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South Dakota to South America, and wherever else

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by SturgisChick, Jun 24, 2014.

  1. adventurebound9517

    adventurebound9517 Long timer

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2011
    Oddometer:
    1,021
    Location:
    Lake Havasu City, AZ.
    Count me in. This adventure of yours is off to a roaring start. It's so great to hear of all the kind people in our world who jump in to help out a person in need, it says so much about human kindness that is missed when you live in a city, any city and just watch the local news. Good luck with the rest of your adventure and ride safe.
    Phillip
    #21
  2. SturgisChick

    SturgisChick Born and Raised

    Joined:
    May 26, 2012
    Oddometer:
    309
    Location:
    Black Hills, South Dakota
    So true...that city living has its trade offs for sure. Wishing you safe and happy riding too!

    Michelle
    #22
  3. SturgisChick

    SturgisChick Born and Raised

    Joined:
    May 26, 2012
    Oddometer:
    309
    Location:
    Black Hills, South Dakota
    Brian and I have been on the road now, including the down time I had to recover from a broken leg, for just over six months. We ride into Mexico from south of Yuma, AZ in early January with a guy we met at Cape Spear in Newfoundland when he was finishing his cross-Canada solo trip last September. Allan is great fun and he's been to Mexico before so I appreciate him walking this newbie through the basics.
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    The plan is to cross south into Baja and ride the length of Baja, more than 1000 miles, taking our time along the way, and then take the ferry to the mainland of Mexico and head for Copper Canyon. Allan leads us south to San Felipe for our first night on Baja. We celebrate with rooms at a cheap hotel and Margarita's which means I'm incapacitated the next day and we wind up staying here two days so i can recover. Welcome to Mexico.
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    Then we head south of San Felipe, stop in at Cow Patty's in Puertocitos and then head on to Gonzaga Bay for amazing fish tacos at Alfonsina's. The pavement ends somewhere before Gonzaga Bay and is replaced with a mixed bag of sand, soft in some places, deep in others, and gravel. There's construction going on, so we think the road is being paved at least to Gonzaga Bay if not further.
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    We carry on south after lunch and I'm a little slow going, but Allan and Brian are patient while I get used to the sand.
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    We wind up making it only as far as Coco's Corner before the sun starts to get low. Days are still short this time of year and we decide to stay here in one of Coco's famous campers and make dinner from food we have in the bikes.
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    Coco is quite the character and I'm really glad I got the chance to have a beer with his guests for the night which include us 3 and another Canadian, Lee. The next morning we set off for another 20-30 miles of gravel roads and then get back on the highway and head for Bahia de Los Angeles. We set up camp here alongside Lee for a few nights, at $5 per night including showers, wifi and water. Perfect.

    We chat about riding with Lee and enjoy some beers and incredible sunrises and sets.
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    And then we move on south. Brian and I spend several days with a fellow rider from ADV in an area south of Mulege and feel like we are at a spa. We kayak and walk along the beach, eat fresh lobster and meet great people. Then on to Loreto and then up into the hills west of there for a stopover at San Javier. The road up is incredible.
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    But there are 7 water crossings/vados on the way up and the water is slow moving this time of year (maybe it is all year?). I get through them all on the way in just fine but on the next to last one on my way out....number 13 for me...I drop the bike in the slippery green slime/algae on the road.
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    We keep moving south along the one highway in Baja and avoid the notorious "gas gap" by filling up at the places we could along the way. We stop over in Lareto and Santa Rosalia and we stay in a "love hotel" somewhere south of Concepcion. These places are great for bikers. I get the impression they are a "rent by the hour" kind of place for couples who might live with one set of parents or more, or for affairs. But whatever it is, I'm diggin' them. There's a garage so you can hide your car/girlfriend, and in our case the bikes.
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    We ride south toward La Paz and meet a new friend there for a couple of days of Couchsurfing, and our new host is a great guy. We leave for a few days to ride the loop around the southern end of Baja and stop in at Todos
    Santos and then Pescadero. We decide to beach camp and Brian rides my bike through the sand to a place he has scouted on the beach.
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    We stop at a marker showing us we are on the Tropic of ....which one is it again? Cancer.
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    We stop to camp again near Los Barriles and watch the kite surfers on the beach. We can ride about 7-8 miles up a dry river bed to a waterfall to take a shower that night but don't....silly me. And instead we have camp dinner and watch another amazing sunset.
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    Julio, our new friend in La Paz, takes us to a secluded beach near there, Playa Balandra, and it's incredible.
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    Then we load up on the ferry in the early afternoon for a 7-hour crossing to Topolobampo on the mainland of Mexico.
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    Next stop....Copper Canyon.
    #23
  4. bluestar

