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Old 10-05-2013, 01:34 PM   #91
Umarth OP
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Driving Mexic City

Where: Mexico City
When: august 24th
Odo: 20700 km

Route:


Was time to head out for Mexico City and see some friends I'd not seen in years. Took two days to get to Mexico city.

First night, I stayed in Queretaro and almost met the kiwi's there: failed to locate their hotel. Don't have any pictures but the city is REALY nice. At least the little of it that I saw. I'd love to go there again and explore it some but not on this trip as I'm on a tight schedule at the moment.

The next day saw me arrive in Mexico city. The initial plan was to visit Mexico city while I was there and also go riding with Enrique as he's recently discovered the joy of riding.



Unfortunately, I had some maintenance to do on Big O and ended up having to change the clutch's slave cylinder o-ring. We where going out to dinner when I noticed that my clutch lever was fading out. So we turned around and took his truck instead.

At least the oil magnet looks good, engine doesn't seem to be self-destructing...



I'd been on a strict diet of tacos three times a day for the last month and just could not handle the idea of more tacos. I'd even started to crave for Italian food! And for those of you who don't know this about me, I agree with Alexander Dumas on his ranking of the worlds worst cuisines: in first place is what comes from England (just the thought of boiled mutton gives me the shivers) and in second place you have Italian food. So goes to show just how fed up I was. Enrique being a gracious host found a nice place in a rather trendy part of the city and invited a couple of his friends to join us for some pasta.

The next day we where joined by Angelica for a hike up one of the mountains that surrounds the city. Here we see Angie's and Enrique's pack of dogs.



Having skipped breakfast, I was real happy to come across this fine restaurant half way through the hike. Enrique was in the middle explaining to me the meaning of life and where he on a motorcycle fit in it all, when the pic was snapped...



After the hike, we met up again for supper and this time it would be Indian cuisine: My Favorite! But to my dismay, I learned that there are only three Indian restaurants in all of mexico city and of the three, only one is any good. :( But luckily, the one was actually very good! Hourrah!!! Don't you just love the color of indian food?



And here is a pic of the three of us.



And that was it for Mexico city, next part was to haul ass on over to Merida where I'd rented a studio for a month...

Big O's take of the days events
Girls just can't get enough of me...

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Old 10-12-2013, 09:10 PM   #92
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On the road again

Days since leaving Montreal: 93
Trip Odo: 25000km

Route:



We are done with Merida and it's time head out so that we can catch our boat to Columbia; we have 24 days to get to Colon, Panama.

But before leaving, I had one last thing to take care of: fake copies on my drivers license!



I've read that south of Mexico, I was going to encounter a lot of police officers requesting bribes for bogus infractions. The scam follows this pattern: first, they ask for your drivers license then go on and say that you did so so and (ex.: looked at a chicken a bit to long) and that you'll have to pay a ticket at an inconveniently far place tomorrow and only then will get our license back OR you can pay on the spot. If you can't get him down to a reasonable amount, I just say "OK, give the ticket and i'll pay at x tomorrow" then drive off and just forget about it since my real license is still in my pocket! :)

Also, just before leaving, upgraded Big O's bash plate sound insulation with the stuff they use for car audio.



Does not do as good a job as the foam I had initially put on (back in Canada), but this stuff won't hold on to sand, rocks and oil like the foam did. I also made sure the oil line would not develop any more leaks from rubbing on shit by zip tying just about everything that ever hinted at wanting to vibrate. I'm starting to see a point down the road where Big O will mostly be held together by zip ties...



Here we have Big O all loaded up and read to go. A last minute change of mind resulted in an un-expected addition to the payload: looks like the guitar will be tagging along to central and maybe south America! Whish it good luck as I have a feeling it's gonna need it!



Today's destination is Palenque ruins, some 550km away. The ride was great even if it was just highways: being all excited about on the move again! Staying a full month in Merida ended being to much and should have stayed only two weeks I guess. Hind sight, everything is simper with it. And miracle of miracles! Every last little rattle that Big O had developed since leaving Montreal where finally gone! I'd managed to track them all down!!

