Central America on a Shoestring

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

  1. Gimmeslack

    Gimmeslack furthur

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    Finca Ixobel! I spent a couple of days there in a treehouse with my wife :freaky.

    Great folks, food, and location. Check out one of the local river-caves if you have time.
    #61
  2. sixkiller68

    sixkiller68 n00b

    Joined:
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    Hey Brad, you were an awesome guest. We have been following your posts. Debbie says thanks for the comment on the food! Glad you got to stay at the Finca, hope to see you again.
    #62
  3. bgoodsoil

    bgoodsoil Dare to be Stupid

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    I appreciate ya´ll letting me stay there.

    Man, it's a travesty that a guy that rode from Alaska to Suriname has the word "n00b" underneath his name on ADVRider.

    Well, my sunburn still hurt but I got impatient waiting for it to heal. It did give me an excuse to hang in a hammock for 2 straight days though :D

    I got up, crawled in my jacket, and headed south. In one day I went from Poptun in Guatemala to a little before the southern border of Honduras.

    Honduras is BEAUTIFUL. It reminds me of western Canada. Really. The mountains are covered in pine trees. The roads are incredible. This is the first time that I´ve really enjoyed the riding in Central America. It was almost cold out. Twisty roads. Amazing scenery.

    I took loads of pics with my mega camera that I can¨t upload photos from. The only reason I got the pics of the monkeys on here was because Levi¨s laptop had a slot for the SD card. Hopefully I¨ll get ëm on here tomorrow.

    I stopped at a hotel a little before dark. 70 dollars US :eek1 So I kept riding. It got dark and riding at night in America Central is a big no-no. I kept riding. What choice did I have?

    Then it started raining-HARD. I climbed in the Frog Toggs. Then I hit mountains, and dirt roads from construction. The only way I felt safe was to go 30mph with my flood lights on. So, I turned on the patience and slowly made my way through the storm to a hotel. It was probably the most danger I´ve been in on the trip yet.

    The next day I crossed the border into Nicaragua. Took me 3 hours and every scrap of money I had.

    When I bought the bike it was white. I painted it green but never thought to get a new title. A few of the border crossings have given me a hassle about it but nothing major. Nicaragua would not let me in because of it. No kidding. How stupid is that?

    I bribed the lady that does the paperwork. Another 10 bucks. A few kids were helping me get through the border and they said to make sure that the police dont see the actual title.

    2 hours later the kids said everything was good. I tried to give them some money but I was almost broke. I had pesos, quetzales, limperas, belizean dollars--you name it. But all of it together was worth maybe 4 bucks. No banks at the border crossing. Wonderful. So I gave them what I had and the army of kids camped out around my bike made mean faces at me when I told them I had no money and couldn´t give them any. I guess they thought I was lying.

    So, off and running! I hop on the bike, got 20 yards and hear a whistle blowing and a cop running at me waving his arms. poop!

    He wants paperwork. He wants my title. Dang. He doesn´t notice the color thing but he hits me up for a bribe anyways. I was so happy to open up my wallet and say "No tengo dinero!" That´s one crooked cop that won´t rob me. I finally get straightened out and he waves me on.

    I get another 20 yards and think they´re finally going to raise the gate for me. Some other guy waves me over and tells me to turn the bike off. What now?!

    The kids had given me these little colored pieces of paper the size of quarters. I had no idea what they were. Glad I didn´t lose ém cuz they won´t open the gate without them. He takes my colored paper and I finally ride into Nicaragua absolutely penniless.

    I burned across Nicaragua to Managua. I could´ve made it to the border but I didn´t want a repeat of last night. I should be able to make it into Costa Rica tomorrow.
    #63
  4. Bulleteer

    Bulleteer Aimless Wanderer

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    Great RR! I've been following it since the beginning. I'm glad I got to meet you at datchew's tech day. These ADV ride reports mean so much more when you know the inmate doing the traveling. Looking forward to seeing you again when you get back to the US.
    #64
  5. bgoodsoil

    bgoodsoil Dare to be Stupid

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    I hope my ride report is making you glad that you ride a Royal Enfield :D

    So far all the stuff that´s broken is almost 30 years old though. I´m glad Nat caught that throttle cable. My clutch cable is sticky too and I´m wondering if I ought to swap it out rather than risk it snapping in traffic.
    #65
  6. Jimmy the Heater

    Jimmy the Heater Dirt Farmer

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    Great report! Really enjoying it. Subscribed to see the continuing adventures :lurk
    #66
  7. Stagehand

    Stagehand Imperfectionist

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  8. bgoodsoil

    bgoodsoil Dare to be Stupid

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    hear about it? heck I was there 2 days ago!

