|06-03-2013, 08:48 PM||#1|
Sister on a KLR
Joined: Mar 2012
Location: Calgary, Alberta
The Ultimate Ride - Brother and Sister Motorcycling Duo
10 months and 5 days ago my brother Phil (wump) and I left Vancouver, Canada on our two KLR 650s, headed up to the top of Alaska, where the plan was to turn around at the Arctic Ocean and head down to the bottom of Patagonia. We thought the trip might take us about 8 months or so.
Right now we're in Antigua, Guatemala (about half way there) still heading South.
For the past 10 months we've been writing a blog - www.ultimateride.ca - and been thinking about finding a way to post it on ADVrider as a ride report. Today I have done some testing, and there is a way.
In the spirit of "better late than never", we've decided to start this ride report from when we entered Guatemala. If you want to read about the first 40,000km or so, it's all on the blog. It'll take a while if you want to read it all!
Here are links to some "highlights":
Phil's Electrical Issue Finally Fixed
The First 20,000km
A "run in" with the Mexican Police
Nature Stop in Belize
Hope you enjoy the report!
Jayne and Phil
|06-03-2013, 09:06 PM||#2|
Sister on a KLR
Joined: Mar 2012
Location: Calgary, Alberta
Welcome to Guatemala: Tikal and El Remate
While having breakfast in San Ignacio, Belize we spotted a tall Caucasian couple walking in the street. Someone commented on the girl's cowboy boots. We turned our attention to something else and kept eating.
After breakfast we went to retrieve our bikes, and that same couple came up to talk to me.
"Are you riding solo?" asked the very tall man (even taller than Phil).
"No I'm with my brother." I replied pointing down the road to where Phil was uncovering Jugs.
"I'm Erik and this is my girlfriend Tanya, we're from Vancouver. I'm also riding a KLR." A few more minutes of chatting, we exchanged details and parted ways, with the usual "I'm sure we'll run into you somewhere again soon".
Hey presto - new friends. I love that riding motorbikes long distances creates this instant bond between riders.
The next morning we had an email from Erik telling us that he and Tanya had safely arrived in Guatemala, rented a house in El Remate, near Tikal, and that there was a room waiting for us there if we were interested.
As we were on the internet checking border procedures for entering into Guatemala that very day, and our first stop was the ancient ruins of Tikal, this was perfect. We had a destination for the day - El Remate.
We missed the turn for El Remate, but that wasn't a problem, because we pulled into a gas station and who should wander up to us? It was Erik! I didn't recognise him at first, I think because I simply wasn't expecting to see him there. He'd been working on his bike, trying to figure out why his fuel consumption had suddenly risen dramatically. He's riding a 2009 KLR, one of the newer generation, so we aren't as familiar with how his bike works.
[caption id="attachment_3633" align="alignnone" width="300"] The road outside our house had a lot of "wildlife" - like these piggies. And the rooster who crowed loudly all night outside our window...[/caption]
He led us to town, and to the house, where Tanya was feeling under the weather due to an ear infection. They welcomed us into the simple, but clean and lovely house they had rented, and Phil pulled out his medical kit to find some medicine for Tanya's ear.
What a treat to meet two more people from Canada! We must have made quite the sight wandering around town. Tanya and I both just shy of 6 feet tall, and Phil and Erik towering above us.
We saw our first of many beautiful sunsets over the lake that evening.
[caption id="attachment_3634" align="alignnone" width="300"] Some of the best sunsets so far were over Lake Peten[/caption]
Whilst Erik is travelling on his KLR, Tanya doesn't ride and so is taking the bus from place to place. They are also avid Couchsurfers. We found that we have much in common.
[caption id="attachment_3628" align="alignnone" width="300"] KLR gang[/caption]
The four of us rode into Santa Elena and Flores, twin towns on the edge of the lake. Santa Elena is the business end of town, with Flores being a quaint tourist-oriented village on an island connected to the mainland by a causeway. We needed Quezals you see, and there are no cash machines anywhere near El Remate.
[caption id="attachment_3629" align="alignnone" width="225"] A successful trip to stock up our kitchen[/caption]
We bought groceries and I also bought a SIM card so we could make calls and I could stay in touch with Christian. The rest of our visit involved huge ice cream sundaes and swimming in the lake off a dock in Flores after driving down a one way road the wrong way past several police officers, none of whom seemed to care. It was a restauranteur who eventually pointed out the error of our ways!
[caption id="attachment_3627" align="alignnone" width="300"] Three Kawasakis hanging out together (backwards) on Isla de Flores[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_3600" align="alignnone" width="300"] Canadians love swimming[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_3598" align="alignnone" width="300"] The boys swim away to wave hello...[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_3636" align="alignnone" width="300"] Biker chicks head to Flores[/caption]
Tanya rode on the back of my bike, because Erik has had a problem with his rear shock and it is stuck on the lightest setting. This means having the weight of an extra person would be pretty tough on his bike. She wore shorts, which made me nervous, as I have scars on my leg showing where the exhaust of a bike in Turkey burnt my leg and the other side was scraped on the ground... All because I didn't wear jeans when Phil told me too. I've definitely become an ATGATT girl (All The Gear All The Time). I completely understand the temptation not to though in this heat. It's hard to motivate yourself to put on long pants, boots, jacket gloves and helmet when you feel like you are melting wearing nothing but a bikini!
We were also trying to find a sunrise tour of Tikal. This had been highly recommended to us, but as seems to be a trend, anything I really want to do, doesn't end up happening.
Phil decided to still get up really early and head to the ruins, but as the gate didn't open early enough for us to get in for sunrise without being on a pre-booked tour, the rest of us decided we'd get up at a more civilised time and meet him there.
[caption id="attachment_3624" align="alignnone" width="800"] View from the highest pyramid at Tikal[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_3621" align="alignnone" width="300"] The only time we saw Phil at Tikal was at this moment when he emerged from behind a pyramid.[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_3626" align="alignnone" width="300"] Tanya and I pretend to be Mayans[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_3611" align="alignnone" width="225"] Those Mayans sure worked hard. They also had an irrigation system to all these pyramids![/caption]
[caption id="attachment_3625" align="alignnone" width="300"] Hanging out with the Mayan stuff[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_3609" align="alignnone" width="225"] I found this face hiding under a low palapa roof. It was the only carving like it I saw at Tikal[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_3607" align="alignnone" width="225"] Got to keep all those pyramids clean somehow![/caption]
[caption id="attachment_3608" align="alignnone" width="225"] I think this was my favourite pyramid. Maybe.[/caption]
As you can see, Tikal is a pretty stunning site. Even though I've now seen more Mayan ruins than I had ever dreamed possible, I still really enjoyed Tikal.
The four of us really settled into the house together. Tanya is a fabulous cook and made us delicious meals for the duration of our stay in El Remate. We were all pretty comfortable, and got to know the small town fairly well. We had a favourite dock where we spent most sunsets and swam many afternoons.
[caption id="attachment_3631" align="alignnone" width="300"] Several afternoons were spent hanging out on this dock, swimming in the lake and enjoying the scenery[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_3630" align="alignnone" width="300"] Erik and Tanya - Beautiful couple[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_3635" align="alignnone" width="300"] As I could often be found - with my phone[/caption]
I was finding it difficult to stop thinking about Christian. I chatted with him as much as possible online and I was missing him terribly. Whilst I kept reminding myself that I had only known him for a few days, it didn't stop me from being mentally split between being present where I was and communicating with him. Erik in particular hated that I had my phone on my all the time, and made several comments about it.
Erik also kept talking about some other, bigger, but much less*accessible*ruins in Northern Guatemala, called El Mirador. Phil loved the sound of the challenge of getting there, and so early the next morning the boys disappeared off and left us girls to our own devices.
The first day they were away, Tanya and I took our books and some sewing projects to our dock. The stuff sack for my sleeping bag had split almost all the way up the seam and desperately needed repairing. We brought some music and had a really peaceful vibe going until a bus full of French tourists including kids showed up and started being loud.
Luckily they left before sunset and so we could regain our vibe.
[caption id="attachment_3613" align="alignnone" width="300"] At the end of a (mostly) chilled afternoon on the dock[/caption]
The next morning I got a text from Christian saying that he had inhaled chlorine gas and was headed to hospital! There is nothing worse than a friend being in trouble and you being absolutely powerless to do anything to help.
How did he manage this you ask? He was cleaning a seashell intended as a present for me, and he unwittingly mixed bleach with hydrochloric acid as part of the process.
[caption id="attachment_3645" align="alignnone" width="300"] Christian with the beautiful, yet deadly, seashell[/caption]
After an hour or so of me being extremely worried, he told me that the doctor sent him home to rest, and I felt reassured that he was not so badly poisoned that he needed to stay in hospital.
Tanya and I decided that we needed to get out and do something active, so we went and hiked for a few hours in the local nature reserve.
[caption id="attachment_3606" align="alignnone" width="225"] The nature reserve where we did our hike[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_3616" align="alignnone" width="300"] Jungle chicks[/caption]
We hiked up the mountain through the jungle to three different miradors (viewpoints). At the first one we heard a jaguar chasing a monkey. Although we can't prove it as we didn't see either the jaguar or the monkey...
[caption id="attachment_3617" align="alignnone" width="300"] Worth the hike up[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_3605" align="alignnone" width="225"] This tree helpfully had a sign on it telling us what it was[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_3604" align="alignnone" width="225"] Some jungle wildlife, not as good as seeing a jaguar, but still cool.[/caption]
The next day was the third day the boys had been gone and I was starting to get very bored of El Remate. I was ready to move on, but Tanya and I couldn't move out of the house, because Phil and Erik had left a lot of stuff there, which there was no way we'd be able to move without them.
So we decided to head into town and find some massages. This turned out to be a lot harder than we imagined. We drove into Flores, imagining that because it was more tourist oriented, we'd have a few choices there. We found one salon that simply wanted too much money, and the other place we found was closed. During this search, Cricket overheated. There was coolant shooting out the back (where the overflow hose leads to avoid slippery coolant coating the tires). The fan fuse had blown. Luckily I had a spare.
After changing the fuse, we decided to try our luck in Santa Elena. After a couple false leads, a sweet gal asked her tuktuk driver to lead us to the only massage place she knew of.
