Ves ATW

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Veselko, Nov 9, 2018.

  1. Veselko

    Veselko Been here awhile Supporter

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    The road to Zunil, and Fuentes Georginas hotsprings. About 40 minutes southeast of Quatzeltanengo. Past Zunil as the 1.5 lane road winds into the mountains, a boatload of agriculture going on. There's a water source at the top of the mountain, so the farmers get gravity fed water at no cost. The mountainside is a patchwork of fields used to grow vegetables, but it's all manual labor, too steep for machines.

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    Did this middle-aged woman ride her motorcycle to the field?
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    And you get near the top into the hotsprings, the initial view from there...
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    Some big vegetation, growing all along the cliffs surrounding the place...
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    There's three main pools at the place, the big one to the right is the warmest one. The water comes out of the rocks off to the far right. Probably a good 115 degrees F on the rock face.
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    Few hours into it some fog rolled in... wow... hotspring in the clouds...

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    On the way out bought some corn and watchamacallits from this nice lady, fanning a wood fire to cook the food. The watchamacallits were kind of like tamales but without any corn wrapping. Just corn paste and some kind of leaves in them... They were good!
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    Yup, different world...

    Also met and conversed with some interesting people. Some locals and one guy who's been traveling the world since he was 17. Asia, Africa, US, etc.. a lot of it on motorcycle. Took time off to have a family, now he's been traveling for 10 years straight. We'll be looking him up when we get to Europe, Africa, or India. Offered to let us stay in his house in France if we come there. You meet the nicest people!
  2. Veselko

    Veselko Been here awhile Supporter

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  3. roadcapDen

    roadcapDen Ass, Grass or Gas, no free rides.

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    Right!

    Enjoying your travails, wish l was still in El Salvador to welcome you!
    Take the coastal route, good scenery and lots of tunnels but watch out for missing man (person) hole covers!
    I missed one by inches at 80kph riding on a 4 lane!
    Reccomendations if you want as a great month was had again this year on my battle scooter...
  4. Veselko

    Veselko Been here awhile Supporter

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    We'll be on the road for a while, so who knows, another time.
    Thanks for the heads up!
    You enjoy yourself too.
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  5. Veselko

    Veselko Been here awhile Supporter

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    Today, dropped the bike off at the shop and took the car to find Vulcan Almolonga, only a couple miles out of town. Took the road as far as we could go/fit, and hiked from there. The big cloud covered mountain in the distance is Vulacan Santa Maria. And we were happy to find that all the Truffula trees were not chopped down (See Dr. Seuss for explanation). We took the less traveled paths up the side... At one point I didn't want to go on any more, then honey didn't want to go on, then we ran out of path and ended up in the weeds, so turned around. Made it pretty close to the top!

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    The first bit was just hiking through someones apparent farm field.
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    A Truffula tree... and Vulcan Santa Maria...
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    Literally off in the weeds...
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    Picked the bike up after the hike, new rear skin, new clutch, fresh oil, koodos to the guys at Agencia Suzuki in Quetzaltenango!

    That's it for Quetzaltenango! Moving on to Santiago Atitlan, on the southern shore of Lago Atitlan, where we hope to hit another Volcano.

    Also, starting to make arrangements to get from Panama to Colombia in May. Looks like Stahlratte is the outfit to go with, bike and the two of us. Still need to figure out the car separately.
  6. Veselko

    Veselko Been here awhile Supporter

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  7. roadcapDen

    roadcapDen Ass, Grass or Gas, no free rides.

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    Maybe share a container for the car and bike together?
  8. Veselko

    Veselko Been here awhile Supporter

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    I'd love to, but I've searched and can't find how that's done. Everything says it's a nightmare to do the paperwork yourself, agents, and all that. And I can't find a company who does that. I know it's been done. But also, then I have to buy plane tickets, with Stahrlette we go with the bike. Can you point me somewhere where I find people that do that?
  9. roadcapDen

    roadcapDen Ass, Grass or Gas, no free rides.

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  10. Veselko

    Veselko Been here awhile Supporter

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    Ok, I'll investigate some more... but I don't like how it starts out... pain in the ass and you need a boatload of patience... You're right, the fact that we'd spend a day in San Blass on the way was a plus for the schooner idea.

