North to South America on a Honda 250

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Joris van O, Apr 26, 2019.

  1. td63

    td63 Been here awhile Supporter

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    Heh, my memory of Antigua also largely involves bathrooms. :/

    Still and always digging your adventure!
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  2. Joris van O

    Joris van O Been here awhile

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    Two days I waited to get some energy back into my body. But finally I was confident enough that I could walk up a mountain again. To treat myself I went to a restaurant ran by a Belgium chef and got a Moroccan Tajine and a wine from Chile hahaha. So so good, and I think it was still only 15 or 20 bucks.
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    I needed to feel better because close to Antigua is a volcano - well many actually but there's one really active--that I wanted to see. Volcan de Fuego! You're not allowed to hike up that one and you must have a deathwish to even think about such a thing. But.. there's one practically nudged against Fuego which you can climb, called Acatenango. When I read about it I thought I could do it alone, some people have done it and someone even told me there's a shelter build right in the crater to spend the night. The hostel offered a tour for 40 bucks (Balam Tours), sounds like a lot but with transportation, three meals, guides and one night accommodation included I thought it was a pretty good deal.

    So.. Morning comes and a bunch of people pile into this minivan to get to the start of the hike.
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    The two guides supplied us with extra gear like blankets, hats and gloves and gave us our food supplies to carry with us. The best thing about this deal was that the tents and everything is already set up, so no carrying of heavy campinggear up this mountain for us. Still a full backpack though with my jacket, thermals, gloves, hat, camera, food and 4 liters of water.
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    Luckily I wasn't the most unfit one in our group so we had plenty of stops for people to catch up. This was the lunch stop.
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    The hike starts in the forest, the leads through what they call the cloud forest (wet and misty) and then a bit higher slowly the trees start to disappear. [​IMG]
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    A couple hours later we reach the camp at around 3700 meters. I thought the hike wasn't to bad, it's steep but definitely manageable. Still, pretty chuffed to be there and to be able to sit down and relax.
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    Upon arrival the volcanos were hidden in the clouds, but not long after it cleared up and Fuego was revealed. Being up in the clouds the setting sun put on quite a show too.
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    Active you said right? Come on give us some action! "Alright, here's a little smoke for you impatient fools".
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    More more!! "I'll give you more"
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    With the sun going down the temperatures that weren't high to begin with also went down considerably. Luckily our guides provided a great dinner, and even brought us hot chocolate and marshmallows. Some guys in the group came prepared and had carried up some flaskes with warming liquor. Sitting down around the fire we all got to know each other and it was a great group!
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    With the sun far way, the clouds gone and our bellies filled we turned our attention to the star of the show again. And a show it put up! One of the most incredible things I have ever witnessed. Its hard to describe in words the feeling of seeing (and hearing the rumble) the earth creating this. Awesome, beautiful, incredible, amazing all don't do it justice. I sat there for hours mesmerized, freezing, and didn't want to go to sleep but eventually accepted that I had to. If only I had a tri-pod..
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    I woke up throughout the night either from the cold or Fuego rumbling and flinging new earth into the air. But managed to get some sleep because at four o'clock the guides woke us up to get ready for the last jount to the summit. There was frost on the ground so well below freezing.
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    Those last 300 meters to the summit took a while, picking our way through the darkness. But we made it just before sunrise and were rewarded with a gorgeous view (that should be Volcan de Agua).
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    There she is!
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    Some more pictures.
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    My mind was blown.. :D
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    We couldn't stay at the top for very long, so time to descent to Basecamp and have breakfast!
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    We gathered our stuff, took a group picture, a last visit to the restrooms and got on with the walk down. It was very quiet in the van back to Antigua. I might have closed my eyes too.
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  3. Donson

    Donson Adventurer

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  4. Joris van O

    Joris van O Been here awhile

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    Ah, I just copied your technique! Thanks for the tip, Hope I don't have to plug a tire again but those odds are small.

    Well, there's the whole of South America to ride. My plan is to be in Ushuaia before winter really sets in, although I'll be cutting it close. Then back up to northern Chile and Bolivia to see the things I missed on the way, down.

    Cool, thanks for the tip! I'll keep it in mind next time.