So we rolled into Palenque around 5pm and found a hotel. Ended up at the same hotel as a German couple, on a pair of Africa twins, that where coming from Alaska and on there way to Argentina! We chatted a bit the next morning but they went on their merry way as I was staying put to go visit the ruins of Palenque while they where heading down to the Guatemala border.

The site turned out to be very nice, and happy surprise: they let you roam the ruins not just look at them from the ground like so many do. Here are a few pictures.













And this is the mayan conception of proper steps!



Got at the ruins very early and was done around noon, so ended up having plenty of time to ride to a little town just 4 km from the border to Guatemala, which I'll be crossing tomorrow. And looks like we arrived just in time to miss the shit storm that was about to poor down from the heavens.



Big O's take on the days events
Wow! For once, I'm the one being impressed with fat ass and not the other way around: he really did a good job on me in Merida, I'm running as smooth as silk! About time he started getting it!!

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Old 10-14-2013, 06:39 PM   #93
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The Aaaaah sheeeeit moment...

Days since departure: 115
Where: Guatemala City

Route:


Today will see Big O and me leave North America and enter Central America! As it would also be my first border crossing that would potentially be a long and complicated process, I got up very early to be at the border for 8:30am. The drive was quite short but had some very nice scenery! The Mexican border with Guatemala is astounding with very dramatic mountains and lush forests. Unfortunately, being to preoccupied about the border crossing I didn't take the time to properly photograph the region. Here's a poor sample of it.





So we get to the border and yup, sure enough, it looked pretty chaotic. As you arrive at the border post, which also happens to look like a street market, I got signalled by some random dude to drive up to a small building with a tiny window. This ended up being immigration. Took all of 5min to get the passport stamped and was then ushered to the building right next to it: the Aduana, where I needed to import Big O into Guatemala. The whole process was painless but did take over an hour. Not sure why really. At around 10:30 the paper work was done and was ready to get some Guatemalan money and head off to my first stop: Laguna de Atitlan, some 250km away.

The ride to Atitlan was at once wonderful and annoying! Made wonderful by the scenery which was breath taking and the fact that we had finally left North America and entered what I consider Exotic countries from here on out. But annoying for the gazillion fucking topes that litter the road to Atitlan. Topes being what they use to actually enforce speed limits in populated areas. Also known as speed bumps... Because of these, the ride took well over 6hrs.

There are a few villages that surround the Atitlan lagoon and I'd chosen San Pedro as my destination. To get there, you need to drive down into the lagoon which is surrounded by mountains and two volcanos. The road down is pretty steep in places and in rather bad shape two, making the descent somewhat interesting to say the least.

Some pics of the lagoon.





In San Pedro, hunted down a hotel for the night and a nice one at that for only 8$! Score!! So, looked over the room, it's got WiFi, secure parking, restaurant on site and even a hammock right outside my room. Follow the hostess to sign in and pay. Which is when things went pear shaped! She asks for my passport, routine request, and I say sure no problem and start looking for it. And looking and looking. No more passport!! F!!!!!!!

Looks like I dropped it at the border when I was putting all the paperwork back into my document pouch! Followed a few minutes of disbelief but eventually settled down, took out a photocopy of my passport, finished signing in and retired to my room for a more exhaustive search for the passport. No go! It's gone...

Time to hit the internet and figure out what steps need to be taken. Which happens to be to report it as lost or stolen to the local police station asap. Which I decided to do. Was quite funny walking around town trying to locate the police station and asking directions every now and then: each time I asked, the moment people realized I was looking for the police, there body language changed and they got nervous, smiles would slip away! The police officer who wrote up the report was quite nice and patient with my lack of Spanish. Took about 2 hours.After that, went back to my room, picking up a half bottle of scotch along the way, and figured out my next move. Which would be to go to Guatemala City the next day, the target: the Canadian consulate.

Left at 7am, hoping to get to the embassy early in case there was a lot of people as dumb as me. It would seem that google is not quite up to speed on how to interpret a Guatemalan addresses: the place it sent me to was the city dump! The closer a got to the place the stronger the stench and the crummier the neighborhood got... I couldn't go to the exact coordinates that google had given, as the road was blocked off: only garbage trucks where being let in. I know our Canadian economy is going down the toilet but surely we can afford better quarters for our embassy, right? Turns out that the city is divided into zones and each zone has streets starting at 1 and going up from there. Google brought me to the wrong zone. About 40 minutes later I was walking through the embassy's doors.

