Crossing the Border at Las Chinamas from Guatemala to El Salvador

I was feeling a bit better now, still a sore throat, but after 2 weeks in Antigua it was time to cross the border at Las Chinamas into El Salvador.

As I was getting ready to leave, I could feel some anxiety. After 2 weeks I had gotten comfortable in Antigua. My daughter said that for most it takes 2 years to get comfortable in a place. But I guess when you have been traveling for a year, hopping from place to place, 2 weeks is a long time. However, as I started to ride, the anxiety disappeared.

It was a long ride to the border at Las Chinamas from Antigua. I had thought about staying a bit closer but didn’t find anyplace I liked.

Las Chinamas Border Crossing

I spent the night before I left studying the border as I normally do. This relieves any anxiety I may have and helps me recognize where I need to go.

Guatemala El Salvador Border Overview

There were 7 steps to cross the border. The first 2 were on the Guatemalan side of hte border.

Guatemala Las Chinamas Border

Guatemala Border

I rode up to the border and went under the canopy to the middle of the building. I was immediately approached by money changers who I just ignored for the time being. At the middle of the building there are glass doors. Right inside to the right is immigration. They stamped my passport and gave me a small piece of paper that I tucked away so I didn’t lose it.

The 2nd step was to go to Customs to check my motorcycle out. I continued through the glass doors to the other side of the building. The Customs office is to the right at the end of the building. There the customs woman took my passport, drivers license, motorcycle registration and my motorcycle entry permit. After a few minutes she walked with me to my motorcycle, removed the sticker from mGy windshield, and headed back to her office. A few minutes later she handed me the cancelled entry permit and I was done!

All along a money changer had been lurking around me. When I got back to my motorcycle I pulled out the few Guatemalan money I had left and he gave me $10 US in exchange. The currency for El Salvador is US dollars.

El Salvador Las Chinamas Border

The el Salvador side of the border wasn’t quite as easy.

I crossed the bridge and on the other side was flagged down at a small building on the right.

Bridge to El Salvador

mexico-border (9)

Here I would do steps 3 and 6.

After waiting for a bit a man came out and handed me a form to fill out. It was all in Spanish. I figured out most of the stuff but left a lot blank. I then handed the form back to him with my Passport, Drivers License, and motorcycle registration with a copy of each.

After a long time, he came back with everything and checked my VIN. He had completed a new form with all the information I had given him. He kept asking “electronico” but I had no idea what he meant by it. Eventually he just stopped asking ha ha.

Another man came out and I followed him across the street to complete step 4. I didn’t have to do much for that. He sat at his computer and was entering data from my documentation. He asked if I had a copy of my cancelled Guatemalan entry form to which I said no. He made a copy for me. Like the guy before he asked “electronico.” I had no idea what he was asking for. Finally a gentleman showed up and said “e-mail.” AHHHHHHH ok … now I get it. I printed my email on a form, signed a couple of things and I was done with Customs.

Step 5 was Immigration which was pretty easy. It was just down from the Customs office.

Another Motorcyclist

As I was heading back to my motorcycle at the small building by the bridge, A young guy with a big smile came up to me and put out his hand. I was a bit taken aback until he spoke in English and said he was riding too. Turned out he was from Argentina and riding a Chinese bike to Mexico from Argentina.

We exchanged some info about my upcoming borders and road conditions. He suggeted I do the 2 borders in Honduras on the same day as they were a pain. He said it would make a long day but worth it.

It was pretty cool meeting another biker. I haven’t met as many as I thought I would. When I got back to my bike, sure enough, there was his.


Last Steps

I was almost done crossing the border. I handed the guy at the small building my stamped passport and the form completed at the Customs building. He checked it and said that was it!

I got on my bike and about 25 metres up the road I was stopped. It was hardly worth putting my helmet on. The immigration officer there looked at my passport and took that small piece of paper I received from the Guatemalan Immigration. NOW I was free to go!


I planned on stopping at Ahuachapan for the night where I had booked La Casa de Mamapan hotel. It wasn’t too far from the border.


When I booked it I said I needed secure parking for my motorcycle. The secure parking was the lobby of the hotel!

The problem was getting my motorcycle in there. There were several steps to get through the door.

The people at the hotel made a ramp, but part of the ramp was just a piece of wood the would give way every time I gave some gas to get over it.


Finally, a group a boys who were watching all this, came up and lifted the rear of my motorcycle over the piece of wood and onto the ramp made of a long piece of wood. A little gas and I was through the door and into the lobby.


For the rest of the evening people were coming by and looking at this huge motorcycle in the lobby of the hotel ha ha.

