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Old 03-24-2010, 11:37 AM   #61
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Day 31 - Dec 8th - Semuc Champuey Guatemala

Up and bum around until breakfast.

Usual alarm clock:

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Go for a walk down to the bridge, then join our 9:30 tour of the park. We had heard through a friend Justin from Oz that the tour wasn't necessary, we could find our own way. We decided to sign up anyway, to support the locals and it was only about $5. In our group is an Israeli family and 2 american girls from Alaska (no they didn't have an accent like Sarah Palin's).

There's a steep climb up a jungle path to the famous lookout over the limestone pools. The temp is near 40C. After the lookout we descend and run into a family of Howlers in the trees. We make our way down to the water intake for the underground river. Semuc is unique in that it has 2 different water sources. One feeds the tunnel underground, the other flows up and over the pools, eventually stepping down and joining at the river. There is no other place like it in the world.










We spend some time swimming in the turquoise water and jumping from pool to pool until we hit the big waterfall and cliff at the bottom. This is where it gets interesting. Jay and our guide immediately check out the cliff ledge and start discussing the best place to land in the river. My heart starts thumping as I know that if Jay goes, I will have to too, or feel like a pussy, and regret not going for it.

The guide tells us it's a 14 Metre drop, but it looks more like 12. The 2 girls in our group, Libby and Susan, just look at the drop, shake their heads and say "no way". Our guide demonstrates exactly where we have to land by pointing it out, then leaping off into the river below. I am on a full on adrenaline rush now. Jay steps up, takes a look and hurls himself over. Ok no choice now. I have to hit the "safe zone" to avoid trouble like rocks or tree branches. From experience, I know that if you hesitate, your chances of jumping drops about 70%. So it's a good shove to avoid the outcropping and a rush of wind, then a crash into the water. As I slow down to a stop underwater, my left hand grazes a big boulder. So you see, the guide was a good idea after all. Otherwise we wouldn't know where to jump.


We then scale up some rocks to the underground outflow from the river and one by one jump into the fast moving current. This is almost as fun as the cliff jump because as soon as you hit the water you're caught by the current, tossed 30 metres downriver and have to swim like hell to shore. I even lost my $10 watch and both of my contacts, it was that violent. There was a group of people hanging out on the riverbank spectating. Super fun!







Crappy disposable waterproof camera:





This is the jump:







We then climb back up to the pools with the help of a rope and hang out the rest of the afternoon, swimming in the beautiful water and talking to other travelers.





Back at Portal for food, we meet a Kiwi girl named Keri. She has a great sense of humour and we talk for a while as she waits for her shuttle back to Lanquin. Our conversation eventually steers towards the history and politics of Guatemala. I end up apologizing for getting so serious but she's says it's great to meet someone with something to say, other than the usual ten questions; "where are you from" "what do you do", etc. I am just expressing my annoyance in the ignorance surrounding the brutal civil war in this country. It's hard not to think about all the suffering that has taken place here.

Later in the evening we have an awesome dinner and meet a bunch of other cool people, including Harry and Tina, a couple from Germany. Their English is great and Tina's Spanish is good too. Again I feel like a wanker for not learning more Spanish. I wish we could spend another few days here. It's idyllic. What a day; Adrenaline filled, social, relaxing, scenic. Don't miss Semuc.

drifter dave screwed with this post 03-24-2010 at 11:43 AM
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Old 03-24-2010, 01:33 PM   #62
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Day 32 - Semuc to San Juan - 310 kms


Day started off well. Another good meal at Portal and we're on the road a bit later than usual at 8am. They give you a tab for your stay at the end of the visit and I have to pay part in U.S. because we're short of Quetzals. The route from Lanquin to Coban is pretty sweet. Fairly high elevation, so good views and the road is in great condition. Not a lot of traffic initially and it's sunny, so it's pretty happy riding this morning.

We follow route #14 south, miss our turn off to #5 south - I think it was an unmarked gravel driveway that looked like farm access. Remind me to get more detailed paper maps and a gps upload next time. We have to backtrack to Salama, which is a cool looking town, a lot nicer than Coban in terms of character. We then follow #5 west to Rabinal, a real out of the way place. We get turned around in the dirt streets here, asking directions, trying to find a way out. Same situation as in Coban, but took longer to escape (no signs of course). Past here the road turns to dirt, then single lane, with big drops on one side of the path, not unlike 2 days ago. Again the road starts to look like nothing but secondary farming access and we wonder if we should carry on. The alternative is to do a huge back-track to Salama and head for 9N/17 East through Guatemala City. I hear the traffic is hell here and it can take half a day just to get through the city. Hence this serendipitous route to avoid this.

