|05-18-2010, 07:51 AM||#31|
Joined: Nov 2008
Location: Washington DC
Nate, Lindsie and I made our final haul down to Panama City. Coming from Bocas, making a pitstop at the Purple House to pick up some things Nate and Lindsie had left behind, we didn’t have enough daylight to make it to Panama City. We decided to stop in Agua Dulce, get a good night sleep and make the final ride into Panama City the next morning. This leg was also the only time I was close to running out of gas.
We were on the brink of running out and had been on the lookout for a place for quite a while. No gas anywhere. We stopped, and decided that we’d just keep riding if one of us ran out the other would continue on, fill up and circle back. Soon enough they were out of sight behind me, they ran out. I continued on, not really sure how much I actually had left. I tried to get gas normally every hundred miles or so as to give me a solid buffer. Eventually found a place, bought a two liter bottle of water, drank as much as I could, poured the rest out and filled it up with gas and backtracked. It was raining during all this of course, and I found them on the side just chilling. Poured it in and it fired up after a little while, his bike was hard to start at times. It’s really nice riding with someone that has your back; it added a lot of piece of mind.
We continued the next day, the weather was nice and a good omen for last leg. We ended up riding into Panama City, and making a few rights and ended up spotting this causeway out to these impressive islands. Highly recommended for anyone driving down, there is a hell of a view of the city.
The islands as you can see are right as you cross the large bridge into the edges of the city.
The view from a construction yard. We just basically trespassed at a port yard and drove to the end of the pier. Well worth it. Nobody said anything.
Its all starting to sink in. We're a bit manic. The adv salute.
This picture says it all.
We stayed in Casco Viejo for a few days before Nate and Lindsie caught a flight out. It was a pretty action packed couple of days. Nate had a guy that wanted to buy his bike for $500 bucks. It was a tight schedule. Here are some shots around Casco Viejo and Panama City. They had just finished filming the newer bond film in this area.
A rainbow for our hardships getting there.
The Casco is a really crazy place. I ended up spending a few weeks around the area. A lot of the buildings were destroyed during the US invasion to thwart Noriega.
It is an area of extreme polarity. The nicest restaurants are there. The presidential palace is there, with live herons walking its grounds. The slums are there. The poorest. It really was a microcosm of Panama.
Nate and I had one last adventure before it was all said and done. An epic ride up to Colon to sell his bike. We started early in the day, the plan was to ride up to Colon, meet up with this guy, sell the bike and ride back. The road started off as some of the nicest highway I've seen in all of Central America. It quickly deteriorated into some of the worst. They are doing a lot of construction so it was all a mess. At one point we are stopped by a police stop, they expressed interest in escorting us to Colon. It all seemed very shady, there were a ton of cops there and some undercurrent amongst them that we couldn't pick up. They pretty much wouldn't let us leave without saying yes to an escort. So we told them we had to get gas then we would be back for our ride up together. We never came back.
We eventually make it up to Colon, Nate gets a hold of the buyer from a payphone, and we set up a meeting. He wants us to come to his place, we want it in a neutral location. The guy being a robber isn't too far from our mind as he basically demands that we come to his apartment complex to make the deal. Once again we are getting ourselves into a dangerous position, no one knows where we are at and we are driving into a potential mugging. We meet up with this guy at a barrio just south of Colon. Its super shady, we are anxious to make the deal. We both have big knives tucked into our pants but hope it doesn't come to that as I wasn't fancying adding a knife fight to the adventure. He was living in the US for a while, originally from Panama, and now back with his mother. His dream was that he was getting himself out of the slums and the bike would be part of the solution.
He kept insisting that we drive the bike back in the barrio, think dirty projects, and go around a corner. There was no way in hell that we were driving further in to make the exchange. Our nerves were a bit shot. Eventually the guy produces the cash, turns out he doesn't have a license yet and didn't want to get caught driving without it. WTF, he could run the risk of driving the 500 yards illegal as far as I was concerned. The deal went down smoothly, and Nate and I were two up from Colon to Panama City.
Yet again another spectacle, two of the tallest guys in Panama riding two up on a big shiny BMW. No pictures were taken, we don't like to talk about it. "I'm sitting as far back as possible..."
Nate's last ride on the CB750. A sad moment selling a bike after a trip like this.
