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Old 01-26-2011, 10:53 PM   #46
Camel ADV OP
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Some good news and some bad news. I bumped into the doctor from California at a bar tonight. The guy came to and is fairly lucid. He was able to tell them he is from Boston and is 60 something (don't remember). He was surfing and fell. They managed to find his son so at least he's not alone here.

The bad news is he has a broken neck and is now a quadriplegic They have transferred him to capital city of Managua. Hopefully the doctors can work their magic and restore his mobility.

Best of luck Richard.
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Old 01-27-2011, 06:18 AM   #47
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Sandinista Siempre

wild story Oso ... spend a little more time if you got it in Nicaragua. A wonderful country and people. Here's a bit of the back story of Nicaragua if you have time and a good internet connection. I shot this a few years back for some friends in Grenada. It's their story really but one played out across the country. Vaya con Dios my friend.

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http://www.vimeo.com/7908782
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Old 01-27-2011, 10:04 PM   #48
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wild story Oso ... spend a little more time if you got it in Nicaragua. A wonderful country and people. Here's a bit of the back story of Nicaragua if you have time and a good internet connection. I shot this a few years back for some friends in Grenada. It's their story really but one played out across the country. Vaya con Dios my friend.

Sandinista Siempre
http://www.vimeo.com/7908782
I really have enjoyed my time in Nicaragua so far. I'd really like to come back with a smaller, lighter bike and go exploring. The fully loaded 800 is less than ideal for the trails that cross criss this whole place. Even a local 200cc would be cool.

The country is beautiful, the people have been great. Like every country so far, I'd love to spend a bunch more time here but I have to press on and start heading north again. The 8 weeks I have left is going to go way too fast.

I don't have a connection fast enough for the video but I will check it out when I do!

Cory
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Old 02-02-2011, 05:51 PM   #49
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Since I started heading back north from Panama, I haven't ran into many other riders, until I got to San Juan del Sur. There was a group of 3 from Georgia and one from Denmark. By the sounds of it they an even worse time at the El Salvador Honduras border than we did. Guns had come out and one of them was locked in a back room for 4hrs.

I wandered in to a local pub and bumped in to Daniel. Daniel is a Brazilian that is riding a Strom he purchased in Canada back to Brazil. Tim and I had met him at the Barton Creek Outpost in Belize earlier in the trip. It's a little strange to walk into a bar in Nicaragua and see a familiar face.

The next morning I bumped into Eric and Sabrina on a Dakar (Plastic Sun on here). They are doing the TDF trip and are six or seven months in already. Eric had mention that he and Sabrina had bumped into John, another rider in San Juan del Sur that they had previously met in Granada. It seems like everyone knew about this place but me.

Eric and I spent a few hours going over maps and giving each other tips about upcoming borders, cool roads and misc sites of interest.

Eric, Sabrina, John(DeepInIt) and I hit a local pub and swaps stories from the road. I'm enjoying riding solo but it was good to be among brothers (and a sister) for a few hours. Eric and Sabrina called it a night early. Once again the maps came out as John and I talked routes.

It was late so I headed back to the hostel. In the morning I was going to head toward the Honduras border but first I wanted to swing past John's hotel to have a look at his KTM 950 Super Enduro.



We took some time looking over each others bikes and talking equipment. John was headed down a little dirt road to Playa del Coco, more specifically La Flores and the National Park. Every year thousands of turtle come ashore and lay their eggs. It's one of 10 beaches in Central America that it happens. That sounded much more interesting than the slab riding I had planned.

I decided to ride south with John to Playa del Coco. We headed out and although the it was just a mediocre dirt road, it was great to be off the pavement again.

Random stuff along the way:










We hit the National Park and asked about camping… $10 to get into the park each and $21 for each tent. $31 to camp, yikes! We drove up and down the road a few times before deciding on "Lugs Place" hotel, bar and restaurant. The rooms were cheap, clean and new. The owners are from Hamilton, Canada and like so many expats here they were headed south to TDF, came across a place they liked and never left.



The place is named after Lug the dog. He was HUGE.




