The Ultimate Ride - Brother and Sister Motorcycling Duo

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by UltiJayne, Jun 3, 2013.

  1. UltiJayne

    UltiJayne Sister on a KLR

    Mar 20, 2012
    Calgary, Alberta
    10 months and 5 days ago my brother Phil (wump) and I left Vancouver, Canada on our two KLR 650s, headed up to the top of Alaska, where the plan was to turn around at the Arctic Ocean and head down to the bottom of Patagonia. We thought the trip might take us about 8 months or so.

    Right now we're in Antigua, Guatemala (about half way there) still heading South.

    For the past 10 months we've been writing a blog - - and been thinking about finding a way to post it on ADVrider as a ride report. Today I have done some testing, and there is a way.

    In the spirit of "better late than never", we've decided to start this ride report from when we entered Guatemala. If you want to read about the first 40,000km or so, it's all on the blog. It'll take a while if you want to read it all!

    Here are links to some "highlights":
    The Crash
    Phil's Electrical Issue Finally Fixed
    The Disagreement
    The First 20,000km
    A "run in" with the Mexican Police
    Nature Stop in Belize

    Hope you enjoy the report!

    Jayne and Phil :D
  2. UltiJayne

    UltiJayne Sister on a KLR

    Mar 20, 2012
    Calgary, Alberta
    While having breakfast in San Ignacio, Belize we spotted a tall Caucasian couple walking in the street. Someone commented on the girl's cowboy boots. We turned our attention to something else and kept eating.

    After breakfast we went to retrieve our bikes, and that same couple came up to talk to me.

    "Are you riding solo?" asked the very tall man (even taller than Phil).

    "No I'm with my brother." I replied pointing down the road to where Phil was uncovering Jugs.

    "I'm Erik and this is my girlfriend Tanya, we're from Vancouver. I'm also riding a KLR." A few more minutes of chatting, we exchanged details and parted ways, with the usual "I'm sure we'll run into you somewhere again soon".

    Hey presto - new friends. I love that riding motorbikes long distances creates this instant bond between riders.

    The next morning we had an email from Erik telling us that he and Tanya had safely arrived in Guatemala, rented a house in El Remate, near Tikal, and that there was a room waiting for us there if we were interested.

    As we were on the internet checking border procedures for entering into Guatemala that very day, and our first stop was the ancient ruins of Tikal, this was perfect. We had a destination for the day - El Remate.

    We missed the turn for El Remate, but that wasn't a problem, because we pulled into a gas station and who should wander up to us? It was Erik! I didn't recognise him at first, I think because I simply wasn't expecting to see him there. He'd been working on his bike, trying to figure out why his fuel consumption had suddenly risen dramatically. He's riding a 2009 KLR, one of the newer generation, so we aren't as familiar with how his bike works.

    [caption id="attachment_3633" align="alignnone" width="300"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3633"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3633" title="Piggies" src="" alt="" width="300" height="225" /></a> The road outside our house had a lot of "wildlife" - like these piggies. And the rooster who crowed loudly all night outside our window...[/caption]

    He led us to town, and to the house, where Tanya was feeling under the weather due to an ear infection. They welcomed us into the simple, but clean and lovely house they had rented, and Phil pulled out his medical kit to find some medicine for Tanya's ear.

    What a treat to meet two more people from Canada! We must have made quite the sight wandering around town. Tanya and I both just shy of 6 feet tall, and Phil and Erik towering above us.

    We saw our first of many beautiful sunsets over the lake that evening.

    [caption id="attachment_3634" align="alignnone" width="300"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3634"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3634" title="Sunset over lake" src="" alt="" width="300" height="225" /></a> Some of the best sunsets so far were over Lake Peten[/caption]

    Whilst Erik is travelling on his KLR, Tanya doesn't ride and so is taking the bus from place to place. They are also avid Couchsurfers. We found that we have much in common.

    [caption id="attachment_3628" align="alignnone" width="300"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3628"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3628" title="Bike gang" src="" alt="" width="300" height="225" /></a> KLR gang[/caption]

    The four of us rode into Santa Elena and Flores, twin towns on the edge of the lake. Santa Elena is the business end of town, with Flores being a quaint tourist-oriented village on an island connected to the mainland by a causeway. We needed Quezals you see, and there are no cash machines anywhere near El Remate.

    [caption id="attachment_3629" align="alignnone" width="225"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3629"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3629" title="Groceries" src="" alt="" width="225" height="300" /></a> A successful trip to stock up our kitchen[/caption]

    We bought groceries and I also bought a SIM card so we could make calls and I could stay in touch with Christian. The rest of our visit involved huge ice cream sundaes and swimming in the lake off a dock in Flores after driving down a one way road the wrong way past several police officers, none of whom seemed to care. It was a restauranteur who eventually pointed out the error of our ways!


    [caption id="attachment_3627" align="alignnone" width="300"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3627"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3627" title="Colourful parking" src="" alt="" width="300" height="225" /></a> Three Kawasakis hanging out together (backwards) on Isla de Flores[/caption]

    [caption id="attachment_3600" align="alignnone" width="300"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3600"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3600" title="Victory" src="" alt="" width="300" height="224" /></a> Canadians love swimming[/caption]

    [caption id="attachment_3598" align="alignnone" width="300"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3598"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3598" title="Drowning?" src="" alt="" width="300" height="225" /></a> The boys swim away to wave hello...[/caption]

    [caption id="attachment_3636" align="alignnone" width="300"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3636"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3636" title="Biker Chicks" src="" alt="" width="300" height="225" /></a> Biker chicks head to Flores[/caption]

    Tanya rode on the back of my bike, because Erik has had a problem with his rear shock and it is stuck on the lightest setting. This means having the weight of an extra person would be pretty tough on his bike. She wore shorts, which made me nervous, as I have scars on my leg showing where the exhaust of a bike in Turkey burnt my leg and the other side was scraped on the ground... All because I didn't wear jeans when Phil told me too. I've definitely become an ATGATT girl (All The Gear All The Time). I completely understand the temptation not to though in this heat. It's hard to motivate yourself to put on long pants, boots, jacket gloves and helmet when you feel like you are melting wearing nothing but a bikini!

    We were also trying to find a sunrise tour of Tikal. This had been highly recommended to us, but as seems to be a trend, anything I really want to do, doesn't end up happening.

    Phil decided to still get up really early and head to the ruins, but as the gate didn't open early enough for us to get in for sunrise without being on a pre-booked tour, the rest of us decided we'd get up at a more civilised time and meet him there.

    [caption id="attachment_3624" align="alignnone" width="800"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3624"><img class="size-full wp-image-3624" title="High" src="" alt="" width="800" height="176" /></a> View from the highest pyramid at Tikal[/caption]

    [caption id="attachment_3621" align="alignnone" width="300"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3621"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3621" title="Yeti approaching" src="" alt="" width="300" height="225" /></a> The only time we saw Phil at Tikal was at this moment when he emerged from behind a pyramid.[/caption]


    [caption id="attachment_3626" align="alignnone" width="300"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3626"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3626" title="Pyramid chicks" src="" alt="" width="300" height="225" /></a> Tanya and I pretend to be Mayans[/caption]

    [caption id="attachment_3611" align="alignnone" width="225"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3611"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3611" title="Tikal pyramid" src="" alt="" width="225" height="300" /></a> Those Mayans sure worked hard. They also had an irrigation system to all these pyramids![/caption]

    [caption id="attachment_3625" align="alignnone" width="300"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3625"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3625" title="Mayan artifacts" src="" alt="" width="300" height="225" /></a> Hanging out with the Mayan stuff[/caption]


    [caption id="attachment_3609" align="alignnone" width="225"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3609"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3609" title="Tikal face" src="" alt="" width="225" height="300" /></a> I found this face hiding under a low palapa roof. It was the only carving like it I saw at Tikal[/caption]

    [caption id="attachment_3607" align="alignnone" width="225"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3607"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3607" title="Mayan brooms" src="" alt="" width="225" height="300" /></a> Got to keep all those pyramids clean somehow![/caption]

    [caption id="attachment_3608" align="alignnone" width="225"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3608"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3608" title="Tikal" src="" alt="" width="225" height="300" /></a> I think this was my favourite pyramid. Maybe.[/caption]

    As you can see, Tikal is a pretty stunning site. Even though I've now seen more Mayan ruins than I had ever dreamed possible, I still really enjoyed Tikal.

    The four of us really settled into the house together. Tanya is a fabulous cook and made us delicious meals for the duration of our stay in El Remate. We were all pretty comfortable, and got to know the small town fairly well. We had a favourite dock where we spent most sunsets and swam many afternoons.

    [caption id="attachment_3631" align="alignnone" width="300"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3631"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3631" title="Chillin" src="" alt="" width="300" height="225" /></a> Several afternoons were spent hanging out on this dock, swimming in the lake and enjoying the scenery[/caption]

    [caption id="attachment_3630" align="alignnone" width="300"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3630"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3630" title="Lake love" src="" alt="" width="300" height="225" /></a> Erik and Tanya - Beautiful couple[/caption]


    [caption id="attachment_3635" align="alignnone" width="300"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3635"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3635" title="Dock" src="" alt="" width="300" height="225" /></a> As I could often be found - with my phone[/caption]

    I was finding it difficult to stop thinking about Christian. I chatted with him as much as possible online and I was missing him terribly. Whilst I kept reminding myself that I had only known him for a few days, it didn't stop me from being mentally split between being present where I was and communicating with him. Erik in particular hated that I had my phone on my all the time, and made several comments about it.

    Erik also kept talking about some other, bigger, but much less*accessible*ruins in Northern Guatemala, called El Mirador. Phil loved the sound of the challenge of getting there, and so early the next morning the boys disappeared off and left us girls to our own devices.

    The first day they were away, Tanya and I took our books and some sewing projects to our dock. The stuff sack for my sleeping bag had split almost all the way up the seam and desperately needed repairing. We brought some music and had a really peaceful vibe going until a bus full of French tourists including kids showed up and started being loud.

    Luckily they left before sunset and so we could regain our vibe.

    [caption id="attachment_3613" align="alignnone" width="300"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3613"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3613" title="Lake sunset chicks" src="" alt="" width="300" height="225" /></a> At the end of a (mostly) chilled afternoon on the dock[/caption]

    The next morning I got a text from Christian saying that he had inhaled chlorine gas and was headed to hospital! There is nothing worse than a friend being in trouble and you being absolutely powerless to do anything to help.

    How did he manage this you ask? He was cleaning a seashell intended as a present for me, and he unwittingly mixed bleach with hydrochloric acid as part of the process.

    [caption id="attachment_3645" align="alignnone" width="300"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3645"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3645" title="Christian and the Seashell" src="" alt="" width="300" height="225" /></a> Christian with the beautiful, yet deadly, seashell[/caption]

    After an hour or so of me being extremely worried, he told me that the doctor sent him home to rest, and I felt reassured that he was not so badly poisoned that he needed to stay in hospital.

    Tanya and I decided that we needed to get out and do something active, so we went and hiked for a few hours in the local nature reserve.

    [caption id="attachment_3606" align="alignnone" width="225"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3606"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3606" title="Nature reserve" src="" alt="" width="225" height="300" /></a> The nature reserve where we did our hike[/caption]

    [caption id="attachment_3616" align="alignnone" width="300"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3616"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3616" title="Jungle Chicks" src="" alt="" width="300" height="225" /></a> Jungle chicks[/caption]

    We hiked up the mountain through the jungle to three different miradors (viewpoints). At the first one we heard a jaguar chasing a monkey. Although we can't prove it as we didn't see either the jaguar or the monkey...

    [caption id="attachment_3617" align="alignnone" width="300"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3617"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3617" title="Mirador Jayne" src="" alt="" width="300" height="225" /></a> Worth the hike up[/caption]

    [caption id="attachment_3605" align="alignnone" width="225"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3605"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3605" title="Big tree" src="" alt="" width="225" height="300" /></a> This tree helpfully had a sign on it telling us what it was[/caption]

    [caption id="attachment_3604" align="alignnone" width="225"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3604"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3604" title="Iguana" src="" alt="" width="225" height="300" /></a> Some jungle wildlife, not as good as seeing a jaguar, but still cool.[/caption]

    The next day was the third day the boys had been gone and I was starting to get very bored of El Remate. I was ready to move on, but Tanya and I couldn't move out of the house, because Phil and Erik had left a lot of stuff there, which there was no way we'd be able to move without them.

    So we decided to head into town and find some massages. This turned out to be a lot harder than we imagined. We drove into Flores, imagining that because it was more tourist oriented, we'd have a few choices there. We found one salon that simply wanted too much money, and the other place we found was closed. During this search, Cricket overheated. There was coolant shooting out the back (where the overflow hose leads to avoid slippery coolant coating the tires). The fan fuse had blown. Luckily I had a spare.

    After changing the fuse, we decided to try our luck in Santa Elena. After a couple false leads, a sweet gal asked her tuktuk driver to lead us to the only massage place she knew of.

    [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="300"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3614"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3614" title="Massage" src="" alt="" width="300" height="225" /></a> This is the place to go in Santa Elena for massages. Tanya is with the owner, her personal*masseur.[/caption]

    It looked a lot like someone's house. As we walked in we realised that it was. The family was in the kitchen eating. In broken Spanish I explained that we wanted massages. The older gentleman told us we would have to come back that evening. I tried to ask if there was anywhere else nearby we could try that may be able to accommodate us immediately. He was pretty adamant that they were the only place in town.

    During the tail end of this conversation his wife came out and joined in. She decided that if we only wanted small massages on our shoulders, they could do it for us right then. We were willing to take whatever they had on offer by this point, especially when they told us it would be free of charge!

    [caption id="attachment_3603" align="alignnone" width="225"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3603"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3603" title="Massage room" src="" alt="" width="225" height="300" /></a> Where the magic happened[/caption]

    The lady led us to a building behind the house, gave us towels and suggested we shower. We complied and then were given some of the best massages we have had the pleasure of enjoying. Ever.

    What an incredible surprise. We were so grateful, however they refused all our attempts of paying them.

    [caption id="attachment_3615" align="alignnone" width="300"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3615"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3615" title="Massage friends" src="" alt="" width="300" height="225" /></a> Me with my very kind masseuse[/caption]

    The boys returned that evening victorious, but looking very dusty and worn out.

    [caption id="attachment_3601" align="alignnone" width="225"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3601"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3601" title="The return" src="" alt="" width="225" height="300" /></a> Phil reappears after his 3 day jungle adventure - slightly dusty![/caption]

    We were pleased to see them, and to hear their tales. I was beyond ready to leave El Remate, but first Phil needed a day to repair his bike...
  3. Wump

    Wump aka Mister Wisker

    Jun 3, 2013
    Back in Canada
    "You know, rain right now would be a really mixed blessing. We would have water to drink, but would never get the bikes out of here."

    An early morning visit to the ruins of Tikal came highly recommended by everyone I talked to who had visited Guatemala. So I got up at 5:30am, well before any of the others were willing to open their eyes, and explored Tikal solo. I saw Monkeys, snakes, and even birds eating each other. I heard howler monkeys howling and gazed as the ruins revealed themselves out of the morning fog. Tikal was amazing. You should visit if you have the chance. But this blog post isn't really about Tikal. This is about El Mirador.

    [caption id="attachment_3543" align="aligncenter" width="225"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3543"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3543" title="Mirador ain't easy" src="" alt="" width="225" height="300" /></a> ...and getting there ain't easy.[/caption]

    El Mirador is an even BIGGER ancient ruined city in northern Guatemala. It is home to "La Danta", the biggest pyramid in the Americas, and the largest by volume in the WORLD. Eric aka "Ernesto", fellow KLR rider, had mentioned the existance of El Mirador a few times prior to us going to Tikal, and post Tikal I was sold. Bigger than Tikal? To El Mirador I must go.

