Central America on a Shoestring

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by bgoodsoil, Jun 8, 2009.

  1. bgoodsoil

    bgoodsoil Dare to be Stupid

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2008
    Oddometer:
    4,673
    Location:
    Washington, DC, USA
    oh , i fried the hid 2 weeks after i put it in. i felt like a jerk using that thing anyways. it was blinding. you´re probably right about the heat though. i never got around to changing out the heat sink paste. after 25 years it was a brown mess.

    my tach is acting kinda funny now. the rpms are higher than usual and it bounces around me. who cares¡ the bike runs!

    thanks for all the offers of parts. i´m not turning them down, i may need them yet :D

    yeah i was joking. i definitely didn´t mind helping the guy out. he was standing out there in that hot sun all day. i was glad to make it worthwhile for him. one thing though, he pulled me out of a line of cars. i specifically didn´t get a fancy new bike so i wouldn´t stand out. so much for that! people stare at that bike like it came from the moon.

    before i had the beemer, i had a KLR :lol3

    here´s a picture of juan and isidro
    [​IMG]
    juan gave me a long talk about how motos are "cajas de muertes", coffins, and how i should stop riding them. i didn´t disagree with him.

    i left the hotel and promptly got lost. i rode around for 3 hours trying to find the highway. i asked a guy at pemex(the national gas station) and got directions.

    they sent me into a city where a cop pulled me over. he said motos weren´t allowed in the city. i must´ve misunderstood him. i definitely didn´t misunderstand him when he said he wouldn´t give me a ticket but ´hace mucho calor´ and winked. yeah, he wanted a bribe. i gave him all the coins i had in my pocket and told him "eso es todo de mis pesos". he smiled and took them.

    i finally found the right highway. it ran into every tiny village it could find. i´ve heard there are toll highways that avoid all these little towns. i payed 2 tolls and still went through the towns. lame.

    i did 250 miles today and only half of that was actual progress south. 125 miles of going in the wrong direction.

    i made it to Tuxpan(pronounced toospan). this city is beautiful. i´m definitely close to the tropics.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    i wimped out. i got another hotel. if i keep this up i´ll have to change the title. those pics are from the balcony. darn nice for 40 bucks, i´m right near downtown.

    it was getting dark it´s hard to spy camp sites here. i´ve slept on powerlines, or behind rest stops or under radio towers all over the states, and canada for that matter, but there´s nothing like that here. also, the trees are big enough to hide behind. the bikes happy in it´s new room though.

    [​IMG]

    here´s the laundry room.

    [​IMG]

    this cool max stuff dries crazy fast. i love it.

    and, of course, they´ve got internet.

    i´ve been a pretty bad tourist so far and i´ll try to take more pictures. i wanted to get out and see the town but i just ate dinner and i'm tired. maybe in the morning. adios.
    #41
  2. kwight

    kwight Adventurer

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2008
    Oddometer:
    58
    Location:
    Grand Junction, CO
    I have traveled through Mexico twice and have found that if you ask the owner of the restuarant you are eating at, they are likely willing to let you camp behind the business for free. Of course, you may not want to do this in just any area, but it is worth a try.

    Kevin
    #42
  3. FrankoQ

    FrankoQ Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2008
    Oddometer:
    189
    Location:
    Laurel, MD
    Planning on going thru El Salvador?
    #43
  4. bgoodsoil

    bgoodsoil Dare to be Stupid

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2008
    Oddometer:
    4,673
    Location:
    Washington, DC, USA
    thanks for the advice kwight. i may need it.

    i´m planning on going through el salvador. more for bragging rights than actually wanting to see something specific though. if something has to get dropped it´ll be el salvador.

    i got up the next morning and hit the road. i finally found a toll road and burned some rubber.

