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Old 12-22-2012, 06:57 AM   #106
alison's wanderland OP
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Location: How did I end up in Panama?
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Soon the RR and me will be in the same place...

After 5 days at sea, with no internet connection, no cell phone, no attachments to the world outside the 30 meter vessel we sailed on, it was amusing to see how many people rushed to their computers to connect to the worlds they had left through emails, facebook and posting on blogs. I had all of these to attend to. I know I signed up for weekly or more updates, but when the day came to catch up on the computer, I had not interest to get back to it. It was more important for me to attend to the needed bike maintenance since Oscar had been sitting in salt air for the past week. So at the hostel courtyard, I pulled my KLR apart, finally inspected the petcock (which looked fine), changed the oil, lubed the chain, checked tire pressure, tested the battery and scraped some rust off the front rotor.

Then, A walk around the old colonial town was in order to stretch the legs a bit.







the popular local art




getting yelled at by the fruit woman for taking a picture





After a day at the hostel with everyone from the boat, half were planning on leaving on Friday. That happened to be one of two days the entire month that motorcycles were not allowed on the road. We thought we might be exempt since we were foreigners, but one rider found out that morning it was not the case. A group of 6 had to get a police escort to leave the city.


big bikes gather crowds



Another group of 6 of us left the following day and headed north to Riohacha on our way to the Venezuelan border. The happening thing to do on a Saturday night in this beach town: sit in a plastic chair that lined the sidewalks in front of the beach, buying cold Club Colombia cervezas from a lady with a cooler and watch the night go by.

Riohacha on a Saturday night!

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alison's wanderland screwed with this post 12-22-2012 at 03:19 PM Reason: it helps if I post the right pictures
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Old 12-22-2012, 03:58 PM   #107
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Old 12-22-2012, 06:50 PM   #108
nicola_a
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Hi Alison
I have just discovered your travel reports and website. You are an inspiration and your photography is beautiful. I am planning my first motorcycle trip in 2014, and it looks like you are about my age, which fills me with confidence -- I was feeling very young to be on the road alone. :)
If you don't mind my asking, how do you fund being able to travel for a number of months out of each year? I've been saving for a long time now and wouldn't be able to do it every year!
Nicola

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Old 12-22-2012, 09:05 PM   #109
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Tagging along for the ride

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Old 12-23-2012, 10:43 AM   #110
Max Wedge
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In!
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Old 12-25-2012, 02:23 PM   #111
alison's wanderland OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nicola_a View Post
Hi Alison
I have just discovered your travel reports and website. You are an inspiration and your photography is beautiful. I am planning my first motorcycle trip in 2014, and it looks like you are about my age, which fills me with confidence -- I was feeling very young to be on the road alone. :)
If you don't mind my asking, how do you fund being able to travel for a number of months out of each year? I've been saving for a long time now and wouldn't be able to do it every year!
Nicola

Hi Nicola...I'm glad you are enjoying the RR.

I'll be upfront that I am 33 which is about the median age ... there are many in their mid-20's wandering around as well as mid-40's on a p/retirement plan. I think you will find all ages and mind-sets doing this.

As for saving...that is up to the individual. The younger ones save or come into lump sums and travel for a determined period and then there are older people with savings and/or liquidated assets. I have been lucky to have had a freelance job in LA that I could take time off during the slow summer season, then worked my ass off during the busy times. I also make sacrifices to live simply and frugally throughout the year. Once you start recognizing that the $40 item in your hand buys you another day on the road, then you start saving like a traveler.

Good luck on your preparations and if there is anything I can do to help, ask away!
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Old 12-26-2012, 06:36 PM   #112
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I started off the idea of this trip, planning to ride solo to the tip of South America, but the reality is I have been surrounded by other riders most of the time. We sat on the Stahlratte, floating somewhere in the Caribbean Sea, listening to plans being hatched for where to ride once we hit land again. Most were heading south, but the detour to Venezuela with 3 other riders sounded fun. It was then that Deb, the only other solo female motorcyclist aboard, asked how many days have you ridden solo? The answer: 11. Of the 50 days on the road, 90% were accompanied. Did I enjoy those solo days? Yes. Have I enjoyed the group days? Yes as well. And I figured I would take them while I have them since I imagine it will get quieter the farther south I go. But what that also means, is that there are a lot of us doing this trip.




So off to Venezuela we went, but entry was not as easy as the road to get there. Any extra day in Cartegena to enjoy the city landed us at the border on a Sunday. Usually it’s open, but elections forced border closures, and us to stay in a town nearby until the office opened in the morning. We could exit Colombia, but then there was nowhere to go until the aduana opened at 10am.





Buying gas on the side of the road


We stayed in the oh-so- lovely- is –that-music-blaring all-night border town of Maicao, Colombia… with lots of friendly guys who seem really interested in … motorcycles…



And then into Venezuela!



A long day of crossing the border and many miles of riding got us into town late at night, breaking the rules of don’t ride after dark, but since we weren’t up for camping in the bush, we rode to Carora and found a hotel there.

The next morning was when we all though adventure begins. Take some backroads, some dirt roads, do some camping. Then, at one of the many military checkpoints, a uniformed man motioned with his rifle to pull over. I thought it was going to be the usual passport check, but Paul spoke with the guy at length and he kept saying “no.” No we can’t go here. No we can’t go there. Look at other roads on the map and No. There were guerillas on the road (not the fuzzy kind) and recommended to not travel off the main highway in these areas. So, of course we listened and proceeded with long boring hours of hot super slab highway.



