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Old 02-03-2010, 03:02 PM   #16
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What kind of Coms.

Enjoying your RR, looks like you were having fun, sorry to here about the crash, hope you are doing ok. I was wondering as to the type of Coms. you are using? My riding are looking for some, any tips would be appreciated. Rod
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Old 02-04-2010, 06:33 PM   #17
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Thanks for posting guys

Rod, We have the Scala Rider Q2 system. It came in very handy on the trip, while Navigating in the cities etc. You never have to doff the helmet to talk, or yell at each other/use signals.

We did run into reliability issues sometimes. The comms are voice activated, and they would refuse to turn on sometimes. We found that coughing loudly was the most effective way of activating them. They would also cut out mid-sentence a lot, or just not activate at all.

We were still very happy to have them though, esp for safety, when you are getting passed, or one of us had made a pass and could see the road ahead, giving the OK for the second bike to go.

More posts this weekend
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Old 02-05-2010, 08:56 PM   #18
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Day 13 - Papantla to Lake Catemaco Mex. - 418kms

Great riding today, starting with nice twisting road in lush, green hillside. Making good time towards Catemaco.


Toll roads and bridges on Hwy 180.
Stop for B-fast at Costa Esmerelda, another sweet place with no-one visiting:

This place looks fine for Breakfast:

Quite nice actually. Why is it deserted?

Out front:

Jay gives us a commentary:


If you are getting red X's on these, you're missing the vids! Update your Flash Player:

The Mexicans here are still driving with a death wish, we dodge them in the oncoming lane as they pass, leaving inches between us. They drive as though an Atomic bomb is going to detonate at their destination and they are on their way to disarm it.

Carlo and Ellie catch up to us on the highway, and I convince them to come with us to Catemaco. We decide to follow Carlo's superior GPS map, which works great, other than a 18km detour. We are attempting to bypass Veracruz.

On Carlo and Ellie's bike:

One of the friendly guards at a Toll stop:

Heading into Catemaco, we get held up by a line of slow trucks spewing black smoke. Normally we would blast by them , but the road is very curvy. Luckily the scenery here is amazing, so we don't mind.

Arriving in Catemaco, a group of vultures on little 125cc bikes swarm us, looking to get a commission for bringing us to a hotel. We are wise to this and ignore them to avoid a 10-20% markup. We pause to soak up the surroundings. This place is very beautiful. It appears to be a vacation spot mostly for Mexicans.

We try a few Hotels and decide on the Brujo - a bit pricey at $400 Pesos, but a killer balcony view and nice clean room with a shower. We secure the bikes behind locked gates a block away. Dinner with C and E and then lots of walking around town, to the Zocalo and up and down the Malecon. Around Catemaco:

We sleep under our nets as we had a window open and let in a swarm of Mozzie type friends.

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Old 02-05-2010, 10:15 PM   #19
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Day 14 - Nov21st - Catemaco to Playa Azul - 330kms

We wish we could stay here longer. There is a lot to see on the lake and in the surrounding area, but we want to keep our spare 5-day buffer in case of "misadventures". The only deadline we have is meeting our wives for Xmas on the other coast of Mexico. Unfortunately we have to bid farewell to to our Amigos Carlo and Ellie, we'll miss them. They are headed to tour the Yucitan and we are doing a straight-shot towards Chetumal and Belize.

A great start - headed to Salto Eyipantla, back the way we came in, about a half hour. This is another tourist stop, and thus we are swarmed by locals that make a living from visitors. We meet our first straight-up child beggar.

Some are a bit too persistent, I throw one of these fellows off by speaking in French and pretending not to understand English. This works until he fetches some French people, at which point the game was afoot. We grab a coffee and are amazed by the multitude of shops and cafes, all empty. How do these people survive? I hope that some of you out there stop by to support them. Even grabbing a snack helps out their families. The waterfall was worth the visit:

At our Cafe:

Carrying on, there is some awesome 2-lane riding on #180 east of Catemaco, roads are in great shape, tons of twisties. Onto #185 and several toll stretches, most expensive was $55 Pesos per bike, ouch.

We grab our traditional (really late) B-fast at a roadside place with a Clint Eastwood theme. How could I not eat here? Clint is the man!

