|03-04-2012, 09:41 PM||#61|
Joined: Sep 2010
Location: Vancouver, Canada
I've enjoyed your trip report since long before the campsite in Antigua. I'm still jealous of your ability to find the coolest places to camp. You made a convert out of me, I've got a 250 almost ready to go for when I can escape Canada again.
Your writing has improved so much since the start. This has always been a good read, but lately you're hitting the level where I can't help but visualize what you saw and I feel like I'm right there.
Your photography looks like it's also maturing too, the photos with your new camera are really something.
Hope you and the new bike are well.
Canada to Panama on a 79 CX500: http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=62962
Logbook for motorcycle travelers I'm developing, draft now available for review.
|03-05-2012, 05:27 AM||#63|
RTW on a 125cc
Pero....No esta tu gafas, esta tu.
Espero que todo esta bien con tu preparacions? Sabes cuando sale?
Now please correct my Spanish...if you can even understand it....I try really.
Hope all is well, let me know if you want any help with anything....
|03-05-2012, 05:33 AM||#64|
RTW on a 125cc
A 250! IS it writen about anywhere on here, would love to read about it! Any ideas when you will leave, and where to?
My bike is doing ok, it is very sensitive to altitude mind you (me included actually!) and have been struggling to keep up with "Jedimaster" on his DR650...I've always loved his bike and am thinking that soon I'll be getting one! Well, I need some money first! Maybe the 400 though!
He's also trying to persuade me to go down the SLR route....did you get one yet, or still working with the Sigma? Also, is there a website for the photographer you met in Antigua, I'd be interested to see his pics.
Thanks for reading, and especially for the comment!
|03-05-2012, 10:11 AM||#66|
RTW on a 125cc
'I'll be happier when the bikes are on, we're on and we're on our way.' I reply, anxiously viewing the huge mound of cargo still sitting on the dock waiting to be loaded.
'They can't be putting all that on,' says Oli, ever the optimist, 'it must be for another boat.' Though I can sense even Olivier's doubt.
'Maybe,' I say, calculating space, as a man adds steel rods to the mound and to my equation of; bricks, cement, fridges, washing machines, wood, galvanise, rice, beer, fizzy drinks, steel girders and the ubiquitous can't-go-anywhere-without-one....chicken...alive.
And let's not forget the two motorbikes.
'Action; exciting or notable activity.' OED
With the boat floating - surprisingly - several feet below the level of the dock, the crane isn't actually tall enough to lift the barrels from the ground to then lower them. Therefore the method of loading is somewhat unorthodox. First, each drum is strapped at its waist..... second, it is hooked to the winch a few feet lower and finally, each drum is given a firm shove off the dock. The forth step comes soon, and with violent intensity, as the slack is taken up by the winch, then the barrel swings abruptly around over the other side of the boat - the jib controlled only by a rope held by a inattentive worker - and finally lowered hastily before the barrel should pop from strangulation by the ever-tightening strap at its waist.
Silence seems to fall over Panama City as Oli and me simultaneously picture not a drum of petrol, but our beloved bikes being shoved off the dock in similar fashion. We look at each other in shocked disbelief, shaking our heads.
'Well, we've paid now,' says Oli with lightheartedness, 'so we're fucked.'
And we laugh........albeit weakly.
We'd looked at every option we could think of to get to Colombia; Pacific Ocean sailing yachts, other cargo boats, light aircraft and, as well, motorboats from another small port 300km south, La Palma; though we were turned back by police on our way there...leaving us only one option: La Victoria. We thought we struck a good price at $125 each...but I wonder now if that were so.
Back on the dock, bored, Oli's goes for a walk, passing men bringing crates of 'Pony Malt' drink and a bare-chested worker comes over to me, I'd noticed him earlier, he looked hard, trouble, and maybe drunk. He speaks to me in short grunts, like an ape, maybe assuming my Spanish nonexistent, 'Boat full. Grunt. Bike on. Grunt. You pay.' he says.
