Every once in a while in the midst of what seems like endless and sometimes fruitless research you find the holy grail of information that you have been looking for in the oddest of places. Piecing together the details of a motorcycle trip to South America can be a frustrating endeavor. There’s a tidbit here and a tidbit there, but nothing that paints a broad picture of what you’re up against yet provides the necessary detail to get the job done. Then I found Sjoerd Bakker’s book – Cheap Hotels of Mexico and Central America. You know that sound that the Mac makes when you turn it on? Yeah.
Now this isn’t a book that you can find on Amazon or pick up at your local library or book store. You can’t even buy it as an eBook and download it at your convenience. What you can do is write to Sjoerd in Canada and send him a money order and he’ll get you a copy by mail. He even has a PayPal account now to help expedite the process. We used the PayPal method and got our book in a little over a week complete with Canadian Superman postage stamps.
Sjoerd has been riding in this territory for 30 years and has compiled the most complete set of information on riding a motorcycle south of the border known to man. He’s got everything you need to know from border crossings to routes, traffic laws to dealing with local police, street signs to road conditions and tops it off with an amazing list of cheap hotels across the continent. Some of them even have hand drawn maps to help keep you from getting lost. If you’re even thinking of taking a motorcycle south of the border don’t do it until you get this book!
Where do you find all of this? As it were, the official listing for the book is on page 7 of a topic on a message board at the advrider.com site. I know, right? Sjoerd specifically says that he’d like everyone to reference back to that post as it is the one he updates with current information. Very well, here is the link to the original post.
Now, as Internet savvy as I am, it took me weeks to stumble across this treasure because it is buried in the eyes of Google. That’s why we’re here. I’ve spend a tremendous amount of time to make this site righteous in the eyes of his Googliness. So let’s use a little bit of that capital to connect motorcycle riders with Sjoerd Bakker and an amazing buried treasure.
As I said, check the original post for updates, but here’s the scoop on actually getting a copy of the book:
“I have been travelling around Mexico for 30 years and Central America after the civil wars ended in Nicaragua and El Salvador .All the while I have spent my nights in small , economical,tidy ,family owned inns in all manner of places in all corners of the countries. A number of years ago I decided to compile a list of many such inns in a planned guide and since then I have revisited those hotels I selected in an effort to bring pricing and details up to the latest date.I have also been checking hotels in intersting places just to collect such data. The list includes hotels in Mexico and all over Central America. Places which are regular small towns as well as the famous tourist destinations and famous archaeological sites. Hotels I choose are economically priced nice sevicable places with secure parking for a motorcycle or car, a fan, toilet and shower.In many cases they have air conditioning and TV, or it is available at a small added fee They are nothing to be ashamed of and in many cases they are quite fancy ,the equal of any chain motel in the US even at their low price.Ratings you might say range from 3 star to stardust to starlight. In some cases the motel was selected because I needed a place and it was the only place in town, or it was an irresistable location and price .Or it might in the odd case be an emergency choice to get off the road in bad weather or before nightfall ,which then proved to be a surprisingly good choice worthy of recommending.
I never travel with any detailed plan of route or overnights.Never make reservations. I Look for the least costly place if there are a number to pick from and then decide and I have never been disappointed .I also carry a tent and light sleeping bag for those cases where I might not find a hotel and I have only used it once as such an emergency measure in 30 years, although I do camp occasionally. If one is prepared to camp outdoors then what should prevent one from camping indoors? We are not all milionaires travelling with a chase vehicle to carry our fancy duds . If one must have fancy hotels with all manner of luxury this book is not of interest, you can find plenty of $70 to $700 per night hotels with no effort- but you can forget about the back corners of these countries.
My book is a simple affair, 14cm X 22cm, black and white on bond paper, a very easy fit in any tankbag .
Since writing the above I have been costantly collecting more hotel locations on repeat trips and I have reworked al the data for a new 2012 version of my guide Then recently I did a small edit to correct a few errors and to add some important new rule changes on the customs requirements (TVIP Security Deposit) and I took the trouble to add a small number of new towns for Mexico whch had never been listed before ,containging 75 more hotels. The new edited version came from the printer this week and is now ready and available.
The width X length size of book remains the same but it has grown in volume so much that I decided to split it into two parts , Part I dealing exclusively with Mexico and Part II contains all the essential introductory information and the hotels across all of Central America.Weight has gone up accordingly .
The number of pages has more than doubled to 300 and the number of hotels also has tripled.There are now listings with directions to 1103 hotels in 498 towns across Mexico and 431 hotels in 218 towns in the seven countries of Central America.. These hotels start in the border towns along the USA side and extend to Yaviza ,Panama at the end of the pavement and start of the Darien Gap.
Unfortunately due to a substantial increase in the cost of printing on the quality paper and an upcoming increase in the postage rates in the coming new year 2013 I have been forced to raise my price . I regret that , but it is beyond my control and I am not willing to go into the red just to see others enjoying the benefits of my research. .
Henceforth the two- book set will be sold together as a unit for $30 to any address in Canada and the continental USA . This INCLUDES cost of postage and handling from Ontario. .