After unloading our bikes I decided to do some maintenance. While doing an oil change, I noticed my clutch cable was more gone than there. Only 2 of the 6 original strands were still intact (aftermarket, lengthened cable). No problem I thought. Tim and I had purchased a cable repair kit the was BMW specific. Then I remembered that it was on Tim's bike which was somewhere in South America. Hmmm. It was late and nothing was open anymore, actually, it was Playa del Coco, there's nothing to be be open anyway and it didn't really matter as we had turtles to see.



The season ends in January but at dusk there are still dozens of turtles on the beach. Also there were tons of bird picking off the freshly laid turtles eggs. Cycle of life I suppose but John and I both wanted to chase the birds off. I wish I could say it was super exciting but at the end of the day it's very slow moving creatures climbing out the ocean, digging a hole, sitting in it then turning around and slowly moving back to the sea. After 30mins we had seen all there was to see. Still worth the $10 though.





We headed back to Lug's and had an amazing dinner. Easily the best meal I've had on the trip.

The morning came, John and I went opposite directions. John south toward the Costa Rican border and I headed north back to San Juan del Sur to see if I could find somewhere to get me fixed up with a new clutch cable.

I stopped at the first bike shop I saw. There were cables hanging on the wall. They were smaller in diameter than my original but seemed to be big enough to get the job done for now. 20mins and $4 later I was on my way.



They didn't have the proper end for the cable so a standard barrel was used but it popped out within minutes. A simple zip tie fixed that.


There is a Harley Davidson dealer in Managua and I figured since HD shops generally do a lot of custom work that they'd has the ability to whip a new cable for me. I had ridden past the shop on my way through. I didn't remember where it was exactly but I simply backtracked my route until I came across it.



The guys were very helpful but unfortunately they didn't make cables on site and the shop that does closes at noon on Saturdays. It was now 1:30pm. I didn't feel like waiting around until Monday so I pressed on.
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Old 02-02-2011, 06:13 PM   #50
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I grabbed a hotel in Cuidad Dario. It was cheap but not cheap enough. The huge gaps around the doors and windows ensured that my room was swarming with bugs the second the sun went down. I ended up setting up my tent in the room so I could get some sleep.



I was up early and made it to the Las Manos, Honduras border in great time. Based on our first entrance into Honduras at the El Amatillo crossing, I was dreading this. The second I rolled up to the Nicaraguan side a guy ran out and pointed me to the first office. I decided to go with it and told buddy I'd give him $5 US to get me through. 10mins later I was done. A young kid ran up and said he'd get me though the Honduras side. Again I told him $5 to make it happen. Immigration completed without a hitch. Passport stamped. Now the hard part, the bike import. Honduras seems to have the most complex process in Central America. There's a mountain of paperwork to do. This time though, the customs lady was super friendly and apologized numerous times for being new and taking so long. I laughed and said no problem! I apologized several time for my non-existent Spanish. We went back and forth, taking turns with the Spanish-English dictionary. Next thing I knew we were done. No drama, no bribe attempts. It went well. Slightly more than an hour after I rode up, I was on my way.

I'm not sure why but border crossings seem to be easier when riding solo

I rode to Danli before getting a hotel. $25 with A/C and cable TV. However, no hot water and as the sun went down I realized there was no lights either. The wall outlets worked but neither the bedroom or bathroom light did. I walked up front to ask if there was a trick to making the lights work or see if a breaker had popped. Nope, no breaker issue and no tricks, there was just no working lights in that room. The front desk girl seemed a bit surprised that was an issue. After a few minutes she finally asked if I wanted a different room. Problem solved.

Eric had recommended a route near the Mosquito Coast. He hadn't actually done the trip but had met a couple who run a Land Rover tour company. They described the road as "epic". The area is totally backwoods. I didn't ride the road to Puerto Cabezas in Nicaragua because it was way off the beaten path but the more I thought about the safety issue the less it seemed like an actual issue. I didn't do the road to Cabezas because it's 500km from anything but a huge chunk of the Trans-Siberian highway was that distance from anything or farther. Civilization was even further in Mongolia and I would have no issues going back and riding those places alone so why not here? I couldn't come up with a good reason so I decided to head for the "epic" road.

It seems that most roads near here lead to Tegucigalpa. This wasn't helpful to me as I needed to get North of Danli not west, the direction of the capital. My maps show a series of small roads that go up and over the mountain range between me and highway 15. It appeared to be about 60km from Danli to Hwy 15. I doubled that to account for switch backs and things. The next morning I headed out.

