Wedding Vows in Action: Riding South from Seattle

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by ADVegan, Nov 14, 2018.

  1. roadcapDen

    roadcapDen Ass, Grass or Gas, no free rides.

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    Great RR!
    You're gonna love El Salvador, just got back from a month there, check La Tortuga Verde near El Cuco.

    Did I miss the "Wedding Vows in Action" part?:photog
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  2. fasttortoise

    fasttortoise Smartest Idiot Here

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    Reread first post
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  3. Heli-Pilot

    Heli-Pilot Adventurer

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    Excellent ride report, thank you for sharing your adventure! When are we going to get a report from the lovely, Rachel's perspective?
    I am inspired by your journey and hope to ride from my central Oregon home to South America on day. God bless and safe travels you two!
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  4. XTWalt

    XTWalt Been here awhile

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    This is incredible - riding through foreign countries, cartel territory, crazy chicken buses, South American city traffic, on a motorcycle with three times the horsepower needed. And you tweak your knee in yoga class. Damn.
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  5. ADVegan

    ADVegan Been here awhile

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    Haha for real! I realize now I should have embellishes that story a little more..
  6. ADVegan

    ADVegan Been here awhile

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    Great question, we do have a separate blog and prolific Instagram page, where Rachel is more than half contribution. But I don't think I'm supposed to advertise those here.

    The Instagram hardly has any motorcycle photos in it anyway! We're upping our "influencer" look. You know for synergies with a broader marketplace. Next quarter we expect trends to continue in an upward trajectory towards profitability, but we are prepared to weather more negative growth in the financial sectors. I'm in charge of corporate jargon.
  7. ADVegan

    ADVegan Been here awhile

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    Wow what a week! I've been riding a lot so I've been pretty tired (and I think also dehydrated) and not felt like writing.

    This has been a great opportunity to see what it would have been like if I'd set out on this trip by myself. Bottom line, I would have been down to Tierra del Fuego by now and not had half the fun or experiences I'm having now. I just get seduced by the feeling of "productivity" that I get putting down kilometers. Then I overdo it, need a complete rest day where I don't do anything. Then I repeat. Granted, I had a destination and a target date this week, but I know if Rachel was at home I'd feel like hurrying a lot more than we have together.

    From Guatemala City I rode to the El Salvador border. El Salvador was a country that had come up from some people before the trip as one they thought was too danger to even consider entering. I'd read other ride reports and decided it was worth checking out for myself. There have been times we've heeded those warnings but usually we lend more credence to recent reports from people who have been through areas themselves. The border crossing was very straight forward on CA-8. Very small, and hard to mess up. On the El Salvador side an official woman showed me where I needed to go, asked me my name and after I was done she waved me over saying "Yosh! Yosh!" And I needed to get one more stamp from her. Best border crossing yet and a good intro to El Salvador. IMG_20190320_105659.jpeg

    I rode to the beach town of El Tunco and decided to take the coastal rode in. It added an hour, but it looked so squiggly on the map and right on the water.
    Screenshot_20190320-154358_2.jpeg

    I wasn't disappointed! Also included some long unlit tunnels that were spooky, especially when my headlight picked up a guy walking down the left side of one. I got to El Tunco and found a small backpacker/surf tourism zone and got a cheap room with AC. The heat had really picked up to mid 90s and I realized I was pretty dehydrated from the 5 1/2 hr ride. Got a coconut and a smoothie, watched an epic sunset and went to bed. The beach was rocky in town but there was a sand beach nearby and I watched some surfers ride some of the longest waves I think I've ever seen. Not giant waves, just really long trips into shore.
    IMG_20190320_165233.jpeg

    IMG_20190320_175907.jpeg


    As a solo traveler I find myself taking a lot more photos of the bike in front of stuff. Here I rode down the wrong road and it ran out and became the beach.
    IMG_20190320_142757.jpeg

    The next morning I got up early and rode to El Cuco another beach town at the East end of the country. It was 92° by the time I left at 9. I had read a lot about Tortuga Verde as a hotel option and I was on my way down the road to it but for some reason I pulled into Azul Surf hotel about a mile early and didn't end up leaving. El Cuco was a gorgeous beach, great sand as far as I could see in both directions, and absolutely nobody there. I was the only one staying at the hotel. I walked down the beach and there were several groups of locals playing beach soccer and taking selfies closer to town. I chatted with a few and when I told them people in the States told me El Salvador was dangerous they looked at me curiously and laughed. I don't like blanket statements that an entire country is dangerous, and saying a whole country is entirely safe is probably equally miseading- but my experiences in El Salvador were very positive and the people were as nice or nicer than in any other country I've been to.

