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Old 12-30-2013, 02:52 PM   #76
cmkaduce OP
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Originally Posted by dzone View Post
So How is your Spanish coming? After the one month total immersion course?
Spanish is still no bueno. It's so fast Bill...even the most common sentences are tough to breakdown to where I can sort them out. I can ask for basic things and pick up on some of what people are saying but not much. I've signed up for 2 weeks of 1:1 Spanish starting 1/6 in Antigua, Guatemala along with homestay. As long as things are progressing, I will more than likely sign up for another 2-4 weeks after. They say 6 months immersion to be fluent if you have no prior experience with any of the romantic languages....and that would be me.
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Old 12-30-2013, 06:34 PM   #77
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Thumb Keep the reports coming

We love reading about where you have been, where you are going, and who you have met along the way. Hope you are having a good time. Don't forget to email and call.... Hope you are able to bring in the new year with an old friend or a new one. Cheers Cool mom will be thinking about you.
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Old 01-04-2014, 11:01 AM   #78
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Oaxaca

Oaxaca is where I spent my Christmas this year. I found a nice little table on the Zocalo where I ordered my Bohemia Obscura and enjoyed people watching for awhile. The place also had WiFi, so I was able to Skype home to wish my parents, brother, and his girlfriend a Merry Christmas and turn my phone around so they could see some of the action. What action? Letís see, there was a parade with floats displaying various biblical stories, fireworks, and a street salsa dance complete with a live band. Unlike the quiet Christmas nights Iím used to, it would seem as though everyone in Mexico is out on the town Christmas night. I ended up striking up a conversation with a woman, Caroleana (probably misspelled) , who was traveling by herself from Shanghai, China. She was born in Canada and looks it , so when she told me China I was surprised. We ended up keeping each other company and went to a bar where there was some live music playing. We shared a few laughs, talked about traveling, and I was again humbled by how much traveling she had done and the experiences she had. I walked her back to her hotel. After this, I happened across an old building with steel fold-down shutters rumbling to the sound of whatever was happening inside on my way back to my hostel. No signage, no people hanging around an entryway, just the vibration of the shutters. I decided to give it a look and could not even find the entrance. Fortunately for me, a girl was walking outside just as I was making my way around the building. A bouncer inside waved me in and gave me the pat down. Upon entering, the dťcor was really unique. One wall was filled with records from American bands from the 80ísÖfrom Michael Jackson to Stevie Nicks. Another wall had Christ depicted on the cross (not sure if this would be considered blasphemy but itís interesting none the less). The DJ wasnít doing much as the handy-dandy sync button was doing the work, but it was cool that he had the videos to go along with the tracks he played. The videos were fed through a large projector directly on the back wall connected to the elevated dance floor. Tracks were solid 80ís & 90ís with newer rap & pop songs intermixed. Man, I miss when MTV was MTV. So, after one Corona I was ready to move along back to my hostel. The following night, Caroleana and I had dinner at a Chinese restaurant near the supermarket and then proceeded to walk up and down the aisles of the supermarket, which in itself can be entertaining. We then stopped by a local market so I could buy a little Mezcal to take with me to Chiapas in the morning. I honestly didnít like Mezcal at first, but Iíll have to say it is growing on me. I still prefer tequila, but Iím starting to acquire the tasteÖ
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Old 01-04-2014, 11:05 AM   #79
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Chiapas

I left early in the morning with plans to make it to Tuxtla Guittierez taking the free road the whole way. What a blast this road was to ride! There were switchbacks, cambered corners, decreasing radius turns, and the pavement was actually quite nice. I liked it so much I got a little too into the zone and ended up dragging my hard cases a few timesÖwhoops. The highlight of Tuxtla was Canon del Sumidero. A river runs directly through the canyon, so many people end up buying a ticket on a boat to see the canyon from the river. I opted to stay with the on land route, which is a park you can pay to ride through and features several nice vistas for photo opportunities. I have to snicker a bit when I see these tour buses (that travel 5 mph) pull up and boatloads of people get out like itís some kind of clown car. That just doesnít look fun. Iím so glad I have a motorcycle. I arrived back at the hostel and started chatting with a young guy from Mexico who is traveling to Tuxtla on holiday. He invited me to go out (and I really wanted to), but I hadnít been feeling the best and decided to stay in. Some of these head colds just seem to linger with you for days, ugh.

Leaving Tuxtla still not feeling the best, I was on my way to San Cristobal. I again avoided the toll road and was treated to some beautiful countryside views as I got into some elevation. I could see peopleís homes scattered across the landscape with many of them looking like nothing more than a shack or shanty. From the looks, Iím betting most have nothing more than dirt floors and itís doubtful that very many have modern plumbing. I stopped in at a little place serving up rotisserie chicken and had to fumble around with my Spanish-English dictionary to ask for a fork. I sat and ate my chicken as young kids on bikes passed by and a little girl with big brown eyes stared at me like I was something out of a bad Hollywood film.

