Quit our jobs, sold our home, gone riding...

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by lightcycle, Aug 1, 2012.

  1. Trane Francks

    Trane Francks Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2012
    Oddometer:
    646
    Location:
    Tokyo, Japan
    Knowledge enables people to make informed decisions. Rays look harmless enough, but should actually be given a wide berth. +1 on the cautionary advice. :amazon
  2. lightcycle

    lightcycle Nomad

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2006
    Oddometer:
    1,230
    Location:
    No Fixed Address (originally Toronto)
    Updated from http://www.RideDOT.com/rtw/80.html

    [​IMG]

    We would love to have stayed longer in San Pedro, but when we initially entered the country, we had only applied for a 1-week visa, thinking it was such a small country, how long would we need? The 4 day stopover in the islands was entirely unplanned and as we sat in our hammocks on the beach, we regretted only applying for 1 week. I think it worked out in the end, because we probably would have drained all our travel funds in this one place.

    [​IMG]
    Neda is Belizeing a path through the lush scenery!

    After getting off the water taxi back to Belize City, we rode a very short distance to San Ignacio, which is close to the Belize/Guatemala border. We're stopping here for the evening to get all our documents in order for the border crossing. As we walked around the small tourist area (a single street) in San Ignacio, we noticed we were in the company of a lot of foreign tourists. We eavesdropped on a few of them and recognized that subtle Canadian accent that separated them from Americans - also the way Canadians always end their sentences on a higher pitch, as if constantly asking a question.

    Belize is very popular with North Americans because the primary language here is English, even though more than half of the population speaks Spanish.

    [​IMG]
    Neda makes a new friend while walking around San Ignacio

    There's not much to see in the town of San Ignacio. It's more of a hub for the tours that fan out to see the Tikal ruins or cave tubing or other adventure sports in the area. Since we blew our budget in San Pedro, we're going to skip Tikal and head straight for the Guatemala border the next morning. That, and our 7-day Belizean insurance expires on Feb-29-2013. There is no Feb-29th! So because of an insurance slip-up, we're leaving on the 28th, just to "insure" we don't run into any problems!

    [​IMG]
    Bye-Bye San Igancio, we're going to Guatemala!

    [​IMG]
    Roadside stop to pet a horsie...

    [​IMG]
    Aduana (Customs) at the Belize/Guatemala border

    The Guatemala customs border was fairly easy, at least according to Neda as she did all the talking, since she was the Spanish-language expert. I noticed that the border official we were dealing with was originally very cool towards us, almost annoyed at us, until Neda started speaking fluent Espanol. Then instantly he warmed up to us. Actually he warmed up to Neda. He was still annoyed at my amateurish attempts to speak Spanish. So I just shut up and tried to stay out of the way as Neda got us out of Belize and into Guatemala in a heartbeat, telling jokes and charming all the border people in Spanish.

    I think this is the primary reason why people report so much difficulty crossing Central American borders - not being able to communicate in the official language.

    [​IMG]
    Ta-DA! We don't need no steenkin helpers, we have a Neda!

    [​IMG]
    Amazing roads in Guatemala

    [​IMG]
    Passing lots of farmland in the north of Guatemala

    We're kind of heading south-west, back towards the Mexican border, trying to get as much distance done today. The roads are in way better shape than Belize, and it surprised us a bit. Quite a lot of twists and turns along the way which made us happy as well. There's a bit of a discrepancy between our two GPS maps. Neda's map routes us quite a distance to the south, while mind shaves off 150kms and seems like it's a more direct route.

    [​IMG]
    This is the reason - ferry crossing at Sayaxche

    Turns out Neda's map didn't know there was a ferry to take us across at Sayaxche, while mine did. I'm glad we've got two different maps to consult. The ferry was powered by a small outboard motor off towards the side!

    [​IMG]
    10 minutes waiting for the ferry to load, 5 minutes to cross

    [​IMG]
    Riding through Sayaxche

    We were running low on Quetzals, since we didn't buy too many from the money changers running around at the border, fearing that they'd rip us off with exorbitant exchange rates. Unfortunately, my bank card doesn't seem to work in Guatemala, something that Kari (fellow Canuck we met in Oaxaca) had warned me about over e-mail. So Neda is officially our money person for this country.

    I am feeling a bit like a useless appendage on this leg of our trip. My wife plans the route, finds the hotels, does all the border crossings and gets all the money. All I do is take pictures...

