Route Map<br>(Click to enlarge)
Route Map
(Click to enlarge)
Belize and Guatemala
Feb 9, 2000 to Feb 13, 2000 - Villhermosa to Texas
By: George Bovard (gbovard@gmail.com)

Feb 9 - Wednesday : Despite the late night I'm up early (7:00). Mark is feeling a little better, but not good enough to ride home. It's probably a good thing. Villahermosa is a big, modern city and we have a better chance of arranging things here than anywhere else along the way. If he started back and had trouble we'd really be screwed. Here Carlos can help store or ship the bike if need be, plus there's an international airport. Time for breakfast while Mark goes back to the clinic. The rest of the boys sleep in. After a great breakfast at the hotel I'm off to check on Mark and hit the Internet Cafe again. This time they X-ray Mark and he does have a bruised kidney and some kind of bladder problem. There are no simple solutions for shipping the bike home and getting it across the border. I call Karen (my wife) and she is more than thrilled to fly down and ride Mark's bike back. This appears to be the best solution, though last minute airfare is rather high. After a few confirmations and a little ticket shopping on the Internet Karen is booked on Continental to leave Omaha at 6:00am tomorrow via Houston and then on Air Mexico to Villahermosa, getting in at 2:50. At 3:45 Mark gets on the same plane to do the same thing in reverse. We spend the rest of the day arranging insurance and an affidavit for Karen to close out Mark's paperwork. The US Embassy says its OK. Notarizing is nice, but not necessary. Mexican officials like stamps so we take a letter into the notary. Several hours later we emerge with an overdone legal document that's registered at the courthouse. Mark's thinks he may have just given Karen power of attorney over his estate but he's not sure.

Beautiful Villhermosa - Tabasco

Feb 10 - Thursday : Villahermosa... Mierda!... and I'm still only in Villhermosa. Every day at the Plaza Independencia I grow softer. Every day the toll collectors and polizia spend in the jungle they grow stronger. Today its mostly a waiting game. Karen's flight is right on time and we're rolling by 4:00pm from the hotel. Too bad Karen couldn't spend a little time here as she'd like all the shops. Sunset finds us very close to "skeeter creek" where we camped just last week. There are fewer skeeters this time. We ate at a different roadside restaurant this time, but I still bought a pineapple for breakfast.
Skeeter Creek, again
(click for larger image)

Feb 11 - Friday : Camping is good. Pina, oatmeal and coffee and we're on the road by 8:00 -- Northbound and down. Jim has get-home-itis and is taking all the expressways instead of the coastal road. I don't mind a little of it but they really screw motorcycles down here. Five bikes so we're paying five times as much as the family trucksters or fruit trucks are paying. Today's receipts (for Karen and myself):

Tolls.............. 760 pesos
Lunch (w/tip)...... 100 pesos
Gas (twice)........ 325 pesos
Dinner (shrimp).... 160 pesos
Hotel in Papantla.. 175 pesos
Coincidentally all of our other expenses = our tolls, and the tolls were all encountered before lunch! For example: One 30 mile stretch cost 115 pesos per bike, car, or camper. The bus in front of me paid the same as I did for EACH BIKE! This sucks. Steve and I were following when we saw an exit for the libre (free) road. We stopped so the others would see us. They stopped just past the exit. We pulled off hoping the others come back. They wouldn't. I don't know what would have happened if we'd broken down. I rode down to where they were, but they were gone. On down the toll road. I had to go back to get Steve and then we played catch up. 10 miles and $6 each later we caught them at the next toll booth. I lead into Veracruz, but I made a wrong turn and only Karen followed me. The others took a left and went North. What they were thinking I'll never know. We got turned around and try to catch up all the way through Veracruz but every time we get them in sight we miss a light. Finally, on the North edge of town we catch them at yet another toll booth. I hit the shorter line hoping to bring this mess to a stop. Karen and I get out first and I decide to stop at the first available restaurant for lunch. I pull over at a place on the right and conspicuously park next to the curb. As I'm sitting down I hear Karen's bike passing a truck as they go by. I can tell the truck has blocked the view of my bike, parked at the restaurant. Well, she can only think that I'm ahead of her, and of course she's going like hell to catch up. I grab my jacket and run out of the restaurant and take off after her but it takes a good 15 minutes at 90-95 to catch her. I get her stopped and we eat lunch and wait for the guys to show up. Well, they never do. We must have waited a good hour and a half. Fortunately we had agreed on a rendezvous point, El Tajín ruins up by Poza Rica. We got there about 5 and waited 'til 6, when the place closed. There's no place to stay here so we set off looking for camping. We spot a sign for a "trayler park" (yes, that's how they spelled it) in Poza Rica but it turns out to be an expensive hotel that allows RVs to park in the lot, no tenting. Papantla had looked interesting when we'd passed passed through so we headed back there. Here I finally figured out that camarónes fritos (fried shrimp) in Mexico is not heavily breaded like in the U.S. They instead lightly bread it and pan fry it and I think its the best way to make them. Five Bucks! We found a 175 peso hotel with parking that looked secure. It was gated, but I don't think they ever locked it. Good thing there are few thieves in Mexico once you get away from the borders and the tourist traps. We had left all our camping gear and soft sided luggage on the bikes and everything was still there in the morning.

