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  #46  
Old 2 Jun 2011
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Hello from Hopkins, Belize!

Today is a good day, an easy day, and a relaxing day after yesterday, which was anything but. Last time you heard from us, we were in Tulum, getting ready for our last night before heading south towards Belize.
That night, Sunday night, started off with a Belly dancer showing her skills inside the hostel compound, and everyone was buying lots of (except me, seriously). Eventually it ended, and people were getting restless. We’ll that won’t do. Where is the next party going to be!?



I made a logical comment. Guys, we’re probably out of luck at 11pm on a Sunday night. Hmmm…. Everyone ponders that thought, except one person. Justine. The French Canadian bombshell that didn’t stop dancing all night until Pipo (Phillip) the German, made her slow down (elsewhere). She would have none of that. I’ll be back! She proclaimed, and took off out of the hostel to find an open bar. And return she did, with the next place in mind. Across the street, find the red light emerging from the door way. That is the place. Let’s go!
So go we did. And what did we find? A private birthday party, with a live band, and a bartender, and a dance floor. Oh. Shit. Here. We. Go. Again.



And so they danced, and I danced, and everyone danced, and the band played, and the music blasted, and the keyboarder rocked solo’s while the bassist ripped a beat and the guitarist shredded chords, and the vocalist lost his voice. And we danced some more. And Phillip, Chris, and Dominick (Germans), Adam, Flo, Justine, (Canadians) Eddy and Alin (French) and enough Australians, Brits, and Europeans to fill the house, had a wonderful night and returned to the hostel for bed.



A view from my room.



And the hostel cat that got fat from being overfed.



The next day was rather slow paced. We rode the 2.5 hours back south to Chetumal, and stayed at the same place we had when we were there 5 nights before. We ate some food, hung out, and did a whole lot of nothing in mild preparation for the next day on the road, and our border crossing into Belize.



And that my friends, is where we stopped having fun for a little while.
The next day was the Belizean border crossing just south of Chetumal, where we knew they would attempt to rip us off for $262 pesos for the Mexican exit fee. First thing first, we bought the mandatory insurance required for Belize. And that’s where we met Edward.



He is one of those guys you hear about, that sits at a border, and gets paid by tourists to do a hell of a lot of nothing valuable. And we paid him, though it was the equivalent of about $5usd. What did he do for us? He spoke English (all of Belize does), and facilitated (by talking about random shit) our cheap Belizean insurance, and got our tire fumigation taken care of without fumigating our tires. A week of insurance costs 29 Belizean dollars, which are pegged at 2 to 1. So it was $14.50. We’ll be out of Belize before the week’s end anyhow.

Then we stopped at Mexican immigration, and that’s where the hassle started, and we got ripped off.



Ever hear of paying for your tourist entry visa, and then paying to another fee for leaving the same country? Well that’s what this particularly ****ed (excuse my language please) border crossing made us do. And it went pretty deep as well.



We arrived to have (what we later learned was) a Belizean guy tell us we needed pay $20 each for exit tax. (They use a Belizean as he speaks good English) We instantly told him that we weren’t going to pay him for this bullshit. We’re not fools, and we're not putting money in someone else’s pocket. None of our friends that have crossed into Mexico by bike ever paid to leave. No way are we giving you any damn money. We paid our tourist visa, NO we don’t have a damn receipt, and this STAMP in my passport is my damn RECIEPT. Let me talk to the bank.



Guy at the bank, we know this is bullshit, we’re not paying this. Ok, go talk to the guys at immigration. Yea, ok. I know what you just said. You just said I’m right. No. No. Don’t bother telling me different. I know how you feel. You’re caught in the middle. I know what’s up. Don’t worry, I’ll go talk to those immigration punks.
So back we go.


Hey, those guys at the bank don’t know what the hell you’re talking about. I’m not paying for this shit. Neither is he. Who else wants to tell me I have to? Go talk to your immigration manager? Yeah, I’ll do that. Tom, you’ll stay with these bikes? Yeah, go give them hell, ****ers.



Hola, como estas? Porque tenemos que pagar para salir de esta pais cuando pagamos para entrar? No, no tenemos un receta, tenemos una estampa en nuestro pasaportes.



(Hi, how are you? Why do we have to pay to leave this country when we paid to enter? No we don’t have a receipt; we have a stamp in our passport)


Look at all of these copies, you see these receipts, these are from people who paid their fees. You see this? You have to pay this as well.
Yea, I see this. All of those people are idiots. They shouldn’t have paid them, because they got ripped off. Just like you are going to rip me off. Yeah I know. You’re not going to let us leave until we pay this. You’ll stand in our way, you’ve already done this. You guys are fake, and false as hell. And corrupt on top of this. This is bull shit.


So, we went back, and they wouldn’t let us cancel our bike import papers unless we paid the leaving tax. A bunch of bullshit. How do we know this is bull shit? They won’t screw you on this tax leaving Mexico when you go back into the states. They won’t charge you this tax if you’re not at this particular border. They didn’t charge others that had been in front of us on the way south. AND Ty and Jill didn’t pay the fee two days before. (They had 2 bus loads of people behind them, and they wouldn’t get out of line, held everyone up for 5 minutes, and they border immigration let them pass.)


So we paid their bullshit $262 peso ($23) fee, and that was that. ****ERS.



Then we drove right by the fumigation place (the waved us by, cause our paid assistant had paid them off) and drove up to the border guards. Go get your stuff stamped right over there. Yea ok. 5 minutes later, passports stamped for a month, and we were good to go.



Did I mention, the national language of Belize is English? They use miles per hour, and the people aren’t looking to get more out of you just cause your White/American.



Don’t get me wrong. We really enjoyed Mexico. We never had any problems with any of the people. Yea, we did an illegal U-turn at a red light when we were in La Paz, and yea we paid them 500pesos as a “fee” but that was it. 2 military check points asking us to open our bags, a few more just giving us the standard questions, and that was all. Normal shit. Thanks Mexico we loved you. Then, THREE GUYS gives us a sour taste on the way out. So to those guys we say, “**** YOU, ” you don’t represent Mexico, and you should be dismissed, as you are a disgrace. Thanks for the warm welcome Belize, we’ll enjoy our stay. And so far we have.



We rode straight to Hopkins, Belize in search of friends we met in Tulum. Ty and Jill, riding two up on a Suzuki V-Strom 1000. They were staying there, and we wanted to find some friendly people.
Check out Tom on the beach.



Hey Tom, what’s up. Nothing. Cool. Check out that buggered canoe. Yeah, it’s pretty buggered man.



Where are we staying? Ah, we found Ty and Jill, and they had some friends they met, and were in a Cabana.



We found a cheaper version to split that night, and the next night (tonight) we’ve joined them as their friends had left. It’s kick ass. We’re into it $12.50 a night each, and we don’t mind. There are cheaper options, but we didn’t need them. Belize is cheaper then Mexico. Awesome.

