More pictures

I´ve uploaded more pictures from Mexico and Guatemala.  Go to and use username with password klr650 to view them.  Tom has also posted some pictures.  I´ve added more pictures to the Mexico SLR folder because I found a decent internet connection here in Antigua.

Antigua is so beautiful that we have decided to stay another night.  The city is safe, has great restaurants, and is surrounded by volcanoes.  Plus we´re staying in a hotel (with hot water!) for only $30 a night.  We have a courtyard outside our room with a view of one of the Volcanoes.


You can now view all my trip pictures on flickr.


Day 27 – Antigua, Guatemala

Today we spent all day riding and barely made 200 kms.  Our plan had been to go to lake Atitlan for a swim.  My thought was that the water would be warmer than the shower in our hotel room.  However, at some point we took a wrong turn and ended up in a remote mountain village.  It is easy to take a wrong turn in Guatemala because any semblance of a main road dissappears when you enter a town and you are plunged into a maze.  You’re lucky if you find your way out at all, and if you find yourself on a paved road on the other side, all the better.  The only problem is if you end up on some other paved road than the one you intended. 

When it became clear we were lost, I asked a man how to get back to the road we wanted.  After following his directions, I thought maybe he had made a joke at our expense, and he was still laughing and telling how he had fooled a couple of gringos into riding their bikes into the middle of nowhere.  The road we were on was a narrow track that wound it’s way through the village at impossibly steep inclines and sharp corners to be any kind of a main road.  I asked directions again.  Again I was told to just keep going straight.  Before we could go much farther, however, we found ourselves riding in a parade.  There was a van covered in balloons behind us and a bunch of kids in a marching band ahead of us.  The villagers, many dressed in colourful traditional Guatemalan hand woven garb, lined the streets watching us go by.  I wonder what they thought of a couple of gringos on big motorbikes laden with gear (Ted even had his boxers drying on the back) riding in formation in the middle of their parade.  I was enjoying being at the centre of attention and had started waving at the kids as I rode by when a police officer walked into our path and gave us the universal halt signal.  We had to wait for the parade to finish. 
We took the opportunity to have breakfast at a little establishment at the side of the road.  A friendly couple plied us with drinks and homemade food while we chatted about Guatemala and Canada.  They didn’t speak any English, and my Spanish is still extremely limited, so it was amazing we were able to communicate as much as we did.  Apparently Guatemala is “muy peligroso”.  That’s a word I know from the road signs (i.e. “Precaution Curva Peligrosa a 100 m”. 

The cuenta (bill) came to only 20 Quetzals.  I felt guilty paying only that small amount for all the good food and drinks we had consumed.  After waiting for the parade to come back down the street, we finally set off.  We ended up on a dirt road that wound it’s way over two mountains before finding the main road.

Lake Atitlan is like something from a fantasy novel.  The mountains descend steeply down into bright green water.  Not one, not two, but three Volcanoes tower over the lake.  A dragon flying across that scenery would not seem out of place.  The ride around the lake was a highlight of the trip – it was spectacular.  The ride from Lake Atitlan to Antigua was also fantastic.  Gone were the black smoke spewing trucks and buses that clog the main highways.  It was just empty road winding it’s way over mountains with views of Lake Atitlan thousands of feet below and the volcanoes reaching thousands of feet above.

Tonight we’re staying a hotel in colonial Antigua near one of the main plazas.  The hotel is really more like a bed and breakfast: there are only three rooms and it feels like we’re guests in someone’s house.  Our room opens onto an open air coutyard on the second floor with a view of a Volcano.  The hostess was extremely amenable to our needs, moving furniture out of the front entrance so we could park our motorcycles right inside the parlour.  We were soaking wet from a good drenching on the last couple hours of our ride.  I had tracked water into the tiled hallway.  This almost proved to be a disaster.  As I was pushing my bike around a corner, I lost my footing and slid on the wet tiles, coming perilously close to dropping my bike right onto the hostess’ poodle.  Not to mention a cabinet of fine looking china.

Day 26 – Quetzaltenango, Guatemala

Today we crossed into Guatemala.  The border crossing took just over an hour, and would have cost us a lot more if we hadn´t had a heads up from Tom, who had crossed a few days earlier.  We knew that Tom had paid a ¨helper¨plus all the entry fees for around $25 total.  Our helper was initially trying to get $80 per motorcycle out of us.  Also, Ted had let it slip that we were passing through Guatemala on the way to Honduras and beyond.  There was an extra transito fee for this, something like $200.  I insisted that we were only going to visit lake Atitlan and then return to Mexico.  In the end, we got across for $55 + 100 Quetzals (There are 7.5 Quetzals in a dollar), avoiding the transito fee.

The border area was sketchy.  We were accosted by people trying to change our Pesos and dollars for Quetzals, at awful rates.  Kids crowded around the bikes begging for change.  I was glad that I could watch the bikes while Ted went into one building after getting all the required documents in order.

