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Old 01-24-2015, 11:55 AM   #1
scottmx81 OP
Joined: Dec 2004
Location: Toronto, Canada
Oddometer: 39
Playa del Carmen to Tikal

I am a Canadian with a location-independent income, currently living in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. This trip report is about a week-long adventure back in late November, when I had some unexpected holidays come up. I rode my 2001 Honda XR650L to Tikal, Guatemala, and back.

First, a little bit of background. I previously lived in another part of Mexico for 5 years, in the state of Michoacan. After those 5 years, I started travelling back and forth between Canada and Mexico a lot more. This was all fine, until July 2009, when the Canadian government slapped the visas on Mexican citizens, and my girlfriend at the time could no longer travel back and forth with me. I was already committed to coming back that August for a few months, and thought it was no big deal, just a few months apart. I was wrong, and the relationship did not survive. One thing led to another, and I did not make it back to Mexico for 5 years after that. To make a long story short, the Honda XR650L that I brought down to Mexico from Canada in January 2004 stayed in her possession.

So fast-forward a few years, and I was just beginning to accept my fate working a normal office job in Toronto, and had just purchased a new 2013 BMW F800GS, when opportunity presented itself. I quit my job, and came back to Mexico. This time I chose to come to Playa del Carmen, a small city 45-minutes down the coast from Cancun. But I had a problem. I could never bring the F800GS or any other bike down to Mexico again, until I had figured out a way to cancel the long-since expired import permit for the XR650L. Sadly, the BMW had to stay in Canada. My mission then was to figure out how to get that permit cancelled, any way I could.

I considered all of the options. I researched online for hours and hours how to do it. And in the end, I did it. In the summer I went back to Michoacan to find my bike, and figure out how to get it to the border with an import permit that had expired years earlier. Somewhat miraculously, the bike was returned to me, 5 years later, and I did get it down to Playa. The bike was in pretty rough shape, but it started, and that was a good sign. I ended up shipping it back to Playa from Michoacan, which was no easy feat itself, crossing my fingers that it would not be intercepted by the authorities along the way. In particular at the border of Quintana Roo state, which is considered a free-zone just like Baja California and the 20 km strip along the Northern border. Once it was in Playa, it was almost home free due to being in the free zone.

I took it into the shop a few times, each time giving clear instructions that I wanted this thing to run without problems, that I needed it to get to the border and back. My interest in motorcycling is more the adventure aspect, the riding itsef, and I'll admit that I'm not as mechanically inclined as I could be. Especially since most of my riding experience has been in Mexico, where labour rates are much cheaper than at home. Then, one weekend in September, I made the run to the border, 315 kms from Playa, and got the permit cancelled. Mission accomplished, and a huge relief after years of fretting over what I was going to do about this problem. After that, I was up for anything, even if the bike didn't make it back. I mean, I brought it down to Mexico 10 years ago, it served me well during that time when I was in Michoacan, and I have a practically new F800GS sitting at home in Canada.

Sometime in early November, I got news of an unexpected vacation, the week of U.S. Thanksgiving. There is no way I would have a week off without making the most of it, but I had a decision to make: bring the F800GS down from Canada, which was possible now, or just go have fun on the XR650. I researched and researched both possibilities, reading ride reports of others who had done Belize & Guatemala to get a good sense of just how crazy that idea was, and for the BMW, figuring out what to do about the cold. Ship it to the US/Mexico border? Rent a U-Haul truck and drive it 10 or so hours south to where I could reasonably expect 10-15 degree weather? Fly it with Air Canada? Just put on all my really warm gear, stop worrying about the cold and hope for the best? By this time the big snow storm in Buffalo had happened, and riding it right from my hometown wasn't seeming like a great idea anymore. As far as shipping, I figured if I'm going to spend $2,000-$4,000 getting it to Mexico, I'm going to enjoy it, not spend the majority of that money on shipping. Or riding on the Interstates, getting away from the cold as fast as possible.

