The plan for this trip was to head through Texas and Mexico and into Central America. In the planning stage no part of this trip had gone to plan. Dates changed as did length of trip etc.
Total miles = 5,585
aproximate gas used = $140
approximate cost of gas = $380
Trip Average MPG = 39.82
total cost, with flight, diving, pretrip costs (health, bike and other prep stuff) = 3,465.56
This seems like a lot, but when you factor in the high costs of diving, flying, and the US travel it makes some sense. Half the miles (and half the gas) was consumed in the first 3 days. The average US hotel cost was $50 so my first 3 nights cost as much as 12 nights in Mexico and CA. I splurged the last week in Caye Caulker, food, drink, hotel etc. Also, I did not go too crazy trying to save money. Staying at more expensive places because they were quick to find and safe for the bike. Travelling at a slower pace, as most long term travellers do, could have saved me a lot of money. Still, I felt I more than got my money's worth.
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This is being sent to you because for some reason I believe that you are actually interested in my trip reports. If you don't want to get these, reply and I will take you off the list.
Yep, that's right, I am off again. This time I am headed to Central America, or at least that is the plan. I have never been very good at following plans. Due to unforeseen circumstances I am in a position where I must use my leave before the second week in January or I will lose it. Aww Shucks!
Anyway, the plan is to leave NH on December 12th and come back January 12th. I will be riding my Kawasaki KLR650 from home, down through Texas and Mexico and into Guatemala. At that point my plans get fuzzy. At the moment I have two plans. 1) ride around Guatemala, Belize and maybe the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico then to Belize and leave my bike at the Customs Warehouse until I can get back there in the spring or fall. OR 2) Ride straight down to Panama, see the canal, ride around Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador then get to Belize to store the bike.
Anyway, I will keep you all informed, assuming I get a chance to stop at internet Cafe's once in a while. When I get back, I will put my photos on my web site.
Don't send me any e-mails unless necessary as this is a free e-mail site and therefore does not have much capacity.
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Decided to rest my feet for a few so here is a quick update.
Had a long cold ride down. I am sure you all think I am lying on a beach, (or in a ditch) somewhere but I actually have been in the hill country for the most part. I have been cold most of the time while riding.
I have not even gotten close to following my plans, but that is standard for me. I have wandered around some Mexican cities watching Christmas Festivals and seeing old buildings and museums etc. Lots of great roads and incredible scenery.
I am currently in Oaxāca , South and east of Mexico City. My plan of the moment (plan of the day doesn't work) is to head to the ruins of Monte Alban tomorow, then head for the coast, Puerto Angel probably. From there I will head to Atigua, Guatamala and then to Lake Atitlān? Then over to Tikal, a great set of ruins in Guatemala. Then to Belize.
Not sure of the exact timetable. Christmas and New Years must be planned around. They kinda get in the way. I PLAN to spend Christmas either on a beach or at the Lake Atlān. So you can be sure neither of those will happen.
The towns are great places to hang around in. Very freindly and clean with lots to see and do. Of course, after your hundredth Cathedral, it gets old.
Talk to you all soon. What follows is a more detailed account of where and what etc.
PLEASE DON'T E-MAIL ME BACK, UNLESS NECESSARY. MY E-MAIL BOX FILLS QUICKLY.
06-07DEC03 Sat-Sun PRE-TRIP
-We got over 2 feet of snow.
-Sunny and very cold. The snow is not leaving
11DEC03 Thu PRE-TRIP
-Last night and tonight it was very warm and lots of heavy rain. The snow is leaving.
12DEC03 Fri - First day of trip.
-Did not leave until 9am. Had to wait for the ice to clear off the roads. It was 30F when I left.
-I debated taking my extra warm cloths. I would have had to mail them back on Sunday and decided that was too much of a hassle.
-The ride was uneventful. The roads were fine. It stayed at or below freezing all day except for a little while in New York State.
-By 5pm the sun was down and it got COLD. Serious winds all day.
-At 6:30 I decided to call it a day with only 571 miles. I was tired and cold. Stayed in Winchester in the northern part of VA.