    bluestar sheep shagger

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2014
    Oddometer:
    26,922
    Location:
    sheep pen
    Breaking a leg is not a very good start to a trip like this. :huh Glad everything healed up and you were able to continue. I'm looking forward to the rest of your trip.
    #24
  5. Jud

    Jud Long timer

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2007
    Oddometer:
    3,931
    Location:
    Arkansas Ozarks
    Cool ride. My wife and I rode the Trans Lab the year the 3rd phase opened. You are right, alot of great people up there. Our stay in Labrador and Newfoundland was great.

    Ironically, we run roughly the same route only backwards,,,, even the run through Skyline and the BRP. Had alot of the same pics. I've even got some of the same pics from Baja which was from a different trip. Wonderful ride, keep it up, be safe and have fun. Best of wishes.:1drink
    #25
  6. SturgisChick

    SturgisChick Born and Raised

    Joined:
    May 26, 2012
    Oddometer:
    309
    Location:
    Black Hills, South Dakota
    But all in all it turned out pretty well and I'm still out here. Wishing you safe and happy riding!
    #26
  7. SturgisChick

    SturgisChick Born and Raised

    Joined:
    May 26, 2012
    Oddometer:
    309
    Location:
    Black Hills, South Dakota
    Thanks so much! Wishing you both safe and happy riding too!
    #27
  8. SturgisChick

    SturgisChick Born and Raised

    Joined:
    May 26, 2012
    Oddometer:
    309
    Location:
    Black Hills, South Dakota
    <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <o:OfficeDocumentSettings> <o:AllowPNG/> </o:OfficeDocumentSettings> </xml><![endif]--> We arrive at Topolobampo at night and stay in this small port town instead of trying to ride anywhere after dark. The next day we head north on the free road (you get two choices of highways in Mexico - libre/free roads are usually less maintained and less direct routes, or cuota/toll roads) and cross into a new state, Sonora, and start to see that each states border usually has a police or agriculture inspection checkpoint.

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    On toward Navojoa and we ride into a small town past it, Los Alamos. I’ve discovered something called Pueblo Magicos, a group of towns that the Mexico Department of Tourism has said are extra special and I agree with most of the ones we get to see along the way.
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    We carry on through Obregon and then turn north toward Yacora. Roads in Mexico are really varied. And I’m quickly learning lessons on how much slower progress is than I’m used to. You have no way of knowing how curvy, hilly, potholed, trafficked, etc. a road can be until you get there so it’s hard to know how long it will take you to get somewhere. And as we climb into the mountains I find that most towns don’t have public lodging. So after trying to find a place to stay at San Nicolas, the police send us on to the next town, Yacora.We have to ride an hour in the dark, only about 20-25 miles, but its slow because it's pitch black with curvy mountain roads. And the next morning there are more...it's beautiful.

