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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by LoneStar, Sep 7, 2017.
Livin' La Vida Loca ...........................
I Like the National Geographic style photo's.
Copán and the ruins have been a nice surprise. The little town has had some great little surprises and despite a few fears from the general warnings of how dangerous Honduras is, it quickly dissipated with the warmth and friendly smiles. Of course, Copán is considered a "safe" area being a tourist town.
That said, my timing for arrival couldn't have been worse, as apparently Honduras decided to combine all their individual holidays into one week so that people had vacation time. At least that's what I was told. Therefore the streets were crowded with parked cars everywhere and the hotel were booked. I'd found a private room in a hostel for my second night, the upshot being that it opened into the lobby and had no airflow unless the door was open. That evening I had enjoyed the company of several folks who couldn't resist popping into an open door, only to a vision of Gringo Gigantica they'll never be able to wash out of their minds.
The next morning dawned sunny and with blue skies, something I'd rarely seen on this trip. Much of my plans have been foiled due to rains - Panajachel was so bad I couldn't take the boats to San Pedro and the other little towns, Antigua had such bad weather I never even saw the active volcano the entire week I was there, and Tikal was canceled due to the tropical storm.
I grabbed a tour to the Ruinas, packed into a minibus with several backpackers, but more importantly with a guide. Entry into the park was lush with many brilliantly colored macaws fluttering overhead, their reds and blues contrasting against the greenery and blue sky.
The Mayan ruins were superb, and our guide pumped so much information to us that I could have stayed all day. Explanations of the culture, religion and history of the site. It was the best $25 I've spent on this trip. The ruins are known for how well preserved much of the stelae are and it's an accessible site that isn't overwhelming in scope.
This is the actual sacrificial stone where an official would be beheaded after a ball game. The head was set in the round depression and the blood flowed down the curved trenches. The stone is in the shape of the rubber ball used in the game. The death differed in that the losers weren't sacrificed, but a royal official from the town. It was considered a high honor to be chosen. Hmmm. Sounds like a marketing ploy to me.
I followed the tour with a trip to the onsite museum for another $7 and it was well worth it. Definitely see the museum where so much of the original pieced are in pristine condition.
The tuk tuk back to town was split with another explorer, a Kiwi lady who'd been traveling solo for a year. She had traveled the world as a conservator and we were both struck as to how Asian the designs appeared to be. She commented on some things that were almost identical to some Maori things she'd seen.
I was enjoying the sunshine but it came with a 95º price tag. It seems the two choices are either rain, gloom and 70º, or sunshine, blue skies and 95º. Nature picks your poison.
I've also been surprised that Honduras accepts and uses US dollars and credit cards, besides Guatemalan quetzals. In Guatemala and Mexico, dollars are verboten and credit card use is limited. The gas stations in Guat accept them easily but not Mexico.
Next morning I slowly packed up for the road, my stomach rumbling and something that felt like a brick sitting in my intestines. My first real "laundry" was running late, quite welcome after multiple soap and shower washings that mask the smell only until you put them back on. I retrieved the bike from the side lot and took the time waiting to air out the side cases from the sour water smell of the penetrating rain and actually washed the windshield so I could see again. By the time everything was in order I was already drenched from the blistering sun and climbed on, looking desperately for a breeze.
Rolled out of a town awakening on a slow Sunday morning, to smiles and whistles about the big GS. Street vendors were already selling vegetables on the sidewalks and setting up what appeared to be a market. Quickly I was on the twisting roads out in the scenery, passing old and ratty dwellings of small villages, but the views were great. The road and traffic were immensely better than Guatemala. I passed horseman after horseman, cowboy hats and boots intact, tarps laid out on the roadside in the hot sun, covered with either ears or kernels of corn drying in the sun. Men and children with machetes and huge bundles of firewood carried on backs. Pines trees and banana trees mixed on hillsides and mountains, a combination I'd never imagined to see.
The previous couple of days, I'd heard what I thought were arguments on the street between people, but later discovered that the way Spanish is spoken there seems to be very loud and more forceful than what I've heard. In fact the same morning outside my hostel room, I heard a man and woman having a conversation that seemed angry, their voices raised and gruff. I peered out the shower window to see them smiling and giving hugs as they ended their talk. Interesting.
