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Old 01-19-2014, 05:07 PM   #91
SnoWing
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Hey, how is it going? You still riding?
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Old 01-20-2014, 07:22 PM   #92
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SnoWing View Post
Hey, how is it going? You still riding?
Things are going well but my Spanish is coming along very slowly. I'm not riding at the moment. I've been staying in Antigua studying Spanish. Gaby (mentioned earlier in RR) came to see me for a few days so we rode the bike together to Lake Atitlan. Outside of that, I have been doing minimal riding. I'll probably stay in Antigua another 2-3 weeks and then continue on into El Salvador.
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Old 01-21-2014, 10:15 PM   #93
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We'll your not missing anything here except -30 - -40 degree windchills. I am really enjoying your report and am headed that way in 33 days.
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Old 01-28-2014, 06:34 PM   #94
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greeting from another Minnesotan. following your trip and it sounds like a blast. i hope you are careful. some of the places you are describing sound a little sketchy. but have fun and keep the ride reports coming!
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Old 02-02-2014, 12:32 PM   #95
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Getting out of SE Minnesota ( for a bit)

Really enjoyed reading your posts, checked out all your pics as well. I'm planning my trip soon in feb from Rochester Minnesota to the southwest. Been anxiously waiting for -0 weather to clear a little.
First real long adventure outta state, nervous and excited.
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Old 02-02-2014, 09:02 PM   #96
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I'm telling all the S.A. riding reports I can about our container in Ushuaia.

2 bikes in it right now and waiting to fill it with 2 or 3 or 4 more.

Ships to Long Beach California when it's full..feb/march/april?

$4500 for container total to be split evenly.

We have an agent in Ushuaia who handles everything for $280 per bike.

Just drop your bike off, no prep, no crate, even takes your luggage.
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Old 02-07-2014, 05:01 PM   #97
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Intro to the Homestay & a Visit from a Special Person

Well, it has been awhile since I posted an update. A lot has happened in the past four weeks. I stayed with a Guatemalan family through a homestay program offered by the Spanish school I was attending. The mother, Katya, at the homestay is a wonderful person. She has three children, of which two still live with her in the house. One is Carlos, who is 20 years old and is into motorcycles. The other is Sebastian, who is 6 years old and always wants me to look at stuff with him…Cody miras, Cody miras, as he points around and proceeds to tell me exactly what it is we are looking at together. This was helpful with my Spanish actually. There were other students staying in the homestay as well. At times there were 4 students plus Katya, Carlos, and Sebastian in the same house. I got along well with all the other students in the homestay, and two of them, Jack & Claudia, ended up staying for a full three weeks. Jack is from England and owns a mustache that just won’t quit & Claudia is from Germany who is one of the most direct people I have ever met…and I like it. I think it is pretty rare that you find a homestay with such a fantastic family coupled with a couple students studying several weeks at the same time that you really mesh well with. For four weeks, I studied Spanish for anywhere between 4-5 hours per day and we spoke only Spanish in the home. Of course, we would inevitably revert to English when we left the homestay to have a few beers or something, but nonetheless, we were all making effort to learn Spanish. I was happy overall with the school I attended and with my maestro. My maestro spoke no English, so I was forced to speak Spanish the full 4-5 hours per day. This is excruciatingly difficult and I was getting headaches towards the end of each day when I first started. I now understand many of the rules, tenses, and structure of the Spanish language. I just need to continue practicing and focusing on vocabulary expansion…two things much easier typed than done.

Gaby, who I met in Mexico City, came to visit me in Antigua after my second week and we spent several days together. During our first day together, we decided that we wanted to find Gaby a helmet so we could ride to Lake Atitlan for the weekend. I heard about this place Repuestos de Recoleccion that might have helmets, so in the afternoon we went on a scavenger hunt to find her a helmet. Walking into the motorcycle shop brought back memories of the old motorcycle shop I used to work in during my high school days. The music was 70’s hair band, the walls were old fake wood paneling, there were miscellaneous cycle parts hung haphazardly on the walls around the entire place, and it smelt like exhaust…my kind of place and it flooded me with memories of time passed more than a decade ago. Fortunately, they had one small helmet that fit Gaby fairly well. We figured it would be around $60 USD…nope, $15 USD. Nice, what buys you one drink in Miami buys you a helmet in Guatemala. So, after our little scavenger hunt, we went to the central market for some food. We were practicing Spanish together and I had a little mishap that was quite funny. During lunch, I attempted to ask Gaby if she wanted something to drink but instead I asked her if she wanted a baby…whoops. Hey, beber and bebe are very close so don’t be too hard on me. The look on Gaby’s face was priceless….she was like, you mean before lunch? Language can be pretty entertaining, especially when I’m the one doing the talking.

