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Old 08-16-2009, 10:35 AM   #31
DiabloBlanco OP
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Damn do I look good! haha, thanks for the pic Silviu!

[/quote]
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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 08-16-2009, 10:54 PM   #32
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There, updated all the way up until getting on the boat in Cartagena, oh still so damn far behind! Still have 5 countries to write about and 4 more to enter, I'll try to work on Cartagena, Colombia to San Jose Costa Rica tomorrow if time permits or if I don't get drunk my German riding partner is quite the bad influence, but at least it means lots of bottle caps get collected (one for each beer brand I drink in each country, then turn them into fridge magnets).

Maybe for now I'll talk about random stuff for a minute.

Gear. What I wish I had...

-a much more rainproof jacket. Eff the Boulder. When it's dry I'm happy (although I'm sure there's cooler jackets to wear) but that thing gets SOAKED, so soaked that it will leak water into the top of my otherwise fairly dry pants getting my ass soaked too. Grrr
-Love my Garmin, haven't had a major getting lost incident in 2,500 miles of riding through 7 countries, but A) I wish I had non shitty GPS maps (sometimes smelly bikers roads are up to a full kilometer off course, and we're talking the Interamericana, not even shitty side roads). and B) it's my own fault for not having found a good Central American map before I came here. Do it.
-I don't think I'd trade my Jesse's, but I do wish they were more waterproof, same goes for my duffelbag that I think was even advertised as being waterproof. Hmph.
-More than just one driFit type shirt. Nice for hot days riding.
-Sometimes, only sometimes, I wish the F800 had won out my internal debate last fall when debating which bike to get...
-And sometimes, only sometimes, do I wish I had TKC80s instead of anakees
-Oh and a frickin pump that doesn't suck, who made this non-working POS... I think it was motoPumps or something like that... going to be sending it back, refund or not, once I get back to the states. Doesn't work for shit. Unless I'm an idiot (which is possible)

What I'm glad I have...
-Garmin. Can't imagine not having it and none of the other riders I've encountered on this trip have had one, but they all *kinda* wish they did. Not telling you to rely on it, but it sure makes life just a little easier.
-Vendramini Desert Alps. Expensive and almost too hardcore for this ride, but damn they're good, comfortable, waterproof, and as safe as it gets
-Mini laptop!!!!! Seriously. at as cheap as 300 dollars these days there is no reason to not have it. Wifi is readily available, let's you upload pics from your camera, write ride reports (unless you're lazy like myself), talk to people back home for 2 cents a minute on Skype. (try having a 45 minute long conversation with the other back home from Panama on your US cell phone, I won't even share how expensive that was.

I dunno I'm sure much more stuff but screw it, I feel like passing out
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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.
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Old 08-20-2009, 05:32 PM   #33
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16 July to 19 July Cartagena to Carti, Panama

16 July Cartagena to July 19 San Blas aboard Stahlratte
The next few days are the kind of days I wish I wasn’t traveling alone. I’ve always been a pretty good independent type, too much nonstop time with others is usually annoying and I’ve never had a problem spending days at a time on my own, chilling out doing my own thing, but at the end of the day sometimes its nicer to have someone around to share some good times with or just a beautiful vista. Or maybe it’s just that I got used to spending all day every day for 7 weeks with someone I didn’t mind. I don’t know about all the hype that Carta is THE nicest most beautiful and romantic town in all of Latin America, but it decent enough within the old central, and has enough cheap nice restaurants, hotels, and good harbor sunset views to think I ought to be spending the time with someone else.
I met Ludwig and the crew and the rest of the passengers at 10am at DAS, the Colombian immigration, to get our passports stamped out of the country. A nice mix of travelers. You’d think a ship going from Colombia to Panama might have some latins on it. Not really. There is one Latin couple aboard, then the girlfriend of the captiain, and th Spanish family of one of the German crew members, but other than that it’s almost all westerners/Anglos, a motorcycling couple from Germany who leave their bikes in South America in the winters to return to Germany to work and spend the summers here riding, another German on an 800 single cyl Suzuki, a new Zealand couple, Australian couple, British couple, Holland couple, and another German couple. That’s a LOT of couples, the only solos here are myself and Steffen, the German biker who started in Chile, riding to Canada, then across the states, and even he just had his girlfriend with him in Carta until we got on the boat. Damn couples, if anything makes you miss your other more than seeing other disgusting couples in action, I don’t know what it is.

