Sunday, May 1, 2011

A Honduras fly-by and Rojo's makeover

Enjoying some Semana Santa vino blanco with fellow rider Joe and his sister Holly in Costa Rica (I'm sure Holly was getting tired of all our moto-talk!)

Back in Leon, Nicaragua for some tourist-time!

Welcome to Honduras!

A Honduras fly-by.

Honduras - 134 km in 1hr 39min.

5 Policia road checks and I was asked to stop at only one.  Nice.

Honduras is such a beautiful country, with such amazing people, such culture and lives.  This is a blatant lie as I truly did nothing more than speed through Honduras on a mission to get back to El Salvador.  “Honduras, I’d like to say I’m sorry, perhaps next time we’ll connect, I‘m sure you have bits of wonderful, but I had people to see and things to do, hence, no time for you… again, lo siento.”

Rojo’s front-end has been acting up for the past 2 weeks, getting worse and worse and particularly jiggly on bumps off-road.  It was something that I couldn’t solve on my own therefore I had to seek out a mechanic.  After discussion with a guy I sourced on ADV Rider, it was thought that I would need to replace the bearings in the front end.  San Salvador was my new mission and the only thing that stood in my way was Honduras and x2 borders.  I guess a few other things stood in my way as well, which included:  Leon.  Chinandega.  Guasaule.  El Thunto.  Choluteca.  San Lorenzo.  Jicaro Galan.  Nacaome.  El Amatillo.  San Carlos.  La Union.  Conchagua.  Intipuca.  El Cuco.  Las Flores.  La Libertad.  Dogs.  Horses.  Chickens.  People.  Policia trucks without brake lights.  Gas stops.  Pee breaks.  Ice cream devouring.  Sweating.   

Honduras migracion y aduana - in the same building!

I almost lost it when I managed to exit Nicaragua and fully enter Honduras in less than 25min tops.  A full border record for me.  Then, making it through 5 Policia check-points in Honduras, stopping at one without problem, 1hr 39min later I was exiting Honduras and re-entering El Salvador.  All I remember on my exit out of Honduras was, stamp, stamp, copy, copy, migracion, aduana and done and done.  I was then riding into El Salvador with no clue how it all happened so fast. 

Re-entering El Salvador <please enter screeeeching to a halt, tires screaming on asphalt ‘sound effect’ HERE>

Entering El Salvador en route south was cake compared to some of my other border experiences.  I assumed it would be a similar, pain-free situation heading back north, but I forgot I am never supposed to assume anything on this trip.  I was stamped into El Salvador at migracion in about 30 min as the line was long.  Customs was where I had my problems.  Once at customs, it was explained to me that I was only allowed to ‘pass-through’ El Salvador and I had less than 24hrs to do so.  The customs agent said it was plenty of time to get to Guatemala as this only took 6-8 hrs from border to border.  I looked at my paperwork and told him this was a mistake as I had 60 days stamped on my importation permit.  He then told me that it was closed when I checked OUT of El Salvador on my way south.  I started thinking and realized while biting my lip and dropping a very loud internal F-bomb that when I hired the border coyote (helper) on my way south, he somehow had my paperwork ’closed’ out of El Salvador as though I wasn’t coming back north.  Again, more F-bombs. 

Patiently waiting for my fate to be determined at the El Salvador customs

I didn’t know what to do.  I had already arranged to meet a fellow ADV rider in San Salvador who arranged a mechanic, and I needed a minimum of 3-5 days in El Salvador.  The customs agent continued to tell me that this was not possible, with no exceptions.  A funny thing happened at this point.  I became relaxed.  It was weird.  I said to him with extreme respect once more that I needed to stay in El Salvador and it was not possible for me to leave in 24hrs.  That was the last thing I said.  He carried on helping other people leaving me to sit there waiting.  I had no where to go.  I was like a lost puppy with no home, clueless about my future.  I couldn’t believe I wasn’t having a hissy-fit and instead was relaxed and calm.  I just sat.    About 30min later, the customs agent proceeded to tell me that he could talk to his jefa (female boss) to see if she could make an exception.  He asked me for copies of everything that he could give her so I hopped on my bike, headed a couple kms to the copy-shop and returned with these papers in hand.  Then, I sat and waited.  And waited.  Within an hour and a half, he came out and passed me my new paperwork stating I had another 60 days in El Salvador.  With patience, puppy-dog eyes and horse-shoes up my butt, I was back into El Salvador after a few hours.  And the great thing with El Salvador customs, no fees, and they have signs up in both English and Spanish stating this.   

Back in El Tunco, El Salvador, this wonderful woman was selling cashews and as she turned to leave, her smartphone rang and she obviously didn't want to miss the call (this was SO funny to see!) 

And Rojo gets a makeover. 

