Trip Start Oct 20, 2009
159Trip End Jun 23, 2010
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Where I stayed
Monte Carlo Hotel
Our goal was to get to Tampico, Mexico by 4 or 5 in the afternoon, so when we saw that cars were parked 3 deep in the courtyard of San Martin Hotel, we wished we'd slept in a little longer, or parked somewhere else. Des maneuvered the bikes past the first two cars, but could go no further, as his passage was blocked by a van. Luckily, the office lady saw what was going on and said she would get the owner of the van, which was blocking our exit, to move his vehicle. He didn’t seem too upset to be woken at 6:30am, and he was pretty quick about moving his car, we were grateful.
Some of the roads had the biggest, roughest pot holes, and long gouges and ruts, which were dangerous if we got our tyres caught in them. Every so now and then I’d hit an unavoidable pot hole and think my tyre was going to blow
At lunch time we were pulled over by the military to check our bags and panniers. A soldier asked Des for documents. Des said I had them, and pointed in my direction. When the soldier came to me, I raised my visor and face mask of my helmet and he asked me a question. I told him we were from Australia travelling to Alaska. He asked me something else and I said my registration papers were in my back pannier, and did he want to see them? It was obvious, to both of us, that we weren’t understanding each other, so he just said "Bye bye" in perfect English.
Des started his bike ready to move on. When I engaged first gear on my bike, the engine stopped. I’d had a bit of a problem with switching from neutral into first on a few of occasions in the past week, and on one occasion, as I was riding down the highway to the Las Lagunas Hotel in Campeche, Mexico, the bike stalled altogether, and I watched Des ride off into the distance. Just as well he noticed I wasn’t behind him before I was out of range. I switched the bike off, then on again, and tried starting up again. I got it into gear without a problem, and caught up with Des who had just stopped to see what was happening
Now, here I was, with no response from the bike each time I tried to kick it into gear, it didn’t matter which gear, the engine stopped each time. Des came over to see what was wrong. The soldiers came over to see why we hadn’t moved off yet. There were about twelve of them and they could understand there was a problem with my bike, but they couldn’t help.
Des had been warned by a Spanish rider in El Calafate, Argentina, who was riding the same bike as us, that this was a problem with these bikes, so Des had a fair idea that the problem lay in the side stand electrical switch. It’s a safety measure built into the bikes, that cuts the engine if the side stand is down, and the bike is put into gear, so you can’t ride off with the stand down.
Des had spoken to Harmony before on Skype and asked her to find out if there was any way to bypass this switch if it should happen to one of our bikes. Harmony got some information from a motorbike mechanic that the wires had to be cut and rejoined, bypassing the switch
We high fived each other after the tense 45 minutes in the hot sun, and were on our way again.
An hour or so short of Tampico, we were stopped again by the military, this time the soldiers were checking for drugs and armory. Two soldiers checked two of my bags and then said “OK”, which meant I was free to go. But Des was holding court with four or five soldiers. They had asked if he was carrying any drugs or guns. Des said he was too old to do drugs and he didn’t have any guns on him. One of the officers spoke good English and was asking Des all about the bike, and translating into Spanish for the other soldiers. They were all good natured and friendly, enjoying the chat with Des for awhile, then we were on our way again.
As we rode into Tampico, the Police, this time, stopped us to see Des’s driver’s license. They asked for mine too, but the officer could see I was parked a bit precariously, (and maybe because I was a woman), he said I could move off.
I negotiated a good price for a good hotel in Tampico and we crashed into our nice king sized bed, after a 487 kilometer ride.