Tag Archives: border crossing

San Cristobal de las Casas to Huehuetenango,Thursday, 1 November 2012, Day 121

No mans land between Mexico and Guatemala Gorgeous!

Today I was in two minds as whether or not to cross the border into Guatemala today. It was about 180km away so I was not sure how long this would take to get there and I did not want to turn up to late not knowing how long the process will take and arriving in a new country late in the day. To ensure I was ready for both options in the morning I went on the Internet to do some research on the border crossing this entailed me perching on a corner of a balcony, as this was the only place I could get a signal. So after this I have a vague idea on what the process is the next thing I wanted to do was get some Guatemalan Quetzals, as I do like being hassled by the money changers at the border and I seen a place last night that was selling Quetzals in town the exchange rate not to fantastic but probably better than what I would be getting at the border so I loaded the bike went the exchange place and then as usual got lost trying to get out of town which you would think be nigh on impossible with a GPS but I am not sure how good the coverage is of Garmin is in Mexico it always seems to be a bit off. Whilst trying to find the right road out of town spotted an OXXO (Mexican 7/11) so decided to have breakfast there before hitting the road. So it was quite late when I left San Cristobal so had already had my mind set on the fact that I would be spending another night in Mexico. Nice road not to hot when I was in the mountains and before I knew it I was at the crossroads to the town I had planned to stay for my last night in Mexico.

So I filled up with petrol and asked how far to the border and it was just down the road. It was 3pm so I thought sod it lets go for it and get this border crossing out of the way and it turned out to be a lot easier than what I was expecting.

  • First on the Mexican side find the banjacito office to get my deposit back for my bike as I was leaving the country. Very easy guy took my forms did some paper work and came out checked my VIN number and I was good to go (Note to self double check credit card to see if they put the monies back)
  • So the bike is officially out of Mexican but I am not so next stop immigration to get me officially stamped out of Mexico also no problem adios Mexico
  • Ola Guatemala, short drive through no mans land which is so gorgeous that I have to stop and take a photo probably not the wisest thing to do stopping and taking photos at a border crossing but it really was spectacular scenery that needed capturing
  • I rolled up to the Guatemalan side and was directed to the immigration and in out within minutes no queue no hassle I am officially in Guatemala and have been given 90 days. It seems I am the only one crossing the border today so the nice chap comes out with me and points me to where I need to go to get the bike temporally imported which is 20 meters further down the road
  • So move my bike from immigration to import place and park my bike in front of the kiosk a couple of money changers ask me quite politely if I would like to change any money and I politely declined and they did not bother me again
  • Young lad at kiosk spoke some English so he asked me for
    • Passport
    • Driving Licence
    • Registration Papers for the bike
    • Exit papers for Mexico

As he needed to make copies, I told him I had copies he could have but he insisted that he made his own (nice little money spinner) so easier to let him just do this. So he did all the admin and filled in the forms, which took a while. Trying to find the Netherlands on his list on his computer was the 1st stumbling block but we found it eventually. When forms completed he showed me them to check them to see if all info correct. This is when I noticed that he had the Netherlands for the bike, which was correct, but he had me down as a Dutch person which was wrong but an easy mistake to make as how many English blokes turn up at the border on a Dutch registered bike with a Dutch driving licence. So this set of paper work went in the bin and we changed it the UK, which also took some finding this on his computer. This time paperwork correct and complete so I sign all 3 copies and so does he and then he makes up the invoice and gives me all my paperwork. The cost was 60 Quetzals for the copies, which was not really necessary as I already had copies but hey it’s only 6 EUR so I can live with that and 100 Quetzals for Import Costs. This I challenge as I read this morning it should only be 40 Quetzals but he tells me this is last year price so I joke about that is huge inflation but I accept the charge as the chap has been pleasant to deal with and I have a fully itemised officially looking invoice that is signed and stamped and 16 EUR seems a reasonable price to me.

