Latin America!

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by bananaman, Jan 15, 2008.

  1. bananaman

    bananaman transcontimental

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    Do you really want to read this?

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    Latin America!

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    January 15, 2008: I have always always always always wanted to do this. I have no guarantee that it will end well. I am hoping for a grand adventure. I define "adventure" as an attempt to get into an unkown amount of trouble, then get out without being busted.

    I am right now in San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico. Barb and I arrived around 8 last night. Oops- we rode the mountains in the dark! Please don´t tell our mothers.

    It´s been almost 3000 odometer miles since last Monday, so we´re taking a day off from riding. Today is for laundry and checking the bikes over.

    log entry: "January 5, 2008. 1:54 PM, Madison, WI. 29,817
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    4:53 PM Mendota, IL. 29,948. -very slow going. Fog from Madison to Beloit. Thunderstorms in Beloit. Thunderstorms now."

    I rode untl about 8 PM and had to stop for the night. Too many thunderstorms. Tornado watch. The weather channel showed a tornado south-west of me. It was a tremendous frontal system. I ended up riding 1000 miles of rain, thunderstorms, and tornados. Near Osceola, Arkansas, I think I rode under a funnel cloud. I stopped at the next rest area, and two people in cars said we missed an actual tornado by less than five minutes! I guess a town just off the highway got flattened, or something.

    Riding south from Madison Wisconsin United States of America in the beginning of January just isn´t very easy.

    I found Barb in Austin. I don´t count the ride from Madison to Austin as "adventure riding." It was just a pain in the butt. The real adventure started south of San Antonio.

    It took a little while to get out of Texas. Barb´s KLR had a nasty speed-wobble. Probably from being tied down too tight for the trailer ride from Denver. The dealer in McAllen did a fantastic job for her.

    Adventure night 1: Three-Rivers, Texas.

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    Adventure night 2: Santo La Marina, Mexi

    Before I left- actually as I was leaving- I posted a little note over in Outer Darkness. Here it is again, from January 7, 2008, 1:42 PM.

    (post-ride Edit: the brand-new SPOT didn't work as advertised. It hardly worked at all. It was a total waste of money.)

    January 10, 2008, 8:42 PM, I added this entry, still over in Outer Darkness.
    #1
  2. bananaman

    bananaman transcontimental

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    Our equipment.

    This is like a study in contrasts, BMW R1100GS on one side, Kawasaki 650 KLR on the other. 90/10 rode/off-road tires on mine, TKC 50/50 tires on Barb´s. Both bikes do the job perfectly. I call it a tie.

    I did a practice ride in Mexico on my old R1100RS of about 1000 miles last spring. Then I went home and made a list of exactly what I wanted for this ride. I bought a clean and basic 1996 R1100GS. The only nice things it had when I got it were ABS and heated grips. I added a few things: touratech 11 gallon tank, aeroflow wind screen, touratech hard parts and steering stop, wunderlich foot guards and oil lock, piaa head lamps, zega cases, givi top case, and an RID from beemer-boneyard. Between us we´ve got two garmin 60CSX GPS units, a SPOT tracker, a satelite phone, a PLB, a laptop, and three i-pods. We´ve got several contradictory maps, a lonely planet guide, and some notes from friends and this here internet thing. We wear enough goretex to make a space suit (and we still get a little wet). We carry warm sleeping bags and strong tents, iodine tablets and water filters. We´ve noted every precaution you can read about in Outer Darkness. We need better boots. We need bigger side-cases. We need we need we need...

    Actually we are both completely satisfied with our bikes and equipment. There are times when Barb wishes she had the power of my big BMW, and there are times when I wish I had the nimbleness of Barb´s KLR. In the end, it's a personal decision, but we both wish we could have the best of both. Could someone please call BMW and ask them to fedex us two 800 GS's?

    Barb´s KLR is almost stock. She added a custom seat, a bigger windshield, aluminum side cases, and a lowering kit. Her idea is to ride a bike that she can get fixed anywhere in Latin America. My idea is to ride a bike that doesn´t break (ha ha) but just-in-case, I´ve got a fully-stocked BMW shop (and parts department) in my side cases.
    #2
  3. GB

    GB . Administrator

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    What a fantastic journey... thanks for the report and pics and looking forward to following you on this great adventure :thumb

    :lurk :lurk
    #3
  4. 2betterthan4

    2betterthan4 Adventurer

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    Hello Barbara and Bananaman!

    Great pics so far, keep them coming!


    I'm a friend of Barbara's and got her first update email today. I found this thread and scrounged up my old advrider account so I could post.

    Happy Adventuring!

