Dipped My Toes in Central America

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Bigguy136, Nov 6, 2020.

  1. Bigguy136

    Bigguy136 Been here awhile

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    You guessed correct. I can't say I was reckless with what I ate and drank but the tail end of the trip was very rough. Details coming...
    #21
  2. Bigguy136

    Bigguy136 Been here awhile

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    After getting to Hermosillo, I was going to take SON-104, loop around and cross back over MEX-16, pick up SON-117 and follow to Ciudad Obregon but I couldn't put together any other plan after that. The roads looked like they would be fun but then what? I figured I would have a few days doing that and didn't know that I would've found other roads to continue riding so I changed plans and decided making a run to Central America would offer more of what was in the back of my mind.
    I would like to take a summer off to travel Europe and Asia and I wanted to experience a border crossing not connected to the USA. With the new plan/ location, I went for the quickest way to Guatemala and that was toll road 15. I also saw the temps would be 105°F until I got past Zapopan (2 days riding). My riding gear is the KLIM Badlands being I'm typically going to the Arctic. I had the KLIM mid layer jacket and also a long sleeve shirt I could've worn but just wore my gear. I will look at some mesh riding gear for future riding.
    Riding the toll road was fast and boring. I had 3 days of nothing but paying for gas and a crapload of tolls. There were many tolls that were not open and locals were using it as a means for income. I never got a shake down that others told me happen. Closest was a toll that someone had an orange construction cone and was blocking a car in front of me but I just went around the car and past the cone.
    On day 3 of the toll road, I was getting close to Mexico City and traffic came to a stop and everyone out of there trucks/ cars and walking around. No problem, I'm on a bike and in Mexico so I took the shoulders and lane split. I caught up to an ambulance with the lights/ siren on and somewhat stuck in traffic. Not sure where the ambulance picked anyone up as the traffic jam was still 7 more miles according to Google maps. I didn't want to get in front of the ambulance so I stayed behind and followed. We were lane splitting until there were a few trucks too close together so the ambulance turned for the right shoulder and was waiting for a semi to back up. As the ambulance got past the semi, I was following and the semi driver pulled forward and hit me. For a little history, in 1993, I was T-boned by a pickup and spent 9 weeks in a hospital so when this happened, I was less than calm. I got up and went to drag the driver out his window but there was a crowd yelling so I stopped, picked my bike up and continued on.
    On my 2nd day of toll road riding, I found a farmer's road connected to 15. I followed to an edge of a wooded area and set up camp. Yes, hotels are very cheap but I still like my remote camping.

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    #22
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  3. Bigguy136

    Bigguy136 Been here awhile

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    Here is a video of a few tolls from normal, closed with locals asking and one with a orange cone blocking until driver paid.

    #23
  4. WileyRTW

    WileyRTW Wiley

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    Holy crap, i hope that vid is coming.
    #24
  5. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

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    Look forward to following along on this one @Bigguy136, would like to go explore the mainland and then down into Central America; would also love to get a month off from the grind...lol.

    Dig the wild camping spots you've shown, keep it coming!
    #25
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  6. DazzlesBigalow

    DazzlesBigalow n00b

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    Hey I am in Palenque heading into Guatemala next week.
    Where are you and fancy coffee or beer?
    #26
  7. Slowphil

    Slowphil Big Man in a very very small pond

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    In for the long haul, love Mexico and central America, want to get back there next winter if covid eases up
    #27
  8. Bigguy136

    Bigguy136 Been here awhile

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    Sorry, no video. Didn't see much to record when riding toll roads and who knew what would happen with the truck??
    #28
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  9. Bigguy136

    Bigguy136 Been here awhile

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    I wish I was still there but I am back in the USA.
    Enjoy all Guatemala has to offer.
    #29
  10. WileyRTW

    WileyRTW Wiley

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    I hear that, every time I decide to leave the cam off the best stuff happens! Glad you could pick it up and move on like nothing happened.
    #30
  11. Bigguy136

    Bigguy136 Been here awhile

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    I have custom fuel cells under my panniers and the mounts got bent. I will do a redesign this winter to allow for readjustment in the event of a future accident.
    Keeping the video camera on can create a lot of data. It stopped working and didn't get the last 1/3 of my trip but still have 500 gb of data.
    #31
  12. Bigguy136

    Bigguy136 Been here awhile

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    Not sure if you know but Guatemala requires a covid test prior to entering.
    #32
  13. Bigguy136