The following day, Gaby and I went up to the cross that overlooks Antigua on the bike. This was our first little ride together and she really enjoyed it. We also toured a coffee plantation. The property was well-manicured and just gorgeous. We arrived late for the tour, but a guide agreed to take us on a 1 hour private tour for half the price of the regular tour! Deal, sold. We got to see the equipment in action and learned more about the characteristics of good coffee plus had a free cup of exceptional Guatemalan coffee at the end of the tour. Later on in the evening, we met up with the guys & gals from the homestay for a drink. We called it an early night around 11:30 or so to get a good nights rest for a big day to the lake in the morning.

We were up early and packed up the bike as we prepared to venture to Lake Atitlan. I heard about a cut through road off the beaten path that might be kind of fun to check out on the way to the lake, so Gaby and I decided to go that route. What I didn’t realize is that we would end up having to cross a river on the bike. When we got to the river, I went through solo first and made it without issue…I was even cheered on by a couple of cyclists who happened to be in the same spot at the same time. Gaby was down for the crossing, so she hopped back on the bike and off we went through the river. We made it through without issue and stayed dry for the most part. We enjoyed the ride to Panahachel along the lake and parked the bike for the night there before jumping aboard the ferry to San Pedro. The ferry was full, but the guide said it was fine if we just sat in the front. What the guide didn’t tell us is that the water was rough and we would end up getting soaked in the front. So yeah, long story short -- we crossed a river on a motorcycle and stayed dry but couldn’t keep dry during a 30 minute boat ride. After arriving in San Pedro, we had a hell of a time finding the hostel. We walked all over the place and asked a few people where it was. To no avail, we decided to grab a tuk tuk who took us directly to the hostel for 10 Q (just over $1 USD). The hostel was named Hostel Miguel and had a nice rooftop complete with a hammock along with the best breakfast both Gaby and I ever had in a hotel or hostel. The couple who own the place are from Africa and they had a traditional African noodle dish for breakfast along with crepes…so good. We mistakenly thought it would take around 2 hours to ride around the lake, but it actually takes more than 4. Plus, we got lost going through some of the towns, so our ride back to Antigua kept us on the bike for about 8 hours straight. I desperately wanted to make it back to Antigua before dark for obvious reasons, so I cut out stops for photos, stops for breaks, a stop for lunch, and a fuel stop. Even after cutting all this, we just barely made it back to Antigua before dusk. Even after being on the bike that long, Gaby was still in good spirits and enjoyed the ride. She is one cool chica.

Our last day together was spent in Antigua. We took the bike up to the Tenedor restaurant property, which includes a bird sanctuary, a vista overlooking the city, a museum dedicated to Efrain Recinos, and the place the pope stayed during his visit back in 2002. We then made our way to a Thai restaurant and on to Sky Café where there is a nice little rooftop patio that overlooks the city. We reminisced about the great memories just created over the few special days we had together as we said our teary-eyed goodbyes. Gaby is a truly remarkable person, and no matter what our relationship ends up being, I feel so privileged to have the opportunity to know her. I’m already looking forward to the next time we meet.
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Old 02-07-2014, 05:05 PM   #98
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Antigua

Antigua is a touristy town where you are just as likely to cross paths with a tourist as you are a Guatemalan while walking around the city. Antigua is unique in that you have all these ruins scattered throughout the city that are great fun to just tour at random as you pass by. The city is filled with restaurants, cafes, and bars that cater to tourists. The streets are cobblestone and the town is an easily navigatable grid. Honestly, without studying Spanish, I think 3 days would be enough in Antigua to see the city and get a good feel for it.