Our Cabana has 3 beds, 2 queens, (Ty and Jill are in one, and I’m in another) and a Twin that Tom snagged.



A little view of the inside.



And the view out the front door.



This is shit that people dream about. I told Tom that this morning. De acuerdo (I agree) he said. We’re living it man. Yea man. We are.
It’s sunk in. We’re on a roll. Let’s not stop. Not yet at least.
Onward friends. We’re on a roll.

--Alex
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  #47  
Old 2 Jun 2011
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Man, you seem overly bitter about the fee you had to pay at the border. I mean, I understand how it's like, believe me, but hey, this is how things work in many places around the world, and it's probably going to happen to you again.

I know it sucks when you travel and you feel that people are looking to get more out of you just because you are white, but if you were in their pants, I bet that you'd do exactly the same thing. Do you think North Americans don't try to get more out of the tourists visiting their country? Believe me they do, albeit in a less "overt" manner perhaps.

Immigration officers in the "developed" world don't need to do that because they earn anywhere around $70,000 a year, but not everyone is as lucky. That being said, I'm not excusing their actions or anything, but I'm just saying you gotta keep a cool head when dealing with this kind of situation, or else matters will only get worse. Anger doesn't resolve anything, most especially when you keep the American kind of attitude expecting everything to be going according to your plan and to your standards.

I don't know if you did become as angry during your border crossing as what you expressed in your post, but I can tell you this is not the right way to act in this kind of situation!

Anyhow, I must say that part of what I learned while traveling is that we, white people from North America and Europe, are pretty damn well-off compared to most, and that yes, we do have money. You can't blame people for trying to get a bit out of you. The trick is to stay polite and calm, and never think yourself superior or "better" because of your financial and/or educational background.

Anyway, just wanted to throw in my two cents. I enjoy reading your story, keep it up.

Sam
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  #48  
Old 2 Jun 2011
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Thanks for your post Sam.

And thanks for reading our report. We enjoy all the support we've received so far.

Yea we got angry, but most of our anger was after the fact that we paid a bogus 262 peso fee. We know that we are well off in comparison. Our bikes weren't cheap, and we can afford to ride 20k+ miles to Argentina, and stay in hostels/hotels the entire way. It just so happens that this is a common border crossing fraud that happens at this particular border crossing and we went in angry from the start. We weren't happy. We never got crazy with the border immigration, or started any fights, we just kept feigning ignorance, and asking why we had to pay for something twice.

In the end, we paid their fee, and wrote it off as a cost occurred over the past 58 days.

Angry after the fact? Sure, we were. But yea, you're completely right. They are looking out for themselves, and yes, we'd likely do the same.

We hope to meet you on the road some day.

Keep it real!

--Alex
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  #49  
Old 9 Jun 2011
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BELIZE, THE JUNGLE, CAROCAL, GUATEMALA, AND TIKAL! June 2nd-June 7th Days 62-67

We we’re last in Hopkins Belize when the photos were fluent, and the sun was shining. Then it was overcast, humid, and the jungle vines obscured our view. Next, we were on a Guatemalan island, lakeside, enjoying the cooler temps, site seeing, and swimming. And now, were in the mountains, at a hostel, enjoying views. Stay tuned. (Warning, photo barrage coming)
We spent two nights in Hopkins, Belize with Jill and Ty and thoroughly enjoyed the relaxed pace. Meet Jill and Ty (if you haven’t already)



The next day, Thursday June 2nd, we crossed the country of Belize and landed just east of San Ignacio, 15 miles from the Guatemalan border. That day, we began our three day romp in the Belizean jungle, and loved every minute of it.

On the way there we crossed over a mild hill/mountain range and cruised through some pretty dense jungle. It was true jungle this time, unlike the mix that we had seen in Mexico.



In was a short 100 miles or so we were off the beaten track, following a gravel/sand/dirt road into the jungle, trying to find Barton Creek Outpost. Not far down the road (5 miles or so) we saw the sign. Take a left at the sign, 4 miles later, cross a river. SHIT. Better do it right where that Mennonite family crossed with their horse and carriage!



Safely on the other side, we shall continue.



See the sign, follow the sight of a boy in the distance, and arrive safe and sound at Barton Creek Outpost.



Awe, how nice, a river, shall we go for a swim. Most excellent.



And camp for free!? Yes, we’ll go ahead and do just that.



Time to meet the family. Jacky and Jim ran the show. They had three children, 12, 10, and 4. Caitlyn, Logan, and Cyan.



Logan was a modern day, jungle bred Tarzan and he impressed us all.



Caitlyn and Cyan were a bit more mild tempered, and showed us their horses.



Hammocks surrounded a small grove of palm trees, and offered anyone a nice respite from the Jungle heat. A quick dip in the stream and a lay in the hammocks answered any problems with ease.



The rest of that day passed with just a little bit of horseplay, a bit of reading from the book exchange, relaxing in hammocks, and doing a whole lot of nothing much.



I found a crab though, and Logan snagged it pretty quick. Cyan wanted a photo. And this was the result.



Sleeping in my tent for the first time since I bought it over 4 months ago was nice. It had never even been opened. Excellent. Brand new, now dirty tent.



The next day, we woke up hungry, and it was time for a wonderful home cooked meal from our fantastic host Jackie.



That set the pace for the day, and we were nearly nonstop until dinner.
We took off on the bikes and headed into the wilderness, all on terrible roads and it was AWESOME. We went to two different locations. One was called Rio On, and was a mild river that cascaded over several different layers of rock ledges, creating pools on various levels over an altitude of a couple of hundred feet. We went for a swim and cooled off.



The second location was Big Rock, and was even better. It consisted of a 50 foot waterfall over a very large rock formation that dug deeply into the base of the cliff creating a very deep chasm (couldn’t get to the bottom with a dive mask) with rock faces on 3 sides. Perfect for jumping off of. A 40 foot dive? No problem. 30 foot back flip? Even better!



Afterwards, it was back to the Outpost via the Junction for s and Coca-Cola, then a swing in a hammock, a read of the books, and go to bed early. It was a good day.

The next morning, Jill and Ty left for Flores, Guatemala to go and see Tikal and other things. Tom and I were enjoying the jungle lifestyle and decided to stay for another night. We got some good advice from our host parents Jim and Jacky, and took off in the late morning headed for a destination called Coracol.



Coracol was 40 miles away, through the jungle on crap roads, at 90 degree 100% humidity. However, full gear is the name of the game as no one wants to bite it off road and be unprotected. Coracol is the largest Mayan ruins site in the country of Belize, and when fully uncovered it will be larger the Tikal. Being that is it so far into the jungle, with such terrible road conditions, people often pay $75us or more for a tour to the ruins. Tom and I rode our bikes there for the grand total of $8us in fuel. (Gas is $6usd/gal) Get ready for photo barrage!



