February 2009 Archives

P1000475We got another late start out of Acapulco pretty much because we’re lazy. It was already very hot and humid. We took a few wrong turns and we toured the airport, then found our way south. By the time we got out of the city we were both soaked in sweat. Heading south on 200 it was pretty uneventful and pretty straight road. The map showed it being close to the ocean but we rarely caught a glimpse of the ocean jus jungle, trucks, and busses. Not much to tell you about other than when we approached San Marcos.

 

 

 

 

P1000486It  seems the way some people protest something here is to blockade the road and stop everyone and everything from moving through. Well they were doing just that in San Marcos. We stopped at the back of a line having no idea what was going on. Then this cab driver in front of us sticks his head out the window and just starts spewing a whole bunch of spanish at us. We have know idea what he is saying and Dan say’s “TIMMY FELL IN THE WELL?” the guy goes “SI” and waves his hand like go around… Well THAT we understood. So we get into the oncoming lane and slowly cruise by everyone till we get to another backup of buses and trucks still going the same direction. Now in the oncoming lane. This is a two lane road with no shoulders and cars,trucks,buses you name it all backed up for miles…. We SLOWLY work our way between the rigs using any gap possible, middle, shoulders you name. Then when we ran out of gaps we went into the ditch and started moving forward in and out of the ditch. Some of the drivers were sleeping. Thats how long this had been going on.

P1000485 It seems nobody cared that we were getting ahead of everyone. In the US I’m sure we would have been verbally assualted or worse. We were riding in the ditch and came accross an Army dude with a machine gun. The road shoulder was about 6 feet up to the road so we were commited. Well he just stepped aside and we rode right past him.

 

 

 

 

 

P1000484After what seemed like 30 minutes of this we reached the protest. There was about 100 people yelling and screaming at each other. The blocking trucks were all of the same colors and paint scheme – aparently some transportation organization. We decided to chill and not piss anyone off and it was fun watching the crowd. We only sat there for about two minutes and they seem to come to an ageement. shortly there after they moved  the cars and we thought SWEET! We’re through! Only to find the cars,trucks,busses all backed up in BOTH lanes coming the other way…. Well we worked our magic in the ditch,gaps,shoulders and bingo we were through. VIVA MOTORCICLETA!!! (MOH-TOH-SEE-KLEH-TAH)

 

 

After that the road was wide open and we looked for a Hotel as it was getting late. We found a nice place for 21 bucks. It was clean and they had a resturant. We had couple of nice cold beers. Then ordered the 4 dollar steaks. When the steaks came it was apparent they had been cut using a dull popsicle stick from a cow that must have been standing in the mexican sun with fecal matter spattered on its hind quarters. Then they were cooked using a desiel powered blow tourch to a point just short of being able to make a jacket out of them. We ate em and went to bed hoping….

Jantiango Jamitepec to Oxaca

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IMG_0383We got up eary to get going. With no ill effects from our “steak” we hit the road for what was to be a short day to  Oxaca. Oxaca is a very historic city and we planned on spending a little time looking around and sightseeing. We rolled down hwy 200 about an hour and half till we got to road 181. This headed inland away from the coast and it started climbing right away. This thing was so twistie with super crappy pavement we we averaging about 40 clicks(less than 30) an hour. There were pot holes the size of basketballs. broken pavement everywhere and it beat the hell out of us. We rode for 8 hours and went less than 250 miles. Again due to bad pavement, towns,topes,trucks and buses. And Topes are getting soo damn old. I am working on an entire blog devoted to them!! The only redeeming thing was the scenery was awesome. The road climbed to about 6500 feet then went down to 1500 feet. Only to climb again to 7000 feet.

IMG_0380The road was very busy with big buses and people seemingly going everywhere. It took us forever to get through that road. I can’t imagine how long it takes on a bus. There was a few towns here and there but mostly trees and vistas. After decending the second time we had a nice ride into Oxtaca. We comented that it was the first time we had used 4 gear and up in over 5 hours!! At one point we were following a Policia pickup and as they all do they have some dudes riding in the back with guns. Well I’m following him and the dude is resting his gun on the tailgate and its business end was pointed right at me. Everytime he would go over a topes. Which is every 2–3 miles the gun would bouce on the tailgate at about head height!!!  I must have told myself a zillion times “he has the saftey on…”

 

IMG_0396Oxaca (Wahaca)is a cool city with very narrow streets and lots of historic chuches. This one we checked out was unreal. It took a hundred years to build it. There was a wedding or something going on so we couldn’t go inside. We poked our heads in the door and the choir was in full bloom with the organ backing them up. It is hard to explain the sound coming from them. Lets just say both Dan and I had goose bumps on our arms. If you look closely at the picture of the ceiling you’ll see that those are all faces carved and painted in the stone. also the Gold everywhere was mind bending. We vowed to come back in the morning and have a better look around.  We cruised into the town square and had a bite. The square was alive with venders, music and all kinds of people just hangin around. We pulled up a chair and watched it all going on. It was then we decided to stay another day in Oxaca and scope it out a bit more. There are some Ruins nearby and we’re going to ride up and hike around them tomorrow.

Thats about it, Cheers.IMG_0394

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Oaxaca to Oaxaca

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We enjoyed a relaxing day here and what a gorgeous city. I think I could spend a month or so here exploring the various museums and old buildings.

This morning we walked over to have another look at the Santo Domingo de Guzmán church. An amazing structure and as ornate as any church I’ve seen in Europe – check out more about it here on the Wikipedia.

I spent most of the day working on the computer - writing a program for processing our GPS logs and such – hopefully I’ll be done with it in a few days and our “where are we” page will be better, faster, smarter and better looking.

John spent some time wandering about town and checking things out a bit more. We toyed with the idea of a ride out to see the ruins at Monte Alban but decided that we needed a down day.

We did have a funny moment when we decided that the maid didn’t need to clean the room today – we just needed some clean towels. So John decided to go ask her for some clean towels. I helped him rehearse the Spanish several times and when he felt he had it about right he went out into the hallway to work some magic on the maid (literally about 3 steps away so I could still hear him). When he got out there he locked up and out spewed some of the strangest sounding words I’ve ever heard… something about he only needed 3 shoes with red cheese on them. Of course the maid was confused but he managed to work through it and we ended up with clean towels and a good laugh.

We’re off southbound tomorrow – we have about 10 days to get to Costa Rica – about 2,000 kilometers and 4 borders to get through.

Cheers!

 

A quick entry this morning before we get on the road to the Guatemala border.

We covered about 350 miles yesterday with the first 150 of it pretty uneventful touring through the mountains and decending to the Pacific Ocean. The temperature went from mild to moist and we both were commenting (read as: whining) about the humidity out on the flats near the ocean.