    Unlike Tikal, which has a paved road going right to it with hundreds of tour buses, cars and vans making trips daily, a trip to El Mirador is a touch more difficult. The "standard" tour to Mirador is a five-day 92km hike with mules and a guide, after a long dirt-road drive to the starting point in a town named Carmelita. This tour costs around 400$US EACH, though we heard of folks getting it for closer to 150$ by bringing their own food and gear. Regardless, we didn't want to pay, or walk. This is a motorcycle trip after all.

    [caption id="attachment_3519" align="aligncenter" width="300"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3519"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3519" title="Packed and ready" src="" alt="" width="300" height="225" /></a> ...and these two motos are packed and ready for a ride to the jungle.[/caption]

    We packed more gear/food on my bike, necessary as Eric's monoshock was faulty and his pre-load setting stuck on "1". Leaving his panniers back at the house, less weight was more for Eric.

    Day 1 (edit: Apr 24th 2013, 0730am departure):

    My map shows a road that goes to Mirador. It's not very detailed, but there is definitely a road of sorts on that map.

    [caption id="attachment_3653" align="aligncenter" width="300"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3653"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3653" title="Map" src="" alt="" width="300" height="225" /></a> apparently <a title="Google says no" href="" target="_blank">Google disagrees</a>[/caption]

    We set out intent to find this road. I had done a little reading online, but didn't really find much in the way of information on "motorcycle trips to El Mirador", so we set out knowing we'd have to ask for some directions. While Ernesto shopped for camp food and I watched the bikes, I met a young man who confirmed not only that there IS a road, but that he had ridden it on HIS motorbike. Boom.

    [caption id="attachment_3546" align="aligncenter" width="225"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3546"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3546" title="Bike boy" src="" alt="" width="225" height="300" /></a> Ok, so he didn't ride to Mirador on THIS motorbike.[/caption]

    After food, we needed a splash of Whiskey, a camping necessity. Once out of Santa Elena, there's not much for tiendas (aka corner stores) to buy whiskey or much else. Determined, 45 minutes of very hot riding, following poor directions to empty tiendas later, we were successful. For the record, whiskey is available at the yellow tienda, NOT the blue one, no matter how many people insist otherwise. Whiskey acquired we ventured forth, and it wasn't long on the road before pavement gave way to gravel, and gravel gave way to dirt. It also wasn't long before my thoughts went from thinking "I can't believe Jayne is skipping this trip" to "I'm glad Jayne didn't come on this trip. We'd be turning around soon". The dirt turned downright dusty, making it hard to see when stuck behind anyone, and even a touch loose and sandy at times too. It was HOT. In full gear, I was dripping sweat, and guzzling the water from my camelback. And then suddenly my clutch wasn't fully disengaging. This was fine when just riding along, but when I had to stop or ride slowly I would stall out. Quick handlebar adjustment solved the issue, but I'm to this day a bit baffled at what caused it.

    [caption id="attachment_3594" align="aligncenter" width="300"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3594"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3594" title="Eric on the dusty road" src="" alt="" width="300" height="225" /></a> Hot, but hot in a scenic kind of way[/caption]

    There were a number of checkpoints along the road, with the barricades mostly down. I say mostly, because they were all just high enough for two tall men on motorbikes to duck under without stopping. Both Ernesto and I shared the philosophy that if you don't stop, they can't ask you for money.

    Did I mention it was hot? After a bit over an hour of fighting dust and dirt, we came to a fork in the road with some locals sitting around, some of whom were drinking cold cervesas. Time to stop. Couple cold beer sitting in the shade really hit the spot.

    [caption id="attachment_3520" align="aligncenter" width="300"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3520"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3520" title="Beer stop" src="" alt="" width="300" height="219" /></a> The spot was hot.[/caption]

    Took the opportunity to consult the locals for advice on where this road is to Mirador. "The only way is via Carmelita, and that trail is very tough... impassable by moto" came the response. Little did they know we'd met a young man who had recently ridden it. Impassable was a frame of mind. We finished our beers and got back on the road.

    [caption id="attachment_3593" align="aligncenter" width="300"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3593"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3593" title="This way" src="" alt="" width="300" height="225" /></a> Follow the blue signs[/caption]

    Very new looking blue "Mirador" signs led up to Carmelita, where the trail to Mirador starts. Again ducked under a barricade at the edge of town, then rolled towards the head of the trail.

    [caption id="attachment_3549" align="aligncenter" width="300"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3549"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3549" title="Barricade" src="" alt="" width="300" height="225" /></a> How many times must you freely pass a barricade before it's not a barricade anymore?[/caption]

    The "co-operativa" runs the show in this town, and basically all tourists book their guides and mules through through them, regardless of which agency they book through. We just kept following the blue signs until we got to the head of the trail, at which point we stopped to discuss.

    [caption id="attachment_3656" align="aligncenter" width="300"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3656"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3656" title="For in the road" src="" alt="" width="300" height="225" /></a> That's more of a wide path than a road[/caption]

    "This isn't a road."


    "Were we not told there was a road? And on the map, it shows a road right?"


    "Should we find that road? We can always come back."


    U-turn. Back in the town we stopped and asked a gentleman for his advice.

    [caption id="attachment_3592" align="aligncenter" width="300"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3592"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3592" title="Advice" src="" alt="" width="300" height="225" /></a> Obviously not working for the co-operativa, this man kindly laid out our Mirador options.[/caption]

    He mentioned a road 20 km back called "Los Pescaditios". That road goes to El Mirador he said. Or we can take the trail. But he noted the trail has some fallen trees and such blocking the path in places. It might be impassable.

    Nothing is impassable.

    [caption id="attachment_3591" align="aligncenter" width="300"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3591"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3591" title="Man at the barricade." src="" alt="" width="300" height="225" /></a> Carmelita Barricade man most certainly is passable. We stopped on the way out and asked for directions. He asked us for money for the way in.[/caption]

    Back under the Carmelita barricade, where we stopped quickly to confirm directions. He said the only way was via the trail. He then asked us for money. Back we went to find the road to Los Pescaditios. Riding along the Los Pescaditos road, we happened across a couple men standing in the trees off to the side. We asked them for directions. "Go up 3km ahead and ask for Ricardo, he'll help you. And watch out for the logging trucks." Logging trucks?

    [caption id="attachment_3590" align="aligncenter" width="300"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3590"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3590" title="Logging trucks" src="" alt="" width="300" height="225" /></a> Oh, THOSE logging trucks.[/caption]

    3km ahead there was yet another road barricade, though this one was lowered to a height not duckable, and guarded by army men. With guns. We stopped at this one.

    [caption id="attachment_3657" align="aligncenter" width="300"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3657"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3657" title="Stop." src="" alt="" width="300" height="225" /></a> Stop. or they'll shoot.[/caption]

    "We're looking for Ricardo." Remembering names, not usually a forte, would prove to be very handy this journey. I shook hands with Ricardo, who hand beenfetched by one of the military men with a gun. I asked Ricardo how to get to Mirador. He replied "Just up this road. But you need permission". I asked him for permission. Laughing, he said it has to come from a higher power than him. After a little more discussion, Ricardo got on the radio and called said higher permission.

    [caption id="attachment_3589" align="aligncenter" width="300"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3589"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3589" title="Randy Radio" src="" alt="" width="300" height="225" /></a> Photos of scantily clad women make the radio work better. Over.[/caption]

    [caption id="attachment_3659" align="aligncenter" width="300"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3659"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3659" title="Army on break" src="" alt="" width="300" height="225" /></a> Young men waiting for their turn on the radio.[/caption]

    [caption id="attachment_3660" align="aligncenter" width="225"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3660"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3660" title="Boots and chin ups" src="" alt="" width="225" height="300" /></a> Sit-ups, chin-ups, shine your boots. Repeat.[/caption]

    After 20 minutes, the higher permission said "no". We had to go through Carmelita. That's the "only way for tourists". The only way for us to be allowed on the road would be to get a signed paper from the Guatemalan Tourist board INGUAT. The only way to get that paper was a 4 hour ride (and several ducked barricades) round trip... with no guarantee they would even give us said signed paper once we got there. I tried to be persuasive with Ricardo, and when a local came through the going the other way and drew us a map of the route, I thought we were in.

    [caption id="attachment_3588" align="aligncenter" width="300"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3588"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3588" title="a map that won't get used" src="" alt="" width="300" height="225" /></a> I thought wrong.[/caption]

    I thought wrong. While he was very kind and jovial, Ricardo was not swayed by my words. Nor was he swayed by my first attempt at a bribe this trip: 200 Quetzals tucked in my map.

    [caption id="attachment_3585" align="aligncenter" width="300"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3585"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3585" title="Bribe" src="" alt="" width="300" height="225" /></a> "We need permission paper? Here's some permission paper."[/caption]

    This attempt did convince Ricardo that we A) really wanted to ride this road and B) were not going to go back to Flores to get a piece of paper from INGUAT. My 200 Quetzals were paper, I argued, and far more useful than the document would be. Perhaps the one honest official in Central America, he would not accept the bribe. But he did go climb a tree instead. A very high tree. Over 100 feet up.

    [caption id="attachment_3587" align="aligncenter" width="225"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3587"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3587" title="Phone tree" src="" alt="" width="225" height="300" /></a> Want to call the chief? Better not be afraid of heights.[/caption]

    This is the only way to get cell phone reception out here, and where Ricardo called his Chief on our behalf. 10 minutes later, the answer was still no. Thanks Ricardo, for doing all you could... Just wish you had a single corrupt bone in your soul. This did settle it though, the only way to get to El Mirador was the trail in Carmelita.

    On the way back, we stopped to buy more water. All this time in our gear in the sun and I was down to less than half my 4.5L supply. It had only been maybe 5 hours. Ernesto was equally low on water. This would be a theme.

    Back under the Barricade for the third time now, the man in the box didn't even stand up to protest. We now knew where we were going, and that this was the only way there for us tourist types.

    [caption id="attachment_3586" align="aligncenter" width="300"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3586"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3586" title="Our first tree" src="" alt="" width="300" height="225" /></a> Welcome to the trail to El Mirador. I am your first fallen tree.[/caption]

    The road was a mix of rough trail with the occasional easy trail ride sections. There was a smooth-ish path where people had been walking, but you were surrounded by the foot deep holes from the hooves of mules in the wet times, and deep ruts from quads hauling in gear to Tintal. This was not a route to take in the rainy season.

    [caption id="attachment_3662" align="aligncenter" width="225"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3662"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3662" title="Ruts n holes" src="" alt="" width="225" height="300" /></a> Dried ruts and hoof holes.[/caption]

    Slow going, first gear only riding with many stops to play catch up, move fallen trees and drink water. Most trees were smaller and on the ground and could be ridden over, others had fallen across the path at an angle and needed to be moved or ridden around.

    [caption id="attachment_3542" align="aligncenter" width="225"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3542"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3542" title="Tree department" src="" alt="" width="225" height="300" /></a> Bring a rugby player. Move some trees.[/caption]

    All worked up a thirst. Drank lots of water. Our shirts soaked in sweat. The heat from our motors was baking us, and with no wind to speak of at the speed we were traveling, our jackets had to go. The relief was instant. The only thing the Jackets would save us from at these speeds were thorns on the jungle plants anyways.

    [caption id="attachment_3575" align="aligncenter" width="225"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3575"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3575" title="Thorny" src="" alt="" width="225" height="300" /></a> Jungle thorns like these ones.[/caption]

    [caption id="attachment_3576" align="aligncenter" width="300"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3576"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3576" title="Eric thorned" src="" alt="" width="300" height="225" /></a> Eric took the thorns like a champ[/caption]

    It was worth it though right Eric?

    We met some hikers coming out the trail, and politely pulled off and killed the engines to let them pass. The first gentleman was interested in the trip, chatted for a bit while the others caught up to him. Fooled into thinking they were all kind. One smiling hippy came up, put her hand on my shoulder and said "it's so great that you're out here on your motorbikes, killing the monkeys and the environment. That's great". Then walked off. I'm pretty sure she rode that high horse all the way to Guatemala. No way she would have flown in a polluting airplane.

    A few hours down the trail, we were still yet to make it to the mid way camp of "Tintal", another "smaller" set of ruins in the area. I had read online that Tintal camp had a few resident staff, and more importantly, water. I was down to less than a liter, Eric no better.

    "You know, rain right now would be a really mixed blessing. We would have water to drink, but would never get the bikes out of here."

    [caption id="attachment_3583" align="aligncenter" width="300"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3583"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3583" title="Water?" src="" alt="" width="300" height="225" /></a> Saved by the large water container in the trees... the large, EMPTY water container.[/caption]

    With the sun setting, we made a push to make it to Tintal, but with more ruts, logs and uneven earth to navigate, the going was slow. The occasional drop didn't help. I was heavily laden, and the occasional log or rut would snag me. Worse yet was when the kickstand would sink after I hopped off to help Eric over a log. I'd come back to my bike on it's side.

    [caption id="attachment_3523" align="aligncenter" width="225"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3523"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3523" title="Fall with a kick" src="" alt="" width="225" height="300" /></a> What's that smell?[/caption]

    This was most irritating, as until I got the kickstand back up, I couldn't lift the bike. It was awkward, and took one to lift the bike more upside down and the other to pop the kick stand up. The worst problem with all this was my gas tank leaks gas around the cap when on it's side. I like gas. It's useful. The longer the bike on it's side, the more gas lost. I lost a bit on the trail that day. A few drops too many, and the sun setting, we resigned and set up camp on the side of the path.

    [caption id="attachment_3666" align="aligncenter" width="300"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3666"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3666" title="Camp" src="" alt="" width="300" height="225" /></a> Camp exhaustion-on-water-rations.[/caption]

    The jungle at night is an incredible place. Rustling breeze, incredible light bugs brighter than any I've ever seen, and so quiet. Much more quiet than I anticipated. Our macaroni and cheese plans quashed by our water shortage, we made dinner of tortillas and tuna, then went to sleep.

    End of part 1.
    Part two: The trail gets tougher. No bikes allowed on this trail, I anger Eric giving away mac and cheese, we eat some cactus, and much more. Coming soon...
  4. bdubbin

    bdubbin Adventurer

    Aug 14, 2012
    Cool trip! I've missed everything up this point but I am looking forward to following the rest!
  5. Two Moto Kiwis

    Two Moto Kiwis Homeless Somewhere

    Apr 12, 2007
    Wanaka, New Zealand, ....What Trip!!!
    Great to see you guys finally get it on (here) :eek1

    Looking forward to crossing paths again ... ouwh and again and great catching up in Antigua it was a great surprise. :clap
  6. 175grams

    175grams Old Town Outfitters, Antigua, Guatemala

    Jan 24, 2013
    Good to see you guys on here! I heard you made it to the pickup game on Sunday, wish I could have been there. Keep enjoying the adventure, I'll be looking on.

  7. Wump

    Wump aka Mister Wisker

    Jun 3, 2013
    Back in Canada
    Adventure to Mirador: Part two. Haven't read part one?

    Day two: April 25th 2013, somewhere in the Jungle, Peten, Guatemala.
    Morning monkeys. So many monkeys. I suppose the same monkeys we were apparently killing with our motorbikes. These ones escaped us. Sleeping with the fly off the tent allowed us to wake up to watch a whole gang of monkeys flying through the trees above us. It was great. We didn't even need to get out of the tent.
    [​IMG] While riding my bike tree to tree, I must watch out for the swinging monkey.[/caption]

    Back on the road, we found that we had camped only about 2km from Tintal. The "midway" camp for the hikers, Tintal also comes complete with some smaller ruins. Importantly, they had water and were willing to share.

