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Old 05-17-2009, 02:50 PM   #16
JaiDee
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Thanks DB! Sent you a PM.
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Old 05-28-2009, 07:50 PM   #17
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free Venezuela routing map for garmin

Hello, wellcome to Venezuela, here you can download a free map for your 60CSx http://www.gpsyv.net/ click on MAPAS and then "Venezuela Ruteable 4.6"
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Old 07-09-2009, 11:06 AM   #18
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Sorry to anyone who had been following along for my LONG absence on here. Iīm going to break it up into 3 parts, my time in Vzla here as a student, dealing with customs, and then into riding now that I FINALLY have the bike.

(check back, Iīll be inserting pictures into these posts once Iīm back at my computer)

May 15th I believe I dropped the bike off in Chicago for it to be crated and trucked to Miami where it would be flown to Vzla. No surprise the quote jumped up 200 dollars once I was actually there. Grr. May 17th I flew from Chicago to Miami and spent an amazing day drinking on South Beach and eating at some restaurant (god I wish I could remember the name) with the most amazing seafood platter of my life.
May 18th on the plane to Caracas Vzla. Somehow of course I lost the whole group of American students and a couple opportunistic airport workers took me under their wings escorting me around to get checked in for my connecting flights in hopes of screwing me on the exchange rate. The official rate is 2.15 Bolivares to USD, but the unofficial is around 6.5 Bs to one dollar. So the opportunists wait at the airport for unsuspecting gringos in hopes to get them to change Bs and Ds at some ugly rate like 3 so they can score a huge profit...

After reuniting with the grupo de gringos we hopped another flight to El Vigia and then a bus to the final destination; Precioso Merida, what is claimed to be one of the safest, cleanest, and most adventuresome cities in Vzla, which is where my school for the next 6 weeks would be.
Impressions... motorcycles everywhere. Almost all between 100-200ccīs but also, even though a proper enduro is considerably more expensive here, there are far more to be seen here than in the US. In Minnesota I RARELY see a KTM/1200gs/single cyl F650 and I have yet to see another 650/800 twin on the road back home... here in Merida Iīve seen a few of all of the above, to include one 800gs and two 650gs twins. But I guess it makes sense, its all beautiful mountains and awesome dirt trails are only minutes away. Also, driving is nuts. I want to say organized chaos, but that would be giving it too much credit. It is complete unorganized chaos with the only saving grace being that people seem to watch for one another. In the US people trust the system. We stop at red lights. We stay in our lanes. When thereīs accidents its usually when someone trusts the system (I stop at 4 way stop sign, then I go) and donīt bother to look for someone thatīs not respecting the system (other person goes through stop sign). Here that really doesnīt happen. People donīt play the big dick game too much either, when a car wants to cut in they donīt put on their blinker to ask permission, they just start to cut over ASSUMING the other cars will let them, and for the most part they just do. It works. The smog is awful, no exhaust controls here and the gas is so cheap thereīs almost no incentive to control the waste of gas, Iīll have a story about the exhaust pollution when I get into my first ride. Last point on initial driving impressions; they LOVE their horns. You almost never hear the horns at home unless its something big. In my travels to Belize, Kosovo, Bulgaria, Germany, still almost no horns. They use the horns religiously here non stop. They use horns to say hi (instead of waving), to say move over, to announce theyīre going to run through a blind intersection (without slowing down), or in the case of a big ass bus on a small winding mountain road, they honk around every blind curve (again without slowing down). But... it works. Annoying as hell but it works.

So life in Merida is good, the first couple days we went to 12,000 feet and hiked around some trails and a lake, then hiked up a mountain to natural hot springs where we camped the night. The next weekend was off to Caribbean beaches (Vzla has more Caribbean coastline than any other country), the next weekend a drunkfest here in Merida along with some paragliding ("if the wind doesnīt catch us by its self weīll just have to run and jump off the cliff, itīll be ok, donīt worry" says the guide) and it was amazing, then a 4 day safari into the plains checking out monkeys, crocs, anacondas, giant anteaters, and a ton of other critters followed by a white water rafting trip on the way home. The next weekend was another beach trip and then most of my group took their leave back home to the US while I went in seach of the bike.

Oh lets not forget the food. A little disappointed! Thereīs a complete difference between US latin food and actual latin food. Whereīs the spice? No hay nada. Arepas for breakfast almost every morning. Never really care to see another bland arepa again. I almost can't wait to get my hands on Taco Bell... mmm But I do like a lot of the dishes here, there's just not a lot to write home about that I've seen.

Some pics from the trip...
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Summer 09 Venezuela to Minnesota: Summer http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=449804
The goal of course is everywhere
US (MN, WI, IA, KS, OK, MO, TX), Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Venezuela. 11 down, 184 to go.

DiabloBlanco screwed with this post 07-10-2009 at 02:16 PM
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Old 07-12-2009, 06:53 AM   #19
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looks like fun so far keep it commin!
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Old 07-15-2009, 07:07 PM   #20
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29-6 July Dealing with Customs

Finally! going to start catching up.
So school finished July 26th and we took a weekend beach trip to have a little fun before heading separate ways for a couple months (I still had fun but can't really recommend Puerto Cabello though, go to Puerto Colombia or Chichiriviche). Monday July 29th I dropped the novia off at the airport for her to fly back home, checked into a nice hotel 20 meters from the beach (but far more expensive than I'd like) and planned to start getting the bike out of Aduanas the next day.