Fortunately for us, we run into Manuel working in a rock quarry and he is very helpful. He lets us know that El Chol, (our next connecting town on the route) is about an hour and half away. Navigation in these scenarios is all about connecting the dots of little towns, asking for help along the way. So we decide to go for it, knowing full well that we are into the afternoon and that we'll be chasing sunset, never a good idea.

We air down and the track is mostly pretty good, but we have to slow down going into blind corners to avoid on-coming. It's a bit stressful as most people coming the other way don't give you any space. I'm feeling the lack of sleep from last night. The Malaria meds gave me some pretty gnarly, disturbing nightmares. I counter this by riding way too fast. I remember one spot on this route when we come up on a car parked and a steep, deep sand track going up to the right. I buzz past not thinking this is the road, but hit a dead end. Backtracking to the sand climb, Jay and I gun our engines and use every ounce of torque to plow our bikes through, leaving big rooster-tails of sand behind us. Fun.

We start to link the towns together: El Chol, Granados, Estancia De Garcia, Montufur and then Hwy 5 and pavement. This leads towards Guat city by way of San Pedro and San Juan, both less than appealing towns. On the way in, we pass a medium-sized protest, complete with masked men, burn piles in the road and a gathering crowd. They seem unconcerned with us however and we pass through without any issues. We ride around both Pedro and Juan and have no luck finding a hotel, there doesn't seem to be an booming tourist industry here. I'm sure we could have found something, but securing the bikes would definitely be an issue here. With darkness approaching, we backtrack the way we came, through the protest again and onto a hotel that we passed on the way in.

It turns out to be an "Auto Hotel" a cold, concrete building complete with hidden parking spots, scum filled pool, crumbling walls and a delightful moldy smell. These Auto Hotels are set up for local guys to bring their whores/mistresses away from suspicious wives. The lady here has zero English, but as we've experienced before, loves to rattle on at 100mph even though she knows we can't understand a word she says. To make a long story short, the place charges by the hour and is a rip off at $300Q per night (about $37US)- the same as a whole day with lodgings/meals/drinks in Semuc. We even ask if we can camp, but in the end we are beaten and give in after a brief negotiation. We almost made our destination of Antigua but were short by about an hour. My diary has a bit of Wingeing about the long stressful ride, the danger factor and this crappy flop house. But as always, I look back on it very fondly.

I did get a few shots but they are lost to the abiss. You can tell Jay was busy riding 'cause he only took one:



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Old 03-25-2010, 01:01 PM   #63
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Day 33 - Near San Juan to Antigua - 90kms


Up with the rooster alarm clocks at 0430, toss and turn in my sleeping bag (you didn't think I used the sheets here did you?) and out at 05:50. Had to wake our hosts to come and open the locked front gate - very reminiscent of Playa Azul. We drive through the protest for a third time, still no stress, then on to a route leaving San Pedro. The temp is very cold. The road is packed with Chicken Busses and trucks spewing black smoke and dust. We can seldom pass because of narrow corners. It seems as though we are heading towards the city, what we spent so much effort on avoiding yesterday. It just keeps getting more busy and polluted. So it's back to San Pedro and we wander around on the steep cobblestone, trying different streets. We end up miraculously finding the road west to Santiago Sacatepequez, a nice country ride with views of a volcano. Once in S.S. we get lost for a bit there, as per tradition. We can see the CA-1 taunting us on the hill in the distance. Jay, in the lead, takes a rough, dirt track that looks like nothing, but leads us right to CA-1! We take a very sketchy "on ramp" on a blind corner, then stop for a celebratory hug and a smoke.

We are relived to be on the CA-1. Although we enjoy the obscure routes and all, it's nice to know exactly where we are for once. It's the end of 3 days worth of guess-work and sometimes tough off road riding. We head towards Chimaltenango, then south to Paramos. We over-shoot Antigua completely by 12kms because:

A - the way to Antigua is not marked - you have to go through Ciudad Vieja.
B - It wouldn't be right to just drive straight there without making a wrong turn.