    :D


    Ian
    #4
  5. Charles Seguin

    Charles Seguin Noob4Life

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    :nod

    Looks like a helluva ride. Gonna do my own South America ride this fall so I'll be watching yer thread closely.
    #5
  6. bananaman

    bananaman transcontimental

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    Hey Charles- if there's anything you want us to look out for, or tell you about, or just plain lie about, just ask.

    Hey Ian- I'll tell Barb you're an inmate. Could you explain things to Gadget Boy?

    Quick update: you gotta pay the Indians if you want to take their picture. I paid $10, which is ten pesos, which is about a dollar. But they wouldn't smile. I wouldn't either. That's because here, I'm a giant. Everyone knows GIANTS don't smile.

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    Getting this far in this many days has been a combination of quota riding and libre riding, meaning toll roads and free roads. Free roads mean battling with everything from dogs to goats to cars packed with way too many people and always there's someone with no brake lights practically stopped at the speed bumps. Most times we pass at the speed bumps, because we can take them at 10 to 20 mph, while trucks and buses and many cars practically stop. You see the most interesting things on the free roads but they're the most exhausting. On the toll roads we still have to do battle (BATTLE!) but at least there ain't no speed bumps. The downside is the cost and lack of sight-seeing opportunities. We must have spent at least US$100 on tolls. Just from Veracruz to San Cristobal de las Casas I think we each paid US$50. Sometimes it's super fun to ride the free roads, but other times we just want to get somewhere. Even the toll roads don't let us cover a ton of miles a day. I'd guess that covering a mile in Mexico is about twice as hard for me as a mile in the US. And the miles add up!

    We're both getting more comfortable with the new-ness of this trip. Sorry I haven't had many good pics yet. Part of that is because of the weather, but part of it is from not being in a good comfort-zone. I haven't been able to do any type of riding since October, and Barb hadn't been on her KLR since summer. I'm still not in a rythm of knowing where all my stuff is stuffed in the cases and bags. I keep forgetting to re-stock my fake wallet. Taking the malaria pill in the morning isn't habit yet. But I'm starting to feel a groove coming on. Yep. Things are gonna start to flow, baby! Guatemala tomorow!

    How far away to we have to be from The States to start saying "Back in the States..." I'm thinking we're almost there. How are things "back in the States?" We hear news but it's all so... "back in the States."

    Like, Back in the States I can carry my laptop around and use any old hotspot I can hack into. Here I feel lucky to have found an internet cafe with a workable keyboard and reasonable download times.
    #6
  7. Katsumoto

    Katsumoto Adventurer

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    Location:
    Tabasco, Mexico

    :lurk
    #7
  8. damasovi

    damasovi Long timer

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    Amigos the best of luck in your adventure, I too will be reading 'cause I will like to see what you live here in my land and the rest of our Latin America...


    Saludos and eat, drink and drive all you can

    Damasovi
    #8
  9. Klay

    Klay dreaming adventurer

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    right here on my thermarest
    :lurk
    #9
  10. marior97

    marior97 marior97

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    Great adventure youre living, you guys going through El Salvador ??
    if you r give me a call 78336338
    #10
  11. Charles Seguin

    Charles Seguin Noob4Life

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    Just hoping you're gonna do a road test in Colombia and Guatemala for me...
    :jose
    #11
  12. bananaman

    bananaman transcontimental

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    The road from San Cristobal de las Casas to Comitan is fantastic. High- 6000 to 8000 feet, and twisty, and good pavement as long as you stay on it. From Comitan to the crossing at La Masilla it's still good. Thanks to pilot for the recomendation- crossing into Guatemala was a breeze. It felt like a real frontier type of place. Wild West.

    We made Huehuetenango by 5 and had to quit for the day. I was up for trying to reach Lake Atitlan, but riding in the dark in Guatemala probably isn't a good idea. Now we're in Solola, Guatemala.

    Today we were almost held-up by banditos (some witnesses called them Ladrones), and my front brake is leaking. Other than that the weather is awesome and the riding is beautiful. The food is good and cheap. The beer (gallo) tastes like water. Or am I that thirsty?

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    This truck had just tipped over. By the time we got stopped, someone else had gotten the driver out and put him in the backseat of a car. I made them move the car because gas was pouring onto the pavement- Va a explotar! I said, but it didn't. I did a rapid body survey and palpated sharp pain in the lower lumbar, and upper abdomen on both sides. I got help to lie him down in the back seat and told him to lie very still. His pulse was 120 and a little thready. Not good. A cop showed up and I told him he needed to get the driver to the hospital ASAP. The cop said an ambulance was on the way. I did not want them to wait for an ambulance, but I'm not arguing with a Guatemalan cop. Then Barb and I noticed three men walking toward us- two with pistols drawn, one carrying a shotgun. Go Quickle, I said. Barb said I AM. So we walked, mounted up, and left. But just before we noticed the bad guys, one of the other witnesses said that the driver had been assaulted by ladrones, he tried to evade them, and ended up rolling his truck. He's fucked.


