Archive for April, 2014

Wander with me! Guess who’s coming to dinner?

Posted: April 30, 2014 by Central America Overland Expeditions in Expedition/Travel

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Alita and Colby we enjoyed meeting you all today in Placencia, hope to see you all out there soon. Safe travels through Belize and the rest of your journey, CAOE (Ninja team). Angela, Tammy, Scott and Bernard. Please follow along the wander team as they make their way to Argentina: http://www.wanderwith.me

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Please follow along with Alita and & Colby on their awesome overlanding journey from Bend, Oregon to Tierra del Fuego, Argentina : http://www.wanderwith.me/

A gallon of gas or a gallon of milk ? Paradise has it’s co$t.

Posted: April 28, 2014 by Central America Overland Expeditions in Expedition/Travel

You decide! It was a little bit of a shocker at the gas pump the first time going to fill up in Belize. I kinda knew and heard the price was almost $6.00 US a gallon here in Belize but somehow I thought it would go down in price by the time I needed it. Or maybe I would be able to buy a lot of it in Mexico and make it through Belize. But no way no how, the price is the price. After spending $125.00 to fill up my 25 gallon tank I went into the store to pay. Just glancing over to the food aisle as I go to the counter to pay for my gas purchase I see that a gallon of milk was also $6.00. Lucky for me I’m lactose intolerant, lol. So the next time you think gas is expensive there in the US, just think about us here in Belize. We may be in paradise, but paradise has a cost!

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Water Taxi in Belize beats NYC Taxi in views

Posted: April 25, 2014 by Central America Overland Expeditions in Expedition/Travel

Most places you go in Belize if you’re near water you won’t be crossing a bridge but taking a water taxi. We had a day of fun going from Placencia to Independence. The water taxi’s are pretty reliable, run on time and cheap. We’ll take a water taxi over a NYC taxi any day, and the view is much better.

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http://www.aguallos.com/hokeypokey/

Driving to Belize. Thanks for following us.

Posted: April 24, 2014 by Central America Overland Expeditions in Expedition/Travel