[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="300"] This is the place to go in Santa Elena for massages. Tanya is with the owner, her personal*masseur.[/caption]
It looked a lot like someone's house. As we walked in we realised that it was. The family was in the kitchen eating. In broken Spanish I explained that we wanted massages. The older gentleman told us we would have to come back that evening. I tried to ask if there was anywhere else nearby we could try that may be able to accommodate us immediately. He was pretty adamant that they were the only place in town.
During the tail end of this conversation his wife came out and joined in. She decided that if we only wanted small massages on our shoulders, they could do it for us right then. We were willing to take whatever they had on offer by this point, especially when they told us it would be free of charge!
[caption id="attachment_3603" align="alignnone" width="225"] Where the magic happened[/caption]
The lady led us to a building behind the house, gave us towels and suggested we shower. We complied and then were given some of the best massages we have had the pleasure of enjoying. Ever.
What an incredible surprise. We were so grateful, however they refused all our attempts of paying them.
[caption id="attachment_3615" align="alignnone" width="300"] Me with my very kind masseuse[/caption]
The boys returned that evening victorious, but looking very dusty and worn out.
[caption id="attachment_3601" align="alignnone" width="225"] Phil reappears after his 3 day jungle adventure - slightly dusty![/caption]
We were pleased to see them, and to hear their tales. I was beyond ready to leave El Remate, but first Phil needed a day to repair his bike...
|06-04-2013, 01:02 PM||#3|
aka Mister Wisker
Joined: Jun 2013
Location: Centro America, Heading south
Pyramids and peyote, Trek to El Mirador part 1
"You know, rain right now would be a really mixed blessing. We would have water to drink, but would never get the bikes out of here."
An early morning visit to the ruins of Tikal came highly recommended by everyone I talked to who had visited Guatemala. So I got up at 5:30am, well before any of the others were willing to open their eyes, and explored Tikal solo. I saw Monkeys, snakes, and even birds eating each other. I heard howler monkeys howling and gazed as the ruins revealed themselves out of the morning fog. Tikal was amazing. You should visit if you have the chance. But this blog post isn't really about Tikal. This is about El Mirador.
[caption id="attachment_3543" align="aligncenter" width="225"] ...and getting there ain't easy.[/caption]
El Mirador is an even BIGGER ancient ruined city in northern Guatemala. It is home to "La Danta", the biggest pyramid in the Americas, and the largest by volume in the WORLD. Eric aka "Ernesto", fellow KLR rider, had mentioned the existance of El Mirador a few times prior to us going to Tikal, and post Tikal I was sold. Bigger than Tikal? To El Mirador I must go.
Unlike Tikal, which has a paved road going right to it with hundreds of tour buses, cars and vans making trips daily, a trip to El Mirador is a touch more difficult. The "standard" tour to Mirador is a five-day 92km hike with mules and a guide, after a long dirt-road drive to the starting point in a town named Carmelita. This tour costs around 400$US EACH, though we heard of folks getting it for closer to 150$ by bringing their own food and gear. Regardless, we didn't want to pay, or walk. This is a motorcycle trip after all.
[caption id="attachment_3519" align="aligncenter" width="300"] ...and these two motos are packed and ready for a ride to the jungle.[/caption]
We packed more gear/food on my bike, necessary as Eric's monoshock was faulty and his pre-load setting stuck on "1". Leaving his panniers back at the house, less weight was more for Eric.
Day 1 (edit: Apr 24th 2013, 0730am departure):
My map shows a road that goes to Mirador. It's not very detailed, but there is definitely a road of sorts on that map.
[caption id="attachment_3653" align="aligncenter" width="300"] apparently Google disagrees[/caption]
We set out intent to find this road. I had done a little reading online, but didn't really find much in the way of information on "motorcycle trips to El Mirador", so we set out knowing we'd have to ask for some directions. While Ernesto shopped for camp food and I watched the bikes, I met a young man who confirmed not only that there IS a road, but that he had ridden it on HIS motorbike. Boom.
[caption id="attachment_3546" align="aligncenter" width="225"] Ok, so he didn't ride to Mirador on THIS motorbike.[/caption]
After food, we needed a splash of Whiskey, a camping necessity. Once out of Santa Elena, there's not much for tiendas (aka corner stores) to buy whiskey or much else. Determined, 45 minutes of very hot riding, following poor directions to empty tiendas later, we were successful. For the record, whiskey is available at the yellow tienda, NOT the blue one, no matter how many people insist otherwise. Whiskey acquired we ventured forth, and it wasn't long on the road before pavement gave way to gravel, and gravel gave way to dirt. It also wasn't long before my thoughts went from thinking "I can't believe Jayne is skipping this trip" to "I'm glad Jayne didn't come on this trip. We'd be turning around soon". The dirt turned downright dusty, making it hard to see when stuck behind anyone, and even a touch loose and sandy at times too. It was HOT. In full gear, I was dripping sweat, and guzzling the water from my camelback. And then suddenly my clutch wasn't fully disengaging. This was fine when just riding along, but when I had to stop or ride slowly I would stall out. Quick handlebar adjustment solved the issue, but I'm to this day a bit baffled at what caused it.
[caption id="attachment_3594" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Hot, but hot in a scenic kind of way[/caption]
There were a number of checkpoints along the road, with the barricades mostly down. I say mostly, because they were all just high enough for two tall men on motorbikes to duck under without stopping. Both Ernesto and I shared the philosophy that if you don't stop, they can't ask you for money.
Did I mention it was hot? After a bit over an hour of fighting dust and dirt, we came to a fork in the road with some locals sitting around, some of whom were drinking cold cervesas. Time to stop. Couple cold beer sitting in the shade really hit the spot.
[caption id="attachment_3520" align="aligncenter" width="300"] The spot was hot.[/caption]
Took the opportunity to consult the locals for advice on where this road is to Mirador. "The only way is via Carmelita, and that trail is very tough... impassable by moto" came the response. Little did they know we'd met a young man who had recently ridden it. Impassable was a frame of mind. We finished our beers and got back on the road.
[caption id="attachment_3593" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Follow the blue signs[/caption]
Very new looking blue "Mirador" signs led up to Carmelita, where the trail to Mirador starts. Again ducked under a barricade at the edge of town, then rolled towards the head of the trail.
[caption id="attachment_3549" align="aligncenter" width="300"] How many times must you freely pass a barricade before it's not a barricade anymore?[/caption]
The "co-operativa" runs the show in this town, and basically all tourists book their guides and mules through through them, regardless of which agency they book through. We just kept following the blue signs until we got to the head of the trail, at which point we stopped to discuss.
[caption id="attachment_3656" align="aligncenter" width="300"] That's more of a wide path than a road[/caption]
"This isn't a road."
"Were we not told there was a road? And on the map, it shows a road right?"
"Should we find that road? We can always come back."
U-turn. Back in the town we stopped and asked a gentleman for his advice.
[caption id="attachment_3592" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Obviously not working for the co-operativa, this man kindly laid out our Mirador options.[/caption]
He mentioned a road 20 km back called "Los Pescaditios". That road goes to El Mirador he said. Or we can take the trail. But he noted the trail has some fallen trees and such blocking the path in places. It might be impassable.
Nothing is impassable.
[caption id="attachment_3591" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Carmelita Barricade man most certainly is passable. We stopped on the way out and asked for directions. He asked us for money for the way in.[/caption]
Back under the Carmelita barricade, where we stopped quickly to confirm directions. He said the only way was via the trail. He then asked us for money. Back we went to find the road to Los Pescaditios. Riding along the Los Pescaditos road, we happened across a couple men standing in the trees off to the side. We asked them for directions. "Go up 3km ahead and ask for Ricardo, he'll help you. And watch out for the logging trucks." Logging trucks?
[caption id="attachment_3590" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Oh, THOSE logging trucks.[/caption]
3km ahead there was yet another road barricade, though this one was lowered to a height not duckable, and guarded by army men. With guns. We stopped at this one.
[caption id="attachment_3657" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Stop. or they'll shoot.[/caption]
"We're looking for Ricardo." Remembering names, not usually a forte, would prove to be very handy this journey. I shook hands with Ricardo, who hand beenfetched by one of the military men with a gun. I asked Ricardo how to get to Mirador. He replied "Just up this road. But you need permission". I asked him for permission. Laughing, he said it has to come from a higher power than him. After a little more discussion, Ricardo got on the radio and called said higher permission.
[caption id="attachment_3589" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Photos of scantily clad women make the radio work better. Over.[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_3659" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Young men waiting for their turn on the radio.[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_3660" align="aligncenter" width="225"] Sit-ups, chin-ups, shine your boots. Repeat.[/caption]
After 20 minutes, the higher permission said "no". We had to go through Carmelita. That's the "only way for tourists". The only way for us to be allowed on the road would be to get a signed paper from the Guatemalan Tourist board INGUAT. The only way to get that paper was a 4 hour ride (and several ducked barricades) round trip... with no guarantee they would even give us said signed paper once we got there. I tried to be persuasive with Ricardo, and when a local came through the going the other way and drew us a map of the route, I thought we were in.
[caption id="attachment_3588" align="aligncenter" width="300"] I thought wrong.[/caption]
I thought wrong. While he was very kind and jovial, Ricardo was not swayed by my words. Nor was he swayed by my first attempt at a bribe this trip: 200 Quetzals tucked in my map.
[caption id="attachment_3585" align="aligncenter" width="300"] "We need permission paper? Here's some permission paper."[/caption]
This attempt did convince Ricardo that we A) really wanted to ride this road and B) were not going to go back to Flores to get a piece of paper from INGUAT. My 200 Quetzals were paper, I argued, and far more useful than the document would be. Perhaps the one honest official in Central America, he would not accept the bribe. But he did go climb a tree instead. A very high tree. Over 100 feet up.
[caption id="attachment_3587" align="aligncenter" width="225"] Want to call the chief? Better not be afraid of heights.[/caption]
This is the only way to get cell phone reception out here, and where Ricardo called his Chief on our behalf. 10 minutes later, the answer was still no. Thanks Ricardo, for doing all you could... Just wish you had a single corrupt bone in your soul. This did settle it though, the only way to get to El Mirador was the trail in Carmelita.
On the way back, we stopped to buy more water. All this time in our gear in the sun and I was down to less than half my 4.5L supply. It had only been maybe 5 hours. Ernesto was equally low on water. This would be a theme.