I had to go back to Canada for a few days the week before, so I ordered the essentials that I thought I needed from Spares tubes, mini air compressor, MotionPro Bead Breakers, USB charger, and some some wrenches and tools here in Playa. I wanted to get a rack, but there wasn't enough time. I could not get one here in Playa, and there wasn't enough time to order internationally from the US and be reasonably sure that it would arrive within a week or so. I took the bike to the shop again, got them to put a new chain on, bleed the brakes, and a few other minor things like that. I went to Canada for a few days, picked up the other stuff, and came back.

I arrived in Cancun at 11:30pm, and it was around 1:30am by the time I made it back to Playa. But this was it, I was officially on vacation now. Was I really going to do this?? Or just stay close to home, and see what this area has to offer. I mean, I've been here in Playa for 7 months now, I've seen a bit, but I'm sure there's still lots of other nice things I could see and do here. I don't know Cancun that well, never been to Merida. Maybe I could go and see Chichen Itza, still haven't been there yet. Or I could just go ride around on Cozumel for a few days, that would be fun too. But when I woke up in the morning, there was no doubt. I'm doing this! If the bike doesn't make it, I'll take a bus back. What's the worst that can happen?

In the morning I had some running around to do, and then loaded up the bike for the first time. On the previous run to the border I had just taken my backpack, thinking it was no big deal travelling a main highway down to the state capital, but I paid dearly for that mistake when I got a flat in the middle of the jungle somewhere between Felipe Carrillo Puerto and the border. So this time I was going a bit more prepared for routine maintenance. I reformatted my old laptop with a fresh copy of Ubuntu and installed the key programs I need to work, but without any confidential client or personal data on it. If I did get stuck somewhere, I'd be able to work if I had to, but it wouldn't matter if it were stolen by bandits along the way. In the early afternoon, I was off.

My previous, long-held belief that breaking down in Mexico was much better than breaking down in Canada had been thrown into question on that last trip. I've always operated on the assumption that for enough money, someone with a truck would be more than willing to take me into the next town if something happened, and that there is a Honda dealer in almost every significant town in the country. But it was different breaking down in the jungle. There was no one around, no where to go, no where to sit, and you couldn't walk 1 foot into it beyond where it had been cleared for the road. It was enough to spook me a bit, but not enough to stop me this time. I still made it back afterall, it just took a few hours longer and cost me a bit more than I would have liked. I never travel out of town here without enough cash to deal with such situations.

So I was still a bit uneasy on that first stretch from Tulum to Bacalar. After the other experience, I am no fan of riding through the jungle. That had been my first overnight trip out of Playa on the bike, and it didn't take long to get the sense of how isolated it can be outside of the main towns here in the Yucatan pensinsula. I also do not think that the local Mayan population are big fans of the tourism here, and they don't tend to express the same enthusiam for meeting, helping and getting to know foreigners, as the people in other parts of the country do. Memories of that last trip, car after car speeding by at 140km/hour and not even remotely concerned or curious about the white guy standing on the side of the road like an idiot is what filled my mind most of the first day. Just let me make it to Bacalar!

By early evening I had made it, with a relatively uneventful day one. I went to find a hotel down by the water that I had seen the last time when I rode through, and had a chat with a guy watching the boats about the bike. He told me he had ridden from Bacalar to Veracruz on a 110cc bike, and was quite impressed with mine. I think 650cc is a big bike in most developing countries, even though it is basically considered entry level to many at home. He told me about another hotel down the road that was a bit cheaper, and that is where I ended up staying. I toured around Bacalar for a bit, had a couple of beers and tacos, and called it a night.

I arose the next morning to a stunning view. Bacalar is the second largest freshwater lake in Mexico, also known as the Lake of Seven Colors. I really love this place, and I'm sure I could spend several days here. There are watersports like kayaking and snorkeling, boat tours, cenotes, zip-lining and other activities, but it's not full of tourists yet like most places in the Riviera Maya. I'm sure it won't be long though. My goal was to make it across Belize that day though, so I didn't have much time to enjoy it. I took some pictures, went down to the water, had a quick swim, and played with the new GoPro a bit.