No we aren't driving back into the ghetto. He was an alright guy. Just stressful circumstances for us.
Nate and Lindsie flew out that evening and I was once again back on my own.
I was running out of cash, and couldn't afford to get the bike down to Colombia. And knew if I did, I'd want to ride to Argentina. I had always planned on stopping at Panama City but I didn't want the adventure to end.
Screw it, I'm leaving the bike in Panama City and catching a sailboat to Colombia. I tried to sell it, no luck. I'd come back and try to sell it after Colombia. I was staying at Casa Luna and left the bike chained up out there on the sidewalk. The richest person in Panama lived right next door to Casa Luna in the Casco so there was always a huge police contingent milling around outside. The bike was safe.
View out of Casa Luna's porch. A hell of a view for 10 bucks a night. That's the richest man in Panama's estate on the right.
I grew to love the Casco as I waited for my boat to roll in. Little did I know that the sailboat over to Colombia would be the most dangerous part of my entire trip. The captain was an ass-monkey drunk and high on coke the entire time. I might write up an epilogue post detailing that cluster...
Casco Viejo: dangerous, ruined, and sublimely beautiful.
The rooster bids farewell to the sun.
lukeman screwed with this post 05-18-2010 at 08:00 AM
|05-20-2010, 04:39 PM||#32|
Joined: May 2010
Location: Washington, DC
To round out Luke's overdue and awesome ride report, I'll make a comment. I'm the Cindy who met up with him in Honduras and due to civil unrest, tropical storms, and unexpected cessation in ferry service, ended up riding with him through to Nicaragua. If only the same thing had happened in Nicaragua then I could have continued the adventure! The experience left me wanting more so I decided to get a scooter. Though it may not be a motorcycle, it does have a 277cc engine and I took her out for my first "ADV" ride this past weekend. Luke and I rode through the hills of Northern Virginia. He, on his new to him K100 and I, on my Vespa GTS300 Super. I plan on upgrading to the real deal someday to prepare for our next great adventure...!
|05-22-2010, 05:31 AM||#33|
Joined: Oct 2008
Right on! Good for you. My wife is at the MSF training today, maybe we'll bump into you guys one day riding in NOVA or who knows where. This ride report is great!
|07-08-2010, 07:48 AM||#34|
Joined: Nov 2008
Location: Washington DC
Good call on the church. It was a rough day traversing San Jose, it was raining, and cold at the highest elevation and I couldn't remember where exactly the church was. It turns out that it is pretty unique.
Básilica de Nuestra Señora de los Ángele:
In August the Basilica is the object of extensive pilgrimage and visitation by about 1.5 million believers throughout the country, many of whom join in the celebrated 22-kilometer walk to the basilica during the Romería. Though many people start the pilgrimage from locations all over Costa Rica, some, as a demonstration of their piety, choose to crawl the 22 kilometers on their hands and knees.
Evidently it called out to me. When I pulled up in front of it, I was like well this can't be right. I wish I would have drank from the water, I love doing random things like that.
|08-25-2010, 09:24 AM||#35|
Joined: Nov 2008
Location: Washington DC
Epilogue to Colombia
Preface: If doing the sailing from Panama to Colombia, please for the love of god have some references of past trips that the captain has done.
It was by far the most fucked up scary part of the entire trip. I really didn't think I might die at any part of the adventure except this crossing which I expected to be pretty plush and cozy.
I will say that even before getting on the boat there was a bit of 'does the captain know what he is doing'. I was staying at Luna's Castle, and decided to leave the motorcycle there and catch a sailboat to Colombia.
The captain came by a week earlier saying that he was leaving in a weeks time and was looking for people to ride over with him. The Hostel haden't dealt with him before, but he talked a good game (he never delievered on his epic promises). So 8 of us signed up a few days later we were picked up from Casco Viejo in a pickup truck to go onto his sailboat the "Nighthawk II". Be wary of this boat... We went to a grocery store along the way and literally bought as much alcohol as we did water. We bought rum by the 1.5 liters, handles we call them in the states. It seems like all seven of us had basically 1.5 liters for each of us to last the 5 day trip. We had visions of a crazy boat party for 5 days. What happens in international waters was obviously going to stay in international waters...
