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Old 03-07-2013, 06:58 AM   #151
dean10 OP
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Joined: Jun 2012
Location: Netherlands
Oddometer: 258
Chitre to Panama City,Tuesday, 4 December 2012, Day 154

No Photos taken today except for food porn tells you a bit how I am feeling[/caption]

Doing a huge catch up about 2 weeks behind with the blog so my recollection of events bit iffy. Hot run into Panama City and when I hit the bridge crossing the canal the heavens opened huge rain storm before I knew it I was soaked to the skin but as I was so close to my final destination decided to press on without putting on my waterproofs which was not wise as traffic turned to gridlock and my piece of shit GPS about as much use as well as much use as nothing. I had drawn a map on a scrap of paper which had disintegrated in the rain so was stopping every 5 minutes asking for directions to Via Brazil and Avieneda de Espana. Ended up on a toll road holding up the traffic whilst I figured out where the hell I was. Finally found the Panama House wet and bedraggled checked in and chilled out. Seemingly in pisses down every day at 10 and 2 in the city guess I been lucky the last couple of days. Went for a huge Calzone Pizza with Paul guy I had met previously who was also on the same boat and Ryan a Canadian guy who had been there for 3 weeks as he was unable to get on the last boat and was trying to get on the same boat as us to Colombia.
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Old 03-07-2013, 07:00 AM   #152
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Panama City, Wednesday, 5 December 2012 and Thursday, 6 December 2012,Day 155 and Day

Panama Canal Big boy toys :-)[/caption]

Well todays is Sint Nicholas in the Netherlands so I put my shoe out last night in the hope that there would be some sweeties in them in the morning. Nope no such luck so either I have been a bad boy this year and or he does not cover Panama City. Must be the latter. Well I reached the bottom of Central America and also ran out of steam as the one of the milestones had been achieved so as I am knackered finding it hard to motivate myself to go and do the touristy stuff that you should do in Panama City so in short an uneventful couple of days.

On the first day managed to wander round the local bike dealers looking for some oil for my chain oiler. When I hit the first shop the heavens opened up so took shelter there for about an hour chatting to the nice Vietnamese owner of the shop. Finally stopped raining enough to venture out and went to a couple more bike shops and huge super market looking for a specific type of oil.

Panama Rain Storm it pisses down![/caption]

Finally found some and back to the hostel for some more vegging about. That evening went to the Supermarket and brought some sausages to throw on the Barbie back at the hostel.

The second day I was a bit more determined to do something and you cannot come to Panama City without seeing the infamous Panama Canal. Had managed to load some half decent map onto my GPS, which I got from Paul so in theory should be able to find the Mira Flores Locks. Well I got lost again and spent a good hour go in ever decreasing circles until I stumbled on to the locks. Spent a pleasant hour or so watching huge container ships going through the lock watching a 3D film about the Panama Canal and visiting the museum. So back to the hostel before the rains that enough touristy stuff for the moment and I did not fancy getting stuck out in the rain because when it rains here the roads turn into rivers and traffic grinds to a halt.



Back to the same Italian Place for my tea chatting to Ryan and Paul who seem determined to shit me out on how difficult the trip is going to be in South America.
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Old 03-07-2013, 07:05 AM   #153
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Panama City to Cartagena on Stahlratte,Friday, 7 December 2012 to Tuesday, 11 Decembe

Stahlratte Bremen listig to the port is Daisy that heavy[/caption]

Note Monday 17th December. Miles behind with me blog and I have the screaming habdabs for the last week or so and it really got bad since I left Cartagena so I may not come over as my usual cheery self as my arse is on a hair trigger and have not been able to keep much food inside me for days (Oh the joys of travel)

Anyhow back to the blog up early, as we had to be at boat at Carti Airport, which was about 110km away. So left the Panama House at 7ish there was four of us Ryan, Paul and Dylan who had arrived yesterday. Its been yonks’ since I had ridden with a group and I guess there is a reason for that there is much more you need to concentrate on as well as your normal motorcycling things that you have when you are on your own. I was at the back, which is always the most difficult place to be, as you have to take additional risk to stay in touch so running reds (it was amber officer), risky overtakes that you would probably not do if your on own, ensuring no one gets between you and the group you get the idea then add in the fact this is rush hour in an alien environment you can say I was not really having a ball :-) (In short you end up having to go so much faster than the bloke up the front and work much harder)

Panama City Rush Hour[/caption]

Finally got out of the city and making progress when we come across a huge traffic jam running late and the usual thing to do in situations like this is try to cut through the traffic and get to the front to see what is causing the blockage. So we weave are way through the still standing traffic that looks like it been there for a while and it seems to go on forever at one stage we get some info along the lines that there may be a bridge out but as we reach the front of the jam turns out we have just walked into a minor civilian uprising. The locals have blocked the road and are protesting about some large multinational company that came in to the area but did not give them any money (or something like that) and they where not going to budge until they got there 5 minutes of fame on the television. Bugger what to do. There are already some other bikers there that are also on our boat and they have been trying to negotiate whether or not we can pass as we have a boat to catch and we are not part of the issue but no luck so far. The television crew has arrived so they are getting their airtime and we are being interviewed why I do not know. Eventually I think they got bored and had said their piece to the cameras so it looked like we could be moving soon. You can imagine miles of cars either side of the roadblock a single-track bridge it’s going to take ages before this road is clear. Fortunately for us bikers we were allowed to go first even through a few cars made a mad dash for the opening. So we passed through the roadblock to the sounds of one solitary guy shouting that the road blog was staying and they will be there till they got what they want fortunately everyone else had enough and he was a lone voice.