You see, there is one thing that's putting a lot pressure on getting a new passport quickly: I've booked passage on a boat from Panama to Columbia on October 25th, that's less than 20 days away. And I can't miss it as it's the last one for a while and I need to be in Columbia at the beginning of November to link up with an other retard, also from Canada, that will be joining me and Big O on the ride down south.

From what I read off the Canadian passport web site, my options where very limited. I could ask for a regular passport but would have to wait a month (and miss my ride to Columbia) to get it or get an emergency passport that's only good to fly you back home. So what I was expecting to have to do was, get an emergency passport, take a plane back home, get a full passport in 72hrs and then fly back. Turns out there is a slightly simpler way of doing it. Thank you non-existing God!

The embassy issued me a temporary passport (in 24hrs thank you very much!!!) that is valid for 9 months and should get me to Columbia. At the same time, they would mail my regular passport from Canada to the Canadian embassy in Columbia, where I'll be picking it up when I get there around the 1st of November. Nice!

Next step was to go to the Migrations office of Guatemala to have the passport stamped for my entry so that I could exit. The first girl I spoke to said that it was not possible for them to stamp a temporary passport! I'll let you imagine the look I gave her... There was no way I was going to accept that answer so I got insistent and she eventually relented, passed my case on to someone who knew what the hell they where doing. Took a bit of back and forth, 2nd floor then 3rd then back to 2nd then 4th but finally got my stamp! The girl who helped me out through the whole thing even sent me an email the Sunday after (got my stamp on a Friday) just to whish me a nice trip! How's that for nice!!!

I now had to wait till Monday to go to the aduana so that Big O could also be stamped into the passport. Or so I thought. Turns out that, after running around for copies of my documents and even getting them signed by a notary, that none of that was needed! Lost 3 days to that shit!!! :(

But, the good news is I'm now ready to head out and only lost 5 days with the paperwork. And that's only because I had mistakenly taken my birth certificate with me. Otherwise, I would have been screwed!! Talk about luck...

Oh, and of the 5days I spent in Guatemala City, I only took one picture and a shitty one at that. One night, waiting for the elevator I noticed that the sun was setting behind the volcano and that it would make a great picture. maybe. So a went to the lobby to ask if I could go to the top of the hotel to take a picture. The front desk said sure and that a security dude would come right up and pick me up at my room (needed to get my cam). So went back to my room, got the cam, and took some shots through the window while waiting for the dude. Well he never came and light was going fast didn't bother to go back down. And that why this is such a sucky picture of what could have been very nice...



Big O's take n the days events
For the second time on this trip: No comment!!!
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Old 10-17-2013, 07:34 AM   #94
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Hey bro! I'm loving this report. Your pictures are really good, what kind of camera are you using?
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Old 10-17-2013, 01:28 PM   #95
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Old 10-17-2013, 02:51 PM   #96
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camera porn

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paratrout View Post
Hey bro! I'm loving this report. Your pictures are really good, what kind of camera are you using?
Glad you like it!

As for the camera, I brought the smallest one I could find: Nikon D800 + 24-70 f2.8 lens. Tiny little thing. Weighs hardly anything! Hardly 4lbs... I also had a canon S100 point and shoot for when the bigger one would be an invitation to get mugged , but I lost it a few thousands miles back. Still debating on replacing it or not.
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Old 10-17-2013, 08:29 PM   #97
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It's one of THOSE hotels is it?

Days since leaving Montreal: 118
Where: Santa Ana, El Salvador




With the papers all in order and nothing standing between us and freedom, we left Guatemala City and it's denizens, destination : El Salvador!

Stayed at a nice, if basic, hotel the first night, very close to the El Salvadore border, as I prefer crossing these very early in the day. You never know when a simple border crossing that should take an hour or two degenerates into 4-6hrs. This is what you can expect for 12$ in Chiquimulilla, about 20 clicks from the crossing at La Hachadura.



The next day, Big O and I arrived at the border around 8:30. Had a moment of slight stress as the Guatemala side frowned upon my white passport with only 6 pages, but smiled a lot and got through pretty quickly. Less than 90min after arriving at the border, I was on my way!



