First things first.....
The other day on our first fill of Diesel in Mexico we filled 100 litres which was M$1212 which is OK considering. As always we wrote down the figures counted the money and when the guy came back to get the cash he quickly turned away from me. This rang bells with me immediately. He then turned back and showed me that the 500, 500, 200, 10, 5 we had given him was in fact a 500, 50, 200, 10, 5 and we had mistakenly gave him a 50 instead of a 500. I questioned Julie who had counted the money and she wasn't sure at all in fact she was pretty convinced she had given me the wrong money. So I swapped the 50 for a 500. I asked Julie a few times "are you sure he didn't palm it?" and she seemed pretty happy we were in the wrong. I was not. We drove off and after a while I stopped. Quite a while......40km. I was convinced he'd palmed it. We then went through the entire Mexico balance sheet and we were indeed M$450 short. We did this a few times and always we were M$450 short give or take a few Peso's we used as tips. That was it. I drove all the way back. M$500 is £25.
On arriving back at the gas station. The manager was called and was OK but he was convinced it wasn't his station. I wasn't convinced until he took me over the the pump I used. I'd stepped in some glue on the floor as they were repairing the pump. It wasn't there. I was at the wrong station!!!! and all wound up!!!! I'd got everyone out and cameras re-played and bills produced. I apologised and he was fine. He told me it was the next one not 100meters away (I think he knew what they do).
So,,,, I had to do it all again. This time I followed my own advice. I knew what the attendant looked like so I went straight to him and said I think he'd made a mistake and gave him opportunity to correct it without complaint.....he immediately pulled out a pile of bills and tried to give me a M$200 to which I replied "no its a 500" he handed it over without question.....I gave him back the 50 (I'm not a thief as I could have easily kept the 50). This makes me think its common practice for this guy. So If you are in Tulum watch your money and count it out to them and give them no chance to do what they did to us. I had hoped when I played the scenarios in my mind the event would unfold as they did but didn't think for one minute it would go as planned.
First time in 21 months we've been really ripped off....he didn't however count of Julies accounting system or a Yorkshireman. We knew we were right.
Over the last few days we've been able to sample the RV parks and campsites of Mexico. Something we've not done for quite a long time. I mean proper campsites are a thing of the past for us. They mostly ended in Africa. These places are mostly empty as Its off season for RV's from the USA. We've met a few Overlanders on their way South which is also a thing od the past really. Not met many Overlanders on this continent at all. A few but not loads like Africa.
Into Mexico and a few days relaxing. Who would have thought they have campsites....finally after all this time we can camp knowing we will be safe all night. We have nobody tapping on the side of the car or leaving notes under our wipers ! Although have a note left for us is a nice way to get us parking outside your house.
Last night I was ill again with the same thing I had in Lima. One night of high fever and chills and some toilet fun. Not sure what it is but it turns out another travellers daughter had the same thing so it must be a virus. Feeling a bit better but still not 100%. Today we have a short drive so it should be all good.
I should also mention we passed 21 months on the road. Into the 22nd month and into America just as pass into the 23rd (we hope).
Matilda is running OK with the new Injectors and Turbo. The old ones are in the box as they were working OK when removed. The fuel use has stayed the same. I was at least expecting some change one way or the other. I've got some parts ordered for Mum to bring out but these are mainly service items as always. I've also ordered some new drive flanges to tighten us the rear axle. At least tighten as much as is possible on a car as old as Matilda.
Still waiting to hear if the Southern California Land Rover club meeting is going ahead. They have asked us along which requires some reorganising of the schedule in Southern USA. If they don't let us know shortly we will be unable to make it.
We met some other travellers in the Camp Site and they have donated their Mexico Lonely Planet. Thanks !!!! We now know where we are going.....