Should have realized this trip was going to turn bad from the beginning. Here we are pushing the truck up montaña de mantequilla (Butter Mountain) as the locals called it. It was slick as shit and I was glad that I wasn't riding it on the K100 would have been near impossible. Wet clay and mud, with all the traction we could muster in sandals.
At least this guy was smart enough to have chains.
Let the shit show begin.
We have to hike through there? Is the boat there? Man WTF?
Now we take a banana boat. This part was actually awesome, felt like we were going down the amazon or something.
Military escort of course.
I loved this river.
We make it out to where the sailboat is, here is a Kuna island which we visited.
Let me pause for a minute and discuss what happened right as we got onto the sailboat for the first time. Two crew mates were on board drunk and laughing like all hell. The captain starts yelling at them in Spanish so quickly I couldn't pick up shit. They were all Colombian and using a ton of slang and speaking fast as to not upset the gringos. The captain gets in the face of the taller skinny guy and proceeds to slap him quite hard across the face. Much swearing ensues as the captain has pretty much lost it. This would be the theme of the trip. He calms down and tells us that he has to go into the kuna village and he would be back to get us for a walk around the island in an hour or two.
It turns out that his first mate had tried to sleep with a kuna woman and bring her back on the boat. This is evidently a big big no no in Kuna culture as they don't like fornicating with outsiders.
So the first mate gets caught with the kuna girl on the sailboat by the locals, they come in force and board the boat and take the girl back and as a lien, take the motor of the dingy. They hold that and won't let it back to the Captain until he pays $1000 dollars in penalty for his first mate getting frisky. This is what the captain is so ticked off about! Eventually he comes back with the dingy and the motor and takes us to the island. He said he had to meet in front of a 10 person tribunal with them all insulting him and screaming at him while demanding cash. Yeah this was getting off to a great start.
Here I am walking around the island.
Typical kuna dress. You'll see them hawking shit in Panama City.
Its a different world with the Kuna...
No offense, but clean up. Those were the toilets they just let loose above the water.
It was worth the visit to the island. I was glad to visit, glad to get back on the ship.
Here is our hero returning with the dingy motor.
I will say that the San Blas Islands are beautiful.
The weather was pretty terrible, but we made the most out of it.
Here is the captain. Honestly remember his face and do not travel with him.
I'm trying to decide how to come at the rest of this sailing trip. The captain was drunk and high on coke the majority of the trip. There was only wind at night and the seas were rough which meant very little sleep. On two separate occasions we hit coral and got hung up. At one point the captain told us at 2am that he thought the ship was sinking and we should get our passports and documents. He told us to be ready to abandon the ship and stick together and swim to the nearest island. He would sail at night through the reefs, one of his crew would by lying on the front of the ship with a flash light looking for reefs. "TO THE RIGHT" he would say and the captain would steer the vessel. "TO THE LEFT, LEFT, LEFT." And we would go left. It was surreal, crazy dangerous and down right stupid. The captain reminded me of Lt. Dan from Forest Gump when he rides out the hurricane. Our fearless captain bellowed more than once, "No one would dream of doing this, I am the best captain, wait till I tell my friends!" while he was at the helm.
Everyone was terrified. I distinctly remember one girl coddling another after the captain basically declared abandon ship. One of these girls was asking the other in tears and hysteria, "are we going to die?" The other girl that was holding her and said "Yes I think probably we are..."
I was sitting there listening to this and thinking, "I didn't sign up for this shit!!! I wanted a bit of adventure and I find myself with the fucking Colombian Ahab. Give me my motorcycle I'd rather cross the darien gap..!"
The very next day the captain was drunk and swinging around on the ropes, he fell overboard and in moment was 300 yards behind the sailboat. He was yelling and screaming about sharks. The other shipmates were down in the boat sleeping and past out. WTF.
None of us know how to sail, we don't know how to adjust the rigging to do a u-turn. We were going fast and the Captain was nearly out of sight. Someone went down to wake up the other crew, I told one girl to get keep an eye on him at all times, if we lost sight of him, he could have very well been lost at sea. He kept yelling. A couple of us made ready the dingy, the engine was in storage and there was no way we were going to get it out in time. We had some shitty oars. Next thing I know, three of the passengers threw the dingy overboard and jumped in with the oars. Great we have 4 people out at sea now!!!
