Saturday, December 25, 2010


December 19th
I left Belize a little late and headed towards the Guatemala border. It was fast to officialy get myself out of Belize, then got a fumigation for the bike. To get myseld in Guatemala was not so fast. At immigration the official was taking the others people passeports while watching a soccer game on the flat screen tv behind him, just stamping the passeport whitout even looking at the persons. At me he asked for $20 Quetzals dollars as entry fee, just for me and nobody else... I should have paid him if it would have make it faster to process me. The copy machine was broken so I had to take a cab ride in town to a copy machine, get copies of passeport, stamps, vehicule registration and title, etc and come back, then they took almost an hour to fill out a piece of paper, no kidding, then you go pay at the bank, they stamp your paper, you come back, then they look busy for another 30 minutes before you're allowed in the country. It wasn't hard or bad, just time consumming. It's amazing to see how unefficient are all the steps are,  involving copies, stamps, copies of the stamps, come, go, come back, dry your teeth, wait...

The building where I've spent about over an hour.
After entering Guatemala, I drove past Tikal and decided I won't be stopping, enough ruins for this week, will wait a little before seeing more. Then I ask my gps to get me towards Coban, before going to Guatemala City, but the gps got me tru the little side road instead of the highway. It was dirt and looked like that. No as fast but well what can you do? 
and then there was a river to cross, and no bridge of course, instead a ferry like that. I guess it's more of an adventure than just a highway.
The ferry was powered by this little engine. 
And just past the ferry, got another flat, actually the tube kinda exploded for some reason, again. I was just in front of a house past the village of Sayaxche. I asked the family sitting outside if I could use their yard for a moment. The young guys helped me get the tube out and offered me to go in the village and get a tube for me. I gave them some money and they went on their motorcycle. The old lady gave me a drink and a chair. About 30 minutes later the guys come back with a 17" tube, I don't trust 21" no more... The tube was way too small, look like it goes in one of those small 125 cc bikes commonly used around here. Guatemala city is not that far, hopefuly it'll last til there. 
Since it was almost dark and had no time to drive any further, had to sleep in that village. I gas up before finding hotel, so it's done for the next day and took this picture. It's funny how you see that very often on the road; pickup truck overloaded with people on the back, and driving slow on the highway.
They fit as many people as possible as you can see. 
and got a dirt cheap hotel, $50 Quetzals, and had this funny picture on my wall over the bed.
It would make a nice T-Shirt! 
The next day, Dec 20th, headed towards Guatemala city since there is a BMW dealer over there and I could use some good quality tubes for my rear tire, and also other parts such as filters, brake pads, etc...

Little village where I had fried chicken as breakfast. 

I stopped for lunch along the way and met Evalyn, her daughter and her son. They were impressed that I came from Canada, on my bike, and alone. They ask me if I need anything, if I need a place to stay, if I wanted to spend Christmas with them. Very generous! I said I first need to go at BMW's dealer, and they offered me to drive me there. Then I met Jose, the guy om my right. He's working at the dealer and speaks very good English. He helped me get everything I needed, parts, answers, and an hotel. Evalyn had to go since she had the whole family in the car and I would be there for a while.

Then I met Luis. I told him how I've destroyed my suspension plastics and he would make a few calls to see if it can be covered by warrenty. The answer was no since I was driving the bike. Well it would be amazing if it get destroyed just by looking at it, maybe I should have said that. I still think a pothole should  not destroy a "unstopable" enduro bike. Anyway he said he could change my valve cover gasket that was leaking oil as a warrenty thing, free of charge. Might as well do it! I was smart enough to make them check my valve clearance. It is part of my 20000 km service I've done myself in Mexico City and it was the only thing I haven't done. Anyway after they remove everything to change the gasket it shoulf not take more than 5 minutes to check the valve clearance... So my 20000km service would be totally done. 

