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Old 06-02-2010, 11:46 AM   #181
crazycalvin
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Good to see you made it to Panama. So is this where you'll turn around? Good luck with the return to Canada, I saw in the news that there's massive flooding in Guatamala.
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Old 06-02-2010, 12:33 PM   #182
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good to know if i ever ride down to panama, i'll have the same bike as the cops
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Old 06-02-2010, 03:52 PM   #183
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Thumb Fantastic

I'm sitting in my girlfriends house in Mexico City (I live in Washington DC) and wishing I had my bike here (Honda VFR). It's not a KLR and certainly not up to a trip like that but after reading all your report I miss it like no other.

My next ride will be of the KLR, V-Strom persuasion. However, after reading that your KLR made it to Central America TWICE, I think I know where I'll be spending my $$$. If only we could get the Honda Valerado in the States...

I spent some time in Costa Rica a few years ago. If you can, the Nicoya Peninsula has a town called Ostional. There is an enormous sea turtle population which returns each year to nest. If you can a side trip might be in order.

Safe travels.
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Old 06-02-2010, 04:06 PM   #184
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Did you tip the policia for the escort and advice? Just curious.
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Old 06-02-2010, 07:34 PM   #185
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Good stuff Pat, good stuff. Thanks for the effort - following daily.
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Old 06-03-2010, 05:13 AM   #186
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Following your report here in Vancouver. Sounds like a great trip. You're not missing much in BC, worst spring in years. I've had to cancel a BBQ three weekends in a row and haven't even put insurance on my bike yet. Enjoy it for us!
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Old 06-03-2010, 11:26 PM   #187
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Epic, man. Epic!!!!!!!!!
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Old 06-04-2010, 06:59 AM   #188
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Real ride report to follow when I can break out the laptop instead of this Ipod.

Panama = Beautiful
Yazvisa = End of the road, kinda interesting, not sure it was worth the extra 550KM in one day though LOL
Ride from David to the Carribean side = Fun
Sixoula fronteria from Panama to Costa-Rica = Old railway bridge (cool)

Headed for Nicarauga today, possibly the island in the lake (Ometepe?) or Granada area.
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Old 06-04-2010, 10:20 PM   #189
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Day 39 – The end of the road and back!

Today's plan was to head down to the end of the road in the city of Yasviza. I would kick myself If I came this far and never took the extra day to go see it.

Up early I take some time to check in on the computer Where I find a message from Nate (HammerDown on ADVRider) Which explains that he was the Alberta licenced jeep that had passed me yesterday on the highway and to call if I needed anything while I was in town.

I pack my gear and heading into the communal area of the B&B for some Breakfast. Excellent local coffee and a few great eggs are prepared for me by the owners, they are quite interested in my trip but think I'm crazy to be riding so far.

Packed up and the wall of the dining room signed, (as is tradition for the guests here to do) I say my goodbyes and head out going the wrong way down a “una via” street and over a few curbs. I guess the ride from last night is still fresh in my head.

On the way out of town I manage to take a wrong turn and end up in the Ghetto's of Panama city. I can feel the greedy eyes upon me and my bike, Its only 9am and this place has a sketchy feel to it, I would hate to get lost down here after dark.



Soon following the GPS arrow south I manage to get free of the slums and find some nice old colonial buildings and the right road to take me south. Ave. Balboa takes me along the waterfront of Panama city and allows for a few choice pictures before dipping inland and out the other side.


Old statue just outside the slums


Panama City waterfront...

The road south to Yazvisa is well travelled but in a state of disrepair. 50Km south of Panama city the road narrows to the familiar 1.5 lane wide country standard that you can find all over Central America. Leaving the coastal plane the road traverses some rolling hills and farmland every once in a while spanning a river or creek with a narrow one lane bridge.


Note: this is not the one lane bridge... lol

Nearly 270 kilometres after leaving Panama City this morning the road curves around its final bends and leaves me staring at the village of Yazvisa without even the courtesy of a sign to say, “the road ends here amigo”.

I know there should be a footbridge over the river here somewhere, its what I've come to see, the start of the Darien gap. A little driving around in the “streets” of Yazvisa (4' wide concrete strips) and a few questions later and Im face to face with the bridge to no-where.


