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Old 09-15-2010, 09:59 AM   #1
lifecycles OP
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Two Dakars and 10 monthes of riding...Ushuaia or bust!

When we originally started planning our trip we thought we'd ride from northern California down to Tierra Del Fuego on the west side and ride back up to the states on the east side of south america. At some point, without really discussing it in too much detail, the plan shifted to riding down to the tip, then up to brazil to sell the bikes. Right now, two weeks into Mexico, we are seriously reconsidering even crossing the Darien Gap. Because the truth is, its too f*ing hot to be riding around wearing full gear and too dangerous not too. I swear some of those potholes could have swallowed my bike.

Since we left San Felipe we had some adventures. We started heading south midday and realized 40 miles down the road that we lost the spare keys to all the locks and my bike. it was a frustrating couple hours of riding back, scouring the road, riding around san felipe again, being unsuccessful and sweaty and grumpy. We gave up eventually and headed out to campo percebu. When we were stopped on the side of the road looking for the keys an american woman stopped and asked us if we needed help. she invited us to come by her house if we needed anything. not exactly an invitation to spend the night, but we decided to interpret it that way. Campo Percebu is about 20 miles south of San Felipe down a two mile sandy road. Driving down it was a bit scary for me because the bike was drifting a bit. when we made it down we were invited to some beers by some americans hanging out in the cantina. they invited us to spend the night with them at a campo a little bit north of Percebu

. We decided to go for it since they had electricity and started driving back down the sandy road as the sun was sinking. I hit some deep sand, hit the gas like i was told but lost control of the bike. Based on the tire marks it looks like my bike skidded sideways, hit some sharp rocks and launched in to the air about four feet. I came down facing the opposite direction on the road. I was totally unhurt but i started crying when i saw how messed up my front rim was and how busted my rear tire was. I really thought our trip was over based on how the rim looked. it got dark while we tried to pump some air into the tires, but it was hopeless. i stayed with the bike while yaniv went back to the camps to look for help. Amazingly, since the place is mostly deserted this time of year, he found Klaus and his daughter Melia watching a movie in front of their garage.

Klaus is a highway patrol officer in San Diego. He's building up his house in Percebu and used to race in the Baja 1000 (he won some races too). He put us up for the night and took us into town the next morning to have my wheels fixed. it took the tire place about an hour to bang my rim back in and patch up the tube and the tire. we never could have fixed it ourselves. without Klaus's help i don't know what we would have done. I think that has been the theme of our trip so far, amazing people coming out just when we need them. the fact that Klaus is also an experienced off-road motorcyclist was really helpful. we left his house that same day and headed for the dirt road south of Puertocitos.

Because of my crash i was a bit nervous on the dirt road but really it was fine. We camped on the hill side with the spectacular mountains behind us and the sea in front. it was a hot uncomfortable night but it was also nice to be alone in the wilderness. We woke up to watch the sunrise and we left early to beat the heat. After that we had another 10 miles to gonzaga bay. we stopped there for fuel and water but it was too hot to camp. we kept heading south another 40 miles on the dirt road and thankfully made it to hwy 1 with no more flat tires. We also stopped at Coco's corner and checked out the underwear on the wall. he seems like an interesting guy. i loved all the pictures of the hard core bikers

From then on it was a painful two hours to Guerro Negro. I thought my butt would fall off. i was hoping it would fall off so then it would stop hurting. Guerro Negro is a dirty little port town on the pacific side. the only good thing about being there was the cool weather. we stayed in a cheap and smelly hotel (i saw a mouse climb onto the other bed at some point) but we were happy to shower and be off the bike. we had yummy shrimp and scallop tacos, watched a movie and crashed. the next day we drove south east into the heat towards mulege. we arrived in the dark and followed our couchsurfing host's directions to his little house. it is in the mexican side of town where all the streets are still dirt. Bill is a grumbly old man who curses a lot but he has been a great host. its hard to know when he's talking to you or himself. we celebrated my birthday by cooking at home because all of the restaurants were closed. last year this week mulege was hit by a devastating hurricane. apparently the locals need another to hit this year because their local economy depends on rebuilding the gringos houses.