My first meal in Guatemala was a nice change from the overly spicy fare we had been eating in Mexico.  It consisted of rice and beans (of course) and chicken.  Even with two bottles of pop, the bill only came to 28 Quetzals.  The hotel we´re staying in tonight (a motorcycle hotel) is only 200 Quetzals.  And that´s for the whole night, not just a few hours.  Plus there are two King sized beds in the room – we got the one and only luxury suite.  And best of all, there is a toilet seat and a shower curtain, which is luxury compared to what we were able to find in Oaxaca two nights before in a steamy town called Rio Grande which seemed to be built right on a swamp.  It was only 200 Pesos, but it was not designed for Gringos.  It was a neat place and I enjoyed staying there, despite the lack of facilities.  There was an open air lobby, archways, and hanging vines.  We walked down the road to find food.  We bought tacos from a vendor who had 6 kids and 5 dogs.  8 tacos, 3 cokes, and a Corona came to 65 pesos.

For our last night in Mexico, we camped by the side of a river just off the highway in the state of Chiapas.  I awoke to find that an ant colony had adopted my boot.  I sat inside my tent, staring at the eruption of red ants coming out of my boot in helpless disbelief.  I might have stayed like that for hours, but Ted rescued me by grabbing my boot and beating it against a rock.

We spent two weeks in Mexico.  Highlights were Copper canyon, the volcano at Colima, the city of Colima itself, and the coast between El Faro and Playa Azul.  If you were flying into Mexico, and had a week to spend, I would highly recommend flying into Colima.  Colima is my favourite city of all the cities I´ve visited in Mexico.  I could live there.  It´s broad tree lined boulevards, palmy plazas surrounded by sidewalk cafes, and well preserved colonial architecture make it stand out.  Also, I had two excellent meals in Colima (I had two excellent meals the whole time I was in Mexico).  Colima is also cleaner by far than a lot of Mexican cities.  The people are also very friendly (true of all of Mexico), but especially so in Colima.

The Volcano is worth a whole day, but you could see it in a morning.  The village of Comala, just a few minutes outside of Colima, is a great place to see the Volcano if you´re not adventurous enought to try to get up the side.  From Colima it is only a short drive to the coast on excellent highways.  It would definetely be worth renting a car in Colima and exploring the coast towards El Faro and beyond.  It is not crowded, and you´ll have miles of fantastic sandy beaches all to yourself.

If you want to just fly into a place and stay there the entire time without renting a car, I would recommend Puerto Escondido, which is further south in the State of Oaxaca.  It is much less crowded than Acapulco (which is way too crowded).  Pto Escondido has a great gently sloping uncrowded beach with cabanas overlooking the ocean.  The town is big enough that you´d have your choice of restaurants, but it has been missed by the hordes of tourists that mob places like Acapulco.

There are more pictures at (use with password klr650 to view them).  I was able to upload a few pictures in Acapulco, but it took forever.  It will be hard to find internet connections fast enough to upload many more, but I´ll do my best.

Day 24 – Acapulco, Mexico

Copper Canyon
I jumped the gun when I said that the ride east from Hermosillo to Yecora is one of the best rides anywhere.  It is a damn good ride, but it pales in comparison to what we rode next.  The road from Creel south through Parque Natural Barranca del Cobre is the most spectacular road I´ve ever riden.  It is the new gold standard against which all other roads will be judged from now on (California rest in peace).  The road is motorcycle heaven.  It is freshly paved.  There is no traffic.  It winds it´s way over mountains giving spectacular views.  The pinaccle is when it cuts through Copper Canyon.  Imagine a canyon such as the Grand Canyon.  Now imagine a ribbon of black asphalt carved right into it.  The road enters Copper canyon from the north through a side canyon (which in itself is one of the most spectacular canyons I´ve seen). You emerge high on the side of Copper canyon, with dizzying views of the rock faces plunging into the depths below.  The river that cuts through the canyon looks as though it´s being viewed from a plane.  The road, carved right out of the canyon wall, twists and turns it´s way right down to the bottom, where it crosses a bridge over Rio Urique and then ascends the other side.  It was such an experience that I didn´t even stop to take pictures.  Not that there was a place to stop anyway.  There is no room to pull over, and every metre of the road where you might want to stop is around a blind corner.  Just because you haven´t seen another car in hours doesn´t mean there aren´t any.

That night we camped in the pine forest within the national park about a kilometer off the main road.  We could hear thunder and see lightning, but the storms passed all around us without hitting us.  In the morning when we set off again, I couldn´t help but wonder if the ride would seem boring after Copper Canyon.  I need not have worried.   The road wound it´s way right along the top of a mountain range.  The air was cool and fresh and smelled of pines.  It was another fantastic ride.  Just when the pine forest was stating to get a bit monotonous, we were treated to another pleasant surprise.  The road road descended thousands of feet from the top of the mountains down into the desert below.  The landscape changed dramatically.  There were vistas of open plains and rocky mesas.  The road followed gorges down the sides of mountains.  There were just 2 motorbikes, clear black tarmac, and an unpopulated desert lanscape.  Any random picture of that ride would make a great poster.

