Mexico and Central America Ride Planning and Road Wisdom

Discussion in 'Americas' started by Jeff Munn, May 30, 2006.

  1. Mika Meyer

    Mika Meyer V-Strom gives you wiiings

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    Thank you Jeff and the rest of you that posted extra wisdom for this great resource. Thank you very much. :clap

    Am planning a trip to Puerto Escondido :jose and on to Guatemala January 2008, and finding this thread has made my research so much easier.

    Any recent updates and/or changes would be much appreciated.
    #81
  2. Jeff Munn

    Jeff Munn Just along for the ride..

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    Mika,
    It was a pleasure meeting and camping with you at Laurel Fork. I'm sure you'll have a great time on your trip.

    Any news on when the Cape Cod campout will be? :freaky
    #82
  3. Mika Meyer

    Mika Meyer V-Strom gives you wiiings

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    Hey Jeff:

    Likewise. Had a great time riding with Chick, you and the rest of the gang at Laurel Fork. Thank you Neal :thumb

    Wellfleet Oyster Fest this wkend, campout will have to wait till next year though. Headed to Crested Butte, CO for the winter. More fun and closer to Mexico. Rocky Mtn. oysters just don't do it for me though :lol3 so I'll prolly be back on cape for next summer.

    All the best
    #83
  4. Oldmanwheeler

    Oldmanwheeler Adventurer

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    Ames, Iowa
    My wife and I are just getting to the point where we can begin taking some long trips and have talked about shipping our bikes to Germany and New Zeland. All of the information on this thread is going to be invaluable in teaching us the "do's and don'ts" of traveling abroad. 2008 will be my wife's first riding season (we live in Iowa) where she has her own bike, a BMW F800ST so we are already anxiously looking forward to next summer's adventures. Thanks everyone for your contributions.
    #84
  5. bananaman

    bananaman transcontimental

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    I'm saving this to my favorites. Great, great stuff here. Thanks!
    #85
  6. FKNBUM

    FKNBUM Adventurer

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    ex-Alaskan anchored down in Anchorage
    My first ride to Mx was in 2001 on a white K100RT, which I failed to "sign out" before crossing into the US. I can still barely make out the faded Importacion Temporal sticker on the windshield. My next trip was in 2003 on a black 1988 GS (obviously not the same bike) which I signed out. No problems, just pulled the sticker, sent me on my way. Since reading this post and others it seem they are now updating these records and what? Fines, denied entry?, taking away birthdays? I really am a bit concerned, I hope to go for a ride this Jan/Feb and would like smooth border crossings. Anything I can do at this point? Or, is there really nothing to be concerned about at all?
    #86
  7. tricepilot

    tricepilot El Gran Payaso

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    Short answer: I don't see where you will have any residual problems from your last experience, go and enjoy Mexico again. Just make sure to have your documents in order as per usual. Take your camera and give us a ride report! :thumb

    Long answer (optional):

    If you are refering to the bike you previously took to Mexico and didn't turn in the permit, time has long since passed and you've likely had the import fee charged to your credit card.

    This time, remember to simply follow standard practice. Appear at the Imigracion/Banjercito/Aduana with the original registration to your bike AND a credit card with a name that matches the registration. Let me repeat that: make sure the name on your ORIGINAL registration and on your credit card MATCH. If you are John J. Jones on the registration, don't offer a credit card with Jack Jones on it, or even John Jones. Go get a new card to match your registration well before your trip. I even carry a spare card that meets all these rules, from a different bank and account "just in case" I have to cancel the other one.

    I witnessed the above being a huge problem at the border two weeks ago. The person was denied entry initially and it took a lot of delicate and time consuming charm to get the person into Mexico. I wouldn't assume charm would work every time.

    It doesn't hurt to highlight with a yellow marker the name on the registration and the VIN number. Formats among U.S. states for vehicle registration vary and this simple technique will assist the person behind the glass believing your registration is original and in preparing your bike permit. I also sign my bike registration even though it isn't required, and I do it in blue ink to that the person behind the glass doesn't think it is a copy (which it isn't, but one never knows what is going through the mind of the person processing your paperwork).

    When you get your corresponding paper for your permit, check the VIN down to the last numeral, and insist that it be corrected if it is wrong. Don't walk away from the window to do this. Check it right there in front of the person. I've seen documents only one numeral off become a problem for the holder. Again, don't leave the window (especially if there is a line behind you!) without checking the spelling and the VIN on your permit paper.