There wasn’t much to see in Achuachapan. I found a Bank of Nova Scotia to get money. And ran across a cool crepe place where I ordered a couple of strawberry smoothies. Then called it a day.

My Route for July 10, 2017


Sick in Antigua

As I left Lanquin I didn’t know I would wind up sick in Antigua for a couple of weeks.

Leaving Lanquin

Riding out of Lanquin I was thinking I should be staying longer. I really liked it here. Of course, the anxiety over making the 11 km trek over dirt roads back to pavement may have influenced that 🙂 The road was certainly doable, after all I did it to get to Lanquin. But at the same time it wasn’t easy in some parts. At least for me.

As I made my way I passed a lot motorcycle commuters on their 125 cc bikes. They zipped along no problem while I lumbered along on my fully loaded 1200 cc bike. I got to one portion that once was cobblestone or maybe just stones. In any case, now the stones were no longer flat but sticking up in all sorts of positions and angles. I was taking it slow. So slow that I stalled my bike. The uneven stones made it such that I couldn’t get stable footing as I put my feet down. Down the bike went.

Getting the bike back up wasn’t too much of a problem. One of the 125 cc bikers stopped to lend me a hand too.

Once up and running again there were no problems. Only magnificent views.

La Sin Ventura Hotel Antigua

Once pack on pavement it was a nice relaxing ride to the La Sin Ventura Hotel in Antigua. I had picked the hotel because it was below my accommodation budget, it had great reviews, and it was right in the center of town.

The room was very small and basic. But it was immaculately clean! There wasn’t even a speck of dust under the bed.

The only issue is that is is located right on top of the Monoloco nightclub which operates 5 nights a week. For the first night it didn’t bother me. I was tired. And as I went to sleep I had a sore throat and could feel the onset of a sinus infection.

Sinus Infection to Fluid in the Lungs

The next day I had full on sinus infection. I only planned on staying in Antigua for 2 nights before heading into El Salvador. That wasn’t going to happen now. I booked another 3 nights at the hotel.

As the days went on my sinus infection migrated into my lungs. This is a problem for me as I am susceptible to pneumonia. I upped my normal meds to combat it and went to the pharmacy to get some amoxicillin.

The 3 nights passed and I still had fluid in my lungs. I booked another 3 nights. Eventually it started to break. In all I spent 2 weeks in Antigua battling it. By the time I eventually left I still had some sinus infection but the fluid was gone from my lungs.

Antigua Routine

Antigua is not a bad place to be sick. It really does have most of the comforts of home. I didn’t have much motivation to do anything but I got into a nice relaxing routine.

At about 9 am I would wake up and head to the & Cafe for coffee. The & had a really nice lounging chair that looked onto the main plaza.


The & Cafe is just to the right in the picture. And my hotel is just a block down the street. Great location.

I would sit there for a few hours with a coffee and later a smoothie, watching people, looking at Facebook, doing research for a project and basically zoning out.

Once in a while though someone would sit next to me and we would strike up a conversation.

By the afternoon it was time for a rest back at the hotel. I would just lay down for a couple hours.

By 5 pm I was thinking about something to eat. My usual place was the Londoner.


The people were friendly, new my name ha ha, and the specials consisted of comfort food like Pork Chops with mashed potatoes, gravy, broccoli and carrots.

One day while I was there this guy with long thick hair down to his shoulder blades, wearing shorts with work boots showed up. He had a deep voice and was loud and boisterous. He knew everyone at the Londoner! Right away I knew who he was.

It was like deja vu! I would see the same guy acting in the same way at the Starbucks I frequented in Cook Street Village in Victoria Canada! What were the odds?

I said to him, “You are a long way from the Cook Street Starbucks.” In his loud deep voice he said “NO WAY!” We talked for a bit and he introduced himself as James.

From that day onwards I would see him at the Londoner. And everyday he would tell people how I was from his home village in Victoria and how shocked he was to see me here in Antigua.

As it turned out, he spends part of the year in Antigua and the other part in Victoria.

Back to my routine …. In the evening I would go for a walk, pick up some snacks from the same girl each night and sometimes pick up a piece of pie to eat in my room.

My hotel room didn’t have WiFi so I would spend the evening watching episodes of Friends I had purchased before leaving for those times there wasn’t WiFi.

Eventually I fell asleep and started the routine again the next day.


I did manage to do some errands one morning. Like getting my bike washed and fill it with gas. I also spent a couple hours wandering around Antigua. That is about all the energy I had.


church 2


My Route on June 23, 2017


My Location from June 24 to July 9, 2017


Riding to Lanquin and Visiting Semuc Champey Guatemala

From Tikal I rode the other half of the loop to Lanquin to see Semuc Champey. Not as easy as I thought! ha ha. Quite the ride. But being in Lanquin and seeing Semuc was a highlight of my trip so far.