Once we got near Hidalgo del Parral, the ride became ordinary compared to what we´d just ridden.  After Parral, the road entered a flat plain next to a mountain range.  The way the mountains rose abruptly from the plain reminded me of the landscape of southern Alberta.  The road was actually straight for long stretches, another feature reminscent of Alberta.  We were chased by menacing looking thunderstorms all day, but we managed to pass right between two storms with only a few minutes of giant raindrops.  That day we rode 725 kilometres, which I know is nothing compared to the kind of kilmetres the Kid had to put in day after day to make it to Guatemala City on time, but for us that was a big day. 

We camped next to a dry creek bed about 500 metres from the highway about an hour north of Durango.  We had our customary meal of instant noodles cooked over our portable cook stove.  Just as I was crawling into my sleeping bag, a truck drove down the dry creek bed and aimed a floodlight at the tents.  Somebody was shouting something in Spanish.  Up until that point we had not been disturbed in any of our free campsites.  I was thinking the streak might be ending.  Had we camped on somebody´s property who didn´t want us there?  I emerged from my tent and saw an official looking vehicle, but could not see much because of the lights.  I probably had an AK trained on my chest.  I shouted “No hablo espanol”.  There was another flurry of Spanish and then the truck took off and we were left in peace until about 5:00 AM when every truck driver that drove by on the highay blasted his horn.  Was it possible that they could see the tents from the highway and were giving us the customary 5:00 AM Mexican wake-up call?

From our campsite north of Durango we put in another long day and made it all the way to Guadalajara.  It was damn cold.  During the rainy morning ride to Zacatecas (a city made fascinating by the fact that it´s built right up the sides of a valley high in the mountains), I was tempted to plug in my electric vest.  At about that time we crossed the tropic of Cancer.  So as we officially entered the tropics, I was as cold as I had been on the entire trip.

The ride to Guadalajara only got ineteresting about 100 kms away when the road left the fertile valley it had been following and started cutting over mountains.  We were running out of daylight, but we could see that we were about to get soaked by a thunderstorm so we decided to press on to Guadalajara and find a “motorcycle hotel” (aka love motel, but I prefer the former term) instead of camping.  The ride into Guardalajara turned into one of the hairiest of the trip so far (on paved roads that is).  After night fell, the sky opened up and we were hit with torrential rains.  We followed the road up a mountain right into the heart of a violent storm.  The road was a mini river.  There were boulders scattered over the road that had been washed down from the side of the mountain.  I could barely see where I was going.  Lightning was striking all around us.  We were so high that we could see lightning below us.  At one point, through the sheets of rain, my headlights illuminated some rocks crashing onto the road right in front of me.  I had a moment where I wondered if that was all, or if the whole mountain was about to come crashing down.

When we gassed up, a local offered to drive us to a nearby motorcycle hotel.  You would never know it was there unless you knew where to go, as our helper did.  Good for him.  When we ordered room service that night, with our motorcycles parked discreetly in the closed garage under our room, we were amused to find Viagra on the menu.  The cost was 150 pesos, or about US$13. 

The next day I put a new Pirelli MT60 rear tire on my bike.  The stock tire made it over 10,000 kms (I stopped to take a picture when the odometre rolled over to 10,000.0.  We happened to be in a particularly scenic spot too).  I wonder where I´ll be when it hits 20,000?  I also had sheared a bolt on my luggage rack on one of my crashes that I could not dislodge, so I had the guys fix that too.

We left Guadalajara late because of the work done to my bike, so it was dark by the time we hit Camilo so we decided to stop for the night in a hotel.  While checking in, they asked us if we wanted a view.  “A view of what?” I asked.  Why the volcano of course.  This was an exciting development.  In the morning we set out to try and ride our bikes as close as  possible.  The volcano was huge, rising 4330 metres.  It was shooting a plume of ash into the sky.  In 1999 it had erupted sending ash 8 km into the sky.    In 2003, there was an earthquake measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale that killed 25 people and damaged 10,000 homes.  There is a 11 km curfew radius around the volcano.  All the villages in the area are on alert for immediate evacuation.

We found
a road that lead us close, but ended up skirting away.  So we found another road leading through the forest to a small village on the slope of the volcano.  Here the road ended.  Or so it would seem.  We found a dirt track that lead us even closer.  We followed this up the side of the Volcano until it ended, in a great spot for a photo opportunity.  We were well within the 11 km curfew radius.  We would have liked to get even closer, but victory was still ours.

The Pacific
Later that day we arrived on the Pacific coast.  Highay 200, from El Faro to Playa Azul is Mexico´s version of the Big Sur coast highway, winding it´s way along the bluffs with the Pacific crashing into the rocks below.  The road even feels like the California coast highway – is this the turn where the footpegs are gong to grind against the asphalt?  It goes on for hundreds of kilometres, beating it´s northern cousin in that respect.  However, over and over again garbage had been dumped on the side of the road.  I was disappointed that such beautiful scenery could be marred in such a way.  Thus, although the road is amazingly fun to ride, I can´t rank it higher than Big Sur because it is not as pristine.

