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Old 02-23-2010, 02:21 PM   #31
BikerGeek99
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I am in!

Looking forward to the rest of your trip. Thanks for taking the time to share with us!

BG
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Old 02-23-2010, 02:51 PM   #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BikerGeek99
I am in!

Looking forward to the rest of your trip. Thanks for taking the time to share with us!

BG
ya , what he said
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Old 02-23-2010, 05:08 PM   #33
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Thanks guys!

It is pretty time consuming. I was starting to wonder if anyone was reading out there
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Old 02-23-2010, 08:54 PM   #34
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Enjoying the RR

Just to let you know, there are a bunch of us just lurking , and enjoying the RR, please keep it up. Thanks Rod
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Old 02-24-2010, 01:10 PM   #35
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Superb, gimme more
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Old 02-24-2010, 05:03 PM   #36
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PLEASE keep posting; great ride report!
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Old 02-24-2010, 08:28 PM   #37
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Cheers guys - thanks for the encouragement!



Day 21 - Nov 28th 2009 - Caulker - Ambergris - Sartenja


Travel day. Over cast and 25-28 degrees C all day. Jay and I are kinda zoned out today, after 3 nights of semi-mild drinking and not doing a whole lot. We catch the 9:40 taxi back to Golf Cart Heaven (San Pedro, Ambergris). We went with the locally owned taxi company, to the approval of the residents.





Not a lot happening in San Pedro, so we go to our favorite place, Rubi's, for the best coffee and Johnnie cakes in the hemisphere. We drop in on Bambo at his wood carvings shop on the beach and chat for a bit. I think having a couple of white dudes put the touristas at ease a bit, so we chill and talk to him for a bit. Word of advice - watch your wife/girlfriend around this man - haha.



We have to kill time waiting for the Thunderbolt back to Sartenja at 3:00. Damn, wasted day. We check out some local art and the Xmas tree going up in the square. Pretty trippy as Jay and I have never spent an Xmas in the tropics.



got cart?



The Honda "Bros" 125 is the shit here in Belize. That seat looks cozier than my KLR's!:



If you want to eat on the cheap, skip the tourist traps and eat where the locals do. $4 gets you fed:



Finally we hop on the Thunderbolt and are impressed with how the captain winds his way through the narrow entrance to the harbour at full speed. Those (3) 250hp outboards really move the boat along. Jay and dose off on the way, land at Sartenja and walk back to Hippy Paradise, I mean Backpacker's Paradise.

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We return to the bikes being all good of course, but still totally filthy from our trip up the access road. We also made the mistake of storing our (still damp) riding pants inside our panniers. They smell TOXIC. Also one boot is totally dry and the other one soaked. Sweet.

Time for some bike maintenance. I pull out the JB Weld. JB Weld is your friend by the way. I will never leave home on a trip without it. There are stories of guys patching their crank case in the boonies with it, then never bothering to fix the damage. On an off-road warm up ride, Jay broke his rear brake bracket clean in 2 - we used this stuff and it was good as new. that rhymed.

Tonight the JB was used to jimmy some rubber gasket onto my pannier rack and re-attach my grip's control box. I also try and straighten the bars more. I've been steering left whilst going straight for days now. It sorta works, but I need to re-visit this later.

Natalie makes us some wicked food, omelets and veggi sammies again and we chat with a couple of cool americans at the Cafe/hang out building. Nat tells us that our 4 traveling comrades stayed another 3 days waiting out the rain storms. I thought you guys were hardcore!- Just taking the piss.


Strange thing happens. I'm walking to Jay's cabana in the dark with my headlamp on and WHAM! A bat hits me square in the lip. Felt like I got punched. Didn't hurt much, but left behind a slimy liquid on my mouth. That was unexpected. Maybe the bat had one too many, or was blinded by my lamp. Bats have been cruising by my head all the time just fine! Anyways, that was random. Ha.

