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Colorado thru Copper Canyon to Panama and Back

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by HeadShrinker, Feb 24, 2020.

  1. HeadShrinker

    HeadShrinker Long timer Supporter

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
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    Location:
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    I swore that I wasn't going to lead any more tours, especially in Copper Canyon. I have always prided myself on providing intense off road experiences for my clients and, while I plan nearly every move for a trip, things often become unscripted in a hurry.

    Case in point: in 2018 one of our riders nearly killed himself on an off road section near Yoquivo, flying a Husky 701 off of a bridge. However, when we looked over the side he is floating triumphantly near the underwater bike, the headlight still shining into the depths. Ironically, the dude was an orthopedic surgeon, missing that cement embankment and tree trunk as seen below.
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    It took us more than 4 hours to get it going again.
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    The delay lead to a shitshow of nearly epic proportions.

    You see, it is my golden rule to always have the group stay together at all times. However, one of my guides brought his girlfriend along and while she is an excellent rider, she did not want to ride the remaining 40 miles of off road in the dark. I was asked numerous times if I would take her to the end of the trail before dark and while I was refusing, I reluctantly agreed. The group was advanced and these dudes put MacGuyver to shame in pulling that 701 apart and putting it back together. I was assured that these guys could handle it, but I was angry to separate myself and break my Mexico rule.

    She and I finally made it to the tarmac route at dusk, at the end of a sketchy village of homes. Folks were coming out to stare at us. We heard the InReach and checked the app.

    "2 flats. 2 hours out."

    So, there we are--65 miles from Creel in one direction and 60 miles from Guachochi in the other. It was only getting darker.

    I knew we were screwed--in whatever direction we were going. The vibe in that small village was getting more and more sketchy.

    We had reservations in Creel and that would mean riding through the thick of the canyon and arriving in a safe and chill town. The way to Guachochi would mean hauling ass through less questionable areas but land us in more or a rougher town that I wanted. Guachochi is great in the daytime, but the restaurant and hotel options were limited. Plus we already had reservations.

    So, with no better choice, we took off towards Creel. At least we would hold our reservation and attempt to keep a restaurant open for when the rest of the crew arrives.

    While I was still remaining calm towards Tracy, I felt sick to my stomach and angry at myself for breaking my cardinal rule.
    #1
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  2. HeadShrinker

    HeadShrinker Long timer Supporter

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    As we made our way up, down, around, and through the twisties my 800 GSA and her X-Challenge were making steady time.

    We were about 30 miles into our route when the darkness turned to light. 5 guys with rifles stood, blocking the road.

    If you want to know my thought process, I'll let you in. But please keep in mind that this day was one of the more stressful days I've experienced. First, when my guy flew off the bridge, he could've died. And, the chore to get his bike unflooded was all hands on deck. I was exhausted.

    My pal in Chihuahua, Arturo, had spoken to me about banditos. While it is rare to have them in this cartel controlled area, some do exist. My first thought when the lights came on and the gunmen crossed the road was that they were, indeed, bandits. Knowing that Tracy was right behind me, I was concerned what they would do to her before they would, most likely, kill us. It would be relatively easy to dispose of two individuals and their bikes, at least on the short term. If we were going to get killed anyway, I didn't want her to get assaulted in the worst way and I didn't want to get killed on their terms. These thoughts were split second.

    Fuck it. I'm running it. If they are going to kill us, it's going to be on my terms--not theirs.

    So, I slowed down, made eye contact with one of the guys, aimed between two guys, and hit the throttle.

    I was 100% sure that we were dead. There was no doubt in my mind that we were going to be sprayed with machine gun fire.

    But there weren't any rounds flying towards us. I couldn't believe it.

    "Go, go, go!" I screamed through the Sena. "Fucking go as fast as you can."

    "They tried to knock me off my bike," Tracy said.

    "Tracy, go as fast as you absolutely can! Try to follow my lights."

    About 15 miles later, we reach a turn off to another village. Thinking that these guys were going to radio ahead, we decided to go down the road, ditch the bikes, remove our gear, and get away as fast as we could--which we did. We found ourselves hiding far from the bikes.

