|09-26-2013, 09:49 AM||#1336|
Joined: Feb 2006
Location: Kamloops, BC
Gene, Thanks....I needed some direction with this....uh...."pressing" problem.
Be safe out there, you two.....many folks are riding vicariously with you.
|09-27-2013, 06:08 AM||#1337|
Joined: Mar 2006
Location: No Fixed Address (originally Toronto)
Updated from http://www.RideDOT.com/rtw/111.html
We're itching to be on the move again. After a few months of staycations, vacations and road trips around Guatemala, we are finally packing up everything and resuming our nomadic journey. However, circumstances dictated that we stay just a few days longer in Antigua while waiting for Neda's new rear tire to get shipped from the US. So we went out and wandered the streets for awhile.
Parade in the streets celebrating the Benediction of San Francisco
OMG! So cute!
Hiked up to the top of Cerro de la Cruz, a large hill overlooking Antigua
It's quite an experience being here in the off-season. Normally the view from Cerro de la Cruz in the summer is clear and you can see the cross against the backdrop of volcanoes unhampered by fogs or clouds, but I kind of like being in the town when there are less tourists. We've been here long enough that we're kind of semi-locals, and we've made enough friends here to consider making Antigua a home if we ever chose to settle down.
Such a cool place to play a volleyball game!
Selling flowers on the streets of Antigua
And then finally, we get the call. Neda's rear tire is ready for pickup in Guatemala City. It's just a quick trip to the BMW dealership to get it mounted. While we were waiting, I was fawning all over the new R1200GS. This new model is now liquid-cooled. Because I drooled all over it...
The receptionist behind me is calling Security
Back in Antigua, Neda is facing a packing problem. Brought too much stuff back from Toronto...
Finally, we are off! New rear tires, new batteries, new supplies, new clothes. We felt reinvigorated! And much heavier! :( As we rode south from the mountains of Guatemala, the temperature soared and it got much more humid. We had not seen 30C on the thermometer for quite some time.
Around scenic Lake Amatitlan, we pass the Guatemalan pole vault team
Apparently Gus Fring was working in another store today
I've seen this fast food chicken chain, Pollo Campero, all over Guatemala and every time I see the logo, I think of Breaking Bad, which is our favorite TV show. So in dedication to the series finale this Sunday, we stop and eat at one in Santa Rosa, just before we cross the border. The chicken is actually very delicious!
My diet starts next week...
Pollo Campero... Los Pollos Hermanos... Similarity?
After lunch, the skies darkened considerably to signal the inevitable early afternoon rains. I tapped on my communicator to let Neda know we should put on our rainsuits. She told me, "I'm too hot. You go ahead. I'll put mine on right before it rains...". I crawled into my rainsuit in silence, while she sat on her bike waiting for me.
Not five minutes later, the skies opened up a ferocious thunderstorm on top of our heads, complete with a frighteningly close lightning show. There was no room to stop on the narrow, curving road and I could see Neda's riding suit getting completely soaked. By the time she could find a straightaway to pull off to put her rainsuit on, she was drenched all the way to the bone.
Even with the communicator off, I could see lots of head-shaking and hear cussing. I already had my rainsuit on, so being being a bit bored I took some pictures...
There are some perfect "I-Told-You-So" moments that happen once in a while. But you know that saying those words out loud just reduces you to a petty and small person, even though every fibre and muscle in your body just wants to yell it out.
So I tapped on my communicator and smugly proclaimed, "Told ya so". Then I turned the communicator off... *kikiki*
At the border, the guard inspects my passport... "Senor Lambert? De New Hampshire...?"
"Si. I am the one who knocks." No wait, that's my engine again...
The Guatemala/El Salvador border crossing is dead easy. Just hand over a few photocopies of your documents and you're through. We've crossed several Central America borders now and we know the process intimately: stamp yourself and your bikes out of one country, stamp yourself and your bikes into the next country. Unfortunately, the Salvadorean Aduana (customs) computer was down and we had to wait to import our bikes in.
This *exact* same thing happened the last time we entered El Salvador 6 months ago! At a different crossing as well! Something tells me this happens all the time... So, we waited four hours for the computer to come back up. Being bored, I took more pictures.