When we arrived, a tour group was leaving. Then, we were the only two foreign people in the entire park and archeological area. It was pretty cool.



So we climbed up some ruins, and took a look around. Hey Mom and Dad and Kristi, look at me!



Tom is a modern day Indiana Jones and feels strong urges to climb every tower, look around every corner, and duck into openings for a quick look. He LOVES THIS SHIT. I can’t blame him, it’s pretty awesome.



Check out ancient art!



Hello everyone!



Coracol’s main structure that we saw was enormous. The photos to follow don’t do it justice as you can’t see the top two levels. Either way here is the best way I can give you a representation of the size.
Check out Tom in the upper left corner.



You can see him a bit better if I zoom in.



And here he is again.



The structure was truly massive.

Then, there were the birds! They sound like synthesized, electric organ pipes with a bass riff tossed in to keep it interesting. The live in hanging nests that they build one straw at a time. The sight and sound is incredible.



The staircases leading to nowhere in particular were all over the place. They were part of the trail, but they must have been something more utilitarian when they were first built.



Then there were the trees. OK. We’re in the jungle, and I know it, and the trees where I live are even larger, but these are new trees, and Big Ceiba is big!



When we got back to the park entrance, everyone else was gone. We were the only ones.



That’s when I realized that the top mounting tab for my left pannier case was cracking off the frame of my bike. And I lost my bolt. (I have an extra) Granted, it’s the flimsy tab that holds on my empty tool tube, but it needed to be addressed.
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  #50  
Old 9 Jun 2011
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story continued...



So I used a piece of webbing to tightly hold the pannier to the frame, swapped my tools from that case to the other, and Tom and I rode back to our jungle abode.





When I got back, the J-B weld came out in force! I applied and re-applied. And it’s held through 275 miles thus far (40 of which were hard off road).



I am proud of my bodge job.



The day after, Tom and I rode out of the Belizean Jungle, aimed for the Guatemalan border, in search of Ty and Jill in Flores. Without much ado, and with normal border crossing fees, we were in a new country. Guatemala had two new temporary residents.
Having spent the first 2 months in Mexico, it was a culture shock/relief to ride into Belize. From Spanish to English, from market places to mini grocery stores, from short tanned amigos, to tall dark skinned “brahs”, from street side advertisements to billboards; all of it tossed us for a loop.
And now, 5 days later were reversing out polarity, resuming our Spanish language abilities, and preparing ourselves for anything new.
The excitement for me is palpable. I enjoy being somewhere new. “Well, damn Tom, we’re in Guatemala. How about that eh?”
That night we found ourselves circling the island of Flores, searching for a hostel of some sort. Nearly instantly we found the V-Strom 1000 that Ty and Jill are riding. How much is a room please? 100 quetzales (ket-zal-ehs). $12.75usd for a double room with a fan and private bathroom. Yeah. We’ll take it.

So the night passed easily, and we had reason to believe our old friend and traveling partner, Charlie, would arrive that night, hauling ass on his way to meet his friend in Costa Rica. Charlie is traveling with a Swedish/American named Patrick who rides a Dr400. And later we would learn that Sarah was tagging along as well. We were about to be reunited in style!

The next day, Ty, Jill, Tom and I, took off for the ruins of Tikal. It was awesome. We had an interesting experience upon entrance, and achieved a student price via a shady guide who walked down a trail around the entrance and paid off two park guards. “Can we have a ticket please?” “Ah… No. With student price you no get ticket. I your ticket.” “Ahhhh. Ok. Well, it’s too late now, now isn’t it!?”



On the way in, we saw some GNARLY grasshoppers. Ever see one of these? We hadn’t.



“Hey Tom. Check out that hole.” “Oh DAMN” says Tom. “I f’n WANT to pasar that shit!” (Remember, Tom is a modern day Indiana Jones)



Local wild foxes roam the ruins and call the mini burrows their homes.



And some of the larger constructions of the pre-Hispanic era.



These little guys owned the trails, and chased you for food. A local guide warned me not to get to close, as they will scratch you and fight for your food. I happened to be holding a bag of bread and peanut butter.



Looking across the Grand Plaza was an impressive view



The tallest structure, Templo IV, stands 75 meters above the jungle floor. When you arrive at the top, the “junglescape” changes and the view looks out over the horizon with other structures poking through the jungle canopy.
Ty and Jill were just as happy as I was to be there.



With so many photos of other people, Ty (or was it Jill) took a photo of me for the record books.



On our way back to the entrance having seen much of what was to be offered, we saw this patriotic bug in its full glory. Red, white, and a brilliant blue.



The plants grow in weird (awesome) shapes and sizes as well. A normal green tree will sprout a bright orange bud, no doubt attracting the necessary bugs or birds for pollination.



Then the monkeys came out to play! We heard quite a few howler monkeys, but mostly saw spider monkeys. They were swinging from the trees and having a great time. I snagged this opportune photo as I tracked the second in line crossing from tree to tree.



On the way out, we passed another large ruin. I didn’t read the map, and couldn’t be bothered to read the signs that were on the other side of the courtyard, but I think it served as a recreational area, religious ceremony location, and something else equally important.



After the ruins, we took off to return to Flores. On the way out of the park (18km’s) a guy on a bike came up from behind and flagged me down. Who else could it be but Charlie, the Australian! He found us! Most excellent!

We spent the rest of that night reuniting with our old friends, and making more. Sarah was there, Charlie was there, a new friend Patrick was there, Ty, Jill, Tom, myself, and two girls from New Zealand named Anna and Kim.

Well, that was a recipe for disaster (of the good kind) and by the end of the night, we were all very tired, and it was time for bed.



Our view from the hostel was nice, and overlooked the lake. Swimming from the local dock was nice, and the water was nice and warm.



The next morning, with an urge to get on the road, Tom and I, along with Jill and Ty, and Patrick and Charlie took off. Sarah stayed behind. Turns out she wanted to see El Mirador and spend some more time in town. Our goal was Lake Atitlan. On the way we’d see Lanquin, and then head west to Atitlan. Well that didn’t take place. But we did start off well. Patrick rides a Dr400, Tom and I are on Dr650’s, Charlie rides a Tenere 660, and Ty and Jill are on a v-Strom 1000. 4 Suzuki’s, one Yamaha.



Half way through we ran into a river crossing with a ferry that cost 5 quetzales.



No problem. The river wasn’t very wide, but the ferry was sturdy, and we had no issues.



Soon thereafter, we were on great roads that soon turned into not so great roads and had us all on our toes. Especially Ty and Jill.



