My Travel Page: Facebook.com/ajctraveler
Tip for servicing your Defender in the USA.
Anyone who has owned a Defender and has got to the point where you have to change the manual gear box oil. Will know that Land Rover only specify one oil. A special blend called MTF 94 which is made by Texaco for Land Rover. However its expensive (even in the UK) and hard to come by in the US. Not on the self of your Auotzone or O'reilys So what to use? I'll save you all the boring research into oil standards and spec's and cut straight to the case. Valvoline Max Life Dec/Merc fits the bill and works really well. I used it in my Defender back in March 12 and have driven 20,000 miles from Deserts to Tundra and back, and when I grained the oil the other day. It still looked pretty good in colour. So I have refilled my manual gear box with the same stuff. If you put a inferior ATF fluid in, you will know all about it. Hard gear changes, especially from 1st into 2nd. Plus increased noise from the gear box when cruising, as not enough oil is getting to all the places it should. So this Valvoline Max Life Dec/Mec has proven a very good substitute. Plus you can get it from Wallmark or Auto at a good price.
Keep those wheels rolling, David
Just a quick update and a bit of info.
I'm now on the Mexican main land at Puerta Vallarta. Which was a great place to spend Mexican Independence day. My head is still hurting from last night...
The second lap of Baja was great. With good company provide by Scott Haskins who I'm currently travelling with. He's also heading south on his GS1200 called Roxy.
We managed to find an awesome place to relax for a few days in El Pascadero at the San Pedrito surf camp. Right on the beach, with warm sea and golden sand. The only problem was finding the will to leave.
For those that are heading south, here's a bit of info on the ferry.
La Paz to Mazatlan = 18 hours
Baja Ferries charge
2,303 peso's for a car/4x4
1,963 peso's for a motorbike
Bikers be warned they don't have any tie down straps for motorbikes. Only wheel chocks. So pack a big ratchet strap if you are worried your bike will fall over.
If you don't want to get a cabin. The seats are comfy and recline for sleeping. They also so movies in the day time/evening and dinner and breakfast are included. Its not amazing food, but it fills a gap.
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When discussing with most Americans that you are planning to drive through Mexico, there reactions vary from. “Watch your back, its a dangerous place”. To “You'll be robbed, raped and killed, shortly after crossing the border” and as one person said. “Not necessarily in that order”
Well, I'm glad to report. None of the above has happened to me. Just plain lucky, you might think. I prefer to think its was listening to local advice, travelling with company, and meeting ex-pats who could give the real story or guide you in your choice of route. All in all I had a great time in Mexico, found the locals friendly. Except when driving. Then they all seam to dive like kamikaze and don't care if you happen to get in the way.
Mexico is a large a diverse country. From the desert vista's and beaches of Baja to the tropical Jungle in the south, and the tourist areas like Cancun. But all have there own appeal and draw and one of the best ways to explore this diversity is by driving overland. This is not with out its challenges. The driving style of the Mexicans must be one of the most dangerous in the world. Cheap places to stay, or camping, in popular areas won't just fall in your lap. But with a bit of research and help from the locals. You can find good places to stay, at reasonable cost, usually with safe parking.
One of the funniest places to stay when away from touristy areas, was the so called “Love” hotels. These are the type of hotel rooms that can be rented by the hour, if you get my drift. Or for the whole night if you are a stallion or just a tired traveller. They are perfect for bikers or overlanders with smaller vehicles. As each room often has its own garage underneath, with curtain or doors. The accommodation is usually basic, cheap and clean, with on suit bathroom.
Military or police check points can be difficult too. Most are polite, ask questions, do a little search and let you go on your way. However there are the one or two which you will come across who expect something extra. The two common ways are petty theft while searching through your things or trying to extort money from you whilst holding your documents. The usual trick for the first is that one will try to ask you questions, to distract you, whilst the other is reaching and helping him self to anything small and shiny he sees. This is easy over come by following the guy doing the searching, whilst keeping all other doors windows closed and answering the questions from the other side of the vehicle if necessary. The second can be a bit more tricky. However the best defences is when asked for your documents, only give them copy copies. This is perfectly legal to do in Mexico. That way if they do try to keep them, just point out that they are copies and you are happy for them to keep them. Other than that be polite but stand your ground, assuming you have done nothing wrong. If you have just jumped a red light, then you are asking for it. One police officer tried to say that my spare wheel carried on the back door of the car was illegal. I said if that was the case then they wouldn't sell that configuration of my Land Rover in Mexico. He soon got bored, returned my copies of my documents and sent me on my way.
Summed up Mexico is a country that can safely be enjoyed and shouldn't just be rushed through. Its has lots to see, from great beaches and surf, colonial towns to Mayan Ruins. So get informed and give it a chance.
I am now in Belize and tuning in to the laid back pace of things here. The border crossing is not too much hassle. However the cost of things can be a shock, especially after coming from Mexico.
Fuel up before entering the country. As fuel is expensive. Plus be prepared to search around for accommodation, as a lot is pricey for what it is. But there are still budget options.
Happy Travels, David
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Yer, I think this might have something to do with technical glitch when my account got blocked.
I also have noticed in the past, if I'm not logged in I can't see the photo's either.
Am I doing something wrong when uploading photo's? As I just used the little photo icon in the top task bar in the posting window. Which then opens the upload window.
Or is there another (better) way?