The road is bad but for some reason it gets progressively better the farther down it you get. It twists and winds it's way through the country side that reminded me more of interior British Columbia rather Honduras. The pine forest and clay roads felt a lot like home.



Hundreds of switchbacks.


The road I was riding was not on my GPS or on my map either. Dozens of forks and splits in the road had my head spinning. I stopped several times to ask locals where we were on the maps, that was useless! Even the police I asked had no idea where we were. They were pointing to places hundreds of kilometres from our actually location. Although the roads weren't on the GPS, I could see my location in relation to towns and cities that were close.

I kept riding and trying to adjust my route so I was generally headed the right direction. It worked well until I ran into a river in the bottom of a canyon. I tried several roads but couldn't find one that actually crossed to the other side. 2 hours later I was still less than 20km from Danli and over 40km from Hwy 15. The road seemed to be gradually turning to the right and back toward Danli. An hour later it was obvious that I was headed back to Danli. The roads I took ended up being a 100km loop. I thought about back tracking and attempting to find away back north but it was getting late, the sky was black and I was still less than 1/3 of the distance I needed to be.



Poverty in this area is staggering.


On the way back I was stopped by a couple of cops on a bike. It seemed like a perfect place to get hit up for a bribe. Middle of nowhere, no other people around. I decided to try a new tactic. As soon as I stopped the bike I pulled out my map and asked where we were. When they started talking I grabbed my Spanish dictionary and started looking up things they were saying. I think they got the hint that getting anything from me was going to be a lot of work. They almost immediately said "todo bien" before walking away. I wasn't done yet. I yelled to the one cop while holding up a Sharpie Marker. I asked him to sign my bike. He and his partner did.

A kilometre down the road, 2 more cops on bikes. I tried the same thing. As I pulled out the map, one of the guys noticed that the 2 other cops had signed my bike. They laughed and asked for the marker. Now I had 4 police officers names on my bike. My theory was that if I got stopped and the officers saw that others had signed my bike that maybe (hopefully) they would think their brothers in blue hadn't hassled me so they shouldn't either.

This time I was there for 15mins but they were friendly and asking about my trip and where I was headed. When I went to leave one of the guys pulled out a bag with a large white ball in it. He opened the bag and broke off a small piece before handing it to me. "Queso?" I asked. Si. I broke a piece off but he motioned for me to take it all, it was a gift. He said that his wife had made it. I almost laughed out loud.

One of my favourite movie scenes is from Borat. Borat offers someone a piece of cheese saying that it's a tradition in his country to share some cheese when meeting. The other guy is chewing the cheese and Borat says "My wife made this cheese….with milk from her tit…". The other guy looks stunned and nearly vomits.

I'm not sure where this milk came from but it was tasty cheese. I dug around in my pannier and found a 4 pack of Oreos I has stashed for an emergency and gave it to cheese guy. He was thrilled. We shook hands and I was on my way.

Bags of cheese. It is better tasting than it looks!


Just before getting back to Danli, I was stopped again. As I had hoped, the cop saw the others had signed my bike, his scowl turned to a smile. He pointed and laughed saying "Mi amigos!". Shaking my hand and waving my off.

It's been a great few days.

Random thought of the day, the new down here is brutal. I'm watching TV and they are reporting about some bodies that were found in Cuba. They show the 5 naked corpses all piled up as they were found. They blur the faces and junk but that's it. Totally grim.
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Old 02-02-2011, 06:32 PM   #51
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Cory, you are brilliant! I was just checking in to see where you were and how your trip was going, and I've gotta say, that tactic with the cops seems perfect. Clearly it's serving you well!

Glad you're not the one who was injured - when I saw that post, I was worried until I read through. It was nice of you to help out, and I'm glad no ill effects from your missing sandals.

Sorry to hear about your problems with the money changer. We've read about that trick so we always use a calculator to double-check the math. I'm sorry it was such an expensive lesson for you! We got taken early on (Mexico to Guatemala, I think) by a money changer who started doing magic tricks with the bills. We counted it twice, gave it to him, he counted it and came up with a lower number. We took it back and counted it again, but he'd made some of the bills vanish so it no longer added up properly. Now we always count out the bills out loud directly into their hands so there can't be any argument on what we're handing over. It only added up to $10 US so we weren't too put out, but it seems like the border guys in CA have a ton of tricks to rip off travelers. Hopefully you don't have any more problems!