Finish up our passports, I and the three other riders agree to meet back up at 4p to go turn in the temporary riding permits to Colombian customs, DIAN, (otherwise Colombia will think we brought them here and illegally sold them without properly importing them), and then we’ll take them to put them on the boat. I try to kill the next 4 hours searching for an Aguilla shirt for myself and Tay. How hard can a beer shirt of the biggest beer company in Colombia be to find in a tourist town? Well screw me, I really hate what tourist towns think tourists want to buy. Just like everywhere else I’ve been, its fake Lacosta shirts everywhere, but not much else. Maybe I’m crazy, who’d think I’d want something local-ish from the place I’m in? That’s actually been a problem since I started the trip, I spent days in Venezuela trying to find some sort of cool shirt that had some sort of Spanish writing on it, but impossible, everything sold everywhere that had any writing on it was allll in English (sometimes funnily misspelled English). Now that I think about it, I’ll probably have better luck looking at Ebay or Amazon to find an Aguilla shirt…

So 4p, I meet Steffen, Karen, and Goetz on the corner with the bikes, both of the couple are on matching 650 Dakars, cute, kind of made me miss my old single cyl, but not too much. Kind of randomly convenient that all 4 of us stayed in 3 separate hotels only a block apart from each other. After asking directions of a few people we find ourselves at the DIAN building where we’re told to sit out front and a funcionario will be with us in a minute. The first woman comes out, looks at our paperwork, doesn’t really get what’s going on, so she determines we need someone else. A few minutes later a guy comes out and we explain that we’re leaving Cartagena in the morning and taking a boat to Carti Panama. He goes away and then two women come out, one acting as an interpreter for the other so we can speak in English. We explain to her we’re loading the bikes on a boat at a little dock and are going to Panama in the morning, she says we have to go to the official port to have them properly loaded (at 600 dollars per bike!) and then she will inspect and then we can turn in the paperwork to leave the country properly. We asked if we could just load the bikes our own way at our location and she could inspect everything there. No. Wtf? It should be as easy as “here’s our papers, thanks for letting us ride, see you later”, but fine, you want to make it extremely difficult, I guess we’ll just leave illegally then. Asshats.

So we just head for the dock, Stephan and I riding through a nice big flooded street on the way and afterwards wishing we’d snapped photos as I made the point that riding solo you never really get any pictures of yourself. Sure you get beautiful landscape pictures, maybe even with the bike in it, but almost never any cool action shots including yourself. Oh well. So the 4 of us make it to the dock and thus begins the semi scary process of loading the bikes from the dock onto the dingy. You essentially ride the bikes front wheel off the dock into the dingy at an angle, then lift the back wheel from the dock into the dingy. Then you get in and mount the bike as if you were riding it stabilizing the bike with your feet on the sides as you ride out to the big boat (it’s a little cool the way youre mounted on the bike, its as if youre actually riding out in the sea). At the big boat they hook up the pulleys and pull her up on the deck. Scariest part really being the dingy. Other than that all smooth sailing… ooh bad pun bad pun.

The boat itself is quite nice, quite a few beds on the lower deck, mostly nice bunk bed types, but also special couple’s areas with double beds… hmmm… I’m really thinking the girl needed to be here for a little drunken boat rocking good times. Moving on a kitchen shower bathroom on the main deck, and then the lawn chairs, hammock, big eating chilling hanging table on the poopdeck (bwahaha, never thought I’d actually get to use that word). Yes I have the maturity of a 12 year old.

Rest of the night was fairly uneventful as I felt if I have to wake up at 630 I should just take it easy, don’t want to miss my boat. Eat at the same street vendor hamburger stand as the night before, I’m starting to get ballsy. When we first arrived in Veneziela they warned us over and over again to stay far away from street food and ice as our little hringo stomachs couldn’t handle it. Which is maybe true. My roommate in Vzla had to go home after not even a week because his stomachglipped on him so muh. But finally I’ve decided to throw that to the wind, actually requesting ice and now mocing to a whole new level order hamburgers from the hugely obese womans cart right down the street from my hotel. She dropped her sweat towel at one point, picked it right up and wiped her face, then wrapped up my hamburger, damn good.