We took a break from the road and waited for Tom, Ty and Jill who were taking it easy. Patrick’s Dr400 shined on the dirt. His bike is geared down for off road, and thus he really enjoyed the dirt. Cruising at 55-60mph isn’t much fun.



Then we hit a rock slide. Well, it was a man made rock slide, in preparation for making the road wider, but we arrived 30 minutes after they began their construction, and had to wait until they cleared the blast debris from the road.



So, we whipped a U-turn (a little difficult for the bigger bikes) and road ten minutes back to the previous town where there were warm s for those inclined, and an internet café for anyone else. That is where we met every local 6-12 year old child in the city’s population.



This particular photo is quite the display of their enthusiastic embrace of their foreign visitors.



After the rock slide/construction was cleared away, we took off down the road. One of us generally stays behind the behemoth V-Strom 1000 just in case it goes down. As the road wound down the mountain, the rain began, and we all were soaked. BUT, no one laid their bikes down.
At the base of the mountains we found our destination for the night in Lanquin. Zephyr lodge is a bustling hostel on top of a hill overlooking a valley and surrounded by tropical scenery. A camp spot goes for 15q (2 dollars) a night (pays for electricity and water) and a dorm goes for 35q (less than $5). When we arrived there were no beds left, and Tom, Jill, Ty and I camped in our tents. Patrick and Charlie slept on a camp matt on the floor.
The view in the morning is quite nice.



And the party goes all night long.



That was last night. And nobody went to bed early. There is no last call, and everyone staying at the hostel has to turn over there passport for the duration of their stay. Why? You ask. Because every purchase is made on your personal tab. Beer, cigarettes, food, tours, etc. If you want your passport back, you pay your tab. If you don’t have enough money, then when you leave, the transport driver takes you to an ATM, and you pay HIM for your passport.
Charlie rang up a MASSIVE five hundred quetzale tab for the night (roughly $70) and everyone else besides me was drunk.
We woke up late this morning and went for a swim in the river, had a bite to eat, and now were relaxing in lawn chairs, hammocks, benches, or chairs. The last week that we have been on the road has been one of the most eventful thus far.
Ty and Jill left this morning headed for Guatemala City. They have to return to the states to take care of some unexpected family business.
Patrick and Charlie will leave tomorrow morning as they have planned dates further south and must be on their way.
Tom and I will stay for at least another night and then head towards Lake Atitlan.
Sorry it’s been so long since the last update, but it’s been too good to take a break from!
Thanks again for following along!


--Alex
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  #51  
Old 10 Jun 2011
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Wow more great photos and reports, keep em coming and don't apologize for the delay in reporting ! Just have fun and send em when you are up to it.
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  #52  
Old 15 Jun 2011
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What does success look like in real time?

Would you like a ride to Semuc Champey? We can jump off a bridge, and you can get a tan. Sounds good. Yes please!




I break the ice, Tom cleans it up.


We finally left our home in the mountains of Guatemala; Zephyr Logde in Lanquin, Guatemala.

We stayed 7 nights and left this morning. Now were an hour from Lake Atitlan in Western Guatemala. We´re in Tecpan, and are taking it easy at a nice hotel with a couple of beds, free wifi, and a private bathroom. The bikes are locked in a gargage, and we have nothing else but food to worry about until tomorrow morning.

More to come in the near future!

--Alex
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  #53  
Old 15 Jun 2011
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Good work boys, keep enjoying yourselves and entertaining us!
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  #54  
Old 15 Jun 2011
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We’re back on the road!!!

After 7 nights of intense Guatemalan mountain hostel atmosphere, Tom and I got off of our asses and got on the road once again. We covered 200ish miles towards Lake Atitlan, and came an hour short of our destination of San Pedro, Guatemala.



Currently Tom is sleeping and I, having slept 9 hours, have awoken to the noise of local construction to fill everyone in on our antics for the past week. The previous post was a teaser. We’ve done a lot more then go for motorcycle rides in the area. Well… Not a whole lot more, but we did do SOME stuff.

Our famous last words, “We’ll be leaving in a day or two.”
Yea. RIGHT.


A day turns into two, which turns into 4, and we end up leaving on the morning of the 8th day.


We got burned out. I lost my voice from talking too much (hmm… weird…) and Tom was hung over no less than three times (half as much as everyone else) Every morning we would awake to an 85 degree day, with nothing planned, and no urge to plan anything else. A hammock sounds nice.



Jill and Ty left the day they planned. Charlie and Patrick stayed a day later than planned. Tom and I stayed 5 more days than planned. Patrick and Charlie were on the same page as us mentally, though had plans for the future and thus left earlier.



Over the next five days, we did manage to get a few things done. We went tubing down the river



(twice)



We even made it out for a local tour of Samuc Champey, a quechi (local native language) name that translates to large holes with water.


The tour consisted of several key factors.


#1, It begins 9 kilometers away, over some very mountainous terrain of which your meant to arrive by 4wd truck driving over treacherous roads.


#2 Many other people from the hostel want to take the same tour. Exchange 4wd truck for 4dr, 4wd, dual axle hauling rig, and slam 28 people into the body and the bed. Throw up some guard rails so you don’t fall out, and toss your guide on the roof. Done.


#3 Ride for 30 minutes to the entrance while bouncing around amidst twenty plus other sweating people in every increasing temps at ever increasing speeds.


#4 Arrive, drop off any belongings in locker area, and proceed to rope swing. Watch people land poorly and receive bruises of all sizes. Impress the folks with a back flip.


#5 Go deep into a cave system, holding candles as your only light source, reach the end, jump off cave walls into 6 feet of water, and watch a kid tear his pants from nearly hitting the wall on the way down.


#6 Go back to the bridge at the entrance. Jump of it several times. Gather audience. Do back flip.



Then proceed to the water holes and lagoons of Samuc Champey. Hike up and down and around to get there. Stub your toes, and arrive in the water. See the prohibited 50 foot waterfall that no one is allowed to jump off anymore. Convince the guide not to worry. Check the depth of the water. Climb back up. And then jump off with Juice, the Dutch guy who isn’t afraid. Land well. Climb up, and boast.

Once back at the hostel (following another ridiculous but entertaining truck ride) sit down, and watch the party unfold.



It begins slowly, but in the next thirty minutes, it is happy hour, and drinks are cheap from 6-8pm. After which the drunken people will buy full priced drinks until they go to bed at 1, 2, or 3am in the morning.

Tom held the bong for Deiter, the local Guatemalan resident and hostel worker. Dieter was the champ.



Shortly thereafter, witness the hostel owner, most likely drunk among other things, laying on the floor with an opportunistic British girl.



Turn around in time to capture the owner dancing with his dog, who, believe it or not, was complacent the entire time, and was begging for more fun afterwards.



And finally, catch a photo of him sleeping. The British girl wanted in on it too.