Sounds like you're enjoying your solitary ramble back north again - hope it yields you a ton of beautiful views and epic riding!
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Old 02-02-2011, 07:05 PM   #52
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Cory, you are brilliant! I was just checking in to see where you were and how your trip was going, and I've gotta say, that tactic with the cops seems perfect. Clearly it's serving you well!

Glad you're not the one who was injured - when I saw that post, I was worried until I read through. It was nice of you to help out, and I'm glad no ill effects from your missing sandals.

Sorry to hear about your problems with the money changer. We've read about that trick so we always use a calculator to double-check the math. I'm sorry it was such an expensive lesson for you! We got taken early on (Mexico to Guatemala, I think) by a money changer who started doing magic tricks with the bills. We counted it twice, gave it to him, he counted it and came up with a lower number. We took it back and counted it again, but he'd made some of the bills vanish so it no longer added up properly. Now we always count out the bills out loud directly into their hands so there can't be any argument on what we're handing over. It only added up to $10 US so we weren't too put out, but it seems like the border guys in CA have a ton of tricks to rip off travelers. Hopefully you don't have any more problems!

Sounds like you're enjoying your solitary ramble back north again - hope it yields you a ton of beautiful views and epic riding!

Things are good! Have spent a few days off the grid (and map) in Honduras. Got horribly lost and found some great riding as a result. Actually the best dirt of the trip so far! It's amazing what you find when you're not looking for it

Hopefully all is well with you 2. I haven't had internet for several days so I'm just getting caught up on everyone and everything. I haven't read your RR yet.

Ride safe.

Cory
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Old 02-02-2011, 07:24 PM   #53
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I was up early and headed down the pavement to my turn off at Limones. As I rode up to intersection I was waved into a police check point. It was pretty uneventful as far as the police part went. As the cop was asking me what I was doing and where I was going, the electrical transformer on the power pole 15ft from us started snapping, popping and arcing. That can't be good. I was directly below the power line connected to it. I went to move the bike and a loud hiss erupted from the transformer as well as liquid mist. Needless today I got far away from the pole. Cops were running out of the police station and taking cover across the street. I wasn't waiting around for it to blow, I took off.

I stopped about 300metres down the dirt road to air my tires down a few psi. As I took off my helmet I heard a loud crack and more smoke. The transformer had exploded. As I was digging for my camera, I noticed my bike was covered in wet spots on the right side, the side that was facing to the pole. It looked oily. Whatever that mist was, it was all over my bike and likely me as well. I spent the next 10 mins washing and wiping my clothes, skin and bike down with water. It wasn't burning or anything but I have no idea what's contained in an electrical transformer.

Everything was covered with this:


I jumped back on my bike and as I found out yesterday, maps of the area are horribly inaccurate. The map shows the road runs right through the middle of a town but in reality the town is 5km to one side or the other. Also like yesterday, I realized that the people who live in these areas have no idea where they are on a map. I have no doubt they could get me to the next town with their eyes closed but to look at a map and tell me where we are or how to get to the some other town, no way! It made for a very long day!

I was intending to stick to the main road from Limoes to La Sabana de San Carlos. By "main road" I mean a god awful, rock embedded, rutted washboard covered, dirt road. Somewhere along the way I took a fork I didn't plan to and ended up on a bunch of 2 track backwood roads. The track winds it's way up and down mountains, dozens of switch backs, downed trees, muddy ruts and cattle everywhere. It was perfect. With my compass spinning with all the switchbacks I made my way through tiny little villages with only a few houses. Ox teams and their carts likely out number vehicles in this part of the country. Everyone was waving or just stood with their mouths and eyes wide open as I rode through their town.



Rush hour traffic in Jano.


Once out of the town, I wouldn't see anyone until the next town. At one point I didn't see anyone for over an hour. In Central America that's saying something. It seems that no matter where you are, there are people popping up. I have no idea where they come from, no villages, horses or cars in sight but there will be some dude sitting in the woods with his lunch in one hand and machete in the other, in the middle of nowhere. Not here. There was no one.

I was in my groove, blasting down the trail, listening to my iPod, semi lost somewhere in the back woods of Honduras.

