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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Mendo, Mar 4, 2009.
to be 25 again.....
Jealousy is an ugly thing...
Albeit, I did this (US/Mex/ Central America) in 2007/08 and it landed me with a sexy German wife and baby living in Europe.
Good luck and take this one piece of advice from an old man. Bang as many chicks as you can.
looks like loads of fun guys. ride safe and party hard!
In the morning I drag Shane out of bed and we head up to the ruins, to be honest they werent that impressive.
More interesting than the ruins themselves, was the story behind why they were so ruined. When the Spanish came to settle in Mitla, they disassembled a lot of the existing structures to build their church. Somewhat sad, but it is a pretty church. Shane seemed unimpressed as well.
On the road south from Mitla, mex190 is a lot faster of a road than 131 or 175, but still windy with a lot of elevation change. Unfortunately since this is the best road to the coast from Oaxaca, it is full of cars and busses and semi trucks that are hard to get around, and tend to throw gravel and diesel smoke at you.
After Santo Domingo we hopped on mex200, where weve spent a good majority of our trip. 200 is a huge contrast, Id describe it as nice and straight. Its funny because back home I hate riding straight sections of highway, but down here, when youre trying to get somewhere, its a bit of a relief to be on something that resembles a highway.
There isnt a whole lot going on in Puerto Arista. It is very much a one street town, on the beach. The beach seems to go forever, but we were a little too tired to deal with riding KLRs on the beach, its fun, but a lot of work. The Lonely Planet describes Puerto Arista as a great place to drink a few beers and watch the sunset over the Shane and I did just that, how romantic.
I didnt realize this at the time, but this would be our last Mexican meal, our last Mexican beer, and our last sunset over the Pacific. All three were everything they were cracked up to be.
If you remember back to when we left Puerto Escondido, I had to bump start my bike becaue it had a dead battery. The battery still isn't holding a charge, and I have to bump start it every time. Shane suggested the battery terminals may be loose or corroded. In the morning I got up before Shane, as usual, and went to pull my bike apart to check the battery terminals. They weren't loose, or particularly dirty, but I cleaned them anyway. As I was reassembling everything, I noticed a spark when I went to connect my GPS power lead. The GPS wasn't even on the bike, there so there should be no current draw. I traced the problem back to a short in the cigarette lighter socket. I have no idea what anyone was thinking when they designed these things, I don't think I've ever had an accessory powered off a cigarette lighter socket that worked 100% of the time. a little electrical tape and I had the bike back together before Shane got out of bed.
By this time it had started to rain a little, then stopped. the clouds in the sky didn't make me want to stick around any longer.
It was only a couple hour ride to Tapachula, and the Guatemala border. As is par for the course, I got a flat tire. I stopped counting how many flats that is.
I limped it to this shop and paid George 50 pesos to patch my tube, he was really busy so I lent a hand getting the wheel off the bike.
George spoke very good english, and had developed this ingenious press that the used the heating element from a clothin iron th help adhere the patch to the tube.
Meanwhile, George's son was having the time of his life sitting on my bike and playing with the horn.
It wasn't much longer and we were back on mex 200, through Tapachula, and to the Mexico-Guatemala border at Talisman-El Carmen.
Crossing the border from California to Mexico at Calexico-Mexicali was rediculously easy. It summed up to nothing more than a stop light and a guy looking in one of Shane's saddlebags for all of 3 seconds. my experiances at the San Ysidro-Tijuana border have been about the same.
I had heard storries and seen pictures of Central American border crossings, but that didn't begin to prepare me for what I was about to experiance. At the gas station 15 a man showed us his (probably fake) ID card and offered to help us through the border crossing, we told him we were ok. Five miles before the border, young men on small motorcycles raced through trafic to catch us and offer us thier services. ¨No Gracias.¨
Once we got to the border, we were literally swarmed with money changers and helpers. The helpers were yelling at us so consistantly, I could barely get a sentance back and forth to Shane.
We did need to change some of our Mexan Pesos for Guatemalan Quetzals, the official excange rate at the time was 1 Peso to .533 Quetzal. I easily got 1:.50 good enough for me.
I had read on ADVrider.com that if you simply do not cancel your Mexican tourist visa andtemporary vehicle import on the southern trip; then on the return trip you don't need to do anything to enter mexico, as you already have the right paperwork.
I was pretty sure my Mexican tourist visa was a multiple entry visa, so I was willing to give it a try.