That night we camped on a secluded beach just off the road.  We went for a moonlight swim, body surfing on the swells of the warm Pacific.  It had been a great day: we had ridden up the side of a volcano and gone for a swim in the pacific all on the same day.

Last night we stayed in Acapulco, and treated ourselves to a hotel room.  Showers are such a luxury when you´ve been camping in the hot and steamy coastal climate.  I´m even having some ladies clean my clothes for me as I write this.  I know it´s not roughing it, but being clean is such a good feeling I couldn´t help myself.

PS – The Bucket Incident
I have been pretty good at finding places to take care of business on the trip so far.  Only once did I have to do it wilderness style.  However, I was having trouble yesterday.  A few of the banos we had stopped at did not meet my standards and I passed on them, thinking I could wait for better conditions.  Unfortunately there came a point a few hours later, after several more failed attempts, when I had to pull over at a food stand on the side of the road and ask the oft repeated question “Donde estan los banos?”  Initially I was told there were no banos aqui.  In the process of asking where the proximo banos were, a communication lapse occurred.  I thought that the woman was asking me if I was headed east, and said “Si”.  Then she nodded, disappeared for a moment, and returned with a bucket full of water.  “Oh God, she doesn´t expect expect me to do business in that bucket does she?” I thought with horror. 

Sadly, I was at the point where I would have done it.  Luckily, the woman then pointed to an outhouse in the distance with doors labelled “damas” and “hombres”.  I understood.  The bucket of water was only to help with the flushing.  For a moment I considered pulling a Borat with the bucket, but decided against it. The bano turned out to be muy limpia and it was actually pleasant experience (the woman had even kindly given me some papel).  When I returned with the bucket, I was able to say ¨gracias – no problemo”, all proud of myself.  I had done better than Sylvester Stallone in Demolition Man, that´s for sure.

I think Ted thought the whole episode was pretty amusing.  He snapped a picture of me carrying the bucket back with a grin on his face.  Maybe I should snap a picture of the wide smile on his face when he emerges from the woods after having disappeared for about ten minutes… 

Day 18 – San Juanito, Mexico

I am pleased to report that we are riding again.  Ted has been recovering nicely, although his shoulder is still in pain.  We left Hermosillo two days ago en route to Copper Canyon along ruta 16.  The ride from Hermosillo east to Yecora has got to be one of the best rides anywhere.  I would even say that it rivals the California coast highway (“the one”).  The mountain scenery is spectacular and the terrain changes from sweltering desert to alpine pine forests.  The road winds right over mountain ranges.  The views are dizzying.  I did not expect such vast stretches of unspoiled wilderness in a country as populated as Mexico.  I was pleasantly surprised.   Best of all, there’s no traffic.  Only hundreds of turns.  The road was designed for motorcycles.

Yesterday we turned onto a rough gravel road to take us south into the Copper Canyon area.  The road had pot holes, loose rocks, boulders, water, hairpin turns, and steep drop offs.  It was a fun ride.  We decided to stop and film a little video clip of Ted tearing his way up a steep twisty section.  Unfortunately he managed to get a nail right through his rear tire.

Our attempts at fixing the tire on the side of the road would have made a humourous video clip in itself if anyone had been filming.  We had to raise the bike to get the rear wheel off.  Our solution was to support the bike over a log spanning a ditch.  With the rear wheel successfully removed, the real drama began.  We could not break the bead on the tire no matter what we did.  Part of the problem is that we didn’t have proper tire irons.  We had given our tire irons to the Kid when he went his own way in Hermosillo, thinking that we could easily replace them.  This turned out not to be the case: despite an afternoon of searching (and miming removing my tire from my motorbike over and over again because I couldn’t figure out the word for “tire iron”), the best I could find were some chisels.  Although I did have a chance to buy a real tire iron from the Kawasaki dealership in Hermosillo, but I turned it down because it wasn’t very good and I thought I could find a better one.  This decision would come back to haunt me.

The chisels proved woefully inadequate when put to the test on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere – which is of course just when you really need things to work.  After sweating and grunting in the sun for awhile, we decided to take the wheel to the next town and have them repair it for us.  On the map it looked like the next town (San Juanito) was about 30 km away.  (It turned out to be more than 60 km away over some of the roughest road I have yet ridden).  We strapped Ted’s tire to my bike and off I went.  We thought the whole thing would take about 3 hours.  (Insert laugh track here).  The road turned out to be horrible.  It was under construction and was a slow, tough ride.

At one point they had put down a layer of loose soil and rocks about a foot deep.  I lost control of my bike and crashed into the ditch, hitting my ankle on a rock in the process.  I would complain more about that, but under the circumstances I don’t think I’d get any sympathy.  It was a struggle to get the bike back up because I couldn’t get any traction in the soft ground and my feet kept slipping.  Finally I got the bike righted.  It would not start.  No matter what I did, I could not even get a whimper.

