Central America 2013: Yo soy Italiano, no Gringo"

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by momi20, Aug 17, 2013.

  1. momi20

    momi20 Been here awhile

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    Central America 2013: “Yo soy italiano, no gringo”


    Hellò everybody.

    Excuse me for my english: I don't use google translator and I'll try to use my limited english skills: any correction wiil be appreciate.

    This winter I was looking at the countries wehre I've never been: unfotunately a lot. I began to think to Central America. What I know about Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua Panama etc. ? The language wouldn't have been a problem: spanish is really similar to italian.
    First I'd like to explain the title of my thread. During my vacation I ascertained that in all the countries I've travelled a lot of people, at the first touch aren't very friendly. Most of them don't like a lot USA citizens. When I clarified I was italian everything was going easy. You can have similar situations all around the world: in Lituania people don't like Russians. same problem between Chines and japanese. In the 60's there are a lot of problems between Italians from north and from South, when people from South are moving to the North, looking for a job.
    I'm here just to tell you my vacation and I'm not able to judge this kind of situations: but this is a fact.
    My first idea was to drive up to Yaviza a city in the state of Panama, where the road end, because begin the jungle, the Darien Gap that separate Panama from Colombia.

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    Setted the arrival point all I could do was find a starting point. As in the past, the cost for ship my bike (Suzuki DR 350) was too high. So I began to look for some motorbike rent. However in every state of Central America Motorbike Shops don't allow you to drive outside their countries. Another problem, the rental rate: very very high. Just in Costa Rica http://www.wild-rider.com/motorcycle-rental-rates/ was possible find a 45 $/day rent for a Honda XR 250, but just to drive in Costa Rica. Just in April I went in touch with www.mxmotoadv.com and the owner Mr Oscar write to me that he can arrange all the documents to can drive outside Mexico...but the most cheap bike is a Kawasaki KLR 650 for 75$/day. My idea si to drive for 24 day and so with the air ticket Italy-Mexico-Italy at around 780 $ my vacation will start with a cost of 2580$ !!!!!!!!
    Unfortunately this is my only chance.
    Another thing is that I've got to start from Mexico City: with google maps Mexico City is far from Yaviza 2200 miles. Go and back are 4400 miles this means 183 mile / day. With all the customs, roads and the weather ( hurricane season starts in May) this appears a little bit difficult. At the end I decided to start and drive up to..possible and then come back.
    This was my way

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    Safety: it's dangerous travel overland and alone in this countries ? Loking at statistics seems correct
    This is the rank of the 50 most dangerous cities in the world

    http://www.businessinsider.com/most-dangerous-cities-in-the-world-2012-10?op=1
    (I read this article in Italy when my vacation was ended)

    I've gone and slept in someone of this list

    N° 47- Cuernavaca ( Mexico)

    N° 20 San Salvador ( El Salvador)

    N° 12 – Guatemala (Guatemala)

    N° 5 – Districo Central (Honduras)

    N° 4 – Acapulco (Messico)

    N° 1 – San Pedro Sula (Honduras): 719,447 people and 1143 homicide/year

    You can see pictures like this in every city in Central America

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    It's better to don't take shots at this men (police, security, military) they can get nervous.
    You can understand that you aren't in a normal situation if you see a man with a double-barrelled shotgun and body armor that guards a bakery. I've followed some basic rule

    1) Just drive with the sun light: criminals work in the night and so in the morning they sleep, wake up in the afternoon, plan operations and begin to work with the dark

    2) Avoid to sleep in the big cities: I always was looking for little cities (pueblos) more safety and cheaper



    I've followed a spanish course for 3 month and I used 2 road maps


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    2 guide book
    one is the Footprint: at the moment if you have in mind a travel vacation are the best

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    the other is the Jump To...Central America 2013: this is my personal guide book and this is the book of the tenth anniversry

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    I started on 05/19/13 and went back on 06/15/13

    Expenses

    Motorbike rent
    Sono partito il 19/05/13 e tornato il 15/06/13
    In tutto ho percorso 7328 km
    Spese
    • Noleggio moto --------------------> 1.813 $ (1368 €)
    • Volo Italia-Messico a/r-----------> 791 $ ( 597 €)
    • Vitto,alloggio,benzina ecc…----> 1789 $ (1350 €)

    Totale--------------------------------4393 $ ( 3315 €)

    I'm european citizien and so no vissas for all this countries.
    First idea was to rent hte Suzuki DR 600, but Oscar wrote to me that the bike was seriously damaged at the come back from a previous rent. The chance to rent a Suzuki 200 (perfect for me ) wasn't possible due to documents to croos the borders: not possible to prepare. So I had to rent the Kawasaki 650. To have less problems at the custom, we agree to prepare a sale contract, okay just a formal agreement between me and Oscar, but in this way I turn out to be the owner of the bike. With a rented motorbike some border could be very difficult to cross. I did a similar thing in 2010 in India, where sell a motorbike to foreign people is forbidden (except in Mubay I think). All the motorbike shops "sell" the bike to the tourist and "buy" it (for less) when you come back.