We find our way into town after asking a few friendly folks. Funny how some times we can communicate well with very little Spanish and other times we're useless. Onto the cobblestone streets and we navigate around a bit before stopping to scope out lodgings on foot. The signage here is present, but a bit confusing so it's better to walk. After scoping a few hostels we find a hotel instead: Casa Santa Lucia #2. It's affordable - $180Q for both of us and has cozy beds, hot showers, courtyard parking, cool breezes and a rooftop patio with a view of the surrounding volcanos. So we're pretty happy.

We're starving, so we get an awesome b-fast and REAL coffee at a place called Cafe La Escudilla. Kick ass. I grab a shower and it's heaven. We find a laundry place, wander the market and book our trip for Pacaya - a nearby (active) volcano. The tour including transport is a whopping $10 each. Leaves tomorrow at 0600.

Antigua is a stark contrast to the "outback" places we've been lately. It's much cleaner, more sterile and there are pretty tourists everywhere. Kind of a culture shock. Lonely Planet calls it "Disneyland" and I have to agree, but this place still retains it's colonial charm. At this point all I care is that it's comfy, safe, pretty and has good food! We continue to wander and I find a watch to replace the one that I lost in Semuc. We also run into Kiwi Keri and plan to meet her for dinner later. It's cool to make friends and run into them again, kind of like our Brazilian buddies - it would be great to see them again and swap stories.

My mood is much improved after getting set up and oriented, eating and getting our Pacaya tour set. I even shaved, Ahhhh. Was at the end of my rope when we got here. Hopefully a peaceful sleep tonight. F**kin roosters/fireworks/thumping bass lines. Hopefully we will be void of these. We go for a good dinner a t a Mexican place called Frida's - really good food here, then out for beers at Locomoco, Black Cat and Riley's. Say so long to Keri and it's off to bed before midnight. Big day tomorrow.






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Old 03-25-2010, 09:13 PM   #64
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Day 34 - Antigua


Up at 0515 for the Pacaya trip. The mini-bus picks us and a few more Touristas up and then we're off. Alex and his Dad Mike from the states are on the bus, we met them yesterday at our hotel. The minibus driver is loco - I didn't think that you could squeal the tires that much on a vehicle like this one without losing it. The usual rule of Latin America applies in that the more people on board, the faster you must go. About 1.5 hours later we unload and meet our guide. We start hiking uphill, first in forest trail, then volcanic sand, then volcanic rock. One woman in our group is having a bit of trouble with the pace. There are some awesome views of the surrounding volcanos on the way up.

On the accent:







As we start to near the summit, a man on another tour takes a nasty spill and has some bleeding from the head. Luckily he as ok. It's a steep climb, about 2 hours to the lava field.




We stand on a surface that was molten just 5 days previous and get nice and close to the lava flow. I didn't roast marshmallows, but Alex threw a few sticks in to watch them spontaneously combust. Pretty cool.




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Back to the Hotel and I'm super tired from the heat. we have lunch at the same cafe from yesterday and I get a call in to my brother Mark and to Megs. It's great to talk to them. After checking our email, we're out in the square and there's a marching band playing on the stage in front of the cathedral. I search,find and barter a dress for Megan to give her for Xmas. Nice hand made stitching. I hope she likes it and it fits.

Quick visit back to the hotel, then out with Jay for a walk. We visit the main Cathedral - amazing 1500's ruins. The crypt underneath is especially interesting.









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As we exit the Cathedral a parade is coming through town. There's an amazing marching band with a kick-ass percussion section and cheer-leader style aerial acrobatics as well. They have boxing matches, karate kids and a beauty queen. Kinda cool to be here to see this. We search for a dinner spot for a good hour, find a good one then walk home. The streets are alive with music, lights, people and dancing. There is music in at least 3 different locations including a chamber group at one of the cathedrals and a jazz band across the street from our hotel. The lead up to Xmas is a big deal here. An excellent day. Very cool to be somewhere so happening.

Hey nice shots Jay!


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Good food and music here:



..And friendly people everywhere:



I can see why, back in '90 or was '89, that my Uncle stopped here on our family trip, took a look around, and said "I think I'll stay here a while, you guys go ahead". He returned home 3 months later.
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Old 03-26-2010, 11:18 AM   #65
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Day 35 - Antigua to Lake Atitlan - 260kms


Sleep interrupted at 0500 by fireworks and a marching band. WTF?

