Gautemala, Panahachel - Lakeside Breakfast

We woke up early that morning and headed for the panderia around the corner from the hostel.  We had finished the tasty pastries by the time we had returned and quickly fashioned the jackets, helmets and gloves and headed for Lago Atitlan. 

We took the back road into the lake, which traversed its way around the volcanoes in the region, by several waterfalls, and over rivers.  This stretch of road reminded me of the interior of BC with the abundance of Pine trees and the lush green vegetation.  This was one of the most memorable roads on this journey.

We approached the lake at elevation which made for some beautiful shots of the Volcanoes and the emerald blue lake below.

On the way down to the main town of Panajachel we passed one of our favorite signs.  The road wound tight to the green mountain side and slowly made its way to the lakeside.

Once arriving in Panahachel we parked our bikes and walked along the small pathway on the edge of the water.  There was a great cafe just off the path which overlooked the Lake and volcanoes and allowed for an unforgetable breakfast.

Guatemala, Antigua - Colonial Cobblestones

We woke up bright and early after the wind strom that night and headed for our favorite beach restaurant we had gone to the night before.  Unfortunatly they were closed, but the little boy which was hanging around the hut did offer to bring us to his home and have his mother cook for us.  We declined since we didnt want to intrude and it was also a couple of km away.  We sufficed that morning on the great coffee the hostess made up and used to energy to fix Derrick's chain.  With the used master link in place with the chain that broke, we were good to go.

One of the nicest roads in El Salvador it supposed to be the Ruta the los Flores which is known for being lined with flowers up the brick walls of the narrow mountain road.  At the beginning we could not figure out where the beauty was since we only saw the dense green forest and the lush sidings of the highway.  Then after reviewing the book we discovered all the wildflowers bloom in November and only last a few months.  So the Ruta the las Flores was a little sparse on the flower front, but nonetheless was a beautiful mountain road which wound its way around the abundance of Volcanoes in the area.

We headed for the border not knowing what to expect of Guatemala, although from the very start of it we were pleasently surprised.  No one pestering you and only two offices, immigration and customs, and 20 minutes later we were onto the Guatemala side of things.  Accross the bridge and we were surprised to again find things in order.  Parked our bikes under cover, two air conditioned offices, a few fees (legit), and the road was open.

The first road we took off the highway turned out into a winding mountain road which made its way up most of a mountain and then traversed down to the opposing highway.  Unfortunatly the beauty of the road up and down was shadowed by the garbage dump at the peak.  By using this road we avoided the sprawling and dirty Guatemala City.  A little bit of rain scared us into throwing on the rain gear and away we went to main colonial town; Antigua.

Upon arrival to our hostel we were again greeted with some fellow ADVers.  An English couple, Mark and Allison, are two up on a BMW 1200gs.  They traveled down through Africa from home, then across to South America and are now making it up into North America.  Their blog is here:

For the evening we went out for some great pizza along one of the main strips in town.    From there we went into the main plaza to soak up the town's atmosphere.  There were big displays scattared about the plaza full of thought provoking photographs from international artists.  We also marved at the fountain and the colonial church. 

From there we just walked through the cobblestone streets slowly making the way back to the hostel.

El Salvador, Los Cabanos - To the Beach

Leaving the our air conditioned room was a tough one.  The morning was warm and humid and we couldnt wait for the air to be rushing inside our jackets to cool us down.  El Salvador is known for its many beaches that provide excellent surf.  We rode through many little beach towns and enjoyed the scenery.  We made it just 10 kms outside of Los Cabanos, where we planned on staying, when my chain at the masterlink decided to split.  Not knowing my chain fell off I started assuming the worst as I was in gear and going no where.  I stopped on the side of the highway and did a once over on my bike.  Noticed my chain was 10 meters back from where my bike was parked and picked it up.  Colin and Eduardo eventually noticed I wasnt in their mirrors and turned around.

A kind local fellow stopped to see if I was alright and told me to follow him because he knew a guy who could fix my chain.  Colin tied a rope to my crash bars and down the highway we went (not the first time hes towed me).  We made it into town where we took a master link from an old o-ring chain and used that with my chain.  With that solution we made it to our hostel.  We walked along the beach to find a quaint little restaurant.  Just a simple place with 2 light bulbs, palm tree roof, and a few tables and benches.  The food there was probably the best food we have had all trip.  The Mahi Mahi was wrapped around delicious prawns based in a amazing sauce.  Was perfect.  Then the tropic clouds came in again and we walked back to the hostel to call it a night.

El Salvador, Santa Rosa - Honduras in the Rear View, Where it Belongs

In position to do the border which we had heard so much about; 100 km from border, early wake up and lots of small bills for bribes.  The Honduras border story is one we have heard much from other riders we have crossed.  ¨They asked me for 200¨ or ¨Wouldn´t let me out if i didn´t pay them 250.¨  We arrived at the border and were instantly surrpunded by the fixers we had heard of.  We used one to show us the windows we needed to go to and paid the fees ourselves.  It didnt seem to help a whole lot since it seems that everyone at the border is in on the scam.  Even the lady behind the glass at customs we asked for money.  After stalling and asking we decreased what one fee was and didnt pay the others.  All in all we paid 50 each, and left with the proper paper work.  Or so we thought. 

