Big news this week in NPR Ducati is that our intrepid adventure riders Rusty and Jim will be heading for Mexico and points south in a search for the endless road, distant horizons, balmy weather and language exploration (more for Jim than Rusty on this last goal.) For those of you unfamiliar, Rusty is the ‘R’ in NPR Ducati, and lifelong riding enthusiast. Jim is the staff dentist and bonhomme. This is the third trip for Rusty, making him a seasoned south of the border rider. Jim is a neophyte on this tour but will handle the communications gear and ward off any soft palate problems. Challenges are always in abundance on this kind of trip, but it’s important to keep life from becoming staid, so off they go in the wee hours Sunday. They’re suitably equipped with a pair of Multistrada 1200S bikes geared up with accessories from our valued suppliers Ducati Performance, Touratech, Twisted Throttle, Throttlemeister, and Cee Bailey.
Jimmy’s Trip Diary Starts!
Day 5-Near Tampico MX
Just got up. Roosters don’t sleep. Nor make their. Noises just at dawn. Got a long day on the bike today after two regular days and great sight seeing yesterday. Leaving the mts and heading to the coast.
Here are the waypoints so far from Rusty’s magic SPOT device:
15 Jan Lake Charles first stop. Weather reported good! http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=30.24285,-93.1803&ll=30.24285,-93.1803&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1
16 Jan MMmmmmmm. Brownsville TX. (Always reminds me of the movie The last Picture Show.) http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=25.96205,-97.508&ll=25.96205,-97.508&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1 See the border crossing pic in the accompanying gallery.
17 Jan Some more way points from the trip! http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=23.04925,-99.15677&ll=23.04925,-99.15677&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1
19 Jan You can see roughly from a day to day plot of where they’ve been… http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=20.33737,-96.88028&ll=20.33737,-96.88028&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1
24 Jan Talked the guys tonight on the phone, they are having a high time and travel so far has been fun, painless, and expedient. Sounds like the recipe for a great trip! They are just outside Belize and will start venturing off the paved roads tomorrow. To date, the only mishap has been a flat tire from a deep chuckhole on one of the secondary roads. http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=20.19581,-87.43793&ll=20.19581,-87.43793&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1
26 Jan Welcome to Guatemala! http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=16.92872,-89.89349&ll=16.92872,-89.89349&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1 If you’re as ignorant of the Guatemalan department of Peten-my keyboard is apparently even ignorant of accent marks-as I am, here’s a snippet. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flores,_Guatemala
28 Jan Near Coban, Guatemala http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=15.46953,-90.37787&ll=15.46953,-90.37787&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1
30 Jan Still near Coban. Editor refuses to comment on the irony of losing the SPOT device.
2 Feb Honduras Jim has Adventure on top of Aventura
Some notes from Jim’s diary: (around the 28th January)
I don’t have a phone any more. No text messages and no calls. Today will be day 14. Prbably 2 weeks more. We ate in Flores on a huge lake and went to to Tikal Maya ruins. Great day! It is the NY city of ruins. Only place comparable is Chinenitza in Mexico.
Trip is going well. No bike problems at all. The Ducatis are star material every where we stop. One flat is all (the problems we have had-I think Rusty hit a whopping pothole-Ed)
We are at about 3200 miles. Perfect weather. High of 100 short while at border crossing Belize into Guatemala 2days ago Hotels are from $45 to 50. Nice places! 3rd country to figure money and I am just paying and not figuring exchange. Usually it is around 85 degrees. ..(Warm money-Ed)
I’ll have to say Rusty is the an ideal traveling companion. At the last border crossing which are a real pain in the rear end Rusty was filling out one of the forms and it asked if he had any dependents or incompetents traveling with him. He wanted to say one, me of course. ..I’m afraid he’s about 90% correct ! No way I could do this great trip without him.
I hate to disagree with everyone’s image of this part of the world it’s safe everywhere we go. Soldiers all over and wave to us at highway check points. Yesterday from Tikal we went by about 6 shoulders (Soldiers) on the side of the road where the speed limit was 40 KPH and we were doing about 110 and they all waved. 110 is still pretty slow in K’s. (It’s a little over 65mph-Ed.)
People are great and very friendly. Rusty is getting anxious to get on the road as always so this is it (for today.) Hope the pictures aren’t overdone-we are headed to Coban, Guatamala. Later Honduras and some other country. (I’m assuming Nicaragua but I could be wrong!-Ed)
I really love what we are doing. I’ll have to admit at times it is pretty tough.