    Ok, today, well, it didn't start out good. Just as we were doing the last minute packing to move on, I looked at my newly installed rear tire and noticed that the bead line was bulging in one spot, and on the other side of the tire you couldn't even see the line, it was under the rim... WTF... Honey! I have to go back to Suzuki! So, went back, showed them the tire wasn't mounted right, so they proceed to try and fix it. Their idea was to deflate the tire and inflate it, while it was still on the bike... Then the boss comes over and asks about the fact that it's a Shinko tire, and wants to say the tire is bad. After a couple tries, I tell them you need remove the tire to break the bead on both sides and then reinflate it to seat it right. They agree, do it, and it looks much better. Aside from the fact that they used grease to mount the tire... WTF2... so now there's grease all on the sides and even on the tread area. I ask them if they have brake cleaner to clean off the grease, he comes out with a can of brake fluid... WTF3... NO! I get a can out of my pannier, and proceed to clean the grease off the tire. Two hours later, it's ready to go. The sales guy says the manager wants me to pay for the mounting... WTF4... No! The tire wasn't installed right, why should I have to pay you for doing it right. And it's still not right because you used grease! Not happening. I tell the guy I'm leaving and get on my bike and go.

    Ok, fine, we're on the road, it's all going good. On the way to Santiago Atitlan on the south side of the lake. I suggested we take the East side of the lake. It was further, but the roads were better. Honey says let's do the shorter route, which has two miles of a dust and rock road. Well, ok. And by the way, except for that two mile stretch and another one mile of dust and rock, this is a really nice road. Same one I took last year. The view when you crest into the Lake Atitlan valley is just breathtaking, brought tears to my eyes.

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    This is just a little past San Pedro La Laguna, there the trailhead starts for Volcan San Pedro.
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    Had another 40 minutes to go... 12 miles, 40 minutes... that two miles of dust and rock really slows you down. I thought the road was bad last year... holy crap... Rocks and boulders sticking up, big dips, inches of dust, wavy sections. I stopped on a flat spot to snap a couple.

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    Here's honey bringing up the rear!

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    I have to say, she's becoming quite the driver. She handled the worst stuff really well. Knew how to pick her line, took it slow. Me, I worked up a serious sweat. Both ends of the bike sliding in the dust and bouncing over the rocks. Came to one spot where a car was stuck in the road, didn't have four wheel drive, the front wheel was dug into the dust. Luckily just enough room for honey's car to get by.

    And we made it to town, then one of the roads appeared to be blocked, so we tried to find another way around. Wow, I've never seen roads that narrow. Some of the streets looked more like hallways in your house. I'm like, is the car even going to fit. At one point she's coming down a hill, and another car is going up, and there's now way. Then cars and tuk-tuks start piling up. They worked it out. But after 15 minutes of going down these narrow streets we end up back where we started...

    We found our place for the night.

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    I look down at my rear tire is half flat, pressure is down to 20 psi. WTF5... so either it got a puncture going over the sharp rocks on that gravel road, or, more likely, Suzuki screwed it up, pinched the tube and put a slow leak in it. I pumped it up, and we'll see what it looks like tomorrow morning. I'm betting it will be flat. I contacted that Suzuki dealer in Quetzaltenango, talked to my sales guy, he talks to the boss. Boss says, the mechanic did his job, they're not going to do anything to replace my tube, remount or anything. I plan on calling Suzuki Corporate tomorrow and see if they will help me in the next town. In the mean time, I'll have to patch it... AND clean the grease of the tire while I'm at it...

    The incompetence just pissed me off, but I suppose if this is the worst thing that happens on this trip, I'll be ok. I just hope they knew what they were doing when they installed the new clutch plates, and didn't screw that up. Knock on wood it feels good so far.

    But, not a bad view from the back yard of the the place we're staying at! Tomorrow I'll get my tire sorted, hopefully, relax for the rest of the day and take a walk around town, and then probably go climb that Volcano the next day.