Day 16: It has been a while since I posted an update. We spent the weekend at Mountain Pine Ridge without internet service. We had a great time! The roads are dusty, rough, and scenic. We were invited to stay with some friends at their cabin, so we took advantage of the offering and the cooler weather. The evenings even got down chilly! We had a campfire for smores, and conversation each night. The wind was steady blowing adding to the chill in the air. We just got to camp within the first couple of hours, and Albert (our friend), said, “let’s go swimming in the waterfall”. This sounded exciting, so we all piled into his 4 door Dodge pickup, and my Land Rover. They have several hundred acres of mountaintops, and in the valley lies this gorgeous waterfall. We drove up hills and down to finally reach the last leg of the trail. This is where it is extremely steep. Albert asked if I thought he could get back out if he drove to the bottom. I said, “don’t worry, I have the Rover and a winch. If need be, I’ll pull you out”. Heading down the steep slope, it was difficult to keep traction, the tires were sliding even while holding the brakes. The nose was pointed straight down the trail. We wound around the sides of the mountains, snaking down to the bottom of the trail, where it finally leveled out. We parked and went down to the water where the fall was splashing down the rocks. The water was icy! Most jumped in and teeth chattering, swam around to try to warm up. I got in up to my knees and waited for my legs to go numb so that I wouldn’t feel the cold. I’ll swim another day… After everyone was refreshed, we loaded back up to go back up the mountain. Albert backed up to get a high-speed running start. He made it about 50 yards up when he lost traction. The engine was roaring and then died. He was at such an incline, it as difficult to hold the truck in place. It began skidding a little backwards before he got it stopped. He turned the wheel and let it roll back to a little cut in the side of the mountain where he could stop. We checked the truck out. It was not getting fuel. It seemed the fuel pump had stopped working. After checking logical things like fuses, etc., we decided I would have to pull him out. Now it is one thing to pull someone out of being stuck, and quite another to tow a full-sized dead weight truck up and down such steep slopes that are challenging climbing on my own, let alone with out dragging an additional 6000 lbs! It was a combination of efforts to get him hooked up, winched, snatch strapped, both pulling forward and backwards, before we finally began to make headway. The Rover did amazing, but it was definitely taxed, as we are still loaded down with all of our equipment, spare parts, camping gear, etc. All four tires dug deep into the loose gravel and dirt climbing up the incline. It was exciting, and a sight to see.! Finally, we made it the 3 miles back to the cabin. Not bad having already had our first adventure only hours into our arrival.
The next day we relaxed around the cabin, and roasted more smores. The tents were set up, so we didn’t go explore any that day. We did take Alberts 4 wheeler and headed out to find any dead trees we could cut up for fire wood. It was an adventure it self. Albert called a mechanic to come up to work on the truck. Apparently a wire had broken to the fuel pump during the bouncing around on the mountain roads. It was repaired and ready to go.
Sunday, some more of our friends came up to meet us at the cabin. We decided to all go to 1000 foot falls, and Rio On Pools. The trip was effortless over to the falls. What a beautiful sight. We only observed from the lookout, but heard people hike into the falls, because only a portion is visible from the lookout. Well worth the visit. Albert took off and said he would wait at ant turns he made so that we could find Rio Pools. We stayed back to avoid the heavy cloud of dust made by his truck. As we approached the first intersection, there was no sign of Albert. We had no idea where the pools were located. After driving around for a half an hour trying to locate him, we finally looked on the GPS to see if we could find it. The pools were actually listed! We followed the directions until it told me to turn left onto a “road”. This may have been a road by definition, however it was the smallest two track lane, overgrown with trees, I had seen in the area. It had deep ruts where rain had washed the trail away. Normally, I would be skeptical that this was the way, but who am I to argue with the GPS? I mean I have no idea where I am, and besides, this trail looks like fun! We set out for what the GPS said would be 6.9 miles. It took 30 minutes to traverse the uneven, obstacle course of a road. We encountered a gray fox, who looked confused to see a vehicle, as he turned and ran the other way. We finally arrived at the pools after being “lost” for over an hour. No sign of Albert or anybody else. Well we were here now, we might as well enjoy it, besides, we had the watermelon with us that we intended to eat at the pools. Bernard and Tammy had ridden with Albert, so no telling where they were. Adam and Ashley had ridden with us, so we were all split up. We hopped out at the parking lot, amazed at how many people were there. It was Easter Sunday, and apparently this was the place to be. Out in the middle of nowhere, was tour buses, charter vans, and local vehicles. This is the most people, actually the only other people, we have seen while driving around the mountain area. The water was very cool, but enjoyable, and families were everywhere, playing, cooking, and swimming. We stayed for a while, and then loaded back up. As we were pulling out, there was another parking area. Ashley hollered out, “there they are”! We pulled back in and rejoined our group, of course giving Albert a hard time for leaving us behind. We stayed one more night and then packed up Monday morning. We are heading to Placencia today! The last leg of this trip. It is mixed feelings. Excited to be back in Placencia and out of our vehicles and roof top tents, but sad the journey was ending. The views on the way were spectacular, mountains, jungles, and beaches. The Hummingbird highway was in probably the best condition its been in a while. Normally they fill the potholes with sand that washes out each time it rains, exposing the hole again. This time they actually used black top. The holes were filled, although filled a little excessively causing there to be a bump now instead of a hole, however, much better than in the past. We are back in Placencia now enjoying the breeze off the ocean, and the beach.We traveled a grand total of 3,384 miles from Augusta Georgia to Placencia Belize. We are already planning the next trip to PG, so stay tuned for the next installment of “On The Road In Belize”. From myself, Angela WoodhamsBernard Barbour, and Tammy Barbour, thanks for following our journey. It was fun having you along! Please get out there, enjoy Belize, and share your pictures, stories, or adventures with us. Remember, its the journey, not the destination. See you On The Road!

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We’re in ! Belize that is.

Posted: April 22, 2014 by Central America Overland Expeditions in Expedition/Travel

It all went, our border crossing. We drove out of Mexico immigration and customs in less than 5 minutes, and as un-Belize-able as it may sound we cleared immigration, customs and got auto insurance in less than an hour and were on our way. Our first stop was not to far from the border in the town of Corozal. We received an invite from Cherie and Eric Burson the owners of The Inn at Corozal Bay to stop by and decompress for a little while since driving through Mexico for the last to weeks. We gladly accepted and were happy we did. Cherie and Eric are new owners of the Inn and had a lot to show us in the way of renovations/remodeling upgrading and updating they are doing. we also had a fabulous seafood boil, traded many story about our travel trips in Belize and abroad. We highly recommend that if you are traveling in northern Belize you own it to yourself to stop in and enjoy.    http://theinnatcorozalbay.com/

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Next stop we’re headed to the mountains. Pine Ridge Mountain!