The Road to Lanquin

The road to Lanquin seemed pretty direct. Most of it was a major highway and the last part a secondary highway. At least that is what my map said.

Crossed a nice ferry.




And then made a left to continue along the secondary road. For some reason my GPS didn’t want me to go this route. It was good until all of a sudden it turned to gravel with big rocks and washed out portions! Sometimes this happens to roads here and I thought it would end it a bit. A kilometer up the road and it still hadn’t ended.

It was a very difficult road for me. I had done a road similar for a shorter duration when I wasn’t fully loaded. But all the extra weight made the bike hard to handle. I kept the speed up and just followed the bike as it twisted and bucked along the road. I thought I would fall a few times.

As soon as I found a relatively flat spot I had to stop.

I walked up the road a ways to look around a corner to see if the road was going to turn back into pavement. It didn’t. I walked back to my bike debating on whether or not I should continue.


I didn’t relish quitting and heading back though either. When I got back to my bike, I paced around a bit trying to decide what to do.


The only other vehicle I saw was a huge heavy duty truck carrying people. Finally I decided to turn back. It was still 19 km to Lanquin and I couldn’t stand thinking about doing it on this road. There was another way into the town, but that meant 150 kms rather than the 19.

As I got on my bike and attempted to turn it around I fell. The bike landed on top of my ankle. Fortunately, my hard panniers stopped the bike from landing hard on my ankle. But I was still trapped. With my other foot I managed to push my bike up enough to get leg free. I gladly road back.

It was a long way around to enter Lanquin from the other side. I got to a fork in the road to discover it was another 11 km into town on a dirt road. This road was difficult at times, but manageable.

Eventually I made it to the El Retiro Lodge in Lanquin.

El Retiro Lodge

The El Retiro Lodge was more like a hostel. An oasis hostel!








Each night there was a buffet dinner in a communal setting. The food was awesome. Being a hostel, people were a lot more approachable and I met an amazing couple named Samantha and Gregg from Chicago. They were taking a year away to travel the world before settling down somewhere in the world.

The Ride to the Natural Monument Semuc Champey

The main reason for going to Lanquin was to visit the Natural Monument Semuc Champey. I booked transportation to it through the hostel. On to the back of a truck we went for the ride.










We finally arrived. I could have done it on my motorcycle, but then I would be worried about leaving it in the parking lot while I hiked. Plus this truck ride was pretty fun!

Natural Monument Semuc Champey

Samantha, Gregg and I sort of hiked together heading to the main lookout. It was a steep climb and soon they were way ahead. My legs were aching. Exhausted I made it to the lookout.





These were views I had seen many times in blogs I have read. Now I was here! It was a surreal experience. I am now one of them.

I lingered a long time at the lookout. Both to enjoy the view and recover before hiking down to the pools.

By the time I got there, they were fairly crowded. But I still enjoyed walking from one pool to another enjoying the sights.









At the last pool I sat by the side of the pool and got a pedicure from all these fish to were tugging at my feet eating my dead skin ha ha.


It actually felt good after. I couldn’t have used a body massage too though.

Such an awesome day!!!

Staying Longer

I really enjoyed it at the hostel and in Lanquin. So much so I booked another night. I probably should have booked even more.

There wasn’t much in town but I did find a coffee shop for my morning coffee. It was a long walk up hill to get there. After coffee I just about got back to the hostel when I realized I had left my cell phone at the coffee shop. Back up hill I went. When I got there the woman said no … no there was no cell phone there. CRAP! I searched my bag again. Then I turned around and saw her smiling with my cell phone in hand. Pretty funny. She had tricked me. Such friendly people. If not a bit mischievous!

With the extra day Samantha, Gregg and I went tubing down the river in from of our hostel. A lot of fun! Even if the the current was strong. They gave us a beer to drink while tubing, but mine quickly filled with water from the rapids in the river.

One of the other hazards was dodging the trees hanging out over the river. Not weasy to do in fast running water. Samantha hit a tree trunk and was toppled over. Gregg hit a branch and went over. I hit a branch too but stayed on the tube.

For the rest of my extra day I relaxed on the hammock outside my room and went to the river and read.

Yup …. I should have booked more days there. So relaxing. One of the highlights of my trip so far.

My Route for June 20, 2017


My Route for June 21, 2017


My Location for June 22, 2017


Tikal Guatemala Ruins

One of the places I had my eye on to visit for a long time were the ruins of Tikal Guatemala.