Now its time to talk to the girl on the hotels internet computer for the last time in the next 4 days and Ill call it a night. Oh wtf. Some English chick is in the hotel lobby having a full out skype fight with her boyfriend in English. Over NOTHING. From 930p to 1230 in the morning. And no shame she’s yelling and swearing at him in the public lobby while someone just sits there and waits for the only damn computer that she’s tying up. I really just wanted to go kick the chair out and a few times I built myself up to ask her to wrap it up but each time she started the “alright well go to bed and I’ll talk to you later” making me back down thinking she was going to get off on her own, only to restart the arguing all over again. GRRR. Finally at 1230 the computer is mine. Finally to bed at 230.

Surprised I woke up with ease, but plain tired as hell. Met up with Karen and Goetz to take a cab to the boat, Stephen didn’t show, presumably taking a little extra time to say goodbye to his girlfriend before set sail. Hit the docks, run to the grocery store for snacks and beer, get on the boat and head out. The boat really is pretty nice, the water is of better temperature than almost any hotel Ive stayed at recently, the food is great, and we’re stopping at the San Blas islands for what turns out to be two days of snorkeling and grilling fun times. A couple points I’d like to make; I know a few people have had bad experiences boating around the Darien, but this Stahlratte company is a top notch experience, and saves considerably over flying. Think about this 4 days of flying, probably 1250 to fly, plus a hotel each night, dealing with customs maybe not being open to get the bike out (this is a weekend), having to buy food, etc etc. Final cost for flying would probably be 1500-1700. Boat: pay 750 get on boat on friday, eat good food, bed included, spend two days at amazing beautiful Caribbean islands swimming and snorkeling, get to Panama on monday with bikes in hand (probably the same time you’d get the bike from the airport customs). The choice is so obvious. Of course it helps to have a strong constitution, the Brit guy was over the side puking his brains out yesterday, but outside of that almost everyone has been fine. The constant rocking does get to you a bit, but it’s pretty doable. The first night the rocking was huge, very hard for everyone to sleep, but last night was much better as we’re parked near shore on a reef, so we’re barely being touched by waves. Bottom line is I absolutely recommend boating. The only bad thing, as Stephan and I are seeing, is it can make you a little love sick being on these beautiful, I mean GORGEOUS little island beaches with no one to really share them with while watching all these disgusting couples (who ARE all very cool). Plus I know Tay would absolutely love and be amazed by this, so it’s just a little harder to enjoy it as much as you could, but nonetheless still just beautiful. The water so clean, little tiny islands to swim snorkel too with reef everywhere, grilling dinner on the island, good times. I hate to be mistaken for less of an independent person than I am, I operate very well solo, but it’s just some things are obviously better when shared, so sometimes you can’t help but wish there was another or significant other to pass the time with.

A little upset, after 2 years of faithful service my shock proof waterproof camera is finally dead. I think what did it in was a combination of the 30 mph drop from the motorcycle, which it still worked after, but the drop probably knocked a waterproof seal out of alignment, so once I took it underwater for some snorkeling it was to finished and dead. Which realllly extra sucks because this place is AMAZING. Earlier today I threw on the snorkel gear and left the ship, swam past reef, schools of fish, a couple nerf sharks, huge starfish, and then laid on an island, all by myself with only the sand, sea, and palm trees around, with just a couple ships in the background along with other uninhabited islands and a wrecked ship stuck in the barrier reef. Yup, camera definitely would’ve been to have had. Grr. So later I had to team up with Stephan and his camera to do a little beach gay modeling photo session with his camera, was quite fab I must say, and then had to settle for whipping out the cell phone camera to write beach sand messages. Sunburned as all hell by now I might add. Tomorrow putting on full riding gear on top of my sunburn is going to be less than pleasant. Speaking of riding, A) a little disappointed that supposedly the nearest place to do customs on the bike is Panama City. Well hell, I’ll almost be halfway through the country by then, might as well just skip it all together (yeah I know I know I won’t), B) looking at my baby getting all rusted from the salt water is hurting my little heart, but the other 3 more experienced riders don’t seem too upset about it so it’s probably nothing, and C) I knew my ass wanted a break after the hard riding to get to Cartagena, but I knew 4 days on a boat was going to have me begging to get back on the bike, I love this boat, good times, but can’t wait to get back on the bike tomorrow. I don’t voice my complaint out loud because I’m pretty sure I’m the only one that has this sentiment, but all I needed was 1 day passage from Colombia to Panama, the extra two+ days here at San Blas has been good, glad we stopped here, but it’s a bit excessive, I’d just as soon have pulled in, snorkeled and ate yesterday, then last night got the boat moving to Carti and unloaded this morning. Oh well. Going to take a nap, hopefully a hammock is free as the bunks in the lower deck are entirely too hot and humid, then drink a beer or lots with dinner and wake up in the morning and introduce myself to Panama.