My goal for the day was either the town of Gracias, if the roads took longer and also if my stomach party became a party pooper, or Comayagua, roughly half way across Honduras. As I rode, the scenery was stunningly beautiful. I thought Guatemala was pretty, but I was treated to huge vistas of valleys and mountains. The roads were soooooo much better than Guat, that I dared not complain about the potholes which were only in short stretches. I actually had time to see scenery since the traffic was nil, even though this was supposed to be the worst day with tourists returning home, and the road conditions were smooth and easy.
The GS was rocking and rolling, riding fast and enjoying the weather and scenery, and maybe more the lack of stress and terrible roads. There's no feeling like the big 1200 loaded and heeled over going fast, the Heidenau howling in the curves. At one point, I hit about a 20 mile stretch of silky smooth new concrete highway that swept and twisted through the mountains. It was like buttah. So far, Honduras has been the prettiest country I've ridden this trip. Mix Guatemala, northern Arizona and a bit of Colorado together and enjoy the ride.
Honduras, at least in the part I've covered is definitely a cowboy country. The men dress in western style clothes and cowboy hats, horse and saddles everywhere and I was quite surprised. Never knew of that culture here.
One thing they do appreciate is the big bike. Everywhere along the way, whether guys in the back of pickups, on the roadside, gas stations, car and bus drivers, they honk, whistle, wave or flash their lights with big smiles and thumbs up. My favorite is sort of a NFL referee move where they extend both arms out to their sides, pointing index fingers and swinging arms down to the ground. They do love seeing the bike and more than anywhere I've been.
There have been a lot of military and police checkpoints but no interest in stopping me thankfully. One thing I've noticed is that churches don't dominate the culture and towns I've been through as they do in Mexico or Guat. I was told by an experienced traveler that Honduras was the asshole of Central America. So far I've found it to the prettiest and quite friendly. You definitely can tell seeing bikes and guys from the US is very rare however.
I was contacted by Christina and Jules, the French Canadians, late last night. They and Charlie are heading out for El Salvador and the coastal route today and I will spend another day in Honduras before crossing into Nicaragua. We'll try to meet up in Leon or Granada most likely and look forward to seeing the crew again.
You may already know that in some areas of CA men typically address one another in the formal case.
The informal is considered, errrrrm, intimate, so to speak.
As a Gringo traveler you'd probably be let off using the informal.
Enjoying your RR immensely. My turn should come up soon.
Actually, I didn't know that but at least they can recognize stupid-on-a-stick coming their way...
I've only met a couple of disgusted people on this entire trip who were snippy that I didn't speak the language. The Kiwi lady and I had a discussion in the tuk ride about not speaking Spanish and we both admitted to being a bit twisted and enjoying not being able to. Understand that it's far better to be able to, and I sure as hell wish I could, but we both found that the human interaction is far more engaging when both are trying hard to communicate. It's hard to splain lol.
When are you heading south?
In a further discussion with the neozelandés lady, the subject came around to the fatigue of solo travel. Moreso the pyschic burden of coordinating it all. I think Canuck Charlie is well acquainted with it too. Sometimes the fatigue is unequal to the physical expenditure. I'm discovering that decent hotels are becoming more important than expected and I'm spending more than budgeted but I don't care. Camping isn't even on the horizon here based on rain and heat. Unfortunately I'm finding hotels much higher here than Mexico. The roads and traffic take their toll quickly and the day disappears very fast. I find myself hitting towns at dark, exhausted and just not in the mood to go to 5 or 6 seeking the best price. Online hotel apps only have a few selections and usually high prices. It's a game and I'm finding out not to try for destinations more than 4 hours. Central America has a thousand ways to delay you - weather, strikes, road damage, traffic and much more.
This is what I've long suspected about long distance, long term motorcycle touring, and I am unsure of my ability to enjoy the upside when the going gets tough. You are one tough fella Joe, and I dip my hat to you.
Gotta couple of fly-n-rides next Spring and Fall so after that.
Will do my usual EOY Mexico ride after Christmas. 17 days.
Joseph--I've taken to following your route as best I can on Google Maps so Jay and I can enjoy being there in spirit. From the photos and your description I agree that Honduras is the best country so far. We've only been to Roatan on the Caribbean coast and were surprised by the Americanization with BoJangles and Burger King being there. Have you run into any of that, other than the requisite Coca-Cola and some Pepsi-Cola brands.
