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Submitted by Tiffany on 17 November, 2009 - 21:10
The plan was that I spend the two to three weeks whilst waiting for Thelma's ship to reach LA, visiting friends in the west of the States. However, having recovered from jet lag and Korean poisoning I met some of Erdem's friends including Savas from Istanbul and heard his travel story- he is trying to reach Tierra del Fuego by motorcycle from California. He set off southwards a few months ago and got hit by a pick-up truck in Mexico. He broke his leg and dislocated bones in his foot and so was out of action for quite a while. His bike wan't so lucky and has had to be written off.
He had made friends in Mexico whilst recovering and they sorted out the paperwork for his motorbike. He then returned to LA, bought another second-hand motorcycle and set off once more, only to be turned back at the border as the Mexican Customs officials informed him his other bike was not accounted for and he could not pass the border with any vehicle until the paperwork was cleared. He's been told this process may now take several months.
He is stuck in America trying to sort it out and also looking into shipping past Mexico which is going to cost a lot of money and also take a quite a bit of time.
Once I'd heard all this, I said the answer is simple, I ride the bike across Mexico for him. Once he had got over his surprise at the offer, he said yes and within hours we were on the road together, heading to the Tijuana border crossing. Pausing only in San Diego to transfer the official ownership of the bike into my name at the DMV (DVLA).
The Mexican Customs procedure was a bit nerve-racking as we weren't sure if they would accept just the temporary ownership documents, Savas wished me luck as I headed in on my own. I presented my documents and after a few questions and a very long wait they passed me a form to complete, took $400 as a refundable deposit/bond for duty and asked for a name to go with the deposit.
When I asked whose name, they replied without smiling
"If you die, who shall we give the $400 to?"
I'm not sure if they have a lot of tourists meeting their maker in Mexico (though the roads do have a reputation for some very wild driving), but it was a bit unsettling to be discussing my imminent death with Maria from Customs.
When I walked back out to the bike with the documents in my hand to take the bike across Mexico, Savas high-fived me and we took off down the road before they could change their minds.
So this is how I happen to now be riding Gullu (Rosie) the Kawasaki KLR 650cc bike across Mexico to Guatemala. I'm on the wrong bike going in the wrong direction.
Savas is with me as well and we are sharing the riding though I suspect he was a bit white-knuckled to begin with as I don't think he takes naturally to being a pillion passenger and he has never been on the back of a bike ridden by a women before. I'd had a practice ride at the DMV carpark whilst we were waiting there and I don't think I inspired much confidence in him with comments from me such as :
"Now where do I put this key?"
"Oooooh this is a bit high" whilst struggling to get my foot on the ground and then had a tussle for a few minutes as I couldn't get the side-stand up either.
Several days later and I've got used to the height though the side-stand is still a bit of an issue, as it's too long for the bike - says the woman who rides with a ridiculously short side-stand.
In the five days we have covered over a 1300 miles and I've introduced Savas to camping rough and riding off-road with two up on the bike. Hmmm, perhaps I should have enquired as to his off-roading esperience, capability and confidence before I directed him from the tarmac down a sandy track then up a gravel covered hill, not to mention dodging the cacti and the cow carcass on the slopes.