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Old 03-04-2013, 07:14 PM   #136
Bob
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Could you link the new ride report here?
Or will you continue your "ride around the world" ?
Whichever, thanks for all the work.
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Old 03-04-2013, 08:53 PM   #137
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We'll just continue to post in this thread. We didn't complete our trip, and I'm looking at this as a break in the journey. When we leave in June, it will be a continuation of the journey we already started (in spirit, anyway). We're going to be writing about and posting photos of our time at home, too, so everything will be tied together.
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Old 03-08-2013, 07:20 AM   #138
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Originally Posted by Rockwell View Post
We'll hopefully be riding there, in Portugal, this fall.
Great!

Catching up on your RR... Long time since I last read this topic. Still fun and inspiring! Hope everything is going fine for both of you.

Keep us posted about your travel to Portugal!

Cheers
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Old 03-15-2013, 12:12 PM   #139
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We'll keep you posted. Hopefully, once we start traveling again, we can post closer to real time, although posting is a lot of work and gets tough too stay up-to-date.
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Old 03-20-2013, 02:35 PM   #140
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The Yucatán (November 10 – December 21, 2011)

We rode through lush mountain scenery for approximately five hours until we reached Palenque. Its a good thing that shopping isn’t practical on our trip, because Palenque is a really cute town with many shoe stores. More importantly though, Palenque is an ancient Maya site. Its ruins date back to 226 BC, to its fall around 1123 AD. After its decline, it was absorbed into the jungle but has been excavated and restored and is now a famous archaeological site. It is estimated that less than 10% of the total area of the city is explored, leaving more than a thousand structures still covered by jungle.

After stopping for some tacos, we rode away from the town until we found a campsite. It was a nice affordable place to camp that offered hot showers and a really nice restaurant that served alcohol and had live music. El Panchan was only a few kilometers short of the Palenque ruins. It was an interesting place with its blend of hippies, people on holidays, backpackers and Rastas. The experience was further enhanced by its jungle setting, with the sound of howler monkeys frequently heard from the high canopy. I thought they sounded much more like a cheetah would, than a monkey.

We woke up early the next morning and hung out at the ruins for most of the day, enjoying the beautiful setting of towering trees that surround the site. There is a peaceful calm that envelops you as you walk around exploring the jungle trails that lead to other smaller plazas and temples, and to the travertine cascades that carry water down the mountain during the rainy season. After spending most of the day at the ruins, we stopped at a museum and then went into town to walk around and grab a bite to eat. We purchased a few beers to go and on our way back to the bike we were stopped by a shop owner offering us free samples of liquor. Cappuccino Agave Liquor is delicious but instead of buying a bottle, Rocky purchased some crickets. Yes, crickets. Apparently, they are a popular snack. I’m not sure exactly how they are prepared but they were dead, dry and covered in chili and lime seasoning, of course.


Once we got back to El Panchan, we sat at an outdoor table towards the back of the restaurant. Rocky immediately tried to convince me to eat some crickets, but I’m not the type to like bugs. He then attempted a different approach and tried feeding me beer. I eventually gave in and decided to eat a bug, but as hard as I tried, I couldn’t convince myself to do it. Eww, the thought of chewing little legs repulsed me. Especially when I imagined any of it stuck between my teeth. Uhgg, it’s creepy body crunching in my mouth, there was no way I could bring myself to eat a bug. And then it happened. Maybe it was the beer or maybe it was because I was ashamed of being such a chicken shit, but I ate a bug. Just one, but I did it.


It was a beautiful night and we decided to take a walk down the farm road. There were a few more campsites and rentals about 400 meters away and we decided to go venture and see if we could find our new friend Jelmar. We met him earlier that afternoon while we were at the ruins. He was visiting from the Netherlands and told us he was staying at a really cool place. We also heard that if we walked down the road at night, a Mexican would jump out of the bush and offer to sell us magic mushrooms. There were trees and bush on either side of the road. It was dark out but the bright moon created a stunning silver effect on the sky above us. Suddenly, a man came out from out of the bush and said, “mushrooms, mushrooms?”. Before we could say “yes please” or “how much?” A car came down the road and the man with the ‘shrooms got paranoid, disappear, and never returned. We continued our walk and stopped to check out the live entertainment up the road. We stayed for a moment, peeked for our friend Jelmar but didn’t see him. We walked our way back to El Panchan and enjoyed a few more Coronas’s before bed.

We left Palenque the next morning and rode through patches of rain. For the second time during this trip, a bird flew into Rocky as we were riding. Is that common to any other riders? We left the state of Chiapas and went on our way to Merida, in the state of Yucatán. It was a really pretty city and the weather was much dryer than it had been in the humid jungle. After eating some tacos, we searched for a place to camp and found a large grassy area by the highway. We thought it was the perfect place and we felt like we were well hidden but the police noticed us and stopped to question what we doing their. They were really polite and didn’t mind us staying, they just asked that we leave with any trash we created.

When we woke up the next morning, we went for breakfast at McDonald’s, more so for the internet than the food. Jimmy and Charleigh from San Cristobal had sent us a message saying they were at a small town nearby but we weren’t able to properly coordinate to meet. Instead, Rocky and I continued on the road to Chichen Itza ruins. It is one of the largest Maya cities, but the entrance fee was out of our budget, so we opted for tacos. Unsure of where to go next, we thought about sleeping at a church yard but drove to Tulum, in the State of Quintana Roo, instead. It was night and we always try to avoid driving at night but we had the highway to ourselves and it was new and freshly paved. I consider it one of my favorite times on the road. It was a long, smooth, relaxing ride. The air was warm, the moon was large and millions of stars were shining through the blackness of the sky.

I had been to Tulum years before, and I was really excited to return. I remembered it having very small eco-hotels, some didn’t even provide electricity or hot water. I remember tents randomly placed throughout the beach and everything was closed after 10pm. I remembered Tulum was was very calm, peaceful and beautiful. We arrived just before 11pm and rode for a very long time before finding a spot to camp. Far past all the resorts, most of the area was secluded and we found a great place. The next morning, we were approached and asked to leave the private property. It didn’t matter, we rarely ever camped at the same location more than once. We packed up our belongings after a quick dip in the ocean, and rode towards the town. Tulum was looking much, much busier than when I had visited, years before.

We were enjoying a cup of coffee while sitting out on the patio of a bakery that offered WiFi. A guy approached us and introduced himself as Sean. Him and his girlfriend Blossom were visiting from Australia and were also traveling two up on a motorcycle. He suggested we camp by them and go for dinner together. It was really exciting to meet another couple sharing a very similar experience. A few hours later, we rode until we found the sign for public beach access and pulled into a long sandy driveway that lead into the beach. To the right of the path was Santa Fe restaurant/campsite, it’s property line was marked by a roped fence. We parked the bike and as we walked around to find Sean and Blossom, we were immediately approached by a Santa Fe employee asking if we were looking to camp. We told them that we were looking for our friends but we would be looking to camp on Federal Land instead. They asked why we wouldn’t camp on their property and we explained that since we wouldn’t be using any of their facilities it would make more sense for us to camp for free somewhere else. After they insisted that it was illegal for us to camp on Federal Land, they told us that by staying on their property we were protected by their 24 hour security. Their aggressive sales pitch was dishonest and annoying to say the least, we said no thank you and walked away.


