October 06, 2005 GMT
Dry at last

Hello fellow riders and friends at home. This has been my first chance to update my blog since leaving. I entered Mexico the morning of the 27th of September. Cost me $29 USC for a 7 day pass for the bike and myself. I had to place a sticker on my windshield for the bike. My plan was to run Mexico 180 all the way south, then take Mexico 186 into Belize. First thing I learned about driving in Mexico is they do not believe in no passing zones I think the law is, if itís bigger then you get out of itís way, the first time a huge semi pulled out in my lane to pass was a big surprise, was 3 wide several times but once you knew what to look for or expect it wasnít that bad. The second thing I learned while driving in Mexico was the speed bumps, if thatís what you want to call them. Some of them are 6 inches high and 4 feet wide and they put them where ever they want! You will be driving along and all of a sudden there one, sometimes they are marked but most of the time they are not, it sure jars your teeth if you don't see one coming and get slowed down, thatís one way to keep you speed down. They also have them at the beginning, in the middle and at the end of every town. In the towns they have 3 types, the huge ones I talked about or they type that are in parking lots back home, just 2-3 inches high and maybe a foot wide, they trouble with this kind is they just donít use one they will put 8-10 back to back feels like your riding over a wash board. The last kind you find in the small town are called vibration strips, these are about 6 feet wide and have one inch ridges and they do vibrate you.. None of these are any good for the bike or you. Another trick in Mexico is when the car in front of you flashes his left turn signal they are telling you its ok to pass that works out pretty good as long as they really are not turning left. You donít have to stick your nose out to see if any one is coming. As long as you stay on your toes driving in Mexico isnít all that bad. Mexico 180 is a nice little ride thatís shows you an average day in the life there. Very poor by any one standards, the houses are no bigger then 15 X 15 with nothing for windows or doors. Kids all wear uniforms to school and are always very clean. There is only one brand of gas in Mexico, but there are plenty of stations and the bike runs well with it. The rate of exchange in Mexico is 10-1, 10 peso for every 1 USC. Over the course of 3 days I ran into 14 military and 6 police check points I was waved past all but 3 but had no problems at the ones that did stop me, they looked at the sticker on the windshield asked me where I was going and where I came from and waved me on didnít ask for papers or search me or the bike. It takes about 15 minutes to turn in all your paper work when you leave Mexico. No problem getting into Belize, no more then 30 minutes. I was surprised to learn almost every one here speaks English. Roads are good here as long as you stay on the main road and don't miss a turn off, ask me how I know this..... After finding a safe place to park the bike in Belize city, I jumped on a water taxi and took it the island of Caye Caulker for a few days of R & R. I recommend any one that goes to Belize City also see some of the islands some great R & R every thing very laid back and some of the best diving. The rate of exchange for Belize is 2-1, 2 Belize for every 1 USC. Made my first mistake in the way I took going from Belize to Guatemala. I entered Guatemala in the town called Benque Viejo. No problems getting in first thing I had to do was take the bike to quarantine cost me about 5 bucks to have my bike sprayed, only thing is they never sprayed it. It had just started to rain pretty good and the guy doing the spraying didnít want to get wet, Iím sure glad of this I could smell what they were spraying and it sure smelled pretty strong what ever it was Iím sure wouldnít have been good for me to be smelling or blowing in my face for the next hundred miles or so. it took less then 30 minutes to get my passport stamped and permit for the bike, they gave me another sticker for the windshield but since it was raining they didnít put in on and just handed it to me, it cost me just a little over $5 usc for my visa. The exchange is about 7-1 USC.I should have known what kind of mistake it was crossing here when I couldn't find a map of Guatemala anywhere in town, but then maybe thatís because their so called roads are not worth the paper and ink it would take to print them up. I found someone to point me to the right road to Guatemala City, what a ride from hell, 59 miles in 10 hours! I don't even know how you would call this a road except it didnít have any thing growing on it. You have a packed dirt road with loose rocks the size of your fist to dodge, with an occasional head size one just to keep you on your toes, then lets not forget the millions of pot holes any where from 6 inches to four feet wide and up to eight inches deep, then there were the ruts from all the traffic and drainage for the water. About 3 hours into this run for fun, it starts to rain and I do mean rain, there is no where to pull over so only thing left to do is go forward. So now this so called road becomes a mud pit, at least the rain helped you see the pot holes but now you couldnít tell how deep they were. Oh yes I forgot to tell you about the snakes, i saw lots of big ass snakes beside the road, so in my eyes that left out stopping any where walking in the weeds to set up a tent. The two or three times I did think about pulling over I knew I would never get the bike back on the road; Harleys just donít have the clearance the BMW's have. Remember those ruts? Well they are now rivers, the pot holes are now lakes and the rocks are still there and I have no idea where Iím at, sound like fun yet? and to top it all off, they have those damn speed bumps in the road as if any one could speed if they wanted to. Wait it gets better it is now dark! Going up hill all you could do is keep the bike gear and don't let it stop, using your feet to keep you up. I did a lit of sliding but could stay away from most of the pot holes and rocks. Going down hill was a different story. It was just a semi controlled slide down, Iím glad I had steel toe boots on; Iím sure kicking some of those rocks could have hurt. I told you they had speed bumps in the middle of all this, well it was at one of these I dropped my bike for the first