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Old 01-10-2013, 04:51 PM   #1216
JDowns OP
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Stayed at my luxury hotel until checkout at 2 this afternoon and rode back out of lovely downtown Colon:



This place has a kind of East St. Louis feel to it mixed with some inner city Detroit with a tropical flair. Missing manhole covers are always something to ride around if you can:



Took the turnoff at Nuevo Colon for the Carribean coast:



Nice ride along the coastline through misty squalls. And a short time later was riding past the protected cove that has been used by pirates for centuries:



Nice tall masted sailboat as you near historic Portobelo. Here is part of the old Spanish government building:



and the Catholic church:



I was expecting the road to be dirt after Portobelo on the 30 mile ride out to the small port of Miramar. It doesn't even show up on google maps. Imagine my surprise when it was paved. Just like the road yesterday going out to Carti:



Really fun riding along the coast and up into the hills and over to the dock at Miramar:



There was a scow loading up propane tanks named the Kevin. I talked to the Kuna captain and he said he was only going halfway to Porto Obaldia to a town called Ignacio. 50 bucks for me and the bike and I could take a fast launcha to Porto Obaldia in a day. Hmmm. Maybe worth considering. The seas are too rough so he isn't leaving until Monday at the earliest. Here they are loading up the scow. Most look like they were descended from pirates:



That gives me time to track down the Vya del Mar and see about catching a ride with him. My dear sister emailed me this link to a site that spots boats:

http://www.shipspotting.com/gallery/...hp?lid=1673875

According to the guys on the dock in Miramar, the Lya del Mar is stuck in port in Colon and won't be going anywhere until early next week. Miramar is a kind of skeezy town with no internet so I doubled back. The last 10 miles or so to Miramar are pretty beat up and I hit a huge pothole that knocked the topbox off. It bounced down the road with a bang so I heard it come off thank goodness. I can't believe how strong the stock rims are on the Sherpa. Not a ding. And the topbox was unscathed. As was the laptop inside apparently since I'm still typing on it. Might have to put a safety bolt through at some point though just for good measure to keep it from flying off again.

Went down this dirt road that pointed to Turtle Caye Marina:



Got a taste of what it must have been like riding down these clay roads back before they were paved. Not too bad really. If it were wet, that would be a different story. The road ended after about 5 miles of steep up and down at this man made protected marina out on a peninsula:



Down past the yachts there was a palapa on the beach with a bunch of nice yachties drinking rum and coke and whiling away the days:



They were trapped due to weather. They also said Monday at the earliest was what they heard as far as the seas calming down. According to them there are plenty of people stuck in Porto Obaldia trying to head north. Got the lowdown on which Kuna stopovers have the best food and a couple bakeries. There's even wifi in a couple.

Here is the protected shoreline coming into Turtle Caye, the breakwater beyond is getting pounded but it doesn't show up in this photo too well:



Headed back out to the paved road since it was getting dark and wheeled back into Portobelo. I remember somebody posting in the Latin America section here that was working at Captain Jacks, so when I saw the sign I headed up the hill where they have dorm beds for 13 bucks and free wifi and good eats. So this seems like a nice headquarters to do more exploring and general goofing off in the Kuna Yala down the way.

I spent $19.65 today on food, gas and lodging.

Hasta mañana,
Juanito
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Old 01-10-2013, 06:18 PM   #1217
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JDowns View Post
I remember somebody posting in the Latin America section here that was working at Captain Jacks, so when I saw the sign I headed up the hill where they have dorm beds for 13 bucks and free wifi and good eats. So this seems like a nice headquarters to do more exploring and general goofing off in the Kuna Yala down the way.
I was going to tell you earlier to stay away from the bitchy old German lady at the Wuderbar Hostel

There's a really nice American expat lady in Puerto Lindo that makes great pizzas out of her house neat the soccer pitch. She might still be around. When the Carti toll road is out due to land slides Miramar is the second best way out from Kuna Yala, as you found not too nice a place and Captain Jacks is much nicer, that used to be the big area for sailboats other than the Rat loading out before all Fritz the Cat sank off Colombia shut the must of the boats carrying bike down.

