Tag Archives: GPS

Ciudad Valles to Molango, Saturday, 27 October 2012, Day 116

view from my hotel window stopped raining for a couple of minutes.

What a difference a day makes yesterday it was excellent even my off road excursion in hindsight was enjoyable but today was totally different. It has taken me 6 and half hours to cover 210km non-stop riding only had one 10 minute break for a petrol and a pee stop. So what was different well for starters it was raining when I got up not heavy but enough to need waterproofs. So I had a leisurely breakfast and finally I hit the road at 11am destination was Pachuca, which was 380km away according to the GPS, I would be there at 5pm so this is doable. In reality it started to rain harder so the roads where like an ice-skating ring covered in mud that had turned to slush the roads are okay when dry but add water and they are treacherous. So I am not getting anywhere fast and the road I have chosen to take is quite twisty and hilly so I am not sure how hard I can push it in the corners as they are all as greasy as hell. Another obstacle impeding my progress is that the road went via loads of villages and in every one of them there are loads of speed bumps. Not just ordinary speed bumps but bumps of all sizes and shapes not one is the same some huge and all of them had to be taken in 1st gear due to the fact that the car or lorry in front of you had always slowed down to a near stop and because of the weather conditions and the fact that they where all over the place there most be hundreds I have had to slow down for today. Very irritating and uncomfortable not sure I like them (I am pretty damned sure I do not like them). To add to this I headed up into the mountains I was riding in the clouds for the last couple of hours so visibility down to nothing in places on wiggly greasy unknowns roads with random speed bumps thrown in for good measure. This was all just about manageable but then add in other Mexican road users such as humans and animals  (Dogs, Cows, Goats, Pigs wandering all over the road) I was frazzled at 5pm about 130km short of my target so I pulled over in a place called Molango I found a nice hotel and got out of my wet gear. Its cold it has been 18 degrees all day, which was nice but feels cooler when you are wet no a/c or fan in the room tonight but do not think I will need it as unlike last night it was 30 degrees I think its going to be about 14 degrees tonight so I may need a blanket.

I grabbed some food in a place next to the hotel which actually looked like somebody’s front room with a couple of tables and a stove for cooking. I had chicken and enchiladas and as they where cooking a huge bowl of rice for some reason and they offered me some, which was also very nice, the chicken however had seen better days.

I went for a wander around town cold and wet and still drizzling so I head back to the room. I am wearing a jumper for the first time in ages I hope its at least dry tomorrow as I think the route I did today was actually quite nice but unfortunately I could not see a thing due to the weather.

Molango

Going to have to have a rethink if it stays like this, as I am not sure I can cope with to many days like today as it is far to stressful.

Halloween

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Molango to Apizaco, Sunday, 28 October 2012, Day 117

Road block who would have guessed it was for a Religious run carrying the Madonna with my bad spanish I was certainly surprised 🙂

I woke up and fortunately it was dry today but it was still quite cold. I hit the road and it was still very misty or I was driving in the clouds but fortunately it started to clear and I could finally see where I was going and it was nice.

Crap Vision-ability

Plan on the page is to keep plugging away moving south to Antigua where I plan to have a rest and do some Spanish lessons as I have not got a clue what is going on around me and I am not at all comfortable with that. Today the road was blocked and I was trying to found out what was going on but my knowledge of Spanish is woeful so all I could do was wait. It turned out that it was some religious event the road was full of young people running down the street and a convoy of accompanying cars and lorries and they where carrying a statue of Mary I passed another one later. I am not sure I would have been able to understand the explanation for this holdup in English never mind in Spanish but it does explain why the petrol pump attendant when I asked about what was going on he crossed himself so there was the religious clue unfortunately at the time I had no idea what he was trying to tell me.