    [​IMG]
    Posing in Sayaxche

    It was getting pretty late so we decide to stop in Sayaxche for the evening. We found a casita just outside of town to stay for the night. The owner had twin 10-year-old boys who clamoured around the motorcycles and peppered me with a million and one questions in Spanish. Since Neda was already busy talking to someone else, I had to fend for myself.

    Guatemalan Spanish sounds a lot different than the Mexican Spanish I had learned in La Paz, so I had no idea what these two boys were asking me, which frustrated both of them! They brought out their English textbooks but because they only studied family members, were only able to ask if I had a grandmother, a sister, a nephew... Finally Neda finished up and was able to translate for them: they wanted a ride around the block on the back of the bike!

    [​IMG]
    Taking one of the twins out for a spin around the block

    So I made them a deal: they could each take turns sitting in the back if they guided me into town and then helped me with my Espanol so I could buy groceries for dinner.

    To further thank them, I also bought them some chocolate, so I think I've made some friends for life..

    [​IMG]
    Renaldo and Rivaldo hanging out in our room playing video games on our computers and iPhones
    When their mother called them out to finish their homework, they were very disappointed!

    I took each of the twins out separately to the corner store for chocolate. The second twin was very sneaky - while in town, he wanted to extend his ride a bit longer so he made me do 7 left-hand turns in a row... all the while the GPS in front of me was drawing nice overlapping squares all over the map... :)
  3. lightcycle

    lightcycle Nomad

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2006
    Oddometer:
    1,230
    Location:
    No Fixed Address (originally Toronto)
    Thanks to all your warnings about stingrays, however it's all very unnecessary...

    Shortly after that blog post, Neda's dad Skyped her and gave her a very stern lecture about chasing after stingrays. His exact words were, "Didn't you hear about what happen to Steve Irwin!?!?"

    I LOLed!

    Then my dad e-mailed me and told me to lay off the tacos. He said I was getting fat.

    Neda LOLed.

    Never sharing our blog entries with parents again...
  4. Shibby!

    Shibby! Long timer

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,680
    Location:
    Currently - Canada

    I take offense to that... I think that's a "trendy" way of sounding cool by lower IQ people brought on by "reality" tv shows.

    Sounds like people are whining all the time. I can't stand it.

    I'll stop being a grump.

    I'm surprised you said the roads of Guat were better. I didn't have much issue with Belize roads, but found Guat had some fresh sections, but the stuff just south of Tikal had pot holes that could swallow a bike whole.

    We did the same section you did. If you're heading to Copan, you have a great road ahead of you. We did it at night but it was still fun. Further on some more spectacular roads when you get in to the mountains.

    Have fun!
  5. rlkefauver

    rlkefauver kefakruiser

    Joined:
    May 31, 2010
    Oddometer:
    118
    Location:
    New Mexico
    "The taco place around the corner from our B&B has become our second home. By now, I've tried almost everything on their menu. The report on the tacos de sesos (brains): it tasted exactly like it sounds. When cooked, it's a white meat. Very mushy, but you could still feel the texture of the brain folds. It was definitely an organ meat and not as salty as muscle. It wasn't bad, but not my favorite taco."

    Okay, I just made it to post 701 and read your desciption of brain taco's and I think I threw up a little bit in my mouth...other than that, great RR, awesome pic's and you two are living the dream. Keep up the good work, hope you never run out of money and just keep riding and posting! :clap
  6. C-Stain

    C-Stain Long timer

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2009
    Oddometer:
    11,796
    Location:
    Canoodia
    Guys,

    Love the Ride Report. Out of curiosity, what is your plan as the South American Winter season draws near? I know that Radioman flew home during the fall and winter season to avoid the cooler weather, and since you're all still in Guatemala, how much further south do you think you'll make it before the mountain passes become too cold?

    I've also been reading your the Blog for your trip to Europe. Lots of good info there...Mrs. Stain has agreed to a two-up adventure somewhere between John o'Groats and Cape Town. I'm now doing some feverish reading to figure out where to go...Europe or Africa!

    Love your pics and prose, and anxiously waiting for the next installment.
  7. Trane Francks

    Trane Francks Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2012
    Oddometer:
    646
    Location:
    Tokyo, Japan
    It must be "reasonably new". When I moved to Japan in 1991, the only noticeable rising intonation in normal speech came with the telltale final interrogative "eh" at the end of far too many sentences.