UNESCO World Heritage Site

Tikal is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This is what their website says about it:

Tikal National Park is located in Northern Guatemala’s Petén Province within a large forest region often referred to as the Maya Forest, which extends into neighbouring Mexico and Belize. Embedded within the much larger Maya Biosphere Reserve, exceeding two million hectares and contiguous with additional conservation areas, Tikal National Park is one of the few World Heritage properties inscribed according to both natural and cultural criteria for its extraordinary biodiversity and archaeological importance. It comprises 57,600 hectares of wetlands, savannah, tropical broadleaf and palm forests with thousands of architectural and artistic remains of the Mayan civilization from the Preclassic Period (600 B.C.) to the decline and eventual collapse of the urban centre around 900 AD. The diverse ecosystems and habitats harbour a wide spectrum of neotropical fauna and flora. Five cats, including Jaguar and Puma, several species of monkeys and anteaters and more than 300 species of birds are among the notable wildlife. The forests comprise more than 200 tree species and over 2000 higher plants have been recorded across the diverse habitats.

Tikal, a major Pre-Columbian political, economic and military centre, is one of the most important archaeological complexes left by the Maya civilization. An inner urban zone of around 400 hectares contains the principal monumental architecture and monuments which include palaces, temples, ceremonial platforms, small and medium sized residences, ball-game courts, terraces, roads, large and small squares. Many of the existing monuments preserve decorated surfaces, including stone carvings and mural paintings with hieroglyphic inscriptions, which illustrate the dynastic history of the city and its relationships with urban centres as far away as Teotihuacan and Calakmul in Mexico, Copan in Honduras or Caracol in Belize. A wider zone of key archaeological importance, around 1,200 hectares, covers residential areas and historic water reservoirs, today known as “aguadas”. The extensive peripheral zone features more than 25 associated secondary sites, historically serving protective purposes and as check-points for trade routes. The peripheral areas also played a major role for agricultural production for the densely populated centre.

Research has revealed numerous constructions, carved monuments and other evidence bearing witness to highly sophisticated technical, intellectual and artistic achievements that developed from the arrival of the first settlers (800 B.C.) to the last stages of historic occupation around the year 900. Tikal has enhanced our understanding not only of an extraordinary bygone civilisation but also of cultural evolution more broadly. The diversity and quality of architectonical and sculptural ensembles serving ceremonial, administrative and residential functions are exemplified in a number of exceptional places, such as the Great Plaza, the Lost World Complex, the Twin Pyramid Complexes, as well as in ball courts and irrigation structures.

Criterion (i): Tikal National Park is an outstanding example of the art and human genius of the Maya. Its wealth of architectural and artistic expressions also contains important symbolic elements, such as the concept of pyramid-as mountains that define a universe where human beings coexisted with their environment. It is also an exceptional place of cosmological connotations and was considered to have been a “stage” for theatrical representations.

Criterion (iii): Tikal National Park has unique elements that illustrate the historic, mythical and biographic data of the Tikal dynastic sequence. These exceptional records span over 577 years (292 b. C. to 869 a. D.) and register the lives of 33 rulers who reigned over a vast territory of the ancient Maya world. The earliest stone sculpture is Stela 29 dated to the year 292 and the last monument sculptured is Stela 11 dated to the year 869.

Criterion (iv): The archaeological remains at Tikal National Park reflect the cultural evolution of Mayan society from hunter-gathering to farming, with an elaborate religious, artistic and scientific culture. The most representative remains show different stages and degrees of evolution in terms of architectural development related to religious activities and ceremonies. They also exemplify the political, social and economic organization achieved, as expressed by the urban layout its palaces, temples, ceremonial platforms, and residential areas and the wealth of monuments decorated with hieroglyphic inscriptions.

Criterion (ix): The landscape mosaic comprising savannas, lush forests, wetlands and various freshwater systems is part of the Maya Forest, one of the conservation gems of Central America, hosting a rich diversity of flora and fauna as a result of a remarkable evolution of species and ecological communities. The seemingly pristine ecosystems represent an impressive natural recovery after historic conversion and intensive land and resource use during the many centuries as one of the centres of the Mayan civilisation. The ongoing biological and ecological processes are supported and protected by the large scale of the Maya Forest, and particularly its many conservation areas.