    "I'm sorry that I got you into this Tracy. It was my decision, ultimately, to leave the group. I think we are going to die."

    Tracy seems to be in disbelief and somewhat naive to the danger we're in.

    We wait for an hour when suddenly we see headlights flooding the canyon.

    "Oh, shit. Here we go. I'm really sorry. Let's hide as best as we can."

    She stands there watching.

    "Come on!" I scream as I attempt to hide between two boulders that was impossible to fit.

    And, although we were nearly a half mile in, we heard the distinct sound of BMW GSs, a KTM 1190, and those 701s.

    "Fuck! It's our crew!"

    So we run as fast as we can to the bikes. I hit on my lights so we can see our gear and put it on as fast as we can.

    It takes us about 5 minutes to get our gear and get going. As soon as we reach the main road, my fuel light comes on and we still have about 35-40 miles to go.

    I tell Tracy that I am going to race up to the group and that she needs to ride as fast as she can.

    I ride both lanes through the canyons, all the lights blazing, as fast as I've ever ridden. It takes about 10 minutes to see the taillights of the sweep. I pick up the pace. They seem to be picking up the pace, too. I imagine that they see my lights and are freaked out, thinking that someone is chasing them. I go even faster, hoping that I can reach them on the Sena.

    It works. "Hey, guys it's me! We ran through a gauntlet of bandits and had to hide. Tracy is behind me. Stop."

    My partner, Wiel, does a quick 180 turn and races back to get Tracy. They return about 5 minutes later.

    "Dudes, I don't even know what happened. It was absolutely nuts. I thought we were gonna die. I was sure of it. Oh, my god."
    #2
  3. HeadShrinker

    HeadShrinker Long timer Supporter

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    The 2018 trip turns out to be a great success, although we did get a police rescue in Urique and fly a couple other guys out.
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    Nevertheless, everyone was stoked. IMG_0315.jpeg
    #3
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  4. rudy4pl

    rudy4pl Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Fun read, that sounds like an exciting adventure!
    #4
  5. HeadShrinker

    HeadShrinker Long timer Supporter

    Joined:
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    IMG_3201.jpeg I'll address the mistakes I made regarding the gauntlet in a future post. I will say here that Las Barrancas are less dangerous than we think. That is exactly why Tracy and I are still alive.

    I had quite a few riders talk to me about a 2019 trip since I usually do at least one every year. But in the late fall, a Spanish teacher from North Carolina was murdered in Urique and after the ordeal with the machine gun scenario combined with local intel, I decided to skip 2019. However, I had a dude from South Carolina who continued to email me, requesting info about another trip. He really wanted to go. I provided information about my concerns and decisions. He asked me how much it would cost to take him.

    I thought in my head some nearly ridiculous number.

    "I'm in," he replied.

    Everyone, meet Dave.
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    Dave runs a company in South Carolina and wants to travel Mexico as well as Central and South America. He and his riding buddies get into all sorts of shenanigans down South and he is an excellent ADV rider.

    He is stoked when he sees the Canyon.
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    Batopilas kids
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    Dogs
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    Swanky Hotels
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    But also some really nice places
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    #5
  6. 309

    309 Special Purpose

    Joined:
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    5,720
    Location:
    Boulder, CO
    Dang! That was a hell of an opener.
    #6
  7. borderlinebob

    borderlinebob Been here awhile

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    Location:
    CANADA-1/4 mile N of International Falls, MN
    Well I must say this sounds like an exciting RR coming up.
    In 4 the ride.
    :clap
    #7
  8. Johnnydarock

    Johnnydarock Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 6, 2009
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    545
    Location:
    Redondo Beach CA
    Looking forward to your ride report. Got a similar story with drug guys with guns in the Copper Canyon from 2010 but went back in 2012 and 2015 and going back in May. Just spectacular riding and good tacos.
    #8
  9. HeadShrinker

    HeadShrinker Long timer Supporter

    Joined:
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    Dave and I had a great time in Copper Canyon. His goal was to learn how to navigate Mexico and the agreed upon deal was to return with him back to the border. We had a day or so to go and he asked if I minded if we ended it early so he could navigate himself to a more easterly crossing so he could get back to South Carolina. So, in Alamos, we split.