Oh a mention does have to go to Rolly, the Austrian mammoth of a man who is a deckhand here on the ship, he’s around 6’7 and lean ripped, actually looks a lot like my brother, but what’s intriguing is he built his own motorcycle from random parts and a bmw boxer engine and just drives around central south America earning money where he can and selling postcards of his adventures to help buy gas. I’m going to try to buy a few to support him and post them on here. Cheers!

Oh and PS, I’d like to point out Steffen and I are quite disappointed in all the couples here. When your boat is parked within swimming distance of 4 deserted and beautiful islands and there are hammocks available, why in the world would you still choose to sleep in the hot humid underbowels of the boat in a big community bay when you could be sleeping and getting nookie on your own damn island?!

My three German riders on the boat



At the docks getting ready to load up




Rolly and the bike being hoisted from the dingy into the big boat


The Stahratte


Sleeping arrangements


Steffen jumping from the boat


San Blas Islands


Fresh lobster for dinner
__________________
-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 08-20-2009 at 05:47 PM
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Old 08-20-2009, 05:34 PM   #34
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20 July – 22 July Carti to Panama City

I tried to sleep on a hammock on the poopdeck (hah! Still love it) instead of the hot humid bunk area down below deck, slept like shit, worst hammock ever, then the boat cranked on at 5am to start the last 40km stretch to Carti in mainland Panama so went back underneath for a bit of sleep. Definitely not enough. Get near the shore and a big canoa piloted by two Kuna Indians greets us, and we’re told that the immigration official didn’t show up to work today or the stamps are missing and he got too drunk and lost them or he’s at a funeral or whatever. Either way the game plan has changed a bit. Originally we were supposed to all get passports stamped there, then the gang of couples would go by jeep to get dropped off at whatever hostels they were going to and myself and Steffen would ride to the airport to the aduanas to get our bikes squared away with Panama. Now, since none of us are technically legal in the country we have to follow the jeeps (with an immigration police escort) to Panama to get stamped in and then we’ll do the bike paperwork.

So we get my bike hoisted on it, then Steffen's and all of our gear, say goodbye to the crew and the German rider couple who decide to stay a few extra days in San Blas on the ship, then start heading to the mainland wondering how the hell we’re going to get these bikes out of the canoa. Turns out with a hell of a lot of men, man power, and not a lot of finesse. We’re met by a Panamanian named Judy who starts giving us advice for the ride from where we are to the Pan-American. Supposedly it’s so bad some guy on a beemer last week went down 6 times on the hour long route. Hmmm. We start out and it really doesn’t seem so bad… but then we come to a river crossing and we’re both wishing we had knobbies and I’m wishing I’d gotten the F800 instead with the 2 extra inches of clearance. Water must have gotten sucked in and it started killing every time I let off the gas for the next 10 minutes worth of riding. Cheers to my Vendramini boots though, by the time I got to the other side Steffen was holding his boots upside down dumping out the water and the Desert Alps were still as dry as it gets. Then came an hour of huge hill ascents and descents on shitty gravel and loose rocks, but some amazing views, a shame the camera is dead. Finally get on the Pan-Am and open riding feels good after being off the bike for 5 days. Now the downside is it took forever to get our passport shit worked out. We wound up going to a regional airport and around 630 finally got our stamps, by which time the aduanas was closed so we’d have to go back in the morning. Go and snag a hostel, 12 bucks, wifi, decent crowd, nice part of Panama City, The Jungle House (08-59-11.1/079-31-49.0), definitely would recommend it and great secure parking to go with a nice 5th floor patio drinking area. First real shower in days, cold water, who cares, I’m sunburned anyhow. Then off to dinner at Manolos, good menu, cheap, good clientele, drink some beers, head to Hard Rock for a few more beers, then back to the hostel for some good sleep.

