Doing Good Around the World - I - from Vancouver to Patagonia

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by peergum, Jul 13, 2017.

  1. Paul in Colo

    Paul in Colo Adventurer

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    Thoroughly enjoying your adventure - a part of the world mostly foreign to me. For the more rural portions of your trip so far, did you select the routes based upon anything in particular (fuel availability, safety, scenery, affordability, etc.)?

    Great to hear the Twin Africa is performing well!

    Thanks for taking the time to share with us...
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  2. peergum

    peergum Been here awhile

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    Would be nice to meet in Guatemala. We'll probably stay there around one month, stopping in Antigua Guatemala to get Spanish classes. Give us a shout when you guys are around!
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  3. peergum

    peergum Been here awhile

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    Hey Paul, thanks for following us!

    To answer your question, we planned our path based mostly on wikitravel, but also by following other bikers' Ride Reports and Sapna also follows several blogs and sites with travel recommendations.

    We didn't really consider fuel availability so far, although there's been a few occasions where we were happy to have two 4L jerrycans of gas available but we always found a gas station before running out of fuel.

    As far as safety is concerned, I think most risks are in Northern Mexico, where the drug cartels are, and we never felt unsafe anywhere; this said, we didn't go off-road a lot, the only unpaved road we took were around the Popocatepetl - Sapna hated it :) - and between Las Coloradas and El Cuyo (post to come); the rest of time, we were either on toll-roads (Cuota) or secondary roads, the biggest risk being potholes and damaged roads...

    I think we may have missed nice opportunities regarding scenery, but 2-up and loaded as we are we're not too much in a hurry to go really off-road.

    Affordability, finally, is always in a corner of our mind, and we try to look for cheap but clean airbnb rooms or hotels if we just stay a few nights, and airbnb entire places for longer stays (1 week or more) where we found out that we actually save money purchasing our grocery and cooking/eating home - not wanting to eat out cheap tacos everyday :)

    The Africa Twin is a really great bike, but I'm not really pushing it very far. I hope to meet a few follow riders during our journey and experiment some off-road on it with no load - and no passenger, unless Sapna decides to come along (I doubt, and I'm not sure I'd let her take that risk...). The only incident I have had - and I just noticed that today - is that I lost a nut, a bolt and a few other parts that served to secure the centerstand, probably due to vibrations. Since we'll be flying to Vancouver for Xmas - a welcome break mostly for Sapna to see her family - I contacted my dealership to get some replacement parts. Other than that, no worries so far.

    Thanks again for following us!
    - Phil.
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  4. Paul in Colo

    Paul in Colo Adventurer

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    Hey Phil, thank you very much for responding. Lots to be learned. I am starting to think about a Mexico trip now.

    A very Merry Christmas and safe travels to you both! Paul
  5. peergum

    peergum Been here awhile

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    You'll definitely enjoy Mexico. Great country, great people! Merry Xmas to you too, Paul!
  6. peergum

    peergum Been here awhile

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    Days 140 – 143: Cancún to Playa del Carmen and More Beachy Vibes
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    On December 10, we rode for a little over an hour from Cancún to Playa del Carmen where we rented a apartment for a month at 27,898 MXN (~1,783 CAD). Playa del Carmen is another tourist-infested beach city with not much else aside from beaches, spas, and shopping. As a result, we didn’t do much for our first few days aside from spending some time on 5th Avenue, the main pedestrian street that is filled with tourists and lined with numerous stores and overpriced restaurants.

    I’m not finger-pointing at any one group, but I have a little rant about tourists from generally more developed countries. I’m not sure what it is about people who are privileged enough to afford vacations having the most unbelievable sense of entitlement, but there seems to be the ridiculous expectation that everything and everyone will be adjusted to meet their needs. Showing respect to the local people and culture appears to be out of the question. Would you like it if someone came to your home and behaved in such a way? No! Then why do it in someone else’s and think it’s acceptable? It’s no wonder that locals in many countries hate tourists.

    We have come across a number of people that treat locals as if they’re stupid for not speaking fluent English (how about you learn some Spanish since you’re visiting a Spanish-speaking country?!), ignoring signs prohibiting access to certain areas (the signs are just for decoration, I guess), and being loud enough that aliens on Jupiter can hear them (not that anyone needs eardrums). I can write a book on things I have observed, but I don’t have the patience or the energy. I just have one word of advice for those of us who travel to other countries – BEHAVE (just like Mom taught us when we were kids).

