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Old 11-25-2008, 05:02 PM   #376
stickfigure OP
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Tikal



Nir and I made the short ride from Flores to the Mayan ruins at Tikal.



Tikal, in the middle of the jungle, is the most stunning set of ruins I have yet seen.





The day involved a *lot* of stairs:



It rained. It rained a lot. From the top of the temples we could hear the rain approaching from the distance, striking the foliage below, gradually growing louder until BAM we were suddenly under a deluge.



On the plus side, the rain scared off almost everyone so we pretty much had the park to ourselves. It wasn't too hard to imagine the first European explorers stumbling across the ruins.

During its heyday, Tikal would have been pretty much entirely deforested. Probably in a fairly large radius around the city, too. Because of this, I have a hard time imagining what it would have been like. The jungle quickly reclaims its own.
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Old 11-25-2008, 05:42 PM   #377
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Nice shots of Tikal, Im jealous... it was totally cloudy and drizzling when we were there, and yet still REALLY hot. Sorry to hear about the bike troubles. Good luck getting that all sorted out.
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Old 11-30-2008, 02:23 PM   #378
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Guatemala: Closing Thoughts

I love Guatemala.

The landscape is particularly beautiful; high mountain lakes, volcanoes, jungle canyons, raging rivers, colonial cities, ancient ruins, and more. There is even a Caribbean coastline, although I didn't make it out there on this trip.

Guatemala vies with Panama for supplying Great Adventure. Caves, river rapids, windy mountain roads - there's a lot for the adrenaline junkie to feed on. Best of all there are no "adults" or lawyers to tell you that you aren't allowed to do something. This truly feels like a free country! Dangerous? Damn right. You have only yourself to blame if you get hurt.

Best of all, Guatemala is inexpensive - by far the least expensive country in all of Central America to eat, sleep, and play tourist in. If you're traveling on a budget, there is a certain peace in knowing that you can enjoy time here and not worry that you're unduly accelerating the end of your trip.

Guatemala is one of the more interesting cultural experiences in Central America. The people are far more Mayan and less "westernized" than any other country I visited. Outside the few cities and tourist zones, most people live by subsistence agriculture, and there are large areas of the country where Spanish is a second language - if it is spoken at all. Most women wear traditional Mayan clothes and in some places the men do as well. If you'd like to visit the "real Guatemala", spend a few days in Todos Santos - but realize that this is a game of anthropologist, not tourist. And bring a blanket.

My impression was that Guatemalans are not as warm and welcoming as the people I met in other countries. I can only speculate that this is related to their recent long civil war, or the still sometimes tense relations between indigenas and ladinos. Guatemaltecos are not unfriendly, they just tend to be much more reserved and quiet compared to their neighbors.

Guatemala does have a crime problem. Certain (fortunately well-known) roads are frequented by highwaymen, while kidnapping and extortion are thriving enterprises. Gavin met a girl in "hiding" because of threats; I spent some time talking to an Israeli expat who walked away from a business after fighting with extortionists. Guatemala may look like a touristic paradise on the surface but the locals will tell you there are many problems underneath. This is something to consider if you're looking to relocate, but as a visitor, the country is still wonderful.

I'll be back.
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Old 12-02-2008, 09:46 PM   #379
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I'm glad I found this RR. Really good stuff Stickfigure especially the good fortune you've had to meet other riders on the road and travel with them. The babes too .

So, post an update. Last we heard you were stuck in Northern Mexico and 4 days from home.

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Old 12-05-2008, 02:32 PM   #380
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Might I ask where you found recent info on the routes frequented by the "Highwaymen"? Sounds like valuable stuff to know.

I'm doing a Baja/Guatemala/Belize route next year.

Those caves look incredible - wicked shots of the bats!
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Old 12-06-2008, 03:44 PM   #381
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Laugh 10 dangerous things I did before breakfast

Quote:
Originally Posted by stickfigure
Semuc Champey offers much to the aspiring adrenaline junkie.
rproof camera on this trip.
LOVE the title of this blog entry, Jeff Are you back in SF now? We are returned from our secret location and trying to break the bike out of Changuinola. Bored in Panama City right now. Looking forward to your news.
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Old 12-06-2008, 06:16 PM   #382
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Belize



We spent less than 24 hours in Belize. I took only two pictures. There really is no excuse for this silly rush; Belize was quite nice and it was pleasant (although shocking) to speak English again. However, Scott was waiting for us in Tulúm and a thorough exploration would have required leaving the bikes on the mainland to explore the islands. Belize is best explored by sailboat.

Belize may have the Most Delicious Rum Ever. It's called One Barrel and finishes with a surprisingly strong taste of molasses. Sadly, I have yet to find it for sale outside Belize.