We bombed through the shortest distance possible through the country 160km.  We were stopped 6 times and asked for brides.  The ADVers kindly refer to this stretch of road as the guanlet, and rightfully so.  We paid a few "road taxes", as we began to refer to them, and bluffed a few off as we fought our way through the guanlet.  Arriving at the exit 2 hours later, we thought this would be easy.  As it turns out, we didnt get a reciept for what we paid upon entrance to the country, so we had to pay 15 each so they could turn their heads.  Exhausted with all this stress, we paid up to put this country in the past.

With the Honduras stuff in order it was time for the El Salvador side of things.  It was back to normal for El Salvador, no ¨fees¨ or hassles.  This didn´t mean that the waits were over.  2 hours waiting for the customs to be done and well into darkness.  We broke the rule of driving in the dark, as we proceded 1 km down the road to the Hotel del Aduana.  Met some charming people at the restobar that night including a member of the Mara Salvatrucha and called it early to enjoy the air con and movie channel.

Nicaragua, Leon - Colonial town run around

We awoke to hundreds of dead bugs littering the floor of our room and even more dead bugs just outside our bedroom door.  We navigated our way down from the hostel and headed towards the ferry back to the mainland.  We just missed one of the ferries so we were forced to wait.  While we waited, Eduardo used the opportunity to have his boots shined up by one the locals.  The shoe shiner told us he made approximately 4 to 5 dollars a day doing what he did.  The ferry finally came at 11:00 am and we boarded to take the hour long boat ride.

Once we got to shore we rode off the ferry into a huge swarm of flies.  They were everywhere so we got out of there quickly.  We stopped at the first intersection in town and who did we see rolling down the street across from us.  It was our Aussie friend Rossy heading towards where we just came from, Isla Ometepe.  We chatted for a bit and parted ways as we didnt want him to miss the ferry.

We headed into a Colonial town called Granada for lunch.  With our amazing (sarcasm) decision making skills as a team we decided to head to another Colonial town called Leon.  Once we got to Leon we found a hostel called Lazy Bones.  It had a nice little swimming pool, 5 computers, pool table and nice court yard to have coffee in.  We had met a guy from our hostel who was from California and we all went out for dinner.  As we ate dinner the thunder clouds rolled in and the a sheet of water dropped from above.  We slowly waded our way through the downpour back to our hostel to sit in the courtyard to have a few beers and relax for the night.  However that was cut short as the power went out.  We all decided to hit the hay and have a early start to the next morning as we were planning on crossing into and out of Honduras. 

Eduardo trying to camouflage himself in with the surroundings.  Pathway leaving our hostel on Isla Ometepe.

Colin and our bikes admiring the graffiti work on the walls of the Lazy Bones hostel.

Nicaragua, Isla Ometepe - Jungle Stares

Coming around the back side of Isla Ometpe, we would go through villagers who all managed to be outside along the road.  The people would then all turn around from whatever they were doing and stare at us as we passed.  Even turning so they could watch us leave.  A few times they managed to wave back to our waves, but typically we recieved a somber head bob.

Starting off at the begining of the day, we got oursleves some fruit salad and a cup of cafe and lazed in the beach chairs unitl we managed enough energy to pack up.  We were in no rush since we were only heading about 40 km away to Isla Ometepe where we would catch the ferry over and then stay the night.  Derrick and I caught the 10:30 ferry while Eduardo stayed a little while to get his laundry.  The ferry ride was rittled with Americans, all ready for their jungle adventure.  Once we saw the mass amounts of gringos we were a little worried the island would turn out to be run over and not natural anymore.

Upon arrival we were assured of the non spoiled nature as the stares started instantly and the jungle became dense.  We made our way out of the bigger town in search of even small towns; the natural ones.  We found the place we were looking for at the base of Maderas Volcano in a small eco hostel.  The road up was a little hairy, but similar to the main roads.  Derrick and I had a quick lunch and then unloaded our bikes so we could go adventuring around the Volcano down the very rough roads.


While Derrick and I traversed to Island, Eduardo hit the beach on his rented bicycle.  After our 2 hour adventure around the volcano, we set up in the hammocks for the rest of the sunlight read and ate fresh mangos off the trees which we were surrounded by.  We then enjoyed a diner in the hut overlooking the opposite volcano; Volcano Conception.

The night was still young, but with nothing really to do in the middle of a jungle, we read for a while amongst the large bugs and ate some more mangos before turning it in.

Nicaragua, San Juan Del Sur - Border Crossing Fun

Today our goal was to tackle the Costa Rica to Nicaragua border crossing.  3 kms out from the border we saw trucks lined up and we thought to ourselves that the border crossing would take forever.  We decided to ride to the front of the line and see what was happening.  Apparently, any trucks going North have to be completely searched, even unloaded, before they can cross.  Fortunately for us we didnt have to go through this procedure. The Costa Rica exit was relatively easy.... Get passport stamped run around and photocopy then find Aduana and you are good to go for Costa Rica.  Next is entering Nicaragua which is painful.