-The weather channel said I would be racing a snow storm the next day.
-Left at 6am at 25šF.
-Continued down Rt. 81 and down through Chattanooga. It was below freezing all through Virginia. It finally got up to around 40šF later in the day.
-I finally caught up with the storm at 3:30 EST - It started to rain but not hard. It got cold but I was well below the snow line.
-Stopped in Mississipi after only 816 miles
-Left late 7:45 est because I wanted to see the news about Saddam being captured.
-Started cool but warmed up. Nice dfay but dons of wind.
-Stopped at 7:45 in Texas after 803 miles because there were tons of deer on the side of the road. I mean tons, like if they lined up they could have stood shoulder to shoulder. Like a huge herd of cattle.
-Up and out early. Uneventful trip except a Vulture tried to race me and lost. I hit him with my helmet. No damage to either party. No charges filed.
-At the border crossing the line for paperwork was a mile long. I asked and found out it was not my line. I went to the line for US citizens and it was one person deep. In and out in 15 minutes for about $28.
-Stopped in Cuidad Victoria at a nice enough place for $13. Of course I got lost on the way into the city.
-Went south through Cuidad Mante. Lots of hills and curve. Great roads. Mostly farm country. Very windy though, with huge gusts all day.
-Went to Xilitla to see Las Pozas (the pools), a bizarre collection of concrete structures and buildings built by Sir Edward James ( I wonder if he was any relation to Eddie James of Team Strange?). Any way, People who knew him and people like Picasso said the others were posers, but Mr. James was the real thing. Kinda gives you an idea how strange it was.
-The road to Querčtaro was described as an "Exciting route through the Sierra Gorda". It was out of my way but it sounded like a challenge. I took it.
-I carefuly looked at the miles on the map and decided to go for it. WOW! ! ! Great road, 100% twisty and in good condition. About 140 miles of twists with the road going through all kinds of little villages. I made bad time though, didn't get to Querčtaro until an hour or so after dark. This is rule number one, never, I mean NEVER ride after dark. Too dangerous.
-At one point it got cold, but I was freezing. It was not until I got all my warm cloths on that I realized that my jacket vents were open.
-The road, fortunately, straghtened out at the same time it got dark. There were cars with only running lights, and cars with no forward ilumination at all. Some people still tried to pass. Traffic was slow until the highway then I got into town quick and easy, sound a nice place but it was expensive, $23. It is Christmas and this is the middle of the shopping areas so the prices are up everywhere. Any way, the bike was safe, 10 feet from both me and the 24 hour desk clerk. (Actually, he slept on the couch that my bike was next to)
-Wandered around some.
-8am, nothing open. In fact, little was open until about 9:30 and the city did not really start to wake up until about 10:30.
-Great place to wander, all the ussual stuff, Cathedrals, museums, open air markets, artistss, music, festival etc. etc.
-The cities here are very clean and nice. The baggars are very polite and mostly leave you alone, hoping that you will give them something. The only bad ones I have seen are Americans. Slimy, dirty and rude. Real bumbs.
-Headed towards Oaxāca. Left at 5am to beat the traffic and so that I could get there at a reasonable time. I had to go through Mexico City on the toll roads. The tolls cost over $50 US.
-Heavy traffic in Mexico city. Decided to follow the local bikers and lane split. I've done this before on my FLH in California so I thought it would be a cinch. In California they move out of your way. Not here. They are used to 125 cc bikes without bags. My bike was a surprise. They did move out of the way once they got a load of the bags though. I was forming a wake in traffic. Go by a nice new car and the guy tries to move over to the next county. There was over 20 miles of this shit.
-Of course I got lost, but I think my gettin lost actually saved me time.
-The best scene I saw was a motorcycle cop on a Japanese maybe 650 or so, hauling down the highway at 80. Sitting on the top box, a large box on the back seat, was another motorcycle cop, hanging on for dear life as the driver threaded his way through traffic, split lanes and as far as I could tell, tried to lose the cop on the back.
-Anyway, I am in Oaxaca and my feet no longer hurt. I am going to go out and get a cervesa!
