Nickís Journal: Mexico, Belize & Guatemala Trip, 1997

7/15/97, Orange Walk Town, Belize--
Buenos Noches!

All is going well with us here in Central America. We made it to Belize without any major problems. Probably went through a dozen inspections. The vehicles have guzzled 318 gallons of gas costing approximately $560. They are averaging 40 mph when you consider speeds of 25 mph traveling up hills, 8000í above sea level. In Mexico City, we traveled roads over 11,000í. So far, we have crossed five large bodies of water, three of which the Rovers crossed with us. We drove through sixteen major cities and numerous small villages. We have paid $400 for highway and bridge tolls. Total number of miles driven so far is 3471 (5586km). We got separated twice, once in Guadalajara (a very large city!), but we found each other again using a standard circular search pattern learned from watching too much Star Trek.

The countryside: Beautiful. The scenery: Spectacular. The roads: Bad, but not as bad as I expected. Roads connecting major destinations in Mexico generally fall into two categories: free roads and toll roads. The toll roads are great and usually empty, but there werenít enough of them.
The vehicles have performed very well with only minor fuel-delivery problems so far. One of the problems started because I didnít like the faint smell of gasoline coming from the breather on top of the auxiliary fuel tank that sits safely underneath my seat. When Iíd open my window, a vacuum would cause the fumes to seep in through holes in the seatbox, through the cabin, and out the window. The fumes werenít strong or dangerous — but I solved the problem anyway by connecting a hose to the breather and bending it to minimize the fumes. Unfortunately I kinked the hose, causing a new problem that took me weeks to figure out.   

Essentially, I capped off the breather when I kinked the hose. When the tank was half full (or half empty, depending on your view), the fuel pump couldnít pull air into the tank to equalize the lost volume. The symptoms resembled running out of fuel, so we stopped to check things out. We checked the carburetor, and found that it was getting fuel okay. The tanks contained fuel too. Not a fuel delivery problem, we concluded as we moved on down the erroneous path, troubleshooting the ignition system. When we checked the auxiliary tank, removing the filler cap caused air to rush in. Unable to find anything wrong logically, we employed chaos rules, and started tightening, fastening, disconnecting, and reconnecting anything that might possibly fix the problem. While this may not be the most logical way to solve problems (in fact, itís a sure-fire way to create new ones!), itís all too easy to default to this approach. After a while, you just get tired of trying one thing at a time. Eventually we scratched our heads, hopped in, and started the Rover in dismay when it finally fired up. Hours later the problem would re-occur. 

We also lost a clutch in Alaska en route to Villahermosa. How we got it fixed makes for an interesting story. 

Boats weíve taken include:           


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