Latin America!

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by bananaman, Jan 15, 2008.

  1. bananaman

    bananaman transcontimental

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    I won't bore you with broken-brakes pictures. I will tell you that it's awful nice here. The temps today were just right for a t-shirt and jeans. For a while I wore a long-sleeved shirt because in the shade where the bike was getting fixed it was just a little cool. I only rode about five miles today, and half was in full gear, and it was just right to unzip the vents. Cool enough to keep the helmet lid down, warm enough to not sweat.

    The Guatemala BMW dealership is awesome. In the end they fabricated a new gasket and changed all the fluid. My job was to occasionally hold something or occasionally pump the brake lever five times. Markos is like a genius or something. Juan is super nice but I didn't see him again after he hit his big GS against the back of some old lady's car. I got to meet Karl, the owner's son (my age, educated in the US). I trust these guys.

    I showed up on a Friday afternoon. Another adventure rider was there- Wolfgang, of www.heidwolfonbiketour.de. Markos basically stopped everything to help us. He even stayed late on a Saturday (the shop closes at noon on Saturdays, but Markos stays until the job is done). They had a row of local bikes in various states of repair, and several other customers came in only to smile and wonder what Wolfgang and I could possibly be thinking. (Wolfgang got new TKCs, his Ohlins rear shock re-charged, his valves adjusted, and who-knows what else.)

    Wolfgang has 70 liter side cases on his 1996 R100PD. 70 liters. Yes, seventy liters. On each side. He might have a slightly different opinion of the workmanship. If you ever want to buy an absolutely perfectly maintained BMW- one owned by a regular perfectionist- buy Wolfgang's. He's not selling though. Oh, what a beautiful, beautiful travelling machine!

    I also met an American from Denver on a GS with no VIN. Silly boy! I still don't know how he managed to get into Guatemala. Neither does he. He had planned on riding to Ushuaia. Now he's stuck here for three weeks trying to get the vin-plate-thing sorted out. Ushuaia will have to wait for him. I can not imagine being stuck here for three weeks. I think this other American by this time has accumulated like ten Guatemalan wives. They follow him around and take turns scratching his vin-number back off. I've been here for two days and I can not wait to get back on the road, back on the way to Panama.

    Maybe Barb will explain how a car in front of her hit a dog that must have been already dead and sent it sailing into her lane...

    So Barb was on her way to the dealership this afternoon, and she couldn't find it. This is kind of a big town (like 2 million people) and she did a few laps around it. And then she heard someone say, "Barb!" She was way, way far away, and she had run into Wolfgang and Heidi! What a small world we adventure riders make, yes?

    Pictures in a little while.
    #21
  2. Klay

    Klay dreaming adventurer Supporter

    Joined:
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    119,995
    Location:
    right here on my thermarest
    :lurk Good story!
    #22
  3. bananaman

    bananaman transcontimental

    Joined:
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    It does appear you tempted the "breakdown fairy" with your brand bias earlier statement.:evil Loving the report so far so keep it coming!!!
    If and when you have time can you answer acouple of bike questions?
    How many miles on your big red?
    Did you ever change the brake fluid?Hoses? (I have the same bike and have not)
    Last question. What can you do in taking off a gas tank, that can insure, that the bike won't start? (I know, I'm just being mean, but its fricken 14 below zero as I type:vardy)[/quote]

    You must be mis-reading me! What I meant by BMW vs KLR- Barb says her Kawasaki can be fixed anywhere. I'll give her that. Since my bike only has three dealers in Central America, I have to be more self-sufficient. I can do some wrenching myself, and if I couldn't get my brakes fixed here I was just going to tie a rag around the leaky spot so that my pants wouldn't get more wrecked. The only problem is, the gods of GS breakdowns know what spare parts I've got with me, so they'll break something else.

    How To Flummox Your BMW Mechanic: when I took the gas tank off, I was too lazy to actually disconnect the fuel lines. All I did was pop the pin, lift, twist, and balance-on-a-chair. In the past I'd done this with my RS tank and never had a problem. I didn't realize that I was just lucky. When I twisted the fuel lines I put tiny hairline cracks in the hard plastic parts that the fuel lines connect to, but the cracks where hidden by the fuel lines. The engine was getting gas, and it looked like plenty, but actually it wasn't. Every time you'd try to start it, you'd smell gas, and you'd think it was just flooded. Jason at the BMW dealership in Beaver Dam even tried to push-start it. Over and over. And he'd look at me and say "WHAT DID YOU DO?!" but he couldn't help but smile because, whatever I'd done, he was going to make some money. I was glad to pay it just so that I could stop being so embarrassed.