We had determined that the town of Santa Ana would be our host for our first night in El Salvador. Mainly for the fact that it was reported to be surrounded by mountains and a big ass volcano. Have to say that the town was a let down. The volcano, never saw it. Not even a hint of where it could of been hiding. The town itself was ok but nothing to be remembered for. Well almost nothing...

As it happens, I'll remember this town because of the hotel I stayed at: Hotel Livingston. When I got to Santa Ana, I just roamed randomly until I saw a Hotel (my standard operating procedure on this trip for find logging). Livingston happened to be the first one to cross my path, so I stopped to see if it was in budget and stuff.



When I asked for a room they replied: of course Mr. Gringo! And for you, solo 50 dolares!! That's WAY over budget and I promptly let them be privy to that little bit of information. Well guess what? They have this other room for only 12$! From 50 to 12? Hum... "Ok, let's see it...". And here is the result:



For those of you who don't see so well, the sign reads as follows: "Tener relacions sexuales con menores de edad es delito y se castiga con carcel'!!! Or in plain English: "Having sex with minors is a crime and is punishable by jail"!! WTF?? Dint know about you, but to me, that sign speaks volumes about this hotels clientele. Erk!

We left the next day, heading for San Miguel for no other reason that it was close to the Honduras border. Again not much to report. Some very nice scenery but didn't have time to stop much. But here's a taste:



Big O's take on the days events
It sad really that we have to rush through Central America just so we can catch a boat to Columbia... :( But what little we did see was gorgeous! Need to come back to El Salvador one day and explore it properly.
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Old 10-19-2013, 07:16 PM   #98
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Small world!

Days since leaving Montreal: 129

Route:


Time to hit Nicaragua! But before that, we need to cross Honduras. A country for which I'd not heard any good comments. As a result, we'll be using the south route and, basically, skipping Honduras: from the El Salvador Border to the Nicaragua border, it's only a couple of hours driving.

But since we would be going through two borders in one day, I made sure that I was at the first border quite early. As I get there, I park right next to a gargantuan motorcycle from Montreal no less! It and it's owner basically on the same trip as we: Montreal to Terra Del Fuego! I introduce to you: Damien and his BMW 1200GS Adventure getting ready for some rain.



The day went by quite fast and the border crossings where a synch. But they left me with a small worry: El Salvador and Honduras took way more space in my passport than expected! And since I only have 6 pages in my temporary passport, I'm starting to worry if I'll have enough room to get to Columbia... Cross my fingers.

The day was closing and the light was getting really interesting. Rain might be annoying to drive through, sure makes for nice pictures.





We where some two hours away from our destination of the day, the city of Leon, when I took those pictures. Those nice clouds would end up carrying a hell of a down poor! Don't have any pics, but the storm front looked apocalyptic with the setting sun turning it red and black. Simply awesome. The drive was less fun as it went pitch black in minutes and hell opened on our heads! And Damien was still wearing his sun glasses... Hahaha..

Luckily, Damien had scouted ahead and knew of a place to stay in Leon. Unfortunately for him, the storm brought down a tree across the road less than a 100 meters from the hotel an he dared not chance the behemoth down a steep grassy and wet slope around the tree. Big O on the other hand had no such qualms as you can imagine. So I ended up staying the nice hostel while Damien hunted down other accommodations. He'd be joining me tomorrow.

While he was out hunting down a room, here I was having a very hard time with life...



Leon is a nice colonial town and so took the opportunity to walk around the next morning for some sight seeing. Here are some pics.











Visited the big white church. Kind of sneaked off the normal path and came upon this room with paintings of past ecclesiastics.



One of the dudes caught my attention more than the others.



Now tell me that bugger doesn't look like he was in charge of recruiting SS youths prior to fleeing to south America at the end of the second world war!

The Following day headed off with no clear idea of where we would end up.