    Now that that’s out of my system, here’s a couple of pictures of 5th Avenue. We do plan to visit the beach and do some day trips, so stay tuned!

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    Playa del Carmen by Day



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    Playa del Carmen by Night
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  7. Cal

    Cal Long timer

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    Happ New Year guys...must be a very nice apt.! I think you could stay at the Royal Haciendas 5 star resort for less?
  8. peergum

    peergum Been here awhile

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    Day 144: The Pink Lakes of Las Coloradas
    We decided to do a day trip to Las Coloradas on Thursday since we still wanted to see some pink lakes despite the Laguna Rosada fail a couple of weeks earlier. So we rode for about 3.5 hours and, lo and behold, we found the pink lakes! It wasn’t as bright of a pink that some heavily-edited pictures on the Internet would have you believe, but it was pink enough for me to be as excited as a five-year-old would be.

    Las Coloradas is a fishing village on the Yucatán coast that is known for salt production dating back to the Mayan period. The pink colour of the lakes come from the algae, plankton, and brine shrimp that live in these waters and become visible as the water evaporates thanks to all that sunshine on the Gulf of Mexico. It is said that eating these creatures is the reason why flamingos (found hanging out in the area) are pink. Kids, don’t try this at home!

    We got some cool drone footage of the area before being told by one of the guides that the area is private property and drones are prohibited. Signs would have been great, but at least he didn’t make us delete the videos so keep an eye on our YouTube channel

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    You can’t swim in the water, so we rode around the area and enjoyed exploring a bit before deciding to head back. We took the sandy road in the direction of El Cuyo to take a different route home. The road was full of puddles and, as any good co-pilot would do, I volunteered to walk through them to help our favourite biker gauge the depth of each of the puddles and the density of the sand underneath.

    Since my trusty waterproof riding boots extend to just below my calves and some of the puddles were deeper than they looked, I ended up with water in my shoes and soggy socks. Splish splosh, at least we’d be home soon. Or would we? After riding for close to an hour, we came across a body of water that would require the bike to become a boat for us to be able to cross. Since the Africa Twin is not a transformer, we had no other choice but to ride back and take our original route home.

    We made it back to Playa del Carmen by nightfall and managed to help some fellow riders along the way who were pushing their bike towards El Cuyo and had run out of gas. Carrying extra gas while on the road is always a good idea.
  9. peergum

    peergum Been here awhile

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    Happy new year to you too!

    It's all relative what you call nice... Playa is pretty expensive and that's the cheapest option (outside camping, which is not an option) we could find for a one-month stay. The thing with choosing an apartment over an hotel room is, we can spread all our stuff around, we have our own wifi, we have two bedrooms (we use one to store our stuff usually), nobody touches our stuff and nothing is going to "disappear" during room cleaning, and - more importantly - we can cook our own meals which makes huge savings versus paying restaurants twice a day in a resort... This said, there's also a pool in the complex and we haven't used it yet... I know... lame :)

    Now make the calculation: C$1783 for 28 days is ~C$64 a day. I currently work remotely for C$40/hr, so 1h30 of work per day pays for it :) Obviously, we may have found a room for cheaper, possibly C$40-50 (less than that in Playa is just day-dreaming), but then we wouldn't have the convenience of cooking and the space...

    As a side note, we _had_ to stay one month in Playa because I had to fly back to Vancouver to sign my divorce paperwork before the end of the year, and I also had to change my Macbook's battery which was giving signs of dying soon and I had no idea how long that would take. Renting on AirBnb for 28 days or more also gives you serious discounts over the daily or weekly prices (40% in our case...).

    So, no, we're not choosing expensive places on purpose: on the contrary, we tend to love saving the money I make through remote working ;)

    PS: I remember paying MX500 (C$34) for a shitty room at Hotel King in Yécora, so paying double for what we have now seems quite the bargain :)
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  10. Flflyer52

    Flflyer52 n00b

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    I've been following your adventure (and taking notes about your route and what you've found along it) - thanks for great commentary. Question: I read your comment about "2 4L gas cans" but haven't spotted them in any of your bike pics - where are they stashed? I'm trying to figure out the least obtrusive place to put 1 or 2 on my TA. Thanks and keep up the good work!
  11. peergum

    peergum Been here awhile

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    Hi @Flflyer52, and thanks for following us. The 2 jerrycans are on the sides of the bike, secured by bungee cords tightened to the top of the case and the frame of the bike. You can see one in red on the pic below... Note I never fill them to the top because of the heat for them not to leak. One of the jerrycan's joint is also damaged, I'll have to buy another jerrycan I guess... (was C$10 at Walmart if I remember well, probably similar here but possibly lower quality...)

