Saturday, December 26, 2009

I am OK

Nope, nothing but torn up gear and a booboo on my knee.

And yes, people pointed and laughed at me. I distinctly heard one guy say "boots and shorts, something" while laughing. Something was probably "dork". Us trend setters never get a break.
Wild at Heart crashbars. I have tested them and they get an A+

Yanked that subframe bolt clean out. I didn't think that was possible. One of the bystanders found the bolt in the road.

Caribou cases take a beating but stay intact (the leaves are from me parking too close to a bush).

The luggage rack.

Footpeg still works

I can't repeat it enough, I HATE the kickstand and centerstand on the F800GS. Both have caused me many problems over the time I've had this bike with its lack of clearance.

Crash Test Dummies Unite!

Crash Test Dummy from Arno Jones on Vimeo.

More to come, but I ain't wasting daylight hours taking the bike apart.

Monday, December 21, 2009


After a lifetime of hustling to work, appointments, meals, etc, it's hard to shake off the efficiency and time-management stuff that so many of us are accustomed to. When I first left the US for south of the border, it was combat mode to get somewhere. Where? I don't know, but I felt I had to be moving. I had/have no place to go and I can take as long as I need to get there. It sounds easy, but our culture is ingrained in us and hard to shake off. A lot harder than you might think. When I first planned this trip there was no way I ever considered staying in one place more than three days. I had a goal of Tierra del Fuego. My paradigm has shifted now though. For example, if I end up staying in Guatemala until my money runs out and make it no further than here, well... so be it. I won't feel like I cheated myself or anything.

When I was planning my trip south, I had many friends, who'd never been out of the country, warn me, "man, those Mexicans will kill you! Are you sure you want to go?" In Mexico I met people who told me that the Guatemalans will cut my throat just as soon as look at me, and probably right away at the border, too! Indeed, I was apprehensive about it because part of me listened. And even locally, people will tell you "those people in the next villiage are a hateful bunch and will probably kill you." It's never worked out like any of that so far. I've had nothing but positive experiences in Mexico and nothing but positive experiences in Guatemala. If anything, the Guatemalans are even more kind, generous and hospitible. So far I have not had a situation where I felt uneasy or even unsafe. Thats not to say there aren't areas where I wouldn't want to be in, that's for sure, but it's like any other city. Tucson is a safe city for example, but if I want to get myself in trouble or even killed, I could get it done in a short drive from my old house. I reckon that applies to any city in the world. All it takes is a little common sense.

So yeah, settling into a city or town for a bit is pretty cool and you definitely feel like you can explore more. Today for example, I was smoking a cigarette outside the school and I saw two women stirring and pouring some kind of liquid between two pots. If I were just blowing through a city or something I may not have taken any time to investigate. Today however, I walked up the them and asked (in my Tarzan Spanish) "Hey, what are you guys doing and what is that?" I learned that it's some kind of drink that consists of pulverized corn, a little milk, some water and some other stuff. Sugar is optional. They offered me a cup after explaining it, and when I asked how much, everybody is telling at me that it's nothing, it's on them, don't worry, etc. You have to laugh. Awesome. I asked if I could take a picture and all of them said of course, but you'll notice the two Mayan's turned their back

But yeah, great, hospitible, friendly, gentle, etc. Actually, one of my favorite pasttimes when I go walking down the street is to see someone who looks especially serious, and as I get close I go "buenos dios!" and watch their face light up as they return the greeting.

Oh, and finally, how I find a spot? Well, it's hit or miss in the beginning. What I did was go straight to El Centro and just rent the first hotel I see. It gets me off the crowded streets and allows me to relax and orient myself. I spend that afternoon walking around looking for hotels. I go in and ask:
  • Do you have hot water?
  • Do you have internet?
  • Do you have a secure place to park my bike?
After that they will offer to show you the rooms. If I like it I say I'll be back the next day. I got lucky here in Xela though because this casa was recommended by athensugadawg. It was in an area I wouldn't have explored. It's super nice here and super cheap.

It's awesome here.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Random Pictures of the Day

It rained hard all night last night and now it is an overcast Sunday.

I decided to take a walk to the town center just to see what's going on and to maybe buy a spatula. It turned out that not much was open today. The city was fairly deserted and quiet.

Even the indigenous get cold and wet.

What?! The little girl is cheating!

Even the birds are chillin' today

I bought one of those hippie bags.

Everyone's got a tarp up this morning.

I wish these were the bikes stateside cops rode

Friday, December 18, 2009

Faces at the Market

Our escape chickenbus. Everything goes. Usually this happens at speed. This guy was lucky we weren't moving.

I didn't have as good a seat for the ride back. We were in snarled traffic for well over an hour. Everybody beeping their airhorns and making no progress. I couldn't figure out why it was taking so long to get out of this little city, especially compared to how long it took to come in. After an hour I realized that we had circled the city first to pick up the maximum number of passengers. It was misery, but at least I had a seat

Bugs Bunny - I'm a long way from Albuquerque!

Yes, Still at the Market at San Francisco de Alto

You name it, it was for sale here.

Yes, this is my Spanish teacher - Nacho Libre!

Lunch time

Cooked on the spot on wood fired stoves. As is typical for the region, there are no chimney's or exhaust of any kind. You do not need to smoke in Guatemala to get a lung full of smoke, no matter where you go.

This time taken with a flash for a better sense of the amount of smoke going on here.

More sardine-packedness:

Next up, the faces.