    Yes, heard a bunch of people with the same problem. I think almost everyone who I met that did that road dropped his (or her) bike. It looked doable from the back of the truck but I don't regret not riding it.

    It's a great little country! If you only have a week or two its perfect to get your central America fix.

    Happy new your to you too, and all of you that are still following along with my ramblings. Best wishes for the new year and that it'll be a year with a lot of miles and smiles!

    Thanks a lot Sjoerd! That makes sense, I'll see how the glue I have now looks and maybe get a new one just in case. Although I might not need it..

    Gracias amigo! :)

    Thanks Den, you got the scoop haha. I'll get them on here soon.

    I also post some things on Instagram every now and then as it's a little easier with updates.
    If you want you can find me under: jorisvanoostenbrugge


    Haha, it's that bad with the food in Chicago?

    I hadn't tried it before but it seams to work well. It's no immodium, but I try to avoid that stuff anyway.

    Same chicken place maybe? :D
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  5. olderigetfasteriam

    olderigetfasteriam Long timer

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    You owe me new Chromebook. Coffee everywhere!
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  6. snobear

    snobear Been here awhile

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    The volcano trip looks truly amazing, a have to do if in the area by the looks of it.
    We went up to one near Granada Nicaragua where you could stand at the edge and look down into the molten lava but not active like where you were.
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  7. Martin74

    Martin74 n00b

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    read through this at the weekend...great report. safe travels.!
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  8. roadcapDen

    roadcapDen Ass, Grass or Gas, no free rides.

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    Wow, best Fuego picture story I've seen on here!
    And, there have been a few.
    Congratulations...
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  9. Cal

    Cal Long timer

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    Nice volcano photos and a great hike . Guatemala is a magical place! Now when you get to Peru you should look into the 5 day Inca trail hike to Machu Picchu. Some just ride close and then hike 1 day but the 5 day hike is a life high lite!
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  10. Joris van O

    Joris van O Been here awhile

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    One more day in Antigua to give my sore legs some rest.. Did do some things, like going to the Santo Domingo de Cerra museum for a walk around. Could just ride up there, park the bike for free and there was no admission. Wandered around for a bit and took some pictures. Interesting arts displayed there.
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    Also met up with Aleena from California, who I met the day before on the volcano hike. We went to this well setup organic farm on the outskirts of the city to get lunch. It's a farm to table concept so everything is home grown, fresh and really tasty. And it was also fun to just walk around to see all the different flowers, vegetables and animals.
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    I really liked Antigua, and if it wasn't for the Stahlratte booking I probably would have stayed longer and enrolled in some Spanish classes. But, time to move on to the next place. There's more to see!

    Things like a Guatemalan funeral..
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    Aaaand.. A lake covered in clouds..
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    After a brilliant ride through the mountains I arrived in Panajachel on the shores of Lago Atitlan. Got a cheap hostel for another two nights.
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    You can ride around the lake to visit all the small towns on the shore. But the roads are horrible and not that safe, there's plenty of stories of people getting robbed. So a better option is to take one of the many boats to ferry you around. When I walked up to the docks there were a ton of guys all shouting to get you into their boat. They're like collectivos and only leave when they're close to full. I picked one going to San Lucas Toliman.
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    Walked around town for a bit, impressed by the endless amount of tuktuks.
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    Another couple of boatrides got me to Santiago Atitlan and San Pedro La Laguna. More walks, more pictures and a lunch that I almost had to share with some fluffy friends. In my opinion these towns are all very much alike.
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    Seen three towns, called it a day. Another boatride back to Panajachel.
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    Gave me just enough time to work on the bike before it got to dark. Changed the speedo cable that had snapped the day before (at 80k km it had enough), checked and adjusted the valves, got the airfilter cleaned at a nearby shop and gave it a good once over to see what else was wrong.
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    Another good day in the books, but when I went to bed.. there was something wrong. Someone else was in my bed, and she didn't want to move. Reluctantly I accepted and we shared the bed.
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    A last look at the lake in the morning and then on to the murder and stripper capital of the world! Or the land of Pupusas..
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    More borderhassle, not hard, just takes some time..
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    And that concluded Guatemala, Ciao!
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    Hola El Salvador!
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    Another chicken waiting for his Temporary import papers..
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  11. Yinzer Moto

    Yinzer Moto Long timer Supporter

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    The cleanliness of those little streets is always amazing to me. Sure, there is a little litter but if that was America, the gutters would be full.
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  12. roadcapDen

    roadcapDen Ass, Grass or Gas, no free rides.