    [​IMG] Water tastes better when it has been carried by a mule.[/caption]

    In return for the much needed water (which takes a 4 hour round trip via mule to collect) I offered to share some of our macaroni and cheese brunch with the Guardas. They happily accepted a change from beans and tortillas. To accommodate, I used three boxes of macaroni instead of two, an action that infuriated Erik. I felt we had plenty to share and things would work out just fine. He didn't share my ideas on the matter, feeling that our limited food supplies may not last the trip now. I would soon learn why he had these concerns, as Erik needs to eat every three hours or so. At 6'6", he's no small boy, and when he gets hungry, others become aware of this fact. I, on the other hand, have been blessed with the hunger equivalent of a camel; often going all day without eating and thinking nothing of it. Besides, it was only Macaroni and cheese. Agreed to disagree.

    Post meal, discussion began with one of the "guardas", aka park rangers. Lionel the guarda was taking issue was us riding our motorbikes any further, since this was quite against the rules. Remembering names...

    "Ah, but Lionel, we talked to Ricardo over on Los Pescaditos road. You know, at the military checkpoint? Right, him. He told us that we needed special permission from "Inguat", but we'd have to return to Flores to get it.

    Lionel noded. This was all true.

    " To save us that hassle, Ricardo climbed 100 feet up into the tree to call his chief. So Ricardo talked to his chief about us you see, while he was hanging high up in a tree, and the chief said for us to come this way."

    Lionel changed his tone, since the chief was aware of our existence. I might have omitted the part where the chief had said "no". Back on the road we go.

    When I say road, I mean path, as it had narrowed some by this point.

    [​IMG] To about this narrow.[/caption]

    The path was nicer in someways, in that there were no ruts, but the riding was tough and slow at times.

    [​IMG] With both of us running low on tread, some hang-ups could have been avoided. A little less weight, knobbier tires and a motocross bike would have helped.[/caption]

    [​IMG] Bunny hop perhaps?[/caption]

    There occasional fallen tree to overcome, hang-up to get unstuck from and the occasional drop of Jugs to the ground. Regardless of how fast I got her up, I would lose a bit of gas, and then have to crank the starter for a bit to un-flood the motor. After a few such instances in a row on a technical section, my battery died. The terrain and the need to turn the engine over a couple times made bump starting difficult to say the least. A tow start became the only option.

    [​IMG] One way to save gas: only use one bike.[/caption]

    Linked together with a ratchet strap, Erik towed me down the twisting, stump and root covered trail until I could bounce enough to get traction and finally, after the strap coming loose the first try, getting Jugs fired up. Awesome! Then I couldn't stall. Stalling was not an option. 10 minutes up the trail, high-centered on a log, I stalled.

    Those 10 minutes had luckily been enough to charge the battery a touch, and the bike fired right back up. Erik was now concerned with my bikes capability to continue, given the history of the clutch sticking and now the battery. I had no concerns, as in either scenario I could fix the issue. I was however becoming more mindful of how much gas we had left, given our slow travel speed and how much gas I had washed my tank bag with. At that point I started to think we might get into El Mirador, but we may never get back out again. All of these concerns were moot a few minutes later.

    [​IMG] Triple bunny hop? So this is what they meant by "impassable".[/caption]

    In all honesty, it still was "passable". But the time, and water-using effort, it would take to "pass" such objects would shadow us in doubt.

    "We can get past this. We CAN get past the next one. But: if we find many more like this down the trail and have to abandon the bikes there, then we have to come BACK over these obstacles on the way out."

    The decision was made to "hide" the bikes in the woods, then hike. If it proved passable down the trail, we would come back and get the bikes in the morning and stubbornly complete our ride to El Mirador. Then we could ride OUT the road past Ricardo and his military friends. We would sure show them!
    [​IMG] Hard to believe, but there are actually two motorbikes hidden in this photo.[/caption]

    [​IMG] We're not hiking, we're scouting the trail.[/caption]

    "Scouting the trail" took 6 hours, and 20km of walking. In those 20km, we encountered 20+ "impassable objects". Nothing is impassable of course, but these all would have required some prep-work. Not having abandoned the hope of riding to Mirador, initially we were even doing that prep-work; building ramps out of logs and moving others out of the road.
    [​IMG] Erik making the "impassable" passable[/caption]

    Eventually we quit doing the prep work to save daylight, but took note of where we'd need to do some work in the morning when we hiked back for the bikes... Eventually we quit doing that too. We resigned ourselves that we were not going to ride to El Mirador. The hike in was frustratingly easy. Mostly flat, with kilometers at a time of prime riding trails. Every now and then though, some giant mangled section of fallen trees would remind us why we were walking.

    [​IMG] The Good[/caption]

    [​IMG] The Bad[/caption]

    [​IMG] The Ugly[/caption]

    Our stopping to examine obstacles, combined with a longer lunch/tick removal break left us arriving to El mirador just as darkness was setting in. Or so we thought.[​IMG] Nothing goes with a wrap lunch like your first ever ticks![/caption]

    [​IMG] We made it! the sign that is 45 minutes away from the camp.[/caption]

    The misleading sign was a little deflating. It's like when you REALLY have to go to the bathroom: after waddling for what feels like forever, you finally make it to the bathroom door and you find it to be locked. So close, yet so far... Our dreams of climbing "La Danta" that night for sunset were squashed.

    When we did make it to camp, they ever so kindly had three fires lit to guide us home.

    [​IMG] Ok, NOW we made it![/caption]

    Except there was nobody to be found. Tents everywhere, we assume for archaeologists, but not one occupied. A large kitchen and dining area with space for over 100 people, empty. At dinner time. Like a scene out of a horror film, the whole place was deserted. More importantly, the kitchen was void of water too. Once again we found ourselves dry.

    I had recently drunk my last drops, leaving me feeling a touch thirsty. Unlike at Tintal, there weren't large water containers all in a stack. I found some water in a 5 gallon pail and drunk back half a liter. On second inspection, the water was a little funky looking, and I remembered that I had water purifying tablets in my bag. I put the tablets in a second liter of the murky water. Once ripe, I drank all the "purified" water. I figured it would all mix in my belly and purify the first bit of water too. Purification tablets works like that right?

    Erik figured there must be another camp somewhere, since we knew a group of tourists had left Tintal before us, and we hadn't passed them or seen them yet. More exploring in the dark led us to find this was indeed the case.

    We decided we would omit the fact that we were on motorbikes, to prevent possible theft, but also since we were breaking a number of rules simply having them in the national park, and didn't want to cause ourselves unneeded trouble. It was some surprise then, when one of the British tourists we encountered piped up "hey you guys are the ones on motorbikes right?". Ummmmm. Were we wearing gear? Anything motorcycle related in our possession? No. The chap had met us in Flores two days before. So much for that plan. Captain identification was handy though, pointing us over to where the Guarda station was, noting that they had non-murky water there.

    [​IMG] Instant amigos, instantly sharing their dinner with us. I mean, who does that?[/caption]

    At the Guarda station, Erik and I waltzed in and sat down. Striking up conversation in our average spanish, the at first standoffish Guardas quickly lightened when they heard we had no guide and had come in on our own. They gave us coffee, and fed us some tasty corn tortillas with butter. They even challenged us to a game of basketball in the morning. We shared our cheese with them while they continued force feeding us, saying they wanted us to "get really heavy" to give them an advantage in the game.

    [​IMG] They might need to feed us a liiiiiittle more.[/caption]

    While we were eating, one of the Guarda's asked where our tent was. Pointing it out to them, they picked it up and asked where we'd like to sleep. Seriously? Seriously. I offered to come give instructions, but they insisted that we sit and gain weight while they figured out how to build our tent. 5 minutes later, our tent was set up for us.

    [​IMG] and only 2 clips out of place! What a welcome![/caption]

    Not having to worry about water or food rations anymore (they offered to continue fattening us up), and having missed sunset on La Danta, Erik and I decided to stay the whole next day to explore the area.

    Retiring early to get a restful nights sleep didn't quite work out as planned. Apparently my attractiveness to ticks remains strong. Very strong.
    [​IMG] Whiskey tick removal.[/caption]

    With no tweezers available, I used the scissors in my leatherman to pinch the little jerks and pull them out. Then crushed them. Then noticed that the ticks come in a variety of sizes, with little tiny ones mixed in too. By the end of the tick session I was getting pretty good at it. 40+ ticks. Two and a half hours of tick removal later, I was finally able to go to sleep in my tent that the Guardas had set up for us.

    Day 3: April 26, 2013 El Mirador, Peten, Guatemala

    I tick checked myself over again before breakfast and, once all clear, joined the Guardas and Erik for breakfast. Beans, sardines in tomato sauce and tortillas. And lots of it. Too much really, but with only a little left we split it in two and ate half each. Except Erik didn't eat his half. Not wanting to be impolite and waste food, I stuffed down the last stack of beans and tortilla to finish it off. I was full. Very full.

    Erik felt a little uncomfortable taking their food, and wanted to offer the guys some cash to compensate. I was in agreement, though I would have offered it before we left, not in the middle of our stay. Regardless, we offered 100 Quetzals and Guarda Josue (Ho-sway) accepted.

    Today was the day to explore El Mirador, and Guarda Josue offered to tour us around. It was also the day to eat some cactus.

    Back while I was in Mexico, a friend offered me some peyote. Peyote is a cactus that has some mind opening effects, used by Mexican natives for hundreds of years in ceremonies. I was told to take it when somewhere special. I figured visiting the largest pyramid in the world after a difficult journey out was a sufficient degree of special.

    Mixing the green pulverized plant with water, we drank it back. It tasted TERRIBLE. Feeling like a blimp already from breakfast, the flavour wasn't helping me get it down. Regardless, we both managed to drink it all and began waddling around El Mirador, following Josue to explore the other pyramids and structures that exist there. Only 10 percent of Mirador has been unearthed, so much of the large pyramids simply look like large, tree-covered mounds.
    [​IMG] Even when less mound-like, walking up pyramids is hard work[/caption]

    [caption id="attachment_3720" align="aligncenter" width="800"][​IMG] Micro Kelly and Ernesto on top of "La Tigre"[/caption]

    [​IMG] Going downhill fast[/caption]

    It was a beautiful day, though warming up fast. After almost an hour of walking around, the combination of the heat, the exercise, the large quantity of breakfast in my belly and, perhaps most importantly, the cactus slurry sloshing around on top, eventually took its toll.

    [​IMG] Some toll to pay. I did manage to avoid getting any on my shoes.[/caption]

    I immediately felt better. Though the cactus was already having it's effect. I immediately pondered how this might effect the rest of the day.

    [​IMG] Hopefully not spent in this tomb.[/caption]

    Our tour ended soon after. I was now calling Erik "Ernesto" constantly, and Ernesto now felt like a cactus and was moving slowly. We relieved Josue of his tour guide duties. Both Ernesto and I felt a strong desire to lay in hammocks.

    [​IMG] That's nice.[/caption]

    [​IMG] That's really nice[/caption]

    I felt incredibly pleasant the rest of the day. Ernesto, not having vomited up any of his cactus, was notably more affected by it.

    [​IMG] "Pssst, look what I found". Apparently these were helicoptered in. If you decide to make a run for Mirador, you can siphon gas from these.[/caption]

    [​IMG] I let Ernesto use my camera. I now have 50 photos of this turkey.[/caption]

    Aside from taking photos of a turkey for hours, the rest of the afternoon was spent talking and exploring without a hitch. Oh, except for the hitch.

    [​IMG] Water heavily falling from the sky counts as a hitch.[/caption]

    I distinctly remember thinking on the way in how screwed we would be if it rained. The dried mud on the trail was difficult enough. WET mud would be unfathomable to navigate, never mind the wet roots and trees covered in it. This rain... this was a bad thing.

    [​IMG] We knew whiskey was a good idea.[/caption]

    [​IMG] To save space/weight for the hike in I had left the tent fly on the bike (I know, I know). Very lucky for us there was a tarp set up with space underneath.[/caption]

    One of the guides had told us not to worry, "it doesn't start to really rain until May". Being the 26th of April, this was little consolation to us. The rain absolutely poured on us for over an hour before the sky started to clear. The only good that came from the storm was that it washed some of the haze out of the sky. Sunset at the El Dante pyramid would be good that night. Our ride tomorrow... well we didn't want to think about.

    The hike to El Dante was about 30 minutes from camp... It took us around 45.

    [​IMG] Hello trees![/caption]

    When we finally did arrive at "La Danta", it was pretty impressive. And steep. Climbing up the front face pyramid is strictly forbidden since someone fell doing so years ago.

    [​IMG] No don't, that's forbidd... ok, looks like fun, wait for me![/caption]

    There are stairs built up around back, but climbing up the front face was far more enjoyable. Once up top... well worth the trip.

    [​IMG] Up on top of "La Danta". Turns out riding to the top on a motorcycle was forbidden too.[/caption]

    [​IMG] You can see it all from up here. The trees and mounds with trees I mean.[/caption]

    The difficulties getting here, getting to the top of La Danta, really made it that little bit more special. As the sun set, sipping some whiskey, looking over the jungle with my new motorbike amigo Ernesto... this was one of those moments.

    [​IMG] My photostitch never works properly. You get the idea, magnificent and wonderful and all that.[/caption]

    Guarda Josue motioned that we should get going. Walking in the jungle at night is dangerous... and of course also against the rules.

    But soon "walking in the jungle at night" we did, and it allowed us to see our favorite green-eye glow bugs. Tonight they were downright spectacular for some reason. Almost worth the trip in Guatemala just to see these guys. I present to you "Jungle Glowbug at night, with Philip Davidson":


    Josue also pointed out a tarantula home. Neat stuff!

    [​IMG] Tarantula door open...[/caption]

    [​IMG] ...tarantula door closed[/caption]

    Josue was walking with a mildly irritating American girl, and the two of them were far faster than Ernesto was capable of. This wouldn't have been a problem, except my headlamp was broken, and Ernesto's batteries were fading fast. It gets dark quickly in the jungle. Josue and the American would keep taking off again with their lights. We walked most of the way back slowly, using our feet to read the braille of the jungle floor.

    Dinner was served upon our arrival back to camp, again frijoles (beans) and tortillas, with some rice. Like the walk home, dinner wasn't trouble free; Ernesto was having trouble with his Frijoles.

    "Los frijoles bailar" Ernesto explained to myself and our hosts. The beans are dancing. I looked at my beans; no dancing.

    "I can't eat them when they're dancing like that".

    Ernesto picked out the dancing beans and threw them over his shoulder, then went back to eating dinner.

    We never did play a game of basketball with the Guardas.

    Day 4: April 27th, 2013. The return from El Mirador, Peten, Guatemala

    We got a very early start, but made time for breakfast.

    [​IMG] The beans, almost disappointingly, were no longer dancing at breakfast.[/caption]

    After yesterdays rains, we had no idea what lie ahead for us. Regardless, we wanted as much time as possible to deal with it. After breakfast, we said goodbyes and thank yous, filled our waters, packed quickly and set out at a brisk pace. Regardless of the condition it's in, we had a long road ahead.

    Our attempts at hiding the motorbikes had failed. A couple hours into the hike out we met a tour group hiking in. "Are you the crazy Canadian bikers?! We saw your bikes, don't worry, we didn't steal anything, just lifted the cover to take a look and see the plates". They were excited and seemed friendly enough. Still, when I took a glance at their mules I couldn't help but look for the outline of motorcycle parts.

    [​IMG] No exhausts or suspension parts in their bags, we're ok.[/caption]

    After taking 6 hours to hike in, we made it back to the bikes in a little over 4 hours. The main difference being that we hadn't been stopping to re-arrange logs. We were riding back out the way we rode in.

