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Old 08-27-2008, 04:48 PM   #271
bananaman
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Joined: Jun 2007
Location: Madison, Wisconsin and/or Panama, Panama
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Never, ever, ever, ever, ever, get into a cab with more than the driver.

Always, always, alway, always, get out if someone else gets in.

Dude. You are so lucky.

But this attempted robbery is very rare in Panama. Unless... did you get into the cab in the Casco Viejo neighborhood? How did you find this cab? Do you think the robber was in cahoots with the driver, or was the driver also a victim? This sounds like the type of robbery you hear about in Colombia, not Panama.

Did you get the cab number? What did TC say? Did you call the police?

This type of crime, in Panama, is very, very severe. If they catch the crook, he'll go to a nasty jail for a long time.

Glad you signed the ADV book!

Disapointed that you're such a pussy about the El Llano-Carti road!
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Old 08-27-2008, 05:43 PM   #272
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bananaman
Never, ever, ever, ever, ever, get into a cab with more than the driver.

Always, always, alway, always, get out if someone else gets in.

Dude. You are so lucky.

But this attempted robbery is very rare in Panama. Unless... did you get into the cab in the Casco Viejo neighborhood? How did you find this cab? Do you think the robber was in cahoots with the driver, or was the driver also a victim? This sounds like the type of robbery you hear about in Colombia, not Panama.

Did you get the cab number? What did TC say? Did you call the police?

This type of crime, in Panama, is very, very severe. If they catch the crook, he'll go to a nasty jail for a long time.
Yup, I picked up a random cab outside the hostel (Luna's Castle - highly recommended) in Casco Viejo. And it was a somewhat sketchy cab to begin with. Knowing what I know now - yeah, never get in a cab with more than just the driver. And you can bet I will memorize the number of every cab I get into from now on.

There wasn't a number printed on the side of the cab, although it did have a rooftop light. My main regret is not having chased after the cab to get the license plate number. There isn't much I could do to describe it (white cab, old paint, tinted windows, two guys) so I didn't call the police. I hate to be "that guy" that doesn't report a crime but honestly I don't know what I would say. Naturally, this was the first time in 9 months I went out without my camera.

TC was surprised but I'm sure it's not the first time he's heard a story like this.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bananaman
Glad you signed the ADV book!

Disapointed that you're such a pussy about the El Llano-Carti road!
Geez, there's just no impressing you people! I've been lost in the mountains of Costa Rica, pulled out of the jungle by the Panamanian army, and escaped gunpoint by jumping out of a moving cab! What's a guy got to do to get a little respect around here... get kidnapped by the FARC, write a book, and post lots of pictures of half-naked Mexicanas??

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Old 08-27-2008, 08:41 PM   #273
bananaman
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stickfigure
Geez, there's just no impressing you people! I've been lost in the mountains of Costa Rica, pulled out of the jungle by the Panamanian army, and escaped gunpoint by jumping out of a moving cab! What's a guy got to do to get a little respect around here... get kidnapped by the FARC, write a book, and post lots of pictures of half-naked Mexicanas??

Getting kidnapped and stuff- that's been done. You're going to have to try a little harder. But riding El Llano-Carti, in the rainy season? If the pics are decent... good luck.

Maybe TC will go with you. He could follow in his jeep. Or is he too much of a pussy, too? Tell him I drove the road a few weeks ago- with my mom.

Come on! Ride El Llano-Carti! YOU CAN DO IT!!!
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Old 08-28-2008, 02:42 PM   #274
sp4ce
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stickfigure
At least I got a free cab ride out of it.
F-ing epic. Robbing the robbers.

Can't wait to hear what the hell you did to require the services of the Panamanian army...


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Old 08-28-2008, 03:07 PM   #275
hetman
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I love this ride report!

I'm probably a burden as a n00b, but it would be cool to go for a ride with you when you get back to SF. Seeing as how all your friends keep getting invited to various destinations along your route, you sound like a good person to know.. and I've got seven weeks of vacation time left this year!

Dave
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Old 08-28-2008, 08:53 PM   #276
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Darién Adventure #2

At the big party in El Real (Darién Adventure #1) we met the judge of a large district of the Darién. Orlando Henriquez is responsible for about 5,000 people in about a dozen indigenous villages, about 1/3 of the total (estimated) population of the Darién. He invited us to visit him in Unión Chocó, a primarily Emberá village about three hours into the jungle from Yaviza by boat.

