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Old 04-07-2013, 08:19 PM   #946
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Joined: Jul 2012
Location: Alaska
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Make a movie !!!!

I would buy, watch and love it !

Nat Geo should do something about this awesome motorycle adv trip !

Keep on riding both of ya.

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Old 04-07-2013, 08:55 PM   #947
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Still hanging in there, reading your daily updates. How do you decide where you are going next? There are quite a few ADV reports from riders going down there but you two seem to hit different places. I'm in awe of trips like this and y'all are having a great trip.

Keep writing & I'll keep reading....

If it ain't fun, I don't do it!!!

Stuff - I need more Stuff....
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Old 04-08-2013, 12:08 PM   #948
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Location: Wet Coast, Vancouver BC
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You are doing such a fabulous job on this RR.
Thanks for all the research for when I finally take the misses and follow somewhat in your tire tracks. I think I'll pass on Alaska thou and head straight south, my wife's an Aussie and likes the heat and beaches.
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Old 04-08-2013, 05:15 PM   #949
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Like your RR very much. Hope that the wife and I can do something similar in our future.

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Old 04-08-2013, 05:33 PM   #950
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I Think there is no more adjectives to describe this RR so I'll just say KEEP IT COMING.. btw, the offer for a place to crash is still open here in VENEZUELA
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Old 04-09-2013, 03:34 AM   #951
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This is by far the number 1 ride report I have ever read, excellent job you guys. Have fun and be safe !!
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Old 04-09-2013, 05:01 AM   #952
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Updated from

We never wanted this trip to be a trek. We didn't want our blog to read "xx miles, xx countries in xx days" because that was like all our other motorcycle trips, rushing through exotic countries and only seeing the 200 feet on either side of the road as we sped towards the end of our allotted vacation days for the year.

Unfortunately, we had made an appointment many months ago, that at the time seemed to give us a lot of leeway to meander on our journey. Lately, the clock has started ticking down and we find ourselves running out of runway, as there are a couple thousand kms and 5 border crossings we have to make in the next 10 days. Impossible, given our current pace.

We've made the decision to come straight back to Central America after our appointment - there is just too much that we're missing. So I've condensed the next week and a half of travels into a single entry because it sucks too much to spend a lot of time on it. And also we didn't really see anything...

Here are some notes on our trip down the PanAmerican Highway:

Taking the dog out for a spin

Group ride out of Pana!

We left hastily out of Pana. In the rush, I lost a really good pair of earphones. I know, blah blah, first world problems... We feel like we're being torn away from Guatemala without having seen everything we wanted to see, so this is exactly where we're going to return to, to resume our Central American tour.

Accident on the PanAm in Guatemala

The PanAmerican Highway is not really one defined road, but a collection of routes that span from Prudhoe Bay in Alaska all the way to the southern tip of Argentina. Despite many detours along the way, we've basically followed the PanAm on our trip after criss-crossing Canada. Through Central America, it's a fairly well-maintained stretch of pavement with some interesting sections that pass through mountains and volcanoes, but on our return, it would be nice to see what else lies off this well-beaten path.

Aduana at the El Salvador border

Aduana is Spanish for "nap"

Finally, we're through!

Crossing into El Salvador, we are delayed because the Vehicle Importation Computer is down. We sit for four hours waiting for the system to come back up and by the time we get through the border, the sun is getting lower in the sky. We don't want to travel at night, so in desperation we book into an Auto Hotel just outside of San Salvador.

The infamous Auto Hotel in Central America is also called a Love Hotel, and is usually rented out by the hour, if you get what I mean... Each room has its own private garage with a door that closes. We thought it was for security, but it's really to hide the license plate of the car parked there for a few hours.

All communication with hotel staff is done through a small cupboard at one end of the room with doors inside the room and outside into the office. You never have to see or speak to staff, just deposit your money in the cupboard, close the door, they open it on the other side and deposit towels and soaps (and condoms) for you. Mirrors are strategically placed beside the bed and there is a paper towel dispenser within reach to clean up any messes.

I thought it was hilarious! Neda was kinda grossed out. We slept in the one remaining sleeping bag that wasn't stolen back in Guatemala...