At least we could see them fairly well and they had a general direction of the captain. It was fucking nuts, absolute chaos. People were yelling, the captain was yelling. The dingy now was further and further away, eventually we got a crew-mate up and we started changing the rigging all the while those overboard got smaller and smaller on the horizon. The dingy eventually made it to the captain, the hand swung the boat around and made a few passes to toss a rope out to the dingy. We pulled them in, exhausted I helped lift the guys out from the dingy. We all just laid on the
deck after that. A handle of rum was passed around and i drank until my throat burned. We were only halfway through.
|08-30-2010, 11:57 AM||#36|
Joined: Dec 2009
Location: The State of Misery
keep it coming. this is going to be a good one.
2003 Suzuki SV650s
EX: 1986 BMW K100
EX: 1989 Yamaha YX600 Radian
****On the prowl for a low-budget Ural.****
|09-02-2010, 11:41 AM||#37|
Joined: Nov 2008
Location: Washington DC
And in the end...
Yeah, its gets more interesting. We sailed to approximately 20 miles of Cartagena where wouldn't you know it the engine implodes. There is no wind, its 9am and its already really hot. Everyone wants to get the hell off the boat and the captain wanted us off as well. We had contemplated mutiny on more than one occasion while the captain was sleeping. We didn't want it to come to that.
He leaves on the dingy and has the idea of renting another boat to bring us into Colombia. The tension and aggravation that he brought out vanished and we actually ended up having a couple nice hours before he returned. He returns with a 25ft banana boat with an outboard motor. There are two random dudes looking very serious and not amused at all to be delivering gringos into Colombia. They keep yelling hurry, hurry, relentlessly as we are getting our shit together. It went from peaceful to once again chaos as they said we need to get on the other boat as soon as possible. Our fearless captain was now yelling to get in the damn boat. It turns out and didn’t dawn on all of us, that it is a big no no to be brought into Colombia one a different boat and without a roster of departure (or something) from Panama. Yes we were being smuggled into Colombia with complete strangers. We were completely at their mercy; the shit is just running through my head as we pull away. ‘Nine tourist, with cash, electronics, now off the grid, they could easily do whatever they wanted…’ I kept a hand on my knife.
Some random shots around the boat.
We looked so happy the first evening.
Wish I would have had some blues tabs on the yuk
'You take the captain, I'll get the first mate'
The boat itself wasn't actually all that bad. A gift from his drug lord uncle (no joke)
We all loved the Kuna shipmate, he was the nice one
A whole bunch of this during the day when the wind was low.
We are ecstatic to be getting away from Captain Dumbass. The drifting boat in the background.
All i can say is this. 'So long '
Hadn't seen everyone smile in a while!
Where are we going, it doesn't matter!
It got pretty sketchy when we stopped at this random village up river, close to nothing. We were just like wtf, i expected to be robbed at this point. We made a few other stops as they leisurely took their time getting us to the city.
We eventually went in a round about way to the city so that the police wouldn't see us being smuggled. They basically dropped us off in the worst section of town and pretty much left us hanging. We thanked the two guys, gave them a tip and it was off to find a taxi and get us to a hotel for the night. We had no entry stamp into the country. We had to bribe officials into stamping our passports, the woman at the hotel actually took care of it.
We lived the sailboat, we all were really tight after that. I traveled all around Colombia and it was by far my favorite country of the trip. It was by bus though and not appropriate for these forums. The stories from Medellín in particular, Carnival, a club with a roof that opens...
A few pictures to finish off the report.
At the fort in Cartagena:
Wish I had ridden Colombia
Only proper to repent for sinful things done on the trip at the Salt Cathedral outside of Bogotá.
|09-02-2010, 12:37 PM||#38|
Joined: Aug 2009
Location: Hanford CA
On the bright side, you can never say your life wasn't full of adventure!
|01-12-2014, 04:44 PM||#40|
Joined: Nov 2008
Location: Washington DC
As a mini update
I was able to get to hit up El Salvador on my honeymoon, finally hitting up all the countries in Central America. I rented a car with AC and had a GPS. I will say that this was a huge change compared to driving around on a moto. Having a GPS completely changed the dynamics of riding down there, there was no asking strangers for directions, no getting lost, no sense of uncertainty while driving, and always knowing exactly where you are. It definitely changed the entire experience. I'd probably take one on the next trip when/if I do South America, plus i like all the metrics that it provides.
This is one image burned into my memory from the trip.
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