I gave up asking for directions and just rode. Every 5 or 10mins I'd look at the map to see if I was generally going the right direction. If I was, cool, if not then I'd turn on the first decent looking trail that was kind of going the direction I wanted to be going. There were lots of U-turns and several miles back tracking but at 4pm I popped out back on the main dirt road (although nowhere near where I thought I would. Another hour on that dirt road and I was back on slab at La Sabana de San Carlos. A few miles after that I was in Olanchito for the night.

Main dirt road from Limones to Olanchito:




Tomorrow Olanchito to Yoro. This is the whole reason I'm up here to begin with. This section of road is supposed to be heaven. It'll have to be near perfect to beat todays adventure.

Best day yet.
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Old 02-02-2011, 09:23 PM   #54
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From wikipedia....
Well into the 1970s, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB)s were often used as a dielectric fluid since they are not flammable. They are toxic, and under incomplete combustion, can form highly toxic products such as furan. Starting in the early 1970s, concerns about the toxicity of PCBs have led to their banning in many countries.
Today, non-toxic, stable silicon-based or fluorinated hydrocarbons are used


Sounds like you got an oil bath..... um hot shower!!!
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Old 02-02-2011, 10:11 PM   #55
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From wikipedia....
Well into the 1970s, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB)s were often used as a dielectric fluid since they are not flammable. They are toxic, and under incomplete combustion, can form highly toxic products such as furan. Starting in the early 1970s, concerns about the toxicity of PCBs have led to their banning in many countries.
Today, non-toxic, stable silicon-based or fluorinated hydrocarbons are used


Sounds like you got an oil bath..... um hot shower!!!
It's Honduras...the transformer could have been from the 70s!
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Old 02-03-2011, 05:24 AM   #56
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Transformer liquid?

So hopefully it only had mineral oil in it but older oils contain PCBs. This was banned many years ago in the US but who knows in Honduras. PCBs are highly carcenogenic and easily absorbed through the skin. I would take a shower and don't use your bare hands when cleaning the bike.
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Old 02-03-2011, 06:38 AM   #57
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Nice going Cory. I guess border crossings really are easier when you are solo. I never had any real problems either. Great ride in Honduras amigo. I can see from your writing and your attitude that you are fully in the groove. It takes some time on the road for your head to get into that mode but once you are there the enjoyment factor increases exponentially. This is what it is all about.
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Old 02-03-2011, 06:45 AM   #58
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Originally Posted by Oso Blanco View Post
It'll have to be near perfect to beat todays adventure.

Best day yet.
thats the talk I like ... ride on Oso, ride on
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Old 02-03-2011, 03:49 PM   #59
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Rock on Cory! Glad to hear you're loving Honduras! We're in Puerto Viejo per your advice and plan to chill for a day or two and spend some time in the waves before heading into Panama.

We had a great time hanging with you in San Juan del Sur hope to see you again on the road sometime!

Eric + Sabrina
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Old 02-07-2011, 01:52 PM   #60
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The road that was supposed to be amazing was a total bust. It was nothing more than a long flat rocky gravel road. I'm guessing there was a miscommunication between Eric and I about the road location or perhaps between the LandRover people and Eric. There are a few roads that are basically parallel to the main one that I was on. I'm guessing one of them was the good one.

Not what I was expecting.










I was expecting to spend the day on that 100km section but since it was a breeze I was way ahead of where I planned to be. I started looking at the map and the date then realized that I had enough time to get to the Copan Ruins for a day then make it to San Salvador for the end of the BMW rally. It looked like it would be a busy few days.

I didn't know much about the BMW event other than several other riders I had meet said it was alway huge and a great time. I didn't know where it was in San Salvador and that isn't a city I had any desire to just go exploring in. I sent out some emails and PMs in hopes of getting more info. In the meantime I headed to Copan Ruins.

The town of Copan is much like any other touristy place in Central America. It has a good selection of businesses run by locals and several run by ex-pats. Lots of little clubs, pubs and shops. It seems lately that everywhere I've been, I'm the only one there. Hotels are empty, restaurants too. It's like a ghost town. I know peak season is over but it seems strange that there are so few people around. I've been staying in hotels lately, in private rooms since there haven't been backpacking hostels available. I opted for a dorm room in a hostel this time in an attempt to meet some new people. Too bad the hostel was empty!