This is the place where I stayed, pretty rustic, the worst bed I've ever slept on, but a fabulous view, a decent Internet connection, and the price was right:

I had read in another trip report that it took about 5 hours to blast across Belize, from the Mexican border at Chetumal to the Guatemala border at San Ignacio. I didn't particularly want to be travelling at night, so I hit the road around 9:30am. My main goal for the trip was to make it to Flores and Tikal, but when I was googling hotel options near the Guatemala border in Belize the night before, I started to realize that San Ignacio was a popular tourist town as well. In another trip report I had seen someone talking about Belmopan being a good place to stay, not too far from the border, and that's where I had been hoping to make it to. Based on the Expedia results that morning, however, it was pretty clear that San Ignacio was a good choice too. I decided against pre-booking a hotel though, partly due to not being sure of the parking situation at the budget hotels on Expedia, and partly due to not being sure how far I would make it.

I stopped in town at the border to switch some pesos. There were not as many money changers as I would have expected, but I found a small supermarket that had a sign in the window saying they could switch money. The cashier was utterly disinterested in helping me, not very impressed that I was interrupting her cellphone conversation, but I did manage to hold her attention long enough to buy 2,000 pesos worth of Belize dollars.

I've spent a lot of time in Mexico and have a good idea of how things work here, and know perfectly well that you have to turn in your tourist card before leaving. But even still, I drove right past the immigration checkpoint and almost went across, before stopping and turning around to ask someone where I was supposed to turn in my card. I parked the bike and walked back to the checkpoint. Sure enough, the first thing he said was that I had to go pay up before I could leave. I had read about this online, and knew to expect this. But I had completely forgot to bring my flight itinerary, and without it, they insisted I pay up. I left the checkpoint and went to the immigration office, trying to explain that the fee had already been paid by the airline when I arrived in Mexico less than 24 hours earlier, but to no avail. They insisted I pay up also, and after about 30 minutes I gave in, and paid the fee. For some reason I couldn't log into Expedia from my phone, to show them proof.

For those unaware, the scam is that while there is a legitimate fee for a tourist card in Mexico when coming to the country, the fee is paid by the airline when you arrive by air. But without proof of payment by the airline, such as in the detailed breakdown of the "fees & taxes" section of your itinerary, they will insist you pay it again when leaving for Belize by land. Previous reports had led me to believe that this was typically paid informally direct to immigration, but I did pay this legitimately to Banjercito, with a printed receipt. So I don't feel so bad about it.

Things were relatively smooth on the Belize side. It was a bit of a mess due to construction, and I got turned around a bit between the entrance to the free zone, finding the unmarked fumigation place, and where exactly I was supposed to go, but it wasn't too bad. About a half hour on the Belize side, so an hour to get through the border was pretty close to what I had estimated. At the insurance office I ran into another guy with an Ontario plated-bike, who had just left Mexico without canceling his permits and he wasn't too happy. I didn't know who he was at the time, but as soon as I got home and went on ADV Rider, I very quickly recognized his bike in another thread on here, and read his whole report up to that point, and even saw a picture of my bike in it.

I made it to Corozal Town about 15 km south of the border, hit up the ATM at the ScotiaBank, took a short rest down by the water, and was off. I don't particularly trust currency exchange places anywhere, much prefering ATMs, which is why I only switched about $160 at the border. My Canadian bank card worked fine.

Other trip reports had given me the impression that Belize didn't have many paved roads, and I was expecting to be travelling on gravel roads much of the day. It turns out the road was paved the whole way, right from the Mexico border to the Guatemala border. It made for an easier day than I was expecting, but interesting none-the-less. In addition to the 7 months in Mexico, in the previous year alone I had also done things like a road trip 1,000kms each way across Cuba (by car), and ridden around Bali & Lombok on a Kawasaki KLX 250. I'm quite comfortable travelling around in developing countries, and I think a lot of stuff that might be surprising to others, does not phase me at all anymore. I made it to Belmopan by late afternoon.

