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Old 04-17-2013, 09:53 PM   #3
Cousteau OP
...seeking adventure
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Joined: Sep 2012
Location: Guatemala City / Washington, DC
Oddometer: 61
Day 1 - Guatemala to El Salvador

Had *chance to do some initial reflecting about the trip. You really don't have time to do much of it until you actually hit the road. The last few weeks have been crammed packed with work and getting everything organized.

The one thing that I came away with is that although I will obviously will be busy have the adventure of a lifetime, it is not like the rest of the world also stops. That will also mean that I cannot disconnect entirely, as part of the time, I'll have to keep an "eye on the store" as it were - I run a consulting practice in the "real world" - but now back to our regularly scheduled program.

So, as this is crunch time these last few days, one doesn't really have time to reflect on what this is going to mean, so today I had a few moments of helmet time to look back at the prep and forward to the next few months.

One of the things that hit me today was as I was waving goodbye to my wife, who will be joining me further down the road towards the end of the trip, was that this trip is really for me. I know I'm documenting it through a ride report and I'm recording video as I go along and so forth, but in the end, this trip is for me. There was no parade, no fanfare on the departure, and there probably won't be much on my return. That's not to say that there aren't people out there that care about me and will miss me, but this adventure is just for little ol' me.

The day started with a not entirely restful night - have had several of those for about a week as the launch date was getting closer. I headed out of the city and the bike felt terrific. I had not ridden with 100% of all the gear before today, although I was riding around the last few days with nearly 85 to 90% of the stuff as I was running last minute errands. I did do a review of all the crap I'm taking on Thursday though and was able to get the kit down a bit more.

The bike displayed excellent power even with all the gear, and the Givi Trekker luggage system is just cherry. Single key, sturdy, and just works! I know that maybe it sounds like a commercial, but you have to give props where they are deserved.

The border crossing into El Salvador was the easiest I have ever done. For some reason, crossing the border between Guatemala and El Salvador, something I dare say I've done at least thirty times, is one thing consistently - always different.

Sometimes you have to stand in a huge line on both sides for immigration and customs and on the other extreme, sometimes you are just waved through as if you're crossing a checkpoint. Today was just one line, got the passport stamped and was given a little piece of paper that looked like a 4 year old had made an attempt at cutting a square. I actually went down to the immigration office in El Salvador, as I had done just a few weeks ago, but no, now you just hand the piece of paper to *the guy on the bridge and voila, you drive on through into the country.

It was now around 10AM and the warrior needed food, badly. A few kms after the border is this place called "La Choza" and they have great pupusas.

On the odd chance you don't know what these are, these are these thick corn tortilla patty stealthily stuffed with just about anything along with cheese. You then top them off with a cabbage-based slaw and a tomato sauce. These are meant to be eaten with your hands and it's quite messy, but that's half the fun.

I also too the chance while they were warming up the grill for me - pupusas are usually a meal for breakfast and more often for supper, that's why it was off - to swap out my Klim jacket for the Slider mesh jacket. It was already near 30C when I stopped to grub and climbing, so I wanted some cool breezes coming across for the rest of the trip today. I also swapped out the headphones for the SENA headset as for some reason one of the earpieces was having some issues. I'll take a look at it more closely in the next few days to see what was going on, but tunes and BT phone service are key to have working while on the road.

So, after I was done with the feeder bag, I strapped everything back on the Tigger (that's the nickname I had given the bike in case I'd forgot to mention it), and started her up, but wait, it didn't got that smoothly. Tigger kept conking out, I had to keep the idle above 2K RPM or else it would cut off. Fortunately, I had read that this had happened to other Triumph Tiger owners, so I wasn't entirely shocked, but I had hoped that this little cherry of an experience would somehow manage to skip me. Mind you, and I was only 200kms into a 15,000 kms trip. Then again, if something is going to fail, better it be early rather than later, right?

So, having this little issue, I decided to scrap the planned itinerary to go down to the coast and just headed for San Salvador. That was my endpoint for the day anyway. As I headed towards the city, I had a few fun filled "oh sheize" moments as the police in El Salvador like to put control checkpoints out in the middle of nowhere and completely oblivious as to the road geography. So, on at least three separate occasions, once off of a blind curve, the little cone S shape design they make you go through at low speeds so that they can check you and and decide if you are the lucky winner that gets the prize of getting pulled over. These checkpoints would normally not be an issue, but having to quickly downshift to keep the revs up while breaking in the "spur of the moment" although not technically impossible, just doesn't rank up there with the top 10 things I like to do on a bike.

The weird thing was that as I was finally making into San Salvador and was already dreading driving through the city trying to keep the revs up in stop and go traffic and knowing full well that the bike would conk out constantly, I was incredibly happy when as I hit the first slow down, the problem went away just as quickly as it had appeared. For those of you who have not read about this little issue, this happens sometimes when you have significant changes in altitude and it takes the computer some time to adjust to the altitude and control the fuel mix. I went from around 4,500 ft to basically down to sea level... at least I hope that was it.

When I arrived, my friend Sara and her daugher Dani were there to greet me. Of course the first thing they wanted to see was me, right?

I'm heading to Tegucigalpa tomorrow to meet a good friend and on Monday I take in Tigger to the local Triumph dealer just to have them check it out.
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Adventure Bound
Twitter: @2wheelchronicle

Cousteau screwed with this post 04-17-2013 at 10:00 PM
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