. We have booked 2 nights in a swiss style hotel in Costa Rica as something to look forward to. From Oaxaca next stop was San Cristobal De Las Casas - our last night in Mexico and we enter Chiapas province once the home of the Zapatista rebels. A great hotel and treated ourselves to a meal in their restaurant. Although both of us are still feeling a bit dodgy the food was great - all local stuff introduced by the incredibly helpful staff. Couldn't understand much of what they were saying but it sounded (and tasted) superb. Also managed to get the hotel to print off our South and Central American insurance policies which have just arrived in the nick of time.
The riding days to be honest are starting to tire now - we really need to be knocking the mileages back so have agreed on sub 200 if possible. A short hop to the Guatemalan border. Exit from Mexico easy peasy and hopefully will see our $444 deposit back ! I shall check my credit card statement with interest. Entry to Guatemala also easy and included a decontamination spray of the wheels and tyres. No hassle, not ripped off and no fixers bothering you. Even the money changers just stood quietly nearby ready to leap into action. Everyone polite and helpful. All this is going on in a street that on the Guatemalan side is bustling with people, loud colours and even louder loud speaker systems. As we ride off it's clear we're in a poorer country - shacks by the road, donkeys pulling stuff along and rubbish everywhere. The driving standards also have taken a hit - homicidal overtakes and mad swerving to avoid potholes are all the rage. Prime offenders are the chicken buses (those brightly painted ex US school buses) who are on the limits round every bend and pull some crazy overtakes just to pull in 100yds later at a stop. Progress is slow due to the horrendous road surface too although just when we are fearing another ride in the dark a really well surfaced, super bendy and traffic free dual carriageway appears
! Some of the best riding of the trip so far although the mantra is always 'drive to arrive'. The first bit though has to rank as the most dangerous ride I've done - and that includes my first lap of the Nurburgring when I had no idea which way the 160 bends went ! We then manage to get lost due to the absence of frequent and logical road signs that we're so used to so end up following a trail of directions from locals to Antigua Guatemala before one girl replies 'well you're in it' - in Spanish - what a relief !
The town seems to be bit of a happening location with gap year and middle aged hippy types and we also get invited to park our bikes in the restaurant at the hotel. They wouldn't fit so had to go by reception but that fulfills a long held ambition of mine ! Next morning we're both feeling rough but have the keep moving feeling rather than staying put. Not sure of my outlook for the day I pop an Immodium and hope for the best ! We are now a GPS free zone so rely on maps and a look on google maps before setting off. Our first obstacle is taking an exit from the Guatemala City perifico. Looked easy - it wasn't. We ended up lost in the back streets in rush hour (sound familiar?) and asking all and sundry for directions - and trying to understand their replies. Can't help but notice a guard armed with a pump action shotgun outside each cash handling business. I don't just mean banks - normal shops too
. Eventually after a close inspection of the Guatemala City University campus a helpful driver offers to lead us to the road we need which is the equivalent of the M40. I therefore find myself in hot pursuit of a silver Uno for 10 minutes before he veers off for his McDonalds. Again we're concerned because we seem to have back tracked but we are on a big road. A passing driver confirms 'CA9?' - 'Si'. 'Norte?'. 'Si, Si'. Excellent - Uno man was right. Yet another border crossing (quick, polite, straight forward) and a 6 mile ride to Copan Ruinas which kind of is what it says. Dodgiest hotel yet with no hot water, power cuts and extreme wiring / plumbing combos which always go down well. Didn't bother with 'Twisted Tanya's' bar who's from the UK but instead go for Jim's pizza which was superb. Also locate the farmacia and stock up on the local version of Immodium ! We're both becoming experts on food safety - sealed bottles, fizzy water, no fruit or ice in drinks that kind of thing. Pizza also seems a safe bet - at least you know it's all heated through properly.
From Copan having taken pity on the hordes of starving local dogs it was supposed to be a highly detailed plan put into action with military precision. First bit went ok - negotiating all the unsigned roads to San Pedro de Sula (highest murder rate in the world) before joining the Honduras M1 to Comayagua. Were there signs that you were at the M1 junction - nope
. Were there signs to Comayagua - nope ! We ended up heading on towards Tegucigalpa, the Honduras capital, whose traffic is notoriously chaotic. So bad in fact that with the lack of signs we had basically written off a day to negotiate it intending to get to our preborder stop of Danli 50 miles later. As it turned out we were now a day early - and within 5 minutes of entering the city saw signs for our route out the other side. Result ! Pulled into Danli and after an incident where JB dropped the bike on gravel (no damage - took 4 bystanders to help lift it) found a hotel in the centre of town. In Honduras you have to go 200 miles between reasonable hotels. Danli - a town of no particular note at all had several. So, rather than the anticipated flea pit we ended up with the largest hotel room known to mankind - basic but totally up to western standards - double result ! An ideal base to recharge before the Nicaraguan border.
Ever since Tucson Nicaragua and beyond has felt like the promised land - lots of hotels to choose from so our itinerary can be more flexible, no crime worries, BMW Motorrad dealers and hopefully sign posts ! I'm not really a hardened traveller so the thought of what to do if we'd crashed or broken down in the last week makes the mind boggle. I have absolutely no idea how we would have got the bikes fixed or back home ! Just getting myself out of there and back home would have taxed me enough I think. So after 10 days we might again be able to relax a bit and enjoy the trip as much as we can. Feeling physically a little better too so all is well.
Starting to feel semi human again so managed to hit the road - a short hop to Oaxaca. Another surprise - like the other places we've found it has an unkempt exterior but head for the Centro Historico and it's all good. Bars, restaurants a good atmosphere and generally a humungous church in the central square. All in all another place I'd happily go to again. JB's now mossie paranoid - checking for updates on lethality maps, listening for them in the room, tucking his trousers into his socks (yes, really) - that kind of thing. I had to break off my Malarone so have restarted again now in time for the hot spot of Honduras. We have three challenging border crossings coming up. Lengthy queues, hassle from hordes of fixers, dodgy practices, thieves and bureaucratic lazy officials are likely to be the order of the day not to mention no way of knowing what you need to do and in a language you don't understand, oh, and did I say, humidity and mossies. Sounds great ! To be honest this is just the doom and gloom you hear on the internet, mostly