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Cutting Across Guatemala

24 May

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A little celebration at the side of the road
Unlike getting into Honduras, there was absolutely no soul upon exiting so it took all but 5 minutes to check out.
Off to Rio Dulce, Guatemala. This is the same place where i got so insanely sick 5 months ago and got the syringe of an unknown substance in my right but cheek from the holistic healer.

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Despite the popularity of this place i managed to find a hostel for $8. My room had everything i needed and nothing I didn’t. 8×8 cell with no windows, a metal door, a fan and a bed.

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From Rio Dulce I really didn’t want to take the regular route up north to Tikal and than to Belize. I studied a few maps and google map but everything was pointing to that the route I wanted to take is not finished. I was looking for a connection between the Caribbean coast, from Rio Dulce to be exact, towards the inland in the direction of Mexico and than up. Reasoning for this is not only that I already know the other route but that there is almost a dozen Mayan sites on that route. After talking to a few locals of which some concurred that, yes it’s passable and some who haven’t. Challenge accepted!! I know I might be asking for trouble. Not only because I’m heading into the unknown, but now I’m riding solo and with with a rear tire that barely has any thread on it. A wipeout or a flat for the least are becoming imminent.
Right upon entering the dashed marked road on one of the maps I knew I might have chewed more than I can swallow. Road is obviously under construction. I’m pretty much walking the bike for the first 10km with about 90 more to go.

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Zig zaging the Caterpillars and Terexs with occasional explosions blowing away the mountains in the middle of the pristine jungle. A few times I had to get off the bike, put it in first and walk it. Boulders that were making the base of the new road were impassable. After about an hour of the battle I start to feel semi comfortable. As I get deeper into the center of the country I encounter more indigenous villages. No electricity, just a new road in progress and the jungle. Kind of sad as I figure a majority of these people haven’t encountered modern civilization little less a dozer plowing through their front yard. The further I get the better the road gets. They obviously started from the other end.

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The jungle starts changing into plowed ground as far as the eye can see. I can only imagine what’s next. Yup, oil palms. The further I get the more mature palms. To add to the rape, two pipe lines turn from the jungle and follow the road for the next 50km to a transfer/ storage station in a small village occupied by mostly people of Mayan descend. I know what you are up to, Chevron.

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As I near the intersection to hang it north, the palms are about 8-10 years mature. That’s how long it took to build the road than. It’s just a matter of time before the virgin jungle where they are working on the road now will be turned into palm fields. Through out this whole strip I have encountered only about 5 vehicles. The Mayans don’t drive, so who exactly is this road being built for? Is it the palm or the crude oil? Never mind, as I hang it right now in direction towards the Yucatan Peninsula. Thinking I’m getting away from the nightmare I now drive for another 120km in the middle of oil palm farms. As far towards the horizon, to the left and to the right with indigenous communities in between.

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Guatemalan Jungle Jan/1/2013

2 Jan

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By far the hardest drive ever. I have done some similar to this type were I would venture off on a 250 XT or a CR but the rewarding destination had us pushing on. I have had a spill last summer on a road easier than this. This one dragged on for 100km deep in the Guatemalan jungle of the Cordilleras
Semuc Champey is supposed to be the 8th wonder of the world. I will be the judge after seeing the 7th only a few weeks back. We set off from Rio Dulce but choose not to take the easy 350km ride but opt for the hard, 130 kilometers.
Enthusiastically we hit the dirt mountain road. Results start showing shortly. The bimmer is the first. The bolt on the left side of the headlight happens to hold the left projector light has come loose and gone MIA. The headlight is now bouncing around loosely and in danger of breaking of completely. A bolt that happens to be the same size is taken off my crash bar for replacement. This bolt is too long so a few washers and a Canadian toonie where I knock the center out make for a perfect spacer.

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We are now way high with nothing but Indian villages every now and than. The scenery is absolutely stunning. We stop ever so often to take pictures.

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Second scare comes minuted later when I pass Alex as he thinks that he has a blown front shock. Hundreds of thoughts get processed instantly. Ok. Trip is on hold. Need to find a truck to put the bike on. Get the bike to Guatemala City. All and all, about 8 days to get back on the road. What a relief it was to find out that only the front fender got bent and jammed under the front wheel. What a relief.
Every time we ask for directions the ETA seems to be getting further. We never really knew the distance but the first time frame we got was 2 hours. After an hours driving, the couple of guys that walked out of the bush said three. Another hour goes by and we are getting really exhausted as this seem to be the reminiscent of a Dakar rally stage. The group of Mayan girls just turns around and runs when I ask them so I opt for the man walking this kids. “Dos horas”. C’mooon.
It took us about 5 hours to drive this technical course of 100km to get to Languín. The last stop with a restaurant and a hostel before Champey. Beat, we settle in one of two hostels awkwardly called Rabbi Itzam that happened to be full of Israeli backpackers. Never in my life would I have thought I would drive this far for a dip.