    I started my vacation from the airport of Bologna with a hand luggage of 20 pounds(9 kg) and a bag of 26 pund (12 kg)

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    I land in Mexico City at 5 am of Monday withdraw pesos and take the subway. First direction is wrong, but when I get the right direction is working time and the mexican subway became a cage as in the MMA, and you've got to fight for your place, to get in and get out

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    I arrive at the hostel around 8 am, right in time for the breakfast, included with the bed, for 13 $ (10 €)

    http://www.hostalamigo.com/es

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    my roommates are sleeping so I lean my luggage and wend to the Zocalo, the main square of Mexico : is the third most wide square in the world, behind Tien An Men and the Red Square.

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    For two months in the square ther's a permanent presidium of the teachers, for salary reasons

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    across the square ther's another presidium: old people are complaining for the cost of drugs

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    Around 3 pm I met Oscar: he will give me the bike Tuesday (tomorrow), so I'll can start Wednesday.

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    Chedraui is a hard discount and I have gone there to buy food even for tomorrow.

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    The streets that bring you to this Chedraui are full of food shops and chicken shops
    I've never seen so many

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    what else can you buy if not chicken ?

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    Tuesday May 20

    No problem with jet leg: I wake up at 6,30 am (the first in my room) and I'm even the first for breakfast

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    My idea, initially , has been to start from Costa Rica or Guatemala and so in my guidebook,Footprint Central America, I don't have Mexico informations. But I've got my personal guide, The Jump To.. and couple of ideas.
    One is to visit Plaza del las Tres Culturas, where in the 1968 (during the Olympic Games) police and Army shoot at the students
    The second place is the Azteca Stadium, where in the 1970 (during the World Cup) Italy beat West Germany in an epic semi final 4-3 in overtime. In the stadium ther's a golden plaque that remember this game.


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    Plaza de las Tres Culturas is just 2 miles (4 km) far from my hostel: I can walk

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    This is the square of the slaughter and the memorial stone

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    this place remind to me TienAn Men Square, in the 1989: even here there were students, normal people and after a while the Army come and began to shoot: always ideas scare dictatorships

    Reach the Azteca Stadium is a little bit complicated: you've got to take subway and a special train, the Light Train ( Tren Ligero)...no problema I can use the landmark gps of my guide

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    the ticket machine takes my money, but don't give me the ticket, but one ticket inspector write a special pass, just for me

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    The Azteca Stadium is impressive: is the third most big in the world, with over 100.000 seats

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    the golden plaque

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    the statue dedicated to the "fan"

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    in the late noon I meet Oscar that deliver to me the bike and explain how to use the air compressor in case of a puncture

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    In the hostel we define everything, I pay the rent, deposit and he give me a "purchase document", so the bike "is mine". Obviously in the document hasn't the notary signature, but who care ? (Remind this for Costa Rica)
    Panniers aren't very big, so I decide to don't bring with tent and rucksack and the heavy hood


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    finish

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    very nice the hostel owner: he allows me to park the bike inside

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    Wednesday, May 22

    the start

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    Immediately the mexican jam says "Good morning italian biker": a driver hit my lateral pannier with his car door. Ok it's breackfast time

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    my first planned stop is the Maya archeological site of Palenque, 540 miles(1000 km) far from Mexico City. In my first day I stop in Sayula De Aleman

    http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sayula_de_Alemán_(municipio)

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    along the road you can find a lot of traditional and cheap restaurants

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    Today is very very hot and the engine of my Kawasaki begin to "stutter": damn !!! I get out the highway, looking for a mechanic. After a while the Kawasaki is going better. I take a rest to fill the tank and I notice that unlike in Italy here in Mexico the high octane gas is in the red pump dispenser and not in the green.
    Oscar has told me to use just high octane gas. With the tank full of this gas, the bike restart well. I just have stopped to check the temperature level, but a mechanic told me that is normal to see the marker a little bit high when you're driving slow: today ther're 113°F (45° C)

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    At dusk I reach Sayula De Aleman and the owner of this shop suggest to me a very cheap motel