    Make sure your credit card (that matches the registration exactly - can't say that enough) has "room" on it. Believe it or not, I also saw that one two weeks ago crossing at Nogales. A guy had to post a cash bond to cover the bike permit because he thought he just had to have a card and didn't seem to think that it being maxed out was going to be a problem. Well, it was a huge problem for him.

    This time when you exit Mexico, be sure you are aware of the operating hours at the border for the customs office (many are 24/7 but not all - either check directly or consult Lonely Planet or some other method of finding out in advance). When your bike permit is taken they will issue you a receipt. KEEP THE RECEIPT because you will plan to return to Mexico again, and it will prove that you turned in your permit. Always keep your "latest" exit receipt and bring it with you on your next trip as insurance should somebody claim you didn't turn in your permit. You can work around this by going through a Mexican consulate in the U.S. but the process is a headache and it is much easier to do it at the border when leaving.

    Border crossing to/from Mexico has always been a fast, straightforward process for me, with never a problem. I've also encountered professional people. It may seem like a bit of a tango with copies, this window/that window kind of vibe, but IF you research what it requred in advance and iron out any wierd situations you might have in advance (like a rental bike along side of a bike thats not paid off on a trailer towed behind a friend's truck etc. etc. etc.) you will be fine.

    Buena suerte y modere su volocidad

    Bob :jose
    #87
  8. tricepilot

    tricepilot El Gran Payaso

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    See Above

    ALWAYS obtain a receipt for your permit AND bring it with you when you re-enter Mexico for the next new one.

    Bob :jose
    #88
  9. crosscountry

    crosscountry Bear went over Mountain

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    I'm glad I found this thread. One day I'll make it down there myself.
    #89
  10. Jeff Munn

    Jeff Munn Just along for the ride..

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    Thanks Phil for the Sticky!

    Jeff
    #90
  11. ElCaMinault

    ElCaMinault El CaMinault

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    Thanks for the insight on my upcoming trip. I'm travelling from Edmonton AB on may 1st to........well i'll find out just how far i'll get in 6 weeks, but i am aiming for Panama. I'm about as green as it gets to this sorta thing and I need as much info as i can get in such short notice. Thx again.:D
    #91
  12. crosscountry

    crosscountry Bear went over Mountain

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    What are gas prices in Mexico right now?
    #92
  13. Dboisclair01

    Dboisclair01 Dboisclair

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    I completed the 7,000klm trip to the Canal in Jan of this year. If anyone wants fairly recent first-hand experience I'll pass on whatever info I can. Just bear in mind that at the time (and still) I was a VERY inexperienced rider. I only obtained my license in Aug 07, and the bike I was riding was my first bike in almost 27 years. And as much as I love my new DL650, there's still a soft spot in my heart for the 26 year old Honda I made the trip with. I guess ignorance really is bliss. In many ways the trip effected me profoundly. I'm going to re-arrange things to retire much earlier than originally planned - even if it means scaling back on expectations and working P/T - just so I can travel more and live more. I've just put in for a leave of absence next Jan so I can go back for a much more liesurely six-week trip through Mexico with my wife this time.
    Cheers
    #93
  14. SeanF

    SeanF Long timer

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    How about a ride report? Pics and all? :deal
    #94
  15. ontheborder

    ontheborder Been here awhile

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    southeast arizona
    So I guess you are saying you are ready for the free part of freedom. :clap
    Travel, it changes you life....
    #95
  16. Dboisclair01

    Dboisclair01 Dboisclair

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    Okanagan Valley, BC
    The easiest way to read about the trip is to look at my blog...but I'll warn you in advance, it's a long read
    www.dboisclair.blogspot.com
    #96
  17. Da_Baum

