Tuesday, July 29, 2008


Greetings again to you all,
Today we are in the City of Merida which is busy, large and boasts one of the oldest cathedrals in Latin America.
It has been a hectic few days and with more 'Elsie' adventures - as we were approaching Playa del Carmen (south of Cancun) we started to loose clutch fluid from the small slave cylinder near the clutch plate housing and by the time we got to the city I was driving with no clutch at all.
Luckily I found a mechanic close by who confirmed that the seals were bad and needed replacing and this was a Saturday afternoon when most places are closed.
First the runner kid went off in search of the seals but soon came back with news that none can be found so we tried pulling some old cylinders apart in the hope that any of the old seals woud work but these were all too small.
As a last resort we sent the runner kid off again with the whole cylinder to look for an old or new replacement unit - I was so happy to see him run in back with a new cylinder gripped firmly in his fist and a big smile on his face.
In short order we had a new but very stiff clutch working and we were on the road again to Cancun - we missed Cozumel because of the time spent on Elsie.
Cancun is just like Miami, overdone and over exploited and we found to be just more of the same and very expensive.
Elsie also never seemed to fit in over there but with a little bit of conferring with one of the hotel bellmen, we found ourselves in a quaint small hotel in downtown Cancun.
After dark we went out to eat and walked around only to discover it was way more fun away from the big resort hotels.
A client wanted to see us on Holbox Island which was some distance out of our way but we decided to take the time to visit them and made arrangements that we would arrive the Monday morning on the Island on the ferry.
We spent Sunday night in the only little hotel at Chiquilla that we could be on the ferry early in the morning as it is only a 30 minute ferry ride.
The crossing was smooth and on arrival we got on a golf cart taxi and bumped through puddles and trash to this small resort of the client.
No one was there to meet us so we had some breakfast and waited more than an hour for the client to show up at her own resort.
After the no-show continued we decided we had wasted enough time and got back on a taxi and headed back to Elsie and the road to Merida.
The Yucatan is really flat with low forest and very few physical features or even rivers as I guess most of them are underground and the roads in places are very narrow for the breakneck speeds some of these people travel at.
The last bit of the toll road into Merida was really good though very much patched up.
In Merida we stayed at our clients boutique hotel located right downtown in a very old building.
See what a truly amazing renovation job they did and believe me their attention to small detail is really amazing - http://www.piedradeagua.com
We will be meeting these same people further down the road this weekend when we reach Chiapas.
Today we will be heading towards Villahermosa but will most likely only get there tomorrow.
Enough for now...
Take care
Paul and Angelika.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Ola Mexico

Greetings all from Tulum,
This is the start of the Maya Riviera and we are still south of Cancun which we will pass in the morning as we head north.
Needless to say it is hot, steamy, swampy and sticky here :)
It is so different here yet also beautiful and we did two site evaluations and on one we saw these amazing underground rivers called Cenote's that are mostly interconnected with each other.
I am writing this in the dark so I will sign off now ant try to do an update tomorrow.
Wishing you all a fantastic weekend.
Take care
Paul & Angelika

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Hello Mexico

Greetings and salutations
We are in Chetumal, Mexico tonight.
Elsie rode well though she has a bit of a 'hard start' going on and she never overheated at all.
Tomorrow we head to Talum for a few meetings.
Crossing into Mexico was rather strange because as we entered Mexico, the place was buzzing with cops and the minute they saw Elsie we were hauled over for 'inspection' - the cope dude poked his head into both doors looking for contraband and such like but then quickly waved us on.
I almost asked where we get our passports stamped but thought to myself not to invite more than we we will have to already go through as we have heard the worst about Mexico's officials.
So off we trundled slowly past more officials and then nothing.....I said to Angelika, "I think we might already be in Mexico".
It was the most painless crossing of all and NO ONE even looked at our passports at all, so legally or illegally, we are now in Mexico and loving it.
Keep tuned in for more updates and adventures.
Take care and stay well
Paul and Angelika

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Wednesday - Elsie

Hi all
We are hoping Fedex will deliver the parts by noon today - if this is the case and all goes well, we hope to be on the road again tomorrow morning, so please check back here for updates on our status.
Take care
Paul & Angelika

Monday, July 21, 2008

Elsie update

Greetings all,
Yesterday we were on the island of Ambergris Cay and share these few pics with you.
Elsie still has her 'guts' out as we wait on a head gasket set, seals and a fan to arrive from the States and we hope to be back on the road to Mexico by Wednesday or Thursday.
Keep checking back here
Take care
Paul and Angelika

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Elsie update

Greetings all,

So we have our own adventures and those with ‘Elsie’, yesterday sure was one of the latter type events.