Follow our route back to the highway and split off west. Stop at a roadside diner for b-fast. The music they are playing is reminiscent of 60's spaghetti western soundtracks. It makes our breakfast feel dramatic. Again we are the only ones there and I am at a loss how they manage to stay open.

The route is along CA-1 and it is in fantastic shape. We're at the highest point on this highway now, higher than the peak of Pacaya yesterday. One strange sight we see are kids lined up for miles on the side of the road. They are just standing there waving. If anyone knows what's up with this please tell me. The Chicken Bus drivers live up to their suicidal reputation. They drive on 3 wheels around corners and defy the laws of Physics and Inertia. I try not to get pissed off at their antics.




First sign of the lake:



Sorry about the wind noise on this one:

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Because there are NO SIGNS of any kind, we miss the turn off for Solola/Panahachel and cruise right by, driving an hour too far towards our next destination, Xela. Once we realize what we've done and turn around, we stop every 10 min or so and ask directions until we run across a big beautiful sign - facing eastbound traffic. Did I mention that we should have had GPS maps? Ok.

A cool little road into Solola, a charming town in it's own right, and onto a nice vista of Atitlan. It's epic.



We arrive in Pana, a very hustle and bustle, busy town. It has 2 main streets: Sarjander runs to the lake, and Calle Real runs perpendicular. We stop and find our roomy, lake-view room for $150Q/night ($9 a night each!). We go for a walk and it's very geared towards tourists in that the streets are lined with shops selling clothing/blankets/carvings/paintings etc. There's not a whole lot to grab your attention other than the lake, which is spectacular. We catch the sunset over a beer on a patio. Rough.


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Low and behold, we ran into Keri on the way into town, so we meet her for a bad steak dinner with a great lake view. Then we head out on the town to a few bars. It's weird to see a lot of mom's with their kids in the bar with them. We meet Sean, a local bartender from Texas and hang out with him at his street-side bar/grill. Nice guy.

On the street there are fire-dancers, music and general dis-order. Sean tells us that we just missed yesterday's lynching. A local man was caught embezzling public funds. The police, as usual, could care less. So the public took things into their own hands and dragged him through the streets beating him to death. If you have read about Guatemala, you would know that vigilante justice is quite common, however it is still shocking to hear.

After a couple more bars we meet up with Sean, a guy named Harry (another ex-pat) and a hilarious guatemalan guy named Tejir. We have some rum and cokes by the lakeshore and smoke a J. Looking back, that was pretty dumb. Oh well. We have more than a few laughs and get a bit drunk. It was a good day, but an unnecessary 2 hours of riding kinda stung.
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Old 03-28-2010, 10:55 AM   #66
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Day 36 - Panajachel Atitlan

Up this morning and for the first time on the trip we're totally hungover! So we abandon our plan to pack up our things and stay in another town across the lake. Instead we slither up the street and get some food and a smoothie. I get a call into Megs after missing her yesterday, but I had to cut the call short to hit the Bano. Nap for 3 hours to supplement the 4 hours we got last night..

More walking around town. We're a little bored to be honest. It's a recovery day. We start seeing a few other ADV riders around, mostly on $20,000 kitted out GS's. We at least swap out our filthy air filters. We go on a shopping trip to find a receptacle, some solvent (in a Pepsi bottle) and some 20w50.

We have a killer dinner at a Uruguayan restaurant. The portions are HUGE. Jay can only eat half of his so we get it to go. We find an elderly couple on the street, the man disabled with a crooked back and a cane. Jay asks them if they would like some food and they take his potatoes, chicken, veggies and bread with much appreciation. It almost makes me cry we she motions a "bless you" with her hands.

drifter dave screwed with this post 03-28-2010 at 11:24 AM
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Old 03-28-2010, 11:23 AM   #67
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Day 37 - Panajachel - Mon Dec 14

We grabbed a boat tour today to check out a few of the other towns on the lake. We must have picked the slowest boat in the whole area, I swear we could have swam faster. As a result, more than half the day was spent on board. The scenery made it pass by quickly though.

I don't think Jay was digging his breakfast here.







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Fist stop is San Pedro. We make our way up the main drag to an access road that leads to the top of the village and a bit of a view. Cool little town. It has it's touristy element, but there is a lot more culture here, including traditional mayan dress. There is a nice view point on the shoreline, so we check this out before it's time to go.

San Pedro from the water:



And from the top of the village - sorry 'bout the wind noise:

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This is coffee:





We thought this was going to be a church but it ended up being an empty mall:



Next up is Santiago.