Criterion (x): The Petén Region and the Maya Forest are home to an impressive diversity of flora and fauna across its various terrestrial and freshwater habitats. More than 2000 higher plants, including 200 tree species have been inventoried. Palms, epiphytes, orchids and bromeliads abound in the various forest types. The more than 100 mammals include over 60 species of bat, five species of felids – Jaguar, Puma, Ocelot, Margay and Jaguarundi, as well as Mantled Howler Monkey and many endangered species such as Yucatan Spider Monkey and Baird’s Tapir. The more than 330 recorded bird species include the near-threatened Ocellated Turkey, Crested Eagle and Ornate Hawk-Eagle, as well as the vulnerable Great Curassow. Of the more than 100 reptiles the endangered Central American River Turtle, Morelet’s Crocodile and 38 species of snakes stand out. In addition to 25 known amphibian species, there is a noteworthy fish fauna and a great diversity of invertebrates. The property is also known for wild varieties of several important agricultural plants.

Sunrise Tour?

They do have a sunrise tour that starts at 4 am!! I thought about doing it but it is mostly cloudy these days.

I did wake up early though. I heard the rain and went back to sleep until 7 am. ha ha.

Tour in Pictures

The following is my walk around Tikal in pictures.


Tikal tree



A pair of Hollar Monkeys swung by me here but I missed getting a picture of them. Too fast. But throughout my walk you could hear them in the jungle.



















On the walk back home I spotted these animals.



Once out of the park, I was walking across the parking lot and saw I wasn’t the only motorcycle adventurer here.



My Impression

I spent 4 hours walking around the ruins without a guide. Perhaps a guide would have been better, but I am not really into Mayan history. Maybe I would be with a guide ha ha. But they are relatively expensive. So I just read up on Tikal instead.

I am not really much of a ruin person. For me, just being in the jungle and hearing the Hollar Monkeys was just as impressive.

The Tikal ruins were with the trip though.

My Location for June 19, 2017

Screenshot (29)

Riding to Tikal National Park, Guatemala

After three weeks in Guatemala City it was was finally time to ride to Tikal National Park. This was a two day ride.


It seemed a bit weird to be riding again for a few reasons. The last time I had crashed into a pothole. I now had to be concerned about the weather. It pretty much rains everyday now and I hate riding in the rain. And lastly, I was riding into the unknown and it was going to be more rustic than I have been experiencing.

Potholes and Construction

Due to my pothole crash, I was fixated on the road to make sure I didn’t crash into another one. Not only was I dodging and weaving around potholes, I was trying to avoid other vehicles coming into my lane who were doing the exact same thing.

Complicating matters even more was all the construction and repair work. They aren’t too concerned about making the detour routes around them too smooth. Just grate a pathway.

I was starting to get the hang of things though – snake your way around all the vehicles to the front of the line and wait with all the other motorcyclists.

Road Construction

Then when it was time to go, we would all race off.

Mar Marine Yacht Club Rio Dulce

My first stop was the Mar Marine Yacht Club in Rio Dulce where I had reserved a room. It wasn’t my first choice as it was quite a bit over my budget. But all the other cheaper places were sold out. Oh, there were dorms in the odd hostel still available, but I just don’t enjoy staying in a dorm room. Sometimes they are ok, but often not. At least for me.

The room at Mar Marine was very small and not that nice considering the price I was paying. On the other hand, the surroundings were spectacular.

Mar Marine

Mar Marine 2

I spent the afternoon relaxing on a couch at the outdoor bar.

Motorcycle Crash

The next day was my ride to Tikal National Park. It rained for a lot of my ride. Not enough to make it too miserable though.

At one point I stopped under a shelter by a gas station for a drink. As I was standing there, I saw one of those typical 125 CC motorcycles pull out of the gas station. Of course the male rider had a baby and a woman as a passenger. The baby was wrapped up in a blanket and the woman had a skirt on.

There were two layers of payment on the roadway. I guess they just paved over the existing road. So you had to go over a lip. As the motorcyclist did, the motorcycle stalled and toppled over. Everyone ended up on the gravel shoulder. To my amazement, the woman got up right away, checked the baby, and then smiled. Her legs were a bit muddy but that was it. She spent most of the next little while consoling the rider and laughing. They finally got the bike working again and road off.

I often wonder about how many people get injured riding bikes here. Like most countries around the world, they pack a lot of people on a bike and no one wears safety gear.

Tikal National Park

I finally reached the entrance to the Tikal National Park. It cost 150 Q or about $28 Cdn to enter. Once inside it was an amazing ride.

The road was really nice and it was lined by jungle. Sooooooo cool. I passed a lot of warning signs but one for sure caught my attention.

jaguar crossing

I didn’t realize it, but there are jaguars here!

I didn’t see any but did observe some long snouted animal.


Hotel Jaguar Inn

I had decided to stay right in the Tikal National Park rather than outside. I thought it may be nicer to do so, but also the price was cheaper.

