Day 99 – Rio Dulce, GU to Acajutla, ES

Day 99 – Rio Dulce, GU to Acajutla, ES     11/28/10     Mileage: 129

Brian I were on the bikes by 9:30 for the run from Rio Dulce to the El Salvador border. We wanted to get there well before nightfall to leave ourselves plenty of time to do the notorious border paper shuffle. Despite a fair amount of rain, the ride to the border was uneventful and we were there by 1:30pm. The first step was to cancel our Guatemala import permits for the bikes, followed by getting ourselves stamped out of Guatemala by immigration.

The El Salvador border crossing.

It was all very straight forward and they even made copies of documents for the El Salvador side of the border for free without us even asking! That was a far cry from some of the horror stories I’ve read on ADV Rider (website). As we were crossing, a fellow started talking to us and “helping” to steer us in the right direction. Sometimes unsolicited help is good, and sometimes it’s not…and I couldn’t figure which bucket to put this guy in. He pointed us to the right office to start the El Salvador border process, yet wanted a copy of our canceled Guatemala bike import permit…which we were told he definitely did not need by the people in the office. We’ll never know in the end, because as soon as we had our El Salvador bike importation permits and stamps in our passports, we split. All in all, it took an hour and half of paperwork, but was easy and didn’t cost a dime. Bienvenudos a El Slavador…country number 6 on my trip so far! Even though it looked much like Guatemala, it felt in some ways different…it’s funny how a line on the map does that. Our goal was to reach the coastal town of Acajutla and perhaps find a decent hotel on the beach. The ride down to the coast was good and had a real nice twisty section that went on for 30 or so miles. We arrived in Acajutla around 5pm and it was kind of a shithole. Undeterred, we headed towards the beach in search of a hotel. We pulled into the first prospect which Brian went to look at while I watched the bikes. His face said it all when he came back, to which he added…”Call me old fashioned, but I do prefer a toilet seat on my toilet.” It was only $10, but a man has to have his standards. The next stop looked more promising, as it was 50% more expensive at $15 and the outside looked clean enough. It was getting dark and our expectations, while already very low by US standards, were minimal. It was just not meant to be however. We looked at the first room and it was a complete sespool…the sheets looked like they haven’t been changed…ever. The toilet, while fitted with a seat, wasn’t worthy of a stall in the men’s room at the old Veterans Stadium during an Eagles game just after halftime. This is quite a feat, given that the shower head (cold only of course) comes out of the ceiling directly above the toilet…yes folks…no shower stall…you have to straddle the toilet while showering. Then there is of course the floor, which defies explanation as to how a shower stall sized room with what is in effect an overhead sprinkler could accumulate such filth. Brian and I at least had a good laugh before we declined and opted to press on with the search in the dark. Fortunately, I remembered passing a hotel next to a truck repair shop a few miles back, so we pointed the bikes back to the highway. We arrived and although it was expensive ($31) for what it was, we were tired and there were quite literally no other options… So we took two rooms and called it a night.

PS: Sorry for the lack of pictures today! I can’t believe I didn’t take a picture of the hotel rooms…damn!

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Day 98 – Rio Dulce, GU

Day 98 – Rio Dulce, GU     11/27/10     Mileage: 0

Today Brian and I booked a launch to the town of Livingston which is not accessible by road. It was quite expensive and took up most of the day, but it included a tour of the area as well and we heard it was worthwhile.

The first stop was an small old colonial era Spanish fort which was neat to see from the water just as the pirates for whom the fort was built to defend against would have seen it.

Some local fisherman in dugout canoes

Next we stopped to view some islands where many water birds were nesting, after which we came into a small cove where young girls in dugout canoes paddled up to our launch selling local crafts.

The crafts were OK, but the young girls were adorable. We docked at Livingston and took a walk down the main street.

Livingston, GU

There are manhole and sewer covers missing not just in Livingston, but all over Guatemala. Replacements seem to be in short supply, so in this case the locals stuck a phone booth in the manhole to keep people from falling in!