Pretty girl with her mom:

So basically a big breakfast is $2.40 Canadian dollars. We aint in Cancun folks. I would eat this B-fast countless times and not really get sick of it:

Onto mostly 4 lane, straight road. Marshlands and evidence of flooding in this area. We make our destination, Paraiso, but we cannot find any Hotels or even an area to camp. Most places are fenced off. Plenty of restaurants though. So we keep heading along the coast towards Frontera, running out of sun, shit. We contemplate camping on the garbage strewn beach, and we probably should have, but our gut tells us that it wasn't a good plan, so we follow a sign saying "Hotel".

We end up down a dirt road at a complex with a locked gate and no one around. We start hollaring "Hola" and a young boy appears, observes us for a bit, not knowing what to do. They are surprised to see us. Eventually he lets us in. We ask "quanto questa por dos camas por favor?"

They want $500 pesos which we laugh at it's a bit much. I mean, they can take our money, or get no money when we leave. I offer a more reasonable $300 and the mom disappears to call the Jeffe. While they stall us for 10 min, I grow impatient and fire up the bike to leave. This gets their attention, and they accept our offer.

A strange place, this was probably a nice little resort at some point, but it was allowed to deteriorate. It is abandoned other than our hosts, the caretakers. Our room smells horrible, something is wrong here. We guess that there must have been a flood, and we are smelling the mold damage. Either that or something died in the walls. Maybe both. Anyways, it's pretty clean and besides the bugs, really loud AC and the smell it's not bad at all.

It's a short walk to the beach:

Which is somewhat polluted unfortunately:

Still a cool location. The family's youngest son had a cute dog that we made friends with. We're both suckers for dogs:

This boy was very curious and taught us a few new words in Spanish:

Did I mention the A/C was a bit loud? Still, better than no A/C. It's hot:



I should mention that the we and the bikes get a whole lot of attention here. It's clear that the area is seldom visited by tourists, esp on our "monster machines" with their look, sound and SIZE.

Also, the driving on the Gulf continues to boggle our minds. It is like Russian Roulette with a car. People will pass on blind hills and corners, without a clue if they have oncoming. Little memorial shrines dot the shoulder everywhere. As a result, we have to favor the right side of the lane, as cars will often be coming at us full charge as we round a corner or crest a hill, a foot from our bike, doing 130 kms/hr.

We've been through at least 6 checkpoints by now, about 3 military and 3 Federales. No searches at all. Most wave us on and a couple have asked our destination. That's it. Always friendly.
Also, don't expect signage or street names anywhere in this area, even on the highway. Because few tourists drive here, they don't feel the need to provide us any clues. The locals know the way already.

I'm missing my wife Megan a lot by now. Haven't talked to her in 5 days. No cell coverage and I don't know how to use the pay phone yet. Part of me is glad that she is safe and comfy at home, not dodging traffic, eating sketchy food, not knowing where you'll sleep and swatting bugs. I personally enjoy this, but I'm not sure if she would! Ok maybe she would..

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Old 02-05-2010, 11:59 PM   #20
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Day 15 - Playa Azul to Zoh Laguna - 500kms

Out of our stinky room and we have trouble waking our hosts to let us out of the locked gate.

Eventually Jay rouses them. Back through several small, dirty villages. Garbage lines the front of houses and fills ponds and lagoons. Stopped by a couple of bored and curious Transit Police who ask to see some ID and ogle the bikes - I.D.L. to the rescue again.

On the way out:

Coastal highway runs inland a bit and we hit some rain alongside some wetlands. Bikes are popular in the towns here and it's not uncommon to see 4 people per bike: Mom, Dad, 2 kids.

The stare-downs continue, not always the friendliest looks, more like a 1000 yard stare. Jay and I start judging "smiles per hour" which sits at around '6' here.

4 lane road leads to narrow 2 lane bi-way without traffic. Hauling ass. Couple of tolls on this road, the most expensive being before Ciudad del Carmen - it's about $13 for both bikes, or about 8x what we're used to. It's a long ass bridge. Turkey sandwiches at a roadside diner, we order seconds. $2 a sandwich.

A few more checkpoints, no hold-ups. The route towards Subancuy shows evidence of some pretty major storms, there several downed hydro towers and plenty of busted up buildings on the beach.

