LoneStar's Adventure to South America

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by LoneStar, Sep 7, 2017.

  1. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus

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    Thanks Muffler! I'll do it

    And BTW if you or anyone else has suggestions for places to stay, eat or meet I'm all ears
  2. Coconut Cowboy

    Coconut Cowboy n00b

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    Fabulous stories and pictures. I'm following everyday. I am about 2 months behind you on a similar route, but staying in San Miguel De Allende for 2 weeks of Spanish school and Day of the Dead. Dallas through Laredo to San Luis Petosi, Guanajuato, SMA, Puebla, Coatzacoalcos, Palenque, San Cristobal, La Mesilla, Panajachel, Antigua, and continuing the lower route through El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and landing at Home in Costa Rica. I changed my Route after your difficulty through Oaxaca. Thanks for the heads up. Keep up the good work.
    I leave Costa Rica on October 8th and would be honored to offer you the guest house, dinner and adult beverages as long as you need rest, if you are here before then. We live 2 hours south of Jaco near Uvita. Your GPS will start working again here. Cheers to a life well done! Same for the other contributors.
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  3. BELSTAFF

    BELSTAFF ADV NOMAD

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    One thing I noticed was the difference in the sound of the countries you travel through on your quest south. Most all of Mexico has the brassiness of mariachi but further south you go you will notice the haunting sound of the "pan flute" that seems to transpose one into a felling of tranquility surrounded by rain forest. I have noticed this in Guatemalan & Peruvian music,it is mesmerizing in it's effect of peace in ones surroundings.The sound of many style flutes, an acoustic guitar & hand drum certainly stirs & calms the passion of the soul.
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  4. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus

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    Where else can a 60 mile trip on a "main" road take 4 hours, cross a mudslide, then boulders and rubble across the road up high in the mountains, dodging 999,999 potholes, ride in rains and clouds, and then a river crossing because the bridge was washed away? Guatemala!

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    Okay, since maps indicated roughly 60 miles and a two hour ride from Panajachel to Antigua, I took my time loading the bike, taking pics with the hotel staff of giggling girls and guys wanting to sit on the moto.

    I contacted Casa Elena as suggested by MufflerBearings and had a room waiting in Antigua (Great place btw and thanks Muff!). Stopped for a coffee and croissant downtown, shooed away vendors except for one who told me I was beautiful and wanted to know how old I was, then took off for Antigua. I'd finally gotten my GPS working by reinstalling the OSM maps I'd uploaded back in Texas, and voila, I had maps! Heading up the street, I was redirected by traffic cops into the market area and to a street that was torn up. I followed traffic and alternate route signs that led me back into downtown. I even talked to a couple of policemen who indicated following the signs. It seemed the detour was just a cyclical loop so I finally bailed and looked up a bypass through the streets that got me around the jam and onto the main road again.



    It led up into the mountains quickly and steeply, and after a few miles I stopped for a landslide, obviously from a huge amount of water off the mountain. There were some government observers there, observing, and I stopped briefly to ask if it was from a quake or water. "Mucho aqua!" was the answer as they took pics of the bike with their cell phones.

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    I went on around the corner and found that most of the debris had washed away but it was about 100 yards of shallow mud and puddles, two guys standing amidst it and waving. Whatever they were doing I have no idea as the waving made no sense, but I stood as the bike slid in the slick stuff a bit.

    From there the road climbed very steeply into the mist with severe switchbacks, potholes continuous and constant. As I got higher and higher, the road got worse and worse to the point I began to wonder if somehow I'd been "Garminized" but Maps.me agreed with the route. About that time the sprinkles began to get heavier and the road slicker. The views were stunning with heavy greenery and steep valleys. I kept going until the road was only pieces of blacktop at times, twisting it's way up. Debris falls of rock and mud covered the road in spots, with enough room to get the bike through and a car squeezing near the edge.

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    At this point I was convinced I had missed the main road but kept going. The rain came and went. As I descended into a valley, the blacktop road disappeared into greenery, the asphalt broken and gone. The option was onto a dirt road that led down to a small river. From there I could see that the entire road and bridge crossing had been washed away in a flood. I took it easy crossing the water, about 16 inches deep or so, and was glad I did as there were some big rocks lurking below. Being alone I didn't relish the idea of dropping it in the water.

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    Crossing done, I was on pavement again for long time, averaging 15-20 mph dodging potholes. I've never seen roads in such bad condition but I figure it's prep for further south.







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    The rains hit again and my leaky jacket leaked again. The GPS said I only had 30 miles to go but it was slow until I finally got onto a concrete highway with trucks and muddy spray. Eventually the rain died down just about as the road came to a stop in a major traffic jam. The GPS said 7.4 miles to my next turn and we were going nowhere. My only option was the narrow shoulder which I gladly took. It was a non-stop ticket, but I'll tell ya my butt was biting the seat as my bars were about 6" from the semi's and even with the edge of the ditch.

    I rode the entire 7.4 miles on the shoulder between the rigs and the ditch. I'll admit to closing my eyes and gritting my teeth multiple times as it seemed the bars would clip a truck too close to the line. The drivers here are definitely hard and aggressive, racing to keep you from passing them, cutting you off and generally cutting no slack whatsoever. I was expecting one of the rigs to swerve and knock me into a ditch but it didn't happen.