    And I headed South.
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    Mazatlan

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    Espinazo del Diablo
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    And made my way to Durango.
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    Made some great friends at the hostel. One of these guys works for an internet company that installs systems all throughout the Copper Canyon, especially certain folks (ahem), and encouraged me to contact him if I ever needed any help down there.

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    I've been to Durango a few times and I always enjoy it, especially the square on a Saturday evening.

    The next morning, I headed towards Zacatecas and seeing that I arrived there a bit after noon, I decided to keep heading south. I ended up in Aguascalientes. I should mention that it was my goal to stay with people vs. rent my own place if at all possible. Since I am an Airbnb host myself, I enjoy using the app when I travel.

    Meet Juan and Imelda
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    As soon as I arrived, I am ushered in and made a meal. Imelda went into mom mode and Juan gave me a tour of their amazing three story home. Juan is a retired engineer and was proud to show me the elevator he constructed himself that moves effortlessly between the 1st and 3rd floors.

    I went downtown to check out the nightlife and had to run by Walmart to pick up some fresh socks. When I came back, her adult son and his family were waiting to meet me. He spoke good English and it was relieving to not have to concentrate so much with my Spanish. He likes motorcycles and has traveled extensively in the US. He works for Nissan as an engineer. We spent a couple hours together and after being on the road for nearly two weeks, it felt great being among a family. They were interested in knowing about my family and learning about my career, and where I was headed.

    As soon as I awoke in the morning I could smell the pancakes, eggs, and coffee. Imelda was concerned about my route to Mexico City. In fact, she continued to follow my travels for the next 5 weeks, messaging me daily, correcting my Spanish via WhatsApp.

    Airbnb is often a transactional thing, but during my travels it has become more of a relational one.

    I have no doubt that I will visit them again.

    As I meandered out of town onto the cuota, I felt like I was pushing something and expanding something at the same time. There'd been a lot on my mind and this trip was to hit two birds---clear my head and scout some routes for a Central America tour. It is much simpler to rent a hotel room and not expend the mental energy being social as well as attempting to communicate conversationally in a deeper manner with others. I'm a huge introvert, so being social isn't usually my first choice. But since I was getting so much helmet time, it was important. Surprisingly at first, I was able to share meaningful conversations with my new friends.
    #9
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  10. docwyte

    docwyte Long timer

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    In for more!
    #10
  11. HeadShrinker

    HeadShrinker Long timer Supporter

    Joined:
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    I was just scrolling through some photos and found some more “in depth” ones regarding the 2018 trip. 0A35EE4B-9BB6-49A7-B014-F303916CD951.jpeg E30A03F9-1239-48D8-BE9A-963B1ED78BD3.jpeg
    Oh, and I completely forgot. The last day of the trip, our bridge jumper broke the end of his key off and we couldn’t get the 701 started.

    So, what can you do...just break into the main wiring harness and hotwire the thing.
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    I usually partner with a good buddy in Durango who owns Mountain ADV motorcycle rentals. All I've got to say is that I had to bring the bike back with me on the trailer to his place in Durango. Apparently he was told that it just had a bit of water damage. Turns out it was a total loss. Eventually, the Mexican insurance covered it, even though we had to bribe the customs officials to get it through due to a title situation. I wasn't sure he was going to rent to me again--but he did. So, if you're wanting to rent a bike in Durango, look him up. Oh, that 701---it was sold at the local Honda shop to some lucky bloke.

    Anyway, I digress too much, methinks.

