There’s Diesel in my Beemer – What am I Gonna do?*

There

Today we made a big mistake.

We arrived at a petrol station, looked at the pumps and then filled the bike up with what we thought was Premium Petrol/ Gasoline.

So we set off out the petrol station and within 20 metres the bike spluttered to a stand still. Straight away we went to the pumps at the Petrol station to double check things and within seconds Ivanka was waving over saying that we had put Diesel in – Shit!

Within a few minutes we were taking the tank off, disconnecting the fuels lines and removing the plugs from the bike. A big thank you to our travelling buddy Mark who knew exactly what to do with a no messing approach.Plus Mark even had a spare fuel line connector to replace one that broke.

Here we are below:

So there we were, everything back together, we had swilled the tank out with petrol, we turned the bike over so it was spit out excess diesel – but still the bike sounded a bit poorly. Anyway, we filled the bike up to the brim with petrol and then tried to turn the bike over.

To start off with there was nothing, then after pulling the plugs out 3 or 4 times (and replacing with new ones because we could) and siphoning petrol into the combustion chamber we eventually started the bike and now it runs as smooth as ever. The siphoning top tip was given by some local dudes hanging around the petrol station.. They asked for all of our excess diesel so the diesel was gladly given in exchange for their roadside knowldge.

The rest of the day brought us more challenges in the form of constant mountain rain, tight scenic mountain bends and the odd narrow bridge.

We are now in western Panama in the mountains in a town called Boquete.

It has been a great adventure of a day and we are all now waiting for some of Ivanka’s hot chicken soup.

*The title of this tune should be sung to the tune of UB40 – There’s a rat in my kitchen. See here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bS0fXQN6zrI

San Jose in Costa Rica – News from the smoking room

San Jose in Costa Rica

Join Ivanka, Nick, Glen, Mark and Maggie as they bring you a video update from the Piano room at Rosa Del Paseo. From their boutique residence in the financial district of San Jose they talk about their latest exploits on this adventure motorcycling business.

Life isn’t that tough on the road yer know!

Travel update from Leon in Nicaragua – Video

Travel update from Leon in Nicaragua

Filmed from Leon in Nicaragua, Nick gives an update regarding their whereabouts on their adventure motorcycling trip. Featuring the journey from Alaska, USA, Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador to Nicaragua.

 

Lovin’ El Salvador

Lovin

Adventure motorcycling our way through Central America

So we made it out of Lake Atitlan in Guatemala after being stranded there for almost a week.

As we sit here in Nicaragua I find it quite strange that I am here, in a place that I never thought I would ever be in –  Nicaragua! “What is the capital of Nicaragua?” – used to be one of my quiz night questions when I was a ski-rep in Bulgaria. I never thought I would ever be visiting Managua. Surreal!

A lot has happened since we last posted. Here are a few of our motorcycle adventures in short:

