Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Flying Home To California

    Zev and I had booked our flight from Cancun to Los Angeles because I had left my car and van in Southern California and we had to get them back to Mendocino in Northern California. I arranged to drop the Jeep off at the airport so we drove it there, dropped it off and hopped on the plane.
    Wow what a trip it has been! So many new friends and memories as well as incredible places visited. This trip has really sparked my interest in seeing the rest of the world and what it has to offer.
     We landed in LA and my good friend Erik picked us up and we stayed at his place the night then he drove us to Santa Barbara where I got my BMW and drove to Lake Nacimiento where my van was parked. Zev took off in my car while I drove my van all the way back home to Mendocino. It's so great to be back but im itching for a new adventure now............

 Ever since my accident my dirt bike has been behind a dumpster in Puerto Escondido and this has always been in the back of my mind. I planned on my shoulder getting better and me being able to ride it home but that is not happening so I need to figure out another way to get it home, and soon.

Update on bike: After I got home I was getting emails from the hotel where my bike was saying if I did not get it in a week they were throwing it away and I would never see it again. Out of desperation I put up a post on a motorcycle website explaining my situation and how I needed someone to fly down there and ride it back to California for me. I did not expect any positive response but what do  you know the next day I get a email from a guy named Nick in Detroit who says he would be glad to ride my bike back for me! This was a amazing stroke of luck and I took him up on it no questions and bought him a ticket from Detroit to Puerto Escondido, MX. 
     Long story short he made it all the way through Mexico in a little over a month and I met up with him In San Fransisco where he flew back to Detroit. Really worked out great and I cant thank him enough. He went through hell to get it back but had a amazing trip for himself.

Play Del Carmen, Mexico

      Zev and I took a taxi to Playa Del Carmen the next day while the girls stayed in Tulum to check out the ruins. We got a really nice hotel on the beach for nothing and hit the town checking out the scene. Its alot like Cabo San Lucas here, very developed for tourism but really nice. The town was empty though due to the whole swine flu thing so business's were hurting and willing to sell everything for very cheap. I talked with a car rental company and ended up getting a brand new 4x4 Jeep Wrangler for $20!
     The next day the girls showed up and I picked them up in the Jeep and we drove north towards Cancun to go exploring.

     As I was driving down the highway I saw a old abandoned moto cross track on the side of the road so I turned around and went to check it out. Hey ive got full insurance on the Jeep so I zipped down the hill onto the track going over the jumps and spinning out on the berms. It was alot of fun and the Jeep did not break but I think the girls were a little scared. We were all covered in dirt by the end of it. A bit later  we pull off into a little town and go down to the beach for a swim.

     I see a dirt road so I zip down it to find a old construction site. Put it in 4 wheel drive and drive through it out the the beach to admire the view and hang out for a bit.

     We then drove back to Playa Del Carmen for dinner and pool party just loving being back in Mexico!!!

Tulum, Mexico

     Zev and I had met two Australian girls on the island and we seemed to be on the same path so they came with us to Mexico. We took the bus from Belize City and ended in Tulum, Mexico many hours later. First thing I did was get some taco's and salsa. I had been missing Mexican food so much and this really hit the spot. We all went down to the beach which was just incredible. It was so clean and perfect. After some swimming we hit the local cantina and ordered a huge plate of some of the best ceviche ive ever had. Since then ive been trying to match this meal but nothing can compare.

   That evening we went out for dinner and then while walking around town at night found this fancy looking club so we decided to check it out. It was totally empty but the music was blaring. A short hobbit looking guy greeted us and said he was the owner. He was really cool and he got us our own room in the back saying there would be more people later. We had nothing better to do so we went back ordered bottle service and hung out together. The owner would come back every so often with all sorts of strange shots he had made for us and would drink with us. Turned out to be a really fun night. He let Zev do some DJing and when more people showed up we had to hit the dance floor and show them our moves haha.

Meeting Back Up With Zev In Key Cauker

     Zev was still in Roatan and we had planned to meet up so he ended up flying to Key Cauker on a very small plane. I did not really know when he was showing up and as I was walking down the beach I heard my name and he came running towards me. It was so good to see him again, it had been almost a month. I got him a place in my dorm room there and we hit the beach all day with everyone.

     The next day we went on a boat trip out to the reefs to swim with the sting rays. The boat was run by a awesome Rasta guy with a very unique boat that he built himself.

     The captain was very funny and friendly and Zev, Josh and about 6 others from our hostel set out on the water bumping reggae music out of a old tape player the captain had on board. It was his only tape and I imagine it had been played thousands of time. Along the way he made some great seafood BBQ and chip dips in his little kitchen by the engine.