    This wasn't going to be an epic off road trip. In fact, my goal was simply to get to The Canal. I don't really care about hitting the Darien.
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    The photos above depict the Airbnb I scored in Mexico City. It was a bitch to locate because in some neighborhoods the streets are named the same. The traffic was intense and it was located on a one way which was under construction. Keeping it more complicated is that there were some transitos at the end of the block making sure no one was going the wrong way. They saw me circling around and after a few times, I simply asked them if I could go. It wasn't a problem, and I pushed the call button and all of a sudden a woman opened the main gate and the doors into this fabulous courtyard. The stained glass is adjacent to the stairway to the second floor. All for $20 USD.

    It was super hot and I was developing a minor case of monkey butt. I don't really care about aftermarket seats on my bikes, but the Africa Twin's stocker left a lot to be desired as far as I'm concerned.

    I was glad to get off the bike and take some Ubers to explore.
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    And eat a good burger...
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    I found Mexico City to be pretty daunting and was hoping to return for a little bit more exploration.
    After two days there, I was really itching to get more South.
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    But, on the way out of town...
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    And I really wanted to save the tube, so I got it patched.
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    I then made it to Huajuapan de Leon where I stayed at Hotel Colon which is pretty clean and affordable. Great restaurants surrounding the square.

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    Since I was staying in a hotel, I struck up a good hour long conversation with a husband-and-wife hot dog vender.

    Life really isn't that much different as far as the fundamentals.

    The following is from my journal
    I think that I get into a strong internal mode when I’m riding alone and I have placed a lot of significance on finding “something” through this adventure. The day before yesterday, it was amazing riding. Yesterday, not so much other than exploring Zacatecas. I am choosing to stay in Airbnb’s where I get to meet people and improve my Spanish.

    I see that there are cultural differences but that, for the most part, people have been really similar. The Airbnb owner in Mazatlan, The people at the hostel. The family with whom I am staying. For example, last night after I came home from seeing the City center, I arrived home to a full house. Their 37 year old son, his wife, and three children were there. We sat and talked for an hour and a half. We had drinks and it was interesting to hear about their lives. Their son is an engineer for Nissan. They have two huge plants here and the majority of people work in an automotive oriented business—very much like Michigan in better times. They turn out for than 500k cars here per year, thousands per day.

    The mother had lots of questions about you and the kids. She was able to remember their names and their ages.

    One of the surprising aspects of the trip is that by being on the move and having so many different experiences, I haven’t experienced deep depression. Maybe a mild low which has a lot to do with that I didn’t eat much so that I could save money and put it towards fuel. Everything is way less expensive other than fuel. A full tank runs $230 pesos, with the exchange rate being 18 pesos per dollar.

    I took a $2 Uber ride to Walmart to pick up socks and t shirts. II walked around the aisles. Pretty much the same as the US only that it is the higher class place to shop. It is set up like a small IKEA with a beautiful parking garage below and escalators to the main floor.

    Amazing surprise: There is a cold water and hot water line in the streets here. Since it is Aguascalientes, there is naturally occurring hot water that comes to the house, so in the summer there is no need to use a hot water heater.

    Life is pretty much the same for families in the US and Mexico.

    I think that just as I get shut down when I reach low, I get shut down being so internalized during the day. It’s not that I am trying to be distant. I know that it is much more challenging doing everything without me, so there's maybe an amount of guilt involved in what I've put my loved ones through...
    #11
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  12. HeadShrinker

    HeadShrinker Long timer Supporter

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    Location:
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    Oaxaca
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    Oaxaca

    Leaving Huajuapan late morning, I spent the earlier part walking around the town. Women were selling breakfast sandwiches and people were headed to their jobs, the kids to school.

    As I rode South out of town, it steadily rose to higher elevations and twisty roads for 70 miles towards Oaxaca.

    There is a sense of people so far away from home and from the people whom I love. There is also a sense of Zen, if feeling like this is where I need to be. I can feel myself coming alive, healing, and allowing this journey to change me.

    It feels like the big adventure is to come, leaving Mexico. I feel safe and at home here. I know how things move and how to handle myself safely. I wonder how it will feel to get to the rest of Central America.

    I arrived to Oaxaca, the country quickly changing to dirty industry and then to a Centro full of tourists. I did a circle around time and rode through a market going on the Main Street.