    scenery pics

    [​IMG]

    erosion from where the road was cut through, i think

    [​IMG]

    i hit veracruz, another big city, and spent another hour stuck in hot, bumper to bumper traffic. most cities here don´t have overpasses or bypasses. the highway dumps you in the city. my new strategy for getting through mexican cities is to stop at the first pemex i see and ask for directions. EVERY time i see a pemex, i stop again. i don´t care if it´s two blocks away, it´s worth it to get a second opinion.

    veracruz was a nice coastal city though.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    i hit some rain in the mountains, not to mention twisty sloping, cracked roads. they were all paved though. mexico may not have an interstate sytem but i haven´t ridden on a dirt road here yet. i don´t expect to see that further south.

    i hit a military checkpoint and they pulled me out of a line of cars to be searched. the guy asked me if i would open the boxes. i said ´si! tiene las armas!´ it wasn´t too thorough and they didn´t hold me for more than a few minutes.

    i did 400 miles yesterday....but to do it i rode non stop from 10 to 8. that´s a 40 mph average. pretty crappy considering i hit every toll road i could find. i slept at a truck stop. $20 gets you a darn nice room in mexico
    [​IMG]

    i didn´t eat until i stopped. seriously, not a bite from the time i woke up until after dark. i drank a gallon of water though. i just wasn´t hungry.

    i got up the next morning and got my first cup of coffee since coming to mexico. quite a feat for a guy that drinks halfa pot a day. while sitting in bed guess what i saw on tv....
    [​IMG]

    yep! i ended up leaving an hour late on my road trip because i was watching ewan and charlie on their´s. man i love those movies.

    i rode for just an hour this morning and stopped in the first place i´ve been meaning to see in the lonely planet guide-- palenque. 1 hour of riding today, nice.

    palanque has gobs of ruins. i paid $2 to sling my hammock up, rice and beans and vegetables is a dollar a meal and the ruins are right outside the place.

    new invention! a cheap fan at wal'mart and some duct tape gets me a ceiling fan. i fall asleep with the fan on, wake up with dead batteries, and charge them while i ride the next time. this thing is a lifesaver.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    sleeping in the jungle in a hammock, man ya can´t beat it.

    a real town, and this internet bar, is just 5 minutes away but i´m going to try to stay off the bike. after i get back i´ll be stopped for the night and i don´t plan to ride at alltomorrow. i´m really making an effort not to get myself into the ´must make miles´mindset. i´ll take a guided tour of the ruins, in a bus, and let somebody else drive. today and tomorrow should cost me less than $10 each, that´s for food, lodging, everything.

    after that i´ve got to cover some ground to make it to the border of belize. i´ve got 600 miles to go and 2 days worth of insurance left. i don´t want to risk riding without it.

    well, adios for a few more days!
    #44
  5. r-man

    r-man Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2007
    Oddometer:
    118
    Location:
    Wherever the oil/gas is
    I'm along for the ride!


    So far, you've got me hooked!!
    #45
  6. knuckledonkey

    knuckledonkey Crikey!

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2008
    Oddometer:
    66
    Location:
    Santa Rosa, CA
    Did you pack the hammock or buy it along the way?
    #46
  7. bgoodsoil

    bgoodsoil Dare to be Stupid

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2008
    Oddometer:
    4,673
    Location:
    Washington, DC, USA
    i picked it up at rei before i left. i slept in a fishnet on a beach in costa rica last year for almost a week. i´ve been hooked on ém every since.

    it´s from a company called eagle´s nest outfitters. i got it for free at rei with my dividend, but they´re 50 bucks. weighs less than a pound, holds 400 pounds and i feel every breeze through the fabric.

    they make a bug net for it but i´m not looking to have it replace my tent. i can sit in it sideways and recline at camp or sleep in it. i can sleep comfortably on my stomach in it if i sling it tight.

    it´d take a lot of work slinging a tarp to use it as a primary shelter, and it wouldn´t be any lighter, but it´s amazingly comfortable when the weather´s right or you need a chair.

    here´s a map of central america. i´m a little southeast of villahermosa in souther mexico.

