|06-16-2011, 02:28 PM||#106|
girls wanna have fun
Joined: May 2011
Location: Far East, TN
May the forces of evil become confused on the way to your house. -George Carlin
Two Wheel Females.com
|06-16-2011, 02:53 PM||#107|
Joined: Jul 2006
Location: Location Location
"Limbautomy" what's the Rush?
|06-16-2011, 02:59 PM||#108|
Joined: Mar 2010
Location: Austin, TX
Haha, sorry guys!
Updates are coming very soon. Didn't mean to leave you guys hanging!
Yea, ninja prices are going up. Summer + gas prices = higher prices for low end bikes. When I was searching for my bike a year ago there were a couple of ninjas in the $1500 range. Now there's nothing.
|06-16-2011, 03:16 PM||#109|
Joined: Mar 2010
Location: Austin, TX
2/11/11 Santiago, Panama City - Panama (Part 2)
We bid our friends in David goodbye and headed towards Santiago, about four hours away. Kathy had given us the name and number of her son, Ahren, who had invited us to stay with them for a few days. Ahren was an avid motorcyclist in the states, and he recently moved to Panama, having also met a Panamanian doctor.
Ahren and Magally:
We ended up spending almost two weeks here, partially because our hosts and their family was incredible, partially because we were helping Ahren deal with shipping a container in from the USA.
Santiago, with Magally's family, was incredible. Probably the best we've gotten to know a family on this trip. They welcomed us with open arms and we spent many days immersed in the Panamanian way of life. I don't know where to start with our time in Santiago, so I'll just tell some highlights.
Family trip to the river, first day:
Feasted on chicken, rice and guandu. Guandu is a bean grown in Panama, that only grows for two months a year. During these two months, everything is served with guandu.
Crazy fruit I don't remember the name of:
Going out to a little port town for dinner with the family.
Dirt cheap fish plates, before and after.
It was Oriel´s (Magally's nephew) 16th birthday and we bought him a cake.
Vicky is a professor at the local highschool, which is apparently the biggest in Central America. She gave us a tour of the school and Santiago.
The school was incredible:
The artist died while painting this auditorium and it was left unfinished.
Beatiful, detail everywhere.
Museum of Santiago displaying traditional Panamaian wear:
Bascillica outside of Santiago:
Vicky also killed some of her chickens to make us Panamanian sancocho (delicious soup of onion, garlic, cuillantro(?) and chicken). Also, Panamian tamales (a little different, they have olives in them).
Went to the Veraguas fair:
The young ones love the horse rides:
We also spent several days driving to and from Panama City with Ahren, Magally and Beto. Panama city has insane traffic, and Magally will not drive there and Ahren does not have a license yet. Beto is Magally´s uncle, who volunteered three full days of his time to driving us around Panama city, skipping work to do it. Because "you're family". I saw time and time again friends and family going to extreme lengths to help one another out. Quite incredible.
The reason for our trips to Panama city were to retrieve a container of tools and furniture that Ahren had shipped to Panama from the states. It was supposed to be a simple, drive up, sign, pick up deal. Done by lunch. It ended up being three days (20+ hours, no exaggeration) of driving through gridlock traffic from office to office, so Ahren could fork over hundreds of dollars to shady middlemen or useless buearucrats. We would get marriage papers, employment papers, residence papers in order, and then we would spend hours to find out that X document wasn't valid, Y document needed to be translated, Z document needed to be notarized again. It was a heroic effort. We drove to and from Panama (8 hours round trip) city twice, had to spend the night there once, and spent days driving around in Panama city gridlock. 10 days late and $1500 later, the container was home.
A miserable experience for Ahren, but me and Michelle didn't mind it. We got to see Panama city without the stress or expense of navigating it ourselves. What a city! Huge skyscrapers everywhere. The most extravagant and modern city we've seen all trip.
Popping up over the hills on the road in.
Unforunately no good pictures, so I stole this one off google to give some idea of the scale of this city.
Muchas gracias a todo la familia en Santiago. Me encanta la experiencia que yo tuve en su ciudad. Nunca voy a olividarlo. Espero que puedo regresar muy pronto.
After such a long time in the Panama interior, we were looking towards the South, excited about South America but with still no idea how we could do it with our budget. We said goodbye to our friends and headed for Colon to find out...
|06-16-2011, 09:09 PM||#111|
Joined: Mar 2011
Location: North Carolina
Thanks for updating!!! When I pull up "Subscribed Threads" yours is always one of the ones I check first. I was afraid you had decided not to update any longer. Don't forget all of us up here in the US traveling vicariously along with you on that 250
|06-16-2011, 10:51 PM||#113|
Joined: Mar 2010
Location: Austin, TX
2/22/11 Panama coast (Panama part 3)
We headed towards Colon, the big port town on the Caribbean side. We were told that Colon was not a nice place... and it wasn't. Kind of cool though, all the buildings are really old, and still used, but not maintained at all. The people mostly live in a tall, delapidated buildings. Seems like the pictures I've seen of overcrowded African cities.