    (Here in Tokyo, the equivalent is "ne", with the same short 'e' sound. I felt right at home. :lol3)
  8. WarLlama

    WarLlama belligerent cameloid

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2005
    Oddometer:
    22,549
    Location:
    twixt & tween
    [​IMG]

    The walls are closing in, get out! :eek1

    Sorry, that one got the heebie jeebies going. :lol3

    Great report, loving it, keep it up! :thumb
  9. motoged

    motoged Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2006
    Oddometer:
    908
    Location:
    Kamloops, BC
    One of my strongest memories of Tikal is the aroma of the limestone walls inside the temples....this pic just brought a whiff of that back :clap

    As for the Canadian end-of-sentence- inflection.....gotta say I never noticed that, aside from the "eh", eh!?

    Don't think it is an outcome of crappy reality shows.....and when studying linguistics/gender issues, it is recognized as more of a female trait than a male one when speaking.

    As for the Canadian thing....that's how you spell Canada:

    "C", eh..."N", eh...."D", eh. :lol3
  10. Rockwell

    Rockwell Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2008
    Oddometer:
    677
    Location:
    Ontario
    Do not miss a stay in San Pedro La Laguna, Guatemala (but I am sure you've already planned on going there)!

    The route in at the eastern side of the lake may not be the easiest way, but it makes for a very interesting ride, and the view coming into the lake is awesome!

    Also, when you get to El Salvador, you should visit Conception de Ataco (one of the best places we visited on our trip). It's such a great little town. If you'd like, PM me when you get near there, and a friend we met while we were there might be able to give you a place to stay.
  11. DrSmooth

    DrSmooth I am third

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2008
    Oddometer:
    372
    Location:
    Hellinois
    Excellent RR! Keep us posted on your travels! I envy you both for making the "free time" to do this.
  12. dave6253

    dave6253 GCBAR Explorer

    Joined:
    May 1, 2006
    Oddometer:
    3,662
    Location:
    Phoenix, Arizona
    Thanks for taking the time and effort to share your wonderful journey. I'm loving your humor and gorgeous photography.
  13. Shibby!

    Shibby! Long timer

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,680
    Location:
    Currently - Canada
    I find MOST 20 something females, teens, and sadly enough, THEIR MOTHERS all do that. Hell, we have a office admin lady who is 60 something and does it.

    Grrrr..

    I also don't think most CDN's say Eh. Eastern Canadians, yes. Same with 'Buddy!'. That seems to be isolated to oil workers, southern Saskatchewan people, and eastern Canadians. haha.


    Both of which annoy me.
  14. motoged

    motoged Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2006
    Oddometer:
    908
    Location:
    Kamloops, BC
    "...eastern Canadians and oilworkers...": By jeez bye, dem's two side by each. :D

    Where ya to next, Gene and Neda ?
  15. Mototabby

    Mototabby n00b

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2011
    Oddometer:
    5
    Location:
    Utah
    Oh, I don't know about that. Several years ago I worked with an IT guy from Victoria, BC. He ended every sentence with "eh". I also learned about brownies, travelers, and getting pissed. :1drink
  16. lightcycle

    lightcycle Nomad

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2006
    Oddometer:
    1,230
    Location:
    No Fixed Address (originally Toronto)
    Updated from http://www.RideDOT.com/rtw/81.html

    [​IMG]

    We've got a couple of travel days ahead of us, as we are booked for more Spanish school in Quetzeltenango in the south of Guatemala next week. Since we're dropping into the country at the very north end, we've got some mileage to do, so not a lot of pictures off the bike.

    [​IMG]
    We ride through many villages, some tiny, others a bit larger

    It's a rainy ride through the northern department (states are called departments in Guatemala) of Peten. The first time we've ridden in rain for months. The land here is very flat but the hills start to turn into mountains, as we enter the central highlands of the southern region.

    [​IMG]
    Vast tracts of farmland everywhere! Guatemala is so lush!

    [​IMG]
    Weather is slightly cooler, so we didn't mind donning our rainsuits

    [​IMG]
    Women carrying bowls of corn on their head. If they were carrying jars, the jars were always painted with stripes

    [​IMG]
    Hilly terrain in the background

    Our stop for the evening is in a town called Coban, in the department of Alta Verapaz. Instead of looking for accommodations right away, we ate a late lunch in a restaurant. When we came out to the bikes, Neda exclaimed, "Oh no! One of my dry bags must have fallen off!" Upon inspection, someone had cut the Rok-Straps holding the bag onto the sidecase and made off with a sleeping bag and pillow. Most of the stuff not in our hardcases are just clothing, sleeping bags and camping equipment. Nothing that we'd thought we'd be too bummed out about if they were stolen.