Transport was complicated by two things: First, the Landcruiser was still under repair in Metití, so the entire trip would be taken by public transit. Second, the phone number that Orlando gave us produced only strange beeping noises, so there was no way to alert him of our impending arrival or prearrange a boat. We later learned the reason for this problem... there is only one phone in the whole village (a public pay phone in the middle of town) and it was broken the whole week.

At 6am on Friday four of us (the three from Darien Adventure #1 plus Jared, who rode a KLR down from Rhode Island) departed Panama City by "Coaster", a smallish Toyota-built bus common in Central America. It took us to Agua Fría, where we switched to a small Toyota minivan.

A few words about public transit in Panama (and Central America in general): Collectivo buses go pretty much everywhere. There are no bus stops, you just flag them down. Even in rural areas you rarely wait more than 15 minutes. The ultimate destination is usually a bold decal across the front window, but the owners love to add additional flair - bright paint, feather boas, blinking neon lights. The buses will pick up passengers until there is no more room for anyone else, then they will add one or two people more. You yell out "stop" (in spanish) and pay when you get off.

At one point we had 25 people (including quite a few children sitting on their parents' laps) crammed into a minivan designed originally for 9:



We stopped in Metití to check up on the Landcruiser and spend the night. The whole ride to this point cost about $10 but it also took about 6 hours due to all the stops.

A Reservoir Dogs moment (notice my stylish new Panama hat):



The next morning (starting at 6am again) we took a collectivo to Yaviza and tried to arrange transport to Unión Chocó. Hiring a boat would have cost almost $200, half of which would have been just gasoline! We decided to wait for a boat going to our destination that wouldn't mind adding a couple passengers.

This large boat was sitting at the pier, loading large 10"x10" square cut beams into the hold from a makeshift raft floating in the river. This was probably illegal exotic wood harvest:



After four hours of waiting, we finally found a boat returning to Unión Chocó that would take us the three hours for $11 each:



There were a half-dozen places along the journey at which we had to "check in" with the police (read: army), several along the bus trip, once in Yaviza, and once at a village on the river. Finally we arrived at Unión Chocó:



We found Orlando, who was happy to see us. Over beer he told us about life in the Darién. Orlando struck me as an extraordinary man deeply passionate about his work. He has a wife and child in Panama City yet he elected to a five-year "tour of duty" as the regional judge, living in a small hut next to everyone else. Most of the issues he deals with would make boring episodes of Law & Order, but apparently there is a growing problem of young indigenous girls (including one age 12) becoming impregnated by soldiers stationed in the area.

Vito and Orlando:



Orlando mentioned that erosion is becoming big problem in the area. Local farmers cut down the native vegetation to plant plantain farms, right up to the edge of the river. With nothing holding the banks together, bends in the river erode fast. Unfortunately the locals don't understand (or don't care) that this short-sighted greed will cause the river to carve away their entire plantation in a matter of years.



The village has an actual working set of stocks! Sitting on your ass in the town square getting laughed at by everyone is apparently a traditional punishment for people (mostly teenagers) that get in mild trouble. It was last used a month ago.



We spent the night in the "Presidental Hut", built by the dictator General Omar Torrijos in the 70s and recently restored. Apparently Torrijos (not actually president - he was never elected) liked to vacation in Unión Chocó, flying out in a helicopter.





Our plan was to wake up at 6am, take a boat tour upriver with Orlando, get jagua-fruit tattoos, and return home by evening. It didn't work out that way.

When we got up, several soldiers were waiting outside. "We have orders to put you in a boat and take you back to Yaviza". Nobody knew why and phone calls to Yaviza yielded no help. It was clear we weren't getting out of this.

Fortunately the boat was fast and had us back in two hours. This is what we found:





Remember that I mentioned last week that the FARC had crossed over into Panama and robbed a store of food? It happened again. Now the Panamanian army is launching an offensive against the FARC using Unión Chocó as a staging ground. The operation was secret, so even the troops stationed there didn't know about it.