    I had to laugh because my 60 mile "cruise" turned out to be a butt biting, pothole mania, rain soaked, river crossed, mudslide slippery, landslide dirt and rock day. I was wet and tired after the four hour trip! Man Guatemala, if this is an indication of the roads it might take me a bit longer to get through than planned :D

    Absolutely loving it!
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  5. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus

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    Hey Cowboy - I took Spanish in Guanajuato and would love to be in San Miguel for Day of the Dead! For some reason I've always missed it when in Mexico. Sounds like you are buying a motorcycle in Dallas? If the schedule works out I would take you up on your offer and its really appreciated!
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  6. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus

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    Good point Belstaff. Just this morning I was thinking about the culture here and despite appearances and the busy-ness, the culture has a sense of peacefulness about it. In my observations, there is a simple, refined elegance to the indigenous women, along with their beautiful dress. They exude a sense of calm refinement. Hard to explain but noticeable. Maybe it's part of the serenity.
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  7. Bigsmokindaddy

    Bigsmokindaddy Adventurer

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    Awesomeness


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  8. asphaltsurfer1

    asphaltsurfer1 CatManDew

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    When you find El Chappos vacation home be sure to be careful of the pics. :)
  9. Coconut Cowboy

    Coconut Cowboy n00b

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    J, yes bringing my Strom from Dallas. Retired from the medical center 2 years ago and established here to escape the nonsense. Noob this site, but not a noob.
    Anyway the casita is yours, with all the extras. If you should want to rendezvous with IB here I can make it happen. Get rest and don't push too hard. I travel to DFW on the 8th and IB could ride back with GF and me. Beautiful here with a couple of acres overlooking the Pacific. Note....this is rainy season beyond belief. Rain starts around 2pm and goes all day and night through end of November. So start early and plan to seek shelter after 2pm.
    Let me know if I can assist.
    Pw.king@sbcglobal.net. 817.994.9131 (text) or FT, CR#. 2786 5390 home. Shiny side up amigo!!
  10. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus

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    Cowboy I appreciate it... I'm booked on Stahlratte Oct 30, and wanted to spend some time in CA, but I'm tempted to try for Oct 15th due to the rain. Typically mornings are rain free-ish though according to the locals I'm bringing morning rains with me apparently :D

    If I make the decision to go for the 15th I'll let you know.

    I escaped Dallas for the hill country 10 years ago, but then I escaped the hill country for this. What was I thinking??? Oh yeah, now I remember why lol
  11. CanuckCharlie

    CanuckCharlie Been here awhile

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    In Guatemala, adventure finds you!


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  12. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus

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    My hosts Harvey and Diane were awesome folks and have a beautiful, first class bed and breakfast. I was treated to a fantastic dinner at their hands and enjoyed hearing stories of their international travels. Harvey is a BMW MOA ambassador and a wealth of information.They were leaving the next morning to fly back to Vermont to pick up a new F800GS Adventure and will be riding back on a leisurely trip south.

    As they were about to leave the next morning, Harvey got a call from a Canadian couple who'd been robbed at gunpoint on the road south of Lake Atitlan, the very same day I'd ridden to Antigua. They were on a motorcycle trip to South America and were asking if they could stay at Casa Elena while figuring out the next step. I will try to get more information on what happened.

    The normal sunny days and blue skies were masked with drizzle, rain and overcast skies. The old town is surrounded by three volcanoes, one of which is still active but it has not been making noise lately. I'm hoping for a clearer day to see all three.

    I walked the streets of the old town passing ruins of churches destroyed in various quakes from the past. The town is active and there are a few tourists, but in the old section it is not as frenetic as other places I've been. The friendliness of the people who speak and acknowledge you on the street with a smile still surprises me. I do realize that I'm viewed as the gold-plated arse that spews silver coinage to those with anything to sell, but there is a genuineness in the warmth of the people who aren't working the gringo.

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    The niche for a saint symbolically above the Mayan pyramid
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    The massive mahogany floats used in Santa Semana. It takes fifty people to carry them, twenty five per side
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    Just for you Rodr :lol3 @rodr
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  13. Dilley51

    Dilley51 n00b

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    J - great photos and ride report my name is Rey and happen to be MotoHank's brother living in the Gettysburg PA area. In your report you indicate that your hosts Harvey and Diane are flying to VT to pickup an 800 GSA then they are riding back south. If you are in contact with them tell them that I can host them if they are traveling my way. In a couple of weeks I will be going to VT myself.
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  14. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus

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    Hi Rey! I may have met you briefly in the past but maybe not because Hank talks about you frequently lol. If I get a chance to contact them I will definitely forward your info to them! Can't recommend their place highly enough here. Once again thanks to MufflerBearings :D
  15. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus

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    Okay, so I had dinner with the couple who were robbed. They have been on bikes a few months exploring the US and down Baja through Mexico. Had sold their home to fund this trip and had no problems so far. They, as with all folks, were afraid of Mexico but said it was the best time and never had any issues. Crossing into Guatemala, they had stopped in San Pedro on the south side of Lake Atitlan for the night and were heading for El Salvador the next day, continuing on the southern route the next day. They speak French and only the wife speaks a little English, so communication isn't too easy and they had no idea the road was known for robberies, as there was car traffic on it. Though the locals know of the danger, when you're traveling you often don't interact and just choose a road.