'Don't think so. I think it's okay. The bike's don't take much space, no problem. And, I've paid the boss already.'
'Plata!' he says slappping his upturned palm. I shake my head, shrug my shoulders and ignore him, he'll load them eventually, and so I return to my thoughts, worrying about the enxt stage in the journey from Jaque, when Oli returns with the boss and with his help, soon the bikes are lined up for loading.
'You gotta push 'em,' says the boss, 'this isn't America!'
But this turn of events riles the bare-chested barrel-bellied bully, undermined by the boss, he's not happy with him and looks to stamp his authority with an iron fist and foul mouth, shouting at the boss, and then the security guard, who's come to see what the commotion is, and a tennis match of abuse ensues, escalating all the while.
'You perro!' says the bully, (you dog!) the ultimate debasement it seems, and the security guards socks the bully on his chin, sending him stumbling backwards, on to MY panniers.
So I kicked him in the nuts.
We watch the lights of Panama City fading away as we fall asleep amongst the knot of anchor ropes at the front of the boat, though when I wake some time later I notice the very same lights on the opposite side of the boat....we're going back: towards Panama, a sister ship broken down apparently and and we don't get under way again until 1am.
Crammed against one another, in a corner I eat whilst the man behind yells at me to, 'eat faster!' so he can have my plate. I gobble down the meager serving before returning to our place on the ropes, to the sun and to my book.
Early next day the Victoria is on the move again, despite still holding numerous boxes emblazoned with 'Puerto Pina - FRAGIL'. We arrive near Jaque, again no land port, and the remaining crazy chickens run about in exhausted stupor looking for bags, or like me and Oli, looking dazed and confused.
'WAIT!' is all the captain is willing to tell us as, so we do.
'Where are you going?' asks the bear.
'Jurado....or Bahia Solano.' I say, 'doesn't matter, just south.'
'Police first, then we talk.' he says with a greedy grin.
'What's your name?' I ask so we can find him. His name was Walter and we came to dislike him very much.
We sign in with the police, Walter talks to one of the police officers, then follows us as we walk into the small village.
'Entonces.' (literally: 'then') he says as we stop at a tiny shop. He says it not so much as a question, the intonation is all wrong, more like a statement, Oli takes over now, his Spanish better than mine and Walter comes up with his first price, he aims high...very high, $1000. We laugh, and he tells us of a Chilean man who paid $1000 - a story corroborated by others, but true or not we don't know. Oli replies with $400 for the two of us to Bahia Solano, four or five hours away in Colombia, though this price is met with equal derision and a stalemate ensues that ends with us having to remove our bikes from the lancha, pay $15 for his bringing us to shore - he wanted $25 to start - and look for other options.
The only other option is a lancha is owned by a man named Cameron. I find him later and find he is not the most approachable person ever....
'OCCUPADO! OCCUPADO!' he yells when I ask in my most polite manners for a second of his time. Cameron, I was to learn, always spoke in this way, like a gorilla named Mr.T poked with a pretty big stick, and so is therefore not the easiest person to understand, even Oli struggled later.
As I couldn't understand him, I've guessed and filled in his spaces....
'WHAT YOU WANT FOOL?' is perhaps what he said....
'Perdon signor?' I say, feeling myself shrink.
'You damn gringos are all the same!'
'Sorry signor.....look, I can speak quite a bit of Spanish, but you'll have to speak a little slower. I'm not a gringo either.'
'You're a smart arse though I can see that, I suppose you're motorbike is frikn ginormous is it like every other gringo?'
I look on bemused, having not actually understood anything, his friend sitting nearby gutting fish repeats what Cameron has been trying to get me to understand....
'How much do you want to pay?' says the man.
'Ohhhhhh! Right. $125 each.' I say getting straight to it.'
'HA!' says Cameron, with a derogatory smirk, before adding, 'We'll speak later. We go Monday.'
