Voyage to South America travel blog


September 10, 2010

The day started off fucking great! You know where this is going.

I left San Mateo around 7am and planned on reaching Playa Grande. Its six hours to the east and in the Peten basin. It was so cold when I left I could see my breath. This road was advised by many to be impassable, well apparently only about five km’s of it. The sky was clear and the sky deep blue and the air crisp.

About one hour away is a town called Barillas. I thought that this would be a great place to stop for fuel and for some breakfast. Driving through town I noticed a gun store, the first I have seen in Guatemala, so I thought, ‘hell, why not?’ I pulled up and before I got off the bike a kid, no more than 18, came out to greet me with his pistol grip 12 gauge. Cool – way cool! Kinda, sorta. This, by the way, is the weapon of choice in Guatemala. I always take a good look at their shells in their bandoliers and they are all buckshot. We said our hellos and the owner came out to invite me in. He seemed really happy to see me. Apparently he will sell me the gun of my choice; strangely enough the only pistol grip 12 gauge was the one the kid had. Some of the prices are as follows:

A Bersa 9mm pistol Q7,000

A Jericho 9mm semi-auto Q10,500

A Marlin (Oh!! Americano) 22 cal rifle Q10,500

A Noranco 22 cal rifle Q4,500

It maybe that a gun is easy to get but the shells may be another story. I have a contact in Mexico who is VERY well connected and he tells me, “Fuck yeah, anyone can buy a gun but just try to get the bullets.” Maybe this is what the US should do. After all they DO have the ‘right to bear arms’ (Family Guy). Hells yes!! I left empty handed.

I came to a comidor and had desayunos. Carne Asado. Uggh. But it was goooood!

Next stop, fuel. I made good friends with the gas guys. They spoke a little English. I gave them Q70 as that should give me plenty to get to Playa Grande. I got 3km’s down the road and looked at the fuel gauge. I KNOW Electra. I KNOW when she is hot by not even looking at the gauge; I KNOW when her tappets are out by just the smallest minuet amount by the sound she makes. That guy just fucked me. I always check that they reset the pump and the amount they put in except this time cause we got on so great.

Not many people outside of the business world have seen me really pissed. I was livid. I turned around and skidded to a halt in front of the pump I yelled at the dude, “You fucked me! I know my bike! Look at this gauge. I gave you Q70. I know my bike!” He started to point to another pump and I said, “FUCK that!” “I showed you a map of everywhere I have been in Guatemala and NO GUATEMALAN has fucked me until now!” He couldn’t get the pump into the tank quick enough.

Do NOT get me wrong. Guatemalans are very very polite and quite people. When one raises a voice they mean business. Fuck I was mad. By the way Guatemala is one of THEE BEST countries I have been to and the people here are second to NONE! I shouldn’t have gotten so mad. It bothered me for an hour or so. It’s like poison – being mad like that.

I drove and drove. All dirt. Well mostly rocks imbedded in clay. I lowered the air pressure to 22psi on the front and 26psi on the rear. That helped. The front shock is completely blown.

I dropped further and further into the Peten region and it got hotter and hotter and more humid. The road got stepper and steeper. Electra is really not the type of bike for this type of travel. But she is Electra and she is mine and where I go I will try to take her. I try to treat her best I can and she does the same to me. I feel guilty at times and today was hell. Mostly for her; how much can she take, I don’t know.

I arrived at an intersection and I asked for directions at a tendia and the guy said that I couldn’t go further. By now I was at least three hours from Barillas and the road back to the highland plateau was not in the cards. I sat there for several minutes and two Guatemalan riders, on 125’s, came up from were I was to go AND one spoke a little English. Ha! “It is very tough, you will have difficulty but you have good llantas (tyres) and if you are a good rider you can make it.” He said trucks were coming up. That was all I needed. I am here now and now IS now. I am in the middle of the Guatemalan jungle and there is only me and Electra. I believe in her and I hope that she believes in me. What can I do?

I road was good for about 3km’s and then it got bad. There were large rocks intermixed with the greasy wet red clay of Cambodia. The rocks were in all the wrong places. Some of the ruts were so deep that both cylinders rubbed on either side – that made things easy. I could just paddle through. Fortunately it was all down hill because if I had to go up; I would not have been able to do it. I dropped her once and it was an easy pick up. But I got wigged.