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I am now in San Cristobal de la something or another in Mexico, about 3 hours north of the Guatamala border. This is supposed to be a Central America trip. I plan on on being in Central America tomorow, if I follow my plans. That would be a first.
Last time I wrote I was in Oaxaca. I left there and went to Zipolete on the Oaxacan Coast. This is a real back packer hangout. Very relaxed. Stayed two days there, for reasons that will become evident in the details later in the report. Then went to San Cristobal for a night. Today I road some incredible roads to Pelenque, a Mayan Ruin. Great ride and great ruins. Now back in San Cristobal and you know the rest.
Rather than calling this the lost ride (Perdido) I should call it the Topes ride Topes are speed bumps of different kinds. They are everywhere. Of course I could call it the perfect roads ride. Almost every road I have been on has been tight twisties with incredible views. The only problem is the topes. There are lots of slow veihicles but they are easily passed. Itīs the damned topes. They are everywhere there is a house, a bus station or just someone standing on the road. They slow traffic to a stand still. The other problem is that all roads go through the center of towns and cities. Get going making good time and next thing you know itīs stop signs and city streets.
Anyway, I will update again when I can. I had some time to kill today but I doubt I will have the oportunity until it is almost time to go home.
Details, mostly from my handwritten journal that I wrote on the beach in Zipolete.
-Headed from Oaxaca towards the coast. Stopped first at El Tule, a big tree. Supposedly the biggest Biomass in the world. No biggie.
-Then I went to Monte ALban Ruins. Good ruins. Was approached by an english speaking guide who wanted $20 to give me a tour. My hotels cost less than $15 so I said it was too expensive. He got mad at me and told me off in Spanish.
-Here there is a gap in my journal as I lost my train of thought. Four young swedish towel girls just came running out of the water naked and sat down on the beach in front of me.
-The road south was beiutiful twisty road with lots of Saguaro Cactus forests, pine forests and almost everything else. Very fast and fun.
-Another gap. Two of the girls just got up and shook out their towels. Iīm gonna go get a Nitro Glycerin pill.
-Got a hair cut the other day, cost with tip was about $1.75 Figured with my haircut, outside of making me look like Picasso it couldnīt be too bad.
-Oops, one of the girls wants to lay on her back and apparently asked the another one to put sunscreen on her. Doesnīt she know that there are fat old men here who canīt handle this kind of thing. I better go get a tequila.
-The drivers in Mexico are almost all Good or so slow it doesnīt matter, Except for the SUV drivers with cell phones. Things never change.
-Ice cold beer and sun. The girls are gone for the moment so I can think. Tell Irene to sell my bikes and send me the money. Better yet, tell her to come down with the money. I figure if I sell all my bikes we can live here for about 5 years. It only takes $10 a day to live here, probably $15 for two.
-OK, one girl who is wearing just a bikini bottom stands up, facing me she shakes out her towel, wraps it around her WAIST and walks off the beach topless. Why the towel? To hide the fact that she had on a bikini bottom?
-Anyway, the trip down was great, but in one town there was a detour due to a festival (what else?) and no signs. I picked a big road that was heading basically south and hoped it was the right one. It was so much fun I didnīt really care. I rode it for 140 miles before there was finally a sign (and the only gas station). Outside of finding hotels I have only had to ask directions twice, both times the directions were good but unecessary, within one mile of each time I found great signs.
-Headlights - People flash their headlights for all kinds of reasons, the usual, danger ahead, hello, cop (Iīve only seen one radar trap, as usual, in a place that speeding would not matter a damn), etc. But they also use it to tell you your lights are on. Some people do not use their headlights in the day because they think it wastes fuel. Of course, some donīt use them at night either, until they really need them.
-blinkers - They use their left blinker for lots of things too. To signal they are passing, to tell you they think it is safe for you to pass, as brake lights, and occasionally to say they are turning left, but that is rare. About half the time, to turn left, they put their left blinker on, pull over to the right, and then, at some random time, they turn. Basically, if you see a left blinker, be on your guard.