The next day, it was time to catch up with Loancy, the Costa Rican Jeweler who left home (for traveling) about 5 weeks ago with 180USD. He sets up his table,



and sells randomly to the hostelers. I employed him to make me a new chain for my Saint Christopher pendant that my mom gave me before I left. He did a good job.



All of the days have blurred into one image over the past week but it has been excellent nonetheless. One memory involved a rather old woman selling fried Taco shells with potato inside. Each one was 2q, or 25cents. I bought 4. This woman was incredibly small and stood well under 5 feet.



The hostel had pets as well. Two cats with a litter of 6 or so kittens, and three dogs, with a litter of 5 or 6 puppies. Lots of animals running around. Apparently, the orange cat liked tomatoes, as I sat and watched it eat one for 10 minutes.



Somewhere in the midst of our stay, we came to the conclusion that we didn’t have enough cash on hand to pay our tabs when we left, whenever that might be. We didn’t have outrageous tabs, we just had no money.


No money meant a day trip into Coban to hit an ATM. It didn’t make sense to both go, so I took Juice, a 6’2 Dutch guy, two up to Coban for his first motorcycle ride EVER. He thoroughly enjoyed it, and when we returned 5 hours later, Tom and I had enough money to pay our bill regardless of the outcome.

And the day we left felt the pain. Well I didn’t, because I don’t drink much and having only purchased 2 s the entire time (I Like food more) my weekly tab including all lodging and the tours was just short of $1350 quetzals, or $173usd. A nice daily average of under $25usd a day.


Tom paid the nice lady at the bar (Aurelie) a handsome sum of $2300q, or $42/day. Still on budget!!!



Then, it was time to leave. And we did, to great ado, having been there for 7 days, making friends with everyone, telling many a story, and enjoying life.

With a hug from half the staff, handshakes from the other half, high fives and back slaps, we were on our way.



ONWARD!!!

--Alex
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And we’re off.



After 7 days in the middle of the Guatemalan Highlands at Zephyr Lodge; we left, on a mad tear, aiming for Lake Atitlan.
Haha. Yea, right.



Instead we made it within 100km (60miles, or roughly 1 ½ hours, or so we thought) of the lake and stayed in a cheap but really nice hotel in Tecpan. Nothing happened that day that was notable, and thus no photos were taken. More accurately, we didn’t stop riding the whole time.



The next day, we began our 100km journey from Tecpan to San Pedro. This should take an hour or so huh Tom. Yea, I’d say so.
A measly 4 hours later we arrived.



But not before we left Tecpan on a 10 mile road a local farmer said would take us out to the city/highway of Patzun. It was a road, and it existed in dirt form. And so we took us over 35 minutes, but that included throwing on our waterproof jacket/pant liners.



Next to tackle a rather impressive mountain range, very steep, significantly high, and not too wide at the base. Switchbacks anyone?



And the view of the clouds from there.



On the way back down to the valley below, we came across a washed out bridge. Being just the very beginning of the wet season, the river was quite low, and the local Guatemalan construction crew had cleared a path to the best fordable location in the river, and so we crossed, engine cases steaming, exhaust pipes burning.



With much ado and 4 hours in total, we had ridden 57 miles and arrived in the town of San Pedro, Lago de Atitlan, Guatemala. With hardly a view of the lake due to all of the clouds, we dragged ourselves into town.
Nearly immediately we ran into local Zephyr Lodger’s and asked for recommendations on what hostel would have space for our bikes to park in. The result?



The parking space was a nicely groomed raised flower bed. Notice Sarah’s bike. She arrived 2 days after we did.



Again, we met more fellow travelers, this time, from as far back as Tulum. Meat Suzy, who jumped for joy in our dorm.



It turns out that San Pedro happens to be the place everyone enjoys an endless party lifestyle. Immediately it began clear. Bars close at 11pm, but our hostel serves at store prices until the wee hours of the night.

Well the hostel crowd is just a drunken crowd, so Tom and I took off to the Buddha Bar with Anna and Kim, some kiwis that we met in Flores.



The party was slow to start, but….



Picked up speed rather quickly when new people arrived,


Soon thereafter, we swaggered on over to another friendly bar whose name has since been forgotten.



And again, there, the party picked up steam.



That was the way of things for a while until the 11pm nightly bar curfew, and thus we headed back to the hostel. Plans? Yes, let’s eat breakfast tomorrow at 9:30am, and then go horse riding. Damn, the first solid plans in 75 days? Wake up early and on time? The things I do for you Tom.

The girls were bright and chipper the next morning, and posed kindly with Tom. Meet Anna (blonde) and Kim (brunette)



They came bearing gifts, and Tom received a basically brand spanking new, Kathmandu fanny pack courtesy of Kim as she never used it.



Tom made the call on the fanny pack. I can’t rock it as well as he does.

After breakfast we sought the horse people, and were soon scheduled for a 2hr, 60quetzal ($7.50) horse ride up and down the mountain side, to happen at 12:30.


So we returned, and to our dismay found all of the horses to be under weight, over worked, and under powered. And yet at this point we were too far back to back out. And so we paid the man and mounted our steeds. Tom’s wonderful horse ended up kicking mine and another. Mine was backed into by another horse that reared, and consequently fell down. Another rider’s horse fell down and couldn’t get up until he dismounted and re-mounted. And yet, they carried us for 2 hours over cobble stones, grass, mud, rocks, trails, and roads. And when we finished, they all appeared exercised if not overly tired.



Tom manned up two days later and bought 30 carrots for $2usd, and went back and fed each horse a couple of carrots.

Then we hung out at the hostel, played pool, played guitar, hung out with Gilad (from Isreal), Anna and Kim,(Kiwi) Suzy, Peter,(Canada) Venny, and Lucy (British). It was awesome, and we all went to bed around 2am as word of a major all night party was being flung around. Would it be truth or solely rumor?


And it was truth. Plans were made, seeded, watered, and gathered, ground, consumed and expelled.



And thus, at 11pm we got on a boat, along with 25 other people, amongst whom, some were fellow hostel friends. And we crossed a portion of the lake, and arrived amongst throngs of other people, who apparently had been there for a while, waiting for a generator, that didn’t work, and whose gas was siphoned into another generator that did work.



Then the music started, and we realized that we had 5 hours until the first boat would start taking people back across the lake to San Pedro, and our hostel homes. And so we danced, a LOT. And Skylar and Kristine arrived, and Gilad was there, and Gilad and I had an impromptu dance off which he handily won. And then Taylor arrived, and Tom danced with her. And Kristine and Skylar danced together. And we partied until 5am, and took the first boat back to civilization, and slept until 2pm.

When we awoke, we made plans to leave the next day. Too much partying going on. Tom must stop and recuperate. I must sleep more. And so the next day, we left amidst sunshine. Two similar photos, with the latter having a better looking guy in it.