They have 3 dorm rooms and 3 privates. A total of 20 something spots. With me, there were 3 of us. It seemed natural that since there were only 3 of us that we should go do something. I'm not sure what happens on the road but the process of building relationship is much faster than in regular life. Everyones just passing through and there's not a lot of time for feeling people out so it seem you make friends very quickly.

Stephane, a very attractive Swiss girl, Graham, a police detective from the UK and I headed out for lunch early in the afternoon and it was almost 3am by the time we got back to the hostel. So much for getting up early, seeing the ruins and then heading toward San Salvador!

Stephane was up early and caught a bus to the coast on her way to the Bay Islands. Graham and I didn't come back to life until nearly noon. After a quick breakfast and lots of Advil, we head to the Copan Ruins.

I'm not sure what I was expecting but that wasn't it. After Teotihuacan, Chichan Itza and Tikal, Copan was a bit lacking. The ruins are in good shape but there's not a lot there. I think that if they were in Mexico, no one would go but because they are the biggest and best in Honduras they get a lot of press. In under an hour we had seen what there was to see and were headed back to the town.





My Airhawk had been leaking since La Paz in Baja on the way down. The numerous attempts to patch it had failed and my ass had finally had enough. Anyone with an F800GS will likely agree that the seat is awful. Even after months on it, I'm not used to it. While Graham and I were walking down the street I noticed a sewing shop with some foam on the shelf. After quickly running back to the hostel to get the seat off my bike, I returned and bought a chunk of foam and cut it in the shape of the Airhawk cushion, problem solved.





Like I was saying with new friendships on the road, the same seems to be true for other relationships. Fabiola works at a local bar run by her sister. Fabiola is spicy, feisty girl with loads of personality. With in minutes of meeting her, I liked her, really liked her. It was pretty clear she felt the same way.

My one day in Copan ended up being 4.

One of the best things about travelling is all the great people you meet. For me, the worst part about travelling is also all the great people you meet. I hate good byes, always have. After spending 2 days with Fabi, I was in a place I really liked but didn't want to be. I had meet someone amazing that despite being from total different backgrounds and cultures, we had so much in common. But we both knew I was leaving. That's tough. I could have stayed a week, I have the time but I knew if I stayed a week, I would end up extending it to 2 then 3 then a month and then it would be nearly impossible to leave. It was very difficult to leave after only 2 days but with tears in her eyes, I said goodbye.

With a lump in my throat and watery eyes myself, I rode out of town toward the Guatemala border. With the extra days in Copan, I had missed the BMW rally in San Salvador completely. Oh well, choosing between a bunch of guys on bikes or a sexy chica wasn't a difficult choice to make!

At the border there were no helpers…anywhere. No one came running out, no one flagged me in, even the officials. I think I could have ridden right through and no one would have stopped me.

I was out of the Honduras side in under 10mins. As always, if there's drama, it seems to come when you go to get the bike in or out of a country. Unlike a lot of borders down here that seem to be in the stone ages as far as technology goes, Guatemala borders are all linked online. No big paper ledger or mountains of forms sitting in piles that no one will ever look at again. When the customs woman typed my bike VIN in the system she said, "I'm sorry for you, big problem, you can't bring this bike into Guatemala". Ah, what? It seems that on the way out of Guatemala on the way down, some of the paperwork wasn't done properly and my bike has been flagged, or rather I've been flagged as not being able to import vehicles into the country. This was going to be a problem.

After 30mins of trying to clarify and sort out the issue, it was obvious I was making no head way. I asked to speak with a manager or supervisor. I did and got nowhere. The customs woman kept saying I should go back into Honduras and re-enter Guatemala at a different crossing. I didn't understand why and she wasn't having any luck explaining it to me.

I remembered seeing an ad in a travel magazine I was reading advertising a ferry service from Puerto Cortes, Honduras to Punta Gorda Belize, which of course would cut Guatemala out all together. Problem solved…I thought.

With Guatemalan customs lady in tow, I went back to the Honduras side to explain why I was returning to Honduras and that I needed to keep the vehicle permit I had just handed in less than an hour ago. The Honduras official pulled out the document and showed me that it was now cancelled and said it couldn't be reinstated. OK, fine, I'll go through the process again and pay the $35 road tax again so I can get back into Honduras. He said no, that the permits were good for 30days and until the one I just handed back in expired (in 24days), I couldn't reimport the bike until that 24days went by.