Arrive at our destination of Sabancuy. I had thought the town was ocean-side, but it's actually inland a couple of kms. Beach was nice:

It's only 11:38am and we decide to keep moving towards Xpuzil (town/ruins) after checking out the town:

Coffee stop:

Highway towards Xjupil:

We see these at the side of the road in a small town and decide to stop:

They are (from right) Elijah, David, Flo and his brother (forgot his name). Flo on his GS, from Germany,with his Bro on the Africa twin are doing the Alaska to Argentina thing. David (UK - XT600) and Elijah (USA-Dr650) are doing the same route and ran into the brothers.

They are all in their 20's, full of piss and vinegar and refuse to pay more than $10 for accommodations. Their bikes are heavy as hell and loaded to the nines. David carries 3 tires. They have many stories of adventure. Flo remembers Carlo and Ellie from when they were in Whitehorse. Ha. We ride together in a pack of six for a while, which is kinda cool - like a gang.

At the gas station we say bye, they are keen to keep moving and camp, we intend to find a village and chill out. These guys are on a hardcore budget and can't afford to pay guides, do tours, boat trips, etc. They have to camp all the time to stretch the funds for up to a year or more. Good on em. Our trip is more cozy, but still budget. We enjoy spreading our funds around to various little cafes and small hotels. It helps the economy here.

We double back a short ways to Mercedes Cabanas in Zoh Laguna, outside of Xjupil. The owner Antonio is a great dude, very friendly and engages us in conversation despite our poor Spanish. Phrase book is in effect.


Antonio made us a wicked Chicken feast that we washed down with a few beers each. Comes out to about $210 Pesos which is cheap for back home, but here it costs more than the lodgings.

I ate way too much spice with that. Ughh- gut rot.

Jay is reading up on Guatemala and is rightfully taken aback by the grim picture that Lonely Planet paints:
"No one could pretend that Guatemala is a very safe country. There are just too many stories of robbery, often armed robbery, for that. Rapes and murders of tourists have also happened."

Reminds me of the UK, Canadian and US embassy travel advisories for the country. I've been there twice (a long time ago) and it doesn't echo my experiences. Something to think about as we ride closer.

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Old 02-06-2010, 12:39 AM   #21
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Old 02-06-2010, 01:33 AM   #22
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Sweet can harly wait for the next update!
How do I do it?
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Old 02-07-2010, 01:45 PM   #23
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Chapter 3 - Belize
- Un-Belizeable -

Day 16 - Nov 23 - Zoh Laguna Mex to Sarteneja Belize

A big day

Up and out of Mercedes early at 7am, onto big straight Hwy 186. Hit a big downpour and get soaked. Change shirt and install liner as we wait for the rain to subside.

These guys will wake you up 99% of the time in Mexico. Don't worry about bringing an alarm clock:

Kids go to school in uniforms here:

Jay and I are a bit cranky towards each other and have a "difference of opinion" as to the time frame of the rainy season in Belize. Not having coffee effects our mood more than we'd like to admit.

While we are stopped:

#186 leads us about 100kms to the border. Good hwy signs here and no delays. Mayan ruin sites galore. 2 military checkpoints wave us through.

Arrive at the border and find Mexican Aduanas to check the bikes out, remove the permit decals and get a reciept.

Make sure to clean off your VIN so they can get a good photo:

Over a small bridge and into Belize. Very excited. We stop at a small shack by the side of the road for the mandatory insurance. It's about $30 US for a month's worth of liability coverage. Same price for 2 weeks. Try to ignore "helper" guy that shows up. This border is not confusing enough for a helper. Also, people are speaking English.

First time we see one of these:

We are told by helper guy that a spray for the bikes in mandatory, so we cough up $10BZ for both bikes to get fumigated. Seems like a scam and we aren't asked for the receipt later, so skip this step.

For future reference $1 U.S. = 2$ Belizean

I go through customs first. This is the funniest process I can remember and I've been to over 30 borders. The big guy behind the counter is slow as molasses, chatting with his buddies, changing radio stations, lighting incense etc. He asked: "Are you a Bona Fide tourist Mon?" Huh? Umm yes I am. What he wants to know is if I am blasting through the country in one day, like so many others do.