Locals are restless[/caption]

about this![/caption]

Much larger group now and I was still tailgate charley the turn off for the airport was just up the road and the boys had been sitting for a while so I guess the testosterone most of kicked in and they where off. As mentioned had very little confidence in my GPS even though I had some maps loaded now but I had not been on route all day and I had no idea where the road went so had to try and keep up. Getting to old for these type of dick wagging scenarios gorgeous road would just like to enjoy it at my own pace not some strangers group pace for all I know these guys are all trying to out macho each other and me I do not care I know how good/bad I am and have no intention in taking any unnecessary risk (still got a long way to go) so decided to back off and concentrate on the road and enjoying that at my own pace. Finally caught up with the group at the Kuna Indian Checkpoint

Kuna Checkpoint or toll booth[/caption]

and then the final run to the port pace had dropped considerably or maybe I was not that far of it in the first place and we finally arrived at the quay side at 10 so only an hour late and still only half of us here the rest got caught up in the uprising as well.

(In hindsight would have preferred to do this run on me own, as it was a nice road with some gorgeous vistas that should have been captured and enjoyed at a more leisurely pace)

So eventually there are 13 bikes hanging around waiting around waiting to be loaded on the boat lots are strangers to each other a few know each other sort of and these are my sailing mates so that is a group of 22 for the next couple of days.

Getting acquainted[/caption]

Deep breath Philly practice that new mantra I like travelling in groups :-) (Anyone who knows me know that deep in my heart I am a loner and I struggle in a group environment especially with complete strangers seemingly its in my DNA some thing else I can blame my parents for)



Daisy make sure no one can see your knickers[/caption]

All done with me socks on[/caption]

The loading process meant getting a huge boat positioned at the end of a dodgy looking quay and then winching each bike on one after the other like a production line as we where late and the tide was going out had to be pretty quick. All the luggage was taken off and there was loads bikers do not travel light not clothes but all sort of other kit such as tyres petrol cans tool of all shape and sizes. (My kit is all clothes!) So as the bike came on parked on the deck until we had all the bikes on all the kit and all of the new crew members of the Stahlratte for those interested in the boat here is a link http://stahlratte.org

So tonight we will not be staying on the boat but on one of the San Blas Islands belonging to the Kuna Indians who seem to have the own autonomous state within the country of Panama. So quick-change travel bag packed and dumped on an island, which was fascinating, take a look at the many photo on SmugMug to get a better idea.

So that is day one Cor Blimey Guv this is supposed to be the relaxing part spent the evening taking loads of photos wandering around and getting acquainted with the new shipmates.

Up early the next day like most people lets say the accommodation was basic to say the least so folk wanted to get to the boat for some breakfast or was it the loo!

Still peed on the seat ![/caption]

Second day snorkelling around another island, trying to remember the last time I went swimming its been a while and I do not know why as I actually like swimming and love snorkelling I guess it the sand and getting the kit dry that always put me of whilst travelling but had a great time even though the flippers I had on where to large. Unfortunately the coral was dead this was due to the hurricanes or nature not mankind which is a relief but a shame but loads of fish. That evening a barbeque on another island which was gezellig. And first night on the boat I am in the bow with 3 others yep we are packed in like sardines.

bbq[/caption]

(Group observation there was a load of snorkelling gear different size flippers and suddenly this got less and less and flippers where being discreetly placed out of sight in all sorts of places basically being claimed what was that mantra Philly I like travelling in groups :-))

Day 3 same as day one found some flippers that fit one of the claimed ones fuck them there mine for the next hour then back in the shared box so someone else can use them. This time snorkelling even better at yet another island as there is an old shipwreck in shallow water to explore. Lazy day and then to another island where the Customs for existing Panama is but its closed as its Mothers Day in Panama so we will not be able to get this done till tomorrow (Note to all mothers reading this especially mine no its not mothers days as we know it in Europe but for Mary Jesus Mum a religious holiday so that’s me of the hook :-))

On the first night I woke up to singing I thought it was in the morning but pitch dark outside so confused. Very nice singing should really get up and investigate but it quite lullaby ish so just roll over and enjoy it not sure if it was a dream or real but turned out real and related to mothers day.

Day 4 running late due to customs not being open due to Mothers day but we clear customs and finally set sail for Cartagena Colombia. This is where the idyllic cruise turns into an epic sea journey and into Huey and Ralph territory. The sea is quite choppy so trying to get used to the new movement, as this is what it’s going to be like for the next 30 plus hours. Well that was the theory here is the reality the engine died. Ooops seemingly we have blown a valve is there a welder on board. Yes there is fortunately there is (Paul Stewart take a bow) but takes a good couple of hours to fix and we are dead in the water with a waves coming in batches regularly but not regularly enough to get used to so if you where feeling queasy already this was the killer blow. The fix did not last long so another one was needed so from rough just about manageable to dead in the water again for a couple more hours. Eventually got going slow going as engine still a bit sick (the boat is 103 years old) weathers worse and the original 30 hours a thing of the past. Crawled into my pit at 7 being tossed all over the place in the forecastle and getting my feet doused in water every hour or so as a rogue wave hits the window is open as its stifling but eventually I close it but it still leaks! Long night and the good news is there is another one to go, as we are not making much speed and lost loads of time fixing the engine. So you can say the mood on the ship is not a happy one lots of folk seasick to various degrees. I am just about holding it together but very close to being sick so it’s just a case of suck it up and we get there when we will get there least we are moving in the right direction.