The helper guys chasing us around kept telling us we need to go check out of Mexico. Around five different times people tried to get us to stop, the didn't look too official, so I ignored them. I decided that if I had to stop there would be a gate or a man with a gun. Eventually we made our way to where there was a gate and some offices. I took my passport and motorcycle title to the window, and quickly denied. The lade looked in my passport and motioned that I needed a stamp of some sort.
At this point I was so sick of the helpers bothering me, I decided to hire one. Five US dollars was probably worth it, if nothin else, he fended off all the other helpers for me.
We went all the way back to the Mexico custims office, about 500 meters. They wouldn't stamp me out because I never paid the 292 peso departure tax at the bank, and the nearest bank was 10 miles back. This was entirely our fault, the lade who issued us our tourist visas in La Paz told us we needed to pasy this at any bank before we left Mexico. Shane's would be even more difficult because he had lost his tourist visa.
My helper guy said he knew someone and for 500 pesos he could get our passports stamped. I reluctantly handed him the money and our passports, and hoped for the best. He returned in a couple minutes with our stamped passports.
Again we headed back towards Guatemala, and stop at the Guatemalan imigration office. Here I take Shane and my passports to the window and it only costs 10 quetzals (around $1.25) each to be stamped into Guatemala.
Our next stop was the office where we were originally turned around. Shane and I were legally in Guatemala, but our bikes weren't yet.
After I handed the lady at the window my passport and motorcycle title, she spent a few minutes entering my info in the computer, then gave me some paperswork that I needed to show to pay my import fees at the bank. Luckly the bank was next door and the import fee was only 40 quetzals (around $5). Once I returned with my recipt, an officer inspected my VIN number and put a sticker in my sindshield. I was good to go.
Shane had been watching the bikes while I imported my bike. We traded places and I watched the bikes while Shane dealt with importing his bike.
Soon enough, Shane also had a sticker on his windshield and we were off, riding into Guatemala.
In retrospect, I think the stamp I was missing from my passport wasn't the stamp out of Mexico, but the stamp into Guatemala, and I probably could have gotten that without checking out of Mexico. Possibly someone who has done this before can chime in and clarify that.
Keep It Classy Roatan
After Utila we decided that we needed to go back to Roatan and spend some more time there. Its hard to put into words but there is something about the place that sucks you in. Maybe it was the white sand beaches, the blue water, the reef, night life or our new friend Sunny who owned the local cantina and showed us some crazy nights and let me stay at his condo with AC and plasma TV for the rest of the trip. Either way we had way to much fun. The rules of Roatan are simple.
1. Never say im leaving tomorrow.
2. Never say im never drinking again.
3. Never say I love you.
Jeff, Shane and the group of Scottish girls who we met in Puerto Escondido, MX met us on Roatan and stayed the week there. Between us, the Norwegian Girls, The Scottish Girls and the Swedish girls we pretty much took over the entire hostel and had quite the crew. My planned few day stay on Roatan had turned into 3 weeks before I knew it. Sunny's mom was in town and happened to be a acupuncturist and offered to do a session on my shoulder for free. The needles hurt extremely bad when they were pushed into the damaged tissue but afterwards my shoulder felt alot better.
Beanie Man did a concert on the island that was a ton of fun. We were here for Holy Week and on Easter weekend the islands population grew 50x with people from all over Central America flooding the island for the celebrations. There is really to much funny stuff that happened so ill just let the pictures do the talking....
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After many days ok we are leaving tomorrow (broke rule #1) I left with the Norwegians and Jeff and Shane while Zev stayed on the island because he had a pretty swank situation with a hot Guatemalan girl and was planning to meet back up with me in Belize in a week or 2. We all left at 5am to catch the ferry to the mainland and then get a bus to the Copan Ruins while Shane and Jeff would get their motorcycles and meet us there.
The first bus was extremely hot, sticky and cramped but then the 2<sup>nd</sup> bus for the last 3 hours was cool.
We arrived in Copan around 4pm and checked into a very nice hostel, probably the nicest of the trip and it was only 5 dollars. The next day Jeff and Shane left for the Yukatan Peninsula and me and the girls went to check out the Mayan Ruins. I had never seen ruins like these before so it was a new experience for me. The structures were huge and you could get a feel of what it was like to live there a long long time ago. It was amazing how well preserved the ruins were after so many years. There were also tunnels dug under the ruins.
It was extremely hot this day so afterwards we found a pool and chilled there for most of the day. It was just us for the first hour and then a whole family of about 20 Honduras showed up and broke the tranquility. Every one of them was in the pool with all their clothes on and they looked at us like we were weirdos because we were in bathing suits. Not sure if its for sun protection or its considered rude or indecent to swim with no shirt or a bikini.
