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Old 08-08-2014, 10:11 AM   #4516
WhicheverAnyWayCan
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JDowns View Post
Hi Woodly,

You ask good questions. Not a downer at all.

Because Argentina has such a volatile currency, it has a thriving black market money exchange. For this reason I carry cash in a money belt while traveling through countries like Argentina and Venezuela. The new hundred dollar bills are best. And one thing no one tells you is that you need crisp bills with no tears or imperfections. Any tiny little tear and the bill is unusable. I know. It sounds strange, but that's the way it is with Latin American money changers (Casa de Cambio in Spanish). And in Argentina in particular, you get about 50% more for your money by changing on what they call the blue dollar market as opposed to what the cash machines give you. Every major town square in Argentina will have blue dollar money changers that will trade your c-notes for Argentinian pesos at a good rate.

One nice thing is that Ecuador uses American dollars for their currency. So you can stock up on dollars there on your way to Argentina.

Another thing nobody seems to mention is that it is nearly impossible to change hundred dollar bills in Ecuador. Even at the banks. Strange, no? The cash machines in Ecuador spit out American twenties. And you get a lower exchange rate in Argentina on the black market for small bills. They prefer hundreds.

The nice thing about South America is that ATMs (called Cajero Automaticos in Spanish) are in most decent sized towns.

So in conclusion, I follow the Marco Polo traveler philosophy. He came back from China with gems sewn in his raggy garments and looked like a poor hobo on a camel. I carry a few thou in a money belt that I sleep with and travel like a hobo on a girls bike.

Works for me. I use cash machines in the countries like Colombia, Peru and Chile where the currency is relatively stable and change dollars when in Argentina or when I lose my ATM card. When I lost my credit cards and debit card and had to cancel them it wasn't a big deal since I had cash to carry me through.

But really, most folks carry a couple credit cards and a debit card and carry a couple hundred bucks in local currency cash in their wallet and stash their credit cards in a money belt or some such. I met a Belgian fellow in Quito Ecuador who had an actual belt with a zipper on the inside that allowed him to stash a couple thou. The only reason I know this is that the zipper broke and we were going down to the local leather repair place so I could get my cheap-ass riding boots sewn up and he could get a new zip for the inside of his belt.

It's also not a bad idea to stash a few hundred bucks on your bike as emergency money. Just don't duct tape it to the frame like I did when I went to Panama a few years ago. I had to take the duct taped bills into the bank at home when I got back and have them un-goo them and give me some fresh bills. Why didn't I put them in a baggy before taping them to the frame you might ask? Well, as you may have guessed by now, I am doing research and development for you, so you don't make stupid mistakes like me.

Your concerns are normal. But if the banking system goes down, that's when the adventure begins. I traveled across the Darien with two rasta boys who had hitch-hiked from California with a few hundred bucks. They didn't need no steenkin' banks.

Hope this helps.

Saludos,
Tio Juanito
Interesting info to know.. The color part with yellow highlight.. did you mean to say that small USD bill will be high than a clean 'new' $100 USD bill? Or maybe I am a little unclear on this that you can explain the exchange rate a bit clear so I can understand better. Appreciate this. Planning to start my Alaska-Argentina trip next summer so wanting plan for this as well.

I think that there was another way to do this and had something to do with XOOM?? Do you know anything about that?? If not, no worry.
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Old 08-08-2014, 04:58 PM   #4517
ADVtortoise
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Question

Fantastic report John. As long as your are answering questions about traveling in South America, do you take any anti malaria drugs when in South America? How common is malaria down there? I would appreciate your thoughts and knowledge on the subject. Hoping to do a trip in the next year or two and if I cannot pull off a long one I may just to fly down to Ecuador and rent a bike for a couple of weeks.
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Old 08-08-2014, 08:10 PM   #4518
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ADVtortoise View Post
Fantastic report John. As long as your are answering questions about traveling in South America, do you take any anti malaria drugs when in South America? How common is malaria down there? I would appreciate your thoughts and knowledge on the subject. Hoping to do a trip in the next year or two and if I cannot pull off a long one I may just to fly down to Ecuador and rent a bike for a couple of weeks.
Hi ADVtortoise,

I don't take anti-malaria drugs. They are expensive, give you vivid dreams and suicidal thoughts. Not that I have anything against that. But I seem to have a strong immune system and a thin wallet. If it's rainy season and there are lots of mosquitos I head to the desert. I don't like riding in the rain, fog and mosquitos much anyway.
I drink the local water unless it tastes like sulphur or smells funny, eat the local food and rarely get sick.