I took a short rest at the gas station in Belmopan, and decided to carry on to San Ignacio. The sun started setting along the way, but I made it by dark. I rode around until I found a half decent hotel, and went back into town for dinner.

There were a number of interesting excursions being advertised on the main tourist strip here, and I decided to inquire. There were two that interested me the most, tubing down an underground river and the Actun Tunichil Muknal cave tour. There were also tours to Tikal, straight from here in San Ignacio, Belize. I considered my options over dinner and a beer or two, and decided to stick around for a couple of days. My plan had been to get the Guatemala part over with early in the trip, and spend the last days closer to home, still uncertain of what the Internet situation was like in Belize & Guatemala. But the ATM cave tour sounded really awesome, and Belize at that point was seeming much more fun than hanging around Flores for an extra day would be. After dinner, I booked the tour for the next day, and let them know at the hotel that I would be staying another night.

Where I was staying was technically in a town called Santa Elena. There's two towns that have grown into one, divided by a river through the middle. I was told by the tour people later that it's unusual for them to pick people up on the Santa Elena side. About 30-40 minutes after the planned pickup time, some guy in a very run down car stopped and hollored out the name of the tour company. I got in and off we went. He wasn't saying much to me along the way, and when he did speak, it was very hard to understand. "What kind of tour is this?", I thought.

Twenty minutes later we stopped, and I was transferred to another vehicle. It turns out they had forgot me on the way out, and had called a local taxi to come and pick me up. The tour turned out to be really amazing, among the most fun and memorable things I have ever done. Not far from where I had met up with the rest of the group, we turned off the main road and into the hills on gravel roads for another 20-30 minutes.

When we reached the nature reserve where the caves are located, we were informed that we would not be allowed to take anything with us. Nothing at all. Socks, sandals, bathing suit and a bottle of water, and absolutely nothing else was permitted. No cell phone, and no GoPro. It was nice that everyone was enjoying the experience and not preoccupied with taking selfies for Facebook, but it's really unfortunate that I couldn't get any footage with the GoPro. This is exactly the kind of thing I bought it for! In any case, there's a few pictures on Google for memories. I've seen some impressive caves before, such as the Grutas de Cacahuamilpa in Taxco (Mexico) and the Batu Caves outside Kuala Lumpur, but this was definitely my first time hiking up an underground river in a cave for two hours, and then up into the giant main chambers and seeing 1,000 year old sacrificed remains, pottery and other artifacts undisturbed, and exactly how they were found... except for the one skull that has a big hole in it, due to a French tourist dropping his camera on it a few years ago. This is why nothing may be taken in anymore. Here are a few pictures from someone else.


I was tempted to spend another day in San Ignacio, and even considered leaving the bike and taking a tour to Tikal. It seemed like the safe, easy thing to do. I almost wanted to just stay in San Ignacio, and not even go to Guatemala anymore. But I knew it was now or never. I've dreamed of riding in Central America for years, and this was my chance. I would be deeply ashamed writing a Playa to Tikal trip report and having to say I did the last stretch by organized tour, so the next day, I hit the road, off to the border. Other trip reports indicated that Tikal could be reached in approximately 1.5 hours from the border, so I wasn't too concerned about it, but I still wanted to get on the road early, in case there were any problems. I did not under any circumstances want to be riding in Guatemala after dark.

The ride to the border was uneventful, and not too far away. It was drizzling a bit, so I had my rainsuit on, and didn't get many pictures of this stretch, except for a little ferry crossing with some cows and a van being taken across the river.

I kept whatever Belize dollars I had on me, and switched some Mexican pesos for Queztales on the Belize side of the border. Just enough for gas and minor expenses, with a few dollars still for emergencies. I went in and paid my exit tax for Belize, but walked out and rode across the border without cancelling the permit for the bike. Even though I had just run into the other rider two days days before who had done the same thing leaving Mexico. You have to be really careful about that. It's your own responsibility to know that you have to cancel your permits when leaving, but no one is going to stop you if you don't.

