The Road to Guatemala

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Eduardo, Jan 15, 2009.

  1. Eduardo

    Eduardo Eduardo

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2008
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    687
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    Minnesota
    Hola Amigos, Well, I finally got out of the cold, and snow of Minnesota on the 6th of January. My DR 650 got a ride to Texas in the back of my 16 year old pickup, with 215000 miles, 4 year old tires, etc. It did make it to it´s winter storage place, and that was the goal as you can´t drive out of Minnesota in January, es imposible. I didn´t see any bikes on the road until Texas.

    Crossing the border at Matamoros, as I have done for 9 years in Dec. or Jan. was a breeze, and got a hotel there for the night....1/3 the price of one in Brownsville. From there I made four jumps, north of Tampico at Gonzales, La Guadelupe on the Gulf coast for three days at a friends hotel, Catemaco, and on to Palenque.

    The road from the border to Tampico is a mix of flat farmland, rolling hills, flat top mesas, and the beginning of the tropical warm lush green environment. Tampico to Veracruz is probably the worst roads on this portion of the trip, but the scenery gets progressively nicer with mountains, and jungle fauna and flora. I took the libre (free) road along the coast heading to Catemaco. It´s a nice ride and I save about 450 pesos versus the Autopista (4 lane expressway), which is enough for a nice hotel, supper, and gas. Catemaco is like a smaller Lake Titicaca in Bolivia/Peru. A big lake surrounded by mountains, with the town built from the water up the hill and it´s famous for their brujas (witches) so I was extra polite...don´t need any curses screwing things up! The ride there was a tough one with a steady 25-30 mph winds with gusts of 45 mph and up. The morning I left it was misting and foggy, but that gave way to rain as I came down off the mountain and caught the road toward Villahermosa/Palenque. It rained all day, but didn´t get really nasty until after Villa, when it became a steady downpour. I opted to just keep on going as there aren´t any good places to pull over and rest. Then, in the heavy rain, I had 25 miles of road constuction with narrow lanes, mud, rock, slippery conditions, and semi trucks throwing mud all over everybody. I was so happy to get to Palenque in one piece and get a hot shower and good meal.

    I´ll be hanging around here for a few days and rest and regroup. I have probably been here 25 times over the years and know the town like my hometown. Everything is cheap: nice room $14. excellent suppers $3., etc.
    Today the exchange rate for the dollar reached a historic all time high at 14.65 pesos for one buck. Good for US travellers, but bad for Mexico. Plus tourism is down by at least 1/2 to 2/3 depending where your at. I made the mistake of reading my first newspaper in over a week this morning over a couple cups of locally grown coffee....the worlds got just a few problems. This culture handles these problems differently from the US, but I do see quiet desperation in the eyes and faces of many. Sad for sure but we all hope this next year will resolve some of these problems that I don´t really need to define to anyone, anywhere, we know them well.

    It´s been an enjoyable change of almost 100F, from -20 to 80 degrees, but it´s kind of like jet lag and takes a while to adjust to. This is my first post on my thread and as soon as I get organized I will start to include some photos, that is if the rain, and fog allow some camera time.

    Saludos, Eduardo
    #1
  2. Klay

    Klay dreaming adventurer

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    Nov 19, 2005
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    Location:
    right here on my thermarest
    :lurk
    #2
  3. GB

    GB . Administrator

    Joined:
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    61,598
    100 degrees sounds good to me right about now.. we're in the deep freeze too.. thanks for the intro, I hope you can load some pics of your journey :thumb

    :lurk
    #3
  4. GSdiablo

    GSdiablo cubical farmer

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2007
    Oddometer:
    702
    Location:
    On the wrong side of the river
    I will be following this one. We (wifey and I) need to get our butts moving and cross the border on bikes. Its friggen cold here.
    I love the cost saving details:clap
    Pics? Thanks Greg
    #4
  5. Trailblazer