    I was in Honduras the day before Zelaya, the now former Honduran president, was forced into exile.

    I was in a cheap hotel watching HBO since it was in english. The movie cut off and went to a press conference of a latin guy in a cowboy hat. I tried to change the channel but he was on EVERY station in the country. It was Zelaya giving some speech about it before leaving the country. He's in Costa Rica now.

    I don't know how traveling through there would be on the way back so I'm trying to find a ferry that'll take me straight from Nicaragua to El Salvador. The fact that I'm considering those two countries the 'safe' places to be is kinda funny.

    Attached Files:

    #68
  9. bgoodsoil

    bgoodsoil Dare to be Stupid

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    now if Datchew could send me a small handlebar mounted bazooka along with that points ignition system I'll be just fine.

    Attached Files:

    #69
  10. Exit142

    Exit142 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2007
    Oddometer:
    10
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    Maplewood, NJ US
    Brad,

    I got back from a ride much like yours in Feb 09. I have a couple of uninvited suggestions that I hope make your trip more enjoyable.
    • Buy and use sunscreen, you are traveling in the hottest part of the year, with the strongest sun that will continue to cut into your fun. I have fair skin as well; I rarely tan, mostly burn.
    • Buy some "Cipro" (Ciprofloxacin) and take it for ~5 days. That will fix your digestive worries. Not ever country will sell it over the counter (without a Rx.) Panama and I think Costa Rica requires a Rx.When you find one pharmacy that will sell Cipro, then buy two batches, you may need the second one later. Eat some yogurt to restore your system to normal. You'll spend about $24 (USD) but it is worth it. Panama and El Salvador use the US currency (nickles, dimes and quarters, everything)
    • Use mosquito repellent to avoid getting malaria. I assume you are not carrying anti-malaria drugs. I talked to people that claimed the anti-malaria drugs are harder on you than the cure. I decided to take the drug and not have to be treated.
    • Try to exchange enough money to get your through a country and spend all of your local currency before leaving the country. My wallet started looking like the World Bank. Sure, save some for your return trip north, but I'll bet your aren't going to go back through Belize, so you are stuck with those bills until you find a bank that will exchange them. I exchanged 6 different kinds of currency when I got home, and didn't get the best exchange rate back to USD from Bank of America!
    • Buy and drink bottled water. Don't use the tap to brush your teeth. Drink beer and avoid juices that don't come from a can or bottle. I didn't always follow this advice, I used Cipro twice and enjoyed more of the local food. Yes, I ate salad and drink things many tourist avoid, but I was willing to take the risk. Some people get hit hard by the bacteria...your mileage may differ.
    • I used helpers at the border crossing. I imagine you have as well, but it your spanish is good, then ignore the rest of this suggestion. I took my time picking a helper and worked out the price before proceeding. I found that $5.00 per border usually agreeable, which only gets you half way, as most helpers can't cross the border and assist with paperwork on the other side. I made it clear to my helper that I was on a budget and that is all I could spend. It makes a big difference to negotiate upfront.
    • I went with my help at each step and paid the fees myself. You may pay more if you wait with you bike and hand over wads of cash to your helper. I never handed over my documents (title, registration, passport, license) to my helper. I have read stories of their fee going up in order to get your papers back!
    • Have a rough idea of what the exchange rate is before getting to the border. I downloaded an iPhone application call Currency and it kept me from being ripped off at a few borders. The best bet is to not exchange too much money at the border.
    • If you see a copy shop, then make a few copies of your documents. You'll still need to have copies made, but it might save you a couple trips to the copy shack when crossing borders.
    In the northwest corner of Costa Rica, check out La Paz. the town is not that special, but the ocean is a gravel road ride away. Drop down from the hills and turn left. A few miles down the road turn right when your see a small sign and find the public beach.

