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May 27th - June 6th 2011

El Salvador & Guatemala

 

27-28/05/2011

Start Mileage - 40,306

Miles - 109

Nueva Ocotepeque (Honduras(Hotel Ocotepeque) - Suchitito (El Salvador(Apartment of some guy we met on the street)

27/05/2011 - Last chance for the cops in Honduras to try and fleece us! 10 days, nearly 1000 miles, all types of roads including mountain, city, rural and the Pan American Ö we have passed plenty of check points, even stopping at a few for directions, and we have had no trouble. Maybe we were just lucky.

An easy but long border crossing into El Salvador, 2 hours all in with lots of queuing along with the truck drivers.

As we are heading down the road I spotted a sign for Suchitito that took us a different way than the GPS was showing, decided to follow the road signs rather than the GPS. After 30KMís we saw another sign that said we were going to have to take a car ferry, hadnít seen that on the map when we looked at the route so I guess we should have followed the GPS. Just as we pulled up to the ďFerry PortĒ it started to chuck it down with rain so we dove for cover into a coffee shop. Looking around we could see no sign of a jetty anywhere are we in the wrong place? We asked the owner of the coffee shop if this was where we get the ferry and it is. The rain stopped enough to have a look around, there is a small muddy track leading down a steep muddy bank to the waters edge and a couple of pallets at the shore .. that is the port!!! To get the ferry we have to call a cell phone number and someone will come out from Suchitito Ö so, it is either going to be a very expensive crossing if they have to bring a boat over that is large enough to take a car as the road sign earlier suggested or it is going to be someone in a canoe. Either way we decided to back track the way we came and pick up the other road. We checked the sign again on the way back, definitely a sign with a ferry and a car on it.

Arrived at Suchitito around 17:30 and stopped in the plaza for coffee and something to eat before trying to find the Hostel that was in the Rough Guide, Suchitito is only a small village so it shouldn't be difficult to find the Hostel. While we are having our coffee a German guy came over to chat, he told us the Hostel we are looking for is closed but he lives here and has a mate that has some apartments for rent if we were interested. Worth a look for US$6, so Lorraine goes off to check it out. Apartment is probably not the right word for his accommodation, it was clean and tidy but just a single room with a shower/toilet attached, it will do even though it is out of town a bit. It didn't seem that hilly when I rode the bike round to the apartment, but later on when we headed back into town we discovered it was very hilly and cobbled and muddy after the rain. At 23:30 another heavy rainstorm came in, so heavy on the tin roof of the apartment we couldn't hear the TV and had to put earplugs in. the storm lasted for about two hours, continuously beating down on the roof. After the rain had stopped the dogs started barking and howling for an hour or so and then, about 03:30 the guy next door started his car and left it running while shouting to someone else Ö not a lot of sleep in this quiet little village!!!

28/05/2011 - Neither of us feeling in the mood to do anything today after no sleep last night. Went to the village to try and find wi-fi, no luck. Talking to an American guy that owns a restaurant here, last nights rain was the first they have had this rainy season Ö typical!!† Bought beer and coffee and went back to the room for a kip.

Another downpour tonight though not as heavy and it didn't last as long.

 

29/05/2011

Start Mileage - 40.415

Miles - 234

Suchitito (Noisy Apartment) - Santa Anna (Hotel Livingstone)

El Salvador is continuing the trend of Central America so far for us .. With a few exceptions it hasn't been enjoyable and we are not sure what to do. We decided to head South to San Salvador and see what happens. Stopped in San Salvador for a coffee, a big city with not much more than the architecture to keep us there, and we have seen enough old churches so we are now going to call it quits and aim for Santa Anna as an overnight stop before the border into Guatemala and head for Tikal. Back on the bike and it wont start again without a bump.

Arrived Santa Anna around 17:30, just starting to get dark, a few hostels checked, all either full or have no parking before we found one with space and parking Ö. Then the bloody bike wonít start again, starting to get annoyed!!! Think I might have to strip the starter down and give it a clean up soon.

 

30-31/05/2011

Start Mileage - 40,649

Miles - 145

Santa Anna (Hotel Livingstone) - Antigua (Guatemala(Hotel Jardin de Lolita)

30/05/2011 - Bike started OK this morning then a 30 minute ride to the border. An easy crossing again although a bit slow having to visit different offices and the bank a few times. We met a couple of Brazilians heading South and spent a bit of time chatting with them. They were originally part of a four bike group but they had separated in Guatemala as they were heading home and the other two were going on to Alaska.

Back on the road around 13:00. We had a bit of rain on the way but not much, a lot cooler ride today.