I sat down on the side of road, wondering what to do.  I was in the middle of nowhere with a non-working bike.  Ted was 30 km behind me with his bike perched over a log, with no food and only about a litre of water.  Just then some construction workers drove up in a truck.  I said the word “moto” and made a sideways gesture across my neck.  The got the idea: my motorcycle was dead.  Soon I had about 5 guys trying to get my bike started.  They took off the side panels and checked the connection on the battery.  I knew it wasn’t the battery because my battery indicator showed full power and you could hear the starter trying.  But I coudn´t communitcate this to the guys with my rudimentary Spanish, so I just let them do their thing.  Eventually they got my bike going by giving her a bump start.  This involved two guys pushing the bike with one guy riding, starting it will in gear and in motion.  I was so relieved when the engine roared to life.

San Juanito turnito turned out to be 60 km away, and the road was horrible the entire way.  Large sections were under construction with gaping holes and piles of gravel.  By the time I finally arrived in San Juanito and found an auto shop, it was already late afternoon.  It turned out that the guys in the autobody shop struggled as much with the tire as Ted and I had.  In the end two guys were jumpíng on it.  Eventually persistence paid off and they repaired the tire.  It was now almost 6:00 PM.  The sun goes down at promptly 7:10 this far south.  I knew I would be riding in the dark.  I drove around looking for food because neither Ted or I had eaten anything that day except for a cereal bar in the morning.  I found a woman cooking whole chickens on a grill and bought two half chickens before setting off on the journey back to Ted.

The ride back was an adventure.  I got caught in a dramatic thunder and lightning storm.  There was torrential rain, and lighting striking right beside the high mountain road.  Soon it was pitch black.  My headlight did not illuminate the road well, and I had trouble seeing the ruts and pot holes in the dark and rain.  Several times my rear wheel slid out on the mud, but somehow I managed to keep the bike rubber side down.  I´m not sure how.  At one point I was sliding sideways down the road.  It was a real adrenaline rush because I knew that there was no coming back from a trip over the cliffs at the side of the road.

Finally I made it back to Ted, who had built a nice fire by the side of the road.  We ate the chicken (delicious), pitched our tents under some pines on the narrow space between the road and the cliff, and called it a day.  This morning we fixed Ted’s tire with the help of a couple of guys who stopped right about when we were discussing how we needed an extra pair of hands to help life the bike.  Ted Simon wrote in “Jupiter’s Travels” (his account of his round the world trip by motorcycle in the early 1970s= that help always comes along.  So far this has been true of our trip as well.  The Mexican people have been so warm and helpful.  Over and over again they gladly give us a hand, and expect nothing in return.

Day 15 – Hermosillo, Mexico (A Scary Crash)

There is no worse feeling than riding around a corner and seeing your friend´s Motorbike lying sideways across the road and your friend lying in the ditch.  I experienced this the day before yesterday in a remote part of northern Mexico after Ted went wide on a curve and hit loose gravel on the side of the road.  The road was narrow and there was no shoulder, and therefore no safety margin.  Hitting loose gravel while trying to lean hard into a curve caused Ted to loose control of the bike which slid out from under him.  He was launched off the bike and sent rolling and skidding down the highway.  I knew that he had been going about 100km/h, and I feared the worst.

I braked hard and rode around Ted´s downed motorcycle.  By the time I had parked my bike off to the side of the road, Ted was sitting up.  My first thought was thank God – he´s alive.  My second thought was relief that he did not appear to have a cervical spine fracture. 

I ran up to him asking him if he was alright.  By now he was standing.  He was able to talk, which was another good sign.  His arm and shoulder were very sore, and he had tingling under his fingernails, but was otherwise uninjured apart from some minor road rash on his right knee.  Later he would realize that his right ankle was tender and would not bear his weight without a lot of pain.  But at the time his main concern was his right shoulder.  He said that he had not hit his head, and his relatively intact helmet was intact apart from scratches.  With his shirt off, there was no external sign of injury other than some redness around his right shoulder joint.  He had a relatively full range of motion of his shoulder joint, although any movement was extremely painful.  He was not completely coherent, but then who would be after such a shocking crash.  For a moment he was light headed and had to quickly sit down.

Almost instantly a driver stopped to offer help.  This was lucky because the road we were on had been practically devoid of other vehicles.  In another stroke of good fortune, the driver (named Alan) spoke fluent english (which was rare in this part of Mexico).  I told Alan that Ted needed an ambulance ride to the nearest hospital to get an X-Ray of his shoulder.  He informed us that the nearest hospital was in Hermosillo, which was a 2 hour drive back the way we had come.  There was no wireless network coverage where we were.  Alan offered to drive back to the nearest town, about 50 km away, and phone for an ambulance.  This was a generous offer, especially considering that the town was in the opposite direction from the way he had been travelling.

I thought it would be better to get Ted moving towards a hospital as fast as possible instead of waiting in the middle of nowhere with no cell phone coverage.  I asked Alan if could give Ted a ride to the nearest town, and he immediately agreed.  Tom and I picked Ted´s damaged bike up and moved it to the side of the road.  We unloaded all of Ted´s gear into the back of Alan´s car.  Alan set off for the town at high speed and Tom and I followed on our motorcycles.

