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Old 03-13-2014, 11:24 AM   #121
Miss America
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Great updates and pictures Cody! It's so awesome that Daniel was able to come visit you! I'm so glad to hear that you're still enjoying your trip and taking it all in as part of the adventure! Your outlook on this trip is truly inspiring and I look forward to the next updates!
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Old 04-25-2014, 03:02 PM   #122
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And it All Went Terribly Wrong

Well, not terribly. However, I did have some misfortune since my last update. Within one week, I had all of the following happen:

1) Remember that “new” tube the dealer promised he would use. That “new” tube turned out to be the old tube the mechanic punctured when trying to change my tire. I know this because I made it no more than 100 km outside of San Salvador before I had a flat rear tire. Changing a tube at a gas station in the sweltering heat is no fun. The tube was so hot my fingers blistered from changing it.

2) My GoPro got stolen from a hostel. I had everything else of value locked away, but I mistakenly left the GoPro in one of my bags instead of locked away. No more video

3) The same guy that stole my GoPro decided to rummage through all my stuff looking for other goodies and scatter it haphazardly across the entire room.

4) My tenants back in the states decided they were going to break the lease in my town home.

5) My previous employer misreported income on my W2.

So yes, that was enough for one week. Troubles abound both at home and in my travels…a sign of the entropic universe in which we live I suppose.

On a positive note, a really cool local, Alex, invited me to an underground party where Camea from Berlin was playing. After a bit of a tough week, it was nice to let loose and stay out all morning listening and getting down to the music I love with some of the best folks in San Salvador.
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Old 04-25-2014, 03:20 PM   #123
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Nica Nica Nicaragua

The path I took to Nicaragua placed me in Honduras for one night. I was planning on trying for both borders (Honduras & Nicaragua) in one day, but there was no way that was happening after the trials and tribulations I had with that freaking rear tube. Unfortunately, I had to pay for the TVIP again just to pass through Honduras, even though I would only be there for one night.

My first night in Nicaragua was spent in Leon. Even though I was only in Leon for one night, I really enjoyed my time there. One of the things to do in Leon is climb a volcano and board down it, but that isn’t really my thing. I prefer carving twisty roads thank you. My first stop in Leon was the cathedral. When buying tickets to tour the cathedral, the lady behind the counter told me that I had to take a guide. I asked if the guide was ready now and she said yes. I went to go find my guide only to discover that the part of the cathedral I wanted to tour didn’t even open for another hour…I only have one day, so I was kind of irritated by that. Fortunately for me, one of the guides decided she would take me on a private tour before it technically opened, so that little incident turned out pretty well for me. Other than the cathedral, I did some exploring, popped in to an art museum, had some good coffee, and ended up running into a fellow traveler, Gabriel from Switzerland, whom I had met previously in both Lanquin, Guatemala and El Tunco, El Salvador. I even took the time to ride out to the beach for a fish sandwich at Barca de Oro where I met an older chatty couple from Quebec who were enjoying their last couple weeks in Nicaragua.

From Leon, I was on my way to the capital where I got a little dental work done on the cheap. I was pulled over at a checkpoint where I handed all my paperwork on a silver platter to which the officer glanced at it and then proceeded to tell me “infraccion”. Por que?? This time it was because my hard bags stuck out too far. So yes, every stop it is “infraccion”. It doesn’t matter that you make every effort to comply…infraccion pay now. I told him I only speak English and told him I was in a hurry to get to a dental appointment in 15 minutes that I was now more than likely going to be late for. Long story short, he told me to continue on without paying. So yes, when trying to avoid paying a bribe: 1) Don’t (or pretend) not to understand Spanish & 2) Create a sense of urgency & 3) Buena suerte.

I also met fellow adventure rider, Ian, from the UK riding to Argentina on a Triumph Tiger. It’s too bad I was on my way out of the hostel as Ian was on his way in. It would have been fun to ride together for a few days. Other than the embarcadero and the city center, I didn’t see much else in Managua. It is kind of funny, the National Palace and Cathedral are both decorated in a way that reminds you of the neighbor down the street that always goes overboard with the Christmas decorations. I did go out one night at a place that has a long-running disco and funk night weekly. I got there early, waaaaay early. I arrived at 10, but it turned out the party I wanted didn’t start until after midnight. It would have been nice to hear some disco, but I’m trying to cut back a bit on the drinking and late nights. A party that starts after midnight isn’t exactly a good start to my cutting back, so I reluctantly decided to call it an early night.