Both Brian and I were kind of unimpressed with the town honestly, but it was good for a stroll and lunch. It would have been fine were in not for the fact that it cost 200 quetzals and 3 hours to get there from Rio Dulce! So, after lunch it was back to the launch for the ride back which thankfully was a straight shot. After that it was a shower, dinner, some route planning and off to bed for an early night as tomorrow we had a long day planned which would take us to yet another country…El Salvador!

Day 97 – Flores, GU to Rio Dulce, GU

Day 97 – Flores, GU to Rio Dulce, GU     11/26/10     Mileage: 129

Today was a short day in the saddle from Flores and Brian and I were in Rio Dulce in just over 2 hours.

Cool Beans….my favorite morning coffee and wifi spot

One last shot of Flores, GU

The road surface was the best I’ve ridden in Guatemala and was quite literally the only riding day where my tires didn’t touch dirt. We also bumped into 2 more riders on KLR’s who were heading north towards Belize from Costa Rica. In Rio Dulce we parked ourselves at Bruno’s Hotel and Marina which caters mostly to glob trotting sailors.

The pool at Bruno’s Marina

Chillin at Bruno’s

What I didn’t realize is that Rio Dulce also has a large number of wealthy expat sailors (and power boaters) that live down here either part time or full time. There are hundreds of very large sailboats and yachts in the area, some moored in front of what I guess are second homes. There are also transient sailors as well as some that just come down to escape the winter up north. I definitely caught (or rekindled) a bit of the sailing bug. Maybe that will be the next endeavor!

The main street in Rio Dulce

The “shoe store” in Rio Dulce….it’s no Jimmy Choo boutique!

The Yamaha dealer in Rio Dulce.

“Brilliant Riding”….I’m not so sure given that the bike is only a 125cc!

The view from the bridge over the river

Sunset over Rio Dulce

Day 96 – Caye Caulker, BZ to Flores, GU

Day 96 – Caye Caulker, BZ to Flores, GU     11/25/10     Mileage: 0 (riding)  3 hours on a chicken bus.

I was up early for breakfast and on the first water taxi off the caye at 8:30. The ride back to Belize City was nice and there were several cruise ships anchored just offshore…thankfully they do not go to Caye Caulker or the place would be ruined. I caught the first chicken bus back to San Ignacio and It was a spine powdering 3 hour ride as the suspension on the bus was completely shot. I actually sat leaned to one side so as not to send the shock from every bump straight up my spine. Back in San Ignacio I met up with Brian, packed up the KLR and we split back towards Guatemala. At the border we met two fellow ADV’ers (a website called Adventure Rider that I also post to) also riding KLR’s. We exchanged information as they are heading south as well, so perhaps we may catch up again down the road.

3 KLR’s and one lone BMW at the Guatemala / Belize border…

After crossing back into Guatemala, we rode back to Flores and found rooms for the night. That night we met Evan who is from Alberta, Canada and also riding an ’09 KLR just like mine. It was like a bloody KLR convention down here today! He joined us for dinner and we all swapped stories and lies from the road. I wasn’t able to find turkey and stuffing, and my dinner companions were from Canada and England, but I sure do have a lot to be thankful for, so it was a great Thanksgiving dinner none the less!

Day 92 – Tikal, GU to San Ignacio, BZ

Day 92 – Tikal, GU to San Ignacio, BZ     11/21/10     Mileage: 64

 It was absolutely pouring overnight, so much so that it woke me up a few times and that almost never happens. I got up at 6am and it was still raining, but luckily by the time the tour started at 6:30 it had stopped. The tour of the Tikal ruins was great and I’m glad I sprung for the guide. I’ll let the pictures do the talking…

This mound is what the structures look like before restoration….completly covered by the earth and jungle.

The tops of the temples visible above the jungle canopy.

These cute little guys are everywhere…called a coatimundi.

Here’s a shy howler monkey….couldn’t get a good shot.

The tour was over by 11 and after packing up the bike I was off to meet Brian on the road to Belize.