So for those of you too 'stupid' to get the hint....The place is of course Yavin 4 reble base from Star Wars. Not as my father maentioned a place in Turkey. A place is Guatemala called Tikal. A Mayan temple complex. Worth a visit. Really it is. Its better than the Great Pyramids of Egypt. Mainly for one good reason. There are no Egyptians touts there.....hassle is zero. The charge is less being Q150 to get in about $20usd each. Camping was Q50 each and the map was Q20. All in about $55usd for a visit and two days exploring. We arrived late at around 15:30 so the ticket is valid for the next day. You get to see the place empty as there is nobody around from 4pm onwards. Then the next morning you can either see the sunrise or wander in with the tribes. We stayed two nights in the little campsite and could have got in again on the third day had we tried. I'd estimate 5 hours is enough to see all.
I must say I was amazed at the amount of work it took to uncover some of the Temples. They Jungle has completely covered them. They are working hard to uncover others. You can see what they were like in the Photo with the scaffolding. The restoration is astonishing.
We met some other overlanders in Anigua Guatemala in a VW Combi. Their Combi leaks more than Matilda and Matilda has been doing that very well recently. Its rainy season......Antigua is Tourist Central and you can camp in the Tourist Police Car Park. Its free. Has Showers and Toilets and is very near town.
A note to others. We've not been stopped by the Police at all except Honduras which was no hassle. We've been lucky! All just ignore us or wave us through with happy smiles. Only Honduras was annoying as we were stopped quite a few times in a short duration but for nothing other than a chat. Lets see how Mexico goes.
We have the EPA permission for Matilda to entre to USA.....Yeah !
Photos, Overlanding meetings, Brunos Camp Rio Dulce and Tikal.
Can you guess the link to our travels...?
If you can you are better than me as I had to look it up....
Comments for what you think the link is between where we are and the film.
Completely forgot to mention we finally saw the new Superman movie The Man of Steel. This time we didn't go to the theater, the wrong theater or at the wrong time.....this time we got the $1usd pirate movie. Now I know this is illegal but after three failed attempts and its no longer showing in most theaters I needed to see it. So I promise to buy the real one when it comes out in compensation or I'll send a cheque to the actors. Like they haven't already got enough money.
So all we need to do now is wait for Riddick to come out.......
I missed the 3D so if its showing somewhere I might still pay to see it....
One of the Tourist attractions of El Salvador and a town (Joya de Ceran) covered in volcanic ash. Not bad for $3usd each and $1usd for the car. Only a quick visit is required. Maybe an hour or slightly more so Its good for a stop over and a break from driving the short distances in El Salvador...!
Also nearby there's the Lake lake Coatepeque formed from, can you guess.....a volcanic caldera. Some OK restaurants at the top of the hill with good reviews.
The easiest title for a blog based on a film title....
We managed to get into El Salvador with a Right Hand Drive car but only just. You can get a letter of permission if you know the correct people. Turns out some of our traveling buddies do know the right people so now do we. We Emailed him and about a month later we had a letter to say we could come in. Trouble is the letter we got on the 4th July expired on the 10th and we had read it as the permission started on the 10th. It didn't. It started on the 10th June and ended on the 10th July. The very day we had been waiting to get into El Salvador was the day when it ended. So thankful the helper the guy had sent to the border called and we got him to talk to Aduana's (customs) and we were let in on the condition we got another corrected letter the same day !!! This he did and we got it hand delivered to the hotel in San Miguel. We are very lucky the Land Rover Club El Salvador know all the right people ! Many Thanks to them and especially Jose Mario who knows all the right people, for sure ! I'm not including us in that list.....
Spent a few days on the beach in El Salvador at a little place called Firewood in El Tunco near La Libertad. GPS Point is N13 29' 38'' W89 22' 53''. They make you pay $1usd to take your car down the road to the hotel....I thought that little trick ended in Africa ! They charged us $9usd for parking or $25 for an air-con room but common showers.
Anyhow we are now sat in the Land Rover dealers in El Salvador waiting to be picked up by Jose Mario and get taken out to dinner....he is REALLY looking after us ! Tomorrow we go to the BBQ,,,,,, so as this blog entry will be delayed due to the security issues it will contain both past, present and future stuff.