Back under the Barricade for the third time now, the man in the box didn't even stand up to protest. We now knew where we were going, and that this was the only way there for us tourist types.
[caption id="attachment_3586" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Welcome to the trail to El Mirador. I am your first fallen tree.[/caption]
The road was a mix of rough trail with the occasional easy trail ride sections. There was a smooth-ish path where people had been walking, but you were surrounded by the foot deep holes from the hooves of mules in the wet times, and deep ruts from quads hauling in gear to Tintal. This was not a route to take in the rainy season.
[caption id="attachment_3662" align="aligncenter" width="225"] Dried ruts and hoof holes.[/caption]
Slow going, first gear only riding with many stops to play catch up, move fallen trees and drink water. Most trees were smaller and on the ground and could be ridden over, others had fallen across the path at an angle and needed to be moved or ridden around.
[caption id="attachment_3542" align="aligncenter" width="225"] Bring a rugby player. Move some trees.[/caption]
All worked up a thirst. Drank lots of water. Our shirts soaked in sweat. The heat from our motors was baking us, and with no wind to speak of at the speed we were traveling, our jackets had to go. The relief was instant. The only thing the Jackets would save us from at these speeds were thorns on the jungle plants anyways.
[caption id="attachment_3575" align="aligncenter" width="225"] Jungle thorns like these ones.[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_3576" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Eric took the thorns like a champ[/caption]
It was worth it though right Eric?
We met some hikers coming out the trail, and politely pulled off and killed the engines to let them pass. The first gentleman was interested in the trip, chatted for a bit while the others caught up to him. Fooled into thinking they were all kind. One smiling hippy came up, put her hand on my shoulder and said "it's so great that you're out here on your motorbikes, killing the monkeys and the environment. That's great". Then walked off. I'm pretty sure she rode that high horse all the way to Guatemala. No way she would have flown in a polluting airplane.
A few hours down the trail, we were still yet to make it to the mid way camp of "Tintal", another "smaller" set of ruins in the area. I had read online that Tintal camp had a few resident staff, and more importantly, water. I was down to less than a liter, Eric no better.
"You know, rain right now would be a really mixed blessing. We would have water to drink, but would never get the bikes out of here."
[caption id="attachment_3583" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Saved by the large water container in the trees... the large, EMPTY water container.[/caption]
With the sun setting, we made a push to make it to Tintal, but with more ruts, logs and uneven earth to navigate, the going was slow. The occasional drop didn't help. I was heavily laden, and the occasional log or rut would snag me. Worse yet was when the kickstand would sink after I hopped off to help Eric over a log. I'd come back to my bike on it's side.
[caption id="attachment_3523" align="aligncenter" width="225"] What's that smell?[/caption]
This was most irritating, as until I got the kickstand back up, I couldn't lift the bike. It was awkward, and took one to lift the bike more upside down and the other to pop the kick stand up. The worst problem with all this was my gas tank leaks gas around the cap when on it's side. I like gas. It's useful. The longer the bike on it's side, the more gas lost. I lost a bit on the trail that day. A few drops too many, and the sun setting, we resigned and set up camp on the side of the path.
[caption id="attachment_3666" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Camp exhaustion-on-water-rations.[/caption]
The jungle at night is an incredible place. Rustling breeze, incredible light bugs brighter than any I've ever seen, and so quiet. Much more quiet than I anticipated. Our macaroni and cheese plans quashed by our water shortage, we made dinner of tortillas and tuna, then went to sleep.
End of part 1.
Part two: The trail gets tougher. No bikes allowed on this trail, I anger Eric giving away mac and cheese, we eat some cactus, and much more. Coming soon...
|06-04-2013, 04:45 PM||#5|
Joined: Apr 2007
Location: Wanaka, New Zealand, Currently RTWing
Great to see you guys finally get it on (here)
Looking forward to crossing paths again ... ouwh and again and great catching up in Antigua it was a great surprise.
|06-04-2013, 08:50 PM||#6|
Guatemala Moto Guide
Joined: Jan 2013
Location: Westchester, NY
Good to see you guys on here! I heard you made it to the pickup game on Sunday, wish I could have been there. Keep enjoying the adventure, I'll be looking on.
|06-05-2013, 10:02 AM||#7|
aka Mister Wisker
Joined: Jun 2013
Location: Centro America, Heading south
Pyramids and Peyote, an adventure ride in the Jungle. Part 2. – Peten, Guatemala
Adventure to Mirador: Part two. Haven't read part one?
Day two: April 25th 2013, somewhere in the Jungle, Peten, Guatemala.
Morning monkeys. So many monkeys. I suppose the same monkeys we were apparently killing with our motorbikes. These ones escaped us. Sleeping with the fly off the tent allowed us to wake up to watch a whole gang of monkeys flying through the trees above us. It was great. We didn't even need to get out of the tent.
While riding my bike tree to tree, I must watch out for the swinging monkey.[/caption]
Back on the road, we found that we had camped only about 2km from Tintal. The "midway" camp for the hikers, Tintal also comes complete with some smaller ruins. Importantly, they had water and were willing to share.
Water tastes better when it has been carried by a mule.[/caption]
In return for the much needed water (which takes a 4 hour round trip via mule to collect) I offered to share some of our macaroni and cheese brunch with the Guardas. They happily accepted a change from beans and tortillas. To accommodate, I used three boxes of macaroni instead of two, an action that infuriated Erik. I felt we had plenty to share and things would work out just fine. He didn't share my ideas on the matter, feeling that our limited food supplies may not last the trip now. I would soon learn why he had these concerns, as Erik needs to eat every three hours or so. At 6'6", he's no small boy, and when he gets hungry, others become aware of this fact. I, on the other hand, have been blessed with the hunger equivalent of a camel; often going all day without eating and thinking nothing of it. Besides, it was only Macaroni and cheese. Agreed to disagree.
Post meal, discussion began with one of the "guardas", aka park rangers. Lionel the guarda was taking issue was us riding our motorbikes any further, since this was quite against the rules. Remembering names...
"Ah, but Lionel, we talked to Ricardo over on Los Pescaditos road. You know, at the military checkpoint? Right, him. He told us that we needed special permission from "Inguat", but we'd have to return to Flores to get it.
Lionel noded. This was all true.
" To save us that hassle, Ricardo climbed 100 feet up into the tree to call his chief. So Ricardo talked to his chief about us you see, while he was hanging high up in a tree, and the chief said for us to come this way."
Lionel changed his tone, since the chief was aware of our existence. I might have omitted the part where the chief had said "no". Back on the road we go.
When I say road, I mean path, as it had narrowed some by this point.
To about this narrow.[/caption]
The path was nicer in someways, in that there were no ruts, but the riding was tough and slow at times.
With both of us running low on tread, some hang-ups could have been avoided. A little less weight, knobbier tires and a motocross bike would have helped.[/caption]
Bunny hop perhaps?[/caption]
There occasional fallen tree to overcome, hang-up to get unstuck from and the occasional drop of Jugs to the ground. Regardless of how fast I got her up, I would lose a bit of gas, and then have to crank the starter for a bit to un-flood the motor. After a few such instances in a row on a technical section, my battery died. The terrain and the need to turn the engine over a couple times made bump starting difficult to say the least. A tow start became the only option.
One way to save gas: only use one bike.[/caption]
Linked together with a ratchet strap, Erik towed me down the twisting, stump and root covered trail until I could bounce enough to get traction and finally, after the strap coming loose the first try, getting Jugs fired up. Awesome! Then I couldn't stall. Stalling was not an option. 10 minutes up the trail, high-centered on a log, I stalled.
Those 10 minutes had luckily been enough to charge the battery a touch, and the bike fired right back up. Erik was now concerned with my bikes capability to continue, given the history of the clutch sticking and now the battery. I had no concerns, as in either scenario I could fix the issue. I was however becoming more mindful of how much gas we had left, given our slow travel speed and how much gas I had washed my tank bag with. At that point I started to think we might get into El Mirador, but we may never get back out again. All of these concerns were moot a few minutes later.
Triple bunny hop? So this is what they meant by "impassable".[/caption]
In all honesty, it still was "passable". But the time, and water-using effort, it would take to "pass" such objects would shadow us in doubt.
"We can get past this. We CAN get past the next one. But: if we find many more like this down the trail and have to abandon the bikes there, then we have to come BACK over these obstacles on the way out."
The decision was made to "hide" the bikes in the woods, then hike. If it proved passable down the trail, we would come back and get the bikes in the morning and stubbornly complete our ride to El Mirador. Then we could ride OUT the road past Ricardo and his military friends. We would sure show them!
Hard to believe, but there are actually two motorbikes hidden in this photo.[/caption]
We're not hiking, we're scouting the trail.[/caption]
"Scouting the trail" took 6 hours, and 20km of walking. In those 20km, we encountered 20+ "impassable objects". Nothing is impassable of course, but these all would have required some prep-work. Not having abandoned the hope of riding to Mirador, initially we were even doing that prep-work; building ramps out of logs and moving others out of the road.
Erik making the "impassable" passable[/caption]
Eventually we quit doing the prep work to save daylight, but took note of where we'd need to do some work in the morning when we hiked back for the bikes... Eventually we quit doing that too. We resigned ourselves that we were not going to ride to El Mirador. The hike in was frustratingly easy. Mostly flat, with kilometers at a time of prime riding trails. Every now and then though, some giant mangled section of fallen trees would remind us why we were walking.
Our stopping to examine obstacles, combined with a longer lunch/tick removal break left us arriving to El mirador just as darkness was setting in. Or so we thought. Nothing goes with a wrap lunch like your first ever ticks![/caption]
We made it! ...to the sign that is 45 minutes away from the camp.[/caption]
The misleading sign was a little deflating. It's like when you REALLY have to go to the bathroom: after waddling for what feels like forever, you finally make it to the bathroom door and you find it to be locked. So close, yet so far... Our dreams of climbing "La Danta" that night for sunset were squashed.
When we did make it to camp, they ever so kindly had three fires lit to guide us home.
Ok, NOW we made it![/caption]
Except there was nobody to be found. Tents everywhere, we assume for archaeologists, but not one occupied. A large kitchen and dining area with space for over 100 people, empty. At dinner time. Like a scene out of a horror film, the whole place was deserted. More importantly, the kitchen was void of water too. Once again we found ourselves dry.