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Back to the Carribean Dec/31/2012

1 Jan

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Another crappy night and morning, so I decide to do something about it but not sure what yet. As soon as the market opens up I head out in hope to find a cure. Before you know it I’m standing in front of a store that besides other stuff seemed to be selling remedies and ointments. I briefly describe to the shaman with his fingers full of gold rings what is happening. Without hesitation he seemed to know what the problem is and pulls out two packages for me to choose from. Hmmm. The blue pill or the red pill. I opted for the more expensive at $4.90 which of course will give better and faster results than the $4.50 package. “Ok. Could you come over here and slide your shorts down” he says. “No, man. I got the flu I think” I reply confused by his request. “I understand” he insists. “Could you come over here and slide your shorts down” as he points for me to come behind the counter. Now that the package is open and he is reaching for a syringe off the shelf, its coming all together. Without hesitation and disregard of the morning passerbyes I go over and drop them. “I give you the thinner needle” he says as he is mixing the yellow and the transparent content on the vile. That made me really happy as it was the needle thickness that really worried me and not him using bare hands full of gold rings on his fingers and not disinfecting my left butt cheek. I pick the syringe up for inspection to make sure there is no bubbles in it. Good. Gitty up!
Whatever this stuff was, the results were instant. No longer was I worried to go on a 2 hour boat ride to Livingston. On the way there little native kids are pulling up to us on little dug out boats in either hope to get a gift or try to sell us sea shells.

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Quite an interesting sight with the dozens of native huts in between the mangroves.

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Next stop on the way was a small bar on the water that had hot springs right next to it. Up above the bar were some caves and caverns. All ran by natives.
To get to Livingston we back tracked a bit back to just a few kilometers from the southern most part of Belize. Livingston is now a small fishing town but used to be and very important port and trading place back in its day. Now its economy is based on tourism. A variety of cultures live there from East Asians, African, European and Native. The interesting thing is that it is not an island but is completely inaccessible by land. There is a few beaten up vehicles there but just like everything else, all brought in by barges.

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The town even has its own laundrymat.

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Past few days I am hooked on caracol. It is the meat from the big huge shells that people put to the ear thinking they hear the ocean. It is usually served grilled with garlic.

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New Years was spent right in front of our hotel where the only party in town took place on the basketball field. In many South and Central American countries I noticed, that people don’t really give a damn about the quality of the sound, as long as it is super loud and has tons of bass.

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Down With the Sickness Dec/30/2012

31 Dec

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As predicted, the cold can no longer be ignored and I feel like a complete sack of s***. Sore throat, watery and tired eyes, pressure in my ears that won’t pop, runny nose, weak body… No time to waste and haste. We pack the tents up, jump on the bikes and head out towards Rio Dulce. I wanted to get there early to catch up on blogging and get a rest. The bikes have been awesome. We have eased up the throttles in the past week and beer getting over double the distance. I’m getting almost an unbelievable 480km per tank cruising at 80km/h as oppose getting a mere 180km on a tank with the same bike with a modified exhaust running around the highways in Canada at 120km/h.
Just as a torrential downpour starts we pull into Rio Dulce. Not sure what to think of this place. On one hand it seems like a poshy gateway to the Caribbean with marinas, big yachts and people boogieing around the delta on Seadoos. On the other the downtown core was no shortage of a market in Thailand. We could barely squeeze down the Main Street on the bikes as it is completely filled with market stands felling anything from cell phones to home made food. Right down my alley. We settle at a hotel a stone throw away from it all with view of the delta across the marina. $20 per night was hard to turn down.

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Immediately drop my bags in the room and run to the market. So many goodies that I could not identify. As I’m negotiating a deal on a fried fish wrapped in newspaper the 80 year old lady at the next stand breaks off a piece of her home made whatever and tries to jam it in my mouth. No success there. I did end up buying a fried green pepper stuffed with veggies though. Now. Where do I consume all this treasure? Bar Las Vegas says the sign deep inside the market. All riiight! How convenient. Have a cold one with it. We waltz in like we own it. But wait…. Why is it so dark in here? Old guys sleeping heads down amongst tables full of beer bottles. Those not sleeping are barely standing. Groups of young punks playing with cellies staring us down, but an unusually high ratio of semi good looking women sitting randomly through out the place. “4pm Sunday?” I’m thinking. I look up as perhaps I made a mistake on the date as I notice tube televisions placed above, conveniently in each corner. Each was playing a different hardcore porn. Oh, I get it. I reluctantly sit down under one of those TVs followed by Alex. Even the $0.75 beers couldn’t make me stay longer that it would to devour all the stuff from the market. I don’t think Alex has said one work the whole time. I did enjoy my fish and stuffed pepper though. I had my camera and really wanted to tape the place but with Alex combined we were no match to the group of vatos that would surely like to borrow my camera for a while. We jet the place as the old drunks start approaching us to start conversations.
The Caribbean sea will be able to take a breather once I’m gone. Despite being sick I still have an unsatisfied hunger for seafood. We head to the ranchos on the water so Alex can have his dinner too. I could not resist the seafood soup. A huge bowl with 2 whole crabs, about 10 shrimp, a number of huge mussels and an entire fish at the bottom. Heaven.

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We put our names on the list for the boat leaving for Livingston the next morning and I head to the hotel to nurture my sickness and catch up on writing.

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