  • So directed to the cashiers kiosk, which is next door to pay the fee. Walk into the door expecting it to open but it was locked and needed to be open by an armed guard from the inside ouch! Paid the cash having another go at getting a discount or the 40 Quetzal rate in there but the cashier spoke no English
  • Back outside to the import kiosk there were a couple of other people there now and the young chap was dealing with them. So waited for a while it getting hot about 30+ degrees so starting to sweat a bit. I was expecting him to deal with the other folks in the queue first but he called me in front of them and we finished of the paperwork and I had my temporary import sticker.
  • Showed this to another guard/official for his records and I was in Guatemala and it was just after 4pm so this whole exercise only took about a hour so quite efficient.
  • So thanked the young lad and other official sorted my paperwork out and drove into Guatemala
  • So no hassle with folks trying to offer there services, no hassle from the money lenders, officials I dealt very pleasant and courteous, no fumigation needed and no fumigation fee very efficient all things consider and only 160 Quetzals so considering all the horror stories I had heard and read about on the Internet I am wondering if I am just lucky or if folks really do have the experiences I read about!

Border Crossing

So should I find a place for the night or move away from the border. It was stunning scenery and I had itchy feet and was feeling good about how easy the border crossing had been so I hit the road. I was heading for a town, which was about 80km away called Huehuetenango, and if I saw something nice I would stop before then and in theory it all should be doable before it got dark.

For about 5km I had not hit any speed humps and was just starting to celebrate as I was lulled into thinking that they do not have them in Guatemala but nope bugger they do have them here as well.

As I moved into Guatemala my GPS started loosing detail as the maps I had loaded where only for North America and Mexico and my South America was buried in one of my bags so I went back to old fashion map reading and looking at the signs. Two problems here was the map I had I had borrowed of my mate John in Houston who had borrowed it of a Dutch college of his and this was in the 90’s so it was very old and two there are little to no road signs in Guatemala.

  

So doodling along enjoying the road and the scenery bit concerned as it was getting dark and I had not seen any places to stay since I left the border I had no idea if I was even on the right road or how far Huehuetenango was away. I finally saw the sign for the turn off Huehuetenango and before I knew it I was in the outskirts when I saw a fair and or fiesta and just after that a hotel with secure parking so pulled in there for the night. Hotel run by a couple of young Guatemalan lads so I have some fun with them checking in and also later trying to get the Internet to work (seems to be common issue).

I headed back to the fair/fiesta a small affair but it was nice wandering around there and I went the Guatemalan equivalent of KFC for my tea. One thing that struck me as strange why they had the fiesta right in front of the cemetery but later I found 1st November was day of the dead celebration so location made more sense to me now.

So another great productive day easy border crossing nice biking roads (except for them damned speed humps) fantastic scenery, a couple of days ago was feeling a bit down and lonely and needed to do something about this. So the plan is tomorrow to go to Antigua and sign up for Spanish lessons at a language school pretty sure that will involve lots of talking 🙂 and at the end of next week I will be craving for the solitude and wanting to be on my own and bitching about that in this blog 🙂

 

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Antigua to Copan Ruinas, Monday, 12 November 2012, Day 132

Bye to my Antiguan Home and Hosts Cornelia and Irma and whatever the dogs real name is Muchas Gracias

On the road again I have not touched the bike for a good week and I needed to get it out of the garden which was concerning me as considering how difficult it was to get in but getting it again was lot easier which was a relief. I had breakfast with the new batch of students, as there had been a change of guard over the weekend and then packed the bike and slowly hit the road. Tata Antigua it was fun 🙂

First thing I did was get some USD from the ATM for the upcoming border crossings and filled up the bike just outside the city and I was heading into the hills towards Guatemala City and it was only about 8.30am wow never been away this early before!

As mentioned before my GPS only has very limited maps of Guatemala so I had brought an old fashion roadmap and it was weird not knowing exactly where I was and with the Garmin I had plugged in my destination but it never seem to be on the route even though I knew I was so was just like a computer game trying to keep the route on the small screen entertaining and frustrating at the same time. I was in Guatemala City in no time and then got lost trying to cross the city as I have said very few road signs and a temperamental GPS so I got across by good old fashion compass bearings. I missed a lot of turnings or if I did like the look of a turning so added a few more miles to the trip by sticking to the main roads. Enjoyable day even though I was bit concerned about the hassles awaiting me at the border.

Guatamala City

Driving along gorgeous scenery not sure how far away the border is I am in the middle of nowhere no one around considering this is supposed to be a major border crossing or maybe I just made that last bit up as to be honest because as usual I had not got a clue.

I finally hit the border at 1.50pm was directed to a parking lot and then to the first kiosk. Parked the bike and a couple of money changers turned up with huge wads of money I am not sure why it is but they always have loads! Enquire about the rates and they give me them as usual a low rate so I tell them I will get back to them after I cleared Guatemala Customs as I know what the rate should be and I am going to get as close as that as possible with some haggling later.

