Back to it

9

November 30, 2012 by cleanwatt

Five countries and a month later, puts me in Costa Rica.

A common question many people asked me about this trip was simply if I thought I´d get sick of riding. A valid question since the most consecutive days I´d spent riding before this was maybe 6-7 days?

For me, it is still a remarkable feeling throwing my leg over the bike and bringing it to life. My ass eagerly awaits the saddle. With the push of a button, a metallic symphony commences: the engine settles into a comfortable idle; precious engine oil is appropriately distributed; components warm, expand, seat, dance and mesh. Then you´re off to a spectacle of speed, sights, smells, and sounds. On lonely highways, you can stand up on the pegs to expose yourself to the wind, distancing yourself from the roar of the engine, then your field of vision clears giving the sensation of flying. It´s sitting aboard a piece of perpetual progressing kinetic artwork. The engine is creating, harnessing, and transferring the energy from small violent explosions, at a rate of indecipherable speed and accuracy, right between my very legs. It effectively converts chemical energy to pure joy.

Glory Shot

Every motorcyclist has a song, one that they routinely belt out for no reason. Especially inside the confines of a helmet. The chorus just keeping running over and over again. Here’s mine: Probably not what you’d expect

Anyways, instead of trying to elaborate on nearly a month of travel, I’ve chosen the easy way out of glossing over most items and using lots of pictures.

I left Guanajuato November 1st, heading Southeast towards the Yucatan Peninsula. Mexico has a fairly elaborate system of well maintained, fast, but very expensive toll roads. The alternative is navigating local traffic, small towns, and endless Topes (speed-bumps). You mostly crawl through a deceivingly large country unless you shell out for the toll roads. At one point, I paid a fee of $245 pesos (close to $19 US) for maybe a hundred mile stretch of tarmac! But when the  Caribbean calls, you answer rapidly.

I spent a couple nights in Tulum, where I spent a day snorkeling the turtle inhabited waters near Akumel and the local Cenotes (water filled caves inland).

En route to Tulum

En Route to Tulum

Introduction to the Caribbean coast

Next up was Belize. Easy border crossing.

Couple of babes on the back of a bike

Hello

Belize back roads

Locals doing some washing in the river

Belize struck me as void of a cultural presence, especially having just come from Mexico. I’m sure there are areas of rare natural beauty and local soul, but the part I passed through was unimpressive and unwelcoming. I stayed one night in Belmopan, the capital, then was happy to cross into Guatemala the next morning.

Again, the border crossing from Belize to Guatemala was very easy. I had read often you should plan on spending 4+ hours at each border. Took me maybe ~45 minutes? Knowing that the border agents can make your crossing a living hell, a smile and expressing my genuine desire to see their pretty country goes a long way.

I had a stellar line-up for Guatemala, here’s a taste.

Peeking into Guatemala

Road through Northern Guatemala

best. traffic lights. ever.

Streets of Flores

Streets of Flores

Flores

Flores

Flores ended up being a beautiful city/peninsula in its own right. Somewhat touristy, but a really cool sect of land to walk around and explore. I initially picked it as a jumping off point to tour the ancient Mayan city of Tikal. I purposefully rode by dozens of marked Mayan ruins throughout Mexico and Belize in order to appreciate the magnitude and wonder of Tikal.

Tikal

Impressive/Epic scaffold work

Something about “unsafe” conditions kept me from scrambling up this beauty

Then, Flores to Lanquin.

River crossing

Purified bags of water

Reasonable housing location?

Guatemala temporary tourist import permit

Wicked hostel I stayed at in Lanquin “The Zephyr River Lodge”

Zephyr River Lodge

Lanquin is the jumping off point for Semuc Champey. A notorious water feature attraction that had been recommended to me ever since Mexico.

Fun with bridges on the way to Semuc Champey

Then, Lanquin to Antigua.

Antigua, surrounded by volcanoes

Riding buddies

Digging the dedicated moto parking in Antigua

I had been in loose contact with another rider heading South, and had arranged to meet him in Antigua. We ended up riding together for a week or so, splitting costs and dodging potholes together through a couple countries. Paul is in the early stages of riding around the world, and I’ve been fortunate enough to learn a great deal from him along the way. He’s also booked on the same boat from Panama to Columbia, so I’ll be seeing more of him.

We headed down to the Pacific coast and relaxed in Montericco. We had the town and the black sand beaches to ourselves for a few days.