Another rough day and night cannot do much or you will spew so just grinding out the seconds and then we are off the Coast of Cartagena Sea is calmer and oh happy days has just come on to my iTunes how uncanny is that.

Land Ahoy[/caption]

Finally made land travel bag find a hostel glad to be of the boat we will sort the bikes tomorrow.

All the bikers are staying at the same place so a small group head into town for a bank and some food and I then head of my own as I need some Philly time and I need to be alone fuck that mantra I like group traveling

Back to the Hostel have a shower first decent one for a while so clean we have to meet with the agent to sort Customs out at seven and the reason why I hate traveling in groups is that there is no decisiveness, a following mentality going to the lowest and dumbest common denominator this time it was about whether to walk or get a taxi well I lost it I been a good boy for days but I was walking and did not want to have a debate on the subject just get on and do it and of I went.

Sorted the paperwork for Customs last meal with the group at a Pizza Place and back to a bed that was not determined to kick you out every five minutes. I have still had not found my land legs.

This week blog I like group travel starred the following

Stahlratte crew http://stahlratte.org

The Captain Fifi or Fiedle or was it Fieter

Bobo or Boris

Floflo or Floyd

Lili or Lisa

The Bikers

Paul Stewart http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=809883

Dylan http://vagrantbraam.com/2012/11/30/back-to-it/

Ryan http://roameoriding.blogspot.com

Alison http://alisonswanderland.wordpress.com

Debs http://www.letterstocurlyflat.blogspot.com/

Alex and Andrea representing Romania

Tom and Radka representing Czech

Joop and Alfred representing Netherlands

Franki and Tony representing Italy nope actually Hong Kong

Carlos representing Colombia

The Backpackers

2 Norwegian Guys

2 German Guys

Forgotten their names :-(

Featuring Thomas and Arthor guest on the Stahlratte

And of course the stars of the show Philly and Daisy :-)

Problem with doing this so far after the fact you forget things. My strap broke on my Trax Boxes not surprising really considering how much I am carrying. Andrea was kind enough to fix this for so big thank you to Andrea and her sowing skills :-)
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Old 03-07-2013, 07:07 AM   #154
dean10 OP
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Cartagena, Wednesday, 12 December 2012 to Friday, 14 December, Day 162 to Day 164

Intimate moment with Daisy Floyd cover your eyes![/caption]

Bit confused on the days here but I think we arrived in Cartagena on Wednesday 12th covered in the previous blog and on Thursday up at 5 O clock in the morning yep that correct 5 in the morning as we had to be back at the boat to unload the bikes.

The process for this was to winch the bike into the dingy and for the rider if they chose to sit astride their bike with one guy holding the front and one guy driving the dingy and then go to a crappy wooden quay where there where 3 strong Columbians who would heave the bike ashore and the rider would have to jump on it and disappear ASAP of to the custom house as they did not want a huge crowd gathering to watch this spectacle (probably erring on the side of dodgy/illegal as well) If the rider was a girly wuzz he could opt to sit at the front of the boat holding the bike and let Floyd balance the bike. I chose for the latter option, as I could not bear the responsibility of anything happening to Daisy due to my lack of physical and balancing skills.



Handy 3 strong Columbians[/caption]



The rest of the day was one big bore waiting around at customs to import the bikes. We where told at about 11 that it would not be ready till about 2.30 and we been there since 7 so we went back to the boat to start getting the kit of the boat and back to the hostel and as I mentioned before us bikers have loads of kit so it was 2 people kit per dingy ride and taxi so a lot or work.

Finally got the bikes out of customs insurance waiting for us back at the Hostel so drove back to the hostel got there late in the afternoon so the day completely gone hanging customs but officially in the country. Forgot to mention that yesterday also spent a couple of hours getting us not the bikes through immigration.

I am desperate to be alone for a while as I am tired not feeling great and as mentioned not a great lover of large group type endeavors so was planning to stay in Cartagena an extra day as I had not really had the opportunity to see it yet and I thought everyone would be leaving the next day leaving me all me own :-) some. Nope look like others have similar ideas so look like it will be a bit longer before I am out there again on me own. Went for a quite meal with Fred and Joop 2 Dutch blokes from the Trip this I can manage it is with larger group where I start getting irritated. It was gezellig. Back to the hostel just chilling. Found out that tomorrow there is a total motorcycle ban for the day in Cartagena so this could prove difficult for those wanting to leave.

Opportunity to have a sleep but I am wide-awake at 5am again bugger. Wallow around the hostel and then go for a wander around town taking in the sights on my own.

Sights in Cartagena :-)[/caption]

The folks that are leaving have some arranged a dodgy police escort to get them out of town,

Dodgy Police Escort due to bike ban[/caption]

as it really is a bike ban today which made it more pleasant to walk around. In the evening have dinner with Paul Dylan Ryan and Alison who are leaving for Venezuela in the morning and I am heading south in the direction of Medellin and I am hoping it will much cooler there.