After a short ride through the park I arrived at the hotel.

jaguar hotel 2

My room 🙂

jaguar hotel

There wasn’t a lot to do around there except for visiting the ruins, and that was tomorrow’s activity. So I spent my time relaxing at the restaurant.

jaguar restuarant

I did discover why the hotel is cheaper than those outside the park. There is only power for a few hours during the day. And the WiFi is very slow if you get it. It is kind of intermittent. But that was ok. The jungle surroundings made up for it.

My Birthday

Yes, the day I arrived was my birthday. I spent it in Tikal National Park in Guatemala surrounded by jungle. How nice is that?!

I did manage to message with my kids which was nice. My oldest son, Mike, suggested we try and video chat. I couldn’t get him on Skype, but Facetime seemed to work. Well, sort of. It was mostly a slide show rather than a video at my end. And the voices were pretty garbled. But it was still nice to talk to him, his wife Amy, and my two grandkids, Mia and Ben. Well, no really Ben. He doesn’t talk yet. But I think he was giving me a kiss ha ha ha

Ben birthday

With that over it was time to it the bed and fall asleep to the jungle noises 🙂

My Route for June 17, 2017

Guatemala City to Rio Dulce

My Route for June 18, 2017

Rio Dulce to Tikal

TD Canada Trust Debit Card Debacle in Guatemala

Originally, I only planned on staying in Guatemala City for a week while my bike got repaired, but then came my TD Canada Trust debit card debacle.

Mail Arrangements

As you may recall, I sold or gave away everything I own before leaving on my trip. Everything I own is on my motorcycle. Except for a few keepsakes in the smallest storage unit I could find.

My mail is all going to my ex wife’s house. Everyone else in my family is pretty transit at the moment.

Mail from TD Canada Trust

After my bike was repaired I was ready to ride off to Tikal. It was then I got a text from my ex wife saying I had received mail from TD Canada Trust. It was a new debit card. I checked mine and sure enough mine was going to expired in June.

Rather than paying to have it couriered to me I decided to call TD Canada Trust and have them send me a new one to Guatemala. For the next 2 weeks I regretted that decision.

Debit Card Attempt #1

When I ordered my new debit card, TD Canada Trust said to call back in a couple of days for the tracking number for the UPS courier. I did that. I called back a few days later and there wasn’t a tracking number on file. They said to call back again to get it.

A couple days later I called back again and TD Canada Trust said there was no tracking number on file and to call back tomorrow.

This is when I got frustrated and demanded to speak to the supervisor. She gave me the same line and I got a bit heated saying I had no confidence in them and I wanted the tracking number now and I wasn’t going to hang up until I got it.

She put me on hold and 5 minutes later she came back and said there was something wrong and my debit card couldn’t be delivered!!!

If I hadn’t insisted on staying on line until she checked I would be still calling back and waiting for my debit card.

The supervisor took my address again and said she would send it out right away. So now I have to book another week here waiting for this card again.

Debit Card Attempt #2

Considering the debit card debacle with TD Canada Trust I decided to be smart. Yeah right. I texted my ex wife to courier out my debit card. That way if the one from TD Canada Trust didn’t show up again I would have another one coming. One of the two had to arrive.

My ex wife informed me that another debit card form TD Canada Trust had arrived! So she couriered that one out to me at a cost of $106 Cdn!

Three business days later the debit card she sent through Purolator arrived. I was so happy.

I phoned TD Canada Trust to activate it. They said it had to be done through an ATM machine or by making a purchase. I tried to explain that I was in Guatemala and I doubt that would work. This is a country with two credit card systems, one for local cards and one for international cards. Most stores only carry the local system, if one at all. But he insisted I go to an ATM to activate it.

So for the next two hours I went to 9 different banks, hotels, and ATM machines and it wouldn’t work.

I called TD Canada Trust again and this time they informed me that that card had been cancelled and couldn’t be re-opened! WHAT!?!!

Debit Card Attempt #3

I have to admit the guy who took my call at TD Canada Trust and told me that the debit card had been closed was really helpful. He spent a long time with me trying to figure out a way for me to leave satisfied. He attempted to get the debit card sent to me by my ex wife re-opened but couldn’t.

I asked for a tracking number and he checked with 4 supervisors and they said I couldn’t get it for another 2 days. This really frustrated me. I explained how I had been down that road before. But it was hard to get too frustrated because the guy was trying to really help me. In the end I had no choice but wait again for the the second debit card TD Canada Trust was having couriered to me.

A couple of days later the card arrived. I didn’t get too excited until I could activate it. I went to an ATM and it worked!! Finally.