As It turns out Jose Mario has arranged a lot. We are having a BBQ and the Land Rover dealers on Sunday in our honor ! The UK Ambassador is coming to meet us. More likely she was coming anyhow but it is "our" BBQ so we can only presume she was coming as default. A little known fact was after 9 - 11 our embassy was closed here and only re-opened a short time ago. I didn't know we closed a lot of embassy's due to the "terror risk"? Anyhow, its now open and also the US Embassy here is MASSIVE (one of the biggest in the world). This place is really trying to put itself on the map and increase tourism a bit like Honduras. Jose Mario told us that in the next few months you can get stuff here from Europe without paying tax or import duty. So if you need spares and are coming this way this is the place to get the sent. In a few months time that is when the new law comes into effect. As always the place I would recommend getting them from is Britcar on my links page.
If you need the details for the letter we will send it to you. I'm going to ask Jose Mario if he minds if we put it on the Blog but I think a Private Message (PM) is best. Use the contact us until we know if he wants a million Emails.
Turns out he's fine with being contacted about the permission letter and It can take a month to get so ask early ! The Land Rover club here has a Facebook page so you can use that to contact them. Their Facebook page is
Club Land Rover El Salvador.
The BBQ was a success and many members turned up in their Land Rovers and a good time was had by all. We chatted with the Ambassador and members for hours and actually managed to eat very little which is good. Normally I eat way to much ! I didn't drink too much either.....
The Land Rover garage said we could have free labor for maintenance so I decided to make use of the spare Turbo I'd been carrying and get it fitted. The same for the four new fuel injectors. She's running pretty well now. The power is a lot smoother. When we were working on the car I decided to do a clutch inspection and this took rather longer than I hoped. We were in the garage for two days removing the bits needed to get to the clutch. In the process we managed to snap a captive bolt on the exhaust which needed drilling out. Also during the fitting of the turbo I noticed the top bolt hole for the inlet manifold had been stripped in the block. This needed a Helicoil to repair it. Something the dealers didn't have. Luckily the local tool place had the correct kit and the drill to go with it. Much more expensive then the UK though but still only $50usd.
Some Photos from El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua.
Another failed attempt to see Superman....it wasn't on at the time they said online. We couldn't wait until 8:50pm as we went for the 5:50pm showing !
We've just enjoyed a few days staying with Matthew and Jennifer where we were treated to hospitality both at home and out and about. They know a guy who owns a few restaurants so we were treated to all you can eat a two different places. It still amazes me that people who you have never met invite you to stay with their family....three boys and a dog (a husky with blue eyes). We didn't rob them or tie them to a chair and torture them as Matthew was warned we might....We don't think he's a lunatic for inviting us as some of his friends did. They just put a note under our wiper when we were sleeping so we got in contact via Email. So we did see some Superpeople if not Superman himself. Thanks to them. It reminds me of all the great people we've stayed with on our trip.
We also really enjoyed a quick tour with CABRARIDES. So if you are thinking of missing out Honduras then think again. Its not as bad as everyone says. The check points are annoying but no more so than other countries. There are no more checkpoints than elsewhere in South or Central America. Take a trip up to Tegucigalpa, learn how to say it and take a bike ride ! We even got some Blackberry wine !
A few days before when were on the beach we met another great bunch. Someone from Sheffield and the owners of a great little Hostel. For $9 per night we camped in the car park where we had the use of all the Hostel facilities. A good place to spend a few days and popular with locals and backpackers alike. Parking/Camping in the car park is no problem at all and they even have a power point.
So we made it into Nicaragua after worrying for ages about their silly import rule. You see they have a Law that says you cannot import a RHD car. This applies to all imports even temporary ones. LEY 453 Article 112. You can Google and find the PDF of the law if you like.
We arrived at the Costa Rica border with things piled on the dash hiding the steering wheel. Exit went smoothly but look a long time.
Get a few Nicaraguan Cordobas at the Costa Rica Immigration fence. They change anything (mostly). Aduanas is in the truck loading area you see on the way down the road on the way in to the border. Its about 300meters back from immigration. Look for all the lorries parked up in a LOADING area. The Aduanas export for the car took ages, the little office is at the far end of the lorry building respective to the immigration building. Once that's all done you can proceed to Nicaragua. IF you are worried about the RHD thing tell the Aduanas you are returning to Costa Rica and get a stamped up copy of the TIP you have just exited with. You MUST have one if you return !!! Its worth it although you may need a copy for them to use. The guy did the photocopy for me although normally they send you to the copy hut just outside. A tip is to take a helper with you to dash off to do copies but if one of you is watching the car this is a problem. You can park out side Aduanas if you move the car. Immegration is first, Aduanas second. NO CHARGES ON EXIT.