We thought we might have trouble negotiating our way through busy Guatemala city but we managed to get through without getting lost and reached Antigua around 17:00. A nice town, but yet another one full of tour operators for the hiking fraternity so it doesn't hold much for us apart from an overnight stop. Once again Lorraine sets off on the hunt for cheap accommodation leaving me parked at the roadside, and once again she fails!! We still canít get to grips with the American prices yet! We met a group of three Canadians also on the hunt for accommodation that were having just as much success as we were. Lorraine eventually managed to find a reasonably priced hotel and came back to give me directions .. Bike wonít start again .. Starting to get really hacked off now with the bike playing up and the cost of accommodation and food.

The bike problem is the same as we had in Salta in Argentina which was something to do with the electrics at the starter motor getting dirty, or thatís what I think the mechanic said! Unpacked the bike and got the tools out to start stripping stuff off the bike. The 3 Canadians had also found this hotel and invited us to join them for dinner, I think they got a bit annoyed when I said I was going to work on the bike and might see them later for a beer, we didn't see them again.

By now it is starting to get dark and I canít see a thing and to top the day off the batteries in both head torches are flat .. Sod it!!

31/05/2011 - Bike still a no starter this morning. Trying to get the starter motor off I got to the last bolt, which of course is hidden away and needs a special tool, a hydraulic workbench and probably some sort of computer programme and magic dust to get at it, might be time to look for a mechanic. Just as I am putting it all back together again I noticed that a connector from the starter motor to the solenoid was badly corroded, I hadn't seen it when I was taking it apart. Connector cleaned up and everything back together again I switched on the ignition not holding out any hope, hit the starter button and bugger me it fired up. If that was all it was that needed repairing in Salta it was the easiest Pesoís that guy has made Ö Cheers Gringo!

 

01/06/2011

Start Mileage - 40,794

Miles - 197

Antigua (Hotel el Jardin de Lolita) - Rio Dulce (Hotel Bruno)

A nice ride out of the valley and back towards Guatemala City, not a lot of traffic again but ended up in the seedy part of the city somehow. Managed to get back onto the right road and soon ran out of map on the GPS!! I thought I had downloaded the whole of Guatemala, obviously not, no problem though as we still have paper maps.

Arrived at Rio Dulce and headed for a Backpackers that Stephane had recommended to us as clean, cheap and had parking. When we got there it wasn't cheap or clean and they told us they didn't have parking, it must be the one that Steph stayed at, we donít see any other accommodation called ĒThe Bridge BackpackersĒ that is on the water underneath the only bridge in town! We ended† up at the marina where an American guy has a few rooms, not as cheap as The Bridge but cleaner.

 

02-05/06/2011

Start Mileage - 40,991

Miles - 130

Rio Dulce (Hotel Bruno) - Flores (Hotel Mirador de Lago)

02/06/2011 - An uneventful day today, except nearly getting taken out by a maniac coach driver. I had seen him barrelling down on me in the mirrors so tried to get a shot of the bus overtaking and the speedo. I was doing 60MPH and the coach a lot more, he hadn't got half the bus past us before he started to move back in .. And Ö getting hit in the face with some mud or stone that flew off a passing truck .. Crazy drivers!

Arrived at Flores, a nice little island village, around 14:30, Lorraine went off to do her stuff while I stayed with the bike. Successful, she came back and told me where it was but I had to ride around the back to park, I missed it the first time so I have to ride around the island to get back, lucky it is only a 2 minute ride around the island.

3/06/2011 - Spent most of the day swatting up on Tikal and Mexico from some books we borrowed from the hotel.

Found a bar with cheap, good food and beer.

4/06/2011 - Early start for Tikal National Park today, alarm went off at 05:00 and we are on the bike for 06:30 to arrive for the gates opening and hopefully miss the crowds.

I mentioned about getting extra cash but Lorraine says that they will take Visa at the gate to the park so we donít need to panic about finding an ATM, I gave up arguing a long while ago. Topping up with fuel takes the last of our cash.

70KMís from Flores to the park entry gate at Tikal Ö. and. Yes you saw it coming, they donít take Visa!!!!! Why am I not surprised??? Nearest ATM is back at Santa Elena near where we started this morning, I am ******* annoyed.

High speed run back to town, get money and a coffee then back the 70KMís to Tikal. After the park entrance there is another† 20KMís to the site itself. A narrow road through the forest with lots of Howler Monkeys up in the trees.

We eventually got to the site entrance about 09:00, so much for the early start, at least there aren't the crowds I was expecting and the size of the site made it easy to get away from the crowd.

Tikal is one of the largest archaeological sites of the Pre Columbian Mayan Civilizations. With the residential area covering nearly 60 square KMís there is still a lot of the site that hasn't been uncovered, mapped or excavated. The city itself has been completely mapped and covers more than 16 square KMís with more than 3000 constructions including palaces, temples, ceremonial platforms, ball courts, terraces, plazas, avenues and steam baths. The earliest constructions have been dated from around 400 - 300 BC with the last Estella erected around 869 AD.