     We arrived at the reef and you could see about 20 huge sting rays swimming under the boat. The water was only about 5 feet deep. Captain jumped in first and one of the sting rays swam up to him and he picked it up out of the water and told us its name and how he had been out there doing this for 20 years and knew each sting ray personally. He asked us to jump in, I was hesitant at first but jumped in and was instantly baraged with all the sting rays rubbing into me. It was quite freaked out at first but soon came to terms with it and the Captain showed me how to properly pick one up. I held out my hands and of on them swam right up to me and nuzzled against my chest like a curious cat. It was quite a cool experience.

Key Cauker Island

    Only spent one night on the island and left early the next morning on the bus to Belize City. We get to the city and make our way to the ferry over to Key Cauker Island. The ferry ride is nice and I slowly see the water turning more and more turquoise and clear. We arrive and its paradise. White sand everywhere, palm trees blowing in the breeze, all dirt roads and no cars. we check into a hostel on the beach and hang out for a while meeting other travelers. The island has a very chilled out vibe, im digging it. Two swedish girls we had met in Honduras were staying at our hostel and we all go out that evening.

Death Defying Boat Ride To Belize

    After a couple days we decided to head to Belize so we hopped on a small boat over to the nearby port city. The ocean was very rough this day and we were getting soaked by waves as they crashed into the bow of the small pontoon boat. Got to the port and walked to the Guatemala/Belize immigration. We were greeted at the door by a very nice local guy who helped us fill out our paper work, showed us were to get some food and sold us our boat tickets to Belize. We waited for a while and then the guy came back and said the sea was to rough so we had to wait another couple hours until we could go.We went down to a restaurant on the water and got some food and drinks and bumped some music to pass the time.
    A very old and haggered looking man came up and started talking to me. We ended up talking quite a bit and I soon learned that he had just been released from San Quinten Prison a couple weeks ago and was deported back to Guatemala. He told me some insane stories of prison life and how he ran a gang. I kind of doubted his story as it was some crazy stuff like having to stab people and trying to escape. He then took off his shirt and he had prison tattoos all over and obvious stab and knife wounds. He seemed like the sweetest old man and not some gang leader though. He had changed his ways and seemed very happy about being out and leading the rest of his life happy and legit. He took out a piece of styrofoam and colored pencils and drew me a picture of a rose with a strange drawing technique I have never seen before. Very interesting guy I will never forget.

    Our boat was ready to leave and we got on board. It was a speed boat type with about 400 horse power via 2 large engines in the back. Josh and I were the only passengers as the entire front was taken up by large mattresses held down by one guy in the front. We took off into the open sea bouncing all over the place due to the rough ocean. The waves just got bigger and bigger the further from the coast we got until it just got dangerous and ridiculous. We were full speed through the water approaching eight foot breaking waves on this little speed boat.
    The driver was so pro at driving I was blown away, we would hit huge waves max throttle launching the whole boat into the air and clearing the gap between waves making a smooth landing on the backside of the the next wave. He would then cut the throttle to narrowly miss a huge white wash from a breaking wave and then hit the throttle again riding the side of the next swell like a skateboard on a half pipe using the thrust from the turn to launch the next wave. I for sure thought we were going to die multiple times and there were no life vest and we were so far off the coast drowning would of been eminent. Im very surprised we survived no joke. The ride was like this for about 45 minutes, it was quite intense.

     When we made it to dock I gave the driver a high five and we got off and went through customs. We then waited at the bus station for the next bus to come by. This town was so quiet it was erie. There was no one around at all and it was totally silent. A old truck pulls up and 3 women get out and sit next to us. I notice one of them had a big gash in her head and is bleeding. I ask her what happened and she said she was just riding in a Semi-Truck that had crashed and rolled right down the road. She looked pretty hurt but was still very friendly. We all boarded the bus and she sat across from me and we continued to talk. Soon traffic slowed down and she pointed out the window. There on the side of the road was a huge semi truck and trailer upside down in a ditch.
      I zone out for a while admiring the landscape of Belize out the bus window. Such a different feel here then Guatemala, I don't know how to explain it. It takes us quite a while but the bus drops us off and we walk down a dirt road trying to find a boat to take us to Pino island which is right off the coast. I guess the boats stop running at 5pm. We showed up at 5:10pm. They told us they are no longer working and we would have to charter a private boat there for $50! There is no way we are paying $50 for a 15 minute dingy boat ride. We argue with him for a while but he wont budge. A local guy shows up and says he will pitch in $10 if we pay the rest. We had no choice really so we take his money and get in the boat.
     I have a half full bottle of rum sticking out of my bag and the guy asks me for a sip. I say ya no problem and hand him the bottle. He takes a sip and then says, can I have the whole thing? I say no your welcome to have some but you cant have all of it. He then gets very offended and starts going off about how he doesent like me and how he is a gangster on this island. He is getting very hostile and making threats to us about how he better not see us on his island. I had literally did nothing but be nice to this guy, he was crazy.
      The last thing we need is a fight with a local guy so I give the bottle to him and we get off he boat and leave. That was stupid. Its almost dark now and we find a chill place to stay on the beach then walk down the one path in town and grab some dinner and call it a night. Wooo what a day!