Good day in the saddle but I am not covering the ground as quickly as I think I should be I did more than yesterday but considering the hours I am putting in I am expecting to have gone much further. Slow going on these roads and village very rarely going fast at all. I think I gained an hour but I am not sure as have seen no clocks to verify this so at about 5pm ish according to the clock on my GPS which I think is right my right leg was beginning to cramp up no idea why could be all them damned speed humps or all the stop start riding I have been doing today so this was a sign to call it quits for the day as well as my GPS sending me on another off road excursion and getting chased by wild dogs was enough to tell me to stop for the day. So I ignored the GPS I did a U-turn only to be chased by the same wild dogs and decided to stop at the first decent place I saw. A couple of minutes later saw a nice old church and opposite a small hotel which had a courtyard for parking the bike so I pulled in there. Got a room no problem and extremely cheap but no Wi-Fi but who cares I can live with a night without Wi-Fi. I was in little village just short of Apicazo so not much there other than the church and the hotel so nowhere to eat. After wandering about for a while found a place that was cooking chickens on a rotisserie so ordered half a chicken and some papa’s fritas and got some pop and then back to the room to eat my little greasy feast. I had mushroom quesadilla for breakfast/lunch, which was also very nice.

Tonight’s entertainment was to finish the Hunger games on my Kindle. I quite enjoyed it easy reading and a page-turner but quite a simple plotI have  just downloaded part 2 and 3 so another excuse not to be doing my blog or responding to the comments on it. I will do this when I am back on line honest injun

Apizaco to Oaxaca, Monday, 29 October 2012, Day 118

Beautiful Dress made out of plastic cups and saucers !

Even scarier from the front

A good day in the saddle and I covered a lot more distance than I have been in the last couple of days so how did I do this well I cheated.

I got packed up and hit the road and the first thing I noticed in the distance was a couple of mountains but what surprised me most was that they both had snow on top of them! This was the last thing I was expecting I was not aware of Snow covered mountains in Mexico so I was a little confused for a while.

I needed a coffee and some breakfast, as it was quite chilly around 14 degrees and as soon as I drove into Apizaco I saw an OXXO which is sort of like the Mexican 7/11 so I had breakfast sitting on the pavement outside as they do good coffee and sandwiches but they do not always have somewhere to sit and consume your purchases.

View from my breakfast spot

So todays plan was to try and reach Oaxaca, which was going to be difficult if I was sticking to the type of roads, I have been using for the last couple of days with all the tope and reductions (Spanish words for them bloody speed bumps they have all over the place here killing my suspension slowly but surely me thinks and god knows what this is doing to the rest of the bike it cannot be good me thinks). So first thing I did was change the settings on my GPS to allow toll routes to be part of the route as I usually avoid these if possible but a change of tactic is called for if I am going to make any progress. By doing this I shortened the distance to Oaxaca by 40km, which is excellent, and the last 200km was on a Mexican toll road, which went through some breath taking scenery and no villages to slow me down for and no speed humps either so I could get some speed up and sustain it for a reasonable amount of time.

escaping the speed humps!

The downside was that I had to pay for the speed so as I joined the toll road they charged me 35 peso which I thought was excellent value as it was 200km still to go to Oaxaca but after about 30km another toll booth this time 25 peso and this kept happening regularly and later the distance got shorter but the price kept getting more. All in all buying this extra time cost me 190 pesos so about 10 EUR but well worth it as it was a really enjoyable run on empty roads with not having to worry about all the usual distractions and potential risks that you have driving through Mexican villages and countryside I could just enjoy the ride and the spectacular scenery. I had a laugh at each of the toll booths when they kept wanting more money for the next bit in broken Spanish I was telling them that I should be half price as they where charging me the same as a car as there was no motorcycle rates and also telling them I had already paid at the last booth. It kept me entertained for a while and some of them where also amused.