 
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Old 03-07-2013, 07:09 AM   #155
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Cartagena to Carceres, Saturday, 15 December 2012, Day 165

Who are pretty boy then[/caption]

Finally back on the road again not feeling that great as my guts they are rotten not sure if this is due to something I eaten or drank or is just good old fashion fear of the trip that I am embarking on. Normally for me my guts seize up when scared and currently they cannot be described as seized as everything I eat or drink is going straight through me so it not fear even though I am nervous about Phillys Big Trip Part 3 more so then the first two parts why is that so far everything has worked out and nothing has gone wrong so not sure how long this good luck will last and I know more than when I started so with knowledge comes doubt so I would prefer going back to being totally ignorant as that worked well for me so far but unfortunately that is not possible.

Said Ta Ta to the remaining folks and pulled out straight into Cartagena rush hour so needed to be on the ball from the get go doing all of this without following through as my arse was on hair trigger.

Do not remember much of the journey as I was not feeling to great and was just focusing on surviving rather than enjoying the scenery. It was very nice once I cleared the city and I was hoping to hit the hills soon but mostly in the low land thus still hot for most of the day. Loads of Police control points but mainly wave through only stopped once for a complete check. All the roads here are toll roads but the good news next to each toll booth there is a special track just for Motorcyclist as they do not have to pay not sure if I could always squeeze through with all my luggage but thus far have managed. I certainly would not pay the toll, as the roads are not that good with large stretches of dirt road for any apparent reason. Did quite a long day for the first day back in the saddle and the condition I was in and before I knew it was that time of day when the light is gorgeous and mother nature is teasing you just to keep going the slut will then turn the light out in a blink of an eye and you will go from gorgeous to riding in the pitch dark. Yet everyday I still get caught napping enjoying the ride and the light the road and scenery just past another town with sleeping possibilities certain there will more down the road (sound familiar) Realised the next town further than the minutes of daylight left bugger another déjà vu moment. When I passed a petrol station that had a hotel and a small restaurant attached to it. Stroke of luck or perfect planning you decide :-)

All the bridges are yellow[/caption]

Cheap and cheerful and a place to myself been a while since I have any real privacy and I am finally on my own. Huge Sigh :-)

My guts are still playing up and the restaurant does not have a menu so trying to explain in Spanish that I looking at some simple food that I can keep down. End up with some meat soup as I believe it was some dodgy meat I had in Cartagena that got me in my current predicament so had the liquid and the spuds and some lemon juice/vinegar that they said may help my stomach not. Place is in the middle of nowhere but I am joined by 3 police officers (Hallo, Hallo, Hallo could not resist it or is ola, ola, ola :-)) who are bored shitless on duty so decide to use me for entertainment chatting in bad Spanish.

Back to the room trying to get this updated but my hearts not in it so end listen to a Spanish lesson 1 of 30 I had got from Paul and some Billy Connelly MP3 in-between mad dashes to the loo. Good to be back on the road only wish my had some control over me bowels :-(

 

Nearly forgot Happy Birthday dear Mummy Happy Birthday to you, Lang zal ze leven Lang zal ze leven hip hip hora :-)

 
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Old 03-07-2013, 07:11 AM   #156
dean10 OP
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Carceres to Medellin, Sunday, 16 December 2012, Day 166

Cool Para gliders[/caption]

Still in a bad way when I hit the road have not really eaten anything for days but the good news is that I am heading uphill so finally it will be cooler. As mentioned before not a huge fan of the heat and being a sweaty mess all day give me the cool and dry any day of the week this body is not designed for the tropics.

Another day just surviving again not really appreciating all the gorgeous stuff around me heading for Medellin where I will rest up and try and get my guts in order but I have food poisoning and the only cure for this is time.

A couple of the highlights of the day where I spotted a whole load of places at the side of the road for cleaning bikes and cars so pulled over and asked how much. Answer 2 dollars so that’s a snip and daisy needed a good cleaning to get rid of all the salt water from the recent trip on Stahlratte. So settle in as well as I could in the shade and watched two young lads go to work on Daisy. Joy to watch it took an hour to do the job and they basically cleaned Daisy with a toothbrush I never seen her look so good and clean. Those lads really earned there money and where entertaining as well even though I felt that I was at death door still managed to have a good crack with the lads at this car wash place.



Daisy looking spotless thanks to these two lads[/caption]

Back on the road again trying to avoid puddles and dirt but that impossible so Daisy did not stay clean for long but boy did she look good for a while.

As mentioned I am know in the foothills of the Andes and after fighting my way through a road block came across this place where they where Hang Gliding and paragliding so stopped to watch this for while great thermals as they always managed to land back where they started and there where eagles flying with them. So very enjoyable time has watching this.



Finally hit Medellin which is a huge city at rush hour of course made my way to area Hostels were and found somewhere for the next couple of nights. Problem no parking for the bike but soon resolved, as there was a posh hotel just down the street that had a car park that you could park in which was reasonable price. So had the bed next to the loo and knew were there was another loo if this one was occupied brought some soup and bread and did not venture to far as I could not risk it.

 
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Old 03-07-2013, 07:13 AM   #157
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Medellin, Monday, 17 December 2012, Day 167

Fat Bottom Girls![/caption]

Feeling a bit better manage to eat my free breakfast which is two bits of bread and a cup of coffee finally brave enough to venture on the street have me loo roll with me just in case. I can tell I have not eaten for a while as I am weak as a kitten but it downhill all the way to the metro station. Buy 3 tickets wow my Spanish is improving and got the train to the far side of town where there was a cable car which was also part of the metro system that went up a hill with views over Medellin and the barrio’s below.

