Tax FREE - Canada to Panama on a KLR650

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by IslandSpark, Apr 10, 2010.

  1. dwj - Donnie

    dwj - Donnie Long timer

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  2. IslandSpark

    IslandSpark Adventurer

    Joined:
    May 4, 2008
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    Nanaimo, Van Island, BC


    Good eye Donnie! I noticed that myself and have been meaning to grab a replacement when I find a moto shop... Fresh in my mind again!

    Pat
  3. IslandSpark

    IslandSpark Adventurer

    Joined:
    May 4, 2008
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    Nanaimo, Van Island, BC
    [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]Day 42[/FONT]

    [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]I start the morning out with some breakfast at the attached Denny's restaurant only because its included with the price of the room (damned well best get something for that kind of money). A couple cold pancakes and an inattentive waiter make for a great experience. I make sure not to leave a tip, In fact I should have found one on anther table and stolen it.[/FONT]

    [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]The familiar drive along CA-1 towards the border crossing to Nicaragua take about 3 hours. I stop in Liberia for a coffee and muffin at a local spot where I meet a couple texans with nothing good to say about there time here and chat with a very nice (and gorgeous) young woman from Washington, DC who had been down here teaching English for the last 6 months, today was her last day in country before heading home.[/FONT]

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    [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]After some good conversation and tips on where to go and what to see in Nicaragua i carry on to the border. If you recall our last trip through this crossing was a zoo that took nearly 3 hours, today however there are almost no lineups at all. I ride right in to the customs office now that I knew where everything was and cancel my CR import permit before heading down the road to CR Immigration to get stamped out of the country.[/FONT]

    [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]The Nicaraguan side is more complex but not by much. I ride in past all the Semi-trucks and get in line at immigration, pay my entry fee, get my stamp and start the process of importing the bike. As with exiting the country you need the signatures of the on duty Auduana agent and police officer as well as receipts for the payments you've made before you'll be given the precious piece of paper and sent on your way.[/FONT]

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    Looking back on Costa-Rica Immigration

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    NIcaraguan Customs, as I sit waiting for my importation permission...

    [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]Back in Nicaragua I make a beeline for Grenada. We stopped in briefly on our way south and it was a city that I felt I could have spent more time in. I would work out well, Arriving in town around 4pm the search for a hotel goes well with a $15 room at a local hostel nice and close to the town square. I find secure parking for the moto grab my camera and head out on the town for some photo's as the light fades to a perfect golden glow.
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    [FONT=Arial, sans-serif][​IMG][/FONT]
    [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]Isla de Ometepe, formed by two volcanoes in the middle of Lago Nicaragua.[/FONT]

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    [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]Currious cow, caught me watering the grass...[/FONT]

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    [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]Windmills windmills everywhere...[/FONT]

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    [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]Ahhh, the glory that is Granada... Loved it here![/FONT]

    [FONT=Arial, sans-serif][​IMG][/FONT]
    [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]Colorfull, Colonial and Fun - Great city!
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    Even the locals are enjoying themselves!

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    A local church...

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    Statue in the central square at sunset...

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    [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]Gazebo in the sqaure, a favorite local hangout...

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    I'm told they only turn it on for "real tourist season"

    Ever since leaving Mexico the food has been downhill, its been good, just bland, missing flavor, so tonight when I walked past a fairly authentic looking Mexican restaurant my fate was sealed. I ask for the house speciality and get a plate stacked full of food, Chicken enchiladas, a stuffed chilli, re-fried beans, guacamole and salsa... When I get a chance to enjoy my dinner between begging kids and people selling all manor of things, its delicious, a welcome change from the normal!

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    [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]After dinner I find a $3 haircut a the “special lady” (no joke) salon before heading back to the hostel...[/FONT]

    [FONT=Arial, sans-serif][​IMG][/FONT]
    [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]Hostel cat says " I's sleeping, go away"...[/FONT]
  4. Big Bad Ron

    Big Bad Ron Gnarly Adventurer

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2006
    Oddometer:
    191
    Location:
    BC, Canada
    Hi I have so enjoyed your trip reports.
    Nobody has said anything about your I SPOT. So I thought It was my turn.
    I love that you can follow along.
    I feel like I should know you, I have an uncle in your home town, And I live in Chilliwack.
    Keep up the good work, I would think there are times you must be so tired you don't feel much like writing. But keep up the good work and rubber down.

