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Old 07-08-2013, 08:08 PM   #46
NCK OP
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I launched a website (everyone kept telling me I needed one!)

Check it:

www.worldviamotorcycle.com

Looks like this:
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Old 07-16-2013, 09:13 PM   #47
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Ferry to Roatan, Honduras:




Parked in La Ceiba:


Little Island off Roatan, Honduras:


Roatan, Honduras:


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Old 07-16-2013, 09:21 PM   #48
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We made it into the Honduran city of San Pedro Sula, the most violent city in the world (the highest murder rate except for non-war-zone cities), late the next evening. No, I did not tell my mother we were staying there for a night. Yes, she now knows. I sustained a significant hit from a 3 foot deep pothole, re-bending my motorcycles’ suspension, coming into the city. It’s ride-able, but crooked like a San Pedo Sula cop. Next day to La Ceiba along the coast. Next day to to the island of Roatan off of the northern coast of Honduras.

We were determined to learn to scuba dive. We crossed the ocean via a ferry many had told us would not take motorcycles. They did, but at a (for us) very steep $150. Shit. Well, some things are worth it right? Scuba lessons? Not cheap. But I want to be a scuba diver! This is the point of the trip right? To go new places and try new things? Sigh. It’s just money.

The loading and unloading was interesting - these guys had done this before, and the seas were going to be choppy. Strapped down, the bikes seemed stable and we watched as the mainland slowly drifted away, smaller and smaller. We were out to sea with motorcycles for the first time. Sweet.

Off the ferry and onto the island. There is only one road, we learned - see, it’s called the “main road”. haha, OK sweet. After about 30 minutes of driving, passing vistas that would flutter the heart of any corona billboard producer, we arrived at Marble Hills Farm. We found quarters in some backpackers bunks, and relaxed to the strong island breeze. Took a dip off the dock. Island life.

Over the next week we got our scuba certification. I found the underwater world incredible. 40 foot cliffs of coral, thousands of fish going about their daily lives. It all just felt like Manhattan. Everything was buzzing. Everything had something to do and some way they fit into the whole. Their world turns just like ours does.

Off of the island. Boom. Get moving. Next to Tegucigalpa, the country’s capital, for a night. Beers on the top of a skyscraper overlooking the city. It’s built in a sort of valley in the mountains, with each mountainside covered with tiny lights of the ghettos stretching out and out and out.

The next day I’d found a friend was planning on being in Leon, Nicaragua for one day at the end of a vacation. Could we make it? Sure. What the hell. Ride like the wind, baby.

As we crossed into the planes of northern Nicaragua we enjoyed the slow-moving countryside and obedient roads. In front of us, volcano San Cristobal-Casita loomed 1745m (5000+ft) above. This was my first time seeing a volcano so tall from such a flat position. We rode south. It grew. Turning right, the road now was passing the volcano to the north. Heading east at the Pacific, my head kept tilting to the left – witness to its sheer power. It dominated my memory of the moment and I can’t help but think dominates the culture and feeling of living beneath it amongst those fields of cattle and sugar cane. From my trip log:

Timeless yet transforming. A mass built through fickle lava and gas stood a thousand lifetimes ago and will stand a thousand lifetimes after. In my “reality”, in my brief moment here, it is a timeless thing. Still, it is the best example on earth of it's very will to change itself. Redrawing its lines, renewing its design, the earth builds and breaks down. Pulls inward and blows outward. It breathes. It beats. A trillion synergies, interactions, collaborations. I am but one of much.

The drive to Leon, post-volcano-view was boring. It happens. There are lots of boring roads out there.

We knew we needed to get to the coast west of Leon – that’s where the place was we were to meet my friend. She was going to be there to greet us, though we were about 15 minutes early. I had some relatively detailed yet somehow squeamish directions on my smartphone. As we approached the beach town where we’d begin our search for this house, we pulled over and I grabbed my smartphone to memorize the directions, before driving on. We sat, overlooking green fields of trees on the side of the road and I read: “it's on the main road that you will leave Leon from, not too far after the road splits for las peñitas. It's across from a blue tienda. Yellow wall, red gate on the left hand side of the road. If you hit a T in the road you've gone a few blocks too far. If you get lost, ask someone for casa de kaya, they should know it.”

You might be thinking: “Wait, really? They are in a foreign country (a relatively dangerous one, to that) and just roll into towns hoping to find a safe place to sleep with directions like those to-go-on at dusk?” Well, yeah yah’ll. That’s kinda the whole point

As we sat there, relaxing our muscles in the position afforded to one sitting on a motorcycle but not riding it. I felt a certain sense of calm pass over me - it felt like being home. It really was beautiful. The falling sun in front of us down over into the Pacific. Thousands of birds chirping across the distance. Calming. We’d find it. No problem. It was going to happen.

I then detected a common sensation – a passing vehicle over our left shoulder. The sound of tires rolling across pavement. “NAAAAAAATTTTTTTEEEEE” streams from the right-rear-window of a passing SUV. Found her. Time for a beer.
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Old 07-16-2013, 09:48 PM   #49
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Best wishes for an awesome adventure! I would offer you a place to stay during your travels, but I'm only 12 miles from DC.