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    The motel is called Lena Loca ( Mad Wood): the owner give to me the room 150 mxp = 12$ = 9€..but not the key:" No se preocupe senor" Ok probably ther's some kind of security

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    A little walk to the "centre" of the city

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    Coming back to the hotel I rest for dinner :should be cheek lard

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    #1
  2. Ridemuch

    Ridemuch SUP

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    :ear :lurk
    #2
  3. momi20

    momi20 Been here awhile

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  4. momi20

    momi20 Been here awhile

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    Thursday May 23

    Before start, a little prayer: the statue is right to my motel. After I look down and I notice again a oil blot in the ground, under the engine. Mhhh maybe a check would be not a bad idea. On the map I see the city of Villahermosa, 500.000 people: there should be a Kawasaki mechanic. The city is just 124 miles (200 km) far from here.



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    The city is big and wide, but on the bypass I see a Yamaha workshop: the mechanic explain how to reach the Kawasaki dealer


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    Surprise, is an official Ducati dealer: coffe and air conditioning

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    The mechanic is too busy, but they send me to in a workshop : the name should be a guarantee

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    the mechanic is really professional: in a minute understand the problem and begin to work...very very fast

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    the problem is a consumed seal, but the engine is so dirty that I think that the mechanic in Mexico City have not checked well the bike

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    the mecahnic find in a shop the original spare part and in 3 hours everyrhing's fine

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    maybe will be possible reach Palenque to sleep there

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    Now is low season: no problem to find an accomodation. The cheapest are in the town, most you go close to the archelogical site, more prices rise up


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    Palenque is well organized to greeting tourists: banks, gym, restaurants, shops.

    Palenque è organizzata per accogliere numeri importanti di turisti e quindi si trova di tutto: banche, palestre, ristoranti, negozi per lo shopping

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    this is a contest of a catering institute

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    <iframe src="//www.youtube.com/embed/HyU4jqvlz70" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" width="560"></iframe>
    #4
  5. momi20

    momi20 Been here awhile

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    dinner

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    corn on the cob as dessert

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    Friday May 24
    The archeological site opens at 7,30 am

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    motel with spa (not mine)

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    Travelling during the low season allow you to visit the interesting places with peace and quiet. Finally I can really walk through the Maya Empire. It is always exciting to can touch something that you just watched on TV
    Here you can find some informations http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palenque

    I just can put some pics

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    It's very early: just now peddler are coming

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    around 1,00 pm I get out

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    I begin to plan my first border crossing. My second "scheduled" stop is the archeological sit of Tikal in Guatemala. I have in mind to cross the border at Frontera Corozal, where launches bring tourists and even motorbike across the river

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    this farmers work in a land trust and own the agricultural land

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    for lunch this mexican Kentucky Fried Chicken looks great

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    the owner

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    a check point

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    this is a very particular picture

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    is my last pic with the red wind stopper that I bought last year to travel in Vietnam. At the next check point a military tell to me that one of my lateral panniers is open. The look is broken. In Central America bumps are in every city to limit the speed: probably this is the reason for the damage

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    I drive back for some miles, but nothing: ok I need another wind stopper. I have bougt it for 40 $(30&#8364;): maybe I'll find something similar in Guatemala. I fix the pannier with my elastic rope

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    At Frontera Corozal (4 pm) the mexican custom is very quick (the bike is mine). I get some gas from a non official gas station: the man asks to me if I need to cross the river with the bike. He's got a launch: the price is 200 mxp = 15 $ = 11 &#8364;

    cross the river on the launch is really funny

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    <iframe src="//www.youtube.com/embed/zftjFkEDwVg" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" width="560"></iframe>
    #5
  6. momi20

    momi20 Been here awhile

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    I'm in Guatemala

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    after the rise take a right and you're in the correct direction

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    At these little town it begins to rain and I stop in a little bar to drink and change the money. As in Central Asia the rate exchange is very close to the bank rate, and I prefer to travel with local money in my pocket.
    I stop even cause I remember the suggestion of Oscar:" Stop to drive if begins to rain, in this part of the yaer begin the hurricane season and with the wind and rain is easy see branches fly on the road"

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    is a very easy off road...but for me and my pilot skills is demanding

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    after one hour finally the immigration

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    Just a little snag: here ther's just the immigration, no custom. What I can do for the bike ? An official tells that ther's no problem. I can get the documents for the bike (temporary import) in the first SAT office, the Guatemala vehicle office. This documents are necessary, because after Guatemala I've in mind to travel in Belize and without the Guatemala documents will be impossible cross the border.