On the way into Nicaragua stop at the table on the right. Give him passports and get a form to complete. Complete the form for later. Then drive forwards to the fumigation area. Hop out and pay 74 Cordoba for a car. Car is sprayed. This is where changing the money in Costa Rica comes in handy. You only need a hundred or so as all the other stuff is in dollars. Get a pile of $1usd bills.
Once you get to the main building a helper will jump on you. We used one called Charlie. He was good and we paid him $10usd.
Drive to Rivas and don't stay there. Go to San Jorge and either stay at Hotel Dalinky ($35usd) or there's an "RV park" half way down the road to San Jorge which we didn't check out but maybe they let you camp in the carpark. It indicates they will. Dalinky Hotel has safe parking. Taxi to town is $1. Town hotels have no parking we could find. One does but its $72.
The Island is 420cor for the car, 82cor tax, 70cor each for ticket. Its OK for a couple of nights (same prices to return although they was another 50cor tax paid at that end for some local government thing). We camped in the car park at the Hostel Central in the town where the boat docks. STAY CLEAR OF THE MONKEYS !!!!! It was $3.5usd each person and we were told we could use the Hammocks and one night even the dorm if we wanted to. We used there as a base. The lake is very warm and shallow. YOU NEED TO BOOK THE BOAT THE DAY BEFORE TO ENSURE A PLACE. Although you can drive up if they have room.
How many films can you name featuring Zombies....quite a few I bet and that even without using Google or thinking too hard. Well today we paid to see it in 3D. After the epic fail to see Superman we needed some big screen action. I'm not quite sure what I think of it to be honest. Its OK. The first part is good for sure and then it turns into any other film of the same "world ending" genre. Go see it so they can get back their $450 million. Then when the DVD comes out with the million minutes of footage they scrapped.....download it. It will be better maybe. Were they hoping for a number 2....I think so. Not a chance in hell.
We are still on the beach. We cannot leave no matter how much Henning moans that we are not moving. Our permission for the car starts on the 10th so we cannot enter the next country until then. So we leave here today or the next to get our location for the border dash and safely on to the next town. Sometimes these things take 4 hours so we allow plenty of time to cross two borders. Out and In....
I'm wondering if any of my nieces are reading this? One should have their new Internet feed installed soon so I wonder If she will. Not that any of them are In any way interested in my rambling crap or the Land Rover. I still wonder.
We have well over 300 daily readers (you might be one) who read all the time. We can even tell you where you are and which browser you are using and how long you read each page......scared yet? There are many more reports like which town you are in and your internet service provider. This is the same info the BIG companies have when you go online shopping. Ever wondered about the adverts you see at the side of your Facebook page. Well they are specifically "for you" made from the same statistics we collect. Its a case of Big Brother watching....In this case its Big Bird. Half of them mean nothing to me however.....
I'm sorry we are not posting much at the moment but as you might be able to tell from comments in the last post we had a bit of a problem with our security. We are however saving posts which are not published to put up later when we are in a wholly different country to the place where we had a problem.
The first and only time in the entire trip we have had a problem. We've been through a war zone and seen riots in certain countries. We've been told not to go to many places where we've had no problems at all. So one incident and we've had to look at how we deal with publicity and the web site. We've even considered completely taking it down. If we had no web site we would both feel a lot better but the damage is already done. We've taken the web site off the car. We didn't get any visitors off that anyhow. Well maybe a few in Brazil but not many. Its better off gone, so it is. We might put it back in North America.
So don't expect much from the website for a while. We've put the map back online but this will also be updated later. It will not be,,,, in any way,,,, live. We are considering how much delay there should be in placing pins. We are not sure.
I urge others traveling to consider the implications of having you web site on the car. Its bad enough having a car that's easy to spot from a kilometer but having a web site on it makes you easy to spot from another continent !
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