Outside of the fenced Santa Fe property, we found a place to pitch our tent. It was located on Federal Land and nestled in the shade of a few palm trees. We found Sean and Blossom, their tent was approximately 30 meters away on the opposite side of the roped fence. We placed our gear, boots and a few other belongings into a couple of PAC Safes (aircraft cable mesh), and left them locked up in the tent as we rode out to dinner. It was delicious! After we ate, we rode back to the beach and walked up and down the coast getting to know each other. It was really interesting how much we shared in common with Sean and Blossom. Although they had traveled to many other continents before our trip began, our journey from Western Canada to Tulum had been very similar. I’m surprised that we didn’t meet sooner.

Sean was very intelligent, creative and adventurous, much like Rocky. They shared the same kind of thoughts and even the same camera and video camera. Their birthdays were only a few days apart. Blossom reminded me of myself. She was easy going, low maintenance, passionate about life, and we had even worked in the same profession. Her birthday was a few days before mine. Blossom met Sean when she was really young but began dating him a few years ago. Rocky and I had met at a very young age but we began dating a few years ago. Weird.

After grabbing a few coconuts we walked to their tent and just as we were standing there, one of the employees shone his flashlights in our faces and began swearing at us, demanding that we get off of the property. Apparently, they were very mad that we didn’t camp on their site, but were there visiting our friends. It was already past midnight, we weren’t about to camp somewhere else for the night and I couldn’t justify paying to move all of our things on to their property. Especially after all the attitude. So, we remained where we were and we would camp somewhere else along the shore the following night.

We woke up the next morning and Rocky immediately noticed a gash cut through our tent. There is an obvious chance that it could be anybody but I don’t think I’d be too crazy to assume that the hot headed Santa Fe rent-a-cop had something to do with it. Moments later, we noticed that the PAC Safes that locked much of our belongings, was tampered with. The thief had found one of our tools and tried to cut through the metal mesh. They failed miserably. The tool got stuck to the mesh as they tried cutting it. They weren’t able to steal our things but I then realized that the cut in the tent was how they were able to steal my purse.


The thought of a thief stealing my belongings while watching me sleep creeped me out. Although Rocky and I were keeping our cool, my blood began boiling and I burst into tears. My I.D. (luckily not my passport), my camera with all my pictures, my iPhone with my expense list and journal, all the keepsakes and my birth control was in my purse. I carried all my physical memories in that purse and some creep stole it while watching me sleep. I became a hot mess thinking about it all and, before I could say another word, Rocky jumped up and ran over to the Santa Fe property. I chased after him but I was too late. He picked up a picnic table, slammed it down and left with a few choice words.

Minutes later, the police showed up. They explained to Rocky that, although it was likely we knew who the thief was, we couldn’t prove it. Because of this, Rocky shouldn’t have flipped their table over, and he would be going to jail for the night. I was left alone to pack everything up and wait for a tow truck to take me along with the motorcycle to bail him out. As emotional as I felt, I still couldn’t help but laugh at the thought of Rocky in a Mexican jail.

When I arrived at the station I was given two choices. I could either let Rocky spend the night locked up or I could bail him out for 1701 pesos. Such a random amount. I told the cops that I was just robbed and asking me for money was an insult. I took 400 pesos from my pocket and told them it was all I had. I had more in my pocket but I wasn’t about to tell them that. Besides, they immediately accepted the 400 pesos (under $30) and Rocky was released. I knew I should have offered less.

It was 3pm by the time we left the tiny cop shop. We were exhausted but still able to laugh about it all. I will always feel deeply saddened by the loss of so many memories stolen but every time I remember the incident, I can’t help but giggle at the thought of Rocky spending some hard time in a Mexican jail. OK, OK, it was more like a small celled drunk tank but still funny. Rocky is definitely not the jail type.

After grabbing a bite to eat, we found a place with WiFi and used Skype to cancel the credit card. We then found a real police station and filed a theft report. It was getting late so we decided to find a place to camp near where we had stayed the first night. This time, we rode a bit further and slept closer to the shore. It definitely wasn’t my most comfortable night. I was obviously still a bit shook and had a hard time sleeping. Early the next morning, we swam for a bit but didn’t stay long because the beach was filthy with litter. It was sad to see so much plastic polluting the shore.


We had bumped into Sean and Blossom and they recommended we stay at a Hostel named Mama’s Home. After all we had gone through, we decided it would be nice to treat ourselves to a hot shower and a comfy bed. Mamas home was awesome. It was filled with travelers, and it was nice to find out that mama was a Canadian who once lived not far from us, back home.

Early the next morning, Blossom and Sean showed up and we followed them to a Cenote. A Cenote is a deep water-filled sinkhole in limestone that is created when the roof of an underground cavern collapses. As it gets filled by rain, it creates a natural pool with underground tunnels. Sean and Blossom love snorkeling and they brought their own equipment. The water was so clear that I didn’t mind just swimming but Blossom insisted I try her snorkel and I was glad she did. It was absolutely stunning to stare into the water and see an amazing cave like system. It was another world down there. I was shocked. The day went well but our luck had been testing us. Rocky jumped in the water with our helmet camera but didn’t realize we had the wrong housing on it until it filled with water. The camera broke and the memory card got damaged. We lost all of our previously recorded videos. After leaving the Cenote, we all made plans to meet up for dinner and drinks later. It was a great time. We met a few people, and shared many laughs. I really liked Sean and Blossom, and as we left the bar that night, I knew we were going to miss them, but I imagined we would see them again throughout our travels.

Back at the hostel, we received an email from Orlando, whom we stayed with in Ciudad Victoria. He told us before that he would be visiting Tulum, so he emailed to tell us he had arrive and wanted to see us before we left. We met him for lunch the next day and we were really happy to see our friend again. It was a short visit, we were on our way out of Tulum, and Orlando was spending some vacation time with a very lovely lady friend.

We were back on the road and I was happy to be leaving Tulum. I had contacted a girl named Maria on couchsurfing.org, who lived with her mother, Isidra, and brother, Juan, in the town of Chetumal, also in the state of Quintana Roo. When we arrived in Chetumal, we had a very difficult time finding Maria’s house. The house numbers in Mexico have no particular sequence, they are randomly chosen as each house was built. Luckily, we asked a postal carrier for directions and she offered to help. Unluckily, she couldn’t find it either. She didn’t give up on us though, we followed behind her scooter and she eventually brought us to Maria’s house.