Our GPS (which has about 7 year old maps for Mexico) and our crappy maps didn’t do us too well and we got lost for a little while. After some discussion and some “I don’t give a sh*t – just try something” sort of back and forth – we just began using compass directions and eventually got back on track.

We hit some construction and things slowed to a grinding halt. About 2 hours of bad traffic trying to get back into Tuxtla after a 3 day weekend and the road conditions were ugly with a capital “U”. We rolled into Tuxtla about 5:30 and were pretty beat after 8+ hours of riding/gassing/riding/gassing. John likes to continues the “gassing” part even after the ride is over….

We will throw up some pictures at our next internet availability – in the mean time, I also answered some questions people have asked and you can see them here on the FAQ page. It’s hard to keep up with everyones questions – so be patient - we’ll try to get to them. 

Also: NO RAIN yet – so all guesses up to and including Feb 2 are worth about as much as all those Superbowl numbers you had… zippo!

Cheers!

 

Biggest tree in the world.....

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IMG_0418On the way out of Oxaca we made a stop in the small town of Santa Maria Del Tule. We heard from a couple at the hotel that they have the biggest tree in the world there… It was in front of a beautiful church. Of course there is some controversy about it being the biggest in the world. I guess some said its was a bunch of trees together, However recent DNA test’s showed its all one tree. It is not the tallest but this thing was immense. The base is over 50 feet in diameter,If you look at the right of the picture you can see a person for scale. It had all these really cool knurl’s and the locals say they all look like monsters. We took a few pics andP1000506 walked around a bit and got rolling….IMG_0423

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Tuxtla Gutierrez to Huehuetenango, Guatemala

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P1000533We headed out of Tuxtla and hit the “Cuota” (toll road). It started climbing and it got foggy and cold quick. It climbed to over 7000 feet and was a very fast road up and over the continental divide. After we got over the top we stopped and put our jackets on over our mesh gear. The road was wet from some rain….It sprinkled on us and we had a discussion about it being rain or not. But we decided it was just the fog mist and nothing more. The streak continues! The road was nice with little or no traffic all the way to the border. At the exit of Mexico it went smoothly and we paid our “exit tax”. We both think this was a fleecing. but we paid it and left. We had heard that the entrance to Guatemala would be a challenge. We rolled up and a dude said we had to have a our bikes spayed with some insecticide. We asked how much and the dude said 11.8 quetzal’s… Dan said whaooow thats too much… Then he did the math and it was only a $1.50. Then we got our vehicle permits and passport stamps and they waved us through. Total time about 20 minutes. No biggie.  We cruised through the border town of Pacoc and the road headed up this amazing canyon. IMG_0450P1000541

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

P1000552After a bit we decided to stop for a pee break. Dan went down this little gravel road and found this bridge. He rode across it and I followed. I’m sure he did it just because of my history with wood bridges. All went fine though and we had a great view of the river. Dad, you would of loved this bridge. It was about 100 feet above the river and kinda springy when we rode across it.  We returned to the highway and rode the rest of the way to Huehuetenango. Found a room for 28 bucks had dinner for 9 bucks. I had the chicken and it was ice cold. I looked it over hoping it was cooked all the way. But I was hungry so  down it went.  Then in the middle of the night we both awoke to a dude in the next room barfing his brains out. All I could think about was, god I hope he didn't have the chicken….

Today we ride south. Cheers.

 

Sorry for no entry this morning or last night - we took a short break from the computer stuff.

We have parked the bikes in the basement of a hotel in Panajachel, Guatemala and they are sleeping soundly.

This morning we got on a small boat with about a dozen people on it and cruised thru windy/choppy conditions over to Santa Cruz to check out the area around Lake Atitlan - we are staying at a great place called La Iguana Perdido - check out the website here

Anyway - the spot device is back sleeping with the motorcycles and so no updates will be seen on that stuff for the rest of today and possibly tomorrow as we may spend one more night here to do some exploring.

ok - cheers.

 

 

La Iguana Perdido

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P1000567We spent a day and a half at this cool place a friend of my told us about. Thanks Dean! Its right on the shore of Lake Atitan in Santa Cruz. Some people say its the most beautiful lake in the world. They have a bunch of little cabins stashed in and around the jungle-like plants. With a nice little bar and common area. We felt super comfy and just chilled reading our books. We Played some cribbage (I skunked Dan again) and we ate some great food thanks to the chica’s that work there. If your ever here in this area this is a place not to be missed. We had drinks all afternoon, ate dinner, breakfast and the total bill was about 60 bucks U.S. for the both of us. We also met some great people. Amazingly enough another person from our home town in MN. She also went to the same High School as Dan and I. However she went there MUCH later. Its amazing how old you feel when somebody tells you the year they graduated from High school and it was in a different century…

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La Iguana to Antigua

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IMG_0529After a great breakfast at La Iguana we walked up the steep hill into Santa Cruz. Checked out the old church witch had some really cool wood carved statues.

IMG_0485We then caught a very rough boat ride pack to Panajachel. The wind has been blowing like crazy since we got to Pana and today was no different. The boat hull was cracked right where we were sitting. You could see it moving up  and down every time it smashed into the next wave. I can’t imagine why, The boats where only about a zillion years old and being piloted by a 13 year old kid at warp speed. We got the bikes and headed out of Pana towards Antigua. the road we took was very small and IMG_0541bumpy. It was scenic though and we enjoyed being on the bikes again after a wonderful stay  on Lake Atitca. Once we got to Antigua however the mood quickly changed. The city is a maze of one way streets and dead ends. With seemingly endless “church squares”. We had a tip on a place to stay from the people at Iguana and they said it was “right near the town square” We spent about 2.5 hours riding to Antigua and about 1.5 hours riding around looking for THE town square. After many stops to ask directions, (a seemingly futile effort when they machine gun a bunch of Spanish at you) Timmy fell into the well again???? We would then head off to ride around some more. We then saw a beacon of light. The MOTO Cafe. We stopped in for a beer and had a chat with a cool British dude who owned it. He gave us some Ideas and we rode around more looking for a room. We did find one but not till after we both got frustrated. we check in and talked them into moving some furniture so we could put the bikes inside. We went out for a nice steak dinner and a few drinks.

Tomorrow we make tracks and start logging some miles again. Cheers!

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The hotel we ended staying at in Antigua – the “El Carmen” – turned out to be on one of the noisiest streets possible. And of course since we got there a bit late, we got the room that shared a wall with the street. The street was paved with very rough square/irregular cobblestones and when the cars drove by it sounded like a freight train rumbling by just on the otherside of the wall. We both slept with earplugs and it was still very easily heard.

After a decent breakfast we loaded up and pushed out of Antigua. We found our way out super quick having rode damn near every street yesterday. The roads heading down to the border crossing with El Salvador were generally decent – some great scenery as we decended from the highlands down to the coastal flats. We hit some pretty rough spots here and there.