I highly recommend flying down to Quito and renting a bike. I would do it if I didn't have months of free time and a bike in South America. Freedom bike rentals gave me that free tee shirt when I walked by their rental shop last year in Quito and I have been giving them free advertising for the last year since that's my go to black tee shirt.
I met many folks in Ecuador renting their bikes who had nothing but good things to say about them. I believe Courtrand is on this site.

Get down to South America amigo!

Maybe I'll see you down the road.

Saludos,
Tio Juan
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Old 08-08-2014, 08:29 PM   #4519
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WhicheverAnyWayCan View Post
Interesting info to know.. The color part with yellow highlight.. did you mean to say that small USD bill will be high than a clean 'new' $100 USD bill? Or maybe I am a little unclear on this that you can explain the exchange rate a bit clear so I can understand better. Appreciate this. Planning to start my Alaska-Argentina trip next summer so wanting plan for this as well.

I think that there was another way to do this and had something to do with XOOM?? Do you know anything about that?? If not, no worry.
Hey amigo!

Good to hear from you! Just to clarify, crisp new U.S. hundred dollar bills are the go-to currency for exchanging to local currency in most countries. Especially countries like Argentina where you get more pesos for crisp hundreds on the black market than the measly amount you get from Argentina ATMs.

If you try to exchange smaller bills like 50s or 20s on the black market in Argentina you get a lower exchange rate. They prefer crisp hundreds and give you about 10% more for 100 dollar bills.

Don't ask me why. I am just reporting my findings.

I have read ride reports of folks riding through Venezuela and complaining about how expensive it is. Well duh, if you are getting bolivianos from an ATM in Venezuela you get a fraction of what you can get on the black market.

Now mind you, in countries like Colombia where I met you last year where the currency is stable you can just go to the local ATM and and use your plastic to get your pesos.

Argentina is different. As is Venezuela. Those two countries have active black market currency exchange rates which favor changing hundred dollar bills at the local zocalo instead of using ATMs or banks. Other countries are more stable money wise.

Hope this helps.

You are my favourite ADV deaf buddy and I hope to see you down the road again in South America. I still don't know much sign language other than index finger to thumb in a circle AOK and finger pointing to crotch let's pull over for a bathroom stop.

I'm working on it.

Your ADVpal,
Tio Juanito
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http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=831076

JDowns screwed with this post 08-08-2014 at 09:09 PM
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Old 08-09-2014, 07:35 AM   #4520
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Thanks for the reply

Thanks, I appreciate information from someone with as much first hand experience as you. Your report is a great inspiration and one way or another I will make it down south. Thanks again
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Old 08-10-2014, 06:47 AM   #4521
CourtRand
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JDowns View Post
Hi ADVtortoise,

I highly recommend flying down to Quito and renting a bike. I would do it if I didn't have months of free time and a bike in South America. Freedom bike rentals gave me that free tee shirt when I walked by their rental shop last year in Quito and I have been giving them free advertising for the last year since that's my go to black tee shirt.
I met many folks in Ecuador renting their bikes who had nothing but good things to say about them. I believe Courtrand is on this site.

Get down to South America amigo!

Maybe I'll see you down the road.

Saludos,
Tio Juan
Thanks for the kind words! You have earned your t-shirt!
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Old 08-10-2014, 10:06 AM   #4522
nccowgirl
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chain and sprockets

I am getting ready to change my chain and sprockets and was trying to get an idea of the best ones to buy. I stumbled around the Sherpa thread for a while but didn't come up with any product names.
I read where you had liked the RK race chain but couldn't find the 14/43 sprocket set .That gear ratio works well for me at the moment.
I thought I would ask Obi Juan de moto mecanico for some direction !
Thank you in advance.
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Old 08-10-2014, 06:15 PM   #4523
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nccowgirl View Post
I am getting ready to change my chain and sprockets and was trying to get an idea of the best ones to buy. I stumbled around the Sherpa thread for a while but didn't come up with any product names.
I read where you had liked the RK race chain but couldn't find the 14/43 sprocket set .That gear ratio works well for me at the moment.
I thought I would ask Obi Juan de moto mecanico for some direction !
Thank you in advance.
Hi nccowgirl,

I like the stock 14/43 Sherpa Kawasaki sprockets. They last a long time. Since Sherpas are no longer sold in the States, your local dealer will likely have to order them. As for the chain, I had good luck with RK Race chain that Throttlemeister pointed me to in Oklahoma. It is expensive but man, it lasted all the way to southern South America. Like 30,000 miles. That thing was a beast.

You may have to order it online. Because it is expensive most shops don't stock it. If you live in rural NC it is sometimes easier to order stuff from places like bikebandit.com or partshark.com and have it delivered to your door.