On our way, we ran onto a section of road that was In bad disrepair and a disaster was narrowly avoided by Damien. He was behind a pickup truck and decided to pass it. Just he was level with the truck, the truck swerved sharply towards Damien, to dodge a huge pot hole. To add to the situation, they had just come onto a very narrow bridge, maybe 15feet long. Having nowhere to go, Damien collided with the truck, managed to stayed up but got knocked off course and was now heading straight off the road. He probably would have been fine only an other obstacle was waiting for him: a cement post was right in front of him. Luckily he did the only that could be done: he layed down bike instead of doing a head on collision with the post. He ended up doing a 180deg and was facing the way we came once everything had stopped moving! He you see the dirt that flew when he went down.



One of his hard cases got busted up a bit and was gonna require some attention. But that's it. No acks, no pains, nada! I saw none of this as I was up front. I eventually turned when a car honked me and signaled something back the way I'd come. Fearing the worst, I raced back. When I got there, the bike was up if facing the wrong way, Damien was up two and a white pickup truck was beside them. It's two passengers looking at the truck. Damien got me up to speed on the events. Once I was sure he was ok, walked over to the truck to see the damage, which was minimal. Not caring to much abut them, I said rather angrily that they where fucking lucky. Was nit my intention really, but I think I scared them for they left right after. Oh well...

Hour later we stopped on the side of the road and wonder where we should eat. Looking at the map, we saw that Grenada was only 100km away. Hum... "Lets have lunch in Granada today!" And off we where! Love it!

Ended up staying for the night also. Found a real neat little hostel right next to the main square of Granada. Turns out that the owner of the hostel had someone who could fix Damien's hard case! And for only 12$!! A dude came to pick it up at the hostel and briught them back the next morning! Nice! Waiting for his box to come back, that morning I went for a walk...







Here you can see, on the right side wall, bullets holes left from the civil war.





After that, we packed up and headed fo San Juan del Sur. A very very touristy region but close to the border with Costa Rica, tomorrows destination. On the way, Big O felt like modeling a bit so I obliged him.





Big O's take on the days events
Ouch!! My poor wheels!!! The Honduran roads beat the shit out of me today! Gelly-for-brains was following his new friend to closely and never saw a huge pot hole that was a foot deep with sharp edges, result: two bent rims! Even Woodies new wheel was not able to withstand the impact completely!! But, they are still workable, just the lip of the rims that's been opened up. Will add that to the list of things to do/fix in Medellin I guess.

Umarth screwed with this post 10-20-2013 at 11:37 AM
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Old 10-19-2013, 07:48 PM   #99
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Still riding with you...virtually!

Nice report buddy.
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Old 10-20-2013, 10:11 PM   #100
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Going back to our roots!

Days since leaving Montréal: 126



The day of our boat ride from Panama to Columbia is fast approaching so we headed out of Nicaragua after only a few days. Since the Guatemala screw up with my passport, I knew that I wouldn't get to see much of Central America. As a result, I figured I'd blow by most of the countries and try to spend a bit more time in Costa Rica. Even though I really liked Nicaragua and would have loved to spend more time there, it was time to say good bye to the fantastic shower and head south.



And, regarding the shower's plumbing design, don't ask cause I don't have an answer for you...

The Nicaragua/Cost Rica border crossing was by far the longest and dumbest we've come across so far. Took close to 5hrs! Yes there was a lot of people at the Migration office on the Costa Rica side but that alone does not explain why this border took so long. Just checking out the bikes from Nicaragua was ridiculously long. Had to get 4-5 differed stamps from different officials (most of them never even looking at the bikes), each of these people at different locations, none of which are marked. The best one was the last stamp: had to hunt down a police officer that wanders around the place and get him to stamp to paper! Felt like a video game hunting down rare monsters. The monster just took the form, didn't even look at it and just stamped it! Go figure. The Costa Rican side was hardly any better. Making us go back and forth between various areas of the compound to get forms then go back to the start to get the form stamped then back. Ridiculous. And of course none of this I clearly indicated. You just have to feel your way through it...

Damien and I ended up in a little beach town, Playa El Coco, in a really nice little hostel. The Next morning we would be parting ways for a few days as I wanted to go down the 160 and into the peninsula, where the roads where reported to be dual sport territory with lots of rivers crossings. Magda, Damien's 1200GS Adv, didn't like the sound of that and would take Damien to San Josee instead.