There's a few regrets that became apparent throughout this ordeal, I'll touch on them in a minute.

Tuesday morning Pedro Villega, an individual whose deals with customs and shipping and was going to help me get my bike out (for a fee of course), finally received all of the paperwork, I meet him at 1pm and we head to customs (Aduanas) with his assistant Daniel (who would pretty much become my best friend over the course of the next few days. The aduanas say my passport stamp that I entered the country with isn't really good enough and that I need to produce a Constancia from my school, essentially a document saying I'm here for a reason and proof of being enrolled in school. What the hell does that have to do with my bike? I swear these people don't even know their own laws. I'm in on a stamp that's good for 90 days. Whatever. I call the director of my school in Merida (500 miles away) and she says she'll write me one up and PDF email it to me.

Wednesday at the last minute she sends it to me, print it out, head over to Pedro's office. We go to customs again. They take a look at my constancia and essentially shrug their shoulders saying I need a different passport stamp. Fuckers. I spend the next 3 hours with Daniel and another assistant taking buses all over trying to place to get a new stamp. We try the passport issuing agency (I don't know why) and then the immigration office at the pier. It's starting to look like the only option is for me to show up at the American Embassy and try to figure it out. A very expensive cab and another night in an expensive hotel. It's hot, my Spanish isn't THAT good and I'm really feeling helpless. Then Pedro's friend shows up, a guy who owns a shipping company warehouse type of thing and has access to the airport, he takes me to the airport, talks to the security guard who lets him past security so he can take my passport to get a new stamp from the immigration chief. After waiting forever he shows back up with my new stamp, woo hoo! By now customs are closed, but tomorrow is a new day!

Thursday we show back up at customs and they're STILLLL being assholes. They say I need the paperwork to go with the new stamp and the signature from the stamping authority. Me and Daniel are pissed and I'm thinking wtf now?? Really. I want my damn bike. Later in the day we get back with the guy who has a lot of pull, we go back to the airport, I wait around some more, buy an Economist. After about an hour he comes back out with a sheet of paper that's a printed out copy of the Venezuelan customs laws from the chief of immigration that essentially say I don't need to jump through anymore damn hoops and give me the damn bike.

Friday morning. We show up. Awesome. They FINALLY say everything is all good and I'll get the bike out that day. Then a security guard walks up and kicks me out because I'm wearing shorts!! wtf? It's illegal to wear shorts in the aduanas building? Luckily at least Daniel can stay there and keep working on the paperwork while I sit in the front and read magazines. Looks like I'm going to need a couple thousand bolivares though which presents me with a shitty situation...
The official rate of exchange is pegged at 2.15 bolivares fuertes to one American dollar but the REAL exchange rate is 6.5 to 7 BsF to dollar. Meaning if you have dollars you can get the good exchange rate but if you use an ATM or pay for something with credit card you get poked in the butt. I need a lot of BsF and need my bike so I have no choice but to ATM 3,000 Bsf (I'll have to pay customs, pay Pedro for a week of toting me around, and pay hige warehouse fees because the bike has been sitting taking up space and collecting dust for a month). So 3,000 BsF SHOULD have been 500 American dollars, no big deal, but because it came from an ATM it was about 1,400 dollars. Grrr . Gimme my bike.

Back to waiting for my paperwork. It's getting late...
505pm Daniel comes back with the paperwork, shit shit. We run to the warehouse. 5115pm. They're closed. This is Friday. They wont open until Monday. WHAT THE SHIT. FUCK MY LIFE. 5 days I've been sitting in Caracas trying to get my damn bike paying for an expensive hotel and expensive food and just spent 1,400 dollars pulling out the money to pay for it. Now I have two options, just sit in Caracas for the whole weekend paying for an expensive ass hotel and since I THOUGHT it was going to be a quick trip I didn't bring my mini laptop or my cell phone charger.. or I can take a 16 hour bus back to Merida Friday night, spend Saturday night, see some friends, drink beer, do laundry, then take a 16 hour bus Sunday night BACK to Caracas, hopefully finally get the bike, then ride all the way back to Merida again. At least the overnight buses are cheaper than the hotel. But this really sucks going back to Merida because there I have access to more money to exchange at a better rate, so by drawing all that money out of the ATM I really just threw out 900 American dollars. FML.

Go to the bus station, just a dirty shady place, buy a bus ticket for 830pm, kill some time, eat some food, then at 8pm start looking for the bus. 815. 830 comes and goes, getting a little frantic, there is NO bus for this line at all, much less a bus heading to Merida by this line. Now I'm really stressing out, it's 9pm, I'm in a shady ass place and I REALLY should have accepted Silviu's offer to come crash on his couch. Also what's shitty is Silviu is flying to Panama on Sunday for a week, so no I can't take him up on his offer to ride through Caracas and show me around a bit. Anyhow, so I see there are two other bus lines that each have a bus to Merida, run back up to ticketing, all offices closed. Back down to the buses and beg the first bus driver if he has an extra seat for 100BsF, no he says, I'm getting to feel pretty miserable. Second and only other bus... I beg the bus driver. Then stand there watching the bus load just in case there's an extra seat. Ask the driver again, he looks at me and says I can jump in back with the luggage... then gives a laugh, takes my 100BsF and tells me to go find the empty seat up top. Thank god something just went my way!!

Take the bus back, longest damn bus ever. 16 hours is painful. Sitting next to a pretty cool Spanish guy who flew over to visit Venezuela, Spain Spanish is so much easier to understand than Vzlan Spanish.