[FONT="]We went out that night to The red frog cantina and sampled some very strange shots. One was Tequilla and hotsauce and ranch sauce which I was not expecting so it was quite a shock. We all played beer pong and had a good time kind of forgetting we had to get up at 5am the next morning to get the bus to Antigua Guatemala. Lets just say that morning was not fun.
Copan to Antigua, Guatemala
The combination of 1 hour of sleep, and the shuttle bus being extremely full made for a pretty brutal trip to Antigua. At one point the bus would not start so we had to push start it, not a good sign. The ride was uneventful besides that. Arrive in Antigua and am instantly reminded of Granada, Nicaragua from my last trip. The buildings are all very colorful and there are lots of old churches and delapatated old structures as well as cobble stone streets. Wander around for a bit until we find a good hostel and check in. Antigua was the old capital of Guatemala which was replaced by Guatemala City. There is a lot of history and things to see here.
The next day was my 25th birthday and we took a horse drawn carriage ride around the city and toured some of the buildings and sights. I wanted to get some champagne for the ride but am glad I didn't as the bumpy cobble stone streets would of made that idea end in disaster. The Scottish girls showed up that night so we had the whole crew back together again and we all went out to a really nice steak house for my birthday dinner. It was by far the best meal Ive had since I was back in the US and was a nice change from rice and beans.
Next night was Katrinas birthday so everyone went out to MocoLoco (Crazy Monkey) and got some extremely over sized nachos and to many jager bombs. I met a guy from Canada named Josh on the way to the restaurant and invited him to join us. He had been traveling Jamaica and Cuba for the last 2 months with some friends from back home and was extremely fed up with them. I asked if he wanted to meet me at Lake Atitlan the next day and then travel up Belize and into Mexico. He seemed very interested but I did not really really expect him to ditch his group.
It was late afternoon by the time we were done with the border crossing, but we were told it was just over an hour to Xela. I decided we could make it.
It's pretty amazing how different Guatemala fells than Mexico. as soon as we crossed the border we started up a grade through very lush green mountains. After we made it up the small hill, the road opened up and straightened out a little, which is where the crazy driving started. If you've ever driven in Mexico, you will agree that it is a bit less civilized than in the US and you have to stay on your toes.
Guatemala is a whole new experiance. The lanes are just a little wider, and that gives everyone just enough room to be passing each other everywhere, all the time. Pretty soon passing on the right shoulder was commonplace and a couple times I found myself on teh left sholder passing a car that was passing a truck in our lane.
About the time we left CA-2 and started heading up into the highlands towards Xela, it started to get dark and cold. I actually had to zip the sleeves back on my jacket for the first time in quite a while.
Once we got to Xela, we checked into Casa Argentina, A huge hostel with offstreet parking for around $6 each. After a quick shower we went out to see what this place had to offer.
The full name of the city is Quetzaltenango, but I can't pronounce that, and everyone calls it Xela (shell-ah) both the locals and travelers alike. Xela is a large colonial city, and one of the largest citys in Guatemala. It is full of colonial archetecture, which I think I enjoy because there isn't a whole lot of it where I'm from in California.
It was our first night in Guatemala, and I was excited to try some Guatemalan street food. Shane wasn't feeling the street food, and convinced me to eat at McDonalds, he was very content. I don't even like McDonalds back home.
Not alot seemed to be going on around the plaza, but we saw lights in the distance and decided to check it out. As we got closer we started to hear the music.
It turns out there was a very big concert going on in the stadium, and had a huge street fair around it. We got some beers and walked around all the crazyness that was going on near the stadium.
Antigua to Lake Atitlan, Guatemala 4.19
Everyone wakes up at 6am and packs up to meet the shuttle to take us to Lake Atitlan. Katrina and Synee have to get a plane back to Norway that night so they stay at the hostel and we take off to the lake. The landscape changed quite drastically to what looked a lot like Northern California with pine trees and a very dry mountain terrain.
Get into Panachel at the lake around 10am and cruise around the towns market and go for a swim in the lake before getting on a water taxi over to San Pedro. The wind had picked up a lot and the water was very choppy. The ride over was literally like taking a shower. Every time the bow hit the waves the whole inside of the boat would get soaked, it was quite funny to me but others were not so amused. I met a guy on the boat who was taking Spanish classes on San Pedro and he showed us to a cheap nice hotel by the dock. $2 for a clean room with a view of the lake, nice!