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Don’t cross that border just yet!

Posted: April 15, 2014 by Central America Overland Expeditions in Expedition/Travel

Don’t cross the border yet until you stay at Gringo Dave’s in Chetumal. We have been to this resort several times now to camp in Chetumal before the Belizean border and just love it here. Gringo Dave is a very charming man. You can camp here or rent one of the lagoon front cabins.
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Directly on the Laguna de los Milagros (Lagoon of Miracles)
600 pesos for super deluxe cabanas – lagoon front – stairs that go right in to the lagoon
300 pesos for deluxe cabanas
Cabanas each have their own bathrooms
$10US per tent , plenty of camping spaces
Includes bathrooms with shower, electricity, WIFI
There are some unexcavated ruins here right near the cabanas. Amazing place.

http://www.gringodaveslastresort.com/

 

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Tuxtepec to Oaxaca

Posted: April 12, 2014 by Central America Overland Expeditions in Expedition/Travel

Tuxtepec to Oaxaca:
Day 11: 2164 Miles traveled. We didn’t leave Textupec until 10 am after a stop at a local McDonalds (again) for internet. Google said it would take 2 hours 45 minutes to go the route we planned on highway 175 South. Easy day we thought. We will be in Oaxaca just after lunch, in time to do some sight-seeing. We had been in contact with Overlander Oasis, so we knew right where we were going to stay. The sun was bright, and the temperature great at about 70 degrees when we took off. As we wound through a few small towns, we snapped pictures of locals going about their daily business. We made the 90 degree left turn onto the road heading out of the last populated town. We began climbing fairly quickly. The road between Tuxtepec and Oaxaca is a winding road that goes directly through the mountain range. Oaxaca is in the mountains, so maybe the higher elevations will offer some cooler weather.
At around 1750 feet above sea level, we decided to pull over for a break. The winding, cut back roads were already wearing on us, and we were not even a 1/3 of the way yet. As Angela and Tammy were navigating from the passenger seats in their respective vehicles, they decided to apply some motion sickness ointment, just to be safe. Tammy said, “Whew, we are getting up there now”. I said, “We are only in the foothills”. She said, “Un huuh, yeah right”, in her best Tennessee accent.
Back in the vehicles we began the mountainous trek around multiple “s” curves, at times snaking back so far on themselves that we could see each others vehicles facing each other in opposite directions. Bernard, held in right tight to form a seamless caravan of our vehicles. The winding and snaking did not stop for hours, as we rapidly climbed to 3000 feet. I noted that this was about the elevation of Mountain Pine Ridge in Belize. The climbing and winding continued relentlessly, until we were nearing 7000 feet. Now, we were getting “up there”. By this time, we were already at over 4 hours on the mountain pass! So much for Google. We reached over 9700 feet above sea level by the time we reached the top. By this time, the Landrovers needed a break along with its passengers. Many times we were in only first gear running 4000 rpm to just make it up some of the slopes. We occasionally got caught behind a truck hauling huge sections of trees being repurposed.

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The view from the top was amazing, and our breaths were noticeably short as we walked around to the lookouts. Some cows were there to greet us, but shied away when we tried to snap pictures. We maintained nearly 9000 feet for the remaining part of the trip until we neared Oaxaca (pronounced WaHacka). We began descending to around 5000 feet by the time we got to our destination.
Along the way down the mountains, we pulled over for another breather. It was at another little roadside stand ran by a local and her 3-year-old daughter. She was the cutest little girl. When her mom pulled the bottle of water from the ice water in the cooler, she grabbed a napkin and held it under the bottle to keep it from dripping without being told. She had a cute, but shy smile. I walked back to the car and grabbed a small ring with the lords prayer inscribed on the side, that we always carry for just such instances. It always gets an extra smile from the children we encounter, when they receive this tiny gift. She hung out the window and waved good-bye as we pulled back onto the road.
The coordinates were spot on and we ended up at the front gate of Overlander Oasis. This is a great little camping facility at the home of Calvin and Leanna, also overlanders who have been traveling for nearly 17 years. We just missed a group of travelers from Hungary when we arrived, so we had the place to ourselves. A hot shower, movie under the stars, and a fresh watermelon wrapped up our eventful day. Not a bad ending to an over 6 hour trip through the mountain terrain. We slept great in the tents last night as the temperatures cooled in to the mid 50’s. Tomorrow we explore downtown Oaxaca!