Jimmy and Rusty
And another entry from today 30 January:
Hey, SPOT (device) went missing like my phone. No more reports where we are. We are at Copan, Honduras. (Best I can do for you is look at it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honduras and then go to Copan with the accent, sorry-Ed.) Went to Cueva Chicoy (Guatemala-Ed) about 25 miles from Coban. Guat when we left this morning (I’m pretty sure he means great-Ed). It is the Maya Holy place. Cleanse your soul. Pretty special. Only problem is it it’s rained for several days and rode 2miles in mud and holes. Climbed 1 mile in slippery goo to reach the entrance of the cave to climb down to the 200 below surface bottom. It was scary. Slip and could need all the Maya Gods to get what’s left out. But great experience. Solitude and spent time reflecting. Burned each a candle as is the custom. Candle wax literally cornered a real big bolder at the bottom. Our motorcycle pants are very muddy as slid on fanny toward the bottom. Tough ride to Copal (http://www.coloresdelpueblo.org/FolkArt/Copal.htm Jimmy’s getting mystic! Or maybe a typo-Ed) and tough customs and immigration to get into Honduras. We are here and really tired. I am going to make a voice message in the future as typing on the iPad frankly sucks.
Jimmy and Rusty
Longest Note yet: (Actually 2 Feb)
Friday. February.3, I think
I am writing this more for my ability to look back and reflect as to pass it on but——-
Late yesterday trying to get from Guatemala to Mexico border before dark I hit a vicious hole. About pulled handle bars from my hands. Result: 2 flat tires, 2 pretty badly bent rims. Side of road middle of nowhere. Beside bad place in an otherwise terrible road without hope of help. Big trucks flying by me. The saving grace is they had to slow to about 60 cause of the holes ruts etc there but had been patches with sand and the sand flew up all over us. Now it is getting dusk and soon dark. You know what happens after dark. Plus the thought of getting run over didn’t escape my mind.
The first (to pass) was a police vehicle that didn’t even slow. It might have been the one that we passed earlier at above speed limit He might have waved but there was too much dust to tell. Finally a pick up stopped with 3 men in it that worked for a huge fruit consortium.
Very nice people. But he said he couldn’t put the Ducati (now seeming to look bigger and heavier than ever) in his nice truck and I don’t blame him. After much discussion of which I didn’t have a clue of what was being said but I could it was in their heart to help us. They said if we left it on the road overnight that it wouldn’t be there the next morning. My USA insurance no good here. We have Mexico coverage and had to buy insurance in some other country but I don’t think we have it for Guatamala-lesson learned. Actually, lots of lessons learned this trip. Laura says one she has learned is I’ve got to get a job to pay for all the preparation costs before the trip, the cost of the trip, and post trip costs (like new wheels for the Ducati!)
Once again I am going on too long but there are more lessons here. These guys called a friend in the next town where they live to bring his truck to get my bike. Now after dark these fellows come in a small pick up. I told Rusty that it ain’t gonna fit in that truck, he said don’t worry they’ll lay it down. I doubt you can imagine the thoughts of laying it down amd the damage to my once beautiful bike. I’ve laid it down on a mountain road in TN and I expected worse damage from laying it down in that truck.
He parked it in a ditch so it wouldn’t be so far to pick it (the bike) up and we backed the back wheel on. He had a metal frame about chest high on the bed and there was no way it was going to let the front of the bike on. There were about 7 of us standing around in the dark, about 90 degrees, with huge 18 wheelers passing within feet of us scratching our heads. I thought lets push it in the woods and cover it with branches and stuff. We were in the middle of a rubber farm. Looked like scrub useless trees to us. Anyway. The truck guy got a wrench from somewhere (I got my little led flash light from my tank bag for our only light and he unbolted the frame. Some of the guys held up the frame and rest lifted the front of the bike onto the truck and lowered the frame back down. Sorta. Tied it on one side with a piece of rope of suspect strength, put it in gear to hold it in the truck and the nicest young fellow named Emile and I stood in the back (of the truck) with the bike to stabilize it and off to town we went. Bike rode perfectly. Got to the garage and the mechanic wasn’t there (A garage is different here. This one is part of his house) Emile lived directly across the street and he offered to put it in his garage for the might. Got it off and the mechanic comes home, examines the wheels and sorta snorted and shook his head. I didn’t need to know the language to know what he was thinking. The truck guys took us to a hotel, keep in mind this isn’t a vacation destination spot but a good hotel and we sprung for 2 suites for about $30 each. I was exhausted but wondering where we were going to get 2 wheels for this new model Ducati. Answer: probably Italy. Quarterman had already told me a while back to not screw up his big annual vacation trip by getting sick or crashing or dying from advanced age so there was additional pressure. The amazing thing was that he never shook his head like the mechanic or seemed concerned at all; and not put out at any point of this whole ordeal. He said that this is why it is called an Adventura. Another life lesson I’m working on. Laura will testify under oath that I desperately need to.