I had recently drunk my last drops, leaving me feeling a touch thirsty. Unlike at Tintal, there weren't large water containers all in a stack. I found some water in a 5 gallon pail and drunk back half a liter. On second inspection, the water was a little funky looking, and I remembered that I had water purifying tablets in my bag. I put the tablets in a second liter of the murky water. Once ripe, I drank all the "purified" water. I figured it would all mix in my belly and purify the first bit of water too. Purification tablets works like that right?
Erik figured there must be another camp somewhere, since we knew a group of tourists had left Tintal before us, and we hadn't passed them or seen them yet. More exploring in the dark led us to find this was indeed the case.
We decided we would omit the fact that we were on motorbikes, to prevent possible theft, but also since we were breaking a number of rules simply having them in the national park, and didn't want to cause ourselves unneeded trouble. It was some surprise then, when one of the British tourists we encountered piped up "hey you guys are the ones on motorbikes right?". Ummmmm. Were we wearing gear? Anything motorcycle related in our possession? No. The chap had met us in Flores two days before. So much for that plan. Captain identification was handy though, pointing us over to where the Guarda station was, noting that they had non-murky water there.
Instant amigos, instantly sharing their dinner with us. I mean, who does that?[/caption]
At the Guarda station, Erik and I waltzed in and sat down. Striking up conversation in our average spanish, the at first standoffish Guardas quickly lightened when they heard we had no guide and had come in on our own. They gave us coffee, and fed us some tasty corn tortillas with butter. They even challenged us to a game of basketball in the morning. We shared our cheese with them while they continued force feeding us, saying they wanted us to "get really heavy" to give them an advantage in the game.
They might need to feed us a liiiiiittle more.[/caption]
While we were eating, one of the Guarda's asked where our tent was. Pointing it out to them, they picked it up and asked where we'd like to sleep. Seriously? Seriously. I offered to come give instructions, but they insisted that we sit and gain weight while they figured out how to build our tent. 5 minutes later, our tent was set up for us.
and only 2 clips out of place! What a welcome![/caption]
Not having to worry about water or food rations anymore (they offered to continue fattening us up), and having missed sunset on La Danta, Erik and I decided to stay the whole next day to explore the area.
Retiring early to get a restful nights sleep didn't quite work out as planned. Apparently my attractiveness to ticks remains strong. Very strong.
Whiskey tick removal.[/caption]
With no tweezers available, I used the scissors in my leatherman to pinch the little jerks and pull them out. Then crushed them. Then noticed that the ticks come in a variety of sizes, with little tiny ones mixed in too. By the end of the tick session I was getting pretty good at it. 40+ ticks. Two and a half hours of tick removal later, I was finally able to go to sleep in my tent that the Guardas had set up for us.
Day 3: April 26, 2013 El Mirador, Peten, Guatemala
I tick checked myself over again before breakfast and, once all clear, joined the Guardas and Erik for breakfast. Beans, sardines in tomato sauce and tortillas. And lots of it. Too much really, but with only a little left we split it in two and ate half each. Except Erik didn't eat his half. Not wanting to be impolite and waste food, I stuffed down the last stack of beans and tortilla to finish it off. I was full. Very full.
Erik felt a little uncomfortable taking their food, and wanted to offer the guys some cash to compensate. I was in agreement, though I would have offered it before we left, not in the middle of our stay. Regardless, we offered 100 Quetzals and Guarda Josue (Ho-sway) accepted.
Today was the day to explore El Mirador, and Guarda Josue offered to tour us around. It was also the day to eat some cactus.
Back while I was in Mexico, a friend offered me some peyote. Peyote is a cactus that has some mind opening effects, used by Mexican natives for hundreds of years in ceremonies. I was told to take it when somewhere special. I figured visiting the largest pyramid in the world after a difficult journey out was a sufficient degree of special.
Mixing the green pulverized plant with water, we drank it back. It tasted TERRIBLE. Feeling like a blimp already from breakfast, the flavour wasn't helping me get it down. Regardless, we both managed to drink it all and began waddling around El Mirador, following Josue to explore the other pyramids and structures that exist there. Only 10 percent of Mirador has been unearthed, so much of the large pyramids simply look like large, tree-covered mounds.
Even when less mound-like, walking up pyramids is hard work[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_3720" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Micro Kelly and Ernesto on top of "La Tigre"[/caption]
Going downhill fast[/caption]
It was a beautiful day, though warming up fast. After almost an hour of walking around, the combination of the heat, the exercise, the large quantity of breakfast in my belly and, perhaps most importantly, the cactus slurry sloshing around on top, eventually took its toll.
Some toll to pay. I did manage to avoid getting any on my shoes.[/caption]
I immediately felt better. Though the cactus was already having it's effect. I immediately pondered how this might effect the rest of the day.
Hopefully not spent in this tomb.[/caption]
Our tour ended soon after. I was now calling Erik "Ernesto" constantly, and Ernesto now felt like a cactus and was moving slowly. We relieved Josue of his tour guide duties. Both Ernesto and I felt a strong desire to lay in hammocks.
That's really nice[/caption]
I felt incredibly pleasant the rest of the day. Ernesto, not having vomited up any of his cactus, was notably more affected by it.
"Pssst, look what I found". Apparently these were helicoptered in. If you decide to make a run for Mirador, you can siphon gas from these.[/caption]
I let Ernesto use my camera. I now have 50 photos of this turkey.[/caption]
Aside from taking photos of a turkey for hours, the rest of the afternoon was spent talking and exploring without a hitch. Oh, except for the hitch.
Water heavily falling from the sky counts as a hitch.[/caption]
I distinctly remember thinking on the way in how screwed we would be if it rained. The dried mud on the trail was difficult enough. WET mud would be unfathomable to navigate, never mind the wet roots and trees covered in it. This rain... this was a bad thing.
We knew whiskey was a good idea.[/caption]
To save space/weight for the hike in I had left the tent fly on the bike (I know, I know). Very lucky for us there was a tarp set up with space underneath.[/caption]
One of the guides had told us not to worry, "it doesn't start to really rain until May". Being the 26th of April, this was little consolation to us. The rain absolutely poured on us for over an hour before the sky started to clear. The only good that came from the storm was that it washed some of the haze out of the sky. Sunset at the El Dante pyramid would be good that night. Our ride tomorrow... well we didn't want to think about.
The hike to El Dante was about 30 minutes from camp... It took us around 45.
When we finally did arrive at "La Danta", it was pretty impressive. And steep. Climbing up the front face pyramid is strictly forbidden since someone fell doing so years ago.
No don't, that's forbidd... ok, looks like fun, wait for me![/caption]
There are stairs built up around back, but climbing up the front face was far more enjoyable. Once up top... well worth the trip.
Up on top of "La Danta". Turns out riding to the top on a motorcycle was forbidden too.[/caption]
You can see it all from up here. The trees and mounds with trees I mean.[/caption]
The difficulties getting here, getting to the top of La Danta, really made it that little bit more special. As the sun set, sipping some whiskey, looking over the jungle with my new motorbike amigo Ernesto... this was one of those moments.
My photostitch never works properly. You get the idea, magnificent and wonderful and all that.[/caption]
Guarda Josue motioned that we should get going. Walking in the jungle at night is dangerous... and of course also against the rules.
But soon "walking in the jungle at night" we did, and it allowed us to see our favorite green-eye glow bugs. Tonight they were downright spectacular for some reason. Almost worth the trip in Guatemala just to see these guys. I present to you "Jungle Glowbug at night, with Philip Davidson":
Josue also pointed out a tarantula home. Neat stuff!
Tarantula door open...[/caption]
...tarantula door closed[/caption]
Josue was walking with a mildly irritating American girl, and the two of them were far faster than Ernesto was capable of. This wouldn't have been a problem, except my headlamp was broken, and Ernesto's batteries were fading fast. It gets dark quickly in the jungle. Josue and the American would keep taking off again with their lights. We walked most of the way back slowly, using our feet to read the braille of the jungle floor.
Dinner was served upon our arrival back to camp, again frijoles (beans) and tortillas, with some rice. Like the walk home, dinner wasn't trouble free; Ernesto was having trouble with his Frijoles.
"Los frijoles bailar" Ernesto explained to myself and our hosts. The beans are dancing. I looked at my beans; no dancing.
"I can't eat them when they're dancing like that".
Ernesto picked out the dancing beans and threw them over his shoulder, then went back to eating dinner.
We never did play a game of basketball with the Guardas.
Day 4: April 27th, 2013. The return from El Mirador, Peten, Guatemala
We got a very early start, but made time for breakfast.
The beans, almost disappointingly, were no longer dancing at breakfast.[/caption]
After yesterdays rains, we had no idea what lie ahead for us. Regardless, we wanted as much time as possible to deal with it. After breakfast, we said goodbyes and thank yous, filled our waters, packed quickly and set out at a brisk pace. Regardless of the condition it's in, we had a long road ahead.
Our attempts at hiding the motorbikes had failed. A couple hours into the hike out we met a tour group hiking in. "Are you the crazy Canadian bikers?! We saw your bikes, don't worry, we didn't steal anything, just lifted the cover to take a look and see the plates". They were excited and seemed friendly enough. Still, when I took a glance at their mules I couldn't help but look for the outline of motorcycle parts.
No exhausts or suspension parts in their bags, we're ok.[/caption]
After taking 6 hours to hike in, we made it back to the bikes in a little over 4 hours. The main difference being that we hadn't been stopping to re-arrange logs. We were riding back out the way we rode in.
...but first some repairs to Ernesto's brake pedal. Missing bolts are bad.[/caption]
Fears of the road having turned to mud were unfounded. Still had some awkward bits though.[/caption]
The path was not mud. This we were incredibly thankful for. The ride out we found ourselves riding over obstacles better and generally faster than our way in. Practice makes perfect. The 6km jaunt back to Tintal was quite quick.
After a quick lunch stop to say hello again to Guarda Lionel and refill our waters, we set back out on the road. (P.s. He very much enjoyed the macaroni and cheese we left him.)
I was following behind Ernesto, and for the most part I was right on his tail. We were making good time. Even when a bike got hung up on a log or otherwise, we were efficient at getting them unstuck and back rolling. In doing so, I noticed how light my tank felt, and knew gas would be tight. Fortunately I had a spare 5L gas can that was still dangling off the back of an ammo can, despite the beating it took on the way in.