  • As mention is was 1.50pm so of course I had arrived bang on lunchtime so the customs official did not turn up till 2.10pm so me and about 5 lorry drivers and a security guard just hanging around waiting. I put my helmet in front the window of one of the kiosk so when they opened it knocked it of and fell to the ground so a bit of commotion but it broke the ice. After the 5 lorry drivers who where there first it was my turn bit of a joke about the helmet then to business. They wanted 3 copies of
    • Driving licence
    • Bike Papers
    • Passport
    • Guatemalan Temporary Import Papers

Bloody ridiculous as I had given them copies when I came in but nope they needed more. No problem as I had copies except the Guatemalan Temporary Import Papers so sent the photocopy building. 3 copies so that’s 3 QZL only have a 100 QZL bill okay no problem no charge! Back to my new girlfriend at the first kiosk as I have all the documentation. We then go and check the VIN number on the bike and at the same time being hassled by some creepy guy asking if I need accommodation in Copan Ruinas. I have a joke with custom chica about this and then back to the kiosk for the filling in and updating all the forms. Well in the end they only needed 1 copy of the Temporary Guatemalan so had 2 spare. My theory is it’s a nice little earner on the photocopying front but this time no score with Philly.

  • So bike is out of Guatemala so now me so off to immigration. Hand my passport to the guy he does his stuff and then says that will be 10QZL. My response in my new Spanish says that’s not normal in a stern voice and he says did I pay to get in and I say yes and he says that’s fine and I can go so he saves face and I do not pay and no I did not pay coming in either so another little earner for the customs guys who try it on all of the time.
  • So me and the bike are out of Guatemala next change some money get a reasonable rate for my QZL but they will not move any closer on my rate for USD and MXN peso rate is a joke so I change my QZL to HNL and will try my luck on the Honduran side for the rest

So bye Guatemala like the last time I was here I really enjoyed myself 🙂

Honduras is a complete new country for me, and the first one of what I hope is many on this trip. I had read multiple horror story’s about this border crossing so was planning for the worst case scenario in reality it was quite straight forwards and it seems quite legitimate what I had to do and pay and I got official looking receipts and proof of payments with values signatures and stamps. I had learned all the vocabulary in my Spanish lessons so was ready and challenged everything I felt was dodgy in a firm but polite respectful jokingly manner.

  • So 200 meters from Guatemala to a modern looking building which was Honduran Customs. I was approached by money changers and they are offering the same rate as on the other side but I manage to squeeze a bit more out of them as they claim they are loosing on the deal. I do not mind paying a little over the odds at times like this but I am not going to be screwed so knowing the rates and playing the field can help in reducing the odds in your favour. I change some USD but no one is shifting on the MXN peso so I hold onto these.
  • First immigration for me that is USD 3.00 with a big sign saying this but I challenge it anyhow as I thought that is for exit only but I pay and I probably be charged on the way out as well
  • Next to get the bike imported nice bloke came out to see the bike he did not check VIN number and or number plate just looked at it and then back to A/C office to the paperwork. He opens with the price HNL661 or 36 USD seems reasonable and I insist on a receipt signature and stamp on this. He also needs 3 copies of
    • Driving Licence
    • Bike Registration Papers
    • Passport
    • Guatemalan Import papers!

So as mentioned had all of these except only 2 Guatemalan Import papers and I wanted to keep one of these for my records so he sent me off to get copies of this and I argued this was ridiculous and in the end he only got my one spare one so no copies purchased here either. All the forms filled in manually on paper and this is slow then after this filled in on the computer with one finger typing so this also slow. Whilst this was going I noticed an envelope where the money was going to put in and quite clearly it said HNL 135 for Consejo Hondureno de la Empresa Privada so I again challenged the 661 again and he goes and gets another one he has done before and there are 2 charges 135 plus 525 for Forma 9A-1 and charge for admin so that is the 661 so as long as I have receipt stamped and signed I am okay with this.

So after matey boy had filled in the forms and the another one had put it into the computer of to the bank next door to pay then back to finish it all off. I got all my paperwork together shook everyone’s hand and joked about being a pain in the arse and said goodbye to my new friends and went back to the bike. A bit of a panic when I got back to the bike as I could not find my passport so back to the office to see if I had left it there nope but it was in my trouser pocket not the usual place for it so panic over more jokes with the custom guys who think I am of my trolley but I do not care as I am in Honduras.