'Entonces what?' I say.
'Depends how much.'
'How much you want to pay.'
'Look, it's your boat, you say. Give us a good honest price and we pay and go.'
He steps away, Oli wakes up and starts talking to him, but in the end only the stalemate is seemingly agreed, leaving us hoping that Cameron will be fair and offer a reasonable price. Without delay we go to find him.
It's 8:30am when we find Cameron who walks over from his table camouflaged by 20-odd empty bottles of beer and several empty bottles of rum, and gives each of us a beer. He shouts something and with Oli taking the roll of group speaker, I watch Oli pull an equally blank face as I had the day before. Cameron shouts again. Louder, more impatient, drinking to be done.
'I think he's asking us how much we want to pay.' I say to Oli in English.
'Ohhhh! $250,' says Oli.
'$300,' replies Cameron.
And, feeling argumentative perhaps, chip in with '$200!'
'Ah,' says Cameron pulling a face of disgust as if his footy team just missed an open goal.
Oli goes to one side to talk...'Look, we're not like some people, we can't pay any old price. And, he's English, he's tight, he wants to pay $200. I'm French, I don't mind paying a little more, I think I can convince him to pay $250, but no more.' It works - surprisingly - and the price agreed, however, Cameron wants a deposit....
'Beer money more like' says Oli.
'Is this wise?' I say, 'I mean, will he even remember us in the morning.....or even this afternoon! let alone the price....and our deposit?'
'It's this or Walter.'
So we pay, all the while fairly sure we are breaking one of the golden rules of travel.
Other passengers wanting to get to Colombia, watching on, become edgy knowing that now we've paid a deposit, and too that we can't all of us fit in Cameron's lancha....who will go, who will be left behind to wait another lancha, or perhaps be forced to pay the greedy Walter?
When I wake the following day, to go and buy our breakfast rations of bread, I find the tide is in fact high and everyone is waiting anxiously at the dock.
'Get up! I think we're going!' I shout at Oli's corpse inside his tent...'Oli!....Oli! Oh, crap....Cameron's moving the lancha round! We're going!'
Oli wakes, somewhat and starts sleep-packing, whilst I rush down to take my packed things over to the dock hoping to insure our place. Cameron, in his 'Darien' emblazoned red T-shirt, his round face beneath his white reebok cap,and carrying a small shoulder bag of sack-like material like most men with anything worth carrying blurts something, like he has a mouth full of toothpaste.
'PUH DE BIKES ON! NOW! BI-HUN FIRST!'
I race back to Oli, 'We're going, now, go put your bike in the boat!' I shout.
'YOUR BIKE! PUT IT IN THE FECKIN BOAT!! WE'RE GOING! NOW!'
Poor Oli, still mostly asleep, stumbles off, thinking, wondering what his body is up to without his brain's authority. His body remembers he needs shoes so comes back to get them. I shout, unfairly, 'GOOOO! I'M NOT MISSING THIS BOAT!'
The bikes are loaded with cunning use of planks, mental stress, and many helpful hands, followed by our bags, our passport received from the police and, after a lengthy wait, we leave, whilst seven unfortunates are left behind.
I preferred the peaceful Jaque, it's lack of a real centre, tranquil, small shops dotted about, no traffic to speak of - save the lanchas - people carving dugout canoes from huge lengths of tree trunk or shaping oars with a knife from a sagging hammock, but Oli prefers here, Jurado; there are shops, people and more going on....motorbikes and scooters too.....and there's a lot of attention as well, too much attention, especially for Oli and his BMW which is pulling huge crowds.
Four days later I sit hovering over the toilet of the "Renasur del Pacifico," Oscar's boat, now full with it's heavy cargo of long red timbers from the rainforests. With its burden, the boat lists heavily from side to side, and toilet water washes over my feet as I squeeze desperately trying to rid my body of the 12 bowls of rice I've eaten in four days, breakfast, lunch, dinner....futile.