I convince him that we are in fact "Bona Fide" tourists than plan to stay a couple of weeks and cruise around a lot. This gets me the 30 day pass that we need. He also asks to see my luggage, but when I say they are attached to the bike, he just kinda waves me through.

NO fees and little hassle, other than the persistent "Porters" who are basically trying to guilt you into paying them. It worked, I gave one of them $10BZ, this pisses Jay off to no end, because the guy didn't do anything.

I make Jay feel better by getting our $10 back with a very good exchange rate from the money changers here. At the actual border line they ask if we have any guns or drugs and wave us through.

We're in. Im nervous and elated at the same time. I'm actually here. It's surreal after dreaming about it for a dozen years.

Onto the Northern Highway (it's unmarked - big surprise) and onto Corozal Town:

A sudden and heavy tropical squall rolls in and with it some very heavy rain, the kind where you are soaked in 3 seconds. We end up on some kind of secondary dirt road. Huge potholes are filled with murky beige water. We can't see - both our visors and glasses are foggy and wet. Some potholes are a foot deep and others only a couple of inches, so we have to slow down to a crawl to avoid a crash. Needless to say I didn't take a pic whilst getting drenched.

We are headed in the right direction, so we carry on, get turned around in a small town and eventually find Orange Walk:

Rush hour:

We got a little wet:


It's a bit of culture shock here. Not only are people speaking Spanish and English, it's a real melting pot of cultures. There are Mennonites with their beards, suspenders, long shirts, black pants and hats in horse drawn wagons and also in line at the bank. There are Myans, Guatemalans and black Garifuna, the odd ex-pat or traveller and Chinese in the corner stores and restaurants, one of which we stop at for fried chicken and rice:

Everything is very exotic here, with lush country side, more relaxed drivers and a lot more smiles per hour. I ask a fireman where I can find an ATM and find this:

A bit of Canadiana

We get started towards our destination of Sarteneja. It's a rough rock-embedded, potholed road with some muddy wash-outs. We don't air down because it doesn't look that far on my water-logged map. That was a mistake. Of course, I never capture the condition of the roads on film - you'll have to trust me.

The country side is totally stunning. It's overcast and very humid. This section takes us through the nature reserve out to the coast.

We finally make Sarteneja and look for Backpacker's Paradise, a compound where we'd like to stay. We see the sign, but figure it's in town so we pass it and have to come back. Duh

The place doesn't look like much at first, but we quickly warm up to Natalie and her whole little paradise. Cool little Jungle cabanas are $20BZ ($10 US, remember?)

George here from WA state is hanging out indefinitely. Lucky guy. He rides a KLR and a GS back home near Seattle. I try to convince him that he needs to ride down someday.

As we are getting set up, we hear the roar of some bikes and spot the 4 amigos blasting by, missing the turn off just like we did. After they arrive, they let us know that a couple of cable-ferries skip that brutal 1.5hr road completely. Oh well, why do we have KLR's if not to flog them?

Jay and I go for a stroll to town, cool dirt streets and beautiful waterfront. Everyone is waving, smiling and super friendly. We have arrived.

Where the streets have no name:


The rains come and go like a light switch:

We head back to BP's Paradise and hang out with the gang there. The 4 amigos, George, Natalie and her man, a random Euro chick and a couple from Toronto. Nat makes us some good veggie sandwiches and delivers a few Belikins (beer). Flo is showing off his blog and I'm pretty jealous of his grand 1 year adventure. There seems to be a bit of an elitist attitude amongst these guys - kind of like traveler's snobbery, although David from the UK is very friendly and has no attitude.

We are in the full-on jungle here, the forest sings and there are plenty of geckos, snakes, bugs and cockroaches. Nat grabs a little snake and lets me hold it. Cool.

She is going to store the bikes for us for $5 Bz/day while we hit the islands for 4 days. It will be great to get a day off the bikes - the first in 16 days non-stop riding. We are departing from here to the Quays basically to avoid Belize city. Everything I hear about it is negative. I'm afraid that the whole country suffers from the gnarly reputation of that one place. We have no reason to want to visit.

The pressure is off somewhat for me now. I have officially succeeded in reaching Belize on my bike. Whatever happens now, at least I can say that I achieved my dream. We take the water taxi tomorrow at 0730.