Beachfront hammocks

Black volcanic sand

Talking parrot. Owner gave up after “Hola”….

Pretty generous happy hour

Honduras was an easy days ride from Montericco, with a nerve racking river jaunt to start it off.

Crossed into Honduras without much hassle. Got rained on the majority of my time there, so I don’t have many pictures. Besides, looking about and thinking about scenery usually got you axle deep in a pothole. There were stretches of flawless alpine bliss, immediately followed by a rude awakening of rock and dirt.

First night in Copan

Deceptive first bit of tarmac in Honduras

Hot water in Central America. At least this one had wire nuts…

Microbrewery in Honduras

Downtrodden by the persistent rains in the Honduran highlands, we hightailed for Nicaragua and brighter days.

Nicaragua

Volcanoes abound

Rode right through the restaurant at dinner to securely park the bikes in the garden in Leon.

There is a interesting story behind the origin of the famous Cathedral in Leon. Rumor has it that a Spanish boat was carrying the plans for two cathedrals in Central & South America. One plan for a small, average structure appropriate for Leon, the other a grand, magnificent plan for Lima, Peru. Supposedly the plans were accidentally swapped, and little Leon ended up with a disproportionately stellar cathedral, while Lima got stuck with a wee shack.

Downtown Leon

Coca-Cola vs Pepsi

Ugly Soviet influenced housing

Leon must be a refuge for discarded mannequins nowadays. Boutiques would only advertise their garments on headless models. Must have been thousands in the town center alone.

CAPTION CONTEST! Leave your entry in the comments section beginning with “CC:”

Nice old Triumph in Leon

Nice old Triumph in Leon

Street food

Street food

Coincidental moto travelers party in Leon.

Coincidental moto travelers party in Leon.

Paul gets held up by some cattle

Paul gets held up by some cattle

Rode up a volcano

Rode up a volcano

The bikes were in need of a wash. $1.60 got the big lass cleaner than I found her on the showroom floor.

The bikes were in need of a wash. $1.60 got the big lass cleaner than I found her on the showroom floor.

Overloaded sugar cane trucks

Overloaded sugar cane trucks

Typical Nicaraguan scenery

Typical Nicaraguan scenery

Road to the beach

Road to the beach

After Leon, we putted around Managua, Granada, and Masaya then headed towards San Juan Del Sur and the Pacific coast.

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Average beer, rad label

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Always wild dogs...

Always wild dogs…

I left the beach of Nicaragua on the 21st of November, I had plans to drop in on the BMW dealership in San Jose, Costa Rica for a couple spare parts and then meet Samuel (as he preferred to be called in Latin America) and Doris on the 23rd. I found a nice little hostel in the center of San Jose and spent a day off walking the university and relaxing.

The dealership in San Jose had a nice model of their beautiful boxer on display

The dealership in San Jose had a nice model of their beautiful boxer on display

Cool old foosball table at the hostel in San Jose

Cool old foosball table at the hostel in San Jose

Sam and Doris in our disgusting dorm in Palo Verde National Park

Sam and Doris in our disgusting dorm in Palo Verde National Park

Palo Verde

Palo Verde

Here’s a sample of what Howler Monkeys sound like…

Road out of Palo Verde

Road out of Palo Verde

My favorite road sign

My favorite road sign

Trees in the Cloud Forest of Monte Verde

Trees in the Cloud Forest of Monte Verde

Hanging bridges trek

Hanging bridges trek

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Sam and Doris had a rental vehicle for them and when my folks came in, and they happily hauled all my luggage while we traveled together. I had forgotten how it felt to chuck the big lass around without ~80lbs on the back. Fantastic.

Mandatory stop at a German bakery on Lake Arenal for some bratwurst and pastries!

Mandatory stop at a German bakery on Lake Arenal for some bratwurst and pastries!

Bro and I in a natural hot spring river near the Arenal Volcano

Bro and I in a natural hot spring river near the Arenal Volcano

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Sam and Doris

Samuel and Doris

We met the folks at the Finca Rosa Blanca organic coffee plantation North of San Jose on the 27th.