Neda's bike waits patiently. The bridge to Guatemala in the background
Sun sets and we are still waiting like everyone else for the Aduana computers to come back online
Finally, the computers come back up and it's a very short wait to get the bikes imported into the country. I am a bit wary about riding in the dark, mainly because of road conditions and animals, but partly because of security. Our last run through El Salvador had us stopping just outside San Salvador and checking into a skanky "Love Motel". The owner back then told us not to leave the premises after sunset because it was too dangerous.
However, riding through this part of the country, past nice neighbourhoods and lots of people walking on the streets, I got a much better feeling this time through. You always feel safer when there are parents and children walking around past sunset.
Rolled our bikes into the courtyard of our casa
Just 15 kms away from the border, we rolled into the very pretty town of Ahuachapan. We knocked on the doors of a couple of casas and found one not too far from the main plaza.
Plenty of people hanging out in the main plaza in Ahuachapan, as we walk around trying to find dinner
In the morning, we strolled around town. Tuk tuk cruise the streets, mountains of El Salvador in the distance
Not one whole day in town and we found ourselves a favorite restaurant. Had two meals here already!
All the buildings around the main plaza were decorated in these fun murals
Lots of kids and parents/grandparents everywhere in town. It felt like a great family environment, very welcoming
Neda brought up the point that the people here are very friendly. There's always a "Buenos Dias" being exchanged whenever anyone passes each other on the streets. Although the Guatemalans are nice people, they are not overly friendly, and the last time we saw such an open display of welcome towards strangers was in Mexico. It felt really nice.
What a difference from the last time we breezed through this country on the PanAmerican Highway. I am so glad we are taking the time now to experience it properly.
Lunch break in the Parque Centrale
Even the street signs are fun!
These guys look like they are part of the mural, sitting against the fence! :)
|09-27-2013, 06:29 AM||#1338|
Joined: Jul 2013
This is a picture of award-winning quality dude!!!
I love the way you two always seem to find it easy to smile your way through everything, keep up the good spirit!!
|09-27-2013, 11:36 AM||#1339|
Joined: Aug 2010
Location: Currently - Canada
You do seem in good spirits, and the pictures and commentary are constantly improving and both very, very good.
Had a few more chuckles with the BB discussion. At the time I was wondering if you were going to expand on that.
This Sunday will be great!
Tour of Idaho T1 Challenge - https://spotwalla.com/tripViewer.php...551f1642711d75
Eat. Sleep. Ride - The Great Divide: http://advrider.com/forums/showthrea...4#post19193704
Go, Get Lost - Heading South: http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=735690
Dirt Donkeys Do Baja: http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=671095
|09-27-2013, 04:19 PM||#1340|
Joined: May 2009
Forget about bandits or wild animals on the road.... this right here is what’s known as living dangerously mate.
Sugar Cane to Cotton Fields
Poverty is the mother of invention.
|09-28-2013, 07:54 AM||#1341|
Joined: Jan 2008
Location: Antigua , Guatemala
It was great meeting you guys here in Antigua !
Ride safe y hasta la proxima
|09-28-2013, 08:47 AM||#1343|
Joined: Dec 2008
Location: Behind the Redwood Curtain
Looks like an amazing town... !
"I don't really know, I've been too busy falling down."
|09-28-2013, 04:26 PM||#1344|
Joined: May 2010
Location: Nova Scotia
Borders and Photos
Thanks for another engaging update on our vicarious journey! I don't recall if you've mentioned any warnings about taking photos at Aduanas. I've been warned and I've been present when others have been "caught" and it was taken quite seriously.
Current: '02 R1150GS, '06 DR 650SE, '86 Ninja 1000R
Past: '84 XL 200R ; '86 Honda Reflex TLR200 (trials); '81 GS 650G ; '81 XS 400 Special
Basket Cases: '50s era BMW R60; '80s era BMW R80
|09-29-2013, 06:50 AM||#1345|
Joined: Mar 2006
Location: No Fixed Address (originally Toronto)
Never been caught or warned before? But I will be more careful in the future.