The 160 is at times a real road, at times nothing more that a dirt trail used by cattle and farmers. It proved to be a Blast to ride! Really felt nice to get back to the stuff Big O and I love best: dirt, mud, rivers, mountains, isolation...

Took us two days to get to Paquera, where there is a ferry to Puntarenas. And we almost made it all the way on the 160 but for the last river. During the dry season, this river is said to be interesting to go through. Well, this is right smack in the rainy season and the rivers are quite fat! I walked it to see just had bad it was and it was just barely over what I was willing to chance being alone. The depth of the water was jut over the knee and that's fine for Big O, but the current was quite strong and tilting over would have been too easy. Had I been accompanied I definitely would of passed that river. Oh well, Bruno will be along soon enough for South America to help out with rivers! LOL

A few pics...























Three days later I met up with Damien again, in the tiny town of Dominical. More of a beach with hostels really. Ended up at the El Coco hotel. With the beach about 100 feet in front of our door.

Here is Damien pondering on how he's going to get rid of all the Costa Rican change he keeps accumulating.



And here is a pic of the beach early morning.



And this little guy shows you was camouflage is all about!



Lets not forget that where Damien is,



rain can't be very far away...



Big O's take on the days events
I did my very best in trying to loose that cheap ass bottle of scotch, but failed. So he gets one more bottle picture for his planned poster with all the bottles of scotch that he'll have consumed on this trip. Gonna need a big wall I think...

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Old 11-03-2013, 09:49 PM   #101
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Finding money...

Days since leaving Montreal: 129



Time was running out to get to our boat ride that would take us to Columbia, so we bid Farwell to expensive Costa Rica and headed on over to Panama. The border crossing in itself was pretty much a copy paste of every other border crossing so far, except for one little catch: to enter you need to show that you are either carrying at least 500 US$ or have a recent bank receipt stating that you have that amount available. Neither I nor Damien carried such a sum so we needed to hunt down an ATM to withdraw some cash. That would mark the beginning of our money woes in Panama. Wandered around for close to an hour to find an ATM that would condescend to give me some money, while all attempts by Damien where met with stubborn denial by all the ATM's in the border area. But I had 500 cash plus a receipt, so I passed Damien the stack of cash and I just showed my receipt to the Immigration dude. Days later, speaking with fellow travelers, it appeared that some immigration clerks require the money proof while others don't. Go figure...

Our first night, we spent in the town of David and was of such mind bending interest and fun that, two weeks later, I don't even remember having set foot in the place... :/

After unforgettable David, we arrive in Panama city shortly after sun set. Always a guarantee of fun to drive in rush hour in a big Latin city after dark!

Damien was hell bent on seeing the Panama Canal the next day and having no real interest in the city I ended up tagging along.



I was not expecting much and I was met by even less! (hehehe) I guess I'd imagine the canal to be a lot larger than it is.



Once back at the hotel, it was time to hunt down some more ATM's so that we could pay captain Ludwig for our cruise on the STAHLRATTE. And our money woes began anew! Went to three ATM's from different banks and none opened their purse for us. We where getting various error messages from transaction cancelled to contact your financial institution to insufficient funds! So we went back to the hotel and contacted our banks. Our cards had been frozen by our banks the day prior (while at the border) but where assured that all should be fine now. So back to the ATM's for an other round of failure. Then back at the hotel to call the banks. This time, some transactions had half gone through: the money had been withdrawn from the account but they had failed to GIVE the money to us! Ever only managed to get 500$ that day and had an extra 1500$ taken from my account! My bank said that they would investigate and that it could take up to two months.

Coming back from our latest failure to get money, we took a few pics of Panama city. At night, it's very nice! Very modern and sleek. Had not expected it to be so rich!





The following morning was D-Day: we needed to head off to Cali to catch our boat. With not quite enough money but we figured we would be able to arrange something with the captain.

Big O's take on the days events
Like the boss said: was not expecting much from Panama and still managed to be underwhelmed by it! I guess there had to be at least one country for which we would not care for on this trip...

Umarth screwed with this post 11-13-2013 at 06:46 PM
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Old 11-13-2013, 06:31 PM   #102
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The Stahlratte 'hippie' cruise!!

