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Old 10-14-2013, 09:21 AM   #331
Tripper-CMC
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Happy Thanksgiving from Canada

"Happy Thanksgiving" from your fellow riders at CMC and close friends in Ottawa Jeff..!!!

Enjoy the sailing and keep safe!

Greg "Tripper"
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Old 10-16-2013, 04:30 PM   #332
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Safe travels my friend. Glad to see your taking it easy before the next big step. Hope the seas are smooth and the current swift. Next stop South America.
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Have a safe trip Jeff!
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"Happy Thanksgiving" from your fellow riders at CMC and close friends in Ottawa Jeff..!!!

Enjoy the sailing and keep safe!

Greg "Tripper"
Thanks guys for the encouragement, had a great trip across the Darien Gap, wish you were here to see this and feel the excitement in the air.

Jeff
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Old 10-16-2013, 04:33 PM   #333
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Day 101

Made it to Cartagena, Colombia, and this is the continuing of day 101, before we sailed.


Good news for anyone travelling the Darian Gap towards the end of this month, according to one of the Captains a new Ferry service will be in operation.


First thing this morning I started to compact my large amount of gear to a somewhat more manageable size. I haven't camped since San Diego so this would be the thing to downsize on and in the hope that I would not need it in this next leg of my journey I removed my Winter Sleeping-bag, Stove, and Thermos can plus some small things that were taking up space. After repacking all this I ended up with one less dry sack to carry or lug around., I did throw all this stuff on the free rack at the Hostel and locking back after about 5 min and all of it was gone, someone must of wanted it and I hope it comes to good use.


This morning it was poring rain so we waited and hoped it would clear up by noon only thing is it would not give us any spare time before heading to San Blas, we waited and of course the rain did not stop. The fastest route was over the Corredor Sur where we come to a toll both that says $1.40, when I try paying the attendant says where is your card, because you need to swipe this first, I ask the attendant what do you mean? there is no sign saying that I need a card, it only says $1.40,.By now the cars are starting to honk and the lady calls the supervisor over and all this makes is for more honking. The supervisor says you cannot get through unless you show one of these cards and pulls a bunch of the cards out of his pocket that you can buy for $8.00. I tell the guy that nowhere is there a sign saying this and I will wait here until doomsday if needed, so he better be prepared because this will be the start of an international incident right here right now, you should have seen this guys face by now, the cars are honking like crazy, and drivers are scrambling to find other gates, luckily one Panamanian guy gets out of his car and says to the supervisor I will let them through by swiping my card, we pay the Panamanian guy $3 and we go through, of all things stupid the supervisor could have done the same, but no.


The last part of the road towards San Blas is one crazy up and down, twisty road and a real treat for us after riding in the rain the whole time it now starts to clear up, and we did have to pay the $13 to be able to continue through Kuna territory. We make it to the Barzukun River and we see the Lancha boat that will take our bikes to the boat, after the Kuna Indians try different ways to see how it would be best to get the bike in they tell us to bring the bike down the steep grassy embankment towards the boat where they will lift it up over the railing into the boat, six guys and a lot of lets see how this goes gets the bikes in and away we go after paying them $15 per bike for there services.



When we get to the Independence they lower the Dingy and then hoist our bikes up, then across the deck and tied down towards the railing and deck, here is where they will stay until we reach the other side






We stowed our gear inside the boat and then we were taking to the Carti Island where we will stay the night amongst the Kuna Indians. The sleeping arrangement is in a loft above one of the many shacks that are on the Island and it has no sink or toilet so if you need to go just head out to the shack with the toilet hanging out above the ocean, our as they call it the Kuna toilet, for some strange reason this whole thing makes me feel like I'm in the movie Water World, and find it really cool. After diner we did buy a bottle of Cola and that with the duty free Rum we made a small party and talked the night away. The Kuna live from the fishing and tourist that come here and ask $1 for everything, including taking pictures with them, a very simple life and they seem to be happy with it, but from my perspective I would only wish that they had more pride in there surroundings because it looks like a dump in many places, including the sea bottom around the piers.


More pictures to come with the rest of the story.


Jeff
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Old 10-16-2013, 08:51 PM   #334
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Awesome, welcome to SA
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Old 10-17-2013, 07:39 AM   #335
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Great RR

Still lurking in Elora. Thanks for the great writing, pics and info!!
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Old 10-18-2013, 10:49 AM   #336
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Awesome, welcome to SA
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Still lurking in Elora. Thanks for the great writing, pics and info!!
Thanks Animo and Hevy Kevy, always good to hear that someone is following.

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Old 10-18-2013, 10:53 AM   #337
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Day 102 103 104 105

Day 102 Sailing


The guy I did meet when I was going to Panama City is from Spain and he is on an Around The World trip his name is Marcos Verges Tortras and has a blog: www.mundo-en-moto.com he has been to a lot of places and has a lot of very interesting stories, take a look at his site if you can.
Marcos on the Lancha.



