Thursday, March 12, 2015

Little Germany, Guatemala City

There have been times in our journey where the sheer kindness, hospitality and generosity of the people we have met has blown us away. Literally stunned us. This happened time and again in Guatemala City. And it was incredible. 

Our first stop in Guatemala was the Honda shop to see if they would be able to service Roel’s suspension, which, let’s just say, is slightly due for a refresher. Just as we were figuring out, with a decent level of disappointment, that they would likely not be able to help, a Smart car, containing a large man drove up and whisked us away.

Carlos, a friend of Ruben’s from Oaxaca, had invited us to use his workshop in Guatemala City so we could work on the bikes and said vaguely, that he also had a place that we could stay if we wanted to stay there. I couldn’t find his address with Google Maps but knowing that we would be at Honda, he swung by there to meet us so that we could follow him to the address.

Said address turned out to be a German delicatessen production facility, complete with a bakery and workshop in the back. (Carlos’s parents brought the family from Germany to Guatemala 50 years ago.) There was a lovely apartment above the offices where Carlos welcomed us to stay and knowing we’d found quite a special spot, we eagerly accepted his invitation. 

After devouring delicious deli-sandwiches, we got to work on the bikes. We first had a look at the Transalp’s oil leak… which appeared not to be an oil leak, after all!?! Once we removed the front sprocket cover and cleaned up the gunk that was all over that area due to the ScotOiler, we ran the bike for a few minutes. No oil leaked. We let it cool down. No oil leaked. Hmmmm. Well, don’t fix what doesn’t appear to be broken, I guess. We’ll keep a close eye on it for a bit. Maybe it was just the ScotOiler, but it was a different sweat pattern than the ScotOiler has made in the past… Even David (who is a mechanic) said it looked like the transmission output shaft oil seal was leaking. Very odd.

Next, Roel went to work on my kickstand, grinding down a piece of scrap metal he’d found in the workshop. Carlos’s brother, Markus, ground the old cracked and bent pad off and welded the new pad on.

Roel and Carlos cut my old windscreen extension down to size. After Carlos helped us procure Go Pro mounts from the wonderfully helpful BMW shop, my homemade wind-deflection device was back in place.
(Seriously, though, if you ride a BMW and even if you don’t, BMW Motorrad Guatemala City is a great shop. Super helpful guys, who are just passionate about motorcycling and making sure their riders have the best of the best, in bikes, gear and accessories.)

Carlos supervising Roel's windscreen install

And most importantly, Carlos gave us a very key piece of advice:

In Nicaragua, you MUST keep your headlight and running lights off during the day. It is only legal for emergency vehicles and government vehicles to have their lights on during the day. If you have yours on 1. They WILL stop you because it’s obvious that you are a foreigner. 2. They WILL fine you (or try to) because it’s actually a fine-able offense there.
So, Roel installed a switch so I’ll be able to turn my headlight off and on in Nicaragua.

Roel was so focused on working on my bike, that it took one of Carlos’s other brothers (Jurgen) checking out the Africa Twin to notice that the left fork had leaked!!! Uh-oh. Since Roel had just changed the fork oil in Mexico, it’s possible that he just overfilled it and hitting a tope (or tumulo here in Guatemala) had caused it to leak. He decided to clean it up, continue riding and see whether or not it leaked. Again, don’t fix it if it’s not broken.


It was a relief to get all of these projects on the bikes done and we had a wonderful time in Guatemala City outside of bike-work hours. We spent the afternoons running around with Carlos as he took us to visit the highlights of the city and helped us find the parts and tools we needed, including a replacement fork seal for the Africa Twin. Just in case ;) We had also been having trouble with Roel's Sena device, so Carlos hooked us up with ComAuto and they very kindly replaced his device, no questions asked, no hassles. It's a huge relief having a new unit since we use the Sena's every moment we are riding and are especially enjoying filming with them now.

A very cool Relief Map of Guatemala... this made us even more appreciative of how incredible the landscape of this country.

The Olivares family (yes, the same family who brought us the parts in Antigua) invited us over for dinner and Irene made tostadas, tamales and the best Chicken Pepian we have had. I am salivating as I’m typing… it was THAT good.

The lovely Irene serving up the best Chicken Pepian and tostadas

Mr. Olivares heard from Carlos about our phone issues (we have an ancient iPhone that we have been using that only functional for phone calls, e-mail and texts - not WhatsApp which apparently EVERYONE else uses and Google Maps, which would be extremely helpful). He happens to import cell phones and surprised us with a brand new dual-sim smart phone. Wow.

We were invited to the birthday party of Carlos’s grandsons and had a great time meeting their wonderful family and friends.

PiƱata scavenger.

Roel's first GS

The traffic in Guatemala City was horrendous, but thanks to Carlos, we didn’t have to deal with too much of it. He even took us to see David one day, who was staying in another part of the city. We made plans to head over the border to El Salvador together, again. And… Carlos being the incredible host and friend that he is, decided to take a couple of days off from work with his lovely wife, Sigrid, and ride over the border with us, as well.

1 comment:

  1. I lived and worked at the sausage factory for years, (had a carpentry shop in the last shed), those guys were like my German brothers. Papa Bear, (Carlos' generosity knows no bounds), Techno Boy, (Jurgen is an engineering wizz-kid), and Beemer Boy, (Markus the party animal), were the best support crew an Aussie exile could hope for.