Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Los Santos To Jordan To Barichara

Some days your best intentions get completely undone and you have a great day getting lost and a great time getting unlost ... today was one of those  

It started with having to navigate around heavy roadworks in town down a street that was triangular shape narrowing down to Mayandahalf wide (that is our new measurement) 

Leaving Los Santos we had to back track a little, Mrs Garmin set up a route which may have existed yonks ago but the road from Los Santos down to Jordan was somewhat of a goat track and not suitable for a SE two and gear.

The road into Los Santos is great with epic views of of the surrounding valleys so no biggy, a very enjoyable ride. 

We came across our turn off to Jordon, it wasn’t quite where it was meant to be (should have known better at that point) but we followed it down anyway, spectacular views of massive cliffs with a waterfall which didn’t even reach the ground other that in mist....what a treat.

Spoke to you about it .... 

The road was step and narrow in places, in some case if you fell off the side it would be terminal 

This is the power lines for the valley strung up in the trees

We cherished these concrete sections as they were smooth although only on the steep sections

Most of the road was like this so not too bad

Continuing down to the bottom it was a neat ride and at the bottom we turned right into Jordan ..... there was no-one there other than military police and a coupla stragglers, you could have fired a canon ball through the middle and hit nothing!! 

Just me ..... spooky

This is the bridge at the bottom from Los Santos

There was a very friendly militar there so we had a chat with him, took some photos and carried on our merry way which got narrower and rougher, boggy creek crossings and all the hallmarks of being in the wrong place heading to nowhere....which was correct.

Stopping to ask a local he larfed and said no way through and we needed to go up the road from Jordan ... i.e the one we had just come down on, back through the boggy creeks a rutted roads ..... at least we got to see what it was like the other way. ... it was about 40 degrees too 

We were so close, probably only 6km as the crow flies but snookered by a HUGE gorge ..... 

Back up to the highway which was a pretty damn good race track to be fair, so far the Colombian roads are just a meca for fun and all pretty good nic.

Huge views to be had

Finally we made it to Barichara one day later than planned ... no worries we got to see some other pretty cool stuff.

El Banco To Los Santos

Destination was Barichara which we never made due a to a slight navigational error.

We did however have a beautiful ride before ending up nowhere close to where we supposed to be. 

A small town on the top of a cliff face, Mrs.Garmin shows a road down to Jordan, so the Los Santos to Jordan road I imagine would be doable on a DRZ400 or smaller with no house and contents as there is only a swingbridge at the bottom, the road goes down this part of the face.

Staying there the night we decided our game plan to backtrack a little and head down through Jordan the following day

The town surrounded by trees

In the morning we went for a short walk up through farmlands and back roads as we had no rush.

We left late morning .... that is when the fun started 

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Reflection Time - The Centro America Sum Up And The Heart Speaks

First off, crossing the US border into Mexico is seriously dangerous as you will be subjected to great food, friendly people and so much to see and do ... so be have been warned. 

And having said that, in the nearly 4 months we were in Mexico we only scratched it, we could very easily spend another year or more floating around taking it in.

Mexico for us as you know we had a trip changing event of Ellens crash which lead to the purchase of Maya, although not a smooth transaction on that with a very deceitful seller we now have the bugs ironed out, last thing for me to get my head to accept is the valve check then I will be 100 % happy in my mind.

Maya is now solid (barring the valve check which should come up good) and is taking us to places we could have only imagined, within our ride report you will have read all about these places but remember you guys really only get the highlights of the happenings, if I wrote about everything to date we would never be able to ride again and you would be bored shitless....and I might be in jail. 

The ADV people that we met, Steve, Jim, Spencer, Gary, you guys all rock and made our trip so much better, Gary we blame you for liking Mexico city, something I thought I would never say. 

Mexico, you get the big tick as a must do and I would recommend it to anyone....even Americans, is there trouble ...yes ... name a country that does not?, will you find trouble? ONLY if you look for it or be complacent, we did not feel threatened once and the police actually went beyond their call of duty for us and NOT once asked for money or a bribe, have chat with them with a smile .... they are human too.  