 

And the beats goes on!

Posted: April 12, 2014 by Central America Overland Expeditions in Expedition/Travel

Emerald Coast to Tuxtepec:

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We stopped at a little roadside restaurant heading out of the Emerald coast for breakfast. We all ate very inexpensively (approx. $40 pesos each), and then got on the road headed to Veracruz. We made good time despite the many little towns that we drove through, all providing speed bumps (topes) to slow us down. The skies were bright and the temperature perfect. The views were amazing. At times, you could see the ocean on your left, and a mountain range to the right. The roads were mostly good, winding through towns, mountains, etc. Elevations changed, but not too dramatically. We passed numerous trucks harvesting, what appeared to be kindling wood, possible for cooking fires, or sugar cane. It is amazing how high they can pack those trucks!
We found a stop off offering a towering view of the beach surrounded by mountains. Very picture worthy. This was probably the most scenic leg of the trip thus far. We tried to capture some of them in pictures, though they do not do it justice. As we neared Veracruz, we stopped to pay a toll. There haven’t been many along this route, which we are happy about. Coming into Veracruz, the traffic picked up significantly. The window washers were in full effect. I had to holler at one of them who decided he needed to sit on my hood to reach the middle, after I told him, “No”. We stopped downtown on the ocean front and took pictures and toured the area. Next we found a nice grill restaurant that offered great burgers. The staff was very friendly, and enjoyed “practicing” their English. Tammy had four years of Spanish in high school, and speaks the most in our group. I learned the crash course method after spending four months in Mexico in 2012. I have also practiced with Rosetta stone which helps. We all laughed as we took turns learning new words in each language. We stopped on the ocean front in the downtown area. There was much activity such as street vendors, work out stations, artistry, and sculptures. It’s a culturally, and visually stunning town. We really enjoyed our time there.
Back on the road we decided to head to Tuxtepec, where we would be in at a good starting point to head into Oaxaca the following day. The road we were going to take into Oaxaca is full of switchbacks, and mountains, so we wanted a fresh start. As we Left Veracruz, we were hit with another cuota (toll road). The roads were in great shape, although a little bumpy, allowing us to make good time. The route was fairly ordinary, but the time went by quickly. By the time we made it to Tuxtepec, we had been through several more cuotas. These fees were starting to add up, the highest fee being just over $11.00 U.S. We made it into Tuxtepec, found a place to stay, and tried the internet. It had a strong signal, but no internet access! Uhhggg! This is getting old! We are wearing out the McDonald’s. At least the wifi there is fairly steady.
Next up: Oaxaca! I love this town. We will be there for 2-3 days, hanging out at a known overlander hangout, Overlander Oasis. We most likely will be there with other overlanders traveling the Pan American highway. Stay tuned!

Day 7 was supposed to be lucky.

Posted: April 8, 2014 by Central America Overland Expeditions in Expedition/Travel

 