The 'roads' of Yazvisa...

Its quite an achievement for me mentally to know that I drove as far south as possible and made it to the end of the road. I'm relived to know that I've made it half way but at the same time slightly disappointed... I almost wish I had the funds, the time and the tenacity to head for South America.


End of the road...


I made it!

I take a few pictures at the bridge and get ready to make the long trek back to Panama City when I realize that I'm running low on fuel. I'd neglected to fill up at the station an hour down the road figuring that Yazvisa would have fuel. I was wrong... I ask around and finally get pointed behind a restaurant where I bang on a door and am greeted by a giant of a man who looks like he just woke from his afternoon siesta.

He doesn't seem overly personable but it's entirely possible I just woke him from a perfectly good mid-afternoon nap. I explain my dilemma as he cuts me off and just asks me how much fuel I need. Two gallons of nice red fuel slosh into my tank from his personal stash. I end up paying a premium for it at $4 USD per gallon but that sure beats sitting on the side of the road empty.


The indiginous population in this area live in stilt houses built out of whatever scrap wood is available...

The ride back into town is interesting, much better than a four lane super-slab but a five hundred plus kilometer day on a KLR will take its toll on anyone and by the time I get back to Panama City I'm feeling pretty wiped out.


I pull up Nate's phone number and find a payphone thinking that maybe he's care to join me for dinner and a beer or at the very least be able to give me some good tips on cheap places to stay in town. After scrounging up enough change to use the payphone I get in touch with Nate only to be cut off... A bad connection I guess, but the phone managed to keep my money, greedy thing!

Back on the phone with Nate I propose my dinner plan to which he responds that he'd already eaten and was babysitting his 3 year old sun while his wife went out to play this evening bun in the same breath he also manages to offer me a bed for the night. I was going to ask about cheap places to stay but you cant get much cheaper than free!

Directions written down, the sun set well below the horizon and quite tired from my days travel I set out on a new adventure, night riding in Panama city! I return to the waterfront before finding the road to Israel and heading toward Nate's. Either Nate gives a good set of directions or I'm an excellent navigator, I found it first time with no wrong turns!


Panama City waterfront @ Night

Nate greats me at the door, his son Matson in tow. I unload the bike and park it inside the compound next to Nate's KTM 640 Adventure before the two of them show me to my room for the evening. I grab a quick shower and change out of my smelly riding clothes before heading downstairs to hang out.

Nate is a Pilot and makes his living flying out of Panama city, an avid motorcyclist and baseball fan he's making a habit of finding Adventurers on the road and inviting them home. Apparently it wasn't that long ago that Antontrax had stayed here for a week while exploring the area.

We crack a few beers and watch the baseball games while bullshiting about my trip, bikes, jobs, local culture and more. Matson is an awesome little guy who at the age of 3 is already bilingual and has a passion for motorcycles. Like father like son, right?! With a 6am flight Nate turns in early, tells me to make myself at home and that If I was still around he would see me tomorrow evening.

I retire to my room and manage a quick skype call home and an e-mail or two before passing out in the glory of air conditioned goodness.
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Old 06-05-2010, 02:49 AM   #190
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i bet a/c is worth its weight in gold down there.
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Old 06-05-2010, 06:32 PM   #191
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Thumb Really turned on by Mexican route

I was going to read the first couple of pages of your report and head on to what I really was interested in, namely RRs from Southeast Asia. Well, here I am another 11 pages later and thoroughly enjoyed your honest, balanced reports. In fact, I couldn't stop reading!

Patrick, I was most impressed with the Mexican coastal run. Compare the locations' beauty and the food and nice people you met with the media reports of drug cartels, murders and other mayhem and well, you've given a very nice contrasting and positive view of Mexico. How do you feel about Mexico? Or put another way, have you got a favourite country/people based on this trip?

And last, when I've been travelling in SEA, it's always nice to meet some folks from home. Well, most of the time anyway
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Old 06-05-2010, 08:32 PM   #192
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Indochine
I was going to read the first couple of pages of your report and head on to what I really was interested in, namely RRs from Southeast Asia. Well, here I am another 11 pages later and thoroughly enjoyed your honest, balanced reports. In fact, I couldn't stop reading!