We walk around and check out the town, this place is set up very strange. There is a small pathway you have to take to get anywhere that winds around the town like a maze.
We come out by the lake and I hear someone call my name. Its Josh from the night before. I guess his friends had pulled some shady shit on him that morning so he just packed up and bailed on them without saying anything hoping to find me in San Pedro.
The next few days consisted of chilling at the lake and just cruising around town checking out all the places. One night me and josh went back to our hotel to hang out around midnight and were playing some music on my ipod speakers. Out of nowhere about 8 people show up at the door thinking there was a party going on. Well there is now and we invite them all in.
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San Pedro to Rio Dulce 4.23
Josh and I leave San Pedro by shuttle around 9am expecting an 8 hour journey to Rio Dulce which is near the carribean coast of Guatemala near Belize. The first shuttle to Guatemala City took 5 hours and then the bus from there to Rio Dulce took 7 hours so in total we were on the bus for 12 hours which was quite a trip. We did not even really know if we were on the right bus as the sign on the bus said Flores which is near Mexico and no one really gave us a strait answer.
We finally arrive around 10pm and are dropped off in town near a discotech with a lot of stuff going on around us. A guy comes up to us with a flyer from a hostel in the swamps that you have to take a boat to. He says its very nice and there are a lot of young people there. Ok sold. He leads us to the water and radios a boat to come pick us up. Hop on the boat and take off full speed into pitch darkness. The driver is using a flash light to see where he is going but it really isnt doing anything. Josh and I are looking at each other like what the hell are we doing right now. This guy could easily be taking us into the middle of the lake to rob and kill us, isnt this how a horror movie started?
After about 5 minutes we are approaching the edge of the lake which is covered in thick jungle. The boat is still doing full speed and we are rapidly approaching the end. I honestly thought the driver did not see the shore and we were about to crash. Then out of nowhere a small channel appears in between the trees and brush and we are now racing through a small canal about 8 feet wide ducking under hanging vines and dodging logs in the water. I see a light in the distance and we pull up to a dock next to the hotel which is on stilts in the middle of the swamp. There are a bunch of people hanging out at the bar and we walk up and get a room from the bartender. Our room is a second story cabin on the water with a woven palm leaf roof, no walls and two beds with misquito nets, very cool.
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Rio Dulce 2.24
Josh and I are up early to a beautiful sunny day. Our plan is to get to the hot spring waterfalls that we had heard about so we go to the bar and get some breakfast and then take a boat into town. Town is pretty busy and we have some trouble finding the bus but after a bit we find it and head out of town. The road turns to dirt and there is massive construction on the road going on so we have to maneuver around tractors and heavy equipment. About 30 minutes later we arrive at a little resteraunt in the middle of nowhere and take a path through the jungle. There is a school along the river and a bunch of the kids see us and start running towards us. They all look very poor and are asking for money, I had a feeling if we gave them money the entire school would be all over us so we declined and kept walking.
Get to the end of the path and there is an amazing 30 foot waterfall flowing into a pool with steam coming off the water.
I dident know stuff like this really existed, we climb down the rocks and jump in. The water below the falls is comfortably warm but when you get near the flowing water its almost scolding hot. We tried to swim underneath the waterfall but the hotness of the water was to much to bear. I swim around for a bit until I get bit on the back by a fish. It dident hurt so much as it surprised me and flinched my whole body really hard and tweaked my injured shoulder badly. I heard 2 pops and a grind and then the pain set in. Great I think I had just re-stretched my torn ligaments and reverced a lot of the healing that had taken place in the last month or so.
We decided to go back into town so I could get some pain meds and get a sling because the weight of my arm was causing a lot of pain. We stopped at the restraunt on the way out to get some food and all the road construction workers were there eating as well.
Sit down and everyone is looking at us all crazy. All the girls who worked there were grabbing their friends and peeking through the door at us and laughing and smiling constantly. Not sure what was going on there but we felt a little weird. They only served one meal so we got some soup and ground beef and ate in complete awkwardness as they tried to take pictures of us and continued to laugh.
I had to break this awkwardness so I told one of them to come over and take a picture with me and she seemed very excited. Afterwards we catch the van into town and pick up literally every person on the side of the road. At one point there were 23 people inside of this little van made for 8. People were on the roof and hanging out the doors onto the side and sitting on laps, it was quite funny but I guess this is normal around here. Josh and I cruise around town and find a pharmacy and I get a sling and some random pain meds and then find a carnival down by the river and check it out for a bit. It started to get really windy so we called for our boat back to the swamp hotel and get a ride back for the night.
fun fun fun
And we all died from swine flu. The end.