Held on by a thread. Well, that and a padlock.[/caption]
We stopped for a quick break and to let the bikes cool down after some difficult bits.
Which root shall I take?[/caption]
We set forth once more, Ernesto out front, me right behind and both making good time yet again. Up over a rise, and around a corner, then a short 5 meter diversion in the trees around a fallen log. I didn't make it. 'Jugs' sputtered and ran out of gas before I got back to the trail. Flipped to reserve, but the bike wouldn't start up. I tried cranking it over a few more times, but not wanting to have a repeat tow job, I gave it a rest to save the battery. Was my reserve switch not working? Either way, on reserve I wouldn't have enough gas to get back to Carmelita. I unlocked the gas can, put the lock on top of my bike and pulled the can out of the disheveled cage. The gas can got caught on something, and the force of the snag resulted in my bike tumbling over onto its side. Darn it. Picked the bike back up and poured half the gas can in. After putting the gas can back in it's cage, I stood up into a branch; soundly connecting my skull to the rough bark. Darn it! And now where did that lock go? Darn it! And what the heck is going on, I've been dealing with this for the last 10 minutes, where the heck is Ernesto?! DARN IT! I walked up the trail a ways to see if I could see him. Right after the diversion, the trail became quite smooth and nice for a ways. Maybe he had gotten up ahead a bit and knowing we were short on gas didn't want to ride back?
The missing lock had launched off the bike into the leaves on the ground that were conveniently the same golden colour. Given that the lock was all that was actually holding the gas can on the bike, I needed that lock. 10 more minutes of searching on my hands and knees and much swearing later I found the lock not 5 feet from the bike. Darn it! And where the hell is Ernesto, seriously? I could have my leg caught under the bike for all he knows! Darn it all!
After about 20 minutes of being stranded, I finally got my bike started again and started to make up ground on Ernesto. The trail was indeed nicer in this section, so perhaps he did just get way ahead. But 20 minutes?! You'd think he'd notice I wasn't behind him. Wait, what if he thinks I passed him somehow and is he is trying to catch me? Geez he could be ages ahead.
I rode for 4Km thinking angry thoughts about how Ernesto could possibly have left me behind before it suddenly dawned on me that maybe I had left HIM behind. It was nearly impossible. I was following him, and almost always within sight. But maybe in that moment where he turned the corner something happened and I somehow passed him, then ran out of gas moments later. No. Not possible. I was right behind him. But maybe? I don't know. If I did somehow pass him, then run out of gas and dick around for 20 minutes, and now I'm 4km up the road...
He could have HIS leg stuck under HIS bike. I suddenly had a sensation of panic. What if I'm the asshole who just left HIM behind? I had to go back to check.
I stopped and wrote a note in case Ernesto was up ahead and came back. At least he could save a bit of gas. Then my kickstand sank in the clay and the bike fell over.
Are you freaking kidding me right now?![/caption]
Without Ernesto there to help lift the bike while I got the kickstand up, I was left digging a hole in the compacted clay-based dirt. This is insanity. I'm not sure where my friend is, I've gone from thinking he's a total ass to realizing maybe I'm the asshole and he's stuck in some thorns, and now I'm trying to dig a hole in the toughest dirt on earth. DARN IT!
Finally able to get the kickstand up, I threw any extra weight I could into a pile and put the note on top. I really, really, really hoped I would come back to find Ernesto reading that note.
About a kilometer backtracking down the road, I found Ernesto riding towards me.
"How do you feel about yourself right now?" he asked.
The answer didn't matter. For the last hour or so every angry thought I had towards Ernesto for abandoning me should have been pointed at myself. Those thoughts were certainly justly pointed towards me from his side. I apologized and explained what had happened from my end. Ernesto seemed surprised to hear about me running out of gas and being stuck myself, but he just wanted to ride: "Let's just go".
We stopped briefly to pick up my stuff and repack my bike. The previously triumphant mood from making good time after an epic trip had turned palpably sour. Not much more was said. It was a somber ride. I had left him abandoned stuck on the trail after all.
Once in Carmelita, we parked the bikes and asked around for much needed gasoline. Even with all that happened, we still made it out in ok time. We could still make it back to El Remate in daylight. Some kids eventually sourced some gas for us at a much inflated price. At that very moment, I noticed my jacket was gone. Darn it!
After initially thinking someone had stolen it, I realized that it could have fallen off after I repacked the bike mid trail. I had been hurrying, perhaps I didn't strap it down very well? A very brief discussion followed. Ernesto would carry on after he got gas, possibly meeting down the road. I would go back for the jacket. It was getting late, and we had a long dirt road ride still ahead of us.
I found my Jacket 3km back up the trail. I rocketed there in a third of the time it had taken us to ride it before. I was racing the sun, and did not want to be stuck on the dirt road at night. I was already tired enough as it was, and had lost my glasses I wear for night riding along the trail days before.
The gas boys told me that Ernesto had left about 15 minutes ago. Off I went, rocketing down the gravel road and under the Carmelita barricade for a fourth and final time.
I'll miss you, Carmelita barricade.[/caption]
Not rocketing for long though, as I soon ran out of gas. This time I switched to reserve while still rolling and even still the motor quit. That's a problem. I poured the rest of the gas from the gas can in, carefully keeping track of the lock this time. That gas got me to our beer stop from our first day, where I was able to buy their last Gallon for 50Q (6.25$US). Previous roadside inquiries all led me to this one and only gas vendor, haggling was not tolerated well.
a very welcoming sign. (we sell gas)[/caption]
Self serve gas to boot.[/caption]
Before leaving, I asked if they had seen another motorbike like mine pass through. They had, about 20 minutes prior. Good. I knew Ernesto was still ahead. I continued to check that he was still in front of me with anyone I passed standing beside the road. I even stopped at other barricades to ask them. Turns out all the other barricade men weren't charging after all, just security/traffic control. And they had all seen Ernesto pass by. Good. There was still a bit of daylight, and I was getting closer to pavement.
It wouldn't be an adventure if it didn't have one final twist. And on that final twist, I was going too fast. I hit the dirt going about 40km/h, after skidding out a bit then going high side off the bike. I was injury free, but concerned about losing gas from my leaky gas cap. I ran to jugs and got it upright quickly. So quickly that it fell right over on the other side. Darn it!!
It had already been down on both sides. I wasn't pushing it over again for a stupid photo.[/caption]
I was exhausted, going too fast and making mistakes. I used my foot to bend my pannier frame back into a shape that would hold the boxes out, and continued home. I thankfully made it to pavement before sunset, and I arrived alive at home an hour and a half later, well after dark. I walked in to find Ernesto showing off his ball rash to the girls. Things were going to be ok.
Ernesto's ball rash was far worse than my ball rash.[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_3759" align="aligncenter" width="600"] There's no laundry service in El Ramate, FYI. (though the fruit stand lady will do it if you ask nicely)[/caption]
How did I leave Ernesto behind?
We've discussed this several times since our Journey to El Mirador. What we've pieced together:
Ernesto went over the rise, turned the corner and chose one of a few path options. On the path he chose, he got hung up on a log. I immediately passed him on a different nearby path. Any of these diverting paths all very soon after meet up with each other. I didn't even notice the other paths. Ernesto watched me go by, even honked his horn. I didn't see or hear him. Seconds later I ran out of gas.
While I was dealing with my gasoline issues, Ernesto was trying to free his bike himself. He figured I had seen him and would come back to lend him a hand. He continued trying to free himself for a good while. When he realized he would not be able to get unstuck on his own, he started to walk up the trail to find me for some help. By this time, I had solved my issues and taken off, thinking I was still chasing him down the trail.
He walked about 1.5km up the trail, on an ankle that was injured after getting hung up on a root. When I wasn't anywhere to be found, he walked back, muttering profanities in my direction I'm sure. Ernesto used a small tree to pry his bike off the log, tearing apart his stock plastic skid plate in the process. Now freed, he continued up the trail behind me. Eventually he met me on my way back to look for him.
We are still friends, and that is the only reason why: when we met up again I was going back to look for him. There was no one else who would have come by to help had he been seriously injured. Fortunately, we'll have the chance to go for another adventure in the future. Just have to let that jungle ball rash heal up first.
After a much needed shower, I found three more ticks. Darn it all!![/caption]
|06-05-2013, 10:35 AM||#8|
One day at a time!
Joined: Jul 2009
Location: MN. (summers) AZ. (winters)
great ride report
|06-07-2013, 06:21 PM||#9|
aka Mister Wisker
Joined: Jun 2013
Location: Centro America, Heading south
|06-07-2013, 06:24 PM||#10|
aka Mister Wisker
Joined: Jun 2013
Location: Centro America, Heading south
|06-08-2013, 10:15 AM||#11|
Sister on a KLR
Joined: Mar 2012
Location: Calgary, Alberta
Hot & Wet in Rio Dulce, Guatemala
Rio Dulce has a very high, very long bridge. Many large trucks go over this bridge, all day and all night. Most of these truck's drivers gain great pleasure in using their engine retarder brakes while going over the bridge. They are LOUD. We, of course, were staying in a hostel located right under the bridge.
We didn't sleep well in Rio Dulce.
[caption id="attachment_3793" align="alignnone" width="800"] Me with the infamous bridge[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_3776" align="alignnone" width="600"] On the way to Rio Dulce Phil stopped to chat to two different heavily loaded bicyclists.[/caption]
The ride from El Remate to Rio Dulce on April 29, 2013 was uneventful. The heat in Rio Dulce was almost unbearable. I couldn't wait to get my riding gear off when we pulled in to the Backpackers hotel.
[caption id="attachment_3778" align="alignnone" width="800"] Our dorm room[/caption]
We were given bunks in their 20 bed dorm for the bargain basement price of 30Q/night each. The dorm is built on a dock, floating over the river. Despite the less than ideal sleeping conditions, made worse in my case by someone insisting on sleeping on the bunk above me, despite there being other free bunks, the hostel uses it's profits to run an orphanage, so at least we were supporting a good cause.
We were relieved to finally be somewhere with a wifi connection after the week without one in El Remate. We had a lot of blogging to catch up with! (A common issue - I am writing this update from El Salvador, over a month after it took place...)
We arranged for our new friend Cisco from Guatemala City who we hadn't actually met in person yet, to ride over on his BMW 800GS and meet us in a couple of days and then set to exploring what there was to see.