So now, I'm stuck between 2 borders that will allow me to enter the country but won't let my bike. WTF do I do now?!

After another 30mins with the Guatemalan side and more phone calls, the lady tells me I have 24hrs to get through the country and that I have to use the border crossing at La Mesilla to leave as she will call ahead to let them know what is happening. The Pan-American crossing is totally kitty corner across the country! On top of that, she refuses to give me a name or reference number to use once I get to the crossing. In fact, she took her name tag off and put it on backward so her name wasn't showing. I had written her name down before that though. I said I'd really like a reference number or something since as soon as I entered Guatemala I would be technically riding a bike that was illegally in the country. She said "Aqua Caliente". What? She wrote it down. K, so that says hot water….was that a password or… I asked for an explanation and all she would say was Aqua caliente over and over. Hmmm. She swore there'd be no problem, that her manager would call ahead but refused to give me her bosses name or phone number.

She walked down to the gate and talked to the guards that normally look over all your papers before you. They didn't look at anything, just opened the gate. I rode away with no import papers. Yikes.

I get about 20km from the border and start to see signs for a border crossing called Aqua Caliente. It all made sense now. They wanted me to say that I had come through that crossing rather than the one at El Florido so they don't get in trouble for letting me enter with no papers. I suspect they aren't going to call ahead either. I could probably cross wherever and have the same luck (whatever that luck maybe).

24hrs across Guatemala really messes with my plans. I had intended to take 2 weeks of Spanish school in Antigua. There are a few people I really wanted to see again (also Antigua). I have 7 weeks left to travel. I rented my house so I'm homeless until April 1st. We spent 5 weeks in Mexico on the way down and but only 2 in Guatemala and I was looking forward to exploring it more before crossing back into Mexico. Not that having a couple more weeks in Mexico is a bad thing, it's just not what I had planned. Had I known things were going to go this way, I'd have signed up for Spanish in Copan and stayed with Fabi. Sigh, I need a crystal ball.

A few things I've been expecting but haven't seen yet happened one right after the other shortly beyond the border…foreshadowing of things to come? Hopefully not.

I've seen people write about locals stretching a rope across the road in order to get bikers to stop. Rather than hit the rope, get tangled up and likely crash, riders stop then get robbed. I came around the corner and saw the red rope with small flags attached for visibility. Here we go I thought. There was only one person holding it. If I was going to crash, it was going to be into them. I dropped a gear, sped up and pointed my bike right them. The person got the hint, dropped the rope and stepped aside. As I rode past, I saw it was an old lady. She looked really pathetic. I had the urge to stop and give her a few dollars but the last thing I wanted to do was reward her behaviour. Tough life for a lot of people here, it's sad.

Shortly after that, I came around a corner, there was a bike in front of me. A car coming the other directing was flashing it's headlights which happens all the time. People are either trying to tell me my lights are are on, there are police ahead or they flash their lights, honk their honk and give me a thumbs up as I ride by. This was different. The driver of the car had an urgent look on his face and was motioning to turn around. The local bike in front of my slowed, made a U turn motioned for me to do the same then sped off. I slowed, peaked around the apex of the curve and saw several men dressed in black with guns in the road. No big deal, it's Guatemala. Likely just a police or military check point. More locals turing around and speeding off and tell me to do the same. I turned around and followed the line of traffic detouring the men in black. I still have no idea who they were or what they were doing.

As I followed the line of traffic through town and down a back road that looped around the roadblock, I saw were 3 cars pulled off to the side of the road. One had the hood up and the others looked to be help with repairs. The local on the bike stopped to help but got spooked for some reason and took off spraying gravel everywhere. Several other cars sped off in all directions too. Again, I had no idea what was going on in either situation but the locals were freaked out making u-turns and speeding past the broken down car and I decided to follow suit.

I stopped just before dark at a hotel just short of Purulha. Sat and reflected a bit on the day. It is without a doubt, the strangest day of the trip so far.

Randoms:

Bimbo Bread...always makes me laugh.


This Mayan King was the first in the village to get a BlueTooth headset.


Mannequins here have a little more junk in the trunk than at home. KAPOW! Nice butt.


Men here don't understand women either.
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