-Any way, I got to Zipolite at a good time. I asked someone the lay of the land and they said the northern (western?) end was the busy end. I chose a basic hotel there, suggested as safe by a couple of people. $150 pesos, about $13.50 US. Good place, hammocks, nice place on the beach that you can bring beers (cost $.89 per at the store on the street) and just hang out. It is where all the REAL back packers and adventure tourists go. I settled in, cleaned up and went out to sample the night life. I figure there were about 12 restaurants and bars for about 12 tourists. This is the busy end of the beach? Had some great food and beers for less than $10 at probably the most expensive place on the beach and some beers and tequila at a bar at the end of the street. A relaxed place, aparently much that the gringos do is overlooked. There was an occasional joint being smoked, right out in the open on the street, no fear, but not much of this.
-Staying in Zipolite for one full day to just relax, maybe go to Puerto Angel or to the swamp or whatever they call it, to see animal life (birds, crocociles etc).
-By the way, please ignore any mispellings. Word keeps telling me that almost everything I write is mis-spelled and the suggestions it offers is in some weird language.
-Did I mention the beach? Zipolete is known as the Back Packerīs hang out. The Lonely Planet Guide book (LP) says of Zipolite. "A 2 km stretch of beach with bungalos and cheap hotels, some with private baths (the expensive ones like I am in, also have ceiling fans AND window screens). Zipolite is fabled to be southern Mexicoīs ultimate place to lie back in a hammock and DO as little as you like, IN as little as you like, FOR as little as you like." end quote. With rooms running from $7 us to $15 us and acommodations as cheap as putting up your own hammock for about $1.50 US this place attracts students and the VERY relaxed people. Clothing is optional on the beach, but actually very few people excersize this. I saw no actually naked women, only topless. The only naked people were fat, grey old men. Eeeek. This is not really the den of sin it sounded like, bit it is a nice place to hang out.
-Got good and drunk, talking to a foreign studies student from Cornel (Connecticut originally, Torrington! Or was that someone else I met?, I forget. ) Anyway, this student just graduated and wants to get a KLR and ride around. Just graduated from college and he probably has seen more, and knows more about, the world than I will ever know.
-Meeting travelers like you meet here makes you feel rather isolated. Few Americans travel like this but you meet people from every other corner of the world. They go places and see things and do things I can barely imagine. I swear, the rest of the world thinks nothing of quitting jobs and travelling for 6 months or 6 years. We decided, under the influence of alcohol, that it is due to the lack of state health care coverage. None of the people I talked to are worried about getting sick and losing everything they worked their lives to save, except Americans. One student I met was paying $700 per month for insurance, then was dropped when he got sick and no longer can get health care coverage. I hate the idea of the Government getting involved in health care, but this sucks!!!
-Had dinner and drinks with the Foreign Studies student and two of his friends (and a local pimp, dealer, used car salesman or whatever)
-Decided to stay another day. I donīt have the energy to go to see the tourist sites today. Just gonna sit in this hammock, watch the children play and go swimming once in a while to cool off. Then beers in the evening. Maybe I will leave tomorow. Maybe I will never leave. The owner of this place is an American that built the hotel so that he didnīt have to leave.
-Hung out late into the night with some people who do some real travelling. A french Canadien who write novels, mostly from the road. An American who has done things you could never imagine, including spending 9 days in an Israely prison for suspected terrorist activities because they could not fathom that he came there to go to a beach that some stranger told him was pretty good, or that he did not have a guide book (LP) yet was able to find his way just by asking a taxi driver to take him there. Pretty parranoid people the Israelies. He had story after story that almost makes you not want to travel to remote areas. Malaria, etc yet he still goes to weird places and loves it. He writes screen plays and does voice acting (if you are ever at the Barcelona airport and there is a fire, the english voice you will hear will be his.) Another couple (he from Australia, she I donīt know), never found out what, if anything, they do for work, but they have been everywhere, done everything. Had some great stories, but always seem to do things the hard, exciting way, never the usual tourist routes.