We managed to get lost in a strange town – Escuintla I think it was – we came in on Hwy 14 and it roared into  a medium sized town and we were looking to connect with Hwy CA2 which would run us to the border with El Salvador. Unfortunately there were virtually zero signs anywhere and as with most towns in Central America – the main road sort of dumps you into the town and then you have to hunt and peck your way till you find the road leaving town. We rode in circles and squares up and down dirt alley’s and cobblestone streets till we decided to backtrack to the main road and then just take another unmarked main road. We probably wasted at least 1/2 hour screwing around and then went about 5 miles out of the way – and of course on our way past town on this “new main” road – we see the road exiting the town but we had no idea how or where it came out of the town. Strange stuff really.

P1000576We were getting close to the border when John abruptly says over the intercom in an urgent fashion “I’ve got a problem here” – after a few seconds he tells me that his shift lever has broken and his bike is stuck in 5th gear. We limp along for a 1/2 mile or so till I found a place to pull over in the shade and off the road. Right next to some cops who intially though what are these guys doing empting somme of thier luggage a mile from the border?? they then were delighted to watch us work on the bike, I’m sure it gave them something to talk about in a otherwise very boring day. This shift lever was a folding lever that we put on the bike specifically in case of tipping the bike over or debris hitting the lever – but it has a weak spot in it and we were concerned about it before leaving – thats exactly where it broke. We dug out the tools and the spare shift lever and were back on the road in about 20 minutes. This picture isn’t the best but the thing the hand is pointing at should be connected to that black lever hanging down below the footpeg.

 

We crossed the border at La Hachadura in El Salvador. As soon as we hit the Guatemalen side we were swarmed by “fixers” or “urchins” or whatever you want to call them. These are the guys who “help” you cross the borders. All borders in 3rd world countries are intentionally designed to confuse everyone who comes in contact with them. It seems that it is literally a game that you need to play with the people where you don’t really know the rules or how much it will cost you. You just have to go to unmarked windows, thru mysterious doors, talk to officials not very interested in you, collect the right stamps, get 47 copies of everything you have with you, get the right paperwork and try like hell to avoid shelling out too much money. So, these fixer guys end up at the borders waiting for people to come through that don’t know the ropes. And of course, some of them are not the most ethical people out there – and when you connect them with some of the “not so ethical” border officals – you have a recipe for getting properly fleeced and made to wait for hours, days, weeks – whatever.

P1000578At this border – while the herd of fixers were yelling at John and then attacking me – I singled out a guy that I talked to a little bit – Raul. He ended up helping us mostly just with instructions on which unmarked windows/doors to go thru – find a copier, etc. Exiting Guatemala was fairly quick and cheap – I think it cost us about $3 US each to leave. Entering El Salvador was also pretty cheap – something like $12 total for each person/bike. Raul did a great job for us and we ended up giving him $20– which is a ton of money down here but he saved us a lot of time and I am confident we didn’t get fleeced. Here is a shot of Raul. we also had him sign the bikes and he seemed pretty exited.

 

 

IMG_0554We took off into El Salvador and rode along the coastline. The road was spectacular and twisted back and forth, up and down, and had excellent views of sandy beaches, palm trees, rocky outcroppings and everything you’d expect along a nice stretch of ocean. We ended up in La Libertad for the night – and after riding into and out of town several times, scoping out  several hotels which all seemed overpriced at $50 a night we settled on one pretty close to downtown. We got to chat it up with Albert – a guy who was studying english in college and wanted to practice on us – he loved the bikes and was really happy to see some gringos in his country.

Not a drop of rain today – so the streak is alive!
Cheers!

 

Up early – and on the bikes by 7 – meat on the seat as Huli says…

Rode arond a couple small towns looking for a cash machine. Finally found one and got some US cash – El Salvador uses the US Dollar as its currency which is handy.

IMG_0572As we were riding up to to the border at about 50mph these dudes come running into the street. I’m telling you they ran right in front of us and we had to slow and move left to avoid taking one out. They are waving and screaming. After we pass they jump into they’re tuck and give chase. About a half mile later we stop at the border area and the fixers were on us like a pack of jackals on a wounded wildebeast – we tried to avoid them and ignore them but they kept working us hard. one of them knew our names – Raul from the last border had called them - etc.. eventually i gave into this guy and he started working us hard.

exiting el salvador was easy – a little bit of review of the bike documents and a few bucks – poof, we were gone.

P1000594honduras was a whole different story – unfortunately we arrived at the honduran border at about lunch time – and of course everything stops. so we waited and waited and waited….

then we needed about 8,000 copies of the titles, the drivers license, the passport, the exit permit from guatemala, John’s last blood test results, etc.

then the fleecing began – all nicely documented of course – 135 lempira ($7) for this, 135 for that, 257 (about $14) for something else, then 432 ($23) for another permit – and so it goes. 

P1000592So we waited… hours we waited in the hot sun while the 17 different departments had to process whatever they needed to process….The only entertainment was this little kid running around. He was eating some chicken and when he got to the bone he would throw the bone down to the many little scrawny dogs begging. Well he finished one piece and comes walking over to John and flings the bone right on my lap…. Then gives me the strange look, like aren’t you gonna eat it???

by the time we were finished it had taking a little over 3 hours – which is not too bad we find out – and maybe about $100 per person/bike. This is way too much – and Dan was pretty peeved about being fleeced – he later figured out how they had done it and what to avoid next time. The fixers work hand in hand with the officials – and if you let them – they will hide certain things from you – while the delays are taking place certain officials are pushing the paperwork thru various people to make sure they get to the right officials who are on the take – then the reciepts are produced and demands made. If you’re not  savvy about the true costs you can’t really argue with them.

We tore across Hon-dur-ass like a plate of bad huevos rancheros thru a gringo, Not much was said on the intercom and we decided they were not going to get another cent from us – no gas purchased, no water, not one thing. A shame really – i’ve been to the place a dozen times or more and have usually enjoyed the people and the sights.

We got to the border of Honduras and Nicaragua about 4:30pm – a little late but we were pushing it to get out of Hondurasssss.

Just before the border – we were stopped by some Honduran cops. I thought “Oh, great, they didn’t get a big enough piece of my ass” – and the fixers decended upon us at the cop stop…. “documento’s!”  – off the bike, dig out the paperwork – all the while the fixers are yelling at us – the cop asks me to open a side bag – and starts poking thru it – then he chases all the fixers away – just waves his arms and chases them off – then he gets real close to me and starts explaining in very slow spanish – “you will only pay $3 to exit honduras and then $7 each person and $12 each moto to enter nicaragua” – and he made me repeat it back to him – “don’t pay any more” – he was a very nice guy and we had the info we needed to avoid being hosed by another fixer. We shook his hand and in one instant most of the bad feelings about Hunduras were erased.

