The Motorcycle Chronicles of Jackie & Valentino... The Southern Episode

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by V@lentino, Sep 20, 2013.

  1. arjones

    arjones Roads and Waves

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    Oh God, the beautiful JackIE :deal!!! My bad, once again:shog. Foreign language and names... Great tease, I'm wondering what's next!!!

    And, by the way, lots of suicide showers ahead!!!:lol3

    Cheers guys,

    Arjones.
    #81
  2. Blader54

    Blader54 Long timer

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    Going to take another hack at the development question. Back in the day when the Cold War raged it seemed as though America would support almost any dictator as long as he was "anti-communist." If the country had some valuable natural resources then foreign money would pour in to build infrastructure to allow the dictator to better control those resources, which he would then ensure were sold for the benefit of his western friends. And the money that flowed in to build the infrastructure flowed back out to the huge western construction companies hired to do the building. And of course there was a huge rake-off by the dictator, his extended family, and his closest friends. There would also be quite a lot of US military equipment given to the dictator so he would be better able to fight communists. Another money-making oppo for the ruling elite, and then they could use the helos, jets, guns, and small arms to stamp out any complaints by the common people (who weren't getting any benefit from all of this western largesse) by simply calling them communists. Which seemed to often be a self-fulfilling sort of thing, because really, what other political philosophy was there for them to turn to? see Jonathan Kwitny, "Endless Enemies", Congdon & Weed, 1984.

    But now the USSR has fallen. The cold war is over. The west won. The situation Kwitny wrote about has fundamentally changed. But have things changed? Does the aid money now actually go toward improving the lives of the people? Or is there a new enemy to oppose all over the world, a new enemy that leads us to support corrupt dictators all over again? I'm not sure.
    #82
  3. Pongo

    Pongo Been here awhile

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    Imagine if the truth was far worse then that. Wouldn't that be something.
    #83
  4. V@lentino

    V@lentino Inspektor

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    I think that unless you are a philanthropist with bottomless resources "à la Bill Gates", and dedicate a specific plan of action to eradicate a specific ailment. Development tends to be successful when it is from within, small scale, and transformative. Record shows that micro to medium scale projects spawned from harvesting local knowledge, and adapting local skills to address community needs; especially when spearheaded by small women lead organizations have demonstrated a higher, and more sustainable rate of success. Here the success is measured by the community itself, where an individual is actually able to directly reap the benefit of their own implication in the development effort.

    Here is a piece I did on development communication; I guess it's ok to push you own stuff in your own thread :evil

    We are the caste system
    #84
  5. Blader54

    Blader54 Long timer

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    Working my way through the Normark piece, though it seems written for a specialist audience familiar with his terms of art, which I am not. But it did lead me to delve into the Maya movement. Seems that there is a group of indigenous people in Guatemala seeking to unify an array of indigenous peoples who can be defined by being both in a Mayan language group and by a history of discrimination practiced upon them by Ladinos and Europeans. I think that Normark is going to eventually say that there is a danger here that the Mayan Movement will attempt to create a Mayan history that supports their current political goals and that this is as detrimental as the archaeologists who have tried to force-fit Mayan history into pre-existing archaeological worldviews.

    I think it is on his blog that Normark discusses National Geographic as using ahistorical elements to portray featured groups as exotic or primitive in order to meet the expectations of their readership. He uses the example of using the term "warriors" rather than "soldiers" because the former carries a connotation of primitiveness and savagery. I find myself questioning this argument. It seems to me that "soldier" would to most readers suggest that the fighting force was organized into squads, platoons, companies, etc just like the military in their own country. Seems to me the best thing would be to try and find out how these fighters view themselves, and let their self-definition stand, with explicatory words for the reader.
    #85
  6. Blader54

    Blader54 Long timer

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    That is a very nice presentation, and I agree, that real change is possible on a local level or even an individual level. We have to change the way we "see" development. And we have to change the way we see people.
    #86
  7. V@lentino

    V@lentino Inspektor

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    We stayed three days in Antigua meandering its cobbled streets, regaling in local and international delicacies, even had a home cooked meal. Tomorrow we have an early wake up and we head for El Salvador, crossing at the most southern border point at La Hachadura. We had initially planed to cross further North and ride the ruta de las flores, a 40 km stretch that would take us to Juayua, but we got news that one of the main bridges to the border was out of commission due to recent storms.