I have been to Oaxaca before about 15 years ago but I did not recognise the place it seem so much bigger and busier and the GPS was sending me in the opposite directions to what the signpost where telling me and so like a fool I followed the GPS but when it turned me down yet another dirt road I switched it of and asked the locals which was far more effective. I finally found the center but it was the middle of rush hour getting hot and I had no Mexican money left as used the last on the toll roads and credit cards are not used as much here especially in the places I have been staying cash is king. So after checking out one hotel to get a feel of the prices in town I plugged in ATM into my GPS and the first one I found again would not accept my card and the next one was on the main square but there was a huge festival going on there and the cops where not allowing any vehicles in but I showed one them on my GPS what I was looking for and I was allowed onto the square with my bike and they even watched my bike while I popped round the corner to the cashpoint. There suggestion not mine this was while they where trying to manage a full-blown crowd of revellers not sure what is going on as there where Incas dancers, Trade unionists, and Halloween or Night of the death festival all going on at the same time. This time the cashpoint gave me some money so back to the bike, which was parked on a one-way street and the only correct way out was across the square so the friendly coppers cleared a route for me through the revellers and I was on my way 🙂

I went a couple of blocks from the square and saw a Hostel with a drive in parking garage so pulled in there glad to be out of the traffic and checked out how much they wanted for a room for the night it was reasonable enough and the bike was in a secure manned car park so sorted.

So got out of my bike gear and went of to rediscover Oaxaca some of seemed familiar but I could not find the place I had stayed last time, as I was curious on what it would be like now.

I had a great evening just wandering around as mentioned in the main square was teaming with people and there was stage with what I thought was for either Halloween of night of the dead festival some great outfits on show. As well as that a political rally was taking place and something else with mariachi bands making a hell of a racket so great place to people watch. The rest of town was lively as well great market so I did some wandering taking in the sights. I still do not know what time it is I think I have gained an hour maybe the clocks changed on Sunday I do not know but it does not really matter as knowing what time it is is not a necessity that I have at the moment 🙂

I ended up back at the hotel where I downloaded the sequels to the Hunger Game very clever pricing scam they got going there. The first book is 5 bucks for kindle but books 2 and 3 are 9 bucks so they getting you hooked cheaply the 1st time round and you have to pay more once you are addicted very clever.

I am having problems uploading my Photos to Smug mug it is very rare that you get anywhere with a decent Internet connection or maybe I am just asking too much.

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 🙂

Arenal to Turrialba, Friday, 30 November 2012, Day 150

They seem to have some kind of symbiotic relationships see them together all the time

Its been pissing down all-night and still is when I get up so prepare for a wet day. Move Daisy out of the Restaurant she puts up a bit of a fight it looks like she is not looking forward to a wet day in the rain either. I have some help from the young lad from the hotel with packing my bike chatting away in Spanish to me but I still do have a clue what he is saying. I understand that he is impressed with my GPS shame I am not crock of shit device more fun and games with it today. First port of call was fuel for the Daisy and then fuel for Philly at a German Bakery the rain has turned into a drizzle it was a bit of a struggle parking Daisy as its wet and on a steep hill but eventually manage pull the sheepskin off to stop it getting wet and then I am greeted cheerfully with a handshake from the German owner of the Bakery who says he knows me from the internet so maybe I am famous out there in the Internet world or he says that to all Bikers that pull up to make us feel special well it did it for me. So a Cinnamon Roll and a Raison Roll and a Cappuccino for breakfast and I am ready for a damp day in the saddle. Pull on my waterproofs trying to remember the last time I had these on it has rained but never enough to need them for a while. The roads are damp and it’s drizzling with the occasional shower but nice road round the lake slippery in places and surface forever changing so need to keep me wits about me.

Nope I have no idea what it is either!

Got lost. How do you get lost when you have a GPS well I am buggered if I know the dam thing has not a clue where I am only has limited coverage of Costa Rica and forever telling me to head to a particular road number which is brilliant but it does not know where I am and in which direction said road is so in the end I am just using this as a tracking tool so where I have been which it can just about manage and I resort to the old paper map sun and compass and finally get back on track. Garmin this is one piece of shit you have sold me.