    [​IMG] ...but first some repairs to Ernesto's brake pedal. Missing bolts are bad.[/caption]

    [​IMG] Fears of the road having turned to mud were unfounded. Still had some awkward bits though.[/caption]

    The path was not mud. This we were incredibly thankful for. The ride out we found ourselves riding over obstacles better and generally faster than our way in. Practice makes perfect. The 6km jaunt back to Tintal was quite quick.

    After a quick lunch stop to say hello again to Guarda Lionel and refill our waters, we set back out on the road. (P.s. He very much enjoyed the macaroni and cheese we left him.)

    I was following behind Ernesto, and for the most part I was right on his tail. We were making good time. Even when a bike got hung up on a log or otherwise, we were efficient at getting them unstuck and back rolling. In doing so, I noticed how light my tank felt, and knew gas would be tight. Fortunately I had a spare 5L gas can that was still dangling off the back of an ammo can, despite the beating it took on the way in.

    [​IMG] Held on by a thread. Well, that and a padlock.[/caption]

    We stopped for a quick break and to let the bikes cool down after some difficult bits.

    [​IMG] Which root shall I take?[/caption]

    We set forth once more, Ernesto out front, me right behind and both making good time yet again. Up over a rise, and around a corner, then a short 5 meter diversion in the trees around a fallen log. I didn't make it. 'Jugs' sputtered and ran out of gas before I got back to the trail. Flipped to reserve, but the bike wouldn't start up. I tried cranking it over a few more times, but not wanting to have a repeat tow job, I gave it a rest to save the battery. Was my reserve switch not working? Either way, on reserve I wouldn't have enough gas to get back to Carmelita. I unlocked the gas can, put the lock on top of my bike and pulled the can out of the disheveled cage. The gas can got caught on something, and the force of the snag resulted in my bike tumbling over onto its side. Darn it. Picked the bike back up and poured half the gas can in. After putting the gas can back in it's cage, I stood up into a branch; soundly connecting my skull to the rough bark. Darn it! And now where did that lock go? Darn it! And what the heck is going on, I've been dealing with this for the last 10 minutes, where the heck is Ernesto?! DARN IT! I walked up the trail a ways to see if I could see him. Right after the diversion, the trail became quite smooth and nice for a ways. Maybe he had gotten up ahead a bit and knowing we were short on gas didn't want to ride back?

    The missing lock had launched off the bike into the leaves on the ground that were conveniently the same golden colour. Given that the lock was all that was actually holding the gas can on the bike, I needed that lock. 10 more minutes of searching on my hands and knees and much swearing later I found the lock not 5 feet from the bike. Darn it! And where the hell is Ernesto, seriously? I could have my leg caught under the bike for all he knows! Darn it all!

    After about 20 minutes of being stranded, I finally got my bike started again and started to make up ground on Ernesto. The trail was indeed nicer in this section, so perhaps he did just get way ahead. But 20 minutes?! You'd think he'd notice I wasn't behind him. Wait, what if he thinks I passed him somehow and is he is trying to catch me? Geez he could be ages ahead.

    I rode for 4Km thinking angry thoughts about how Ernesto could possibly have left me behind before it suddenly dawned on me that maybe I had left HIM behind. It was nearly impossible. I was following him, and almost always within sight. But maybe in that moment where he turned the corner something happened and I somehow passed him, then ran out of gas moments later. No. Not possible. I was right behind him. But maybe? I don't know. If I did somehow pass him, then run out of gas and dick around for 20 minutes, and now I'm 4km up the road...

    He could have HIS leg stuck under HIS bike. I suddenly had a sensation of panic. What if I'm the asshole who just left HIM behind? I had to go back to check.

    I stopped and wrote a note in case Ernesto was up ahead and came back. At least he could save a bit of gas. Then my kickstand sank in the clay and the bike fell over.

    [​IMG] Are you freaking kidding me right now?![/caption]

    Without Ernesto there to help lift the bike while I got the kickstand up, I was left digging a hole in the compacted clay-based dirt. This is insanity. I'm not sure where my friend is, I've gone from thinking he's a total ass to realizing maybe I'm the asshole and he's stuck in some thorns, and now I'm trying to dig a hole in the toughest dirt on earth. DARN IT!

    Finally able to get the kickstand up, I threw any extra weight I could into a pile and put the note on top. I really, really, really hoped I would come back to find Ernesto reading that note.

    I didn't.

    About a kilometer backtracking down the road, I found Ernesto riding towards me.

    "How do you feel about yourself right now?" he asked.

    The answer didn't matter. For the last hour or so every angry thought I had towards Ernesto for abandoning me should have been pointed at myself. Those thoughts were certainly justly pointed towards me from his side. I apologized and explained what had happened from my end. Ernesto seemed surprised to hear about me running out of gas and being stuck myself, but he just wanted to ride: "Let's just go".

    We stopped briefly to pick up my stuff and repack my bike. The previously triumphant mood from making good time after an epic trip had turned palpably sour. Not much more was said. It was a somber ride. I had left him abandoned stuck on the trail after all.

    [​IMG] Got gas?[/caption]

    Once in Carmelita, we parked the bikes and asked around for much needed gasoline. Even with all that happened, we still made it out in ok time. We could still make it back to El Remate in daylight. Some kids eventually sourced some gas for us at a much inflated price. At that very moment, I noticed my jacket was gone. Darn it!

    After initially thinking someone had stolen it, I realized that it could have fallen off after I repacked the bike mid trail. I had been hurrying, perhaps I didn't strap it down very well? A very brief discussion followed. Ernesto would carry on after he got gas, possibly meeting down the road. I would go back for the jacket. It was getting late, and we had a long dirt road ride still ahead of us.

    [​IMG] Angry relief.[/caption]

    I found my Jacket 3km back up the trail. I rocketed there in a third of the time it had taken us to ride it before. I was racing the sun, and did not want to be stuck on the dirt road at night. I was already tired enough as it was, and had lost my glasses I wear for night riding along the trail days before.

    The gas boys told me that Ernesto had left about 15 minutes ago. Off I went, rocketing down the gravel road and under the Carmelita barricade for a fourth and final time.

    [​IMG] I'll miss you, Carmelita barricade.[/caption]

    Not rocketing for long though, as I soon ran out of gas. This time I switched to reserve while still rolling and even still the motor quit. That's a problem. I poured the rest of the gas from the gas can in, carefully keeping track of the lock this time. That gas got me to our beer stop from our first day, where I was able to buy their last Gallon for 50Q (6.25$US). Previous roadside inquiries all led me to this one and only gas vendor, haggling was not tolerated well.

    [​IMG] a very welcoming sign. (we sell gas)[/caption]

    [​IMG] Self serve gas to boot.[/caption]

    Before leaving, I asked if they had seen another motorbike like mine pass through. They had, about 20 minutes prior. Good. I knew Ernesto was still ahead. I continued to check that he was still in front of me with anyone I passed standing beside the road. I even stopped at other barricades to ask them. Turns out all the other barricade men weren't charging after all, just security/traffic control. And they had all seen Ernesto pass by. Good. There was still a bit of daylight, and I was getting closer to pavement.

    It wouldn't be an adventure if it didn't have one final twist. And on that final twist, I was going too fast. I hit the dirt going about 40km/h, after skidding out a bit then going high side off the bike. I was injury free, but concerned about losing gas from my leaky gas cap. I ran to jugs and got it upright quickly. So quickly that it fell right over on the other side. Darn it!!

    [​IMG] It had already been down on both sides. I wasn't pushing it over again for a stupid photo.[/caption]

    I was exhausted, going too fast and making mistakes. I used my foot to bend my pannier frame back into a shape that would hold the boxes out, and continued home. I thankfully made it to pavement before sunset, and I arrived alive at home an hour and a half later, well after dark. I walked in to find Ernesto showing off his ball rash to the girls. Things were going to be ok.

    [​IMG] Ernesto's ball rash was far worse than my ball rash.[/caption]

    [caption id="attachment_3759" align="aligncenter" width="600"][​IMG] There's no laundry service in El Ramate, FYI. (though the fruit stand lady will do it if you ask nicely)[/caption]

    How did I leave Ernesto behind?

    We've discussed this several times since our Journey to El Mirador. What we've pieced together:

    Ernesto went over the rise, turned the corner and chose one of a few path options. On the path he chose, he got hung up on a log. I immediately passed him on a different nearby path. Any of these diverting paths all very soon after meet up with each other. I didn't even notice the other paths. Ernesto watched me go by, even honked his horn. I didn't see or hear him. Seconds later I ran out of gas.

    While I was dealing with my gasoline issues, Ernesto was trying to free his bike himself. He figured I had seen him and would come back to lend him a hand. He continued trying to free himself for a good while. When he realized he would not be able to get unstuck on his own, he started to walk up the trail to find me for some help. By this time, I had solved my issues and taken off, thinking I was still chasing him down the trail.

    He walked about 1.5km up the trail, on an ankle that was injured after getting hung up on a root. When I wasn't anywhere to be found, he walked back, muttering profanities in my direction I'm sure. Ernesto used a small tree to pry his bike off the log, tearing apart his stock plastic skid plate in the process. Now freed, he continued up the trail behind me. Eventually he met me on my way back to look for him.

    We are still friends, and that is the only reason why: when we met up again I was going back to look for him. There was no one else who would have come by to help had he been seriously injured. Fortunately, we'll have the chance to go for another adventure in the future. Just have to let that jungle ball rash heal up first.
    [​IMG] After a much needed shower, I found three more ticks. Darn it all!![/caption]
  8. Oldone

    Oldone One day at a time!

    Jul 12, 2009
    MN. (summers) AZ. (winters)
  9. Wump

    Wump aka Mister Wisker

    Jun 3, 2013
    Back in Canada
    Great seeing you kiwis again, take care of those ribs!
  10. Wump

    Wump aka Mister Wisker

    Jun 3, 2013
    Back in Canada
    Hey Chris! I was lucky enough to make it out to 3 games in our time in Guatemala. Thanks so much for mentioning it!
  11. UltiJayne

    UltiJayne Sister on a KLR

    Mar 20, 2012
    Calgary, Alberta
    <a title="Rio Dulce" href="" target="_blank">Rio Dulce</a> has a very high, very long bridge. Many large trucks go over this bridge, all day and all night. Most of these truck's drivers gain great pleasure in using their engine retarder brakes while going over the bridge. They are LOUD. We, of course, were staying in a hostel located right under the bridge.

    We didn't sleep well in Rio Dulce.

    [caption id="attachment_3793" align="alignnone" width="800"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3793"><img class="size-full wp-image-3793" title="Bridge" src="" alt="" width="800" height="600" /></a> Me with the infamous bridge[/caption]

    [caption id="attachment_3776" align="alignnone" width="600"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3776"><img class="size-full wp-image-3776" title="Fellow bikers" src="" alt="" width="600" height="800" /></a> On the way to Rio Dulce Phil stopped to chat to two different heavily loaded bicyclists.[/caption]

    The ride from El Remate to Rio Dulce on April 29, 2013 was uneventful. The heat in Rio Dulce was almost unbearable. I couldn't wait to get my riding gear off when we pulled in to the Backpackers hotel.

    [caption id="attachment_3778" align="alignnone" width="800"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3778"><img class="size-full wp-image-3778" title="Hotel Backpackers" src="" alt="" width="800" height="600" /></a> Our dorm room[/caption]

    We were given bunks in their 20 bed dorm for the bargain basement price of 30Q/night each. The dorm is built on a dock, floating over the river. Despite the less than ideal sleeping conditions, made worse in my case by someone insisting on sleeping on the bunk above me, despite there being other free bunks, the hostel uses it's profits to run an orphanage, so at least we were supporting a good cause.

    We were relieved to finally be somewhere with a wifi connection after the week without one in El Remate. We had a lot of blogging to catch up with! (A common issue - I am writing this update from El Salvador, over a month after it took place...)

    We arranged for our new friend Cisco from Guatemala City who we hadn't actually met in person yet, to ride over on his BMW 800GS and meet us in a couple of days and then set to exploring what there was to see.

    [caption id="attachment_3801" align="alignnone" width="800"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3801"><img class="size-full wp-image-3801" title="Jumping Bridge" src="" alt="" width="800" height="600" /></a> I was very excited to be on top of the bridge![/caption]

    That evening we walked over the bridge into town for dinner. On the way back we passed a group if guys at a tienda. One of them called out "Hey Taliban!" (referring of course to Phil's unruly facial hair, which he is refusing to cut until the end of the trip).

    [caption id="attachment_3802" align="alignnone" width="800"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3802"><img class="size-full wp-image-3802" title="New Friends" src="" alt="" width="800" height="600" /></a> This tienda turned out to be the hub of the local community, everyone came by![/caption]

    We ended up chatting with them, they offered us beers, and then they pulled out a guitar. A completely unexpected evening of music and new friends ensued.

    [caption id="attachment_3803" align="alignnone" width="800"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3803"><img class="size-full wp-image-3803" title="Beer and Music" src="" alt="" width="800" height="600" /></a> The guitar comes out[/caption]

    [caption id="attachment_3804" align="alignnone" width="800"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3804"><img class="size-full wp-image-3804" title="Stickered Moto" src="" alt="" width="800" height="600" /></a> Our stickers are truly becoming world famous.[/caption]

    [caption id="attachment_3784" align="alignnone" width="600"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3784"><img class="size-full wp-image-3784" title="Drunken Music" src="" alt="" width="600" height="800" /></a> Despite the several beers he had consumed, this Guatemalan could still play! The sticker makes him play even better...[/caption]

    The main attractions around Rio Dulce are taking a boat to the coastal town of Livingstone through a narrow gorge, visiting the hot waterfalls and visiting the old Spanish fortress.

    We were told that Livingstone was very similar to Belize, at 200Q each we decided to skip that trip and instead had a very friendly local boat captain, Caesar take us on a private tour of the local area for 150Q total. He was proud to show us the fortress, the houses of the rich and famous who dock their yachts there to protect them from hurricanes, an Amazon-like river with overhanging vines and his favourite swimming spots. He even jumped in with us at sunset in the middle of the river beside a mangrove island full of birds.

    [caption id="attachment_3800" align="alignnone" width="800"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3800"><img class="size-full wp-image-3800" title="Hostel" src="" alt="" width="800" height="600" /></a> Pointing out our hostel from the boat[/caption]

    [caption id="attachment_3795" align="alignnone" width="800"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3795"><img class="size-full wp-image-3795" title="Co-captains" src="" alt="" width="800" height="600" /></a> Captains Phil and Caesar at the helm[/caption]

    [caption id="attachment_3798" align="alignnone" width="800"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3798"><img class="size-full wp-image-3798" title="Yacht parking" src="" alt="" width="800" height="600" /></a> Some boats parked outside their owner's home.[/caption]

    [caption id="attachment_3797" align="alignnone" width="800"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3797"><img class="size-full wp-image-3797" title="Fortress 1" src="" alt="" width="800" height="600" /></a> Approaching the fortress[/caption]

    [caption id="attachment_3796" align="alignnone" width="800"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3796"><img class="size-full wp-image-3796" title="Fortress 2" src="" alt="" width="800" height="600" /></a> Those Spaniards sure know how to build a pretty fortress![/caption]

    [caption id="attachment_3799" align="alignnone" width="800"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3799"><img class="size-full wp-image-3799" title="Birdwatching" src="" alt="" width="800" height="600" /></a> There were a lot of birds on that island![/caption]

    [caption id="attachment_3794" align="alignnone" width="800"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3794"><img class="size-full wp-image-3794" title="Sunset swim" src="" alt="" width="800" height="600" /></a> Jayne and Caesar swim at the island[/caption]

    [caption id="attachment_3783" align="alignnone" width="600"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3783"><img class="size-full wp-image-3783" title="River" src="" alt="" width="600" height="800" /></a> Floating down the jungle river.[/caption]

    We spent quite a lot of time at the hostel hanging out on the dock, meeting other travellers and catching up with the blog.