I think the shot of the El Salvador border patrol while on the bike was taken with the iPhone and I may have been pretending to check e-mail...
|09-29-2013, 07:41 PM||#1346|
Joined: Mar 2006
Location: No Fixed Address (originally Toronto)
Updated from http://www.RideDOT.com/rtw/112.html
It started out as quite a nice day. Neda planned a great day trip out to Lago de Coatepeque, a lake that formed inside a volcanic caldera. It's similar to Crater Lake in Oregon, only not as large. It even has a small island inside the caldera, just like Wizard Island. Only about 45 minutes away, we made sure to leave early to beat the afternoon rains.
Riding the rim of the Caldera, great view of the lake
Stopped for breakfast and to take in the view
There's a small restaurant right at the lip of the volcano looking down into the lake, from there we have a beautiful view. The waiter gave us the menu and we asked what items were available, since we've found that most restaurants we've been to lately only have a limited selection. He answered that everything on the menu was available.
Us: "Do you have the rabbit?”
Us: "What about the vegetable plate?"
Him: "Let me check.... No."
Had a good laugh over that... :)
Looking down into Lago de Coatepeque
Next stop this morning was a ride up Cerro Verde, an uphill climb that promised great views at the top
We pulled over a few times to take pictures. However at one stop, half-way up the climb, I turned the key and got the dreaded "EWS" message on my console. "EWS" stands for "Elektronische Wegfahr Sperre" and is a fancy German way of saying "Chu're not going anywhere, mein freund." EWS is an electronic immobilizer, it's an anti-theft control that communicates with the RF chip in your key so that nobody can hotwire your bike.
What do these three things have in common? They all mean "computerfuktyew"...
Unfortunately, there are a few things on the R1200GS that are prone to fail. Headlight bulbs (ongoing), final drive (got that fixed in San Jose), and now the EWS ring sensor that reads the chip in the key. I've read quite a lot about this problem on the online forums. It's gotten bad enough that owners carry a spare ring sensor and replace it right on the road if they ever get stranded. Not me though. Nothing bad will ever happen to me. I'm friggin' Superman...
Getting at the battery to see what can be done
Pollyanna that I am, I am still thinking it might not be a ring sensor failure. Sometimes if the voltage is too low, it can trigger a fault. I flag down a couple of cars to see if maybe I can get a jumpstart from a battery with good voltage.
A family in an old truck pull over and I ask if they have jumper cables. The gentleman's name is Francisco and he replies no, but immediately gets out, pops his hood and starts to remove the battery from his truck *AND* the connecting cables! The cables are to short to reach, so I have to hold the battery while Francisco makes the connections manually, and Neda turns the key and tries to start the bike.
Francisco to the rescue! His family cheers us on.
Nothing. The letters "EWS" stare at me mockingly. I'm stranded. The sky is darkening and it looks like it's going to rain. Great.
We assess the situation. We need to get the bike to a dealership. Can we load it into Francisco's truck? Not 550lbs without a ramp, we can't. Maybe we can call for a tow? We're in the middle of nowhere and San Salvadore is 100kms away, how much is that going to cost?
I get desperate. We put together my bike and because we've ridden uphill for the last 15 minutes, I try bump starting my bike while coasting downhill. There is so much compression from the huge cylinders that I'm locking up the rear wheel in 2nd and 3rd gear. Put it in 4th and then jump on the seat while popping the clutch. The engine wants to turn over, I can hear it, and I get my hopes up. But still nothing.
The EWS is preventing me from bump starting the bike. That's what it's supposed to do - prevent hotwiring, bumpstarting, etc. Academically, I know all of this. Yet I am desperate to try anything. I turn the key off and on, off and on, many times and then... that one time I try.... No EWS. I thumb the starter quickly as if those dreaded three letters will appear if I don't turn the engine over in time (rational thought escapes you in times like these).
The engine starts with a rumble. As if nothing ever happened.
I'm friggin' Superman, bitch.
I ride back uphill and thank Francisco and his family (wife Merced and son Francisco Javier) profusely
Even though all of our collective efforts really didn't do anything, it was the ring sensor that decided to work that one time, I couldn't thank Francisco enough. It's times like these when I get so buoyed by how kind and generous people are. He gave us his telephone number and told us to call him if we needed anything else. I wanted to hug him.