We motored up to the border – only about 1/4 mile from the cops – I ignored the fixers completely telling them “No” – about 700 times – one of them stuck with me and wanted to translate etc… I ignored him for the most part – and walked my papers here and there – get copies etc.. it was fairly quick except for the line to get the moto permits…. and we entered Nicaragua for a total of $19 each person/bike.

It was dark by the time we were done at the border but we only had 11 KM’s to get to Somotillo so we thought no worries we’ll bust out 6 miles and Cervezas all round– Then we find out the road was CRAP!! — torn to pieces and under construction (probably for the last 20 years) – huge potholes, rocks, sections of pavement, then dirt, then gravel – just crap. To top it off – there were tons of unlighted vehicles on the road – and big trucks bolting towards the border with huge plumes of dust hanging in the air behind them. It took us about 30 to 45 minutes to go the 6 miles.

P1000596We ended up at the only hotel in town – $20 – and it looked ok and $20 seemed reasonable. They let us pull the bikes inside behind the locked gate. The room was a surprise – two single beds – one blocking the sink and the toilet/shower were behind a little curtain. The room was small – and to top it all off, there was NO water in the entire hotel. No shower, no wash up, no water for the toilet. If you used the toilet they had a big garbage can of water that you scooped some up and into the toilet bowl to make it flush. Excellent – after a long day of sweating to the oldies in riding gear/boots at two borders and riding thru mountains of dust we both had a nice little caked dried brown gravy look and feel. This picture is of the shower from above … lovely.

We walked across the street for dinner of chicken and veg and it was pretty good– and while waiting for it to cook some guy comes in with his rooster. He ties it to the leg of his chair and starts drinking with his buddies. We of course are looking at it and cracking jokes about his c*ck being tied to the chair.  laughing and carrying on. He then yells at us in spanish. We’re thinking uh oh.. The gal behind the bar spoke broken english and say’s “he want’s to sell you his Gallo.” We decided we did not have the room in the saddle bags and said no thanks. He was persistent and the price went from 50 cordobas ($2.5 US) down to 30 pretty quickly… Dan asked the gal behind the bar if that chicken was the one we would be eating for dinner?? We managed to avoid buying it even though it was a good deal.

How many times have you been in a bar and some dude wants to sell you a rooster??? (“c*ck”)

We both awoke many times that night by a rooster crowing very loudly at 3am… and he was persistent up till 5 am. We joked that the dude tied the damn thing up next to our room becuase we didn’t buy it.  Then the incredibly loud bus horns started blasting and competing for riders at 5am so we dicided we might as well get up, not take a shower, not use the toilet and not use the sink. It was time for the Motobrothers to ride – meat on the seat. 

And in the rain department… not even a hint of rain – nearly a month of riding almost every day without putting on the rain gear…. amazing!

 

IMG_0589We rolled out of bed early and got out of Somitillo. The road was much the same as yesterday for the first 30 clicks. Gravel, Pot holes and nothing but shite. Some of the pot holes were so big the gps registerd elevation changes and there were families selling stuff at the bottom. After traveling about 100 clicks we stopped for fuel and the gas station attendents were super cool. We had them sign the bikes and they tipped us to the cops across the street where we were headed. They machined gunned a bunch of spanish at us, waving and tellling us to exit the station over there. We were pretty sure they were telling us something more, but all we got was “timmy fell in the well again” and we should ride out over there.

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After we rode out and stopped at the “T” we made a left toward the cops and bingo! they waved us over to the shoulder. After much gestering and us saying how little spanish we knew. Him saying how little english he knew, we figured out he was informing us we had improperly made a turn into the wrong lane. Dan then made a diagram to show how we made a correct turn before his “partners” waved us into the other lane. After much debate he grew tired and gave us our documents back and waved us on. We laughed and talked on the intercom about how they got nothing from us and we punked them…

 

P1000613The road improved for awhile and then got even worse. It took quite some time to go even 30 miles. When the road began  to improve and we started picking up the pace. We came to a hill and there was a super slow tractor crawling up it. John went to pass and dan followed. After cresting the hill bingo, More Cops…. They waved us over and we thought, $hit! were gonna pay this time. After some more gestering and trying to understand each other. Even if you know good spanish I think the way to work the cops is to just plain act dumb. They were pretty cool though and informed us we had passed in a no passing zone. They loved our bikes and we checked theirs out as well. It is a 125cc! If you don’t know bikes thats just barely bigger than a moped. This thing was shagged and they both ride on it together. They then asked for anything to drink as they were standing in the hot sun. We had nothing, but informed them that we would be happy to cruise back a bit into a town we had just past and get them a coke. They seemed surprised when we came back with sodas for them. We shook hands and headed on our way with some “cop karma”. After our two cop deals we had a chat about being more careful. You see since we got into Mexico we have seen really NOBODY obeying any traffic laws. As well as no cops really caring.  People would even pass cops at warp speed, Rip though towns and generally drive ayway they wanted. So in Nicaragua we started behaving ourselves again.

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IMG_0594We found our way into Granada and started looking for a hotel. We stopped by the bank and this really cool dude from CA comes up and starts chatting us up. Well he’s a travel guide in the area and tips us to a hotel down the street. “The Oasis” We get there and its a little door in a wall. Looking kinda scummy. After going inside though its super cool with a garden, pool and just a good feeling about the place. It was a tight fit getting the bikes in, We had to remove the side bags and then cross this iron bridge thingy that was bending under Dans weight….We chilled out, walked around Granada an old colonial city right on a huge lake. The lake had a bit of a smell and funny color to it though.

Did someone say rain? not hardly – the streak continues….

Cheers! 

Granada to San Juan del Sur.

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IMG_0548After leaving Granada we had a short ride to the Beach. We have heard some horror story’s about the border crossing into Costa Rica, So we wanted to get close to the border so we could hit it early in the morning. San Juan is a small beach town with alot of Gringo Surfer dudes. We played some cribbage had a few beers and just hung out on the beach.

Check out this photo of a Nicaraguan SUV!

After we got back to the room we both noticed a bit of an odor… We looked around for a dead rat or something worse… Then we realized it was our riding suits that we had been sweating in for the last 4 weeks. We had a good laugh. washed them in a bucket and hung them in the sun. Not much else going on today. Tomorrow we ride into Costa Rica. We meet up with my wife Lynn, Dan’s girlfriend Carmen and our sister Mary. We are going to spend about a week messing around and being tourists in Costa Rica. The blogs will slow a bit, but we’ll keep you updated when we can.

Cheers! oh yea, no rain!

Hows that snow in the NW?