    Trailblazer no cualquier gringo

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2004
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    251
    Location:
    Austin, Texas, USA
    :lurk Bring it on. :lurk
    #5
  6. s cade

    s cade n00b

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2008
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    4
    School was cancelled here today due to the cold and tomorrow we already are delayed 2 hours. You are missing ice and cold. Keep the posts coming, look forward to some good winter reading!:clap
    #6
  7. kwight

    kwight Adventurer

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    Oct 16, 2008
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    Location:
    Grand Junction, CO
    Eduardo,

    I was hoping for pictures as well. I have made the trip from Phoenix to San Francisco Zapotitlan, Guatemala (Near Masatenango) twice several years ago. My favorite portion of the trip through Mexico was actualy going through Vera Cruz to Oaxaca. Anywhere in Guatemala all looks good to me. What part of Guatemala did you go to? I hope to make that trip again sometime when my children are older.

    Kevin
    #7
  8. d_day_6

    d_day_6 ADVrider poseur

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2006
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    Location:
    Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin
    Eduardo,

    Northfield, MN eh? I am due east of you 1.5 hours in western WI.
    You picked a great time to head south. It was -25 here this morning.
    I am envious Bro..

    Keep the reports coming. Riding real Mexico is one of my retirement goals.
    I am about 5 years out from total retirement, and will have to just enjoy reports like yours till then. When you get back, I'd love to get together for a ride and hear all about your trips to our southern neighbor.

    Until then, keep the pics and reports coming. It will get us snowbound riders thru the winter. Ride safe..

    Todd
    #8
  9. tricepilot

    tricepilot El Gran Payaso

    Joined:
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    San Antonio
    Eduardo, I am three weeks behind you but following a different route. Please keep up the interesting cultural notes. :thumb

    Bob :jose
    #9
  10. Eduardo

    Eduardo Eduardo

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2008
    Oddometer:
    687
    Location:
    Minnesota
    Hola Amigos, Here is my first attempt at sending photos. Saludos, Eduardo


    [​IMG] This is what I do not miss

    [​IMG] Along the road in north of Tampico

    [​IMG]
    Dance hall with rooms above in Gonzales, Tam., I was the only one here.

    [​IMG] Santiago Tux. Veracruz

    [​IMG] Mist in the mountain around San. Tux. Veracruz
    #10
  11. eddie98

    eddie98 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2007
    Oddometer:
    648
    Location:
    Kennesaw, GA
    A donde vas en Guate?
    that's where i'm from and planning on making the same trip next year.
    #11
  12. macrosse

    macrosse Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2008
    Oddometer:
    55
    Location:
    Portland, Oregon
    I'm in Puerto Vallarta right now and I will be in Antigua Guatemala almost all of March. Where will you be staying? I found some motorcycle tours in Guatemala and surrounding countries, you should check it out if you want a back woods adventure. If you are going to be there March let me know and we will have to meet up for a ride. Here is the link to the tours.
    http://www.catours.co.uk/index.html
    Ignore the prices, I talked to the guy and he said we could tag along some of his tours for cheap sense we have our own bikes. Ride safe!
    #12
  13. Charles Seguin

    Charles Seguin Noob4Life

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    Tucson
    Hey Ed,

    Looks like you got a great exchange rate there. I think when we got in it was like 10/1, then up to 13/1 by the time we left. Whatever the actual numbers were, our bank accounts were showing more pesos when we left than we got in, and that was after a month :eek1.

    The exchange rate is not necessarily bad for Mexico. While it does decrease their purchasing power abroad, it also makes their goods more attractive for export.

    Suerte amigo and looking forward to hearing all about when I get back to MN.

