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Old 03-05-2012, 07:36 AM   #46
OceanMtnSea
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I see your ferry ride was downhill .........................I am enjoying the read! Thx!
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Old 03-06-2012, 03:00 PM   #47
Hamon OP
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In Tapachula, Chiapas, MX, for the night. Tomorrow we cross into Guatemala. I have pictures but I'm not sure if I'll get around to posting any up tonight or tomorrow.

Oaxaca City was a huge highlight for the trip for many reasons: the culture (I was there for a Saturday night and a full Sunday), the ruins at Monte Alban, and because I met up with a like-minded rider, Marty from Ontario on an R1150R, that's headed in a similar direction. We've ridden for a couple days together and it's been nice to be able to have somebody to chat with. The plan is to ride together for a few more days, but of course, plans and travelling are like oil and water.

Marty and his pet reindeer after a tumultuous journey through the below-mentioned wind farms:



And, carving twisties somewhere between Oaxaca City and Tehuantepec:



And speaking of oil and water, we saw tumultuous rain this afternoon (in the form of about 16 raindrops), which is the first rain I've seen in almost three weeks.

Other highlights:

-Highway 131 from Puerto Escondido to Oaxaca City, a mix of pavement, potholes, gravel, and incredible twisties

-a bus-driver protest in Oaxaca that shut the roads down as we were leaving, forcing us to use all the agility we could muster and only scraping a couple cars


-gale-force winds through the southern portion of Oaxaca province and a bit into Chiapas today (The palm trees are a clear indicator)

-a restaurant in Tapanetepec that turned out to be "the place," yapping chihuahua, boisterous children and all. Phenomenal true Oaxacan food at fractional prices.


-city riding in Mexico in general: the only way to describe the traffic flow is "organic"

More when it happens. Until then, count your lucky stars that banos don't typically cost money where you live. I mean, it's typically only 2 pesos, but still, it's the principle of it.

Ride on!

Travis
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http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=355243 <- BC to ON and back: KLR650
http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=485653 <- Inuvik 09: KLR650 and DRZ chronicle
http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=762691 <- 3 months of moto fantasticity

Hamon screwed with this post 03-10-2012 at 02:57 PM Reason: Added pictures!!
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Old 03-10-2012, 02:58 PM   #48
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A few notable mentions accompanied by pics:

Oaxaca City + Monte Alban

I was privileged enough to arrive in Oaxaca on a Saturday night which meant the streets were full with folks, food, and festivities. I ate my dinner of fried potatoes, some sort of corn dish with mayo, their cheese, and hot sauce, and wandered the square to people watch. The architecture of Oaxaca is exquisite, which leads to a thriving art culture as well.




The small figure in the corner is a woman who at a distance appeared to be wearing a mask. As I grew nearer, it turned out to be a combination of the dramatic lighting of the cathedral and her weathered countenance.

The cathedral was just as stunning in the day.



Monte Alban was a huge highlight and my first experience of first-hand ancient ruins. The fact that the Zapotecs sliced off the top of a mountain to build these structures is incredible!









Hank enjoyed it as well.



Other than that, the hotel was quite good: 330 pesos per night (granted, a little expensive: $25), but secure parking and a magnificent courtyard, easy walking distance to everything in the city.







Send in the Clowns

The other part worth mentioning about Oaxaca City was the Sunday night meandering with Marty. We went over to a street performance that involved a clown, a unicycle, and of course, some crowd participants. Well, it wasn't more than 30 seconds of us standing there that I got pegged as the token gringo. Everybody got quite the laugh from the lanky 6'2" bearded white boy and I just smiled and nodded as his rapid Spanish was too much for my phrasebook-crutched vocabulary to keep up with.







The real kicker was two nights later, in Tapachula. We wandered into the Zocalo after dinner to another clown performance. We joked with one another that it would be something to get into another clown performance.. Well. It happened. This one, however, involved a pretty girl and a bit more acting on my part. Unfortunately, there are no pictures, but video will be coming eventually (probably after my return home). A couple pictures of the morning after..





That's pure clown lovin' on that shirt. Okay, that doesn't sound great, but you get the picture.

That's pretty much Mexico! At least, the voyage south!

Next up, a few shots of Guatemala, a country that's made the idea of hammering out miles to Panama much less appealing.
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http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=355243 <- BC to ON and back: KLR650
http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=485653 <- Inuvik 09: KLR650 and DRZ chronicle
http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=762691 <- 3 months of moto fantasticity
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Old 03-10-2012, 03:34 PM   #49
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Guatemala!!!