    From El Cuco I planned my "misery day". I know I have a slightly masochist streak, there's just something I like about grinding it out. I never enjoy actually doing it, but I do tend to set myself up for misery more often than I would expect. I planned to ride 5 1/2 hours to Leon Nicaragua and cross both the two borders I'd heard were the hardest on a 105° day. Why not? Rachel's not here I gotta get my ADV misery!

    I left just after 6am and made it to the first border by 7:30. I'd read some outdate info that this crossing was free, and I only had $20US (official currency in El Sal is USD, felt really weird!) One of the helpers told me I needed $35 to enter Honduras and there was no ATM after the El Salvador border. I didn't believe him, bur I looked it up on my phone and saw he was right as of last year or something. I'd just cancelled the bike paperwork so we had to jump in a Tuk Tuk to drive a few miles back to the closest ATM. I checked out fairly easily and crossed the bridge to enter Honduras. He was right there was no ATM that I could see, and there was $35 fee. He and his buddy helped me out a lot but at the end they said they had provided some bribes so I didn't have to get inspected and I know I paid them a lot more than I "should" have. Whole process took a about 2hrs, would have been a lot faster if I'd had cash.

    I've read a lot of reports from tougher travellers and they always say "you don't have to pay the border helpers, you can do it yourself etc etc". That's true, but man- these borders are confusing you need to go to 8 separate windows in separate buildings, get receipts, get copies of receipts, pass go, and return to window 3 at the end of it all. It costs $5 to breeze through them with help, and you simultaneously help a guy feed his family.. I say if youre planning your trip, save up one extra day and use that money to pay the all the border helpers your whole way down! And that's coming from a self proclaimed masochist!
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  8. ADVegan

    ADVegan Been here awhile

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    Haha thanks I appreciate it!
  9. Cal

    Cal Long timer

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    Border helpers can be helpful for sure but try to make a deal before hand. The most I paid was 5.00 to enter Honduras and that was money well spent as the border window was closed for lunch but the helper knew where the man with the stamp was and he took me there to get stamped in.
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  10. LateToTheGame

    LateToTheGame Been here awhile Supporter

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    Taken out by a yoga class. Perfect. At least you're showing the skills on the bike, where it really counts!

    How's riding solo going? 100 lb of passenger off the bike has to improve the management. That's gotta count for something..

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  11. ADVegan

    ADVegan Been here awhile

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    Yea, she also took the giant pelican off the back which I realized was freaking heavy. The bike seems to like it, feels like it's got some more pep in it's step. I can't tell how much is the missing weight vs just me not having my wife watching over my shoulder...
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  12. pitbull

    pitbull Long timer

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    I'm really enjoying your RR, your writing style and of course the photos are really great. Thanks for taking the time to post.
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  13. Aces 6

    Aces 6 Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, Over

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    "...cross both the two borders I'd heard were the hardest on a 105° day. Why not? Rachel's not here I gotta get my ADV misery!"
    :lol3:rofl
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  14. ADVegan

    ADVegan Been here awhile

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    Well, I wrote that last post from Liberia Costa Rica. Then I wrote another that covered my Nicaragua border crossing but I didn't post it up because I wanted to include a video I had taken.

    I was to meet Rachel that night in San Jose, so I packed up and drove down the block to get gas. Somewhere at the gas station- between the pumps and walking around the corner to use the ATM I dropped my phone. I noticed before I left the gas station, and even went upstairs with the boss and reviewed the security footage but we couldn't see where it had happened. I spent an hour looking around but it was gone. Damn!

    I'll need to rewrite the posts and catch up because we are moving quickly!
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  15. ADVegan

    ADVegan Been here awhile

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    As I rode into Honduras the weather got hotter and drier and it was quickly in triple digits. I sped through the barren landscape averaging about twice the posted speed limit and reached the Honduras exit just before noon. A man dressed as a cowboy introduced himself as Daniel and said he could help get me through before they closed for lunch. I looked him in the eye and said “Daniel, are you a good guy?” And he spread his arms wide and smiled big and said “I try!”. I said “Me too. Let’s do it!”. There were definitely long lines and I definitely didn’t wait in any of them. I barely felt bad about it.


    Next I was on to enter Nicaragua with Daniel’s buddy. He was a different character and I realized he was seeing dollar signs. With the heat and both borders that day I’d kind of lost track at how much money I’d started with, spent on official fees, and spent on helpers etc. these borders felt like going through a washing machine and coming out the other side sweatier and dirtier. I was pretty much just trying to maintain possession of my tank bag because it had the important stuff in it. After all was said and done, the helper said he’d tipped two people $20usd each, plus needed his tip. This was outrageous but I was too tired for outrage. I was also completely out of money and told him so. He said no problem, we can go to the atm together. When I asked where it was he said 70km away! It becomes clear that he wants to jump on the back of the motorcycle and ride with me to the atm. At this point I was like, you know what? Sure, hop on it’ll be funny. So he’s got a motorcycle helmet all of a sudden, and I’m getting my final paperwork checked over. I told him to get on and he told me to pull over after the guard shack and in that moment I saw my opportunity. I split two lines of semi trucks and rolled on the throttle and left the helper behind. I felt a little bad about it, because I couldn’t actually remember if I’d actually paid him more than the official fees or if he’d loaned me a couple dollars knowing we were heading to the bank together. A couple days later I’d learn he was happy with how things turned out..