Maria and her family were amazing. They had accepted four other couch-surfers at the same time and provided us all with comfortable accommodations. We met Kim and Siro from Korea, Stav from Israel and the Canadian Robin, whom we had met in San Cristobal. It was Stav’s birthday and Maria and her family had bought him a cake. It was nice to celebrate an intimate occasion with strangers. There was never a dull moment at Maria’s. Even when we woke up in the morning and relaxed for most the day, there were so many great personalities joined together. I decided to make dinner that night and, once we all finished eating, Robin had a piñata filled with goodies. We all went outside, took a few swings and also lit some fire crackers. It was a fantastic night.

We were up the next morning to the sound of the cello. Maria was practicing for her performance at a charity event we were all invited to attend. Isidra was a nurse at the children’s cancer ward and Maria offered to play the cello for all the guests. It was a beautiful moment. There were many kids, lots of food, a few Pinedas, many nurses, doctors and guests. Isidra was recognized for her hard work and dedication. I enjoyed seeing her in her element around many children that adored her. She is a true nurturer, a wonderful lady.

Later that evening, we joined Maria, Stav and Robin for a tour of the town while the Korean’s went grocery shopping and prepared us a meal. We hopped in a bus and began our walk towards the ocean shortly after. I’m not sure if Maria was being serious because she is the funny type but she had us buy a head of lettuce we had to carry for a while. Once we arrived at the water, she told us to feed the Sea Lions. The trouble was, there were no Sea Lions. Also, people were staring at us like we were weird. With the lettuce gone and not one sea lion in sight, we took a walk through a museum and a few other places before returning back for dinner. Kim and Siro had prepared a delicious Korean soup. It was spicy and full of seafood. We all gathered for dinner and were very grateful to be served after a long day.


The next day was dedicated to relaxing, laundry and dealing with the credit card situation. We were having troubles figuring out where to have a new credit card shipped because we were never at an address long enough to receive it. Stav prepared a Jewish dinner and Robin helped him. It was mouthwatering. Latkes are officially one of my favorite foods.

Later that night I mentioned that I needed to get rid of a joint we still had, before crossing the Mexican border. Stav and Rocky knew how we should do that. We decided to take a walk around the block, Maria lived in a very quiet neighborhood. The three of us stepped outside and once we turned the corner, I lit up the joint. We smoked, coughed and smoked some more. As we walked past a park, I took a drag and through my peripheral vision I saw a figure quickly move to their feet. As the ember on the joint glowed bright on my lips, I exhaled, butted the joint, stuck it in a cigarette pack, stuffed it down the front of my pants and sucked in my gut. We were being yelled at and a Federal Police officer was now in my face. He was screaming at me in Spanish, asking where the marijuana was. I stared him straight in the eyes and told him I hadn’t a clue what he was talking about. Rocky nor Stav had any clue what had happened to the joint either. They appeared to be just as confused as the officer, as he shun his flashlight across the ground and found nothing there. For at least a minute , I was in a staring contest with the cop. I am a horrible liar but I was so scared for my life that I won the contest by telling the officer that he was wrong and we were walking away. And, so we did. Once we got far enough I told the boys what had happened, how I had to stuff it down my pants. What a buzz kill.

Staying with Maria, Isidra and Juan, meeting Stav, Siro, Kim and seeing Robin again was a great finale to a fantastic voyage through Mexico. When i think of Mexico, I remember the different smells as we rode through. Either the strong scent of laundry detergent filled the air, the smell of wood burning in a pit or of food being cooked on the sidewalk. I will always remember the food! Mostly, I will always remember truly experiencing some of the best times of my life. We met the greatest people, rode through incredible scenery and learned about a beautiful culture I would be proud to call home. I love Mexico!




Nearing Palenque, the land flattened out as we descended the mountainous region of Chiapas.

We met Jelmar at the ruins of Palenque. He is from The Netherlands, and was backpacking across Mexico and Guatemala.

Paula at the ruins of Palenque (another model pose)

Palenque Tourists

Flora

Leaving Palenque, we took the back route through the forest and found this waterfall, hidden amongst the trees.

After driving from Merida, Paula and I arrived at the beaches of Tulum after the sun went down. We rode down a long, coastal dirt road and found a spot to camp under the moonlight.

Sean and Blossom, an Australian couple also riding two-up, invited Paula and I to a cenote to do some snorkeling.

Paula In The Cenote

Blossom (she certainly has) & Paula in the cenote.

After taking this photo of Paula cooling off in the cenote, I zoomed in on the picture and noticed…

…a beautiful, blue dragonfly perched on her face. Paula didn’t even notice it.

The cenote was home to thousands of dragonflies.

Siro and Kim, an engaged couple from South Korea, arrived at Maria’s shortly after Paula and I. They had travelled all over Canada, the U.S. and Mexico by car.

Robin (the backpacker from Canada whom we met in San Cristobal) and Stav (a backpacker from Israel) arrived at Maria’s shortly after Siro and Kim. It was Stav’s birthday and, to celebrate, we all strung up a Piñata.

From left to right: Kim (the Korean Samurai), Santa (at the mercy of Maria’s mother), Maria’s mother, Isidra, (having way too much fun), Stav (the fearless Israeli soldier), Robin (the wide-eyed photographer), Paula (…) and Siro (not even a flinch)

We took the bus into downtown Chetumal to feed the illusive sea lions and visit the Mayan Cultural Museum. From left to right: Stav (Israel), Robin (Canada), Maria (Mexico), a random woman on the bus, and Paula

Maria explained some of the history on display at the museum.

This mural was displayed on the ceiling of the museum. I wished I had brought my wide-angle lens so that I could capture the entire thing.

After breaking open the Piñata, we set off some fire crackers in the street.

Firecrackers In The Street

It was a wonderful memory in Chetumal thanks to our host, Maria, her family, and our fellow travelers, whom I am sure we will one day meet again.
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Old 03-20-2013, 02:40 PM   #141
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The best trip I ever saw. Very well organised. Congratulations, keep it up!
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Old 03-28-2013, 02:20 PM   #142
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The best trip I ever saw. Very well organised. Congratulations, keep it up!
Thanks!
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Old 04-11-2013, 02:54 PM   #143
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Guatemala

December 22, 2011 – December 30, 2011

Our paperwork was organized and we were ready to cross the border. I wasn’t sure what to expect because entering Mexico had been so easy but entering the motorcycle was a bit more complicated. We were given some documents and a receipt when we had crossed into Mexico, the documents were to allow the motorcycle to gain entry and the receipt was for a $400 deposit that we would get back once we left the country. I felt as though we were well prepared and I hoped that it wouldn’t be a long complicated process.