Jay's commentary. Listen to the Backgrounds:

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We are trying to plan out our next leg to avoid the cruise ship days: Tues, Wed and Thurs. This is critical, as the cave reserve we are heading to gets totally overrun on those days. Crowds and jacked prices are not what we're about. Off to a cozy sleep in our little Cabanas. If you visit Natalie, tell her the 2 Canadians on the bikes say hello.
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Old 02-24-2010, 11:11 PM   #38
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Day 22 - Sartenja to Nohoch Che'en - 248kms

On the way out of BPP we get some directions from Nat on how to find the river ferries. We were extremely lucky to find the turns, there are zero signs. A van-load of girls is nice enough to point out the right way. Without their help we would have been dead lost. These little barges are hand cranked. Instead of building a bridge that would get repeatedly washed out, they run these. As a bonus, it provides jobs.





The second one isn't as hard to find - it's just down the dusty road towards Orange Walk.



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We get into Orange Walk and can't find any open Cafes - its Sunday. Jay wanders to the grocery and I'm harassed by 2 out of 3 locals almost instantaneously. Just looking for money. Not that different from Vancouver. The third guy I meet just wants to chat about the bikes and our trip.

Jay comes back with a big bag of Quaker cookies and we chow down. Our next destination is Burrel Boom - the bypass for Belize City.

As we hit Burrel Boom, our paper map is way off and get turned around for a bit, until a nice lady in a passing car gives us directions.

We head towards Hattieville, then onto our destination, the Nohoch Che'en Caves Branch Reserve. This is a large jungle reserve just off the Western
Highway. For a reasonable price you can hire a guide, take a jungle walk, then float along the river which glides through 5 cave systems.

Along the highway we find the Jaguar Paw Resort sign, which is our landmark. There is no sign for the Reserve. An awesome 6 mile ride takes you through some thick jungle and spits you out at the parking lot. It's $20Bz Park Entrance Fee, but when I hand the attendant at the booth the money, he gives it back, along with a receipt. Um..ok.



Western Highway:



We hire a guide, Luis. He stores some of our gear in his car and we get hiking. It's 2pm, we just made the last shot at a tour. As a result, there is no one in the whole reserve, or the caves, for the entire 3.5 hrs.

Trekking through the Jungle we stop to snack on some Termites (mmm, minty) and Luis shows us some flora with medicinal power. 40 minutes later it's headlights on and we drop into the caves on our tubes, pushing off into the cool water. The first couple of caves are dark and have low ceilings, the third is grand and open.

Luis enlightens us a bit as to the cultural significance of the caves for the Mayan people. We then "beach" the tubes and make our way to Crystal Cave. Unbelievable. I had heard about the awe-inspiring beauty of this one, and it was part of our agreement with the guide to spend time here. The Stalagmites shine with a Crystal like coating that reflects light and shimmers like a pack of diamonds. We do a lot of climbing here and spend some quality time.

Then it's back to the tubes where we float through the lower 2 cave branches and out into the river. Along the river we float and have to paddle a bit to stay on track and fight some light current. The Jungle here is huge, majestic and lush.

Sorry about the fuzzy pics - this was a disposable with the wrong speed film:






The tour ends at dusk. We were extremely lucky to have had the caves to ourselves. Apparently thousands of cruise ship passengers take this tour and it gets crowded, loud and abbreviated. Sorry no flash=no cave pics. Look it up if you want.

So at this point we are faced with being soaking wet, approaching darkness and with no plan as to where we are going to crash. So, we ask permission to camp right there in the parking lot. I don't get the idea that this is normally allowed, but the caretaker (same guy that was at the ticket booth) doesn't seem to mind.

Our spidey senses kinda go into overdrive at this point. We don't necessarily feel secure here. How long will it be until someone approaches and we get harassed? I know what you're thinking, what a wuss, but you had to be there, just a very bad vibe.

We snack on our only food - some nasty lemon flavored peanuts and a few cookies. Yay.



All set up and a mid-thirties Guatemalan lady approaches and tries to have a conversation with us. Unfortunately we have zero Spanish and she zero English. Her name is Marina.

So, out come the phrase books and we try and translate for a while until we realize she can't read. The "conversation" stalls, then stops dead and yet she hangs around, shooting off in rapid Spanish, clearly knowing that we can't understand her. What does she want? What is her angle? We try to keep an open mind. Not everyone is a Hustler.

