us, just as we had rehearsed for this scenario.
People just hang out waiting to confuse the coins from your
pockets, the guys on the bridge were stopping traffic for
customs...?

Deya and I had discussed what to do in the scenarios of being overtaken or forced off the road, as well as coming to a barricaded road. In this case I would attempt to slow the vehicle as bait, when the vehicle is slowed or stopped enough Deya would initiate the escape and I would follow. Not many vehicles, especially down here, have the stuff to take off as fast as us so this would give us a chance to escape. It worked as we had practiced.

I quickly caught up to Deya a couple of kilometres down the road and as the road rounded some corners, a line up of transport trucks appeared. This was the first border point. We came in pretty fast and right by the first police officer. Two more came out with pistols and shotguns and ground us to a halt. Deya told them we were being chased by some thugs in a truck. I pulled up on Deya’s right and started getting off the bike when the thugs in the truck surrounded us like a pack of wolves, they were poking at us, grabbing at the bikes and shouting, completely dwarfing the police that were present.

My first instinct was to fight, not understanding the language, but my mind was grappling with why the police didn’t seem concerned that they did not have control of the situation and these thugs could just burst in and take over the area. I barked at the police, the aggressive and angry tone was clear, “What the fuck is going on here?” Deya told the police officers that they needed to leave us alone and get these thugs away from us because her husband is about to lose it. He clears the thugs out and sends them away. We take a breather on the side of the road while the cop returns to stopping trucks and letting them through, I could not see the value in his presence. There was a Customs (Aduana) official there with a clipboard doing something. It turned out the thugs are called ‘helpers’, of which I am sure they are there to help you empty your purse.

When we were ready Deya went over to the Aduana officer to ask questions. It turns out we needed to get a stamp here and a photocopy of something. Ridiculous but necessary process I guess, the Aduana officer took Deya to the side away from the police officer and told her not to talk to those thugs and only deal with Customs and Immigration folks with uniforms and in the offices. Note taken, we moved on.

Guns, blood and high tension - this was the second time that morning
it just about got really ugly
We got to the Immigration office and went through the process, registered in the computer and checked the bikes out of the country. The Immigration officer was again clear with Deya not to talk to anyone who was not in uniform or in the office else we would be at risk of extortion. We typically found that the officials are good people surrounded by dirt bags, a hard work environment for sure. They all had the same complaints about being threatened and having their cars damaged for helping tourists despite the ‘helpers’.


The next stop was at a bridge entering Honduras, it was the final stop for El Salvador, we dropped a piece of paper and passed. At the end of the bridge, now in El Amatillo-Honduras side, there is yet another check point. There were police officers and people with uniforms standing around. We were stopped on the bridge by some random youths and then approached by a guy with a plastic ID in his pocket. In no way did this guy seem official. Deya said we needed to go directly to the Aduana office but the guy demanded all of our papers and passports. Once they have them they will extort money from you to get them back. Deya said NO, she’ll talk directly to the office, the man became upset and said she has no choice and must trust him. Deya drove past him, the man punched her pannier cutting open his knuckles. He showed me his bloodied fist and I just looked at him like he was an idiot, which he was. He then went over to complain that Deya had run him down causing the injury. A police officer nearby told Deya to just leave and head for the Aduana office or this could get ugly.

At this point an actual Customs agent came over to walk us to the unmarked office of the Aduana official who would process the paperwork. For the first time, despite the level of intensity we had seen that day, I thought this situation might just spiral out of control, Deya admitted she felt the same. Once we got over to the office Deya made quick work of getting our passports processed at Migracion but the Aduana officer was in El Salvador and then out for lunch. The helpers would all claim, and we saw them produce for a few tourists, that they could get the documents cleared in mere minutes, we had to wait for hours. The funny thing was and I hope none of those tourists get in trouble when they try to leave, but the official was out for lunch and at a meeting and she was the only person who could sign those documents. So I’m not sure what the ‘helpers’ were giving to the unsuspecting tourists. People can expect to pay $50-$200 USD for the helpers when the price for entry is $3 USD and the vehicle is $35 USD. It’s a simple process too.