Party up for the weekend, meet the new students at my school and catch up with the old ones that have stayed on for the extra semester, then hop on another 16 hour bus Sunday to Caracas where Silviu has arranged for another biker friend to pick me up from the terminal, take me to get the bike, then take me through Caracas to the road to Merida...

(also of note, at around this time Silviu gave me a link to a set of amazing maps for Venezuela if you have a Garmin GPS, best maps I've ever seen really, so if you happen to be in traveling sometime in the Vzla send me a message and I'll send them or the link to you)

Oh yeah regrets. I regret not shipping it by boat since it sat in customs for so damn long before I could get it, just wasted like an extra grand to fly it and a few extra hundred in warehouse storage fees.
Or I regret not shipping it to Colombia or Panama, probably much cheaper and much less of a hassle. And honestly, who needs to ship a bike to Vzla just to ride a few days and then pay to ship it to Panama anyhow?
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Summer 09 Venezuela to Minnesota: Summer http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=449804
The goal of course is everywhere
US (MN, WI, IA, KS, OK, MO, TX), Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Venezuela. 11 down, 184 to go.

DiabloBlanco screwed with this post 08-16-2009 at 10:09 PM
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Old 07-15-2009, 07:08 PM   #21
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6 & 7 July, FINALLY! Caracas to Merida. 495 miles (trip odom 495)

Monday morning the 6th, Silviu’s friend Guido (nicest guy ever) picks me up in front of the bus station. He’s on a 650 Honda TransAlp, nice bike. Although I’ve been riding for a few years I’ve never actually been on the BACK of a bike before, so I’m a little sketched out at the idea of it, that and I know how these assholes in Vzla drive. So we make introductions, he hands me a helmet, jump on the bike and off we go for the 15-20km ride to where the aduanas is. Holy shit. He’s doing something like 80kmh lanesplitting between stopped bumper to bumper traffic WITH HIS HEAD TURNED AROUND TALKING TO ME. Look straight damnit!! Finally we arrive, safe and sound, but I’m told it will be another hour before my helper will show up (it’s kind of lunchtime, heaven forbid someone works at that time), so we decide to grab lunch. Sit down at some gambling establishment/restaurant where Guido tells me he doesn’t really drink beer very much. Over the hour I drink two. He drinks FOUR. Then back on the back of his bike where he continues lanesplitting like a demon. Whoo boy.

Miraculously we arrive safely again, pay the warehouse people, then begin demolishing the crate the bike was shipped in with the help of a few hands. Then putting the battery back on I notice an essential nut for the battery is missing, somehow fell off in transit. At first we try to find a spare nut from somewhere else on the bike but no luck, then deciding to zip-tie the battery cable to the battery. Hmm. Seems legit enough I suppose? Next I’m putting the body panels back on when I drop a screw. After a longgg search for the screw I find the initial nut from the battery. Screw it. But the screw can’t be found. Oh well. Load up the bag and time to ride, pay Pedro for his services, then it’s out of town. Guido graciously offered to let me crash at his place since it was getting a little late but after an eternity of waiting for the bike I just wanted to get on and ride. Plus Merida, even if I started out the next morning, would be too far to ride in one day, so if I can get a few hours in today and stop in a hotel I’ll reach Merida the next morning.

Guido leads me out of the city (really can’t express the gratitude for all the help) and I’m off. The first day’s ride wasn’t too much to write home about. As a pedestrian for 7 weeks in Vzla I was always scared looking at the motorcyclists splitting lanes and running red lights since it’s obviously not acceptable behavior back home. But once the bike was in my hands, when in Rome… Just zooming along, splitting lanes, passing on shoulders, riding as fast as the road and bike will let me.

Unfortunately I got caught behind the dark and was trying hard to make the little town of Chivacoa before finishing riding, so the last hour and a half was in the dark. I checked into the hotel, BSed for a while with the guy that worked there, he was a Lebanese Venezuelan living in Canada for the last few years. Order some food, check into the hotel, and then walk into the room and look in the mirror, my entire face is absolutely black. The plus side to driving in Vzla is that gas is pretty much the cheapest in the world at something like less than 10 cents a gallon. The bad thing is it’s so cheap that there is little value in any form of fuel efficiency and there are huge black clouds of smoke coming from every vehicle which covered my face in soot. Meh. Took two showers before that shit started to come off…

Tuesday the 7th. What a day. Easily (up to this point in my life) the best motorcycling day of my life. Wide open freeways going as fast as I want with beautiful scenery until I reached the mountains, a sea of switchbacks. The temperature dropping from flatland 90’s to a mountain’s 43 degrees riding through clouds. Absolutely gorgeous. A little pissed though, only the second day into my ride and I dropped the bike. Totally my fault, it was on a downward grade on dirt and I was doing a slow U turn and it got the best of me and wound up laying it down. Jesse bags absorbed the crash like a champion though. Oops. (drop count 1) Getting into Merida around 630pm and the day gets a little worse, a car taps my left Jesse bag in nearly stopped traffic pushing the bike over falling on the right Jesse bag, no damage to me or the bike though, good bit of paint chipped off the bumper of his pretty red new Ford F150. At least he was nice enough to help me pick the bike back up? Dick. (drop count 2)



Uncrating. Discovered a missing battery nut so had to zip tie the battery cable, oops. Then found it later looking for a screw I dropped that was never again seen...




Guido, Daniel, Pedro.