San Cristobal is another charming city and to me feels very similar to Oaxaca. The textile goods sold in markets have different designs, but the town itself has a similar feel. There is a gazebo in the Zocalo and many of the streets are built with stone (and no they are not fun to ride motorcycle on). There is always something happening around the Zocalo. I happened to be in San Cristobal for the 20th anniversary of the Zapatistas revolution back in 1994. I knew nothing about this up until speaking with Angel, who was staying at the hostel, and gave me the low down. I rang in the new year with Alberto, another guy from the hostel, who is from Merida, Mexico. Funny thing we met because I was snoring loudly in the dorm and he made sure to give me some shit about it ...been friends ever since. We went to a club around 11 but they said they didnít open until 12(??). OK. We ended up buying discounted tickets from some girls that were hanging around outside trying to get rid of them. Their story was that they got really drunk the night before and their father was so upset they were told they couldnít go out on NYEÖnot sure I buy this thoughÖespecially since Alberto saw them trashed again later that night. Not sure why they wanted to get rid of the tickets. Maybe just needed cash. So, since Alberto and I had an hour to kill, we tried stopping to grab food but every place we stopped at was booked solid. We eventually found a place with two open seats at a table across from an Australian couple. We ended up talking with the Australian couple and celebrated the new year at the restaurant. From there, we made our way back to the nightclub with a bottle of tequila in hand. The nightclubs charge a cover but they allow you to bring in one bottle, so after the cover, you are just buying water all night. The place was dead around 12:30, but the streets outside had lots of action. We hung around outside and saw the Australian couple out again. We had a few beers and danced a bit, and I lost Alberto in the process Öpretty easy to do after drinking and muchos personas everywhere. I ended up heading back into the nightclub to feel out the vibe and hear the music. It wasnít my forte so I decided to call itÖbut it was still after 6 when I left with no signs of letting up. Jeez time flies here.

I had the pleasure of meeting a fellow motorcyclist, Sergio, in the Zocalo as he arrived on his CBR 600. He doesnít speak much English, and well, we know about my Spanish already. Letís just say cold beers, Google translate, and my Spanish-English dictionary came in handy. After checking out of my hostel, Sergio had said he wanted to ride me out of town to Comitan. He and I rode together and had some good tacos in Comitan before splitting off. Seeing him on his CBR makes me miss my GSXR so badly. The KLR is versatile but is dreadfully slow.

I made it close to the border in Ciudad Cuahtemoc where I took care of Mexican immigration & customs. It was pretty uneventful and took about 1.5 hours, of which most of the time was spent waiting in line. Iíll be checking my credit card statement to be sure I get my $400 USD deposit back. It was after 4:00 by the time all the paperwork was sorted, so I decided to splurge on a $16 USD hotel room across the street from immigration. A little girl was working in the restaurant attached to the hotel and took my order. I asked her cuantos anos tienes. She said she was 16. I asked if she went to school and she said no. I asked por que and her answer broke my heart. ďMi familia no tenemos dinero por escuelaĒ. There is public education in Mexico but Gaby explained to me that the families must provide all the materials, and in many cases, the families rely on the children to help run a local business. The sad result is of course that education is far from a high priority in many rural areas.
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cmkaduce screwed with this post 01-04-2014 at 11:13 AM Reason: Not done editing before posting by accident
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Old 01-04-2014, 11:24 AM   #80
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No Insurance, No Problem -- and then an Accident