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    Landslides!

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    This was trying to park this darn big thing.
    #12
  13. 2betterthan4

    2betterthan4 Adventurer

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    Wow! The adventure has really begun!

    Glad you got outa there before a run-in with the Banditos... :gun1


    Great pics!

    How many people did it take to pick up the laden beast?


    Tell Barbara "Hi" for me :D


    Ian
    #13
  14. bongodave

    bongodave Intellectual

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    Que gran aventura. Pinche ladrones! Putos!

    Que les vaya bien, amigos.

    Vieron el "Sub" en San Cristobal de las Casas?
    #14
  15. Charles Seguin

    Charles Seguin Noob4Life

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    :eek1

    What happened to the cop, or was he in on it? Smart move getting out of there... Looks like you'll get all the adventure you signed up for amigo.

    Gautemala and Colombia are the two countries I'm worried about riding... be watching closely.
    #15
  16. bananaman

    bananaman transcontimental

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    Now I'm in Guatemala City. Barb stayed on Lake Atitlan. Wow is that an amazing lake. For $25 you can dive it, but adding altitude diving to this trip is more than I need, danger'wise.

    If you ever get a chance, stay at La Iguana in Santa Cruz on Lake Atitlan. Barb liked it so much she decided to stay. Maybe she'll catch up? Maybe I'll wait? Mabye the Max&Barb part of the ride is over? Why hasn't Ian explained the whole How Max And Barb Happened To Ride Together thing?

    The ride from Panajachel was uneventuful. Now the old red (it looks black, but my old GS is actually red) bike is at the dealer here. They want US$500 to fix the brakes. Guess what I told them. All I need is a little rubber gasket. Tomorow they are either replacing the gasket of I'm putting it back together, wrapping some paper towels around it, and riding to Panama.

    Guatemala City- so at the dealership, where they also service cars, there were two guys standing at each end. One keeping lookout, one getting into a brand new big BMW. I tried to talk to the lookout guy. He had two very large pistols- one in a holster, one in his back pocket. He would NOT let me photograph him. After they left, another customer started to laugh at me. Why? asked I. NARCOS, he said. NARCOS! So if you see a guy with a big big big gun, don't pull a Borat and start asking him why shooting is the most popular sport in Guatemala.

    I have no solutions for the political or social problems here. The indians around lake Atitlan speak 11 totally different dialects. The problems here are as bad as in Bosnia.

    But it sure is beautiful!
    #16
  17. doc_ricketts

    doc_ricketts Thumper jockey

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    Outstanding. Waiting for more so don't get your butt shot off too soon, OK?
    #17
  18. bananaman

    bananaman transcontimental

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    On my way in a momet to the BMW dealer...

    Barb is going to try to catch up. She's on her way from Lago Atitlan and she plans to meet up at the dealership. I hope my bike will be ready soon.

    This town reminds me a lot of Panama City, except this Guatemala City is twice as big and has a lot more noise and diesel smoke. My guess is that the mountains keep the smog from escaping.

    Last night in the shower it took half an hour of scrubing just to get the grime off my neck. Once I was done I realized I should have used some brake fluid instead of soap.

    I'm usually very careful with brake fluid but yesterday trying to source the leak more definitively I got some on my screw driver handle and the handle started to turn to pudding.
    #18
  19. pdedse

    pdedse paraelamigosincero

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    Guate is an unbelievable city to drive / ride in! Once, I asked directions at least 10 times to get somewhere wondering if anyone knew and then a guy on a side street draws a map on a napkin that pinpointed the exact turns I needed for miles. I kept the map!

    Enjoying your posts and hope your bike gets fixed. Let's see, YOU bought the BMW because you could get it fixed anywhere in Latinamerica and SHE decided on the KLR because it wasn't supposed to have issues, or...was it the other way around?? :evil (sorry, couldn't resist)
    #19
  20. GSdiablo

    GSdiablo cubical farmer

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    Enjoying your posts and hope your bike gets fixed. Let's see, YOU bought the BMW because you could get it fixed anywhere in Latinamerica and SHE decided on the KLR because it wasn't supposed to have issues, or...was it the other way around?? :evil (sorry, couldn't resist)[/quote]


    It does appear you tempted the "breakdown fairy" with your brand bias earlier statement.:evil Loving the report so far so keep it coming!!!
    If and when you have time can you answer acouple of bike questions?
    How many miles on your big red?
    Did you ever change the brake fluid?Hoses? (I have the same bike and have not)
    Last question. What can you do in taking off a gas tank, that can insure, that the bike won't start? (I know, I'm just being mean, but its fricken 14 below zero as I type:vardy)
    #20