SPOT track sheet. 65% successful tracking rate.
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-Jordan-
Summer 09 Venezuela to Minnesota: Summer http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=449804
The goal of course is everywhere
US (MN, WI, IA, KS, OK, MO, TX), Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Venezuela. 11 down, 184 to go.

DiabloBlanco screwed with this post 08-16-2009 at 10:11 PM
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Old 07-15-2009, 07:12 PM   #22
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Final time in Merida, Merida to San Antonio (w/ excursion into Cucuta Colombia) 180mi

I get into Merida Tuesday the 7th and the next few days are pretty uneventful, I told myself I was going to spend a week there to finish some outstanding work and plan most of the route for the trip home, pretty much none of which I accomplished. I drank a lot of beer and did a lot of hanging out. But I will add that I did *kinda* drop the bike one more time, oops... just random dumbess (drop count 3). Said goodbye to my madre and the following weekend headed for the Colombian border.

Sunday the 12th
Got started on the day a little later than I planned and like all things in Vzla, it took longer than I planned to get to the border. It's funny how in the states you can virtually tell exactly how long something will take by its distance. A town 180 miles away? 3 hours. Oh so not true here. Got on the bike at noon, got to destination around 8 ish. The first part was rough, I don't mind riding in a little rain, so long as I can see, but about an hour into the ride it started to rain lightly, then so heavily I had to stop, then slowed down a bit so I could continue, then so hard again I had to stop again, this played out a few times like that. This is also where I find out all my gear isn't nearly as waterproof as I'd hoped. My BMW Summer2 pants and Vendramini Desert Alp boots are shining stars, the BMW Boulder jacket is soaked the minute it starts raining... my North Face duffel and Jesse bags are more like water resistant, but definitely not waterproof...
Got a message from Silviu, who happened to be taking his family on a trip to Colombia and was just a few hours ahead of me that I should stop and get gas at every available opportunity because all the stations near the border were sold out (and who wants to pay Colombian prices for gas, close to US prices, when you can get Vzla gas for less than 10 cents?)... well screw me, I probably went past 120 miles worth of empty gas stations before almost running out of gas and being able to fill up. Had a good conversation with a guy at a gas station... it's funny how the little fear of being a stranger in a strange land never really goes away, but almost always all people want to do is talk and extend some friendship, maybe take a picture of the bike.

Get to San Antonio, the border town, and check into a room. Not the worst place by any means, but not good enough to bother recommending. Silviu tells me it is free transit between the two border towns of San Antonio, Vzla and Cucuta Colombia (where he's staying) so I should head over for a beer. About time to meet the guy who's been such a great help, so I do just that, drink a little beer and shoot the shit. Good times. One thing of riding note, the road once you cross into Colombia is amazing, far better than the not-so-bad Vzla roads, but well paved and well lit. Very nice.

The cutest little demon child ever, JD or Juan Diego


My Venezolana madre for 6 weeks


This is why there aren't many pics from this ride, rain, rain more rain


Nice hotel in San Antonio, but probably worst bathroom yet, no toilet, just a drain from the wall for a cold shower
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Summer 09 Venezuela to Minnesota: Summer http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=449804
The goal of course is everywhere
US (MN, WI, IA, KS, OK, MO, TX), Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Venezuela. 11 down, 184 to go.

DiabloBlanco screwed with this post 08-16-2009 at 08:21 PM
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Old 07-15-2009, 07:16 PM   #23
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13 July. Cucuta (Colombian Customs) Ė Pamplona. 60 miles (ish)

Bienvenidos a Colombia. My first border crossing. For every border crossing there are two things to do on each side.
1) country you're leaving:
get yourself cleared out of the country (usually exit stamp on passport by immigration)
get your bike cleared out of the country (turn in your temporary riding permit to customs)
2) Country you're entering:
get yourself into the country (stamp passport by immigration)
get bike into the country (temporary riding permit from customs)

The deal with getting your bike cleared out is for re-entry (this will come up in a couple posts again) so that they know you didn't lie about only needing a temp driving permit and illegally import it for sale evading taxes. Not trying to insult anyone's intelligence, just making sure it's out there.

On with the show.
In South America you get no helpers like I would later find out in Central America. I woke up early ish, later than I planned and headed to Vzla Migracion to punch out of the country. Kinda F'd up how it's nowhere near the border. I'll try to remember to post the waypoint for this office, but my GPS isn't around me right now, so if you happen to be crossing the border and I haven't posted it, get with me and I'll make sure you know where it is. It IS the only country I've been to thus far where immigration isn't directly at the border. Go fig. Pay exit tax, stamped out, head over to the aduanas which IS right at the border. There's a big bridge separating the two countries and right before the border there is a big building that occupies both sides of the road making a little tunnel you go under, impossible to miss it. Aduanas is there, they took the paperwork and said have a nice day.

Colombian side. Immigration is RIGHT over the bridge on the right hand side, didn't even need to fill out any papers, he just scanned my passport and all was good. Outside the immigration office I noticed another biker coming across the border, the first I'd seen so far (and the last I'd see until Cartagena). His name was Diego, an Argentinian just bumming around South America having a good time, riding I think a KLR (I am writing this a month after it happened). Nice guy. Time to head to the Colombian customs.