We head up the busy main street up to the Cathedral, built in the 1500's. Here there is a monument to a much loved American Priest, killed by the military during the war in the name of "counter communism" along with roughly 200,000 other people. It's an unfortunate truth that the U.S. supplied the weapons, training and funds for this kind of activity. Here's a nice summary:

http://www.fff.org/comment/com0502f.asp

http://www.gslis.utexas.edu/~gpasch/...r04/hmnrts.htm

Let me just say that it makes me upset to hear otherwise intelligent people blame the loss of life here on communism. More like brutal dictatorship.



Anyways, It's time for some food and I roll the dice on some street tacos. Kinda risky looking, but I like to eat what the locals eat. A woman on our boat thinks I'm insane and says that "You're playing with your life".




Jay, you have to turn the camera until the water is level, Lol - the boat was rocking.



The last stop is in San Antonio, perched on a steep slope, this peaceful place has a nice church and thriving textile production facilities. It's cool to see the women weaving blankets on ancient looking machines. We follow the smell of cinnamon and an American ex-pat lets us sample his fresh baked raison bread. Yumm.






Back to Pana:



Return to Pana and I do a bit of shopping before we hit the same restaurant. It feeds all of us again, including that elderly couple. We've had our fill of this town now. With it's merchants constantly approaching you, the touristy hustle and bustle, it's time to move on.
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Old 03-28-2010, 11:53 AM   #68
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Day 38 - Pana to Quetzaltenango (Xela) - 100kms


Out at 0800 the same way we came in. Followed a bike with the pillion sporting a 12 gauge. Everyone is packing here. Beut of a day as we haul ass down the CA-1 towards Xela (shell-a). About 40 min in we hit a big organized protest and roadblock. They've dragged some small boulders across the road, all the vehicles are stopped and they have a big P.A. shouting political info. Not so uncommon here. We briefly consider riding though, but we've been warned multiple times about the crowd reacting violently towards those that have tried. It's mentioned here on ADVrider and others.

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We chat with a few curious locals, at one point they crowd around the bikes staring at us, putting their hands all over our gear. I'm not particularly cool with this part. Jay seems totally un-phased however, and we wait a good hour and a half. We eventually give up and ride back about 5 min to get some food and wait it out. We kill an hour at the comedor, then head back to see what's up. There's a big cue still and I pick a shady spot next to a chicken bus to sit and read.

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We meet a fellow biker that has excellent English, who is curious about us and our bikes. He figures that we should give it a go with our helmets off. This way the protesters will see that we're foreigners, not involved, and let us pass. I am a bit dubious about this as my mind shifts to a German overlander that ended up with a cracked skull, broken cheekbones and internal bleeding when he tried just this maneuver. Some of the dudes in the cue of cars also insinuated that it was a bad idea, making gestures that resembled dismemberment by machete.

Still, why not have another look? Hmm 2 local guys just putted through on their 125's with no worries. We could be here all day. What the hell - Vamos. I roll up, helmet on for protection from blunt objects, and start going. The whole scene is about 150 yards of people, rocks etc. It starts of fine with me dodging the rocks and a few folks. Uh oh, people are starting to yell and whistle. I can hear the crowd growing angrier, people are starting to notice. A couple of guys even jump in front of me, frantically waving their arms and yelling, trying to get me to stop. I can hear a swell of voices, yells and whistles - I may be in trouble here. I can see the end of the protest line approaching...almost there...dodge a few more people and a line of rocks - I'm through! But where's Jason? I don't see him in my rear view...is he ok? Holy shit!

Moments later, Jason comes putting through, head up and helmet off, kinda looking amused and casual. Apparently our friend's advice worked for him, they saw he was a Tourista and waved him through - a drastically different experience than mine. With my heart in my throat, we roar away to an empty CA-1. In fact, it's gloriously free from traffic all the way to Xela due to the protest. Entering town, we stop and see 2 street signs - yes 2! the Lonely Planet guide clearly shows them on it's city map. This is groundbreaking. Jay scouts our first hotel, which asks for $270Q - a bit much, so we carry on to find another round the corner for $160. Cool old building with secure parking. The family there even invites us to dinner, but we foolishly pass so we can unpack.

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This is our hotel and the next memory card which means I can add my pics again





We grab some real coffee near the Zocalo and scout out all of the historic colonial buildings before having diner at a place called Antigua. The food is great and they bring us chicken soup, crepes, garlic bread, all no charge. We both dig this town, it's very "real" and sophisticated, busy without being stifling.


