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Travellers' Advisories, Safety and Security on the Road Recent News, political or military events, which may affect trip plans or routes. Personal and vehicle security, tips and questions.
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  #1  
Old 9 Dec 2009
freewheelin frank's Avatar
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Security in Mexico & Central America?

I am planning on riding from Florida through Mexico & Central America to Panama for the first time in January and was wondering if there are currently any security issues to be mindful of or places to avoid in Mexico and Central America other than not riding at night.
Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

FF
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  #2  
Old 10 Dec 2009
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Considerations

freewheelin frank,

1. if you have not already pick up an international driving permit from your local American Automobile Association, make sure it is valid in the countries you plan to visit. It might be required, along with your valid Florida drivers license.

2. Buy insurance in each country you visit, it is possible but very difficult to find an individual insurance policy/company that covers you in Mexico and Central America. No vehicle insurance policy covers Nicaragua, except those sold at the border. (This is as of a couple years ago)

3. Check expirations dates on your passport, Florida drivers license, credit and debit cards.

4. Bring along a visa or debit card (visa plus) that you can use at local ATM machines in lieu of carrying more cash than you require for a day or two. Forget travelers checks, they are difficult to cash except in big city banks and American Express offices - if they are American Express travelers checks.

5. If you are riding a BMW or other European bike it is best to carry spares for parts that might need to be replaced. BMW has a good network of dealers, but due to high import duties imposed upon foreign made goods, you will pay about double what you can get the part for in the States.

6. Please read my recent posts here:

Information wanted from experienced bikers in South America

under the South and Central America and Mexico regional forum regarding selling your bike, and the absolute need for bike insurance.

7. A good quality water filter is better that buying and carrying the liters of water necessary for long treks across the Mexican desert, or continually paying more for water than you pay for gas.

8. Print out or buy current maps, sometimes up to date maps are difficult to find in Central America. Have a guide book that lists camping and inexpensive hostels.

9. Do not overpack. Most experienced over landers discover very quickly that they do not actually need many things they thought they would. Rely on the HUBB to provide proven lists of necessary gear.

10. If you will be cooking know that the gas canisters that you need may not be available and will be expensive if they are. Better to have a mountain stove that operates on the same fuel as your bike.

11. Keep close friends and family aware of your location and advise them of the existence of the Hubb as a means to contact other motorcyclists that might be able to assist in an emergency.

12. You will do fine, just keep your bike maintained plan where you will next buy fuel each day and know that some gas stations might be out of fuel.

13. Don't sweat the small stuff....

What part of Florida? I did USF and graduate work at University of Florida, Dad and my brothers live in the Tampa Bay/Clearwater area.

Eat, Drink and Be Careful xfiltrate
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  #3  
Old 10 Dec 2009
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Thanks for the great advice Xfiltrate! I live just north of UF on The Ichetucknee River.
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  #4  
Old 10 Dec 2009
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Go Gators

Spent many a pleasant day floating down the Ichetucknee on big truck tire tubes, drinking and trying my best to seduce southern belles, wasn't that easy in those days.

Pleased to help, stay in touch and have a great ride.

Eat, Drink and Be Careful xfiltrate

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  #5  
Old 12 Dec 2009
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tips

Myself and 1 other KLR rider plan to go to Guatamala via texas and mexico any tips would be appreciated.We plan to cross into mexico 2nd weekend in january.Where to get a good guide book with cheap safe places to stay would be good to know about.
Rich
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  #6  
Old 12 Dec 2009
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As far as planning your route, hotels, etc. the absoulute best resource you will find is a book called "Economical Hotels In Mexico & Central America" by Sjoerd Bakker. It is a "must have" and will answer 99% of your questions on all things to do with motorcycle travel in Mexico & CA.

My wife and I used it during a 6 month exploration of Mexico & Central America last winter and found it to be accurate and extremely helpful.

I am sitting in Puerto Vallarta right now and heading inland, still rellying on the book from Sjoerd.

You can order the book, which fits in a tank-bag, by contacting Sjoerd at:
sjoerd47(at)hotmail.com or sending a cheque, moneygram or international money order to:

Sjoerd Bakker
RR3 Norwich, Ontario
N0J 1P0 Canada

The price was, including airmail and handling, is $15 CDN to Canadian addresses, $15 USD to US addresses and $17.50 USD for other countries. I expect it will still be close to the same price.
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  #7  
Old 12 Dec 2009
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Country info, border info and insurance issues

For all of you planning to drive the Pan-American - or parts of it - have a look at
Main Page - Drive the Americas
it has lots of great information on the countries, border crossings and related matters.
Enjoy the trip - it is great(rode down from San Diego in July - currently in Ecuador)

Danish biker
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  #8  
Old 14 Dec 2009
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Advice for Central America

Hey guys,
Just passed through Central America, currently in Ecuador on the way down to Ushuaia. As far as Central America, I just thought I'd mention two things:
1. Get more than one International Driving Permit. If you get stopped and hassled by the police anywhere in Central America, they will almost always ask to see your Driver's License first. Then, they may tell you to go to the town, pay a "fine" if they claim you broke a traffic regulation, and return to retrieve your Driver's License. In a pinch, if you have a couple International Driving Permits, you can always drive away, and just leave the Permit with them. I only brought one, and I wish I had brought more. Just an idea.......
2. As far as security, besides taking a little extra care in El Salvador, the only place to really keep an eye on is Honduras, as they have been having some changes in government lately. It's not dangerous, but they did close the border a few times with the elections, so make sure you check that it's not closed when you are planning on crossing.
Other than that, just keep your wits about you, don't drive at night, don't get stressed out when you get stuck behind a slow, exhaust belching bus on a curvy mountain road, and you'll be fine!
Ride safe, feel free to shoot me any questions you might have, and you can check out the ol' blog at Pura Vida 2009-10 » New York to Argentina by motorcycle…… if you want some commentary.....
Obadiah
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  #9  
Old 14 Dec 2009
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I’m in El Salvador now on my way to Argentina

I’ll add that you should start learning Spanish. I started a month or two before I left as well as took 2 weeks of classes in Mexico and I wish I had started earlier.
You can have problems anywhere. When I was in Pana, Guatemala, there was a riot about 5 blocks from my hotel. Some guy was killed and 3 girls where almost burned. However, at my hotel, you would never know anything was going on other than the locals talking about it. That can happen at any city in the world so just use your wits and you’ll be ok.
In Honduras and El Salvador the people are very friendly. I’ve had people come up and start talking while I’m filling up with gas. They are very friendly even when they find out that I can barely speak Spanish.
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Old 14 Dec 2009
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Make several laminated copies of your original licence and hand those over, not the original. If it's a good copy, no one will know the difference. IDPs you have to pay for and in all my travelling have never been asked for one.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Obadiah_M View Post
1. Get more than one International Driving Permit. If you get stopped and hassled by the police anywhere in Central America, they will almost always ask to see your Driver's License first. Then, they may tell you to go to the town, pay a "fine" if they claim you broke a traffic regulation, and return to retrieve your Driver's License. In a pinch, if you have a couple International Driving Permits, you can always drive away, and just leave the Permit with them. I only brought one, and I wish I had brought more. Just an idea.......
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