So on the Vzla side it was immigration in a screwed up place and aduanas right at the border, in Colombia it's quite the opposite and if you didn't know where it was you wouldn't accidentally find it. Again, GPS isn't with me so I'll try to update at a later time, but if you're crossing this border get with me and I'll get you the grid. This proved to be considerably less hassle than Vzla, but that isn't saying much and still took far longer than it should have. Almost everything is done outside the building, it almost looks sketchy, but it's all legit. First thing you need to do is find a copy place a block away where you copy your license, passport picture, passport entry stamp, and the bike's title. Then you get in line (if you're lucky there will be no line and this whole process will be under an hour). I sat in this line for hours. There were about 30-40 cars lined up. There's an official who checks your vehicles serial numbers, verifies, and once you do that you go in the building and they give you your temporary import driving papers. I have no clue what was taking so long, because once it DID get to me it took all of a minute, but it took forever just to get to me. Maybe the official was taking a nap between each car. Anyhow, about an hour into the line I look back and see Silviu's big green land cruiser back there, so at least the rest of the wait involved sitting in an air conditioned vehicle drinking beer. Score. Once they finished with me they were done with Silviu pretty quickly too and it was his time to go in and get his papers done, but, once again, nearly foiled by Latin American shorts rules in the aduanas building. Doh. It was really kind of funny, I mean I'm a dumb gringo so I don't know any better, but he's a Colombian living in Venezuela and knows the culture doesn't really accept cargo khaki shorts (but props to him for wearing them, I don't get how latins can wear jeans when it's 900 degrees out). So he's all pissed off because apparently the guard will still let him in if he pays a "shorts tax" or some bullshit, so I lend him a pair of my pants and he changes right there on the sidewalk, really wish I'd had my camera out for that. Goes in, comes out, and we say our goodbyes. Hate to sound like a suck up because I know you'll read this but truly one of the people I hope I get the chance to cross paths with again.

As of this point in time, since Taylor apparently isn't going to be able to meet me for a week of friendliness in Central America I've decided that I'll fly home from Costa Rica for a week to catch up on some long needed "friendliness" and the best time to do that is July 25th ish when she has the next week off work. So I have 12 days to get myself through Colombia and Panama and to the San Jose airport. Unfortunately that means missing out on some of Colombia and Panama to make it happen, so I have to spend a little less time in Colombia than I'd like. Originally I didn't know of any boats going from Cartagena to Panama, and I'd heard a bad experience someone had one time, so I was planning on just heading to Bogota, spend a few days, then fly the bike and myself to Panama City. (that's all a lead in to what goes on next).

Silviu recommends, since it's late in the day, I head for Pamplona, a very nice city and not too far of a drive since it's starting to get a little late. I take my leave and hit the trail for Pamplona. Once again it gets dark before I reach the destination, I really have to stop doing this. All four days of riding so far have ended with me riding past sunset. Pretty much the first rule I always read (back when I was reading rules for adventure riding when it was all still just a dream) was always don't be a stranger riding in a strange place at night. Plus it's just NICE to get somewhere when it's still daylight, get checked into the hotel, see the town and get your bearings, searching for a hotel at night sucks.

But it must be said it was a beautiful ride until it got dark. For anyone worried about it, Colombia no scary. Especially Pamplona. What a nice beautiful town full of friendly people and CHEAP. Besides the gas it's way cheaper than even Venezuela. I probably checked into the nicest grandest place in town for 20 dollars which included very secure parking and breakfast, wifi, tv, blah blah blah. Can't remember it's name... Silviu knows though I think (but it's right across from Pierre's pizza).. Anyhow this town is great, I'd have loved to spend an extra day or two there. Clean is the first thing I noticed (Vene not so clean). Ate at the amazing Pierre's pizza across from the hotel (they had wifi too!). Back to the hotel, exchanged an email with BananaMan on here and he reallllllly recommended I boat instead of fly, so I somehow stumbled across the website of a German boat and crew who run between Cartagena and Panama every couple few weeks and shoot them an email, but the chance of success is slim since I'm on a very tight timeline to get to Panama and Costa Rica.... stay up late watching crappy TV and wake up, check my email, and Ludwig from the Stahlratte boat tells me he has a boat leaving the 18th from Panama and it's no problem that I'll be in Panama and riding the 21st. 750 dollars for myself and the bike... saving several hundred not having to fly myself and the bike, plus that's 4 less days of hotels and all food included and a two day stop in the San Blas islands which are supposed to be amazing (they are)...


Welcome to Colombia (add a new sticker)




View from my hotel (to the bottom left is the little ledge the peckers were pounding on)


Pierre's Pizza. Damn good. Collect a Club Colombia cap..
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Summer 09 Venezuela to Minnesota: Summer http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=449804
The goal of course is everywhere
US (MN, WI, IA, KS, OK, MO, TX), Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Venezuela. 11 down, 184 to go.

DiabloBlanco screwed with this post 08-16-2009 at 09:30 PM
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Old 07-15-2009, 07:27 PM   #24
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14 July. Pamplona to Aguachica. 150 miles (ish)

Bear with me, this was started as an email about my day to chica and turned into a ride report. Whatever. At least something got written?

