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Old 03-23-2013, 02:28 PM   #196
0theories OP
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03/23/2013 – Things to do in Xela when you're stuck.

I spent five and a half weeks in Xela hanging out, taking Spanish classes and just enjoying simply living somewhere for a while. My life is constant travel, either on a consistent basis like when I'm exploring other countries (and the USA), or at regular intervals like when I move to a place for work, stay a few months and then move on once again. I like to mix the two and occasionally I even live somewhere for up to a full year, but those times are hard (and rare) and I quickly get the urge to move on. That urge (and the need to return for work soon) has found me once again, and it's time to continue the adventure. Soon enough I will be heading north and east, through Belize and Mexico on The Journey Home.

Xela.




While in Xela I didn't ride so much mostly due to the fact that getting the bike in and out of the school was a real hassle. I had to set up ramps for the steps and the weight of the bike made easy access onto and off the street prohibitive (another reason to get a DR350). I did take a few rides and I did have several adventures outside of riding. Some of the things I experienced follow:

On a school field trip I visited the village of Salcajá, where the oldest church (1524) in Guatemala is to be found. This is also the center of hand-weaving cloth and there's an “underground” little liquor store (read: unmarked house) that sells fruit wine and rum infused fruit. Fun, but not very exciting.

Church of San Jacinto (1st church built in Central America).


Are those platypuses?


Dyeing yarn for weaving.


My Spanish teacher on a loom (At the liquor house).


Went on a day trip to Laguna Chicabal, a sacred Mayan lake in the crater of a volcano, not far from Xela. I got to re-experience the joys of the “Guatemalan chicken bus” so that I could better empathize with my friends. It was a nice hike with a lot of elevation gain and a steep descent into the crater via 615 steps. Beautiful views of the surrounding area and of the erupting volcano just below Santa María.

San Martín Sacatepéquez.






View of Santa Maria and the erupting volcano below.


It's all clouds below.


The lake.






Stairs heading down (lots).


As far as the eye can see..












The chicken bus in all its splendor.


During the full moon I climbed to the top of the Santa María Volcano. This was a long, arduous hike but the views were well worth it. It was ridiculously cold at the top, but luckily we brought sleeping bags and had hot liquids to drink once we were up there. This was the biggest change in elevation over horizontal distance I have ever hiked (1300m over 7Km). I went with a non-profit tour group called Quetzaltrekkers. They're a cool bunch of volunteers. They throw a benefit party to raise money for school children every couple of weeks. Sometimes the parties involve costumes like pajamas

Sunrise at the top.








That's the shadow of the mountain, and the moon.






Looking towards Xela.


Eruption from below.


Hiking back down.


It's pretty steep.




Back in time to get ready for the pajama party.


Just outside of Zunil, south of Xela, there's a developed hot-spring called Fuentes Georginas. I rode there once (and went once with a group). The hot-spring has several pools, one of which is very hot. Apparently there are some “hidden” pools in the area, but I never found them. Xela tends to be pretty chilly and soaking in a hot pool is just what I needed on occasion.

Riding to Zunil.












The road on the edge.


Some is falling off said edge...


The hot pool.




A couple of times I just went out riding to see the countryside and mostly just to get out because I missed it. There are some beautiful areas around Xela and I'm glad I got to see them before it was time to go.

Xela and around.














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Old 03-23-2013, 05:33 PM   #197
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Nice pics!!!

Xela is a wonderful place to hang out for a while. Especially for a big city. Brings back fond memories. Nice! Keep up the good work amigo. Really enjoying your ride report. Guatemala has a lot to offer. One of my favorite countries.

Saludos,
Tio Juanito
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Old 03-24-2013, 07:22 AM   #198
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Another wonderful update 0Theories. The pictures of the mountains, with the low light level and in the mist are incredible and haunting. Wow what a hike that must have been.
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Old 03-24-2013, 07:46 AM   #199
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You sure have been packing in some eye popping scenery. Given how great the pix look, I have to wonder how breathtaking the places must be in person.
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Old 03-24-2013, 04:35 PM   #200
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WOW! Just freakin' wow!
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Old 03-25-2013, 11:41 AM   #201
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Great pics man! Wow what a wicked hike there. Wish I had that kind of time in the area.

Quote:
It sure is Dave! I'm mining your RR for places to hit on my way back north. I'll be seeing some of Belize, then cutting across the Yucatan (south of it) and up the east side of Mexico for a bit, before cutting back over to the west. Any amazing spots I should absolutely not miss? Thanks!
Damn that's tough! I would say the ATM caves near San Ignacio would be a do-not-miss. The snorkeling off Caye Caulker is amazing, as is the island. Glad you're headed to Belize, it's fantastic. I would plan on riding Baja on the way home if at all possible! Plenty of spots to see in my RR for Baja. Have fun and ride safe!

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Old 03-25-2013, 03:11 PM   #202
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That pic of the forested hills with the white lilies(?) in the foreground...now that looks like a slice of paradise to me! Wow wow wow.
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Old 03-27-2013, 08:08 AM   #203
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Hey 0theries, great trip. I like your way of travel, it seems relaxing. I hate deadlines, schedules and reservations when I travel for exactly that reason.
I justed wanted to offer some thoughts on the bike choice you've been considering. I have a DR 350,a DR 650 and a good friend with a KLR identical to yours (same faded green and all lol). I have ridden the 350 two up with my very small wife on the back and no luggage. It was fine for around town but I would not relish a freeway ride like that. There is not much seat room on the 350 and it is so light that it "feels" the extra weight a lot more (and my 350 has heavier springs already). For a solo bike to travel on it would be great (Mondo Enduro!) and for in-town or unloaded exploring it would work but I doubt you could pile all your gear as well as someone else and there's on, and travel on it. I ride two up on my DR650 regularly and it works fine. It will easily do freeway speeds with two people and gear but it weighs 45-50 lbs more than the 350. In comparison to my friends (stock) KLR, the DR650 is (I think) about 40-lbs lighter and feels lighter than that. It does not have nearly as much seat space as the KLR and in general feels smaller. The KLR feels great for me (when its parked) as I have long legs/arms and am just a little tall. The problem I have is that all that extra space and weight make the KLR handle much more slowly and accelerate more slowly as well. For what you are doing however, the KLR is hard to beat. (I dont want to sound like I'm down on the KLR, they are great).