      • We eventually left Lake Atitlan in Guatemala. (Lake Atitlan is a volcanic crater lake that we got stranded by due to heavy tropical rains.) It wasn’t possible to leave by the same road that we came in on so we decided to put Ivanka and the bike luggage onto a 4WD that we hired (plus driver) and we headed down an off road path. In addition to the 4WD we had to get a police escort because there is a 4km stretch of road where robberies are frequent. (For those of you with an interest in the specific road, we left from San Pedro to Santiago rather than directly onto the Interamericana.) We were told by locals that because you travel so slowly on the precarious path, robbers would run out of the woods, tip your bike over and then clean you out of all your cash! 20 or so mudslides and some low cloud and poor visibility later we reached Antigua where we met up with Maggie, Mark, Kevin, Andre and Glen who we hope to be travelling through Central and South America with. They waited for us to join them so a big thank you for waiting!
      • El Salvador and the Mama’s and Papa’s hostal.  We crossed from Guatemala to El Salvador amidst another wet and rainy day and eventually arrived in the mountain town of Tacuba. This was a a day where two main roads out of the country were blocked due to heavy rain (some of the worst floods the country had ever seen) so on our third attempt at a road out of the country we travelled along a Guatemalan ‘B road’ with water up to our ankles, pot holes all over the place and rivers in danger of sweeping through the landscape.  A sad day because our Swiss friend Andre unfortunately had a crash and bent the forks on his Africa Twin. As a motorcycle group we went separate ways so he was able to head back to Guatemala City and get his bike fixed. The accident was caused because of a stray dog running across the road in wet and foggy conditions. Our motorbike group size went from 5 bikes to 2 on its first day and we were fortunate to ride into a new town that night and find the Mamas and Papas hostal just as the sun went down – phew! Not a great idea to arrive in a country like El Salvador in the dark.
      • Tacuba was a lot of fun. We walked round a coffee plantation on the first day, followed by a dip in a nearby river – then our wonderful host gave us a go on his very accurate 9mm! Ivanka went first after a 30 second intro to the deadly weapon, next was myself and then our new American friend Glen. All of us hit a tree as a target and were within inches of each other at 30 feet; I must admit, it did feel a bit bloody brilliant!! Here is Ivanka firing a weapon below.

    • Waterfalls came next. The next day our friends caught up with us from Guatemala, then we went waterfall and canyon jumping. We jumped from waterfalls up to 1o metres high and scaled some very impressive canyons. An exceptional day was had by all considering that it had been heavy rain and the rivers were as high as they had ever been.
Here we are, in Nicaragua, very much looking forward to what lies ahead! (We are nowhere near ready to come home by the way.)
The bike is booked in for quite a big service and a few repairs at BMW Costa Rica. We have fork seals that are leaking that need some attention along with a few serviceable bits and bobs. Nothing major.
Adios amigos.

 

Exposed to the elements in Guatemala

Exposed to the elements in Guatemala

We’ve been in Guatemala for a couple of weeks now and its been a complete experience. Plently of lush green landscapes, a diversity of villages, towns and settlements and we have been really exposed to the vulnerability of the landscape to the tropical climate.

We are currently beside the beautiful Lago de Atitlan in a town called San Pedro La Laguna.

The rains have trapped us a little but we are having a great time and have met lots of interesting people. It is the tail end of the rainy season but in addition to this there are three tropical storms that we are on the cusp of and it is causing chaos throughout Guatemala. Dozens of roads are closed due to landslides, over a dozen people have lost their lives and the rain doesn’t want to stop.

Where we are the streets have been like small rivers, the lake is well above its usual water lines and families have lost their homes to the wet weather beacuse they are now semi-submerged. Yesterday, an Australian couple arrived in town somehow, they arrived by using a local ‘chicken bus’, then they walked across a landslide and through a coffee plantation and then eventually arrived after using a boat across the lake.

 

On Monday we have arranged to try and get out of San Pedro. This town is basically a lake formed in a crater, situated within a high mountain range which goes up to 3000m. On the way into the lake, it was quite challenging, we encountered some of the steepest roads we have been down so far. The roads and switch-back were narrow and windy, plus there are massive sections of the road with holes and loose gravel. Thinking about getting back up it has been on our minds constantly because we know that the road was closed for a couple of days due to earth slips. On the way in the rear brakes failed on our BMW GS Adventure because they became too hot. We basically had to sit it out and wait for them to cool down, then they returned back to normal.

However, on the way out however we won’t be using the same road because we have been recommended to use another one. The road we will be using is the road to Santiago and it sounds as though it has less tarmac and more off road therefore we have arranged for a truck to transport out luggage with panniers and Ivanka along the road and to follow me as I ride the route on a lighter bike without all the extra weight.

On this route it will be necessary to take a police escort. The reason being because this route is less travelled and it has been the scene of robberies (of foreigners) in the past and so the police will be accompanying us for our own safety. We will let you know how it goes!