The site consists of 5 main parts but from the entrance we took the long walk around rather than head for the main parts straight away. Passing The Twin Pyramid Complexís Q, R, O, M and P. Each consisting of 4 buildings arranged in a particular pattern, North- South (Rectangular Buildings) and West- East (Pyramids) thought to be related to time marking events and rituals.

 

Complex Q & R - built by Yax Ain II to commemorate the passing of a katun (A 20 year period). One of the Pyramids at Complex Q has been restored with its Estella positioned in front of it. The best of these, Estela 22, can be seen at the Museo LŪtico and shows Yax Ain IIís ascension to the throne.

Complex R features Estella 19 dedicated in 790 AD by Yax Nuun Ayiin II.

Complex O - Mainly features some Altar stones and un-excavated pyramids.

Complex M & P - Twin Pyramids.

 

The Great Plaza - The core of the site features Temples I & II with the North Acropolis to the North and the Central Acropolis to the South.

 

The North Acropolis - Features Temple V amongst other buildings.

 

The Central Acropolis - The Central Acropolis, has 45 structures, including palaces, administrative buildings,  and 6 patios.

 

Mundo Perdido (The lost World) and Plaza de los Siete Templos (Plaza of the Seven Temples)

Mundo Perdido - Is the largest ceremonial complex at Tikal. The complex was organised as a large E shaped Group consisting of a Pyramid aligned with a platform to the East that supported three temples. The Pyramid, which at over 30Mtrs high is the largest at Tikal, began as a small astronomical viewing platform which faced the platform to the East. The platform marked the position of the rising sun at the spring solstice (north building), the equinox (center building), and the winter solstice (south building).

Siete Templos - A small plaza containing seven temples in a straight line.

 

Temple IV (The tallest Temple in the Park) - Temple IV is the tallest structure at Tikal, around 70 meters in height and is the† second highest building in the Mayan world, the pyramid of La Danta at El Mirador, 55km to the north of Tikal, is just under 73m. Yik'in Chan Kawil, son of Jasaw, commissioned Temple IV in 741 CE.
Temple IV's 250,000 cubic yards of stone remain largely unexcavated and unrestored, with only the upper third portion and roof comb rising above the jungle canopy. Temple IV is currently in the process of restoration.

 

After 7 1/2 hours walking around the site my feet are throbbing and I am in dire need of coffee, but well worth it.

When we got back to the bike there was a note stuck to the seat from another biker who was camping at the site, we had heard that the camp site had been closed down that is why we stayed in Flores .... Bummer! We wandered over and found Rossie, an Aussi lad at his tent, we ended up chatting and having coffee with him till way after it got dark, could make for an interesting ride back with all the cattle and dogs loose on the unlit roads. While talking with Rossie we discover that he has met the Canadian guys we bumped into at Antigua, he has also met the other half of the Brazilian foursome that we hadnít, small world.

Looks like we are heading in the same direction so might ride together for a while, Rossie hasn't been into the ruins yet and we are having a lay up day tomorrow to get the feet back to normal.

We got back to the hotel just before the rain came down and without splatting any cattle or dogs. Out for dinner at the same restaurant, huge plate of Carbonnara that I couldn't finish then back to the hotel for a beer or two. I fell asleep on the balcony and woke at 05:00, lucky we are having a rest day.

05/06/2011 - Lazy day dodging the rain and looking for maps for Mexico, didn't find any.

We had an Email from Rossie, apparently, the day after we met them in Antigua, the Canadian guys had decided to split for a while. One of them, Eduardo, had set out on his own, he had stopped to check his route at the side of the road and while he was waiting to pull back into the traffic he was struck by another vehicle. He was rushed to hospital but died there the following morning. It is hard to hear this sort of news, even if we didn't know them. When we think back to when there were, and probably still will be, times we could have so easily been in that situation.

 

06/06/2011

Start Mileage - 41,262

Miles - 119

Flores (Hotel El Mirador) - El Naranja (Hotel Xahdag)

Packed up and on the road at 10:00. Need to get cash as there are no facilities for credit cards at the border and we have no idea what the availability of ATMís will be between here and there and I am not riding back here (see above!!).

Bumped into Rossie in town, we hadn't made any plans to ride together but more of an ďif I see you on the road we will ride togetherĒ situation. He still has stuff to do here so we carry on.

While we were stopped at La Libertad for fuel and coffee Rossie caught us up so we rode together from there. We got to El Naranjo around 15:00 and called it a day, no point going on to the border as it is not open on Mondays for motoís.

 

 

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