    I found this hotel and they were advertising their rooms for $1350 pesos but they gave me one for $550–around $30. They have a parking garage and a bell boy helped me with my luggage to my room.

    I feel like experiences are awaiting me. As in years past, we thought God had an exact plan for everything in our lives. It is funny that after completely trashing that theory that in this adventure I feel like there is a path to follow. A way. Not an exact linear, this or that. But, a sense of following something. Giving into being open to the spirit.

    I had a squishy flat yesterday. I was super calm, finding some shade. A large rock was nearby that fit perfectly under the skid plate. The tire bead was hard to break with the tire irons. I used the center stand arm to carefully break the beads and then was super gentle with the tire, allowing it to stretch. Looking at the tube, there was a small hole. It wasn’t a nail. It wasn’t a pinch flat from the spokes. I had been running a lower air pressure for the dirt and a topes or rock or pothole must have been absorbed in the tube. 45 minutes later, it was mounted. I then rode a 1/4 mile down the road and saw a vulcanizador who patched the tube for $40pesos.

    I then rode up towards the volcano and was rewarded with roads that had me screaming in my helmet.

    There is a way. There is a manner to live life that is sacred, balanced, and connected. Part of my difficulty being connected intimately has a lot to do with the disconnection I feel inside. When the depression hits, disconnected is a way to protect myself. It is also a way that imprisons my soul.

    Going on this adventure, for me, feels like a great one. A potent and powerful journey. A way of conquering some fear. A way of synthesizing the past few years into the way for me to integrate and move into another level. Not a chapter. Not exactly a revision. But a perspective that infuses my entire self powerfully, imperfectly, and a reorientation to what connects me to myself and others.

    I feel open, free as I ride, taking it all in.
    #12
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  13. HeadShrinker

    HeadShrinker Long timer Supporter

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    On my way out of town, I stopped at a lake near Jalapa.
    Made some friends and spent an hour or so talking and taking a swim.
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    Me and my new friend, Pablo
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    On may way from the Lake, I ran into an immense teacher roadblock about 5 miles long in each direction. People were completely pissed being completely stopped. I have some video I may post, but I simply cut through the lined up vehicles and when I could see the bridge, rode slowly up to the front, asking if it would be okay to pass. I did this super respectfully. Although this was a teacher initiated road block, being rude could've ended up poorly for me. After a few moments, I was let through and wound my way through the line on the other side. I had to catch a cuota and the toll booths were staffed by students studying education. They initially seemed pretty tough but after I took off my sunglasses and asked them a ton of questions, they opened up and told me that they were students at the university and protesting about teacher pay. I shared that my wife was a teacher and what ages she taught. It turned out to be a cool conversation. We chatted for a few minutes until someone else lined up behind me. I then paid my "toll" and wished them my best, blasting down the road again. IMG_3462.jpeg

    IMG_3473.jpeg IMG_3474.jpeg My Airbnb in Puerto Arista, Chiapas
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    Dinner IMG_3477.jpeg
    It was a wonderful morning, waking up to the crashing ocean waves in a little cabana, steps away from the water. I took my time leaving, drying my clothes on the line and going for a swim.

    IMG_3475.jpeg Breakfast was made for me and I enjoyed it sitting under a palapa as the sun got higher in the sky before I headed South.
    #13
  14. HeadShrinker

    HeadShrinker Long timer Supporter

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    Said goodbye to my Airbnb host, Gabbi.
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    As I ride out of town, I took a few hours of dirt roads, exploring villages in Chiapas and taking one lane, rut and water filled dirt roads. The river crossing was really simple, but it was actually a couple feet deep in the middle.
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    Then some fun little meandering roads
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    I then took 3 or more hours to get to San Cristobal de las Casas and arrived a little after 5 pm. I am staying at an $11 Airbnb that overlooks the city. There are a few folks staying here, two from England and two from Germany. The town is cobbled and the touristy sections are absolutely filled with English, French, Spanish, US, German, and Mexican tourists. Everything but the Airbnb is expensive here. Interesting, there were quite a few 20s/30s hippies here who, I am guessing, are living in one of the many hostels in town.
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    The cobbles, old buildings, charm, and ambience of this town are completely fascinating. This is a must return to city with you as it just has “something.” It has been my favorite town so far.
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    There are so many things to see and experience that I find it overwhelming. I want to ride and experience everything I can. My current thought is to cross over to Guatemala today and then, on my return home, to cross at the same border crossing and then head to Palenque where I found what appears to be a marvelous place in the jungle.