    [​IMG][​IMG] We stop to see the falls at Basaseachic which are incredible. Brian climbs over a fence in his bike gear to take some pics, and if you look closely you can see him standing at the top of the falls which plummet more than 800 feet to the floor of the canyon.
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    On through the forested rolling and twisty hills toward Creel where we stop in town for the night.We see lots of shrines along the way for locals who have lost loved ones on these roads, and to offer prayers to keep people safe on these roads.
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    Creel is sort of like Base Camp for the Copper Canyon area and it's a little bit of a tourist trap. Lots of locals sell food and souvenirs to make their living.
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    Copper Canyon is just down the road. Well, actually it’s all around us. It’s a network of 6 canyons, each one alone is bigger than the Grand Canyon. The scope of the place is unbelievable. We ride toward Batopilas and get in about 12 of the 20-some miles until we run into heavy equipment. We had been told the road was closed from Tuesday through Saturday except after dark, and there was no way we were riding after dark. So no Batopilas Canyon for us this trip. We go to Sinforosa Canyon near Guachochi and get a great view of that branch of the canyon from above.
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    After a few days in the area, we head east across Mexico toward Hidalgo del Parral and then south as far as Durango. I feel like I’m riding in a John Wayne movie for miles and miles until we arrive at Durango.



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    Durango is a beautiful city, and like most in Mexico, has a grand plaza with a large Cathedral as its heart.
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    The famous Espinosa del Diablo, or Devil’s Backbone, is one of the most incredible rides in the world (and one of the most dangerous) according to all I’ve heard. Now we have a choice to make – ride the old road with its hairpin turns, twists, curves and traffic, or ride the new road with its 61 tunnels and 115 bridges. The new road requires a few tolls, and it’s just opened. We’d love to ride both, so we opt for the new road first and then will plan to ride back this way on the old road unless we choose another route.
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    We get to Mazatlan and stay at a small hotel near the Centro district, walking distance from the beach, the market and plenty of restaurants and street food.
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    Our friend Lee, who we met back at Coco’s Corner, is there already. We meet two round-the-world riders from Australia, Billy and Trish. We settle in for a couple of weeks of beer, moto-chats and birthdays. These people are good company, so it’s easy to linger.

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    Another Canadian, Dwight, rides in. He rode to Argentina last year and has some great stories. And a couple we met in Baja, Alex and Alyson, riding two up on a BMW from Maylaysia arrive too. With Billy and Trish's stories from riding their 7 or 8 years (or is it 10?) in Africa, Asia and all over we never run out of trail tales.


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    #28
    mileen likes this.
  9. Sleddog

    Sleddog Ridin, again:)

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,046
    Location:
    SE South Dakota
    Ha Ha! Billy & Trish will be here in a few days:clap

    They've been traveling Canada & have just crossed into Montana. We'll tell them Hi from you & show them some good old South Dakota Hospitality!:freaky

    Keep it up!
    #29
  10. Ginger Beard

    Ginger Beard Instagram @motopossum

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2008
    Oddometer:
    13,031
    Location:
    FLAT Lander


    You are a freakin' bad ass!! :freaky
    #30
  11. rtwpaul

    rtwpaul out riding... Supporter

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2011
    Oddometer:
    5,110
    Location:
    riding
    greetings from Mongolia...good to see you posting here Michelle, see you and dangerous somewhere, sometime soon...ride safe
    #31
  12. SturgisChick

    SturgisChick Born and Raised

    Joined:
    May 26, 2012
    Oddometer:
    309
    Location:
    Black Hills, South Dakota
    Please do! Have fun!
    #32
  13. SturgisChick

    SturgisChick Born and Raised

    Joined:
    May 26, 2012
    Oddometer:
    309
    Location:
    Black Hills, South Dakota
    UKBri has been keeping me posted on your travels through the States, Korea, Russia and now Mongolia. Sounds Amazing!!! Have a great time and be safe.