The first stage of exit was to present our passports to the customs officer. After being cleared, I had to walk to the customs office. A long line of people stood outside under the hot sun waiting for their turn. It was difficult being fully geared, I was sweating a puddle. Once I was finally able to present all of the papers, I was told that I would have to go to a store a few blocks away to get photocopies of a few things. What? Luckily, a kind stranger was listening near by and told me that him and his family needed to do the same and offered to drive me. I would never had made it walking that far in the hot heat. With everything ready, I returned and had to wait in the long line up again. I was happy to finally be told that I had everything needed.

We then rode up to another booth a few hundred meters away so that we could purchase motorcycle insurance, it cost us $12 US for the day. We were warned that Belize cops loved to issue tickets to drivers without insurance. Slightly further up the road, there was another booth we had to stop at were we were told that any vehicles crossing the border needed to be sprayed with bug spray to prevent exposing different bugs into Belize. The guy told us that since we were on a motorcycle, we wouldn’t be sprayed but we would still have to pay $6 US for it. None of it made any sense to us, so we told him that we wouldn’t be paying for something we didn’t need and we rode away. Another couple hundred meters up the road was the immigration office for Belize. I entered into the building and presented them with all the paperwork and paid $30 entrance fee into Belize. We were then to ride to a booth and get cleared to cross by a customs officer. Along with our ID, he told us we needed all the receipts but we were missing the one for bug spray and he asked us why we didn’t have it. We explained to him that we were told we didn’t need the spray and we thought it was odd that the man insisted we pay anyways, so we refused because we sincerely thought he was trying to scam us. The customs officer reacted as though we insulted him and he became really rude to us. I still don’t think that it was wrong of us to assume that we were being scammed. Without choice, we turned around, paid for the receipt, went back to the customs officer and were finally allowed to enter Belize.

Just over a kilometer away from the border, a cop pulled us over to ask for proof of insurance. We were beginning to understand why people complain about traveling through Belize. The area we rode through seemed a bit boring but the people seemed really sweet, everybody waved as we rode past. We probably should have spent at least one night there, but we wanted to get to Petén, Guatemala as soon as possible. Christmas was around the corner and we were invited to share the holidays with a family we found on couchsurfing.org. We would also be sharing the holidays with Jonathan from San Cristóbal. He too had been welcomed to stay with the same family, in Petén.

We continued riding until we finally reached the border out of Belize and into Guatemala. Once again, I had all the paper work ready and Rocky waited outside with the bike as I went in. We then rode up to the Guatemalan immigration office, our passports got stamped and I paid $22 but when I presented all the paperwork I was told that Rocky needed to be present since that motorcycle was under his name. With all the paperwork ready, we were to go down a street to a store that sold photocopies. It was really frustrating that a customs office didn’t provide themselves with photocopies. We always kept the original documents, they needed the photocopy. Why didn’t they at least sell me the photocopies in the customs office?


It was getting late and we were finally into Guatemala. We traveled on a paved road for a while but it suddenly became a dirt road. Every few meters was a large pot hole. I couldn’t help but feel uncomfortable. I was tired and we hadn’t eaten in many hours. It was dark out, there were no street lights and we were surrounded by trees and thick bushes on either side. We continued on this creepy road until we eventually reached Petén. I remember feeling a sense of relief once we approached the city, almost as if the bright lights and traffic kept me safe. I was also excited to see a Pizza Hut. I felt comforted, by the familiarity and also the thought of eating something of substance.

After stuffing our faces with a large pizza, we got back on the road again and finally reached our destination. The family we were visiting lived on the outskirts of the city down a few dirt roads. There was a tall wall built of cinder blocks around the perimeter. We honked the horn a few times and I felt bad for arriving so late as we waited for someone to answer the door. Memo approached the gate and greeted us to come inside. The property was very large. We were asked immediately about our travels and lectured for riding in the dark. Apparently, the dirt road we had ridden on is known for its high crime rate and shady police officers that rob people. We were warned not to ride at night ever again.

The house was built on a beautiful piece of land, it had to have been at least 1/2 acre. A narrow stream ran through the middle of the property, I was told that it was full of eels and native fish that can live for 3 months without water. There was many flowers, hundreds of native jungle plants and trees throughout the property. The house was under construction but walls and ceilings had been built. To the left of the property was an area with walls and greenery that somewhat secluded that space for some hammocks. That is where Jonathan was sleeping. Beside there, was an outdoor sink and cement water tank. They are called Pila, it is common to see these. With the water shortage in these countries, it is important to have a cement tank filled with water. Just as we passed the kitchen, there was an outdoor sitting area and behind it was the children’s bedrooms, along with ours. There was also a shared bathroom and shower, and further down was the parents quarters.


It was nice to meet everyone in the morning, Memo was an American and he was married to Angelica, a Guatemalan Maya. They had 4 beautiful children together, Wilson, Reina, Perali and William. It was also really nice to see Jonathan again. We were given a proper tour under the sunlight and Memo gave us a little history of himself, his family and introduced us to Buenas Cosas. Buenas Cosas is a cooperative of Guatemalan women, an association of family, friends and neighbors who serve their community and nature. Their focus is eco-tourism and voluntourism with an emphasis on conversational Spanish & Q’eqchi’. They are a non profit organization, and every cent that enters Buenas Cosas goes directly to communities, programs and projects that cultivate ‘Good Things’, or as they say in Spanish, Buenas Cosas. We offered to help and volunteer but it was Christmas holidays and they were taking a break from providing for the community and concentrating on hosting their foreign visitors.


It was December 23 and we rode a few minutes through the city to go visit Flores, the capital of Petén. Floris is an island located on Lake Petén Itza, connected to the mainland by a short causeway. Just as we were getting near, I noticed Jonathan drinking his breakfast at a patio. Rocky pulled over and I sat with Jonathan and enjoyed a cold beer as well. We were going to do some exploring and invited him to come along. Rocky rode and met us across the bridge as Jonathan and I walked. Being the coffee snob he is, Jonathan led us to Cool Beans, a great restaurant/coffee shop that offered free WiFi. We would spend a lot of time at Cool Beans over the next few days.

The following morning was Christmas eve and I was invited to a Guatemalan tradition. Every Christmas eve, tamales are prepared and eaten. Corn was ground, chunks of chicken were marinated and plantain leaves were washed. First, I was to place a plantain leaf flat in front of me and put a spoonful of each, corn and chicken on the center of the leaf. I was then taught to wrap the leaf into a pouch and tie it together with string. A fire pit was lit and a large cauldron had a few rocks lining the bottom of it with some water. The tamales were placed inside and steamed all day long. It was a unique experience to be invited by Angelica’s family, native Maya people, to help prepare for a feast that has been around since as early as the Pre-Classic period.