    It sounds funny, but I am routinely staring at the trees waiting to see my first monkey in the wild.

    I am feeling the distance in miles, knowing that Panama is a thousand miles South. I would like to accomplish the ride of making it and then riding back.

    The thought that keeps coming to me is how we don’t get to choose our parents or where we are born. We don’t get to choose our options so much at the beginning of our lives. We have been handed opportunities that many or most in the world have not.

    A family gathers wood and carries it with a fashioned head strap, looking up at me as if we are from completely different worlds. Then at a small village, everyone is looking at their phones.

    Everyone is in their own world. I am, too, but being a traveler and experiencing so much during my days on the bike, my world involves a unique perspective. Observing. Listening. Noting similarities and differences. Taking that into myself, seeing what it stirs up, and how these experiences and perspectives can alter mine which lead to my own despair over how I have felt emotionally.

    I am not naive to think that being on this adventure removes what feels to me to be an illness. The images, sounds, conversations, beauty, challenge, and new things are vividly and potently wonderful.
    #14
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  15. HeadShrinker

    HeadShrinker Long timer Supporter

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    The excitement of getting to Guatemala was palpable and while there where many places I wanted to visit in Mexico, the urge to keep moving was just that.

    I stopped at Mexican Immigration and cancelled my FMM. And this, my friends, is the first place where I considered “just going.” What I mean is—should I keep my bike with an active TVIP or cancel it? Would it be irresponsible to just keep heading South?

    My wife, Tegan, is really understanding about my need to travel and adventure. She is super supportive, especially with this trip. Still, I was just thinking of staying on the road for the next few months, crossing the Darien somehow, and keep going.

    So the question of whether I should cancel here would be echoed at another crossing. The worst case would be losing my $400 TVIP deposit and then having to take the bike to the Aduana in six months. If I cancelled it, I could easily get another on my way back through.

    I crossed at La Mesilla. And this crossing was busy with many backpackers, handlers, and just general mayhem. It’s like 60 Quetzals to get your bike fumigated. Then you park a short bit ahead and go to Immigration on the right. It was a big line of European backpackers in front. At the counter was a young boy and his father was the official Immigration officer. It was another 60 quetzales to get my Guatemalan visa, although this didn’t seem to be legit based on my reading of iOverland, ADVRider and official sites. I wasn’t going to contest it, I just wanted to keep moving. Then I walked a few steps to the Aduana. The adjacent bank was closed for lunch but the official asked them to open up for me so I could keep moving.

    The important thing about this crossing is to keep your wits about you. Money changers, fixers, the busyness and all can give you a headache. Chill, take a deep breath, and enjoy the distinct cultural change a border can bring.

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    The scene changes dramatically. The street is crowded and clogged with vendors. I’ll see if I can post my video of this crossing and will insert it here (in an edit).

    A few miles south is an ATM where I withdrew about $250 worth of quetzales and then ate across the street.


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    I figured I’d get a chance to relax on the road, enjoy the sights and smells. But, honestly, the traffic was nuts. Even though it was 2 hours away from beer-thirty, I had lots of fun ripping through the trucks and buses. My riding wouldn’t appear responsible in the least bit, but I couldn’t help myself. There is something about splitting the center lane between a Guatemalan bus and a truck coming the other way. I didn’t have any moto insurance for Guatemala either. But, after a while, traffic on the road disappeared, I could finally ride at a steady pace.

