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Preparations

Submitted by on Thursday, 19 February 2009No Comment

 After a failed attempt to go to Mexico (my friend was bitten by a rattle snake) I started thinking about taking a motorcycle trip elsewhere. One day over drinks we talked about Alaska but I couldn’t take four or five weeks off to do it because of my job. With only three weeks of vacation a year it makes it impossible to do anything longer than that.
 In Colorado we talked again about going to Mexico to see the Gulf and maybe go to the skinny part of Mexico and check the Pacific Ocean on the same trip. We were at most six riders and everybody agreed on Mexico.
 I wanted to see Mayan ruins and a friend suggested visiting Copan in Honduras. I went back to the maps and noticed it was feasible to do it within the 16 days allowed. 
 The original idea was to follow the “Ruta Maya”, including Cancun, because a friend wanted to go there. I asked around and people told me it was tight but feasible.  The trip back would be even tighter but if I was a treasure hunter I could see what I wanted.
 After a few months I was set on the “Ruta Maya”.  I did a lot of research on the route there and back, weather, locations, and safety precautions. I found that the best time to travel was from late November until late April. This would be the dry season.
 I printed the information and mailed to my four amigos. It was an overall explanation of the trip, what we were going to see, overall budget, schedule, things to bring, mileage, border crossing and interesting facts surrounding the “Ruta Maya”.
 I saved all my vacation and set a departure date. We were to take off late November and to take advantage of Thanksgiving holidays and the dry weather. Also I didn’t want to be there in late December because that is the high season and local and foreign tourists flood the vacation spots.
 I realized that the trip was going to about 5000 miles and doing that in 16 days very tight. I requested another week early enough in the year to have at least 21 days to do it properly.
Throughout the year I learned how to do basic maintenance on the bike: fluid changes, brakes, changing tires, valve adjusting, and fuel filter. I also learned how to do upgrades including driving lights, horn, fuse block, sump guard and more.
 I read as much as I could in order to understand the bike. I read other’s failures which immediately turned into paranoia. Is the final drive going to withstand the trip? How about the clutch? Every noise was amplified on my head. Man I should have bought the spare tube….
 I tried to budget the trip as much as I could which also meant I was going to do some camping. I had to buy camping gear, a GPS and a satellite tracker to make it easy on the loved ones and myself. I also bought bike spare parts hoping never to use them.
 The week before the trip I bought four boxes of energy bars for hunger emergencies. I printed local maps and decided to do research on places to stay since the schedule was well defined yet flexible. (This turned out to be a great idea because it made it easier when I stopped in unknown cities).
 The questions that were asked the most by acquaintances: Aren’t you worried about your security? You better take your gun, shotgun and automatic weapons. They are going to kidnap you and chop you in pieces and we know because we have seen it in Rambo, Missing in action III and Fox news. 
 The answers were the same. A calm: mmm, No! Have you seen the US? Random shootings in schools, colleges, malls, highways, etc… Yeah, but this is America and they have the chupacabra! Bah! There are good people and bad people everywhere. I might be naive but to me there are mostly good people everywhere.
Regardless this caused a sense of worry in the back of my head while reading about muggings in Guatemala and Belize. I did buy pepper spray just in case of threat by someone. I even purchased a survival knife to ease the inquiring minds.
 I mad stashes of money everywhere: inside the clothes, shoes and the bike. I prepared a mugger’s wallet in case I had to give it up.  I placed expired credit cards, old pictures, an old driver’s license and a few bucks inside the dummy wallet.
 Where had my year of preparations go? I made last minute buys and organized everything the day before the trip. I decided that I was not going to put anything inside the aluminum bags so I could store my heavy jacket, pants, and boots if needed. I tested this setup on a trial trip I made to New Mexico and it worked out real well.
 On the back seat my tent, small duffel bag with clothes for five days, tank bag for small things including maps, diarrhea medicine, journal, cameras, gloves and on my top box, all the mechanical spares, sleeping bag, rain suit and bike cover.

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