San Juan Del Sur to San Jose, Costa Rica

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We got up early after a light night of drinking. I was feeling a little thick as we hit the road for Costa Rica. We knew it was only about 300 clicks or less to meet the girls so I figured no worries. We have been riding in some insane cross winds for the last week or so and today was no different. The buffeting really takes a toll on your head, even when your not hung over... We got to the border in a short hour or so and the “fixer’s” were not quite as aggressive as some of the past borders. Dan is also getting quite good at working them and the border systems. Because he speaks the better Spanish, he goes and deals with the paperwork, while my job is to watch the bikes. “thanks Dan”  Leaving Nicaragua was not really too much trouble. They did a half ass search of our stuff and with a few documents we passed into “no mans land” (the short bit of road between borders.)

The paperwork to get into Costa Rica took some time. Dan was working the magic without a fixer. He seems to have the system down. Go over here to this unmarked building. Get some paperwork you can’t read, Fill it out. Then take it over to another unmarked building. Hand over some cash. Then take the bikes over to another dude to have the VIN numbers checked. Then take the VIN approval to some other unmarked building and hand over some cash. Then when you think your done….Try to enter the country. If the dude at the gate lets you in? you did it right. If he doesn’t then you go back and try to figure out which building you didn’t hand over any cash or paperwork to and try again… Thats really all there is to it.

The MotoBrothers are in Costa Rica! After we got rolling we were dripping in sweat from hanging around the border for about 2–3 hours. We thought sweet, less than 2 hours we’ll be sipping cocktails with the girls. Boy were we wrong. Traffic was BRUTAL. We spent the next 5 hours going about 130 miles!!!! It Sucked big time. By the time we got to the hotel we were both worn out. We went out for a dinner and called it a night.

P1000553Here I am using a leatherman to open a bottle of whiskey…

It did look like it was going to rain today for awhile… But nothing yet. This also marks a month on the road since we left Portland. Wow! It seems as though all of the days are blending together. I have trouble telling what day of the week or what the date is…. sometimes I have to look back in the blog to remind myself of all the places we have seen and all the stuff we’ve done. I’m so lucky to have such a cool bro to do this stuff with!!!

As I said we are going to do some stuff in Costa Rica for about 5 days. Also the bikes are getting new back tires and an oil change while we tour around a bit. Blogs will be spotty the next week. But we will soon be on the road again heading south.

Thanks everybody for riding along with us. We have gotten some very nice emails and we appreciate them! Cheers!

Costa Rica

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Hey everyone We’re baaack!!

IMG_0624After a week checking out Costa Rica the Motobrothers are ready to roll again! Meat on the seat this morning heading for Panama.

We did allot of fun stuff. We started with a couple of days in San Jose. A very large and somewhat boring city. Dan and Carmen split off from us and went for a bike ride and rode up Irazu volcano. My wife Lynn, sister Mary and I rented a car and headed down toward the beach city of Jaco. They had very nice beaches and your typical coastal town. We hung out there for a few days. Did some hiking and also did the canopy zip line. That was allot of fun, Mary our sister is a little afraid of heights and the guys running it had allot of fun at her expense. she did great though and we all had a great time. 

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Carmen-zipDan and Carmen headed south from Irazu and cut down to the coast at Dominical – then took what could be the worst road we’ve ridden on since leaving home to go north to Quepos. They spent a couple nights at Si Como No resort and then a night in Jaco – before heading back north to meet up with John/Lynn/Mary.

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We then headed inland to Arenal Volcano. This thing is pretty damn cool. It is one of the most active in the world. While sitting on the deck at the Observatory lodge I was watching house size boulders roll down the face. Then at night you can see bright red lava coming out of the cone. We had a great time bumping around La Fortuna. That is the city close to the volcano. We hiked down to a 600 foot water fall. Just kinda hung out. We hooked back up with Dan and Carmen. Had a nice BBQ, a few beers you know the story…

We spent a couple days hanging around Arenal and enjoyed the hot springs in the area – Baldi and Tabacon – both highly recommended.

Great to see all the girls and hope they had an awesome time in Costa Rica. After we dropped the girls off at the airport in San Jose Dan and I are back in San Jose and ready to roll south again.

Thanks to Motos Suzuki and Emilo J. Quiros, our bikes are ready to roll with new back tires and fresh oil. Emillo was great as we didn’t communicate to well and he worked with us to get the service dept to  understand what we needed. Thanks Emillo!!!!. If you ever in San Jose and need anything for a Suzuki check with Emillo at www.motos-suzuki.com – the shop is easy to find and the service was great!

Thanks to Lynn for lugging the tires to the airport and checking them as baggage. Thanks to Matt at Cycle gear for getting the tires for us and packing them up for Lynn. Thanks  to Carmen for lugging some other goodies as well – As you can imagine a trip like this is allot easier when you have great folks behind you helping out… Dan has a buddy Carlos Barrios working on the logistics on getting the bikes from Panama to South America, Thanks to him as well

Thats about it. Its 7am and  we are ready for breakfast and to get some MOTS (meat on the seat!)

And in the rain department….. Nada – no rain since leaving on Jan 13 – amazing stuff…

I think we’ll ride south…

P1000681We got a relatively early start after a nice breakfast at the Hotel Aranjuez in San Jose. Both of us were anxious to get back on the road and out of downtown San Jose.

Costa Rica is an incredibly beautiful country but the city of San Jose isn’t all that nice and if you’re riding a bike there you feel like a steer in a stock yard – your time to be slaughtered will come. The taxi drivers are extremely aggressive combined with the busses who definitely own the road and then there are the trucks who occasionally have working brakes. Dan was bumped a couple times riding around the city and John doesn’t like riding in cities in the first place.

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We headed south out of town on CA2 the “main” road. This road snakes its way up along the ridge of mountains down the spine of the country. As we climbed up into the mountains there were clouds stuck on them and we both chatted back and forth that it was going to be cold and wet. We climbed and climbed – reaching over 10,000 feet and the moisture was getting “thick” and we were starting to freeze… We kept talking about how long this would last, is it rain, is it just foggy moisture, etc… When we got up to almost 11,000 feet and it was definitely raining we broke down and pulled over to put our rain gear on… on Feb 20 at about 11am we ended our no rain streak  of about 39 days of travel without rain came to an end… we rode on in our rain gear trying to warm up and in about 15 minutes as we descended down thru 8,000 feet the rain stopped and out came the sun. By the time we hit San Isidro we were riding in sunshine and mostly dry on the outside, but soaked on the inside due to our stubbornness of waiting too long to put our rain gear on. I think the point at which we decided was when John complained of water running down his leg into his boots getting his socks wet. Looking back thru the comments in the blog it appears the closest guesses are on Feb 14th –  by John’s wife Lynn!!! and by mtrcycllvr – so we will figure out a prize for you guys….

Gassing up in San Isidro we got to chatting with a guy about heading south – he suggested we go out to the coast to Dominical and ride along the ocean instead of down the inland route. It was a very good call – the coastline was spectacular and we had a great road almost all the way to Palmar Norte and enjoyed some nice riding without playing pinball with the trucks.