    Until it was stolen... It's still a hassle having to replace it, and the Drybag and the Rok-Straps are not as easy to find around here. So we are kind of bummed. I'm thinking about getting a PacSafe to secure our drybags, but I'm not sure if it's worth the hassle of locking and unlocking every night.

    The thief hid between Neda's bike and a parked car next to it while he worked away at cutting the straps holding the drybag down. Since we parked on a quiet side-street, they took advantage of the fact that there was little traffic around the area. We are parking in the middle of crowded streets next time!

    [​IMG]
    Some colonial buildings in downtown Coban

    After finding a hotel, we walked through the markets in Coban and Neda told me she was half-hoping to find her sleeping bag for sale in one of the stalls!

    [​IMG]
    Walking the wet streets of Coban

    Our next riding day to Quetzaltenango was much dryer. Neda's GPS pointed to a 450 km round about way all the way south-east, through Guatemala City and then back west again. My GPS had a much shorter route, although it wasn't on a highway, was only 250 kms! Since we had good luck with my map on the way to Sayaxche, we decided to follow my GPS again.

    [​IMG]
    Stuck in a religious parade in the streets of one of the villages we rode through

    [​IMG]
    Neda's bike looks unbalanced without the right drybag

    Not to spend too much time dwelling on the stolen drybag, since we've basically shrugged it off by now - there's a saying, "Don't bring anything that you can't afford to lose". However, there were two drybags on Neda's bike, one containing my sleeping bag and an old ratty pillow that Neda's been trying to get me throw out but I love it cause it's so comfortable. The other contains Neda's sleeping bag and a special orthopedic pillow that you can fill with water. This was given to us by a friend before we left. And of course, this was the one that was stolen...

    [​IMG]
    The road is getting a bit gravelly... But the scenery rocks! I mean, there are a lot of rocks here...

    The northern road through the mountains of the central highlands turns from broken asphalt to hard packed gravel, and then mud and loose stone. We have to make it to Quetzaltenango to meet our host family in the evening, and our estimated time of arrival is not looking very realistic given the terrain.

    [​IMG]
    Steep drop on the left as we encounter wide traffic ahead

    [​IMG]
    She'll be coming 'round the mountain when she comes!

    [​IMG]
    Amazing views! We are glad we took this route instead of the highway, but it's taking a lot of time

    [​IMG]
    "'Let's take the shortcut', he says.
    'This'll save us some time', he says..."

    [​IMG]
    Oh, and also mud. Next to sand, our favorite terrain...

    [​IMG]
    Some really tiny villages

    [​IMG]
    And then a bridge. Is that pavement at the other end?

    [​IMG]
    Pavement!

    We were going to be a couple of hours late, so at a restaurant in one of the villages we passed through, we borrowed a phone and called the school to let them know. We arrived in Quetzeltenango late in the evening, with the temperatures dropping to single digits. Shivering in the town square, we waited for our host family to arrive and take us to a warm home.
    Tricky [RCAF] likes this.
  17. lightcycle

    lightcycle Nomad

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2006
    Oddometer:
    1,230
    Location:
    No Fixed Address (originally Toronto)
    Agreed!

    Don't know, we don't really have a plan that far in advance. That's how we ended up in at the Arctic Ocean in Alaska in September... We haven't done much research as to the best time to travel to these places. When *is* the best time to visit the mountains in South America?

    Thanks for the suggestion, Rocky! I hear you guys are heading out on the road again in June? Seeing how slow we're moving, you'll probably blow right past us. Keep in touch, would be great to meet up along the way!

    Spanish school for a little while longer. Neda is getting sick of being the translator, negotiator, terminator, etc
  18. C-Stain

    C-Stain Long timer

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2009
    Oddometer:
    11,796
    Location:
    Canoodia
    :dunno

    I'd suggest sending Radioman a PM and seeing what his feeling on the whole thing is. He's far more experienced than I could ever hope to be in that department. Suches, GA is as far as I've been...

    In for the long haul though...
  19. oldtouring B

    oldtouring B Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2009
    Oddometer:
    587
    Location:
    Al Ba Jerky. NM
    If you need someone in the states who is a gear-oholic to help with replacing the items stolen, I would be happy to help. Just send a PM. Bob
  20. motoged

    motoged Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2006
    Oddometer:
    908
    Location:
    Kamloops, BC
    Gene and Neda,
    The PacSafe idea is a good one....they come in different sizes and work well off the bike to secure stuff in room....