Final hurdle completed and I check out  at the gate and it is only about 10km to Copan Ruinas my home for the night so the above exercise had taken 2 and half hours the joys of travelling 🙂 its just like work.

New home another kerb to negotiate and a bar to drive though

Bike safe and sound hiding in the bushes!

I had been giving an address of a Hotel called Viavia run by a Belgium biker called Geraldo so I headed straight there as it was getting late. I could park the bike in the courtyard for safety, which was excellent but meant driving it through the bar and up another high kerb. But no problem as Geraldo did all of this for me so I was settled in a nice hotel nice bar and restaurant in a new country tired but content. I grabbed some food at the bar Nasi Goerang mmm lekker fresh lemonade chatting to an Interesting Canadian chap called Paul who was a fire-fighter in the Canadian bush in the summer and a ski guide in the winter and who travels in between so a pleasant evening watching the Monday football (American) I was not much company as I was totally wacked from 9 days hard studying in Antigua long border crossing as well as 300km on Latin American roads so I was pretty gaga. A sleep into tomorrow and then to the ruins yeah 🙂

Danli to Leon, Sunday, 18 November 2012, Day 138

Gorgeous scenery blue skies and the sun is shining 🙂

A complete screw up day and a complete rooky error at the border that cost me 2 hours and 120km extra round trip Homer Simpson Doh!

Day started fine checked out went round the corner to fill up the bike with petrol and I grabbed some breakfast and then I headed for the border. First day in ages that the sun is actually shining and blue skies and reasonably hot. A nice run to the border, which was not so far away, so I was there in no time. I had left early by my standards and it was Sunday so the border was pretty quite. I pulled over and a young lad came over and asked me if I needed help with the crossing I politely declined and then a few money changers turned up and I said I would talk to them later so they also left me alone.

  • First thing to is get me out of Honduras that will be three dollars very simple
  • Next the bike also no problem done also very simple
  • Guided by a bloke with a clip board who was the mandatory insurance salesman for Nicaragua called Javier to the fumigation area to get my bike sprayed with some gunk or insecticide which was done in no time and also cost nothing
  • Then to get me into Nicaragua so first to immigration very simple this cost 10 dollars and another charge of 3 or 5 dollars I cannot remember and I was cleared for Nicaragua
  • Then the paperwork for the bike this took slightly longer as she kept getting the info on the forms wrong so at first my name was Phillip Amsterdam which she got from my driving licence so we changed that then the manufacture year of the bike she found a number on the registration that said 2002 but had nothing to do with manufacture date and we changed that and the usual confusion about me being English with a Dutch driving licence and bike and a UK passport but as soon as that was all done the bike was through
  • Javier had been showing me through the whole process and then sold me the mandatory insurance for Nicaragua which was 13 dollars.
  • Finally I did a money change with the local changers usual jovial haggling over the rates never except there first offer and see how far you can get to the rate that you know to be correct and anything near that is the rate I will take as I except these guys need to earn a living as well and there is no charge for the deal so they make on anything they can on the difference and I am not here to screw them I just like a fair deal.
  • So I thought I was through so I packed the bike up and I slipped of the foot pegs landing on me knackers as it was still covered in gunk from the fumigation much to the amusement of locals watching football on the television which was in front of the immigration office.
  • So I headed to the gate when I was called over by the police what now I thought they wanted to see my papers the ones I just shown 2 minutes ago so first my driving licence so I gave him this then he demanded my registration papers and then want another dollar for this so I objected and asked what this was for but no real answer and they had a receipt for this but I was pissed of at yet another contribution and or charge for the cops as they have nothing to do with immigration and or importing of a bike. As it was only a buck a paid and I was on my way

Whizzing along beautiful tarmac roads through gorgeous countryside blue skies and the sun was shining. I had a niggling doubt did I get my driving licence back and after 60km the niggling doubt became more real so I decided to stop and do a document check and bugger me my driving licence was not where it should be (I loose stuff all the time so everything has a fixed place and if not there then it could be lost) I checked everywhere but could not find it so my gut feeling was right the bastard copper (he was pretty creepy even before I had lost the licence) had not returned my licence. So I do a U turn and back to the border I had done 60km and this had taken about an hour lovely ride but what was going through my mind what if the licence was not there how was I going to replace it and all the additional complicating issues on mislaying this vital bit of kit.

