First off, crossing the US border into Mexico is seriously dangerous as you will be subjected to great food, friendly people and so much to see and do ... so be careful....you have been warned.
And having said that, in the nearly 4 months we were in Mexico we only scratched it, we could very easily spend another year or more floating around taking it in.
Mexico for us as you know we had a trip changing event of Ellens crash which lead to the purchase of Maya, although not a smooth transaction on that with a very deceitful seller we now have the bugs ironed out, last thing for me to get my head to accept is the valve check then I will be 100 % happy in my mind.
Maya is now solid (barring the valve check which should come up good) and is taking us to places we could have only imagined, within our ride report you will have read all about these places but remember you guys really only get the highlights of the happenings, if I wrote about everything to date we would never be able to ride again and you would be bored shitless....and I might be in jail.
The ADV people that we met, Steve, Jim, Spencer, Gary, you guys all rock and made our trip so much better, Gary we blame you for liking Mexico city, something I thought I would never say.
Mexico, you get the big tick as a must do and I would recommend it to anyone....even Americans, is there trouble ...yes ... name a country that does not?, will you find trouble? ONLY if you look for it or be complacent, we did not feel threatened once and the police actually went beyond their call of duty for us and NOT once asked for money or a bribe, have chat with them with a smile .... they are human too.
Ok, Cuba, having time to look reflect back on our experience we very much echo the same sentiments as Gene and Neda (lightcycle), while we really enjoyed Cuba for its differentness it also wore us down with people just saying give me money, it really took the shine off it and it is far from eco friendly as they label themselves, step away from the tourist areas to the local area and pretty much they are living in their own rubbish dump.
One thing we have established is they (anyone) can be poor but there is no need for them to live in a cesspit of their own rubbish which they do, they go out of their way to buy that bottle of coke but they won’t go out of the way to dispose of it properly but will just biff it on the ground, same for everything, wrappers, paper anything they don’t want.
Would we go to Cuba again?, I would say no there are plenty of other places to explore and having had a good look from Alaska down to Cuba I would go back to anywhere Mexico north before going to Cuba again.
So, Cuba, 1/2 a tick and that box is ticked and can be archived.
Belice, not as expensive as people say, english speaking (easy for us gringo types
) and cool places to visit, it was different to what we expected or envisaged but for the better, we thoroughly enjoyed our time there and will go back for more, particularly for diving and snorkeling.
We have to thank Sjoerd Bakker too for some great tips, again something from someone who can make your trip better, thanks man.
Belice gets the big tick and offers a lot more than you think, you just have to get off the main drag and enjoy it, pretty much the same in every country.
Guatemala, even though I broke 4 ribs and was laid up for a bit I cannot speak highly enough of the place, there is only a few places on our trip so far that can honestly say I could live there, Antigua, Guatemala is one of them, I will note here we are NOT unhappy with where we live which is not the short straw, www.wanaka.co.nz
We spent a total of just over 3 months in Guatemala, 6 weeks for broken ribs but we also made good use of that time including GC which was surprising good, Ellen did NOT want to go to GC after seeing Guatemalan Police program on TV in New Zealand!!!.
A huge thanks to Julio and Luisa, also to Juan in Xela for a boys day out and getting lost ....we need to do that again!!!!
Semuc Champey ....wow, Flores ... very nice, Volcan Pacaya ... stunning, Antigua ... so much more to offer that the gringo main square, get out and look around.
Julio ... careful mate we might be your new neighbour
Guatemala gets the double tick and we will definitely be back, there is so much to explore it is unreal, also a very active country geologically which is something that interests me greatly.
Ok, next on the chopping block, El Salvador, to me this sits side by side with Guatemala (because it does
) as far as big ticks goes, we really loved El Salvador which for a lot of travellers seems to be a blast through and carry on country, there is so much to see and do, beautiful roads fit for Moto GP and adventure riding galore, scenery everywhere.