Patrick, I was most impressed with the Mexican coastal run. Compare the locations' beauty and the food and nice people you met with the media reports of drug cartels, murders and other mayhem and well, you've given a very nice contrasting and positive view of Mexico. How do you feel about Mexico? Or put another way, have you got a favourite country/people based on this trip?

And last, when I've been travelling in SEA, it's always nice to meet some folks from home. Well, most of the time anyway
Thanks for the kind words,glad you enjoyed it.

I dont give any credit to the image a country gets from the news reports... Unfortunatly you only ever hear of the bad things that happen in these countries, bad news sells more newpapers ya know... I know what people say about Mexico but to tell you the truth, not once did I feel insecure or like I was treated diffently for being a foreigner. Dont let the nay-sayers win!

My favorite country sofar, well thats a tough question, I've loved every country I've been to and will have to reserve judgement untill I've seen Belieze as well.

The people are all very friendly, Mexicans, Gautemalans, Hondurans, Nicaraugans, The Tico's and Panamanians as well... 90% of people are great and by staying out of the major centers I've done my best to avoid that last 10%.
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Old 06-05-2010, 08:37 PM   #193
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Day 40

Not a lot to write about today... I wake up after a great sleep at Nate's house to a deafening thunderstorm. A quick check of the computer tells me the whole country is socked in and it doesn't look like is going to let up anytime soon... I don't want to go ride in the pouring rain but I also don't want to spend any of my precious “down days” (non riding days) here waiting out a storm.

I pack in 450Km of slab on the way north from Panama City to the town of David where I search around and find a cheap but clean hotel with secure parking right downtown. The next order of business was laundry, I was running out of clothing, my last pair of fresh socks went on this morning. It takes a little work to find a place that has both a washer and a dryer, most just hang things to dry, but I wanted to make sure I wasn't going to get a pile of wet clothes back.



$2.50 gets me express service at the place around the corner from the hotel, the lady suggests I go get some dinner and come back for my clothes afterwards, sounds like a plan. Dinner was mediocre to say the least, I'm very much missing food that has some flavor. The beer was cold and probably the best part of the whole day... I return for my laundry and stop by a convenience store for drinks and snacks on my way back to the hotel. I crash out early tonight, the internet isn't working and as such I loose all drive to work on these reports. Tomorrow I head for Costa-Rica again.
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Old 06-05-2010, 11:24 PM   #194
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Day 41

I'm pretty sure I am the only guest at the hotel, it was a quiet night and I slept amazingly well for not having air conditioning. I plan to head to the Carribean coast today and depending on time and what I find possibly into Costa-Rica at the Sixoula frontera.

The road snakes its way up into the mountains where the fog and rain soon engulf me. With limited visibility the patch and pothole ridden road turns into an interesting game of “don't bend the wheel”. I wouldn't want to ride this road on anything less than a KLR, it wouldn't be any fun on a more street oriented bike.



Over the crest I wind my way down into a central valley where the road passes around a huge reservoir and in the distance the hydro-electric dam that created it. Its a pretty awesome moment as this all rolls into view and the sun breaks through the low cloud.



Crossing the dam I roll into the hills again for another round of rain and fog. Its not long before I'm headed downhill and the fog breaks reviling a gorgeous scene like straight out of a travel brochure. Lush green hills leading down to a crystal clear blue ocean all topped off with a fluffy cloud dotted sky.



The Caribbean coastline is nice but less than what I had expected of Panama. The beaches were dirty, the water while warm wasn't all it was talked up to be and there was really nothing that caught my eye or interested me enough to make me want to spend more than an hour here, let alone my afternoon and evening. I decide I will head on to Costa-Rica and see If I cant find something there.



The Sixoula border crossing is quite an interesting spot. An rusty old rail bridge across the river now serves vehicle traffic, warped wooden planks nailed down to the original rotting rail ties and gaps in the railing sealed off with scrap pieces chain link fence.