Cable Car part of the metro and no skis in site.[/caption]

All this done at a very slow pace but I was glad to be out and about. Unfortunately on Mondays the cable car does not go right to the top of the mountain for some reason so wander around the barrios at the top did not venture to far as not the safest of neighborhoods loads of needles lying around a couple guys smoking crack made sure I did not go of on one my more adventurous walks and not sure I had the energy anyhow. Got the metro to the center and there was an exhibition of one of my favorite artist Fernando Botero and all round one of the squares where bronze sculptures of his. Brilliant not sure why I like his work so much as I am not really in to the tubby large bottoms I prefer mine skinny but I do love his sculptures and paintings of the larger ladies. So excellent time had wondering round the square taking pictures and resting quite a lot. Wander around town for a while as well not that pretty but had a certain charm to the place. Had some Chicken Nuggets for lunch as this practically baby food and joy of joy sort of managed to keep some inside me so had a little more energy but still needed to keep stopping for a rest which was fine sitting watching locals at work and play.

shiney knob everyone touches it for luck![/caption]

Got the metro back and into the supermarket for some tea ravioli and then a slow walk up the hill with a couple of stops on the way. Got back to the hostel exhausted but happy that I was getting better and that the day had not been a waste turned out quite good in spite of my rotten guts. Hung around the hostel, as I did not want to push my luck

Love this chap work :-)[/caption]
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Old 03-07-2013, 07:16 AM   #158
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Joined: Jun 2012
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Oddometer: 258
Medellin to Cali, Tuesday, 18 December 2012, Day 168

Lost who cares when the views are like this :-)[/caption]

For some reason I have booked into a hostel tonight for two nights and looking at the map it’s seriously hardcore to do this run in one day especially as I am just recovering from the screaming habdabs. Well there was some rational for my ludicrous planning I had sort of arranged a service for Daisy with http://www.motolombia.com and they also owned a hostel so two birds with one stone but why in one day beats me should be doable if nothing goes wrong. Well you guessed it pulled out of Medellin and got totally lost my wonderful GPS not doing its job properly as usual and absolutely no real detail (Note 22/12/2012 have hopefully resolved this) so driving around totally lost getting no feedback from the GPS. At one stage went into this little village down a steep hill and had all the locals helping me but all sending me in different directions but figured out where I did not want to go and took it from there. Getting out of the village was difficult as the road was practically vertical wet and slippery so when I reach the top where it met the main road I had to stop as there was traffic but as I stopped the font wheel locked and I started sliding backwards downhill so much for ABS in a situation the front was locked no grip could not get to the back brake as I needed two legs down to try and balance so the only thing to do was give it some welly and get some forward momentum and catapulted myself on to the main road. Fortunately it was clear bloody hell its going to be a long day. Lost again in another town asked a chap the direction to Fredonia he said I was in it! My GPS said it was another couple of miles down the road! Lost again GPS says turn right in 100 meters get there no road! Hit recalculate and it adds another 50 0r 80km to the distance! So that’s how my day went so the chances of getting to Cali completely gone so was on to plan B as I always have more than one game plan but then I hit a fast dual carriage way and started chewing up the miles, stopped for fuel and the guy said its was only another hour to Cali my GPS said two hours guess who I believed today. So back to plan A and rolled into Cali just as it was getting dark no problem had a bed booked.

Sure I crossed this river before![/caption]

Had a chat with the wife of the owner of http://www.motolombia.com about the service and she said chat with the Mechanic Tomorrow so time for tea. I have noticed in South America when I get of the bike at the end of day my face is absolutely filthy I look like I been working at the pit face all day covered in soot some of these old Diesel trucks and busses are kicking out some serious dirt.

Chinese meal huge so get a carry out so that dinner for tomorrow night sorted and I guess my stomach has shrunk (yeah right!) after not eating much for days.

On the way back to the Hostel pass a bike shop and recognise one of the BMW as its has Belize plates so that must be Alfred form the Stahlratte and look around and spot him. He has lost Joop his travel companion somehow and was on his own in town so I join him for dinner (no not two dinners now I am better but joined him whilst he was eating and had a drink and yes I am still of the booze)

Been a long day about 10 hours in the saddle so quite glad when I hit the sack service for Daisy tomorrow.

 
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Old 03-07-2013, 07:18 AM   #159
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Joined: Jun 2012
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Cali, Wednesday, 19 December 2012, Day 169

Xmas cancelled santa slips on ice on holiday in Cali[/caption]

Good night sleep only two of us in an eight-bed dorm went across to the Motolumbia shop but no one there but the mechanic turned up about 30 minutes later young chap called Francisco (I think :-() he spoke no English so we figured out what need doing with my bad Spanish and my Spanish workbook manual and that was it Daisy was going to get an oil change no new filter as there a special tool needed but only need to change the oil filter every other oil change. He was also going to give it a once over to check if anything seriously wrong. Will be ready at 1pm. Efficient and I liked the guy so was happy to leave Daisy in his capable hands and off to find some breakfast.