Working our way into the afternoon we debated whether to hit the border crossing today or not – it would be about 3pm when we got there and it looked like about 45 minutes to an hour ride to a town after the border. We decided to try it – as we pulled into the border a few of the “fixers” came swimming out of the urchin tanks to attack us. They wave you into a parking spot, but we have learned to just weave thru them and choose our own line/parking spot. Which establishes right away who is in charge.

Dan worked the border exit from Costa Rica while John watched the bikes. The exit from Costa Rica was not difficult – just took some time waiting in lines – get your immigration stamps and the exit for the bikes – took about an hour to get out. Entry into Panama was a little more mysterious – stand in line for your immigration stamp in the passport, then be told that you need a $1 sticker stamp from some dude walking around, then back into the immigration line – “oh, no Senor, you need the tourist card ok, go find the mysterious tourist card from some other office – only there is nobody there – wait for a while, wait some more, finally he comes back – $5 each for these papers and back to the immigration line… another 15 minutes waiting for the immigration guy and I’m thinking “ok, let’s see what he can find wrong now” – get up there and he looks it over and stamps our passports and says “Belcome to Panama!” – now, the bikes need to get their papers… over to the vehiculos “department” – more lines, more $5, etc… I start to head to the bikes when one of the fixers tells me that we need to go thru customs …. yea, i know that but where is it? – several of them point to yet another unmarked room – I go in there and there is a chubby little guy with a fancy hat, official shirt, picture id hung around his neck and a sign on the wall, in english and spanish, that says “All services in this public office are free”. He looks over the passports, the tourist cards, the vehicle papers, writes some notes on the vehicle stuff, and then says “$5 for each bike”. I point to the sign and say “gratis?” – he says in very good english “you want to have bikes “inspected” or you want to whiz right through?” – I pulled $10 out of my pocket and the customs machine resumed full speed operation spitting out 2 more gringos and motorcycles onward into Panama.

IMG_0758We got out of the border around 5:15 or so – a little over 2 hours total which wasn’t too bad. We headed down to Puerto Armuelles because it was the closest city and it was down on the ocean. About 35 kilometers (little over 20 miles) and the road was great. We got stopped about 5 miles out of town by some cops to look at our papers but otherwise just zoomed out there. Then we began circling and circling the town trying to find a hotel – it was surprisingly big and but we couldn’t find anything. While riding around a local guy on a played out Suzuki DR125 or DR175 pulled up next to Dan – revving his engine and popping the wheel off the ground a bit – he was excited to see us and checking the bikes out – Dan pulled a big wheelie for him and he lit up like he had fresh batteries installed in him. We stopped to talk to him for a second and Dan asked him where a hotel was – he signaled to follow him and he tore off like he was set on fire – weaving in and out of traffic, down one way streets the wrong way, thru stop signs, thru red lights, eventually taking us back out on the main road the way we had come and pulled into an unmarked and mostly unlit building that looked to be not that nice. His name was Franklin and he knew the owner who came out and gave us a nice welcome – $30 later we had a decent room with running water, A/C, 2 channels of staticy spanish TV, and a couple very nice beds. In the room a sign pointed to the pool and we thought sweet! Lets go for a dip in the morning…. P1000675The bikes went straight into the lobby for safety and we went walking up the road about 50 meters to an outdoor rotissarie chicken place… the food was incredible and John said it was the best rotissarie chicken he’d ever had – only problem was they didn’t have cold beer – they didn’t have ANY beer…. but it was $9 for both our dinners and drinks.

A few games of cribbage and we hit the sack early so we could hit the pool in the morning!! John barely hanging onto his lead now with only 15 points ahead.

Cheers….

Here is a shot of the pool in the morning – John still wanted to swim but I thought the green slime might leave a permanent mark … we decided to hit the road without a swim….

P1000421We hit the road early and the weather was nice. Cool and sunny to start but it got very hot later. We hit like 5 Policia check points and had to produce our documents in 4 of them. Stop the bikes take off the helmets and let the dude look at your passport, Bike docs and the like. Most were super nice, But it just takes time and you feel like your not getting anywhere. On top of that you are stopping in the hot sun and your mesh gear is not feeling very “meshy” when you’re sitting there stewing in your seat.

Over the entire trip we’ve had a lot of fun with our Scala intercom setups – almost every time one of us is talking to an official or a toll taker person or asking for directions – the other one of us is saying something in the intercom… While Dan is asking for directions John is saying in his ear something like: “Ask him if he knows where to find some ice cold beers” or worse… it’s very distracting but we both continue to do it. So, at one of these document stops we get stopped and John gets his docs checked and then the cop goes to Dan for his. He wants Dan to take his helmet off and once everything is ok – he cuts us loose. Dan gets his helmet back on and John says “$10 if you pull a wheelie out of here” – well, Dan pulls a big wheelie as he is rolling out of the police stop ahead of John – and John is surprised but disappointed that the cops apparently were looking elsewhere. I guess if Dan can’t beat John in cribbage he has to try some other way to earn his money back….

As we rolled down the CA1 PANAM hwy the cross winds were just wicked. The little V-strom is not a heavy bike so it would blow around pretty good. Thats ok really, But it takes a big time toll on your head and neck. your helmet gets buffeted badly. You feel like somebody is on the back wacking your helmet on each side and you just plain get worn out faster. We got about 80 clicks from Panama City and decided we would get a place on the beach and chill out. Find some internet and plan an attack on Panama City. Only one problem…We went up and down every friggin road around the beach and we could not find a place to stay. Also it is Carnival time here in Panama and you would not believe the traffic… I would say it was backed up for 30 plus miles (in the other direction) Also every cop in the country must have been on duty. We counted at least 40 cops in about 50 miles! Everyone had a radar gun. Most just waved at the Motobrothers though. We spent more time riding around than it would have taken to get to Panama City.

IMG_0750Finally we both got frustrated and in the end we said “screw it, lets just grind out the rest and get to P.City. Of course then we roll into a huge city with no plan, no place too stay and no idea of where to go. After riding around awhile looking for a cheap place or an internet cafe, we stumbled on a hostel. They had a room but no place to put the bikes except on the curb out front…. It was also a very dodgey area and we decided to pass. Plus the gal who was running it was kinda a grouch. So we got a couple of warm beers from them and stole some wifi. With the internet we locked into a place about a mile or two away. It turned out to be a little more than we wanted to pay but we were both shattered after a long day in the hot sun. We went for a dip in the rooftop pool, had a couple of drinks and crashed out.

Tomorrow we start the fun of trying to figure out how to get the bros and bikes to S.America

Cheers.