-Left as the sun came up. Was afraid if I waited for the sun, I would never be able to leave. Headed for San Cristobol on a recomedation that the Ruins at Palenque were great and that San C was a nice place to hang.
-Got a nice hotel for $150 pesos after an incredible ride. I am averaging 30 mph or less, what with the Topes, towns and curves. a 300 mile day is extremely tiring.
-Went to Palenque, great ruins but one hell of a lot of tourists. The setting was jungle, the ride was extreme. The scenery wild. Hills, curves etc.
-Back at San C at the same hotel. Thought I might find one with heat as it is cold here (6500 feet elevation) but none have it. Extra blankets is all you are supposed to need.
-Tomorow is Christmas Eve. I am going to attempt to make it to lake Atitlan, Guatamala for a couple of days. I had hoped to hike to the top of a live volcano but from the sound of it, it is too dangerous alone. Easy to get lost and lots of robberies. A couple told me that when they were swimming, a group of people called from the woods and asked for towels. The banditoes take all you cloths, in case you are hinding money and to keep you from doing anything stupid like following them or whatever.
-Anyway, thatīs it for today. Will try to do this again soon.
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It's a new year. I was just getting the hang of the spanish keyboards, now I am using one with chinese characters. I am so confused.
Anyway, I left Palenque and made it to Lake Atitlan Guatamala for Christmas. From there I went to the town of Antigua Guatamala for a couple of nights, climbed a volcano and then headed across some wild dirt roads that I am sure were plagued by bandits and revolutionaries to Coban and then to the ruins of Tikal in the north east corner of Guatamala (guat). From there I went into Belize and made it to Placencia on the coast. Met a motorcycle traveler who lives there and he and his wife put me up for a few days, through New Years. Great people. I toured a nature preserve/jungle and spent the night near there. Last night I rode to the north eastern section of Belize and stayed in Orange Walk. Today I took a river/jungle boat trip to the ruins here and had a great time.
My plan of the moment is to go to Belize City tomorow and store my bike. If that works out I will spend the rest of the trip in Cay Caulker diving and sunning myself.
My long term plans may have changed. I think in the spring when I come back here I will drive the bike home. I think I would like to try a different area for my next vacation. I will finish central america another time. (Plans might change, it could h appen)
This will not be very detailed because I am paying $6 per hour for internet service. The phones to the US are over $3 per minute so I don't think I will be making any long calls either.
-I have been stopped by bandits a couple of times. They did not get much. A couple ten pesos each. Little girls put a string across the road with flags on it and ask for money for their first comunion or some such thing. They let you by without paying but they load you with guilt.
-Got to the Guat border at a reasonable time. Unfortunately I was trying for the Mexican border. I had to back track and then found out that I had not paid my $22 tourist fee. You can do it at the border of the US if the bank is open but since it was not when I went in I had to pay at a bank at some point during my trip. There was no bank at this border and it took me 2 hours to find a bank and get back.
-The border crossing was easy and quick.
-Guat at the border is a mess. Looks like a war zone. Not a good first impression. Mud, beggars and really dangerous looking. FIrst 20 miles or so just got worse, then the road got good through some amazing scenery and the resta of the ride was fine.
-Lake Atitlan has incredible views. Three volcanos, a big lake etc. Very nice. The towm was nothing special, lots of tourists but not much really to offer. There are two towns that you can boat to but I was not interested in them.
-I thought Christmas would be a big thing here. The town started to close up at 10pm. Very quiet. I went to bed to read and fell asleep. At midnight the town exploded. There were fireworks everywhere. THe family who runs the hotel was blowing fireworks right outside my metal door. I heard some english speaking outside and when I went out there was a german couple there who could not make it down the street because of the fireworks so they came in, the family fed them and we hung out until about 2am when it got a little quieter. The town quieted down by 3 and taht was christmas.
25DEC03 Thu - Christmas.
-Except for some businesses being closed and more Guat vacationers you would never know it was a holiday.
-Went to a nature preserve and just hung out.
-Later in the day I sat with some of the local guys and had a few beers. They got good and drunk but behaved themselves. (one guy got rude and they got rid of him). I left before I got drunk, beleive it or not.