I went from the nicest hotel last night toÖ wellÖ I still donít know what to think of this place. Sitting in one of my three beds writing, finally. Ahhh it was SUCH a long day. Like I said earlier, planned on sleeping in a bit since I went to bed at one, wound up watching lame TV shows last night before passing out, then got woken up at 7am by three dudes sitting right outside my window with hammers and chisels going to town on this roof thing. Argh. Tried putting in the ear plugs, no help. Eff it. Iíll go collect my free breakfast. Really didnít understand what the options were, he said something huevos and something else so I went for the huevos thing. Turned out to be egg over easy soup. Hmmm. Yeah. So ok, I decide to write Ludwig back again to make VERY certain he understood my timeline and how important it was that I get guaranteed to be in Panama and riding by the 21st. Then I sit around waiting for a response because itís either south to Bogota where I fly or north (way north as Iím finding out) to Cartagena for the boat. Por fin he writes me back with all the assurances in the world and por fin I roll out. Would have been nice to have gotten that sorted earlier so I could have left earlier. Leaving late either means not getting in a full days ride or riding into the dark. The first rule you always see for world tripping motorcyclists is never ride at night. Every night Iíve had to ride, so today I was determined to get somewhere before dark. Worst part is I had no clue where that somewhere was. Every other time Iíve had a dayís destination to go toÖ here I didnít even know I was going to Cartagena till 5 minutes before I left and had no time to plot a route or where to stop with a good hotel or anything. Just hit the Cartagena button on the GPS and rolled.
So Iím sad I wonít get to see Silviu again since I was going to meet him in Bogota. The guy has been SUCH a help, like I reallllly hope I get the chance someday to pay it back somehow or at least meet up with him again in the future to go for a ride or something. So the other night he gave me some Colombia mapware for the GPS with the warning ďit's better than what you have, but donít trust its routingĒ, so all day today Iíve been getting mindfucked by its routing. So to start the day it doesnít have all the roads in the town Iím in, just shows the main road heading to Bucaramanga, so itís up to me to figure out how to get to that road. I see a big hill that looks like it should take me there. REALLY EFFING BIG HILL. 45 or more degree incline. Sure, I could go the other way that might loop me, but this big hill should take me straight there. New rule, no short cuts. But really, not kidding, this hill was huge, I definitely have never ridden a bike or a car up such a steep paved incline. Then about 50 meters from the top I see how itís all going to play out in my mindÖ but thereís nothing I can do about it. At the top of the hill is a blind three way intersection (the other two ways being dominant over my hill route) and to top it off thereís a freakin speed bump at the top, so to successfully navigate this I would have to gun it up the remainder of the hill with enough power to get over the speed bump which would promptly throw me right into the middle of oncoming dominant traffic that has no reason to stop, because whoíd think an idiot on a bike would just pop out into the middle of the highway? FML (thatís fuck my life for those who donít know). So I knew how it was going to play out. Knew I was going to drop the bike. Again. Tried my best to get to the top and slowly clear the speed bump while looking for traffic and keeping enough power to get over the bump and onto the main road without dying. JustÖ didnítÖ work. FML. Bike down. Thank GOD it didnít just decide to slide down this 500m long huge incline hill. Easily could have, and had it gotten any momentum it probably wouldnít have stopped and my trip would probably be totaled along with the bike. So the 4 times the bike has been down I always think in the back of my mind there needs to be a picture of this. But Iím always so pissed (and embarrassed as was the case here) that I just need to get it up and get gone. Canít get it up. If I actually succeed in lifting it upright onto the wheels it will just coast downhill. It needs to be lifted, with the brake held, started, kicked into 1st gear, give it tons of gas lifting off the throttle and brake while itís supported/pushed. FML. By now there was a small gathering of people just watching. And I already feel like an alien. Not only am I a gringo (of which there never seems to be any others), but Iím also dressed unlike any other biker around and riding on a bike that makes them all just stop and stare, even when itís not laying on its side. Finally I give the puppy help me Iím a stupid gringo eyes to a guy who puts his stuff down and gives me some good man help. Completely embarrassed by the now larger gathering of people, but finally we get it done. I felt a little bad as I was on the side of the bike doing the brakes and clutch gunning the engine so hard and he was behind pushing getting all the exhaust in his face. Gave him the most grateful handshake and gracias of my entire life. So then, of course, because I donít look dumb enough, once I get back on the bike I go the wrong direction so then down the road (where I could have just gotten on the main road to start with) I had to turn around and drive past the scene of the crime yet again. Dumb gringo.
Iím riding! Kickass. The bike is perfect, Jesse bags have so far held up to being down three times and still look fine. I keep worrying about when Iím going to have to duct tape and tie them onto the bike, but what they lack in waterproofness (sore subject) they damn sure make up for in toughness. So yeah, back to riding. Things are good. Have I said yet how damn gorgeous Colombia is? I can someday imagine riding a curvy mountain road with the mountain on one side and the ocean on the other, but until then, this is the best riding of my life. And who knows, with good progress I might get that on my way to Cartagena tomorrow. But mountains. Man. I love them. But they donít help when youíre in a rush. You drive one third the speed and three times the distance with all the switch backs, and then of course getting stuck behind semis and other slow moving mountain traffic. I got a few amazing pictures, but sadly the most epic and amazing scenes will only be in my head as there was either no place to pull over, I was too rushed to stop, or it was too misty for the camera to take a good pic. Speaking of which, 85 degrees in the city and the plains today, 44 degrees while riding through a rainy cloud in the mountains. At least I never saw the monumental rain today that I did the other day riding from Merida to San Antonio, it was mostly just a doable hazing. Rode through a few small towns where, of course, people look at me and the bike rolling through in stupor. Every day is a big day for stares, but today might have been the biggest. I love to be loved, donít get me wrong, but this kind of attention is completely different and somewhat awkward. Itís as if Iím some different creature and the bike is some magnificent dream object. I really canít put it out in words what itís like, but back in the US a person rolling around in a gold plated Ferrari wouldnít get the stares Iím getting. And when I do stop itís always the same conversation, I donít mind too much though, but itís always where are you coming from where are going? How much does the bike cost? Is that a GPS? Whatís that orange thing (the spot)? How many cylinders? (The average bike here is 100-200cc single cyl, 1/8th to 1/4th the size of mine). BUT thatís not to say anything bad about the people. To the contrary all the people Iíve met and talked with have been extremely nice and helpful.
So continuing, this ride is great and bikes are great. At one point, shortly after getting out of the tight twisties, I came to a backup of cars, they closed the road in both directions for road construction for who knows how long, but bikes could still sneak through. Pretty soon the road really opened up. For the first 4 hours riding today, through mountains and getting lost from the GPS in Bucaramanga I never got higher than 3rd gear. Sadness. But once it finally opened up a little past Buca it was open throttle awesome.
Here I am now, farther than Iíd like to be from Cartagena, because I really want to make it tomorrow, but after getting not enough sleep last night and since I had no plan of where to stop, what hotels are good, and the fact I hadnít eaten since breakfast, I figured I needed to stop tonight before dark, so about 6 I saw a hotel sign and stopped in. Itís a decent little place just south of Aguachica, 25mil pesos for the night with an AC room, TV, THREE beds, and a bathroom. I think its run by a mom and her two teen kids, sheís about as nice as it gets, but Iím pretty sure she was trying to push hookers on me when she asked if I wanted a chica to dance with tonight, when I declined she asked if I was sure, then asked again when I went downstairs for dinner. And I canít lie, the room smells a little like stale sperm. But outside of that itís actually a really nice spot for 11 dollars. Food was good, way more than I could handle, with two beers, for 16 pesos (7 dollars). Gotta love when you order fish and you donít get a fillet, you get the whole damn fish. Oh it just wouldnít fly in the US but Ef it. Another nice touch, they have a fenced in compound that they said I could park in, then once I pulled in and they saw the bike they insisted I pulled it up onto the patio near the bar where it canít be seen from outside. Good people. Well its 9pm, there are only 4 channels on the TV, none that speak English and trying to watch something in Spanish will just make my head hurt at this point, thereís no internets, and I think Iíll finally pass out early for once and get a good start on Cartagena in the a.m.
Peace out kids.
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Nice hooker offering madre
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Summer 09 Venezuela to Minnesota: Summer http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=449804
The goal of course is everywhere
US (MN, WI, IA, KS, OK, MO, TX), Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Venezuela. 11 down, 184 to go.
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Old 07-15-2009, 07:32 PM   #25
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15 July. Aguachica Ė Cartagena 300 miles (trip odometer 1,286)