When we got to the town, Alan had discovered that there was an ambulance there.  We found the ambulance at the village police station (by station I mean house), but we could not find the driver.  Alan found a little girl who said she knew where the ambulance driver was.  Alan took the girl into his car and drove away in search of the driver.  It was incredibly helpful to have Alan speak to the villagers.  He was the only person there who spoke any English.

Meanwhile, a paramedic appeared to examine Ted.  He briefly examined Ted´s upper limb and shoulder.  He spoke no English, but we were still able to communicate what happened and where the pain was.   He soon became more interested in our bikes and the story of our trip. 

I wanted to get Ted into the ambulance and on his way to the hospital in Hermosillo.  I was able to communicate this to the paramedic, who I thought could drive the Ambulance.  It turned out that the paramedic was a student and was not allowed to drive the ambulance.  So there was nothing to do but wait for Alan to get back, hopefully with the ambulance driver.

By now a couple of hours had elapsed since the crash.  I was getting impatient, and Ted was in major discomfort (although he refused ibuprofen at the time).  When it became clear that the paramedic student wasn´t going to do anything more, I immobilized Ted´s arm using a t-shirt folded up over his arm and safety pins to hold it in place wilderness medicine style.

Finally Alan returned with the Ambulance driver.  Still, nothing was happening.  It turned out that they were looking for the keys!  Finally the ambulance had both a driver and a set of keys.  I followed the ambulance to Hermosillo while Tom stayed behind to try and get a ride back to Ted´s bike to see if he could get it running.

I followed the ambulance to the General Hospital in Hermosillo.  I parked my bike in the ambulance parking lot.  After finding a spot behind a reception desk where I could store our things, I went to find Ted.  I found him chatting with a first year medical student from the University of Arizona.  She was in Hermosillo doing a summer elective.  Ted needed me to take a form to the front of the hospital to pay for the X-ray before they would do it.  He wanted me to phone his travel medical insurance company too.  Unfortunately, there was no one working in the booth where you pay for X-rays.  I kept getting told “un momento” from the attendant at the triage counter.  I tried using the phones in the waiting room to call Ted’s insurance company collect.  The operators would speak English after I asked “¿Habla Ingles?” but unfortunately the “line to Canada” was not working and I could not get through.  I debated using my cell phone, but at that moment someone finally someone appeared in the booth.  The cost of the X-ray was $10.  A cell phone call would have been a lot more.

I returned with the stamped form so that Ted could get his X-ray.  Apart from having to pay for services up front, the Mexican system is actually pretty efficient.  It wasn´t long before a doctor came by with Ted´s X-Ray and told him there was nothing wrong with his shoulder.  He wrote a prescription for an immobilizer (sling) and painkillers.  I went outside to the pharmacy to get the sling and drugs, and brought them back inside the hospital so that the nurses could put it on.  Putting on the sling turned out to be quite a gong show.  Even with two of people working on it, it still took an amazingly long time.  Ted was told he´d have to wear the sling for the next three weeks.  The drugs and sling cost $62.  There was also a $10 doctor consultation fee that we had to pay before leaving.

It was now after 9 PM.  The crash had happened around 3:30 PM.  We needed a place to stay for the night.  We had spent the previous night in a motel just outside of Nogales in which each room had its´ own parking spot that could be closed off with a garage door.  This was perfect for our motorcycles.

I asked the staff if there was a similar style of motel nearby.  This got a lot of chuckles.  It turns out that the motels with the garages are “love motels” where you pay for a few hours at a time.  At least it makes sense why they phoned us at 5:00 AM the previous night – they were letting us know that our time was up.  And here we thought they were extracting extra money from us when they charged us an extra $10 in the morning.  Even though we left at 8:30 AM, we had still missed our “check out” time of 5:00 AM.

An ambulance driver overheard the hospital staff giving us directions to another such “love motel” (between chuckles) and intervened.  He spoke no English, but he offered to drive Ted, free of charge, to motel that was a bit more upscale (yet still borracho).  So Ted both arrived at and left the hospital in an ambulance.

Just as I was getting ready to follow an ambulance for the second time that, day Tom phoned.  He wanted to know where we were.  I couldn´t really tell him anything more than I was following an ambulance to some unknown hotel, although I thought it was near the airport.  It turned out that the “love motel” had been near the airport, but the motel the ambulance driver chose was on the opposite side of the city.

Tom phoned back later after we had arrived.  I gave him pretty bad directions because I didn´t really know where we were myself.  I knew the names of the streets that formed the intersection outside the motel (San Sebastian).  Tom ended up coming across one of the streets by chance and stumbling across the motel.

The good news was that Tom was riding Ted´s bike.  It´s amazing that Ted walked away from the crash.  It´s also amazing that his bike could actually be ridden.  Tom had found a ride back out to Ted´s bike, and it had started.  He rode it back to the village where the ambulance was.  He had had to store his own bike in the village overnight.  The Sheriff agreed to let him store it inside the police station.  He had to ride it up some steps and around some corners, but the Kid did good.