Panama City is almost like a little oasis in the middle of a trip where you’re a foreigner where ever you go, but in PC, from the canal, it’s such a completely Americanized place and so many gringos running around you legitimately feel like you’re in some sort of a US territory (in a lot of ways up until 10 years ago it kinda was with how much American power was involved with the canal). There’s almost as much English as Spanish, lots of people speak it, McDonalds, Subway, Burger King on every block.

The next morning the plan is to get a good breakfast, hit the aduanas, check out the canal, then I’ll head back to the hotel and get a jump on heading to Costa Rica and try to make it to David, Panama which is close to the border. I really wish I had more time in Panama, a lot more, but I have a flight on the 25th from San Jose, CR to the US to take a vacation from my vacation and see friends and fam, so I don’t want to take any chance of missing the flight. We head to Subway where Steffen gets some amazingly bad service, but we get amazingly good breakfast sandwiches. We’re ordering separately and paying separately, but for some reason she takes his order, makes it, pours his coffee, then refuses to ring him up while she spends around 8 minutes making mine and then rings us up one after the other. He’s pissed and I don’t much blame him. Especially given that there are two other employees just sitting in the back talking. But damn it was a good omelet sandwich. Jalapenos! In all my time in Venezuela and Colombia I never once got anything with any good kick at all, so jalapenos in my omelet was amazing. Ride to the aduanas, here’s the grid (08-58-24.4/079-32-49.7), sorry I don’t have a pic. We had a little trouble finding it, took a long way to get there, then drove right past it. A friendly soldier on a moped spots two obviously confused foreigners riding around on huge bikes looking everywhere for something and offers to take us there. Thanks buddy. Easiest in-processing EVER. Got stopped for shorts again though. Funny how the front door of the building lists No Guns and No Shorts right after each other as if equal crimes against humanity. I throw on my spare riding pants I happened to have, he had some rain pants, we walk in, pay $0.75 each to make a copy of our passport and titles, hand them to a guy, 4 minutes later he hands us our temporary import permits. At least something goes right!

Rode out to the canal, stopped at a gas station for gas and air. I guess we’re back to free self service air at gas stations? Or maybe that will change as we leave the Americanized Panama. And self service filling station. I like to think I have good survivable Spanish. That damn pump made me feel like an idiot. Finally a guy came and showed me how to work it. Yup, dumb gringo aqui. Go to the canal, pretty cool. But it is one of those things you look at for a few minutes, say “ok cool” and then you’re good. Granted I understand it is one of the greatest engineering feats of mankind. But to look at it is, well, looking at a boat in water. Cool. Still glad I took the time to see it.

Get back to the hostel, start packing my gear, fire off some emails, then right as I’m putting the boots on it starts raining. And not a little rain. Straight up torrential downpour. Well Fork Me. I try to wait it out a bit but it doesn’t relax to rideability until 4pm which would be a very awkward time to leave Panama City, not much headway would be made before having to stop, so might as well hang at the hostel another night. Fuckin Steffen. We go for dinner at 7, I’m thinking a beer or two, be in bed at 9, wake up and be riding by 6 in hopes of reaching the Pan/CR border. We get shat faced. 7 beers, a JagBomb shot and hours and hours later my whole two beers thought is more than dead. I did teach him and the waiter how to play flippy cup and quarters though, fairly entertaining. Got to bed around ohhhhh 130 or 2? FML. Oh and that was after we got back to the hostel he drops another beer off with me. What a…

Getting the bikes loaded on the canoa


Riding conoa style


Getting ready to lift my bike from the canoa to sweet Panamanian soil


I'm not really in the country until I add the sticker:


The truck crossing the river with I and Steffen about to start


Crossing


Just me


Had SPOT on for most of the boat ride and then to PC
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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 08-21-2009 at 11:49 AM
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Old 08-21-2009, 11:46 AM   #35
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22 July - 26 July Panama City to San Jose, Costa Rica