[caption id="attachment_3801" align="alignnone" width="800"] I was very excited to be on top of the bridge![/caption]
That evening we walked over the bridge into town for dinner. On the way back we passed a group if guys at a tienda. One of them called out "Hey Taliban!" (referring of course to Phil's unruly facial hair, which he is refusing to cut until the end of the trip).
[caption id="attachment_3802" align="alignnone" width="800"] This tienda turned out to be the hub of the local community, everyone came by![/caption]
We ended up chatting with them, they offered us beers, and then they pulled out a guitar. A completely unexpected evening of music and new friends ensued.
[caption id="attachment_3803" align="alignnone" width="800"] The guitar comes out[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_3804" align="alignnone" width="800"] Our stickers are truly becoming world famous.[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_3784" align="alignnone" width="600"] Despite the several beers he had consumed, this Guatemalan could still play! The sticker makes him play even better...[/caption]
The main attractions around Rio Dulce are taking a boat to the coastal town of Livingstone through a narrow gorge, visiting the hot waterfalls and visiting the old Spanish fortress.
We were told that Livingstone was very similar to Belize, at 200Q each we decided to skip that trip and instead had a very friendly local boat captain, Caesar take us on a private tour of the local area for 150Q total. He was proud to show us the fortress, the houses of the rich and famous who dock their yachts there to protect them from hurricanes, an Amazon-like river with overhanging vines and his favourite swimming spots. He even jumped in with us at sunset in the middle of the river beside a mangrove island full of birds.
[caption id="attachment_3800" align="alignnone" width="800"] Pointing out our hostel from the boat[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_3795" align="alignnone" width="800"] Captains Phil and Caesar at the helm[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_3798" align="alignnone" width="800"] Some boats parked outside their owner's home.[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_3797" align="alignnone" width="800"] Approaching the fortress[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_3796" align="alignnone" width="800"] Those Spaniards sure know how to build a pretty fortress![/caption]
[caption id="attachment_3799" align="alignnone" width="800"] There were a lot of birds on that island![/caption]
[caption id="attachment_3794" align="alignnone" width="800"] Jayne and Caesar swim at the island[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_3783" align="alignnone" width="600"] Floating down the jungle river.[/caption]
We spent quite a lot of time at the hostel hanging out on the dock, meeting other travellers and catching up with the blog.
I spoke to Christian a couple times, but he was very grumpy since the gassing episode and often was not much fun to talk with. Despite the grumpiness, I was still completely smitten with him, and was thinking of how I could make a trip back to Mexico to see him again before we got too much further South.
On Wednesday morning we were just thinking about breakfast when Cisco walked up to us in his riding gear. He'd made great time from the city.
[caption id="attachment_3785" align="alignnone" width="800"] Cisco on the road[/caption]
At the same time we started talking to a Guatemalan guy called Guillermo and his son Alex. Guillermo was incredibly generous and insisted on buying us all lunch.
As the beers flowed Guillermo started to tell us about his life as one of Guatemala's richest men... We have no idea if his stories were true, but he was a nice guy and it was fun to listen to his tales.
[caption id="attachment_3792" align="alignnone" width="800"] Phil with Guillermo and son Alex[/caption]
Cisco then took us in a tuktuk across the river to a hotel/marina that we had to walk over a series of suspension bridges to get to. We sat on the dock and ate ice creams. As soon as we met him, Cisco was like an old friend and it just kept getting better.
[caption id="attachment_3790" align="alignnone" width="800"] Most interesting hotel entrance ever[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_3789" align="alignnone" width="800"] Cricket and Jugs meet Cisco's BMW[/caption]
The next morning we packed up the bikes and headed to the hot waterfalls. We were there pretty early and had the whole place to ourselves. The water flowing off the cliff was too hot to stand under, but when it mixed with the water below it was lovely.
[caption id="attachment_3781" align="alignnone" width="600"] We made it![/caption]
[caption id="attachment_3788" align="alignnone" width="800"] Don't let the peaceful beauty fool you, those waterfalls are scalding hot!!!![/caption]
[caption id="attachment_3787" align="alignnone" width="800"] Jayne and Cisco enjoy the warm pool[/caption]
The ride to Guatemala City consisted mostly of passing slow trucks on the highway. We stopped for groceries and then headed to Cisco's sock factory, where he lives, just as it started to rain.
[caption id="attachment_3780" align="alignnone" width="600"] Our first taste of big city traffic in a while...[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_3779" align="alignnone" width="600"] Everyone in Guatemala City has a gun. Including this parking lot attendant, and the security guard at Dominos...[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_3775" align="alignnone" width="600"] Well dressed for the cheese and meat aisle.[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_3774" align="alignnone" width="600"] Guatemala City welcomed us with some rain...[/caption]
|06-14-2013, 07:39 PM||#12|
Sister on a KLR
Joined: Mar 2012
Location: Calgary, Alberta
I Live in a Sock Factory: Guatemala City
I had never considered how socks are made. I put them on my feet every day without a thought for the people or processes involved. I had no idea there are sock ironing machines, or that there are people who's whole job is to turn newly knitted socks inside out so the toes can be sewn shut. Living at Cisco's factory changed my view of socks forever!
[caption id="attachment_3843" align="alignnone" width="300"] Watching a sock machine get threaded[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_3841" align="alignnone" width="300"] Each of these machines knit socks.[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_3842" align="alignnone" width="300"] This is what a sock looks like before the toe is sewn shut.[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_3840" align="alignnone" width="300"] You put socks on these "feet" to iron them.[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_3839" align="alignnone" width="300"] The yarn gets mixed with elastic or lycra before the knitting starts...[/caption]
We were introduced to Cisco by the KLR rider, Carlos, who we met on the side of the road as we left San Cristobal de las Casas. Cisco replied to the email that Carlos sent out and invited us to stay with him when we made it to Guatemala City. Cisco also turned out to be the man who could help us with all that ailed our bikes.
Cisco let us unload our bikes into an empty warehouse at the factory beside his house, before we took the bikes away to be fixed up.
[caption id="attachment_3846" align="alignnone" width="300"] Me, Cricket, and the contents of my panniers laid out on the floor.[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_3828" align="alignnone" width="300"] Phil had a little problem while changing Jugs' oil.[/caption]
The welders at the factory fixed Phil's ammo can panniers - restoring them to solid, square, boxes after the beating they took going up to El Mirador. Those soldaduras couldn't weld my aluminum panniers, but Cisco took us to a place where they had the right equipment. The seams of my boxes had started to split after the many drops I had subjected them to.
[caption id="attachment_3824" align="alignnone" width="225"] Phil with his pannier and the man who welded it for him[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_3818" align="alignnone" width="300"] My poor pannier really needed some love...[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_3826" align="alignnone" width="225"] I've got a charging station hardwired into my box, that I plug into my battery.[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_3845" align="alignnone" width="300"] Delivering my panniers for re-welding[/caption]
We drove around through the crazy traffic in the city in search of a new rear tire for Jugs, a new visor for my helmet, new gloves and a fix for Phil's front suspension, which had been "clunking".
The incredible people at the BMW dealership came to our rescue with half price gloves for me, and a great selection of tires at good prices. Phil got a Continental TKC for just over $100.
[caption id="attachment_3825" align="alignnone" width="225"] Phil with the very kind BMW manager and his new tire[/caption]
No luck on a new visor for my Shoei helmet, the one I have is a bit scratched, and isn't great if we ever get stuck riding at night. It's still okay though so no tragedy that we couldn't find a replacement.
Our final stop was at a real, open, Kawasaki dealership. We hadn't seen one of these since the USA! Klaus and his team were incredibly supportive, and offered to work on our bikes at very low prices. They like to support travellers.
That weekend we went with Cisco to his family's house on Lake Atitlan. It was a long ride along all sorts of roads, with beautiful views. We stopped in Antigua for coffee and a boot shine.
[caption id="attachment_3837" align="alignnone" width="300"] The cobbled streets of Antigua, with a volcano in the distance![/caption]
[caption id="attachment_3836" align="alignnone" width="300"] Just getting my boots shined in the coffee shop[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_3822" align="alignnone" width="225"] Phil's boot shiner - half way through the job[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_3848" align="alignnone" width="300"] We stopped for lunch in this "Swiss" restaurant. This cheese was delicious.[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_3851" align="alignnone" width="225"] View down to the lake from the highway[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_3835" align="alignnone" width="300"] Cisco and Jayne enjoy the view[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_3834" align="alignnone" width="300"] Bike, bikers and beauty[/caption]
The road down to the lake is under construction, and has a lot of tight switchbacks. The most challenging section by far, however, was the incredibly steep driveway down to the house. My long suffering brother was a star and rode my bike down for me, as I was sure I would either drop my bike or crash into the wall at the bottom.
[caption id="attachment_3854" align="alignnone" width="225"] The driveway of doom[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_3820" align="alignnone" width="225"] Looking up the STEEP driveway[/caption]
Unfortunately I started suffering a sore throat the day we left for the lake, and it got progressively worse over the course of the weekend. As Cisco said at one point, "If you're going to be sick, the lake is a great place to be." I slept a lot.
[caption id="attachment_3832" align="alignnone" width="300"] Jugs, Cisco's BMW and I all take a rest waiting for the construction crew to let us by[/caption]
The house is gorgeous, right on the lake side. In fact the lake has steadily risen over the past few years, and the boathouse they built 4 years ago is now mostly underwater.
[caption id="attachment_3856" align="alignnone" width="300"] Looking up at Cisco's house from beside the lake[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_3855" align="alignnone" width="300"] On the right is the underwater boathouse[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_3852" align="alignnone" width="300"] Our room at the lake.[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_3850" align="alignnone" width="225"] Having a nice bathroom is a massive luxury after 10 months on the road[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_3849" align="alignnone" width="225"] We saw Guatemalans using these gourds as water bottles. This one was just for decoration.[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_3857" align="alignnone" width="300"] Lake Atitlan with a volcano and pretty clouds[/caption]
Lake Atitlan is nestled in the middle of several volcanoes, and has no outlet streams or rivers. Water goes in, but it doesn't flow out.
We had some pretty intense rain while we were there, the start of the rainy season is upon us!