Great run in the morning through hills and countryside dull and overcast but it never really got that wet. I got out of my waterproofs at one point and for the middle part of the journey, which was not very nice. On a major road to Limon, which is, a harbour town so loads of trucks crawling up the hills so not many overtaking opportunities so in the end up crawling along at there speed which is frustrating. Eventually I turn of back into the mountains heading to a place called Turrialba. Beautiful run through twisty roads and gorgeous scenery so the day started great bit of a dip in the middle and a great grand finale. I cannot ask for much than that I rolled into town at about 4.30pm next try and find somewhere to sleep. I did a few rounds of the town which was busy and traffic and chaotic and could not see anything suitable or that I fancied staying when out of the corner of my eye I saw a sign saying hostel so cut across 3 lanes of traffic (I am driving like local these days) and I pulled up outside. It had parking behind a gate and without even looking at the room I had a dorm space. You get a feeling for these things so you know already that the rooms will be fine just from the look and feel and vibe from the front desk. And I was right fantastic clean modern Hostel with a homey feel Casa de Lis 6-bed dorm with on suite and a nice garden to chill out in. Sharing with an old codger (kettle calling the pot black) American who has been in Costa Rica for years he is in town to buy supplies as he lives in the middle of nowhere with no electricity and a few mod cons. He left the Army in 1974 after been in in Vietnam he is suffering from Diabetes linked to Agent Orange so is now getting a pension from the army he was pissed of with what he had been through in Nam so he went Costa Rica as it did not have an army at the time (I love that rational) and brought some land and has been living there on and off since then. Interesting chap but you could tell he been living a hermits existence or had not spoken to folk for a while as I get the same way when I go into my hermit mode so I recognised the characteristics. Andy Clark of Radio Netherlands please step forward and take a bow you have a fan this chap was an avid follower of your work on the radio and he misses you now that you are no longer broadcasting so he is asking the Dutch government to invest some money to get the full English Language Broadcast back on air.

I went for a wander round town and found a Chinese for my dinner Chicken Chou Min no noodles but some weird fried bready sticks. Different and I love that with Chinese in Latin America you always get a couple of slices of white bread with butter not very Chinese in my view but great for mopping up your plate 🙂

That name is going to start cropping up everywhere now 🙂

Moody night shot

Back to the Hostel sitting in the garden updating this and chatting to Dave (to be honest I have no idea what his name was as my memory has let me down yet again god I wish I could remember names!!!) the Vietnam vet.

Medellin to Cali, Tuesday, 18 December 2012, Day 168

Lost who cares when the views are like this 🙂

For some reason I have booked into a hostel tonight for two nights and looking at the map it’s seriously hardcore to do this run in one day especially as I am just recovering from the screaming habdabs. Well there was some rational for my ludicrous planning as I had sort of arranged a service for Daisy with http://www.motolombia.com and they also owned a hostel so two birds with one stone but why in one day beats me should be doable if nothing goes wrong. Well you guessed it I pulled out of Medellin and got totally lost my wonderful GPS not doing its job properly as usual and absolutely no real detail (Note 22/12/2012 I have hopefully resolved this) so I was driving around totally lost getting no feedback from the GPS. At one stage went into this little village down a steep hill and and had all the locals helping me but they were all sending me in different directions but I figured out where I did not want to go and took it from there. Getting out of the village was difficult as the road was practically vertical wet and slippery so when I reach the top where it met the main road I had to stop as there was traffic but as I stopped the front wheel locked and I started sliding backwards downhill so much for ABS in this situation the front was locked no grip I could not get to the back brake as I needed two legs down to try and balance Daisy so the only thing left to do was give it some welly and get some forward momentum and I catapulted myself on to the main road. Fortunately for me  it was clear bloody hell its going to be a long day. I got lost again in another town and I asked a chap the direction to Fredonia he said I was in it! My GPS said it was another couple of miles down the road! Lost again GPS says turn right in 100 meters get there no road! Hit recalculate and it adds another 50 0r 80km to the distance! So that’s how my day went so the chances of getting to Cali completely gone so it was on to plan B as I always have more than one game plan but then I hit a fast dual carriage way and started chewing up the miles, I stopped for fuel and the guy said its was only another hour to Cali my GPS said two hours guess who I believed today. So back to plan A and rolled into Cali just as it was getting dark no problem as I had a bed booked.

