Our first border crossing into Central America proper was into Guatemala at El Ceibo. Our day hadn't quite gone to plan when we got lost in Tenosique, going the wrong way down a one way street in front of a police car. Yep, they stopped us, and having found out our crazy travel plans, gave us a police escort out of town to put us on the right road, not a bribe or fine in sight, cheers guys!
The border, not being on the PanAm was pretty straightforward, couldn't quite believe it: all shiny buildings and official looking, maybe these horror stories you hear are just exaggerated tales, fingers crossed for the rest. We cancelled the temporary import for the bike, sorted out our various tourist taxes and cards and we were on our way.
We'd met a French couple on 125s riding round Guatemala, so we joined up and headed to San José, a beautiful little town on Lago Petén Itzá.
Guatemala is gorgeous - tree covered hills with a humid mist over everything. It's much poorer in feel, with a lot more shacks, with pigs and chickens everywhere, but everyone waves and smiles and seems genuinely pleased to see some crazy bikers.
Stefan and Charlotte has told us of a short route to Tikal over a "rough" road. By gum, rough wasn't the word for it. Deep ruts, loose rocks, mud and drop number 8, which caught Imogen's elbow a goodun. Of course at the end of the track, there was a series of "tumulos", the speed bumps in Guatemala. Seriously? We'll never understand the fetish in this part of the world for incessant topes building.
Tikal was as amazing as you'd come to expect, the ancient towers rising up out of the jungle and the walks between the groups of temples were simply breathtaking. We had fun wildlife spotting too, with coati, oscilsted turkey, many spider and howler monkeys making a huge racket in the trees and throwing nuts and cones onto unsuspecting heads. We also sat on a jumbo spider whilst having a rest and a snack. Eek. (Don't worry, it was fine and scurried off for a safer spot).
Our next border crossing was into Honduras. We always spend the night a short ride from any border so we can get started nice and early to help sort any potential shenanigans. Yet again, our plan didn't quite pan out as on the road to Entre Rios we got a rear puncture. Sigh. As if by magic, a young lad appeared, motioning for us to follow him. A couple of yards away was a motorbike tyre repair shop. The wheel was off, a new inner tube put in, the offending sliver of metal removed from the rubber and all done and dusted in about 15 mins. Best $8 spent, and that included the inner tube and tips to the boys!
Another worryingly easy border crossing, it took time, but after going from booth to booth, handing over photocopies of documents. We got to the customs guy who was super grumpy. We awaited the vast amount of hoohah and hoop jumping that the look on his face was suggesting, but when he saw the bike and heard of our trip, his face lit up and he was totally transformed. Huzzah. Another win for the PieRats.
Our route took us through San Pedro Sula: "the most dangerous city on earth, from 2012-2015". It was actually rather good fun riding through the chaos, everyone using up every last mm of space to weave in and out. I chatted to some lovely guys in Super Repuestos (looking for a sticker for the bike), dangerous? Not to me! All charming and keen to chat.
Honduras has been glorious - great scenery and super friendly people, all thrilled that some bikers are choosing to explore their country.
More on Honduras and what happened at the Nicaragua border to follow, pics as usual on Facebook under Imogen Burman-Mitchell.