We met up with our Irish friend Ruth from San Ignacio, and Phil rode to Antigua on Sunday to play Ultimate Frisbee. He ended up staying there overnight, because the switchbacks down to the lake are pretty intense, especially in the rain. We picked him up on our way back to the city Monday morning.
[caption id="attachment_3829" align="alignnone" width="300"] Look it's Ruth from Belize![/caption]
I had been spending a lot of time thinking about and missing Christian. I could not continue travelling with my heart in Cozumel. It wasn't fair on Phil to have me split that way, and I was finding it difficult to be present in the trip. So in Guatemala City I booked a flight to Cancun. I was going back to the beautiful Caribbean island to see Christian for nearly two weeks. I knew that spending that time with Christian would either support or change our feelings for each other, and allow me to decide what my priorities were.
We dropped our bikes off at the Kawasaki dealership. I was having them install a new chain and sprockets and new front brake pads on Cricket. I was still running the same sprockets I started with almost 40,000 kilometers ago, so it was definitely time.
[caption id="attachment_3827" align="alignnone" width="300"] Dropping the kids off at the shop - Jugs and Cricket fit right in with the other Kawasakis![/caption]
Cisco was preparing to leave on a 10 day motorbike tour of Mexico, so he dropped us at a hostel in town near the airport and Kawasaki. We could not thank him enough for all his help. What an amazing man. He even let me leave a bunch of my stuff at his house while I was away!
[caption id="attachment_3830" align="alignnone" width="300"] Cisco - all round wonderful guy[/caption]
That evening a man personally delivered my airplane confirmation to me at the hostel (don't get that kind of service back in London!) and the next morning, April 8th, 2013, I was up before 5am making the 5 minute walk to the airport.
Cozumel, here I come.
|06-27-2013, 01:37 PM||#13|
Sister on a KLR
Joined: Mar 2012
Location: Calgary, Alberta
The Realities of Love: Cozumel Parte Dos
Warning: There is no mention of motorcycles in the below post.
It's a very special for a man to invite a woman to live with him, to be part of his daily life. To say to her "not only do I love you, I LIKE you so much that I want to spend every day with you". This is what Christian did when he invited me to come back to Cozumel for 2 weeks.
[caption id="attachment_3886" align="alignnone" width="300"] Me and Christian at a local Cozumel cantina[/caption]
Living someone's life with them for 2 weeks teaches you a lot about them. Much more than occasionally hanging out with them ever could.
As a reminder, or for those of you who are new to the blog, I met Christian when Phil and I were in Cozumel at the beginning of April. We clicked immediately and fell in love, and had been in nearly daily contact from the time I left Cozumel to when I flew back there in May. I missed him terribly, and went back to see him because I felt that I had to explore the possibility that we were soulmates.
It turns out that we aren't - but that doesn't in any way negate the love we had, or make me regret going back to Cozumel. It is true that it is better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all. It is a rare and amazing feeling to fall in love with someone who loves you back, even if it doesn't last.
A side note on falling in love:
I have made a particular effort during this journey to meet new people, to connect with them on a deeper level, to foster intimacy, to be open and honest, say what I feel, ask difficult questions and fall in love.
These are all things that I somewhat lost by living in London for a decade, being dragged into the cold, closed, lonely world that living in a giant metropolis can create. In London you are constantly surrounded by people, but hardly ever do you even make eye contact, should you speak to a stranger they will likely think you are mentally unstable, or trying to get something from them. Forming meaningful relationships with anyone is challenging. I had a small, amazing group of friends, but was rarely open to connect with anyone else.
In the past 11 months (I am writing this 11 months to the day since we left Vancouver, apologies for the delay - it's over a month ago I got back from Cozumel) I am very lucky to have met so many new people whom I love dearly, both male and female. Friends who I know I will be friends with for the rest of my life. (Tom at Burning Man, Ed in Vegas, Calgary and Mexico City, Brad in Austin, Jaime in Phoenix, Kristen in Joshua Tree, Stu in Mulege, Frida in Durango, Graham, Sheila, Brenda and Moonyeen in Chapala, Sarah and Shawn in Trocones, Anja in Oaxaca, Alex in all the places we meet up, Tanya in Guatemala, Cisco in Guatemala City, and of course Christian in Cozumel, to name but a few...)
Love is not just about romantic, get married, be together forever love. It is about connecting with people with whom you feel a kinship. People are scared to use the "L" word. I am trying to use it every day. Everything in life is enhanced when you allow yourself to love. You will get hurt, and not everyone will love you back in the same way you love them, but it is worth it every time.
[caption id="attachment_3871" align="alignnone" width="225"] Cool Cozumel graffiti.[/caption]
Back to Cozumel:
Meeting Christian had changed everything. I wasn't travelling in the same way as before. I spent hours each day talking to him, I was always thinking about him, and wishing he was there with me. I wasn't being present with the people I was with. I was being rude to my brother and all the other people I was staying with or meeting. I was always on the internet on my phone, only half paying attention to what they were saying or what we were doing. I was aware I was being rude, but I didn't care. Talking to Christian was more important. I was head over heels in love. It's a powerful drug!
I left my brother and my motorcycle in Guatemala City, and got on a plane to Cancun. I was so happy when I arrived in Cozumel, Christian met me at the ferry terminal with his beloved dog Tina and everything was amazing.
[caption id="attachment_3872" align="alignnone" width="225"] Christian had made and decorated a side table and put the conch shell he had cleaned and polished for me on it. Beautiful![/caption]
Christian runs a beach club on the far side of the island, which is the "wild side" of the island. There's no electricity on that side of the island because it kept getting knocked out by storms. People say that it is close to what Cancun looked like before all the development. It's beautiful.
[caption id="attachment_3870" align="alignnone" width="300"] The beach club[/caption]
Every morning we would drive *to the beach club*in the rust bucket old truck that the owner of the beach club provides Christian. When there we would set up the kiosk, the sunbeds, tables and chairs and souvenir table, and then we would hang out on the beautiful,*abandoned*beach. In the time I was there, not a single customer came to the club. Not even one.
[caption id="attachment_3889" align="alignnone" width="300"] The gorgeous, wild beaches of Cozumel[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_3882" align="alignnone" width="225"] Christian in the kiosk[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_3881" align="alignnone" width="225"] Oh to be beside the Carribean - nice office![/caption]
At the end of the day we'd pack everything up and head back to Christian's place.
Christian hadn't been paid (pretty easy to see that the owner may not have had a lot of money coming in, especially if his other businesses were suffering from lack of customers too) and so we didn't go out much. We stayed home and played backgammon and cards, and watched movies. Also Christian cooked. Amazing, delicious meals. I hadn't ever eaten that well.
Let me give you a "taste"...
[caption id="attachment_3880" align="alignnone" width="225"] One of our first meals - triggerfish filet that Christian had caught himself.[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_3877" align="alignnone" width="300"] Christian with the Triggerfish. Look at those teeth![/caption]
[caption id="attachment_3878" align="alignnone" width="225"] This fish soup is the first I have ever eaten that I liked. It was spicy and savoury and amazing.[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_3879" align="alignnone" width="225"] Best. Apple. Pie. Ever.[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_3876" align="alignnone" width="225"] Fish with mashed potato[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_3875" align="alignnone" width="225"] Steak with potatoes baked in bechamel and cheese. Heaven on a plate.[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_3874" align="alignnone" width="225"] The chef with his creation[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_3884" align="alignnone" width="300"] A traditional Chilean salad, avocado, cilantro and onion.[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_3885" align="alignnone" width="225"] A pie, filled with gooey brownie, served with ice cream... To die for.[/caption]
Although most evenings were spent at home, we did go out a couple of times. We enjoyed this beautiful sunset:
[caption id="attachment_3887" align="alignnone" width="300"] Island Sunset[/caption]
On Christian's day off we got up very early and went spearfishing.
[caption id="attachment_3888" align="alignnone" width="300"] Trying on a wetsuit in preparation for spearfishing[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_3869" align="alignnone" width="300"] About to hit the water with Christian's friend Luis[/caption]
I had never been spearfishing before, and so it was very exciting to see Christian diving down and spearing fish. He caught one, and missed a few. He was pretty upset about the ones that got away...
In fact Christian was upset about a lot of things while I was there. My happy, in-love state of mind was more and more often disturbed by Christian's negativity. He didn't like that I slept later than the 6am that he woke up every day, or when I took a nap one afternoon. He didn't like that I didn't want to drink as many beers as he did one afternoon (not that he was drinking a lot, I am just not a big beer drinker), he expressed concern that I kept forgetting to turn the fan off in the other room, *I didn't wash the dishes after dinner right away one night and he was not impressed... We argued several times over petty things.
Basically we fell into the day to day routine of an old married couple, and I realised that Christian's mood changed frequently, and that if things weren't working out in one aspect of his life (ie. his boss not paying him) he would take it out on me in another.
The honeymoon was well and truly over.
Here are a few things I learnt about Christian:
He's a fabulous cook
He's extremely artistic
He wakes up very early every day
He doesn't have much money
He is very clean and tidy
He gets very upset when things do not work out as he wishes
He loves his dog Tina
Here are a few things I was reminded of about myself:
I am never going to love getting up early.
I am never going to love being told I have to wash dishes (I will do them in my own time).
I don't drink a lot of alcohol.
I love sleeping and I sleep a lot.
I don't know what I want and I change my mind.
I am a dreamer.
I am very*independent and often selfish.
I say what's on my mind.
I love to travel.
I don't want to live a normal, boring life where I go home every evening and hang out in the house.
I have a lot of friends who I love dearly.
When I am sad, I talk to my brother, my parents, and my friends about my problems.
I want to be happy.
In the end, living with Christian didn't make me happy. Most of the time we had a wonderful time together, but the times when we argued were too frequent, and over such minor things. A relationship should not descend into that after knowing each other for less than two months!
There are a lot of reasons that Christian was having a hard time. Trouble with his employer, he threw his back out really badly in the last week I was there and was unable to do a lot, I was leaving... However those are all just excuses. In the end we weren't the soulmates I had hoped we were.
Realising that I am not ready to live a "normal" life, even if that life is on a Caribbean island, was an important lesson for me.
Christian and I are still friends, and I think that the experience made us both look closely at our lives and priorities and learn from each other.
I personally am grateful for Christian, the experience of falling in love, sharing his life for that short time, and the challenge of putting the experience into words, both in our discussions after I returned to Guatemala, and in writing this post. I feel that I am a more complete person because I met him.