And that is what Venezuela has been so far. Hot. Long days of riding many miles. Freeway views. Traffic. Lane splitting with crazy drivers. Exhaust fumes that makes my lungs burn. If you ever wondered where that mid-70’s big-block GM sedan went…it’s here in Venezuela. One upside is practically free gas. (4 bikes, 50 liters of fuel, $5 Bolivars – about $0.33… that’s right, $0.08 USD to fill my tank.) You have to change your money at the borders to get the black market rate of $15BF/$1usd instead of the $4BF listed as normal exchange rate. Otherwise Venezuela is an expensive country.





Gas guzzlers galore


Days of riding through savannah like conditions were finally broken by an ascent into the beginning of the Andes. Riding through thick fog was like we were transported from Africa to Switzerland in the matter of hours.





To…



road through the Andes




After a day in Merida, I realized I don’t have much time to spare like these round-the-world guys and I need to head back to Colombia. So Dylan and I pull into San Cristobal to be sighted by a Venezuelan BMW GS rider and escorted to his friends hotel where there are rows of bikes parked. He invites us to dinner. At this point we accept, thinking it’s a night on the town. As we get into a car that evening, being driven further and further away from the town center, we keep looking at each other. I should also add, since we are crossing the border tomorrow, we kept limited bolivianos on us. We pull up to the nicest restaurant in town and look at each other wondering how do we explain in broken spanish we can’t afford this place. Luckily, (from best of our understanding) it was the owner of the hotel very graciously treating us to dinner. So Venezuela ends on an unexpected high note.
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Old 12-26-2012, 06:58 PM   #113
duncanmac
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Hi. You may have been on Stahlratte at the same time as Anjinsan and his wife. They are a Romanian couple in their way to Ushaia on a Weestrom. http://advrider.com/forums/showthrea...810189&page=17
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Old 12-27-2012, 08:20 AM   #114
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I've driven all over Venezuela and never had problems with "guerrillas" I've also been stopped numerous times but never warned of any other than right next to the Colombian border and even then I didn't run into any trouble and I've been way off the beaten track in VZ with never a problem from all these bad people I've heard about. There is some great riding in the Andes where you could have avoided that long march on the autopista and like you found out on the main roads of VZ you have the fastest/most aggressive drivers tearing up the road.
Too bad you could only spend a short amount of time in country but I commend you for taking the effort going, it's very nice to burn the cheapest gas in the world.

+1 on riding solo, it's YOUR ride at that point doing whatever you please and imho much more rewarding experience rather than just hanging out with a bunch of other riders and I guarantee your interaction with locals will go through the roof
It's not as dangerous as its made out to be, even in Colombia off the main routes you get told over and over again about areas being dangerous: I stop in a little town and fill up the tank and the guy asks "Where did you come from?" and I say so and so town just over the mountain and the fuel man gasps "They are murders and theives over across the mountain, you are very lucky you are not dead!" Then I say that those people over the mountain after inquiring where I'm headed next are the first to say "Those people in that village are very dangerous and you will be robbed and killed"

Thanks for sharing and keep up the great report
Good on you for going solo or at least trying to
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Old 12-27-2012, 08:43 AM   #115
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BTW when in Cali stop at Asturias and let Jorge and Suri get you fixed up, one of the best shops in all of South America and he can show you how to fix anything on your bike. Top notch guy in Cali just down the street a couple blocks from Casa Blanca Hostel:


Also watch out for this crazy Frenchman on the right of the photo here:

Alain is a total wild man that knows all about Cali, get him to take you to the tea leaves, looks like SE Asia, just ask Jorge about him if you don't meet him on your own.
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Old 12-28-2012, 04:36 PM   #116
alison's wanderland OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Throttlemeister View Post
BTW when in Cali stop at Asturias and let Jorge and Suri get you fixed up, one of the best shops in all of South America and he can show you how to fix anything on your bike. Top notch guy in Cali just down the street a couple blocks from Casa Blanca Hostel:


Also watch out for this crazy Frenchman on the right of the photo here:

Alain is a total wild man that knows all about Cali, get him to take you to the tea leaves, looks like SE Asia, just ask Jorge about him if you don't meet him on your own.
Hopefully he can help me with this little dilema:
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Old 12-28-2012, 04:42 PM   #117
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So I hurried off from Medellin yesterday afternoon after having a new chain and both sprockets put on at the Moto Shop:



After many bumpy roads, i stopped for the night in Solento and was petting this cute guy:



When I noticed something was missing:





I really hope I can find these in Cali...
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Old 12-28-2012, 04:52 PM   #118
Ulyses
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Ohh snap! That's why you do it yourself...right?
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Old 12-28-2012, 05:03 PM   #119
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bubbletron View Post
So I hurried off from Medellin yesterday afternoon after having a new chain and both sprockets put on at the Moto Shop:



After many bumpy roads, i stopped for the night in Solento and was petting this cute guy:



When I noticed something was missing:





I really hope I can find these in Cali...

Yikes!!

If worse comes to worse, you can get a piece of 1/4" steel plate and have a hole drilled through it to use until you get the right parts. You should be able to source the proper size and pitch nuts, too.



I'm enjoying the ride report. It's kinda cool to see on your bike what looks to be some of the stuff that was on my old bike. Is Mendovet still planning to join you?

Safe travels!!
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Old 12-28-2012, 08:27 PM   #120
rtwpaul
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