Brian from England and his BMW F650

The Guatemala \ Belize border…it was a snap and took only an hour total.

The bikes at the border…

We rode together across the Belize border to San Ignacio and found rooms at a hotel in town. After settling in we went out for dinner and a few beers.

“Main St.” in San Ignacio, Belize

Getting a beer at Flayva’s

I personally got offered pot and/or coke 3 separate times that night, but of course declined…I already had plenty…  😉   It was also weird to be back in an english speaking country after almost 7 weeks in Mexico and Guatemala, I kept saying gracias instead of thank you!

Day 91 – Flores, GU to Tikal, GU

Day 91 – Flores, GU to Tikal, GU 11/20/10 Mileage: 42

Brian and I met for breakfast and we discussed the possible routes going south. I also spent several hours getting somewhat caught up on the blog while I had an OK internet connection. In the afternoon I packed up the bike and left for Tikal which was only a little over an hour away. I got a room at the famous Jaguar Inn right at the entrance to the Tikal ruins. I also signed up for a 4 hour guided tour for the following morning as I heard it was well worth it. I had dinner at the Jaguar and used the wifi for a bit, but turned in early as the tour starts at 6:30am and I wanted to get a good nights sleep.

I totally goofed in not getting any pictures of the Jaguar, so here’s some pics from their website.

Day 90 – Sebol, GU to Flores, GU

Day 90 – Sebol, GU to Flores, GU 11/19/10 Mileage: 122

It was pissing rain when I woke up and didn’t look like it was going to stop anytime soon. After a failed attempt to find breakfast, I packed up the bike and split. The road out of town was under construction and further complicated by a cattle herd being driven down what there was of the road by 3 Guatemalan cowboys. I sat there clutch ahead in first gear in the pouring rain but there was nothing I could do about it.

After the beef blockage cleared, I spun the KLR up to speed and hoped the rain would let up. No such luck with the rain but the dirt finally gave way to pavement and I was able to up the pace and at least eventually end the misery a bit sooner. The rain let up and even stopped for a bit and I was able to even enjoy some nice rolling hills for a bit, but it didn’t last long. I stopped off at a roadside tienda to scrounge up a bite to eat, but that proved to be a bit of a task. It was completely disheveled and disorganized, but I did manage to find tortilla chips hiding under some light bulbs and a small pack of vanilla wafers. The orange juice was 2 days out of date, but beggars can’t be choosers…and at least my grocery total was only 3 quetzals, or around 35 cents. Stomach satiated if not full, I pressed on in the rain. In Sayaxche, I had to take a ferry across the Rio de la Pasion which made for some good photos.

Queuing up for the ferryOn the ferry…The ferry carrying a semi truck back across the river…

Once across the river I could almost see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel, but mother nature had one more punch to throw. The rain began to fall with a tropical vengeance and I had to back off the pace. It was a total frog drowner and this went on for 20 minutes before the KLR had enough and quit firing. Luckily it was right in front of a gas station, so I pushed her the last few feet under the gas pump shelter. The reason was obvious…water had worked its way into the ignition somewhere, so I figured I’d let it sit for a bit while I got a snack next door. After 20 minutes I returned and she fired up after a little persuasion. By this time the rain had died down to a mere downpour so I continued. The last 12 miles into Flores (the way the GPS took me at least) were dirt, or more precisely a muddy morass. I finally pulled into town and me and the KLR were soaked to the bone and covered with mud. After settling into a hotel room and leaving a message for Brian, a rider from England that I was meeting up with, I went out to find a proper meal and to walk around town.

View from the roof top patio of my hotel in Flores, GU

Flores, GU

 

Back at the hotel I met up with Brian and we went out for dinner and a few drinks. He started out 5 months ago from Anchorage, AK on his BMW F650 and had virtually the same plan as me…to ride from Deadhorse to the tip of Argentina. He’s had a few setbacks, but is still pressing forward with his trip in true British fashion. As we’re both heading the same way, we talked about riding together for a bit which will definitely be a change, so we’ll see how that goes.