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    :clap:clap:clap.
    Enjoy the shot gun protected Gentlemen's Clubs in El Sal!
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  13. RedDogAlberta

    RedDogAlberta High Plains Drifter

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    Some of the women I've seen on this trip, I'd find it hard to move on the next day. :-) I'd be more inclined to skip through a meadow with a blanket and picnic basket.
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  14. van the man

    van the man Been here awhile

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    An epic ride, for sure.
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  15. Joris van O

    Joris van O Been here awhile

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    From the border it was only a short but great ride through the mountains to the town of Juayua. Well, it would have been a short ride if I had looked at the navigation. Which was indicating me to turn around and take the right road for the last 15 kilometers. But.. Made it there eventually. First hostel I tried seemed deserted, second one was really nice but not in my budget. Third one was a winner. And secure parking for the bike!
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    Time for dinner, a couple of pupusas and a cerveza from El Salvador. I liked those pupusas, which are somewhat like tortillas but with the goods stuffed inside. The town was also very lively, but I just missed the weekly food festival.
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    There are some things to do in and around Juayua, but I hadn't seen the Pacific in a while so the next morning I continued to ride to the coast. With a little loop along Lago de Coatapeque thrown into it to keep it interesting. If not for the volcano I thought I was riding somewhere in France.
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    In my way to the little surftown of El Tunco on the Pacific coast I passed the outskirts of the capital San Salvador. I was surprised, everything looked nice and well kept. I hadn't seen a modern, big, well stocked supermarket in a long time. What did I get? The usual.. Two bananas and some peanuts. But it was nice to see something different than all the small tiendas in the last month.
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    Some more riding and I was in El Tunco, one of the most popular surf places in El Salvador. Found a hostel for two nights and arranged a one hour surflesson for the following morning. But first, a well deserved swim (and another cerveza).
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    The surf lesson was great, after a couple of tries I was standing and beginning to control the board. But one hour was enough for now, I was dead. It was extremely tiring, getting on the board, riding a wave, falling off, tumbling through the wave and surfacing just as another one rolls in. I needed a rest to let the dizziness disappear.
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    There's more to see and to do in El Salvador, but I wanted to try my hand on another water related activity. And that happened to be possible on the other coast, so after three nights I said El Salvador goodbye and got underway to Utila in Honduras. This was going to be a long slough, best get on with it then. Woke up early and got to the border with Honduras at Citala. Crossing went surprisingly well, only an hour and a half. My plan was to see how far I could make it and find a hotel before it got dark. Well, most of the ride was smooth and from El Tunco I made it all the way to San Pedro Sula, not bad for a day with a border crossing. Riding in Honduras, especially the central part of the country was very pleasant.
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    After a good night in a nice but otherwise empty hostel it was only a relatively short ride to La Ceiba. The town where all the ferries leave from.
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    It is possible to take a motorcycle on the ferry, but it's not cheap. Better to leave it in the mainland, but where? There's a big parking lot but it's not secured in any way. Didn't want to leave my bike with the soft panniers there for a week. And they asked a ridiculous price too. So a little further into town I spotted this hotel, asked if I could leave the bike and gear there for a week and gave them some money for it. Way less than the other parking. And the old lady stored all my bags in her own room so no one would touch them.
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    Had to wait a few hours for the ferry.
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    Ticket in hand, we were allowed to board. On to the island!
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  16. Joris van O

    Joris van O Been here awhile

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    Mm, yes you're right. They clean their own street. But once out of the city it mostly a big mess and trash is everywhere along the road. Many many times I saw people throwing trash from their car or bus. Makes me angry, but what's to do about it.

    Hahah, not only the gentlemans clubs.. Literally every shop has a security guard with a shiny shotgun standing by the door.

    Ha, it's not always as easy as it looks. There's my plans, and theirs.. And more often than not they don't line up :D
  17. Cal

    Cal Long timer

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    The beach sunset photo has a large rock formation in the water, I believe that is El Tunco for which the beach is named.
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  18. roadcapDen

    roadcapDen Ass, Grass or Gas, no free rides.