    M
    #33
  14. SturgisChick

    SturgisChick Born and Raised

    Joined:
    May 26, 2012
    Oddometer:
    309
    Location:
    Black Hills, South Dakota

    Thanks! Wishing you well.
    #34
  15. SturgisChick

    SturgisChick Born and Raised

    Joined:
    May 26, 2012
    Oddometer:
    309
    Location:
    Black Hills, South Dakota
    We head south from Mazatlan along the coast, headed for San Blas, where we stay one night and continue the tradition of parking bikes inside the hotel or hostel where we stay. That's common practice here, so Brian makes a ramp with a short board and rides up the curb and into the lobby.
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    Then on to Puerto Vallarta. The day we leave Mazatlan a local rider who messaged UKBri on ADVRider rode with us for part of the day and showed us the coast and all the local villages. What a great guy.
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    Definitely a tourist-y city, but hey, I wanted an umbrella drink and a couple of days on the beach.
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    We head inland and across the heart of the country bound for a town I'm excited to visit...and taste...Tequila. We start to see fields of agave miles and miles before we get to the town.
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    We visit Cuervo World and tour the Herradura Tequileria and get to see the entire process, the modern way and the old school way. I'm so impressed and really enjoy the whole area. We ride east toward Guadalajara, a beautiful city and see the Hospices Cabanas and several old Cathedrals while there. Then on to Leon, which must be the place where every single purse, pair of shoes and leather jacket is made for our planet. Wished I'd had room on the bike for some of the bargains, lol. Then on to Guanajuato with it's old silver mines and underground tunnels that are still part of the road network in this old cobblestoned city.
    [​IMG][​IMG]Over to Delores del Hidalgo and south to San Miguel de Allende, which was a beautiful city. The old colonial architecture was gorgeous.
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    Then south toward the border of Michoacan. I was a little nervous riding into the state when a motorcyclist had just disappeared there about a month before and with all the auto-defense and protests going on. But we decided just to ride into the corner and to the town of Anguangueo.
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    I wanted to visit the Monarch Butterfly Reserve at El Rosario. Monarchs come here to winter and leave again each year in early March so we made it just in time. This was one of the most incredible experiences of my life.
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    Anguangueo is up in the mountains about 60 miles west of Mexico City, and the sanctuary itself is located at over 10,000 feet. The views riding over the mountains as we made our way east were incredible.
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    We decided to skirt Mexico City and instead went north of the city on the Arco Norte and then east to Veracruz. On the way I rode by a volcano, and I think it was my first.
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    And from there south to Tuxtepec and up over the mountains on Highway 175 to Oaxaca. That highway was one of my favorites in Mexico as it traced its way along the ridgeline of the mountains.
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    The weather was ever-changing, especially as we went up and down in elevation, and some days were foggy or rainy while others we cooked.
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    And into Oaxaca....which was incredible. The city has so much character in it's lively historic area - filled with markets, cafes and cathedrals.
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    A friend of mine provided an email introduction to the former president of the Mexico BMW Association, Ruben, and we were lucky enough to meet he and his lovely wife for a drink one night.
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    A couple of days later he treated us to an unbelievable brunch followed by a visit to some historic sites, one of which was the ruins at Monte Alban.
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    We stayed at the Overlander's Oasis just east of the town in El Tule, where we visited the world's largest (around) tree. It dwarfed the church next to it.
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    This part of Mexico was all so beautiful, but it was time to keep moving. So we continue south on Highway 175 to the Pacific Ocean and stay in Puerto Angel, getting there just in time for a bite and a beer on the beach.
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    We carried on to Mazunte, just up the beach and on to Zipolite and all the beaches of this paradise. At Mazunte we visited a sea turtle sanctuary.
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    And I watched families fishing in the evening on the beach with nets.
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    At Ventanilla we took a boat tour through a mangrove swamp and saw crocodiles, loads of beautiful birds and stopped to feed some iguanas.
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    Mexico is incredible!
    #35
    roadcapDen likes this.
  16. SturgisChick