View from the coffee plantation

View from the coffee plantation

Absolutely no trumpeting

Absolutely no trumpeting

Freshly picked coffee

Freshly picked coffee

Our guide, Leo, schooling the group

Our guide, Leo, schooling the group

Sun dried

Sun dried

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Nice drainage spouts

Nice drainage spouts

Good Left, Bad right

Good Left, Bad right

The common bean we thrive on is known as Arabica. It is naturally rich in sugars and oils, which gives the bean when roasted that brown luster we know and love. Imposters, either pushing aged beans (having lost their natural oils & sugars), or cutting it with lesser quality beans will throw raw sugar into the roasting process. The sugar becomes caramelized and will adhere to the bean, falsely giving the appearance of a premium bean. SO…we learned an easy trick to decipher if your brew of choice is “sugar coating” the truth. Take a glass of ice cold water, and put a hefty spoonful of your ground java on the surface. The added sugar will dissolve off the bean and quickly turn the water below brown. The glass on the left in the picture above had NO sugar added, you can see the water has barely been affected compared to the similarly labeled coffee to the right which adds sugar to the roasting process.

Doris and our "cupping" (tasting) session

Doris and our “cupping” (tasting) session

My father, from whom my love of coffee originates, genetically and my memories

My father, from whom my love of coffee originates, from both genetics and memories

10,000ft+ on the Pan American Highway

10,000ft+ on the Pan American Highway

Appropriately dealt with washout

Appropriately dealt with washout

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I think I’ll save the rest of Costa Rica with the family and my brief upcoming glimpse of Panama before the sailing for the next post. Big props to my brother for helping me out with the new computer, and my folks for smuggling in some needed items for the rest of my trip. It’s been surreal being with my family here, occasionally forgetting I rode my motorcycle all this way, and not seeing anyone I have a history with for nearly two months. It amazes me what they went through to tailor a holiday here while I was passing through. Surreal, but humbling and great.

Trip Mileage: 8,550

“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.” – Martin Buber

9 thoughts on “Back to it

  1. David Meehan says:

    Hi Dylan, Great to hear you are doing well and having a awesome journey! I have been following your progress! I wish I was chasing you on the twisties again! Have Fun! Dave from Baja

  2. CaliCat says:

    CC – I’ve got a few so here goes…(turns out most are dirty)…

    “And that’s how you change the blade on a turbine. Any questions? …oh I see we have a hand raised… yes, go ahead woman in the pink kite.”

    “So I see you noticed my T-shirt. Yeah, I’m pretty much an expert when it comes to trees. And you’ll be happy to hear I know my way around bushes too.”

    “Hey Babe. Ain’t no need to hail a cab. I know where you’re trying to go and it’s only a short mustache ride away.”

    “You’re much nicer than that bitch in the other doorway. Plus I couldn’t even see her nipples”

    “Whattayasay you, me, and your brown haired friend over there use this here camera to document some bad decisions? We could start with eating food out of a garbage can and work our way from there.”

    “Alright, I can make it tighter but if you pass out it’s not my problem”

    “A woman of few words, eh? I like that. Now make me a sandwich!”

    • braamer says:

      “You know, yeah, you are right, that’s insightful; most people are so phony.”

      “Hey. That ain’t gonna work. They can see you ain’t got the fare.”

      “Wow, that’s what I’m talking about. Just wave ‘em in. Suckers!”

  3. Susan Massey says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your trip! I love your posts!

  4. antykate says:

    Just want to say thanks for the free advertising, Dylan. Not sure if you have picked the correct market for selling our trees, though. Enjoy the details you include that give us such a wonderful perspective on your experience. Know you are enjoying time with the fam….. Soak it in! Love to you.

  5. Joann Braam says:

    Reading your notes makes me feel like I’m right there with you. I can almost feel the sun on my back! We love all your photos! Danielle and Bill say Happy Belated Thanksgiving and we’re all happy you’re having one heck of an adventure.

  6. johncoyote says:

    You are very lucky to be able to travel though Central America. I was station for one year in Honduras. I did a lot of traveling. Always something to see and do. Your photos of the many beautiful locations were outstanding. Thank you.

  7. Krissy Fleischman says:

    Dylan, from the amazing pictures you have captured to the imagery that you portray of your journey, it is all just so breathtaking. I have always wanted to travel that world like this but know that that will probably never happen, but to be so lucky to see it through your eyes and lens is almost just as good. Almost…. 😉 I will say though, you really make us feel like we are there riding along side of you. And it looks like you have put so much work and thought into this… Thank you for sharing. I wish you safe travels.

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