The Panamanian Auduana official didn't like the idea that I wasn't leaving the country the same way I came in but his his will to fight tired quickly and he reluctantly cancelled my import permit and stamped me out of the country.

The ride across the bridge was interesting, my front wheel kept trying to drop into the groves between the planks and then there was the open holes to the river below which I had to avoid and the pedestrians who no matter what wouldn't move to the other side of the tracks so that I could ride faster than walking pace.





On the Costa-Rican side of the bridge I'm waved into the Customs and immigration office where the Auduana officer tells me he's just going on lunch but he'll be back in an hour to give me my importation paperwork. I tell him no problem, I still have permission from my previous time in Costa-Rica that wasn't cancelled when I entered Panama. The official seems miffed at this as I guess he was hoping for a 'propina' (tip) to stay and do paperwork on his lunch break. I head into immigration, fill out my entry form and get stamped in without issue.

Into CR the road passes by miles upon miles of banana and plantain plantations which must be the main employer's in the area. Unfortunately the road doesn't really parallel the coastline, a few quick jaunts out to the coast reveal nothing exciting and I keep pushing north.


Working on my tan (burn)


Another cool KLR

Soon without finding anything of great interest, the road turns inland towards San Jose and the central valley and while the coast was fun the mountains were better. Gorgeous twisty roads with little to no traffic and great pavement had me laughing in my helmet. I even went so far as to get a little carried away and drag my pannier around one corner... Ooops...

On the the San Jose side of the mountains the weather has closed in and the rain drizzles just enough to set the mood. Its late in the afternoon maybe around 5:30 or 6pm and I still have to make it through town and to a hotel. Stuck in rush hour, lane splitting and hopping curbs when possible I make it to downtown San Jose and on to an insustrial neighborhood slightly south.

By now its dark and the rain has turned into a downpour from a drizzle, I'm thoroughly lost and have only the arrow on the GPS to guide me towards the Pan-American highway out of town. I approach an intersection and as I look to the GPS to verify my course the bike is pulled out from underneath me. I'm sent sliding into the intersection by a water hidden railway line cut into the roadway.

I jump up and instinctively look around to gauge who might have witnessed my mishap, unfortunately the intersection is busy and I just became the nightly entertainment. I right the bike, hope on, start it up and ride away before pulling over to check it out. The only damage sustained were a few scratches on the pannier case and a bruised ego. I should have known better, should have been watching better, but all in all, no harm done.

Back on familiar roads I make my way to the outskirts of town looking for the Hotel that my previous riding partner Rob has been holed up in for the past week while waiting on parts to fix the charging issue with his V-Strom. Unable to find the spot and with no way to contact Rob I end up at an overpriced chain hotel, down the road, paying their premium eagerly just to get out of the downpour, dry off and lay down.

An interesting day for sure!
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Old 06-07-2010, 03:06 AM   #195
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Vancouver calling...

Quote:
Originally Posted by IslandSpark
Day 16



Tube out I find the puncture and patch it before reinstalling it and handing Dave the bike pump with a quick “call me when you get to 35PSI” jab. I don't know how many of you have tried getting at 130/90-17 tire up to 35PSI with a bicycle pump before but it takes a long time, at about 30 PSI Dave gives up and I break out my C02 inflater to get him the last few pounds.



Hi Patrick, Great RR all round. Congrats on the huge achievement! Ride safe to get home. Drizzly as all heck here so don't rush!

Some questions popped into my KLR riding mind....
When Dave's tire blew back on day 16 you inflated that thing to 35PSI? Any reason for that high pressure. Kawa manual recommends 28PSI max and I usually drop that to around 20PSI on rough roads when loaded up (and I'm 220 lbs alone!). Just wondering if you would get a smoother ride on lower pressures, and maybe reduce the risk of flats?
Did you ever find out if Dave got going again?
I'd be very interested in getting your GPS file if you are sharing it, or see your route on Google Earth.
How did you make initial contact with Dave and Rob to make this trip? Was that through this site? I need a ride buddy for a trip and wondered if you (or other readers) can comment on the best way of joining up.
And if you come to Vancouver let me know, there is great riding close to here. Beers on me.
Cheers,
Lane
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