I passed through Grenada staying for one night on my way down to Isla de Ometepe. Grenada is another small, colonial town with churches to explore, cafes with excellent coffee, an assortment of restaurant options, and an art gallery here and there. One night was enough as I’ve somewhat grown apathetic after seeing 4,000 colonial towns on my way to this one. I had to take a ferry to Isla de Ometepe, which is an island within Lake Nicaragua. The island contains two volcanoes and has a road running around it, so the KLR and I hopped on board the ferry to discover the island. Getting across on the ferry was of course a somewhat stressful event, but I anticipated it being so. A tourist family in front of me had rented a car and was trying their damndest to park the thing on the ferry. The husband was failing miserably, so after several attempts the wife tries her hand at parking their rented 4x4 on the ferry. Sure enough, the wife was able to do it…go figure. So, all this business of them trying to get the parking sorted left absolutely no time for me to do anything but ride on board before departing. So there I was, holding on to my motorcycle that was not strapped to anything as we left shore…shit. I was scrambling to grab straps to secure the bike while holding on to it at the same time as the ferry moved from side to side passing over the waves. In the process of securing the bike, one of the mates grabbed some rope and helped me secure the bike…to a Kia parked right next to it. With his help, we got the bike secured and I reinforced it with additional straps. I’ll have to admit, the guys knew what they were doing, but it was nonetheless a bit of a nerve-racking event. When it came time to deboard, I was in the process of undoing and wrapping up my straps when I was told to hurry up by one of the crew members. With the family that took forever to park now waiting on me for all of about 2 minutes with their arms folded. I politely said un momento to which one of the mates tapped his watch. OK then, I threw my straps in the top case, fired the bike up, put on my helmet without strapping it, gave it a shitload of gas and let the clutch go…..braaaaap sideways leaving the ferry on a fully loaded KLR in my one-piece suit to a crowd of 100+ onlookers deboarding/boarding. I looked back to see the family standing next to their rented 4x4 who appeared completely mesmerized and in disbelief at what they had just witnessed. Hey, they asked me to hurry and I delivered. Add this to the list of things you’d probably never get away with in the states.

During my stay in Isla de Ometepe, I met an older guy by the name of Randall who had 1,001 questions for me about the KLR. Randall is thinking about doing this trip himself, but I’m not sure he will commit to it given he has been on Isla de Ometepe for several months and seems to have a younger local sweetie that is pretty into him. I randomly saw Randall again on my way to have “1 drink” on Saturday night. He and his girl agreed to join me and introduced me to a bunch of locals. We drank, we danced, we drank, we shared stories, we used hand signals when the English/Spanish barrier couldn’t be broken, and we closed the place down. Great fun & only "1 drink"...right. On our way back to the hotel, we were hassled a bit by a younger group of locals (who were completely drunk in the streets) in their late-teens, early-twenties but fortunately nothing came of it. It certainly didn’t hurt that Randall is ex-military and isn’t afraid to let people know it.
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Old 04-25-2014, 05:20 PM   #124
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Voy a Costa Rica!

I decided to catch the ferry from Isla de Ometepe back to the mainland the day before heading for Costa Rica. I figured a ferry crossing and a border crossing was a bit much for one gringo to take on the same day. So, I was up early and to the border of Nicaragua/Costa Rica. I passed about a ¼ mile of stopped truck traffic waiting to get through the border. I made my way to immigration, which was easy enough, but customs was a different story. The woman at the customs counter was horrendous to put it nicely. Put in another way for my USA counter-parts, you would have prayed to be served by the most uninformed, rude, and apathetic DMV worker you’ve ever encountered before this woman. So, long story short, I found through asking 4 different people that I needed to find the “inspector” to have my motorcycle “inspected” before leaving Nicaragua. The only problem, no hay inspector and no one seems to know where he is. If you think it is odd that there is only 1 inspector at a major international border crossing, then I would say you might be wrong…so many things in Latin America don’t make much sense to me. Anyway, after 30 minutes of wandering aimlessly looking for a guy in an azul (blue) shirt. Here rolls in a guy in a blanco (white) shirt who is the inspector. He asks for my paperwork, signs it in 30 seconds without even glancing at my bike +50 meters away. I take my new paperwork with the signature and am officially stamped out. I get to the border and am stopped by a Nicaraguan official who now tells me that I also need another stamp in order to leave. I go back and ask 2 more people where this person might be and finally find her. She wields her stamp and blam finally this just might get me out of the country. Success! Now, on to check in at Costa Rica. Costa Rica again was a bit of a run around, but at the end of the day it took me approximately 3 hours to get out of Nicaragua and check into Costa Rica.