I had to check into Guatemala in the morning. Arriving at the border, I had to pay to get my bike sprayed down. For what, I have no idea. I suppose just another tax of sorts. Getting myself and my bike checked into Guatemala was easy and took about an hour. By the way, the stamp I received was 90 days for Guatemala alone. I heard from several people that the stamp covers several countries in Central America, but the clerk at the border explained very clearly that the 90 days is Guatemala alone (solo Guatemala!). I then tried to buy insurance and he told me that insurance is optional. This didnít seem right to me, but I received confirmation that insurance is not required in Guatemala. I also had to find a money exchange and after doing a little research found that the closest was in Guatemala City to exchange pesos for quetzals. Well, Iím not making a trip to Guatemala City to exchange money so I took the rate at the border from a very unofficial looking Guatemalan carrying a wad of currency (USD, quetzals, pesos, who knows what else). The rate he quoted me wasnít terrible and I figure it costs me about $6 USD extra, which was well worth it. Leaving immigration, I got to ride through streets that were lined with activity from businesses, to street markets, to city buses spewing black smoke, to tour buses, to tuk-tuks (3-wheeled taxis), to scooters, to pedestrians, to stray dogs all trying to make something happen or get somewhere in a hurry. Very reminiscent of riding through Mexico City only this place is much, much poorer. Continuing my ride toward Antigua, I am treated to stunning views of the mountainous region in Guatemala as I carve through some incredibly fun and twisty sections of pavement. It is fun to go fast, but in Guatemala there is just way too much stuff to avoid. There is stray cattle, wild horses, stray dogs, stopped vehicles being worked on in the middle of the road, chunks of pavement missing, etc. Its somewhat like an obstacle course. About 40 miles outside of Antigua, I had to ride through a congested little town where traffic was at a standstill. Waiting at the light, I was rear-ended by a guy in a compact truck that wasnít paying attention. Fortunately, he didnít hit me very fast and I was able to react quickly enough to save the motorcycle from going over. I was pretty pissed and his nonchalant esta bien attitude wasnít helping. I told him to pull the **** over, and whether he understood what I said or not doesnít matter, he got the jist and promptly pulled off to the side of the road so I could inspect the bike while he waited. He hit the top case of the bike, so I inspected the case, the sub frame, the rear tire, the swing arm, and then made sure my electronics (stashed in the top case) still worked. I calmed myself and told him it was fine. In any case, the bike seems OK and my back hurts a little from the jolt but Iím sure Iíll survive. I coached for 4 years doing track days in the US at tracks where speeds reached +170 mph. Guatemala is more dangerous than this and Iím truly afraid of riding here. There is a complete lack of regard for others on the roadway and no one seems to be paying attention. I see motorcyclists riding around without helmets sending text messages hereÖwhile riding! Again, I must question my decision to travel in Latin America after something like this happens. Remember this was day 1 in Guatemala. Iím truly shaken up by it and after 200,000+ miles on motorcycles, I think Iíve found the one place I donít enjoy riding a motorcycle.

Arriving in Antigua, I found my way to the school with a very limited map. I met the host mom who is very nice and shows me to my room, which will be my home for awhile. I follow the school ownerís son to the parking garage for the bike and I get to ride bitch on a 150cc bike close to a mile from the parking lot back to the school. Iíve signed up for two weeks of Spanish classes starting on Monday, 1/6. Antigua seems like it will be a fun town to explore, and Iíve met a cool dude from Taiwan who is staying with the same host family here. Iím sure Iíll make it to Guatemala City at least one weekend, but for the first time in my life, Iím not looking forward to the ride there. Missing my Estados Unidos.
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Old 01-04-2014, 02:49 PM   #81
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Great report

I am all caught up and subscribed, carry on!
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Old 01-04-2014, 03:11 PM   #82
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Dang Cody! Glad you are ok dude! Sorry that you're not feeling the riding there, but hopefully once you spend a few days there you will figure out where/when to go to feel more confident.

Eddie is from Guatemala, so if you have any questions I'm sure he'd be a good resource to talk to! Let me know if you want me to get you in touch with him!
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Old 01-04-2014, 04:42 PM   #83
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Dang Cody! Glad you are ok dude! Sorry that you're not feeling the riding there, but hopefully once you spend a few days there you will figure out where/when to go to feel more confident.

Eddie is from Guatemala, so if you have any questions I'm sure he'd be a good resource to talk to! Let me know if you want me to get you in touch with him!
Thanks Tiff. Sure, if you want to shoot me his contact info, I may reach out to him for some advice before venturing into Guatemala City.
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Old 01-05-2014, 01:02 PM   #84
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Enjoying the trip so far!! Good luck on the Spanish. One thing I thought I would add is that Guatemala city and pretty much every capital city from now on are nothing like Mexico City. They're godforsaken hell holes and I wouldn't recommend hanging out unless really need to shop for something


Go check them out anyways, experience everything while you're there
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Old 01-06-2014, 08:45 AM   #85
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Cody,
Have you visited with CATours yet?

if you need any help or tips with anything let me know.
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Old 01-06-2014, 03:06 PM   #86
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Cody,
Have you visited with CATours yet?

if you need any help or tips with anything let me know.
No, but I will and thanks for offering the help!
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Old 01-06-2014, 03:33 PM   #87
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Down in Mexico

A video with some of my favorite photos from Mexico.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gkTQTaHpjzY
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Old 01-09-2014, 09:19 AM   #88
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Glad you are ok after that incident. Your probably way more safe on your bike than most people with your experience. But be careful anyway.
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Old 01-10-2014, 09:08 AM   #89
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any updates? what's the name of the school where you are?
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Old 01-10-2014, 10:19 PM   #90
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any updates? what's the name of the school where you are?
I stopped by CATours and had a couple beers with the guys. Thanks for the recommendation. It was a great time and they are really nice people. They told me about some good spots around the area to check out and I went to one of them on the bike today. I'm studying at Antiguena Spanish Academy and they also facilitate the homestay. One of the guys in the homestay is leaving next week, so I'm sure tomorrow will be filled with drinks and good times. Other than that, just trying to digest as much Spanish as possible.
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