Long Term Traveling

The world is not set up for long term travelers. Travel insurance is set up for vacations. Health insurance is set up for vacations. And things like drivers licenses, credit cards, and debit cards are set up to be renewed at the location you got them. When one is about to expire, you have to fight the system to renew things. We have come along way to becoming a global community, but we have a long way to go yet to make it easy for those of us who are long term travelers.

Champions League Final

Most of my time was spent waiting for my debit card and writing posts. However, I did get out and have a great time watching the Champions League Final.

I saw an ad that Hooters was showing the game. I arrived early to get in line.

Hooters 2

When I got to the front the receptionist said she could put my name on a wait list but everything was reserved. HUH! Well I was sure everyone would show up. Me, along with lots of other people scattered in search of another place to watch the big game.

Luckily there were a few restaurants in the same complex. I hit the first one that had TVs on to the game and managed to get a good seat.



It was a pretty cool experience watching it in a soccer mad country. The place was packed. In fact every restaurant with a TV was packed. Cheers and jeers went out with every goal. Real Madrid easily beat Juventus.

As I walked home after the game, I ran across a few disappointed Juve fans.


Feature Picture

Sorry for the lack of photos in this post. But I LOVE the featured picture. It was drawn by my granddaughter Mia with the help of her father. It is my riding in Guatemala.

Now that I got my bike fixed and received my new debit card to get cash, I am ready to continue my journey.

My Location from June 3 to June 16, 2017


Waiting for my Motorcycle to Heal in Guatemala City

For the next week I waited for my motorcycle to heal in Guatemala City :-).


In the morning I would go to Bavaria Motors to check in to see how my motorcycle was feeling :-). We are working on her the “Dr.” would say.

With that it was off to the Starbucks at the Oakland Mall to work on posts and answer emails.



The Starbucks here had a daily special for 25 Q or about $4.60 Cdn. That consisted of a small coffee and a bagel or a ham and cheese croissant. Considering the prospects of my mechanic bill I was in a saving money mood. Plus I knew that on Saturday I would be at a restaurant to have a few beers and watch the Champion’s League Final. So I was saving for that too.

By late afternoon I would have finished a post and it was time to hit the Oakland Mall.

Oakland Mall

This mall is huge and ultra modern.

oakland mall

oakland mall 3

oakland mall

oakland mall 2

Oakland mall train

I wasn’t expecting this in Guatemala. You know how you have visions of certain countries? Often they are wrong. Like me and Guatemala. Yes there is a lot of poverty here but also lots of modern conveniences too.

The mall also had a big restaurant court for those with money.

oakland mall restaurant court

oakland mall restaurant court 2

And a regular fast food court for those who don’t have lots of money … like me 🙂

So I would hit the Panda Express everyday to get my vegetables and a cheap meal.

panda express


Comfort Hostel

After Panda Express I sometimes would hit the market and then home to the Comfort Hostel. The Comfort Hostel wasn’t really a hostel. I had my own room and washroom. It was basic. But the people were really nice!!! Even if I didn’t always understand them. A couple though spoke English.

The Comfort Hostel was over my budget, but as I found out, Guatemala City is expensive. At least compared to Mexico.

I would spend the evening and night, watching TV, reading, and cleaning up my stuff.

This went on until Friday.

The Motorcycle Bill

On Friday Bavaria Motors emailed and said my motorcycle was ready. I braced myself as I walked there. What would the bill be?

When I arrived my motorcycle was waiting for me. It was beautiful! All cleaned up and repaired.

Now the bill. As you may recall, they originally gave me an estimate of 28,833.48 Q or about $5338 Cdn.

The bill they gave me was for 18,594.25 Q or about $3,442 Cdn! About $2,000 less!!! I was soooo happy. Still a lot, but this fit into my budget. Here was the breakdown:

1) Change of the front rim – 650 Q or about $120 Cdn
2) Replacement of front brake pads – 150 Q or about $28 Cdn
3) Change of my front left turn signal bulb – 50 Q or about $9 Cdn
4) Washing of the motorcycle – 0 Q 🙂
5) Change of the front forks – 800 Q or about $148 Cdn
6) Rim – 6,000 Q or about $1,111 Cdn
7) Rim weights – 9.84 Q or about $2 Cdn
8) Turn signal bulb – 19.26 Q or about $4 Cdn
9) Shock absorber oil – 214.41 Q or about $40 Cdn
10) Shock absorbers – 1,792.50 Q or about $332 Cdn
11) Shock absorber retainers – 329.71 Q or about $61 Cdn
12) New front tire Continental Trail Attack 2 – 1,571.02 Q or about $291 Cdn
13) Shampoo – 1.41 Q or about 25 cents Cdn
14) Support Tubes – 7,006.11 Q or about $1,297 Cdn

They had made a few changes from the estimate to lower the cost. First, they got me a used rim that actually looked pretty good. Second, instead of replacing both forks, they just replaced the bent tubes.