We ended up just using a border "fixer" to help the process along.  The entire crossing took about 3 hours which is actually quick from the stories we have heard.  The buildings to do certain paperwork to cross are all over the place.  And money seemed to be flying out of our wallets for certain fees which we made sure were legit by researching before hand.


Anyone needing further information on where to go just send us an email.

Costa Rica, Quepos/La Cruz - Junglized America

Departing from the dense jungle we encountered the same streams as our way in, except this time Eduardo's bike was dropped on the edge of the river, instead of in.  The 30km of dirt road traversed its way through the dense jungle with a river, 4 streams and a little bit of mud.  It was tame compared to other stuff Derrick and I have seen.  Although Eduardo hadn´t been exposed to such conditions yet.

It was already getting warm when we got back to the Corcovado Penninsula entrance town Rincon. However once we hit the rough pavement outside of Rincon the rain began fall as we dodged the potholes which made up most of the roadway.  70km down and we were arriving back at one of our favorite gas stations which seemed to stock all of the parts we needed, including oil.  We attempted to wait out the rain by changing our oil in the station, then fixed a few other things, and also had lunch.

After sitting in the restaurant after the meal for about an hour and a half we decided it was time to go and assembled our rain gear. We hit a few tame rainfalls, and then the mother of all of them as we entered Quepos.

Derrick and I waited in first bus shelter we saw in Quepos for Eduardo, and then we entered town once the rain subsided somewhat.

We found the hostel pretty quick, very nice and a gorgeous view.  Only thing was the computers and free calls were not available do to some lightening strikes earlier in the day.  Went down to the beach that night and relaxed then had a quick diner back the "Friends" cafe.

View from the hammocks at the Hostel

Quepos Beach

Me riding with Der down to the beach

We have found Costa Rica to be incredibly beautiful, although it is far more americanized than all of the countries we have seen. TGI Fridays, McDonalds, and Burger Kings are scattered about along with the abundance of English spoken.  This all feels a little easy once South America is in the rear view mirror.

We really wanted to beat the heat and rain so we braved the 6am alarm and packed up as fast we could.  This was a little delayed by the dozens of spiders Derrick and I found in our helmets though.  We made it to Liberia for lunch and couldnt resist the burger king, churches chicken and mcdonalds all packed into a cafe mall.  We decided to hold up in La Cruz for the night before we head into Nicaragua tomorrow.  This border may also prove to be a hectic one so we will see how it goes.  For the night, we are stuck with the pool and beach for entertainment; I guess we will suvive.

Costa Rica, Bahia Drake - Into the Jungle

We woke up early to tackle the Panama - Costa Rica border in the morning to avoid the heat and large crowds. We crossed the border in a few hours with no problems.  Just the normal run around : immigration forms, find insurance, photocopies, wait, wait, wait, wait, aduana, wait, wait, wait, go eat, wait somemore, then sign the papers and you are free to go.  As soon as we crossed the border it seemed like the jungle rose up out of no where.  Panama felt so Americanized with its Mcdonalds every few blocks where as Costa Rica felt wild.  We stopped at a gas station to grab some oil and fill up.  This gas station had everything we needed!  We got ourselves a tire repair kit (finally found one), some new tools, valve stem remover, and some hose clamps.  After stocking up on some needed supplies we entered into the Corcovado National park to find Bahai Drake.  We rode into the park through some very potholed roads. It started to rain heavily, as it normally does in the tropics, and we decided to turn around to hide out in a restaurant we had passed by.

Canadian Oil!

Very large beatle.

Getting caught in a tropical thunderstorm just before lunch.

After our delicious lunch Eduardo asked some locals how the road was to Bahai Drake.  They told us if its raining the rivers tend to swell and can make the roads quiet difficult to travel over.  The rain subsided so we decided to try the route anyways.  We crossed a few streams and then the road tightened and traversed uphill.  It was about  25kms of offroading before we finally got to the river the locals were talking about.  When we got there the rain had completely stopped so it didnt look too intimidating to cross.  Colin and I picked our lines and made it across.  Eduardo decided to find his own line and ended up learning some essential offroading skills and he also got wet.  A few more stream crossings and sketchy bridges to navigate through we made it to a hostel in the jungle.

As the night came the jungle came alive.  The noises that came from the darkness was incredible....We crawled into our sheets, put the mosquito nets over our heads and called it for the night.

PS.  Go Canucks Go!!!!!!!!

Panama, Boquete - The Beginnings of Central America

Rode our first several hundred kilometers in Central America today.  We rode from Panama City to Boquete which is a Volcano just south of the Costa Rica border.  This morning we went over to visit Rossy to see if he wanted to head out of town with us.  Unfortunately, the bank wasnt allowing him to withdraw any money so he had to stick around to get that sorted out.  Fortunately, for us tho the hostel he was staying at provided us with some maps of Central America. 

The highway was littered with police checking for speeding.  The road was pretty easy to put down lots of KMs quickly so we arrived in Boquete around 4pm.  Boquete is apparently known to be the fourth best place to retire according to something which we heard from someone...  We walked around town and grabbed some dinner then called it quits for the night at a nice hostel on the side of town.