    On the note of storms, it is interesting to note that our last days of riding in the rain was between southern Washington and northern Oregon, not a drop since. We did have a couple of heavy thunderstorms one in Guanajuato, MX and the other in Puebla (with hail), but they happened when we were pleasantly enjoying a local barley beverages.

    Sometimes timing is on your side.

    Here comes the pics



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    I love the bikes against the city colors

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    La gente

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    A colourful bus

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    This little guy was happy to see us

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    Doors and locks


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    Just like at home

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    The friendly Lucky

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    Angela was neatly tucked away

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    Churches and Arches

    Day

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    Night

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    A few more

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    Thank you Antigua, tomorrow we ride


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    #87
  8. V@lentino

    V@lentino Inspektor

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    This is where this whole notion of authenticity comes into play, the hispanic couple sitting next to us at the restaurant said they wanted to taste authentic Guatemalan cooking and the lady asked her server what she suggested; her answer was:
    -"toda la comida que servimos aqui es Guatemalteca", I don't remember if there were cheeseburgers or french fries on the menu, but I am pretty sure they would both have been "Guatemaltecas tambien".
    #88
  9. Blader54

    Blader54 Long timer

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    Authenticity....yes...an interesting subject. Perhaps the food at that restaurant, even if it had cheeseburgers and fries on the menu, could be termed "authentic food of Guatemalan restaurants whose intention is to attract tourist diners?"

    I was once invited to have a business dinner with one of our managers and a group of clients. We went to a local chinese restaurant. Everyone began looking over the menus, perhaps trying to decide between General Tso's Chicken or Kung Pao. Our host, my manager, who was a Chinese-American, told us to put our menus down. He then carried on a somewhat lengthy conversation in Chinese with our waiter. When they finished talking the waiter collected the menus and departed. One of the clients asked him, "Kenny, what was that all about?". "Those menus are for white people," Kenny answered. "Chinese people never order from those menus. I want you guys to have real Chinese food, not that stuff on the menu." Was the meal that followed authentic? Well, Kenny grew up in the family home in Shanghai, so I have to respect that his satisfaction with the dishes that were served must serve as authentication, at least at that time and place.

    In Anti-Hero's first ride report "Coast to Coast with an Italian Supermodel" he touches on authenticity as well. If I recall correctly, at one point in his journey he attended a Science Fiction Fan gathering, where seeing people who were not superheroes and did not have the bodies of superheroes wearing superhero costumes led him to muse on the concept of authenticity, and ultimately, again, if I recall correctly, the challenge to be authentic to one's self.
    #89
  10. Vato Jinete

    Vato Jinete Feo del Norte

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    Are tomatoes Italian?
    Are potatoes Irish?
    Is Chocolate Swiss or Belgian?
    #90
  11. TealLA

    TealLA Adventurer

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    Great pictures and stories! I am really enjoying your RR.

    Some really nice dialogue as well. Travel really opens the eyes and makes one think about the world around them :clap
    #91
  12. V@lentino

    V@lentino Inspektor

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    Woken up by the call from the “gallo” at the crack of dawn, feed a hungry dog your last smoked chuleta, and twist the throttle. Heading for the volcanoes of Guatemala on your way to the Salvadorian border. Miss your exit and get lost for an hour or so. Lane split a couple miles of lories, and other road monsters to be the first in line at the aduana.

    Out of Guatemala in 10 minutes, into Salvador in an hour. Ride another hundred km into the twisty Pacific coast. In and out of tunnels. Find your dwelling in playa Tunco just in time to splash in the waves rincing off the heat and humidity of the day, shoot the sunset, and drink a well deserve local pils.

    This was the kind of day it was for Jackie and Valentino on this November 8, 2013.

    All in a day’s work.


    Photos à l’appui


    Acatenango - Volcan de Fuego - Volcan de Agua

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    Street market

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    Threading the lories

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    Tail-gate party Guatever style

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    At the aduana

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    Jackie fixer extraordinaire.