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Old 02-10-2010, 08:05 PM   #24
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Day 17 - Sarteneja to Ambergris Caye

Pretty impressive thunder storm last night woke me a few times:


It didn't look much better in the morning.


We contemplated staying in BPP for another day, but decided to get moving.

Skies cleared as soon as we started hoofing it to town. Waited for the Thunderbolt - the express water taxi - for a while. Nat had made a call to have them make a special stop for us. The trip takes 1.5 hours and we sit in the back to take in the views.

Onto Ambergris Caye - "La Isla Bonita" and find Pedro's Inn, about a mile from town. At $40 BZ it's about a third of what the next cheapest place is. For us it's perfect - two bunks, clean, hot water and they do our laundry for us.

At Pedro's:

It's pretty bizarre that most of the vehicles on the island are golf carts - swarms of them flying along with fat, sunburnt foreigners at the wheel. It reminds me of the passengers of the ship in WALL-E. Cindy at the Inn rents us a couple of bikes and we head north, intent on seeing more than the busy town centre. Get our first ocean swim before a heavy rain storm hits so we find Legends burger house to hide and drink beers.

Soaked and covered in sand from the streets, we head back to Pedro's. I get a call in to my wife Megs and then we head back to the square for $3 (Bz) street vendor dinners. Some interesting characters here, but overall pretty touristy. Later at a bar on one of the piers, one of the residents complains that Canadians are moving in, taking over business from the locals. They also give us grave warnings about walking the streets at night. We ignore this part.

Looking forward to swimming with the sharks tomorrow.

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Old 02-10-2010, 08:29 PM   #25
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National forest sign?

I'll bet they don't even know what a snowmobile is. You can bet they have never seen one. Pretty bizare to see that sign there, i see them all the time, but that's on my ski-doo. Rod

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Old 02-14-2010, 04:19 PM   #26
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Day 18 - San Pedro, Ambergris Caye

Day 2 on Ambergris. Awesome breakfast of Johnnie cakes and cinnamon buns at Ruby's Cafe.

If you can't beat 'em, join em. We decide to rent a golf cart and see how much we can abuse it before it falls apart. All the cool kids were doing it.

We want to see the outer reaches of the island. We head north. On the way we give a ride to a hitchhiking lady. We thought we were just doing her a favor, but it turned into a solicitation for money. Go figure. I've decided to start telling people "you can't help everybody" - which is true. We find that there is a toll on the bridge heading north over the river, so we turn south.

After driving through town and some condo developments, it gets pretty desolate. Plenty of empty lots with piers heading out into the water. The road gets pretty bad, by golf cart standards. Good thing ours is lifted with big-ass tires.


After fording a few puddles and generally beating on the cart over rough terrain, a large puddle slows us down. I'm measuring the depth when a big rasta man in a Polaris shows up and eggs us on. "C'mon mon, you can do it!"

So we blast through the big puddle and follow him to Ras Safari, his oceanside bar and grill in the middle of nowhere. Robert is a fascinating guy, originally Jamaican but now in Belize by way of the States. He and his friend Leslie entertain us over beers. We agree to some Jerk chicken, which takes 2 hours to make.

With the weather clearing up, we realize that we could miss our only window to snorkel the reef, so we bid farewell and race back to town.

We narrowly make the tour to Shark Ray Alley, so much in a rush that I can't stop and get my underwater disposable camera. The comapny, Seaduced, runs a small boat with about 6 of us on board. What follows was the most incredible snorkeling you can imagine. The Hol Chan Marine Reserve is home to Nurse Sharks, Rays, Eels, reef fish in every colour of the rainbow. I borrowed a couple of images of what we saw:

After our amazing tour we grab some food and head to the World Famous Chicken Drop. Huh, you might ask? Well, basically a big crowd gathers, gets liquored and places bets on where a chicken will take a crap. Yup.

After that experience we tour around town make a couple of stops, and meet Bambo, a shop owner that is the most hilarious and perverted guy I think we've met so far. It's cool because he's not trying to sell us anything, just have some laughs. We then head back to our Hostel where a party is in full swing, mostly made up of a wedding group from the States.

Altogether another killer day on the islands of Belize.

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Old 02-15-2010, 10:40 PM   #27
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You Did it!

Hey D,

Congrats on the trip.
It looks like it was awesome. Thanks for the great images.