Daisy getting TLC from Francisco[/caption]

The name of the place I had breakfast was called “Kuty” which made me giggle as that quite a rude word in Dutch. So relaxing breakfast and wander down to a mall looking for a map a new earing as I had ripped one of mine out playing volleyball got caught in the net on the Stahlratte trip. Treated myself to a Mcflurry as me bum was sort of behaving and generally just doodled about till 1.

Went back and he was just finishing he had changed the oil, lubed the chain and the cables cleaned the air filter, touch up some paintwork, charged the battery, and lots of other little things. How did I know he done all of this well he had photographic evidence to show me. Very impressed by the professionalism and to top it all it cost me for the labour 20 EUR plus consumables. So Daisy ready for the next thousands of km except will have to start sourcing tyres soon.

So the rest of the day wander around town which was nothing special and back to warm up my Chinese leftovers and playing catch up with this as well as chatting to some folks staying at the hostel back on the road again tomorrow destination Pasto



Cali Sculptures which ones are real[/caption]

 
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Old 03-07-2013, 07:21 AM   #160
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Cali to Pasto, Thursday, 20 December 2012, Day 170

Guess I am sort of on the right road[/caption]

Trying to remember this day was another long day got out of Cali and headed into the hills. Daisy feeling good after the TLC she had received twisty roads with lots of slow moving traffic that needed to be past on blind corners and brows of hills got to be brave here or you will not get to far fast but you can also be to brave as I past a crowd looking down a huge crevice where something had gone through the barrier could not see what but did not hang around to long to find out either.

Still no idea what had gone through the barrier[/caption]

Later in the day it started to rain so that slowed the pace as the roads turned greasy and it was getting late again. Remember I mentioned that there are toll roads here but next to each is a small track for motorcyclist to go through free. So far I had managed to squeeze through with my luggage but today there was one it was late it was wet I was tired and I took a chunk out of the wall as I wet through just tapped it but put the bike into a bit of a wobble so that toll booth not taken very graciously. I found out later others had issues with this one Fred had hit like I did but smashed his luggage that it needed repairs guess I was lucky but note to self check fittings and if it look like its to narrow slow down to check :-)

Moody weather today[/caption]

Pulled into town just as it was getting dark knackered vague idea of a place when the police stopped me. Big lecture about no bikes on the square today or something like that but I do not understand Spanish when it comes to rozzers so feign ignorance but she keeps whitering on I had just let a pedestrian cross the road maybe that is what is upsetting her. She tells me to pull over by another copper so I do this and sit there like a lemon. The other cop is giving a ticket to another motorcyclist and I try and get his attention and he asks me what I want? I point at the other cop and he shakes his head and tells me to bugger of so I do very promptly. Turn round the corner pull over and get out my lonely planet, as I still need somewhere to stay. I have stopped outside a shoe shop and the bloke ask me can he help and I say I am looking for a hotel can he point me in the right direction. He gives me a funny look and points behind me and hey presto there a hotel and it’s the one I was aiming for there are two doorman who have seemingly trying to get my attention as well god I am frazzled. So pull into there car park thinking this is a bit posh as the bloke offers to carry all my kit to the front desk. Bit of a choker when I ask for the price of the room when I have picked myself of the floor the negotiations began which involved getting the Manager. Managed to half the original price but still bloody expensive oh well a bit of posh never killed anyone so agreed the price and went and got the kit of the bike which like I said was carried to the room by the bell boy. Get cleaned up and go in search for food but not staying out long at the rate I am paying back to the room watching the goggle box and I have a hot water bottle how posh is that :-)

Note to self check prices of other folks recommendations as they may have a different budget than the one you are travelling on but it was nice* bit of posh and it’s a lot cooler here so ideal for me who likes it cold when I am sleeping nice and cuddly under the blankets

 
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Old 03-07-2013, 07:25 AM   #161
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Pasto to Ibarra, Friday, 21 December 2012, Day 171

Las Lajas Sanctuary reminds me of Lourdes[/caption]

Made a Skype call home and had my complementary breakfast which was just a couple of fried eggs was expecting more for the price I had paid for the room and it was about 10.30 when I finally hit the road crossing the border into Ecuador today but first a visit to Las Lajas Sanctuary a church built on a bridge over a river in a gorge.* It was quite impressive spent a while just wandering around taking in the sight impressive building and great location and the sun has decided to say hallo it was raining when I arrived.

cool church[/caption]

Next stop the border first checked my bike out of Columbia 2 minutes changed some money with the a money changer 5 minutes than it went all slow. Rather a large queue at immigration to check out of Columbia and even bigger ones on the Ecuadoran side. Fortunately bumped into Andrea who kept me company in the queue, Alex was trying to get insurance as he had been told by the Customs that this was now mandatory for Ecuador first I have heard of this. Alex comes back has not managed to get insurance something wrong with the systems so they leave me in the long queue and we arrange to meet in Ibarra where who knows.

Queues into Ecuador[/caption]

Finally get the front of the queue of immigration bit of a joke with the lady when she asked if I was married and I asked if she was asking other than killer comedy I was in now the bike. Photocopy of my entrance visa than to Aduana who where rushed of there feet but went through reasonably fast and no mention about the mandatory insurance and after a couple of hours I was in Ecuador. It was late so made haste to Ibarra and the GPS is not working yet another country that is not covered in any detail on the maps I have took me a while to realise this.