But hey! The good part is that you don't have to take my word for any of this drivel. I live in Redmond OR, so I would be happy to meet up with you for a bike swap ride. Also, we camp in the Ochocos a lot too if you want a whole weekend for "testing". Or if you ever find yourself in Redmond, just come by and try them.


I hope this helps and sorry for getting windy. Have a great rest of your trip and I hope to run into you back in the OR.
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Old 03-27-2013, 09:38 AM   #204
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Just my 2 cents.
I sold my DR350 a couple years ago because I was not riding it much and it was taking up garage space. I have a KLR like yours and a BMW 1200 KRS. Both have been to Mexico. From now on my Mexico trips will be on the KLR. The DR 350 would be excellent for exploring dirt and major city streets but those long stretches across open desert would be tedious. As for luggage, how much crap do you really need to carry? The 350 would work. I rode around Laos and Vietnam on a Honda 250 and was able to carry all I really needed.
I guess the biggest difference in the size of the bike is the rate at which you travel. Slow is good.
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Old 03-27-2013, 01:26 PM   #205
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awesome pictures!!!
where exactly is that hot spring or maybe just the name of it?
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Old 03-30-2013, 06:31 PM   #206
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Wow, thanks guys!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sunday Rider View Post
Another wonderful update 0Theories. The pictures of the mountains, with the low light level and in the mist are incredible and haunting. Wow what a hike that must have been.
Thanks Sunday! It was a great hike. Imagine what a good phtographer could have done with that scenery!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by slide View Post
You sure have been packing in some eye popping scenery. Given how great the pix look, I have to wonder how breathtaking the places must be in person.
It's amazing Slide. You have to go and check it out for yourself!

Quote:
Originally Posted by woodly1069 View Post
WOW! Just freakin' wow!
Thanks Woodly!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Voidrider View Post
That pic of the forested hills with the white lilies(?) in the foreground...now that looks like a slice of paradise to me! Wow wow wow.
That's at the hotsprings. You can rent a cabin there and hang out over night. Not sure if you can use the pools at night, but I would think so...

Thanks a lot for the positive feedback you guys! I've been away from the internet for a bit and it was awesome to see all the comments when I got back on!
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Old 03-30-2013, 06:33 PM   #207
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drifter dave View Post
Great pics man! Wow what a wicked hike there. Wish I had that kind of time in the area.

Damn that's tough! I would say the ATM caves near San Ignacio would be a do-not-miss. The snorkeling off Caye Caulker is amazing, as is the island. Glad you're headed to Belize, it's fantastic. I would plan on riding Baja on the way home if at all possible! Plenty of spots to see in my RR for Baja. Have fun and ride safe!

Dorian
Thanks Dorian. I'll try to check those places out. Well, I missed out on ATM cave as it's booked solid for several days to come and I have to move on But still have some time for the rest of Belize!
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Old 03-30-2013, 06:35 PM   #208
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Originally Posted by eakins View Post
awesome pictures!!!
where exactly is that hot spring or maybe just the name of it?
Thanks Eakins! Those hot-springs are called Fuentes Georginas. They're just outside of Zunil, south of Xela.
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Old 03-30-2013, 06:44 PM   #209
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Originally Posted by jessepitt View Post
... For what you are doing however, the KLR is hard to beat. (I dont want to sound like I'm down on the KLR, they are great).

But hey! The good part is that you don't have to take my word for any of this drivel. I live in Redmond OR, so I would be happy to meet up with you for a bike swap ride. Also, we camp in the Ochocos a lot too if you want a whole weekend for "testing". Or if you ever find yourself in Redmond, just come by and try them.


I hope this helps and sorry for getting windy. Have a great rest of your trip and I hope to run into you back in the OR.
Thanks a lot for the thorough response Jessepitt! It's a lot to think about. I agree pretty much with everything you said. I guess I've been reading JDowns' RR and he's gone at least as far as Panama and back on the 250 with no complaints and my only complaints are the weight of the KLR However, I DO like to pick up passengers so that is something serious to consider

As far as baggage goes, I'll be taking a lot less stuff next time around... and I thought I was taking a lot less than most this time

I'll be very glad to take you up on the offer to try out the DR. I'm in the Ochocos a lot for work and otherwise. We'll definitely have to meet up when I get back.
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Old 03-30-2013, 06:51 PM   #210
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete_Tallahassee View Post
...From now on my Mexico trips will be on the KLR. The DR 350 would be excellent for exploring dirt and major city streets but those long stretches across open desert would be tedious. As for luggage, how much crap do you really need to carry? The 350 would work. I rode around Laos and Vietnam on a Honda 250 and was able to carry all I really needed.
I guess the biggest difference in the size of the bike is the rate at which you travel. Slow is good.
Thank for the input Pete. Agreed on the luggage! Much less stuff next time! I actually rode around Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia on a 125 and I had a passenger for most of that time and all her crap and it was fine. Would never work on an interstate or through many miles of desert, but it worked there and it would probably work in Central America. And a 350 would be HUGE in comparison So... I guess I still don't know what to do... will test ride jessepitt's dr350 and see what I can see

I really do like the KLR... the search for the "perfect" bike continues...
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