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  11. Veselko

    Veselko Been here awhile Supporter

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    So, I pumped up the rear tire last night, this morning it was down 10 psi. So, took it off. Turns out that they didn't use the new inner tube I gave them. The tube in there was old and the base of the valve stem was rusty. So, it was either my old one, or some other old one. And sure enough I found a small hole and witness marks showing that the tube had been pinched during installation. So, they basically stole from me, lied, and endangered me. All I know for sure is that they changed my oil because it's clear in the window. The manager at the place basically says tough luck. I'm contacting Suzuki Corp tomorrow and telling them what happened, to see what they can do for me. You would think that Corp would have a better handle on what their people are doing and that they would stand by their customers. Guess we'll see.
  12. SOLOKLR

    SOLOKLR Back to work

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    Man, that sucks! Guess it still hold true, if you want something done right, you gotta do it yourself. On the bright side, you aren't stranded, you have beaches, and your girl by your side. Take a breath, have a beer, and ride on!
  13. Veselko

    Veselko Been here awhile Supporter

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    Yeah, I'm getting over it. It's a hard pill to swallow. But you're right...

    Ok, today, other than sending an email to Suzuki headquarters for Guatemala, went out, took a walk through town, looked for a trailhead (going hiking tomorrow), and generally was awed by how amazing Santiago Atitlan is...

    Oh, and we got schooled on how to make tortillas. The other day we bought some corn kernels at the market. The hosts cooked them for us in ash and lime water, cause that's how it's done (it helps to break down the corn and allows the body to digest and get more nutrients out of it) then honey took them to the grinding place a couple doors down, and had them ground into masa (kind of corn paste). You mix with some water, work it, and you have dough for tortillas. Host walked in and saw us working, he takes the pan away and comes back with it coated white. Lime paste. You warm that up and it becomes sort of a non-stick coating. Then his wife came in saw how we were abusing the masa, making thick oddly shaped tortillas, takes some masa, rolls it into a ball, and starts slapping it between her hands. I should have taken a slow motion video. Her hands are moving fast, and the dough is sort of hovering between them. At the same time she's turning it and slapping it, and holding it with the fingers of her one hand, and it just becomes round and thin. We asked her to slow down, so we could understand the action, but she can't, it's a dynamic process that only works at speed. Talk about art and skill.

    Anyway, down by the shore...
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    This is the first street off the shore, basically gardens on both sides, everything from cabbage to bananas...

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    Other streets around town... yeah, some are really narrow!
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    This is actually at Hotel Tiosh Abaj. Rooms are $88/night... not that we're staying there... but they let us walk around the grounds, hoping to get our business some other day. It's huge. Even has a helipad for those quick helicopter trips from Guatemala City! Someone has money...

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    They have a fish shaped pool, with a net... and a huge restaurant right next to it.

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    Water bar and restaurant too... not in use...
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    Like mother like daughter... All the women wear traditional wraparound skirts, belt, and blouse... though people speak Spanish, they speak a dialect of Mayan to each other...
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    Libertat! It's alive!... No thanks to that Suzuki dealer...
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    Back at our place... it has charm... $13/night! Hostel Santiaguito...
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    A view point a few miles out of town... The views are just crazy...
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    Amazing...
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  14. Veselko

    Veselko Been here awhile Supporter

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    Yesterday, went Volcano hiking... Vulcan Toliman. We were debating whether to get a guide or not. We went to see if we could find the trails ourselves. We found Vulcan Atitlan, but not Toliman. Finally decided it would be a good idea. The trail starts at the edge of town, but it splits multiple times while going up, and nothing is marked... So, our host recommended a certified tour guide, we bit the bullet, and negotiated down to $39 to guide us up Toliman... Some guys were charging twice that.

    8:00 am we started with a tuk-tuk ride to the edge of town.
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    And not a few hundred feed into the hike you see this; garbage everywhere. Apparently this is how people avoid paying to take the trash to the dump. And not only is it in the beginning, but some people drag bags of garbage up the mountain just to dump it...
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    The next big part of the hike is basically corn fields. Most of the volcano is privately owned by farmers, and they literally walk thousands of feed up just to tend to corn, coffee, and other crops. So, you're climbing while going through corn fields. No water sources up there, so the corn is pretty short until rainy season comes and then it shoots up.

    What isn't corn fields is pretty thick and hard to see through.
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    The other thing that the farmers do is go up the mountain, chop wood and bring it back down. These guys were going up and down the hills at twice our rate, with huge packs of wood on their backs. Some of they were literally jogging... running the volcano with a pack of wood on their back... just crazy. While I was huffing and puffing.
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    Our guide would occasionally talk to some of the farmers in their native language. Everyone was real friendly and I think as interested in us as we were in them.
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    The views are pretty nice while in the fields
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    But soon you're in the weed... and there's lot of these things... makeshift stairs... I have no idea how many of these there are, but as you get to the top there's more and more and it gets steeper.
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    Some interesting foliage along the way... and lots of stairs!
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    And the coffee...
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    And and over five hours later, and about half hour from the top, I was done. My rest times started far exceeding my hike times, my legs were barely cooperating, so I sat my ass down and had lunch. Honey and the guide continued and made it to the top, but it was all cloudy so nothing to see. Bummer. I made another attempt; found my self a tree branch to use as a staff to try and help the legs along. Made it a bit further, but that's all she wrote.

