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Old 12-14-2011, 07:43 PM   #46
Lunatic
Dan Keyhoety
 
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Location: DOWN ON THE BORDER , LAS CRUCES, NUEVO MEHICO
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Zumo

Mike...Where did you get the updated Zumo Mexico maps ?

Happy Travels , Dan
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Old 12-15-2011, 04:37 AM   #47
Parcero OP
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Location: Chicago physically, Colombia en mi mente.
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Dan, I bought the current Mexico map directly from Garmin. I got it on an SD card so I could just pop it into the Zumo rather than having to download it or portions of it along the way.

I found the GPS mapping and turn-by-turn instructions in Mexico just as accurate and reliable as it is in the USA.

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Mike...Where did you get the updated Zumo Mexico maps ?

Happy Travels , Dan
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Old 12-16-2011, 10:02 AM   #48
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I arrived home last night and now have some time to recap the ride and update the report, since I haven't been able to add much since entering El Salvador. I got into El Salvador at about 4 PM on Sunday, December 11, six days into the trip. The border process was painfully slow, but I found the roads decent and scenery beautiful.


Getting out of Guatemala.

El Salvador



I decided to take the coastal route toward Libertad, and planned on finding a nice place to stay along the coast.


Sunset on the Pacific coast of El Salvador.


Along CA-2 in El Salvador.


Once of the five tunnels along the road to Libertad.

I pressed on until San Miguel, El Salvador, about 90 miles from the Honduran border, where I checked into a motor motel. These have private garages directly below the rooms. I planned on a very early start the next morning.


The garage below my room in San Miguel, El Salvador.

Honduras



The next morning, I got the early start I wanted and left at 5 AM. I was at the El Salvador side of the border by 6:30. In minutes, I was on the Honduran side, waiting for them to open at 8 AM.


In Honduras waiting for the border to open.


Looking back at El Salvador from the border bridge in Honduras.


Bienvenidos a Honduras. The customs building in El Amatillo.


Border scene in El Amatillo, Honduras.

I found Honduras to be the most rural of all the countries I had been through and with the worst roads.


Farm animals are plentiful along the road in Honduras.

My pass through Honduras was short, although not without several traffic re-routes due to landslides or other road damage.


Traffic re-routed due to bridge repair.


Motos squeezing through.

When I arrived at the frontera, a bridge was out, so traffic had to be re-routed yet again.




Had about 10 miles of this road, or worse. The picture doesn't do the road conditions justice. It felt like a very irregular washboard surface. 10 miles an hour was about the max that could be done.

But soon, I was into Nicaragua, and the border process was straightforward and relatively quick.


Yet another fumigation.


Cruising through Nicaragua.


And enjoying some great scenery. This place is volcano central!


60 klicks from Managua.

Just after passing through Managua, I was pulled over by a transit cop. He informed me that I had committed three infractions. Evidently I had made three passes in no passing zones. This could have been true, I really didn't remember. It probably was, because there was no way I was going to drive two miles per hour behind a three-wheeled taxi until the double yellow line changed.

The cop asked for my license, so I handed him my international drivers license, which is worthless and he knew it. He then asked for my real license, and since I knew he could not speak or read English, I gave him my FOID card (basically a firearms permit that our fine controlling Illinois government requires.) He said he would have to keep this and tucked it away in his little satchel. I thought that I was probably OK until he asked for my Nicaragua moto permit, without which I could not legally drive and probably could not get past the next border.

I asked him if I could settle this matter right now and pay the "fine." He said follow me, and we went to the police station about five minutes up the road. Inside a small office, he rolled an official looking form into a typewriter. Again, he told me I had committed three infractions and said I would have to see a magistrate of some sort. I asked "when?", and he said in 30 days! I said sorry, no can do, I have to be back in Chicago for Christmas. I suggested that we simply settle up right there and asked how much. He was a young guy, appeared very nervous, and I suspected this might be his first attempt at extorting a bribe. He objected at first, and then said 300. I said no problem. 300 cordobas is worth about $13 US. He said no, 300 for each infraction. I objected, and said I don't even have that much in Nicaraguan currency. So I laid out three 100 cordoba notes on the desk. He then says no, US currency, $300 for each infraction, for a total of $900! At that point, I sat back in the chair, and said OK, I'll just stay for 30 days, no problem. He didn't seem to know how to respond. So he opens a drawer, and sweeps the 300 coronas into it with another piece of paper, like if he didn't actually touch them he wasn't corrupt. What an amateur! He handed me my FOID card and my moto permit, and said I was free to go. So 30 minutes of nonsense and $13 later, I was on the road.