I am grateful that Ted is alive and not seriously hurt.  I´m not sure how often you can crash your motorcycle going >100km/h and walk away.  We were extremely fortunate.  Ted´s riding gear almost certainly saved him from more serious injury.  His armoured jacket only tore in a couple of places and stayed nicely between him and the pavement throughout the entire crash.  His gloves protected his hands.  His lower body was well protected by the skid-resistant riding jeans he had fortuitiously bought a few days before in Tucson.  His boots kept his ankles from directly contacting the pavement.  His helmet ensured that he still has the same face he´s always had.

Ted´s bike will need some work (the left mirror was broken, the front fairing was damaged, the front fender was scratched & twisted, the odometer was crushed, etc.) but all these things can be fixed.  A spinal cord or a brachial plexus would have been a much taller order.

When the crash happened, we had been on our way to Copper Canyon, which is in a remote area of Mexico’s northern highlands to the southeast of Hermosillo.  It was an incredibly hot day (>40 degrees C), and we were looking forward to getting into the mountains and into some cooler air. 

We had been told by a fellow adventure motorcycler, Mike (from Calgary riding a KLR650) that Copper Canyon absolutely cannot be missed on any trip through Mexico.  Apparently it puts the Grand Canyon to shame, and there are no tourists because it´s in such a remote area.  We had met Mike near the Grand Canyon.  He was on his way back north after a trip through Mexico (he had asked his Mexican girlfriend to marry him, and she had said no ).  On a previous trip Mike had ridden his KLR650 all the way to Tierra Del Fuego, which is at the very southern tip of Argentina.

Yesterday afternoon, Tom set out for Copper Canyon and ultimately Guatemala city on his own.  He has to be in Guatemala city by the afternoon of June 22 to catch his flight and ship his motorcycle back to London.  I wish the Kid luck.  He´s a stubborn tosser at times, but a damn good kid and he will be missed.  It will certainly be an adventure to travel 4000 km through Mexico and Guatemala alone.

Ted and I are still in Hermosillo.  We will stay here as long as it takes to fix Ted´s bike (as much as we can with no place to buy parts) and for him to recuperate.


Day 11 – Tucson Arizona

We’ve spent the last three days in Arizona.  First we entered the Navajo nation and spent a day riding the bikes through monument valley.  I had no idea how spectacular it would be.  Monument valley is a highlight of the trip so far.  There is a 17 mile dirt road that is perfect to off-road bikes that winds through the rock formations.  We had a blast tearing up the dirt in a surreal landscape that could just as easily be Mars.

Just off the track, there was a ledge on which a skilled rider might be able to perch his bike for a photo opportunity.  Ted expertly took his bike up onto the ledge, posed for a picture that could be on the cover of Canadian Biker when we get back, and then zoomed down the other side.  After my experience in Kansas where I ditched my bike and caused some minor damage, I did not want to take any unnecessary chances so I elected not to try to get my bike up there.  I had this awful image of the bike tumbling over the other side of the cliff.  That would be a sure fire way of ending the trip prematurely.

On the other hand, Tom of course wanted to get his bike up onto the ledge.  He had already dropped his bike when he first scoped out the ledge (he fell sideways trying to back down from the ridge).  I think that this may have triggered the stubborn switch in him (although what I call being stubborn he calls determination).  He had to get his bike up there.  He couldn’t allow himself to be defeated.  He took off his panniers and gave it a go.  I just happened to have the video camera out, so I hit the record button.  We now have some great footage of the Kid attempting to manoeuvre his bike up a rise and onto the precariously narrow ledge.  Too bad he tried to put his foot down to stabilize the bike.  What he didn’t account for was that there was no ground to the left because the bike was already up on the ledge.  The end result was that the bike toppled hard off the ledge and the Kid had to jump clear. 

Immediately he wanted to try it again, this time taking off the duffel bag as well to further lighten the bike.  I think he was willing to keep trying until he destroyed his bike or hurt himself.  Stubborn tosser.  Fortunately he was successful on his second attempt.  Unfortunately the battery died just then, so the only footage we have is the clip of him crashing.  Oh well, that’s the more entertaining footage anyway.  Luckily the Odyssey wasn’t seriously damaged.  Right after the crash, the throttle was sticking and the brake light was permanently on.  However, this was easily fixed.  The only permanent damage was some new scratches on the front fender.

The day after Monument Valley, we made for the Grand Canyon.  It was impressive but much more touristy than Monument Valley.  From the Grand Canyon we headed south over a mountain range to Flagstaff, Arizona.  We were intending to find a campground somewhere along the highway, but to no avail.  We ended up setting up camp at the entrance to the visitor centre at Meteor Crater, in pitch darkness as per usual.