Emile, who’s about 30 years old, his lovely wife and their beautiful 6 year-old daughter got on their Honda scooter (she drove) and followed us to the hotel to be sure we got checked in ok. He even came up to my suite to tell me the desk lady had given me back incorrect change and would give it back when we came down. For the second time I offered him some money but for the second time he put his hand on his heart and said “From the heart”. I did my best to tell him I accept their help from the heart also. The 6 year-old greeted me with an insistent kiss and hug and left with the same affection. I expect my secret deodorant (the best travel deodorant ever) might have lost some of its strength.
We were going back to the garage at 8 this morning but Emile’s wife was in the dining room. She explained as we had cafe con leche that the mechanic (about 25 and the head shaker that inspired my upmost confidence) got to work at 6 am, and had fixed one wheel and was working on the second. My original thought was he would hit it a few times with a big hammer or maybe heat it and hit it, breaking it or rendering it useless. Of course, we didn’t have much to lose (remember Italy). Rusty went with her on the scooter to their house and the mechanic as he spoke Spanish and he is quite antsy to keep moving and doing something all the time. Leaving me to write this mostly useless (to most readers) discourse. He called on Maria Gloria’s loaned phone saying the mechanic heated the wheel and formed it to the point that you almost can’t tell some gringo hit a deep hole with sharp pavement on exit from the hole and broke his ride. He welded a bead around the bent area and Rusty said you almost couldn’t tell it was bent. Thank you Paul and Vic at NPR Ducati for gritting me (?-Ed) to take the rear wheel removal socket that weighs about the same as the wheel. (Glad it wasn’t a phone and you still have it-Ed.)
I haven’t seen the result yet but I have faith it will work. I can see Drew, Vic and Paul all shaking their heads now. (I’m not sure who Drew is-Ed.)
Here’s the real lesson. I don’t know how many of you are believers or what you believe in but you gotta recognize something in the hearts of these wonderful people and the very unlikely set of circumstances that brought us together last night. It all went as if directed and I know that it was. Everything tied together too perfectly to be just dumb luck. The right people stopped to see what was wrong, took their time to call someone to help transport the bike, stay to load the beast and not give up when it seemed apparent it wasn’t going to work, took us to a mechanic they knew who has the skill to help us, Emile and his family living across from the mechanic, his wife immediately joined the effort to make things work not only for the fixing of the bike but to insure that Rusty and I were properly cared for and comfortable. It was originally a group of people seemingly unconnected and ending in all of Emile’s familia digging deep into their hearts to assist 2 old goat gringos one of which seems not to be able to find his fanny with both hands, me.
God is in their hearts and I struggle with keeping that belief in mine. Things like these strengthen this belief. He has a plan. It seems as if I jump on the bandwagon when I am helped and hang onto the edges when times aren’t as good. I know some of my buddies that read this now are also shaking their heads. As when I go to Nicaragua with mission groups to extract teeth in pretty extreme rural areas and come back full of thankfulness that gradually wears off and I need another fix-this has done it. It doesn’t matter if the wheels get fixed although it would be nice. Meeting these people has strengthened my beliefs and that they have to be the greatest folks in the world. From going to Nicaragua for several years, Mexico, and now this trip with Rusty reaffirms my feelings. I cannot think of anyone who has not smiled and spoken or showed any animosity toward us or America.
I am waiting at the hotel for my amigo Rusty to return with my bike. I hope he takes it on a high speed run before I ride it but I don’t think that is going to happen. For those of you who may think Rusty is a little strange, eccentric, or just plain weird I am not sure I can dispel that, but I can tell you he too has a heart of gold and I am sure just as good and loyal to you as to me, a relatively new buddy.
Here’s a verbatim note I received on 6 Feb:
We are at Oaxaca middle of southern mex we stayed on the pacific coast in 2
different towns puerto Arista, this is the day we left after wheels
repaired and sat nite at puerto angle. Wheels are great, fixed, no problems.
ER are headed to the east coast, perhaps Vera Cruz, if the roads permit
faster travel. Sorry not muCh communication but didn’t have Internet readily
available on the pacific coast. Not much time to communicate.
Go to nprducati.com if want to see pictures of wheels repair. Not much like
porter field tire.
All going well. Starting to work way north toward home. Not sure how many
And Finally, They’re returning home tonight. Please join us in welcoming them home tonight at the Hilltop Grill 2310 West Broad Street Athens, GA 30606-3418. 5.30 pm sharp!
(If you can’t make it tonight, they’ll be regaling us tomorrow at the shop at 11.30 am.)
Hope to see you all tonight or tomorrow!
Here are some pics of the trip so far, the latest pics uppermost:
For those interested, Here’s a slideshow on the trip last year: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qvoDUMjra1Y