Picture of me and Luis, after the bike got cleaned up for the first time in my trip!
I went to the expensive hotel nearby the dealer, with barb wire over the 12 feet high fence and an always closed gate opended by 2 security guys with shotgun. Very safe! The next day the bike was suppose to be ready by noon, but came back much later without my tankbag straps. While they were trying to find it, I had time to change my rear tube to put a good one that'll last me more than a day... Also bought a new front tire. They came back at around 3 pm to tell me they can't find my straps, then phones calls to stores and warehouses to see if they can get another one. At 5pm it was obvious I wouldn't leave that night. They would need to get someone to fabricate new straps for me the next morning. I went to the ghetto to get a cheaper hotel. $23 instead of $64, but had a secured yard. I've changed my front tire in front of my door, with the hotel owner talking to me and helping me. Then I got hungry and had to go out to eat.Apparently it was dangerous to go out at night, but I went out anyway. 
Went to a small restaurent where the "kitchen" is actually a charcoal grill outside with kababs, chicken, and all kind of good stuff, and smoke coming out, it smelled good. Had a beer and a good filling plate.
 The next day would be to get the new straps for my tankbag, then try to get some maps of central america, then some plastics to protect my suspension. Luis helped me getting all the places I would need and giving my directions. After going to 5-6 dealers or motorcycle shops I gave up, they had nothing in stock, nothing. I was in touch via internet with a guy named Aldous. He's from BC, Canada, going to Panama, and he was nearby, so I've stayed at the same hotel for another night and I'll be  riding with him for a little while. I've met Aldous in the afternoon, he got a room next door, and we went out to explore the "dangerous" streets at night.

A few blocks from the hotel was an market. 

We had some food over there. I liked how the women were dressed. 
The next day, December 22st. I received an email from a guy in Panama with a Catamaran that could take me and my bike to Colombia and he would be leaving the 29th. So I have a week to "visit" Guatemala, El Savador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama. Apparently it can be done since the countries are small. So Aldous and I headed to the Pacaya volcano, between Guatemala City and Antigua, not very far, and would enter El Savador the same day.

On the way towards the volcano, we met a bunch of bikers. Dave, the guy with the helmet on and Darren, from Toronto, on the right. Dave is a local guide that brings people to the volcano on dirt bikes, he had 3 women from USA following him and Darren. We would just need to follow the group down a dirt road, going uphill, then tru a little village. 

And park the bike there. I liked it because it's not where most tourists goes, I imagine. And the drive was fun!

We had an older man named Roberto as a guide. We had to climb 3km to get to the volcano. On the opposite side of the mountain (read volcano), was a geothermical power plant. 
Another volcano was part of the view. I've never seen that before. 
Aldous, me, Dave and Darren. 
It was a cool hike. I was talking with Darren asking him how was his trip and everything, he told me he paid 4000 pesos to some cops in Acapulco for speeding while he wasn't. He didn't want to be arrested and didn't know what to do and went to a ATM to give them money. Same thing happen to me, but I did'nt pay anything... What an experience!

Nice scenery from the volcano: 
Aldous and I in front of the Pacaya Volcano 

Then our guide would take us down that ridge. 
We stopped in the middle of the ridge to see steam coming out the ground, very hot steam. You could burn your hand if you get too close. 
Then kept walking down what used to be lava, last time the volcano erupted, and it was this year. For more info about the volcano click here to see the wiki page.

We stopped by a hole where super hot air was coming out. 
and then to a cave, that was like a sona. Extrememly hot and steamy. You could not stay inside for very long, it's too hot. 

Then headed back to the hot hole to roast marshmallow. Just standing like that on the picture, I was able to roast a marshmallow in just 5 seconds, can you beleive it? 

Then our guide Roberto decided to cook some slices of banana. I should a brought some hotdogs. I wonder what a volcano roasted hotdog would taste. 
And we headed back. Can you see the group of people down that little ridge on the top right hand side corner? 

Guatemala City: sky was clear, not nearly as polluted as Mexico City.  
Going down the volcano. Soft ash and volcanic rocks covering the ground. 
Then said goodbye to our group and Aldous and I headed towards El Savador, where we'll be going that night. I wish I could have stayed in Guatemala longer, but I basically had 5 days left to cross El Savador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama to catch my boat in Panama. 

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