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Old 11-18-2012, 04:47 PM   #76
alison's wanderland OP
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Location: How did I end up in Panama?
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continued...

Over the next 4 days we rode through Toluca, Cuernovaca, Izucar de Matamoros, then finally arriving in Oaxaca for some down time to explore the city. The other towns were nothing exciting in accommodations or eateries, it was just a path of 600+ slow moving miles taking the small roads in order to avoid the hefty toll ways.







The road to Cuernovaca was beautifully paved, gaining elevation and twisting through alpine like foliage. It was so lovely I stopped to take a picture, but when I went to restart my machine, there was nothing...not even the click of a starter trying to engage. I ran through a quick checklist of what it could be, but trying to figure it out on a goat path next to twisty roads in which cars believe its a good idea to pass even though you can't see around the corner, I decided to not take too long. We tried to push it to bump start it and again nothing. Gaining the help of local policia, We finally pushed it far enough over the crest to gain downhill speed, let the clutch out and vrooomm...back to life he roars. It was an easy downhill coast most of the way to the city, but finding a hotel for the night with parking and wifi proved to be hard. I left the bike running knowing it wouldn't start again, but all the running around and then becoming stuck in tight traffic, my bike overheated and died. I pushed my KLR onto the sidewalk and began tearing it apart, looking under the seat in hopes it would have been as easy as a fuse. Nope. The other rider in scouting out hotels, noticed another hill (luckily these towns were full of them because this became common this night) I could bump start it. Finally finding a hotel that met our needs, the staff was kind enough to laugh at me for being a woman mecanica as I dug into the bike yet again. With the help of Randy and diagrams, we chased it to the ignition only to find the connection had come apart. Less than a minute to fix and the bike fires up again. I was glad I didn't have to spend any more time there than was needed.



Heading south along Route 190 thankfully turned into big sweeping curves, a needed relief from the previous days slow miles of towns and topes.









I was excited to finally make it to Oaxaca, be able to wander around town and try some delicious mole! We found a hostel right near centro with decent parking for the bikes. Even ran into another rider who was packed high taking a passenger and his gear to a beach south of there....











Next up... crossing the border into Guatemala ...
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Old 11-25-2012, 05:28 AM   #77
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a Guatemalan border experience

We tried to find a halfway point between Oaxaca and Tapachula, where we planned to cross the border. When we stopped in Juchitan for the night (I believe the joke was, “it must be you they are staring at, because I am starting to blend in.” I have never felt so much on display, as if we were beings from Mars, riding into town on massive, loaded bikes, wearing astronaut suits. I have also never been so grossed out with the only accommodations we could find with decent parking. Seeing as how night was creeping in, we conceded to not having internet for the night, since the hotel did not offer any. After unloading the bikes, I proceeded to get into an argument with the owner about where our motos were parked, which was currently taking up one space right in view of our window. He wanted us to move into the corner for to make space for all the cars that were supposed to show up late at night, which not a one did. Agreeing we were going to make this stay as short as possible, Randy and I barely unpacked in preparation for an early departure in the morning. I didn't even bother to change out of my clothes and slept on top of my motorcycle gear. I considered sleeping in my boots, but decided to try for a little comfortability while I slept, but mostly I wanted to be ready to go first thing and get out of that room and out of that town.



After a taxing morning ride through a wind farm on Hwy200, we settled for the night at Hotel Los Portales ($450 pesos or $34.62/night), which was so much more tolerable with a/c, hot water and comfortable beds. It also helped that the hotel had lovely dark wood and wrought iron décor, painted sinks, as well as internet and parking, worthy of mention, a guy to point exactly where to park, right in front, who watches the vehicles all night. Little did we know that arriving in Tapachula at 3pm on a Friday afternoon was when the Banjercito (where we get our $300 USD motorcycle deposit back) closes for the weekend. We didn't realize until Saturday when we showed up at 8am, and was greeted by closed doors, our hopes of making it to Guatemala that day sunk.