We had an early meeting with a client and then headed out north intending to cross over into the Yucatan of Mexico.

Elsie was running sweetly and was the quietest ever with the new manifold/exhaust gasket so we were happy even though everyone was talking of a possible tropical storm forming offshore.

All went well until we passed Corazol and we had already gathered all our “Elsie Docs” in preparation for the arduous usual border crossing with her, when we stopped to pee alongside the road and Elsie started to cook and steam.

I got her cooled down but was worried about our cylinder head gasket because there was too much pressure in the radiator for comfort.

We limped back to the town and opted to have the Toyota agent in Belize City (who knew us by now) sent out a trailer to fetch us so that we could have Elsie taken care of today.

The truck arrived late and we drove Elsie onto the trailer whilst the weather was still going nuts – not happy with the tie downs they had, I winched Elsie securely to the front of the trailer and we both piled into her as the truck headed back south to Belize City.

Now that was a funky experience, sitting in Elsie on the back of the trailer while trundling in another fashion cross country. – Quite trippy indeed.

We settled down in Elsie and had a few ales to celebrate Anders’s 20th birthday and chatted a few times with him.

After it got dark and approaching the city, thank goodness we had to slow down for a speed bump because the trailer wheels literally and figuratively came off and disappeared into the night as we ground to a rapid halt.

Without much ado, I hauled Elsie off the trailer, filler her with water again, we left the fellows waiting for their manager to come assist them, as we did the last few miles back into town on our own ‘steam’.

As parts are so scarce for Elsie, we have to wait until Tuesday or Wednesday for the parts to come in fro Guatemala City, so all things being equal, we hope to be on the road to Quintana Roo, Mexico by Wednesday latest if we can find the parts.

A last note of interest, as we were sitting in Corazol waiting on our ‘ride’, Angelika noticed this Creole dude pick some flowers and started to approach her.

Not knowing what to expect she thanked him but in short order he informed us that they were for all the raw ‘mozzie’ scars on our legs (yea we are pretty bitten up).

It was not the flowers; it was the leaves that he ground up in his hands until they made up a watery poultice.

There was no hesitation, itching as we were these last few days; Angelika wiped the green goo all over her one leg – it was almost like magic to see all the red inflammation recede within 10 minutes and the itch back off.

We were both sold on this newfound potion so we gathered up the leaves and saved them in a sealed bag for use down the road.

So we learned yet another thing and who knows, Angelika might yet start dispensing leaves in the future J

We hope you all have a great weekend

Paul & Angelika

Friday, July 18, 2008

Back to Belize

We're having some problems with Elsie's cylinder head gaskit and thus are having to turn back to Belize for repairs.

We should be heading back to Mexico by Sunday or Monday depending on how the repairs go. Anybody who needs to contact us can reach us via e-mail or via telephone at +1-520-465-7078

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Finally Mexico on the horizon

Greetings once again,

Belize is a truly amazing country going back to Columbus and the Buccaneer days.

Though small in size and known as British Honduras in the old days, it is only populated today but less than a quarter of a million people.

There are quite a lot of Maya people as well as enclaves of the Mennonites amongst them. Belize City is also very small for the capital city and really has no beaches – all the pretty pics one sees is of the off shore islands and the long barrier reef, the 2nd largest in the world we are told.

Getting back to the last few days of adventuring, we had a great time meeting up with Josh Berman, a journalist for the ‘Moon’ travel books and writing on Belize and Honduras.

He had heard of us being in the area and we had heard of him as well – so the moment came when we met up at Ken Karas’s Belize Lodge and Excursions, Indian Creek Lodge.

Ken has our tents on his Moho Cay island that we wanted to see and Josh was making his first visit to Ken’s three lodges.

On Tuesday we headed out on a small boat down the swift flowing river with Josh and the Maya guides, ducking and diving to avoid the low lying branches and thorns that had an aggravating habit of latching onto one’s self and shaking all and sundry of the insect world out of the branches and into the boat.

Despite this it was such an amazing experience to cruise the jungles and river into such remote country that we were taken aback when we rounded a corner and there was Ken’s Jungle Camp, in all it’s majesty, this is truly a camp built on steroids and very luxurious.

More stunning was the WW2 landing vessel moored at the dock that Ken uses as a work horse on the river and at sea to work on the erosion at Moho Cay.

After a 4 course meal we all turned in to sleep and were up early for a breakfast and then climbed onto a power boat and breezed the rest of the river out into the ocean to Moho Cay.

Moho Cay is small but really beautiful and it was so cool to see the tents in such a beautiful tranquil location.

We spent a short while there before departing to Punta Gorda where we got a ride back to where Elsie was waiting for us at Indian Creek.