22 July Panama City to Palmar Norte, Costa Rica

Wake up rather disgruntled and tired as all hell. Four and a half hours of sleep is just not enough. Pack up, chat with the hostel lady for a minute, chat up another guy outside, let’s roll. Now how to get back onto the Pan-american. Hmm. One thing I have to knock the Latin American countries on is completely awful signage and road labeling. There are no signs saying Pan-American Highway this way. And if the highway enters the city and exits the city, but is called something else within the city, why not label it dually so you know what you’re on? *sigh* so I get lost a bit taking bad freeway exits until I decide to give Puente de Americas (bridge of the Americas) a try. Finally. Rollin. The first 250kms were nothing much to write home about. I’d say a 6.5 out of 10 on quality. I have now encountered two manhole covers missing, not a pretty thing if one were to lazily be following too close behind a car and hit it. Quite a few cops out with radar guns too, but much like American cops, you can usually spot them before they get a lock on you, so just have to keep your eyes open. Now right around the 250km mark the road and scenery both improve greatly. Rolling hills and mountains and road quality would probably be around 8.5 now. More ride more ride. Originally I was thinking I’d get to the border, maybe process out of Panama, then in the morning take care of Costa Rica (remember all of my other immigration/customs have taken hours to days). I show up to the border at 3… initial impressions, its different than the other ones I’ve seen so far, this is both Panamanian and Costa Rican immigration and customs both within 100 meters of each other. Nice. I was imagining two distinct halves. Am instantly jumped on by one of those “helpers” I’ve heard a little about. I think I could figure out the border myself, but… sure why not. My guess is bumbling around on my own in half decent half bad Spanish it would take me around 2 hours. With the helper I was done in an hour and there was no guessing, no wondering if something was right. One hour I was out of Panamanian immigrations and customs and already through Costa Rican immigrations and customs, including buying the mandatory 16 dollar insurance for CR. Gave the guy a 15 once it was all said and done and we were both mutually pleased. Probably could have given him 5 or 10, but he definitely earned 15 bucks.

Now let’s say you wanted to cross Panama to Costa on your own, here’s what to do (REALLY wish I had a working camera).

As you come up on the border you’ll see a building that splits the road. This is where all the getting out of Panama magic happens. Just pull up and park somewhere along the yellow curb. This is where the helpers will come at you and you can decide if it’s worth 10 or so or if you want to just go it solo. If you go solo just walk up to the building to the windows that have Pan immigration and get your passport stamped out. Then take your bike paperwork and find an aduanas officer who will check out your bike and bags, his office is a little hard to explain but walk around for a minute and note where the immigration windows are and then find where the aduana windows are. There’s a random empty looking office between them and a smaller office in that big empty office room. That’s where he is (if he isn’t working on a car outside). After that he’ll sign off a sheet and you bring your paperwork and passport to those aduanas windows. Panama done.

Now to Costa Rica, you ride forward (slight curve to the left after passing the Panama building) and you’ll see the fumigation shed. Pull into it, then go to the window. You pay $2.50 to have your bike fumigated, then he gives you a little slip of paper saying it was done. Then ride forward 50 meters and park where the guys have little shops set up trying to sell Panama and Costa Rica flags and whatnot. This is where everything happens for Costa Rica. Quick knock out your passport at the immigration windows. Then get the appropriate forms for vehicle importation 10 feet to the left from the aduanas guys (their windows are filled with motorcycle stickers). You fill those out, then walk across the street to where it says photocopies and copy your title passport and those forms. Take those back to the aduanas guy and he’ll have you sign a few things, then you go down the hall to the right, into the room on the left and a person will come out to the bike and verify the plate, hand you your papers (all done) and a little slip you give to the guy at the guard shack. All done. But still confused maybe? I could do it now that I’ve first hand seen everything, but if it were my first time I’d just pay the money.

So my helper told me it was an hour to the next town, Neilly, 2 hours to the next after that, Rio Claro, 3 ˝ to Palmar Norte, and 7 hours to San Jose. This amazed me since the distances didn’t add up to that much time, but things do always take longer than you want. But man, I just didn’t want to ride that much further today, such a long ass day. Well turns out he just doesn’t know distance. I was in Palmar Norte in just over an hour. Got stopped at a checkpoint by the friendliest cops ever. Asked directions from a friendly bicycler. The differences between the countries are already so apparent. The one with such a strong American government influence, the other with such a strong tourist influence.
But already so much more impressed with the Costa Rican landscape. I also saw a map that was 3 dimensional that showed the route to San Jose. Looks to be an amazing ride through the mountains tomorrow. Anyhow, I paid way more than I wanted for a room tonight, 40 dollars, but this place is GREAT (and I had to pay more because they didn’t have any smaller rooms left, otherwise I think there are some for 30). Brunka Lodge in Palmar Norte. Private cabanas surrounding a pool and hot tub, flat screen tv, beautiful bathroom, wifi, fridge, AC naturally, a really good restaurant (had jalapeno steak with rice and veggies, way good), and obviously a very secure parking lot.