Now in Costa Rica, I was ready to find my homestay as I would be volunteering for two weeks at the Children’s Eternal Rainforest. I wanted to do something to give back as pleasure traveling is by nature a very selfish thing to do. I also felt is very important to do something that would partially offset my carbon footprint. The directions I were given to find the place were typical Latin America instruction…go to the church and follow a road (no sign) west 1.5 km. I asked 3 different people for more clear and thorough directions prior to departing to no avail. So, I found myself at the church taking some road that goes due west on my GPS for 1.5 km finding myself in the middle of nowhere…and nowhere close to the host family. So, I stopped and asked for directions but it turned out that the host family name provided to me was incorrect, so after asking 3 people, I finally found someone that knew who I was looking for and called him to come meet me. His name is Marcello and he and his family live about 3 km away on a road that was SW of the church. You can imagine how irritating this can be especially knowing that you tried to avoid the situation yet here you are soaking in sweat in a one-piece moto suit riding all over nowhere trying to find a place in the hot sun. After riding back to the homestay, Marcello introduced me to his family and we were all in bed before 9 to rise early the following morning. The two weeks I volunteered were filled with hard work and good experiences. Every morning we were up at 5:45 and I was sweating my ass off by 7:30. We put in full 8 hour days with work detail consisting of trail maintenance, tree planting, tree nursery maintenance, and building maintenance. Marcello and his family only speak Spanish, so it was certainly good for my Spanish to spend two weeks with them. After all the physical work of the day and trying to speak/understand Spanish the whole day, both my body and mind were exhausted by 8 pm. I was asleep by 9 and didn’t move until the alarm went off at 5:45 the next morning. You can definitely tell I’m an office worker as my hands were completely full of blisters and calluses after only two days of work. While the work was hard and it wasn’t exactly cheap to volunteer, it was a really rewarding experience for me. I thoroughly enjoyed working in the tree nursery and getting to know Marcello and his family. We took a trip together over the weekend and I was able to meet their extended family and we shared some good times and good laughs. One instance in particular involved my horrendous Spanish. Marcello saw a perezoso as we were driving and the conversation went something like, “look, perezoso!”, “huh”, “perezoso”, “como?”, “perezoso”, “que?”, “ANIMAL”, “ahhh gracias!”. Mila, Marcello’s wife thought this was absolutely hilarious…I think she laughed for 5 minutes straight. By the way, perezoso is a sloth…now I know.
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Old 04-25-2014, 05:26 PM   #125
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San Jose

From Marcello’s place, I made my way into the capital of Costa Rica. I was lucky enough to arrive in San Jose during a 10 day arts festival where there were performances and exhibitions happening across the entire city. I attended a concert where a group of guys from the UK were doing some experimental & improvisational music with a couple homemade instruments amongst those you would recognize in a cool space located behind a standing art gallery. I also attended a ballet performance, a creative funk show, and a violinist playing some beautiful tunes all in makeshift spaces outside train stations across town…I think I was the only tourist in attendance in all cases. The festival was definitely the highlight of San Jose…well, that and I got together with Nicolas, whom I met previously in El Tunco, El Salvador. Nicolas also has an affinity for house music, so we went out for a Saturday night on the town in San Jose. We heard about a laid back party that might be kind of cool, so we had our taxi take us to where we thought the place was. As we stepped inside, we heard some really good tunes walking up the stairs and quickly found ourselves by happenstance in the coolest underground party that night in the city…yes we are lucky….dumb lucky to be sure. The party was at a skate shop with good sound brought in, beers being sold and served out of a cooler, a DJ from Berlin, solid beats, and even better vibes. Hanging here until 2 or so we then made our way to the well-known club Vertigo where a rock the vote event featuring 20 local DJs was happening because we were in town election weekend. The music wasn’t as good here and neither was the feel of the place or the crowd…but that didn’t keep us from a good time and leaving at 6:45. The looks you receive while walking back into the hostel at 7 when everyone is up and around making breakfast just don’t get old.
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Old 04-26-2014, 08:45 AM   #126
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Gaby Makes Another Appearance