And



As we left we made plans to get past Guatemala City , and we did, just barely, after getting lost more than once.



Now were in a roadside hotel and plan on sleeping well until tomorrow morning when we head to the Guatemala/Honduras border crossing near Copan Ruins. Apparently Kim and Anna will be there tomorrow morning as well.

Until next time!

--Alex
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With San Pedro de Atitlan, Guatemala in our rear view mirrors, Tom and I headed for Copan Ruinas, Honduras.



We made it about half way. We stopped short along the way after getting mixed up in the maze that is Guatemala City. We stayed the night at a road side hotel, and left early enough the next morning.



That’s when things got interesting. Well, a bit more interesting then they had been the previous few days of riding. I took a few good looks at the map, and read a few names, and then we took off.



And I promptly took us in a direction that was serviceable, but NOT the most ideal. Well, we’re on an adventure right? Let’s keep going this way yea? Ok…


And so we went, and thus we ended up riding up and down over some mountains on dirt roads,



and coming out on a highway very close to the El Salvador/Guatemala border. With only a slight clue of where we were,



we stopped to ask for directions and a shop owner turned us around, pointed us in the right direction, and we were off.



From there to the Copan Ruinas, Honduran/Guatemalan border, we were 40 minutes away. At the border, we had little hassle, spent about 1.5 hours doing it all, then proceeded in normal afternoon torrential down pour, the next 20 kilometers to Copan.



Then we arrived, and found in short order, our Kiwi friends, Anna and Kim.



We went out for dinner, found some good pizza, and subsequently crashed in our respective rooms.



The next day was an easy choice. Stay in Copan, Honduras and check out the Copan Ruins, or continue east to the Caribbean coast, and potentially learn to SCUBA dive on Roatan. Having seen many ruins we took off the next morning and made it to La Ceiba, on the coast of the Caribbean, and the port town to the Bay Islands.
This guy was in too much of a hurry.



Anna and Kim were hours ahead of us, and that day took the afternoon ferry to Roatan. Tom and I arrived just a bit later and spent the night in La Ceiba, a pretty desolate town at night that seems to be a slightly less than desirable place to stay for any length of time.

Now. The girls are already on the island, with the plan to take a scuba diving course over the next 4-5 days. That sounded great to me. I haven’t ever been scuba diving, so I might as well give it a go. Not to mention, the Bay Islands of Honduras are one of the cheapest places on the planet to do so.



So, I went to the ferry dock, paid a substantial amount of money, put my bike on a large boat, and hopped on.



Tom, had other plans. He likes to windsurf, and having spent a summer in Hood River, Oregon as a windsurf instructor, had his eyes on a wind sports outfit in Trujillo about 2 hours down the coast from La Ceiba. And thus for the first time in planned time in 80 days (not including when I crashed on day 10) we split paths. I went to Roatan to scuba dive, and Tom went to Trujillo to find wind surfing.


The boat out to the island took 1hr 40mins, and everyone was barfing.



I used to work on a boat like this, no problem. Walk around, hangout outside, go inside, have a kid barf on my shoes, and subsequently spend the next 3 minutes hanging over a rail next to my motorcycle. I was doing fine. UNTIL that kid barfed on me. Damn it.

Off the boat on the island, and take a 20 minute ride to the West end of the island. Find the same place the girls are staying at (cheap)



Find a room,



Park my bike, and set out on foot.



The next few days all smash together. I met up with Kim and Anna the same day I arrived, and we started an Open Water Dive course the next day. They had already chosen an outfit called Reef Gliders, and as all of the prices on the island are pretty competitive, I signed up along with them.



The cheapest food stand on the island sells Baleadas for 30 Lempiras. At 19 Lmps to the $1, they are about $1.50 each. Soft fried taco shells with beans, cheese, and meat inside. I eat about 3-4 a day.



Over the next few days, we were in the water a lot. A little bit of class room time, and a lot of time underwater. Over 4 days, we were underwater for about 7-8 hours, and we all enjoyed it thoroughly. Fishes are everywhere, the reefs are incredible, and we were swimming along from 30-55 feet most of the time. It was great, and I’m glad I did it!


After the course every day, (4 days in a row), we often found food, had s, went for a swim at the beach, laid in the sun, hung out, or did anything else that caught our fancy. Often times, it just meant watching the sunsets.



The sunsets here are pretty good.



When we’re not swimming, we’re hanging out with friends near the water. Check out Anna and our Dutch friend Casimir.



Pretty soon, Roberto (Dutch) and Kim joined them.



The beach front bar “Sun Downers” stays pretty busy throughout the week. They have a good thing going.



And as the sun sets finally, people continue the festivities at the bar, or elsewhere.



For us, it is our Gecko infested cabins. We like the geckos though, as they eat the bugs.



Roberto and Kim had a hammock,



Anna and Casimir found the other, (they’re mesmerized by the geckos)



And that night it was my turn to cook dinner.



As it is now, we’re heading out soon, and will be on the mainland tomorrow morning. I’ll meet up with Tom at a pre-determined location, and we’ll be on our way south that same afternoon. Nicaragua is on the Horizon, and for the first time in the last three months, we have something planned more than a few days in advance.



We have reserved a spot on the German sailing vessel, The Stahlratte, to facilitate our crossing from Panama to Colombia. We depart July 28th from Panama, and arrive in Colombia 5 days later. The price tag isn’t cheap ($820usd including our bikes), but we planned ahead for it.



Charlie the Australian and his friend Andy are also planning to be on the same journey, so it should be a great time all around.



So far so good! From what I hear, Tom had a good time on the mainland as well. He found now wind in Trujillo, and thus his windsurfing plans were thwarted, but of course he met other people (some Canadians) and had a good time. We join forces in the morning and once again we’ll hit the road. Rubber side down.



Thanks for all the compliments and encouragement. It means a lot. We’re thoroughly enjoying our trip thus far and have high hopes for the next 6 months!


--Alex
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Ometepe Island, in the middle of Lake Nicaragua

Hola Amigos y Parientes,

We are currently on Ometepe Island, in the middle of Lake Nicaragua, the 19th largest lake in the world, here in the middle of Nicaragua. It’s been a quick paced 7 or 8 days, and all sorts of energetic things have been going on.
As we left off, I was still on Roatan Island in Honduras where I earned my PADI open water diving certificate with the Kiwi girls, Kim and Anna, and the next day I was headed back to the mainland to find Tom in La Ceiba to continue south and leave Honduras for Nicaragua.

As I left Roatan, I snagged a final glimpse of one of the establishments that provided me with at least 25% of my caloric intake. The ice cream stand…



Shortly thereafter, I had ridden 20 minutes, arrived at the ferry terminal, loaded my bike, and was on my way to the mainland, in search of Tom. We met within 45 minutes of my arrival at our planned 10am meeting spot, in which I spent the downtime surfing the web from a Wendy’s wifi link while eating a chocolate Frosty.