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    Does this make my ass look big

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    Where to from here?

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    Welcome to Salvador

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    Salvadorian cows in the distance

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    Walking around Delhi style

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    Back on the coast

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    Into the dark

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    Red skies at night, sailors delight

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    Well deserved

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    #92
  13. BuggyCrewNextDoor

    BuggyCrewNextDoor Tara Pl. Watchdogs

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    Please know that we are genuinely living vicariously through you and your travels at this moment :D
    Our temperatures have dropped and our skies are grey. Yup, typical November weather here on the wet coast of BC. And you say you haven't ridden through a rain shower since Washington/Oregon ??!! Harrumph!
    Continue to take care, you two. Keep the pictures and commentary coming so that we can close our eyes to the rain and imagine we're riding along with you.
    #93
  14. V@lentino

    V@lentino Inspektor

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    Hi guys:wave

    You are authentically and definitely funny, thanks for following along.

    Now going breakfast hunting
    #94
  15. Blader54

    Blader54 Long timer

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    Re local development....I was reading the "Oasis of my Soul" blog (ride report is here at adv) and noticed that Ara seems to be able to do a lot of cooking with a solar oven which made me think that for certain sunny parts of the world where people (usually women) have to walk for hours every day to find firewood, a solar oven might be a great thing to free up time for them to participate in the kind of local development activity I think you are talking about. Am I on the right track?
    #95
  16. V@lentino

    V@lentino Inspektor

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    Any effort to provide self-sufficient low-cost, and environmentally sound energy to people who do not have access to electricity or have to pay money they don't have to private foreign corporation for access, is a step in the right direction. The only problem is that there is no money in it...

    The Centre for Environmental Education (CEE) is one of the organization at the forefront of initiatives of that nature
    #96
  17. V@lentino

    V@lentino Inspektor

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    We left the volcanic black sand beach of Playa Tunco, a small surf town nestled on the Pacific coast just before La Libertad. Everything was gated and guarded. From there we rode the 30 or so km to the capital San Salvador.


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    We did not have a particular interest for the city, other than the BMW shop. I needed to replace a couple of items that were stolen from the crash bar bag in Palenque. So we found a B&B walking distance from the shop, and booked for a couple of nights with our host Eduardo on Pje Maracaibo. We arrived on Sunday afternoon.

    Eduardo is a surgeon and performs periodically when he is not running the hostel. The place was nice enough, clean enough, etc enough… but there was a bit of an “Hotel California vibe to it”

    -“You can check out anytime you want but you can never leave” type thing.

    Everything barb wired and padlock. We had breakfast and dinner at the hostel and we were the only guess. The dinning room was a bit creepy, with shady lighting, and the whole family would walk in one by one at regular interval, look at us say -“buenas tardes” or something applicable, and disappear in the kitchen carefully closing the door behind them. We were asked what we wanted for dinner around 1500 when we came back from our walk in the neighbourhood, picked something from the menu and agreed to come for dinner at 1900. We showed up at about 1845 and got dinner at about 2030; it was funny because the sons, daughters, abuelita, cook, and the surgeon kept walking in the dinning room, give us a quick gaze – or not, then dart in the kitchen, and carefully close the door as if there was a secret ritual been performed, and we where either not invited to the party or would end up as the sacrificial lamb.

    In the end it was all-good, and we woke up without any new scars and all our organs still in place.


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    Yesterday we walked to the dealership and spoke with the bike mechanic who told us that he only had one oil filler cap wrench and one oil filter wrench, and that they were part of his tool kit and he could not part with them.

    They had nothing else in stock. Not such a big deal, as I found a way to open/close the oil filler cap, and I’ll figure a way to remove the oil filter when the time comes.


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    So granted that we were not in the best neighbourhood of San Salvador, and I do not want to generalize, but even riding through the city we did not see anything really noteworthy. It just does not seem to be a great place to live in. Guards with shotguns at the entrance of every store, and soldiers with M16’s in public places like the mall, schools, and bus terminal. A lot of eight feet tall steel fences adorned with razor wire.


