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Old 03-31-2013, 05:23 AM   #211
woodly1069
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Still enjoying the show! Lots of great pictures and I am drawn to the south by great ride reports like this one
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Old 03-31-2013, 07:12 AM   #212
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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
Thanks John. Your RR is an inspiration to me :) I even went to the dentist you recommended! He did a great job, even though I didn't need a lot (I feel lucky). I'll almost definitely be back in Guatemala next year (it's amazing), and maybe even make it down to Panama...
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Old 03-31-2013, 07:16 AM   #213
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Still enjoying the show! Lots of great pictures and I am drawn to the south by great ride reports like this one
It's hard to beat the south! The weather is nice and the price is right. Sure beats trudging through the snow or crying in the rain... Make some time, come on down and explore, you'll be glad you did! I'm sure other parts of world have a lot to offer as well. It'll be hard to decide where to go next year. It's really easy to get here though...
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Old 03-31-2013, 05:53 PM   #214
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03/25/2013 – 03/26/2013 - Utopia and Semuc Champey



Waking up to the sound of the flowing river set this mood for the day: relaxing. After a leisurely breakfast I decided to join a new friend, Leon, for a hike to Semuc Champey, a series of pools on a 300m “stone bridge” with the main river flowing through the caverns below. Even though I was shocked by the beauty of the area when I was here three years ago, knowing what to expect did not diminish just how amazing this place really is. I can come back here every year and still be amazed.



It was a nice twenty minute hike to the park through the jungle, along the river for a bit, then down the road. We climbed to the view point first to take some photos and have a look around, then descended to the pools for a swim. Food isn't always available at the park, but since it was Semana Santa, there were several stalls selling meat and (illegally) beer. Utopia Hostel serves only vegetarian meals and I don't mind it (I was vegan for eight years), but sometimes meat is nice. Of course the vendors at the park charged outrageous prices since there's no other option in the vicinity. On our hike back it rained some and I decided that I better head out in the morning before the roads (composed primarily of clay) get too slick to ride on.



The "stone bridge" composed of pools.




A bird...




Water under the bridge...


Out of the caverns...


The next morning I broke down camp and packed up the bags. I parked the bike on a flat spot near the top of the very steep road that leads to the hostel as it was dark when I arrived and I was sliding down the part I did ride down. When I brought my bags up the first thing I noticed was that my rear tire was flat. Bummer. My first flat of the trip and it shouldn't be a big deal. As it began to rain, I got down to business. What should have been a one hour job turned into a 4.5 hour ordeal. For the life on me, I could not get the tire (Anakee 2) off the rim. It's a tubeless tire (with a tube on a KLR) and it is so stiff, only after hours of trying (and prying), with sweat literally pouring off of me (and a lot of bad words pouring out of me) was I able to get it off. Leon helped me put everything back together or it might have taken a couple of hours more. By then it was too late to leave so I decided to celebrate with some drinks, relax to some movies and leave in the morning. Luckily I was invited to share a room with another guest so I didn't have to set up camp in the rain.









Oh yeah, camping at Utopia was 25Q and sharing the room was 60Q (120Q total, the cabins are cheaper). The meals ran from 25Q for breakfast to 35Q for dinner and were well worth it (plus no other option really). I highly recommend this place as the owner, John, is super cool... but watch out for when it rains! Details next entry...
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Old 03-31-2013, 08:33 PM   #215
Cal
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Thanks for the report from Semuc Champey!! I love swimming in those pools! Things are thawing out up here in the north country.
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Old 04-09-2013, 06:43 AM   #216
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Thanks for the report from Semuc Champey!! I love swimming in those pools! Things are thawing out up here in the north country.
Glad it's finally starting to get warm up there. Pretty soon you'll be swimming in pools of your own As I recall, Calgary is amazing in the summer! Heading north now. Hopefully will catch warmth on my return...
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Old 04-09-2013, 07:10 AM   #217
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03/27/2013 - Making little progress



It rained all night. It rained hard. I was dry and warm in my room, but the next morning I learned the ramifications of so much rain in a place with clay for soil. The roads were completely impassable for all except some daring 4-wheel drive trucks. It was almost too slippery to walk anywhere that had a slope of more than 10 degrees. I realized this fact as I was trudging up the hill to load my bags onto the bike (at least the tire patch job held). After unsuccessfully trying to ride up the hill from the hostel to the road (Anakee's are not great mud tires), I decided to wait a while and see if it would dry out. It didn't.



Several hours later I finally conceded the point and (as was done recently by a guy on a BMW, I was told), I had John (the owner) call a truck to get me to the nearest non-clay-and-slick-as-ice section of the road. A few hours later when the truck arrived it took me and three other guys to push, pull and slide my bike up the hill to where the truck could get to it. With head lowered in shame I got in the truck and left Lanquin, hopefully not for the last time in my life.

Unloading.


The truck dropped my off at the top of the hill where the pavements starts and the clay ends, about 20 Kms from Lanquin. I think I could have ridden the last 15 Kms myself (the section from Utopia to Lanquin, ~12 Kms was impossible, but from Lanquin to the pavement, another 20 Kms wasn't too bad), but I already paid for the ride so I took it, plus unloading the bike with just me and the driver would have been a difficult endeavor (he didn't have ramps) until we got to the top and there was a hill we could use as a ramp.









There was only a few hours of light left, so I rode as far as Sayaxche to spend the night before crossing via short ferry to the north. I had no trouble passing through Cobán this time so the way was smooth and easy with nothing exciting to report.



