Thursday, December 2, 2010

Three Month Review

Daryll writes:

We’ve been on the road for just over three months now and almost at the end of our travels through Central America, so I thought it would be a good idea to spend some time looking back at the last three months.

I know I have mentioned this a few times already, however it is worth repeating; Mexico is safe as any other country and much of the violence is gang related and targeted.  We loved Mexico and am certain that you will too.  The people are extremely friendly, the food was amazing, and it is very cheap to travel through and there is so much to see and do.  Even though we spent a month in Mexico, we only scratched the surface and will definitely have to take another trip to explore the areas that we missed.  The next time though, we will re-look at the timing as the heat on the Baja almost killed us.  It’s not fun riding in temperatures in the mid 40’s (that’s Celsius).  Mexico also has the best road signs, not that we thought they were good at the time; however as compared to the countries in Central America, it is years ahead of them.  Road sings seem to be non-existent and it is extremely difficult trying to navigate through cities.  The roads that we have taken thus far have been relatively good on average and the areas that were washed away due to rains or blocked due to landslides have a detour that we could ride around.

For us, Mexico, Guatemala and Nicaragua stood out.  It is cheap to travel to these country’s and is extremely safe and at no-point did we feel threatened or afraid for our safety.  As you can tell from all the photos that were taken, there is so much history here with the ruins and old colonial buildings which add so much character and mystic to the cities that they are in and not forgetting all the volcano’s that are ever present here.

Over the last few months, we’ve gotten used to having cold showers and rarely, very rarely have the luxury of a warm, not hot, a luke warm shower.  Once the initial shock wears off, it’s not all that bad and we’ve come accustomed to these cold showers.  With the high temperatures and humidity, it is refreshing after a hard days riding.  I’m still battling with the rain though.  We have spent the last few days riding in rain for almost our entire riding day and it is getting old very quick.  It’s only hit us since arriving in Costa Rica and our timing wasn’t perfect as it is the tail-end of the rainy season and should be dry come mid-December.  Though as I sit and type up this blog post on the deck of the place we are staying at in Panama, the sun is shining, something we haven’t seen for over a week.  A promising sign.

In terms of our gear, everything seems to be working as intended except my rain-suit, hence my displeasure of all the rainy riding days.  I could be partly to blame as many a time we stop on the side of the road to quickly don our rain-suits and I possibly wasn’t fastening it properly so inevitably water was seeping under the rain suit and I was literally sitting in a puddle of water for the rest of the day.  The last 2 riding days, I got smarter and donned my rain-suit at the start of the day, taking the time to secure it properly and have been dry.  Our riding suits are filthy as hell, so I guess we should wash them once the sun is out again.  So far, my tripod is the only piece of equipment that I’ve been carrying that hasn’t been used, however have no plan of ditching it as I’m sure it is going to come in handy for some night time photography.  We’ve been carrying our camping gear, however haven’t camped as much as we would have liked but I’m sure that’s going to change once we arrive in South America though and it will definitely be used once in Africa.  My GPS seems to be acting up and it is the “Power On” button that gets stuck and once pressed, doesn’t seem to power on.  If anyone has some smart ideas on how to fix this, please let me know.  It’s a Garmin GPS60CSX model.

Our bikes have performed flawlessly and still very happy and confident of the decision we made in taking the DR650.  I have done 2 oil changes so far, once in Mazatlan, Mexico and the other in La Libertad, El Salvador.  Finding the oil that I would like to use is always a challenge and takes a few stops at different stores.  Over the last few days though, Angela’s bike has been stalling for no reason.  I suspect it could be fuel starvation as once we stop, re-start with the choke on and rev it for a few minutes, the bike is good to go.  It may be a dirty fuel filter which I need to take apart and look at; however I’ve been waiting for some sunny weather to be able to take it apart.  Something I will do over the next few days in Panama.  I purchased 2 rear tires in Antigua, Guatemala and have them strapped to the back of each bike ever since.  Angela’s bike will probably need the tire replaced somewhere in Colombia, and my rear tire should last at least 2K km more.  The tires went onto both bikes at different times, hence one will need replacing before the other.  I thought that carrying a rear would be a pain and decided against staring of the trip with one; however in retrospect, it is not an inconvenience and I should have started off the trip carrying a rear tire for each bike.  Tires can be found here, however it takes some searching for the right size and most times, you just settle for what the shop has as compared to finding a brand and style that you really want.

We have now crossed 8 land borders (USA, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama) and by far the US border crossing was the most stressful for the fear of not being allowed in and the thought of our trip going up in flames.  The other crossings were somewhat stressful though, just because of the shear chaos at each of the crossings and the lack of any sort of procedures.  It is literally a free for all.  The entry into Panama was the worst of the lot with a total of 3,5 hrs to be allowed in.
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