    SturgisChick Born and Raised

    Joined:
    May 26, 2012
    Oddometer:
    309
    Location:
    Black Hills, South Dakota
    After soaking up the sun and nature on the south coast we ride east, headed for the mountain town of San Cristobal de las Casas. It's a lovely place that attracts a lot of backpackers and travelers and rewards them for the journey with stunning views, good places to eat and be entertained, and good weather.
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    Local women wear hand woven and embroidered clothing and sell woolen scarves and handmade crafts on the street.
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    Brian had replaced our tires and tubes in Guadalajara a few weeks back. And when we arrive in San Cristobal and are bouncing around on the cobblestones, i get a flat rear tire. He takes it apart to fix it and find my new tube is disintegrating. It's folded over on itself and is creasing and has melted a hole in one of the creases. We've ridden through some heat, but they shouldn't be doing this, and we have survived the initiation of crappy tubes. His hands are black (way more than the norm for working on a tire) with the rubber that is crumbling off this tube. So I decide to order some name brand tubes from home and send them to Belize with a friend who is coming to meet us in a few weeks. I hope we can make it til then.
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    From there we head through the hills toward Palenque. On the way we hope to stop at Agua Azul or one of the other crystal clear waterfalls here for a day of swimming. But it's slow riding with the traffic and twisty roads in places. And we hit a road block near Ocosingo that locals have set up in protest of something. Brian tries to filter to the front of the stopped traffic and a truck pulls out and bumps him. Why does this remind me of LA drivers? But the truck can only get so far before he won't fit and we ride up to the crowd of people at the front. They see we are tourists and move the boards with nails pointing up through them so we can pass. We make it to Palenque and set up camp and enjoy a night with 4 Swiss friends from the road. The next morning we are awakened by Howler monkeys, who are aptly named, with the 7:15 performance of eerily loud grunting and howling from the trees above.
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    And since we are up we might as well head to the ruins before it gets painfully hot. This part of Mexico is lush and humid and the heat seems even more intense with all the humidity. But it makes Palenque one of my favorite ruins sites. Straight out of an Indiana Jones movie.
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    We spend a full day at the ruins and another night in the campground before heading out and north toward the west side of the Yucatan. The day we ride up the midlands and coast toward Campeche is hot and dry and the wind is so strong that it makes me think of riding inside a hair dryer. Campeche is an old colonial Mexican city that was once entirely enclosed in a huge fortress to guard it from raiding pirates who sailed the Caribbean. Inside the old city walls the pastel arcades of houses and shops are lovely, and inside their central courtyards is even lovelier.
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    We carry on up the coast to Merida and then across to the east side and stop along the way to visit Chichen Itza. It's incredible.
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    We start to see lots of cenotes, the underground caves you can swim or dive in, and the cool water and shade sound wonderful in this heat. We ride east and are looking forward to meeting some dear friends, Ken and Carol Duval, who have graciously agreed to let us couch surf for a few days. They are in the Yucatan awaiting their ride on the Stahlratte to Cuba with their bike for a few weeks. Sounds incredible. And somewhere near Puerto Aventuras we see the turquoise waters of the east side of Mexico.
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    One morning we wake to find a note left on our bikes from a local rider who is part owner of a restaurant down the street, Dan, and he has invited us to stop by and have a beer. He and his wife, Pamela, are incredible and are interested in doing some long-term travel on his bike. Simon and Lisa Thomas are here in the area as well and it's wonderful to get to see them again. And there are a few faces that are new to me, Kevin, Kathy, and Pete. I can't believe how many riders there are in this part of the world right now! We really enjoy the time with these friends, old and new.
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    Dan and Pamela show us some ruins not far from where we are staying one morning before we head south and the view is beautiful. I'd love to stay longer, if only for the good company, but it's getting warm and we have other places to get to. My best friend is flying into Belize in a week and bringing us parts so we need to head south. Off to Chetumal and the southern border. Mexico you have been incredible!
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    #36
  17. Jud