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Old 04-09-2013, 09:05 AM   #218
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Old 04-09-2013, 04:19 PM   #219
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Great update and pictures 0t. That was some mess with the flat tire and slippery crud. Glad you got going, no shame in that. You gots to do what you gots to do. to keep moving. Such great views you capture.
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Old 04-09-2013, 05:54 PM   #220
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Welcome Keithert!

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Originally Posted by Sunday Rider View Post
Great update and pictures 0t. That was some mess with the flat tire and slippery crud. Glad you got going, no shame in that. You gots to do what you gots to do. to keep moving. Such great views you capture.
Thanks Sunday. Yeah, if it wasn't such a beautiful and amazing place, it maybe wouldn't have been worth it... Oh who am I kidding! It was a fun little "adventure" Nothing unexpected or challenging has happened in a great while and the story was almost not worth telling. I think for "looking back" sake, I would like more adventure and less "just travel" on this journey. Having said that, I hope nothing else "bad" happens on the trip home

So having thought through some more of the bike changing debate, I'm now considering stepping it down one more notch and getting a KLX250s... I think I'll really enjoy small-bike adventure. But, still thinking...
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Old 04-09-2013, 06:18 PM   #221
Keithert
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I have a Yamaha XT225. It's a really fun to ride bike but you really have to work the gears on a small engine bike. It feels like I'm constantly shifting when getting up to speed.
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Old 04-09-2013, 06:40 PM   #222
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03/28/2013 - Goodbye Guatemala. I love you!



The next morning I took the ferry across the river, retracing my steps from my trip south. I left early with the intent of having a nice brunch in Flores. I've been to Tikal before, and stayed in Flores then, so I wasn't going to stay long this time around and head straight for Belize to explore San Ignacio for a while. Since it was Semana Santa, I expected things to be a little more chill in Belize as Guatemala takes her religion very seriously!



In Guatemala, Topes are Tumulos.




In Flores I rode around the island for a bit to relive some fond memories and had brunch at a small cafe the name of which I can't recall. The nostalgia made we want to spend more time there, but I resisted the urge and moved on. Belize is the only country that will be new to me this trip and I was excited to experience the novelty of it. The roads alternated from nicely paved to dirt (or at least formerly paved) and I made good time to the border. It took all of 25 minutes to cross the border, including checking the bike in and getting insurance. I was charged $45 Belize ($22.50 US – it's $2 Belize to $1 US, nice and easy to remember) for two weeks of insurance at the border station. I think I got a good deal. I also paid $6 Belize for “fumigation” (yes it was required as I asked several people in different official positions, and no, my receipt was never checked), and ~$2.70 US to check out of Guatemala.

Crossing to the Island of Flores.




Guatemala gets flat.


The other side of Lago Peten Itza. I could see spending some time here...




Looking back.


I immediately liked Belize. The vibe seemed really chill, drivers seemed considerate, people were smiling everywhere I looked and the signs were in English (!); tumulos became speed bumps once again. What I didn't like was the dramatic increase in gas prices. A gallon of gas goes for about $6 US in Belize, the most expensive anywhere down here. From the border to San Ignacio was only about 20 Kms and I got there in no time as the roads were paved, mostly flat and mostly straight.

Most of Belize is pretty flat too.


I cruised around San Ignacio for only a few minutes (it is a small town) until I randomly saw a sign for a hostel (J&R Hostel) a friend recommended in Lanquin. They only had one private room left but the owner (a very nice guy and former guide) gave me a great deal on it as I came on a recommendation. He charged my $25 Belize for a private room with private bathroom, a TV (I never used), internet and hot water (and breakfast). I feel very lucky.





Parking!
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Old 04-09-2013, 06:47 PM   #223
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I have a Yamaha XT225. It's a really fun to ride bike but you really have to work the gears on a small engine bike. It feels like I'm constantly shifting when getting up to speed.
Interesting point. The KLX is a 6 speed (as is the DR350). What's the XT? Project one would be the 351 (or maybe 340) kit. That should help the torque a bit... I definitely have to ride one a bit to be sure.

So I met an aussie couple on the road in Belize and one was riding a Super Sherpa (same a JDowns). She had 180,000 Kms on it so far and loved it. Perfect world travel bike she claimed. Since I never take the KLR over 110 KPH (usually well under 100 kph), what other downfalls are there (except the 2-up problem and narrow seat, and small gas tank)? I'm really thinking it might be the way for me, although the KLR is great and I rarely notice the weight... Hmmm...
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Old 04-09-2013, 07:05 PM   #224
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The xt is also a 6 speed and it will do 70 just fine. It just seems like when getting up to speed I am constantly shifting. Partially because first is so low for off-road riding.
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Old 04-10-2013, 07:55 AM   #225
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I have an 07 klx 250, and an 09 klr. I wouldn't consider the klx for the trip you're on at all. The klx is small and light, great for off road, and I love it there. However, that light weight (and low power output) are a terrible disadvantage in wind. A 30 mph headwind will have you laying on the gas tank, wide open, struggling to run 60 mph. Crosswinds are just straight up frightening. And this is without luggage. Fuel range is an issue for sure. I get maybe 100 miles out of a tank on the road, and as little as 55 or so off road. And the headlight sucks balls. If you're willing to accept a 50-60 mph pace and pack light, like bicycle touring light, and don't have to ride across prairies to get someplace interesting like I do, the klx might work.
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