I guess I knew how hard this trip would be before we started. actually, i said i knew it would be hard, but my imagination couldn't comprehend the reality. The ache all over my body after a full day of riding is so intense, do I really want to be doing this for another 9 1/2 months? time will tell

my bike taking it's "dirt nap"
From baja california norte


you can see the rock i hit and the lack of tire marks allllll the way over to the bush that i partially took out
From baja california norte



our saviors
From baja california norte


camping on the way to gonzaga bay
From baja california norte


yaniv at gonzaga bay. think we have enough shit?
From baja california norte


Coco's corner
From baja california norte


From baja california norte


From baja california norte


fixing shit
From baja california norte

lifecycles screwed with this post 11-01-2010 at 02:38 PM
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Old 09-15-2010, 12:30 PM   #2
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Nice. Looking forward to reading more...
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Old 10-19-2010, 03:49 PM   #3
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Mulege to Mazatlan

Life has been too full to be posting regularly. It took a couple of days relaxing in San Cristobal to be able to sit down and mash this out.

Leaving Bill’s place in Mulege was difficult. The relaxed atmosphere and air conditioning made it hard to go. Also, there is always a little fear of the unknown whenever starting out again after a rest period. The road south was straight and boring and treacherously hot. The stops we made were in non-descript places always on the way to somewhere else. It was with a certain amount of gratitude that we finally made it to La Paz and sought out the ferry.
There are two ferry companies, Baja Ferry and the other one. We were on the other one. This ferry was a cargo ferry and we loaded our bikes along with maybe 40 big rigs. Inside the optimistically named “salon” were rows of seats, a few tvs, showers, and 40 sweaty truckers. Instead of claiming a few seats to spend the night on we decided to camp out on the deck. It was a good choice all around. First of all, the sunset was stunning and the stars were wonderful. Second of all, the truckers started drinking and the tv entertainment switched from bad dubbed movies to bad porn. When we woke up in the morning we were in sight of Mazatlan. The green lush coast was a bit of a surprise to me because I imagined all of Mexico to look more or less like Baja. This however was a tropical paradise.


From Baja California Sur



Still in Baja, Yaniv on our new friends custom built ride


From Baja California Sur



discussing how to fix our bikes


From Baja California Sur



shearing down the screws


From Baja California Sur


waiting in line for some road work. All the truckers were asleep under their trucks in hammocks. luckily we were able to sneak around the construction with out waiting too long

From Baja California Sur



camping between Guerro Negro and La Paz behind a convenience store


From Baja California Sur



bikes before loading them on our ferry

From Crossing the Sea of Cortez to Mazatlan


enjoying the ride

From Crossing the Sea of Cortez to Mazatlan


stunning sunset

From Crossing the Sea of Cortez to Mazatlan


the gentle rolling put us to sleep quickly

From Crossing the Sea of Cortez to Mazatlan


getting ready to unload into mazatlan
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Old 10-19-2010, 03:59 PM   #4
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Mazatlan to Guadalajara

The heat and humidity in Mazatlan were overwhelming after our night at sea so we quickly scouted for a hotel. We ended up right on the beach in a run down, once grand behemoth of a hotel. It covered a whole block but only a few wings were in use. On our side we had a row of creepy abandoned rooms and lots of bats. However the view of the ocean made it worthwhile. I experienced my first tropical storm and got hustled at pool on the same night. Luckily there was no money involved and I even got a free drink out of it, so maybe I was the Hustler after all. Mazatlan is cute, but the humidity was driving Yaniv crazy so we headed out.