Word up, Santa







Unfortunately the Museum of Natural History was closed, but we did get to see the Cathedral:





This is the Theatre:




Courtyard parking at the Hotel:




What a cool city. Looking at the pics, you could tell me they were from Rome and I'd believe you.

8 days until I see my wife. Border day tomorrow, Malaria day today. Hoping I don't have crazy dreams again.
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Old 03-28-2010, 05:14 PM   #69
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Dave, your photos are outstanding! In fact, this RR is so good I've kind of been using it as research for my own trip down Sou Amerique. Way to inspire, amigo!
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Old 03-29-2010, 07:55 AM   #70
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Glad you're enjoying it. Hope it helps with your planning.
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Old 03-29-2010, 08:11 AM   #71
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Chapter 5: Southwest Mexico


Day 39 - Xela Guatemala to Puerto Aritsa Mexico - 450kms


On the road at dawn. It's still dark when we leave. It's damn cold this morning, one of those days I wish I'd kept my heated vest or another layer, mesh pants not so great. No troubles finding our way out of town. Between Xela and San Marcos it's 2 lane bi-way. There are plenty of trucks/buses here, all spewing so much diesel smoke it makes me feel ill. I've inhaled enough to knock my life span down a couple of years, lol.

Chicken Buses:




While putting through San Marcos, Jay has a comical "no speed" spill where he pretty much went to put his foot down and there was nothing but a hole in the cobblestone. I knew he was ok, so I was laughing as I ran over to him, with his engine still running and tire spinning slowly in first gear. The locals politely held back any chuckles.

After San Marcos, the road drops down form the Highlands losing a lot of elevation, and getting pretty again.




We wait through the hectic Guatemalan border checkout and make it through in about 40 min, then on to the Mexican border, which takes about 30min. Between the two, we see a customs office that looks like it's the proper Mexican one. It looks as though we should stop, so I approach. The officer stamps my passport and than asks for a fee (I think it was 50 Q?). Anyways, I soon realize that this is another Guatemalan booth and that he's trying to get a little bribe. I explain that we're out of Quetzals and the customs lady said that we were done processing out anyway. The officer begrudgingly gives back my passport. Small victory.

Leaving the Mexican check-in we're told that customs for the bikes is in a separate office up the road about 15 min. As we head North towards the city of Tapachula, we don't see any sign of Customs. So, We turn back (40kms) to get clearer directions after coming up dry asking locals. The lady at the border draws Jay a little map this time, indicating that we have to drive through Tapachula before hitting customs. So, off we go again. When we finally get to the check point there's a sizable line and when Jay gets to the front, they tell him the stamps on his paperwork are not valid. Initially I think it's a plot for a bribe, but it turns out the date on his stamp was clocked halfway to the '6' and not legible. So it's down the road another 40km for the third time. Back at the border, they refuse to re-do our paperwork, as requested at customs, but they re-stamp it for us.

Customs is not at the border. This would make sense. Making sense is not allowed:



Back at Customs, Jay finally finishes up and we realize that they didn't re-stamp my passport, just my tourist card. Whooops. Luckily the Banjercito guy takes pity on me and I make a few more copies and he lets us through. There were a few tense moments thinking I'd have to go back AGAIN. So a couple of points. First off - Why the hell can't they put customs at the border like every other damn country? Guatemala is way better in this regard. Second, for you overlanders - ALWAYS check your stamps to make sure they are legible and match your buddy's. There you go - another free lesson.

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The rest of the day is a race against the sun, and we bust out over 300kms in the afternoon on the way to Puerto Arista. We make it to the adjacent town of Tonola (very nice) and find our way back over the highway after some asking around (signs and map not clear here). The folks in town are both curious and friendly. We make our destination just before sunset and find Jose's Cabanas, a compound run by an ex-pat Canadian. It's 200 pesos for a shared hut and communal bathroom just outside. Jose is a cool cat, seems a little weary of newcomers at first, then warms up to you as he figures out you're ok. Nice guy and cool place.







We take a short walk to the seaside town and walk the beach looking for a place to eat. The entire beach is lined with restaurants with hundreds of tables and chairs, but totally dead. It seems like we are the only souls in town. Hardly any locals either. We find a place and have a few fish tacos. Back at Jose's, still hungry and he makes us a few Quesadillas. Trying to make friends with his blind dog, I approach slowly and she is having nothing of it, giving me a good bite on my hand. Another piece of advice - don't pet blind dogs.