Feb 12 - Saturday : I'm up at 6:00 so I grab a coffee across the street while Karen sleeps in. It gives me a chance to catch up on my note taking. We head back to El Tajín when they open at 8:00am in case the boys show up. We park in a conspicuous place and get breakfast. Then we wandered around El Tajín from about 9:00 til noon. Still no guys. We don't know whether to go on, or head back to Veracruz where we last saw them.
Karen and I - El Taj&iacuten Pyramid of the columns - El Taj&iacuten Pyramid of the niches - El Taj&iacuten El Taj&iacuten
Karen & I
Pyramid of
the Colunms
Pyramid of
the Niches
El Tajín
It's warming up nice and we have a great time at El Tajín. I probably took too many pictures, but what the heck - Its Mark's film. We buy a few souvenirs and decide to head North. If someone has broken down I'll probably need the truck to pick them up anyway.
Temple - El Taj&iacuten Pic 2 - El Taj&iacuten Wall painting - El Taj&iacuten Las Ventanas - El Taj&iacuten
Wall Painting
Las Ventanas
(The Windows)
Papantla Fliers
(click to enlarge)
On the way down we had talked about taking an alternate, more mountainous route back. Its longer, but we decide we better be as predictable as possible, hoping to run across the others. This proves to be slow in spots and often hard to pass. I hit one pothole so hard I bent my front rim. That's hard to do with a properly inflated tire, but I was passing at the time, so I couldn't slow, and it was a really deep hole. By dark we have gone less than 300 miles so we push on another 80 to Cuidad Victoria. It's 9:20 before we crash at the Hotel Paradise. It turns out we stopped just short of an RV/Camping park.

Feb 13 - Sunday: Cd. Victoria - We're 200 miles from Matamoras and we get there about noon. We close out our vehicle imports. The clerk never even looks at Karen as he closes out Mark's bike. All that worrying for nothing. I ask if three other Gringos have been through on motorcycles. "No". We decide to get some lunch and do a little shopping, all the while hoping the boys will show. Finally we head up to Harlingen and go first to the airport parking. Well, everything is gone except my truck. There were two notes. We had arranged before that Frank and Dale would take my trailer back since they were going to stay an extra week, but they had changed their plans and come back last night. Jim, Steve, and Jeff also got in late last night. This morning they pried my window open to get the trailer parts and they all took off. In thier haste the others didn't stop to close out their paper work. Supposedly the Mex authorities have some way of charging you with import duty if you don't close out your temporary vehicle import papers, but whether they can really track it that well is doubtful. It's possible they could have trouble next time they go, but that is doubtful, too. Back in Omaha Frank figured out a way to close it out through the new consulate office, so I think he and Dale are OK. We'll find out soon enough since they are headed to Argentina on KLR's - Winter of 2001-2002.

Anyway, Karen and I loaded up and took off. We got home Monday afternoon, right on schedule. All the confusion coming back still bugs me. Two days is a long time to wonder whether someone is broke down, lost, ahead, behind, or if they've just decided to go on without you. Anyway, it was a mostly great trip and I can't wait to go back. Karen liked the little bit she saw and can't wait to go back too. She'd like to have seen the Jungle and the Caribbean coast. Next time!

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