June 01, 2006 GMT
One Year on the Road

Miss Piggy

One year on the road finds us in Nicaragua, Central America.

Thank you to our families and friends for thier support and encouragement throught out the past year and to our new firends that we have met along the way.


After 12 months of travel, how do I feel? Well, being somewhat jaded and tired after all the preperations in Australia I have settled into life on our motocycle with a great deal of enthusiasm, probably more than is healthy and I wonder how I will ever settle down again!

Our first 3 months travel in Canada and the USA was marvelously invigorating with long days on the road and great distance. The scenery was breathtaking and the travelling relatively easy. As we have moved into Latin America we have slowed down somewhat. This seems not to bother me, everyday brings something new whether a magnificent Pre-hispanic or equally splendoured Spanish complex, superb scenery, a great motorcycle ride or a personally intimate meeting with a local. It is all a wonderful experience!

Am I homesick? No, not at all, and it is hard to imagine becoming bored, although sometimes it feels very foreign and I struggle to find somthing that comforts me or at least is familiar.

Though I have not lost sight of our perceived destinations, these destinations have become somewhat secondary in what is becoming for us much more simply journeying from place to place and taking each day with its trials, tribulations and meeting so many wonderful people as we go.

When we first started preparations for the trip so many of our friends and work collegues argued of the dangers that we may possibly face and I would counter that by stating that I truely believe that 99% of people in the world are fundamentally good people. I still believe this and hopefully will continue to do so.

What dangers have we encountered? By far the most dangerous aspect of our journey so far has been the road. Certainly being hit by a car in Xalapa, Mexico, has not been a highlight to date, yet I have a profound respect for drivers in Latin America simply because to consider the sheer volumes of traffic and poor road conditions (when compared to Australia), un-regulated driving instruction and often poor conditions of vehicles, people are generally very competent drivers! Even so the whole of Mexico City is just plain dangerous on a motorcycle. The scariest road we have been on is the Las Vegas freeway in and out of town. It is lunacy in fast motion! Some petty theft and tampering with Miss Piggy rather ironicallly happened in the USA.

Locals have warned us of certain isolated routes and places being dangerous for robberies and this we have taken heed to, simply because on holiday who needs this type of violation! The corruption at the Honduran Border whilst not dangerous was none the less disturbing as are many aspects of that country, however never were we in any danger.

My greatest pleasure has been meeting the most generous people along the way, many of these people have the least to offer, and this continues to re-new my faith in human nature.

A letter from Jules...

It is hard to believe that one year ago we were selling our worldly possesions, storing what was left, getting on a plane for Vancouver, Canada and beginning a trip that was five years in the planning and a life time of dreaming. We renovated two houses and three apartments whilst holding down full time jobs, we worked our butts off, and it has all been worth it.

All the doubts, hesitations and questions I had prior to leaving have vanished and seem petty and insignificant. Each day is full of its own challenges and joys. Weeks pass by and turn into months and before you know it a year has passed by.

Am I home sick? No. Occasionally I find myself day dreaming of the Australian outback and a few of our favorite places like the Flinders Ranges or the southern beaches of South Australia, but then I open my eyes and look around at some fantastic view or see some way of living unfamiliar to me I think 'Wow... Look at me, who would have believed that I would find myself travelling around the world on the back of a motorcycle with my husband?' I still pinch myself!

I do however miss certain foods like roast lamb and even sausage rolls (which I hardly ate but when you canīt get them anywhere.... you want them!). So we eat the local chicken/meat with rice and beans and imagine it is something from home!

How do we cope with eachothers company 24/7? This has been a frequently asked question by other travellers. Some have told us of others they have met and after 3 months one or both have gone home. I guess I am lucky, I have my best friend to travel with and we are very compatible and comfortable with each other. That is not to say we don't have some rip-snorter fights, however we understand them as letting off steam, releasing tension and as a natural part of living in such close proximity of each other. If worse comes to worst - put your helmets on and go for a long ride!

A huge highlight for me has been making new friends and re-aquainting ourselves with old friends. Another highlight has been visiting places I have only read about, seen on TV or in the movies... too many to mention, all have been fabulous and an incredible experience.

About Miss Piggy

We have grown to love Miss Piggy (2002 Suzuki V-Strom, DL 1000, 71,000 kms). It is certainly one of the most competent all rounders Grant has ever ridden. Without luggage and solo it just feels like a big trail bike (chook chaser).

Despite all its modern exterior and the mechanical attributes (ie electronics) it is still a gutsy V-twin with loads of grunt and character, easy and cheap to service and maintain (touch wood).

We have taken the Suzuki to some serious out of the way places, taking us and our wordly possesions. It continues to do all that is required of it.

The electronics do scare Grant however every thing seems the same these days.

In hind-sight

Changes we would make if organising this trip again

* We would purchase the very best light weight tent we could find. Although we love our Macpac 3 person 4 season tent weighing only 3.5 kilos, we would probably pay the almost double and go for a 3 person 4 season Hildeberg at 2.5 kilos.

* We would also choose higher tech, lighter sleeping bags, again ours are great, however they are just a bit too bulky and heavy.

* Apart from that there is not much else we would change, except maybe a few more songs on the I-pod!

Others thoughts

* Weight is everything, when you are riding two up on an extended trip, weight can be your enemy. You always gain more - never less! Extra weight means extra tyre wear, fuel consumption, suspension wear (an possible replacement), fatigue for the rider. There is nothing more agravating than seeing a bunch of back packers wandering up a steep cobble stoned one way alley to a higher part of a beautiful exotic hill top town when you have to fight a heavy bike to get anywhere.... sometimes it is so impossible you just leave!

Consider this: Deffinitely not all Latin American towns are user friendly for people on motorcycles. The lighter the bike the better off you are and the more places you can go!

* Laptops are great, however everyone we have met that has been carrying one has had problems with CD drivers from vibrations in the pannier, most have sent them home... The availability of cheap internet access all through Latin America makes it unecessary in our opinion.

* If travelling soley in Mexico and Central America we would not even bother with camping gear (unless you are a die hard camper) because every where you go there is very ecconomical and comfortable hotel accommodation.

On that note we would, however, keep our camping stove (trangia - alcohol burner type) as many hotels and hospejedas have allowed us to cook on our doorstep or in the courtyard/patio. It is a big plus when you are in a very small town and the food hygiene seems a bit dodgey or you are just sick and tired of rice, beans and tortillas!

When traveling in the US and Canada we could not have afforded our time there without our camping gear, and we know this will be the same when we get to Europe.

Posted by Grant Guerin at June 01, 2006 04:37 PM GMT

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