On the Guatemalan side of the border I instantly felt at ease. Many of my apprehensions quickly evaporated as soon as I realized that these people were just like Mexicans. You always see pictures of the indigenous people in Guatemala, and hear stories about how many locals believe foreigners go there to steal their babies, and things like that. But the people at the border looked, talked and acted a lot like the typical Mexican. It might be lost on travellers who do not speak much Spanish, but I felt very comfortable, very quickly. The first stop was fumigation, quick and easy. Next stop, a pretty girl who was likely with the tourism ministry rather than immigration, asking why I was coming to Guatemala. Immigration was a quick stamp, no questions asked. And the customs officer for the car permit greeted me with an "hola, que tal?" and a smile, which basically felt like a "hey, what's up?". I had to go around the corner for copies, and pay at another window, but probably about 30 minutes total again.

The road to Flores from the border was alright, mostly paved except for one several kilometer stretch. The bag started to shift around a bit from all of the potholes, and I had to take it easy through here. On the way back I used another strap, and it was fine.

I felt a great deal of satisfaction when I arrived in Flores. I made it! After years of thinking and saying I'd love to ride in Central America, I finally did it, I had made it to the base town for excursions to Tikal. That counts as something, a trial run anyway. Ten years after bringing this bike down to Mexico on my first real motorcycle trip, from El Paso to Morelia, across the Copper Canyon on the way (which is still one of my other most memorable experiences ever), here I am 10 years later, on the same bike, in Guatemala. Who'd have thought?

I had pre-booked a hotel on Expedia before leaving that morning, but it was still a little bit too early to check-in, I thought. I stopped at a shopping center on the way into town, and got a bite to eat at a little cafe there. I wanted to know where I was going at least, so I went to find my hotel. I arrived two or three hours before the Expedia listed check-in time, but it was no problem at all. They said the room was ready for me. It turns out there was no parking, but they let me park the bike in the lobby overnight. The staff were very nice and helpful, helping me push the bike up the steps into the lobby each night.

It was still pretty early, so I had lots of time to ride around Flores, which is a little island in Lake Peten Itza, and also Santa Elena, which is the normal city across the water from Flores.

I felt even more at ease in Guatemala when I saw more than one "Taqueria Michoacan". I can't even get normal "Michoacan style" tacos here in Playa! All in all, Santa Elena seemed like any typical Mexican city, with a number of familiar stores and brands that I recognize from Mexico. I'm sure the whole country isn't like that, and for all I know Flores/Santa Elena are about as Guatemalan as Playa is Mexican. But I was still very pleasantly surprised. I definitely was not getting the feeling that people suspected foreigners were there to steal their babies yet.

After riding around for a bit, and taking in the view from the waterfront shopping center, I went back to Flores, parked the bike and went to find something to eat. There were lots of decent looking restaurants in Flores, but being by myself, I was just as happy trying out some Guatemalan street food, a roasted chicken dinner from a little place that had picnic tables set up across the street from the water.

I had some doubts again that night. "Do I really need to ride the bike to Tikal tomorrow? I could just take a tour from here!". Again, seemed pretty easy. But I knew I would never forgive myself if I did that. I asked the hotel receptionist if she thought I needed a guide to go to Tikal, or if I'd be fine on my own. She assured me that it was fine to go to Tikal without a guide, and that I could get a guide there if I wanted. I asked her if there was secure parking, she said that was no problem at all, and so that was that. I didn't bother talking to any of the tour guys in town.

The next morning I woke up early, got ready and was off for Tikal. I hit an ATM on the way out of town. My Canadian card did not work at the first ATM I tried, but it did work at the second. The ATM was inside of a supermarket at the mall, just as it was opening. The employees were all hudled around near the ATM, being lectured about Black Friday. It wasn't that long ago that I had no idea what Black Friday was myself, and now it's not only being pushed in Canada, but also in Guatemala? I found it both amusing and sad, at the same time.