Where: Stahlratte, San Blas islands
Days since trip start: 131


Getting Big O from Panama to Colombia required a bit of planning in advance (Ok, the only planning of the whole trip), due to the fact that you cannot drive from one country to the other: the Darien gap stands in the way. A few crazy bastards have done it, but it takes about two months just to wad through 160 km's of snake, mosquito and drug trafficker infested swampy jungle. So an alternative was required. Their are two options: fly or sail. Flying is expensive but quick, while shipping by boat come in two flavours: cargo ship where the bike is put in a container and I fly over or, the other option, the Stahlratte.

The Stahlratte is old commercial fishing sail boat, 38 meters long, from the early 20th century that's been purchased by a non-profit foundation, restored and spends 9 months of the year linking Panama and Colombia. It's cargo being made up of back packers and motorcyclist with their bikes. As a bonus, it wraps the whole experience up as a mini cruise through the San Blass islands off the coast of Panama.

For the passengers with motorcycles, you board the ship one day early as to give time to load all the bikes on boards. On this trip, we where 18 bikes! The loading is done manually using a boom and some ropes. Here we have Big O wondering why his feet no longer hug the ground.



Once the bikes where all on board, we bikers where shuttled off to a nearby island where we would spend the rest of the day and night. As we where leaving, Gene (a third time passenger who got to stay on the boat) bade us all of farewell by saying quite poetically: so long suckers! No one understood the comment but we would soon enough...

We where dumped on "Devil's island" run by the Kunas (the indigenous people of the islands). We where told to bring nothing as they would provide everything. Well everything, for me, turned out to be a hammock (strung between two palm trees that where to close to each other and so had my but on the ground) to sleep in (it rained all night) and super which was rice and fish. Said fish having the oddest body proportion ever: 80% head, 20% body! All in all, about 200 calories. Hungry anyone?

Still, was not all bad as I got to know some of my fellow castaways (Germans, Americans, Swiss, Netherlands, and even fellow Canadians) quite a few of themzz also on their way to Ushuaia, played beach volley ball and even got to play a bit of guitar on the beach as the sun was rising.

The San Blass bay is home to hundreds of tiny islands. Most of them are uninhabited but some are. And some are probably more densly populated than New York city! Case in point:



At around 9am a shuttle boat came to bring us back to the Stahlratte where we would have breakfast. And that brings me to the first perk of this boat ride: the food!!!! It's sooooooo goooood!!!! Simple but just ever so tasty! After breakfast, the backpackers came on board, the anchor was raised and the ship sailed off.

Some three or four hours later we reached our destination for the day and we would be staying put the next also. The location was three little islands in the middle of nowhere: the perfect spot for a beach BBQ!



I swam over to the island so didn't have my camera with me, hence the no pictures of the actually beach BBQ. Really to bad as the BBQ was witness to an awesome thunder storm with the craziest lightning I'd yet witnessed!

The next day was spent eating, drinking, playing guitar and jumping off the side of the boat and trying to impress our judges.







And running around the ship, taking pictures at random.







All in all, was a real fun day!

The next day, the boat set sail for Cartagena at 5am and would see uaas arrive at 8am the following day. We only got one quick stop during the day for a swim in open ocean which was awesome. Going up and down those huge swells and the water was a deep blue that just doesn't exist anywhere in real life.

Here we are, having our last breakfast aboard the Stahlratte,



And our first peek at Cartagena as we where closing in on the bay,



Even got to see something that you really don't see every day, at least in Montréal,



And then it was time to unload the bikes and say farewell to the great crew of the Stahlratte.



Big O's take on the days events
Well will you look at that! Not two days on a boat in the Caribbean sea and already he's playing pirates!

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Old 11-13-2013, 06:40 PM   #103
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Great stuff. I'm looking forward to more. I'll need it to help get through winter.
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Old 11-13-2013, 06:48 PM   #104
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Originally Posted by wingnut11 View Post
Great stuff. I'm looking forward to more. I'll need it to help get through winter.
glad you find it entertaining.
Heard snow was on the ground this morning back home! Erk! Here was a balmy 25c at 10,000 feet!
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Old 11-13-2013, 06:50 PM   #105
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Originally Posted by wingnut11 View Post
Great stuff. I'm looking forward to more. I'll need it to help get through winter.
+1

Pass the salt.
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