Mario from San Salvador, my new favourite guy.  Upon realizing I needed to find a mechanic, I tried to brainstorm on my own how this was going to pan out.  I went onto ADV Rider where I am also posting a RR (ride report) from this blog.  I have been following a few other reports and on one I found a few posts from a guy named Mario in San Salvador.  I sent Mario a message asking him if he had any suggestions for a good mechanic and a place where I could get some new tires.  Within a few hours, Mario responded and over a few messages he gave me a time and easily accessible meeting place on the outskirts of San Salvador (est. 2 million people).  I must still have good-karma-cards in my back pocket as I couldn’t believe how Mario went above and beyond to help me last Thursday. 

Arriving to Alfredo Jimenez's moto shop in the heart of San Salvador

Mario and Alfredo giving the 'all-good' with a ripped apart BMW GS 1200

Mario met me last Thursday in his diesel Hilux and I followed him into the heart of San Salvador to Alfredo Jimenez’s small moto-shop.  Mario explained to Alfredo what I wanted done which started with just the front-end and some new rubber and we started ’adding’ to the list.  Both Mario and Alfredo recommended a few things and Mario mentioned on the side that Alfredo’s rates were great therefore this was a good place to get these things done.  I passed Alfredo new front/rear brake pads that I was packing and then Mario and I went shopping.  Before this trip, I bought a new drive train for my KLR (chain and front/rear sprockets) and figured I’d change them upon returning home.  I’ve been adjusting my chain-slack frequently, which meant only one thing… new drive train needed before returning to Canada.  I didn‘t want to risk, ‘I could make ‘er‘… then snapping my chain in the middle of Mexico-No-Where, so I made the investment.  I kicked myself for not having the new gear with me, but we managed to pick up what we needed at the San Salvador Kawasaki dealership.  I ended up buying my new tires at another shop Mario had heard of.  What a guy for carting me around San Salvador for the day, at least I was able to buy him beers and lunch and we had to fight for this.   

Mario and I having beers and lunch in San Salvador while Rojo was getting all fixed up

Alfredo Jimenez

One of Alfredo's boys working hard

New drive train - chain and sprockets front/rear

New rubber front/rear and jiggle in the front-end all fixed up
Rojo had a great day in the salon, a good makeover fixing him right up for our return to Canada.

Rojo’s Makeover:

New rubber front/back (more road-oriented tread now on the rear)
Brake pads front/rear (I brought with me from Canada)
Loose front-end fixed up
New drive train (chain, sprockets front/rear)

Alfredo and his boys at the shop were great.  Super efficient and they did a great job with everything.  They had my bike for about 4 hours and when asking Alfredo what I owed him, he said the labour costs were $50... total!  (Back home, it would be tough to find labour at $50/hr).   I then tipped him a bit extra and told him how thankful I was for all of his help. 

I followed Mario back out of San Salvador, had a cold drink with him at the gas stop and then we bid each other farewell.  We both agreed that the next time we meet, we’ll be riding together.  It was such a pleasure to meet Mario and to get to know him for the day.  The world needs more Marios…

More road-oriented rear tire for my trip north - makes me feel like I'm riding a Supermotard!

Just into Guatemala - one of my favourite moments is having a chill and bite to eat in a gas station parking lot

Pizza and beer in Xela, Guatemala.

I sat under the umbrellas on the patio above for a glass of vino and some Xela night shots

Self-portrait pose-down Xela, Guatemala.

Overlooking Parque Centro America, Xela, Guatemala.

Main Cathedral, Xela, Guatemala.

These 2 characters had a rough night in Xela and were sleeping it off
I've been back in Xela, Guatemala for a couple of nights.  I've really enjoyed this city on my way south in addition to now.  Nice to be back to a familiar place with a cool climate in the mountains.  Tomorrow, I’m shooting for San Cristobal de Las Casas, Mexico… up to the ancient Palenque ruins and then I’ll motor up the Gulf of Mexico on the east coast for a while.

Hasta pronto Canada.    


  1. Great story about the Rojo rebuild. Keep travelling safely and I am looking forward to buying you a beer or 3 when you are back friend.

  2. (Dan A) Hey man, as always, another great installment of the Alexander Project. I see you're racking up quite the hit count too...very cool so many people are enjoying your trip. Also, I think its now safe to say, that after all these years, the horseshoes up your arse are not in fact up there, you're just a great guy who makes his good luck through the way you interact with people. You're just a great guy so you get great luck! Anyhow, looking forward to seeing you soon, safe travels man!

  3. Yea BA! I really enjoyed this one. I agree with Dan A, it's more Karma than horseshoes. I look forward to some mini-adventures around the Koots when you get back!! Fired up the bike the other day with no problems!

    "Just pin it"

  4. Thanks SO much for the words you guys, yeah, I guess I'm not a bad guy after all, perhaps it isn't the horseshoes ;)

  5. The world could use more Mario's. Like attracts like BA. Looking forward to your return in the Koots my friend.