Towards the end of my stay, I joined the students from the school for a night out to support children in Guatemala. The party was great fun, and one of the students who I get along with pretty well, Claude (his real name is Rob but we’ll keep calling him Claude), brought his Guatemalan “sister” from the homestay along with some of her friends. It was great fun…we drank, we danced, we drank, we talked, we drank until the place was closed and then proceeded to the afterbar. The afterbar was a little place with a backroom where there was music being played off a laptop and grown men dancing on the bar. It wasn’t really my thing but it was fun anyway. One of the students in our group was dared to pull down the trousers of one of the guys on the bar, and unexpectedly she proceeded to do it within 5 seconds of the dare. So, there he was…the full monte on top of the bar with at least 15 onlookers. By this time, it was around 3 or so and I was tired. It was my last day of Spanish school in the morning and I knew it was going to come early (by the way, I did take the school seriously. This was my only “school night” out in 4 weeks).
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Old 02-07-2014, 05:09 PM   #99
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Beaches, Beers, and Rashes in Monterrico

For the weekend during my third week at the homestay, I decided to head to the beach in Monterrico with Jack, Claudia, Claude, and a few others. It was a relaxing weekend and the Gallo beers on draught were going down easily. I had a bit too much to drink, but hey, I was at the beach so maybe that makes it OK. Anyway, we had a lot of fun playing billiards, shooting the breeze, and taking in the black sandy beach along with the crashing waves in the background. Unfortunately, during our stay Jack had some sort of reaction and ended up breaking out into a rash and he said breathing was becoming more difficult. There was no hospital nearby, so we found someone who put him on the back of a motorcycle to a pharmacy nearby where there was medication. The medication worked but it took all the wind out of Jack’s sail. Jack slept for more than 12 hours and we were all glad to see him return to his normal self by the end of our stay in Monterrico. I decided to take a walk on the beach by myself and as I was meandering along I came across a group of motorcycle riders who were part of a local Yamaha TT motorcycle gang. They were taking photos of the bikes along the beach and had a bit of trouble trying to get the bikes off the beach as more throttle equals deeper hole. I snapped a few photos then jumped in to help them push the bikes off the beach. Cool guys. Before leaving, I was walking around the town and happened to see our tourism van back into a store selling T-shirts and other souveniers. I watched as the t-shirts fell off the racks and the owner quickly came outside to see what all this was all about. Apparently, this happens somewhat frequently as the owner didn’t hesitate and simply placed all the t-shirts neatly back in place as the driver slowly put the van back in drive and continued on. The way of life here is just so so different…I’m still trying to understand and assimilate.
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Old 02-07-2014, 05:12 PM   #100
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Guatemala City or Guate as the Locals Call It

So, I don’t particularly like to generalize people or segregate people into categories. However, I have noticed there are two different types of travelers. There are travelers that avoid big cities like the plague and travelers who find big cities utterly fascinating. I’m of course the latter, so I absolutely had to see Guate for myself.

Guate is broken apart into different zones. It is nowhere near the size of Mexico City, but the difference is that I don’t have a detailed map for Guate in my GPS like I had for Mexico City. All I had was a detailed paper map. I started out on a Friday afternoon by heading to Zone 2 to tour the Gallo brewery. It wasn’t really a tour of the brewery but more a tour of a museum that is onsite. The museum was interesting and included dated equipment that was once in service many years ago. The tour was private and was given entirely in Spanish by a semi-retired man who thought I was bat-shit crazy for taking my motorcycle across the continent. He spoke very slowly for me and we had good conversation for about an hour and a half. I understood about 80 percent of what he said, which made me feel pretty good, and I was able to communicate some things, so this is certainly progress. After touring the brewery, I had to get to my hostel in zone 10, aka Zona Viva, for it’s nightlife. I thought I had the route all planned out but the road I had chosen simply took me near zone 10 before looping me back in the wrong direction. I quickly pulled over and thought I had figured an alternate route. So, I was on my way battling chicken buses, vehicles spewing blue and black smoke, small motorcycles incessantly honking, and pedestrians scurrying across where there is room. I found myself in zone 13 (hmmm not zone 10) and realized I had taken a wrong turn somewhere. I finally figured out where I had to go, and it took me about 2 hours to get to zone 10 (should take 15 minutes). So, before you say Cody can’t you follow directions, just remember that there are very few if any road signs at most intersections, two-ways that turn into one-ways, confusing interchanges, bus-only lanes, plus there are constant dangers to avoid, so your attention is diverted quickly from your route to whatever is directly in front of you. Navigating large cities via moto in Latin America is hard…period. To make things a bit worse, there was a very small sign for the hostel, so I had to loop around 3 times before a guy working at the hostel noticed me and waved me over. Whew, tough work. I was ready for a beer.