By late afternoon, I was passing through the border into Costa Rica, a very simple process. I pressed on to Liberia, Costa Rica, where I stayed for the night.


My hotel in Liberia.


I was accumulating a lot of different currencies. This will come in handy on the return trip.

The next morning I got another early start and knew that I cold make it all the way to Panama City. The roads through Costa Rica where better than I expected, but the twisty high mountain passes and many washouts in the road also made it slower than I had expected. And it rained most of the day. The scenery in the lower half of the country was spectacular, the northern half no so much.

San Jose was a nightmare. Since I didn't have turn-by-turn GPS capabilities since I left Mexico, I was relying on road signs and paper maps, and the world basemap in the Garmin. Up until San Jose, this had not been a problem in the least. But in San Jose, I had either missed the sign to Panama or they didn't have one. I took a few educated guesses, but all were wrong. So I retraced my path looking for a sign. Finally, I just started roughly following CA-2 on the Garmin. Lo and behold, at a stoplight, I saw a small hand-painted sign for Panama with an right turn arrow. These little signs routed me through business and residential neighborhoods for about 30 minutes, but eventually I was back on the PanAm Highway toward Panama.


Road washout in Costa Rica.


Along CA-2 in Costa Rica.


Uh-oh, looks like it's going to rain. Again.


Last gas stop before Panamá.

Bienvenidos a Panama


When I got to the Panamá border, it was raining hard. The migración/aduana process was very simple and fast, as I had expected. Panamá is a first-world country, especially since the new president Ricardo Martinelli took over about two and a half years ago. There have been many improvements to their systems and especially to the country's infrastructure. Almost immediately after leaving the border, the PanAm Highway becomes a four-lane divided highway made of machine-laid concrete. The lane width is wider than any I had seen since leaving Mexico, and the shoulders are also wide and paved. The road is even lit for about the first 30 minutes, and the posted speed limit is 110 kph, the highest since Mexico.

The rain had subsided to a light drizzle, and with the incredible lighting system on the GS, with the low beam and auxiliary lights, I could see a mile down the road and everything off to the side. With the high beam on, I could see to Panama City. With great visibility and roads mostly on par with our own roads here, and lighted in many areas, I was making good time. I still had A LOT of distance yet to cover, and by the time I got into Panama City and checked into the Hotel Ejectutivo, it was about 2:30 AM. I stopped a couple of times for coffee, and I felt great when I got in. That GS is so comfortable that the last hour of my 19 hour day felt as good as the first.


The bike parked at the hotel in Panama.


4,330.7 miles, from my garage in Chicago to the Hotel Ejectuvo in Panama. Fun is definitely measured in miles!

The next day I began the task of drying out my riding suit, boots, and gloves. Everything is water tight but for some reason my left boot got wet. Water must have come in over the top somehow.


Automatic boot drying system in the Hotel Ejecutivo.


Everything gets very dirty riding through CA.


I am embarrassed to say that in the six-plus years that I have owned that riding suit, I have only washed the rain lining. Now it needs a thorough cleaning.


The view from the hotel.

The next morning I rode to the airport to drop the bike off at Girag to be shipped to Colombia in January, when I resume the trip. Girag is well-know and does a great job. Xenia was very helpful. While there, I met a coupe from Spain who had ocean shipped their bikes to Miami, road them to Panamá, and were getting ready to ship them to Colombia to continue their trip into South America. Now that's a trip!


All ready to be palleted and shipped.

I brought down a set of TKC-80s that will be mounted in Colombia, but take a look at those Heidenau's after more than 9,000 miles. Looks like they still have a lot of life left in them.


Rear


Front.