    Enjoy the ride,
    Peter

    PS: We stayed in the same hotel in Tuxpan.
    #70
  11. HammerDown

    HammerDown Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2009
    Oddometer:
    10
    Location:
    Panama
    Hey Brad, I did the trip to Panama from Canada last year and am living in Panama at the moment. Enjoying your RR.

    Be sure to ride to Volcan Arenal when you're in C.R. Some great twistys and views. I also like the Peninsula De Osa in the South. Check out Golfito and Playa Zancudo if you've got time.

    Let's meet when you get to Panama if you like. Maybe we can do some local rides.

    Nate
    #71
  12. Gimmeslack

    Gimmeslack furthur

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    Location:
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    Also, FWIW, I was there two years ago (inland, below 1000' elevation, and then later out on Roatan) and managed to get Malaria EVEN THOUGH I WAS TAKING Chloroquine :deal

    C'quine resistant might be moving up through central america. CDC were ambiguous...

    Mosquito netting and a little DEET go a long way, but all it takes is that one SOB skeeter:baldy


    #72
  13. irishdec

    irishdec Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Toronto ,Canada
    Great ride ,good for you mate.Belize City was a p.i.t.a. for me too.Crime was rampant,could'nt SAFELY leave the "hotel", got ripped off by the owners ($65 us a night) ,left for Guat the next day,,,hated Belize city,,,,,avoid at all costs ,nothing there whatsoever.
    irishdec:freaky
    #73
  14. Tico

    Tico Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2008
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    Location:
    Costa Rica
    Regards
    If I can help in something in Costa Rica you can call 83508449 or my email oscarcot@ice.co.cr
    I live in San Jose.

    Oscar
    #74
  15. bgoodsoil

    bgoodsoil Dare to be Stupid

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    quite a bit has happened since the last chance I had to post. I´d say that´s a good thing. It seems like years pass by with out anything worth mentioning happening but when you travel something crazy happens every day.

    Let´s see. I got through Managua okay. Picture downtown, rush hour traffic in any american city. It´s 100 degrees and you have to make it to the other side of the city. Now, remove all the road signs and throw in the fact that you barely speak the language. fun!

    Nicaraguan countryside

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    Tons of windmills in southern Nicaragua.

    The border into Costa Rica took a while but went okay.

    I go to the University of Georgia and we have a campus in Costa Rica. I took a semester there year before last. I rode up to the campus for a few days to visit folks.

    The road up was all dirt.

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    Costa Rican traffic jam. There was nothing wrong with the camera in that pic--they don´t call it a cloud forest for nothing.

    The views were so amazing I almost wrecked since I wasn´t paying attention to the road.

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    I stayed with a family when I was there for the semester. I went back and visited with them. The daughter had gotten married, one son graduated. It was neat. Again, I forgot to take a picture. I´m really going to regret these missed photos.

    I stayed for a few days then headed south. I stopped at a hotel before dark but they wanted $70. I kept riding up into the mountains and saw a sign that said hotel. I road down a dirt road to find some cabins perched on the edge of a cliff. Nobody was around so I just pitched a tent in front of one of them.

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    The view from my mountain stronghold
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    I got a great pic of my new hairdo in the reflection on the window

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    #75
  16. datchew

    datchew Don't buy from Brad

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    You'd be surprised what Datchew could send if customs would allow it. :deal
    #76
  17. bgoodsoil

    bgoodsoil Dare to be Stupid

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    I smoked through southern Costa Rica. It was stupid. I was taking blind corners at 70. It was a blast...until I got pulled over. The cop said I couldn´t pay the ticket for 8 days until the computer updated and that I couldn´t leave the country until I payed it. Normally I´d have said ¨sure whatever¨then left the country but I have to come back through. I offered to pay the cop, he took my money and didn´t put me in the computer.