Two things of note is that Angelika has now bypassed me on the quantity of ‘Mozzie’ bites, mainly on her legs and the itching has been driving her to distraction but she plugs resolutely on regardless of the discomfort.

On the other hand Elsie’s exhaust/manifold gasket started to break away and exhaust fumes and black soot started coming into the cab and also heated up the already hot interior.

The further we got the more throaty she was getting that we tried to patch the gaping hole with exhaust putty that Tom had given us.

When we left this morning for Belize City, it took only a few miles for the putty to break loose and by the time we arrived here, Elsie had lost the entire gasket and she sounded like a tractor doing Mach 1 and running on a mixture of steroids and Nitro.

Thanks to the guys at the local Toyota dealership who did a sterling job getting Elsie all fixed up whilst we visited a very unique proposed tent site in the Peccary Hills, run by Discover Belize.

So tonight we find ourselves preparing for Mexico as we plan on leaving in the morning to the north of Belize to enter Mexico just south of Chetumal.

Paul & Angelika

A quick note

Greetings all
Just a short note to say we are back from the jungles and a little worse for wear with 'mossie' bites but will be in Belize City today and most likely into Yucatan tomorrow.
I hope to update the blog tonight with pics of our most recent adventures but for now please check out the blog of a fellow adventure traveler we met whilst in a Livingston/Stanley moment - http://blog.joshuaberman.net/08-07/down-golden-stream-the-tranquilo-traveler-meets-the-krazy-african.html
Check back soon for more
Take care
Paul and Angelika

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

More Belize

Greetings all

Well this last Friday was a runaround day trying to find appointments here close to the western border region and orient ourselves.

Before going on, there are quite a few voids in cell phone reception here and we are not always able to make or receive calls – also our comms provider has no agreement with the local operators for data service so please not that we are and will be unable to receive e-mail on the mobile phone for the duration of our stay here and will thus be only checking e-mail in the morning/evening when possible.

Be that as it may, yesterday we met with Tom Wilson of Baka-Bush Adventures, who with amazing graciousness gave us so much of his time and treated us to a more than full day of his time, knowledge, dry but keen wit than anyone has done since we set out on the expedition.

This included the privilege of seeing and experiencing the back country of this region as we are sure, few get to see or to share with him – this included more than two hours in one of the thousands of wet cave systems, riding bush tracks through the forests and ‘savanna’ patches that left me with so many déjà vu moments through the day.

These caves are so amazing to behold and would be insane to try and describe in their beauty and graceful elegance, not to mention the rich Mayan history coupled to them.

As we could not carry the camera, we include only a few pics taken before we commenced.

This awesome and breath taking experience also included riding zip-lines over and through the forest canopy, repelling down cliff’s to a few zip-line stations and ending up with a final zip descent through and into a huge cave opening.

Sometimes one moves through life and on those rare occasions one bumps into one’s kindred spirits, Angelika and I sure found this to be so true when it came to Tom, a true gentleman and a real man with a genuine love and connection with the bush and his environment in which he lives.

Sunday: We met up again with Tom in the morning close to Belize City where he keeps his Air Boats docked alongside the main road and next to a canal of water that connects to a vast marshland that few get to behold because of the inaccessibility thereto except with the use of these shallow draught boats powered by 400HP engines driven by aircraft propellers.

Noisy as they are, they allow one a rare insight and passage into an environment very difficult to access and strangely enough, the birds and other creatures do not seem to care about the cacophony and intrusion.

Riding an airboat was as close as one can come to an aquatic helicopter ride and so totally a trip to behold.

Leaving Tom was like saying goodbye to an old buddy, knowing we will meet up again soon down the road and being able to pick up within in seconds, whenever we meet up again……which we will.

We piled back into the ‘Elsie’ and headed south to meet up with such an amazing couple, the Ushers, who also in their own right, live on such an amazing piece of land with such a diversity of ecosystems that range from ‘savanna’ to forest, riverine, salt/fresh water lagoons and ocean frontage.

Just like Tom, it is so refreshing to see people who have a passion for the land they live upon, and yea, like Tom, we hope to soon see our tents becoming an integral part of that natural environment.

Belize, is very unusual, very beautiful, full of history and a place looking for something to happen when it already started to do so.

We packed in a quick river ride in the morning to evaluate the potential sites there and then packed up once again and headed further south to meet an old customer of ours at Ken at Belize Lodge.

So much going on here but we will try to update again tomorrow but we have no cell comm’s here but we do try to get e-mail at least once a day.

We hope to be in Belize City for our appointments by Thursday.