The next day we checked out the crater and made acquaintances with a Crater Nut called Johnny.  We first met him when he came to our “campsite” first thing in the morning to warn us not to pick up meteor rocks because he saw us digging.  We actually hadn’t been looking for rocks – we had been burying our melon skins from the morning’s breakfast.  We didn’t correct him.  At first we thought Johny was drunk on authority, doing patrols in his Meteor Crater uniform and making reports on his walkie talkie.  Later, when he told us stories about Meteor Crater for a half hour non-stop, we realized that he was just a Meteor Crater geek.   It turns out that some rich fool (Baringer) spent his fortune back in the early 1900s sinking mine shafts looking for the iron that should have been somewhere in the crater from the meteor.  In the end no large chunk of iron was ever found, and Baringer died broke while trying to get yet more investors to finance his search for the meteor.

From Meteor Crater, we went south on a “Primitive Road”.  It was a good feeling to know that the bikes could take us where most tourists could never go.  You’d need a 4×4 or an off-road bike to even attempt the road we were on.  Eventually we came out onto blacktop again, and headed for Phoenix.  We wanted to do change the oil on our bikes and buy some spare parts (chains, headlight bulbs, and oil plug washers).  We found a Kawasaki dealership in Mesa, just outside of Phoenix.  They guys initially were happy to help us – giving us an oil pan and a filter right away.  But their boss must not have liked the look of us, or saw that one of us was actually on a Suzuki and not a Kawasaki, or was just a clown and I’m pretty sure he told the guys not to help us because they suddenly needed the oil pan back “for a long time”.  We ended up buying an oil pan at WalMart.  After lubing up the chains and changing the oil, I guess we did make a bit of a mess.  But still, I wasn’t impressed that they wouldn’t help us out.  Too bad we weren’t filming when I changed my oil.  It was quite the gong-show.  I think I got more oil on the ground  than into my bike.

We’re now in Tucson buying some last minute supplies.  We intend to cross into Mexico later today.

I’ve managed to find a fast enough internet connection to upload a few pictures.  Check them out at

Day 7 – New Mexico

I am in a dusty town called Gallup in the west of New
Mexico camping in a KOA. This is only the second
night of the entire trip that we’ve paid for camping.
And yes, it’s only the second shower we’ve had since
leaving Canada. After 728 km in the saddle today, the
hot water sure was a luxury.

We’ve been staying mostly in public parks. We stayed
in a park along lakeshore drive in Chicago. Despite
the drug deals going on in a nearby parking lot, it
was a great location with a fantastic view of the
Chrysler building and the Sears tower. The next night
we stayed in a public park in St. Louis.

Last night we pitched our tents in a public park in
Amarillo, Texas. The night before that we camped in a
playground on the side of the road in Davenport
Oklahoma, literally within a stone’s through of route
66. There’s story behind how we ended up camping in a

Our first attempt at free camping that night was
thwarted. We had spent most of the day on rough
gravel roads in the middle of nowhere in Kansas
because we had drifted too far north of route 66
(which can be hard to find). We were all exhausted
from our efforts of keeping rubber side down on the
loose rocks and deep ruts.

Some of us were more successful at this than others.
I went wide on a sharp corner and lost traction. The
bike went over and ended up facing backwards in the
ditch. Luckily I was going slow and was not hurt.
Rosa was not so lucky. She suffered some damage to
the rear rack (which was bent upward), the pannier
rack was benton the left side, and the left turn
signal was bent downwards. Most of the this we fixed
ont he side of the road, but there are still signs of

Anyway, When we finally reached Oklahoma, we were all
exhausted. However, we couldn’t stop and camp because
we were in the middle of a large Indian reservation
and did not want trespass on first nation territory.
By the time we were found our way off the reserve, it
was getting late and we were running out of daylight.
We left the highway, driving on a narrow gravel road
through the woods in search of a suitable camping

We passed by some questionable characters sitting on
living room furniture strewn outside on the grass.
They were staring blankly at us as we rode by. Who
sits on living room furniture outside? I guess if you
don’t have a TV, you might wait on your lawn all day
hoping somebody will drive down the dirt road in front
of your place.

I pulled up beside Ted and told him I wanted to turn
around because the “yokels” were “giving me the
creeps” (my exact words). We were in the middle of
nowhere. No one would ever find us if we were to go
missing somewhere in rural Oklahoma. Ted kind of
grinned, surely thinking I was being paranoid.

That is until a couple of the yokels jumped into a
jeep and chased us down. Ted pulled his bike over to
talk to the them. Meanwhile Tom and I rode quickly
ahead looking for a decent place to turn the bikes
around. It turned out the jeep was driven by a
stone-faced woman (who didn’t say a word). The guy in
the passenger seat was wielding a riffle. His right
hand was bandaged. It may have been a good thing that
his trigger finger was wrapped up.

Apparently the guy knew some folks who knew some folks
who owned the land we were on. It soon became clear
that we were not welcome because these other squatters
had found the place first. We were only to happy to
leave that enclave in our dust. By the time we found
our way back to the Mother Road (route 66), it was
pitch black. Setting up camp in a random playground
seemed a much better idea than plunging blindly down
some unmarked back road again.