There is a photo in the latest report looking down a street. The photo is B&W. Did you shoot it on the A6000 in B&W or did you LR it? If you LR'ed it I would be curious to know your settings sometime when you can share.
Continued safe journey.....we're hanging on by the edge of our seats waiting for the next Storytime w/Lonestar.
Well today was relatively easy! The roads were very good with only 5 miles here and there of potholes, but overalI the highway was great. I also found out the tollway sections are free for motorcycles but you have to squeeze between the bar and I barely got through the two. I did notice more military presence than expected. Every couple of miles three or four soldiers were stationed, some up high observing the roadways. There were a number of police stops in the smaller towns, and they made me a bit more nervous due to their gun handling. There they'd stand with a folding stock battle rifle, holding it in one hand with a finger on the trigger. Firearms training didn't seem to part of their schooling.
I looped around Tegulcigapa on the Anillo Periferico and got a view of the enormous city surrounded by mountains. I was pleasantly surprised at how much I was riding in mountains and pines. This country really is a beautiful one. Anyway, I was glad to avoid what would likely have been a couple of extra hours and a pound of diesel particulate in my lungs. I dodged a couple of serious showers on the way and once out of the fringe of traffic towards Danli, the road got much worse as to condition but all my training in Guatemala paid off When traveling on the bike, I ride hard and fast, pushing much more than I should maybe, but it's a lot of fun at the same time. Though I'm not paranoid, I do feel it's better to move quickly and I zing through villages and little towns. I figure it's better to be a moving target rather than dawdle. Folks seem so surprised to see the beast blow by, but I'd rather be perceived as a fast moving spectre than a someone easy to target. Plenty of time to dawdle when I arrive
Made my destination by 3 and found a cool old hotel with courtyard. Much more rustic and original than some of the newer places, and to top it off, the owner has a few old Honda's around the place for decor. This one's just outside my room and I don't know old Honda's but if they actually made this how cool a bike is that!
Luckily I beat the rain by 30 minutes or so. Danli is an authentic town with no tourist bullshit and I enjoyed the crazy traffic and streets. People were coming up to the bike at stops and smiling and waving. It was a lot of fun being in the congestion. I stopped in a place to eat and everyone in the joint smiled and made me feel welcome cause...
"I'm Good Enough, I'm Smart Enough, and Doggone It, People Like Me!"
Well maybe not, but people are very friendly here and excited to see a gringo on a moto. Having fun with it!
When I checked in, there was a large group of women sitting outside my room discussing things and smiling brightly at me. It turned out they were having a mini Avon convention which in my twisted thinking was what I was guessing, but it turned out to be true.
Rain came hard and heavy all afternoon, finally lightening up about 6:30 so I slipped out in the dark to find something to eat. What I found were quiet streets with little lighting and almost everything closed. Any places that were open had armed guards, but I found one little shop with a couple of bags of chips and bottled water for my evening meal. I didn't relish wandering any further in the dark.
Lol I bet you are...
Thanks for asking because today I was reminding myself to post a map.
As to the b&w pics, those are from my little friend, the Lumix ZS-50. I try to keep it on me and if I feel a bad vibe with the bigger cameras. It's just the B&W setting on the camera and it also spits out a raw file I can use in color if I prefer.
Honduras is far more Americanized than I expected. Not that it's much but it is far more than Guatemala or Mexico. The big Texaco stations and similar have snacks and the whole country seems to accept credit cards. I see Burger King, Chester's Fried Chicken, Dunkin Donuts, Baskin Robbins and such but they tend to be in a cluster. Walmart outside Tegulci fenced off like a penitentiary. I feel like if I I don't have local currency and only dollars or a credit card I could get by. Very surprised to feel more at home in Honduras than the other two.
Sounds great bro!
Balanda, wish I could wear the tough hat but I don't think it fits. Appreciate it though!
It's all a mind game, and if you've lost a lot of your mind you're already ahead of the game. It's not as hard as it might seem. The root of humanity is fear and we all live in it in various forms, but it drives everything if you really analyze it. I finally stopped saying "no" when I realized that life is just a choice of two words. If I say no, I walk down one path. If I say yes, I walk down another. Been down too many "no" paths that led to complacency and life in invisible prisons.