    Bigguy136 Been here awhile

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    After the incident the afternoon before, I stopped in Tuxla Gutierrez for the night. It was late, dark and I was running very low on pesos (toll road was consuming about $50 US per day). I stopped at an 'auto hotel' for 250 pesos for the night. Some might use them for the hourly rate but I stayed the night and had a 1 car garage with garage door. I wanted somewhere to look over my bike and see what damage was done. With some needed maintenance and a tweak here and there, my bike was 99% perfect.
    Time for Central America.
    I didn't want to stay in a hotel at the border and also didn't want to try crossing at night so I stopped a few hours prior. In the morning, I continued southeast. The toll road went from a 4 lane down to a 2 lane and a lot less traffic. It was about 2 hours of this and the anticipation was building. This is all new for me. I know the arctic (Canada and Alaska) very well as I have been there the last 3 summers. This is nothing like the arctic.
    I crossed at the Las Champas/ La Mesilla border. I read about Mexico and Guatemala customs being 4 KM between each other and that Mexico customs was in a White with blue building. I little riding around and found the building is now white with red. I went in the building, cancelled my FMM/visa but kept my TVIP open. He asked but told him I would be returning in a week or 2 and he didn't ask anymore. I've heard from some that I have to cancel my TVIP, others say you can leave it open but risk problems if your bike breaks down and you can't get it back to customs to cancel TVIP.
    So far, so good. I get my passport stamped out and I head to Guatemala. I stop at the first spot and went inside building. That was the tire fumigation station and they just spray your tires and then collect their money. Fair enough. Now I can move to next building. They want to see my covid paperwork. Um, what. Keep in mind that I honestly only knew 3 words of spanish. I try using my phone translator but border crossing people say no phone usage. After some attempt with hand signals to go back to Mexico, i was getting very frustrated and had no idea what was wrong. The guy from the tire fumigation understood and he wrote PCR on a piece of paper and motioned to go back to Mexico. Works for me as that guy knew a little english. I went back to Mexico customs and showed him piece of paper. He was confused, made a phone call and then gave paper back to me and pointed at a medical building down the road. I gave the doctor the piece of paper and he said 3,000 pesos. I motioned that it would be what I need for Guatemala and he agreed. Asked standard covid questions (using my phone translator), did a blood draw and 40 minutes later he gave me a letter and back to Guatemala I go. With that, I filled out visa and TVIP paperwork. They wanted my original title card and original registration. They checked my bike serial number, applied a windshield sticker and stamped my passport. I'm in!!
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    #33
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  14. Bigguy136

    Bigguy136 Been here awhile

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    Here is a video of the border crossing.
    #34
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  15. Cal

    Cal Long timer

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    good video of the La Mesilla crossing, looks like you had a nice quiet time riding up to the border. I have been on that street on a market day where you could hardly move. Good job!
    #35
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  16. Sjoerd Bakker

    Sjoerd Bakker Long timer

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    Re; video camera failure , what happened, was it too fragile for bike rattles and more designed for hand held operation ? If you replace it maybe try a less exotic item .Im getting some good video with a tiny HD branded camera bought at Staples for under $40 USD
    I did notice that on your first posted video in particular the image often seemed to be as if looking through a wet window with water droplets spreading as bits of the picture came into resolution . Is that a result of having selected a too low pixel rate to record or is it the nature of the memory card 's limits ? I've been watching a pile of You Tube bike video from Itchy Boots ,Noraly, and she has all crisp and clear video even when riding quickly.
    #36
  17. Bigguy136

    Bigguy136 Been here awhile

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    I tried the Drift Ghost 4K. If I want image stabilization, I couldn't record in 4K so all video was done in 1080 and 60 f/s. Camera was mounted to the left of my headlight. You can see it in the photo I posted above showing the front of the bike at the border crossing.
    I bought it in August. 3 months later, I left on my trip. The battery did okay for the first week (had it hard wired in but went to battery when I turn key off) but 2nd week, battery would last all of 30 seconds when recording. I got 72 hours of recorded video. It was overcast/ drizzly (says it is waterproof). Noting too crazy as I left my Samsung S9 out in the elements also without issue. Camera beeped and turned off. Then it tried to turn itself on, it beep again and turn off. Did this for half hour till I pulled battery. Hasn't turned on since.
    After about 8 emails, I got a RMA and will see what they do.
    I also picked up a black Friday Go-pro 8 with 2nd battery. I was thinking about getting a Go-pro 7 as another back-up. After seeing the video, pictures alone will not work in the future.
    I will have to view my vids on my tv. From my computer, all looked good enough. I will have to see what camera Noraly is using.
    #37
  18. Bigguy136

    Bigguy136 Been here awhile

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    I figured I had a 2% chance to get into Guatemala. I brought my bike title and registration but thinking/ planning this trip all of 4 days, I thought it was a long shot. Just in case, I added 2 points in my Garmin and if I got across, I would let Garmin find my route. I have a dual band cell phone (Samsung S9) and international calling but that ended about 1 hour before I got to the border. I crossed and Garmin did a less than acceptable job on their map. Garmin Basecamp shows roads to Panama and I assumed roads were accurate. I set my GPS on a waypoint that I loaded but the road in Garmin's world and real world was not even close. No problem, I can see Google map is showing me the way. About 20 miles later, Google maps was also out. Plan C. I go into my GPS favorites but don't select it. With the favorites showing, it show a direction arrow. Good enough, I just need to take whatever road looks like it will go where the arrow says I need to be.
    I rode for a few hours learning of the road conditions for Guatemala. Not much for where/ what lane you are in but somewhat normal traffic flow. I wanted to find a hotel but no GPS and no cell phone. Looking back, I should've got a new sim for my phone but my head was still spinning and not thinking clearly. I stopped at a few places but they weren't hotels. It was getting dark and rain moved in. I was pulling over and asking for hotel and people pointed ahead but I didn't know how far being I know 3 words of Spanish. Finally I got to a store that had a sign for hotel. $8 with bike parking in the store and room above the store.
    Looking back, I downloaded Guatemala from Maps.me, loaded into Basecamp and the roads are mapped perfect and the hotel I stayed in was on the map. I also got a message from @Sjoerd Bakker to use phone app for Maps.me. Great advice for next time. I guess I'm one that when something works (Garmin always did), why try other ways. Yes, lesson learned...
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    Garmin map with my actual route in Basecamp
    Garmin map.jpg
    Maps.me map loaded in Basecamp
    Maps.Me.jpg
    #38
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  19. Bigguy136

    Bigguy136 Been here awhile

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    Here is a video of that stretch of road.
    #39
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  20. roadcapDen

    roadcapDen Ass, Grass or Gas, no free rides.

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    Tuks, chicken busses, mountains and towns, nice!
    #40
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