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    Meet my new pal, Udine, from Huehue. He’s a college professor and my Airbnb host.
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    He’s got a small apartment off the garage.
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    Sweet place. $14USD. 0C889CCC-2395-407B-BD4A-435658CC0105.jpeg
    Shockingly, this was the most tastefully done water heater I’d ever seen. No stray wires or anything. 5967F680-89A8-46BE-912C-0489A1C959F1.jpeg
    Udine has the pad, to be blunt. Single dude, with a large home in a gated neighborhood, a nice car, a double cab Hilux, and a few bikes (KTM 450EXC included). We had some beers and pizza and talked long into the night. His parents and siblings live right up the street.

    We go out to breakfast the next day and enjoy the ruins in town.
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    The following is from my journal.

    Sometimes going really isn’t leaving. All of us who ride, explore, and adventure know that often, when we return home, we are better for it. On the adventure, life comes at us in relation to how we twist that throttle, weight the pegs, and look where we want to go. Life then comes within us through the landscapes, borders, and, more powerfully, the human beings we come across. The road isn’t so much a way to escape as it is a potent means to discover.
    #15
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  16. td63

    td63 Been here awhile Supporter

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2016
    Oddometer:
    410
    Location:
    Moscow, Idaho
    All the way in.

    Really appreciate the blend of adventure, respect for the cultural experience, and introspection.
    #16
    Aces 6 and Amphib like this.
  17. Cobra5150

    Cobra5150 What? Where?

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2012
    Oddometer:
    574
    Location:
    N.E.Jawja
    Would love to ride that area. Great report.
    #17
  18. HeadShrinker

    HeadShrinker Long timer Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2009
    Oddometer:
    1,838
    Location:
    Cortez, Colorado
    Lake Atitlán, Guatemala
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    BDBF8D5D-C74F-4398-AF24-6200D9B3F4E0.jpeg 6876A6D7-BB95-473C-9102-92EACA7879F2.jpeg A8EB285B-3745-4493-AA31-5625CA1F1C2D.jpeg
    Spending a few days here was the most chill out of the whole trip so far. I’ve got a ton of miles under my belt, but things were almost getting clinical—and we’re not talking about the monkeys in the trees.

    Tuk tuks are everywhere
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    I had parking space for the bike and an adequate Airbnb near the water in San Pedro. I didn’t want to lay eyes on the Honda for the next couple days. My ass hurt just thinking about it.

    This was an amazing place to be...
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    From the journal:
    San Pedro de la Laguna sits at the southwest side of an immense lake amidst one or two volcanos. It is filled with backpackers, mostly Europeans, while some of the other towns are a mix between white hippies and the indigenous who speak a Mayan language. Most tourists arrive by boat as there is a 30 minute water taxi that crosses the lake to Panachel, one of the main towns.

    The Airbnb was almost impossible for me to find as the directions are walking ones from the dock, of which I didn’t understand until I hired a tuk-tuk driver to show me the place which also took some time. You could smell the clutch burning from stopping and starting on the immensely steep cobblestone street. Everything is built on top of each other and there are alleyways throughout the town, having no design plan.

    It was a difficult day yesterday. I am not used to Guatemala, the customs, and how things happen. I feel like I know Mexico well and am comfortable just about anywhere so I am getting adjusted.

    My Airbnb is great for Guate standards in this town and I considered staying yet another night but I am moving on. Where? I am not sure yet. I am wanting some dirt. I also think I am a little road weary, to be honest.

    I am attempting to get into the flow of the adventure. Stop here. Talk to them and say hello. Practice Spanish.

    What does this day have for you? Perhaps that is an important lesson. With everything happening within the past few years, I haven’t had much energy or ability to go after the day. Be alive. Stop trying to move and stay ahead. Center yourself. Deep breaths. I usually have a desire to just get on the bike, crack the throttle, and move on. I am attempting to be more centered and wonder what I can learn from this day.

    But, in short—I currently am feeling super tired and needing a rest. Riding so much and eating so little for many days has taken a toll.