So tonight I’ll get some good sleep, I’m guessing its 3 to 4 hours to San Jose in the morning, trying to pick up a CR road map along the way, I’ll find a hotel near the airport to stay for two nights, then drop the bike off on Friday at the BMW dealership where they’ll store it securely for 5 dollars a day, then catch my flight out Saturday morning, come back in a week and restart from SJ going north and try to hook back up with Steffen for more drunken nights.

23 July – Palmar Norte to Jaco to Alajuela and San Jose
Looking on a map I find a couple options to Alajuela/San Jose, I can ride straight through the mountains to get there or I can follow the Pacific coast to the surf capital town of Jaco and then cut up to Ala/SJ. Let me take a minute to talk about latin distance/time estimation. It’s all fucked up to an extreme, but not consistently on the short or long side. First of all, whenever you ask how far something is (cuanto distancia/kilometros a/hasta/para llegar…) they will choose to answer in time instead of distance. Usually I’ve found they’ll short it and say something is 5 minutes that take 20 minutes or something, but in Costa Rica especially they would say something crazy like it’s a 7 hour drive from Palmar Norte (PN) to San Jose. I took the longcut along the coast (of which the highway was torn up) and total traveling time was probably 5 hours.

Anyhow, so I just gave away I decided I’d been doing too much point to point straight riding and if I can drive along the coast, well then that’s what I’ll do. Taking the back highway from PN was beautiful once the road met up with the coast. You couldn’t see it THAT much just because there were often trees and such between you and the water, but for who knows how long I was within 100 meters of the Pacific and when the trees gave way here and there it was all worth it. After a while you come to a threeway intersection where you can continue on the hardball to the right or go straight on dirt and looks like a national park entrance with a manned guard shack there. At first I thought the right answer was to stay on the hardball, but after a few kms it was apparent by GPS it was taking me the wrong direction so I doubled back and talk to some friendly truckers who pointed me along the dirt road. The next 100 kms or so was pretty shitty road, but still absolutely worth it. For part of it it was just crappy back country dirt road going through villages, but the other probably 80kms was all torn up as they were actively building up new fresh highway, so I would still recommend this route, maybe it will all be paved by the time you swing through. Stopped at a little café that had signs for wifi but it was down, still a good soda stop though. Really wish I hadn’t killed my damn camera, way too much good stuff to take pics of that I had to miss out on.

Finally arrived at Playa Hermosa just outside of Jaco where I stopped at an overpriced but good pizza joint for a beer and lunch and wifi’d it up. Went and walked along Playa Hermosa a little bit, the black sand beach was amazing and very clean (the sole exception being the condom wrapper I came across, but we can’t knock anyone for beach sex now can we?). The waves were enormous. I guess a week after my passing through they were hosting the world surf championship. Cool.

Back on the bike and riding to Alajuela (Ala is the city just outside the airport and just a short drive/bus ride from SJ, the guide recommends you stay party more in Ala than SJ and I had an early morning flight in two days so I opted to stay in Ala). A little rain, nothing unmanageable, but the slow speed of trucks up and down hill and the turns being too tight to offer any ability to pass was a little annoying. Got turned around a little at one point missing a turn so I stopped at a bar for a beer and directions and a little conversation. More nice guys, but I’ve only been in the country for two days now and am already getting a bit sick of the term “Pura vida” (“pure life” if you just can’t figure it out). They say it all the time, I guess it makes a nice touristic slogan, but to actually have it a part of the vocabulary is a little excessive. I much prefer Venezuela’s “chevere” (cool, good, fine). Que chevvvvvverrrrreeeee. Just fun to say. So blah blah, I get to the airport, it’s dark out and I don’t have a clue where I’m staying yet so I flag down an airport cabbie and ask him for hotel recommendations and then just tell him I’ll give him 2mil Colones to take me to it. I’ll add the name of it later, definitely wasn’t amazing by any means, was expensive like everything else in CR, but it had an indoor secure parking area, wifi, spacious but kinda crappy rooms and free breakfast, good ‘nuf.

