Into the hills
After about 3 hours I eventually reached the border, first step was to leave Mexico and make sure I got my deposit back.This would have taken a mere few minutes except Yamaha have placed the vin on these bikes in a difficult to see place, the customs quy wanted to take a photo as proof. Thirty or so minutes of camera, torch, me and two others eventually seemed to get the required proof. After this I had my passport stamped and waved Mexico goodbye. A few KMs of no mans land and then you pull up into a shopping street/market. The bike 'fumigated', money changed, passport stamped in and then customs to import the bike, all this took place on the side of this busy road, all rather interesting but went smoothly. I believe the next few borders may be somewhat different. After eventually being given the all clear I road off and headed to Huehuetenango for the night.
Safe for the night
Along the road there were many police and army check points, more than I had seen in Mexico. I was stopped 4 times, by the third I was suffering sense of humour failure, the guy who stopped me could see I had just been stopped further down the road, '.. three time' I said, showing three fingers, I tried this a couple of times before realising that I was the junior partner in this transaction, I smiled and showed him the papers he wanted to see. Rode on and got stopped again.
Now that's what I call a good road, on route to Antigua
I decided to head to Antigua, a bit of a tourist mecca but worth a look and the oppourtunity to spend a couple of days off the road. I had been feeling under the weather for a day or so and was aware things weren't that solid in the bowel motion area. As soon as I got to Antiqua I hit the first hotel I saw intending to stay for 4 nights, the next part of the journey is going to involve border after border so getting prepared here made sense. After 3-4 days the town worked it's magic and I was restored to health (ish) Antigua is an amazing place, old Spanish colonial capital, ringed by volcanos and great coffee.
Antiqua street, get your bike stuck in here and ..
Coffee houses on the right
Volcano at the end of the road
As always I checked out the bike the day before I intended to leave and found the chain hanging on by a 'thread', literally one link only had one of the two plates left, the other had just broken off. I remembered reading about an 'off road' bike tour and hire place in Antiqua when I was researching the trip last year, I found out where they were and went down. Met Dave (http://catours.co.uk/index.html), great bloke, who tried to persuade his mechanic to pop over, no chance it was party weekend in town. He then told me about another place who might do it there and then. I shot back to the hotel, got my spares ready and then the rainy season hit with a vengance, I couldn't see 10 metres for the rain (the rain was in for the night I was informed). So, I had to wait until the Monday and stay two more nights .... ummm that was OK.
Mechanic on the left, 'I was just walking by and saw you taking a photo' on the right, great place, no hassle
The Moto shop were brilliant, if you turn up they work on your bike, don't book it in. If you are in no hurry they work on your bike in between times. Imagine in the UK, I would have to book in a week ahead. Gave them my spares, chain, sprockets, cush drives and off the guy went, while you stood there and watched. Any communication problems we had were sorted by Google Translate on their desktop, bought some oil and a spare link for the new chain and off I went all done, great job. (tip: it was a big mistake to get the chain rivited for a journey like this, if I had used the link that came with the kit insead, Dave and I could have fixed the chain at his cafe, because it was rivited we needed a 'chain breaker' or grinder to get the chain off. It was at the rivit point on my chain that the link shattered)
With the bike all sorted I left Antiqua and headed to the border with El Salvador, aware that a number of border crossings were coming up in quick succession.