-Went to Antigua Guatamala
-Guat is where old deisel cars and trucks go to die, only the locals won't let them die a peaceful death, they just keep them going, barely. Smoky smelly things.
-Antigua Guat is nice but I have seen enough of nice towns. Took it easy today. The square is a great place to hang out.
-Stayed at a hotel that cost about $18 US and was noisy all night as people came in as the busses arrived.
-On the advice of an american i took the hike up the Vocano Picaya - a 2500 meter peak, started hike at about 1600 meters. Had a great time, beat up my new boots. Breathed nasty sulfurous gasses and looked inside the cone. The volcano erupted last in 2000 so it is not due for a bit, I was hoping.
-Hung out in town, found a hotel for about $4. It was fine but there was no toilet seat. Not sure why, but no room in this hotel had one. What do you expect for $4?
-Tomorow is election day so no alcohol is allowed today or tomorow. Of course, children sold us beer at the bottom of the volcano after the hike. I found an odd little bar/used bookstore with good food and it was selling cheap/good beer in plastic cups or coffee cups but only to foreigners. Illegal as hell, but no one bothered the owner. I drank too much beer and tequila.
-Hung over so did not get out of the hotel until 7am.
-Went to Coban in the center of Guat. Took route 7, I think. Really not sure. I kept asking people if I was headed to Coban and they said yes. The miles were right but the road I was on was a bad one lane dirt road with few people on it. Just when I thought I was as far away from the Gringo trail as you can get, I was on a Goat path, barely as wide as the wheels of a car, and I saw a dozen US bicyclists. Scary roads though. There were times I went for half an hour without seeing any one.
-Conan is a crappy little town. ell, it is OK but no real reason to go here.
-Left at 5am. Too foggy to really see well. I took a road that made yesterday's road look good. Really in the jungle. Way off the Gringo trail. Went for one hour without seeing another person much less a vehicle. Then I saw some european backpackers waiting for a bus. There were three main roads to where I wanted to go. I was on one of the really bad ones. Everyone kept saying yep, that way to xxxxx. They waived their arms a lot first, I think it was there way of saying, "yep, you can get there this way, but why would you go this way?"
-Got to Tikal. Great ruins in a great area. Lots of wild looking birds, plus spider monkeys and really loud Howler Monkeys.
-Went to Flores for the night.
-Left early, should have stopped at Tikal for sunrise, everyone said it was unbeleivable, fog shrouded jungle while you are sitting at the top of a ruin looking down. I did not get going early enough and regret it.
-Through the Guat border, no problem. Into Belize, even easier, they speak english. Belize requires insurance, it cost $140 US for the year. SInce I will be storing the bike I had to get a year rather than 3 months.
-While trying to find a hotel in Placencia I met a biker. He is a crazy Frenchman that never lived in France. He rides a BMW GS1150. He brought me home and he and his wife put me up for a few days. His wife is an American that never lived in the US. Interesting and very nice people. Not only did they put me up but they bought me dinner, were great company and more. All this while in the middle of a move from one house to another. Bikers are better than people.
31DEC03 Wed, Nwe Years Eve
-Went diving. Spent more money on the dive than I did my entire time in Guat. Great dive though. Saw Dolphins and a very agitated reef shark etc.
-The locals put on quite a New Years Eve bash with lots of drinking and bad music and good food. Had a blast and was back at the house at 3am
-VERY quiet day for me and the rest of the hung over town.
-It rained all night. It rained until 10 am today. Placencia is at the end of a 25 mile clay road. It was shitty when it was dry. Riding out today really sucked. Not too bad for me, but my friend had to go out during the rain, with a much heavier bike. I waited 'til the rain stopped and teh road got better.
-Went to the Cockscomb Nature preserve. Walked in the jungle. Saw great birds but not much else. Stayed at a small place near bye.
-It rained on and off all day.
-It Rained all night. Hey, it's a rain forest.
-Left early and went to the Belize Zoo. All injured or confiscated etc animals. Great for the animals, the environment and the country. Really tries to educate us dumb humans. Interesting animals.