We do start to get a bit paranoid when she starts talking to her friends (referring to us as "White Boys" in Creole) in some of the out buildings and making phone calls. Huh? Feels like something is up. We end up going to bed before she returns. Later a car does Donuts in the gravel next to our tent and there is some yelling and drinking. But alas, they totally leave us alone.

Off to sleep in the extremely loud jungle.

It's easy to get into a paranoid mindset in a country like this. We are frequently warned of "Highwaymen" and robbery. If you let yourself, you can end up seeing the Boogieman behind every tree. What you have to do is take the common sense precautions, then just let it go. If someone is going to mess with you, it'll happen, and there's nothing you can do about it.

It's in this frame of mind that we realized that Marina was just bored, wanted to make some new friends and found it interesting that a couple of travelers were camped out on the lawn.
Another amazing day in Belize.

drifter dave screwed with this post 02-28-2010 at 06:29 PM
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Old 02-25-2010, 08:38 AM   #39
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Really enjoying the write up keep it up :-)

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Old 02-25-2010, 09:37 AM   #40
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Awesome story

Quote:
Originally Posted by RodT
Just to let you know, there are a bunch of us just lurking , and enjoying the RR, please keep it up. Thanks Rod
That is soooo right. Some of us love lurking, and if you feel that no one is interested in your ride, you are wrong. So keep it up man, because I'm heading that way in 2011, and taking notes on the places you visited.

So far you're doing awesome man.



Roads impede my adventure, so why have them?
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Old 02-28-2010, 09:18 PM   #41
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Day 23 - Nochoh Che'en - Placencia - 240kms

Jay is sick. He has a bad cough that developed yesterday and swimming around in cold cave water probably didn't help. We are up and out by 5:50am. On the way out, we're slowed by a very heavy mist/fog that clouds over our visors and glasses. We decide to turn towards Belmopan, just down the highway, to eat, drink coffee and let it pass.

As per usual with new towns/cities, we get lost right away. Trying to find a cafe that ends up being closed. We find a suitable restaurant by the bus station and load up on coffee and pancakes. Belmopan is relatively new city, replacing Belize city as the capitol to stay out of harms way of the stormy coast. It lacks most of the character of Belize's other towns, but the bus station is lively and full of activity. As usual the bikes attract a lot of attention, so we park tight next to the door of the cafe.

98% of corner stores appear to be run by the Chinese populous:



We've decided to modify our route a bit. Originally we planned on heading as far south as Punta Gorda, but after speaking to a few travelers we've decided to skip it this time around. Wish we had more time, but we're going to save our spare days earned by ripping through the states. You never know what might slow us down in Guatemala.

We've also decided to skip a few planned stops, head the furthest south we'll go - to Placencia, and hit those spots on the way back . Jay feels like ass, so we'll save some adventure for when he's better.

The mist and fog break, and we head Southeast on the Western Highway. We then join the Coastal Highway which is all dirt. It's about time, with all this pavement, I was starting to feel like a GS rider

A reminder that if you see red X's here- update your Flash Player - You're missing the videos!
http://get.adobe.com/flashplayer/ - change the page to PC if that's what you're running

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This route must be well travelled, but not from what we can tell - it's deserted. Gorgeous too.






Deep sand almost puts me down twice. The ruts like to grab my front tire and toss the bike from side to side in some kind of death wobble. Your instincts tell you to slow down to, you know, lessen the impact when you face-plant. But this is a sure-fire way to bail, and we know from experience that the only way to stay upright is to stand up, lean back and hammer the gas. It takes faith, and it works every time.



We aren't on this road long before we are airing down. It's about 60kms of dirt, great semi-challenging riding.



It's really hot now, about 34-38 Degrees C and for the first time, I'm really glad that my jacket is white and silver, not black.

Here's where the bridge used to be:



And the temp bridge now:



I smoked way too much on this trip. I can tell because I have one going in every other shot:



The Coastal Highway turns into the Southern Highway and we pass Dangria, Gales Point and Silk Grass, planning to hit two of those on the way back. The Southern is paved and goes for a short while until we reach the turn off for Placencia. This route is all dirt, sand and dust, but lacks the deep, loose, sandy ruts. So, we haul ass. There are a ton of trucks here, working on developments on the peninsula and it takes concentration to pass them through plumes of dust. Oh my poor air filter.