On Saturday morning, I met up with Julio, who lives in Antigua and was introduced to me by Heather, who was staying with me at the same homestay. Heather also joined us as we made our way to the city center to see 40,000 motorcycles take off during the annual Caravana del Zorro. This ride is sort of a religious ceremony where Guatemalans leave from the city center and ride to the border of Honduras. There were all sorts of bikes there and it was really something to see. Families were packed on motorcycles (father, wife, 2 kids, 1 200 cc motorcycle). There were little 50 cc bikes up to the large Harley Davidson bikes you find commonly in the states. The President of Guatemala leads the ride and was present while I was in the city center. A young Guatemalan guy came over and started talking with me as my gringo self must have appeared interesting amongst a group of 40,000 Guatemalans. We talked for awhile but he was completely smashed and wreaked of alcohol. By the way, this was about 8 in the morning. I’m guessing he was out all night and just didn’t sleep but who knows. After seeing all the bikes leave, which took about 2 hours, I walked through the central market where everything from food to textiles was being sold. I then walked down sixth avenue, which is blocked off to pedestrians and is lined with restaurants and stores (primarily clothing). I grabbed food at a Chinese restaurant, which made me sick later on in the day but nothing a little pepto bismal and a few trips to the toilet didn’t take care of.
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Old 02-07-2014, 05:16 PM   #101
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What Can I Get for $4 in Guate?

Later that night there was dinner at the hostel but I decided against it to instead explore Zone 10. I went bar hopping and landed at a place called The Box that several had recommended to me for house music. Julio’s son, Julio, came out and met me for a drink along with a few of his friends, so it was cool. Julio wasn’t down with the vibe or the music so much, so they bounced but I was really enjoying it. The music was driving four on the floor house with the crowd eating it up. The place was small but there was still enough space to move around a bit on the dance floor. I made some new friends that were living in Guate and by the time the place closed they invited me to join them at an after party. They drove and I rode in the backseat as I fumbled around with my Spanish eventually reverting to English (their English > my Spanish). We got to the place and it was a 40 Q cover charge with a free drink, which is pretty cheap. They decided they didn’t want to pay, but I was down and it was only 5 blocks from my hostel. They departed as I made my way inside behind heavily insulated walls to keep the sound in. The feel of the place was quite good and all the folks inside were there for the music and nothing more. An excellent crowd and a pretty decent set from a local DJ. The place was by no means crowded but there were enough people there where it was great fun. I was the only tourist in the place. The place closed at 3:30 and I was still looking to go out. I was invited to go with a couple Guatemalan guys who were “going to find girls”. I’m not sure if that means paying for girls or something else, but in any case, I wasn’t down for it. I decided to call it a night and one of the guys I got to know said he would walk me back to my hostel. On the way back, he decided to roll a joint and a Guatemalan Policeman happened to see him doing it. Great. The Officer searched him and found nothing more than the one joint he had on him. The Officer was respectful toward me and politely asked if I would empty my pockets, which I quickly obliged. Finding nothing on me, the Officer was only concerned with my new buddy and was threatening to put him in jail. I carried little money on me and offered up 30 Q (about $4 USD). The Officer accepted and we were on our way. So yes, in this instance, $4 USD bought my buddy his way out of a drug offense. BTW, I don’t condone this but it was the best end to a potentially bad situation. So yeah, it seemed innocent enough that my new buddy wanted to walk me back to my hostel, which would typically be a good thing at night in a big city in Latin America, but in this case was something I could have done without. Interesting story if nothing else, but one I don’t care to repeat.
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Old 02-07-2014, 05:22 PM   #102
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Guate Round 2