There are two roads between Mazatlan and Guadalajara, the Libre (free) and the Cuota (toll). We started out on the toll road because we were told it is much faster. However, soon the costs became too high and we got off as quickly as possible. We ended up paying between 6-700 pesos and weren’t yet half way to Guadalajara. That’s about twice our daily budget. Anyway, the free road was much more interesting and beautiful. We drove through dense jungles and small villages until it started getting dark. Earlier in the day, when we stopped for lunch, a guy told us about a big fiesta in a little town Ixtlan Del Rio. Since we were there anyway we decided to spend the night and check out the party. It turns out this fiesta is a big deal because bands come from all over to play in the little square. There were maybe 30 different bands vying for space and almost all of them were playing at the same time, sometimes only five feet apart. A Mexican family that has been living in the states for the past few years adopted us for the night and even hired a band to play for an hour. This means the entire hour someone from the family would be dancing so the band wouldn’t feel insulted. Our clumsy polka dancing got a lot of laughs.


me losing at pool. the margaritas helped the pain


From Crossing the Sea of Cortez to Mazatlan



tropical storm from our hotel window


From Crossing the Sea of Cortez to Mazatlan



market in Mazatlan. not a happy butcher


From Crossing the Sea of Cortez to Mazatlan



Yaniv´s dream ride


From Guadalajara and the Area



look safe to you?


From Guadalajara and the Area



Tequila tasting in Tequila


From Guadalajara and the Area
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Old 10-22-2010, 09:31 AM   #5
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Guadalajara to Mexico City

The ride from Ixtlan Del Rio to Guadalajara just got more and more beautiful. We moved from the dense jungle to corn fields to agave plantations. We stopped in Tequila for a tasting but decided not to do a tour of the factory. Instead we found our way to our new Couchsurfing friend Miguel. Couchsurfing is a bit of a coin flip. People are on it for different reasons and Miguel’s page looked a little bit suspicious to me. He didn’t have any friends and he specified he only wants to host girls. Well. That’s a red flag. Luckily, I have a trusting nature and we decided to meet him before we found a hotel. He’s fantastic. He and his friends dropped everything to hang out with us and show us around. We celebrated Mexico’s Independence Day with them at a bar and toured all around the city. They even cooked us a delicious 2 a.m. BBQ. I helped Miguel rewrite his Couchsurfing profile so he wouldn’t appear so creepy. And now I feel we really have a friend in Guadalajara instead of another night spent in a hotel.




From Guadalajara and the Area



From Guadalajara and the Area



miguel's sushi




From Guadalajara and the Area



kid playing in the DISGUSTING water of a public fountain
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Old 10-22-2010, 09:02 PM   #6
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I was just saying to myself, "doesn't anybody take road trips on Dakars anymore"? And then you guys show up - NICE!
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Old 10-23-2010, 06:24 AM   #7
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Enjoying your detailed ride report and pics!! Sounds like no plan is the best plan... just go where your wheels take you! Safe journey and thanks for the updates

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Old 10-25-2010, 06:56 AM   #8
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guatemala/honduras border crossing- better at agua caliente or el Florido?

I know my rr isn't caught up to here, but in reality we have been on the road for two months and are about to cross from Guatemala to Honduras. I have been reading awful awful reports about this border crossing, specifically at agua caliente. However, our book says the roads going to and from this border crossing are significantly better then at el FLorido... Anyone have any recent experience at either of these places? any recommendations? So far we have had smooth sailing at the borders and I'm pretty much dreading this.
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Old 10-25-2010, 03:05 PM   #9
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The crossing at Agua Caliente can be a hassle but if you speak some Spanish and hold firm about the $3 charge you'll be fine - just don't let them put you in the backroom with the couch and intimidate you. You'll be fine - no worries mate!
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Old 10-25-2010, 03:42 PM   #10
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Nice and brave!
Can't wait for the rest of the story, be safe.

If you're going to do more dirtroads you might want to switch to continental tkc 80's it makes the riding easier and safer, and they'r fine on tarmac
good luck!
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Old 11-01-2010, 02:42 PM   #11
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guatemala/honduras border crossing piece of cake

Here I was all bent out of shape because of all the negative accounts read online, yet it took us less then 45 minutes to clear both sides. thank you border crossing gods
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Old 11-13-2010, 08:36 PM   #12
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Beyond Mexico: Guatemala and Honduras

It was first in San Cristobal, Mexico, When Time caught up with us. One of the most fabulous things about travelling is the change that takes place in your perception of time. Presumably it moves at the same rate as every*where else, but the lack of schedules, deadlines, news, family dinners, holidays, and other such time-linked shenanigans makes it so that you are less aware of its passage.