    Attached Files:

    #47
  8. bgoodsoil

    bgoodsoil Dare to be Stupid

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2008
    Oddometer:
    4,673
    Location:
    Washington, DC, USA
    it had to happen eventually. i got the poops. i´ll spare the details but i think i used the bathroom 8 or 9 times yesterday. on top of that i twisted my ankle.

    i had planned on walking all over some ruins but it didn´t work out that way. i went to see them, with some toilet paper in my camelbak just in case, took some pics then ran back to camp just in time to make it to the bathroom again.

    the ruins were nice though

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    i got up this morning and felt a bit better so i packed up and headed for the border. i only had to run off into the woods to find a tree once :evil of course i stopped at 3 pemexes too.

    i didn´t want to travel to a different country only to eat at an american fast food restaurant but after yesterday my stomach deserved a cheeseburger.

    [​IMG]

    a/c, all the coke i could drink, a clean bathroom--what more could i ask for? i brought all my maps and books inside and stayed for an hour thinking about what to do in belize.

    it was hot today. how hot you ask? this hot
    [​IMG]
    if it was so hot that your kickstand sank into the asphalt you´d hide at the burger king too.

    my math was off. i only had about 200 miles to the border. i made it to the aduana but the guy on the mexico side said i need to cancel my temporary pass before passing over. i remember reading something about that in a thread on here. i´ll look it up in a minute. anyways, they couldn´t do it until the morning so i found another overpriced hotel. i´m in chatumal for the night.

    my plan as of right now
    i think i´ll spend a week in belize then hop over the short section of guatemala straight to honduras. i´m going to burn across honduras and nicaragua. i´ll do my sightseeing there on the way back. my university has a campus in costa rica and i know some folks there. i´ll probably swing by the campus there for a few days then head to panama.
    #48
  9. drrags

    drrags Dorkus Malorkus

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,881
    Location:
    Reno, NV
    So far so good, I'm subscribed. I'm about 3 months behind you, so I'm reading every word carefully :deal
    :lurk
    #49
  10. Gringacho

    Gringacho Una Aventura Loca

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2006
    Oddometer:
    772
    Location:
    N. Georgia
    Check your PM's.

    Have fun amigo......
    #50
  11. bgoodsoil

    bgoodsoil Dare to be Stupid

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2008
    Oddometer:
    4,673
    Location:
    Washington, DC, USA
    I crossed into Belize without too many hassles. Heck, borders are easy if you speak the language :D

    [​IMG]

    i got turned around a few times. i don't think i've seen a road sign yet. I went a long way down a crazy bumpy dirt road before turning around and deciding I'd just follow the pavement.

    I spent the night in a hostel in Belize City. It's in a shady area but the owner gave me a board and let me ride the bike up into the place. the door was barely wider than my handlebars.

    [​IMG]

    Belize City

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I have a halfa dozen beggars follow me around every time I walk out the door. I avoid going outside unless I have to.

    There are bars on EVERYTHING. I found a little chinese restaurant with a big gate on it. They pass you the food through a a slot in the rebar. $3 gets you a massive foam box fulla chicken chow mein though.

    I got up this morning and found a bunch of the flower pots in the hostel knocked over. The owner said somebody climbed up to the second story and tried to break in. They were probably trying to rob the goofy white kid that everybody saw wandering around in flip flops.

    The owner asked if I could remove the boxes from the bike so she could be them in the kitchen. They've got locks on 'em and the bike is behind a gate and she still didn't think it was safe. I ended up wrapping my 12' chain through the rear wheel and tightly around the lids. A crowbar won't get 'em open. Bolt cutters are of course the master key to everything though.

    I got up this morning and got in a water taxi to head to the Cayes. this is the big tourist draw of belize.