I got back to the border and I was let back into no mans land to the police post where the 2 guys pretended they knew nothing about the licence but I guessed from the way I was acting I was not in the mood to be fxxxxd around with as I was pretty sure this was the last time I had seen the licence and I was pretty sure it had not been returned to me. Eventually creepy cop went out back and came back with it and the other cop said I dropped it on the road and I should buy them all a drink for finding it. I am going to give them the benefit of the doubt and maybe I had dropped it but deep down I think they where just fxxxxxg with me as I had tried to call there bluff on a bogus charge. I did not buy them a drink as requested but politely thanked them and said adios and did the same 60km stretch I had just done for the 3rd time did I tell you this was a gorgeous bit of tarmac beautiful scenery blue skies and the sun was shining 🙂

Note to self Philly you are total arse always go with your gut feeling and do a complete document check at every stage of the process as there is a lot going on and you are dead in the water without these documents and you just wasted an additional 2 hours and 120km extra km what if it was pissing down and the sun was not shining this little fxxk up could have been a lot worse.

So got to the point I had been 2 hours ago a bit more relaxed but now my petrol planning was all out and it was getting hot and was going to get to Leon a lot later than originally planned. It is lovely now hot run into Leon through mountains across flat plains with volcanoes in the distance I pulled into Leon at about 5pm just before it got dark looking for a hotel Viavia as it was another place I had heard about.

Can you see the volcano in the distance must try and figure out how to take hazy day photos

I found the street and there where 2 other motorcyclist stopped outside Chris and Chloe and they had just checked out the hotel and there was one 3 bed room left so the plan was to share a room with them and they also had safe parking. So again had to drive the bike up a double kerb through a crowded bar and restaurant I stalled it once much to the amusement of the onlookers and the bike was in.

Driving bike through pub photo shamelessly stolen from Chris and Chloe blog http://ccgadventures.wordpress.com

It turned out they had a dorm as well as a double room so the sharing plans changed. Chris and Chloe had ridden up from Argentina so I had dinner with them swopping info and stories which was useful and Alex and Andrea the Romanian couple from last night turned up and joined and later Paul and Dylan the two bikers I met at the brewery turned up so there was 7 bikers telling tall stories and them all doing there best to put Philly of the rest of his trip or that is what it felt like sometimes I am not sure if a lot of these tales are exaggerated for dramatic effect or it going to a bloody hard going from now on in who knows we will no doubt found out. I have said it before there is something about ignorance being bliss, as I would rather not know than worry up front however did pick up a lot of useful information.

Been a long day tomorrow back to the books and Spanish lessons lets see if I can get further than donde es la baños this time 🙂

San Juan Del Sur to Arenal, Thursday, 29 November 2012, Day 149

The man from Del Monte he says yes!

Day did not start out to well as remember I had the shampoo leak in my toilet bag well there was some still left on my toothbrush so ended up shampooing my teeth yuk I was tasting shampoo all day double yuk.

I headed out of San Juan Del Sur after hitting the cashpoint and getting some breakfast I had a bit of a small ruck with a rent a cop at the cashpoint as he would not let me park me bike in front of it the road was empty no one around but he had his rules and I have mine so screw you mate I will take my business else where and I went to find another cashpoint.

Short run and before I knew it I was passing a huge line of trucks signifying that I had probably hit the border. I am not going to bore you all to death with the details this time but here is a link for those that may be interested http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=809883&highlight=RTWPaul&page=34

I plagiarised this from someone else blog. Even after reading this the night before it still was very confusing and the whole exercise took about 2 hours with a lot of walking from one place to another place and lot of time trying to find folks in a huge crowded area to sign certain documents so looking for a policeman then a custom officers.

Large queue at immigration into Costa Rica but got through all of this without a problem made a few friends on the way and no real hassle from the money changers or folks trying to offer there services I decline politely and they leave you alone and there are other folks there willing to help you if needed I got some great help from the lady mopping the floor as I was in the wrong building 🙂

So through the border no problem this time, and into another new country with new challenges. I pass a never ending queue of lorries on the other side which where hogging my half the road with buses and cars coming straight at me also on my side of the road trying to push me off into the dirt no way Jose.