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Day 7, well as with any adventure, sometimes things don’t go as planned. We got up without hurry as it was only a 3 hour drive to our next stop in Poza Rica. The continental breakfast was ok, but glad it was free. We headed out-of-town over the Tampico bridge, and through the toll. It cost $30 pesos each. About 10 miles past the toll, my check engine light came on. I carry my trusty code reader in my vehicle at all times, and it paid off. I read the code and saw that it was a multiple misfire situation. After diagnosing the situation, we decided to head back through the toll and over the bridge to get back to Autozone. Fortunately we had passed one in Tampico. Long story short, it appeared maybe a coil pack was bad. After checking availability, we were planning to stay another night to wait for it to come in the next day. I bought 2 spark plugs and decided to give them a try. Upon pulling the plug wires. one came apart in my hands. I repaired it, put the plugs in and fired it up. After clearing the code, we drove around to test it out. No misfire! Great news. Fortunately, I hadn’t ordered the part yet. By now it was 2 pm. We wanted to get on the road to get to our next stop before dark. Crossing through the toll bridge again (for the 3rd time, both ways), we rested knowing we did our part funding the road and bridge work.
The roads were noticeably narrower and rougher, very reminiscent of the Hummingbird Highway in Belize. After about 50 miles we came to a completely new section of road that was being built. This will definitely be nice when complete! One thing I like about many roads in Mexico, is that there is a large shoulder with dashed lines. This is for cars to straddle to allow other faster cars pass without having to enter the oncoming traffic lane. It is a very efficient and much safer type of road in my opinion. I also notice that signs, one way streets, double lines, speed limits, and general rules are merely suggestions in Mexico. If its convenient, follow the rules, if not, do what you like.This is my kind of driving! The roads smoothed back out and smooth sailing to Poza Rica where we crossed through another toll booth that cost $14 pesos. Along the way, we encountered many friendly people. Even the Local police got into the mix, checking out our vehicles at the Pemex fuel stop. The guy pumping gas, stopped for a quick pose for the camera, with a big smile. I paid $5 pesos for a quick bathroom stop, and we headed down the road. We are staying in Poza Rica tonight at the Poza Rica Hotel. Before you ridicule, we are camping in our roof top tents. They have electric and water hook ups in the back parking lot. Plenty of trees for privacy and over all reasonable at $300 pesos/night. This includes the use of the spectacular pool, hot showers, and free wi-fi. We fired up the propane hot plate and cooked up some Cajun sausage and boudin left from our trip through Louisiana. Life is good right now. We are getting ever closer to our border crossing into Belize. Stay tuned!

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We didn’t know Owls could be so mean.

Posted: April 7, 2014 by Central America Overland Expeditions in Expedition/Travel

Days 3,4&5: 1254, Total miles traveled After leaving Lafayette behind, and saying farewell to our friends, we hopped back on the road headed to Houston Texas, where we are meeting up with The Urban Treasure hunter, and his wife, Camera girl. The weather was good, and the roads better. As we approached the heavy traffic going into Houston, we noticed the sign for the HOV lane. Quickly changing lanes, and we were flying by the traffic congestion and avoiding the toll road (benefits of having more than one person in the car). We had reservations at Steven F. Austin State campground. We pulled into the campground and were met by our friends. They had a screened in shelter at the campsite. We set up the roof top tents while visiting. TJ (aka Urban Treasure Hunter) is also an excellent Cajun chef. He whipped out his deep fryer and began frying fresh tilapia on the picnic table. Wow! Food cooked outside is always the best! We got the campfire started and of course indulged in some smores. As the girls were sitting around the campfire talking something fell from the trees. Part of it hit Angela on her shoulder, and part hit the ground with a splat. They jumped up to see what it was. All of a sudden Tammy spotted the Barred Owl sitting directly above her chair. It had decided to let loose! We got some good pictures and Angela moved her chair. I don’t know, but I think she is one in a million. I mean how many people do you know that have been crapped on by an owl??  The next morning TJ was up bright and early and had coffee made and started on the bagnets’. Yes, bagnets’ out of this world! Man, we were being spoiled with all of this great cooking. We had to run into Houston to pick up a door lock part for the Landrover. It had quit locking on the driver’s door. Heading into Mexico loaded down, we definitely wanted to be able to secure it. With the part in hand we were able to fix it. That evening TJ cooked a pot of seafood gumbo over the fire. It was amazing! A little karaoke around the campfire before we decided to stop singing and let the cub scouts at the next campsite get some sleep. Sunday morning was our last morning, and TJ sent us off with Pappaduex (French Toast). We sure are going to miss all of this gourmet cooking! We took off down the road toward Brownsville Texas, to prepare for our border crossing in the morning. We will be crossing around 8 am, and hope to make it to Tampico by mid afternoon. I am writing this from a campsite just outside Brownsville Texas called, Palmdale RV resort. It is a 55 and older community with a pool, hot tub, community center and lots of activities. No, we are not 55 or older, however the owners were very nice and allowed us to camp for the night. The site cost $37 total for both vehicles. When we arrived, we were invited to the ice cream social at 6:30 ($1.00 all you can eat!) With bingo to follow. Very nice offer, but after driving all day, we are ready to relax and unwind. Its going to be a big day tomorrow! Stay tuned as we update you from Mexico and then Belize!

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