We traveled in Mexico going from city to city, staying where we wanted till we felt like leaving, and before we knew it we had been on the road for 2 months, and still in Mexico. We did the math a few days later, on the shores of Lake Atitlan in Guatemala. Assuming we want to get to Patagonia by the end of January so we could spend a week or two hiking (and possibly grab a stand-by seat on a ship to Antarctica?), and assuming we take a week or so to allow Erika to complete her SCUBA certification in Utila, Honduras (we are here now), and assuming it takes us a week to find a boat that will take us across the Darien Gap between Panama and Colombia, and assuming we can cover about 150 miles a day on these roads, we really don’t have a lot of days in which we don’t have to ride. To be exact, if we ride without resting days through Chile and Peru (countries we’ll have a chance to visit on the way back up), we have 15 non-riding days to be spent somewhere in a half a dozen countries or so. We just have to figure out how we want to spend them.


lake Atitlan
From Mexican Border to Lake Atitaln and Antigua



two Guatemalan women carrying wood

From Mexican Border to Lake Atitaln and Antigua



The first of these days was spent coming up with this thought in Lake Atitaln. We spent the second one in Antigua, climbing an active volcano with the hopes of seeing lava. For this purpose, we signed up for a tour. The first half an hour was a wake-up call to us concerning the travel realities of most travelers. We got picked up by a 15 seat van with loud bad music pouring out of shitty speakers. The van then continued to pick up 12 other tourists from different hotels. Three of these tourists were Israeli. While we met a handful of Israelis who were good people and respectful travelers, I’m sad to admit that these three snugly fit themselves into the mold of the stereotypical Israeli Traveler. Loud, highly judgmental, self-righteous, rude, and, sadly, racist (they thought I was American, and I kept my mouth shut to allow for the anthropological experiment to proceed).

So that I won’t become myself a victim of my last judgment stated above, allow me to offer an explanation for why Israeli travelers tend to behave in the way I described. It’s quite simple. They are, almost invariably, terribly young and fresh out of the army. In the army there is a very clear hierarchy, and immense homogeneity. They (we) are all Israeli, all Jews, all the same age, all speak Hebrew, all following the same orders. Rudeness is built into orders you receive and the way you carry them out. In a regular society you learn not to be rude because of the consequences—the person you’re talking to might just leave the room. But no such danger exists in the Army, so for three years you are reconditioned to a state where rudeness has no consequences. Not only can your commanders be rude to you, and not only can you be rude to the civilians that you might be handling, but you can even be rude to your friends, cause they are stuck in the same goddam place as you. The self-righteousness and racism could very easily be explained by the army as well (admittedly they could be explained by Judaism itself, with a little bit of modern Zionism to fill in the gaps), but I shall spare the reader from further analysis. Hopefully, as Israelis (or anyone for that matter) get older, they become a little more wise and moral.

The volcano hike itself, following the van ride, was fabulous. We climbed past the clouds into the volcano peak and the realm of the sunset. You could feel the heat beneath you as you go up the mountain. Some pockets are so hot, in fact, so we were able to roast marshmallows in them. And guess what? We even got to see the glow of lava. Check.



on the volcano
From volcano to utila



strawberry flavored marshmellow. yuck.
From volcano to utila



spectacular sunset at the top. right before the descent in complete darkness
From volcano to utila



the air coming off this baby was hot enough to singe eyebrows
From volcano to utila



We also met our good friend Gui (Gee. He’s French-Canadian) again. We first met him at a burger king in Mexico, then in San Cristobal, then in lake Atitlan and now again in Antigua. He’s plan was to ride a bike, the pedaling type, from Alaska to Ushuaia. He rode till Mexico, and then started taking the occasional bus (he’s a family man, with a wife and two kids waiting for him back home). Whenever we meet we make lots of pasta and drink lots of wine. He’s a gentle soul.