Heading for a place that Sjoerd Bakker had recommended the only problems was as I was having problems with the Internet again last night and I had not been on line for a couple of days so I did not really have the address and only a vague recollection on where the place was and I couldn’t remember the name. So as usual up to pretty standard Philly planning. When I hit the turnoff for Upala I decided to check with the cops at the side of the road as to the condition of the road as I recall that it may be a dirt track so I pulled over and ask the police officer in my best Spanish how the road is to Upala was and he demands to see my passport. Cor Blimey Governor I respond also in Spanish I only asked directions and the state of the road and he is demanding documents. We have a bit of a laugh about this as this is a routine check point so the demands for my documents is not for my bastardising of the Spanish language and after his mate has taken my details he required he tells me the road is excellent for motorcyclist so with a cheery wave and I am on my way again. Well excellent is not how I would have described the road it was dirt track for about 30km but fortunately seriously compacted dirt and old tarmac I was rattled to death but it was rideable and this got me away from the Pan America and into the mountains.

Excellent road allegedly

I could not find the place that Sjoerd had mentioned as I thought is was further down a particular road than it actually was and I think I may have stopped outside of the place but it did not match what I could recall being described but this is due to my crap memory. So still some daylight and I like the roads when they did turn back into Tarmac so I am heading for a place called Arenal which I had heard about and I knew there should be places to stay there. As I had crossed the border into Costa Rica I expected my Garmin GPS to start showing more detail as allegedly I had detail maps in it for Costa Rica but it was not much better than it had been for the last couple of countries so I never seemed to know where I was and it kept on telling me I was on the wrong road or driving in a lake! In short one piece of crap equipment maybe its me expecting to much but I would expect it to be functioning a lot better than it is I kept resorting to a paper map that I have and I should not have to do that. So I am running the Garmin South America Maps which is supposed to include Costa Rica so does anyone out there have any ideas why it may not working that well here?

Gorgeous run around the lake Arenal when I finally found the right road that seemed to go on for ever and then I was in Arenal which was a sleepy village so looked around for somewhere to stay and could not find anywhere obvious so asked a couple of girls are there any hotels in the area and they most have thought I was a mad old purvey guy as they both pointed across the road to a hotel right where I had stopped. (I must improve my chat up lines)  I must be tired, as I never noticed it.  I went inside and they show me to a lovely room with gorgeous views over the lake and valley but a tad more than my budget so I asked if they had anything cheaper as It was getting dark so the view will be gone in 30 minutes and I only need somewhere to kip. This worked and I had another nice lot cheaper room without the view. I went for a walk and it was dark so I need to remember it gets dark at 17.30pm here so need to get of the road earlier I had pushed my luck again today but it worked out fine but that may not always be the case. Not much to see in this one street town the entertainment this evening was watching two huge high lorries trying to negotiate the small streets without pulling down all of the low lying electricity cables.

Watch those cables

Back to the hotel for me tea as they had a pizza restaurant attached to it and I was the only one in that night so I sat there on me own with a nice Pizza and a Fanta with again bad Wi-Fi trying to get this up to date. Oh there was someone else in the restaurant my old trusty traveling companion Daisy. For security I was allowed to drive and park me bike in the Restaurant so there she was blocking the telly. Now that’s what I call service.

Oi Daisy you are blocking the bleeding telly

I am not sure if I have actually called my bike Daisy in this blog before but that’s what she has been christened and what I call her and this is how she got the name. So Dave Emmett (http://motomatters.com) if you think this is references to your nickname well think again its not but it could be how you became to be called Daisy as well.

My grandmother name was Daisy and my father used to have an old Zundapp Scooter with a Daisy on the front of it. It’s a DL650A so theirs a D and A in the type of the name and its bright yellow so that is how its become to be known as Daisy. And to top it all I really like the name. So me and Daisy  are in an empty restaurant with another dodgy Internet connection who says life on the road is boring not me 🙂

Palmar Norte to Boquete, Sunday, 2 December 2012, Day 152

Do Enjoy the odd dance event every now and again

      

So another border crossing day last one of Central America Costa Rica to Panama. I leave the hotel it is already hot so it is going to be a sweaty border crossing. Nice run to the border stop for some fuel and breakfast and before you know it I am at the border.