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  12. Flflyer52

    Flflyer52 n00b

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    Now I see it - thanks for the reply. I'm considering something like the Rotopax (expensive) or aluminum fuel bottles (like the MSR bottles). There are concerns about regular fuel cans such as what you've mentioned.
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  13. Cal

    Cal Long timer

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    I was going to ask for a photo of the bike loaded....bet you can wheelie at will!:D
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  14. peergum

    peergum Been here awhile

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    The rotopax are indeed expensive and you have to buy the attachment with them. On our bike, I've no idea where I'd put them... I was thinking about them a few days ago when I read about someone flying their bikes from Panama to Colombia - which is probably the option we'll take too (cheaper than sailing the bike with the Stahlratte, actually, even though possibly missing out on a "collective" experience...). Then I remembered that on flights they can refuse to carry your jerrycans if they ever contained gas (I think I read a post last year or so from someone who had to throw them away before flying their bike back to North America from Buenos Aires); so if you have to throw away your rotopaxes mid-way to South America that sucks. In my case, it's only a C$20 loss :)

    As far as safety is concerned, well, a crash would possibly be an issue. This said, in no place so far the police made any comments about them, and they are quite visible, not even in the USA. So... it will work for now :)
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  15. peergum

    peergum Been here awhile

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    I've felt the bike's front wheel lifting up a bit a few times at a traffic light (never did a wheelie, I'm a newbie rider, don't forget about that!) but never with the full load. But yes, riding up a 15% incline may become a source of worry :) And I'm also worried a bit about that much load on the back of the bike, but then you see 5 people and a goat riding on small 50cc bike and that makes you rethink what the actual limits of a big bike can be :)
  16. peergum

    peergum Been here awhile

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    So, we learned today the death of a biker couple, Donnie and Modesta, in a crash with a truck in Honduras. We were supposed to meet them in Antigua, Guatemala, at the end of January, when they would be on their way back to the States. This is sad news for everyone who met them, but even more for their young kids, a boy and a girl I think...

    If anyone is following us, has met us or not, I thought I'd just post a quick statement here, that Sapna and I just talked about that this morning and agreed that if anything happened to us during that journey to South America - or any following adventure around the world - we would still die happy, enjoying life and discovering new places, countries and people. We are currently living the dream. We'd rather die that way than working like hell to pay debts for a house, a car, running a rat race in a materialistic world... Luckily enough, no one depends on us at this point. If things were to change, then we'd probably stop travelling...

    Still a sad day, reminding us we're only human...
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  17. Flflyer52

    Flflyer52 n00b

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    Agree - a very sad day. I’d only started following Donnie & Modesta recently but hoped to learn much from their adventures.

    Also agree with your thoughts on what might happen, I’d much rather flame out doing things I loved than rust sitting in a corner somewhere. Death is a fact of life, whether in search of adventure or on the way to the office. It’s reassuring to learn of others that choose to follow new roads to see what’s around the bend.
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  18. peergum

    peergum Been here awhile

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    Days 145 – 149: Swimming with the Fishies in Tulum
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    After a couple of days of doing nothing spectacular, we decided to do a day trip to Tulum on Tuesday, December 19. It is under an hour’s ride away from Playa del Carmen and is comprised of three areas: the ruins, the city, and the beach.

    We started our day with a visit to the ruins and managed to arrive there by mid-morning. After parking in the main lot, we went to one of the numerous kiosks scattered around the lot to purchase entry tickets. The vendor sold us a package that included access to the ruins, a tour of the cave at Aktun Chen park, and snorkeling in a cenote for the “local” rate of 1,400 MXN (~90 CAD). I guess we didn’t look like wealthy tourists to have earned the discount from the original 1,700 MXN (~110 CAD) that we were initially quoted. We’re still not sure if we got a good deal, but we’ll take it for what it was.

    The Mayan ruins at Tulum are quite unique in that the site is well-preserved and is located at a beach. Unsurprisingly, it served as a seaport, trading mainly turquoise and jade. It was also one of the few Mayan cities protected by a wall. Some theories suggest that the wall was to keep out invaders, while others suggest that it was to keep out peasants as priests and nobility were housed within the walls. With its rolling hills and beautiful beach, it does seem like a place that would have been fit for royalty.

