I first met Megan at the Papaya Lodge in El Tunco, El Salvador. From the moment she walked into the dorm, I couldn’t stop sneaking glances. She had her vintage red helmet in hand, her riding boots on, and a sexy wind blown look on her face. When my curiosity could no longer be contained, I introduced myself and discovered that she was just 24 years old and had ridden from Edmonton in Alberta, Canada all the way to El Salvador on her own. I was so impressed and intrigued that the questions just kept rolling.
1) What inspired you to ride to Central America?
I have actually pondered this question for some time because I am not exactly sure. I think someone said something once about someone riding a motorcycle to South America and I thought “neet, Im going to do that”. I wasn’t really serious until people started saying I couldn’t. Naturally I didn’t like that so I started looking into it. I didn’t even believe it until next thing ya know I was sitting on a new moto purchased with the last of my student loans thinking “shit, this thing is heavy”.
2) Have you always rode motorcycles?
The first time I rode on a highway was actually the day I left…. I made it 45 minutes out of town. I couldn’t even test drive little Kawasaki when I bought her. Some people would suggest that this is foolish but when you ride from Saskatchewan to Guatemala there is actually a lovely gradual skill increase. Step 1: straight and flat. Step 2: hills and curves. Step 3: mountains and large American cities. Step 4: Tijuana. And Step 5: sand, creeks, highways that turn into dirt paths, oil slicks, construction detours, and chicken buses.
3) What kind of bike do you ride?
It’s a 1981 kawasaki 440 ltd. Not exactly the ideal bike for this kind of journey but it only cost me a thousand bucks and any kid working in a tortillaria can fix it.
4) What did your mom say when you told her your plan?
Aha she forbade it, then she didn’t believe me, then I told her I bought a bike when we were in the dentist’s office so she couldn’t freak out. Realy she and the pops reacted the exact same way as I feel I would towards my future wanderlust children. They weren’t outwardly psyched that I was set on undertaking a potentially dangerous activity but they came around and now are very supportive. My ma still reiterates the government of Canada warnings to me though every time I enter a new country.
5) What’s the best part of motorcycling Central America?
The best part I would have to say is those times that I break down or have to stop for the night in funny little towns that no tourist would think of staying in. I like to think I get the best of both worlds. I make it to the tourist destinations but I also get a generous dose of culture and interaction with the people of the country. Its also a guilty pleasure of mine when I get to tell people on fancy new BMWs that I rode down on a near vintage street bike with a packpack bungeed to the sissy bar, it’s all fun love though, ive got nothing against BMWs.
6) What’s the hardest part?
Being hung over on the days I want to leave… at these times I sometimes wish I could just jump on a shuttle and sleep.
7) Have you ever been robbed?
I prefer to think of it as paying for someones childrens education.
8) Have you had any accidents?
I fall off more often then I care to admit but its always been on dirt roads and at low speeds. A result of riding a street bike off street and maybe a little inexperience. The worst I’ve got was the wind knocked out of me and maybe a bruised rib but I’ve always gotten up laughing. Once you accept the fact that you might take a tumble or two it’s not a big deal. As for actual accidents, I find drivers down south a bit nuts but incredibly alert. They might pass you with half a foot of clearance but they aren’t going to run you over (knocks on wood).
9) How far will you go?
It costs more to ship the bike over the Darian gap then the bike cost so im trying to gift it to a fellow traveler somewhere between Nicaragua and Panama. If you know anyone who’s interested let me know.
10) How many times have locals proposed to you?
Never, ive been chased by tuk tuks a few times though, maybe it’s the same thing.
11) What part of the world do you want to ride next?
That’s a toughy. If not more of South America I’d be inclined to say India-Nepal area. I’d probably switch up the means of travel though. Ive recently grown a strong propensity towards bicycles.
12) What kind of gear did you bring?
I set out on this journey definitely the budget way. Almost all my gear is older than me except for my camp stove and ive got an iphone which comes in handy for maps. Depsite what some may say, a GPS is not necessary. Other than that ive got lots of bungee cords, a backpack, a tarp, and a sleeping bag. I sent my tent home after Mexico. Ooo one of my favorite things ive been carrying though is a fish filleting knife. It comes in loads handy for some reason and it never seems to get dull.
13) What advice would you give to someone interested in riding through Central America?
Ignore the nay sayers, find the joy in things going completely wrong, and in my opinion don’t get carried away with gear, thought having said that, I really wish I had one of those little travel hammocks.
I’m still blown away by Megan. She is seriously an inspiration to anyone who wants to travel by any means. After learning about her adventure my motorcycle twitch has returned with a vengeance. Now all I can think about is getting back on a bike. But, I will leave it fate. If it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be. Besides, I’m not sure my budget can afford it.
Check her out at Southbound Ramblin.