So I did. :) But in a manly, Latin American way...
Making sure this was the right place before I turned the engine off
With the sky threatening rain, we had to ride to San Salvadore to the dealership before it closed for the day. Fighting though big city traffic, I was conscious not to turn the engine off, stall the bike, and at stops - to put the kickstand up before I kick it out of neutral etc. We pulled into a BMW dealership and I sent Neda in to make sure it was the actual service centre before I turned the bike off. Thankfully we did that, because the actual service was about 7 kms away from the dealership.
The technician at the service centre confirmed my diagnosis. Faulty ring sensor. Unfortunately, they didn't have any in stock and it would take two weeks to order one in. *ARGH!*
"So what I was thinking is that I don't turn the engine off for the rest of the trip.
Just sell me a keyless gas cap and I'll be on my way..."
Rafael, the technician, was surprised that my ring sensor wasn't replaced earlier. Apparently, this was a known issue and there was a recall that replaced the sensor with a newer part that was less prone to failure. I shrugged my shoulders. Never got the call... He told me that he had an old ring sensor that he took off another bike that was still good, but because it was the older part, it might fail: "Maybe tomorrow, maybe three years from now, maybe never?".
He didn't want to install the old part because it was labour-intensive to replace an old part with another old part, since I had to buy and fit the new part somewhere further down the line anyway. So he told me he'd jury-rig something up, however I needed a spare key for this bodge-job. The spare key was back in Ahuachapan, 100 kms away...
So off we go on Neda's bike, 100kms back to Ahuachapan. 100kms back to San Salvadore the next morning.
El Salvadore is a small country. Maybe 300kms end to end. We rode a total of 400kms back and forth to get my bloody spare key....
I had plenty of time to ruminate over how complex these bikes have become. Back in India, I was on my hands and knees fixing that bloody Enfield every single day. But I was able to. I could use anything: sticks, stones, bailing wire to keep that thing going. But now, computers and sensors and chips meant that you could be stranded and not be able to do a damn thing about it until you got that same electronic part replaced.
I thought about all the places we wanted to visit, some nowhere near a BMW dealership. Is it feasible taking a computerized two-wheeler to the remotest places on Earth?
Rafael told me the new R1200GS has 9 computers in it. Suddenly, that POS kick-starter, carbureted Royal Enfield was looking better and better...
Two keys, one ring to rule them all...
One does not simply walk to San Salvadore.
So here's the temporary fix. He unplugged the original ring sensor and plugged it into another ring sensor that he zip-tied to the headstock. Because the new (but old) ring sensor needed to have a chipped key inside the ring, and the original ignition needed a key to turn the bike on, I needed two keys to start the bike. It was like the NORAD missile defense. Two keys to launch the missiles. I knew where I wanted to launch this stupid EWS ring sensor...
Back in business. We thanked Rafael and now we're back on the road, baby!
Timing the weather in a new country is tricky. Still haven't got the hang of it.
|09-29-2013, 08:28 PM||#1347|
Joined: Feb 2013
Location: Vancouver, WA
Here's a theme song that I keep handy in my head for moments like that one.
Feel free to use it as you see fit.
DeLorme inReach SE tracker
|09-29-2013, 08:56 PM||#1348|
Joined: Mar 2008
Location: RGV Texas
I love/hate my GS
Glad you got past another bump on the road, still enjoying the RR
A drunk driver killed someone I love
|09-29-2013, 11:04 PM||#1349|
Joined: Sep 2012
Location: Tokyo, Japan
Jeepers. I'm glad that you didn't get stranded due to the ring sensor. An Enfield DOES seem like a reasonable solution.
|09-30-2013, 02:26 AM||#1350|
Joined: Sep 2008
Location: High Point, NC
Quit our jobs, sold our home, gone riding...
Gene, I have the new style ring sensor in my pannier. If you wish, I'll send it via FedEx or UPS today.
Duty- Honoring a Friend
|Thread Tools||Search this Thread|