Gaby (mentioned earlier from D.F., MEX) came to visit me in Costa Rica and we spent 10 days touring two-up on the moto. We started by riding up to Poas Volcano where we were told at the gate that we weren’t going to be able to see anything because of the fog and cloud cover…damn. We decided to try waiting out the fog while having a cup of really good Costa Rican coffee along with empanadas filled with a fruit similar to pumpkin that was delicious. The fog never cleared, so we continued on to La Tigra where we walked through the rainforest I volunteered at and stayed with Marcello & family that evening. The following day we made our way to Tenorio National Park where we saw the beautifully turquoise Rio Celeste as we made our way through fairly steep inclines, large rocks, and muddy roads on the loaded down KLR with 70/30 tires…a bit of adventure for us. We were then on our way to Volcan Arenal & Lago. We stayed at the Lake Arenal micro-brewery right alongside the lake as we ate good food and drank even better beer to chill out tunes and a Gary Larson Far Side book to keep us laughing. Onward to Tamarindo where we took in our first beach before making our way to Puntarenas. We skipped Nicoya as our sense of adventure had somewhat diminished from the muddy road to Tenorio…the thought of +100 miles in the dirt two-up on a loaded KLR didn’t appeal to either of us so much. We were definitely the only tourists in Puntarenas, a town with a run-down feel in a stunning location with the Gulf of Nicoya on both sides of the thin strip of land. Bypassing a cocaine and prostitution filled Jaco entirely, we arrived in Quepos seeking howler monkeys, toucans, and sloths in Manuel Antonio National Park before chilling at the beach surrounded by Ticos. We finished up our trip in playa Dominical where we had a spot on the beach all to ourselves with the KLR parked only 20 meters from the Pacific. A few funny parts of the trip:

1) Gaby forgot how to dismount the motorcycle and rather ungracefully fell straight into some sort of awkward somersault before sitting on the pavement dying of laughter. I damn near dropped the bike myself laughing so hard.

2) I didn’t accidentally ask Gaby if she wanted a baby again (If this makes no sense, see Mexico City post).

3) As Gaby and I were swimming at the beach in Tamarindo, I remembered she had told me before that she couldn’t swim well. I casually asked, “I thought you couldn’t swim”. Gaby then proceeded to sink like an anvil immediately after my asking. It was almost like one of those old cartoons where Wiley Coyote runs off the edge of the cliff and doesn’t fall until he realizes he has passed the edge of the cliff. Pushing and boosting Gaby back to shore with her coughing and looking at me like why the hell did you ask me that with onlookers wondering what in the world we were doing. We are pool people, not ocean people. We headed straight for the hotel pool after. Hilarious.

4) As Gaby continued to improve her English and I tried to improve my Spanish, we often found me speaking Spanish and Gaby responding in English, which must have sounded and appeared quite bizarre to passers by.

5) I enjoyed the views of the changing landscape from the lush, green, hilly rainforest to the flat terrain near the beach as Gaby dreamed about the same things on the back of the bike. If our helmets clashed together, I knew one of us had fallen asleep…and it wasn’t me.

6) Pulled over by the police at a random checkpoint, I watched as the female officer spoke to Gaby in Spanish. Catching most of the conversation, I heard Gaby saying “oh yeah, we’ll get those special required safety vests right away, no problem” Number of safety vests purchased this trip: Zero

What an awesome trip filled with volcanoes, rainforests, beaches, lakes, national parks, and festivals within the capital. So many other travelers have told me how much they dislike Costa Rica, but I found it quite the contrary. I’m not sure how you can dislike a place as diverse as this…but of course it doesn’t hurt to share it with good company either.
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Old 04-26-2014, 08:47 AM   #127
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GRinCR

