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Old 03-11-2012, 04:10 PM   #91
MountaineerWV OP
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Central America



Mexico to Guatemala was my first 'real' border crossing on my own. I aimed for the Tapachula crossing (against everyone's advice), but about mile before the border there was a river. The bridge was out. Why in the hell is the main bridge along Highway One from Mexico to Guatemala out with no detour, I just don't know...

The next closest crossing was to the south at Talisman. I had my first experience with 'helpers' here, they were very pushy. In my experience, anyone that pushy is trying to cheat you, so I ignored them on the Mexican side.

I screwed up three times at this border.

The Tapachula border crossing has a banjercito at the border. One has to visit a banjercito in order to get the $300 US vehicle deposit refunded. Talisman didn't have a banjercito, though everyone at the border said it did. I didn't find this out until AFTER I exited Mexico. Damned if I was going to let them have $300. I had to re-enter Mexico and drive about 60k back to Viva Mexico where the aduana banjercito is located. Mistake 1.

On the Guatemalan side I ignored the helpers that rushed me. I didn't research the entry requirements prior to hitting the border. Mistake #2. While in line a well-spoken Guatemalan guy started helping me out. When I started to negotiate a price, he said not to worry - pay what I think his help is worth at the end. I agreed. Mistake 3.

The process is easy and in no way did I need a helper. On the other side of the Guatemalan border the helper handed me a bill. I was prepared to pay $5US (~35 Qs). More than fair in my mind. The bill was $50US!

Meanwhile, my helper and 5 or 6 other Guatemalan guys had come over to stand around me. I didn't really feel threatened - but I think that was their intention. I laughed, crumpled up the bill, and made it clear I wasn't paying $50US. The negotiation started...

He started to make some vague threats about calling the police over and I told him to do it. Then he said that if I didn't pay he would call his friends up ahead and I would have trouble with bandits or road blocks. More bullshit because there ain't no one willing to block highway 1 to make a few bucks from a border crossing helper.

Eventually I paid about $14US to get him and his fat friends to stop surrounding me - but I was pissed off and beating myself up for both using a helper and not agreeing upon a price in the beginning. Ah well, I chalked this up to a learning experience.

Do your research!! I've ran across motorcyclists paying upwards of $300US at border crossings.

My goal was to hit Quetzaltenango - I was scheduled to begin a week long Spanish immersion class. I got a late start after correcting my screw-ups at the border, but the drive to Xela was gorgeous.

Many rich Guatemalans and foreigners have villas along the Pacific Coast of Guatemala. The permanent staff live in the villas and keep them in a nice state of repair and keep squatters away.






Chicken Bus. This isn't your typical yellow chicken bus - I suppose the driver of this bus wanted to stand out.

These buses take curvy mountain roads faster than me on a motorcycle. Unfortunately if you look over the edge of the road you can see chicken buses at the bottom...

The Spanish Immersion class was great. I enrolled in the week long, one on one, 6 hr per day class - and a homestay with a local family.

If you want/need to do a Spanish class, Xela is a great place to do it. Cool city, safe, with everything you could need...even a Wal-mart! As far as the class, I would recommend taking maybe 4 hours per day for two weeks rather than 6 hours per day for one week. My brain was fried at the end of each session. Additionally, the homestay was average. It was cheap for a place to sleep with food included - but I didn't get anything out of it. Luck of the draw I suppose.

I was in Xela during their week long day of the dead celebration. Church youth groups creating murals of sawdust in the main square.





The town cementerio is cleaned and decorated.



Fuckin' Dogs...


One resident, apparently with lots of money, was fascinated by anything Egyptian.



Grave robbers left the recently deceased alone...the marble heads on the statues were much more valuable.


It's a celebration biatches!


I just barely caught this bike with my camera. You over packers will probably get a boner over this guys's rear/top case. It's what...200 liters?


From Xela the road took me north to Tikal. The scenery was gorgeous!


The largest landslide thus far...

It was like the ENTIRE mountain had just collapsed. I can't imagine the volume of mud, dirt, and rocks displaced.

I was stopped by the police several times on my way north, but not once was I asked for a bribe or harassed. They were all very cool and interested in my trip - where I had come from, where I was going, what I thought of Guatemala.

It was about this time that the rain started. Early November 2011. It has rained damn near every day since then...it is now 11 March 2012. Five months of rain.

Anyway, Guatemalans on motorcycles (and everywhere else in Latin America) HATE when another motorcyclist passes them. Hate it! I can't tell you how many guys on 250s would try to keep up or pass me. In this particular instance on my way north to Tikal, I came across a particularly slick segment of pavement. With rain, it was like ice. I was pissed off at my tires because I was sliding so much.