    I spoke to Christian a couple times, but he was very grumpy since the gassing episode and often was not much fun to talk with. Despite the grumpiness, I was still completely smitten with him, and was thinking of how I could make a trip back to Mexico to see him again before we got too much further South.

    On Wednesday morning we were just thinking about breakfast when Cisco walked up to us in his riding gear. He'd made great time from the city.

    [caption id="attachment_3785" align="alignnone" width="800"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3785"><img class="size-full wp-image-3785" title="Cisco" src="" alt="" width="800" height="600" /></a> Cisco on the road[/caption]

    At the same time we started talking to a Guatemalan guy called Guillermo and his son Alex. Guillermo was incredibly generous and insisted on buying us all lunch.

    As the beers flowed Guillermo started to tell us about his life as one of Guatemala's richest men... We have no idea if his stories were true, but he was a nice guy and it was fun to listen to his tales.

    [caption id="attachment_3792" align="alignnone" width="800"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3792"><img class="size-full wp-image-3792" title="Generous" src="" alt="" width="800" height="600" /></a> Phil with Guillermo and son Alex[/caption]

    Cisco then took us in a tuktuk across the river to a hotel/marina that we had to walk over a series of suspension bridges to get to. We sat on the dock and ate ice creams. As soon as we met him, Cisco was like an old friend and it just kept getting better.

    [caption id="attachment_3790" align="alignnone" width="800"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3790"><img class="size-full wp-image-3790" title="Suspension" src="" alt="" width="800" height="600" /></a> Most interesting hotel entrance ever[/caption]


    [caption id="attachment_3789" align="alignnone" width="800"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3789"><img class="size-full wp-image-3789" title="Bike Gang" src="" alt="" width="800" height="600" /></a> Cricket and Jugs meet Cisco's BMW[/caption]

    The next morning we packed up the bikes and headed to the hot waterfalls. We were there pretty early and had the whole place to ourselves. The water flowing off the cliff was too hot to stand under, but when it mixed with the water below it was lovely.

    [caption id="attachment_3781" align="alignnone" width="600"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3781"><img class="size-full wp-image-3781" title="Hot Waterfall" src="" alt="" width="600" height="800" /></a> We made it![/caption]

    [caption id="attachment_3788" align="alignnone" width="800"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3788"><img class="size-full wp-image-3788" title="Hot" src="" alt="" width="800" height="600" /></a> Don't let the peaceful beauty fool you, those waterfalls are scalding hot!!!![/caption]

    [caption id="attachment_3787" align="alignnone" width="800"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3787"><img class="size-full wp-image-3787" title="Dip" src="" alt="" width="800" height="600" /></a> Jayne and Cisco enjoy the warm pool[/caption]

    The ride to Guatemala City consisted mostly of passing slow trucks on the highway. We stopped for groceries and then headed to Cisco's sock factory, where he lives, just as it started to rain.

    [caption id="attachment_3780" align="alignnone" width="600"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3780"><img class="size-full wp-image-3780" title="GC traffic" src="" alt="" width="600" height="800" /></a> Our first taste of big city traffic in a while...[/caption]

    [caption id="attachment_3779" align="alignnone" width="600"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3779"><img class="size-full wp-image-3779" title="Armed" src="" alt="" width="600" height="800" /></a> Everyone in Guatemala City has a gun. Including this parking lot attendant, and the security guard at Dominos...[/caption]

    [caption id="attachment_3775" align="alignnone" width="600"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3775"><img class="size-full wp-image-3775" title="Deli" src="" alt="" width="600" height="800" /></a> Well dressed for the cheese and meat aisle.[/caption]

    [caption id="attachment_3774" align="alignnone" width="600"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3774"><img class="size-full wp-image-3774" title="Guat City Rain" src="" alt="" width="600" height="800" /></a> Guatemala City welcomed us with some rain...[/caption]
  12. UltiJayne

    UltiJayne Sister on a KLR

    Mar 20, 2012
    Calgary, Alberta
    I had never considered how socks are made. I put them on my feet every day without a thought for the people or processes involved. I had no idea there are sock ironing machines, or that there are people who's whole job is to turn newly knitted socks inside out so the toes can be sewn shut. Living at Cisco's factory changed my view of socks forever!

    [caption id="attachment_3843" align="alignnone" width="300"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3843"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3843" title="Sock machine" src="" alt="" width="300" height="225" /></a> Watching a sock machine get threaded[/caption]

    [caption id="attachment_3841" align="alignnone" width="300"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3841"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3841" title="Sock Factory" src="" alt="" width="300" height="225" /></a> Each of these machines knit socks.[/caption]

    [caption id="attachment_3842" align="alignnone" width="300"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3842"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3842" title="Tube sock" src="" alt="" width="300" height="225" /></a> This is what a sock looks like before the toe is sewn shut.[/caption]

    [caption id="attachment_3840" align="alignnone" width="300"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3840"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3840" title="Sock irons" src="" alt="" width="300" height="225" /></a> You put socks on these "feet" to iron them.[/caption]

    [caption id="attachment_3839" align="alignnone" width="300"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3839"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3839" title="Yarn with elastic" src="" alt="" width="300" height="225" /></a> The yarn gets mixed with elastic or lycra before the knitting starts...[/caption]

    We were introduced to Cisco by the KLR rider, Carlos, who we met on the side of the road as we left San Cristobal de las Casas. Cisco replied to the email that Carlos sent out and invited us to stay with him when we made it to Guatemala City. Cisco also turned out to be the man who could help us with all that ailed our bikes.

    Cisco let us unload our bikes into an empty warehouse at the factory beside his house, before we took the bikes away to be fixed up.

    [caption id="attachment_3846" align="alignnone" width="300"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3846"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3846" title="Jayne" src="" alt="" width="300" height="225" /></a> Me, Cricket, and the contents of my panniers laid out on the floor.[/caption]

    [caption id="attachment_3828" align="alignnone" width="300"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3828"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3828" title="Oil spill" src="" alt="" width="300" height="225" /></a> Phil had a little problem while changing Jugs' oil.[/caption]

    The welders at the factory fixed Phil's ammo can panniers - restoring them to solid, square, boxes after the beating they took going up to El Mirador. Those soldaduras couldn't weld my aluminum panniers, but Cisco took us to a place where they had the right equipment. The seams of my boxes had started to split after the many drops I had subjected them to.

    [caption id="attachment_3824" align="alignnone" width="225"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3824"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3824" title="Sock welder" src="" alt="" width="225" height="300" /></a> Phil with his pannier and the man who welded it for him[/caption]

    [caption id="attachment_3818" align="alignnone" width="300"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3818"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3818" title="Beat up" src="" alt="" width="300" height="225" /></a> My poor pannier really needed some love...[/caption]

    [caption id="attachment_3826" align="alignnone" width="225"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3826"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3826" title="Box" src="" alt="" width="225" height="300" /></a> I've got a charging station hardwired into my box, that I plug into my battery.[/caption]

    [caption id="attachment_3845" align="alignnone" width="300"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3845"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3845" title="Box repair" src="" alt="" width="300" height="225" /></a> Delivering my panniers for re-welding[/caption]

    We drove around through the crazy traffic in the city in search of a new rear tire for Jugs, a new visor for my helmet, new gloves and a fix for Phil's front suspension, which had been "clunking".

    The incredible people at the BMW dealership came to our rescue with half price gloves for me, and a great selection of tires at good prices. Phil got a Continental TKC for just over $100.

    [caption id="attachment_3825" align="alignnone" width="225"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3825"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3825" title="BMW" src="" alt="" width="225" height="300" /></a> Phil with the very kind BMW manager and his new tire[/caption]

    No luck on a new visor for my Shoei helmet, the one I have is a bit scratched, and isn't great if we ever get stuck riding at night. It's still okay though so no tragedy that we couldn't find a replacement.

    Our final stop was at a real, open, Kawasaki dealership. We hadn't seen one of these since the USA! Klaus and his team were incredibly supportive, and offered to work on our bikes at very low prices. They like to support travellers.

    That weekend we went with Cisco to his family's house on Lake Atitlan. It was a long ride along all sorts of roads, with beautiful views. We stopped in Antigua for coffee and a boot shine.

    [caption id="attachment_3837" align="alignnone" width="300"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3837"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3837" title="Antigua" src="" alt="" width="300" height="225" /></a> The cobbled streets of Antigua, with a volcano in the distance![/caption]

    [caption id="attachment_3836" align="alignnone" width="300"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3836"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3836" title="Boot Shine Jayne" src="" alt="" width="300" height="225" /></a> Just getting my boots shined in the coffee shop[/caption]

    [caption id="attachment_3822" align="alignnone" width="225"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3822"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3822" title="Spit and polish" src="" alt="" width="225" height="300" /></a> Phil's boot shiner - half way through the job[/caption]

    [caption id="attachment_3848" align="alignnone" width="300"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3848"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3848" title="Cisco and Queso" src="" alt="" width="300" height="225" /></a> We stopped for lunch in this "Swiss" restaurant. This cheese was delicious.[/caption]

    [caption id="attachment_3851" align="alignnone" width="225"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3851"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3851" title="Lake Atitilan Mirador" src="" alt="" width="225" height="300" /></a> View down to the lake from the highway[/caption]

    [caption id="attachment_3835" align="alignnone" width="300"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3835"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3835" title="Bikers with a view" src="" alt="" width="300" height="225" /></a> Cisco and Jayne enjoy the view[/caption]

    [caption id="attachment_3834" align="alignnone" width="300"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3834"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3834" title="Jugs" src="" alt="" width="300" height="225" /></a> Bike, bikers and beauty[/caption]

    The road down to the lake is under construction, and has a lot of tight switchbacks. The most challenging section by far, however, was the incredibly steep driveway down to the house. My long suffering brother was a star and rode my bike down for me, as I was sure I would either drop my bike or crash into the wall at the bottom.

    [caption id="attachment_3854" align="alignnone" width="225"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3854"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3854" title="Driveway" src="" alt="" width="225" height="300" /></a> The driveway of doom[/caption]

    [caption id="attachment_3820" align="alignnone" width="225"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3820"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3820" title="Driveway of doom" src="" alt="" width="225" height="300" /></a> Looking up the STEEP driveway[/caption]

    Unfortunately I started suffering a sore throat the day we left for the lake, and it got progressively worse over the course of the weekend. As Cisco said at one point, "If you're going to be sick, the lake is a great place to be." I slept a lot.

    [caption id="attachment_3832" align="alignnone" width="300"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3832"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3832" title="Naptime" src="" alt="" width="300" height="225" /></a> Jugs, Cisco's BMW and I all take a rest waiting for the construction crew to let us by[/caption]

    The house is gorgeous, right on the lake side. In fact the lake has steadily risen over the past few years, and the boathouse they built 4 years ago is now mostly underwater.

    [caption id="attachment_3856" align="alignnone" width="300"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3856"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3856" title="Cisco's lake house" src="" alt="" width="300" height="225" /></a> Looking up at Cisco's house from beside the lake[/caption]

    [caption id="attachment_3855" align="alignnone" width="300"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3855"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3855" title="Drowning boathouse" src="" alt="" width="300" height="225" /></a> On the right is the underwater boathouse[/caption]

    [caption id="attachment_3852" align="alignnone" width="300"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3852"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3852" title="Lake room" src="" alt="" width="300" height="225" /></a> Our room at the lake.[/caption]

    [caption id="attachment_3850" align="alignnone" width="225"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3850"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3850" title="Luxury" src="" alt="" width="225" height="300" /></a> Having a nice bathroom is a massive luxury after 10 months on the road[/caption]

    [caption id="attachment_3849" align="alignnone" width="225"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3849"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3849" title="Gourd Girl" src="" alt="" width="225" height="300" /></a> We saw Guatemalans using these gourds as water bottles. This one was just for decoration.[/caption]

    [caption id="attachment_3857" align="alignnone" width="300"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3857"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3857" title="Lake Atitlan" src="" alt="" width="300" height="225" /></a> Lake Atitlan with a volcano and pretty clouds[/caption]

    Lake Atitlan is nestled in the middle of several volcanoes, and has no outlet streams or rivers. Water goes in, but it doesn't flow out.

    We had some pretty intense rain while we were there, the start of the rainy season is upon us!

    We met up with our Irish friend Ruth from San Ignacio, and Phil rode to Antigua on Sunday to play Ultimate Frisbee. He ended up staying there overnight, because the switchbacks down to the lake are pretty intense, especially in the rain. We picked him up on our way back to the city Monday morning.

    [caption id="attachment_3829" align="alignnone" width="300"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3829"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3829" title="Irish reunion" src="" alt="" width="300" height="225" /></a> Look it's Ruth from Belize![/caption]

    I had been spending a lot of time thinking about and missing Christian. I could not continue travelling with my heart in Cozumel. It wasn't fair on Phil to have me split that way, and I was finding it difficult to be present in the trip. So in Guatemala City I booked a flight to Cancun. I was going back to the beautiful Caribbean island to see Christian for nearly two weeks. I knew that spending that time with Christian would either support or change our feelings for each other, and allow me to decide what my priorities were.

    We dropped our bikes off at the Kawasaki dealership. I was having them install a new chain and sprockets and new front brake pads on Cricket. I was still running the same sprockets I started with almost 40,000 kilometers ago, so it was definitely time.

    [caption id="attachment_3827" align="alignnone" width="300"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3827"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3827" title="Kawasaki" src="" alt="" width="300" height="225" /></a> Dropping the kids off at the shop - Jugs and Cricket fit right in with the other Kawasakis![/caption]

    Cisco was preparing to leave on a 10 day motorbike tour of Mexico, so he dropped us at a hostel in town near the airport and Kawasaki. We could not thank him enough for all his help. What an amazing man. He even let me leave a bunch of my stuff at his house while I was away!

    [caption id="attachment_3830" align="alignnone" width="300"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3830"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3830" title="Cisco" src="" alt="" width="300" height="225" /></a> Cisco - all round wonderful guy[/caption]

    That evening a man personally delivered my airplane confirmation to me at the hostel (don't get that kind of service back in London!) and the next morning, April 8th, 2013, I was up before 5am making the 5 minute walk to the airport.

    Cozumel, here I come.
  13. UltiJayne

    UltiJayne Sister on a KLR

    Mar 20, 2012
    Calgary, Alberta
    Warning: There is no mention of motorcycles in the below post.

    It's a very special for a man to invite a woman to live with him, to be part of his daily life. To say to her "not only do I love you, I LIKE you so much that I want to spend every day with you". This is what Christian did when he invited me to come back to Cozumel for 2 weeks.

    [caption id="attachment_3886" align="alignnone" width="300"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3886"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3886" title="Cantina" src="" alt="" width="300" height="225" /></a> Me and Christian at a local Cozumel cantina[/caption]

    Living someone's life with them for 2 weeks teaches you a lot about them. Much more than occasionally hanging out with them ever could.

    As a reminder, or for those of you who are new to the blog, I met Christian when Phil and I were in Cozumel at the beginning of April. We clicked immediately and fell in love, and had been in nearly daily contact from the time I left Cozumel to when I flew back there in May. I missed him terribly, and went back to see him because I felt that I had to explore the possibility that we were soulmates.

    It turns out that we aren't - but that doesn't in any way negate the love we had, or make me regret going back to Cozumel. It is true that it is better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all. It is a rare and amazing feeling to fall in love with someone who loves you back, even if it doesn't last.