Me on the Lancha with a big relieve and not believing we actually made it with the bikes



We had breakfast in the shack and were taking back to the boat where we did meet the other 16 passengers, on board Captain Michel gives his welcome speech and instruction on proper toilet use because this will be of major importance if we wish to arrive without issues. Then we sailed for about 2hrs to this little group of islands where we could snorkel and swim to the islands and this is also where we will stay for the night, by late afternoon the first Halloween party started amongst the young crowd and that was some party, the older generation laid a bit back but we did finish it.


Day 103 Sailing


Did more swimming and got a good sun burn, the sun out here is brutal. We sailed for 1hr to the next group of Islands where the Immigration officials did come on board and we are cleared to leave the country, later that afternoon we are brought by speed boat to the biggest Island for a BBQ meal and of course more party time.
The young crowd in there Halloween costumes.



On board the boat I share a bunk bed cabin with Marcos and it is very warm under the deck because none of the windows are allowed to open, luckily there is a fan above your head to provide some cooling or it would have been imposable to stay in there.


Day 104 Sailing


Sailed to the final set of Islands before the big crossing and Marcus giving his thumps up



Saying goodby to the Island.



Captain Michel gives his speech about how rough the sea can get and safety instruction. The crossing for the Independence usually takes 30hrs but could be in heavy weather an extra day, so time to batten down the hatches and prepare for some excitement, this of course is enough reason for the young crowd to really start a good party inside and that was according to the Captain one for the books. Luckily the sea remained very calm and we had no head winds at all, by morning we are told that this will be the fastest crossing ever and before night fall we will see land. That afternoon the Captain decides to stop the boat since we are making such good time so that we can go swimming in the sea once more and get to feel how this is because the water is only 3km deep. Around 5pm we see land and come to port around 9pm, the Captain confirms that the total sailing time was 23hrs and this was his fastest trip, the sailing gods were in our favour.


Day 105 Sailing / Columbia


I get-up around 5:30am and start untying the bike for the next part of this adventure, both our bikes need to be lowered into a small dingy one by one and then brought to shore where we will have to lift them over the railing or so we are told. The Captain decides to put the dingy up against some rocks instead and we are told to push the bike over the front edge onto the rocks, with the four of us pushing and pulling we manage but only by gods grace does this work without any incident, this whole process is such a make shift operation and I can't believe that we pulled it off and then to think that this has been going on for years. Once on land and after saying all our goodby's we head off to Aduana and wait for the boats agent to show because he has all our paperwork including passport, after waiting for an hour he shows up and has already handled Immigration so now it's only the Import of the bike process, luckily this only takes another 45min, and we pay him $35 for his services. Off into town to find a Hostel or something, after some searching we find good lodging at the Iguana's House, where it's only $15 for a private room, we then head out to the Insurance company to get our SOAT for Columbia, and it's for 1 month and cost $22 US, we also find out that if you hit someone (person) your okay but if you hit anything else your not covered, so we figure if you do hit a car just walk up to the rider and then punch him in the face your save.

More to come, the Internet is not always working.


Jeff
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Old 10-19-2013, 05:43 AM   #338
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Day 106 107

Day 106


Cartagena is one great place to visit and has lots of things to see and do, so we head out to the very old fort San Felipe de Barajas.



Cartagena's old port entrance.



And then back to scroll through the old town's small cobble stone streets and visit it's many beautiful town's squares with shops everywhere.



By late afternoon I finally have some time and space to be able to write some more and sort through the pictures, and then Murphy's law kills the Internet.


Day 107


Said goodby to my good friend Marcos this morning because he is heading towards Bogota to meet his girlfriend. I made it to Santa Marta and then will head further to Venezuela.


Jeff
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Old 10-20-2013, 01:33 PM   #339
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Thanks for sharing your stories with us, Jeff! Once you make it Tierra Del Fuego, do you plan to ride back home, or are you going to part with your bike and fly back home?
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Old 10-21-2013, 04:07 PM   #340
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Thanks for sharing your stories with us, Jeff! Once you make it Tierra Del Fuego, do you plan to ride back home, or are you going to part with your bike and fly back home?
Hey #1Fan, that is a cool name you have. I plan to fly back and also ship my bike back, I heard that the only way to sell it would be to someone that is doing a reverse trip so that they can register the bike.

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Old 10-21-2013, 04:13 PM   #341
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Day 108 109

Day 108


Made it to Maracaibo, Venezuela and staying at Hotel Caribe for 290Bs, it was late and I had not eaten since breakfast so the first one that did show up was good enough for me.