Our most memorable crossing, and not for good reasons... Honduras

El Salvador came and went in a day, and I was battling fatigue because I didn't get a good night's sleep in the Love Hotel. I must have also picked up a flu overnight, but we forged ahead to the Honduras. Despite it being very early in the day, I wanted to stop and find a place to sleep before reaching the border to recuperate, but Neda was convinced we could cross two borders in one day and reach Nicaragua for the evening. I wasn't feeling up to it, but since Neda was doing all the work at the immigration and customs offices, my only duty was to stay conscious and keep the bike upright.

As we approached Honduras, we were swarmed by a mob of "helpers" offering to speed us through all the red tape for a fee. Most dropped away when they heard Neda's fluent Spanish, but one hung on despite our polite refusal, following us from office to office peppering us with helpful tips and hints, hoping to guilt us into paying him... Nice try...

Through my feverish haze, I saw Neda run back and forth through 3 or 4 different offices trying to get our bikes stamped into the country. Everytime I asked what she was doing, she replied, "Making photocopies!" Apparently, in this day and age when EVERYTHING is computerized, Central American governments have invested heavily in shares of Xerox and Domtar...

I was in charge of holding the documents as we biked from immigration to customs. When you carry everything you own on a motorcycle, every item has its place. Because we were changing our routine, I was now keeping our documents in my tankbag instead of in one of the lockable cases. Which meant that my motorcycle gloves, which I normally keep in my tankbag, were now in... I still have no idea...

Those were really good gloves, too.

Motoring through Honduras - elapsed time in the country: 2.5 hours

We raced through the tiny stretch of the PanAm in Honduras and reached the Nicaraguan border very late in the day and I was a bit upset that we would be riding through the dark to reach the hotel we had reserved. Throughout the last couple of days, we've been bickering at each other, especially at border crossings. It's a stressful time getting yourselves through, much less importing a vehicle into the country as well. I was dealing with a flu and feeling frustrated that I was unable to help because of my inadequate Spanish. Add to it that I'm not coping very well with the heat and humidity and Neda doesn't cope very well when she's hungry...

This is not fun for either of us. It's not even fun writing this down and I just want to end this entry but it's important to have a record of all this "not fun" later. Much later...

Aduana at Nicaragua

Some helpers approach us at the Nicaraguan border, but not as many as at the Honduras. It seems that the Honduran border is the most complicated process to negotiate in Central America, and the number of helpers reflect that. El Salvador was easy - no helpers there. So now when we approach a new border crossing, we can gauge how easy it will be by how many helpers swarm us! Useful, practical information!

Nicaragua. yay. *yawn*

Having knocked down 3 of 5 border crossings, we bought ourselves a little downtime - especially for me to get over my flu. We stopped for a few nights in Estelie, Nicaragua - actually for a couple of nights longer than we expected we would because I gave Neda my flu. So we were both bedridden at the same time. OMG, so much UnFUN, I can't handle it!

Motoring through Nicaragua

"Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh, Here I am at..."

Perhaps the only picture we took of Granada. Didn't see a thing...

Next border, Costa Rica. Didn't see a thing. But it was the most expensive nothing we saw...

Somwhere along the way, it got cold and foggy on the PanAm

By this time, Neda is a pro at border crossings, so this was one of the easier ones

We arrived in Panama licking our wounds. So far over the last week and a half, we've both gotten sick, I've lost a pair of earphones and a pair of motorcycle gloves, left my credit card in a restaurant and had to have it couriered back to us while we were en route, saw nothing but road, took no pictures... All because we're rushing to meet a deadline. This was not why we left our jobs and sold everything! We vowed, no more booking stuff in advance, even if it's months away! Just one day at a time from now on. If that means missing out on some opportunities tomorrow, that's okay as long as we don't have to rush through today. It's just not worth it.

On an upbeat note, all these border-crossing ordeals have been good practice for when we return to see Central America properly! Neda is going to try to make a few bucks on the side being a helper...

Drummers practicing in Panama City

For the last few months, we've been in constant contact with Kari and Rose, the fellow Canadian bikers who we met in Oaxaca. They were also in Panama City, so we spent a few days comparing notes, exchanging GPS files and sharing a few meals together. It was nice having some familiar faces to hang out with.