    <strong>A side note on falling in love:</strong>

    I have made a particular effort during this journey to meet new people, to connect with them on a deeper level, to foster intimacy, to be open and honest, say what I feel, ask difficult questions and fall in love.

    These are all things that I somewhat lost by living in London for a decade, being dragged into the cold, closed, lonely world that living in a giant metropolis can create. In London you are constantly surrounded by people, but hardly ever do you even make eye contact, should you speak to a stranger they will likely think you are mentally unstable, or trying to get something from them. Forming meaningful relationships with anyone is challenging. I had a small, amazing group of friends, but was rarely open to connect with anyone else.

    In the past 11 months (I am writing this 11 months to the day since we left Vancouver, apologies for the delay - it's over a month ago I got back from Cozumel) I am very lucky to have met so many new people whom I love dearly, both male and female. Friends who I know I will be friends with for the rest of my life. (Tom at Burning Man, Ed in Vegas, Calgary and Mexico City, Brad in Austin, Jaime in Phoenix, Kristen in Joshua Tree, Stu in Mulege, Frida in Durango, Graham, Sheila, Brenda and Moonyeen in Chapala, Sarah and Shawn in Trocones, Anja in Oaxaca, Alex in all the places we meet up, Tanya in Guatemala, Cisco in Guatemala City, and of course Christian in Cozumel, to name but a few...)

    Love is not just about romantic, get married, be together forever love. It is about connecting with people with whom you feel a kinship. People are scared to use the "L" word. I am trying to use it every day. Everything in life is enhanced when you allow yourself to love. You will get hurt, and not everyone will love you back in the same way you love them, but it is worth it every time.

    [caption id="attachment_3871" align="alignnone" width="225"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3871"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3871" title="Graffiti" src="" alt="" width="225" height="300" /></a> Cool Cozumel graffiti.[/caption]

    <strong>Back to Cozumel:</strong>

    Meeting Christian had changed everything. I wasn't travelling in the same way as before. I spent hours each day talking to him, I was always thinking about him, and wishing he was there with me. I wasn't being present with the people I was with. I was being rude to my brother and all the other people I was staying with or meeting. I was always on the internet on my phone, only half paying attention to what they were saying or what we were doing. I was aware I was being rude, but I didn't care. Talking to Christian was more important. I was head over heels in love. It's a powerful drug!

    I left my brother and my motorcycle in Guatemala City, and got on a plane to Cancun. I was so happy when I arrived in Cozumel, Christian met me at the ferry terminal with his beloved dog Tina and everything was amazing.

    [caption id="attachment_3872" align="alignnone" width="225"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3872"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3872" title="Present" src="" alt="" width="225" height="300" /></a> Christian had made and decorated a side table and put the conch shell he had cleaned and polished for me on it. Beautiful![/caption]

    Christian runs a beach club on the far side of the island, which is the "wild side" of the island. There's no electricity on that side of the island because it kept getting knocked out by storms. People say that it is close to what Cancun looked like before all the development. It's beautiful.

    [caption id="attachment_3870" align="alignnone" width="300"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3870"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3870" title="Beach Club" src="" alt="" width="300" height="225" /></a> The beach club[/caption]

    Every morning we would drive *to the beach club*in the rust bucket old truck that the owner of the beach club provides Christian. When there we would set up the kiosk, the sunbeds, tables and chairs and souvenir table, and then we would hang out on the beautiful,*abandoned*beach. In the time I was there, not a single customer came to the club. Not even one.

    [caption id="attachment_3889" align="alignnone" width="300"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3889"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3889" title="Blue" src="" alt="" width="300" height="225" /></a> The gorgeous, wild beaches of Cozumel[/caption]

    [caption id="attachment_3882" align="alignnone" width="225"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3882"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3882" title="Kiosk" src="" alt="" width="225" height="300" /></a> Christian in the kiosk[/caption]

    [caption id="attachment_3881" align="alignnone" width="225"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3881"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3881" title="Ocean" src="" alt="" width="225" height="300" /></a> Oh to be beside the Carribean - nice office![/caption]

    At the end of the day we'd pack everything up and head back to Christian's place.

    Christian hadn't been paid (pretty easy to see that the owner may not have had a lot of money coming in, especially if his other businesses were suffering from lack of customers too) and so we didn't go out much. We stayed home and played backgammon and cards, and watched movies. Also Christian cooked. Amazing, delicious meals. I hadn't ever eaten that well.

    Let me give you a "taste"...

    [caption id="attachment_3880" align="alignnone" width="225"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3880"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3880" title="Fish" src="" alt="" width="225" height="300" /></a> One of our first meals - triggerfish filet that Christian had caught himself.[/caption]

    [caption id="attachment_3877" align="alignnone" width="300"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3877"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3877" title="Catch of the day" src="" alt="" width="300" height="225" /></a> Christian with the Triggerfish. Look at those teeth![/caption]

    [caption id="attachment_3878" align="alignnone" width="225"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3878"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3878" title="Fish Soup" src="" alt="" width="225" height="300" /></a> This fish soup is the first I have ever eaten that I liked. It was spicy and savoury and amazing.[/caption]

    [caption id="attachment_3879" align="alignnone" width="225"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3879"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3879" title="Apple Pie" src="" alt="" width="225" height="300" /></a> Best. Apple. Pie. Ever.[/caption]

    [caption id="attachment_3876" align="alignnone" width="225"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3876"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3876" title="Fish and mash" src="" alt="" width="225" height="300" /></a> Fish with mashed potato[/caption]

    [caption id="attachment_3875" align="alignnone" width="225"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3875"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3875" title="Steak and Potato Gratin" src="" alt="" width="225" height="300" /></a> Steak with potatoes baked in bechamel and cheese. Heaven on a plate.[/caption]

    [caption id="attachment_3874" align="alignnone" width="225"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3874"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3874" title="Chef" src="" alt="" width="225" height="300" /></a> The chef with his creation[/caption]

    [caption id="attachment_3884" align="alignnone" width="300"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3884"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3884" title="Chilean salad" src="" alt="" width="300" height="225" /></a> A traditional Chilean salad, avocado, cilantro and onion.[/caption]

    [caption id="attachment_3885" align="alignnone" width="225"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3885"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3885" title="Brownie Pie" src="" alt="" width="225" height="300" /></a> A pie, filled with gooey brownie, served with ice cream... To die for.[/caption]

    Although most evenings were spent at home, we did go out a couple of times. We enjoyed this beautiful sunset:

    [caption id="attachment_3887" align="alignnone" width="300"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3887"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3887" title="Cozumel sunset" src="" alt="" width="300" height="225" /></a> Island Sunset[/caption]

    On Christian's day off we got up very early and went spearfishing.

    [caption id="attachment_3888" align="alignnone" width="300"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3888"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3888" title="Wetsuit model" src="" alt="" width="300" height="225" /></a> Trying on a wetsuit in preparation for spearfishing[/caption]

    [caption id="attachment_3869" align="alignnone" width="300"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-3869"><img class="size-medium wp-image-3869" title="Spearfishing" src="" alt="" width="300" height="225" /></a> About to hit the water with Christian's friend Luis[/caption]

    I had never been spearfishing before, and so it was very exciting to see Christian diving down and spearing fish. He caught one, and missed a few. He was pretty upset about the ones that got away...

    In fact Christian was upset about a lot of things while I was there. My happy, in-love state of mind was more and more often disturbed by Christian's negativity. He didn't like that I slept later than the 6am that he woke up every day, or when I took a nap one afternoon. He didn't like that I didn't want to drink as many beers as he did one afternoon (not that he was drinking a lot, I am just not a big beer drinker), he expressed concern that I kept forgetting to turn the fan off in the other room, *I didn't wash the dishes after dinner right away one night and he was not impressed... We argued several times over petty things.

    Basically we fell into the day to day routine of an old married couple, and I realised that Christian's mood changed frequently, and that if things weren't working out in one aspect of his life (ie. his boss not paying him) he would take it out on me in another.

    The honeymoon was well and truly over.

    <em>Here are a few things I learnt about Christian:</em>
    He's a fabulous cook
    He's extremely artistic
    He wakes up very early every day
    He doesn't have much money
    He is very clean and tidy
    He gets very upset when things do not work out as he wishes
    He loves his dog Tina

    <em>Here are a few things I was reminded of about myself:</em>
    I am never going to love getting up early.
    I am never going to love being told I have to wash dishes (I will do them in my own time).
    I don't drink a lot of alcohol.
    I love sleeping and I sleep a lot.
    I don't know what I want and I change my mind.
    I am a dreamer.
    I am very*independent and often selfish.
    I say what's on my mind.
    I love to travel.
    I don't want to live a normal, boring life where I go home every evening and hang out in the house.
    I have a lot of friends who I love dearly.
    When I am sad, I talk to my brother, my parents, and my friends about my problems.
    I want to be happy.

    In the end, living with Christian didn't make me happy. Most of the time we had a wonderful time together, but the times when we argued were too frequent, and over such minor things. A relationship should not descend into that after knowing each other for less than two months!

    There are a lot of reasons that Christian was having a hard time. Trouble with his employer, he threw his back out really badly in the last week I was there and was unable to do a lot, I was leaving... However those are all just excuses. In the end we weren't the soulmates I had hoped we were.

    Realising that I am not ready to live a "normal" life, even if that life is on a Caribbean island, was an important lesson for me.

    Christian and I are still friends, and I think that the experience made us both look closely at our lives and priorities and learn from each other.

    I personally am grateful for Christian, the experience of falling in love, sharing his life for that short time, and the challenge of putting the experience into words, both in our discussions after I returned to Guatemala, and in writing this post. I feel that I am a more complete person because I met him.

    Since I returned to Guatemala on May 21st, 2013 so much has happened. Phil and I have travelled through four countries and are now in Nicaragua. We're going to try to catch up on the blog ASAP. Please bear with us.

    Sending much love to each and every one of you.
  14. Wump

    Wump aka Mister Wisker

    Jun 3, 2013
    Back in Canada
    I was travelling alone for a while through some of Mexico, Belize and into Guatemala. Sure Jayne was with me, but could often be found in her standard position:
    [​IMG] Optimal texting formation[/caption]

    She was in looooooove, which also made her distracted and boooooooring. We used to sit and discuss things in the evenings. Now we talked far less, she texted and skyped far more. She had known Christian for 5 days. 5 of them.
    So I fully supported her flying to see him. Something had to give. Either she would get married in Cozumel and I'd continue on my own, or she'd come back alone and we'd start riding again. Either way, she had to put the phone down. I wasn't going to continue hanging out with her and her phone. Among other things, it was simply embarrassing when with mixed company. So Jayne went to Cozumel, and we now know how all that worked out.
    While Jayne was gone, I was flying solo. Flying totally solo in fact. I didn't even have Jugs to hang out with. My bike had not been handling great and I was concerned about the suspension wearing. With Jugs in the shop, I had time to kill. Fortunately a couple couch surfers, Javier and Cindy, took me in and gave me a home for a week while showing me Guatemala City sights and nightlife . Muchas Gracias amigos!

    [​IMG] She's french, can you tell?[/caption]

    [​IMG] I don't have many photos of Javier. I had to catch him taking a nap.[/caption]

    Many things happened while Jayne was away, and even once she came back. To condense this all for your reading pleasure, I present "Eight short stories and one slightly longer one":

    #1 Phil goes to the zoo

    I saw animals there.

    [​IMG] Out roar a Jaguar[/caption]
    [​IMG] Just lazing around like his bite won't crush your skull.[/caption]

    [​IMG] The monkeys stormed the fence on my bearded arrival, much to the delight of the zoo-keepers.[/caption]

    [​IMG] This Tapir has had about enough of my guff.[/caption]

    The end.

    #2 Bank machines hate me. I hate TD.

    [​IMG] These hates do not cancel each other out[/caption]

    I had a terrible time trying to get money out in Guatemala. I tried over 20 different bank machines over multiple days without winning money. I hear you say "Phil, maybe there was something wrong with your card". No. The card was fine. I called my bank (TD) three times during my struggles. Each time I was assured my card was fine, after they tried to tell me it was my fault for a variety of reasons. Each time I would then walk an hour round trip to the nearest bank machine. Finally on the third call, after having to take a credit card cash advance to, you know, LIVE, I insisted and the call center transferred me to a 'manager'. The manager told me only two banks work in Guatemala. I tried one (BAC bank, for the record). It worked. Why this took three calls and hours of wasted life to get this information they obviously have on file somewhere I'll never know. TD bank is terrible.

    [​IMG] I win I win!![/caption]

    The end.

    #3. I lost my bag in a cab.
    [​IMG] This bag right here[/caption]

    I had just been in Antigua for the day to play ultimate, then drink into the night with ultimate friends.
    [​IMG] Late night music and rooftop fire means late night cab ride home.[/caption]

    I left my bag in that cab. My bag had many useful items in it at the time, none moreso than my size 13 frisbee cleats. Without them, my "ride" becomes far less "ultimate". I was not happy.
    A friend had the driver's phone number, so I got my bag back the next day at no cost. I was then happy again.
    The end.

    #4 Being part of the Taliban gets you free beer[​IMG] "Hey Taliban!"[/caption]

    While I was out for a walk, three guys in a taxi pull up. One calls out to me "Hey Taliban!". Not the first time this has happened, so naturally I walk over to say hi. They jovially invite me into their taxi. I get in. We drive around the block, stop, sit on the curb and they buy me beer for the afternoon.
    The end.

    #5 My spanish needs improvement.
    [​IMG] Learning with Jorge. Never have I had a teacher watch the clock as much as him... or watch the clock at all actually. Learned lots though.[/caption]

    [​IMG] Maestro numero dos! better location, better learning, less clock watching.[/caption]

    I went to school. Two schools actually. For a couple weeks. I now can order beer AND ask what time it is. Just don't ask me anything that requires an answer in the future tense.
    The end.

    #6 I got an abscess in my tooth.
    [​IMG] Fantastic care at less than the price of a pitcher of beer back home.[/caption]

    More correctly, the abscess was in my gum. My Vancouver dentist had told me before I left that I might have problems with my top right molar. It forms a little pocket at the gumline, trapping food bits. She was right. It did cause problems. It really hurt.

    In totally related news: seeing a dentist in Guatemala, with examination, xrays, and a follow up visit costs 70Q (about 10$US).
    A week of antibiotics (and new floss) fixed me right up.
    The end.

    #7 I lived with a family in San Pedro. We checked on their corn.
    [​IMG] Cruising to the corn fields.[/caption]

    It was neat to see how all the plots are demarcated with a small tree, shrub or pile of rocks. Otherwise it just looks like one never ending plot of corn on the volcano. Oh right, everything is growing on a volcano.

    [​IMG] Doing my best to hide in the corn.[/caption]

    [​IMG] Javier's family plot is just past the lightning rod tree.[/caption]

    From this plot they grow all the corn they need for tortillas for the entire year. (More on our time with this family in a later post)
    The end.

    #8 Road trip to Monterrico beach

    [​IMG] Hanging out with our adopted frisbee-guard dog on the black sands.[/caption]

    Steve, Nick, Debora and I went to the beach. The beach is 'black' due to volcano proximity, and thus incredibly hot during the day. We swam in the morning and night. Steve got rocked by the vicious beach break, slamming his face into the sandy bottom.

    [​IMG] It's ok, chicks dig scars in the middle of your forehead.[/caption]

    A turtle kissed him all better.
    [​IMG] The kiss attempt nearly gave him another scar for chicks to dig.[/caption]

    I went for a walk and met some locals.
    [​IMG] "Our mom killed a snake and hung it on a post "[/caption]

    It rained really hard at night.
    [​IMG] I kill your cows.[/caption]

    The end.

