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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Day 182 Thursday October 24, 2013

After nearly seven months on the road the bike really needed some TLC. So I put out a call via social media to get suggestions for a qualified person to do some maintenance. This plea for help returned many ideas and suggestions from around the world. One was Lance Carnes of Adventure Kartel in Mexico City. You might remember I purchased a tire from Lance and he shipped it to me in Oaxaca several months ago. Lance gave me the numbers of two guys in the area, but I was unable to communicate with them by phone because of that language thing. Another timely suggestion came from Jenny Cook, of Overland Magazine, in the south of England. Jenny referred me to a post in Horizons Unlimited about Taz Mania, a guy with a bike shop in Antigua. When Taz and I connected on the phone I right away recognized his heavy Australian accent. Taz said for me to bring the bike over. Upon arriving at Taz's shop, MotoMundo, there was this Aussie sounding guy wearing wooden clogs. As it turns out Taz is Dutch, speaks six languages, and learned his English in OZ.

Taz and I go over a list of things to be done to the bike in addition to installing a new chain. On Monday Taz goes to Guatemala City to get parts for the bike and does not return until all day affair. Taz said that there was one 525 chain in Guatemala City and it was probably the only 525 chain in the country. When the cover over the front sprocket is removed we see right away that the sprocket has significant wear. Taz has a 16 tooth sprocket that fits a KTM bike and with some modifications he is able to make it work perfectly.

I am planning to leave Antigua and spend a few days at Lake Atitlan which is about two hours west of here and if there are any other problems with the bike will be returning through this area again to see Taz on the way to El Salvador.

Here some photos in and around Antigua.

This is Taz and his shop.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Day 176, Friday, October 18, 2013

I left San Ignacio Monday morning and rode 20 minutes to the Guatemala border crossing. The process was pretty straight forward and simple even for someone who speaks almost no useful Spanish. Within approximately an hour it was done.  

This photo is entering the park at Tikal. Tikal was the capital of a conquest state that became one of the most powerful kingdoms of the ancient Maya. Though monumental architecture at the site dates back as far as the 4th century BC, Tikal reached its apogee during the Classic Period, ca. 200 to 900 AD. During this time, the city dominated much of the Maya region politically, economically, and militarily, while interacting with areas throughout Mesoamerica such as the great metropolis of Teotihuacan in the distant Valley of Mexico. There is evidence that Tikal was conquered by Teotihuacan in the 4th century AD. Following the end of the Late Classic Period, no new major monuments were built at Tikal and there is evidence that elite palaces were burned. These events were coupled with a gradual population decline, culminating with the site’s abandonment by the end of the 10th century.

Some random shots in the park.

I was a little disappointed with the park because so little of it has been excavated. What had been excavated was spectacular. This picture gives you some idea how far the walk is between some of the temples.

This is a Mayan fridge...caves dug out of the limestone.

This is Temple is the highest structure built in MesoAmerica.

This is the grand plaza.

This my guide Alberto. It is a must to have a guide at Tikal because the area is 16 sq. km of jungle with poorly marked paths between sites.

Monday night I camped at Tikal. I was up early...loaded the bike and took off for Flores about an hour away. As I was arriving some sort of protest, involving somewhere around 2,000 motorbikes and 3 to 5,000 people riding these bikes, blocked the highway as I was entering town...I was probably one of the last to get through. After riding out to the island of Flores, I decided to head out for Antigua but the main route to Guatemala City was blocked by the protest which I was told could last several more hours. My Garmin GPS had charted a route 540 km from Flores to Antigua via Guatemala City. I looked at a map and thought that route was going way too far out of the way so I overruled Mr. Garmin and created a custom route to Antigua that is 240 km. Well, Mr. Garmin knew that most travelers would be more comfortable following his route...not to mention they would arrive one day sooner. I did get some nice photos that I would not have gotten following Mr. Garmin's plan.

At this point I was still feeling clever, but that was soon to change.

This photo was taken right after the first drop...the bike is just too heavily loaded for this terrain and I am unable to keep it out of the ruts or even in the ruts.

When the bike and I reached the top of this grade (about 30 kms) we have been down five or six times. The Guatemalan police are following me and helping me right the bike after each fall. Now we are entering a construction zone and the bike and I go down three times in 100 yards. The police suggest, through gesture, that I put my gear in their truck (BV-057) and when we took the top gear off the bike the balance was more drops. It was about 20 kms down the other side which was all under construction...thank the Heavens it did not rain. When we reached the bottom there is a paved road and the town of Rabinal. I am whipped...I get a room at the only hotel in town and awake Thursday morning feeling that it would be an easy morning to Antigua.

I leave Rabinal and the road turns into a cart path. We make it about 2 kms and the chain on the bike breaks. It is first thought is "do not panic."  I know the road is patrolled by the police.  I have a repair link with me but have never put one in before. The first thing is to unload the bike and get it on the centerstand. When the chain was finally repaired there were two men on the ground with me and five standing ready to help in any way they could. In all it took two hours to get moving again. If I had not brought this repair link this would have been an expensive and time consuming ordeal.

I passed through countless villages along this 100 km trek off grid and people of all ages stopped what they were doing to inspect this traveler...and I can only guess what might have been going through their minds..."is he lost...loco...?".

More will be revealed.....

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Day 170 Saturday October 12, 2013

I arrived in San Ignacio Thursday afternoon after a 3 1/2 hour ride from Corozel. I was lucky enough to just skirt a thunderstorm that I had been watching for half an hour...a couple of big drops is all the bike and I got.

San Ignacio serves as the capital of Cayo District. It got its start from Mahogany and chicle production during British rule. It began to attract different people from the surrounding areas, which led to the diverse population of the town at present day. The town was originally named El Cayo by the Spanish. On October 19, 1904, El Cayo was officially declared a town by the government of British Honduras.

Upon arriving in San Ignacio I made one loop around the heart of town...turned down just one wrong way street and ducked into the RainForest Inn undetected.  This is where the bike and I will stay while here.

The RainForest Inn.

Friday morning I walked from my hotel to the Cahal Pech Mayan ruin site. The site was a palatial, hilltop home for an elite Maya family, and though most major construction dates to the Classic period, evidence of continuous habitation has been dated as far back as 1200 BC during the Early Middle Formative period (Early Middle Preclassic), making Cahal Pech one of the oldest recognizable Maya sites in Western Belize.

My tour Friday morning was very tour guide and I was the only visitor there.