Tom and I hopped on our bikes and took off, with our destination of Tegucigalpa on the horizon, somewhere southwest. On the way we passed a massive lake, took a break, and ate some fish at a road/lakeside restaurant. Tom looks pensive, (“What did we just order man? I don’t know, I didn’t understand shit of what she just said. Yea, me neither…”)


Oh, is that what we ordered? Right on, at least we thought there was some fish coming.



Here’s a closer look at our lunch. Thanks Mr. Fish, that was tasty.



Back on the road, we took tore off, headed south. We ended up just south of Tegucigalpa, the capital city of Honduras. We road into and out of the city non-stop, and landed on its southern edge in yet another infamous Auto Hotel. This one was just like all the rest in that it had a garage, a big bed, cable tv, a big bathroom, and room service, which served us our large dominoes pizza and a two liter of pepsi. Awesome.



It didn’t take long before we passed out, woke up, and were on our way South again. This time we hit the internet café, made copious copies of all of our paperwork (10 copies of each for less than 45cents in total) and headed towards the Nicaraguan border. We were there in no time at all, paid our dues, bought insurance, dealt with pushy money changers, and obtained all necessary paperwork and stamps, and took took off.

As the border took a while, we eventually stopped in Esteli, Nicaragua, a short hop skip and a jump to Granada, our planned “hang out” spot for the following few days. On the way there however, as is customary, we were passing multitudes of semi drivers, school busses packed with travelers and locals, slow pickup trucks, mini motorcycles, and whatever else was going slower than us. Please also keep in mind that this is a normal, completely acceptable, and widely practiced method of driving in this country. Sooo,

On the way up a 2km hill I passed a sluggish, overloaded semi truck tht was probably rolling along at the goodly clip of 25 miles an hour. I was going 60+. Tom, being that he was maintaining a safe and adequate distance from me didn’t have the time or space to pass the semi in the provided passing zone on the hill…

So instead, Tom did what EVERY other normal person driving here in Nicaragua does. Tom passed the semi on the inside of the upcoming curve all while maintaining a completely free line of sight that extended for well over half a mile. Having passed the semi on the hill, inside the passing zone, I was within the law of the local land. Tom however passed “illegally” and it just so happened that the local traffic police were waiting on the other side.


I was politely asked to stop, they asked me where I was going, and bid me a farewell. Tom however, as a result of his being caught passing the semi truck on the inside of a turn in a no passing zone all while being white and foreign, paid a 400 Cordoba fee, straight to the hand of one of the police officers, and for the polite sum of $17.85 we were on our way again while Tom suffered the first speeding ticket of the last 8,300+ miles.

It would please you to know that we watched a local Nicaraguan get stopped for the exact same offense within 5 minutes of us. He however, would pay his fine at the bank, and not to the officers. (We didn’t want to go to the bank). It just so happens as well, that the fine for driving inebriated is a minimal $1400 Cordobas, or a measly $62.5 USD.

Esteli, as our stopping point of the day had a nice $7.60 double room with a bitchin’ overpowered ceiling fan waiting for us upon arrival. We had our own beds, and shared a magnificently shrouded bathroom.



We wasted no time, and took off. Granada was our destination. On the way there, we took one break, and then kept going.



Soon thereafter we were in Granada, on the lake side of Lake Nicaragua, the 19th largest lake in the world. We found the town center, sat down in one of the corners of the square, had some food, and took off in search of the Bearded Monkey Hostel, which had been recommended to us prior.



In lieu of a good time, instead, we ran into...



Damn, we can’t get away from them.

Anna and Kim are on the tourist circuit, as are we. Our times and dates collide consistently. However, our pace of life is distinctly different. I think we’ve done as much shit in the last 4 days then we have in any other week of this trip. And it goes like this.

Number 1, check out all the cool stuff in and around Granada, and start with Lagunas de Apoyo.



Check out the water, and grab a group photo. The girls love Tom.



Number 2, Party it up on the dance floor in the town that night, wake up tired, and head out for the “Tree House” hostel after a quick lunch.



A view of the streets of Granada.



Number 3, arrive at the Tree House, a hostel in the Jungle halfway up a forested hillside, employed by 100% hippied out guys and girls, and spend the night there.
Check out the makings of a mad man with an idea.



And our dorm room home in the jungle.



Everything is made from the local wood, and therefore everything is made of jungle hardwood that would otherwise be quite expensive at home.



Grab a hammock and hang out with the howler monkey. Ignore their wild calls and let them lull you to sleep.



Meet some local hippies, dreads and all. Don’t mind the normal appearance of Mark the Irish guy; he’s unfamiliar with the lifestyle associated with Dreads. (Far left) Also notice your first introduction to the house dog.



Have a swing in the Hammock. Kim loves Hammocks.



Head upstairs for some dinner. Mexican taco salad, minus the ground beef because the House pet dog climbed up on the table and ate all of it. I wonder why… her owner is a vegetarian hippy that likely doesn’t feed her meat.



Shortly after eating the meat, the dog went into a short lived food coma.



But soon after laying down, it hopped back up again. Is it hungry? Again?!



Nah, it’s just looking around.



And in short order she’s playing around!



Without missing a beat, the dog switches sides, and starts molesting Rae!



But that proved to be too much excitement for the dog, and in seconds it had lied down, and without much effort, relieved herself of half of her previously consumed ground beef.



But….. damn, being the persistent dog that she is. She couldn’t leave it there. So she ate it twice.



She played some more and got excited again…. And went for round 2.



But wouldn’t rest, and ate her meal a third time.




This happened a third time, but without documentation. And so instead, I proceeded to find myself a hammock which didn’t suit me so well.



While the others we’re being a bit more active.



Meet Mark and Donal, from Ireland, on a 6 weeks summer vacation from University.




Stay tuned for round 2 in T minus 3 minutes....
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story continued...

Damnit, more animals. This cat ate bugs. And was prolific.



But it wouldn’t eat this one! (The size of the inside of the palm of my hand, or about 3” across)



Finally, at bed time, after copious cheap s, we hit the sacks in our too short for me dorm beds, and slept in the jungle, to be awoken by the heat of the sun the next day.



And then perform the ritualistic hike up the hill for breakfast in the main lodge area.



This guy came for a visit and sat still just long enough for a photo.



And the local lady bug, 20 times the size of the ones I’m used to.



Number 4: After one night in the Tree House, we were ready to go. Too many hippies, empty cans, and residual fumes were emanating from the jungle. It was time to find the ocean. Which we did, in San Juan del Sur, Playa Matilda.



A dorm bed at Matilda’s cost $8usd, and the local cuisine was excellent.



As the sun set, ,we began our festivities.