    By the time we got down, three hours later, I was just beat. I have some knew issues, especially coming down hill, so I was walking sideways over the steps and boulders to minimize the pain. Slow and no fun.

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    Feeling a bit better today.

    The good news is I called my credit card company to contest my bill from that worthless Suzuki shop and the credit card company will credit me. I may have to supply photos, and copies of the WhatsApp conversation I was having with the sales guy there, etc... We'll see if it comes to that. In the meantime we've just reached our destination for a couple nights. There's a few bike shops around here, I'll see if I can find one that will sell me an inner tube and maybe install it (WHILE I WATCH!). If not, I'll have to install it myself. The clutch, I'm guessing they didn't replace, so now i'm just babying it until i can get somewhere to look at it and see if the plates are new or not.
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  15. Veselko

    Veselko Been here awhile Supporter

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    Yesterday, the road to Antigua Guatemala / Jocotenango.
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    Parting shots of the Lake Atitlan area going East.
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    In the picture below, you see the two people walking on the road? That's an older guy carrying a huge load of wood on his back and a lady with a baby. How far they had to go I don't know. But I could carry that load about 50 ft... These people and their physical ability are just amazing.

    Another thing about this picture... I'm not wearing gloves.. Doh!... We were miles away before I realized it... @#%#$#^#$ Brand new gloves...
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    Yeah, the chicken buses... they're everywhere...
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    After a while, we got split up at a fork. My GPS is saying right, hers left. We finally settled on left. Nice twisty road either way, but we took what seemed like the faster route. It ended up having a bridge out, but no big deal, maybe a foot of water. I guess the water bottle on the stick is the warning sign.
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    We got split up again when I stayed on a main highway that wasn't on the map and honey took an exit. The GPS took her to what should have been two roads to get into the neighborhood we had to go to, but there were no roads. We ended up in the same spot passing each other up. Then some more fire drills trying to find the place. The actual location was spot on but the GPS routing was just awful... First world problems!

    Finally found it. The address was wrong... I'm almost getting used to it. But at the end of the day when you're ready to just settle down, it can be really annoying. I've learned never to trust the initial location given, I always ask, are these the correct directions to your house, I usually get something different. In this case we would have been across town. Whine! Whine! Whine!

    Anyway, when the gates parted and we pulled in... had to put some grease on the side of the car to get in the gate... it was a very nice place. The host couple is very friendly and helpful. And there's some kind of tropical birds squawk in the trees. Nice. $13/night. Can't beat that for full accommodations.

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    Made a friend soon as we got there.
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    The view could use a little cleaning up.
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    We liked it so much we stayed another night. Today we did some running around. Host gave me a tip on a place called Motodo, actually two locations about two blocks apart. One sells parts and accessories, and the other does mechanical work and sells motos. Bought a new inner tube there and had them install it. Tube about $7 and install $2.60...riding on a new unpinched tube... priceless... I gave the kid a tip, cause he did a really nice job. Really conscientious... But get this, they don't balance tires. I asked them if I could buy weights, he says I'd have to go to Guatemala City. So, balanced it myself by pulling the sticky back weights off and reusing them. Put the tire on the axle, put the chain tension adjusters on, put that on the two panniers about 6" apart and spin. Works like a charm.

    I had stuffed a 21" tube in there the previous day because, that's all I had and the crap old one Suzuki put in and pinched was no good. Figured I could just use my 21" again, but the day of riding on it ruined it. The spot in the tube where it was crunched up, it was rubbing together and actually started cracking. Would not have lasted much longer, but got me though the day. It was good to have that sorted out.
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  16. Veselko

    Veselko Been here awhile Supporter

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    Yesterday we also spent some time in the park talking to some folks trying to do good. They pull dogs off the street and find new homes for them in other countries.
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    Well, today was quite the day. First we said goodbye to our hosts in Jocotenango and made our way to Culiapa, one hour from the El Salvador border.
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    In the first hour we went 14 miles... narrow twisting road full of slow trucks... massive downhill... I was in first gear and couldn't engine brake because we were going too slow. Next thing I know my front break is toast. It overheated and I had zero break pressure. In 30+ years or riding I've never had a brake fade. Rear was still working so pulled over into the first side street and let my break cool off, when the pressure came back we went on our way... first stop.. buy some break fluid to bleed the fried stuff off.