"Hotel Garcia" was $9 a night, not a bad deal.
There is no road between Panama and Colombia. It is separated by what is called the "Darien Gap", 80 miles of thick jungle that is impossible to cross. Flying the bike to Bogota is an option, but very expensive ($900 for bike alone). There are also several captains shuttling tourists between Panama and Colombia on sailboats, but these are also very expensive ($1200-$1600 for the bike and two people). Our budget would not allow for either of these options, so we were hoping to find some local boat that we could get a better price with.
Next day we started asking around at the docks. We talked to a captain who gave us the number to Captain Sierra, who makes the trip to Colombia frequently. Michelle called him and got a price of $300 to Puerto Obaldia, a port town on the Panama - Colombia border. The trip would take three days, and food was included. We would still have to catch another boat or two to get to Turbo, but we were assured these would be cheap. Settled!
Our boat didn't leave till Sunday (it was Wednesday when we found that boat), so we killed a few days in Colon.
We went to the "Zona Libre", a huge shopping center in a tax-free grey area.
This place is wierd. You have to get a permit to enter (for tourists it's free). I think partially it functions as a place for merchants to buy their goods in bulk, alot of stuff didn't have prices, just technical information and number of pieces in a box. But you could also buy individual pieces at some places, including incredible deals on designer clothes and accessories. The catch is, you can't just walk out with the stuff after you buy it. According to the sailswoman, you can either have it shipped to the airport, or you can put it in the trunk of a taxi (the police can't search the taxis). There were several vendors of Chinese motorcycles, I saw a brand new 125cc work motorcycle for $300. Bulk price?
My birthday is Febuary 25th. We celebrated with cake!
But.... it wasn't the 25th. It was the 24th. We lost track of what day it was. We celebrated again the next day.
On Friday we headed to Miramar (small port town 3 hours West), where our boat would be departing. Fun tropical road along the beach, but you never want to go too fast because you never know what might be in the road around the corner.
We got to Miramar, but found no affordable place to stay. We headed to the next town up, called Palenque, where we asked around for a woman named "Sista" and found lodging for $10. Very small, very poor town. We went to find something to eat at 5:00pm but the two restaraunts were both closed. Luckily we had more canned food left. Nice beach though, if you ignored the trash.
Saturday and Sunday we spent all day sitting around at the dock waiting for the stuff to get loaded onto the boat. We were supposed to leave on Sunday but the boat was still awaiting more supplies so we put our stuff on the boat and slept on the deck. Monday we continued waiting. Word on the docks was the boat wouldn't leave until Wednesday. A Candian backpacker named Mark wandered onto the dock that morning and asked where we were going. Turns out he was looking for ride to Colombia as well, so we talked to the Captain and got a price of $50. Mark would be our maritime traveling companion for most of our adventure to Colombia. He is also a fantastic photographer with a nice camera, and I was lucky enough to grab a few of his pictures before we parted ways. If you see a good picture in this section, it's his.
Mark and Michelle were not enthusiastic about the prospect of sitting on the dock for three days, so we took off on two day trip to the famed San Blas on a little lancha. The seas were rough, the boat tiny, and it ended up being a 90 minute rollercoaster.
San Blas is hundreds of incredibly beautiful, tiny islands on the Atlantic coast of Panama. The Kuna Yala indiginous are semi-autonomous and have a very distinct style of building, rituals and dress. Unfortunately, our lancha was going to Porvenir, the airport island and staging ground for the rest of the islands. Small, beautiful, but not all that interesting after you've seen everything there is to see in 15 minutes. We were all on a budget and didn't have much time, so paying lanchas to shuttle us from island to island wasn't in the cards either. We ate octopus, swam in the crystal clear water, slept in the top floor of a kuna museum, and generally had a good time.
(Photo by Marshal Chupa)
Our sleeping quarters:
I would come to regret this little day trip, and not just because of the unexpectedly high cost (almost $100 for 24 hours of food, lancha rides and lodging).