The Irish guys from the Tree House came, an Austrian was already there, a local Nicaraguan, and Anna, Kim, Tom and I.



It didn’t take long before we went to bed.



The next day we walked along the beach to Playa Madera, and found the local surf spot. Having not seen the Pacific Ocean since Mazatlan, we hopped in and went for a swim. Kim rented a board for the day, took a lesson, stood up a couple times, passed off the board to Tom and Anna, and I read the rest of the book that I picked up in the jungle at the Tree House. “Around the World in 80 Days” great book.

After a long day on the beach, much of which I spent in a reclining beach chair in the shade, it was time to make the hike back to the other side of the beach to our dorms and hit the sack.

We woke to the crashing waves,



And in no time at all we headed south to San Jorge, back onto the coast of Lake Nicaragua. Destination, Ometepe Island.



Number 5, the ferry to the island takes about one hour, and we arrived early to the next departure date. Luckily there were a couple monkey’s in a tree who were quite pleasant.



In no time at all, our ferry arrived, and I prepared to load the bike…. It was going to be interesting.



Maybe I should push it onto the deck… Don’t ride it man, this ramp isn’t too strong. How inspiring.



However, with little ado, our bikes were loaded, and we were on our way to being burnt in the midday sun while crossing the water.



For the return voyage, we determined we’d take the Ferry Che Guevara.



Ometepe is made of 2 volcanoes that rose from the middle of the lake several thousand years ago. One cone “Concepcion” rises just over 5500 feet from the lake’s surface. The second, “Madera” rises just under 4500 feet. Both are impressive sights.



Number 6, island life. On the island, there are many things to do. Rent a bike and ride around the island (we did that today on our own bikes). Climb one of the two volcanoes (eh, if we can muster the energy, otherwise, nah). Or go to Agua de Ojo (that sounds nice).



And so we spent the night on the island, having relaxed the afternoon away without much else going on. Anna and Kim made it to the island on the same boat we did and we all sat around doing our own thing that night.

Now today, July 7, 2011, we went to Agua de Ojos, the natural freshwater spring that generates 5,500gl (21,230 liters) of fresh water every day that consequently drains into Lake Nicaragua. The water was cool and refreshing, crystal clear, and the weather was great.

After the fresh water springs, we headed back to the hostel. Kim and Anna have it in their minds to do some diving in the Nicaraguan Caribbean. This afternoon they took off on the earliest boat to the mainland and are flying to Little Corn Island tomorrow. Tom and I will relax and do nothing tomorrow. The next day, we’ll make it to the main land, and if inspired, drop south into Costa Rica. Rumor has it that Charlie the Australian and his mate Andy have recently returned from their jaunt to Cuba, and are on the prowl. We plan to find them and help them raise hell. It should be good!

Number 7, Relax, do nothing, enjoy the island life, eat well, and sleep well.

Until next time! Onward.

--Alex
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Great trip report and great trip as it appears you guys are having the times of your lives !! Which of course is the whole idea of the trip huh !!
Keep it up as it is great reading.

Steve
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Awesome!

The last time you “SAW” us, we were still on an island, and we thought we’d leave the next day or so. Well, we didn’t. Why? Because we saw some friends of ours walking down the street while we were eating dinner the night before we thought we were going to leave. No plans are the best plans.



Their names are Mara and Chilanka (She-Lane-Ka), they are from Holland, and we had promised them a motorcycle ride in Granada, Nicaragua. Well, we left earlier than planned and didn’t see them before we left. They held us to our promise, and so we stayed the night and actually did something the next day, and rode around the island with some passengers. Neither had ever ridden a motorcycle.



Don’t worry babe, (Kristi) the one with the boyfriend got on my bike.


The first stop on the ride. Back to Agua de Ojos.



Tom and the girls spent a few minutes checking out the menu while I swam. Then, they sun bathed in the Nicaraguan Sol. Meet Chilanka on the left, Mara on the right.



We were all having a good time, and soon the party grew by 5 more Dutchies that the girls had met before and before we knew it, we’d been there 2 hours.



Then, we took off. Our goal? Ride around Madera Volcano. Apparently this is not an easy adventure, and though it is only about 30 miles of road, it’s a 3 hour adventure. I’ll be damned if we weren’t out riding for nearly that long at least. Not only did we see the most intense off road that we’ve seen yet, we also had passengers that had never been on bikes before. They held their own though, and didn’t freak out when the going got tough. We didn’t think twice in telling them to get off when we hit the gnarly stuff, and they obliged kindly.

Best shot of the day? An epic shot of Tom doing what we do best.



My bike? It got dirty, and Chilanka, got her “facebook” shot.



Soon after that, we came out near the end of the road, 2.5 hours later, and found ourselves at a little shop where we bought some snacks. While we munched our food, these little guys did the same.



It got physical, but they each held their own.



It wasn’t long after that Tom and I landed back on our feet in our hotel room, exhausted, and ready to do nothing again. The girls had different ideas, and headed off to find the Dutch guys to party that night. We left them to their business, and haven’t seen them since. They’ll be ok.

The next morning we hopped on a boat and headed back to mainland Nicaragua. On the boat we met a Czech guy that lives in Chile and was riding a Honda CG125 from Chile to the US. He’d already covered 18k miles, and was about to 5-6 more. He’d only ever changed the oil, replaced the rear tire once, and was still on the original front tire. Managing to get 80mpg more or less, he never skipped a beat. His name was Andres, he was cool guy.


When we hit the mainland, we stopped for some food, bought some gas, and hit the road headed for the Costa Rica/Nicaragua border. We found it in short order and with the help of a local border crossing Sherpa, we paid about $20 each, made it out of Nicarauga and into Costa Rica, all exit/entry/insurance fees paid. Success. Greatfully, I kept seeing a local Costa Rican woman behind me at every step of the procedure when I had to get a stamp or pay a fee, confirming I wasn’t getting screwed.


Now, in Costa rica, we’re back with the boys! We found Charlie and along with him, his friend Andy. Charlie and Andy have been in the country for about a month, waiting for Andy’s bike to arrive via sea freight. Well, it was 30 days late, but it arrived yesterday!


Andy and I spent a 9 hours chasing it down, along with local freight agents, but we found his bike! It was always in the same place, but I’ll be liar if 9-10 pages weren’t stamped at nine-ten different locations, which Andy had to be at personally, and his Passport/License came out about every time. It was a hassle, and it was a pain in the ass. But in the end, Andy had his bike, and the two of us rode two up back to the hotel that we’ve been staying at.



The pictures have been lacking lately, but now we are 4. A complete package of: 2 Americans, 2 Australians, 2 Dr650’s, 2 Tenere 660’s, and more than a few more miles to cover.


More stories to come, but suffice it to say, we’re having a grand old time, and kicking ass and taking names!

--Alex
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