Road to Placencia - won't be dirt for long.



Improvised garbage dumps are a common sight in these parts:



Off the main access road and onto the thin Peninsula, we see hoards of high end houses and condos on our right and beautiful calm beaches to our left. We start hitting cabanas for rent around the area of Maya Beach before the town proper. Jay and I split up to case a couple. I get a price of $40US for a night and Jay gets quoted $180 or something. In the end, our cheapness wins out and we head for more affordable rates in town.

Got waterfront?



We pass the airport. While crossing the airstrip you have to watch out for planes. They have the right of way. The sign told me so.

The centre of town is nothing to write home about. We find Omar's Guesthouse after a bit of a goose-chase. There is no road to the establishments next to the ocean, only a sidewalk. We get some shit from the locals and touristas for riding down it (not allowed). It's not like we're going to keep the bikes 2 blocks away though.

Ok, so this place is a bit of a dump. It smells like dog and there's rotting wood everywhere. There's a hole on the second floor bathroom floor big enough to see sky through. But after Jay steals a fan from the private room, it's good enough for our needs. For $25 Bz you can't expect the Hilton. At least the beach is close and I dive in for a refreshing break from the heat. The beach here has to be the nicest we've seen yet and is said to be the best in Belize.

Around Placencia:

Downtown:





Beaches are pretty sweet:




This is "The Barefoot" - good place to get a drink or 2:



This is a typical Belizean house:



Don't ride up this sidewalk or you will get yelled at:



Our place:





This is one cold shower. I left my sandals on


"Da Thatch" is a good place for dinner. Nice staff here:





Unfortunately Jay is feeling worse. His cough has gotten more persistent and he's been down all day. I think our (less than stellar) lodgings don't help Morale much. From my diary:

"A big rain is hitting us now. I miss Megs a lot and just being at home and comfortable. The stress of navigation, security, safe riding, trying to find lodgings, bug bites, no Spanish, dirty clothes, no sex, sometimes shitty food, not enough water, indecision, itenerary, etc has worn me down. We're 1/3 the way through. Almost. Still a blast tho

Guess adventure isn't all shits and giggles.

drifter dave screwed with this post 03-02-2010 at 11:21 PM
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Old 03-02-2010, 08:01 AM   #42
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Nothing worse than being sick while traveling in the tropics, been there done that don't want to do it again.
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Old 03-02-2010, 10:58 PM   #43
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Day 24 - Dec 1st - Placencia to Gales Point - about 100kms


An Ok sleep last night, actually got a bit cold surprisingly. A sunrise morning swim is a great start to the day. We grab B-fast and check out of Omar's.

Paved section at Maya Beach:



The first stop is the Cockscomb Wildlife Sanctuary. 200 square miles of protected reserve. It is sometimes referred to as the 'Jaguar Sanctuary' and became the first of it's kind in 1984. It's not far from the road out of Placencia, so we stay aired down and cruise down the GREAT jungle road to the park entrance.





The staff here are nice enough to store our riding gear for us and provide a basic map of the area.

Out of several different hiking routes, we choose the Tiger Paw trail as it's the longest and has some cool highlights. We hear and spot some giant birds in the canopy, but I couldn't tell you which of the reported 290 bird species they were. Just that they were twice as big as any bird I've ever laid eyes on.






A reminder that if you see red X's here- update your Flash Player - You're missing the videos!
http://get.adobe.com/flashplayer/ - change the page to PC if that's what you're running


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We are also lucky to find some cat prints, as well as an unidentified, exotic looking, three pronged print that turn out to be Tapir's.




We also spot the print of this rare species, rumored to be the elusive thumper:



It's a long uphill slog to the lookout. The unobstructed 360 degree view above the canopy is well worth it. Here our spirits are lifted and morale is boosted. In the distance, Belize's 2nd highest peak - Victoria- seems clearly within reach and part of me just wants to trudge into the Jungle to go climb it.