We decided to ride to the closest border crossing to see if they would direct us to a Banjercito that was open. We talked with immagracion, who was no help, and whose only interest was to charge us $294 pesos for an exit stamp. I found this funny since a fellow motorcyclist who crossed the border before us was charged $294 pesos because he had no receipt for his tourist card. I kept saying I am not going to exit Mexico without going to the Banjercito first, so you might as well tell me where to get that done. Finally understanding he was not going to get any pesos out of me then, he shoed me away and pointed me to another office. It was there a woman in uniform was kind enough to tell us where to go. Relieved to find out there was one back a ways out of town, we headed off in that direction. At the office, with parking for motos right in view of the window, we efficiently made the transaction and returned once again to the Tuxtla border. This time I walked up to a different window, and a different officer took my passport, stamped it, gave it back, and I was on my way without having to pay anything additional. Randy walked up to the window next to mine, with the officer from that morning’s interaction sitting behind the glass partition, noticing the quickness of my transaction, stamped his passport and sent him on his way too. Easy, now it’s off to the Guatemalan offices.



Just around the corner with a dozen helpers chasing after us, we had our bikes sprayed for pesticides, but it didn’t seem to extinguish the amount of flies buzzing around us. One of these flies, Victor, was very persistent and Randy decided to let him help us. He pointed to the immagracion office, which was aptly marked, so one minute and $10Q ($1.30 USD) later, we were moving again. Importing us was done, now to import the bikes. At another office, also easily marked, Victor was very good at translating Spanish between the administrative woman and us, which also could have been solved with basic finger gesturing of the needed papers, and had I not known what she was asking for already. It was all a racket. I had to make 4 trips to the copiers office across the way before they would fully process our papers. When we walked up to pay the $160Q fee ($20.50 US) for importing our motorcycles, we had arrived just in time for the woman to be at lunch for the next hour. Not to worry, the guard for the back (he could not have been more than 5 feet tall and a shotgun to match) was watching out for us. Enamored with the motorcycles, as soon as the window to the bank opened, he motioned for us to stand at the front of the line, which had accumulated a dozen plus people over the course of her lunch. Within 5 minutes, our fees were paid and we were suiting up to ride beyond the white and red striped barrier that had kept us for 2 hours and into Guatemala.

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Old 11-25-2012, 07:16 AM   #78
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Hi Alison, I would like to recommend the following place to stay in Quetzaltenango (also known as Xela):





Location
Casa San Bartolomé is located in 2a Avenida 7-17, zona 1, Barrio San Bartolomé, very close to Quetzaltenango's Central Park. It can be accessed easily from Barrio de la Transfiguración, el Barrio La Ciénaga, el Barrio Cenizal or directly from the Central Park, near Parque Simón Bolívar. (See Map)
If you wish to get in touch with us, you can call us at the following numbers:
(502) 7761-9511, (502) 7763-0649, (502) 5574-9049, (502) 5859-3985 y (502) 5859-3985 or write to us at casasanbartolome@yahoo.com - http://www.casasanbartolome.com


Ask for Anabella, she has lived in the U.S. for quite a while, and speaks English. She can guide you to where Casa San Bartolome is located, which is bike friendly and very walkable to downtown Xela. Keep posting, great read!!!
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Old 11-25-2012, 07:32 AM   #79
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Awesome trip
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Old 11-27-2012, 07:07 AM   #80
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Still loving this RR.
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Old 11-28-2012, 10:52 AM   #81
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still loving this rr.
+1
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Old 11-28-2012, 08:00 PM   #82
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Enjoyed listening to you on the radio show last night. Cheers.
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Old 11-28-2012, 08:19 PM   #83
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Great report so far...
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Old 11-29-2012, 03:14 PM   #84
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+1
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Still loving this RR.
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Great report so far...
Thanks for the support! Good to know people out there are reading this :)
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Old 11-29-2012, 03:22 PM   #85
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Enjoyed listening to you on the radio show last night. Cheers.
That was fun! It's amazing what technology will let us do now a days. For those who missed it...

http://recordings.talkshoe.com/TC-64458/TS-677773.mp3

it was live from Honduras:

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Old 11-29-2012, 03:28 PM   #86
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GPS or maps?