New Country yeah[/caption]

Got to Ibarra as it was getting dark no obvious place to stay had an address but could not load this in the GPS so drove round and round in ever decreasing circles asking folks direction until I finally found the street and then the Hostel. From the outside it did not look like it had parking facilities but joy of joy there was huge parking round the back had to drive a couple blocks to get there but it was safe and reasonably priced compared with last night. Alex and Andrea bike was also there so looks like they coincidently went to the same place as me and turns out they are in the room opposite me. Check and arrange to go for dinner with Alex and Andrea and Joop is staying at a Hostel next door so we pick him up and go for dinner at some Ecuadorian lady Alex had met earlier who was also going on a big trip of South America with her husband so wanted to chat about this and it was her restaurant. So a very pleasant evening chatting in Spanish as the husband did not speak English that well. (I forgotten their names :-()

Had my first drink since Houston a glass of warm red wine so I am not sure that counts as falling of the wagon and it would have been rude to refuse.

Another long hard day another country life on the road is tough but still enjoying myself
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Old 03-07-2013, 07:27 AM   #162
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Ibarra to Quito, Saturday, 22 December 2012, Day 172

Otavalo Market[/caption]

A short day planned today driving to Quito get there about 3 ish and realise that I have crossed the equator another milestone where you are supposed to take mandatory picture of you on either side of the equator but I never saw any signs or anything to remind so that was a photo opportunity missed. I did however stop at a great little market a say little allegedly it one of the biggest in South America in Otavalo. As I drove into town I saw a sign saying Mercado so followed that and find myself at a local fruit and veg place couple of stalls. So if this the biggest market in South America than I have been diddled. Asked a local and he says the one I am looking for is in the center of town so quick detour park the bike and spend a couple of hours wandering round this nice little town who majority of streets have been taken over by market stalls selling everything. Had some breakfast in a local restaurant next to the market where a strange old man kept trying to clear away stuff from the table even though it was quite clear I had not yet finished must be his way of turning tables quickly.

oi move your blocking my view![/caption]

Next stop Quito (Should have been the Equator :-() to a hostel address Andrea had given me the Casa Bambu. GPS useless so spent hours looking for it with a map from lonely planet and Quito is huge so took me for ages got quite close on many occasion but then got lost again. Finally find the place and its on a very steep hill that I dare not park on so stop at the top and walk down to inquire about a room. Really cool place like a maize once you are in kept getting lost and they had a garage for the bike and a great roof garden with great views over Quito. So settle in and the first thing I did was try and figure out how to get my GPS working so went onto http://garmin.openstreetmap.nl and downloaded a map of Ecuador which was 10 times better than what I have. Spent the rest of the afternoon experimenting with http://garmin.openstreetmap.nl and finally had the whole of South America on my GPS so I may have a vague idea where I am going now. It was about 6 when I had finished so walked to a supermarket a Dutch girl had told me about 20 minutes there and 20 minutes back brought a microwave lasagne and walked back bit out of breath as the hill as mentioned was steep and Quito is at 2800 meters. When I got back to the Hostel I realised that they had no microwave so had to figure out how to cook me dinner 50 minutes a Bain Marie (cooking term :-)) it was disgusting.

views from the roof terrace[/caption]

Spent the rest of the evening playing catch up with which is all I ever seem to do and then beddy byes in a large room with 5 big single beds me and two Chinese girls oh err missis.

 
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Old 03-07-2013, 07:32 AM   #163
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Quito, Sunday, 23 December 2012, Day 173

Quito Quite Stunning![/caption]

Had decided yesterday that I was going to spend another day in Quito as I had seen nothing yesterday and I heard that every other Sunday the historical center has a car ban and the roads are blocked only cyclist and pedestrians allowed.

Opening statement I like Quito I really do a great place and a great day.

Could be that the sun was shining but only a pleasant 22 degrees, could be that my arse was finally back under my control, could be no cars, could it be that I was no longer a hot and sweaty mess, could be many things but I had a brilliant day.

Started with a leisurely breakfast at the hostel on the roof terrace overlooking Quito soaking up the sun not to hot :-)

Breakfast views[/caption]

Then walked for miles climbed loads of hills and stairs saw churches, squares and beautiful vista took loads of photographs, saw load of local pipe bands,

local dances.

Oh I do like twirly dresses :-)[/caption]

Crawled all over the Cathedral up all the towers and across the roof very scary as the stairs steep and dodgy would be a total no no in health and safety conscience Europe but here it was like been in an adventure park and the views 360 degrees great in every direction.

Climbing all over the Cathedral[/caption]

At one point I saw a sign saying ‘’Caution Tourist Robbery Zone Do not walk this street Danger” mmm bit late as I am already here! All on me own some luckily no one else around so went back to the crowds.

oops[/caption]

At the end of day it tried to rain and was just about to explore the new town as I had covered the majority of the old town when I saw a McDonalds so that was dinner sorted. Back to the Hostel and again working on this! I do hope the effort put into this blog is appreciated as it all I seem to do.
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Old 03-07-2013, 07:34 AM   #164
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Quito to Macas, Monday, 24 December 2012, Day 174

Guess I am in the Amazon![/caption]

Had sort of arranged to meet Alex and Andrea, Joop and Fred for Christmas and the place was to be Cuenca. Problem was I had forgotten what day it was and thought I had an extra day to get there but nope it was going to be a one-day dash should be doable especially with my navigations skills! Got out of Quito no problems thanks to my updated GPS maps that actually seem to work which was very strange for me as it been a while since I had a clue where I was :-)