Ok, Cuba, having time to look reflect back on our experience we very much echo the same sentiments as Gene and Neda (lightcycle), while we really enjoyed Cuba for its differentness it also wore us down with people just saying give me money, it really took the shine off it and it is far from eco friendly as they label themselves, step away from the tourist areas to the local area and pretty much they are living in their own rubbish dump.

One thing we have established is they (anyone) can be poor but there is no need for them to live in a cesspit of their own rubbish which they do, they go out of their way to buy that bottle of coke but they won’t go out of the way to dispose of it properly but will just biff it on the ground, same for everything, wrappers, paper anything they don’t want.

Would we go to Cuba again?, I would say no there are plenty of other places to explore and having had a good look from Alaska down to Cuba I would go back to anywhere Mexico north before going to Cuba again. 

So, Cuba, 1/2 a tick and that box is ticked and can be archived.

Belice, not as expensive as people say, english speaking (easy for us gringo types) and cool places to visit, it was different to what we expected or envisaged but for the better, we thoroughly enjoyed our time there and will go back for more, particularly for diving and snorkeling.

We have to thank Sjoerd Bakker too for some great tips, again something from someone who can make your trip better, thanks man.

Belice gets the big tick and offers a lot more than you think, you just have to get off the main drag and enjoy it, pretty much the same in every country.

Guatemala, even though I broke 4 ribs and was laid up for a bit I cannot speak highly enough of the place, there is only a few places on our trip so far that can honestly say I could live there, Antigua, Guatemala is one of them, I will note here we are NOT unhappy with where we live which is not the short straw,

We spent a total of just over 3 months in Guatemala, 6 weeks for broken ribs but we also made good use of that time including GC which was surprising good, Ellen did NOT want to go to GC after seeing Guatemalan Police program on TV in New Zealand!!!.

A huge thanks to Julio and Luisa, also to Juan in Xela for a boys day out and getting lost ....we need to do that again!!!!

Semuc Champey, Flores ... very nice, Volcan Pacaya ... stunning, Antigua ... so much more to offer that the gringo main square, get out and look around.

Julio ... careful mate we might be your new neighbour 

Guatemala gets the double tick and we will definitely be back, there is so much to explore it is unreal, also a very active country geologically which is something that interests me greatly. 

Ok, next on the chopping block, El Salvador, to me this sits side by side with Guatemala (because it does) as far as big ticks goes, we really loved El Salvador which for a lot of travellers seems to be a blast through and carry on country, there is so much to see and do, beautiful roads fit for Moto GP and adventure riding galore, scenery everywhere.

Our experience like all the above was enhanced by the locals and fello ADVers, they make the stay so much better with local info you cannot buy on GPS or maps.

Will we be back?, hell yeah, Mario you will have to put up with us again down the track so based on that it gets the double tick too. 

Huge thanks to Mario, the finca, the bike oil, the company, ... outstanding. 

Honduras, we did the double border day like most, although we had no issues whatsoever we have heard of many who have although all our paperwork is pristine and spot on so it does take some heat out of the argument although we did not see one single police person the whole day, even at the borders I just pulled the piss out of the money changers and played with them, turned their pressure cooker approach into a big giggle, right or wrong approach I don’t know but it worked well for me.

Same with the famous Jose and his brother Ronnie, big smiles and no thanks, play on his words make them larf while making him realize there wasn’t a cent for him from us, no problem.....a big smile is worth a lot of chatter!!!! 

I have my reservations but I would still like to see Honduras now knowing half their police force was sacked from corruption as they try and tidy their act up for travellers and tourists, will we get there, I will say yes as we will be back to Belice, Guatemala and El Salvador, although this area is border heavy they really are not that bad when armed with water and a smile 

Nicaragua, another place we loved .. although small Ometepe Island was really cool, again the fello ADVers made our stay better having a good look around, there is a lot there to explore and I now know we did NOT allow enough time so we will be back there too, Nicaragua gets the big tick too.