Just going to be a waiting game now to find the right boat.
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Old 01-10-2013, 06:44 PM   #1218
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John, I read you could fly from Panama City to Puerto Obaldia (not sure about moto) then Lancha to Sapzurro, then Capurgana then Turbo

$300 total without a moto

Also read that waiting around the docks for Cargo boat is iffy and Dec/Jan are the worse months.

I guess the weather is awful for boats right now.

Big jet is 2 hours, just have to weigh the costs.
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Old 01-10-2013, 06:57 PM   #1219
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Originally Posted by TUCKERS View Post
John, I read you could fly from Panama City to Puerto Obaldia (not sure about moto) then Lancha to Sapzurro, then Capurgana then Turbo

$300 total without a moto
If its flying on Air Panama you can't take the moto with you.

The Caribbean is the protected side and should have easy enough time, this is the rough time of year for making the open run across to Cartagena. He should be able to find a cargo boat, just have to find the right one at the right price.
At least he's got the time...
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Old 01-10-2013, 07:45 PM   #1220
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Originally Posted by TUCKERS View Post
John, I read you could fly from Panama City to Puerto Obaldia (not sure about moto) then Lancha to Sapzurro, then Capurgana then Turbo

$300 total without a moto

Also read that waiting around the docks for Cargo boat is iffy and Dec/Jan are the worse months.

I guess the weather is awful for boats right now.

Big jet is 2 hours, just have to weigh the costs.
Hi Tuckers,

The only people currently flying bikes to Colombia are Girag since Copa and Taca stopped. The price is currently 902.00 cash.
I met a German backpacker in Panama City who was flying down to Puerto Obaldia. 92 bucks plus around 35 to take the slow launchas to Capurgana and Puerto Obaldia. Cheapest way for a backpacker to get to Colombia.

I could fly the bike and go that route if the weather doesn't co-operate, but the yachties said the flights are booked from Puerto Obaldia for the month of January which is why a lot of people are stranded down there looking for a boat north. Not sure if the same is true if I wanted to fly south though.

Yes, waiting around is iffy. But I have time and it's kind of fun to ride down all these back roads looking for boats in all the wrong places. Plus I hope this info is useful to those who come after me. What roads to take, which places look the most promising to catch a boat, who to talk to. That sort of thing. You guys have been paypal-ing dough my way and this is the kind of info you have a hard time finding anywhere. So it is my way of paying you back. I know I am thankful for that ride report that mentioned the Vya del Mar. Not much info out there on these cheaper cargo boat options.

I am confident I will find a way to South America. It is just slower to go this way. If I had a lot of money I would have flown down the day after I got my passport pages added. In the meantime I will report back what I find out here in the Kuna Yala.

Saludos,
Juan Belo
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Old 01-10-2013, 07:49 PM   #1221
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Originally Posted by Throttlemeister View Post
I was going to tell you earlier to stay away from the bitchy old German lady at the Wuderbar Hostel

There's a really nice American expat lady in Puerto Lindo that makes great pizzas out of her house neat the soccer pitch. She might still be around. When the Carti toll road is out due to land slides Miramar is the second best way out from Kuna Yala, as you found not too nice a place and Captain Jacks is much nicer, that used to be the big area for sailboats other than the Rat loading out before all Fritz the Cat sank off Colombia shut the must of the boats carrying bike down.

Just going to be a waiting game now to find the right boat.
Hi TM,

I'll check out the pizza near the soccer pitch in Puerto Lindo. I've got a few days to kill. I really like the area down the coast from Portobelo. Really laid back area. It's not going to be too much trouble killing a few days here.