So, to recap. I started the trip on Monday, December 5. I left my garage in Chicago at about 1:30 PM. Got stranded for half a day by snow on day 2. I arrived in Panamá on eight days later. Even though the 13th makes it nine days math-wise, I got such a late start on day one I consider it eight. Had I not been snowed in and had not lost half a day exiting El Salvador, maybe it could have been done in seven, but that would REALLY be pushing it.

Dec 5 - Chicago to Rolla, Missouri
Dec 6 - Rolla, Missouri to Atoka, Oklahoma
Dec 7 - Atoka, Oklahoma to Laredo, Texas
Dec 8 - Laredo, Texas to Pachuca, Mexico
Dec 9 - Pachuca, Mexio to San Cristobal de Las Casas, Mexico
Dec 10 - San Cristobal, Mexico to Antigua Guatemala, Guatemala
Dec 11 - Antigua Guatemala, Guatemala to San Miguel, El Salvador
Dec 12 - San Miguel, El Salvador to Liberia, Costa Rica
Dec 13 - Liberia, Costa Rica to Panama City, Panama

I was an incredible ride and, while fast, I experienced so much and met so many great people along the way, and also learned a lot. The border crossings, while tedious at times, where some of the more interesting experiences of the trip, and frankly, that's part of the trip. The bike held up well (as it had better, given the cost) and so did I. As for safety, I never felt unsafe, uncomfortable, or threatened at any moment during the trip. The few police checkpoints that I encountered were fast, routine, and professional (except for the amateurish corrupt cop in Nicaragua.) Mostly, they seemed more interested in the bike than anything else. An R1200GS is a big bike down there.

It is great to be back home and sleeping in my own bed, but I look forward to the next leg of the journey in January. After the Colombia travels, I might head further south, staging the trip by leaving the bike at times and flying home. I don't know yet. But I do know that I have to do this trip again in reverse in the spring, and it will be even more fun the second time around.
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Chicago to Panamá y Más Allá

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Parcero screwed with this post 12-26-2011 at 11:11 AM Reason: Correct grammatical errors.
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Old 12-16-2011, 11:53 AM   #49
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Hey, so what light bar are you running? I like the looks; I may just have to get me one.
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Old 12-16-2011, 01:14 PM   #50
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They are stock BMW auxiliary lights, the same as used on the GSA but with a different mounting system designed for the GS.
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Hey, so what light bar are you running? I like the looks; I may just have to get me one.
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Old 12-16-2011, 01:58 PM   #51
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I'm interested in the mounting bar. Which one did you use?
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Old 12-16-2011, 02:18 PM   #52
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There is no bar. They use factory-supplied mounts that attach to the sides of the front upper fender of the bike.

Here is a link to the product.

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I'm interested in the mounting bar. Which one did you use?
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Light Dual Sport Fun in Michigan

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Old 12-16-2011, 02:22 PM   #53
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Looking forward to the continuation of your ride report when you continue.
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Old 12-17-2011, 03:36 PM   #54
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Well done and interestingly documented
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Old 12-19-2011, 05:40 AM   #55
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Evidently, someone thinks this trip was "beyond lame" and "boring."
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Chicago to Panamá y Más Allá

Light Dual Sport Fun in Michigan

R1200GS / KLR650 / XR400 / XR250 / 1950 Panhead
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Old 12-19-2011, 06:39 AM   #56
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Great RR

Great trip report. You were rockin' to get there in 8 days.
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Old 12-19-2011, 07:48 AM   #57
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Thanks! Yeah, I was moving, but I had to get the bike down there to be ready for stage two in January and be back for the holidays up here. The return trip will be at a slower pace, with a ten-day stopover with the family in Mexico to boot and probably a visit with a friend in D.F.

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Great trip report. You were rockin' to get there in 8 days.
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Chicago to Panamá y Más Allá

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Old 12-19-2011, 03:05 PM   #58
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ˇMuchísimas gracias!

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Well done and interestingly documented
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Old 01-02-2012, 10:40 PM   #59
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Man , if a quick trip to CA in winter instead of working is lame I may as well go out to my shed and hang myself next to my frozen motorcycles.
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Old 01-03-2012, 10:53 AM   #60
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That's pretty much what I thought. But what do I know?

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Man , if a quick trip to CA in winter instead of working is lame I may as well go out to my shed and hang myself next to my frozen motorcycles.
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