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18.2. Thu (589) Santa Ana, El Salvador Guatemala

Klick to hear the national anthem of Guatemala
General information about Guatemala.

When exiting El Salvador, the border formalities itself were the most correct that were in Central America. Usually it was wasting time for hours when nothing happened. Into the forms were even marked of which offices to get the needed stamps. Formalities took only half an hour.
At border

In Guatemala City the local people warned me that the downtown is dangerous. Armed robberies even in daytime! The capital city itself didn't seem a nice place. Anyway, in Guatemala City there were the best possibilities to get rid of the tyre problems. My rear tyre was totally gone. 12,000 kms done, only 500 ahead. Soon "the sun would shine through it".

On the road in Guatemala
I rode to Antigua, 35 kms from the capital. That was a discovery. Old-fashioned, small town. The hotel where I stayed, was owned by an ex career diplomat. I was treated like a welcomed guest.

19.2. Fri (590) Antigua, Guatemala

About the town, pictures:
Antigua 1 Antigua 2 Antigua 3 Antigua 4 Antigua 5

In Antigua there was a good MC shop, where it was possible to change the break fluids to my bike. High quality DOT-4! In developing countries lower quality DOT-3 is widely available, DOT-4 is usually almost impossible to find. I ordered also a rear tyre. Somebody left from the shop to the city to buy it for me. Great.

20.2. Sat (591) Antigua Puerto Barrios

A good quality Bridgestone TrailWing rear tyre with changing work cost less than $70. Same type than the original factory-assembled tyre... Excellent tyre and of very inexpensive price :) I was lucky again. Farewell, tyre problems!!!

Towards Tikal, the Maya Indian city ruins!

21.2. Sun (592) Puerto Barrios Flores

Puerto Barrios was just a poor, small town. Although distances are not long, but because of the difficult road conditions, a few hundred kilometres is a good daytrip.

The last 100 kms to Flores was bumpy and dusty gravel road. In Flores was some kind of touristic influence, hotels and restaurants, but quite moderate facilites anyway. Hotels cost generally around 50 Quetzales ($7-8).

22.2. Mon (593) Tikal

The area of nowadays Guatemala is practically full of the Maya indians' ancient temple ruins. There were dozens of them. Tikal is one of the most famous.

The population of Maya indians was about one million inhabitants, but that nation destroyed of some unknown reason around 1200 BC. According to how the temples were situated and how they were built, the Mayas seemed to have an organized system, like a state.

Tikal was a beautiful temple ruins and impressive! In the main square were two big temples, like pyramids. 49 stairs to the first stage. The temples were used for seremonial purposes. Down in the square there were stone carvings.

Tikal 2 Tikal 3 Tikal 4 Tikal 5

The temples were surrounded by a dense, very humid and tropical forest. The ruins were well renovated, the Guatemalans seemed to respect their cultural heritage. But the herds of noisy tourists!

23.2. Tue (594) Guatemala Belize

Klick to hear the national anthem of Belize
General information about Belize.

Flores was some kind of "base" for my Tikal exploration. A good one, as Tikal was just 60 kms from it and paved road between the towns.

From Flores was less than 100 kms to the Belizean border. But on the way (15 kms before the border) there was a sign to another ruins called Yaxha. Interesting! Some 10 kms off the main road...
Yaxha ruins

The ruins were definetely worth to see. Yaxha was a smaller one than Tikal. There was renovation work going on too. A TV group was filming a commercial.

A good restaurant/hotel and a lake were near the ruins. But because Yaxha temple wasn't that big and it was off the main roads, there weren't other tourists.

Crossing the border to Belize. One of the rare countries that demanded a traffic insurance. It cost some $30 U.S. Practically a day's budget to nonsense.

In Belize the people were all black and spoke English! That was a surprise for me. In Belizean dollar smiled Queen Elizabeth II... Another language and culture. People were of different background than in neighbouring countries.

Continuing a tar road to Belize City. After an hour's searching I was convinced that there were only two poor motels in the country. The other was a wooden one, rooms $20-$40 (U.S.), hotel without a safe place for bike and the other $15... It didn't have any carage, so we pushed the bike through the narrow corridors to a patio.

The Belizeans spoke very thick, black English-African accent. They were a bit like Jamaicans or West Africans too.

In the city was not much to do. The coast/beach was dirty too. Living in this country was three times more expensive than in Latin America, but offering practically nothing. In the city was only one some kind of fast food restaurant. Similar kind of hassling happened in the streets in the night than in Senegal. The town and 'country' was a disappointment. Soon away!
On the road.

24.2. Wed (595) Belize Mexico

Klick to hear the national anthem of Mexico
General information about Mexico.

In the morning, bike was pushed back to the street side, off from the patio. All the centimetres were in exact use, as the patio was limited to the river. I didn't want to start "fishing" my bike!

Towards Yucatan Peninsula and Mexico. In the North of Belize the nature was more beautiful: lagoons and sub-tropical forest. In the South Belize there were only swamps.

In the Mexican border I met a young Swiss couple. They were doing a South American tour by DR650's.

The coast of Yucatan was really beautiful: beaches and turquoise water! Touristic areas.

In this day's destination town (F.C. Puerto) I had an accident :( I was riding in a road side very slowly, at some 10 km/h. Then a car passed me (40 km/h) having just one *millimeter's* safety distance!!! He crashed to my bike. Luckily I didn't fall! Then the car driver tried to escape, I got furious!! Finally the driver stopped.

I called the police. The police explained to the driver that "Motorcycle is not a bicycle. It is a vehicle too!"... The car had got two meters long black plastic line (from my bike's sidebag) to the right side. He was evidently guilty to the crash and also he had caused a danger to me.