While we waited in the heat and the ogles of sorted folks wanting to know the cost of the bikes, I saw many ‘helpers’ taking blonde haired blue eyed tourists around corners and off in different directions not even close to the Migracion and Aduana offices. By about 2 pm the officer had returned to a line up of people needing signatures. By the time we got our turn and asked the right questions it was now 4:20 pm. Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough money to pay Customs, so the Aduana got Deya clear to go back into El Salvador to get some cash, she road alone.
My guts where turning, one of our rules is to never get separated and here we were at the worst border in one of the most dangerous Central American countries and Deya has to go off alone to get money from an ATM with thugs and shit rats circling like vultures. I don’t know what I was thinking but I should have gone, however the language barrier might have made it more difficult. About 20 minutes later Deya returned pumped up and shaking slightly. She had headed across, when she got to the first ATM near customs it did not exist anymore, she continued but as she got closer to the location of the chase she got a really bad feeling and stopped to turn around. She was alone down a long stretch and out of the bushes the same truck full of thugs barricaded the highway, jumping out and covering the roadway waving their arms like soccer player defending the net. She drove straight off the road and into the dirt, hitting the gas, she simply smoked past them, ran straight through the border check point and all the way back without stopping. I was so relieved, but we still had no cash and by now it was almost 5 pm.

The Aduana officer was very nice and helpful, she got one of her staff to take Deya back again in his vehicle to help her get the money and watch her back. Deya got good intel from this official and they were plain about what was going on. Simply, they said make a run for the other border it’s not worth staying in Honduras right now. They talked about the ‘helpers’ and how they simply use confusion to take advantage of people, they said that if those other guys that chased us were real helpers they would be in town not road blocking people where they are most vulnerable and alone. When Deya related her story the Aduana had heard it before, she commented that she helped an American couple earlier that morning who were literally in tears when they arrived. The officials live in a hotel about 45 minutes from the border and offered to guide us there, if we get pulled over they would get us out of it and generally just make sure we were safe. What they would do for us deserves a commendation.

We were entrenched, everybody in the area was used to seeing us there, they had all studied us and the bikes. The fact was we were at the worst border in Central America, lingering as you should never do, pissed off ‘helpers’ everywhere, sketchy dudes on every bench and around every corner and the riding day was nearing dark. It was past 5 pm and I wanted to get going while we still had light but Deya felt that we must follow the Aduana officials to the hotel when they finish work at 6 pm, I begrudgingly agreed. By 5:50 pm we saw a good looking young fellow on a 650 Honda walking his bike towards us from the bridge, both Deya and I thought the same thing, “Good thing he found us, he’s in trouble.”

The Englishman, Danny, was tailed by four of the thugs that had chased us early and road blocked Deya. The brains of the operation was on his left, they followed him all the way up to us where Danny said something about getting through this mess. Deya immediately said we would help him through it and the ‘helper’ whose English was near perfect said he was doing it and he is with him. Deya spat, "He doesn’t need your help.” I was sure fire was going to burst from her eyes and fry the dude on the spot. The ‘helper’ started to argue and Danny told him clearly he wouldn’t need him and that he would work it out with us. Deya took Danny off to get the process started. Since they closed in a meagre ten minutes there is no way Danny would have been able to get cleared of that border. The office unsigned and ‘helpers’ working hard to extract cash from his pocket simply would have been left to figure out his long night at the worst border in Central America.

Fifteen minutes later Deya had Danny through the process and we were good to go, but in the meantime the ‘helper’ was grilling me for information; spitting pure foam without control. I could see his elevated tension level and he was pissed at having been shuffled aside by our team. Where would we stay, how far would we go, what’s our destination, when would we leave, would we leave with Danny or alone? He offered subtle threats guised as cautious advice and recommended where to go for our own safety, clearly convenient if we were to be followed. After each round of questions he would return to his other ‘helpers’ and have a short conversation, the body language was clear and they shuffled around preparing things for a departure, looking at us but trying not to stare or be seen looking. Of course ever question I answered with enthusiasm which he passed on to his cronies, they sounded reasonable but were total bullshit. Clearly these guys were dangerous.

