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The Americas ‘09 : MotoPsycho  
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Our mission today was to ride to Perquin, El Salvador. Humidity was at max again and that made for a really sticky ride.

I think its hard to describe the intense discomfort level that one experiences traveling by motorcycle. It’s severe and endless yet you have no problem getting right back on the saddle everyday. Its like a drug addiction. Every morning I know that Ill be drenched in sweat within the hour, my bum is going to start to hurt, I’m going to get splattered with bug guts or stung in the face, get wet from rain, and come near death at least once. God, I love traveling like this.

I also love how the hostesses at restaurants laugh at you. My hair is long and unkempt, usually unshaven, I know I smell bad from all the sweat and road dirt, wind and sun burned face, and it only gets more ugly every day. I must be a sight to see.

We came across this bridge painted in red. It had FMLN (Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front ) and election slogans written all over it.

I’m starting to see the rain cycle that I experienced in Costa Rica many years back. The mornings are always beautiful. Blue skies with white puffy clouds. By the afternoon, the clouds close in and you get some showers. The clouds dissipate pretty quickly after that, and you get a nice evening. Love it.

H


We took the road south from Antigua and connected to the CA-2 that runs near the coast. This has got to be one of the most beautiful roads Ive been on. Not really curvy or exciting from a pure riding perspective, but it goes through some incredible scenery. We didn’t stop to take in the sights as we figured that the border crossing was probably going to be a nightmare and we should get there as early as possible. If you are in the area, definitely take this road. Skip CA-1.

Protesters on Guatemala’s Independence Day.

We entered El Salvador at La Hachadura. The border crossing experience was the bet yet. The place was completely deserted. We were the only ones trying to get through. Maybe because it was a holiday in Guatemala.

On the Guatemala side we used a helper. He was really good. Got our photo copies handled in short order and took care of everything. I gave him all the rest of my quetzales in return. Roughly 10 bucks. The only delay we had was that we arrived at the customs office lunch break and had to wait for them to return.

Parked at the border waiting for the Guatemalan customs office to reopen.

Oisin getting an icy. Now how safe is this?

Our helper.

On the El Salvador side it was fairly straight forward as well. The usual paperwork and only one photo copy which we didn’t have to pay for. There was a sign posted saying that all border processes are free and you shouldn’t pay anything to anyone. Despite this I was still approached by a kid who promised to expedite the process for 20 bucks. Roughly two and half hours later we were in El Salvador. Easiest and most unremarkable border crossing to date. Oisin was expecting the worst. He even said a short prayer prior to us leaving this morning. Maybe that helped too.

Parked on the El Salvador side.

We took the road along the shore line. It must be a big surfing spot. I saw a lot of white people with surf boards. They use the US dollar here so no more doing any math in your head. We stopped at a gas station for some drink, and a guy came up to me and welcomed me to his country. Im glad to be here.

There always seems to something burning on the side of the road.

We stayed the night in La Libertad.

Man, I can’t believe Im in El Salvador.

H


Ruby’s front tire is badly worn, and Im starting to doubt that it will make it to San Jose. So Graham (from the English couple we met in Mexico who needed a front tire as well) and I headed to Guatemala City. Finding anything in these cities is easier said than done, so the approach is to simply find a cab and follow.

First we tried the BMW dealer, but they were closed for the holiday. (Tuesday is Independence day) Hit another place but no luck. Nothing larger than an 18” tire. Finally at the third place we scored. They didn’t have the tire I was looking for, but at least they had something. So Ruby now has a new set of Bridgestone Battle Wings. They don’t look dirt worthy at all. I guess we’ll see.

In Guatemala they put stickers over the numbers on their license plate. Gets them out out of photograph tickets.

We met Frank and his son Jesse who were shopping for helmets. They gave us advice on what roads to take through Central America and which to avoid. Than they took us to a steak lunch. Probably the best steak I’ve had in a long time. Soft as butter, seasoned to perfection. We also had fried cow gizzards, rib steak, guacamole, chips, sausage, and fries of course. Most excellent. Going in, Graham and I decided we’d get the bill, but they beat us to it and wouldn’t let us pay. We’ll pay it forward. And than as if they hadn’t done enough, they showed us the way out of the city. Class act. Some of the best people I’ve met on this trip. Hope they stay in touch. Good times.

H


We took a day ride out to Lago de Atitlan. It’s suppose to be one of the wonders of the world. The lake is surrounded by volcanoes and small isolated towns. Very picturesque setting. But I wasn’t really getting this wonder of the world stuff. It’s a pretty lake for sure, but calling it the most beautiful lake one has ever seen is a bit of a stretch. It wasn’t until the end of the day, when I found a vantage point that really was awe inspiring. The sun was going down behind the clouds, sun beams bouncing off the water, and two giant volcanoes wrapped in mist towering above. Incredible sight to behold.

We took a road around the lake and hit a section that was washed out. Absolute mess of a road. Sand, rocks, and deep ruts. At one point, I was stopped on the side of the road waiting on Oisin when a bus coming the other way appeared. The bus had no intention of stopping so we could safely navigate by one another, so I had to sit tight with no place to go. Hoping for the best, the bus squeezed by. At first it looked like we’d clear, but than the bus started creeping closer. Shit, this is going to be really tight. With just about a foot to go, the bus clipped my pannier and pushed me in the ditch. No damage to the bike or me. Just a scrape on the pannier. Lifted the bike out of the rut, and continued on my way.

Later on a spoke with a local about this. He told me that if the bus had hit a local and not a foreigner, that bus driver would be dead today. The local would have shot him.

H


While Antigua is a tourist town it definitely has a charm of its own. We ended up staying four nights here. Lots of activity everywhere and countless bars, hotels, and restaurants.

Our hotel, only 12$ a night. Great place.

Cobblestone streets, and lots of motorcycles.

There is a market place here that is not to be missed. It is near the bus terminal. It can only be described as pure chaos. I’ve been to market places before, but nothing like this. Everyone screaming selling their wares. Hordes of people squeezing through a maze of counters selling absolutely everything. Raw chicken is chopped up on a table right in front of you. No refrigeration. Who needs refrigeration? You want some chicken? Chop chop, there you go. The smell was nauseating. I got lost in the maze but didn’t care. It was sensory overload. I was the only white dude I saw the entire time. I don’t think the tourists venture this far in to the market place. It was a bit intimidating.

H

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