The road to Tikal was pretty good, much better than I expected. Other reports gave me the impression that it was a bit remote, and I wasn't certain whether the stretch north from the main highway was going to be paved the whole way. It turns out it was a well-paved road, back-tracking about 30 minutes on the main highway, and another 30 minutes or so north. The stretch north is populated with small villages much of the way, and did not feel isolated. It's not until you hit the park itself where there is a small, isolated stretch until you get to the main visitor center area, but you're in a national park, on a well-paved road.

Tikal itself was pretty awesome too. I've seen some of the Mayan ruins around Playa, and was not particularly impressed at the time. When I first went to Tulum, I was a little bit disappointed. Compared to Teotihuacan north of Mexico City, for example, it seemed like just a pile of rocks. Being on a cliff by the seaside was nice, but I couldn't help but think at the time, "they've got nothing on Uluwatu", in Bali. But Tikal changed my perspective a bit. Instead of just being some Mayan ruins making for a good Facebook photo-op, I did get the sense at Tikal that it was a real, large city. It gave me a new appreciation for the pre-Columbian Mayan civilization. Instead of piles of rocks scattered around here and there throughout the region, for the first time I could see in my mind how it was connected. Even the state museum of Mayan Culture in Chetumal had not done much to give me a more favourable opinion of the Mayan culture. I had left wondering, "what is wrong with these people, cracking their babies skulls to slant their foreheads? Sacrificing all these people? Not cool!" But Tikal did something to increase my own awareness of how things got to where they are in The Americas, and of our own current place in time.

In lieu of a guide, I picked up a couple of books at the visitor center. I made reference to these throughout the day, but it wasn't long before I was shaking my head in disbelief. "This place was occupied for fifteen-hundred years?" I'm sure that will be lost on many, and the pictures will still look like big piles of rocks to most people. Impressive for their size. But what intrigued me the most about Tikal was the sense of being a real city and the center of a major civilization, that ruled this part of the American continent for centuries. The books point out things that indicate a relationship with Teotihuacan, for example, and I could start to see it in my mind now.

I spent about 6 hours at Tikal, and it was not enough time. I could have spent hours just sitting and admiring the place from various vantage points, such as overlooking the trees and the peaks of the other temples from atop Temple IV. I still did not want to be riding at night in Guatemala though, so by late afternoon I started heading back to Flores.

It was a pretty wet morning the next day. I put my rainsuit on and hoped for the best. After a few laps around the island with the GoPro, I hit the highway and headed back to the border. I wanted to get rid of the remaining Quetzales I had, but there was no spare room for anything. The best I could do was gas up and have a quick lunch in Melchor de Mencos, and across I went. Leaving Guatemala, everyone at the border was again very friendly and helpful, but I did have to cancel the permit. The customs officer must have asked me at least three times if I really did want to cancel it, letting me know that the current one was valid for multiple entries. I would not be able to get a new one for 90 days.

On the Belize side, I went in and handed them my passport, and car permit from Corozal. She was not happy that I had left without cancelling it, but they let it slide and I was able to come back in with the same one. I was tempted to spend another night in San Ignacio due to the rain, but I stuck with the plan, hoping to get closer to the border. The plan was to make it to Orange Walk, and if I couldn't find a hotel there, carry on to Corozal, and failing that, cross back to Mexico, where I knew for sure I could easily find decent hotels in either Bacalar or Chetumal, and would feel safe enough doing so after dark.

It rained the whole way to Orange Walk, and apart from a short detour around a head-on collision, it was a relatively uneventful day. I made it just before dark, and got a room at the first hotel I stopped at. The rainsuit did not hold up to a full day of sustained rain, and I was soaked right through by the time I arrived. After a warm shower, I went exploring in Orange Walk on foot, but I did not feel particularly safe walking around after dark. After dinner and a couple beers, I went back to the hotel for the night.