    Ron
  5. IslandSpark

    IslandSpark Adventurer

    Joined:
    May 4, 2008
    Oddometer:
    160
    Location:
    Nanaimo, Van Island, BC
    [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]Day 43[/FONT]

    [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]I'm awake early this morning and ready to hit the road by 8am after I retrieve the bike from the secure parking area down the street. The plan today is to head to Leon but when I ask how long it should take I'm told that there are a lot of issues with the road after last week's tropical storm and they advise against going that way.[/FONT]

    [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]I decide that riding alone into a bad situation while sounding like a good time wasn't that smartest idea. I decide to had inland and cross to Honduras instead... I stop for a coffee and a Chocolate chip banana muffin at Euro Cafe just off the main square before heading out.[/FONT]

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    Mmm

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    House on the hill..

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    Dramatic skys

    [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]I make good time on the familiar roads in the great weather and before noon I find myself in the town of Octal just outside the border. I stop at a little convenience shop at the side of the road and buy a nice cold bottle of coke for 2 Cordoba's or about 10 cents US. As I sit and drink I watch as a young boy, maybe ten or twelve years old walk up and rummage around in his pockets for some change with which he buys a cigarette and a piece of bread before running back across the street and into the bushes... Interesting...[/FONT]

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    [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]the store in question...
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    [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]I cross the border with a minimum of fuss, however was sent running back to the Nicaraguan side for photocopy's a few times since the copy shop on the Honduran side was out of order. With a couple new passport stamps and my wallet a little lighter I make my way towards the Honduran capital.[/FONT]

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    [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]Border crossing might as well be a parking lot,,,[/FONT]

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    [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]Stamps and paperwork... this way please...
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    [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]The road is under heavy construction and riding a motorcycle is a definite plus as you can pass pretty well anywhere compared to a car or truck. I filter to the front of the lines when one lane sections appear and pass heavily loaded trucks on the steep uphill grades.[/FONT]

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    [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]I roll into Tegucigalpa and find myself riding along a very familiar chunk of road dreading the idea of finding a hotel in this city (Remember Day 31?). I decide food was the first priority and I could deal with the hotel issue afterwards.[/FONT]

    [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]A decent hamburger in my stomach (did I mention I was tired of typical Central American food?) I exit the restaurant only to find a Honduran police officer looming over my bike. Shit! What did I do? Am I gonna get shaken down for another bribe?![/FONT]

    [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]It turns out that Auner (his name) is just a bike fanatic who happens to own a KLR just down the road from here. He loves my bike with all the different modifications and has all sorts of questions for me about how the trip has been and how much this or that costs. [/FONT]

    [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]We chat for a little bit, my Spanish is bad, his English is no better but we manage. I ask Auner about a budget hotel in the area, He knows just the one, Hotel Granada, cheap but nice he says in broken English. I ask for directions but he just tells me to follow him, awesome! With a quick stop to show me his pristine KLR we blast through traffic to the other side of town and Hotel Granada. Auner goes inside and negotiates me the cop special, $15 down from $30 and give me his phone number in case I have any troubles with police or border officials during my stay in his country.[/FONT]

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    [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]Auner enjoying a KLR with goodies...
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    [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]With a couple photo's, a handshake and the URL for this ride report written in his ticket book we part ways... Great guy![/FONT]

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  6. Zepfan

    Zepfan Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2010
    Oddometer:
    122
    Location:
    Poway
    Fun following your progress Pat. Nothing for me to do but this, TV and the like. Langushing here. No sighn of parts. How I long to be back on the road! Keep up the good riding. P.S. No ¨helpers¨ so far ??
  7. gasandasphalt

    gasandasphalt Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Oddometer:
    531
    Location:
    S/W New Mexico
    OUTSTANDING RR......:clap :clap :clap :clap :clap
  8. nofate

    nofate what blackflies?

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2005
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    2,881
    Location:
    Chapleau, ON
    Great ride report. Thanks for taking the once in a lifetime trip and sharing it with those of us who will probably never take such a trip.
  9. kenbelt

    kenbelt n00b

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2010
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    1
    Great trip report...very enjoyable!
  10. IslandSpark

    IslandSpark Adventurer

    Joined:
    May 4, 2008
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    Location:
    Nanaimo, Van Island, BC
    No helpers at the borders, its been quite easy! just take your time, you have more spanish than I do, shouldnt be an issue for ya!
  11. fastlane1

    fastlane1 Catching up with my past

    Joined:
    May 24, 2009
    Oddometer:
    83
    Location:
    North Vancouver - ex Jo'burg, SA
    Hi Pat, I only noticed your SPOT tracking from Panama? It seems set to only track the last 6 days and then the older days tracks dissapear...? Did you only get that recently? I'm looking at getting one here.
  12. Ardyjay

    Ardyjay Been here awhile

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    Nov 26, 2007
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    313
    Location:
    G.I. BC
  13. IslandSpark

    IslandSpark Adventurer

    Joined:
    May 4, 2008
    Oddometer:
    160
    Location:
    Nanaimo, Van Island, BC
    Unfortunatly the Spot website only allows you to show locations from the past 7 days... I wish it would show every waypoint I put in. :(:
  14. IslandSpark

    IslandSpark Adventurer

    Joined:
    May 4, 2008
    Oddometer:
    160
    Location:
    Nanaimo, Van Island, BC
    [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]Day 44[/FONT]

    [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]This morning I get lost for nearly an hour trying to find my way out of the city. I drive around in circles trying to find the access road and the highway, note to self, buy a good set of maps for the GPS next time...[/FONT]

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    This doesnt look like the right road to me...