    -Charles
    #13
  14. Lone Rider

    Lone Rider Registered User

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    25,130
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    out and about
    A very nice post.
    Where in Palenque are you staying?
    Thanks, and please keep us informed. :thumb
    #14
  15. Eduardo

    Eduardo Eduardo

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2008
    Oddometer:
    687
    Location:
    Minnesota
    Hola Amigos, I´m including some shots from a trip to Misol-Ha falls, and have tried to make them a tad bigger than my last ones. We´ll see, ya lo veo.
    I´ll be leaving Palenque tomorrow for San Cristobal las Casas, about 140 miles to the south, but it´s a slow 140. Road is almost constant turns, left, right, up, and down. However, it is very beautiful riding through the mountains and everything is various shades of green. It is also the Zapatista home ground. My favorite memory from last year along the road was a road sign that said ¨respect the signs¨, complete with two rows of automatic weapon hits swept left, then right. The other odd thing about the road is the impromtu road tax ladies. They line up with a rope with rags tied on it, and stop people and demand a tariff. Last year I caught them napping and blew past them, 3 times.

    It finally stopped raining. Yesterday it rained 24 hours, but the weather for tomorrow looks good. Looking forward to San Cristobal, it´s a really artsy, friendly town, full of 16th century Spainish churches, and buildings. It is cool there being about 6000 ft., but doesn´t get cool until 8-9 at night all day it´s shorts and t-shirts.

    Well, off to pack. Saludos, Eduardo

    [​IMG] This is Misol-ha cascades, about 15 south of Palenque

    [​IMG] Underneath the falls

    [​IMG] The leaves on this plant are huge

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG] Typical countryside

    [​IMG]
    #15
  16. Charles Seguin

    Charles Seguin Noob4Life

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    Location:
    Tucson
    :thumb

    I thought San Cristobal was a great town, a lot more pleasant climate than the surrounding area. Seems like years ago that I was there.
    #16
  17. j_seguin

    j_seguin Been here awhile

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    Jul 20, 2007
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    Location:
    Superior CO
    Thats a good looking DR you´ve got there Ed.

    Suerte amigo!
    #17
  18. boliviasi

    boliviasi Adventurer

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    Jul 13, 2007
    Oddometer:
    23
    mas fotos eduardo... great ride man keep us posted
    #18
  19. Eduardo

    Eduardo Eduardo

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2008
    Oddometer:
    687
    Location:
    Minnesota
    Hola Amigos, I´m in San Cristobal las Casas, Chiapas. I left Palenque yesterday and went as far as Oscosingo, and east 12km to the Mayan ruins at Tonina. The road from Palenque to Tonina was good, lots of twisties, and beautiful mountain scenery. I got a cabana (cabin) by the entrance to the ruins, had supper and slept like a log. After the noisy and busy Palenque it was so quiet, just natural sounds, birds, monkeys, and near by cows. The ruins consisted of one main pyramid complex, but it was huge, and tall...I got my exercise for the day.

    I moved on toward San Cristobal about 100km south. The road was not very good...lots of potholes, small villages with tons topes (speedbumps), and super aggressive mini-bus drivers. They didn´t like it when I passed them as they slowed to a stop over the topes, and would jam like crazy to over take me. There are lots of hairpin turns, so usually once they were passed, they were history. Next year I´ll skip Palenque and take the turn that goes to Tuxla Gut. and comes into San Cristobal from the west.

    I had a bunch of today´s fotos not load, and will try again tomorrow, but here is some of the ones that did. Saludos, Eduardo

    [​IMG] Saw mill around Tonina

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG] Mayan ruin at Tonina, they never discovered the arch, but used a
    cantilevered type doorway

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG] On the road to San Cristobal

    [​IMG] Stone carving about 6 ft. tall, Tonina

    [​IMG] Automatic rifle bullet holes, probably an AK47, Zapatista need to practice too.

    [​IMG] Tonina

    [​IMG] Pine forest close to San Cristobal

    [​IMG] He´s got a smoke in his mouth, and a snake in his hand.
    #19
  20. outpostbabu

    outpostbabu Been here awhile

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    Location:
    Atlanta
    :lurk Excellent report, I'll be following along. Best of luck to you. I've only spent a little time in Guatemala but loved it.
    #20