One of the guys working at the hostel offered up a spare bicycle to me that was made back in the 70’s. We both rode our bicycles to a local coffee shop where we had some of the best coffee I’ve ever had locally grown and brewed in Guatemala. The following day he was nice enough to let me continue using the bicycle, so I explored zone 10 and ventured over to zone 12 where I toured the USAC university campus. USAC is the public university and the campus is really something to see. Many of the buildings have graffiti that include figures with the likes of Che Guevara and some really out there designs and drawings. There were a dozen or so easy up tents with books being sold for classes being taught on campus. It was fun to sit around campus having a coffee and watching all the students go about their days; studying, playing ping pong, conversing, laughing. It brought back many good memories of college and in the moment I was longing to relive my college days. I was the only tourist there. I am loving these places that other tourists seem to have little or no interest in seeing or exploring. This is the real Guate, and I’m taking great pleasure in seeing how folks young and old live their lives in modern-day Guate. I finished my day avoiding traffic as I got strange looks from locals as I threaded through the city on a bicycle made before I was born. I cycled all over zone 10 and landed on a place at happy hour with a nice patio on the second level. I was the only customer there, so I struck up a Spanish conversation with the waitress. She was 24, lived with her parents, and had one child of her own. She was working more than 40 hours per week at the restaurant and took public bus transit to and from zone 5 each day. The more people I meet and the more I see how we are all destroying the environment are calling me to give back in some way. Education for women and family planning in Guatemala are critical issues that need to be addressed. The government and religion here are not doing the country and its people any favors. I heard about an organization that places people in the right volunteer positions. I’m thinking I will give this a go sometime soon. As they say in Spanish, I have the ganas to volunteer in an organization with a mission I believe in. Bye Guate, I may never see you again, but it was fun while it lasted.
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Old 02-07-2014, 05:26 PM   #103
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Semuc Champey Attempt 2

I left Guatemala City somewhat early in the morning after saying goodbye to a couple guys from the UK who were traveling by motorcycle down to Panama. These guys were too funny. Good dudes. Everything was totally last minute. They bought bikes (1 a 750 cc cruiser and the other a 200 cc motard) and were planning on riding together the whole way. I helped one of the guys adjust his idle on the bike and we shot the breeze at the hostel. They also bought a last minute automotive GPS online and had it delivered to the hostel using only the suction device to secure it to the windscreen. I’m interested to see what these guys end up getting into. There will be stories for sure. I am starting to know the city and was able to leave successfully without getting lost and without a detailed GPS map. I was able to make it to Lanquin, which is 10 km outside of Semuc Champey. I got all checked in to my hostel and had a couple beers before bed. In the morning, I took the tour of Semuc Champey where me and 12 others crammed into the bed of a truck as we made our way up and down left and right for 10 long km to Semuc Champey. We started the tour going through a cave that was extremely slick. I think I fell at least 5 times. As we were walking through, I was thinking wow this seems dangerous as we went further and further into the cave. Sure enough, on the way out a guy lost his grip trying to descend down a vertical wall using a rope and ended up breaking his ankle. I helped carry him part of the way out of the cave and he remained calm through the whole ordeal. He is a tough dude. I’m not sure exactly where they took him but I’m guessing it was Coban. I just hope there is a hospital there that can give him the medical attention he needs. So yeah, after that the whole group slowed WAY down…slow and steady wins the race. There are no barriers, safety nets, or equipment to keep you safe here. After departing the cave, we went tubing down the river and had a quick lunch. After this, we hiked more than 1 km to mirador, which is where we all took the obligatory Semuc Champey photo. After descending, we then jumped into the water, which was a moderate temperature for the last 2 hours of the trip. Semuc Champey is an incredible place with the land kept undeveloped. In the water, the fish nibble at your legs as they eat the dead skin cells from your body and you can see through the clear turquoise water the colorful fish that swim just around you. This place is definitely worth the visit and I’m glad I came. The hostel I’m staying at is reasonably priced, has exceptional food, a beautiful spot next to the river, and lots of good folks to keep me company. I think I’ll stay a few days before making my way to Honduras to meet up with a friend from the states in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. That’s all for now…cheers!
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Old 02-08-2014, 06:59 AM   #104
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Question Terrific memories

Wow....I do love reading about what you have been up to, where you have been, and where you are going. I still worry about your safety....Sounds like you are having the time of your life...and we are glad that you are. Glad you made it through the slippery slope..That could have been really bad if more than one person happened to fall and get hurt. wow what would they do? Have fun with your buddy in Honduras. Wish we could come see you...Maybe sometime in future.
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Old 02-08-2014, 08:07 AM   #105
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what a trip!

Love the updates! ....so living vicariously through them :) I hope you make a book (or movie) out of your blog.

If your headed through the SF Bay Area on your way back look me up!
BRAVO!
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