I am more than grateful for the amount of information out there for crossing between borders. Although it still takes time, I feel the knowledge of what to do and where to be as you cross helps calm an anxious heart, especially one being constantly accosted by helpers, right from half a kilometre before the Guatemalan border.

We tried something that turned out to be folly: cross into Guatemala without cancelling our tourist visa or vehicle importation. When we got to Guatemalan immigration, they required an exit stamp from Mexico, so we had to return. Little did we know that to get our Temporary Vehicle Import Permit cancelled, we would have to make a 60km round trip voyage to Viva Mexico, a small checkpoint with a banjercito, somewhere north of Tapachula. At this point, it was hot, my temper was a bit thin, but calmness prevailed and the next approach to the border crossing went much smoother. The procedure:

1) Cancel TVIP at the Banjercito in Viva Mexico.
2) Surrender tourist visa and get exit stamp at Mexico Migracion

3) Fumigation (12Q) at the gate into Guatemala
4) Entrance stamp into Guatemala (10Q) at Guatemala Migracion (this can actually go before fumigation as the office is technically first in line.
5) Aduana for your temporary vehicle import (this took a long time due to a guy not familiar with the computer system and some mis-translation resulting in the wrong information being put on Marty's form)
6) Pay for the temporary vehicle import at the bank (161Q)
7) Back to Aduana for verification, then hop on the bike and hit the road! The first checkpoint was within 10km of the border.

Waiting...





The riding in Guatemala was incredible from the very beginning. We started on Hwy 1 towards Quetzaltenango (Xela) and got a bit lost along the way. We got our bearings in the midst of dense forests and jungle country.





From there, we headed south, getting directions in the middle of a village that obviously doesn't see too many tourists. As we stopped, small heads started peeking out of windows and doorways filled with curious souls. I felt like I caught a small snippet of what the original explorers felt when landing on foreign shores. We got some reasonable directions, headed south, and hooked up with the CA-2 into Coatepeque, where we stayed the night and found a cold beer and live music in a bar owned by a Guatemalan national who lives most of his life in California:





Morning hit,



and the same establishment that had cold beer in the evening welcomed us with hot coffee and perfect eggs for breakfast.



The short jaunt up the CA-2 strengthened our resolve to never touch that highway again, so in the morning, we carried north instead again to Xela. The mountain scenes were truly lovely.




Those are potato fields!

It was tough to take a picture of women along the way, either because of shyness or because they really were not happy with foreigners. What I found so amazing was their clothing. It was still quite traditional, filled with elegant weaving and bright colours. The women of Guatemala truly are flowers, and I hope they never give up this vibrant wardrobe.



We stopped in San Juan,


bought some fabric,


checked out the market...


...


and couldn't help but catch the curiosity of some girls getting out of school. They giggled their way through a bit of English, and with our mix of Spanish and hand gestures, we had a friendly chat. Again, they were very shy with getting their pictures taken. The girl in the background was just the cutest. Good on them for summoning the courage to talk to these crazy bike-riding gringos.

We must've missed the point of Xela, because as we passed through, it just seemed like a big city. We have heard very good things about it, but could not find them anywhere.

Anyway, the road out of Xela was enough to give us some smiles for the afternoon. Great sweepers (I'd have loved to be on my Vstrom), and a road that crept up to 3015m in elevation! Amazing!









A hop, skip, and tope jump brought us into Panajachel, which is where I'm writing from now. As we rounded the corners and caught our first glimpses of Lake Atitlan, the feelings of calmness, peace, and awe, washed over me. This is Guatemala. I could live here all my life.





Tonight will be night 3 here, which is the longest I've stayed in once place since my first nights in Mexico at San Quintin. I've been laid up in bed with a cold, but with a view like this from my bed:


I simply cannot complain.

Tomorrow will be Antigua, and after that, who knows? I might still pop down to El Salvador for another stamp in the ol' passport, but in a little over a week, my meandering voyage will start taking me north again.

Until next time, Travis and redbike (or should I say, redburro) signing off.