This will certainly be a life-changing experience,

All the Best,
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Old 07-16-2013, 09:49 PM   #50
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Quote:
Originally Posted by poolman View Post
Best wishes for an awesome adventure! I would offer you a place to stay during your travels, but I'm only 12 miles from DC.

This will certainly be a life-changing experience,

All the Best,
Thank you! That sure would have been one early first stop on the trip .

Giddy up, baby.
Nate
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Old 07-17-2013, 07:19 PM   #51
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Laugh

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Originally Posted by NCK View Post
2007: I went to work for Barack Obama during his run for president.
Since: I have been working for him since, most recently at the White House.
looks like quite the trip. definitely a life changer!

... so do you still get a direct deposit from barack obama every week?
maybe he can work some of the rest of us into the budget for next year. hmmm


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Old 07-17-2013, 10:28 PM   #52
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Quote:
Originally Posted by swamp View Post
looks like quite the trip. definitely a life changer!

... so do you still get a direct deposit from barack obama every week?
maybe he can work some of the rest of us into the budget for next year. hmmm


Yeah, it's going to be one wild ride!

LOL I wish. I think after my two years at Homeland Security and two at the White House I probably was paid like a average of $10 a hour when you look at those 100 hour weeks and low salary... hence why I had to live in my parents basement the whole 4 years to save the money for this trip.
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Old 07-18-2013, 09:54 AM   #53
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Old 07-29-2013, 08:09 PM   #54
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The next day, in Nicaragua, I climbed a volcano with my new friends. Video here. It was simply one of the coolest things I’ve ever done in my life. The entire 6 hours from the ride up, to the walk in the dark down, felt like break-dancing between the fingers of the hand of god as it motioned here and there, directing the creation of the planet.

The next morning, it was time to go. Gotta go, baby. Down through Nicaragua, across flat valleys and along the lake which gives the country its name, we had some incredible fried chicken. I mean seriously good flavor here. The kind that makes fast food empires surge and recede.

Into Costa Rica was a shock – the cars! Everywhere fucking SUVs! Where are the motorcycles!? It was 1st world on the roads, at least, and we found some campsites for $14 that a Danish guy had setup in the hills to the northeast of the country. Not bad. I awoke the next morning, climbed out of my rain-soaked tent and found my tire flat. Sigh. After taking it apart, it revealed multiple punctures from the ride the previous night which was, looking back on the frustrating and lengthy patching process, entirely worth it. See we knew where the campsite was. It was along a river, about 45 minutes off the main road. Sweet. As we ventured farther the road turned to a kind of soapstone. Something rather unique. Yellow/white stone crushed in places into dust. It was a long and hard off-road ride leading us 45 minutes up the river on the wrong side. When I asked a girl on the side of the road where the camping was, she said sure, you can camp anywhere here, but the coyotes are “this” big, putting her hand about 3 feet off the ground. Yeah: no. We sucked it in, admitted the mistake, and went all the way back and up the other side of the river.

We spent some time visiting a long-lost cousin of Chris’s at his brewery by Lake Arenal. This was my first time drinking beer directly out of the keg it was brewed in. Sweet.

Down the Caribbean coast, we stopped in the city of Siquirres for a night to stay with a Peace Corps volunteer. What inspiring folks, these people are. For us, it was a great opportunity to dive into a small town setting with the security of someone who knows the good spots to hit for a beer and a meal. Then to Peurto Viejo, a little backpacking town for a few beers and a hostel. Then to the Panamanian border. Banana fields. Small dusty towns.

Things seemed to be going smoothly until the Panamanian customs agent went to print my “temporary vehicle importation permit” (a document which is essential allowing one to drive a vehicle in the country). His printer was out of black ink. Great. 10 minutes of searching a filthy and trashed office. It was just he and I in there, dude. He needed a HP Deskjet 60 ink cartridge. Now I’m searching through filing cabinets with him. He tries to force a color cartridge into the black slot. I cringe. Fuck. I mean, if he doesn’t print this thing out we are stuck in this town until he can. He finally prints it. I don’t even remember how he got it working. Then he asked me for money. A bribe. I refused. I won.

Permit in hand, Chris went through the same process while I watched the motos and ate a barbecued hot dog with hot sauce.

It was about 3 or 4 PM when we finally got out of the customs office and headed south. We had a poorly researched destination for the night – a little port town named Almirante that fed the ferries to Bocas del Toro, a popular island for tourists. We rolled into town around 4 or 5. There was something wrong here.

Riding the entire town, we kept looking for, you know, the “nice” part. It never came. This town was bad. Just bad news, man. This was the first time this had happened, and we had to make a call: Keep driving, potentially in the dark, along an unknown road, looking for a hotel, or settle for a broken down hotel here in town that just felt wrong? We decided to ride on, and take the first hotel we could find that seemed safe no matter the cost. Sometimes you just have to say “screw the money, we gotta get safe”. We expected to find something within the next hour or two. Never before had we rode that long without seeing a decent hotel.