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    Beautiful Joris!
    Ferry to Roatan Honduras to scuba?

    Yes Cal, El Tunco supposedly because it looks like a Pig!
    An upside down one?
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  19. Joris van O

    Joris van O Been here awhile

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    Once I set foot on Utila, the first thing I did was find a diving school. I did some research before hand and had picked Utila Dive Center. They're not the cheapest but still, 350 dollar for your open water course, a couple of fun dives and five nights of accommodation sounded good to me. And the reviews said that they have good gear and great instructors. That's worth something to me too. Half an hour after getting of the ferry I was talking with Thomas, a Swedish volunteer, about the course. A beginners course was to start in five days, I said that I didn't want to wait five days. After some back and forth they said that I could start the next day, I would be the only student though. They gave me a book to study as there's also a good part of theory and written tests involved with the course. All arrangements made I could finally go to the hostel they cooperate with and crack open a cold one. Just one, as I had to study!
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    Well the first day I just studied, walked along the main road and got aquinted with what this little island had to offer. A bit like Belize, the culture and the people is a mix of Afro-Caribbean, Latin, and some North American/European influences.
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    Finally it was time for some underwater action. Just in the shallow area near the dock, to go through and practice the basics. More studying and a walk around in the afternoon.
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    I had studied enough, time to get these tests out of the way. All went fine, most is common sense, but there's some difficult ones when it comes to calculating your allowed time under water at a certain depth after a dive or two. But that went fine to so with the theory out of the way it was time for the last confined dives. One of the excerices had me severely doubting my decision to sign up for this. Removing your mask underwater and then replacing and clearing it I had done a couple times now and although didn't like it was alright with. But removing my mask, swimming 15 meters under water, then replacing and clearing was almost a bit to much. While swimming I had to focus so hard not to breath in water through my nose, while the salt and the air bubbles from the regulator irritated my nose and eyes. It didn't work well and I was that close to panicking and swimming up to the surface, but kept going and although not smooth was able to retrieve and replace my mask and clear it. Wooow, I didn't like that at all.. But with all the assignments in the shallows done, it was time for the open water! Way more fun, and way less stressful. I actually had two instructors, Chris and Braulio, who was training as a dive instructor. In the afternoon I was knackered, time for a rest.
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    Every morning I started with a Baleada from a little streetside restaurant, I found that they had the cheapest and best food on the island. Very tasty! After that it was time to get the kit ready on the boat, hit the bathroom one more time and get going. Finished all the open water assignments without issues, I was now officially certified and could finally get on with the fun dives.
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    These fundives were so good, it was great to just be able to enjoy every moment underneath the surface without thinking of assignments. We dove on a small wreck, and between some coral 'walls' and even underneath the coral. Such a cool experience. Colorful fish, a stingray, a barracuda, a seahorse. Lacking a underwater camera I nicked some pictures from Google of the dive sites.
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    With the certification completed and the fundives logged I thanked the crew at Utila Dive Center because after a week I was dying to get back on the bike. So got the ferry in the afternoon and was reunited with El Rojo an hour later.
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    It was already late in the day and it made no sense to go riding. So got a room at the hostel I parked the bike. When I wanted to leave in the morning everyone was still asleep (I was the only guest). I tried some different doors, but eventually just knocked on the owners door to wake him up. Reluctantly he left the comfort of his bed and opened the gate, with a key that was on my room key haha. Keen to get out of Honduras and into Nicaragua I pressed on, stopping for lunch at a gasstation I noticed that just like El Salvador, Honduras is heavily influenced by the US. Still selling cheap baleadas though.
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    Avoiding Tegucigalpa, I followed the '112' hugging the El Salvadoran boarder. For the most part this was a completely empty four lane road in new condition. Only one little stretch was unpaved and under construction. The country might not have that good of a name, and not a lot to offer for tourists but the roads are good and really nice!
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    From La Ceiba I made it all the way to Choluteca near the border with Nicaragua. With time for an parkinglot oilchange to spare.
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  20. olderigetfasteriam

    olderigetfasteriam Long timer

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    Thanks for sharing. Easy to read and great pics. You are right about the roads, looks nicer than most interstates in the USA.
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