  

I drive right past the Costa Rica Immigration and end up at the Panama side so a quick U turn and I find the Costa Rican immigration which is a tiny place buried at the side of the road no wonder I missed it. I sign myself out and then next the bike no problem and no charge that I can recall and then back again to the Panama Immigration.  Some helpers offer their service again but I politely decline they are also mentioning that I need mandatory insurance here but still not sure as I had mentioned allegedly I have insurance for Panama why would I need more cover. I hit the queue for immigration which was short and I am glad I did as later the line was massive no problem there and popped in Panama Tourist Info place to see about the insurance they seemed to think it was mandatory so for a simple life and it was only 15 bucks I decided I might as well get at as it may speed things up especially with my brilliant Spanish.

i was directed to a hole in the wall round the corner next to huge shopping mall for the insurance I could not find it at first until I realised it was really a hole in the wall I was expecting an office. I got the insurance then headed back to the customs to bring the in bike. The usual standard problems for them in trying to find England and the Netherlands on the Computer. (Reino Unido for UK and Paises Bajos for NL). And additionally the usual problem with the registration papers not having my name on it as this is on two separate other pieces documentation, which are used in NL for transferring title and not part of the registration. She insisted on copies of these so obliged and then the long wait while she 1 finger typed the documentation into the system and in theory I was in and so was the bike. All I needed was to find one last bloke to sign in the bike and I was in except for some fat noisy bloke not sure if he was an official started whitering on about fumigation and I told him that I did not need it for a bike but he was insistent and said if I did not do it I would be turned back at the exit to the border. So I sort my documents out drive to fumigation area and there is no one there except a soldier who waves me through and I pass through the final border check without getting fumigated and I am in Panama. (I pass through a couple more police and customs checks during the coming days no issues so I am guessing I have the full set of cards)

I am heading for a place called Boquete, which is not far so a reasonably short day the border the crossing has taken about, and 1 and half hours and it is an hour later in Panama than in Costa Rica. I get to Boquete at about 3.30 pm drive around looking for somewhere to stay when I spot a place with a few old bikes in the drive so I check that out and yes they have a room cheap in what looks like a shed in the garden but pleasant enough. Place called Pension Topas run by a German who has a Royal Enfield, Triumph and BSA in varying states of repair.

No I am not bloody snowy and no I am not bloody related grrr!

                

Visited a local Dance Event which was nice

Cool Rainbows

More rainbows

Nice enough place unload and settle in then head into town and at the square where there is a dance competition and sort of mini festival going on so settle in and enjoy the surroundings. Do a bit more wandering it is trying to rain but not enough to get you wet or force you indoors and the plus side of this drizzle there are some amazing Rainbows I never seen so think colourful rainbows like these and they where complete arcs which is also something I never experienced so where is the pot of gold then.

I Took loads of photos of the dancing and the rainbows and then back to the hotel and later out for tea spaghetti and some seriously dodgy meatballs I think I going to regret these in the coming days. Another full-varied day I hit the sack tired but content.

  

Pasto to Ibarra, Friday, 21 December 2012, Day 171

Las Lajas Sanctuary reminds me of Lourdes

I made a Skype call home and I then had my complementary breakfast which was just a couple of fried eggs I was expecting more considering the price I had paid for the room and it was about 10.30am when I finally hit the road I am crossing the border into Ecuador today but first a visit to Las Lajas Sanctuary a church built on a bridge over a river in a gorge.  It was quite impressive spent a while just wandering around taking in the sight impressive building and great location and the sun has decided to say hallo as it was raining when I arrived.

cool church

              

Cute!

Not so cute!

Next stop the border I first checked my bike out of Columbia  took 2 minutes changed some money with the a money changer took 5 minutes than it went all slow. A rather a large queue at immigration to check out of Columbia and even bigger ones on the Ecuadoran side. I fortunately bumped into Andrea who kept me company in the queue, Alex was trying to get insurance as he had been told by the Customs that this was now mandatory for Ecuador this is the first I have heard of this. Alex comes back and has not managed to get insurance something wrong with there systems so they leave me in the long queue and we arrange to meet in Ibarra later where who knows?

Queues into Ecuador

I finally get the to the front of the queue of immigration I have a bit of a joke with the lady when she asked if I was married and I asked if she was asking other than the  killer comedy I was in next the bike. Get a photocopy of my entrance visa than to Aduana who where rushed of there feet but I went through reasonably fast and there was no mention about the mandatory insurance and after a couple of hours I was in Ecuador. It was late so made haste to Ibarra and the GPS is not working yet another country that is not covered in any detail on the maps I have it took me a while to realise this.