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We then scramble down a steep, muddy path to the falls. We decide to "not notice" the no jumping signs and were diving in headlong in a flash, savoring the cool water and letting the falls flow over our heads. The first in the series is a mere 35 feet tall, but the one above is 75. We find the only people on the trail today chilling out in the pool of the larger one.




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After a few more jumps, we return up the steep path, sweltering in 38 degree heat and return to the bikes., about 5 kms down the hill.

Out the way we came down - that incredible 6 mile access road. While airing up, we spot a kid smacking and hitting his dog with a stick. I usually try to not get involved, but this time I had to give him a stern yelling at, as did Jason. He ran away, looking guilty. The saddest part for me was watching the dog try and lick the boy's hands as he was getting hit.

The attitude towards animals in C.A. is drastically different than what we're used to up north. Rarely do domestic animals get the pampering they do in North America. Some folks we met say that customers will not even approach a restaurant with a dog on the premises. This attitude as well as the abundance of starving/malnourished dogs is hard to take, but its the norm here and we must accept this. As Chopper Reid would say, we have to harden the F**K up. Warning, foul language:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1EY7lYRneHc

Alas, this slogan has been referred to many a time over the comms during long achey days, crap weather or tough roads.

We join up with the Southern Highway and onto a village called Silk Grass. The guide book mentions a cool Croc Reserve run by an Australian conservationist. We anticipate a cool camping and eating spot, with some canoeing and a zip line into a river, not to mention the crocs. We make it to Silk Grass and follow the river bank looking for the compound, with no luck. At a roadside restaurant we ask about its whereabouts, but are told that it has been closed down, the crocs released to the wild. Bummer.

Friendly guy at the restaurant:



So it's upwards and onwards to Gales Point, a tiny village of 450 with a strong Creole tradition and culture. I have read about Emmeth Young, a renowned Creole drummer and craftsman that offers lessons. Being a bit of a percussionist, I'm eager to learn something of the traditional techniques and rhythms. It's about 30 kms of off-road, backtracking to our destination on the easier section of the Coastal Highway.

The village itself is a tiny, single dirt road hideaway, tucked between a giant Lagoon and the Ocean. The Manatee makes it's home just off the coast, so the town is often called Gales Point Manatee, to underline the presence of this rare creature (and hopefully attract more tourists!) We find Emmeth's place after bumping down a narrow jetty of land, bordered by glimmering water and Palms. It's not hard to find our destination:





We chat with his wife Jill, a very animated ex-pat American, and she explains that the Cabanas are not ready, but we can sleep in the Drum Studio for $10 US. Sweet.

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Emmeth isn't in yet, so we head to "Gentle's Cool Spot" to chill out on their big wooden patio and have some scrumptious Chicken, Rice and Beans, the staple dish of the Garifuna, for a whopping $7Bz.

Gentle, the proprietor, is aptly named. He is a kind, warm spirited old guy with a very quiet voice. We have a few laughs and then return to meet Emmeth. He has a rehearsal with a group of local girls for an upcoming competition. We take the opportunity to change out our filthy air filters, while listening to the hypnotic drumming and chanting of the local village girls with a backdrop of the sunset over the Southern Lagoon.









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Not long after their rehearsal is done we commence my 1.5 hour lesson. Emmeth shows me a few traditional rhythms, used as a means of communication between African Slaves over great distances. Often they were messages warning of danger, or in celebration of a great catch from the sea.



Emmeth quickly sees that I have a bit of experience drumming, so he plays with my head by overlaying complicated syncopated patterns and lighting fast bursts of fills form his light-speed hands. While he does this, my challenge is to maintain the basic pattern he has shown me.

After a while, a Rasta neighbor drops in to listen and treats us to a couple of tunes passed on through the generations. Before long it turns into a full on Jam session, even Emmeth's Daughter Ajhani joins in on the fun. When we were done, I got the ultimate compliment from Emmeth's wife Jill: "Well you didn't suck at all!" Awesome.

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After the lesson I offer to treat us all to drinks and we return to Gentle's for some Belikins and some lengthly talk about Belize, it's politics, the environment and the challenges for those living in this area. It's fascinating.