The border crossing near Maicao, Colombia into Venezuela is verily simple and did take 1.5hrs to complete, both Colombian Aduana and Micracion are at the same place but in two building across from each other, there is space to park at Aduana on the left and then walk across for other. Then drive to the front of this huge line up of Venezuela plated Chevy Impala's and every other old (60s 70s) piece of gas guzzling US metal, most of them are being held together with some make shift welding and parts from anything and everything attached (Mad Max style), sorry no pictures of the cars at the border decided not to because these guys are smuggling gas and goods to Columbia and back, I don't think they would like it if I took there picture. In front of this row of cars you will find the Venezuela Micracion for an easy hand over passport and get stamp. Next drive about 2km down the road for Aduana and have a copy of your passport, vehicle registration and drivers license with you, also show him your Colombian SOAT and he won't ask for you to get Insurance while in Venezuela, he will ask how long you plan to stay and I said 1 week and he gave me 30 days on the papers, okay that was good.
Some pictures of cars at the gas station.









The first thing you notice in Venezuela other then the bad ass cars is the amount of plastic bags along the streets, most shredded by the wind and stuck in everything, trees, shrubs, fences, it looks post apocalyptic and strange.


Day 109


The further you go from the border the less garbage you see, and the other thing you now notice is the huge line-up's of cars at the gas stations, I guess filling those huge tanks takes a lot of time.


Finally into the mountains towards Valera where I started looking for lodging, most places wanted 400Bs if you paid cash or 600Bs to use credit card, what a rip off. I had tried several ATM's but no money, so I figure there will be more small towns down the road with better prices and hopefully no extra charges.



Landslide



After a while I find myself now riding into the night, until it is pitch black the small towns have no lodging so I keep moving on further into the mountains coming through passes with no roads from the washouts, after a couple of hours of this my body is starting to hurt from the strain and I need to stop often to gather more strength, navigating through gravel inclines is starting to take it's toll on me and I can't help but think how stupid this is for a few lousy bucks, by now it's 11:30 with no end in site, I have been riding since 8 this morning and I know I need to stop or I will crash on these roads so I start looking for a possible camp site, with a rock wall on one side and a steep drop on the other, there is not much choice but to move on. I have also been riding blind because my GPS has no maps of this area and all I know was that I was heading South West most of the time towards Saint Cristobal so I decide to take the next road that is heading North East towards Hwy 1. After another hour l I finally come to a town with a hotel and he is asking 150BS but was okay with 145Bs because that's all the cash I had. This place has no Internet no nothing but a place to sleep and I will happily take it.


More to come.


Jeff
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Old 10-21-2013, 04:33 PM   #342
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Wow!
I though I had it tough finding a hotel today but no comparison. Glad you made it it one piece!
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Old 10-22-2013, 06:11 AM   #343
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Wow!
I though I had it tough finding a hotel today but no comparison. Glad you made it it one piece!
Thanks Dave, hope those Spanish lessons come along well for you, I know my Spanglish is god awful.

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Old 10-22-2013, 06:15 AM   #344
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Day 110

I was out like a light bulb and slept like a dog if that is possible. When I woke it was almost 9 and that never happens to me, I now also realize that I have no more cash, so it will have to be some left over cola with 1 granola bar for breakfast, a travellers culinary delight (or so I keep on telling myself).


There is a toilet in the closet with no seat and a pipe with a valve on it sticking out the wall with no shower head and no sink, this is great you can shower and take a dump all at the same time, just my kind of place super efficient.


It's already 10 and I head out but will need some cash soon because my fill up from yesterday is already flashing empty. After an hour I'm getting nervous and that's when I see a sigh with airport 1km on it, thinking there has to be a ATM or some kind of money exchange going on, so with relieve I head to the airport but only to find this small building with one ATM that won't give me any money and the other ATM showing on the screen choose your boot device.


Are you kidding me this is it, I ask around and everyone is saying the same no money exchange, I'm now becoming desperate so I head to the restaurant and ask the guy at the cash if he would be willing to change some US cash to Bolivares if I have something to eat, thank god he agrees, so now I get some food and cash all at the same time (theme of the day).


Venezuela is great when it comes to having to fill your tank, yesterday's 18 liter did cost a whopping 1.25Bs or about 20cents US and today it did cost nothing because when I was at the pump the attendant points up at the ceiling that have these scanning panels hanging on it and says to me that I need a something or other to make the pump work, that's when a military truck pulls up behind me and the guy in the truck signals that I put my bike behind his truck so that it can be filled. Okay I understand and thinking that they will restart the pump but no the attendant after filling the truck comes to me and fills it up without stopping, I ask how much and the guys waves back nada, now isn’t that great.


Made it to San Cristobal and will head back to Colombia today.


Jeff
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Old 10-23-2013, 02:16 AM   #345
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Thumb Enjoying your report

Jeff
I am really enjoying your report. Cheap Gas, running out of cash, bank machines that don't work, sketchy bathrooms, the joys of travel. You are doing a great job of hanging in there.

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