    I've since added the big 11 gallon Touratech tank, with quick-connects all around. I did the install myself! and it was a great way to get to know this bike a little better.

    I bought the bike in June of last year with less than 25k. Now it has a little over 33k, 3300 which happened so far on this ride. I never changed the hoses or fluid on the brakes, but I did have them inspected by Jason. There is no way he could have known that the gasket was going to fail, and I was not going to spend $350 on a new front brake handlebar unit. I had to put new rear pads on when I got it (known defect) and I put new front pads on before I left. I have extra pads with me. I took the rear brake assembly off, back in San Cristobal de las Casas, so that I could get a good look at the pad wear. They're holding up fine.
    #23
  4. bananaman

    bananaman transcontimental

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    This is a typical room at La Iguana. Rustic. Cold at night. As close to being outside as I really wanted to be.




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    The patio at the Iguana. This is where they... do yoga!


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    Boats on Lake Atitlan are the only way to get from one place to another. There are a few paths but not even goats take them. I don't know why there even are paths.

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    The beautiful 1150GS after it hit a car. I saw the whole thing- the car suddenly backing out, Juan grabbing his brakes and trying to swerve, the car not stopping, Juan whacking the back of the car AND GOING DOWN! JUAN WAS DOWN! and then as quick as that he was up and he picked up this bike like it was a 150.

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    This little gasket is all I needed. See the marks on it? Worn out. Those tiny marks let the brake fluid out. Now it's all clean, re-built, and better than new. I like the new brakes.


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    #24
  5. bananaman

    bananaman transcontimental

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    From way back in October- this is how our riding together got started.

    http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=277719

    Advrider... bringing lunatics together and helping to shrink the world!
    #25
  6. bananaman

    bananaman transcontimental

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    It's Sunday morning and I'm still waiting for Barb to get ready. While I wait (and wait and wait and wait) here are some more photos. They're not in any particular order. Guatemala, through my lens.

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    #26
  7. bananaman

    bananaman transcontimental

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    And still more photos-

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    #27
  8. Kayakgk

    Kayakgk Long timer

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    spanish language CD's and start working on them. From your report on that
    accident with the truck driver and the ladrones I was getting the feeling you are a MD or a RN, its not that common to describe a pulse as thready.

    Awesome ride report, great photos great writing , it is really inspiring.

    :clap
    #28
  9. pistol777

    pistol777 Freedom Seeker

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    Location:
    The Great Northwest
    Barb's a babe!! Nice trip.:D
    #29
  10. william t.

    william t. Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2007
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    677
    Location:
    Suches ,Ga.
    Really enjoyed reading about the trip. :clap
    #30
  11. Charles Seguin

    Charles Seguin Noob4Life

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    Aug 1, 2007
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    Tucson
    Nice pics and posts.... keep 'em coming. :clap
    #31
  12. nerudarider

    nerudarider nerudarider

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    Feb 7, 2006
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    Location:
    Istanbul, Stockholm
    This is an awesome ride! :clap

    I wish you all the luck for you guys along your voyage! :freaky
    #32
  13. eddie98

    eddie98 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2007
    Oddometer:
    683
    Location:
    Kennesaw, GA
    Here are a few more pics of Lake Atitlan. I was there last spring break to visit my family. There is a trip in the works to ride down there. I cannot wait to ride down there in a bike.
    If you don't mind sharing the routes you took thru mexico would be great.
    Be safe.


    Traffic is a nightmare and like he said, the diesel fumes are all over the place.
    Watch out for oncoming traffic :)


    cars packed with one too many people.
    #33
  14. Uncle Pollo

    Uncle Pollo Bad Hombre

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    Location:
    Albuquerque, Neue Messico
    :lurk
    #34
  15. 2betterthan4

    2betterthan4 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2004
    Oddometer:
    13

    Hey Bananaman,

    Thanks for all the pics and regular updates!

    I didn't fully know how you and Barbara met up until I saw your posting with the link (above). When I saw her before she left she was still going solo. Her first update email said she met up with you in TX. I then checked advrider and found this trip report. Earlier, I let Gadget Boy know (offline) that you two had just met and were not a couple.