Off to bed in the drum studio, surrounded by hand-crafted instruments of all sizes and shapes. What a kick-ass day: Adventure, Jungle, great riding and some culture. This tiny town is refreshing to be in. I feel enriched and lucky to have visited. We were warmly welcomed into a place that is definitely off the beaten path.

drifter dave screwed with this post 03-03-2010 at 10:21 AM
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Old 03-08-2010, 08:38 PM   #44
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Day 25- Dec2 - Gales Point to San Ignacio

Up around 6am after a shitty sleep. Hot an humid in our sleeping bags. The neighbor's dogs were barking all night and the palms slapped our tin roof repeatedly.

A good bear hug and we bid farewell to Emmeth and family. We bounce down the dusty road through the centre of the village. Lots of smiles and waves as we pass. Leaving town, we join up with 40kms of dirt track back to the pavement. Some sandy washes and tire ruts try to bring the bike down again. I keep the bike at 3200 rpm or more so that I can hammer it and throttle out of the sand instantaneously. Gotta keep the power on a boil.

Off the dirt and we join the Southern and then onto the Hummingbird highway - the only highway we haven't ridden in Belize yet. The Hummingbird's reputation precedes itself and it doesn't disappoint. Twisty, winding roads, thick jungle, citrus groves and immense limestone bluffs. School kids in brightly colored uniforms smile and wave at us as our dusty, 2 wheeled Elephants roar by. Yes, lots of smiles per hour here. We find ourselves having to purposely slow down to soak it all up. There's a danger in just letting it pass you by. It's motorcycle heaven. Don't miss it.








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Around one corner we come across a cube van that has wrecked into the ditch. His cargo of juice bottles is scattered everywhere. We must have just missed the crash, because everyone was still frantically raiding the loot when we arrived. The driver was reportedly ok and we skip the cue by squeezing between trucks to get moving. I love being on a bike. We sing our little KLR theme song (an adaptation of KLF - a bad early 90's song) as we often do.


Even the Mennonites have to check this out:




Our next stop was the Blue Hole, but we are soooo hungry that we beat it the extra 20 min to Belmopan to re-visit our favorite restaurant there with bottomless coffee. Same breakfast and same waitress.



We then backtrack and head into Blue Hole park. Not the famous diving spot on the coast, but a collapsed cave called a Cenote. We hike a jungle trail for about a half hour until we hit the swimming hole and dive in for a refreshing dip in the sapphire water. It's not quite as impressive as I imagined it, but it was worth a visit. I find it funny that this natural wonder is so close to the highway that you can hear the cars whipping by. Still pretty serene.








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Free Food!



A mile-long walk back to our bikes on the highway seems to take forever due to the heat.



Then it's on to San Ignacio. This cool inland town near the border is somewhat of a gateway to Guatemala. It takes about and hour to get there. On the way, Jay comes inches from hitting a giant 3 foot Iguana running across the road. As we are scoping out lodgings, Fabio, an Italian ex-pat on a scooter, welcomes us and wants to know about our trip. He's made a few journeys himself on an XR in eastern Europe. He tells us to swing by his restaurant later.

We find a spot just on the edge of town called Mana Kai. They have secure parking and lots of space, grassy fields and cool, very clean Cabanas. The lady here gives us a rate of 50Bz, but then raises it to 60 after we've moved our gear in. Boss says 60. This pisses me off and I pledge to scam some free laundry to make up the difference.



27CDB6E-AE6D-11cf-96B8-444553540000">

I grab and nap and we head to Fabio's place, Mio Amore, for some incredible, real Italian Pizza and Pasta. We make friends right away and have a great chat about life in San Ignacio. Why no pics of Fabio? More on that later.

After, we stroll into town above the Bus Stop to check our email and cruise around. Ended up booking our Actun Tunichil Mucknal tour for Friday with a company called Mayawalk. They are the original guides to the ATM. We are psyched. Got to talk to Megs tonight which was great. Counting the days till I see her.
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Old 03-09-2010, 06:25 AM   #45
Thorne
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