I think the old saying of how to eat an elephant is as accurate a way to describe a long trip like this as any. If I look at a map and try to swallow all the miles, countries and potential issues, it's damn overwhelming. Like many I spent a couple of years collecting information from here and other places, compiling lists and information to the point it seemed like I was building the Great Wall of China and with my OCD nature it got to where it seemed like a real burden to keep it straight and planned. Go here, Do this. Don't do that. It was starting to feel oppressive and I learned a while back that the adventure is finding your way and following the winds that blow as you go. It's not that I don't use common sense, but I have far more fun when I'm not sweating bullets, as if there is a certain way it must be done. For that reason I chucked the whole plan. Now it''s a general direction and seeking information as I go.
If I go this road, something interesting will come along. If I go that one, something interesting will come along. If somebody local says "Don't go down that road!", I don't. If you get out of the box in life, adventure will find you, you don't have to look for it. I could have stayed in Dallas, or Kerrville, eating Twinkies and crying over The Hallmark Channel (oops have I said too much!) but just saying "yes" to traveling has given me friends around the world now, from Alaska to Europe and all in a short period of time. How many more friendships and enriching people would my life have had if I'd followed that path sooner. How many others will I have as friends when this trip is done? Otherwise another year would be gone and my life wouldn't have changed a bit.
My great regret is that I didn't say yes soon enough. My hat's off to CanuckCharlie for doing this at 32 and embarking on an unknown voyage early in life. Travel alone or with others. Travel short distances or long ones, it doesn't matter. I tell guys to ride a mile to Starbuck's (if they're on a GS). Then just ride another. Then another. Eventually you'll be in Alaska. Freezing yer ass off if you didn't bring warm clothes I might add
Put all your fears in a waterproof bag on top of your sidecase and play with them at night in the hotel room if you want. Just don't let them stop you.
One last thing, as to solo travel and the mental fatigue, there are moments when you think WTF am I doing? They fade as you go and are replaced by Why didn't I always do this? Dips in spirit are lifted by the little things such as people waving at you and the interest you can't help but get, and the bigger things like meeting new friends like Jules and Christina, and Charlie. I'm reminded of a line in the Michael Mann movie "Heat", where DeNiro says "I am alone. But I am not lonely." It's fitting for solo travel.
Sorry for the long ramble Balanda, it wasn't directed at you
By the way, I chuckle when I see your avatar. That actor's character portrayal in the movie was great!
“Planning is everything, the plan is nothing.” - Dwight D. Eisenhower
I hope to give my trip another time and I can see striving for your attitude would be helpful, thanks for the insights.
Can relate to the thought of "wtf am i doing" haha
Mind if i ask what the average cost of accomodation is per night in central america? Thinking of doin my own trip next yr....
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Not a long ramble at all Joe, and the depth of insight is priceless to someone like me. I'll be calling it to mind as the self doubts bubble up again. Thanks!
Oh yeah, ya gotta love the Toecutter, "Cundalini wants his hand back"
very well said!
"Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain." - Frank Herbert.
Hey bro! Let's see - Mexico good hotels are $15-25 roughly for an average but you can spend way more of course. AirBNB can be found for maybe a little less $10 a night for a room in a home and 25-30 for a nicer place.
Guatemala the hostels were $8 ish and my hotel in Panajachel was about $22. Casa Elena in Antigua (Harvey and Diane's great BNB) is really nice and $25 a night if you're on a motorcycle. Everyone else pays $50 (woohoo Harvey!)
Honduras the hostels are 7-8 but I paid $27 for my grotto room in Copan, then $45 the second night for a private hostel room :O. It was a case of high tourist week so everything was booked and marked up.
I usually try and find the best price by hitting several hotels in each town or using AirBNB, but haven't done so on this portion. Booking.com is used by a lot of people but I find their prices high rather than walk ups. I'm trying to stay on budget of $50 a day (hopefully less) but sometimes it's higher and other's lower. The Butterfly and I did 3 months in Mexico and averaged about $35 a day there. So far Mexico has been the best combination of bang for the buck - beautiful, interesting, good roads and inexpensive.
My route in Guat and Honduras has been the typical tourist roads so of course prices are higher. If you get off the beaten path and stay in small towns I'm sure the hotel rates would be much less.
Gas to fill up the Adventure is usually about $28 for Premium and that's roughly 7 gallons US