'Have you had a shit yet?' I ask Oli on the deck.
'Have you seen those toilets!?' he replies.
'I'm not going in there.' he says disgustedly.
'...I've just been...the water was washing all over my feet.'
'Ughh!....Did you poo?'
'Managed a nubb.'
We stand watching the mast light swing back and forth in the dark, glad at least to finally be on the move after several days stuck deep up-river in the jungles collecting wood, where 'sancudos', tiny biting bugs, and mosquitoes were rife and there not a breath of wind.
I watch the bio-luminescence in the wake of the boat before heading down to the dormitory where 25 pairs of wrinkly workers feet poke out from the tiny slots that are our beds and 25 pairs of beady white eyes watch another shoot-em-up movie on the TV. 'I want more death!' shouts one as I slip past into our room to slot myself into my bunk to read and sleep, content with my choice to come along the Pacific.
'We have chicken with sauce, chicken, bbq chicken, bbq beef, pork, bone soup....'
'Beef for me....please.' I say.
'OK.' says the waitress.
'And No rice!' I add, perhaps a bit sharply.
'No rice?' asks the waitress.
'Yeah, no rice....just bread please!'
'Me too...!' says Oli. The waitress laughs at our story and jots down our order, 'sin arroz'. It's good to be in Colombia!
We did it Oli! Thanks for the good times and good luck on your journey south....and, keep camping.
|03-06-2012, 10:51 AM||#67|
Joined: Aug 2008
Location: Newport, RI
Outstanding RR... I read it from beginning to end... I laugh when I think of some of the RR's for people riding the exact same area and moving from hotel to hotel along the Pan American Hwy.. and what a completely different experience they had. I am jealous of your adventurous spirit and attitude.
We are enmeshed in the cancerous discipline of "security." And in the worship of security we fling our lives beneath the wheels of routine - and before we know it our lives are gone.
|03-07-2012, 06:26 AM||#68|
RTW on a 125cc
I know what you mean about the RRs of hotrels and PanAmmers, I've met one or two and whilst I don't really understand why you'd do that I have to say that whilst my way is great....it's only great in my opinion and other peoples way of travel is up to them! If they are having a great time then that's all that's important.
What is odd to me is how populasr those RRs are. "Another 1200GS blitzes the world".....???
Don't judge Nicholas!
Alas....if everyone did it my way the little dirt roads would be busy....and i'd ride asphlat all day!!
|03-11-2012, 09:48 AM||#69|
Joined: Mar 2009
Location: Victoria, BC
|04-06-2012, 01:40 PM||#70|
RTW on a 125cc
The point of all this really is that what Im saying is is that my blog is best, so read it...alas....if you have reached this far then perhaps I'm preaching to the wrong crowd.
|04-06-2012, 09:59 PM||#72|
Joined: Apr 2009
|04-07-2012, 05:38 AM||#73|
Joined: Jan 2008
Location: Momentarily back in Guatemala
Nicolas , sounds like you are running low on bisquits get some more and get in a better mood
Still enjoying your blog and "your" way of travelling
|04-07-2012, 08:41 AM||#74|
RTW on a 125cc
Don't be silly!
I'm in a good mood....but I think about this stuff often....I'm always thinking about what I might be doing wrong, following my instincts sometimes and questioning if this is right or not, should I go here, or there...and if I go there is it only because I'm scared to go here....? And so on and so on....when I look at other stories I think, maybe that is better....how did I miss that...or, will I get to the end and look back and think "that was dumb, why didn't you go to toursit-site-X?"
I hope not, I might have to start all over....
I'll drop you a mail Julio....
And yes, it is indeed a 125cc though in future I'll be stepping up, if only a little...fuel injection is a must I have learnt too!
|04-07-2012, 08:52 PM||#75|
Joined: Jan 2008
Location: Momentarily back in Guatemala
He noblest lives and noblest dies , who makes and keeps his self-made laws. R.F. Burton
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