    #9 We hadn't seen Erik and Tanya for a while (or "Jayne gets punched")

    [​IMG] reunion celebration.[/caption]

    They came to see us in San Pedro.
    Erik and I started off the reunion by schooling some local kids at basketball.

    [​IMG] Hopes crushed, dreams shattered, they took their ball and went home.[/caption]

    Then we all started drinking to celebrate the win and, uh, apparently arm wrestling too.

    [​IMG] Loser gets punched in the head. Ready? GO![/caption]

    We continued onwards to the "Zoola bar". There was a beer bong and a floaty boat in a pool in a bar. We had a good time.

    [​IMG] Beer bong? don't mind if I do![/caption]

    [​IMG] Too much yoga is bad for the liver.[/caption]

    [​IMG] Things began to get sloppy[/caption]

    [​IMG] is that a knife? violent foreshadowing.[/caption]

    Eric fell in the pool too, fully clothed with non-waterproof camera in pocket and all. He walked home in his boxers.

    [​IMG] ...and holding a pineapple.[/caption]

    After leaving the bar and finding Eric and Jayne scandalously clothed and waiting patiently for Tanya and I to show up, Tanya punched Jayne in the head then attacked Erik.
    The end.

    wait... what?

    Sooooo this story is not really a short one. But it is the last one, so enjoy.
    Jayne had returned from Cozumel relieved of her need to text constantly. This was pleasing to Erik, who would now tolerate her company. Erik and Tanya came to visit us for the day from where they had been staying in nearby Panajachel. We went to the "Zoola" bar. We got intoxicated.
    Doing yoga in a bar intoxicated. Strip down naked and play in a boat intoxicated, falling-fully-clothed-into-a-pool-with-your-camera-in-your-pocket intoxicated. We had fun.
    I don't recall Erik and Jayne leaving (likely too much yoga) but when Tanya and I noticed they were gone we decided to follow them. Not finding them at the hotel Tanya and Erik had in town, we next checked where Jayne and I were staying at the School.
    Jayne and Eric had left the bar, and Eric walked Jayne home. Not having his keys for the hotel, Erik waited for Tanya at our place. This was ok with Javier (school owner). We know he was ok with it because Jayne had to wake him up by yelling outside the house to get in, as I had the keys.
    While we were walking, I did mention to Tanya that this was a family home and she would need to stay quiet. She did not hear that over her drunken thought process that Erik was surely making sweet sweet love to my sister.
    We arrived, Tanya started screaming and punching. Jayne was fine, as was Erik, but Tanya perhaps realized how wrong she had been and she ran away. Erik and I spent the following 4 hours searching the town for her. We looked everywhere, returning to the Zoola bar twice, borrowing rum from another party, and walking into another bar, this one closed.

    [​IMG] We'll give it back when we're done with it.[/caption]

    The final patrons, an Irish couple, and the bartender initially resisted our presence. Soon however, we were jumping off the "plank" (aka gap in the railing) and into the lake. Well I jumped. Erik was more pushed, and in that moment lost his sandals in the lake.

    [​IMG] the now-shoeless Erik, exiting water fully clothed for the second time this night.[/caption]

    Drunk, frustrated by his girlfriend's actions and disappearance and now having shoeless size 14 feet in Guatemala, Erik got upset. The altercation that followed didn't lead to blows, but it did lead to the bartender waking the manager at 3am, who threatened to get his gun while yelling and trying to start a fight with a very tall former rugby player. Erik stole the Irishman's shoes to even things, and proceeded to throw one of them in the lake. This would somehow end the altercation, with none of us being shot.

    The end...
    Oh right, Tanya. We found her back at the hotel with a rolled ankle and soaking wet. She had gone back to the Zoola bar and dove into the pool to get the keys that had fallen out of Erik's pocket. Somewhere along the way she hopped a fence and slid down a hill. Probably why the fence was there. Erik then insisted on stumbling me home, certain there was a gang out to get us. He did, and then I had to walk him back to the hotel, as he got himself horribly lost. I slept well.

    It's ok though, Jayne was unhurt and we're all still friends.
    The end

    Motorcycle minute short story

    Jugs had sloppy steering and clunky suspension. It was worsening by the day.

    [​IMG] Jugs with Klaus, the magic manager from Kawasaki Guatemala City.[/caption]

    Took Jugs in to see Klaus and the Kawasaki family in Guatamala city. I had been told the guide bushings in the suspension were worn way back up in Alaska... 35000km ago. I needed a checkup. In typical Latin American style, the bike would always be ready "tomorrow". But they were doing me a huge favor and I didn't really need the bike at all, so I wasn't too worried. "Tomorrow" came after a little over a week. It cost me about 40$USD. And my suspension didn't need to be replaced or even have parts repaired. Only problem was a loose headset. Should get a socket for that. Anyways, thanks Klaus!!

    I'll leave you all with advice from the bathroom wall. Take it or leave it:

    [​IMG] I'll take it![/caption]
  15. 175grams

    175grams Old Town Outfitters, Antigua, Guatemala

    Jan 24, 2013
    ah man, you're making me jealous. Hanging out with my good friend's Eric and Steve on the roof, you got in with the right crowd.
  16. UltiJayne

    UltiJayne Sister on a KLR

    Mar 20, 2012
    Calgary, Alberta
    Stay tuned - this wasn't the last time we saw these guys! :D
  17. Wump

    Wump aka Mister Wisker

    Jun 3, 2013
    Back in Canada
    I left San Pedro la Laguna at 10am. The rain started minutes later, and steadily increased in fortitude. When I was stopped by construction 30 minutes later, it was a solid deluge of water from the sky. And now I was just standing around in it.
    [​IMG] If the spike strip doesn't get you, the cones will.[/caption]

    I eventually made it out of the switchbacks to the highway, finally able to soak up the rain at much greater velocity. I had opted not to bother with the rain proof lining of my riding pants, as they had proved not to work back in Mexico. The water soaked through my riding pants to the point that water ran down my legs, filling my boots, my right one less than my left of course. My Jacket was still waterproof. It was, now less so. With the amount of water I was riding through, I'm sure just what ran down the front of my neck was enough to soak everything on the inside. I'm really sure of that actually. It was like what I imagined riding through a Hurricane would be like, only without as much wind.

    [​IMG] A damn fine imagination too, I might add.[/caption]

    Hurricane Barbara hit land on the Oaxaca coast on May 29th. It was barely even a Hurricane. (Category one hurricane cut-off: 74mph winds. Hurricane Barbara: 75mph winds). Where I was the winds didn't seem that much worse than a standard issue storm.
    [​IMG] This barely-a-hurricane that I barely encountered sure got me wet. so wet.[/caption]
    [​IMG] It took THREE days for all my gear to dry. The boots took a week.[/caption]

    It was the rain that got me, and caused most of the problems Barbara caused: lots of flooding in Mexico. I'm whining about a barely category 1 storm that I wasn't even close to. I have now lost all thoughts that it "might be interesting", and thus DO NOT want to encounter a storm at full force this trip.

    So why was I riding in complete and utter misery while a barely-- hurricane was spraying rain all over me? So I could go make fun of Alexander, of course, and Alex was in "Quetzaltenango" (commonly known as "Xela" by everyone who ever has to write it).

    [​IMG] Alex with his recently-upside-down Georgia. (the bike, not the girl)[/caption]

    Alexander had recently had a crash when he encountered a patch of spilled diesel fuel on the highway. While his bike suffered some harsh cosmetic damage, Alexander came out mostly unscathed. Being the good friend I am, I rode up to scathe him in a friendly, put-your-head-on-my-shoulder-so-I-can-laugh-at-you-to-sleep, what-friends-are-for type of way. I also had his share of the care-package our parents delivered to Cozumel, and I needed to pass his parts on to him before Jayne and I headed south.

    I couch-surfed Alexander's couch-surf, and though I got a bit sick from my ride through the rain, we had a fun 3 days catching up. We also had the most productive day I've had this trip. Standard expectation in latin america is that you can expect to get one thing done each day. If you do that, you're doing well. Alexander and I got NINE things done, none of them small items, and all completed in a short break in the downpour from Barbara:

    -We took Alex's bike, Georgia, out for a test ride.
    [​IMG] These boys are very impressed at the size of Alexanders tank. We all are, really.[/caption]

    -We took Alex's bike back in for repairs (of the 'repairs')
    [​IMG] Repairing the 'repairs'. Task complete![/caption]

    -Alex ordered replacement license plate ordered for Alex's stolen plate ("lost" in Mexico)

    -We made indistinguishable colour copies made of Alex's title

    [​IMG] Can YOU tell if this is the copy? (p.s. Always fold your copies. makes them look more legitimate)[/caption]

    -We had both of our damaged shoes taken in for repairs

    [​IMG] I have sewn this shoe back together FOUR times. This man glued it. That's why we pay him the big 10 Quetzals (1.25$)[/caption]

    -Alex had a haircut
    [​IMG] Haggling for your haircut might not be such a great plan.[/caption]

    -We bought groceries in the market

    -I siliconed all the holes closed on my right boot. The "speed holes" ventilation experiment was officially a failure.
    [​IMG] Speed holes, they make your boot drain rain faster.[/caption]

    -Number one top task of the day: A new reinforcement bar custom made and welded onto my rear rack.

    [​IMG] Sitting in the mud to fix jugs.[/caption]

    Ever since before Mirador, and certainly afterwards, my boxes have been bending inwards from repeated drops and beatings. It was bad enough at one point that the left box was hitting the swingarm over bumps. Sure I could stop dropping my bike and bending the boxes back out. OR I could have the rack re-inforced so that it looked and worked like everyone elses. I'll take option number two please.
    [​IMG] Trick so the bar doesn't kink when bending: pack the bar full of dirt![/caption]

    This gentleman was incredible. He dropped everything he was doing when I walked in the door and custom built me a new reinforcement bar. Measured, bent, cut, welded AND airbrushed in a little over an hour. For 40 Quetzals. That's just over 6$. Six! While some things in Guatemala haven't been as cheap as had been foretold, services here are fast AND great workmanship.

    [​IMG] My cameras retinas are burning[/caption]

    [​IMG] Well jugs, looks like I get to drop you a whole lot more now.[/caption]

    After our incredible productive day of triumph, the rains came back, as hard as before, so we played cards for two days.

    In that time of playing of cards, we were able to meet up with Hugo from KLR Moto Adventure club of Xela.
    [​IMG] Notice the lack of rain in this happy family shot.[/caption]

    Hugo invited us over for breakfast with his family before we left town, then joined us as a KLR trio to the highway.

    [​IMG] 2005, 2000, 1990. KLR's, they just don't make'em like they used to.[/caption]

    [​IMG] Preride fix: Is your brake light stuck on? check for mud in the switch. Easiest roadside repair yet.[/caption]

    Alex and I had been gifted with the first sunny day in a week when we rode out of Xela. Sadly the sun wasn't to stay. I had been hoping to head inland to experience Semuc Champey, while Alex was heading for his first time to the lake. Sitting at the turn off going back to Lago Atitlan, I watched the clouds darkening, covering the sky where the sun had just been moments earlier. I din't want to go back down to the lake. As nice as it is, I had already been there three times. I hadn't yet been to Semuc Champey, and heard such great things about it. We were short on time in Guatemala (Real-sized Kelly had booked a flight to Nicaragua where we were to meet her. We had a schedule again). If I didn't go to Semuc Champey today, I wouldn't get to go. I looked at the clouds again.

    Semuc Champey was another 4 hours away... when the road are dry. The thought of riding through a storm again, when my boots had still not yet dried from the first one, while still getting over the cold Barbara gave me, was too much for me. I didn't want to go through it all again, not this soon.

    I rode with Alexander back down to the lake. We just made it when the skies once again opened. I probably made the right call.

    (Note: Since I'm writing this so far in the "future", I can happily tell you I did indeed make the right call. I would find out days later that Semuc Champey had been hit HARD by the storm, was completely flooded and closed to the public. I would have ridden 4 hours in the rain only to have to turn around and ride back.)
    [​IMG] By heading back to the lake, we were also able to reunite the incredible foursome. As it turned out Ida had made her way to the lake too![/caption]
  18. UltiJayne

    UltiJayne Sister on a KLR

    Mar 20, 2012
    Calgary, Alberta
    I waited 20-30 minutes to be let through the barrier and continue on my journey. I dread to think how long the queue of cars I passed to get to the barrier had been waiting!

    [caption id="attachment_4014" align="alignnone" width="225"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-4014"><img class="size-medium wp-image-4014" title="Foggy queue" src="" alt="" width="225" height="300" /></a> The fog obscures just how many cars were in this line...[/caption]

    It started to rain gently as I finally started the bike and started along the steep, twisty, under-construction road that leads down to Lake Atitlan. The rain turned torrential and I was very proud of myself for staying calm and navigating the potholes and gravel under the newly formed rivers running down and across the road. I suffer from irrational fear when on difficult roads which is a constant battle for me to overcome.

    Luckily by the time I reached the switchbacks on the lower half of the road the rain had stopped.

    I reached San Pedro La Laguna in the afternoon and called Phil when I no longer knew which way to turn. He showed up beside me within a minute, I had stopped only a few meters from the narrow alleyway that lead to the <a title="Flor Del Maiz" href="" target="_blank">Flor del Maiz Spanish School</a>, my new home. I was so happy to see my little brother! Two weeks apart had reminded me how much I like travelling with him. We make a good team!

    Javier is the owner of the school, and the head of the beautiful Guatemalan family Phil had been living with for the week.

    [caption id="attachment_4015" align="alignnone" width="300"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-4015"><img class="size-medium wp-image-4015" title="Laptop Family" src="" alt="" width="300" height="225" /></a> Lola, Magda, Javier and a teapot enraptured by the laptop[/caption]

    To reach their three story house/school one must walk down a passageway between buildings, narrower than most sidewalks, filled with chickens and dogs. There was no way our bikes would fit down there, so Javier kindly arranged for us to park them at his brother's house down the hill.

    [caption id="attachment_4025" align="alignnone" width="225"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-4025"><img class="size-medium wp-image-4025" title="Flor del Maiz" src="" alt="" width="225" height="300" /></a> Our Guatemalan home. This is taken from as far back as I could get before hitting the house across the "road".[/caption]

    [caption id="attachment_4035" align="alignnone" width="300"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-4035"><img class="size-medium wp-image-4035" title="Chicken Parking" src="" alt="" width="300" height="225" /></a> Parking with the chickens[/caption]

    I arrived on a Thursday - my schooling started at 8am on Friday. For my first two lessons Javier was my instructor.

    [caption id="attachment_4037" align="alignnone" width="300"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-4037"><img class="size-medium wp-image-4037" title="Break" src="" alt="" width="300" height="225" /></a> Maestro Javier and I chill out over home grown coffee at break time[/caption]

    The concept of living with a local family, whilst studying Spanish four hours a day, is an excellent one. For less than $200 a week we were fed three wholesome meals a day cooked by Javier's lovely wife Lola, given one on one instruction, and comfortable beds.

    [caption id="attachment_4042" align="alignnone" width="300"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-4042"><img class="size-medium wp-image-4042" title="Comida" src="" alt="" width="300" height="225" /></a> Some of Lola's delicious cooking[/caption]

    [caption id="attachment_4038" align="alignnone" width="225"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-4038"><img class="size-medium wp-image-4038" title="School" src="" alt="" width="225" height="300" /></a> Phil learning Spanish with Demis[/caption]

    It rained so much in the afternoons that I rarely left the house in the first few days. I went downstairs to the kitchen for meals, upstairs to school, and then studying, blogging and reading in my room in the afternoons and evenings.

    Javier and Lola have two energetic, beautiful daughters, Lolita (12) and Magdalena (2). Lolita was obsessed with playing Angry Birds on my iPhone and Magda was into everything!