-Met my first Motorcycle travellers here. Two English guys travelling in the US and central america for 7 months or so. I have decided I am going to become English. In time I could probably learn the language. They have free health care and even if you have a job, it's not a surprise if you quit it for a year or so and then want your job back.
-Got to Orange Walk and a hotel. Not much gong on here. The hotel owner tried to get me to go to the town square where there was music. He said the women here are tigers. They are on the hunt for men. Men who have money. If you get a girl pregnant and don't stay with her you have to pay $50 per week for the kid. Most men are paying for 3 or more kids. The women "capture" men, get pregnant and get their $50. If the man won't pay, he goes to jail, and still the bills stack up. Weird.
-Took a river/jungle tour to some ruins, saw interesting creatures and had a great time.
-Done for the day, will be heading to store my bike tomorow and then out to the islands, if everything goes well.
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Well, I am home. Since I last wrote I went to Belize City and dropped my bike off at Customs, went to Caye Caulker to sit on the beach and to dive (and drink beer). Then back to Belize city to Fly home to sub zero weather and snow. Quite a shock to my system. I had a sniffle by the time I got to NH and I now feel like crap. I think I am alergic to winter.
This will be my last global e-mail. I will be updating this site with photos within the next week and in a few weeks I may update it with a more detailed story. Check back once in a while to see what I have added.
Bye for now, hope to see you all soon.
-Had my first two instances of "begging" in Belize. Generally I have found that Belize was almost imune to this shit, in the places I had been anyway. One man, claimed he had a type of lukemia. Even had a signed letter saying he had it and was in a bad situation. He had a great story, in my opinion he worked very hard at this story and he was not agressive. He asked for only a dollar, a Belizian dollar ($.50 US). I gave it to him as a reward for his effort. Later I found out this was probably a legitimate letter and request and felt that I had not given enough.
-I stopped taking my malaria pills a while ago because I was not going to go into any areas that I needed to be concerned about it. Then I talked to a seasoned traveller that said that this was a malaria hotspot, then a local health offical that said they had it licked, then someone else that said be careful then...... Eventually I said to hell with it. Malaria is not so bad and decided that a case of malaria might add to the adventure. (must have been the Chinese beer that came to that conclusion).
-Changed my oil for the first and last time this trip.
-While changing my oil I experienced the only real bad experience, such as it was, in Belize. Not bad, just disapointing. A young man, late teens, stopped by with an aparantly brand new bike and asked for a dollar so that he could eat. He was healthy and businesses in the area were looking for honest workers. I told him I had no money with me, and was not lying, he just hung out and watched until I was almost done and then left. About the worst experience I had in Belize, not so bad really.
-Interesting evening. Sitting having Good Chinese food, with a background of country music, Odd Christian decorations, normal Christmas decorations, Japanese programs with Chinese subtitles, a sign saying "No Foreplay Allowed!" and weirdest of all, No Mai Tai's (My favorite mixed drink). Surealism at it's best.
-Planned on leaving early but hung out and had great coffee and conversation with some Canadian travlellers.
-Stopped at a car wash. Had a great talk with the owner while two men washed my bike. Really had to scrub it to het the clay off. Both spent almost an hour on the bike. I had not asked how much before they started and was worried that they fee would be excessive. In the end, they requested a Coke for both the men that did the work. I was so shocked and pleased at the minor request that I ended up tipping then more that I would have probably been willing to pay them for the job. (about $6 US with Cokes).
-Got to the Customs house and all told it took me about an hour for paperwork and to prep the bike for storage. I had a little trouble letting go of the keys to a government employee. I just don't trust the Government, any Government. Because they stamp your passport with records of the vehicle, there is no way to leave the country without your vehicle unless you leave it at the customs house and have your passport stamped.