I insisted him to pay me, mainly because the crash was a danger to my health. I admit, too much of these cases had happened. If he drove that way his car in Europe, he would have been centenced to heavy fines, here this was just a usual thing, nothing.

25.2. Thu (596) Yucatan, Mexico

To the Maya ruins of Tulum would be only 100 kms... First impression was that the Tulum ruins were a really touristic attraction. The temple ruins of Tulum were bigger than Tikal in Guatemala, but Tikal was more like archeological place. Many tourists...

Playa del Carmen and Cancun were expensive places for tourists, not for me...

In the night arrived to Valladolid. On the way was an internet office. Messages to be sent quickly to Europe... I needed some important spare parts for the engine soon.

Valladolid seemed to be similar to Antigua in Guatemala: of colonial style, nice and clean town.

26.2. Fri (597) Valladolid

Visiting Chichen Itza ruins. That one was the "capital city" of the Mayas. In a very impressive city they had lived!! One large pyramid and some smaller temples. And all that was near a tropical beach. The Maya indians had had a paradise.

Pictures about the ruins:
Chichen Itza 1.
Chichen Itza 2.
Chichen Itza 3.

91 stairs to the upper stage in the main temple. Actually this is the 'biggest calendar' I've ever seen: In the four sides there are 91 stairs. 4 times 91 = 364, plus uppermost stair = 365! Every stair represents one day of the year. They had also this way done sun clocks. The Mayas knew a lot of astronomy.

27.2. Sat (598) Valladolid Frontera

Moving towards Texas! Still 2,000 kms to go to the border. On the way, East coast of Mexico, there was a good highway. I cruised 120 km/h. *Suddenly* the steering became weak!!! Lacking of control!!! What!!! Speed had to get slowed down quickly but safely! ... Rear tyre was flat. Spray repair kit didn't work. Inner tube had broken of 3 cm distance, it had exploded. But no problem! I had carried two pairs of inner tubes from Madrid, Spain! Bought them for Africa... 55,000 kms later, highly needed :)

Tyre change in Yucatan, on the road.

Givi top case frame had broken, again... And the last ten thousand kilometres had mostly been just paved roads. Aluminium side bag frame is not reliable.

28.2. Sun (599) Frontera Boca de Ovejas

600 kms to the odometer. Boca de Ovejas was a small, quiet, nice beach village. Palm trees. On the way Veracruz was a beautiful, touristic city. But expensive.

1.3. Mon (600) Boca de Ovejas Manuel

In Mexico there were no highway tolls, but bridge tolls existed. On the biggest bridges one had to pay 20-30 pesos ($2-3).

As it was almost impossible to find synthetic engine oils anywhere, the mineral oils had to be changed every 1500-2000 kms/1000 miles. Practically that meant oil change every three days. But oils were cheap. So, nothing special to tell today :)

2.3. Tue (601) Manuel, Mexico towards Reynosa border station

Very hot day, some 35C heat.
The South-East corner of Mexico seemed to be very dry region. Just a highway and yellow grass. Distances between gas stations were usually 150-200 kms, so it was good to fill the tank on every station.

I wasn't sure, do Finns need a tourist visa for the United States. At least at my last visit in 1990 it was necessary. On the border there were lots of cars, maybe 200, but the Reynosa border site was efficiently arranged. 10 lines, so it went quickly.

Finns wouldn't need visa. Without visa 90 days. Great. The officer guided me to the immigration...

There another officer took my passport and started to make nasty questions. It was like questioning! 'Customer service' really sucked. They could have done their work more professionally.

- "What are you going to do in the States??"
- "How are you financing your trip?"
- etc, maybe 20 questions. Some of them he asked several times. They misunderstood me, they supposed that I was going to work in the USA, without work visa!!

Then my backbag was checked - every item - including notebooks(!!) and I was treated like a criminal. Very shameful situation! Luckily they didn't give me any 1000 dollars fine. They questioned me, marked into their files that before border crossing to USA I'll need a work visa. Then they sent me back to Mexico!

What a nuisance!!!

I moved some 80 kms to Matamoros, where was the American consulate.

3.-12.3. Wed-Fri (601-611) Matamoros, Mexico

Wasting a lot of nerves, energy, time and money!!! Matamoros was a Mexican border city that sucked. A bit dangerous city too. I tried to arrange the work visa problem as soon as possible.

Meanwhile I tried to search for a job using internet. I tried to do get a job/work permit also because of arranging the papers OK for crossing the border.
How naive was I... Getting a work visa is almost impossible - without good contacts.

Many companies do have open jobs announced at their websites. I tried to follow that chance. First I searched from Nokia Telecommunications - company that I had worked for 5 years in Finland. I tried Nokia Mobile Phones too. Both had offices in San Diego, Irving/Dallas and Boston. But those North American recruiters of Nokia didn't care at all about my applications...

Actually I had started applying for a job from Nokia in October 1998, when I was in Chile. That was five months earlier!!! During these months, it didn't work out.

Something good: finally the American consulate gave me a tourist visa, valid for 6 months. Cost $45. Ok!!!!! Continuing of tour was possible again!

I had even been considering of flying over USA to Canada, but that option would have ruined my travel budget! I thought about quitting the tour too (!!!) and returning back Liz to Bolivia... Generally, international flights from Latin America are extremely expensive.

13.3. Sat (612) Mexico USA

General information about United States.

Tour continues! New adventures, with better luck :) :) in North America! Yee-haa!

The next update of the Tour.