San Pedro has been a place to relax. We have been introduced to villages, customs and markets through an American called Robert. Robert has made our stay more interesting because he has introduced us to places and people that we never would have seen as a regular tourist. Robert has decided to bring a better way of life to the local people. In time he hopes to set up a fully functional and affordable clinic so villages have access to medicine and dental care. Robert took us to a local market, we visited a village where Robert had provided a wheelchair, we then took a mountain walk between local villages and the experience was a lot more than we expected. In return for Roberts kindness we helped create promotional and informative videos for his charitable cause. We wish him, and his colleagues, all the success in the future.

Next week we hope to be in El Salvador, however we will see how the weather treats us.

Here is a video from a trip into the mountains early in the week.

 

Crossing Death Valley – Video

Crossing Death Valley

Here is footage from earlier on in the trip as we got up at 4am in the morning and travelled across the Moave desert in Eastern California so we could get in and out of Death Valley. It was the hottest time of the year and the US were experiencing a heat wave so we were apprehensive to say the least. The hottest temperature we encountered in this area was 47 degrees Celcius at a place called Needles. After this point we put white tape on the handle grips so I could touch the handlebars.

Hasta luego Mexico

Hasta luego Mexico

Yesterday was our first day in Guatemala so, before the journey progresses too far I thought I should write a trip report (ahem, short essay!) for Mexico.

First, and most important, is that I let you know that we had an excellent time in Mexico. Mexico is a big country; rich in geographic and cultural diversity which can’t help but provide something for everyone, I think.

Our trip started in Ensenada, living with Roberto and Diana – our Mexican family – and attending Spanish language school. Ensenada itself has very little to offer in terms of sight-seeing but, the school was excellent,our hosts were warm and helpful, the people we friendly and happy to help and we even found some yoga classes! The yoga certainly helped with our body-parts vocabulary as well as up, down, left, right and deep. Profundo is equally useful when being reminded to breathe deeply as it is when being warned of a deep hole in the road!

The Baja Peninsula was hot, beautiful but obviously missing visits from its neighbours in the US. In some part this was due to our visiting in the off season but in many places there were clear signs that buildings have been abandoned.

 

Coffee break, Baja California

 

Jalisco provided beautiful scenery to drive through and a much gentler climate! Much greener than Baja with large fields of Agave. Jalisco is the birth place of Tequilla so Agave plants – used to make it –  are everywhere. Guadalajara appears to be a buzzing, thriving, city which would definitely be a ‘weekend city break’ destination were it in Europe. Chopala – where we stayed – was a romantic little lakeside town with boutique hotels and tasty food; a lovely little break!

One blot on the landscape of our stay in Chopala was the American ex-pat who wandered past as we were loading the bike in the morning. As soon as we told him what we were doing he proceeded to tell us how awful driving through Mexico is, how there are fake road-blocks, murders, kidnappings and all those non-holiday activity type things. I walked away and left Nick to talk to him. Nick is much better than I am at asking innocent questions like: “Oh, have you seen a fake road-block? How do you know one if you see it? Have you been kidnapped?” To which the answers are predictably: “they tell us these things”. I don’t have the energy. I am old enough to have cultivated a solid set of fears of my own and I really don’t appreciate people bringing me theirs. Not in life and not on this trip. We do everything we can to be informed – we spent time with a Mexican truck driver, our map and a pen to cross out everywhere he thought we shouldn’t go, we read horizons unlimited, talk to other bikers and read the British foreign office information. I will happily listen to facts, however scary, facts are very useful but negativity grounded in fear and not much else just makes me cross. Be informative or be fun – be both! – or **** off!

Our next stop was Guanajuato, Guanajuato which is not the capital of Guanajuato, Leon is.

This is a very beautiful and vibrant town. A UNESCO world-heritage site and well-deserving of that position. Lots of young people, lots of muisc and art and I loved it. Next time I go to Mexico I will stay there at least a month!