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    All the people we met were nice and pleasant, and answered all our questions with a smile. We walk around during the day, and never felt unsafe or threaten, however same as the downtown of many US cities, I visited; I don’t think I would be walking around at night by myself without been very familiar with the area.


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    I know it’s all about fears, and they are likely my own, but you cannot help but see the signs all around you. Reading the faces you can catch a certain edge in people eyes, fear, surprise, something hard to describe, you know it when you see it. I remember noting a similar ambience when riding through Napoli at the height of the trash war the Camera was wagging against the citizen of this great Italian city in 2008.

    I kept asking myself how it would be to live in such a place, were the threat of violence, crime, and guns is omnipresent, the smell of sewer, the dirty and shambled buildings, the littered streets… It is so counterintuitive to what makes us thrive as human beings.

    Not only that but in a country that is so overwhelmed by a foreign dominion that it chose to forfeit its own currency. Think about it for a second… Every time you pay for something you are reminded of your economic dependence. In a world where everything weighs on money, I can’t imagine how it could be to constantly be reminded that the fruit of your labor is monetized through a currency that is not your own, and that subsequently the great majority of what you spend is to buy goods from places harboring effigies of the same foreign nation. Evidently Salvador is but a receptacle of Americana, where KFC, Pizza Hut, and other fast food chain reign, more than we saw in Guatemala and Mexico. Most of what to buy, especially what you consume is woven with US culture. We saw the most overweight people since leaving the US. Obesity in El Salvador rates at 28.5% (2008), just 5% less than that of the US.

    Food was not so great either, we had Pupusas, a fat tortilla stuffed with either frijoles, queso, pollo, or algo mas, and a couple of more “typical” dishes; verdict not so great.

    The ride between the capital and San Miguel was pleasant enough but far from outstanding.

    Coming in from Mexico where the food, people, cities, and scenery where so amazing, we found the landscape dotted with volcano really amazing but the Guatemalans were somewhat aloof.

    Salvadorians appear friendlier, but apart from the pleasant interaction we had with the locals, we found what we saw of the country of little interest. Not everything is always amazing, but it’s all good, all part of it.


    A nice pile of junk

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    First you spread it thin

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    Let it dry for a while

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    Pile it

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    And finally pack it

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    A few more from the road

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    There is always room for one tiny box more

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    Tomorrow is ADUANA day, Jackie will be busy:

    Out of Sal, into Hon, out of Hon, and into Nic.

    We are heading for Leon.
    #97
  18. Blader54

    Blader54 Long timer

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    Yup, it all comes with some kind of cost and the problem is that the people who most need these solutions are also the least likely to have hard cash or even to live in a society where currency is the medium of exchange. The solar oven company seems very open to the idea of supplying kits to a locally-owned or community-owned factory where they could be assembled geographically close to the people who need them; and they even have a very large model that is intended to function as a bakery, thus producing a product the people could sell at a market.....BUT....even producing the kits has a cost. (and the bakery oven idea only works if the people proposed to use it have baked goods as part of their culture). I still keep thinking how much better it would be all around if a government, say the US govt, was thought of as the country that made it possible for them to improve their lives with solar ovens or cranked radios rather than the country that sold helos or AR-15s. IIRC this was one of the things that Kwitney concluded in his book, that the US would be better off providing humanitarian aid wherever it is needed rather than trying to "predict the winner" and supply him with guns and ammo....etc.

    Hope your "Day of the Aduana" (lol like the reference...."Night of the ....") went well. Looking forward to your approach toward getting past "the gap".
    #98
  19. knownway

    knownway n00b

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    Seems like just yesterday you guys were at the "shop" having Don change your tires. It's been fascinating following along with your adventure and seeing all the great photos, reading the commentary. Traveling the world is something everyone should do (ideally). It might go a long way toward a better world for everyone. Hopefully, those Heidenaus are treating you well. :ymca

    Continued safe travels to both of you. :beer

    As Don would say, rubber side down, fuzzy side up.
    #99
  20. V@lentino

    V@lentino Inspektor

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    Great to hear from you Debbie, sending you warm and humid greetings from Leon, Nicaragua.

    After 10000 km the Heidies are still looking pretty good:wink:

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