    Around evening I reach the city of San Benito. Tomorrow morning I'll go to SAT and then to the Tikali Park
    More or less this was my way from Frontera Corozal to San Benito

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    Hotel Imperial 2 ( probably a motel chain) is ok: 50 queztal ( less then 7 $)

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    the San Benito movida offers to me a live church show

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    <iframe src="//www.youtube.com/embed/OO9eQqOlssg" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" width="560"></iframe>
    #6
  7. momi20

    momi20 Been here awhile

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    #7
  8. momi20

    momi20 Been here awhile

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    Technical question: it's possible to post the You Tube video with the preview, not just the link ?
    #8
  9. Roaddawg

    Roaddawg MotoLoco

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    Thank you so much for taking the time to write and upload photos of your adventure. I hope to follow in your footsteps soon.

    I googled "how to post a youtube video on advrider.com" and got this:

    http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=385793

    I hope that helps. I often enter questions I have on google.com and always have gotten an answer. Google's collective knowledge is inmense!

    Safe travels.... :dllama
    #9
  10. momi20

    momi20 Been here awhile

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    I've done it, thanks Roaddawg...if necessary, also, correct my english report :deal

    Thanks again :freaky
    #10
  11. EmilianoXR650L

    EmilianoXR650L Been here awhile

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    Es una agradable sorpresa ver tu reporte !! :clap
    #11
  12. crashmaster

    crashmaster ow, my balls!

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    Its too bad that people have negative preconceptions of people they have never met, and lands in which they have never traveled. I guess we are all a bit this way, but travel changes all of these preconceptions, and its a good thing. :freaky

    No eres gringo, tal vez, pero en Mexico y Centro America, todos los extranjeros son gringos. :lol3

    Your English is plenty good enough, well done on the report. :freaky
    #12
  13. whizzerwheel

    whizzerwheel Using Occam's Razor

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    I'm always surprised when I hear someone say "Americans" aren't liked around the world. (read...people from the USA) I believe this is a misconception that many people buy into for whatever reason. I've never encountered anything but friendliness wherever I've traveled.

    Thanks for the ride report...
    #13
  14. momi20

    momi20 Been here awhile

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    Before to continue with my report, I desire to explain this

    Personally I'm really engaged with USA. For 30 years I've played american football (not soccer) in Italy: no professional level. Since 1981 I've played american football with american guys, coming from USA ( or Italian Military Bases). At the time (80's) when people look at you with a hat and when you're giving an high five, they think "Should be mad". I've travelled many many times in USA, visited 10 times New York, not only Manhattan, but very well Bronx, Brooklyn Queens. I've attended at 2 Superbowl (2001 and 2007) and several Giants game(my team).
    During this vacation, a lot of time, I don't want to say that people was ostile, but just less friendly in a lot of situations, when they don't know my nationality. And this is a fact.
    As in Africa, a lot of tourists can tell to you that in Namibia the colour of your skin doesn't matter and everybody smile to you...yes, if you are in a good hotel or in some touristic point or a national park. In a normal city along the road you can feel the difference, that you're white. I don't say that people aare ready to attack you, but ...something there was.
    Please don't misunderstand: I wrote that my english is poor. Maybe I don't write my ideas in a very correct way.
    #14
  15. momi20

    momi20 Been here awhile

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    Saturday May 25

    Very early in the morning I'm at the SAT office. It's Saturday, but banks are open so why not the office ? Because the bank is open on saturady..SAT no, even sunday. Ok today I can go to the Tikali Park, visit, come back and maybe find an hotel on the lake and take sunday as rest and plane the travel to Belize and tthen to Honduras, cause I'd like to travel by boat from Belize to Honduras.
    Sabato 25 maggio



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    Let's go to Tikali, there are just 40 miles (64 km) to drive.

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    Very nice road, no jam, just me and...suddendly I have heard a rumor behind me: what the hell ? The bike begins to ripple and altough I was driving around 50 miles/hour (80 km) instead to brake slowly I've lost the control of the bike. I became a piece of chese and the road the grater. What a pain during the slide.

    This is my slide on the road


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    the bike

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    me ( the piece of cheese)

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    some farmers that are working near the road, help me to lift up the bike. I find the neutral , turn the key and push the start: engine is ok. The damage semms to be just on the chassis. A lady stops her car and tells to me that she can call with her cellular phone a mechanic that has a pick up for the bike.
    I begin to think to my body (bike first): I've got my medical aid. Is in the pannier...ohh I've lost my first aid, with the red jacket in Mexico. Even my t-shirt is damaged: I bought in India in 2010

    It comes the mechanic and in 2 minutes picks up my bike.