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    Tulum Ruins



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    Tulum Ruins



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    Ruins and the Beach



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    I guess signs don’t apply to stupid tourists?



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    Time for a Snack!



    After exploring the ruins, we had lunch at one of the restaurants at the site and then took a short ride to Aktun Chen where we were shuttled from the reception to the cave for our tour and snorkel session.

    The cave is one of the oldest in the Riviera Maya and is estimated to be around five million years old. It started out as a coral reef, then became a jungle when the coral died, then formed various minerals thanks to the acidity of the tropical rainfall, and was covered by limestone formations along the way. The tour is a guided one so no fear of getting lost. There are bats in the cave so it is important to listen to the guide and not make any sudden movements or noises to avoid aggravating them and getting bitten.

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    Cave Tour



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    Hardhats = Heads Intact



    There are two cenotes located in the cave – the first is just for admiration and the second one is for swimming. For those who are unfamiliar, a cenote is a natural sinkhole that results from the collapsing of limestone bedrock that exposes the groundwater underneath. Mexico is famous for a plethora of cenotes, many of which you can swim in and usually at a small cost. The water was clear and had harmless little freshwater fish swimming about. The temperature of the water was cool enough to be refreshing without being cold and made for a delightful swim.

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    The First Cenote



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    The Second Cenote



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    Snorkeling Biker



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    Swimming with the Fishies



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    Oh, hello there!



    After the swim, we decided to explore the city center of Tulum. Upon seeing nothing to pique our interest, we rode through the main street of the city and headed for the beach area that houses numerous boutique hotels, restaurants, and price tags to match. The area was gorgeous with its thatched-roof structures and fairy lights strung everywhere. This was another one of those areas where the only locals to be seen were hotel and restaurant employees, while all the patrons were foreigners.

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    Time for some dinner under fairy lights



    We shared a delicious seafood paella for dinner before returning to Playa del Carmen.
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  19. roadcapDen

    roadcapDen Ass, Grass or Gas, no free rides.

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    Nice, I'd like to be an expat down there someday, guess l should get on the bike and look for cheap and warm area's.
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  20. peergum

    peergum Been here awhile

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    Days 150 – 158: Home for the Holidays
    We spent all of Wednesday in our apartment and then on Thursday evening, we flew back to Vancouver to spend the holidays at home with the family. Our first day back happened to be my brother’s birthday so we had some decadent chocolate cake, rested up, and took care of some mundane, but necessary tasks. It was cold and grey, as it is most of the year in Vancouver, so we stayed in as much as we could and enjoyed the fireplace at my parents’ place.

    On Christmas eve, we joined my cousin, Amenda, and my friend, Cailey, for a delightful hot pot lunch as hot pot is not easy to come by in Mexico. Afterwards, we joined another cousin, Alisha, to go to the Vancouver Christmas Market. The market is German-themed and is put up in Vancouver every year; however, it was the first time that Phil and I went. The market was nice, but small and took less than an hour to go through. We had some mulled wine to warm up before returning home where my brother had prepared a turkey dinner with all the trimmings.

    Christmas day was spent indoors, watching Christmas movies, and feasting on leftovers. It doesn’t sound exciting, but I consider it a good Christmas

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    Vancouver Christmas Market



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    Christmas Eve Dinner



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    Mandatory Christmas Day Shot



    Alisha had corralled a group of people and made arrangements for us to go snowshoeing on Mount Seymour on Boxing Day. It takes about 45 minutes to an hour to get to the top of the mountain and the view from the top is absolutely breath-taking (despite the fact that I was freezing to death). We were lucky that we had a real photographer with us in the form of our family friend, Jeremy Thomas. All the beautiful photos below were taken by him (hence the absence of our trusty watermark), so enjoy and then go check out his incredible work at jeremythomasphotography.com.

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    Pre-snowshoeing



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    The Noobs



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    The Veterans



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    Snowy Trees



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    Path to the Top



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    Snowshoer in the Snow



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    View from the Top



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    Victory Shot



    Late evening on the 27th, we left Vancouver and returned to Playa del Carmen in the late morning of the 28th. After some much needed shut-eye, we joined our friend Jeannie and her supper club buddies for dinner at Romeo, an Italian restaurant where I ate one of the best pasta dishes I’ve ever had. Douse me with truffle oil.