-Asked where to get a cab to the water taxi to Caye Caulker. Was told to go outside the gate. Saw a bunch of men standing there and thought I would go through the usual bullshit. Someone asked if I wanted a cab, I said yes and expected the usual bullshit. One guy said "Hey Joe, you need a fair?" Joe was busy, but eventually I found a guy who had a pick up truck that he needed gas money for since work at the harbor was slow. He was a local and told me a lot about the life here, and how those like him who had lived here for a long time were not happy with the reputation for danger, but agreed that there was danger, especially in some areas. From talking to him and others during my stay I would say almost all people in Belize are nice, but there is crime but if you are careful, you should be relative safe.
-There was an interesting bridge near the water Taxi called a Swing Bridge. It was built by a company from Liverpool. It spins on its center to let big boats go through. It is supposed to do this twice a day but there are seldom boats that want to go through. Most boats that need to go through are lower and go under all day long.
-Belize, for the most part is more like small town America, people upset with the bad reputation of Belize City and wanting to make people feel safe. Almost everyone I met was nice, helpful and did not ask for anything.
-Took the water taxi to Caye Caulker and found a hotel for $40 US per night. One of the more expensive hotels on the island. Set up some Scuba dives for the next few days.
-Dove the Blue Hole to 133 feet deep and two other dives. Left at 6am and got back at 4:30pm Great day of diving. Saw the Blue Footed Boobies diring lunch on the dive. There was a path and I expected to see couple of birds at best. There were tons of birds showing their red chests and and making noise. Impressive. This dive, as most dives in Belize, cost me more than my entire stay in Guatamala.
-Hung out with other divers and drank some beer.
-Sitting drinking a beer, watching a full moon and a sky full of stars, all while sitting a heavy downpour.
-Another great dive, this time at the Elbow.
-Met great travellers and some tourists.
-Was told that the weather was going to change. The roaches were coming out as soon as you turned out the light (in the bars) so that means the weather will change. They were right. Maybe I should get a weather roach for home?
-Another great dive, to the Ho Chin reserve etc. Snorkeled with Eagle Rays, Sting Rays, Sharks etc.
-Met a traveller from the only country I know who's people travel less than the US and who's travels are done in a quicker, more excessive fashion. She said that it is changing with younger people. They still work harder than us but they tend to burn out and take six months or more off to travel. Strange that a culture that is so curious travel so little or so quick.
-It rained everyday, mostly at 4am. In the day it rained occasionally but not for more than ten or fifteen minutes.
-Drank at the I&I Reggae Bar until past closing.
-Caye Caulker is VERY relaxed. Few tourists, more travelers. Lots of young atractive women. There is little to do, snorkel, SCUBA, sunbathe on the docks, drink beer. A relaxed place away from any tourist crap. The best place.... Errr I mean, the worst place to be. Tell everyone you know that they should avoid Caye Caulker. Horrible place, sand fleas, mosquitoes, scorpions, mean nasty people, dragons that eat tourists. Horrible place. Don't go there. Tell everyone to go to Ambergis Caye and stay away from my, er I mean Caye Caulker.
09JAN04 Fri LAST DAY 8^(
-Hung out in the sun for most of the day then took the water taxi to Belize City.
-Had dinner and talked to travellers. Travlellers are better than tourists. I kind of consider myself somewhere in between a tourist and a traveller. Not adventurous enough to be a real travellor, but more adventurous than a tourist.
-At the airport at 6:45, no problems with customs etc. except the usual inspection, shoe removal and then the look. The look is when they run my carry on bag through the X-Ray. I had all my electrically heated motorcycle gear stuffed into my helmet in my carry on bag. The look was great. First the moving table stops, the operator looks at the screen and squints. Then gets closer to the screen, runs some adjustments and calls someone else over to look at it. Then the inspection. They open the bag, try to pull the helmet out of the bag, listen to my explanation and eventually give up the effort. This happened once in Belize and three times in Miami Airport. Easier to have it in your carry on then to have it in your checked baggage and have to go to some strange room to answer questions.
-Flight was easy, then in Miami the flight was delayed because of mechanical trouble. They brought a flight in from Guatamala so we left over two hours late. I hate flying not because of the flight but because of all the bullshit that goes along with it.
-Home. Glad to see Irene, but not glad to see the sub zero (Farenheit) weather. Quite a shock.