Not alot happend here today. We are in a holding pattern waiting to chat with the air cargo companies. We got up late and rode out to the airport to see if they were open. They weren’t, But we now know where they are and will cruise out there in the morning. We went back to the Hotel and chilled out, worked the internet for air cargo and tickets for us. Also we worked on catching you all up the blogs.

Last night we went to catch a cab down to a mall we saw on the way back from the airport. Let me preface this by telling you the cabbies are pretty agressive around here. There is always 4 or 5 trying to convince you to take thier cab and everytime you step out of any building a cabbie is standing there asking you if you need a cab. Before we got in we asked how much? the dude spoke no english and said “dos dollars” we thought sweet and jumped in. Quickly we realized he was heading in the wrong direction. I said to Dan he’s not going to the mall… we tried in vain to explain in our broken spanish where we wanted to go. He didn’t seem to get it. Dan sits back and says, “oh well, wherever we’re going its only 2 bucks!” We had a big laugh, and did finally point him in the right direction and we arrived at the mall. I stepped out of the cab on the curb and Dan was not even out of the cab. Some other cabbie comes ruunning up and says, Hey Senior Do you need a taxi?

Thats about all that happened to us today. Tomorrow we get up early and head down to the airport again.

Cheers.

We headed out to the airport today and went to every shipper we could locate. However the problem is its Carnival here in Panama and most places are either closed or have the juinor staff on. So getting any anwsers from some places was tough. 

IMG_0768We were told/read on the interrnet Copa Carga were “the” guys. We checked with them first and the dude was like 19. He made some calls, we think to his bosses (who were probably at the Carnaval … hammered) and then flatly said no. We had trouble comunicating with him about why. But we basically got that they have canceled cargo flights. We tried to ask when we could expect the filghts to start again, but all we got was stuff like “indeterminate”.

We then went to DHL and were informed that they do not deal with the public, only brokers. We went to FedEx they gave us a quote of $840 to Bogota thru Miami. Not possilbe to go to Quito or Cali – only Bogota. But we would have to have the bikes crated and someone would have to hadle the customs paperwork – again, we would need a broker.

Our “logistics” guy back home, Carlos, had done some of this legwork for us and he had gotten quotes from another broker called: Girag Cargo. Girag had quoted us about $1900 per bike to go to Quito via Bogota. We rolled into Girag to see what the story was. They were helpful and seem to know the story pretty well. Same numbers that Carlos got from them – $1900 per bike to Quito and $900 to Bogota.. Ouch! Not possible to go to Cali. They said they could do the bikes to Bogota any day. They also seemed to indicate that getting the bikes to Quito would be a challenge… they had to talk to some airlines and so forth. We’ve also read online that the Quito customs are a pain in the butt – on top of that we’ve seen people saying that it could take up to a week to get the bikes into Quito because they have to sit on the ground in Bogota for a while.

IMG_0769We headed back to the hotel to do a little more research on the internet. Dan had been having a dialog with Mike at Motolumbia (Extreme Bike Adventures) in Cali Columbia. Mike made a couple calls to Copa Carga in Cali and they thought that the Carnaval was the big problem and things would resume on Wednesday morning. They said because of Carnival nothing is moving from Panama till its over.

OK if you’re now confused thats OK because so are we. We decided to wait till Wensday when people go back to work. Then try to get Copa and Mike in Columbia to help us get the rigs to Cali. Mike seems super willing to help. He will help us get the bikes out of customs and has a biker hostel we can stay at till we’re ready to head out of Columbia. Hopefully it’ll all work out….Tomorrow we’re going to go for a ride and check out the Panama Canal.

Cheers

Ever heard of the movie groundhog day??? We awoke again in our little 8x10 room, 2 beds, tiny bathroom with a shower but no showerhead, and no windows. We took a dip in the pool last night in the dark and Dan hung is suit in front of the Air conditioner to dry. By morning the room had took on a smell that can only be described as panama sewage tainted swamp water. Later that day we saw the pool in the daylight and we understood where the smell originated….

We made some calls and followed up on some info we got yesterday about shipping companies. We were told by almost everyone that Carnaval would prevent anything or anyone from doing anything involving getting the Motobrothers out of Panama City.. Today is the last day of Carnaval and everyone was either not at work and drunk or at work and not working at work.

IMG_0772We decided to get some fresh (but damp, humid, and stagnated) air so we went for a ride on the bikes. On our spin we were stopped by a Military Dude who was not happy to be working or just plain not happy. He was the equivalent of a Panama version of Barney Fife. He held us in the hot sun for what seemed like 45 minutes looking at our documents. He asked us the same questions over and over. He even called it in on the radio to check our passports. We both just smiled, acted stupid (which comes naturally for both of us), and smiled -answered his questions again and again. At one point he just put our passports in his pocket and started checking other folks in their cars…. While we waited and waited. He finally decided that we were no threat and we might actually outlast him… and he released us. We rode on down this road that followed the coastline. The road went about 20 miles and ended in this little crappy town. On the way down there we ran several guantlets of maybe 8 or 10 kids who were loaded with water buckets, water balloons, or hoses. They would dose the passing cars with water. At first they weren’t throwing water at us – but Dan egged them on because he was hot and inadvertently caused them to bomb John who was following… When we reached the crappy little town, we just turned around and headed back the way we came – only to run all the gauntlets again – only this time, they hit us both with everything they had... All this time we were wondering what the checkpoint was protecting?? and what Barney was busting our balls about….

IMG_0778After maybe 20 miles of riding past the Barney Fife checkpoint, we headed up to the canal and found this spot at one of the locks. We parked, got some Lemonade for a street vendor and watch this huge ship go through the locks. We were about 20 feet away from the locks and no checkpoint, no security, no military protecting the biggest asset in Panama…. Go figure!

Back in town we went out for dinner and met a gal named Michelle North. She is a Panama gal who spent quite allot of time in the states and spoke perfect English and Spanish. We decided to hire her for tomorrow to help us figure out the crazy maze of catch 22’s and carnaval dead ends we seem to continue to run into.  

Tomorrow we hope to catch some people working and who might be interested in doing their jobs….

Cheers

 

 

 

The day started early for us – we were up around 7am – we had packed our stuff last night so that we were ready to head out. Thinking positive and hoping for the best.

IMG_0781We met Michelle for breakfast and laid out our plan of attack. Dan had some email threads with Mike at Motolumbia.com – Mike called his contacts at Copa Cargo in Cali Columbia who confirmed somethings for us – and gave some other information that was contrary to what we had heard locally. The info we had heard locally however was also contrarary to what we had heard locally…

First off – let’s start out by saying that going into today we were about 150% confused and frustrated. It’s  really hard to adequately describe the amount of hassles and obfuscation we have gone thru trying to get these bikes shipped out. Our first choice was to ship the bikes to Quito, Ecuador for various reasons – but that has turned out to be all but impossible. While some of the shipping brokers say they will take the bikes to Quito – for $2000 EACH bike – what is really transpiring is that the bike goes first to Bogota and is unloaded – then if and when they figure out a flight from Bogota to Quito – then the bike gets shipped to Quito. We saw a couple threads on the Internet from people who have done this shipping and they all complained about it taking a week or more to ship the bike and then several days to get the bike out of Quito customs.