    [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]North of town, through the hills there is a lot of roadwork happening and riding a motorcycle is a huge plus as you can pass nearly anywhere compared to your standard car or truck. Filtering to the front of the line when there are single lane sections, passing groups of 5 or 6 semi trucks on the uphill grades, worth its weight in gold and I'm sure it saved me an hour of driving today![/FONT]

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    [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]4 hours of riding behind me I arrive in Tela on the Caribbean coast of Honduras. It's HOT here! The thermometer I have mounted on the bike reads 46 degree's Celsius!!
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    [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]Wow, just soaked in sweat!
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    [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]Tela is a small town with a real feel to it set on a gorgeous white sand beach. Once the executive quarters for the top brass of the United Fruit Company (owners of the Chiquita banana brand) the beaches are top notch and the water bathtub warm.[/FONT]

    [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]I try to shack up at a cheap local hostel but the girl at the desk flat out refuses my request. She doesn't want to see anything happen to my motorcycle and they don't have any secure parking. She tells me there are “muy problemas” leaving the bike on the street overnight. I roll around town and find a cheap hotel with secure parking and call it good.[/FONT]

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    [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]Bridge is out, another repurposed railway crossing keeps traffic flowing.[/FONT]

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    [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]Miles of Palm plantations[/FONT]

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    [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]Ahhh Tela[/FONT]

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    [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]Through a thin palm grove you'll find the beach...[/FONT]

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    [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]The surf is small but the water is clear and warm...
    [/FONT]

    [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]I change and head straight for the beach, the water is warm but in combination with the constant sea breeze its refreshing. After a few hours walking around town, swimming at the beach and generally just enjoying life I head back to the hotel. I ask about good food and the girl at the desk rattles off a whole list.[/FONT]

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    Not very crowded...

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    A old dugout canoe...

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    My $20 hotel...

    [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]I wonder just down the street and come across the Las Angles Chinese restaurant where I stop. The menu looks good and there are enough locals around to know it must be half decent. I order a bowl of loaded wanton soup (shrimp, chicken and pork) and a plate of chow mein. I should have asked how big each was! My bowl of soup was easily a meal in itself... I gorge myself trying to make a dent in all this great food, but to no avail, its just too much. I waddle back to the hotel and pass out in the luxury of an air conditioned room.[/FONT]

    [​IMG]
    Dinner... Delicious but huge portions, hardley made a dent...
  15. SkizzMan

    SkizzMan aka SkiddMark ;^)

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2009
    Oddometer:
    9,688
    Location:
    Austin, Tx.
    Get my PM with Dave's email address?

    He'll be leaving the canal zone soon.

    Dave's considering some work down in Colombia, btw.
  16. IslandSpark

    IslandSpark Adventurer

    Joined:
    May 4, 2008
    Oddometer:
    160
    Location:
    Nanaimo, Van Island, BC
    Yea, thanks Shizz, I'll remember to shoot him an E-mail tonight...
  17. Geodesic

    Geodesic Explorer

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2007
    Oddometer:
    176
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    Fun read so far! I'll be curious to see your favorite places when you've been to all of the countries. I've never been to Central America so it'd be cool if you also get a chance to compare them to each other.

    Cheers and good riding! :freaky
  18. saha6818

    saha6818 Tumbleweed

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2009
    Oddometer:
    39
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    I know you've read it a million times, but thanks for the report. I've been reading with interest. You make a great argument for making a similar trip. Maybe someday I'll be able to talk you into giving the KLR up so it can take its third rider to Panama.
  19. gasandasphalt

    gasandasphalt Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Oddometer:
    531
    Location:
    S/W New Mexico
    Hey guys,,, this is easily a 5 star report... where are your votes???????:deal
  20. IslandSpark

    IslandSpark Adventurer

    Joined:
    May 4, 2008
    Oddometer:
    160
    Location:
    Nanaimo, Van Island, BC
    [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]Day 45[/FONT]

    [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]From Tela on Honduras' Caribbean coast I head west towards the city of San Pedro Sula. There is a saying here which I think rings true, “Tegucigalpa thinks, San Pedro Sula works and Tela & La Ceiba have fun”. [/FONT]