    I made an instagram story play-by-play of this double border day. The link below includes a couple clips from El Salvador and then gets into it. Hopefully this is allowed If not someone please let me know: https://www.instagram.com/s/aGlnaGxpZ2h0OjE4MDMwMjg5MjE2MTA4MTIx/
  16. ADVegan

    ADVegan Been here awhile

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    I took a rest day in Leon Nicaragua. The big thing to do there is sandboard down the volcano but I was exhausted and passed.


    From Leon I rode to Grenada, another hot ride but Grenada was probably the prettiest colonial town square I’ve seen on this trip. Outside the main square was a little worn, but the actual center square area was bright and freshly-painted. I felt like I would have liked to spend some more time in Nicaragua.


    Instead I rode to Liberia Costa Rica. I’d thought about pushing all the way to San Jose but decided against it. Liberia didn’t have a lot going on. At the border exiting Nicaragua a group of helpers ran up to me and I was really surprised to hear one yelling “Josh!”- the helper Id ditched at the entrance to Nicaragua had called his friend- shit, maybe he’s mad. But he was happy and eager to help so I knew I’d paid too much on the way in. I negotiated a helping fee with someone else to avoid any more hemorrhaging of funds at the borders.

    In the morning, as I noted above I rode less than a mile down the road and got gas. I pulled around the pumps and parked the bike and walked 30ft around a wall to an ATM. Somewhere in that 30ft my phone must’ve fallen out of my tank bag. Frustrating since it was my old navigation! I figured I’d ride to San Jose to meet Rachel at our hostel, I just needed to find it!


    I stopped at a fruit store and asked the gal at the checkout if I could use her cash register computer to look at a map. I knew I needed to take the highway in and take a left at some point. Traffic was terrible heading into San Jose, and eventually I took a left turn when I thought it was appropriate. I pulled into a cellphone accessory store and communicated the hostel I was looking for. Luckily Rachel had messaged our Garmin Inreach mini with the hostel address which really helped. After a few more stops and help from strangers I found the hostel and Rachel arrived a couple hours later from the airport- what was going to be easy turned into a long day! Before this trip started I thought about not using gps to make it more “authentic”, that would’ve been very challenging! Glad I got to experience it when Rachel wasn’t there.
  17. ADVegan

    ADVegan Been here awhile

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    We looked at the map and after being in NYC Rach was ready for warm weather. We rode to Puerto Viejo on the Caribbean Coast. It was a cool little town but we realized we just accidentally skipped Costa Rica - we were 45 minutes from Panama.


    Yesterday we crossed our final Central American border into Panama. The road was beautiful and lush- more like what I pictured Costa Rica would be. We got to the town of Almirante and quickly parked the bike and jumped in a ferry to Bocas del Toro. After a 40minute taxi to the north end of the island we found ourselves at a newly opened bed and breakfast right on the water. It’s very remote and very relaxing and we’re hoping to use this time to get a little grounded. The last couple weeks have felt less intentional and more like designations were happening to us instead of us mindfully planning things out.


    We’re hoping to head to Panama City over the next week. I’m working with Veronica as everyone here says she’s the best to fly the bike to Bogota. She said we need to be there to pick the bike up, so I’m trying to figure out a way that we can have someone hold it in Panama for a week while we visit Cartagena or Medellin without it and then arrive in Bogota via bus when the bike arrives. We went to Colombia a couple years ago and really enjoyed it but missed Cartegena due to the length of our trip.
  18. roadcapDen

    roadcapDen Ass, Grass or Gas, no free rides.

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    Glad you had a good time in El Sal Josh!
    How much was Azul Surf if you don't mind me asking.
    I went on a Launcha trip to Honduras for an overnighter and they wanted $10 to enter and $10 on return to ES.
  19. motowest

    motowest Two-wheeled Adventurer

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    This has been quite the adventure so far... Hope your trip continues to provide many great memories without too many troubles!
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  20. ADVegan

    ADVegan Been here awhile

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    Azul Surf was about $40 I think. Online it said it was $198- I told them and they said that's 50 per person for a 4 person room. That didn't make any sense to me but I couldn't explain to them how it might be hurting their business. They wanted more when I showed up but the place was empty so I had a little leverage. I didnt bargain too hard because the lady was super sweet.
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