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http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=355243 <- BC to ON and back: KLR650
http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=485653 <- Inuvik 09: KLR650 and DRZ chronicle
http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=762691 <- 3 months of moto fantasticity
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Old 03-10-2012, 03:57 PM   #50
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Love it! Thanks for taking us along.
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Old 03-11-2012, 06:13 PM   #51
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Great pics, looking forward to see more of Your adventure.
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Old 03-13-2012, 12:26 PM   #52
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We had the pleasure of having Trav and "Redbike" in Moto Cafe (Antigua, Guatemala) this week. Always good to share stories with fellow riders, more the merrier.
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Old 03-13-2012, 12:50 PM   #53
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Catours View Post
We had the pleasure of having Trav and "Redbike" in Moto Cafe (Antigua, Guatemala) this week. Always good to share stories with fellow riders, more the merrier.
I bumped into him too. Redbike is keeping my XR company today.



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Old 03-16-2012, 11:40 AM   #54
Hamon OP
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Woo! Great to meet you guys at CATours as well! Thanks for all the information on routes, the friendly place to hang out, and the cold beers!

Evan, man, really good meeting you too. Thanks for the inspiration for lightweight travel, the tour of the bar scene, and the encouragement to get up to Earth Lodge! Best wishes on your trip. In case you didn't know, I'm a bit envious.
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http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=355243 <- BC to ON and back: KLR650
http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=485653 <- Inuvik 09: KLR650 and DRZ chronicle
http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=762691 <- 3 months of moto fantasticity
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Old 03-16-2012, 11:40 AM   #55
Hamon OP
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Hey folks,

Turns out I got caught in something I call the "Antigua Effect." It happens to many unsuspecting travellers and is a disease that is quite hard to shake. I donīt know if itīs the air, the water, or the abundance of like-minded travellers, but it seems once you descend into Antigua, itīs virtually impossible to leave. Just ask the countless expats who now eke out a living in the area through tours, schools, hospitals or other worthwhile vocations.

First off, a few parting shots of Panajachel and Atitlan:







It was also time to part ways with Marty. We'd spent a week together and the companionship was awesome, but part of this trip was about the solitude. And so the road called out for just me and the lawnmower thump of trusty redbike.

Peace, Marty. Safe travels! (and good to bump into you in Antigua too!!)



It might've been good we parted ways as well. An R1150R may not be the right choice for:





The rest of the road was nice, kinda rough, but beautifully kinked.

I spent a night in San Cristobal (just south of Guatemala City) which led me to what some might think of as a slightly sketchy experience. San Cristobal is a university community which means it has no hotels. Okay, it has one hotel, a nice establishment that was 228Q ($30). That simply is too much for my liking, so I kept searching. I pulled into a parking lot to assess the situation and saw a respectable-looking chap standing by a car, talking on a cell phone. I fumbled my way through fragmented Spanish:

Me: "Are there any cheap hotels close by?"
Him: "Oh, um, no, not that I can think of."

(Long pause as he ponders.)

Him: "Ah, mi amiga! She has a hotel. It's beautiful, it has a pool, it's secure, but it's a little ways away. Follow me in my car!"

This is one of those times that you have to make a decision and follow your gut a little bit. I deemed it a safe situation for a couple reasons:
-I approached him. He was not advertising hotel services, he did not approach me, and he was not trying to get anything out of me.
-His wife and daughters soon walked out of a store and hopped into the car. This certainly didn't have the typical sketch vibe that sets off those little bells in one's head.
-My gut told me it was alright.

I followed him along main roads (a slight bit of panic set in as he dropped off his wife and daughters to walk home) and down into a residential area. He pulled up to a corner, pointed at a lady standing close by, and drove away. He was late for supper I guess.

A garage door opened and they ushered me and redbike in. In true Guatemalan fashion, a nondescript garage door opened up into something completely unforeseen:



This boutique spa/hotel was fantastic. It had a swim-up bar, the option for a meal included in the price, and an aesthetician area near the top. Immediately I felt comfortable with my situation, plus the parking was indeed secure:



I read in Marty's copy of "The Tao of Travel" a small excerpt that fits this situation. I don't have a copy, so I'll paraphrase.

When travelling, you are vulnerable, exposed, and pretty weak. To get anywhere, you need to give up a certain amount of control and trust those around you. Without this trust, you experience only the surface elements of the country without getting into the areas and experiences that really count. Of course, to go in entirely blind and naive may end in danger, but if you humble your pride yet keep your wits, it's amazing what comes about.

In no way do I think I've even come close to grasping the reality of these words, but it's experiences like the above that encourage me on the path I'm taking.

For me, prayer helps too.

On the same vein, I was eating breakfast at a lookout over Guatemala City a few days ago. Y'know, the usual spot:





A friendly truck driver popped in for a quick bite too. His copilot obliged for a picture:


Things in Guatemala are a bit different.