    Here´s a pic of the window at the aduana for the Panamanian border

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    Touratech is shameless--they´ll advertise on anything!! A lot of those stickers were for guys that were riding bikes down to south america. They didn´t seem like guided tours or anything. Do people really make stickers to comemorate a motorcycle trip?

    I crossed Panama all the way to Panama City. I got pulled over for speeding 2 more times. I wasn´t going any faster than any of the other traffic though. They have 4 lane highways with 35mph speed limits--everybody was going 60. The first cop was angling for a bribe but I played dumb--I definitely intended to toss that ticket in the weeds and ride out of the country. He ended up not giving me a ticket. The 2nd cop and I flew past and didn´t stop til about a quarter mile later. He wave me on.

    Pulled over for speeding by 3 cops in 2 countries on the same day. That´s gotta be a record.
    #77
  18. datchew

    datchew Don't buy from Brad

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    Great pic!

    Next time you head down to S America, I'm coming along, k?
    #78
  19. bgoodsoil

    bgoodsoil Dare to be Stupid

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    I can´t decide on South America. Every time I´m at a border or in a city I think ´Screw this! I´m never doing this again!´ As soon as I´m cruising the countryside I start to think I could do this forever. If your wife gives you permission to go on a 6 month road trip just let me know--I´ll drop out of school or quit my job or whatever and go with ya. I promise I´ll switch to points :D

    I had a crappy day yesterday. The creamer for my coffee opened and I had a halfa liter of the stuff in one of my boxes. It got wet so it turned into a sticky goo. When I emptied the box to clean it out I found that half the bolts holding my boxes on were missing. I globbed blue LocTite on everything and it still came loose. The constant bashing of rocky muddy roads took their toll.

    I went to a hardware store and got some nylox nuts and a pile of 6m bolts. My spanish is getting me by. ¿Tiene las tuercas? ¿seis eme? I even tracked down a store that had USB drive for my camera. I´ll be loading this thread with pics from here on out I promise. I know you bums skip through the pictures and don´t read any of this junk. I know that because that´s what I would do :wink:

    On the way down the mountain a truck ran me into a ditch. We both got to each at the exact worse time halfway through a sharp bend. The muddy road is barely 8 feet wide and this dumptruck filled the road--it was either the ditch or his bumper. Luckily another trucker came by and helped me out of the ditch.

    I didn´t know it til 400 miles later but I snapped the mount on my toolbox. I´m amazed I didn´t lose it on the road. The bolts on this box were fine when I was at the hardware store. Most were missing when I saw this later that night.

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    I had to remove the 1 bolt that was holding it on and bungee the box to the bike at a gas station last night. I bolted it back together this morning with nylox nuts and it seems okay. I don´t think it´ll fall off but I´ll watch it.

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    Another victim

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    Had to take this picture

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    who´d have thought they´d have airhead only parking at the hostel?

    I´m in Casco Viejo in Panama City now. Kinda rundown looking but there´s construction going on everywhere. They{re steadily turning this:

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    into this:

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    #79
  20. bgoodsoil

    bgoodsoil Dare to be Stupid

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    I got up early and tried to ride over to see the Miraflores locks at the Panama Canal. Bad idea. After an hour I saw a road that looked familiar--I was two blocks from my hostel where I started. I got a taxi :D

    This is on the causeway, a big bridge connecting a small string of islands, that I ended up riding down completely on accident. Yeah, I was that lost.

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    The middle lock at Miraflores


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    I spent 3 hours there and got there just in time to watch a boat start it´s transit.

    I had planned on spending a week here but I´m getting a little impatient to head back. There are a lot of things I want to see in Guatemala that I skipped. I wouldn´t mind spending a week at a homestay to work on my Spanish either.

    There´s a castle that Captain Morgan destroyed here and a lock that you can ride through sometimes. I wouldn´t mind seeing them and may try to squeeze them in today. I´m kinda tired though. I´m thinking I may swing by them tomorrow then see how far I get on my way to the border. Maybe spend a day on a beach at Bocas. with sunscreen this time

    oh yeah, a pic of the new city as seen from the old city

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    #80