From San Cristobal



Other than that Guatemala is nothing to write home about. The drivers are atrocious. We got pushed off the road several times by trucks passing other trucks going in the opposite direction. The food is not as good as it is in Mexico, and the people are not as nice. Consequently, we had a mind to cross over to Honduras as soon as we could. However, the night before we left Antigua our tool kit got stolen. Along with a few minor issues with our bikes that became a reason for us to head over to Guatemala City, buy more tools, and go to the BMW dealership.
While we were looking for the dealership, Erika dropped her bike and broke the clutch lever. Luckily we had a spare. We replaced it, found the dealership, discovered how awfully expensive it was, and spent the night in town.


don't let the bright colors fool you, this is the ENEMY!
From volcano to utila
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Old 11-13-2010, 09:19 PM   #13
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To Life Cycle

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Old 11-14-2010, 01:10 PM   #14
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Guatemala City BMW-don't go there

It makes sense to pay out of your ass to BMW in the States, but for some reason here it just doesn’t. Everything else here is paperless and unofficial, so when they wanted us to hand to the office the bike papers and our details before the mechanic even looked at Erika’s bent handlebar (which prevented the throttle from springing back into place) I politely declined. Instead, I rode the bike to where the actual mechanic worked, and hoped that some Guatemalessness remained in them. They fixed it in 20 minutes, and I gave them some cash, saving the whole ordeal of going through the office, paying them 10 times as much, and having them pay the actual mechanics nothing more than their meager monthly starving wages. Concerning our tools, we managed to almost completely replace our $120 toolkit for $50 worth of Stanley tools. All of these morning erands left us only a few hours of riding in which we were constantly behind a truck or a school bus from the US that passed its age of legality there. It’s really incredible. 95% of busses in Guatemala and Honduras are school busses from the US. I understand that passed the age of 7 they can no longer be used in the US, and are sold for roughly $1500 to bus companies here, where they run for another 20 years. Riding behind them, however, is guaranteed to leave 2 soot rings around your eyes. We only made 70 miles, and crashed in non-other than the bone-fide Hotel California.

The following morning we were on the road again. I felt like a million bucks. It made a huge difference to be able to wake up and seconds after starting the bike do 60 on the highway, with no other intent than cover as many miles as possible. Though the border between Guatemala and Honduras is said to be horrendous, we got through it under an hour, and pushed on towards San Pedro. While generally things are very simple travelling, sometime the simplest task in the US becomes complicated here in Central America; For example, finding drinking water. Stores kept having just the small, 500 ml, bottles of water. We finally found a place that sold the big 5 gallon jugs. It turns out that it is way cheaper for us to buy one of those and return the jug, even if we only use one-third of it, than buying even the one-gallon bottles, rare as they are.

While we were filling up our CamelBaks two Americans in their 60s rolled in driving a white Chevy pick-up. Within minutes we were setting up our tent on Samuel Adams’ lawn. He bought a few acres down here seven years ago, and has built a house for him to live in, and another one for a Honduran family to live in, rent free, so they could watch his property while he ventures back into Florida. The property was beautiful during the last minutes of day, and magical at night, with hundreds of fireflies hovering over the expanse of land. He said that he loves it down here, because once he bought the land he could do with it whatever he wanted. No building codes. No permits. No engineers. No laws. It sounded pretty good to me as well.


this is the motorcycle shop in Antigua where we first realized our toolkit had been stolen.

From volcano to utila



camping on Sam Adam's lawn
From volcano to utila



In the morning a Missionary came over. He’s been down here for 33 years. His wife is running a bi-lingual school, and he asked if we minded coming over and speaking with the 200 or so kids about our bikes and our trip. We were happy to. The kids were as sweet as they come. It was something new for them the see a girl on a motorbike, to see a tent, or to hear of the concept that a couple plans when they want to have kids. In many conversations throughout Chiapas, Guatemala, and Honduras, we discovered that girls are married off at the age of 15 and leave their home.


Showing off our tent to a bunch of sweet kids. How are you? I asked, FINE THANK YOU! they yelled back in perfect unison


From volcano to utila
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Old 11-14-2010, 02:43 PM   #15
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Im in!, loving your report style!
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