    We pulled up in Caliapa for the night and asked around. Colonial Hotel, $22/night... it will do... cause we were just fried from the traffic... I thought the hotel was brand new, it does look new, and most of the rooms are not completed yet, but actually it's three years old. Nice place though. Up on the hill.

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    Got ourselves situated, made some reservations at a place in El Salvador. Couple minutes later I get a message from the place... just want to let you know, the country is on lockdown... only citizens and residents can enter El Salvador. They have no Corona Virus there, but apparently Guatemala, Honduras do, and Panama had their first deaths. The sky is falling!!! I've been following the news and it's just ridiculous. 200+people a day die because of medical errors, I don't see anyone shutting down the hospitals...

    Anyway, not sure what we'll do. Going to stay here an extra day and think it through. I already put a deposit down on getting from Panama to Colombia, so most likely we'll go through Honduras (they're just screening people) to continue and and we'll have to miss El Salvador. Or maybe we'll just stay in Guatemala...
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  17. Veselko

    Veselko Been here awhile Supporter

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    Bled my brakes this morning. Yeah, the fluid was a bit on the dark side. The brakes feel much better. And, the engine is running really nice; smoother... Maybe I got some good gas!

    Decided to move on. We're now near Aqua Blanca. Nothing too interesting along the way. Mostly narrow two lane of varying quality.[​IMG]

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    An hour from the El Salvador border, but can't go there! So close, yet so far away. Instead, going to head for the first border crossing into Honduras. Their borders are still open.

    We kind of lucked out in Aqua Blanca, arrived here with no advance plan and found a decent hotel/bar/ah... disco, apparently... They've been blasting music, I mean blasting!, all day, flashing lights, DJ, dance floor... and four pools! We came for the pools... $19/night.

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    Three of the pools below. The fourth one is bigger than all three of these put together. Cold water felt really good after the heat of the ride.

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    So, apparently Guatemala has it's first case of Corona Virus. As we're sitting near the lobby/restaurant we hear a song... about Corona Virus... they played it a bunch of times. Apparently there's a lot of that going on around the world; people are writing and singing songs about the Virus. I read that Italians are hanging out their windows singing into the streets.

    Anyway, after taking a swim, honey and I are sitting in a swing, sun shining, breeze blowing, Virus song playing... Yup, that's life. Now we really don't know where we'll end up. And we don't care. Plans are flexible, life is good... There's a volcano/lake about 10 minutes from here, so tomorrow we'll check it out before we head for the border...
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  18. RedDogAlberta

    RedDogAlberta High Plains Drifter

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    Virus song playing. Life is good. :D
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  19. Veselko

    Veselko Been here awhile Supporter

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    Well, made it to Honduras. They're doing health screenings at the border, but no big deal. Still spent 2.5 hours getting through the process. They wouldn't let us in unless we gave them an address where we're going. So picked some hotel in summer town as few hours away and they were happy.

    It's kind of a funny arrangement. You pass the Guatemala border, there's guards there, but the building is empty. Once you get over the border, on the Honduras side, both migraine and aduanas are in the same building, windows right next to each other. Guatemala stamps us out, hands the passport over the divider for Honduras to stamp us in. The TIP's took a while cause they decided to train new people with our paperwork.

    But, on our way!
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    Soon as these guys get cleared!
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  20. Veselko

    Veselko Been here awhile Supporter

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    This hotel has fallen a bit short...

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    To flush the toilet you fill a bucket in the shower
    The shower is not really a shower, it's a streamer... single stream model...
    More hot water comes out of the lever than the streamer...
    The sink leaks, and you have to bend down to open the valve on the wall, the one on the sink doesn't work..
    My feet would probably stay cleaner on a dirt road...
    There's more dust on the TV than my motorcycle...

    That's what you get rolling into town late and trying to find someplace...
    :jack
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