Behind me, two guys two up on a 250 Honda were trying to keep up (and pass). We went around a pretty sharp turn and I heard a loud crash and metal scraping on pavement. I look in my mirror and see them sliding to a stop. It's another biker, so even though they were being assholes I stop to help. SHIT! It's not the tires - I can barely stand up in my boots. I couldn't believe how slick the pavement was.

The guys were not wearing any helmets or gear, but were already up cradling hand, knees, and elbows (not dead at least). I picked their bike up and moved it off the road - but wasn't much else I could do. They didn't want to call anyone, but I'm sure the one guy had a broken arm and the other had a broken leg. Onward north.

In Tikal an odd phenomenon began. No matter where I went, I was the ONLY person there. In Tikal, the hotels and campgrounds were empty, no buses or vehicles where in the parking lots, even the restaurants would close early. I suppose it's a good thing...


I woke up early to view the 'awakening' of the jungle. I didn't want a guide, so I paid the normal entrance fee (and didn't get a ticket stub) to be let in 3 hours earl. I walked in to the Great Plaza and sat on Temple II to experience the Awakening of the Jungle.








Truly, the Awakening of the Jungle was far cooler than walking around the Tikal ruins. The ruins didn't speak to me, but the awakening - with the monkeys howling, birds screeching, and the sunrise was something else. One of the coolest things I experienced on the trip. After it was light, I wandered around the rest of the park but didn't see the point in spending all day there and left around 11am.

Next up - Semuc Champey.
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Old 03-12-2012, 06:30 AM   #92
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Awesome adventure and ride report! Keep it coming.
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Old 04-08-2012, 07:07 PM   #93
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Originally Posted by MountaineerWV View Post

**For anyone interested, I want to sell my DR in South America around the end of April. I will be in the Argentina - Uruguay area so please PM me if interested and we can work something out.
I am just to this point of the your ride report in NM, however when I saw this I had to check my inbox to see if you were the same person that PMed me about meeting up in Punta Arenas because the timing seemed right. Too bad we just missed eachother. Congratulations on making it all the way down, I look forward to reading the rest of your RR.

Did your starter happen to go in PA? My friend Shaun on a 690, said he met a guy on a DR who was lining up a sale and couldnt get the bike started.
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Old 04-14-2012, 07:06 AM   #94
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Old 04-14-2012, 10:38 AM   #95
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Did your starter happen to go in PA? My friend Shaun on a 690, said he met a guy on a DR who was lining up a sale and couldnt get the bike started.
.....and was waiting for the part to be shipped down.
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Old 04-14-2012, 12:09 PM   #96
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TAT and Beyond

What a great report and adventure! Glad you made it out of TAT ok, looked like close call with the boggy mud! Thanks for taking us along, and looking forward to more. You stood your ground at the borders too!
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Old 04-14-2012, 12:19 PM   #97
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Am only up to post #40 but am enjoying this immensely. Very well done. Thanks for sharing and I look forward to finishing as far as you've gotten so far when I get back later tonight.
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Old 04-14-2012, 06:56 PM   #98
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Great posts! Keep them coming!
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Old 04-15-2012, 11:54 AM   #99
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Man View Post
I am just to this point of the your ride report in NM, however when I saw this I had to check my inbox to see if you were the same person that PMed me about meeting up in Punta Arenas because the timing seemed right. Too bad we just missed eachother. Congratulations on making it all the way down, I look forward to reading the rest of your RR.

Did your starter happen to go in PA? My friend Shaun on a 690, said he met a guy on a DR who was lining up a sale and couldnt get the bike started.
Ha, yes that was me. Hung out and smoke ciggies with Shaun a few days. Great guy! The brushes on my starter motor were corroded and the spring that pushes the brushes inward against the commuter weren't doing their job. A little cleaning cleared it right up.

About 8am the morning after I had the DR running a local guy shook me away in my hostel bed with a roll of US $$ hundos. Couldn't pass that up and had the bike legally sold in in about 1 hour.
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Old 04-15-2012, 04:43 PM   #100
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Originally Posted by MountaineerWV View Post
About 8am the morning after I had the DR running a local guy shook me away in my hostel bed with a roll of US $$ hundos. Couldn't pass that up and had the bike legally sold in in about 1 hour.
cool man!

I traveled back to Ecuador with a roll of hundos. I felt pretty vulnerable traveling by bus with all that money.

I am assuming you will continue your RR?
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