Muchas gracias amigo,
Juan Lindo
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Old 01-10-2013, 07:56 PM   #1222
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Aren't all the boat rides in the Atlantic? No one goes Pacific do they?
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Old 01-10-2013, 08:05 PM   #1223
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Aren't all the boat rides in the Atlantic? No one goes Pacific do they?
No, you can go down the Pacific side. A couple of people have posted ride reports. The seas were even rougher on the Pacific side when I was over visiting cmnthead in Uverito. That's why I decided to try the Carribean. Plus there is more traffic on this side so less waiting. You can catch cargo boats near the Yacht club in Panama City that take you down the Pacific to Jurado and catch launchas to Colombia and a cargo scow to Buenaventura.

As you noted, January is a rough month weatherwise it turns out.

Best,
Juanito
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Old 01-10-2013, 08:18 PM   #1224
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ok, I gotta ask..

...so, why are we looking for a boat? I have been following this adventure since John's original trek south, but I must have skipped the explanation of why, when we are on an off road motorbike, we need a boat to continue our journey to South America.. At the risk of being ripped a new one for being ignorant, could someone fill me in on the plan?

PS, I did look at an atlas, but still cannot figure the puzzle.

Thanks much - peace and blessings - JD (not John Downs, a different JD)
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Old 01-10-2013, 08:49 PM   #1225
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Google "Darian Gap"
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Old 01-10-2013, 08:53 PM   #1226
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Sounds good, let's go!
 
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Originally Posted by legends117 View Post
...so, why are we looking for a boat? I have been following this adventure since John's original trek south, but I must have skipped the explanation of why, when we are on an off road motorbike, we need a boat to continue our journey to South America.. At the risk of being ripped a new one for being ignorant, could someone fill me in on the plan?

PS, I did look at an atlas, but still cannot figure the puzzle.

Thanks much - peace and blessings - JD (not John Downs, a different JD)
Hi JD,

There is a swamp between Panama and Colombia. It is the only break in the otherwise continuous PanAm highway. It is called the Darien gap. The only way around is by boat or plane.

Best,
John Downs
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Old 01-10-2013, 09:21 PM   #1227
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Darien Gap

ADV seems keeping many of us awake, following this story is like being in a James Bond movie for real.
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Old 01-11-2013, 02:27 AM   #1228
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Misery Goat Himalaya & South America epics

JD's brilliant painting of his journey just beautiful : ) look in about
3 or 4 times a day
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Old 01-11-2013, 04:02 AM   #1229
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John,

I'm trying to follow along and am aware that a boat sank but what about the boats and hostel on this site?

Is it not up to date?

http://www.hostelwunderbar.com/sailing_trips.html#nb

The prices seem to have gone up about a 100 bucks in the past three years......

Trevor
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Old 01-11-2013, 05:03 AM   #1230
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John,

I'm trying to follow along and am aware that a boat sank but what about the boats and hostel on this site?

Is it not up to date?

http://www.hostelwunderbar.com/sailing_trips.html#nb

The prices seem to have gone up about a 100 bucks in the past three years......

Trevor
Hi Trevor,

Yes, there are rico gringo sailboats that take the backpackers to Colombia. The problem is, they are charging 4-500 bucks for you and only a couple take bikes which are an additional 4-500 bucks. The Independence that was down in Carti was one of them. They wanted 900 to sail to Cartagena. For that kind of money, I would just fly the bike down and be in Bogota tomorrow. I am not a fan of sailing in rough seas.

The Wunderbar hostel that Throttlemeister was warning me to avoid is the website you pointed to that helps fleece the backpackers with these usurious prices. When it was 250 for you and 250 for the bike 5 years ago this wasn't a bad way to go. But now that prices have nearly doubled, the only cheap way left to get around the Darien with a bike is to wait around for a Kuna cargo scow.

I talked to an English lad named Duncan when I was up in Nicaragua and he took a coconut boat up from Colombia for 350 plus the passenger boats from Turbo to Puerto Obaldia. So around 400 dollars all in for him and his KLR. That is more like it. These boats stop along the way in Kuna villages and drop off propane, gas and beer etc, and pick up goods to sell up the coast.

You need to speak some Spanish and be able to negotiate and take your time waiting for these boats. This is not a quick way around the Darien.

Kindest regards,
John Downs
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