Off to bed in a brick hut under swaying palms.

drifter dave screwed with this post 04-20-2010 at 08:54 AM
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Old 03-29-2010, 08:28 AM   #72
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Day 40 - Puerto Arista to Puerto Escondito - 500kms

Great coffee/Breakfast/chat with Jose and we're off.



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Jay finds a little friend in the bathroom:




We follow the coast #200 all day with a but of #185 and #190 mixed in. The first couple of hours are uneventful. When we get to La Ventosa, the landscape opens up and winds increase to danger level - trees swaying, sand blowing across the road, flags shredding. no wonder there are miles of wind generator props here.

The gusts blow the bike sideways under you like a pendulim. One gust pushes my rear tire out and I apparently have to counter-steer out of it, according to Jay who is behind me. It feels like someone just shoving you hard from the right side. Wind was powerful enough to push Jay 10 feet, totally our of control clear into the oncoming lane. We have to take a break after this, Jay is spooked and we have to slow down.

Wind noise warning - speakers down:

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Eventually we make it out of the planes, the landscape closes in and it turns to single lane twisties. Jay figures out that Escondito is about 150kms further than he initially thought. It turns into a really fun ride - I'm scraping pegs in the sweepers and we're passing trucks. We're both pretty wiped out from battling the wind. Also, even a couple of days off the bike makes you soft and more prone to fatigue. We haven't done any big km days is a while and that wind was hectic.

On the way we stop for a break at a vista overlooking the city of Salina Cruz. In the distance from the town below we can hear gunfire - I kid you not. shortly thereafter 3 truckloads of masked Federalies toting M-16's roars by, heading towards town. Two roadside checks today. First was Police, the second Military. The International Drivers Permit is accepted at both and there is no search.

Salina Cruz:





The route straitens out and we haul ass towards Escondito, again racing the sun. After shopping around for a hotel in the stifling heat, we find a nice big room across the street from the beach for $300 Pesos. We treat ourselves to an awesome Gourmet dinner at a place called Pascales on the beach. We are staying in the Mexican end of town, less commercial than south of us. I get to talk to Megs for 20min and we're both excited to see each other.
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Old 03-29-2010, 08:35 AM   #73
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Day 41 - Puerto Escondito

This is the day I realize one of my memory cards is gone - most likely dropped out of my tank bag or my money belt at the hectic border crossing. Another free lesson: Store your cards in a secure manner! I had mentioned all trip long that losing one of these was my biggest fear and yet I wasn't careful enough. Annoyingly, old earplugs, random small sockets and allen wrenches etc all remained in my tank bag pockets.

My diary here mentions the loss of all my Guatemala pics and videos including the route to Semuc, Semuc itself, Flores,Tikal,Antigua,Pacaya, everything. I even took video from the bike on an amazing jungle road, riding with one hand.

So day 41 was spent basically staring at my feet, bumming around feeling crushed. Taking all the pics took a lot of stopping along the ride, taking up time and interrupting our pace. It's something I'll have to try and let go.
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Old 03-29-2010, 08:50 AM   #74
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Day 42 - Puerto Escondito

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

Not an eventful day. My cold/flu is back, don't know if it's a relapse or a new one - headache, fatigue, sorethroat etc. Still totally gutted about losing my stoopid memory card, it's all I can think about. Poor Jay, having to put up with me. We walk about 5km along the coast to the next beach over. Kinda knocked out from lack of sleep. Our plan of staying near the action in town hasn't been the best. These mexicans know how to party, and do so till the wee hours. My diary talks about letting folks down when I do a write up on ADV because of my lack of pics.


View from our Hotel:





The surf looks pretty good today, but I can't get motivated to go due to my cold/flu. We explore the surrounding area, walk a couple of kms to the next beach.







Later that night there are celebrations of Navidad including dancing, music and this community exodus:



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We head back to the hotel after a pizza dinner, and watch "The Transporter" and "Shooter" back to back. Woken up at 0430 by a street vendor banging some metal around, and when I look out the window, the streets are still full of people - wow.
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Old 03-29-2010, 09:22 AM   #75
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I wasn't trapped under my bike I just stepped off of it and put my bike down as gently as possible then stood there staring at my still running bike in disbelief and embarrassment
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