Huge thanks to Jurgen, Aaron, Daniel and Salavdor for making our stay so cool.

Costa Rica, beautiful, very nice people and great place, again with committing to the Stahlratte date we felt we didn't have quite enough time to really get into the depths of it so I for one would love to have a better look so coming back to Central America it is on the list to complete, Costa Rica also gets the big tick. 

Panama, ground hog day with timing, great place and I would love to have more of a look like Costa Rica, I did however get to see the Panama Canal in action so for me that really ticked that box however there is much more to see and do.

Another huge thanks to Norm for hosting us and helping get new front rubber for Maya. 


Our honest opinion is that Central America (plus and including Mexico) is a great place and seriously well worth spending a lot of time in, having spent nearly 9 months in total there we feel we have only seen enough to make us want to go back, we believe it is unfairly tagged as very dangerous.

Rainy season ... the Central American thunder and lightning storms from rainy season provide a magnificent display virtually every day, don’t be afraid of rainy season cos it is still very warm even when you get dumped on, most storms are over and done quickly.

In New Zealand you freeze ya balls off if it rains so this was very pleasant for us, in fact it was a nice reprieve from the heat, also this is called winter time so if you don’t want super duper heat then May, June, July, August is your time to come through. 

So to sum up if you have any reservations about anywhere south of the US border chuck them in the rubbish tin cos you won’t need them, think about what you want to do and see and get into it....ouwh and allow plenty of time.

The Central American people across the board are just normal people living their normal lives and despite what the US news (sorry US based ADVers) ((but this is our heart speaks)) (((so all is discussed openly))) ((((we still love the US too)))) would portray is they are all bandits, thugs, thieves and lowlifes .... this is very very wrong....well until we got their 

Although not quite Central America our only “so so” place was Cuba which is a frustrating place for many reasons but I am not one for politics etc and I don’t want to be, politics is only one aspect of our “so so” including the “give me money” multiple times daily in your face everyday, in the end you just want to tell them to fuck off but you feel you have to be nice to them .......ARGH (insert multiple Headbangs here) ...shame it has to be like that 

Ok, that is our sum up and how we see it after experiencing it first hand, good bad and otherwise, others have different experiences and different approaches to us however this is team TMKs record of events which across the board have left us with a big smile looking over Central America. 

Finishing Central America was then capped off by the Stahlratte experience ... we heard good things so we had good expectations and these were exceeded in 10 fold.

For the sailing, make the time, make new mates, make new travel companions, make the trip on the Stahlratte you won’t regret it, thanks Ludwig and crew. we are off to cause trouble in South America 

Taganga To El Banco

Leaving Taganga we headed off to El Banco, a small town on a monster river.

The ride was uneventful other than the road being laden with buses and trucks so we spent most of our day overtaking.

Arriving at El Banco it was nearly 40 degs and sticky, luckily we managed to bag a room with AC again so that was a life saver after Taganga. 

Maya created a LOT of interest with a swarm of small motos around her with Colombian faces in awe, it was really cool. 

One guy hopped on her (I said he could) and his face lit up and he didn’t want to get off onto his little moto.  

For weeks I had been trying to get a piece of metal for our POV camera, finally we manage to find a place, they had alloy angle and the guy cut it, drilled it and gave it to us gratis .... I like this town. 

New sunnies were next on the list, right next door was huge selection of glasses so I got some polarized ones, end of an era for the blue ones but I later discovered the 3D effect with the pinlock .

That evening when were returned the hotel owner said an Ozzie had come in to see us after seeing Maya, just then Michael an Irish guy living in Oz appeared again so we all went out for a bite and chat swapping information and scribbling on maps.

We returned to his lodgings across the road from us, he is on 30 year anniversary F800GS ... me likey a lot 

Next morning we headed out for breaky, eggs and ariba with coffee, set us up for what turned into a very long day. 

To start ..... the road