Decision made, we started to ride. And ride. And ride. The jungle grew thick. The road, well paved, was deserted. As dusk and darkness finally fell I kept passing something I’d never seen before: houses with light bulbs, not turned on. Were these people really so cost conscious as to not turn on the one or two light bulbs they had? I couldn’t explain it any other way. I still can’t.

We kept riding, darkness now our colleague in this endeavor. No hotels came. Mile after mile, just desolation, thick jungle. We had no choice – gotta to keep going. The jungle was too thick and unknown for us to consider some “stealth camping”. We climbed and climbed and climbed into the mountains. We were in some sort of national park or reserve or reservation.

Rain came in waves. On a bridge with a small pull-over lane we stopped to put on our rain gear. For the first time I was sincerely concerned about exposure – the threat of the cold us was serious, for should the lightning in the distance turn into a true downpour it would soak us in 60 degree water and lower our body temperatures too quickly for us to recover on motorcycle, forcing us to pitch tents wherever we were and seek warmth.

As we stood on this bridge, a tractor trailer roared across the bridge. The entire structure shook. I mean, it REALLY shook, in a way that had me in that instant as close to making a full-on sprint off the bridge, as I could without actually doing it. I looked at Chris: “Maybe we should get off this bridge…”

Finally cresting the mountains, we were met with an overlook across a valley and of the Pacific that will live in my memory. From my trip log:

It was immediate: around one corner and the view was both a hundred miles wide and long. In front, the lights of the city of David shimmered at a distance familiar only from the window of an airplane. To the left, a hundred miles away, revealed the storm which had been lighting the sky all evening. A monster, silent, and safely out of reach. The cliff fell a thousand feet below us. With nowhere to go but down through jungle, the world was a mix of blacks and yellows and the momentary whites of lightning. David, the city, as our only sure safety in front of us, provided in equal parts trepidation and sanctuary. It was so. far. away. Exhaustion creeping in, I forced my focus to assemble. Now: forward.

So wait a minute, we had just been looking at the Caribbean! What a mistaken adventure this had become. In a matter of hours we had seen both sides of Panama. The lightning which had been our concern now revealed itself to be part of a storm system far, far away. The rain would likely spare us. For 2 more hours we came down the other side of the mountains. Still no hotel. All the way to the city of David we rode. We were very, very tired. It was not safe, but we had no hotel and that was just the deal. “It was safer than that town we had left.” We finally found a hotel in David for $37 with parking. Fine. Pay the lady. Exhausted we slumped into our beds and a smile crept across my face as I effortless found the peace of a forceful sleep: We had crossed the entire subcontinent in one night.

The next day we made Panama City, checked into a hostel and prepared for the next chapter: Chris’s return to the states, and my trip to Colombia. After 3-4 days of prep, it was time to say goodbye. From my facebook post, on Chris:

Tomorrow, I board a ship to Colombia and leave Christopher Santacroce behind in Panama. He will return to the U.S. shortly thereafter.

What I know: Chris is the kindest person. Ever. A man of strength, whose pureness of heart has each of us looking through the glass in bewilderment and wonder. He teaches us all of honor. That he had the guts to leave it all behind and join me on the beginning of this trip. That is as loyal a friend as I’ve ever had or will. That I will miss him dearly.

What I believe: That it’s the perfect time for Chris to head back. He’s got things to do. He’s got a new life to begin. He’s got a woman he loves. That looking back, this will feel like a perfect symmetry of timing, adventure, and life come-a-calling.

What I hope for: His new life in Los Angeles will be nothing short of magic. That he falls in love with the city and the people. That he takes this trip and puts it in his pocket – an amazing adventure he can always pull out and smile at – and that he finds it fitting perfectly in the fabric of a long and happy lifetime.

Here’s to you, brother! Giddy up, Chris!


As I rode out of the city, without Chris, I was burdened by a Spaniard whom was taking the same ship, hot on my tail. It was a 3 hour ride to the ship, together. It passed quickly.

We found an abandoned air-strip in a “town” called Carti on the Caribbean side, marked by a thousand potholes. At the end of the airstrip was the harbor and a ship called the “Steel Rat” which would provide passage to Colombia. It had a reputation as the only ship you could trust to take one’s motorcycle to Colombia from Panama. The dual-masted 100-year-old sailing vessel captained by a German named Ludwig rocked up and down in the harbor in front of us.

My inner pirate surfaced and my subconscious, over-boiling with fervor, thrust forward: To the sea!
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Old 08-05-2013, 01:30 PM   #55
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Honduras: Chris and I kicking ass.


Looking for a national park in Honduras:


Costa Rica: When I asked this young woman, in the best Spanish I could muster, where the campground was, she said something to effect of: "Yeah, you can camp here, but the coyotes are (holding her hand 3 feet in the air) this big..." Yeah... uninspired the by the thought of a pack of late night visitors, we turned around and found the actual campground.


Costa Rica - Panama Border


Steel Rat: First thing's first, climb the mast!
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