Postage to other continents is considerably higher which makes sales there unattractive. However if you are planning a trip through Mexico and CA starting from the USA end it may be worthwhile to consider finding a contact address in the USA where you could have it sent so that you can pick it up after arriving in the USA. For instance a relative or a new friends’s home, , a motorcycle shop where you have reservations for bike service or a hotel you will be staying at .
If you would like a copy you may send a US dollar or CDN dollar cashable cheque, postal money order is okay too but costs more than a bank cheque.
Moneygram ( available at many independent retail points, at WalMart,at Canada Post outlets ) or WESTERN UNION transfers are a third option but be warned , it was pointed out to me that these forms of payment are very secure but they are also very expensive relative to the small amount of money involved. A Moneygram from the USA will cost you $15 on top of what I charge to recover my costs !
Make your cheque payable to
733161 Pick Line
RR 3 Norwich
Ontario N0J 1P0
In your order letter please also include your “handle” which you use in your posts here on ADV or other sites and / or maybe your email address to facilitate communication if there is a problem.
The book is available only in this paper format. I have no computer nor computer skills beyond this style of posting, e-mail and web surfing.
A big change has occurred in that now I have indeed signed up with PayPal and for all you electronically enabled whizzes you can indeed pay by way of sending a Paypal payment to my e-mail address account email@example.com ( at least that is how I undestand it works form one test purchase already done by a new friend who was willing to explain the system to me . Thanks Rey )
HOWEVER I must caution that such a near instantaneous payment mechanism may raise false hopes to you as a purchaser.
Please ,please remember that I do still remain the inept computer user I was before and the delivery system is still by way of the same postal sytems requiring the same lead time for the book to reach you .
If you do go the PayPal route and if I am around the home base to act on it I may be able to send off an order more promptly , but it also opens a possibility that your payment languishes on the email in box list without me knowing about it if I am wandering around on the bike for weeks. If you do choose to go the PayPal route then you must state in your order letter that such a payment has been made.I don’t know if PayPal gives you some form of printable proof but do give something like that in your order letter. This is because my help who looks after the sending-out of books when I am on a trip is even less computer savvy than I am and there is totally NO computer at home base.
It is a better method I think to simply MAIL a personal cheque or cashiers cheque from your bank to me with your order letter for the book well before you plan on setting off. Such cheques are fairly secure and will be deposited to my account after the required time for it to be cleared by the various banking channels. It may take a week or two but that is not a problem for me. The book will be mailed out immediately when the order is received here on the very day or the following day
Send a cheque( or MONEYGRAM or an international money order or WESTERN UNION ,similar process and costs to MONEYGRAM )transfer.
For MONEYGRAM you go to the place where they are sold and give them the name and address of the intended recipient(me ) and pay the $30 plus a BIG service fee. They then isssue a file number for that payment. When you write your order letter for the books to me you MUST include that MONEYGRAM File number and your RETURN ADDRESS IN CLEAR UNMISTAKABLE PRINTING
I prefer such a paper book form over electronics because it is so transportable, no batteries required and it has immediate and random access when one is on the road.
In the book all towns with hotels are listed in alphabetic order per country .In the front of the Part I Mexico book I include a schematic index of towns listed in sequence as they appear along the highways and divided into various highway routes and regions. This makes it, I think, a fairly simple task to decide which routes one is interested in for a trip and then to highlight those potential hotel places on your map.
Obviously I make no claim to have every hotel in every location, but it will give a user the option of picking and choosing and at least of being sure there may be a hotel within range when heading to an unknown- to -him destination. It gives peace of mind , less stuff to worry about.This can be of particular importance to a first-time traveller to Mexico with limited Spanish language skill. As travel experience progresses and the Spanish improves the new traveller can apply the methods outlined in the book to strike out on his own to investigate other hotels. The hotels listed will in most cases place the traveller in the center of town and in the vicinity of a range of other hotels which can be investigated if you wish.
For each location I include the name of the town, the state(in Mexico) , the highway numbers which connect it, a brief description of any especially important facts about it or nearby sites and possible alerts as to unexpected local features,scarcity of gas situations, long or tedious distances ( i.e tedious really often means slow going wonderfully curvy ,steep,scenic,mountainous or all of these!) to next possible hotel site. Hotels are listed by name and an example of recent price, room appointments,food availability if needed, and its location in town with an address. In many cases a small basic sketch map provides more help in finding it.
I spent a few hundred dollars in printing fees and am not even tallying the countless hours of ,collecting, compiling and typing the data, so I am just aiming above the break-even point.
If you need more info just e-mail me at the hotmail address firstname.lastname@example.org
ADVrider contact file pm s are risky because I may not check them for weeks and weeks if I am away travelling..
And finally a word on leaving adequate time for mail delivery. It takes about a week to 10 days for regular mail to travel across Canada and the USA, Therefor if you want the handbooks please order well before the time that you want to start off. Please, avoid deciding you want one a week before departure date and then try to get a rush delivery by courier ( which gets way expensive if you get my attention in time and I am still around the homestead and not in Mexico that is)
PS SPECIAL NOTE : if you wish to make reference to this post please DO NOT
COPY AND PASTE my entire post it into your post
. Since I occasionally
edit this post and update it a pasted copy would lock in numbers which
would be out of date and wrong after an edit by me.
If you wish to reference this original post it is best to provide only
a LINK to the page 7 post . That way readers will always get the
newest info and it will save a lot of space in the post.”