Monday was a big day. I was up before 5 to drop Gaby off at SJO airport, then 70 miles of twisty road to La Tigra to pickup the rest of my stuff, then another 50 miles to Heredia to meetup with GRinCR. After trying a few different routes that led to nowhere , I was finally able to find GRinCR. Greg is his real name and he is from MN as well but has been living in Costa Rica 8 years. We had a great night grilling out, talking bikes, drinking all the rum, then moving on to the vodka. Greg and his family were so hospitable and it was fun to see stickers of other ADVers who had been there before me in the garage. Hoping I will be able to meet up with Greg again stateside, possibly on a visit back to MN.
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Old 04-26-2014, 08:59 AM   #128
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+20 Photos Added

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Old 04-27-2014, 05:53 AM   #129
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"I begin to ponder my life at age 30 questioning whether I want to continue down this path I have chosen for myself."

I'm sitting here at 67 doing the same thing. Treat other people kindly, save your money, and enjoy yourself. Oh, and keep riding.

Enjoy your writing. Thanks.
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Old 05-14-2014, 05:42 PM   #130
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Cauhita y Puerto Viejo

Finishing my stint in Costa Rica, I found myself in the tranquil little town of Cauhita. While there, I took a stroll through the National Park where I encountered spider monkeys and bright yellow poisonous snakes. On my way to the park, I was swinging by a mini supermarket when I noticed a couple travelers in distress. They were Americans who were honeymooning on a cruise with one afternoon to spend in Cauhita. They were trying to buy only the necessities consisting of a Styrofoam cooler, beer, and ice. They tried paying by debit. Nope. Credit. Nope. US Dollars. Nope. The reason, the dollar was too “used” looking. I offered to trade his $20 for my Colones and his face was priceless as he tried to decipher whether I was raking him over with a terrible exchange in my favor. We talked for a bit, and once he found out I spoke English and was from the states, he was more at ease and glad I stepped in to help. They reminded me a lot of how things were for me when I first entered Mexico trying to navigate my way through all things new. Later that evening, I met up with some fellow travelers in a hostel where we proceeded to find the local party. On this night, there was a local raggae band called Plan B dropping one Bob Marley track after the next. There isn’t a whole lot that happens in Cauhita, but this was definitely the place to be on this particular night.

There is more to the town of Puerto Viejo than Cauhita with more restaurant and lodging accommodation options. I even found some red curry thai! The best memory I have in Puerto Viejo is meeting up with Inga whom I had met at the underground skate shop party in San Jose a few weeks earlier. Inga was celebrating her last couple days on vacation before returning to Berlin. We went out to a couple bars sampling the local Guaro liquor as we shared a few laughs. I’m hoping we meet up again…only next time in Berlin.
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Old 05-14-2014, 05:42 PM   #131
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Bocas

I crossed the border at Sixaola. It took me about 2.5 hours total to get checked out of Costa Rica and checked in to Panama. You can find insurance at the Seguros office at the border. Also, there are killer deals on duty-free liquor there. I picked up a 750 ml of 7 year rum for less than $15. I rolled into the town of Almirante to catch the ferry over to Bocas del Toro on Isla Colon. By happenstance, I found myself at the firestation where the firemen (& women) were happy to keep my stuff locked up inside and watch my motorcycle 24/7. I paid $3 per day and they kept their word. Good folks. During my time in Bocas, I took a little snorkeling tour where we spotted dolphins and had the luck of being able to swim along with a school of tropical fish for about 10 minutes in clear waters. I also made my way by water taxi to Bastimentos where I proceeded to break a sandal during my walk across the island to Wizards Beach. So, I ended up walking through mud, rocks, sand, and trying to avoid animal dung in bare feet before making it to the beach. The reward was worth it. When I arrived, there was no one else on the beach. The waves were pretty strong with a fierce rip current. I stayed in shallow waters while I stared out into the abyss in awe of the power mother nature holds. During my last day, I tried checking out a microbrewery on Isla Colon, but of course, I happened to arrive on the day of the week that they happen to be closed. Oh well, I guess I can’t try them all.
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Old 05-14-2014, 05:44 PM   #132
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Panama City