Bikes get their first bath in months

While in Panama City, we took time to get everything sorted out - shopping for supplies and taking care of the motorcycles. We dropped into the local BMW dealership to replace the gloves I lost at the Honduran border. While we were there, we popped into the service centre to see if they had the plug for my headlight. They didn't have the part in stock, but the technician told me to bring the bike in anyway.

Less than an hour later, he had fixed the light, jury-rigging it with a couple of blade connectors! Best part, it was free of charge! So let's end this entry on a happy note! Yay!
Gene R1200GS
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Old 04-09-2013, 05:15 AM   #953
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Originally Posted by brecchi View Post
I just got back from Nicaragua and I'll be heading to Colombia in 6 weeks - you guys will probably just be getting to Honduras by then though
Hey Ben! By now, you've probably read our last entry. So yes, we'll probably be in Honduras... for the second time... :) Keep in touch, let us know where you'll be.

Originally Posted by Blader54 View Post
I'm just in awe of the laid-back joy you're having with this trip!!!
Then apologies for the last entry. Back to laid-back joy in our next entry... very, very soon!

Originally Posted by elnonio View Post
Is it me or do these buses look nothing like like OLD, decrepit buses?!
Yeah, some of those buses were in pretty fair condition, but they get taken out of US circulation when they fail safety or emissions, not because they look crappy. Trust me, you don't want ride behind one of these Smoke Monsters for too long!

Besides, paint and chrome is much cheaper than platinum and palladium...

Originally Posted by VFR View Post
How do you decide where you are going next? There are quite a few ADV reports from riders going down there but you two seem to hit different places.
Hi Larry, ever since we hit Mexico, Neda has been the Master Planner so she's the one finding all these great places. She usually hits up Google and TripADVisor to see what's close to us, but by far the best resource has been talking to locals, and that's where her Spanish really comes in handy.
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Old 04-09-2013, 05:45 AM   #954
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It was great seeing you two again! The ice cream was good too!
Ride Our World
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Old 04-09-2013, 08:26 AM   #955
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HA! What's that supposed to look like?

Here's something I learnt awhile go with bike trips. I have only been doing them for the past ~10 years, but EVERY trip I have went on there has been some sort of conflict. Be it differing people's opinion, lack of communication, etc.

My last trip (to Guatamala and back) was the first problem free one. Why? I went by myself. (Common denominator...??? )

I'm not saying you guys are the issue, but communication, and as you've already discussed and decided, plans should be ok with both parties and communication left open. Also the understanding that variables ALWAYS happen.

I'm sure you guys will get over it. Especially seeing as now you've experienced the rush treveling. Something I didn't and don't understand myself either. You both enjoy the experience moreso then the miles.

Thanks for the update. Often these parts are omited giving people the false sense of how these trips can be.

BTW, Central American people LOVE gloves. I've had mine stolen by kids riding bicycles and had more than a few border crossing and military authorities suggest they want them. That's when I play dumb.

Good luck on what comes next!
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Old 04-09-2013, 03:59 PM   #956
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Location: Tokyo, Japan
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Sorry about the problems, illness and quibbling you experienced. I did, however, get a chuckle at the Love Hotels. They're a feature of the Japanese landscape and I confess to enjoying them for what they are. With cramped living conditions being what they are here, even married couples escape to a love hotel for some quiet intimacy uninterrupted by family or friends.
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Old 04-09-2013, 04:43 PM   #957
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Hi Neda and Gene

Take care while trying to make miles. It can't be easy doing everything so quickly. I hope you can take it more easy when you return, stay upright,

Balanda screwed with this post 04-15-2013 at 04:47 PM
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Old 04-09-2013, 07:15 PM   #958
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"Neda doesn't cope very well when she's hungry..."

I know what you mean about this, my wife has the same issue. I call it "hangry!"
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Old 04-10-2013, 04:45 AM   #959
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Update from

We're here for our scheduled appointment.

Google Maps tells us that there is no way to get from North America to South America by road. The Darien Forest, or Darien Gap, starts at the southern tip of Panama and runs all the way to Colombia. Apparently, this a real life Forest of Despair, but instead of Rodents of Unusual Sizes, they have Poison Arrow Dart Frogs! And no fireswamp or lightning sand, but plenty of Marxist Guerillas with Gun of Unusual Sizes!