Just before we were to leave I went over to the ‘helper’ and complimented him on his excellent English. I told him I had a group of riders coming through and hoped they could contact him in advance if he would be willing to get them through the process smoothly. When I said 6 riders all retirement aged he was really grateful and gave me his name and contact. I excused Deya for being hot tempered and blamed some other things so he could see there was no foul intent. He thanked me and I told him I’d look him up next time we came through. He seemed very pleased with this. I returned to my bike hoping I had accomplished my goal of disarming him. As soon as I got back to the bike he went over to his cronies, in two separate groups and talked briefly with them. Each group left their vehicles and areas they were gathered and went back to the bar/restaurant nearby and started ordering beer and food. I still wonder if what I saw happening was really happening or if I was being too cautious, I hope I never know.
It was a kind of frantic and crazy race to the hotel in the pitch black of night. Danny admitted and I agreed that every time we passed a vehicle on the roadside or got overtaken at speed by some lunatic that it might be these guys coming to get a piece of us. In the end, we got to the hotel safely. I have to again thank the Aduana team for watching our backs; they are good people in an impossible situation.

The next day we would hit the Honduran exit, it’s not as brutal as the entrance but has no lack of silliness in the process, we got through only to be staggered by the stupidity of the Nicaraguan border. In the end though we would buy the mandatory insurance and head out. As we hit our final check point and started on our way we came across a public bus stop, there we got flagged down by a fellow in a police uniform. He checked our documents and was answering to a fat chick that hovered around telling him what to do. She tried putting the pressure on by telling the police that the girl in the photo was darker than Deya and there was a problem. Deya gave a story about us taking this back to the Customs office to formalize it and so they said we could go but not before asking about my helmet camera. Deya gave them another story about satellite signals and the government watching and then they really didn’t want us around.
That whole day was hot, damn hot, reaching up to 44.5 Celsius. The riding was good but by the time we got anywhere all three of us had serious heat exhaustion. Both Danny and I struggled; I think Deya probably had the most going on upstairs. We had a great dinner right on the beach with beer and plenty of water but by now we were all simple overheated. The sun was going down so no time for a swim, I retreated to the room and hit the bed. What I wanted was to have a shower, to cool down and try to scrub the fever like pain in my head out but the best I could do was curl up on the bed in a ball shivering madly. The last thing I remember is Danny saying in his English accent, “Do you want your Mommy?” In my head I laughed but I no longer had the stuff to do it out loud and no witty comment was possible, cursed my failure to respond but enjoyed being the subject of jest in this most fragile state. It was a cheap shot that I wasn’t sure was real but enjoyed it anyway.
44.5 degrees and near puking, hot and windy

The next day we crossed into Costa Rica, of course exiting Nicaragua was a mess… so many different stops, so many pieces of paper, hunting down police and Customs officials wandering around the yard to get signatures for inspections that would never happen, it was total crap. To enter Costa Rica takes a while at the border because they are thorough. It’s organized and straightforward, someone actually checks your bike and wants to see the person who owns the passport, imagine that. I chatted briefly with a few folks at the border who were transiting by bus, a young Canadian couple returning from their trip to Nicaragua got robbed, I wasn’t clear where though, Nicaragua or Costa Rica. I should pay more attention really..lol…
Awesome....
We spent the night at Liberia, again with Danny. By now travelling with Danny seemed like old hat and truth be told both Deya and I really enjoyed his company. The following day we would head East towards Lake Arenal and Danny would head South towards Manuel Antonio. We pulled over for the goodbye and bode each other well wishes. We’ll see Danny again I’m sure of it, I hope he had better weather than us, it’s been all rain so far. We took the northern route around Lake Arenal, it’s magical and both Deya and I felt fortunate to have made it this far, for our time with Danny and for the great ride we were currently riding. We got to our friends farm late and in the rain, the neighbours helping us find the place but we were safe and ready for rest.
Archimedes is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Share

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

.
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On

Forum Jump


Times are GMT -7.   It's 05:31 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.5
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Copyright ADVrider 2011-2014