But I digress.

A gentleman came over to me as I ate my meal and asked about my bike. Turns out, he's had 4 KLRs himself and simply wanted to talk bikes. He was running late for an appointment, but invited me to his place that night. Again, split second decisions arise, but again, my gut said yes, and later that night I met up with Kike (Enrique):



What an amazing experience again! I stayed for supper, met his wife and son, and learned about his life in Guatemala. As the course of the conversation progressed, I mentioned that I'd been in San Cristobal for a church service the night prior and he let on that he too was a Christian. It turns out, the next morning, a rider meeting was happening at a swanky hotel in Antigua and I was welcome to come along. Well, who can say no to that!







A little over a dozen riders showed up, they provided an English translator for their talk, and I made connections that would've been impossible to gain if I didn't trust a little. What a cool time. I can't express my gratitude to Kike enough for more phenomenal experiences and true hospitality. Thank you!

Each day, I'm slowly learning more and more about this travel thing. I'm definitely a newbie, and that's probably one of the most distinct lessons I've learned thus far.

Up next, a few shots of Antigua.
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http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=355243 <- BC to ON and back: KLR650
http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=485653 <- Inuvik 09: KLR650 and DRZ chronicle
http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=762691 <- 3 months of moto fantasticity
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Old 03-16-2012, 12:04 PM   #56
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Antigua. Once considered the capital of Guatemala, this colonial city has experienced a tumultuous history, much of it due to the substantial seismic activity that's evidenced by surrounding volcanoes.



Most of the city is restored, but ruins are still everywhere.









As I mentioned in my last post, in Guatemala, you never know what lies behind closed doors. One thing is guaranteed though, the places behind boast the same amount of character as the wood that hangs in front.







If I had one word to describe Antigua, it would be "Vibrant."






And the people that make up this town are just as colorful.







Iīll be back some day.





A hearty recommendation also for Earth Lodge! http://www.earthlodgeguatemala.com/

This place is up in the hills, has a really cool vibe, and accomodations are affordable and character-filled. Parking's a bit of a hassle, but if you're willing to ride down a steep and rocky 300m section that includes a set of 6 stairs, you'll never have an issue with theft. I'd say it's not GS friendly, but that would just be taken as a challenge. Check it out, even if it's only for lunch (which happens to be incredible, as is breakfast and supper).

A few views from there:




Yes, that's ash and smoke coming out of Volcan de Fuego.

And a little timeline of the night's progression:







What the pictures don't show is something that will stay in my head and my heart as one of the most breathtaking scenes thus far on the trip. As the stars shone above, the bar closed down, and the outside lights turned off, Volcan de Fuego lit up. Lava belched and a faint orange glow caused all who saw to stand in awe. As we gazed at this vista, I could hardly believe I could be so lucky to be here.

Tonight will be Earth Lodge again, and tomorrow marks the journey back north. Belize and the Yucatan lie ahead, but something tells me Guatemala still has a bit more to offer before I get there.

For now, Hamon and redbike signing out.

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http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=355243 <- BC to ON and back: KLR650
http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=485653 <- Inuvik 09: KLR650 and DRZ chronicle
http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=762691 <- 3 months of moto fantasticity
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Old 03-16-2012, 01:34 PM   #57
madeouttaglass
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I usually wait until the end of s ride report to say Thanks, but your report and pictures just beg for continued praise. What a great trip!
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Our ride across the USA on a Ural Gear Up- http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=781149

Escape from NY- http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=955520
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Old 03-21-2012, 12:51 PM   #58
Hamon OP
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Quick hello from Corozal, Belize! Crossed over from Guatemala yesterday and made it to San Ignacio, then burned through the country this morning. Waiting for a new zipper to be installed in my jacket, so I figured I'd hit an internet cafe to pass the time. Crossing into Mexico in a few minutes hopefully!

More pics and story to come eventually, but for now,

Hamon,



and redbike,



out.

-Travis
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http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=355243 <- BC to ON and back: KLR650
http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=485653 <- Inuvik 09: KLR650 and DRZ chronicle
http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=762691 <- 3 months of moto fantasticity
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Old 03-21-2012, 04:13 PM   #59
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Great ride and report. glad you you took us along .
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Old 03-24-2012, 08:50 PM   #60
Island_Rider
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Love the report!

Where in BC are you coming from? I'm on BC plates too...

Keep the updates coming, subscribed.
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