    [​IMG]

    It'd be sunny one second then it would rain cats and dogs.....then it would stop. Kinda cool actually. I'd duck under some place and watch the rain for a while. I was still out snorkeling long enough to get a bit of a sunburn. I don't use sunblock. I hate the stuff.

    [​IMG]

    If you're travelling down here I recommend that you don't stay in Belize City. There's nothing worth seeing and crime is a problem. I'm tired of hiding in the hostel when I'm in the city so I'm going to head south tomorrow. I'm still looking for that idyllic day when I lay in a hammock half the day and spend the rest in the water. I think my skin needs a day off from the sun though.
    #51
  12. FrankoQ

    FrankoQ Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2008
    Oddometer:
    189
    Location:
    Laurel, MD
    Head to El Salvador for that.
    #52
  13. bgoodsoil

    bgoodsoil Dare to be Stupid

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2008
    Oddometer:
    4,673
    Location:
    Washington, DC, USA
    I got up with a good sunburn. It doesn't bother me until I put on my jacket and camelbak. The straps really dig in. No sense in whining about it. My old journeyman in IBEW once told me 'If you're gonna be dumb ya better be tough.' I'm gonna be dumb :wink:

    I decided to see the rest of Northern Belize before heading south. I rode down a road to the baboon sanctuary and a guy came out and said they did tours.

    You'd think he was a scammer but the guy, Shane, was really smart. He talked about all the plants and animals there. Then he made monkey noises at the trees and one came down for a banana.

    [​IMG]

    Then he gave me a piece of a banana and the monkey grabbed my hand and ate it off my palm. It was pretty darn cool. Here's the monkey staring at me waiting for his banana.

    [​IMG]

    I went for a canoe trip after that and paddled up the Belize River for over an hour. My shoulders hadn't had a good workout in over a week. Felt good. The Belize River is beautiful. The water's green and the plants come right up to the edge. We rowed underneath branches that hung over the water. The iguanas, 3 foot tall mini dragon monsters, got spooke and did what they always do to avoid danger--they jumped in the water. These spiney sharp toothed killers were splashing all over us. One of the babies fell in the boat. I'm glad it wasn't momma.

    Here's the little babies. There were hundreds of them.

    [​IMG]
    I got some great shots of the river and the big iguanas with my video camera. It has an incredible zoom and it takes stills. The problem is I have no way to transfer the photos over to the computer. Back home my laptop has a slot for the big SD cards and I never thought to bring something else. Lame.

    We got back and talked for a while under a grass hut while it rained. We talked about politics and J-Lo's 30 million dollar butt while they smoked huge amounts of weed. There was a monkey sitting on the table next to me munching maypalms the whole time. It was a trip.

    When the rain stopped the monkeys came down. I got some amazing video of monkeys climbing on the bike. I also got a shot of me standing next to the seat while a monkey sat on the tank bag munching on a banana. Awesome pic--can't upload it. Hopefully in Costa Rica one of the students on campus has a way to transfer stuff.

    If you travel to Belize without doubt go to the baboon sanctuary in Bermudian Landing. You'll pass a few metal bridges that will send your tire all over the place. Slow to a crawl or you'll dump the bike. It's a little hut to the left and there's a small sign pointing to it. Ask for Shane. The guy there's been feeding bananas to the monkeys so long they come down for him all the time.

    Now I'm in a hotel with a sunburn and it's pouring buckets. I'm thinking about lazing around in the hotel for the rest of the day and healing up.
    #53
  14. hardwaregrrl

    hardwaregrrl ignore list

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2006
    Oddometer:
    8,144
    Location:
    Atlanta
    Hey Brad, glad you're enjoying Belize!!! I was there in early '01, stayed in a hostel in Belize City similar to the one you described. Got caught in a hurricane, got hassled by Rasta's on Caye Caulker, and hung out with a dude from ATL that owned and ran a Eco tourism place called Turtle bay. Great country, great people, and everything you could ever want in a getaway. Glad you're hanging out there. wish i had known about the baboon sanctuary!!! start camping before you loose your shirt!!
    #54
  15. JRP