    [caption id="attachment_4034" align="alignnone" width="300"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-4034"><img class="size-medium wp-image-4034" title="Magda" src="" alt="" width="300" height="225" /></a> Don't let her innocent smile fool you - this two year old is full of beans![/caption]

    [caption id="attachment_4044" align="alignnone" width="300"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-4044"><img class="size-medium wp-image-4044" title="Basketball Girl" src="" alt="" width="300" height="225" /></a> When not playing on my phone, Lolita was playing basketball. (She's in the Yellow)[/caption]

    It is a sign of globalization that a girl in a small village in Guatemala knows how to use a smartphone and is aware of what games she likes best!

    The whole family spoke only Spanish with us, although I soon realized that they were often speaking a completely different language with each other. Tzutujil Is their mother tongue - a Mayan language that is only spoken in three villages. (Less than 75,000 people!!)

    [caption id="attachment_4016" align="alignnone" width="300"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-4016"><img class="size-medium wp-image-4016" title="Kitchen" src="" alt="" width="300" height="225" /></a> The heart of the home[/caption]

    The main living area of the house was the kitchen, where all the cooking and eating and hanging out with the family took place.

    [caption id="attachment_4017" align="alignnone" width="225"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-4017"><img class="size-medium wp-image-4017" title="Fire" src="" alt="" width="225" height="300" /></a> Despite having a gas stove, the vast ,majority of the cooking was done on this fire.[/caption]

    Phil and I had lessons on Saturday morning, but we had the whole day off on Sunday. When we were in Playa Troncones in Guerrero, Mexico, our new friend Sarah told us that we should go meet her friend Angela at Lake Atitlan. Angela lives in San Marcos, a short boat ride across the lake from where we were staying in San Pedro. I had contacted Angela when I first arrived at the lake, and she had invited us to attend a Cacao sharing circle, and then a Cacao Ceremony with a local Shaman (her mentor) called Keith.

    When Sunday morning rolled around, it was the morning after the night before (the one Phil wrote about in <a title="Phil is all alone. Short stories from Guatemala." href="">this post</a>), and we were both feeling tender, Phil much more so than I as his evening had kicked on several hours, and 3 or 4 walks up the hill to our house, longer than mine had.

    [caption id="attachment_4089" align="alignnone" width="300"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-4089"><img class="size-medium wp-image-4089" title="Lake Atitlan" src="" alt="" width="300" height="225" /></a> Lake Atitlan really is stunningly beautiful.[/caption]

    We managed to get to Angela's apartment by 9am, where she welcomed us very warmly and gave us big mugs of special cacao. This cacao is unprocessed, bitter, and pretty strong. Apparently 99% of the active ingredients of cacao are removed in the mass market chocolate we usually eat. We added sweetener and a bit of chili to our mugs, and joined 10 others in Angela's warm, comforting living room.

    We each introduced ourselves, and gave our mother's and grandmother's names. Angela then led us in group meditation. The cacao raised my heart rate and made me feel very mellow. Phil was struggling to stay awake over on his side of the circle. I have been learning to meditate and this was a very deep meditation - I liked being surrounded by others who all had the same purpose.

    After the sharing circle, we walked down the road to the Cacao ceremony at Keith's house. It was the last one of the season, meaning that everyone had come. There were 40 or 50 people crammed onto the shaman's front porch. We squeezed into tiny spaces between dreadlocked hippies.

    [caption id="attachment_4040" align="alignnone" width="300"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-4040"><img class="size-medium wp-image-4040" title="Cacao Jayne" src="" alt="" width="300" height="225" /></a> Me in my tiny space on the porch[/caption]

    To be honest we didn't get a lot from the cacao ceremony, there were too many people to be comfortable, the hangovers were worsening, we hadn't eaten anything, and it went on for hours. Phil hated every minute of it.

    The cacao shaman spoke a lot about empaths, people who take on other's negative energy. I feel like I am a bit like that, in that I find people often tell me all their problems, even when I don't know them very well. He was talking about how to not hold those negativities in our bodies. It was a bit "new age" with a lot of visualising energies etc, but there was a lot of meditation too. I still found it interesting. For the first couple hours. After that, I was uncomfortable, couldn't adjust my position, and just wanted to leave.

    [caption id="attachment_4039" align="alignnone" width="300"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-4039"><img class="size-medium wp-image-4039" title="Shaman" src="" alt="" width="300" height="225" /></a> The Cacao Shaman[/caption]

    Finally there was a break in the proceedings. The ceremony was not ending, but Phil and I exchanged a look and made our move to freedom. It's likely that the only people who noticed we were gone were the people sitting next to us who would have had a bit more room to breathe!

    The next day was the start of my "official" week of classes. Phil <a title="Touching a hurricane, Riding to Xela. Guatemala." href="" target="_blank">went to see Alex</a>, and so Demis became my teacher.

    [caption id="attachment_4021" align="alignnone" width="300"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-4021"><img class="size-medium wp-image-4021" title="Classroom with a view" src="" alt="" width="300" height="225" /></a> The view from the roof terrace classroom was nice when the sun shone.[/caption]

    Our four hours consisted of chatting in Spanish about life, and doing verb exercises. So many verbs. Regular, irregular, ones that changed letters in the middle (sometimes) and ones that didn't. Home grown coffee and muffins or cookies at break time. When the weather was good we would go for walks around town, walking and talking. We even went to see Demis' son play soccer.

    [caption id="attachment_4024" align="alignnone" width="225"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-4024"><img class="size-medium wp-image-4024" title="Demis" src="" alt="" width="225" height="300" /></a> Demis outside the Catholic Church, a key landmark.[/caption]

    [caption id="attachment_4023" align="alignnone" width="225"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-4023"><img class="size-medium wp-image-4023" title="Soccer" src="" alt="" width="225" height="300" /></a> Demis' son Diego (on left)[/caption]

    I found it very interesting talking to Demis and Javier about life in Guatemala. They get married young, and have lots of children who will look after them when they are old. Women tend to stay home and cook and clean and look after the kids. While the men dress in modern jeans and t-shirts, the women mostly wear colourful traditional dress.

    [caption id="attachment_4019" align="alignnone" width="225"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-4019"><img class="size-medium wp-image-4019" title="Guat Girls" src="" alt="" width="225" height="300" /></a> Two girls in traditional Mayan dress[/caption]

    Their society suffers from the same issues as all societies, including alcoholism, child abuse etc, but because families all live together in multi-generational units, everyone in the village knows everything that is going on. This does not however mean that justice is served - being staunchly religious, they feel that God will punish offenders.

    It rained a lot. Eventually I grew tired of staying home all the time, and went out, getting caught in the rain a few times.

    [caption id="attachment_4041" align="alignnone" width="300"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-4041"><img class="size-medium wp-image-4041" title="Rain" src="" alt="" width="300" height="225" /></a> Wet flip-flops and steep streets flowing with water make for precarious walking![/caption]

    [caption id="attachment_4028" align="alignnone" width="225"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-4028"><img class="size-medium wp-image-4028" title="Washing" src="" alt="" width="225" height="300" /></a> No washing machine? No problem. Wash your clothes in the lake![/caption]

    [caption id="attachment_4027" align="alignnone" width="225"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-4027"><img class="size-medium wp-image-4027" title="Drowning House" src="" alt="" width="225" height="300" /></a> With no outlet for the water to escape to, many people have lost their homes in the past 5 years as the water level rises.[/caption]

    [caption id="attachment_4022" align="alignnone" width="225"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-4022"><img class="size-medium wp-image-4022" title="Room with a view" src="" alt="" width="225" height="300" /></a> Me with the view from the balcony outside my room[/caption]

    [caption id="attachment_4026" align="alignnone" width="225"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-4026"><img class="size-medium wp-image-4026" title="Magda" src="" alt="" width="225" height="300" /></a> Magda at the entrance to the main level of the house[/caption]

    Magda was thrilled when her friend "Filipe" came back!

    [caption id="attachment_4018" align="alignnone" width="300"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-4018"><img class="size-medium wp-image-4018" title="Best friends" src="" alt="" width="300" height="225" /></a> Little and large[/caption]

    [caption id="attachment_4029" align="alignnone" width="300"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-4029"><img class="size-medium wp-image-4029" title="Breakfast?" src="" alt="" width="300" height="225" /></a> Filipe eats children for breakfast[/caption]

    My schooling finished on Friday morning. I am really glad that I finally had some proper lessons, and learnt to change all the things I'd been doing wrong. I only learnt verbs in the present tense though, so need some more lessons soon to learn to speak about the past and future! I can hold a conversation in Spanish now, which is a big step forward, although the person I am speaking with needs to be very patient.

    After school ended Phil and I took a boat to Panajachel. Pana is the biggest town on the lake, and was where Erik and Tanya were staying. We had a nice visit with them, Tanya apologised for hitting me the previous weekend, and we walked around town a bit. It was much more touristy, and expensive, then San Pedro. We were glad that we had chosen the smaller village for our school.

    [caption id="attachment_4088" align="alignnone" width="300"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-4088"><img class="size-medium wp-image-4088" title="Boat ride" src="" alt="" width="300" height="225" /></a> A volcano poking out in the distance[/caption]

    [caption id="attachment_4045" align="alignnone" width="300"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-4045"><img class="size-medium wp-image-4045" title="Panajachel reunion" src="" alt="" width="300" height="225" /></a> Visiting Erik and Tanya in their very nice rented house.[/caption]

    We spent one last Friday night out on the town with Alex.

    Saturday came, and we packed up our bikes. The past month had been a real rollercoaster for me, and I found being part of a Guatemalan family very cathartic.

    It was sad to leave, but it was time.

    [caption id="attachment_4046" align="alignnone" width="300"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-4046"><img class="size-medium wp-image-4046" title="Goodbye bracelet" src="" alt="" width="300" height="225" /></a> Lola tied bracelets onto my and Phil's wrists to say goodbye[/caption]

    [caption id="attachment_4036" align="alignnone" width="300"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-4036"><img class="size-medium wp-image-4036" title="Wave" src="" alt="" width="300" height="225" /></a> Lola and Magda in the yard[/caption]

    [caption id="attachment_4031" align="alignnone" width="300"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-4031"><img class="size-medium wp-image-4031" title="Packing" src="" alt="" width="300" height="225" /></a> Lolita came to watch us pack the bikes in the street[/caption]

    [caption id="attachment_4032" align="alignnone" width="300"]<a href="" rel="attachment wp-att-4032"><img class="size-medium wp-image-4032" title="View" src="" alt="" width="300" height="225" /></a> There were some lovely views on the road up away from the lake[/caption]
  19. Wump

    Wump aka Mister Wisker

    Jun 3, 2013
    Back in Canada
    It was time to go.
    Guatemala was great, but we had to be in Managua, Nicaragua by June 11th, when real-sized Kelly arrived. (Who is real-sized Kelly? Not Micro-Kelly). One last weekend in Antigua for some fun and Ultimate frisbee before we left, complete with surprise special guests!

    We were fortunate that my friend Eric had an empty room for us to stay in.
    [​IMG] New window being installed in Erics "jail cell" room. Perfect for us to crash in and hide from the children.[/caption]

    We stopped in at the MotoCafe as I think is required in the bylaws and had a good chat with Frenchie there. Speaking of ADV'ers; once in awhile I read up on our twomotokiwi friends' blog to catch up on their travels. I randomly to read it in Antigua, and coincidentally the Kiwis happened to be in town too! Great to catch up, as we hadn't seen them since Oaxaca city. Sadly they were in a holding pattern for awhile with Andi having broken some ribs in an off, and needing time to recover. As it turned out, Gene and Neda (ADV Lightcycle) were also in town (last seen in Baja California), relaxing after their adventures through the Caribbean! Throw in the local talent Julio (Guaterider), and we arranged a big meet up for dinner and to do some graffiti.

    [​IMG] Dinner in the ceiling with a bunch of motoheads[/caption]


    Having marked our territory, we had a great group catch up. I look forward to seeing these guys again down the road. Heal up Andi!

    Antigua was the only place we had encountered Ultimate frisbee for a long while, so we made sure to play one last game before heading south. There were extra players in from the states volunteering at a charity, so it was a great send of game for us with great people.

    [​IMG] Great game by the volcano, ending in a layout perfect rainstorm[/caption]

    To pack our short time in Antigua even fuller, we met up with Juan Manuel, a KLR owner who also owns a whiskey bar in town. KLRs and whiskey? Sounds like my kinda guy.
    [​IMG] Jayne pretending to be shorter[/caption]

    It would turn out we had met Juan Manuel's KLR before we even met him! (It's the one on the right at Kawasaki)

    We had a great time chatting, playing games and sampling his wares. Wish we happened across him on a previous visit to town! If you find yourself in Antigua and love whiskey, infused rum, coffee or card games, stop in and say hi at the Whiskey Den.

    Fun and games over, next stop El Salvador!
  20. Wump

    Wump aka Mister Wisker

    Jun 3, 2013
    Back in Canada
    Another in our series on borders. Information for the Guatemala-El Salvador Border at the La Hachadura crossing. Hope this helps anyone in their travels. We also use, and find it pretty helpful. (disclaimer: we're writing this a month after the fact, memory is not perfect).
    Total cost for one person and one motorcycle: 15$ US
    What you need:
    -Passport, plus 2 copies of the photo page (plus a copy later of the stamp they give you)
    -Registration/title, plus two copies
    - Drivers license, plus two copies
    -Sister, no copies available.
    <dl id="attachment_4114" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 480px" data-mce-style="width: 480px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">"the border? Just follow us!"</dd></dl>
    After getting led for 30 minutes towards the border by men in uniform in the back of a truck, we wave goodbye and soon arrive at the border.
    To leave Guatemala, your only costs are for photocopies. Go to immigration, get your passport stamped. Then to customs:
    <dl id="attachment_4115" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">We stamped out the bike documents at the "in" door. It's all one office, just pick the best parking.</dd></dl>
    The customs agent will come out, check the bike serial number, then give you paperwork to go photocopy. You need a copy of your canceled bike import document, and a copy of the stamped page they just put in your passport. You will need the page showing your bike has been stamped out of Guatemala.
    Then to El Salvador. As with every border, ride past the line of trucks:
    <dl id="attachment_4120" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">ALWAYS ride past the line of trucks.</dd></dl>
    A man will check your papers. He felt the need to write on ours. We let him.
    <dl id="attachment_4119" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">yep, appear to be paper</dd></dl>
    Entering El Salvador is not hard, but is a bit slow.
    Go to migration, where they will scan, but NOT STAMP your passport. You should have the CA-4 stamp from Guatemala, that covers you through to the exit of Nicaragua. But you still need to present your passport at migration.
    <dl id="attachment_4117" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">Lean in close at the window, you can catch a bit of their air conditioning flowing out.</dd></dl>
    Then down to the Aduana (customs). They will want a copy of the page showing your bike exited Guatemala, along with your passport photo page, and bike title/registration. The customs agent will check the serial number on the bikes, and buy your sister an ice cream.
    Take all this paperwork over to the office across the road where it will be typed up. CHECK THIS PAPERWORK THOROUGHLY. Our paperwork had more errors than correct info. Once correct, sign the documents and you're good to go..
    After you purchase FONAT. They call it "seguro" (insurance) but really it's a fund that helps the victims of automotives accidents. A small distinction maybe, but either way you have to buy it. 10$ for a month or 45$ for the whole year. Keep your reciept and the insurance card handy: they will check it when you leave.
    A final police check once you're on the road will result in needing to pay a community road tax of 5$. This might be specific to this border and/or a scam. but they give a receipt and the police would not let us go without paying it. Locals we talked to thought it was legitimate.
    You're done!
    <dl id="attachment_4118" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">Welcome to El Salvador!</dd></dl>