Since I returned to Guatemala on May 21st, 2013 so much has happened. Phil and I have travelled through four countries and are now in Nicaragua. We're going to try to catch up on the blog ASAP. Please bear with us.
Sending much love to each and every one of you.
|06-27-2013, 02:56 PM||#14|
aka Mister Wisker
Joined: Jun 2013
Location: Centro America, Heading south
Short stories from Guatemala
I was travelling alone for a while through some of Mexico, Belize and into Guatemala. Sure Jayne was with me, but could often be found in her standard position:
Optimal texting formation[/caption]
She was in looooooove, which also made her distracted and boooooooring. We used to sit and discuss things in the evenings. Now we talked far less, she texted and skyped far more. She had known Christian for 5 days. 5 of them.
So I fully supported her flying to see him. Something had to give. Either she would get married in Cozumel and I'd continue on my own, or she'd come back alone and we'd start riding again. Either way, she had to put the phone down. I wasn't going to continue hanging out with her and her phone. Among other things, it was simply embarrassing when with mixed company. So Jayne went to Cozumel, and we now know how all that worked out.
While Jayne was gone, I was flying solo. Flying totally solo in fact. I didn't even have Jugs to hang out with. My bike had not been handling great and I was concerned about the suspension wearing. With Jugs in the shop, I had time to kill. Fortunately a couple couch surfers, Javier and Cindy, took me in and gave me a home for a week while showing me Guatemala City sights and nightlife . Muchas Gracias amigos!
She's french, can you tell?[/caption]
I don't have many photos of Javier. I had to catch him taking a nap.[/caption]
Many things happened while Jayne was away, and even once she came back. To condense this all for your reading pleasure, I present "Eight short stories and one slightly longer one":
#1 Phil goes to the zoo
I saw animals there.
Out roar a Jaguar[/caption]
Just lazing around like his bite won't crush your skull.[/caption]
The monkeys stormed the fence on my bearded arrival, much to the delight of the zoo-keepers.[/caption]
This Tapir has had about enough of my guff.[/caption]
#2 Bank machines hate me. I hate TD.
These hates do not cancel each other out[/caption]
I had a terrible time trying to get money out in Guatemala. I tried over 20 different bank machines over multiple days without winning money. I hear you say "Phil, maybe there was something wrong with your card". No. The card was fine. I called my bank (TD) three times during my struggles. Each time I was assured my card was fine, after they tried to tell me it was my fault for a variety of reasons. Each time I would then walk an hour round trip to the nearest bank machine. Finally on the third call, after having to take a credit card cash advance to, you know, LIVE, I insisted and the call center transferred me to a 'manager'. The manager told me only two banks work in Guatemala. I tried one (BAC bank, for the record). It worked. Why this took three calls and hours of wasted life to get this information they obviously have on file somewhere I'll never know. TD bank is terrible.
I win I win!![/caption]
#3. I lost my bag in a cab.
This bag right here[/caption]
I had just been in Antigua for the day to play ultimate, then drink into the night with ultimate friends.
Late night music and rooftop fire means late night cab ride home.[/caption]
I left my bag in that cab. My bag had many useful items in it at the time, none moreso than my size 13 frisbee cleats. Without them, my "ride" becomes far less "ultimate". I was not happy.
A friend had the driver's phone number, so I got my bag back the next day at no cost. I was then happy again.
#4 Being part of the Taliban gets you free beer "Hey Taliban!"[/caption]
While I was out for a walk, three guys in a taxi pull up. One calls out to me "Hey Taliban!". Not the first time this has happened, so naturally I walk over to say hi. They jovially invite me into their taxi. I get in. We drive around the block, stop, sit on the curb and they buy me beer for the afternoon.
#5 My spanish needs improvement.
Learning with Jorge. Never have I had a teacher watch the clock as much as him... or watch the clock at all actually. Learned lots though.[/caption]
Maestro numero dos! better location, better learning, less clock watching.[/caption]
I went to school. Two schools actually. For a couple weeks. I now can order beer AND ask what time it is. Just don't ask me anything that requires an answer in the future tense.
#6 I got an abscess in my tooth.
Fantastic care at less than the price of a pitcher of beer back home.[/caption]
More correctly, the abscess was in my gum. My Vancouver dentist had told me before I left that I might have problems with my top right molar. It forms a little pocket at the gumline, trapping food bits. She was right. It did cause problems. It really hurt.
In totally related news: seeing a dentist in Guatemala, with examination, xrays, and a follow up visit costs 70Q (about 10$US).
A week of antibiotics (and new floss) fixed me right up.
#7 I lived with a family in San Pedro. We checked on their corn.
Cruising to the corn fields.[/caption]
It was neat to see how all the plots are demarcated with a small tree, shrub or pile of rocks. Otherwise it just looks like one never ending plot of corn on the volcano. Oh right, everything is growing on a volcano.
Doing my best to hide in the corn.[/caption]
Javier's family plot is just past the lightning rod tree.[/caption]
From this plot they grow all the corn they need for tortillas for the entire year. (More on our time with this family in a later post)
#8 Road trip to Monterrico beach
Hanging out with our adopted frisbee-guard dog on the black sands.[/caption]
Steve, Nick, Debora and I went to the beach. The beach is 'black' due to volcano proximity, and thus incredibly hot during the day. We swam in the morning and night. Steve got rocked by the vicious beach break, slamming his face into the sandy bottom.
It's ok, chicks dig scars in the middle of your forehead.[/caption]
A turtle kissed him all better.
The kiss attempt nearly gave him another scar for chicks to dig.[/caption]
I went for a walk and met some locals.
"Our mom killed a snake and hung it on a post "[/caption]
It rained really hard at night.
I kill your cows.[/caption]
#9 We hadn't seen Erik and Tanya for a while (or "Jayne gets punched")
They came to see us in San Pedro.
Erik and I started off the reunion by schooling some local kids at basketball.
Hopes crushed, dreams shattered, they took their ball and went home.[/caption]
Then we all started drinking to celebrate the win and, uh, apparently arm wrestling too.
Loser gets punched in the head. Ready? GO![/caption]
We continued onwards to the "Zoola bar". There was a beer bong and a floaty boat in a pool in a bar. We had a good time.
Beer bong? don't mind if I do![/caption]
Too much yoga is bad for the liver.[/caption]
Things began to get sloppy[/caption]
is that a knife? violent foreshadowing.[/caption]
Eric fell in the pool too, fully clothed with non-waterproof camera in pocket and all. He walked home in his boxers.
...and holding a pineapple.[/caption]
After leaving the bar and finding Eric and Jayne scandalously clothed and waiting patiently for Tanya and I to show up, Tanya punched Jayne in the head then attacked Erik.
Sooooo this story is not really a short one. But it is the last one, so enjoy.
Jayne had returned from Cozumel relieved of her need to text constantly. This was pleasing to Erik, who would now tolerate her company. Erik and Tanya came to visit us for the day from where they had been staying in nearby Panajachel. We went to the "Zoola" bar. We got intoxicated.
Doing yoga in a bar intoxicated. Strip down naked and play in a boat intoxicated, falling-fully-clothed-into-a-pool-with-your-camera-in-your-pocket intoxicated. We had fun.
I don't recall Erik and Jayne leaving (likely too much yoga) but when Tanya and I noticed they were gone we decided to follow them. Not finding them at the hotel Tanya and Erik had in town, we next checked where Jayne and I were staying at the School.
Jayne and Eric had left the bar, and Eric walked Jayne home. Not having his keys for the hotel, Erik waited for Tanya at our place. This was ok with Javier (school owner). We know he was ok with it because Jayne had to wake him up by yelling outside the house to get in, as I had the keys.
While we were walking, I did mention to Tanya that this was a family home and she would need to stay quiet. She did not hear that over her drunken thought process that Erik was surely making sweet sweet love to my sister.
We arrived, Tanya started screaming and punching. Jayne was fine, as was Erik, but Tanya perhaps realized how wrong she had been and she ran away. Erik and I spent the following 4 hours searching the town for her. We looked everywhere, returning to the Zoola bar twice, borrowing rum from another party, and walking into another bar, this one closed.
We'll give it back when we're done with it.[/caption]
The final patrons, an Irish couple, and the bartender initially resisted our presence. Soon however, we were jumping off the "plank" (aka gap in the railing) and into the lake. Well I jumped. Erik was more pushed, and in that moment lost his sandals in the lake.
the now-shoeless Erik, exiting water fully clothed for the second time this night.[/caption]
Drunk, frustrated by his girlfriend's actions and disappearance and now having shoeless size 14 feet in Guatemala, Erik got upset. The altercation that followed didn't lead to blows, but it did lead to the bartender waking the manager at 3am, who threatened to get his gun while yelling and trying to start a fight with a very tall former rugby player. Erik stole the Irishman's shoes to even things, and proceeded to throw one of them in the lake. This would somehow end the altercation, with none of us being shot.
Oh right, Tanya. We found her back at the hotel with a rolled ankle and soaking wet. She had gone back to the Zoola bar and dove into the pool to get the keys that had fallen out of Erik's pocket. Somewhere along the way she hopped a fence and slid down a hill. Probably why the fence was there. Erik then insisted on stumbling me home, certain there was a gang out to get us. He did, and then I had to walk him back to the hotel, as he got himself horribly lost. I slept well.
It's ok though, Jayne was unhurt and we're all still friends.
Motorcycle minute short story
Jugs had sloppy steering and clunky suspension. It was worsening by the day.
Jugs with Klaus, the magic manager from Kawasaki Guatemala City.[/caption]
Took Jugs in to see Klaus and the Kawasaki family in Guatamala city. I had been told the guide bushings in the suspension were worn way back up in Alaska... 35000km ago. I needed a checkup. In typical Latin American style, the bike would always be ready "tomorrow". But they were doing me a huge favor and I didn't really need the bike at all, so I wasn't too worried. "Tomorrow" came after a little over a week. It cost me about 40$USD. And my suspension didn't need to be replaced or even have parts repaired. Only problem was a loose headset. Should get a socket for that. Anyways, thanks Klaus!!
I'll leave you all with advice from the bathroom wall. Take it or leave it:
I'll take it![/caption]
|06-27-2013, 06:37 PM||#15|
Guatemala Moto Guide
Joined: Jan 2013
Location: Westchester, NY
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