Once I was done helping, Rocky and I headed to a craft store and bought a few gifts for the kids. Small booths lined the streets of Petén and they were all selling fireworks. When we returned to the house we were told that another Guatemalan tradition was to light firecrackers at midnight to celebrate Christmas. Rocky, Jonathan and I took the kids to go buy some fireworks and after returning with bags full, the celebrations begun. Tamales were eaten and everybody sat around the fire pit and drank some beers. It was amazing how many firecrackers we could hear in the distance, but we all waited patiently until midnight to light ours. After a few walks trough the neighbourhood with beers in our hand, we visited some of the locals who were related to Angelica and her family. As midnight approached we all met back at the house and the fireworks began. Never in my life have I ever experienced or imagined experiencing such a display. The entire sky filled with explosions, the noise was intense. For at least an entire hour I could safely bet that all of Guatemala was lighting up fireworks. The energy during that long moment was incredible. It was a fantastic experience.


We woke up early Christmas morning and exchanged a few small gifts. Memo and his family were kind enough to give us some authentic Guatemalan hot sauce. It tasted delicious with our breakfast tamales. Jonathan had packed and was prepared to leave that morning, I wondered if we would see him again. Rocky and I rode into the city in search of a post office. We had arranged for a replacement credit card to be sent but we were having no luck receiving it. We kept checking for it every day but we expected the postal service to be no better than Mexico’s had been.

We returned to the house with some groceries and planned to make dinner for the family. We prepared Penne Pasta with meat sauce. It was interesting to watch the children’s reaction as they ate a food they’ve never tried. Memo giggled and said not to tell the kids that they were eating Penne, apparently the word means Penis in Spanish. We all giggled with him.

The next morning, Rocky and I planned on visiting Tikal, one of the largest archaeological sites and urban centers of the pre-Colombian Maya civilization. We rode for almost an hour and suddenly lost the clutch. We had to turn around and head back for some help. We stopped at a couple of places but it is difficult to find somebody who wasn’t intimidated by such a large piece of machinery. The KTM 990 is definitely not a common bike to work on in the area. Just as we began losing hope, a guy from a local mechanic shop helped us. He said that the clutch lever piston was off and he adjusted it back in.


Since it would be too late to visit Tikal, we decided to get the bike washed. It had been a while since she was cleaned. We entered a washing garage and it was cute to see the excitement in the employees eyes to be able to wash her. I was surprised by his enjoyment and the detail that he placed on making her look new. He spoiled her with what i would consider a high end spa experience. We then decided to ride to Flores for a bite to eat and use WiFi to check the status of the credit card that was supposed to have been sent. To our surprise, we bumped into Jonathan and hung out with him until we headed back to the house for our last night in Petén. Early the next morning, we packed all of our belongings and once again said goodbye to our new friends. We were very grateful for the memories they had left us with during our stay in Petén Guatemala but we were ready to continue our journey through the country.

Guatemala City was our next destination and our ride there was one I will never forget. Rocky wasn’t feeling well and the day was a difficult one to get through. Hours into the ride, we had to pull over so that Rocky could nap on a picnic table at a gas station. A few hours after that, we had to stop again for another long rest. The traffic in Guatemala was extremely stressful. The highways were only two lanes. Which means, when there are slow moving vehicles in either lane, which is usually the case, you inevitably get a line up of cars in both lanes, desperate to pass. We had to constantly move onto the shoulder as oncoming traffic including large transport trucks, were always in our lane coming at us head on.

I had contacted a family through couchsurfing.org for us to stay with them in Guatemala City. By the time we were near, it was already night. We could see the city lights in the distance but we were separated by a few mountains. Unfortunately, the highway through those mountains were under construction and the lack of street lights made it almost impossible to ride safely.


The roads were partially paved and the damage on them was barely visible in the dark. There were potholes along the way but more dangerously, there were large chunks of road missing. In Canada, any area of road too dangerous to travel on would have some sort of warning, a flashing sign or at least a few meters of pylons to warn us. In Guatemala, what we saw was, if there is a large hole in the road, a larger rock/boulder is place immediately before it as a warning. There were a few times that I thought we would die trying to avoid the dangers.

When we were finally near the house of the family we were about to visit, we had a difficult time locating the address. We stopped numerous times to ask for directions and every time that I showed anyone the address on Rocky’s iPhone, I was lectured to hide the phone to prevent being robbed. Theft seemed to be a large concern amongst the locals. When we eventually found Stevan’s home, the sense of relief I had felt is indescribable. Stevan’s father answered the door and explained that his son was at a local church for band practice, and he would be returning soon. By the time Stevan had shown up, we were shown to our room. Stevan’s family owned and rented the home next to theirs, and that is where we would be staying. It was late and we were exhausted, we immediately fell asleep the moment our bodies met the bed.

When we woke up the next morning, we were invited next door for breakfast. Tamales were served and they were prepared much differently than we had eaten just days before. They were made with potato, chicken, green olives and dates. A delicious combination. Stevan lived with his father Josue and his mother Zarai. He had a sister named Gioana and a brother Guillermo but we wouldn’t meet the two of them until later. Josue was a soft spoken polite man with kind eyes. Beautiful artwork was hung on the walls, I was impressed to find out that it was Zarai who had created it. Stevan was also an artist, he belonged to a band named Wud Link and played the guitar. I love that we continue to meet amazing people along our journey.

With concerns over the condition of the motorcycle, we located a KTM shop not far from the house and rode to get a new clutch lever piston and seal. We thought it was best to have the mechanic install it, servicing it ourselves wasn’t practical at this time. After spending the afternoon with the kind mechanic at KTM, the motorcycle was fixed and we returned to Stevan’s home. Stevan invited us to go walk around the mall with him his friend Jose. We gladly joined them. Guatemala City was huge and I thought it was a pretty city. The mall was much bigger than the one back in the city I grew up in but the population there was much bigger as well. It was nice to window shop and compare prices to what we would pay in Canada. I was surprised to see that although Canadians economy was better, everything there seemed more expensive. After a few hours of talking, walking and laughing together, the mall was about to close and we headed home.

We prepare for our departure in the morning by packing all of our belongings and sharing goodbyes. It was just a few days before New Years and we planned on spending the celebration at Lake Atitlán. We were back on the crazy roads of Guatemala.



We rode to meet Jonathan, who caught a tuk-tuk into town, and found him drinking his morning beer.

Paula snapped a shot of this guy down by the lake. I have no idea what he was drinking. Something tells me it’s not water.

Lake Peten Itza – located near the town of Petén in northern Guatemala.

Two Guatemalan dudes on the island of Flores

Lago Petén Itza

William

Jonathan, Perali & Paula

We spent the afternoon at Buenas Cosas making tamales with Memo’s mother-in-law, Margarita, and enjoyed the native Guatemalan treat for Christmas Eve dinner.

Another Furry Friend

Perale was quite a little character, and a natural in front of the camera.

Jonathan left for Tikal on this rainy Christmas morning. This is the last we though we’d see of Jonathan, but we ended up bumping into him again in the nearby island of Flores the following day.