Take care

Paul and Angelika

Friday, July 11, 2008

The last of Guatemala and start of Belize

Greetings all
Gosh so much has happened since we really posted a detailed blog but that is the nature of the beast in being constantly on the move and as you have seen if you follow this blog, we have covered a lot of distance this last while.
Guatemala was truly beautiful and good to us even though we had only a few appointments there, we met some really good people and saw some truly beautiful country.
Most impressive are the Mayan ruins of Tikal in the northern province of Peten that cover a stunning area of 5000 square kilometers, most of the ruins are not excavated except for the palaces and Grand Plaza between them.
The gem of Guatemala is truly in the Peten Province and the "jungle's" in the region are particularly stunning even though they do not reach the heights of those in Costa Rica.
Dear "Elsie's" developed a short in our second battery (remember the waterless battery story in the beginning of the expedition) that had us having to jump start her - this led to the discovery as well of one terminal in the alternator that had broken loose and the indicator relay had given in once again of which we still need to get fixed here in Belize.
The crossing from Guatemala into Belize was absolutely fantastic on both frontier points with friendly personnel and an inexpensive and smooth transit through - this was so refreshing for us that we could not help but thank everyone for the experience and also 'Elsie' breezed through without much ado.
For these next few days we will be staying in a small place between Belize City and the Border to meet appointments on either side.
Above are a few pics ranging from Antigua to the Tikal ruins.
Take care
Paul & Angelika

Thursday, July 10, 2008

next Belize

Elsie had yet another hiccup we had to attend to so we will only be entering Belize today, Thursday
More later on updates
Take care
Paul & Angelika

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Trundling along in Elsie

Greetings from Guatemala City,
This Sunday finds us here for two meetings and then on to Peten in the north before entering Belize on Tuesday or Wednesday.
The past few days have been so hectic and we have covered a lot of ground.
Antigua is a really pretty city, old and with a lot of cool old buildings and a ton of character even though it is a total tourist trap.
There is also a huge volcano looming over the city but then I think Guatemala makes and exports volcanoes as there are so many of those awesome mountains here.
Yesterday we met with a wonderful lady who own a beautiful coffee plantation in the SW of the country - she wanted to see us about starting a luxury tented lodge on the property.
She is a biologist herself so she has made a remarkable effort in combining and integrating the plantation with the natural forest.
After walking the plantation and visiting with her we headed towards Guatemala City, getting here in the late afternoon tired of the insane traffic of the highway and unsure of how we were going to wade through the big city.
We muddled our way along fine until we were unsure of of whereabouts, that I called through the window to a cop passing us on the road, as to where the main Avenue Reforma was?
He pulled away indicating that we follow them and before we knew it we had the blue lights flashing and we were getting the "Royal Escort" into town.
They left us close to the hotel we were looking for but before long we were lost again but soon found our way and was happy to finally be out of the city traffic.
At the hotel we had another dilemma as Elsie would not fit into their secure parking garage (we never stop at any hotel unless it has vehicle security) so I told the manager I would park her right in front of the hotel and his security guards will just have to watch over her but this he did not like so we compromised and parked her across the road. As soon as he left the hotel the security dudes called me to come and move her to the front of the hotel as suggested.
When I went to check on her this morning she was the main center of attention with an admiring crowd around her who all had tons of questions about Elsie, us and our expedition.
Wherever we are she is quite the crowd collector :)
Sorry about the no pics but I cannot find the cable to pull the pics off my camera but hope I find it in Elsie a little later and will hopefully get more pics up soon.
Enjoy what is left of the weekend and have a great new week.
Paul and Angelika


Thursday, July 3, 2008

Guatemala et al

Greetings tonight from Antigua, Guatemala.
Yesterday we got stood up by our client so we enjoyed a fantastic lunch right over the ocean in La Libertad and last night we spent our last night in a quaint room in the tiny fishing village of Los Cabanos still in El Salvador and were treated to a great storm with amazing lightning that made daylight of the ocean as we sipped on some cheap wine.
Getting through the border this morning took quite some time but it was refreshing to see that we had to stand in line with the rest and not have to go through the bribe thing and all we have experienced in Guatemala so far is friendliness with cops and all.
Guatemala is so beautiful and even though Antigua is a 'gringo' tourist trap, it is beautiful in it's own way with a lot of very old buildings and cobbled streets with a huge volcano looming up over the city.
Tomorrow we head to the Western part of the country and then to the North East to meet up with a number of clients and then hopefully by the end of next week we shall enter into Belize where we have a lot of work to do.
Lastly, for those of you keeping up on 'Elsie' she is doing so well now and trundling along like a trooper, though she does not like climbing mountains.
We will post a few more pics tomorrow.
Take care and stay well
Paul and Angelika