    Barbara had been planning this trip for a long time. She originally had other people interested in doing the trip with her. As the "go" time approached they dropped off until it was just her.

    Sometimes you have to take that scary step into the unknown alone. Then you find that others are there when needed and it all works out. Advrider is great spot for fellow wanderers to meet.

    It's good to hear that your bike is fixed and Barbara was able to catch up amid the chaos.

    I look forward to your next update.

    :D


    Ian
    #35
  16. LaOutbackTrail

    LaOutbackTrail Certified Smartass

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    Nice report Bananaman! Counting the days till my departure.

    :lurk
    #36
  17. Bartbert

    Bartbert n00b

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2007
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    1
    You guys are living my dream.
    Keep up the posts and photo's.
    I wish you the best of luck for a safe and awesome ride.
    (Taking notes for my trip in Oct. '08)

    Bartbert:asta
    #37
  18. bananaman

    bananaman transcontimental

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    Choloteca, Honduras. Several hours of border crossing from El Salvador. Very good riding in El Salvador. Places that have seen zero riders, almost no gringos. Some more bike trouble- thought it was serious, ended up being a loose battery cable, but it took several hours to diagnose (since there was no way, thought I, that it could be something as simple as a loose battery cable!). Tons of photos but they´re going to have to wait because I´ve got very limited internet here. On to Nicaragua tomorow, but neither of us are looking forward to the border crossing.

    We found an amazing spot in El Salvador. Too bad we only spent one night. It was a good place to have the bike pretend to break, though!

    Also I would like to amend my commendation of the Guatemala City BMW dealership. They broke my gps mount, left a washer off the hand-guard, and screwed up the entire throttle. I can go, but the whole thing is loose by about half an inch, and the throttle lock does not work at all. Incompetence, if you ask me.
    #38
  19. bananaman

    bananaman transcontimental

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    Granada, Nicargua.

    Last night at the first annual Nicargua Adventure Rider Meeting we decided that henceforth all advrider meetings will be held in exotic locations. Attending and voting and declaring themselves slightly buzzed were myself, Topaz69, Salcar, JDinfinity, and Larose. In celebration we ate fish-cheeks. Yum. (I had no idea that I love fish-cheeks. I had only read about them in childrens´books.)

    Right now our bikes are parked on an island inside the hostel. Trick riding to get over the curb. Ok, so JD and Larose just kind of picked up their bikes, but me, Salcar, and Topaz69- we had to ride ours and it was a nice little bump. I can still smell my clutch.

    Getting here- the last few days were ADVENTURE! El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua... Amazing. I need to come back and spend a lifetime exploring. Or I could just become a fisherman, live on the beach, spend my time in a hammock... eat fish-cheeks...

    Crossing into Honduras sucks. Vultures- we were swamed by ''helpers,'' I call them vultures. They grabbed at us, grabbed our bikes, almost knocked me down. I had to shut off the bike and threaten to actually murder one of them. That worked.

    It took forever to get into Honduras. You need to hire a corrupt 'ayudante.' Salcar has advice for how to do it. I'll repeat it later.

    I got pulled over by a naughty Nicaraguan cop. I talked my way out of it. In case talking didn't work, I was prepared to ride away. I had given him an expired drivers license. I was thinking that if he kept it, I'd only have two throw-away licenses left. Which would mean having to find a decent copy-shop so I could fake a few more.

    We saw cows on the road. Cows on the road? That's old. They have cows on the road in Wisconsin. Wait. These were COWS ON THE ROAD. Cowboys pushing their cows and using the entire road to push entire herds for miles and miles. This is like all the time. You'll be riding, and then COWS! and then you have to worry about getting pooped on. Cows, as you might know, have no manners. In the heirarchy of who-hates-motorcycles-most, cows are superior to taxis and chicken-buses. I did not know that I was going to have to learn how to quickly identify the bull, the alpha-cow, and the frolicking-calfs. The perfect line? Try to tuck in behind the cowboy (who might be on a bicycle) or as close as possible to a local motorcycle. Then weave through. Keep your legs in out-rigger mode but don´t slip on the cowpies.

    I'll try to upload some pictures later. Salcar recomends not using the public computers to upload photos because he once lost 1000 photos due to a virus.
    #39
  20. bananaman

    bananaman transcontimental

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    El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua, in no particular order...

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    #40