Glad to have you along for the ride amiga. Hope to see you down the road on your Sherpa.

Saludos,
Obi Juan
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JDowns screwed with this post 08-10-2014 at 07:17 PM
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Old 08-10-2014, 06:27 PM   #4524
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Originally Posted by CourtRand View Post
Thanks for the kind words! You have earned your t-shirt!
Hey CourtRand,

You guys are the best. My Freedom shirt is getting pretty beat up after 9 months. It's a cool design. I hope to make it up from Uruguay to Quito this fall to get a fresh one. I'll even pay for it.

Your ADVpal,
Juan Sherpa
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Old 08-10-2014, 10:55 PM   #4525
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The hum of the motor, the smell of the cool desert air, the full moon overhead, wondering if you have enough gas to get through the Sonoran desert at midnight, finally smelling the salt air drifting from the west, seeing the lights of Guaymas off in the distance. Holy cow. I made it!

These are the thoughts that come streaming back as I sit in the late evening looking at the full moon in East Texas. Even though it was two years ago when I took off for South America, these random memories float back.

All of your material possessions can disappear. Travel memories are forever.

I look forward to smiling in my rocking chair when I am too old to ride as I remember all the awesome roads and wonderful people I have met in my travels.

Saludos,
Tio Juanito
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http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=831076

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Old 08-11-2014, 08:20 AM   #4526
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Classic stuff, John.

Puts my mind right as I start the daily grind.

Thanks.
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Old 08-11-2014, 08:30 AM   #4527
2bold2getold
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JDowns View Post
The hum of the motor, the smell of the cool desert air, the full moon overhead, wondering if you have enough gas to get through the Sonoran desert at midnight, finally smelling the salt air drifting from the west, seeing the lights of Guaymas off in the distance. Holy cow. I made it!

These are the thoughts that come streaming back as I sit in the late evening looking at the full moon in East Texas. Even though it was two years ago when I took off for South America, these random memories float back.

All of your material possessions can disappear. Travel memories are forever.

I look forward to smiling in my rocking chair when I am too old to ride as I remember all the awesome roads and wonderful people I have met in my travels.

Saludos,
Tio Juanito
You might want to print out some of those pictures. Memories and digital files have a way of fading away.
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Old 08-11-2014, 09:55 AM   #4528
nccowgirl
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parts

Thank you Obi Juan
Right after I wrote my husband found them at Rocky Mountain ATV. This chain only survived 13k miles so the RK record is pretty impressive.
Look forward to reading of your further adventures. Yours has been a great ride report.

Viajar con gusto
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Old 08-11-2014, 10:58 AM   #4529
Chiriqui Charlie
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Don Juan,
Another question for you to ponder. A lot of Gringos are researching locations to retire offshore. Based on your vast experience in many countries, where would you choose, and why? If your choice were limited to Central America, then which?
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Old 08-12-2014, 08:49 PM   #4530
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Originally Posted by Chiriqui Charlie View Post
Don Juan,
Another question for you to ponder. A lot of Gringos are researching locations to retire offshore. Based on your vast experience in many countries, where would you choose, and why? If your choice were limited to Central America, then which?
Hi CC,

That's a good question. One I get asked often.

I have visited many places that I wouldn't mind spending time in the future throughout
Mexico and Central America. I don't know that I could "retire" to any of them. But
I could definitely spend a winter in Xcalak (ish-ca-lack) Mexico. I think it has maybe
5 or 10 years before it is discovered:





I also could hang out in Nicaragua north of San Juan del Sur up around Madera beach
up near Matilda's Surf Camp. I think it has another 10 years before paved roads and
condos arrive:






If I had more money I would consider southern Costa Rica in upcountry Uvita:





Or maybe out at the end of the road on the Azuero peninsula in Central Panama:





But really, I am a nomad and don't know of any place in Central America I would care
to spend the year full time. I prefer enjoying Central America in the dry season. The
mountains of rural Guatemala are another place I will return to.

There is no place in the world that is perfect all year round. Where you live in the Panama
highlands is awfully nice.

Right now I have been living in East Texas for the past couple months. This place is
awesome. Friendly people. I am enjoying it here immensely. Sitting in a camp chair
at 10 P.M. out in the driveway listening to country and western music watching the
Perseid meteor shower. Wow! There was a bright one.

But I hear it gets down in the 40s in December. The hell with that. I'm heading back
to Uruguay before long where the living is easy in December. I can't imagine hanging
out anywhere in the world year round. I think I would get pretty bored after a few
months in Central America unless I could do some volunteer work building affordable
housing or something. But that's just me.

Saludos,
Don Juan
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