These poor guys were going to march four days into the jungle carrying all this stuff:



The army guys in Yaviza were super-apologetic and invited us back another time when people weren't shooting at each other. Not that there was any danger in Unión Choco, which is a couple days' march from where the action would be; I think they just didn't want us in the way.

They gave us a ride back to Metití in a Humvee:



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Old 08-28-2008, 09:17 PM   #277
bananaman
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Location: Madison, Wisconsin and/or Panama, Panama
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Ok, ok. You don't have to do El Llano-Carti.

I'm still not sure about the advrider-worthiness of the whole Panama-Army thing, on account of not actually riding all the way to Yavisa.

I'm kidding! I'm jealous. You SUCK!

If you're still stuck in Panama in January, I'll do another Darien trip with you.
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Old 08-30-2008, 04:09 PM   #278
bmh
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Thumb

This is a great RR I am planning a couple months starting in november heading to central america. Thank's for the insight.
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Old 08-31-2008, 11:56 PM   #279
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hetman
I love this ride report!

I'm probably a burden as a n00b, but it would be cool to go for a ride with you when you get back to SF. Seeing as how all your friends keep getting invited to various destinations along your route, you sound like a good person to know.. and I've got seven weeks of vacation time left this year!

Dave
Sure! I have a pretty big riding crew in SF and some of my closest friends have recently joined the ranks, so there are plenty of "less manic" riders to chase on our weekend trips. Unfortunately I'll probably be getting back just as the weather turns to muck but I'm already itching to ride up to Marshall for some oysters.

PM me then, or if you would like to get a jumpstart I can hook you up with some cool folks now.

Dude, seven weeks sounds like a perfect motorcycle trip through Mexico!! Fall weather is great, too. Now is the time! Ride!!

Jeff
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Old 09-01-2008, 12:05 AM   #280
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bananaman
Ok, ok. You don't have to do El Llano-Carti.

I'm still not sure about the advrider-worthiness of the whole Panama-Army thing, on account of not actually riding all the way to Yavisa.

I'm kidding! I'm jealous. You SUCK!

If you're still stuck in Panama in January, I'll do another Darien trip with you.
I wish I could still be stuck in Panama in January! I'm already on my way back

I'm totally hooked on Panama though, so let me know when you're going to be there... maybe I can fly down for Darien Adventure #3

Jeff
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Old 09-01-2008, 03:51 AM   #281
BeachBum
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Location: Laguna Beach, Ca / Baja Mex / Madrid, Spain
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When were you living in SLO? I was there from ´94 - ´05. I did a couple of AGB degree, partied my ass of and lived all over the central coast from Cayucas to Shell Beach. I´m 32, wonder if we ever ran into each other out and about.

I wasn´t into bikes back then, more surf and Land Rovers. I had a very well set up Range Rover and a white D-90 soft top. The last 3 years I was there I lived in Shell in Boeker down the street from Alex BBQ.

I´ve been living in Madrid for as long as you´ve been on your trip so I know how hard the language learning can get.

Stay safe,

Paul
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Old 09-04-2008, 04:00 PM   #282
mookymoo
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Ive Enjoyed the reading, as always. Keep it up.
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Old 09-09-2008, 01:31 PM   #283
hetman
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Let's get some updates!
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Old 09-10-2008, 08:15 AM   #284
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BeachBum
When were you living in SLO? I was there from ´94 - ´05. I did a couple of AGB degree, partied my ass of and lived all over the central coast from Cayucas to Shell Beach. I´m 32, wonder if we ever ran into each other out and about.

I wasn´t into bikes back then, more surf and Land Rovers. I had a very well set up Range Rover and a white D-90 soft top. The last 3 years I was there I lived in Shell in Boeker down the street from Alex BBQ.
Nice... I lived in SLO from '90 to '02, getting a CS degree and working in a small tech company for far too many years. Have you ever heard of an apartment complex dubbed "Earth Orbit"? I was a Landcruiser guy myself, putting way too many weekends into maintaining a '72 FJ55. It's a good place for 4x4s though. Someday I need to take a motorcycle to the end of Upper Lopez Canyon; I don't think the K75S I had at the time would have made it!

Jeff
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Old 09-10-2008, 08:23 AM   #285
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hetman
Let's get some updates!
I've been traveling in some places with poor-to-no internet access... I'm in Granada now so I should be able to get the pictures uploaded!

Jeff
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