The next morning I’m dropping the bike off at the BMW dealership in San Jose, took about 20 minutes to ride there from Alajuela. They said they’d store it for 5 dollars a day and give it a bath for me, put a reflector back on that somehow fell off. The grid they gave me for their store was off by a few blocks so I took a real grid for it. Maybe add it later or msg me if needed. They had an entire lineup of 800’s and 650 twins there, I was a little surprised there were so many since the bikes seem to fly off the shelves in the US. My bike looked completely like a mess compared to a brand new same model sitting next to it, all shiny and new with zero miles (and zero farkles). I almost forgot how completely worthless the original BMW “wind screen” is on a stock model, I replaced mine almost right away (in fact it was the first farkle I bought). Damn thing is only good to block wind from the instruments. Drop it off, look on a map and think it’s not SO far to the bus station, I can walk it. Well there was a crappy idea. Over an hour later and sweaty as hell I’m finally there. Next time I take a cab… pay 1mil (2 dollars ish) Colon for the bus back to Alajuela which was a much less shitty walk to the hotel. Eat Taco Bell. Mmmm how I’ve missed you TB and your fire salsa. Next morning hop a plane.

I was really a little worried that somehow customs and immigration would be linked and as I left the country I’d get cornered about entering the country with a bike and then leaving the country without it, the guide book is a little funny for Central America in that it doesn’t give clear guidance for anything to do with vehicles in Central America, but it does clearly for some reason state that if you enter CR with a vehicle and want to leave it in the country for a short time you HAVE to leave it at the customs warehouse. But nope, nothing was said, stopped at the gift shop for some little gifts and an Imperial beer shirt (I wish I’d collected a beer shirt from every country, especially Aguila in Colombia) and then off to the waiting area for my plane….


Pics are from cell phone since I had no real camera :o(
Just a pic


Puppies!


Playa Hermosa


SPOT to San Jose
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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 08-23-2009, 07:23 AM   #36
High Side
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Looking forward in hearing and seeing pics of your travels through Costa Rica. My Girlfriend and I are flying down and renting bikes for a 9 day tour next March and I'm trying to get as much info for our trip as possible.

Enjoy !
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Old 12-15-2009, 07:45 PM   #37
DiabloBlanco OP
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I meant to write this months ago, sooner or later I'm going to upload photos but the 411 is this...
I spent most of the Mexico/US part of the trip home just flying, riding all day, writing out sections for this in the evening. I had the entire thing done and written. All I needed was to upload the pictures that would go to each post. Then, a week after getting home, someone kicked in my back door taking my flat panel, my playstation 3, my change jar, and BOTH my laptops!! All this while I was helping a poor single mom friend with her plumbing who couldn't afford it herself.

WTF?! Everyone was completely worried about me getting jacked on this trip and a week after I get home (not even the 4 1/2 months my house sat empty) someone kicks in my back door and robs me blind. All that writing. Hours and hours of it. I don't even care that much about the physical things that were stolen, it's the data on the laptops. Anyhow, I was lucky in one respect... when I was home for a week from Costa Rica I backed up my pictures up until that point on an external and I never deleted my pictures from there on that were on my camera, so the only pictures I lost are the ones that Steffen had taken and given me, so hopefully I will see him this winter and be able to get them from him.

So, that was a couple few months ago and to be quite honest, I lost all interest in trying to catch up all the writing I had already done that was now lost. So Ii may yet upload a bunch of photos with random non-linear comments, but I won't be ever completing this as an actual full ride report.

Things are good now though, shit happens, life is happy and I have no complaints. Well... maybe just that I'm stuc in MN, in the tundra, working... when I'd much rather be in Nicaragua or Guatemala or anywhere south drinking beer and riding
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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 02-25-2010, 02:01 PM   #38
GSranger
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Dude, those douche-nozzles didn't just steal your computers and stuff...they stole the second half of your amazing journey from all of us entrigued by your travels. Please reconsider finishing the story, not for your friends, family or all of us at ADVrider, but for yourself. You'll want to written down in years to come because the details will fade. Great report though.

If you're ever in Washington, lets ride and consume copious amounts of beer!
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