    Da_Baum donationsforhaiti.or

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    #97
  18. Sjoerd Bakker

    Sjoerd Bakker Long timer

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    After repeatedly reading posts from riders who claim to have many close encounters and nearly getting run into by city traffic in Mexico I must surmise that they are doing something wrong or do not know the rules there. I never have that problem and can't remember the last time I even experienced that type of close call after I clued in on the practice many years ago.
    Usually these near misses ( or hits ) happen at intersections in cities but are NOT ,in most cases, caused by a bunch of ignorant Mexicans flaunting STOP signs . True enough there are red-light runners and STOP-sign ignorers in Mexico but this, sadly ,is an epidemic which also afflicts the USA, Canada .. anywhere. The red STOP sign is seen more as a YIELD sign, to stop only if there is traffic coming or a cop watching.
    The problem as I see it is traceable to tourists in Mexico not being aware of the Mexican rules which are really quite simple once you catch on to the routine.
    Question : What do Mexican STOP signs look like ? If you answer:
    " Red octagon with white letters saying ALTO ".... then you are only partly correct.
    The red octagon ALTO sign does indeed signify that you must STOP but this is not the only sign to do so. At highway construction sites you may see the assigned traffic control person holding up the
    typical octogonal red sign but it says PARE which is another word for STOP. In the less affluent areas such a
    traffic control person may only have a red flag or be waving a flag or cloth of any colour, so pay attention , slow down and follow their directions .
    In Mexican towns and cities there are other signs which convey the same important message.They have evolved a system of colour coding ONE WAY ARROW SIGNS and STREET NAME SIGNS.
    The ONE WAY arrow signs describing the direction of travel on one-way city streets can be in three colours with white printing : BLACK - same as in US and Canada
    RED
    GREEN
    These signs may be metal plates attached to a free standing post but they may also be fastened to or painted directly on a building wall at the corner.
    Their positioning relative to your direction of aproach on the crossing street is the critical factor. If you aproach a cross street and you face the sign on that street and it is RED you are responsible to STOP and allow the cross traffic the right of way. There need be NO OCTAGON ALTO sign there , no duplicating information. Sail through such signs and your chance of collision is good or you will hear screaching brakes and Spanish cursing thrown at you. YOU were the guilty party.
    If you come to such and intersection and you are facing a GREEN one-way sign it means that you are travelling on the street with the right of way and you may proceed without stopping , but do look both ways ...for Gringos .Green one-way signs are becoming rare, however.
    If you come to an intersection facing the " normal" BLACK AND WHITE one-way arrow this also
    means that YOU are on the street with the right of way. Look for oncoming traffic anyway and proceed .
    .



    STREET NAME SIGNS can also be colour coded in the same way .
    The exact design varies slightly from city to city and depending how old the sign is.The older ones have either a red or green border above and below the name .Further , that border may have stylized points indicating the ONE -WAY or two - way direction of traffic . The newer ones may have the colour backing the full width of the sign. Again, if a street name plaque, free standing or wall mounted, is RED , and you are coming at it on the crossing street it is for you a STOP sign. If it is GREEN you may proceed without stopping.

    In recent years there has been a rapid spread of marking one-ways at inner city intersections with signs saying
    "UNO POR UNO" or the equivalently pronounced mathematical "1 X 1" printed on a variety of sign shapes on or in combination with the octogonal STOP or triangular CEDA ( yield) sign. They are telling drivers to give the
    right of way to slow moving traffic in a regular alternating manner one by one from either direction.This should keep traffic moving. If you come to such an intersection slow down and with care drive across behind the back bumper of the last vehicle you saw crossing WITHOUT STOPPING even if there is a STOP sign.
    If there is no approaching traffic you are free to carry on through WITHOUT STOPPING .
    If there is a space but you do see another vehicle approaching on the other street USE YOUR JUDGEMENT , proceed if the other vehicle will not be impeded by your crossing or stop and yield.Do not stop if you have to wait for the other traffic to move a half block . Use common sense.



    Learn these rules, ignore them at your peril.
    #98
  19. kennyanc

    kennyanc Long timer

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    Great info Sjoerd. This site is a wealth of good information. :clap

    I haven't really had any close calls myself but I tend to stay away from the bigger cities. If I have to go thru I try to make a beeline for the other side on the main roads and they usually have lights.

    That makes if fairly easy to remember...red means stop, green means go. Why couldn't I figure that out...


    Kenny
    #99
  20. Lone Rider

    Lone Rider Registered User

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    SJ gave a nice summary of Mex signage.
    When in some colonial cities you may need to learn some even more different rules/customs with signage actually on the buildings. Colors can take on a whole new meaning for one-way streets. :D
    It's pretty cool, and it really does works.