    I even stayed another day, going to a different village, Tzununa.
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    Stayed in another Airbnb. As soon as I arrive, there are 3 women hanging out in the garden and one was dancing and spinning in her dreadlocks and hippy skirt. I’m the dude here, I guess. Far out. Smells a bit like home with all the weed.
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    Pretty cool in the evening, though. C0036ABD-51B2-4E9D-BE15-C0B59EA4414E.jpeg

    So my friend and business partner, Wiel, lives in Seattle. He’s catching a flight to Europe and has some time to kill. So he goes into the bar for a beer and sits next to some random guy. They get to talking. He’s from Colorado. Wiel mentions that he’s got a buddy in Colorado. He mentions that this buddy is on a motorcycle trip to Central America.

    Random guy pulls out his phone—“That’s funny. My girlfriend took a photo of a guy from Colorado on his moto in Guatemala and texted it to me today.”
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    #18
  19. HeadShrinker

    HeadShrinker Long timer Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2009
    Oddometer:
    1,838
    Location:
    Cortez, Colorado
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    I made in the later afternoon to El Salvador: I explored Guatemala City and took back roads to the border.

    The hotels are cheap in El Salvador—at least the one I found. It was only $10 a night.

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    It had this super cool Salvadoran recliner and even had its own garage. 7A7FE0BC-EF97-4388-AAB1-0F862D869874.jpeg
    They know how to do it right in El Salvador, I guess.
    #19
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  20. HeadShrinker

    HeadShrinker Long timer Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2009
    Oddometer:
    1,838
    Location:
    Cortez, Colorado
    793444FF-5810-4179-9616-CDE05E7DED05.jpeg A4F1429E-5559-4E9F-973A-1BC25998E500.jpeg
    I am sitting on a dock at Lake Coatepeque in El Salvador. Growing up, the only things I recall about this country was the Sandinistas, violence, and never ending war.

    Much to my surprise, when crossing the border, it is remarkably different than Guatemala. My experience there was less than ideal and I am hopeful that I have a different experience on my way back. I got scammed for $40 and learned my lesson about fixers. I honestly can’t wait to come through here again in the next year or so...

    This morning as I pulled out of the garage in the $10 love hotel I was thrust into the busyness of Santa Ana, winding my way through the cobbles and even through 2 blocks of the daily market. Hundred of people, vendors, and fruits and vegetables.

    The only surprise is how quite often at the edge of town there is a trash dump along both sides of the road.

    Nelson, who owns Rev-It El Salvador, contacted me this morning, welcoming me to El Salvador. He gave me route suggestions and asked me to stop by his shop in San Salvador.

    There is so much to take in on this journey. It is amazing that I’ve only got a little over a thousand miles before I turn back towards home. I am hopeful that I will make it to Panama but there has been news that Nicaragua has been refusing people entry who have not sent in a form. Yet, the news on ADV is to just show up and have some sort of hotel reservation or something.


    After breakfast on the dock, I decided to go around the lake. I heard it was “single-tracky” so I thought I’d give it a go. It meandered up and around and then into the jungle.
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    Two track to single, cobblestone to dirt, and my bags were bumping the trees and bush. It was hilarious when I came to a sharp 90 degree left hander climb that was too small for the Twin. There was a good 30 foot drop onto the jungle below. My bike was stuck, even after I put it on its side and tried to pull it around.

    So, there I am in the middle of the jungle in El Salvador with my bike stuck precariously on a cliff side. Five minutes or so later, I hear a small bike coming through the trees and then down the trail towards me.

    They were surprised to see me and this huge bike on the trail. So three of us, pushed, pulled, and lifted the bike the other direction in a calculated effort. We then spent about 20 minutes chilling on the side of the trail. They wanted to check out the bike and know all about the trip. They had no idea where Colorado was and hadn’t ever been to Guatemala or Honduras. Only one had been to San Salvador.

    Cheers to my new friends.
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    If there’s one thing I’ve learned, most people are the same, willing to help, wanting to learn about you, and wish you well. When you think you’re all alone and SOL, there’s usually someone around to help.
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    #20
    Muscongus, roadcapDen, BillUA and 9 others like this.