and only time on this run. But Iím sure not the last time. I was going down hill when right in the middle of no where I saw a six inch high speed bump, I got the bike stopped in time but when I put my foot down it rolled over a rock and over it went. With no footing because of the mud I just stepped away and let it fall, sure didnít want to get pinned under it trying to keep it up. I wasnít going to fight it so now I have my first Scratch in the paint on the fairing. I'm sure it wonít be the last. Because of the poor footing the only way I could pick the bike up was to take off all the t-bags, pick the damn bike up then load every back on, of course doing all this in the dark, rain and mud! I also had to contend with the instant river going across the road due to the drainage of all the rain. Some of these cross washes were a foot deep and five feet wide and moving pretty fast. One wooden bridge I had to cross had big holds in the middle of it, I walked across jumped up and down a few times on it and said "what the F#$%$" kept it on the two good boards and crossed it. It was only about 3 miles past that I hit pavement, nothing felt so good to be riding on. I found a hotel shortly after that and called it a night.........The day is now October 4th Iím all refreshed, got most everything cleaned of mud and semi dry and started out. As it turns out Guatemala is a beautiful ride, I didn't realize how mountainous South America was. The vegetation is so rich. it was turning out to be the prettiest ride so far on this trip. Guatemala City was very confusing to me. Not very many road signs and it took me two hours to get out; at least I got to see the city. It started to rain pretty hard again, traffic was terrible and no place to be on a motorcycle. So out of Guatemala City heading to El Salvador. I came across a few minor mudslides so you really had to be careful and alert, right in the middle of the road could be any thing from a hand full of fist size rocks to boulders to half a hill. That's just what happened, all of a sudden the traffic stopped and there was a huge mud slide covering the road. Couldnít go forward cause of the slide, couldn't go back because of the busses and trucks so there I sat for 4 hours while they cleared it up. I was going to wait a little while once they reopened the road just to let the other traffic clean up what was left behind. That idea didn't last long I would have been run over if I stayed where I was so what has been my favorite saying over the past 2 days? "What the f$#@$" and rode on. What they considered "cleared" was 6 inches of mud and any rock the size of you fist. I knew if I dropped it here I would just become a speed bump in the road. Slipping and sliding I made it across. About 10 miles down the road I found a hotel and parked my ass. I do know the riding I have done over the past 2 days has given me all the confidence I need to know I can handle any type of road ahead of me......yes even on a Harley! But the truth be known a few times back here I wish I was on one of the BMW's. October 5th, still raining like a SOB come to find out hurricane "Stan" has been doing some damage up and down Central America. I figured I will sit around and see what happens. It stopped raining long enough for me to load the bike up, i'm only 2 or so hours from San Salvador figured I can be there by 3. Crossing over into El Salvador was no problem, this was the first time someone went out and looked at my bike to make sure the VIN matched the paperwork. Visa was $10 USC, as it turns out that is the currency they use here USC. Great 4 lane road going into San Salvador, in my mind Iím thinking in by 3, hot shower, hot meal boy was I wrong. About 10 miles out side of San Salvador I get stopped
by police road block they inform me that the city of San Salvador is closed! All the roads into the city are blocked with mud slides. I get out my map and ask what about this way NO, how about this way? NO. Every thing is closed; they were not being mean or tough just doing what they were told, very polite. I turned around pulled over and was sitting in the rain looking at the map trying to figure out what way to go when another police officer in a car pulled next to me, his English was about as good as my Spanish. One of the things I have not told you about my-self is that I am a retired Illinois State Police sergeant; I let him know I was a cop. He got on his radio and talked for a short while then told me to follow him. He led me to his HQ and introduced me to the commander. He asked me to step into his office; his English was a little better. I told him my plan was to spend the night in San Salvador then head over to Nicaragua in the morning, he kept telling me "we have many problems here" I donít think he was talking danger to me but because of the mud slides. After half hour of him making phone calls he called in the person who introduced us gave him an order and told me to follow him. He shook my hand told me it was a pleasure to meet me and good luck. I followed the police officer to a garage where we sat for a little while, of course the Harley was a big hit with all the officers and I let them sit on it and take some pictures on it. A short while later another police officer showed up on a bike, my officer jumped on the back of the other police officers bike and we took off. After about a 15 minute ride we stopped and the driver of the motorcycle got off and my new friend jumped on his bike and told me to follow him. He took me up, around, over, past and 45 minutes later we were in the heart of San Salvador. He took me to another HQ where again I was introduced to the commander She spoke very good English and asked me to come up to her office. She explained to me about all the mud slides and that many people are being killed and that if I could stay one extra night in San Salvador it would be much safer for me. I told her no problem I would stay as long as she thought I should, I did tell her I only had a 5 day pass and she informed me that if I was here any longer they could and would change that. I checked into the Radisson Hotel and am awaiting a phone call from her. Three different police officers have come to my room seeing if I needed or wanted any thing. It truly is an extended family no matter where you go. Until next time see you somewhere down the road

Posted by Craig Hutson at October 06, 2005 03:49 PM GMT

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