I’ll have to say, everyone should visit Panama City at some point in their journey through life. Riding over to the causeway islands to admire a skyline that rivals those in North America is quite something. On top of that, spending the morning watching massive petroleum vessels make their way through the Miraflores Locks at the Panama Canal is also an experience to remember. Nicolas, a fellow traveler from Switzerland whom I had met in El Tunco, met up with me and we had a few nights on the town together. The first night involved way too much rum and beer as we made our way to the posh club playing house music in Casco Viejo. Night two was more low-key as we met up with some area locals who invited us up to their apartment on the 42nd floor of the Destiny Building off Balboa. There is nothing like looking out over Panama City at night. The lights of the city, the skyscrapers demanding your attention, the noise from the streets below billowing through the night, Panama City is a place to see for sure. The Destiny Building also has a pool on the top floor, so we made our way up for an unmatched panoramic view of the city at night…and I forgot my camera dammit! Night three included a stop at the Veneto Casino before heading off for a pint at a micro brewery. As you walk through the casino, the first thing (well, if you’re a man) you notice is that there are more prostitutes hanging around than there are customers. The next thing you notice (well, if you’re a man) is that many of the prostitutes have fake asses, yes asses. It is strange. You see this slim figure with this bedonkadonk butt that puts the big ol bums in the ATL to shame. It looks especially odd from the side. Surprisingly, they just sort of hang out or maybe play a game or two at the tables waiting for men (or the occasional woman) to solicit their attention. Nicolas did well at Roulette hitting 3 numbers in a row just by using birthdates of family members. What are the odds of that!? While I’m no Nicolas, I didn’t do too poorly either, until I saw the Blackjack table. At the end of the day, I walked in with $20 and cashed out with $20. That’s a win for me.

What else happened in Panama? Well, I reminded myself of what a terrible mechanic I am. It was time for a new chain, so I was able to find a shop that had one in stock for the KLR. The only problem was they didn’t have the Motion Pro chain tool I normally use to replace a chain. I bought the tool they did have & proceeded to cut the links down and fit the chain. I thought the process went pretty well until the chain came apart on an on-ramp on my way to the customs office! Fortunately, the chain wasn’t damaged (lucky me as the semis whizzed by it). I refitted the chain with safety wire and made my way back to the shop to buy another master link. Turns out they don’t carry only master links so I was now on a wild goose chase to find one. I was able to track down a clip type master link and installed it with a little RTV silicone to help ensure it stays in place. No issues since so let’s hope that continues. Boy, I don’t know which is worse, an Accountant from The States or a mechanic in Central America.
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Old 05-14-2014, 05:45 PM   #133
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San Blas

Tranquil, serene, breathtaking, a natural wonder, littered, and expensive. This is San Blas. I took the paved road on the KLR to Carti where I caught a boat to Isla Aguja. Here are the costs to go if you are interested:

$10 moto entry Kuna Territory
$3 my entry Kuna Territory
$30 Boat ride one-way
$30 Camping per night with 3 meals included

After drinks and fuel for the bike, I probably spent $165 for 2 days. Once on the island, there isn’t much happening. There is one small restaurant with good food serving up local favorites such as filet of the day and seafood with coco rice. I spent the days snorkeling, bird watching, writing, studying Spanish words, eating lots and picking up trash. Yes, unfortunately, the islands are no exception to the grim reality of the waste we humans have strewn all over Central America.

You will more than likely be stopped at the checkpoint leaving Carti as well as the checkpoint in Chepos. Have your Passport and TVIP ready. Also, expect to have your belongings rummaged through at Carti. I have heard there are lots of drugs passing through San Blas hence the strict checkpoints. I experienced no corruption at either checkpoint.
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Old 05-14-2014, 05:46 PM   #134
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So, if you’ve been paying attention, then you might be wondering why I was on my way to the customs office in Panama City.

I am not a well-traveled person. I know nothing outside of the US, Canada, and now Central America. Rather than spending $1,000 to cross the Darien, I have decided to instead spend that money on travel elsewhere. My plan now is to try selling the bike, fly back to the states, take a 2-3 month break, then start traveling again. To where? I’m thinking of starting in Japan and then flying to China where I might setup a different motorcycle for traveling through Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and Thailand. While I would love to ride motorcycle through the Andes, I feel as though my remaining travel funds will be better spent seeing and experiencing a completely different part of the globe. If the bike doesn’t sell, then I’ll be making a high-speed run back to The States on the moto with the exception of stopping to see a friend in D.F. and visiting a few places in Mexico that I didn’t see the first time through.
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Old 05-14-2014, 05:47 PM   #135
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