While in San Ignacio I had caught wind of some Mayan ruins near Orangewalk, called Lamanai. The tour guide to Actun Tunichil Muknal had said they were his favourite Mayan ruins, and he liked the site more than Tikal. The usual way to get there is by taking a tour, which involves an hour or so long boat ride down the river. I had two days left, and was very interested in checking them out, but I was not so keen on the organized tour. In part because it would get back around 4:30pm, and I really wanted to at least make it back to Mexico that day. Back at the hotel I researched how to get there by land, and found that it was about 36 miles each way, on unpaved roads, from Orange Walk.

Over breakfest and a walk around the hotel gardens in the morning, I considered the options, and decided to play it safe. I know now that Orange Walk is close enough to Playa that it is a relatively easy day's drive, and I could go back to see Lamanai on a long weekend.

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Old 01-24-2015, 11:58 AM   #2
scottmx81 OP
Joined: Dec 2004
Location: Toronto, Canada
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I headed towards Playa, with a short stop in Corozal. I explored the town a bit more, chatted for a while with a guy who noticed the GoPro, and had breakfast down by the lake.

At the border I turned in my car permit for Belize, and went across the same bridge I had come over on. No one seemed to be stopping me, but before getting to the customs/military stop, I turned around and went back to immigration. Inside an officer told me cars were not allowed to cross at that border, even though that's the one I had come across on, and I could very clearly see taxis going through. I turned around back to Belize, and followed the signs to the new crossing instead.

There seems to be a lot of controversy over this online, but from my own research I am satisfied that the state of Quintana Roo is considered exempt from the car permit requirement. It is entirely possible to drive through the border without stopping for a car permit. I've done this twice now, once when I cancelled the expired permit, and again this time. No one checks to ensure you have a car permit when coming into Mexico from Belize, and it's up to you to stop and get it if you need one. From Belize to Cancun is considered a free zone, but you will need to have one if you leave the state. One implication of this is that you can safely leave a motorcycle here in Quintana Roo and fly home, without running into car permit problems.

After immigration, I skipped the car permit office, and continued on. I love Bacalar and had to stop to see it again. But after having made it all the way to Guatemala and back, I was still a bit worried about this last stretch through the jungle again, so I didn't stick around in Bacalar for very long.

Sure enough, not long after, I went down. I had seen a Pemex coming up and wasn't going to stop, but just after passing it I made a last minute decision to do so. I was braking hard as I pulled off and hit a small patch of gravel at the edge of the parking lot, and simply lost traction and went over. I hit my head but I was alright, just a sore wrist and the front brake lever bent at a 90 degree angle. Other than that, the bike seemed alright, and after redoing the straps, I was able to continue home. I made it by the early evening, about an hour after dark.

I've always loved the XR650L, and successfully completing this trip after the bike sat for 5 years, has definitely reinvigorated my respect for it. The BMW is sexy, but the Big Red Pig will always have a place in my heart.
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Old 01-24-2015, 05:14 PM   #3
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Location: Beverly Hills, Mt -swimmin pools,movie stars
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Well done Scott - that was a great report .

Thank you
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Old 01-24-2015, 05:38 PM   #4
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Joined: Mar 2013
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Originally Posted by scottmx81 View Post
I am a Canadian with a location-independent income, currently living in Playa del Carmen, Mexico.
Lucky you! Great report, subscribed.
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Old 01-26-2015, 10:10 PM   #5
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Joined: Sep 2007
Location: Antigua, Guatemala
Oddometer: 583
Too bad you turned around in Tikal - you missed all the best parts of Guatemala

I used to live in Playa del Carmen, but moved to Antigua Guatemala 3 years ago. I eventually got tired of the endless beaches.... somehow...

Great photos and ride. Reminds me a lot of my ride a few years ago. Cheers!

Does the motocross track on 30th still exist in Playa?
Ongoing Ride Report: ..... I'll just skip to the Baja part.

Motorcycle Tours in Guatemala
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Old 01-26-2015, 11:33 PM   #6
Butler Maps
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Joined: May 2002
Location: Fort Collins, Colorado
Oddometer: 18,991
Sweet! I loved Flores and Tikal.
Butler Maps - motorcycle maps for riders by riders -
NM map COBDR AZBDR IDBDR South East map
Butler Maps website:
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