On the way back from Porvenir we caught a little cargo ship going back to Miramar. This boat took twice as long as the little lancha, and Michelle and Mark succumed to seasickness. Michelle went to sleep in the little bunkbeds the sailors used. A while later we hit a big dip, and Michelle flew out of the cot and gashed her head on the opposing metal bunks. It was bad. One of the sailors gave her alcohol to disinfect it. She was bleeding profusely, and I gave her my shirt to hold against her head for the rest of the trip. Once back in Miramar, we headed to the little health clinic. The nurse cleaned the wound, but said we would need to get stiches in another town called Nombre De Dios. We headed out carefully, Michelle unable to wear her helmet. Half an hour later we were in Nombre de Dios, and Michelle was getting anesthesia shots and stitches. I've got a picture, but it's a little graphic, so I'll just link to it.
Three stitches, two hours and one awesome hat later, we were eating fried fish and laughing about the whole thing.
During this ride I also noticed that the bracket I had fixed in David had broken again. Oh well, I would worry about that again in Colombia.
The next day we left for Colombia
|06-16-2011, 11:14 PM||#114|
Joined: Sep 2007
Location: The Willamette Valley, Oregon
Such a fine report
You seem to be a very good team as you manage your way throughout each country, Border, and the police and military check points. This is such a fine report.
|06-17-2011, 01:17 PM||#115|
Joined: Nov 2001
Location: in The Cloud
Awesome job, you two...I feel like I am right there!
"Converting oxygen to carbon dioxide since 1951."
|06-17-2011, 04:47 PM||#116|
Joined: Mar 2010
Location: Austin, TX
3/1/11 Crossing the Darien Gap
The motorcycle couldn't be loaded directly onto the ship from the dock because the water was too shallow. We had to load it into a little lancha, go out 20 feet to where the ship was, then manhandle it onto the deck. The crew strapped the bike to a pile of stuff and there it stayed, getting soaked with salt water and bonking repeatedly against everything it was tied to. One of many great things about taking a small, cheap bike. These sort of things don't bother you (that much).
This was our ride:
(Photo by Marshal Chupa)
The Lya Del Mar, 69' of pure Panamanian Cargo ship. Very crowded, very dirty. Powered by an un-muffled 18 wheeler motor, it is incredibly loud. Top deck, bottom deck, cargo area, you are not going to escape the deafening motor. Our trip was going to be 3 days. We took some backpackers with us, including a Brazillian who was also going to Colombia. After 4 hours of big waves and crazy noise, he wished the three of us good luck and got off at the first stop.
Our first stop, as it turns out, was Porvenir, where we had been the day before. We were told this cargo ship was going direct to Puerto Obaldia, but apparently it was going to be stopping at many islands in San Blas to sell supplies and deposit passengers. Awesome! We get the San Blas tour after all. Unforunately it made our expensive Porvenir trip the day before completely pointless.
The people on the boat included me and Michelle, Mark, two colombian passengers, three military, eight crew and an endless stream of Kuna passengers getting on and off. Every few hours we would stop for an hour at a random Kuna island and everyone would jump out and explore the town. At night we would dock at bigger Kuna islands. A truly incredible experience.
Sleeping against the bike.
The islands, ranged from tiny single-house islands to small, crowded islands of several hundred.
(Photo: Marshal Chupa)
The streets of a Kuna village:
(Photo by Marshal Chupa)
Delivering supplies and people:
(Photo by Marshal Chupa)
To deliver fuel they throw the barrels off the side and the Kuna swim to shore pushing them:
Catching baracuda for dinner off the side of the boat:
(Photo Marshal Chupa)
Food was included on the trip, and it was delicious but a little sparse. We ate what the crew ate, unfortunately the crew was made up mostly of Kuna Yala, who are small and who must not have very large appetites, because I was constantly starving. Each island we stopped at I would search for bread to suppliment my diet.
Ronald, the Colombian friend we met on the way. He has invited us to stay with him in Bogota.
At night the crew strings up hammocks everywhere. We slept in sleeping bags on the deck, but Mark, that lucky dog, brought his hammock from Canada.
I actually have the exact same hammock at home, but there was sadly no room for it on this trip.
Once we got to Puerto Obaldia the Colombia-bound passengers disembarked and stamped out of Panama. No cost, just a single copy of your passport. We returned to the boat and the captain had called a lancha over to take us to Capurgana, the little port town on the Colombian side where we could stamp our passports in (but not the bike, needed to go to turbo for that). The 1/2 hour lancha from Puerto Obaldia to Capurgana was $12 per person, but he wanted $70 for the bike alone! We argued him down to $70 for the bike and us, but it was still too expensive. Unfortunately we had no other choice, so we paid $70 for that leg of the trip.
It was no easy feat to move the bike from the deck of the ship to the little lancha in open water. It was raining and the sea was not calm. A tense minute later and we had the bike loaded on it's side in the bottom of the lancha. The sea was rough and I could do nothing but watch as the bike bounced around on it's side. More bike abuse.
We made it, and Mark helps me lift the bike onto the dock.