Sure I crossed this river before!

 

I had a chat with the wife of the owner of http://www.motolombia.com about the service and she said to chat with the Mechanic tomorrow so it is time for tea. I have noticed in South America when I get of the bike at the end of day my face is absolutely filthy  and I look like I have been working at the pit face all day I am covered in soot and some of these old Diesel trucks and busses are kicking out some serious dirt.

Chinese meal huge so get a carry out so that dinner for tomorrow night sorted and I guess my stomach has shrunk (yeah right!) after not eating much for days.

On the way back to the Hostel I pass a bike shop and recognise one of the BMW as its has Belize plates so that must be Alfred from the Stahlratte and look around and I spot him. He has lost Joop his travel companion somehow and was on his own in town so I join him for dinner (no not two dinners now I am better but joined him whilst he was eating and had a soft drink and yes I am still of the booze)

Been a long day about 10 hours in the saddle so quite glad when I hit the sack it is a service day for Daisy tomorrow.

 

Ibarra to Quito, Saturday, 22 December 2012, Day 172

Otavalo Market

      

      

  

A short day planned today driving to Quito I get there about 3pm ish and I realise that I have just crossed the equator another milestone where you are supposed to stop and take mandatory picture of you on either side of the equator but as I never saw any signs or anything to remind me of this so that was another photo opportunity missed. I did however stop at a great little market a say little allegedly it one of the biggest in South America in Otavalo. As I drove into town I saw a sign saying Mercado so I followed that and find myself at a local fruit and veg place with a couple of stalls. So if this the biggest market in South America than I have been diddled. I asked a local and he says the market I am looking for is in the center of town so quick detour and I park the bike and I spend a couple of hours wandering round this nice little town who’s majority of streets have been taken over by market stalls selling everything conceivable. I Had some breakfast in a local restaurant next to the market where a strange old man kept trying to clear away stuff from my table even though it was quite clear I had not yet finished it This must be his way of turning tables quickly.

 

oi move your blocking my view!

  

Next stop Quito (It should have been the Equator :-() to a hostel address Andrea had given me the Casa Bambu. GPS is useless so I spent hours looking for it with a small map from my lonely planet  guidebook and Quito is huge so it took me for ages I got quite close on many occasion but then got lost again. I finally I find the place and its on a very steep hill that I dare not park my bike on on so stop at the top and walk down to inquire about a room. It is a really cool place its like a maize once you are in I kept getting lost and they had a garage for the bike and a great roof garden with great views over Quito. So I settle in and the first thing I did was try and figure out how to get my GPS working so went onto http://garmin.openstreetmap.nl and downloaded a map of Ecuador which was 10 times better than the one I have. I spent the rest of the afternoon experimenting with http://garmin.openstreetmap.nl and I finally had the whole of South America on my GPS so I may now have a vague idea where I am going from now on. It was about 6pm when I had finished so I walked to a supermarket a Dutch girl had told me about 20 minutes there and 20 minutes back and I brought a microwave lasagne and walked back bit out of breath as the hill as mentioned earlier was very steep and Quito is at 2800 meters. When I got back to the Hostel I realised that they had no microwave so I had to figure out how to cook me dinner so thats 50 minutes a Bain Marie (cooking term :-)) it was disgusting.

views from the roof terrace

I spent the rest of the evening playing catch up with this blog which is all I ever seem to do these days and then beddy byes in a large room with 5 big single beds me and two Chinese girls oh err missis.