Ed on Sabbatical riding Central America

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by edstoll, Mar 19, 2016.

  1. edstoll

    edstoll OPD-2019

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    I don't think this actually qualifies as a sabbatical but things were really slowing down at work so I began to think about what is next. I have wanted to see the Panama Canal for a long time now and my motorcycle seems to be willing so that seems like a most excellent thing to do. I have never been south of the U.S. border. I do not speak the language. I don't know what I am getting myself into but I am really excited about it. The canal is the goal and I also want to take some Spanish Immersion classes in Guatemala. I owe the ADV Rider website for my passion for motorcycle travel. I hope doing this report benefits others as well. I am going to try to do a "live" report for the first time. I hope I can do it. Give me a couple of days to get everything sorted and I will be on my way.
    #1
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  2. Seadragon16

    Seadragon16 Adventurer

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    Looking forward to hearing all about your experiences. We started in Canada in September, went down as far as Panama City and now we're in Honduras on our return trip north. The link to our report is in my sig if you want to see where we went. Amazing part of the world, you're going to have a great time!
    #2
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  3. Hootowl

    Hootowl Long timer

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    We're in San Cristobal de Las Cases (Chiapis) for the next 9 days if anyone is in town and wants to meet
    Richard
    #3
  4. Dracula

    Dracula Festina lente

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    Godspeed! I'll be lurking, looking forward to enjoy the pictures and narrative. :thumb
    #4
  5. WhicheverAnyWayCan

    WhicheverAnyWayCan Deaf Biker

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    :lurk
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  6. agplant

    agplant Ride Fast Travel Slo

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    subscribed :lurk
    #6
  7. waverunner800

    waverunner800 Adventurer

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    Ed...it's Doug. Forgot I had an account here. I'll keep an eye on Danger, your progress on Spot Tracker, and your report here....
    #7
  8. LittleEagle

    LittleEagle On&Off Road since '63

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    Considering something in roughly the same direction on a near-identical steed in the autumn, so will be following your progress with keen interest. All the best to you, amigo!
    #8
  9. edstoll

    edstoll OPD-2019

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    It's time to get this show on the road. First I need to introduce you to Danger.
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    I am not normally one to put a perfectly good motorcycle in the back of a pickup but I have a couple of good reasons to do it this time. I live in Iowa. It is still cold in Iowa and hauling the bike down to my friends house in San Antonio sounds like a good idea. Another reason is I tend to chase rabbits. In other words as I ride along and see a road, track or path heading off somewhere I get distracted and want to go see where it leads. Then another one appears and another and you get the idea. If I started riding from home I may never make it to Mexico. I really want to check south of the border off my list so a direct haul to south Texas makes sense.
    #9
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  10. edstoll

    edstoll OPD-2019

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    I did some quick research and after being about 30% prepared for a trip like this I took off. I made a beeline to my high school friend Dougs house in San Antonio. I forgot to get a picture of Doug. Maybe I can rectify that when I get back to his house. He was gracious enough to allow me to leave Danger with him until I get back. Thanks Doug it's much appreciated. The trip down in Danger had a little adventure with it. The carrier bearing started acting up so I made a few stops to spray chain lube on it. I wasn't too worried after all I had alternative transportation in the back.

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    #10
  11. edstoll

    edstoll OPD-2019

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    Before Doug got home unloaded the bike and did a little exploring of San Antonio.

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    #11
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  12. edstoll

    edstoll OPD-2019

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    Took off early from San Antonio and headed for Larado. I stopped in Larado to buy Mexico insurance and change some money. The lady at Sanborn Insurance set me up and provided some very useful information. After stopping at a bank and changing $310.56 into 5000 pesos I took off over the bridge. Rolled right past the Mexico authorities and then got lost trying to get to the Importation building. I ended up at a toll gate. I ask the guy at the booth where I go to import me and my bike. This was the first of my problems with the language barrier. Not understanding each other I gave him the 13 pesos for the toll and went on to find myself in line with all of other vehicles trying to cross into North America. I did a u-turn and headed back across into Mexico. I knew from the lady at Sanborns that I had to find the river road that wrapped around down under the bridge. I could see the building I needed to go to and tried again. I ended up back at the toll booth to go to North America. I found a Mexican Official to help me. Still a massive language barrier but we figured it out. I back tracked a little going the wrong way and then seen signs ( in spanish) that helped. I finally made it to customs.
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    #12
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  13. edstoll

    edstoll OPD-2019

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    I have been working on learning Spanish. I know a few words and hope to learn a lot more while here. as I write this I am on my third day in Mexico and I can tell you it sure would be nice to be able to converse in spanish.

    The importation of the bike went pretty smooth. This lady helped with filling out my documents.