There is no electricty till 6pm, so the passport office is closed. We explore the town and try to find a good rate of exchange for our dollars. The best we can find is 1800 to the dollar (ATM rate, 1890). Thanks to the pointless Porvenir trip, the delayed ship departure and the expensive lancha ride, me and Michelle are now dangerously low on money, having only the equivalent of $100us to get us to Turbo. We get our passports stamped (free!) and wait till tomorrow morning, when the next lancha comes.
We stay in El Lutivo hotel. For $5pp. I know we should be saving money, but we havn't showered in 6 days and things are getting desperate. This hotel is very nice, they have free coffee, and I could pull the bike into the courtyard for the night.
We have a pretty big crew of people by this point, and for the first time Michelle and I are not travelling alone. We began to miss it. It was us, Mark the Canadian, Ronald the Colombian, an older Colombian man and a crazy Argentinian backpacker who had snuck onto the boat off one of the islands and had 3 dollars to his name. Ronald and Mark were awesome. The other two were driving Michelle crazy. The older Colombian was far too talkative and would interfere when Michelle was trying to negotiate. The Argentinian was insane, dead broke and was relying on everyone else to feed him and get him across. Michelle and me were low on money too, and we had barely enough food for ourselves. Everyone pitched in what little they had that night, but it was Ronald that ended up giving his large supply of canned food to feed everyone. Michelle and Ronald spent the evening trying to help the Colombian sell his camping equipment so he could afford the voyage to Turbo, where he could wire for money from his parents.
The next morning the lancha ticket office told Michelle that it would be $300,000 pesos to take the bike across, plus $50,000 for each one of us. That comes to about $220us, which was ridiculous. We weren't leaving on that lancha, even if we had that kind of money we wouldn't throw it away like that. We would be waiting for something else.
We bid our friends goodbye.
The Argentinian had managed to sell enough of his stuff to afford the ticket, so we were all alone once again. It felt good, but we were in a tough spot. There was talk of a turbo-bound cargo boat stopping later that day, and one the next day, but nothing definite. We had precious little money, and every peso we spent would be another peso we could not bargain to the boat with. Furthermore it is illegal for a cargo boat to take passengers in Colombia, so there was no guarantee we could even find one. We were both starving, but food was very expensive in this town. We bought bread and sardines and waited.
Later we learned that the cargo boat coming arriving that day wouldn't depart for another 4 days. The boat coming in the morning, "El Pipe", was our best hope. We camped on the seafront that night, enjoying another meal of bread and sardines.
We woke up at 5:30am the next day and resumed our sitting by the dock. At 7am the boat came. I stayed out of sight and Michelle, who is often mistaken for Colombian, went to get a price. I held my breath as she walked back, desperately trying to read her face... They accepted! $170,000 pesos for us and the bike! I felt a rush of relief. They loaded the bike on with the big dock using a board as a ramp, making it the easiest load yet.
The bike was actually sheltered and
We had to wait a few more hours for the boat to finish loading. We departed at noon, but first we had to go to Sapzurro, to pick up more cargo. The cook fed us lunch, a hearty meal of beans, rice and beef. Amazing after being famished for so long.
We got to Sapzurro quickly, but soon learned that a shipment of coconuts was late, so we would not be departing for Turbo until the morning. Oh well, another day of lazing around port towns. We took a hike around Sapzurro.
I was hungry and spent 20 minutes opening a coconut using only a pocketknife.
We ate dinner on the boat, a delicious colombian style Sancocho with beef and plantains that somehow tasted exactly like potatos. We camped another night.
Early next morning the coconuts arrived and we were soon loaded up and on our way to turbo! By lancha this trip is two hours, but on our slow cargo boat it was more like 6. The cook fed us breakfast and lunch, both full of yucca and plantain. The food was heavy and it felt so good to be full again.
At about 2:00pm we were instructed to get out of sight incase a military boat should spot us (passengers being illegal on cargo boats). At 2:30, we had arrived in turbo.
They park the boat on the side of the canal, we quickly throw our stuff overboard and roll the bike onto dry land again. The entire process, from arriving to Colon trying to find a boat, to disembarking in Turbo, 100 miles away, took 14 days and cost $460 for two people and the bike. The bike came out surprisingly well considering the abuse. A fair amount of rusting (exhaust especially) and a few new paint blemishes, throttle and clutch feel a little loose, but nothing major. I cranked her for a few seconds and she sprung to life.
It is done, we are in COLOMBIA!
|06-18-2011, 05:52 AM||#119|
Joined: Jan 2008
Location: Udaipur, Rajasthan, India
M's account of the US trip @ www.thecrazybikers.blogspot.com
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