Did you ever find the dive shop in Placentia?
MAybe one day

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Old 02-16-2010, 05:49 PM   #28
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Hey Man,

Been a while. We did make it to Placentia but didn't scout out the dive shops. Was more interested in buying land in Caye Caulker. Will cover that next. Hope all is well,

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Old 02-22-2010, 08:31 PM   #29
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Day 19- Nov 26th - Caye Caulker

Today we're off to Caulker, named after the pirate ships that would stop over here to repair leaky hulls. The island is touted as the polar opposite of Ambergris - less developed, less touristy and laid back.

Waiting for the water taxi:

It's $10Bz and 15 minutes on a water taxi to hop to our new destination. Totally different (better) vibe here. All streets are sand, there are 4 cars on the whole island, fewer carts here, most are electric and quiet.

Just off the dock is Tina's hostel and we check in without even shopping around. Great location right on the beach, funky decor, and $20Bz each - ($10 US to those who forgot).


We explore town a bit and then take a long walk to the south tip of the island. Plenty of lizards, iguanas and bird species.

The weather is perfect, damn hot and sunny. Very cool houses with private piers along the waterfront. Very prominent Rasta culture here.

We find Chocolate, the famous conservationist/tour guide, to try and book a tour to see the Manatee, an endangered mammal. Chocolate is 80 years old and has been a guide since the 60's. He gives us a synopsis of the history behind the conservation movement. It's not requested but fascinating. Unfortunately we need 2 more people to head out.

Part way through the island there is a body of water seperating the land into 2 peices. It was ripped in half by a tropical storm. Here, the popular local bar, The Lazy Lizard, brings all the beautiful people out to drink, swim,soak up rays and look smashing. We stop for a drink and take a dip from the crumbling concrete former pier. Reggie music echoes across the water. Why do hippies wear scarves in the tropics?

Time for an awesome dinner at Bamboo - amazing conch and snapper prepared Mango-Creole style. Best food thus far on the trip. Back at Tina's we hang out with 3 Aussies, a dutch guy and one Canadian, Ken.

Ken has a harrowing story of an express kidnapping in Nicaragua. He was jumped, blindfolded, robbed and beat up. Poor guy didn't see it coming. They started casing him on the train first, then a girl started chatting him up. When he didn't respond favorably, they sent in a prettier one. She got on the bus with him, texting away the whole time to her crew, then suggested they share a cab because "it was too dangerous to walk". Once in the cab he was done for, they stopped to pick up her friends, then forced him to drain his accounts. Just too nice a guy and naive.

The Aussies are great. I tend to like Australian travelers. They are mostly friendly and non-judgmental. They are doing a 3 day sailboat cruise to Plancencia, lucky buggers.

Wander the town and check out I&I Reggae bar, which has some very cool upper decks outside and a Canucks flag. Random. Then off to another place called Oceanside where we witness some horrific Karaoke before I have to break up the misery by doing a lounge version of "Sweet Caroline". It went over pretty well.

Odd sight in the tropics:


Lots of city and waterfront lots for sale here. The city ones are about $35,000 US. How can Megs and I move here? I'm already thinking of a trip here with her.

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Old 02-22-2010, 09:13 PM   #30
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Day 20 - Caye Caulker

Basically a chill day. We are in full Island mode now. Ended last night dozing in a hammock on the beach. Good fruit and pancake B-fast, chatted it up with our Aussie friends, a couple that has spent the last 4 years in Banff. Did I mention that we have an exchange program with Oz?

Visited a real estate agent and grilled her about getting citizenship etc. She paints a rosy picture.

Just realized I'm covered in insect bites.

We get offered drugs here more times than I can count.

We head for dinner with a fellow traveller, Sarah from Portland. She traveled here and in Guatemala solo. Good for her. We then head to the Reef bar for trivia night, then the I&I for 1 beer.

Altogether a pretty uneventful day. We are eager to get moving. It's curious how much you want to keep moving constantly. Anything more than 2 days off the bike starts to feel like a lifetime. So, don't fret ADV-riders, we'll be making miles again soon.

From around Caulker:

Not our kind of traveller:

Pick your fresh fish, and they cook er up:

drifter dave screwed with this post 02-22-2010 at 09:45 PM
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