Belize and Guatemala
Having successfully negotiated the West side of Mexico (well, mostly Baja) in 1998 the four of us decided it was time to try the East side. Our goal was to trailer the dual-sports down to Brownsville, Texas and ride the coast line through towns like Tampico and Veracruz before heading off across the Yucatan Peninsula to the Carribean at Chetumal. From there we would pass through Belize (formerly British Honduras and the only English speaking country in Central America) before looping through Guatemala and back into Mexico. All four of us had bought large dual-sports just for The 1998 Baja trip: Jeff Bauer of York, Nebraska on his 1998 Kawasaki KLR 650; Steve Dussetschleger of Kansas City, Missouri had recently picked up a new 2000 KLR 650; Mark Castro and myself are from Omaha, Nebraska and have similarly equipped 1997 and 1996 Suzuki DR 650s. Joining us this time, all from Omaha, would be Frank Tabor KLR 650, Dale Thornton KLR 650, and Jim Holley BMW 1000 GS. Most of us have known each other for a long time and most had traveled together in one form or another. Frank and Dale had just done Alaska the previous year. While most of us have been riding for 20 to 30 years, Mark and Dale are relative newcomers to motorcycling, Mark having picked it up just for the Baja trip.
Stop for minor repairs
While all most all of this trip would be done on paved roads the dual-sports were chosen for their ability to zip in and out of traffic and handle the worse of the various kinds of roads we knew wed encounter. All of these bikes are a compromise between comfort, speed, range, luggage capacity and handling. Oh, cost too. Jims BMW was by far the largest, fastest, and most comfortable of the bunch. He could also carry his gear more readily than the rest of us. It is also the most expensive. The KLRs are a great compromise. Priced the lowest, they come stock with a skid plate to protect the motor, a decent rear luggage rack, and an enviable 7 gallon gas tank! The DRs are similar to the KLR but are oil cooled (no radiator), no rack or skid plate, and have a pathetic 3.4 gallon gas tank. The DR handles the offroad stuff a little better with its larger, stronger forks and decent rear shock. Mark and I had replaced our fuel tanks with 5 gallon plastic tanks and we added rear luggage racks and bags from Givi. Still, there is a little more room on a KLR and these accessories make the DR about a thousand bucks more expensive. Needless to say every one of us was sure we had the best bike there.
Most of the concern over luggage capacity stems from my desire to camp as much as possible. When you read travel books about Mexico and Central America almost everyone talks about the abundance of cheap hotels. And theyre right. We found affordable lodging every where we went and campsite were very difficult to find. I still love to camp and prefer to spend my money on other things like food and drink but I can see how it would be so much easier to not have to drag so much gear along. We each carried a tent and sleeping bag but we tried to share other gear like food, water and a few tools and parts. Two of us carried back-packing stoves. Anyway, heres how it went:
1/29/2000 - 2/3/2000 : Getting there, Matamoras Tampico, Veracruz, Villhermosa
2/4/2000 - 2/5/2000 : Chicanna, Belize and Tikal (Guatemala)
2/6/2000 - 2/8/2000 : Back to Belize (City), Dangriga, Mexico
2/9/2000 - 2/13/2000 : From Villahermosa to Texas
Frank Tabor's write-up