Done, did it, made it. What a long two days. If everything goes right I won’t really have to be in a rush again for the rest of this trip. Finally got a good start on this morning, still later than I wanted but I believe in getting as much sleep as your body wants whenever you can. Can’t believe the hotel madre only charged me 4mil pesos for breakfast. That’s like 1.90, but ok, cool. Today was a lot of straight with only a few curves. Once again, everywhere I went was all attention on me, I’m almost thinking I really should have brought the old 650 thumper instead of the new glossy beautiful 650 twin. The lines on the thing are akin to a stealth bomber, I can’t lie, it’s a beautiful bike, maybe slightly less endure strengthed than a KTM 990 or even its sister, the 800, but the thing has beauty in spades. Whereas the 650 thumper wasn’t as pretty and is somewhat not uncommon here, so the attention factor would be ľ of what it is now…
Anyways on with the trip, saw a dead horse on the side of the road getting picked by birds. Still haven’t gotten stopped by a single checkpoint (and I’ve ridden past about 50)! Kind of wishing I hadn’t shelled out 100mil Pesos for the SOAT insurance (mandatory temp insurance you buy, supposedly if you get stopped it’s the one thing they really ask for). Yeah yeah, I know, IF I got stopped it would have been big shit. And if I ride through Colombia again I’ll still buy it again. Tried to take the camera out and take a picture while riding on a bridge. Set the cam on the tank bag for a second and of course it fell off the bike going 30. Thank god for no traffic, stopped and ran back to get it, lucky enough it was 2 inches from a drainage hole on the bridge and it would have been bye bye camera. Thank god I decided to buy a shock proof waterproof camera instead of something flashier. My pictures may suffer, but if I didn’t have this cam anything else would be dead by now. So yeah, really not that much happened today, except I decided to trust the GPS’s routing with the Colombian maps Silviu gave me, bad call, wound up in dirt back roads of some village, everyone giving the “what the hell is going on?”look. Just me folks, dumb gringo aqui (which brings me to the point of Spanglish; after over two months of being down south and either only interacting with Spanish speakers or English speakers in a Spanish speaking setting I realllly want to bust out the spanglish hard right now, but will spare you). While on the back road going up a big rutted hill almost dropped her left, then trying to correct almost dropped her right, and while I stopped her from falling right I didn’t know if I had the strength for a minute to pull it back up… Guess it’s a good thing my right arm is extra strong lately since I dropped chica off at the airport a couple weeks ago too much info, I need a filter, sorry, hah. So once I decided to turn around I went about as slow and steady as possible back down the hill. Then back past again all the people with WTF faces.
FINALLY, after two days of long hard riding I get to Cartagena. For only being a city of 1.1 million this place is congested as hell. I haven’t been too worried about much on this trip here, but got a small taste of motorcycle vulnerability a few minutes after getting here when I saw two motorcycles have accidents within one minute of each other. The first one got rear ended in stopped bumper to bumper traffic and got pushed forward so that his front wheel got wedged under a bus in front of him. Turns out he was a traffic enforcement officer. Hmmm. Then a bike behind the car that hit him, well the bus behind motorcyclist #2 had a guy sitting on the engine bullshitting with the driver (a full size school bus mind you) and the driver wasn’t paying attention, let off the brake, knocked moto #2’s passenger in the back. None hurt, but easily could have been when playing with 3,000 to 20,000 pound machines and not paying attention. Fuck nuggets.
Since I had less than great GPS maps (but still much better than what I had myself) I was essentially going into Cartagena blind, didn’t know any hotels or anything. Colombia is the only country I don’t have a guide book for, I bought one digitally, but didn’t think I should whip out the mini laptop on the middle of the street and its suggestions suck since they don’t say if hotels have parking, therefore I pulled a trick out of Silviu’s handbook (credit where credit is due) and grabbed a cabbie and told him to go to a good hotel with parking near Old Central, I’d follow him on the bike and then pay him like a regular cab far once we got there. Worked fine, this hotel is great. The same money in Colombia as Venezuela buys such nicer hotels. 45mil Pesos and the room is beautiful, shower warm, they have laundry service, a public computer, friendly funny staff, and since they don’t have a parking lot (and wanted my money) they told me to just bring the bike in the front door and park it in the lobby/dining area where she sits in front of me now. God that was fun. The curb to get it in was damn near a full foot high, so they got a little piece of wood to make a ramp. First wheel up fine. Reposition the wood for the rear wheel (not working with much space), first attempt fail. Second attempt fail. Fix the wood, get two people pushing, give it a ton of gas. Success. Riding through a hotel is an experience not to be missed. Cartagena is beautiful from what I’ve seen so far, glad I’ll be here a full day and a half to check it out, and my ass is glad to be done riding for a few days. I really need a new seat. Maybe I’ll pick one up when I fly home in a week and a half for a week. But I’m sure after 3-4 days on a boat I’ll be begging to be back in my saddle again.
Tomorrow: Meet Ludwig with the cargo boat to check out of Colombia at immigration and see what the town has.
Oh and I made a weird friend, Fernando, about 45 and pudgy who I’m not sure if he was tanked, didn’t really smell like it, but insisted I go right now to eat at an Indian restaurant with him and then was telling me about the hot Swiss girl he wants to get on here at the hotel. You go Ferny. Other random note, fat Latino men lovvve to hang out with their shirt all the way above their gut as if theyre airing it out or getting a gut tan. Kinda funny.
Bridge where the camera almost died