    [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]San Pedro Sula is a major agricultural centre sending its crops all across central america and the world. Miles of Banana, Pineapple and Suger Cane fields fly by as I make my way through town and out the other side. [/FONT]

    [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]Not wasting any time, I get lost trying to find the main road south to the border (this is starting to become common place). A few locals help me with directions but at best I get 2 or three blocks before asking another. I with a minimum of fuss I do eventually find the road and put some miles under my belt.[/FONT]

    [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]Its not long after, that in a small town on the way to the border a pickup decides to back out of a parking spot and into the oncoming traffic. With a buss in the oncoming lane and pedestrians on the shoulder, the truck in front of me has no choice but to slam on his brakes and pray. [/FONT]

    [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]Not paying enough attention I don't notice this until a split second later, and with no avoidance options I go into full on panic braking mode, I squeeze the brakes until near lockup, it looks like I might just make it... And then, the truck in front of me rear ends the one backing out onto the street, with the last few feet of my stopping room gone I lightly tag his rear bumper with my wheel. Heart pounding, happy to still be rubber side down I roll the bike to the ride of the road and get off to inspect the damage.[/FONT]

    [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]There are no issues from the bike to truck contact, I cant say the same for the truck to truck rear ender. I talk to the owner he says its all good and waves me on my way. I go back to the bike and have a better look, the rim looks fine, forks are good, but as I roll it forwards I notice the brake calliper moving about ¾ of an inch with every wheel revolution. I guess while my tire may have tagged his bumper, the trailer hitch poking out had managed to do one better on my nice oversized brake rotor...[/FONT]

    [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]Its bent to all hell, I'll burn whats left of the pads out and probably damage the calliper if I ride it like this... Time to MacGyver it until a permanent fix can be found. I remove the Calliper and using the spare hose clamp and some stainless tie wire from my tool kit affix it to the fork leg.
    [/FONT]

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    What more can i do here and now?

    [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]Not the optimum solution as the stock brakes on the KLR's sucked, let alone only riding with the stock rear brake. It will work for now though and get me into a town where I can figure out a better solution...[/FONT]

    [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]The 45 minute ride to the Copan Ruins border crossing is a learning experience and I look for the front brake on more than one occasion. With time I train myself to leave much more room and become more familiar with how the rear brake reacts in all circumstances.[/FONT]

    [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]The crossing into Guatemala is painless, I'm becoming quite proficient at this by now. I get stamped out of Honduras and cancel my importation permission before heading to the Guatemalan side for my entry stamp. I end up having to wait for 20 minutes while the girl in the booth eats her lunch, she wont take 2 minutes out of her time to stamp the only traveler at the crossing into her country.[/FONT]

    [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]Finally stamped passport in hand I ride off into Guatemala bypassing customs as the agent on my way south had left my importation permit open for my return, who says bureaucracy is bullshit?[/FONT]

    [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]The road north towards the coast again is nothing to write home about, long straight sections followed by some okay hills and then back to the long bring straights. Two hours pass and I'm starting to get close to my destination for the evening, the town known by the locals as fronteras but labelled on the roadsigns and maps as Rio Dulce.[/FONT]

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    [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]Rio Dulce is a nice little spot set on the river between the vast mangrove swamps of the river it is named for. Its very popular with Yachties who are looking to get some dry land under their feet as the river is nearly sea level and completely navigable to the lake inland. [/FONT]

    [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]I stay at a riverside marina/hotel by the name of Bruno's, its a little more expensive than expected at $14usd but the room is great and the balcony overlooks the small marina with the river in the background.[/FONT]

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    [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]I work on some ride reports and arrange to deal with my brake problem. Chris @ Dual-Star.com is a godsend. He finds my old stock brake rotor that I had left there at the beginning of the trip and with an address from me agrees to DHL the parts to Cancun for me so I can meet up with them in a week or so. THANKS CHRIS![/FONT]

    [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]Happy to have my brake issue somewhat sorted I wander the city looking for decent places for dinner that I was starting to feel I needed. I come across one place on the river that serves a mix of Pizza, Chinese and local dishes, its full of gringo sailors and the prices seem good so I sit down and enjoy the hustle and bustle of local river life.[/FONT]

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    Even though its Victoria "lager" it tasted like a million bucks today!

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    Dockside resuraunts are a staple of the town...

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    A few of the mentioned gringo sailors...

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    Bored waiting on my food...

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    Asked for a small, they made a large, payed for a small...

    [FONT=Arial, sans-serif]Tomorrow I will check out the local Castle of San Filipe just outside of town before continuing towards the city of Flores and the Tik'al ruins.[/FONT]