Nice run and the plan was to have a late breakfast early lunch in Riobamba as it is supposed to be a nice place. Did not like Riobamba that much so drove straight through and hit recalculate on the GPS and followed the instructions out of town through some little villages nice roads but not sure I am going in the right direction but I had new found faith in my GPS and surely it would not let me down and the road was great so kept on going. Then it did it usual trick of turn left in 100 meters but there was no left turn! So kept going then it started telling me to a U turn that I eventually did and went back to the spot where the left turn was supposed to be. Yes there hidden behind the bushes was a dirt track leading into the mountains. Bugger if I am going down there check my setting to see if dirt track had been disabled and they had so Garmin think this a road. So I did what I always do in this situation not going to go back to Riobamba as I had done 50km already and so just kept on going on the road that was actually quite nice. The signs where saying that this road was going to Macas and on my GPS sort of looked like it was going in the right direction but I forgotten that there are huge mountain ranges with very few joining roads but onwards and forwards and at this point I had settled on the fact that I was no longer going to Cuenca but to Macas lets have a look in the book and see where it is and if there is anywhere to stay. Well turns out its in the Amazon! So after driving through the Sangay National Park on a beautiful road cold and wet but very enjoyable got down to 11 degrees at one stage so had changed gloves and put on jumper first time since I am guessing Canada and there where a lot more trees and every so often huge lookout towers with great views when the clouds cleared. This when I realised I was heading into the Amazon as there where huge signs saying Amazon. Well certainly was not planning on coming this way but its rather nice and Macas was going to my new destination for the night. About 25km out of Macas the perfect tarmac turned into a dirt track so was off-road for the last hour or so and it started getting hot again as I descended into the Amazon cursing my GPS as I bounced down the mountain. Finally hit tarmac and Macas and started looking for a Hotel first one nice enough but no WI-FI next one had a swimming pool that I was never going to use but reasonable enough so settled in there and went for a wander now back up to 30 plus degrees so had temperature variation of more than 20 degrees my poor body has not got a clue what is going :-)

view from Macas[/caption]

This evening entertainment is a pizza and watching the locals play volleyball I say volleyball but the net looks a lot higher and there are 3 on each team and its great to watch.

Back to the Hotel and a marathon update of this blog and also found at that Fred and Joop did make Cuenca bike trouble but Alex and Andrea had so plan to join them for Xmas. Yes it Christmas eve but certainly does not feel like it.

Is it Xmas certainly does not feel like it![/caption]

 
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Old 03-07-2013, 07:37 AM   #165
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Macas to Cuenca, Tuesday, 25 December 2012, Day 175

Merry Christmas from the Amazon!


looks like Philly is lost again :-)[/caption]

So guess Santa does not deliver to the Amazon as nothing in my sock except a bad smell. Did a Skype call to the folks to wish them a Merry Christmas and its back to the business of travelling to the point of South America. Was going to make a second attempt to get to Cuenca and meet up with Alex and Andrea. I had look at Google maps and there was no direct route had to go South and double back however according to my GPS there was a more direct route through the mountains. Mmmm who do I believe I will make it up as I go along, as that is what I usually do :-)

Grabbed some breakfast before I left town, as I did not want to be in the same position I was in yesterday hungry and nowhere for food. Gorgeous winding road through the foothill of the Andes and edge of the Amazon hot but okay as long as I kept moving this went for about 100km really enjoying myself confident that its was going to be tarmac all the way to Cuenca. Then Mr Garmin GPS says turn right in 100 meter oh here we go again sharp U turn into a dirt track with a barrier that was open but a sign in Spanish saying Dangerous road enter at own risk. Mmmm another car pulled up next to me and told me that yes this was the road to Cuenca. I ask what is it like response not bad and he points at his car saying he can do it in this so in other words I am wuz if I do not at least try. How far I ask is the road not bad response 60km so that 3 times further off road than I did yesterday and a good 2 hours hard slog. Oh well lets go for it, bouncy bounce Merry bloody Xmas of I set at between 20km and 30km an hour odd bit faster taking it easy as the surface was continually changing from hard compact mud to gravel to deep gravel to serious muddy mud up and down hill single track no track and everything in between. Biggest humiliation being overtaken by the local bus but I had left my pride at the beginning of the track :-) Later on I saw the bus in the distance and was even catching up with it and was keeping up with for a while was I getting better at this off road malarkey nope the road was getting worse and worse yet my pace was not slowing so maybe I do have some talent for the dirt.

Trying to keep up with the local bus![/caption]

To add to my misery (Its not really that bad) I kept getting chased by dogs so here’s is me trying to keep the bike upright through whatever the terrain was kicking out and running along side me snapping at my legs are angry dogs. This is certainly a different way of spending Christmas. It got cool and even started to rain a bit making the road a tad more difficult and then after 2 hours plus of full on concentration I reached tarmac and an easy run in Cuenca to Hostel that Alex and Andrea where staying at and was checked in bike parked in the hall and went for a quick wander round the town with Andrea before it got dark. That evening another Pizza (Its Xmas and that all that was open that’s my story and I am sticking to it :-)) and watched a film called taken or kidnapped with Liam Neeson so finally a typical Xmas activity stuffed and watching and film on the goggle box.

Xmas with Alex and Andrea :-)[/caption]

So that was my Xmas how was yours?
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