A section of my dirt road, a truckload would drive by right after this picture was taken with a bunch of "ŅWTF?" faces


Thinking "I'm about to get wet"


Just a cute little town with a view


Umm... clouds?


What I unrealizingly look like to hotel staff upon check in after riding all frickin day, pic doesn't do justice how much nasty was all over my face from exhaust fumes


Bike in hotel


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Summer 09 Venezuela to Minnesota: Summer http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=449804
The goal of course is everywhere
US (MN, WI, IA, KS, OK, MO, TX), Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Venezuela. 11 down, 184 to go.

DiabloBlanco screwed with this post 07-15-2009 at 07:54 PM
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Old 07-15-2009, 09:57 PM   #26
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great report...

hi mennn what a great report, let me tell you its a pitty i didnt knew about this RR, i live in caracas, an i would tell you all about venezuela, i hope you have wonderfull times here.......
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Old 07-29-2009, 11:22 AM   #27
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Hey Jordan, I'm back in Caracas.
The trip was great (even if it was in a car and not on the bike)
I hope you are having a great time on your trip.
Take care.

Here's the pic I took of you after successfully getting your temporary import permit at DIAN Cucuta.

Un abrazo, see you someday again on the road
SS

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Old 08-12-2009, 06:55 AM   #28
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Why'd you stop writing the tales of your trip? Those of us stuck in the cubicle enjoy the reprieve that is reading of others worldly travels, especially me, who has yet to leave the country, due to finances.
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Old 08-12-2009, 08:30 AM   #29
SS in Vzla.
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Just a little update: I PMd him a couple of days ago.
He is ok, he is having fun, but between the riding and the beers, he hasn't had time (or desire) to sit in front of a computer.
Who can blame him?

We DO expect a proper report even if it's done after he gets home...

Hey J:
I DO expect to read about the details about your ride as a pillion on Guido's bike when you went to retrieve your bike from Customs... he is my friend and riding buddy of many years and I would NOT ride his pillion, I'd rather walk

Ride safe
Buen Viaje
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Old 08-16-2009, 09:34 AM   #30
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Much apologies, I updated 26-29 June dealing with Vzlan customs, going to write more later tonight if I get a hotel with wifi and try for 1-2 posts a day for the next weekish to get it all caught up, I'm trying really hard to do it in chronological order. On post one I added an update where if anyone cares I'll write what I've recently updated, also will be having a thank you section up top of there as well. Just an FYI, I'm in El Salvador now riding with a German I met in Cartagena, Colombia. Once I'm all caught up it might be worth starting back from nearly the beginning but will let you know once it's all caught up so you don't have to read something over and over again to try to get the full picture. Cheers!
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Summer 09 Venezuela to Minnesota: Summer http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=449804
The goal of course is everywhere
US (MN, WI, IA, KS, OK, MO, TX), Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Venezuela. 11 down, 184 to go.
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