We are all back in states. I had to leave my bike in Mexico and fly home. I got a friend of a friend to fly down and ride it back for me. Just got it back 2 days ago. Big props to him. Champion status.
Im still trying to finish off this trip report have just been kinda busy. Dont worry the debauchery and crazy stuff did not end to say the least.
Jeez a year later, now in Thailand I finished this report. Coming back to the states in one week buying another bike and starting a new adventure.
Josh and I left our swamp hostel in the morning on a boat down the Rio Dulce river to Livingston near the boarder of Belize. We met two cool Canadian girls sitting next to us and we all had a great time joking around and talking during the ride. The river was beautiful with lush jungle surrounding us, monkeys jumping from trees and old locals calmly paddling along side us in their make shift canoes using planks of wood as paddles. Women in the river washed their clothes and little kids played in the water while waving at us as we passed by. A real sense of warmth with the people of rural Guatemala.
We arrived in Livingston some hours later and as we got off the boat were instantly engaged by a local Rastafarian looking dude who said he had a good place for us to stay. We already knew where we wanted to stay so we declined and walked down the street but he kept following us. Turns out the place was full so we went to another place with this guy still following us. He went ahead of us and we saw him quickly running into a few hotels and then out again. When we got to our second choice place the owner looked uneasy and told us that the place was full. It was obviously not and as a girl walked out of her room we asked her and she said she was the only one staying there. Now something is fishy
Turns out this Rasta guy was some sort of gangster of this place and told the hotels to say they were full so that we had to stay at his place. We now knew he was shady and wanted nothing to do with him and told him off where he got rather aggressive. We had just arrived and had already made a local enemy, great. Walked down the street some more and found a decent place to stay. Josh was tired so I took off on my own to explore the town.
Went down by the ocean and was instantly taken back by how much trash was on the beach, it was like a dump. A local man saw me looking at all the trash and came up to me and started talking about how bad it has gotten. He was about 80 years old and by the way he talked I could tell he was very smart. We ended up talked for about an hour about environmental issues and the local issues of Livingston. Turns out he ran a Orphanage in the local village and invited me to come check it out.
Livingston is right near Belize so the locals are all direct African slaves who were abandoned in Belize by the Spanish. He walked me through a very very poor village and as I walked past windows I could see eyes lighting up as they saw me and soon the entire village was out side of their homes to come look at me. Kids had no clothes on at all and the homes were as shanty as you can get. Everyone was smiling and I smiled and waved back. The man led me into one of the homes where a very old woman was sitting in a rocking chair listening to a radio. She turned around and looked at me with these huge eyes and weather torn face, smiled and said hello. I sat down next to her not really knowing what to say so I told her my name and where I was from. She told me some stories of living in Belize and the struggles she endured as a African, it was very interesting but hard to follow at times and her speaking had a strong Caribbean accent and was slurred from age. I said my goodbyes and the man took me to the Orphanage.
I was really taken back by the situation. The Orphanage was nothing more then a very big shed with a dirt floor and a faucet sticking out of the wall. about 20 kids were laying on the dirt sleeping while the others were playing and running around. They all looked very skinny and malnourished but very happy. I hung out and played with the kids for a while and then asked the old man what I could do to help. He said they were in need of clothes and food so I asked for him to take me to a grocery store where I bought large bags of rice, vegetables, non perishable items and various sizes of shoes and shirts. I only had about $50 US with me but it bought quite a bit. Brought it back with the help of some other locals and played with the kids some more before making my way back to our hotel.
We were told that there was a really good BBQ and party at the hostel down the road so that evening we walked down there to find a very cool scene and alot of nice people. Had a huge Shrimp dinner with about 30 other travelers and partied the night away.
Josh and I decided to go back to our rooms and as we are walking down a long dark stretch of road we see three shady looking guys walking towards us. I am instantly sketched out as my shoulder is useless and there is no way I could fight someone to protect myself. They guys walk strait towards us and as one gets close he lifts up his shirt and motions with his hand like he his going to grab a gun from his waist. I tensed up and thought we were going to get robbed or shot and then he puts his shirt down and quickly lunges at us like he is going to hit me, then laughs and they all walk away. They were just trying to scare us but it really put us on edge and made this whole town seem sketchy.
The next day we moved to the hostel so we did not have to do anymore late night trips and had a great time with everyone at the hostel for the next couple days.