Who needs GPS with a Police escort:

It all started with a question to the woman at the counter of Hotel Molino, where I stayed for the night in La Esperanza, Intibuca, Honduras. Maybe I should blame Wikipedia for planting the idea – where ever I stay for the night, I try to find something interesting and worthy of time spent to check out.

Here is the entry in question: “Parque de Bosque Enano (Dwarf Forest) – A short drive out of town on the road to Marcala, the forest contains can encounter over 500 unique dwarf trees that grow less than half a meter tall. Scientists still do not know exactly why this forest exists, but it's an interesting sight to see. There are no signs, services or designated areas; it is necessary to ask a local resident.”

So, the woman pointed me to the Oficina de tourism, near the church and police station. I was just about to give up because I was frustratingly lost in the busy centro of town, when I pulled right in front of the station. I went in to ask for a map. They looked at me funny. I went outside and asked the woman for directions, she looked at me funny, then spoke into her radio. All of the Spanish I just learned went out my ear. Honduran Spanish is something else and I couldn’t understand what she just said to me so I stared at her blankly. She radioed again. Two officers pull up on a little 125cc dirt bike. Follow them, she motioned. I looked at her blankly. She couldn’t really be motioning for me to follow. What am I getting myself into? But I did. I watched as they turned down a dirt road, then down an even smaller dirt road, then a rocky, water worn dirt road. There were several points where I wondered if this was a good idea as I watched this tiny motorcycle carrying two small Hondurans and a very large gun, bounce along the trail. There was no way I could have found it on my own. They couldn’t even find it and ended up asking two local for directions until we finally found the location. It looked like little twigs sticking out of mounds, but that was it. They were very helpful in pointing out every tree once we got there, so I obliged and took pictures of most of them.


The wind started picking up and I cold see rain starting to accumulate in the distance over town and heading our direction. The excursion of the dwarf forest was over and I wanted to head back before the dirt roads we just rode in on turned to a mud slick. I did not want to add picking up my fully loaded bike to my list of things to do today. So, we loaded up and headed back, slowly, and when I got to asphalt I honked my horn and waved and turned the other direction.









The two full days I spent in Honduras were a great time spent motorcycling. Honduras has some of the best roads and worst roads I have ridden on this trip so far. Big sweeping, banked curves for miles and miles up and over mountain passes. Then some portions haven’t seen maintenance in years and dodging potholes the size of my bike became a very attentive game. It was worthy of a pass through, but not on my list of countries to visit again.
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Old 11-29-2012, 03:30 PM   #87
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Here's some on the road excitement:

Riding behind a truck full of pacing lions and cheetahs on a windy, rain wet mountain pass.

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Old 11-30-2012, 04:16 AM   #88
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Here's some on the road excitement:

Riding behind a truck full of pacing lions and cheetahs on a windy, rain wet mountain pass.

Well now, there's somethin you don't see everyday!
Really enjoying the read, thanks
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Old 11-30-2012, 05:05 AM   #89
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Gotta support the locals....subscribed!

Safe and fun travels,

ps: is it too late to become a "backer?"
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oalvarez screwed with this post 11-30-2012 at 05:12 AM
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Old 12-17-2012, 07:15 PM   #90
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Next country... Nicaragua

I think I finally figured out what all the honking is about. I stopped by a little lake to take some pictures and eat an orange I bought at the market up the street. So many trucks honked as they went by. I think they are just as excited to be in Nicaragua as I am, so they use their horn to show their enthusiasm. I should really start using mine more…

Anyway, the Isla de Ometepe… is amazing!

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Stopped by Café Compestre for the best food on the trip yet.



Then stayed at a permaculture farm hostal.






Hiked around some Indiana Jones looking terrain.



Only explored for two days but wish I had at least a week there…

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