As I rode my bike home I had a big smile on my face. The ride and wind felt wonderful. Plus … I made it! From the side of the road totally discouraged with a broken motorcycle by Lake Atitlan, to riding home on a shiny fixed bike in Guatemala City. I made it! Kind of a confidence builder.

My Location from May 28 to June 2, 2017


Made it to the Mechanic – Bavaria Motors, Guatemala City

I woke up this morning thinking how will I get my motorcycle to Bavaria Motors in Guatemala City from Antigua.

Before my accident I had already booked an appointment there for Monday to repair a leaking fork seal. Now both seals were totally gone, at least one fork tube bent, my tire rim bent, and I had a destroyed tire.

Hotel San Jorge

The staff at the Hotel San Jorge were great during my stay in Antigua. Now I needed them more than ever. I asked them if they could find a truck for me to haul my motorcycle and me to my hotel in Guatemala City.

Within a hour they found someone that would do it for 500 Q, or about $100 Cdn., without an invoice ha ha ha. I really don’t like that because obviously he is trying to avoid taxes. But I didn’t need an invoice and I did need a truck. So I accepted.

Trip to Guatemala City

At noon the guy showed up to pick up my motorcycle.


Off we went.


It isn’t far to Gautemala City from Antigua, only 43 km. Soon we were at my hotel and had unloaded my bike.


Another successful day of getting my motorcycle and me to our next destination. There was just one more trip to get us to Bavaria Motors.

Bavaria Motors

I had specifically chosen my hotel because it was close to Bavaria Motors. So the next day I walked to the Bavaria Motors and explained my new predicament.

They arranged to have a truck come, take me back to my hotel, pick up my motorcycle, and bring us back.

The truck was small. But it made it easy to load my motorcycle 🙂




Back to Bavaria Motors we went.

They have an interesting set up there. The mechanic shop is actually on the second floor and they have a lift that takes the motorcycle up there.



I walked away from the dealership with a sense of relief and a smile. I did it. With the help of lots of people I managed to get my broken motorcycle from the side of the road by Lake Atitlan to the BMW mechanic in Guatemala City!


The Estimate

My smile was short lived though. I walked to Starbucks to celebrate :-). But while there Bavaria Motors sent me the estimate for the repairs – 28,833.48 Q or about $5,340 Cdn!!!! I was in shock! This was A LOT of money! I suppose I could afford it, but it would do serious damage to my budget. But what choice did I have?

The break down was as follows:

1) Change of front rim – 650 Q or $120 Cdn
2) Change of front bars – 500 Q or $93 Cdn
3) Change of front light bulb – 50 Q or $9 Cdn
4) Replace front brake pads – 150 Q or $28 Cdn
5) A new front tire rim which had to be ordered from Germany – 10,000 Q or $1,850
6) CdnBulb 19.26 Q or $4 Cdn
7) Front Shock Absorber 8,099.35 Q or $1,500 Cdn
8) Front Shock Absorber 8,099.35 Q or $1,500 Cdn
9) Front brake pads 1,265.52 Q or $234 Cdn

What to do Now

In this situation I know some would haggle, yell, scream etc. to get the price down.

Others would tell me to take my motorcycle elsewhere. There are a lot of corner mechanics around in Guatemala.

And I did receive the suggestion of flying to the US, finding a BMW motorcycle used part place, buy the parts and fly back to Guatemala with them to save money.

Contrary to what many believe, I don’t believe there is a single right way to respond to this situation. There is only the right way FOR YOU. And I don’t believe in being critical of people who choose the way that is best for them.

My decision may turn out to be a mistake, but it is my mistake. Everyone has their own mistakes to think about rather than criticizing my mistake. If it even is one.

So what did I choose to do?

I stayed with Bavaria Motors because they are use to working on BMW motorcycles and have the parts. Plus they have a good rep among adventure motorcyclists.

For me I like to be nice and develop a relationship with people so that they will want to do the best they can for me. I believe that Bavaria Motors should make a reasonable profit, and that I should receive a reasonable deal.

Sooooo after the initial shock I responded to their email saying it was expensive and did they have a used rim available to put on to lower the price.

The response back was that they would do their best to lower the price.

For the next couple of days I went in to say hello and develop a relationship with them. We’ll see what the final outcome is. Fingers crossed.

My Route for May 28, 2017


My Location for May, 29, 2017

My hotel is where the blue dot is. So close to Bavaria Motors.


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