We turn off the PanAm Highway, and take a windy road through thick Panamanian rain forests

The PanAmerican Highway stops at the edge of the Darien Forest. Despite several construction attempts, no road connects the two continents because of the ecological damage it would cause to the indigenous tribes and wildlife that live there, and the governments involved do not want to create an easy path for drug smugglers to traffic narcotics from Colombia up to North America.

Interestingly, the Darien Gap has also prevented the spread of diseases from South America into Central and North America, like foot and mouth disease.

Everywhere in Central America, our GPSes fascinate the locals

There are only two ways to cross the Darien Gap, by sea or by air. We opt for the water option, so we have to travel a couple of hours from Panama City to a pier at the deserted Carti Airport, on the Caribbean coast of Panama. The road twists through miles of lush, green jungles and of course, because we washed the bikes in Panama City the day before, it rains on us...

Parked on the shores of Carti beach, our ride waiting in the distance

Talking with Cornelius, another moto-nomad from Australia

We're travelling with a lot of familiar faces on this leg of our journey. We met Trevor at the Horizons Unlimited meeting in California last October, and saw Cornelius there as well but didn't get a chance to speak to him. I had a feeling we would get to know everyone on board a lot better in the next few days!

The Stahlratte, German for "Steel Rat", is a pirate ship, capable of escaping FARC Insurgents and making the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs

After a lot of research, we chose the Stahlratte to cross the Darien Gap. This is the appointment we were rushing through Central America to make. It started life 110 years ago as a fishing vessel and has lived many lives since then, from a Rainbow Warrior for Greenpeace till now, a Round-The-World sailboat that has gotten "stuck" in the Caribbean, living the sun-drenched dream and ferrying passengers between Panama, Colombia and the islands in between for the last 8 years to fund its voyage.

Dinghies and small boats carry supplies and our luggage from the shore to the Stahlratte

Because we have a small window of time reserved to use the pier to load the motorcycles, we use most of the morning to remove all the luggage off our bikes and transport them onboard, where we're treated to a quick lunch - the first of many famously delicious Stahlratte meals - before going back on shore and prepping the bikes.

Carb loading first, then bike loading next!

Our luggage arrives by dinghy and is brought into the hold of the ship

Back on shore, bikes are lined up on the pier ready to be brought on board

We lined up last. If anything went wrong, it'd be easier to back out that way!

There is no ramp to ride or push the motorcycles on-board. Everything has to be done off a narrow pier. We watched everyone else's motorcycles get winched up by a pulley off the pier and then over the edge of the deck of the ship. The hired hands seemed to be very experienced and capable and I felt a lot better when it came to our turn.

Watching the Stahlratte pull into the pier, ready to eat our motorcycles

Ludwig, our fearless captain supervises the loading

My baby is getting closer to the front of the line and she's getting nervous!

This is how it starts out...

In our haste to get back on shore to help line the bikes up for loading, we didn't notice that the only ones left on the ship were the women. So there were 12 guys on shore rolling the motorcycles on the pier and 4 women on the boat lifting the bikes over the side of the boat onto deck. They were the ones doing all the real work! We (nervously) cheered them on from the pier...

Then up goes my bike!

Had a little problem getting my big pig over the edge of the boat, so down it went and the rope was shortened...

All bikes on deck, we're ready to set sail!

Gene: "Second star to the right, and straight on till morning!?"
Ludwig: "No... we use a GPS on the Stahlratte."

Getting familiar with our home for the next few days

Big sigh of relief. The Master Planner gets a break for a few days!

Neda has been an absolute superstar over the last few months. She has planned pretty much all of our travels through Central America, doing extra duty handling the border crossings with her fluency in Spanish. For the next few days, our schedules are in the hands of the crew of the Stahlratte. Instead of having to plan for routes, search for accommodations and forage for food, we will be told when to eat and where to sleep, and all of a sudden, there is an absolute lack of responsibility for our lives. It's the best we've felt in over two weeks!

Stay tuned for the next entry on our adventures on the high seas!
Gene R1200GS
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Old 04-10-2013, 06:06 AM   #960
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As a fellow Canadian, I'm having a great time following you both.
Kudos to you for having the courage to embark on this adventure.

As a wise man once said: Live long and prosper!
Experiences: One day I will die! The library of thoughts and images stored in my mind are the only things I may hope to bring with me. Ted Kuntz
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