Then to Teotihuacan for some pyramids. We stayed in San Juan Teotihuacan which has nothing to recommend it but, the pyramids are impressive and Nick practiced his Jedi mind tricks to stop hawkers approaching us. The most successful was pointing at the ground a little way off and then, as they looked, walking past them. I had to laugh but I made him stop for fear of a beating. It’s an upgrade to the “what’s that on your t-shirt” trick but it worked! I won’t wax-lyrical on the pyramids. I am still visiting Maya archaeological sites so I will save commentary for another post, when I have decided what I think.

If you are travelling in the area by car or motorcycle please remember that Mexico City and state have a traffic reducing policy that prohibits certain number plates travelling on particular days. We learnt this because we were stopped by the traffic police as we were in violation of the rules (though I am still not sure if we were actually in the affected area.) If you have 04 or 03 in your number plate you cannot drive on a Wednesday! More information here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hoy_No_Circula

Oaxaca, Oaxaca was another beautiful and vibrant place which we enjoyed but the best part of our stay in Oaxaca was being invited to the beach with Uli, Ivan and Ajonjoli the cat. In summary, sea, sun, fresh food and very very few other people make for a great few days at the beach. While we were in Chipehua we sent a note to Mark and Maggie (via a 3G kindle we told them to check out our spot location!) who with Swiss Andre joined us on the same day as four other people on three motorbikes. A little impromptu adventure motorcycle gathering ensued much to the delight of Dona Natalia and Don Tereso who had been our hosts and who proceeded to feed everyone else too for a couple of days.

Angry cat

Last stops in Mexico were Tuxtla where the Grupa Escala provided us with excellent lodgings, camping on the climbing room floor, San Cristobal de Las Casas which was cold, colourful and perfect for pottering about and last, but not least, Palenque with easy access to the Mayan ruins with the same name and a couple of days with Andre, the Swiss biker, his friend David, the Swiss doctor, cheap lodgings, cheap food, cheap beer, lots of tropical jungle rain and some Internet. Not the most beautiful spot in the world but a great place for a rest, read, chat and to put more flickr photos in order!

Those of you on motorcycles may be interested to know that we left via El Ceibo to Flores, Guatemala. The border crossing was straightforward, there is a banjercito to stamp out your bike and the Guatemala side is perfectly prepared for your visit. Don’t forget to keep the receipt for your tourist visa or you will have to go back to Tenocique (great coffee at Palms Cafe on the way out of town, on the righ, next to the second Pemex!) to pay your 262 pesos (each) and, for Guatemala you will need: passport, drivers license, bike owners papers and a single copy of each. The Guatemala permit costs 160 Quitzal but you can pay in Pesos and there is a bank at the border. For some reason, not many maps show the road but it is there and it does work.

Visit Mexico, it’s not all bad and a lot of it is amazing.

SANY0978

Motorcycle Diary 1 – Video

Motorcycle Diary 1

We received an email from our dear friend Rob Shenton today and he was asking how the bike was – So we made a quick video so you can see how the bike is holding up.

We are now in a town called Palenque which is in the state of Chiapas very close to the Guatemala border.
We are staying in a cheap hotel, hanging out with a Swiss guy called Andrew and we are making plans for the next episode in our journey which is Guatemala. We will make the Mexico/ Guatemala border crossing in a few days.

Mexico Beach Life – Video

Mexico Beach Life

Chipehua beach, southern Oaxaca, Mexico.

Home for 5 days as we take a break from all the motorcycle adventures and sleep in a hammock on the beach.
A time to recharge the batteries as we sleep, eat, swim, take a walk and drink beer.

Here we hung out with Uli & Ivan, we bumped into some other bikers traveling the globe and we enjoyed a few games of cards.

Birthday Beach Treat , half way down the Baja Peninsula, Mexico

Birthday Beach Treat , half way down the Baja Peninsula, Mexico

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