Livingston, Guatemala

     Josh and I left our swamp hostel in the morning on a boat down the Rio Dulce river to Livingston near the boarder of Belize. We met two cool Canadian girls sitting next to us and we all had a great time joking around and talking during the ride. The river was beautiful with lush jungle surrounding us, monkeys jumping from trees and old locals calmly paddling along side us in their make shift canoes using planks of wood as paddles. Women in the river washed their clothes and little kids played in the water while waving at us as we passed by. A real sense of warmth with the people of rural Guatemala.

     We arrived in Livingston some hours later and as we got off the boat were instantly engaged by a local Rastafarian looking dude who said he had a good place for us to stay. We already knew where we wanted to stay so we declined and walked down the street but he kept following us. Turns out the place was full so we went to another place with this guy still following us. He went ahead of us and we saw him quickly running into a few hotels and then out again. When we got to our second choice place the owner looked uneasy and told us that the place was full. It was obviously not and as a girl walked out of her room we asked her and she said she was the only one staying there. Now something is fishy
     Turns out this Rasta guy was some sort of gangster of this place and told the hotels to say they were full so that we had to stay at his place. We now knew he was shady and wanted nothing to do with him and told him off where he got rather aggressive. We had just arrived and had already made a local enemy, great. Walked down the street some more and found a decent place to stay. Josh was tired so I took off on my own to explore the town.

    Went down by the ocean and was very suprised by how much trash was on the beach, it was like a dump. A local man saw me looking at all the trash and came up to me and started talking about how bad it has gotten. He was about 80 years old and by the way he talked I could tell he was very smart. We ended up talked for about an hour about environmental issues and the local issues of Livingston. Turns out he ran a Orphanage in the local village and invited me to come check it out.
     Livingston is right near Belize so the locals are all direct African slaves who were abandoned in Belize by the Spanish. He walked me through a very very poor village and as I walked past windows I could see eyes lighting up as they saw me and soon the entire village was out side of their homes to come look at me. Kids had no clothes on at all and the homes were as shanty as you can get. Everyone was smiling and I smiled and waved back. The man led me into one of the homes where a very old woman was sitting in a rocking chair listening to a radio. She turned around and looked at me with these huge eyes and weather torn face, smiled and said hello. I sat down next to her not really knowing what to say so I told her my name and where I was from. She told me some stories of living in Belize and the struggles she endured as a African, it was very interesting but hard to follow at times and her speaking had a strong Caribbean accent and was slurred from age. I said my goodbyes and the man took me to the Orphanage.
    I was really taken back by the situation. The Orphanage was nothing more then a very big shed with a dirt floor and a faucet sticking out of the wall. about 20 kids were laying on the dirt sleeping while the others were playing and running around. They all looked very skinny and malnourished but very happy. I hung out and played with the kids for a while and then asked the old man what I could do to help. He said they were in need of clothes and food so I asked for him to take me to a grocery store where I bought large bags of rice, vegetables, non perishable items and various sizes of shoes and shirts. I only had about $50 US with me but it bought quite a bit. Brought it back with the help of some other locals and played with the kids some more before making my way back to our hotel.

     We were told that there was a really good BBQ and party at the hostel down the road so that evening we walked down there to find a very cool scene and alot of nice people. Had a huge Shrimp dinner with about 30 other travelers and partied the night away.

    Josh and I decided to go back to our rooms and as we are walking down a long dark stretch of road we see three shady looking guys walking towards us. I am instantly sketched out as my shoulder is useless and there is no way I could fight someone to protect myself. They guys walk strait towards us and as one gets close he lifts up his shirt and motions with his hand like he his going to grab a gun from his waist. I tensed up and thought we were going to get robbed or shot and then he puts his shirt down and quickly lunges at us like he is going to hit me, then laughs and they all walk away. They were just trying to scare us but it really put us on edge and made this whole town seem sketchy.

   The next day we moved to the hostel so we did not have to do anymore late night trips and had a great time with everyone at the hostel for the next couple days.