We said goodbye to Stevan and his father, Josue before leaving Guatemala City and heading for Lake Atitlan.

Paula with Stevan, a tattoo artist, musician and our couchsurfing host in Guatemala City.
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Old 04-21-2013, 07:01 PM   #144
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San Pedro La Laguna

December 30, 2011 - January 3, 2012

We left Guatemala City and we planned on bringing in the new year at Lake Atitlan. Just as we got into the outskirts of the city, we found ourselves in an interesting town with many steep streets. I only realized that we were lost when the road became a big dirt path going uphill. We continued to ride around until we found our way back to the highway. The traffic wasn't too bad and the scenery was worth any stops we needed to make. Guatemala wasn't much different from Mexico, it was an incredibly beautiful country, filled with culture, breathtaking scenery and exotic natives.


We rode throughout many tall rolling hills and a thick sheet of fog greeted us every time we reached the top. Children formed groups on the edge of the highway and they would waive and chase after us as we rode past. We eventually noticed that the cars riding past would throw candies or treats at the children, if they waived. I wish we had known that before, we would have definitely gone prepared. After riding on a beautifully paved road for most of the day, it eventually turned to dirt. It was in such bad shape that I was excited once we were off of it. Rocky told me that Lake Atitlan was close by but since there is no road that circles the lake, we weren't able to catch a peek of it until we reached the top of the mountain.


It was a great introduction! The view was more enchanting than I could have ever imagined it to be. Lake Atitlan is large and recognized to be the deepest lake in Central America. It is ringed by volcanoes and shaped by deep escarpments that surround it. Volcano San Pedro is the oldest of the three, Volcano Tolimán began growing after San Pedro stopped erupting, and Volcano Atitlán remains active, with its most recent eruption having occurred in 1853. Freshly paved switchbacks lead the way down the mountain. They were very steep and the corners were extremely tight. I was kind of scared until large buses filled with passengers, zipped by and seemed to turn corners on two wheels. Traveling by bus seemed much more dangerous than the motorcycle.

We arrived safely in San Pedro, an extraordinary town. Since New Years was around the corner, we had planned on staying at a hostel. The streets were packed with tourists and as I got off the bike to find out some sort of direction, a local offered to help find us a place for cheap. I followed his lead and after a five minute walk he found us a room in one of many small hotels. It was three stories tall with open corridors that overlooked the entire lake. Decorated with a few hammocks, lawn chairs and a beautiful garden, it was more than awesome, especially for $14 per night.


After a nice hot shower, we planned on going for a walk. It's amazing how much a hot shower is appreciated, so much so that I even risked my life for it. Only cold water runs through the pipes, and in order to get hot water, an electrical shower head is used to heat the water. In hindsight, a hot shower was not that important.

San Pedro was a really awesome place to visit. I usually don't like tourist filled places but this was definitely an exception. Lake Atitlan is surrounded by many villages in which Maya culture is still prevalent and traditional dress is worn. The Maya people of Atitlán are predominantly Tz'utujil and Kaqchikel. Often, when people of one culture assimilate to another culture, the traditional style of dressing can quickly become obsolete. This is certainly not the case with the descendants of the Mayans in Guatemala. These proud people boldly wear their traditions on their sleeves.

The native dress of the Mayans, which is called Traje, may vary by village and language group. But the intent of native dressing remains the same, to preserve the rich culture. To Guatemalans, their native costumes are their identity. The women honor their ancestors by wearing a Redcorte (skirt) held up by a woven Faja (belt or sash). The women also wear a Huipil (a traditional square-cut blouse) made with embroidered designs. A shawl drapes over one shoulder, which can be used to carry a baby around. I was very curious to dress this way and the kind ladies in one of the boutiques were also curious to dress me.

The following day was New Year's Eve and we had a few errands to run. We were in desperate need of clean laundry and Rocky's hair needed a cut. Laundry cleaning is a common business throughout Mexico and Central America but aside from a few dry cleaning items, I have always washed my own clothing. I don't know why I felt nervous, my clothing was cleaned so well that it smelled fresher than I've ever know possible. The extra pair of foreign underwear I found washed and folded amongst our belongings wasn't necessary but we got a good laugh from it.


As we walked down a few alleys, we read a sign that said Barber Shop. The barber was a hippy with long dreads and blood shot eyes, but he did own clippers and scissors and Rocky thought that was sufficient. We were invited into a room with a mirror, a chair, a small desk and some crazy paintings on the wall. As Rocky’s hair was being cut, the barber kept stopping to take a moment to run his fingers through Rocky's hair while constantly complimenting, "Wow man, your hair is so soft! I can't believe how silky it feels. Dude, do you know that your hair is like silk." It was obvious to me that the guy was very high on something and my thoughts were proven to be correct when he said, "Just so you know, I can get you anything you like. Do you like acid, man? I've got really good shit!" I have to admit, I was very impressed with the hippies’ ability to cut hair while ridiculously high. He did a great job.


We were ready for the celebrations and considered hitching a boat ride to a town across the lake but Rocky wasn't feeling too well. Instead, we decided to stay in San Pedro to attend a street party. We had grabbed a few of joints from the local who helped find us our hotel room and we stopped at a convenience store to buy a couple 40's of beer. A large stage was placed in the middle of a main street and huge speakers thumped bass. It was such a fun party that the MC even forgot the countdown and introduced midnight a little bit late. Everyone yelled Happy New Year, kissed, toasted and lit fireworks. Guatemalans love their fireworks!

We spent another two days admiring the culture of the town. We enjoyed the simple pleasures of playing a game of tag with the locals at a park and taking pictures of our memories at San Pedro La Laguna. We drank delicious coffee that was grown locally and ate inexpensive meals. Lake Atitlan was a wonderful place to visit but we were ready to continue our adventure and leave one of the most beautiful, colorful places I have ever seen on this earth.




Traveling from Guatemala City to San Pedro La Laguna, we stopped at the side of the road for a rest and some water.

Walking through the streets of San Pedro, we passed by this Guatemalan girl sitting amongst a pile of rubble with a huge smile on her face.


My little Guatemalan girl: Paula tried on one of the traditional ladies outfits. With nowhere to put it on the motorcycle, we didn't end up purchasing it.

We sat on street corner watching the spectacular scene of the townspeople walking by.

The ladies of San Pedro la Laguna and their traditional attire

These ladies were selling fruit and talking up a storm at the side fo the street.



We spotted this elderly lady on the rooftop of her home hanging her laundry out to dry.

I was in need of a haircut, and decided that this guy's shop looked interesting. Paula and I both soon realized that he was high on something as he switched between trimming my hair and sipping on his beer.

The sun went down in the town square as the New Year's Eve celebrations drew near.