    Jud Long timer

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2007
    Oddometer:
    3,931
    Location:
    Arkansas Ozarks
    Which this forum had a "like it" tab. Anyway, "like it".:D
    #37
  18. Sleddog

    Sleddog Ridin, again:)

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,046
    Location:
    SE South Dakota
    Top of the page....."Rate Thread"
    #38
  19. SturgisChick

    SturgisChick Born and Raised

    Joined:
    May 26, 2012
    Oddometer:
    309
    Location:
    Black Hills, South Dakota

    Wishing you both well!
    #39
  20. SturgisChick

    SturgisChick Born and Raised

    Joined:
    May 26, 2012
    Oddometer:
    309
    Location:
    Black Hills, South Dakota
    We ride for the border to leave Mexico exactly 3 months after riding into it in the opposite corner of the country. We came to Chetumal to stay the night and head for the Belize border in the morning.
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    When we crossed into Mexico I didn't have to do anything to leave my own country, the USA. I did have to do two things to get into Mexico - get processed through Immigration and get my bike processed through the Aduana (Customs).

    In order to leave Mexico (and from now on this is how it works at all the borders we cross) we have to manage a 4-step process: 1. Check out of the country we are leaving with Immigration, 2. Check the bike out of the country we are leaving with Aduana, 3. Check into the new country via Immigration, and 4. Check the bike into the new country with the Aduana.

    We get to the Mexican Immigration/Migracion office and check out there.
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    We each had to pay a deposit on our bikes to the Aduana as a sort of deposit of the customs tax we would pay if we decided to sell our bike when we are in Mexico. As long as we haven't done that, we get our money back, but we have to ask for it and provide the paperwork from when we paid it. I'd like my $400 back, so I make sure to stop at the Aduana too.
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    After we are out of Mexico we are officially in No Man's Land and ride off down the road, a mile or two, to the Belize offices.
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    We have to have the bikes fumigated (and of course you have to pay for that) for pests and then we go to the Belize Migracion and Aduana.
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    Belize doesn't require a deposit like Mexico did, but they do require we buy insurance for the bikes from the national insurance office.
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    We ride through the country on its main highways, and there are only a few so it's pretty easy. We've got friends flying into Belize to meet us and spend a few relaxing days at the beach. It's so exciting to see my best friend after having spent more than 8 months on the road.
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    We sign up for a trip to a reef off the coast to snorkel and to hopefully seem some whale sharks...but no luck.
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    She's bringing bike parts too, and some new inner tubes to replace the cheepies we bought in Guadalajara. Poor Brian has to remove the tires to install them, but it gives us both some piece of mind that the defective/dry-rotting tubes won't be all that stands between us and a potential wreck. On our way to meet our friends we have to air up the old tubes and hope they last us the next 125 miles in the heat - 105 degrees.
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    When we leave the beach we ride on the Hummingbird Highway across the width of Belize. We pass several banana plantations along the way and see bunches of bananas already in bags to protect them while they grow and get ready to market.
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    It's a beautiful road to ride, you just have to watch out for the traffic on the single-lane bridges.
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    We spend Easter weekend in San Ignacio on the western edge of the country. I spend Saturday morning at the market buying veggies to use at camp when cooking our meals.
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    There is an annual bicycle road race, which is reportedly the oldest race in the western hemisphere. It's great to see the locals come out and celebrate. I can't imagine riding more than 100 miles in this heat today.
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    While in San Ignacio we get the chance to meet a friend of a friend. Alan owns the Black Pearl Harley-Davidson dealership here and he and a bunch of the gang have invited us for for drinks and conch ceviche down by the river.

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    And afterwards we head over to a super nice's couples house for conch soup which is incredible!
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    The next day they have a bbq and we get to enjoy meeting some incredibly fun and generous people.
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    Not to mention more of that yummy cooking....
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    Belize has been so beautiful, mostly for the people we get to spend time with while we are there.
    #40