    JRP Old guy

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2004
    Oddometer:
    1,562
    Location:
    Hampden, MA
    Great ride report, keep us posted and definitely lots of pics when you can. :clap
    #55
  16. bgoodsoil

    bgoodsoil Dare to be Stupid

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2008
    Oddometer:
    4,673
    Location:
    Washington, DC, USA
    I know I know. I could've slept out last night too. I feel pretty safe in Belize. But it was raining hard, and my sunburn hurt.

    Besides, let's say I'm a lazy bum and stay in hostels most of the way. They average $15 a night at the most. That's under a thousand dollars for the whole 2 months. That's what my rent'd be back home. Throw in $500 for gas. maybe another $600 for food. Money for touristy stuff. This shouldn't going to come out much more expensive than if I had stayed home. As long as I don't get kidnapped that is. :D
    #56
  17. Dark Helmet

    Dark Helmet Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2006
    Oddometer:
    850
    Location:
    You'll know when I know...
    Gotta say I am enjoying this little trip with you. Never done one like this and have to say I am jealous. Ride safe, be smart, enjoy. :clap
    #57
  18. datchew

    datchew Don't buy from Brad

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2005
    Oddometer:
    7,409
    Location:
    Remember the Alamo!
    BRAD: "This guy's kinda cute. This will make a great picture."

    MONKEY: "I can take this guy, and I bet he tastes like chicken."

    [​IMG]









    In other news, I scored a used "points" beancan recently for $60 and will begin cleaning it up. So you have a backup plan without taking my bike offline if your hall sensor takes a dump. :deal


    Keep us posted Brad and bring on the pics!
    #58
  19. Airhead Wrangler

    Airhead Wrangler Long timer

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2008
    Oddometer:
    6,823
    Location:
    Back in Seattle, FINALLY
    Well? :ear :ear :ear
    #59
  20. bgoodsoil

    bgoodsoil Dare to be Stupid

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2008
    Oddometer:
    4,673
    Location:
    Washington, DC, USA
    60 bucks! dern, I need to keep my eye out on ibmwr and ebay.

    here's the pics from the baboon sanctuary.

    [​IMG]

    Man what a great shot. That picture really needs a punchline like "I wonder what happens when I push this button......"

    [​IMG]

    cool huh?

    I left there and went to San Ignacio, the border crossing into Guatemala. I found some dirt along the way.
    [​IMG]

    I had to clean off the headlights. No light made it through that muck.

    I was at a gas station and a coupla guys pulled up in a jeep. Turns out this guy and his son, Nat and Levi, had ridden their bikes from Alaska down to Suriname. Nat has a monolever G/S and Levi has a KLR.

    Nat's G/S is awesome. He extended the swingarm 4 inches himself and put a set of WP USD forks on it.

    They invited me over and I stayed with them for 3 days. It was incredible. We swapped riding stories and talked about bikes all day.

    While he was looking at my bike, Nat noticed this.

    [​IMG]

    It's the original throttle cable. Swapped it out, one breakdown avoided.

    Here's me and Levi on the river.

    [​IMG]

    I should've gotten a big family picture with them before I left but I thought there were more pics of them from the river trip.

    Me and Levi went riding for a day on some of their bikes.

    [​IMG]

    We tore up some dirt with the DR350 and TW200. We rode down to a river and hung out in the jungle for a while.

    I hated to leave. They had been so good to me. Ms. Debbie's cooking is the best food I've had in weeks :D

    I crossed over into Guatemala and ran up to Tikal.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I headed south and stopped at a hostel called Finca Ixobel. Really nice place. $5 a night for a room. good food. I went swimming in the pond here and got yet another awful sunburn. I'm going to stay here for another day or so and try to heal up before heading south into Honduras.
    #60