A street corner at dusk in the town of San Pedro La Laguna

I saw this family sitting on the curb and, as awkward as it is taking photos of strangers, I just had to ask if I could take one.

Tall, medium and short

Night time on the streets of San Pedro

A corner shop in San Pedro la Laguna, Guatemala

We saw this child sitting in a tuk tuk at the side of the road with his older brother. Paula handed him the flower.

Two sisters walk through the town square and turn heads.

Mother & Daughters

A family on the streets of San Pedro la Laguna, Guatemala

I tried to secretly take of a photo of this guy laying in his hammock. I guess he noticed.

The People of San Pedro la Laguna

A young girl standing with her mother on the street of San Pedro la Laguna. The guy in the doorway was either passed out from being drunk or just taking a nap.

Everywhere we went in this little town on the edge of Lake Atitlan, we saw interesting and friendly people.

The style of art in this region is filled with bright, beautiful colour.

A shop in San Pedro la Laguna - Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

I snuck to the top of The Primera Iglesia Bautista de San Pedro La Laguna, a Baptist church in the centre of town, to snap a few shots from above.

As we left San Pedro La Laguna the same way we had arrived, we stopped to take some photos of the spectacular view that we had seen when we first neared Lake Atitlan several days before.
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Old 05-26-2013, 05:52 PM   #145
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El Salvador

December 30, 2011 - January 7, 2012

It was a really damp, cold ride through the mountains. We were on our way to El Salvador, but first, we had two quick stops to make. Antigua was a beautiful city and appeared to be upscale. It is a very popular tourist area because it is possible to take buses from Antigua to many parts of Guatemala, also, because many foreigners like to retire there, and it is one of the most popular and best recognized centers for Spanish language study by students from Europe, Asia and North America. We were going to stop for coffee and some lunch but we decided it was out of our budget. We continued riding until we reached Guatemala City. We were returning there because it was in the direction of El Salvador, but also because we were a bit bummed that we broke our GoPro video camera while we were at the Cenote in Tulum, so we agreed to look for a new one. We had no such luck though. The store was out of stock.


When we finally reached the border of Guatemala and El Salvador, our peaceful ride was interrupted by pure chaos. As we approached the immigration booth, we were bombarded by a handful of men trying desperately for our attention to sell us currency. Rocky stayed outside with the bike and his new friends as I went into the immigration office to present all the paperwork.

After crossing out of Guatemala, we rode a few hundred meters across a bridge until we reached the crossing into El Salvador. We arrived at the booth and the customs officer asked us to park the bike and go back to see him. He passed me a clipboard and asked me to fill in the blanks. I speak Portuguese, although it is very similar to Spanish, I am not experienced enough to prepare government documents. Not one English word was on that form. I pointed to the blank clipboard and handed him all the necessary papers and passports. I tried explaining to him that I didn't understand the language enough to read and write but he barely understood me. He then proceeded to walk away from me and sat at a table inside the booth and started stuffing his face with food. It was bizarre.


I stood their waiting, confused, watching sauce drip down his chin. Just then, his cell phone rag and he held up his finger to his lips before he took the call. He answered his phone and spoke to a person who I can only assume was his wife. "Hi dear, what are you doing today? Nothing. What are you having? I just ate, too...". This conversation continued for longer than necessary and he finally left the booth. As he walked past me, I tried asking him what we were supposed to do but he held up his finger to the air, asking me to wait. He acted annoyed that he had to do some sort of work.

We waited at least an hour for him to return. He handed me a few documents and pointed to an immigration office down the road. While Rocky waited outside with the bike, I stood in a line up for almost an hour. My passport was stamped and so were the papers for the bike. I asked them if it was possible for me to trade spots with Rocky so that he didn't have to wait in line to get his passport stamped as well and after begging for over a minute, they agreed to let me run out and grab his passport. I was obviously confused but didn't hesitate. I returned to the same officer, passed him Rocky's passport and they stamped it without even looking at him. I wasn’t about to say anything. I gathered everything together and I asked them if I needed to do anything else. They reassured me that I was done and everything had been stamped and approved.


After a long day of border crossings, the sun was quickly dropping and I was worried that we would be driving at night. We rushed out the office and eagerly left the area. As we headed down a paved road for a few hundred meters we unexpectedly approached another booth and an officer asked to see our documents. How many booths does one border need? The officer told us that we were missing something and we would have to return to the immigration office, somebody there was expecting us. We were obviously annoyed but I had to re-enter the office. This time, instead of waiting in line, I was approached and told that a photocopy of the new stamped documents was needed and I would have to go down the street and around a corner to buy the copy. Now, I am known for having a lot of patience, but I felt my face burning and my eye twitching. I almost cried with frustration. There was no way that I was going on any mission in search of a store for a copy of anything, especially when there was a photocopy machine right behind the woman speaking to me. I was so confused that my facial expression must have communicated my thoughts because she finally made herself a copy and I gladly left the building.

It was almost completely dark out and we were finally well past the border crossing. Thankfully, we weren't too far from our next destination. I contacted a man on couchsurfing.org and we were welcomed to stay at his home. Attilio lived in a small town, not too far from the border, called Concepcion de Ataco. By the time we had finally arrived, we still had a difficult time locating his house. We rode up and down the cobblestone roads and we asked anybody we saw for help. We were grateful to be approached by an English-speaking woman who brought us to Attilio's house.

Attilio is a tall, built, and handsome older man with kind eyes. He welcomed us into his yard and showed us to our room. Since it was late and we were exhausted, we had an early night. It wasn’t until morning when we were able to get a better idea of our surroundings. Attilio’s house was what I consider simply perfect. It was small but large enough for guests and comfort. I loved how every room was accessible from outside, the kitchen was open to the outdoors and the dining table was out on the patio. A large yard with beautiful flowers, fragrant herbs, fruit trees and coffee bushes embraced us. It was a very peaceful home.


Attilio walked us around and we were immediately charmed. Ataco is a small village in El Salvador's northern highlands surrounded by lush green hills and coffee farms. The streets were narrow and built of cobblestone, warped with age. One of the most interesting aspects of Ataco was its collection of brightly colored murals painted on homes and businesses throughout town. We visited a bunch of shops that sell a wide variety of crafts including sculptures, ornaments, weavings, embroidery, candles, key chains and coffee but the most interesting was a local craft shop were we could see and appreciate gorgeous fabric being made using Leaver Looms.

We visited the local market to get some chicken for dinner. While there, Attilio introduced us to fruit we were unfamiliar with. Jocotes (pronounced ho-coat-es), is a small red fruit with the consistency of a plum and the flavor of a tangerine, but my favorite was green mangoes. Mmm, they are delicious on their own, dipped in vinegar, lime juice or sprinkled with salt. I prepared lemon chicken for dinner that night, using fresh lemons picked from a tree in Attilio’s garden. We sat around relaxing, enjoying the sounds of Jazz music and learning of Attilio's days as a basketball player and Greyhound bus driver in the USA.


