September 30, 2002 GMT
Central America

Leaving Guatemala we headed to Honduras and the beautifulCaribbean beaches where we sipped Pina Coladas and tried to remember the words to the Pina Colada song.

We spent a couple of days on the volcanic island of Ometepe, skinny-dipping in Lake Nicaragua under a full moon. And yes Lake Nicaragua being the only place in the world where freshwater sharks live... but as I said to Maggie, after the bloody bears in Alaska, nothing can frighten me.

From there we went to a beach in southern Nicaragua where we had been told that turtles come ashore seven times year to lay their eggs, amazingly we were there at the right time, well, hundreds of them were on the beach and we had trouble trying to swim in the sea as they were all surfing in on the waves {they weigh more than I do, so potentially they are fairly dangerous}. Later that night Maggie was awoken by one hitting her repeatedly with its flippers through the tent as it was trying to dig a hole. Hmm, perhaps we were a bit close to the beach...

We are now in Panama, where the traffic police are the worst I have ever seen, they are also incredibly numerous. Each time we get pulled over I hiss at Maggie to quickly get her helmet off (she's a blonde and it seems to work every time). Maggie insists they just want a closer look at our newly revamped map of the world outlined on the back of the top box with true artistic style.

We have spent the past couple of days on the Pacific Ocean, body surfing and sipping more drinks whilst watching the most spectacular sunsets. But, we have to keep moving on, I think we have the only bike with two bikinis constantly hanging off the back, drying in the sun as we sing Elvis Presley songs into our Madonna style intercom system.

Maggie reluctantly leaves in two days time to go back to her job and a real life in Ireland. I'll be heading to Ecuador next week (look out Ricardo) as Tiberio thinks I shouldn't be heading into Colombia at the moment. I'll let you know how I get on with the shipping agents..."

Posted by tiffanycoates at 10:42 PM GMT
September 15, 2002 GMT

I was on my way to an airport again, as Maggie, who had crossed Africa with me was flying into Guatemala City from Ireland for a month of riding through Central America. She looked very relieved to see me waiting for her - the last she had heard I was still in California and partying a bit.
Maggie and I had previously crossed Africa together on Thelma so she was ready for anything including the hell raising ride out of Guatemala City in the dark. We stayed in Antigua, Guatemala for a week, attending Spanish school; I took Thelma in one day for a lesson on the Spanish words for the bike parts. A Cuba Libre or two was also part of the educational experience!! The national drink and an essential part of our Guatemalan experience or so everyone assured us.
We explored the countryside around Antigua and headed out to Lake Atitlan, and had a memeorable day with our friend Tobias on Thelma with us - the local guys just stared at Tobias, riding through town with two chicas on one bike. I should add that it is actually quite comfortable on Thelma with three people (as long as none of them are fidgeters) and we had previously travelled three-up for a couple of days in India.
We explored Guatemala, going first to Tikal to see the Mayan ruins in the jungle, we camped close to the ruins, and as the night drew in the mysterious jungle noises started up around us increasing in volume and intensity, or was that just the disco in the distance?

Posted by tiffanycoates at 03:48 PM GMT
September 01, 2002 GMT
Entering Bandit Country...

Thelma was finally ready, one last evening at the George and Dragon for me and I was off - following the coast through Washington and Oregon - stunning coastline and a road that was made for bikes. The forest fires were going full-swing but I managed to avoid them. I reached San Francisco where there was a warm welcome from my friends there, they had been following my travels avidly and now, Janet (my friendīs Mum) spoke up, she said she wanted a bit of adventure in her life and so I invited her to join me for the trip down into Mexico.
She borrowed her sonīs leather jacket and, at the age of 62, Janet climbed on the back of Thelma for her first ever motorcycle journey - a mere 2600 miles!!
We had a ball together - Yosemite Park, Death Valley - not such a good idea in August wearing black leathers, Las Vegas and across the border into Mexico. Janet even slept out in the open for the first time when we ended up in small town Baja where the town had shut down for the season and nowhere was open.
We took the ferry from La Paz in Baja to Mazatlan on the mainland and then I dropped Janet off in Puerto Vallarta where she was greeted with astonishment by her friends there - fellow retirees in condominiums. I enjoyed a spot of luxury for a day and then set off once more on my own - it was back to rough camping from here on.
The ride through Mexico was great, except for those bloody topes. At first I was riding along wondering what topes are as there was a sign warning about them the next thing I knew, bang I had hit a speed bump, ahh, so that's what topes are. Believe me, there are a lot of them in Mexico and not all of them are marked.

I was spending the night in a variety of places. When the sun set I would stop at the nearest pueblo and say who I was and where I was travelling, explaining that I needed somewhere to camp, often this would mean that I would be given pride of place on someone's patio, (yes, in my tent with Thelma alongside). One time though, in Chiapas, they decided it was too dangerous for me to camp out like that and assigned me an armed guard, who happened to be stationed on the garage forecourt where I had to go and camp. I think I was more at risk from his amorous advances than from any guerilla activity.

Posted by tiffanycoates at 03:32 PM GMT

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