So … we made the decision to go to Columbia – with our first choice being into Cali. Why Cali? – because we had friendly help in Cali (Mike at Motolumbia) and because Cali is a full days ride closer to the border of Ecuador.

When we got started with Michelle – we started calling Copa Cargo in Panama – Copa is known to fly cargo from Panama to Cali and Bogota but when we were out at the air cargo terminal they indicated that the flights cancelled “indefinitely”. Well, Mike in Cali had called a friend of his (Gustavo) at Copa Cargo in Cali, Columbia and Gustavo indicated that there were flights going on Wednesday and Friday. When Michelle talked to the folks at Copa Cargo in Panama, they continued to tell us that there were no flights until maybe next week. We called Copa Cargo in Panama several times and each time tried to talk to a different person – which only resulted in us getting a different answer each time – yes we are flying to Cali and Bogota, no we are not flying to Columbia indefinitely, the flights will resume next week, or call us back tomorrow morning when the boss (El Jeffe) will be in… jeeze… after 7 or 8 calls we decided that maybe the Copa guys really were out for Carnaval and it was hopeless….

So we started working on a couple of brokers… Girag and ServiCarga. Servi was very helpful and had quotations for going to Bogota – $900 for the bikes, $75 more for hazardous cargo permit, $15 for this, $40 for that, etc… etc… probably about $1100 each bike – she wasn’t sure if the bike would go today, tomorrow, or next century – just leave it here and we will take care of it…. yea, right.

We then called Mike at Motolumbia in Cali – what a great guy – he said give him 15 minutes and he would call Gustavo at Copa and confirm a few things… so we busied ourselves with yet more calls to yet more people who continued to tell us yet more reasons why it can’t be done… and after 15 minutes we called Mike back. Ok – Gustavo is happy to talk to us and he can do the paperwork from Cali and we can just drop the bikes at Copa – give him a call around 2pm…. wow… did we just get confirmation that the bikes were going to be heading out???? to Cali? – maybe…

At this point it was about noon – we’d been at the phone calls for 4 hours now – and I decided we should work on Girag a bit more because we had a quote from them and they have a decent reputation but we didn’t know all the details…. so we called them up one more time –

This time we got ahold of a gal named Luz Lopez – what a information machine!!! – she had all the answers and details – bish bash bosh, she just cranked it out – if you get the bikes out here today they will leave for Bogota tonight, the cost will be $900 each bike including all the permits etc…, she said the customs guys at the airport would stamp the bills of ladings, it can only be paid in CASH (Confirming what our buddy back home (Carlos) had said) blah blah blah… so we had a confirmed (as much as can be confirmed anyway) way of getting them to Bogota. Do you want to talk to the guy in charge? or the woman that knows whats going and really runs the joint.

IMG_0789We took off for the bank and lunch. The first bank we hit (Citi) would not do a cash advance on Visa or Debit cards – ok, next bank. We hit the HSBC – yes, we do cash advances but only for $1000 per card. Ok – drag out a couple cards to get $2000 and then hit the cash machine for another $500 and we figured we had enough cash to get things done.

While at lunch we called Gustova back in Cali to see what the story was from Copa in Cali….

Let me interrupt this little story to see if you’re as confused as we were… because by this time of the day we had made maybe 45 or 50 phone calls – talked to people in 3 countries – gotten just about every conflicting story you could imagine – been told that nobody is working today (even though it isn’t Carnaval anymore) – and John was literally to the point where he said “I can’t follow who is saying what they can do, what they can’t do, or what they might or might not do. Please just tell me where to drop the bikes and cash off.” 

Anyway – we got ahold of Gustova at Copa … in Cali – he had done some checking on flights and so forth – yes, they can ship the bikes from Panama to Cali – but they wouldn’t go until next Wednesday – a week away… so, any savings we would realize by shipping direct with Copa instead of a broker would be eaten up by us hanging out in hotels waiting and we would waste a week not moving… it made the decision easy for us to go with Girag and get things moving.

We made yet another call to Girag – talking to Luz with all the answers – yes, we can get them on the plane today if you get here by 3:30…. well, we cranked it up and got out there by around 3pm….

Dan got to work on the paperwork while John dug thru the bags – repacking things and getting stuff organized and ready to transport the bikes. About an hour of paperwork and a big wedge of cash and everything was ready to roll … except the bikes weren’t on a pallet and were just sitting there in the shade…waiting.

IMG_0805The Girag guys brought a big flat aluminum sheet out – we rolled the bikes on there and got things positioned for them. Then they began to tie they down with scraps of webbing and straps. And it looked like they had never tied a motorcycle down before – we watched for maybe 1/2 hour and then they sort of asked us what we thought –

<They're way

we went to test the tie downs and showed them the bikes would easily tip over. Great, maybe we shouldn’t watch this… but then we just starting untying and retying the bikes and got them tied down in such a way that they “maybe’ would do ok… what we wouldn’t have given for some proper tie down straps …

 

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<Our way

When we finished the tie down it was about 5:15 and we were worried that we wouldn’t make it to customs in time – rush over to customs and we got the proper stamps on the bills of lading and all that stuff –

Since the bikes were heading out tonight we decided to try to catch a flight to Bogota this evening and had Michelle/taxi drop us at the airport. We settled up with Michelle and said our thanks/goodbyes and headed in to buy a ticket to Bogota…. after searching for WiFi and researching tickets we eventually decided to just go to the Copa counter and buy a ticket… John’s wife Lynn had mentioned that we will probably need to buy a round trip ticket because Columbia Immigration would require proof of onward journey and she was right about that – the Copa guys made it clear that it would be hard to convince the immigration guys in Bogota that we were flying one way and riding out etc… So, the difference between one way and round trip was only about $20 a ticket – so we just paid the price — about $368 per ticket…

It was a decent flight to Bogota, we hit the ground, cleared immigration, cleared customs, grabbed a taxi and ended up in a decent (but overpriced) hotel – and we sit here now at a little after 1am typing this blog in –we’re hoping our bikes had a nice flight, got a little glass of oil or fuel and had a little bag of bolts and nuts. More importantly are actually here, in one piece and we can get them out of Girag and through customs in some reasonable time period…..

All toll, an expensive day – about $1800 to ship the bikes, $735 for flights, and another $150 in taxis, meals, copies, translator, misc fees, etc…OUCH! but we are in South America and onto the second leg of the journey.

Cheers…