I'm 45 with two young boys and a 70 hour per week job. Reading the ride reports of other ADVrider's trips south of the US border has helped me get through some long winters. StickFigure
, Jean Luc
, Trevor & Nina
, and Flying Avanti
are all inspiring adventurers. It has been a goal for the past several years to be able to ride from the US to Mexico, Panama, or Ushuaia (Tierra del Fuego) but work, family, and the long ride from Chicago make that a very difficult prospect.
Still, there is an option that I rarely see being covered but has now sated my "need" several times. I pick a destination, find someone that rents motorcycles, fly down with a friend or two, and have a mini-adventure. After two trips to Costa Rica and one to Panama that included staying with Embera natives in the Darien, I was ready to head back for something different. Nicaragua was my first choice but no bikes could be found. Another country that has appealed to me is Guatemala. The terrain is very mountainous and lush, the country is rich in history, and outside of a few cities, it's largely rural and devoid of tourists. This is not a hard core, on my own, full-scale adventure but it's no luxury cruise either. I'll take what I can get and love every minute of it.
The one different component about this trip though was that (don't bail on me now!
) we would be accompanied by a rider from the rental place. This is not my first choice because much of the adventure of the unknown flies out the window but it was our only option. Looking back, the only negative was that nothing went terribly wrong but there were some big advantages in the form great roads and meeting some cool people. The trip is now over and I'm recounting this from my notes so let's get started.
In searching the Intertube, I came across Antigua-based CA Tours (www.catours.co.uk
). A few e-mails convinced me that I would play a big role in how the trip would come together. The rental place seemed legitimate, the price was reasonable (less than a 3-day ski trip), and a cheap, direct four-hour flight on Taca Airlines sealed the deal.
At 2am on Feb 14, long time friend Dave and I headed off to Guatemala City. The immigration process was painless and though we could have easily grabbed one of many shuttles to Antigua, we had a ride waiting for us. The rental place is based out of a "Moto cafe" and we met our contact, Dave Drudge, our Dutch rider Taz, and Milvia, a friendly employee of the Cafe.
After a quick Tuk-Tuk ride to the Black Cat Hostel we headed back to the Moto cafe to do some ridin'.
Dave in the tuk-tuk. It was a bit cramped.
We were pretty tired from the flight and had planned on taking it easy, walking around Antigua the first day but ended up going for a three hour, round-trip ride that afternoon.
Having no recent opportunities to ride in Chicago's nasty winter, it felt great to be on a bike and heading up a dirt and gravel road into the mountains. At home, I ride an R1200GS and a KTM 950 Adventure so I was more than a little concerned about spending nine days on a small, low powered Honda 200 dual-sport. Other than the limited power for passing, however, it turned out fine. We spent the remainder of the day walking around Antigua.