New Country yeah

I got to Ibarra as it was getting dark and no obvious place to stay I had an address but I could not load this in the GPS so drove round and round in ever decreasing circles asking folks for directions until I finally found the street and then the Hostel. From the outside it did not look like it had parking facilities but joy of joy there was huge parking lot around the back I had to drive a couple blocks to get there but it was safe and reasonably priced compared with last night. Alex and Andrea bike was also there so it looks like they coincidently that they went to the same place as me and it turns out they are in the room opposite me. I check in and arrange to go for dinner with Alex and Andrea and Joop who is staying at a Hostel next door so we pick him up and go for dinner at some Ecuadorian lady’s place Alex had met earlier and she was also going on a big trip of South America with her husband so she wanted to chat about this and it was her restaurant. So a very pleasant evening chatting in Spanish as the husband did not speak English that well. (I have forgotten their names :-()

Had my first drink since Houston a glass of warm red wine so I am not sure that counts as falling of the wagon and it would have been rude to refuse.

Another long hard day another country life on the road is tough but I am still enjoying myself

Cuenca to Canoas de Punta Sal, Wednesday, 26 December 2012,Day 176

Why did the chicken cross the road? So that he did not get squashed by Daisy

Riding with Alex and Andrea today so this is first time this trip except for the run to catch he boat in Panama City that I am riding with someone else. That was riding with a larger group with just the two bikes this should be easier. I am trusting my GPS to get us out of town with no problems and then  to the border into Peru and for once it does not disappoint so I may finally have a map that I can trust 🙂

Hot day and nice run first through the mountains road a mixed bag of good roads to awful lots of landslides so lots of rocks and loose debris on the road and road works where they have ripped the top surface of and left it like that for the time being so reasonable progress but you still had to be wary.

Dusty rough roads

  

We came out of the mountains on to a flat coastal plain next to the Pacific passing through banana plantations on our way to the border. We wanted to fill up before crossing the border, as fuel is cheap as chips in Ecuador but the petrol stations closest to the border where all shut so I am guessing it is to stop folk doing cheap petrol runs from Peru. We drove back about 5km and were able to fill up there we adversely jumped a huge queue which I did not see as I pulled into the station so a bit of laugh with the attendant and the soldier which where present at all the petrol stations near the border and then onto the border.

banana anyone?

First to the Aduana in Ecuador to check the bikes out we nearly missed this as it was not clearly marked and here we met the Columbian Bogotá V-strom club who were with about 10 bikes or so and we where behind them in all of the queues crossing the border which slowed us up a bit

Then to immigration for me which was in the same building so you queued to exit Ecuador and the right next to that the queue to enter Peru. Fortunately very few people so this part went quite quickly and the onto the Peruvian Aduana. Where we ended up behind the large group of Columbian Bogota V-strom club again.

Philly and Daisy Fan club waving us out of Ecuador

This is where we heard about mandatory insurance for Peru first time I heard of this as this was not one of the countries on my list that I needed to buy extra insurance as in theory this was covered in my total central and south America insurance so I was planning to bluff my way through this one and they did not ask for it but Alex had to pay 35USD for a months insurance. My problem was that they had put my Nationality down as Ireland again and my VIN number was incorrect so asked them to correct it but they refused they just crossed it out so I asked for a signature on the changes they got all pissy and so did I as I was hot tired and sweaty but there is no use in me getting angry as they have all the cards So the guy rips up my paper work and give me a blank form which I have to fill in by hand and this time with the right information. So with a bit of help from my new Columbian friends I had the paperwork completed and written in my bad handwriting but I had all the stamps and signatures on it so me and Daisy are allowed into yet another new country Peru wow we are really ticking them of the list 🙂

This had all taken about 2 hours and it just gone 4pm so we made tracks for Mancora which was about 129km away but we had already figured we where not going to make it before it got dark so we started stopping at all the beach type resorts places asking for rooms. This is where Andrea was useful we would  pull up and she would jump of and go in and check the prices and say yay or nay and if nay we would roll on the next one. She was also had been the official photographer for the day so loads of photos taken of Philly and Daisy on the move.

Alex & Andreas Ecuador Photos

Alex & Andreas Peru Photos

Not much luck on finding something as it is very expensive along this coast and when we did one last try before we where going to try again to get to Mancora where we knew there were cheaper options.

We had a bungalow on the beach 10USD each and they kept the kitchen open for us so fried fish and rice on the beach watching the sun go down with a mad kitten for company. Perfect I could not ask for much more even debating that it is so nice here we may have a rest day here tomorrow and that is awfully tempting as I have had a tough couple of days.

Nice here may stay another day