I came to a steep hill with deep ruts and big rocks and I couldn’t pick a line. I made it ½ ways up and dropped her again. This time it was bad. She fell in the wrong direction and in the open sun. The air was thick with humid heat of the jungle. Putrid. I took off both saddle bags and managed to swing her around using one of the cylinders as a pivot point and got her facing uphill. I got her up and dropper her into gear but the tyre wouldn’t purchase. I just stood there panting, holding up Electra, in the mud and heat with sweat dripping off my nose. There was nothing I could do. I should carry a 9mm clibing rope with a couple of small pulleys. I have all this gear at home – in storage.

Then I heard a truck. A 4x4 came up from behind and they stopped at the bottom of the hill. Several men came to my aid. With their help I got her ¾ of the way up and off to the side. I told them I would be OK and they should continue. They left and I walked down – a couple of times – to get my gear. I loaded her up and fucked it again. This time 10m from the top. Took everything off her again and carried it all to the top. I was spent. I was nauseous from dehydration.

If anyone has spent one hour, in riding pants and motorcross boots, under full sun, in the jungle, portaging gear, lifting a 600lbs bike on a muddy rocky hill with out water that person and only that person, will know what I felt like. I was done. I just sat there panting. Fortunately, another truck came by and the men helped me pick her up and I drove her to the top. They said there was only one more bad section, just over the rise. They looked concerned. I just sat there for a long time. After a while I slowly loaded her up, got on and rode off.

Only once before have I had to portage gear. It was in Baja with Cara. This was much much worse.

I was weak and really wigged out but I road the next section without a problem. At the bottom there was a little tendia and he had water. I drank 3 liters and he gave me some salt. Within 30 minutes I was physically fine again but mentally…not so much. There were three drunken kids at the tendia and they wanted to make conversation but the owner, seeing me and Electra covered in mud, shooed them away but they came back, as drunks tend to do.

It was tricky riding for another couple of hours then it was full out. By full out I mean 3rd gear. Not full song, in 6th, across the open desert in Mexico.

I arrived in Playa Grande around 4pm. Six hours my ass. Try nine. I was really lucky with this one. Electra took a beating. I think I opened her wound on the right cylinder and the left is now leaking oil but it may be coming from the filler cap. I can’t tell; there is too much mud. She has to get cleaned up for me to see for sure.

The looks I received when I rolled in to Playa Grande were beyond epic.

I found a room. Shit hole. Cost: Q100. Got fucked but not overtly but I conceded thus…hey its OK.

There was a kid – about 16 – drunk as a skunk that wanted to make conversation at the hotel. It was a long day and I wasn’t having any of it. Normally I do joke around with these clowns for a while but not now.

All my cloths stink.

After the shower and putting on the same shirt I wore all day. Because it’s the cleanest shirt I have. “Bob’s ½ way Inn”. Having to put this on after the shower sucked. For a belt, I use one of my tie downs. The only thing I have left that is clean is the underwear I am wearing.

I went for a walk around town and could have won an election without saying a word. I bought a shirt in the market for Q25

If I got looks with the bike I got even more walking in this town. There is no asphalt. Here is a red faced white man wearing shorts with tats up and down his arms and hair in a bun. Yeah, people walked around me. Way around.

I ate at the nicest place in town. Papas fritas, carne asado with a slice of white bread on top of the meat with a fried egg on top of that. I washed it down with a coke. Yeah…getting bigger by the minute.

All is good. If it gets worse it gets better. Bring it to me, I can take it!!! Better yet, I need it and seek it. It’s kinda like business. Just fucking do it!! And be true about it.

Jesus Christ, the fucking fan just quit. Oh my fucking lord!!

And as I just wrote that - it miraculously started again. I thought I was going to have to sleep sheet less, naked again – nothing worse.

I am listening to War Pigs/Fairies Wear Boots by Sabbath and as weak as the instrumentals - are this shit rocks. So 70’s - love it.

I can’t believe what I am listening to, “Rocket Man” while looking across at my filthy red stained riding pants hanging/drying off the steel encased TV. Royal!! No one can touch this shit. Les and I did one night with a couple of his buddies once.

Rollins is wrong but right. I have tested him as of late. He is a propagandist but who isn’t? I can tell anyone about the virtues of capitalism but Any Rand told us of that in the 50’s.

Seriously; whose dog can catch the Frisbee every time?

You Shook Me – Led Zeppelin, The BBC Sessions



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