The following day, Rosario returned home from her visit in San Salvador and we were finally able to meet Attilio's other half. She was an incredibly sweet lady who smiled and giggled as much as myself. I was completely charmed by her. She brought a large Red Snapper back with her, and treated us to the best ceviche Rocky and I had ever tasted.

On our last night in Ataco, we invited Attilio and Rosario out for dinner. Once we were done eating, Attilio said we were going to pick up bread for breakfast and we followed them down a few roads and through a few alleyways. It was almost 9pm when we arrived at somebody’s doorstep and waited in the entrance. After a few short minutes, a small door was opened at a large bricked area and to our surprise it was a large brick oven full of fresh baked bread. The smell was intoxicating. One dollar later, we were walking home with a bag of bread. Our stomachs were still full from dinner but that didn't stop our mouths from drooling. We couldn't help but stuff our faces. It was the softest, warmest, freshest bread. Half way back to the house, Rocky and I couldn't help but decided to turn around and go back for another bag full so that we had some for breakfast.

Attilio and Rosario are the sweetest couple, living in the cutest village I have ever visited. Ataco showed me all the beauty of a simple life. Attilio and Rosario introduced me to the purest form of living it. I am forever humbled. And with these memories, I will always be reminded of the path my life should follow.

We left Ataco and began our journey through El Salvador. What a beautiful, interesting country! Women walked around wearing colourful clothing with cute lace aprons and I was surprised to see that a lot of people had the most striking blue eyes to compliment their otherwise dark features. Everything was pretty, even the light posts and guard rails had flowers, birds and butterflies painted on them.


It was a warm sunny day and the weather was perfect for a gorgeous ride along the coast. We planned on spending some time at the beach and stopped when we reached El Zonte, a small beach town along the southern cost of El Salvador. The beach was a rock beach. There was no fine sand, just a lot of smooth rocks of many sizes. We walked around searching for a cheap place to stay and settled for a place for $15 per night. It seemed like a steal but the room was dingy. It had two twin beds and each where covered with a thin unfitted sheet. The ground was cement and was covered in more sand than the beach had. At least it had a shower in the bathroom, but unfortunately, somebody forgot to mention that it didn't function. We ended up only paying $10 for the room since the shower didn’t work, which was still a generous amount.

We were a short distance from the beach and we took a walk to peek. It wasn't the greatest place I had been to, and Rocky must've agreed because he wasn't inspired to take any pictures. After a few minutes under the hot sun, we became thirsty and that gave us the perfect excuse for a beer. Luckily, the bartender told us that we could drink our beer up on the patio, attached to the second story of a really nice motel/hotel. The view of the ocean was awesome and so were the hammocks and swimming pool.

After an uncomfortable stay, I was looking forward to leaving in the morning. We packed up and planned on crossing into Honduras. The weather was perfect and Rocky was contemplating whether or not he should wear his full riding gear. I don't care how hot it is, jeans aren't sufficient when riding long distances, especially while riding through Central America. The road conditions were brutal. Most highways cut through towns and had only two lanes. If there was any slow moving traffic, large transport trucks would take any opportunity to pass, even if it meant moving into oncoming traffic. I can't count how many times Rocky had to dodge a transport truck that appeared in our lane, directly in front of us coming head-on. I was surprised to see most vehicles had window tint covering all glass including the windshield. The tint was so dark (illegal on any car window in Canada) that a thin strip on the windshield was bare at eye level in order to have some visibility, but I can't imagine that helped much.

It was late in the afternoon and we were getting close to the Honduras border. Having gotten stuck for hours at the border entering into El Salvador, Rocky was anxious to arrive in time so that we weren’t left riding in the dark of night. I could sense the tension on the road. The conditions were unsafe and full of distractions. I felt Rocky's frustration as he turned onto the shoulder of the road in order to go around a slow-moving vehicle. It all happened so quickly...CRASH!!!



We met Attilio on couchsurfing.org. Attilio lived in a small town in El Salvador's northern highlands called Concepcion de Ataco.



Attilio and Paula in front of Attilio's home



Many of Ataco's building were covered in brilliant, colourful murals.



Among the multitude of plants and flowers growing in Attilio's garden were the berries of the coffee plant.



There were many beautiful and exotic plants growing in Attilio's garden.



We visited a local craft shop in town were we could see and appreciate gorgeous fabric being made using Leaver Looms.



After shopping, we walked backed along the cobblestone streets to Attilio's to prepare dinner.



Paula in Ataco



We saw this interesting-looking old man sitting in the streets. He appeared to be homeless.



Attilio told us that he often saw this man and would help him with a few dollars whenever he met hm in the street.



The brightly-coloured murals on the town's buildings told the story of the region and the people who lived there.



We stopped at a local corner shop so that Attilio could buy some cigars. The shop owner was this beautiful little old lady.



Walking through town, we passed this interesting rammed-earth home.



On our way back to Attilio's, we saw this guy sleeping in the streets. He was outside what appeared to be a bar, and was likely drunk and had passed out on the concrete.



Rosario was Attilio's other half. We said so-long to both of them, and we left Ataco having glimpsed the beauty of a simple life.



San Vicente is a stratovolcano in central El Salvador. It is located next to the town of San Vicente and is the second highest volcano in El Salvador. -- Wikipedia

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Old 05-27-2013, 05:14 PM   #146
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I knew this was coming sometime soon but was still taken by surprise. Thank goodness you both are okay! Paula and Rocky, your rr is wonderful and I'm hoping that the next phase of your journey is as full of joy and discovery...without the "crash!" bit!
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Old 05-31-2013, 11:58 AM   #147
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I knew this was coming sometime soon but was still taken by surprise. Thank goodness you both are okay! Paula and Rocky, your rr is wonderful and I'm hoping that the next phase of your journey is as full of joy and discovery...without the "crash!" bit!
Thanks! We're both ready to go. We had planned to head out on the second part of our trip tomorrow (June 1), but I had to have my main camera lens repaired, so we're going to be delayed by about a week or so. Can't wait!
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Old 06-03-2013, 08:06 AM   #148
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what's the name of the new trip? I'll be lookinig for it every day!
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Old 06-03-2013, 09:11 AM   #149
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Awesome. You two must be super excited. I'll be following along!
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Old 06-03-2013, 05:45 PM   #150
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what's the name of the new trip? I'll be lookinig for it every day!
The name is still the same. We consider this part of the trip to be a continuation of the last. It's all one big journey, I guess.
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Awesome. You two must be super excited. I'll be following along!
Dude. We're both pretty excited. Picked up the lens today. Haven't had time to test the repair job out, but I am hoping it's good. We're pretty much set to go for this Saturday (June 8th). You should ship your bike over to Europe or Morocco and meet us there for some riding. I need someone to teach me how to really ride this thing!
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