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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 30 Jan 2006
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Location: Calgary, Alberta, Canada
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Trouble in Guatemala

So, having been in guatemala for a while now, I was starting to think how much I love this country, and then came today.

I set out from Antigua for a nice ride to Lago Atitlan and Chichicastenango, and about 5kms from the turn North to Chichi, I see a couple of vehicles stopped in the road in front of me. This is a mountainous area so I immediately think "accident" so as I am slowing I see a man running toward me, then I notice he's wearing a balaclava ... SHIT! I then realized what was going on and turned the bike around as quickly as I could. Mid turn I hear a pop pop sound and think "no way this can't be real". But it was real alright and I was now committed, and he was obviously pissed so I tried as hard as I could to get the hell going in the other direction. Between my tire spinning from all of the shit on the road, and me trying to move around as much as possible on the bike, I just about crashed!

Thankfully I did manage to get away and I made it about half a kilometre when I realized that my rear tire was flat! Had they hit it? or did I pick up something as I was riding half way in the ditch with my spinning tire?

I did not want to stop anywhere near there so I rode on the rim back to the next small town. I really thought I would wreck the tire completely but it seems to be ok now. From what I can tell the bullet must have entered at the rim bead because it damaged it so that the wheel had to be hammered a bit and smoothed with file to reseat the bead, with generous amounts of some kind of glue that the local bycicle repair guy had.
The strange thing is that there is also an exit hole in the tire as well, and yet I recovered the bullet from inside the tire???

Wierd!

Anyway, I'm back safe and sound in Antigua and want to let anyone in the area know to check with the local policia if they are considering a trip to Chichicastenango or Atitlan and ensure that the area will be safe. I know I am sure NOT going that way again!
I don't mean to scare anyone away, because this is a fabulous country, but just hope to raise awareness that it's not always happening to "the other guy".

Ride safe!

Mike.

(ps, anyone have a cheap 1200gs wheel for sale?)
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  #2  
Old 30 Jan 2006
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Mike,

Glad you're safe.

I was there a few weeks ago and aware of this kind of thing going on.

Obviously, nothing sinks in as fast and as strong until it's 'you'.

Again, glad you got through it OK.

Real life....

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  #3  
Old 30 Jan 2006
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Location: Santa Marta, Colombia, South America
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Well done Mike, and I'm glad you didn't just roll over for them, which would have probably been the standard advice. Any interest from the cops?

I was riding and volunteering in Guatemala for 5 months last year, and I am returning in March to be reunited with my bike. Never had any problems, same goes for all of Latin America. Just shows you.

Suerte

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2004 650 KLR, Central America
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  #4  
Old 31 Jan 2006
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I´m in San Pedro now. What road were you on? Was it the road from Santiago to San Pedro around the volcano? I had heard about that road being dangerous.
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  #5  
Old 8 Feb 2006
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Hey Pilot, you in Guate? I'm going there next month via Mexico, let's keep in touch.
Left you a PM in AdvRider, please check it out...
E
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  #6  
Old 8 Feb 2006
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hello msg996

good on you, you did the right thing.

it is hard to say what the guys would have done, but I guess they would have just took your money.

I was in a similar situation, I mean cars being stoped by somebody with guns in military cloths, in Colombia in 2002. there was no space to turn around quick and it was too late anyway. but than it were normal soldiers just checking documents, and I had the normal *where do you come from, where do you go* questions.

but I think if I had tried to turn around and ride away, they would have maybe shot into my tire as well.

different country, different story.

keep on riding south and dont miss colombia, a fantastic country

mika


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  #7  
Old 7 Mar 2006
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Last year I got robbed by 2 guys with shot guns and black ski masks right next to Lake Atilan. I got away ok, they just wanted money, but my advice is stick to the main roads with lots of traffic
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  #8  
Old 7 Mar 2006
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this is so funy! I did a search to see what I wrote almost one year ago when I was robbed in Guatamale, and the post is still there:

http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/ubb...ML/000276.html
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  #9  
Old 7 Mar 2006
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heres another recent robbery..Guata's might be getting a reputation.

Se Hwan has been having fun as well, go to this pages on his web site

Lago de Atitlan-From heaven to Hel..

http://blog.empas.com/motoride

cheers

alec
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  #10  
Old 7 Mar 2006
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that is exactly what happened to me! I guess the lesson here is don't take the dirt road around Lago Atilan!
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  #11  
Old 2 Apr 2006
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Thank you for the warnings....now we may just take a day bus trip to the area and move on....so far we have found the people here in Guatemala to be rather nice but it only takes a moment to change your opinion of it all.
Our first night in the country we met a german couple who now live here and they told us that, on the road we had that day ridden, an american had been shot....not that many weeks ago....the road was from the Belize border to Flores.....he was stopped by armed robbers who not just wanted his money but also wanted his bike....he said No....and the result was the shooting....he is dead and they had no idea where his bike ended up but I guess we can all guess. They told us not to be too worried...it was just a case of wrong place at the wrong time !!!!!!!!!!!!
This is a second hand story...we have no proof this happened ....but we would not be surprised if what they told us was not correct. It seems a funny story to tell other bikers if it is not true.
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  #12  
Old 7 Apr 2006
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Hi,

I'm Guatemalan and I'm sorry to hear such story's. And I have to agree they are true.

My advice for any traveller to Lake Atitlan and Panajachel, is to stick to the main roads where you'll be a lot safer.

The road around the lake from Santiago-San Pedro is known to be dangerous. Where some robbers close the road from time to time and take you money and other valuables. Not the bike or even worse you life!.

The other road I advice to avoid is the one from Godinez to Las Trampas. Where pretty much the same happens.

I believe Guatemala is a greate country to travell by motorcycle and most people are friendly and ready to help. But there some BASTARDS that authorities never catch that make a bad reputation for our country.

Regards,
Mane
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  #13  
Old 9 Apr 2006
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hi. i am in san pedro la laguana presently. people are awesome. David & Cheryl Laing would love to meet you if you are still here and have the time. i am at the hotel san fransico with a klr park out front.
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  #14  
Old 11 Apr 2006
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Thank you!

David and Cheryl,

Unfortunaly I'm in Guatemala City. When are you leaving Guatemala?


Regards,
Mane
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  #15  
Old 27 Apr 2006
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am so sorry we have not replied to you before this.The new look web site did not want to let us back on.....we were listed as veteran travellers and I was starting to feel a lot more than 'veteran' when I was unable to log onto the new system. However, Grant has now fixed our 'rejection' and we are a part of the HU community again and able to have our say.
Unfortunately , in the meantime we have left Guatemala and are back in Mexico heading up the west coast towards Arizona.....so perhaps another time and place.
...we had no troubles in Guatemala but did take local advice on what roads to use when we moved from place to place.
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