    As the road wound up high it changed from nice 2 lane balcktop to single then dirt. Shortly after the dirt began, two men ran in front of them wearing masks and pointing guns. They stopped and the pistols were put to their foreheads. The lady was patted down and one of the guys felt her wallet in her rain pants, using the machete like a knife to slash open the pants and take the wallet, then cut off her tank bag. As this was happening, a truck pulled up but they put the gun on the driver and he raced backwards running off the road into a deep dtich. Another car came up and they pointed the pistols at the car and waved it past, then ran off into the woods.

    Another car stopped to help them, as did a busload of people who gave water and such. Her phone and all papers for Guatemala were in the tank bag and all her credit cards and cash in the wallet were gone as well. One of the drivers called the police, but where the robbery took place was purposely in a dead cell area. She called the Embassy, who did a great job for them, telling them to not trust the local police and that they were sending the tourist police, who arrived fairly quickly. As she talked to the Embassy, the tourist police were observing and texting what was happening to the embassy. As the woman talked to the embassy, the embassy confirmed everything that was happening to her by telling her that was exactly what the tourist police were texting about the situation.

    They were escorted by the tourist police and the local police to the station in Santiago Atitlan for the details. A local woman who spoke English helped them explain the details to the police. The tourist police escorted them to a hotel, checked the room and guarded the building that night. That evening the same local woman who spoke English came to the hotel with two men, and she said the town was sorry that it had happened. She wanted to get descriptions of the men, because the locals were going to go hunt them. The couple said they couldn't really tell them due to the masks and hoodies, but the locals asked about height and whatever.

    The next morning the tourist police escorted them all the way to Antigua and Casa Elena, then checked the place and the owner's paperwork before leaving them. She was very impressed with the level of care they'd gotten.

    When I came in, they were a bit in shock still, having had guns put to them and the whole incident of course. Neither had slept for the last two nights out of worry and stress. The level of security assigned them made them nervous about retribution so they were a bit nervous and exhausted from the incident.

    I found the coffee and made some for them and we talked for a while. Their initial reaction was to end their trip and ship the bikes home, but they've decided to rest a couple of days and make the decision based on replacing paperwork, etc. We went out for some food and had a good time, the owner of the restaurant joining us to tell of his stories of travels and being robbed in Africa several times, Peru, and three times in Guatemala. They had been mainly concerned about El Salvador and Nicaragua and weren't expecting to get popped in Guatemala. Their decision is difficult and only they know what they need to do, as there is no right or wrong one. We were encouraging them to continue after having some rest and getting things replaced.

    Harvey had told me that the locals in Guatemala typically find and take care of the bad guys, and as the locals who contacted them at their hotel were testimony of. The restaurant owner said the same thing, that the local populations don't trust the police and are greatly offended when crimes are committed, searching, finding and hanging the offenders.

    Apparently, they'd had some issues when crossing the border into Guatemala at the crossing near the Pacific. They had 8-10 people swarm them en masse, literally knocking her and her motorcycle down on the street. Then after they had finished their entry, were blocked in the parking lot by a pickup and several people who demanded money. The Canadian Embassy asked them to document this in detail, as they had been building a dossier to present to the Guatemalan government about this happening to travelers and tourists.

    As mentioned, certainly glad they were okay and we tried to lift their spirits a bit. I hope they continue on, but for many reasons we discussed, if not I certainly understand.
  16. CanuckCharlie

    CanuckCharlie Been here awhile

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    Thanks for the update and I really feel for them...

    I still remember talking to you about the danger of the road south of Lake Atilan and showing you this video and this literally happened a week later on the same section. It's upsetting that this is a regular occurrence and police isn't doing anything. Such a shame it looks like a nice section around a beautiful lake.



    I hope they make a quick spiritual recovery and continue their journey!
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  17. TheGentlemanRacer

    TheGentlemanRacer n00b

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    Amazing photography
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  18. MufflerBearings

    MufflerBearings Been here awhile

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    I'm glad you enjoyed your stay at Casa Elena, LoneStar, but I'm afraid I can't take credit for that recommendation. I believe it was Hootowl who provided the info. I'll be sure to check the place out next time I'm down that way.

    I'm still loving every minute of this (well, except the part about the French couple being robbed. I'm discouraged to hear that's still a going enterprise down there by the lake).
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  19. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus

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    DAMBIT! Sorry HootOwl!!!! Sheesh man that's what happens late at night when I'm falling asleep

    So officially :clap THANK YOU HOOTOWL!! :clap

    :lol3
  20. asphaltsurfer1

    asphaltsurfer1 CatManDew

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    Interesting perspective. Sounds like it's pretty essential to have knowledge of the routes to avoid potential disasters. That has to be an incredibly sobering experience.
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