We spent one night in Corozal, near the border with Mexico, and crossed the next day. The good news is that flights to Cancún are remarkably cheap and getting from there to Belize is easy. I'll be back.

My two pictures...

This "ferry" was a barge on a cable with a hand-crank that pulled it across the river:



A random bridge:

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Old 12-06-2008, 06:28 PM   #383
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Status

I am back in San Francisco!

I will try to fill in the rest of the trip chronologically, but the upshot: The bike is in San Antonio getting an engine rebuild, so I flew home with a return date randomly chosen for the 16th.

The San Antonio shop (a huge Yamaha dealer with a growing KTM business) took the engine apart and found there was no oil in it. Since the bike never consumed oil, I must presume that the mechanic at Motoaltavista forgot to refill it. I feel like an utter moron for not double-checking the work. Naturally, the oil pressure light is not working - maybe a burned out bulb.

So, just in case you ever wanted to know: You can run an LC4 for about 700 miles without oil before it fails. Respect.
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Old 12-06-2008, 06:47 PM   #384
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nina
LOVE the title of this blog entry, Jeff Are you back in SF now? We are returned from our secret location and trying to break the bike out of Changuinola. Bored in Panama City right now. Looking forward to your news.
Any hope the bike will be free soon? Has it at least stopped raining?

If the weather is not too miserable, go out to the San Blas islands and hang out with the Kuna. You can even rent your own private island for something like $20/night. On the other hand, camping in the rain is not much fun even on a Caribbean paradise island

Drifter: Most of the problems I've heard about are around Lago Atitlan. There is a short and very rough stretch of dirt between San Pedro and Santiago that slows down vehicles enough that pedestrians with guns can easily stop vehicles. Highway robbery happens elsewhere too but (as I've heard) it tends to be around the tourist areas - just don't stop for anyone or anything.
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Old 12-06-2008, 08:31 PM   #385
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stickfigure
I am back in San Francisco!

I will try to fill in the rest of the trip chronologically

I seen your thread in the Latin America section. Glad you were able to get the bike back North of the border.

One of the best RR reports I've read. Looking forward to the next installment.
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Old 12-07-2008, 07:16 AM   #386
mookymoo
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stickfigure
The San Antonio shop (a huge Yamaha dealer with a growing KTM business) took the engine apart and found there was no oil in it. Since the bike never consumed oil, I must presume that the mechanic at Motoaltavista forgot to refill it. I feel like an utter moron for not double-checking the work. Naturally, the oil pressure light is not working - maybe a burned out bulb.

So, just in case you ever wanted to know: You can run an LC4 for about 700 miles without oil before it fails. Respect.
Holy crap
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Old 12-07-2008, 09:28 AM   #387
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Fantastic

Like reading a guide book getting me ready for the big one, Great Job . Please finish
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Old 12-07-2008, 06:52 PM   #388
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stickfigure
Any hope the bike will be free soon? Has it at least stopped raining?
Just now retrieved bike from emergency storage. Word is the road is open.

Must. Escape. Panama.


So is your repair going to be covered by warranty?
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Old 12-07-2008, 07:50 PM   #389
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stickfigure

A random bridge:

I love seeing a picture of a place I've been to, from a different perspective...in your case "just passing through", from a far (not so far actually) off land...

I hung out on that bridge for a couple lazy sunny afternoons, swimming in the river below it and relaxing...
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Old 12-10-2008, 12:47 AM   #390
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Tulúm



Nir and I met up with Scott and Yael in Tulúm, a cute town at one end of the "Riviera Maya" coast of Quintana Roo. The town itself is situated inland, but the beach is a short cab ride away. The water is crystal-clear blue and the sand is bone-white. There was also a lot of wind and rain, so we eschewed diving in the ocean.




Yael's photo

Tulúm also has a Mayan ruin right on the beach. The architecture is not spectacular by Mayan standards but you can't beat the location. If I were a Mayan emperor, *this* is where I would want to be.



We hung out on the beach:


Yael's photo

We ate weird local fruit:



We made more Israeli friends:



We made dinner:



...and what I mean by "we" is "Scott":



Yummy. Not pictured: More ceviche than a whole hostel could eat



Since diving in the ocean wasn't an option, we went diving in a cenote. Cenote water is filtered through the limestone of the peninsula... the visibility was staggering. It's like hanging in midair in the middle of a giant underground cavern. Flashlights barely throw a dust trail. Sadly, my camera isn't *that* waterproof.







After four days, we moved on:


Yael's photo


Yael's photo

This is where Yael pointed out to me that my camera was set to -2.0 exposure bias... and apparently it has been f'd up since Guanajuato. I hadn't looked very closely at the pictures after downloading them, but now I realize that most of my pictures are far too dark. Sad. Beware handing your camera to drunken friends!
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