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    The signs were in Spanish but I was able to determine where to start and the guy at window one let me know to do window 2 and 4. Window 2 is where the copies were made and 4 provided all of the documents. It all took less than an hour. Nobody stamped my passport into Mexico. I hope I didn't miss a step. It cost a $300 U.S. deposit on my 2006 model year vehicle to make sure I take it back out of Mexico. There was also a $60 U.S. fee for that. They put that on my credit card. There was another document that had a 390 peso ($22) fee that they also put on my credit card. The border crossing was one of the things I had the most anxiety about. It actually went pretty well. I just don't know if I did everything right or not. Anyway I am in and it's a whole new world.

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    #13
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  14. edstoll

    edstoll OPD-2019

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    The first day in Mexico I took the advice from others and the Sanborn lady to get away from the border. I shot right down the toll road to Monterrey. The toll was 102 pesos ( $6 dollars ). I drove around Monterrey awhile. Big city. I don't care much for big cities anywhere. I am a rural Iowa boy and I much prefer rural areas. One of my other anxiety's about this trip is overnight accommodations. I normally have my tent and sleeping bag on long motorcycle trips. I decided to leave that home this time. I wanted to secure a place to stay overnight early so I didn't have to worry about it. I don't remember the name of the place but it is on the south side of Monterrey along Highway 85. I don't recommend it.

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    I rode in and ask the lady about a room. Language barrier again. I tried using my translator app on my phone. It helped some. I gave her 200 pesos ($12) for the room. I then found out that was for 4 hours. I guess this hotel is used for other things than normal over night accommodations. Being new to the country and not having a good handle on things I just wanted to be sure I had a place to hole up. After a little negotiation I ended up paying 350 pesos ($20) and I got the room until 10 the next day. Wonderful room with no electrical outlets, the only light was in the bathroom and the rooms door lock was broken. When I ask the lady about the door lock she showed me how to shove the love seat against the door for the night. It did have a tv but the cords were all cut and hanging.
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    I could go on.... but it was a place to stay for the night.
    #14
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  15. edstoll

    edstoll OPD-2019

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    I went out on foot to find supper. I came across a pretty nice strip mall. It was three stories tall giving me a nice view of the city.
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    Had a great burger and a huge Tecate and was able to use wifi to check in via Facebook Messenger.

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    On the walk back to the room I came across a shoe cobbler. I haven't seen anyone repairing shoes for a long time now. Does anyone still do it?

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    My brother should adopt this method of pizza delivery. Oh wait the weather in Iowa could be a problem.

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    The days stats.

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    #15
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  16. edstoll

    edstoll OPD-2019

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    Day 2 in Mexico. I was up and out of Monterrey early. I skipped breakfast and coffee which is something I never do. It cost 206 pesos ($12 U.S.) to fill my bike with premium. I set out for Ciudad Victoria. I had seen around the border several official looking and marked black pickup trucks with several guys in the back. They had several LED red and blue lights flashing and the guys in the back were dressed in all black full on tactical gear. They all had their weapons at the ready. Being near the border I didn't think too much of it. This second day further in I am finding them everywhere. These guys look like they are on the way to serve warrants or do tactical entry or something. Actually they have their long guns pointed in several directions as they move about like they have a purpose. l would insert a picture but I was afraid to take one. Along the road at one point I came upon a semi truck accident. There were around a half dozen of these vehicles and their occupants there. Several had their helmets off and I could tell they were not all guys. I assume all of this is to combat the violence and they are truly bad ass looking. If this would have been around home everyone would be all in a dither wondering what is going on. I stooped to have a light lunch at a roadside stand.

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    Two excellent tacos and a coke 25 pesos ($1.50).

    Rode around Ciudad Victoria a little bit and then soldiered on. Since last nights room was a little below par I kinda splurged on tonights. I needed the rest and a good wifi connection to update this report. City Express in Tampico is a very nice place. 1200 pesos ($75). At the Desk Clerk's suggestion I ate at the Italian place very near by. Absolutely marvelous shrimp meal and 2 Tecates 300 pesos with tip ($18).
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    At the hotel my bike is the big gringo one with a cover.
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    The days stats.

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    Okay I think I am all caught up. I better go ride.
    #16
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  17. Max Wedge

    Max Wedge ADVenture mowing

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    Excellent report! I am in for the long haul. I like the no habla espanol angle. That is where I will be, so I have a keen interest on how you work things out.
    #17
  18. billmags

    billmags Scoot Jockey

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    I'm in as well, if I ever get the time and the cojones to do it - it would be like this. Have fun!
    Best/Bill
    #18
  19. fastring

    fastring Been here awhile

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    Thanks for taking us along, safe travels!
    #19
  20. hardroadking

    hardroadking Been here awhile

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    What bike cover and size are using? Does it pack up small? Have you been using it for awhile or did you get it just for this trip? If you could do it over, would you still pick this brand cover and size? thanks!
    #20