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    We had a stop in El Ramate to a pharmacy: I'm lucky the clerk is a medicine student. He says that is better disinfect wounds: no problem this liquid doesn't burn. Correct, the liquid doesn't burns..sears !

    [ur]=http://www.servimg.com/image_preview.php?i=4737&u=13013946][​IMG][/url]

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    even my travel jeans are wrecked

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    at the workshop, finally I understand what's has happened. The right lateral stand wasn't well welded and so he had moved away and after went under the back wheel. The front wheel looks as happened a puncture. A son of the mechanic can bring me to San Benito. Instead the private clinics I prefere the public hospital. It's saturday should be really few people. I was wrong. Worst than in an Apple store selling IPhone 5 at 60 $. The waiting room is full of people: womans, childrens, parents, a little chaos
    After an half hour a doctor comes to visit me: no visit rooms, just curtains that create different places. With me ther's an old woman with a problem in a foot. The doctor says that first is better disinfect the woundes( ohh no again), stich the hole in my knee and after make some X-ray. I tell to him that I don't think X-ray are necessary: I feel pain, but I can move the leg and bend the knee. The answer of the doctor doesn't allow a reply:" Even I belive that aren't fractures, but belive isn't the guideline of medicine"

    Ok: yes sir.

    A nurse comes to disinfect and tells to me " Don't worry looks like alcool but doesn't burn" I answer" Ohh because to save money is diluited with water" My mother is a former nurse and in the 60's (to save money) always in the hospital alcool was diluited.
    After the doctor snitch my knee


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    now go to the X-ray room

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    the machine is 70's style

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    the X-ray is ok: no fracture. 8 days and will be possible remove the stitches: outside the hospital, in the pharmacy I can buy antibiotic, liquid to disinfect, painkilling etc...
    Thanks doctor: how much does it cost visit, and X-ray ? Nothing, in every nation of Central America this kind of healthcare are free, even for tourists

    Coming back to the workshop , we had a stop to a supermarket, called MegaPaca: I need to buy a wind stopper, a t shirt and a heat. Suddendly in the store I heard that air conditioning begins to work, but I think is too much: the wedding dresses begin to fall down. It wasn't air conditioning: it's an hurricane and the wind is so strong that employees have to close the doors. Ok hwen begins the rain is better to stop if you're driving.

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    After 1 hour wind and rain, but my driver tells that in this period of the year can happends even 2 or 3 times a day.
    When we come back in the workshop the bike is ok

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    mechanic asks to me if I can drive the bike: I'm able to drive, because the right knee is necessary just to brakes, is the left food that has to work to shift. I've just to pay attention when I go on the saddle.
    I follow him to El Ramate where I find a nice hotel, lakefront for just 40 queztal (5 $). very cloce a grocery sell the ice: I get antibiotic, painkiller, put the ice on the knee and then sleep till 6 pm. Ok tomorrow is sunday and I can use the day to visit Tikali using the bus to reach the archeological site. Half day is enough. It will reamain half day and night to rest and maybe monday I'll can drive again.
    In a travel agency near the grocery I buy the bus ticket to Tikali: tomorrow morning at 6 am and he comes back around 3 pm: perfect.


    Around 8 pm I go out to dinner: knee isn't bad and the doctor had told me that even snitched I can bend it

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    Back in the motel , with a pillow I fix the ice on the knee and sleep.
    #15
  16. DCrider

    DCrider Live from THE Hill

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    May 7, 2008
    Oddometer:
    4,924
    Location:
    Washington, DC
    great report so far :clap
    #16
  17. GuateRider

    GuateRider Long timer

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2008
    Oddometer:
    1,494
    Location:
    Antigua , Guatemala
    Enjoying your report !!

    Peccato che non sapevo prima del tuo viaggio, io vivo in Guatemala e mi avrebbe fatto piacere conoscerti .
    #17
  18. TeeVee

    TeeVee His mudda was a mudda!

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2009
    Oddometer:
    847
    Location:
    Miami/Managua
    glad you were not hurt worse. lesson learned? the right gear for the job is worth the price.

    great report!
    #18
  19. Johnnydarock

    Johnnydarock Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 6, 2009
    Oddometer:
    363
    Location:
    Redondo Beach CA
    Great report! Let's see some more.
    #19
  20. Burninator

    Burninator Zed's dead

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2011
    Oddometer:
    301
    Location:
    Eugene, OR
    Love the report. You're a bad-ass! Wreck bike, get stitches.
    #20