Our experience like all the above was enhanced by the locals and fello ADVers, they make the stay so much better with local info you cannot buy on GPS or maps.
Will we be back?, hell yeah, Mario you will have to put up with us again down the track so based on that it gets the double tick too.
Huge thanks to Mario, the finca, the bike oil, the company, ... outstanding.
Honduras, we did the double border day like most, although we had no issues whatsoever we have heard of many who have although all our paperwork is pristine and spot on so it does take some heat out of the argument although we did not see one single police person the whole day, even at the borders I just pulled the piss out of the money changers and played with them, turned their pressure cooker approach into a big giggle, right or wrong approach I don’t know but it worked well for me.
Same with the famous Jose and his brother Ronnie, big smiles and no thanks, play on his words make them larf while making him realize there wasn’t a cent for him from us, no problem.....a big smile is worth a lot of chatter!!!!
I have my reservations but I would still like to see Honduras now knowing half their police force was sacked from corruption as they try and tidy their act up for travellers and tourists, will we get there, I will say yes as we will be back to Belice, Guatemala and El Salvador, although this area is border heavy they really are not that bad when armed with water and a smile
Nicaragua, another place we loved .. although small Ometepe Island was really cool, again the fello ADVers made our stay better having a good look around, there is a lot there to explore and I now know we did NOT allow enough time so we will be back there too, Nicaragua gets the big tick too.
Huge thanks to Jurgen, Aaron, Daniel and Salavdor for making our stay so cool.
Costa Rica, beautiful, very nice people and great place, again with committing to the Stahlratte date we felt we didn't have quite enough time to really get into the depths of it so I for one would love to have a better look so coming back to Central America it is on the list to complete, Costa Rica also gets the big tick.
Panama, ground hog day with timing, great place and I would love to have more of a look like Costa Rica, I did however get to see the Panama Canal in action so for me that really ticked that box however there is much more to see and do.
Another huge thanks to Norm for hosting us and helping get new front rubber for Maya.
Our honest opinion is that Central America (plus and including Mexico) is a great place and seriously well worth spending a lot of time in, having spent nearly 9 months in total there we feel we have only seen enough to make us want to go back, we believe it is unfairly tagged as very dangerous.
Rainy season ... the Central American thunder and lightning storms from rainy season provide a magnificent display virtually every day, don’t be afraid of rainy season cos it is still very warm even when you get dumped on, most storms are over and done quickly.
In New Zealand you freeze ya balls off if it rains so this was very pleasant for us, in fact it was a nice reprieve from the heat, also this is called winter time so if you don’t want super duper heat then May, June, July, August is your time to come through.
So to sum up if you have any reservations about anywhere south of the US border chuck them in the rubbish tin cos you won’t need them, think about what you want to do and see and get into it....ouwh and allow plenty of time.
The Central American people across the board are just normal people living their normal lives and despite what the US news (sorry US based ADVers) ((but this is our heart speaks)) (((so all is discussed openly))) ((((we still love the US too)))) would portray is they are all bandits, thugs, thieves and lowlifes .... this is very very wrong....well until we got their
Although not quite Central America our only “so so” place was Cuba which is a frustrating place for many reasons but I am not one for politics etc and I don’t want to be, politics is only one aspect of our “so so” including the “give me money” multiple times daily in your face everyday, in the end you just want to tell them to fuck off but you feel you have to be nice to them .......ARGH (insert multiple Headbangs here) ...shame it has to be like that
Ok, that is our sum up and how we see it after experiencing it first hand, good bad and otherwise, others have different experiences and different approaches to us however this is team TMKs record of events which across the board have left us with a big smile looking over Central America.
Finishing Central America was then capped off by the Stahlratte experience ... we heard good things so we had good expectations and these were exceeded in 10 fold.
For the sailing, make the time, make new mates, make new travel companions, make the trip on the Stahlratte you won’t regret it, thanks Ludwig and crew.
.....now we are off to cause trouble in South America