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Old 05-05-2010, 06:57 PM   #271
F.P.
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Ride on Jammin Jay!
What kind of mileage per day are you covering? I have read reports that travel South is quite slow due to road conditions, but it seems you are moving right along quite well.
And MORE PICTURES PLEASE!
Stay safe,
Chris, Alex, and the boys
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Old 05-06-2010, 11:26 AM   #272
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Pictures from Honduras and Nicaragua

April 23 - 27, 2010

South of Guatemala are the countries El Salvador and Honduras. Due to time constraints, I decided to skip El Salvador to avoid the El Amatillo border crossing between the southern end of El Salvador and Honduras. It's notorious for its corruption and the officials making you run around in circles for hours, and likely paying hefty fines for something or the other. This usually leaves a sour feeling about Honduras and wanting to give it a proper chance to make an impression, I chose to go through the mountains of Honduras and visited a few colonial cities. After two days in Honduras, I crossed into Nicaragua and couldn't escape their well-known police traps, but still managed to leave with a positive feeling about the country after visiting Granada. These countries have been torn by war and political strife in recent times, but things are calm these days and the friendly locals make for a safe passage.


My route map from Guatemala thru Honduras into Nicaragua. Click on it to go to the interactive version in Google Maps.


Getting to the El Florido border crossing between Guatemala and Honduras.


Border towns are not places to hang out, but during the daytime, it's all good.


Welcome to Honduras.


Checking in the bike at Honduran customs. Cost $35.


The El Florido crossing is close to the Mayan ruins of Copan, but I didn't have time to stop and visit. I was heading further inland to the hill country town of Gracias.


Honduras' currency - The Lempira, $1 = L18.50.


Sunset riding as I got into the former capital of Gracias in the mountains.


Manuel Zelaya, the now-ousted president, who caused a ruckus and put Honduras in the international spotlight last year for wanting to amend the constitution and possibly end presidential term limits, ŕ la Hugo Chavez.


Walking around the old colonial town of Gracias, I followed the old adage in seeking food that if there's a line of locals eating somewhere, it must be good. This guy was making simple chicken barbeque on skewers served with tortillas and a salad for L25 (~$1.50).


The streets of Gracias at night. This city was founded in 1526 and was for a brief time, the capital of all Spanish-conquered Central America in the 16th century. Some of these buildings are centuries old.


Telephone wire exchange.


Tienda means a small convenience store.


Riding out the next morning further south through the mountains.


Breakfast of fried chicken with scrambled eggs, refried beans, avocado and fresh cheese, served with tortillas for L40. This was more than I could handle in one sitting, so I packed the rest in my tupperware box and had it for lunch later on.


Heading towards La Esperanza.


The road turned gravel for about 20 kms.


There was very little traffic, this far away from the major towns, which made for an enjoyable ride.


Past La Esperanza, heading up to the main highway.


The main highway, Carretera del Norte, connecting the two big cities in Honduras, the capital Tegucigalpa and the industrial city of San Pedra Sula on the coast.


Enjoying a night out in the colonial town of Comayagua with my CouchSurfing host Rony and some of his Peace Corps friends from the States, Lucy and Heide. These girls were stationed in remote villages working on protecting natural environments and they were in town to celebrate Heide's birthday.


At Rony's house in Comayagua. His family runs a gym and he's currently working at the golf course in town, hoping to head to France soon to volunteer at an orphanage for a few months and travel around Europe.


The cathedral in the center of Comayagua, which was the original capital of Honduras, established in 1537. It's undergoing a renewal with help from Spain to preserve its heritage.


All throughout Central America, a lot of the public buses are old American school buses. To me, it seemed like once they weren't good enough for the US, probably not passing emissions, 'send them across the border, they need buses down there and no one cares about emissions' - except us poor bikers inhaling all that black carbon monoxide.


Down here, when you see a sign warning of falling rocks, you better take it seriously.


Washed-out road. A good reason not to be riding at night.


South of Tegucigalpa heading to the Nicaraguan border at Los Manos.


You know you're getting close to the border when you see a line of parked trucks. The paperwork must be a major headache for them.


Welcome to Nicaragua.


After paying a $3 road tax, this guy wanted to pose for a picture. Nice friendly first impression of the Nica police, but not for long. They snagged me a few miles down for passing on a solid line, which another $3 bribe sufficed.


Nicaragua's currency - The Cordoba. $1 = C21.


Nice roads, but generally more flat. Heading to the capital city of Managua.


Staying at ADVer Salcar's house in Managua. He was actually in Switzerland but told me I could still stay at his place.


Riding through some dense fog on my way to Granada. I went up and over some mountains, through the misty town of Jinotega, to avoid a known police shake-down spot on the main road from Managua to Granada at Masaya. This is known as one of the most scenic drives in the country as it climbs to 4,000 ft and comes back down to near sea level in Granada.


Dinner at my CouchSurfing's host Avi's place in Granada. He's also in the Peace Corps, working on teaching entrepreneurial skills to high school kids. His neighbor prepared this meal for us as they ran out of cooking gas and Avi let them cook at his place. It's a typical meal of rice fried with beans, some salad of cucumbers and fresh cheese.


After dinner, we did what most Nicaraguan's do at night, hang out on their porch, since it's hot inside and usually there's a cool breeze outside. Avi's been here over two years and he's winding down his project.


Checking out the main plaza in Granada, the oldest city in Nicaragua, founded in 1524. Being on Lake Nicaragua with access to the Caribbean, it was an important trading post and was wealthy leading it to be ransacked multiple times by British and French pirates from the Caribbean. Recently, it kick-started Nicaragua's tourism with its rich colonial heritage.


The cathedral in the Parque Central.


Statue in the central park with the inscription in English "devotion and love to all mothers".


Having breakfast of 'yuca con cerdo' - cassava or manioc with grilled pork. I like the taste of cassava; it's slightly sweet and the texture is interesting too. It's a staple food in many developing parts of the world, especially Africa as it's a hardy plant and is considered the third largest source of carbohydrates in human diets.


The yuca and pork at the food seller's stand.


Heading south out of Granada, towards the Costa Rican border.


Windmills on the shore of the huge Lago de Nicaragua.
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Current Ride Report: Global South | Past Trips: CDR '09, Alaska '08, Mexico '07 | YouTube Videos

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Old 05-06-2010, 01:44 PM   #273
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Pictures from Costa Rica

April 27 - May 3, 2010

Costa Rica, the rich coast as Columbus thought it contained a lot of gold when he landed here, has actually been made rich by bananas and its well developed ecotourism industry. It's also the most developed country in Central America and along with that comes higher prices for everything, similar to costs in the US. For this reason, most budget travelers buzz through Costa Rica, but I had to spend a few days in the capital of San Jose in order to get visas for the first few South America countries. Being the most developed country meant that it also had a good diplomatic representation from a lot of countries.


I know a couple trucks are expected at border crossings but the border between Nicaragua and Costa Rica, there's only one crossing, had a line of trucks at least 6 kms (3.5 miles) in length. This was an indication of how complex this border crossing must be.


Using a helper at the border, to help me navigate all the various booths I had to go to and get stamps from.


At the Nicaraguan customs office. I've been able to navigate all the previous border crossings with no problem, but that was also because I went across smaller, less trafficked borders where the various buildings were close together. Here, with only one border between these countries, it was a massive operation with tonnes of people getting on and off buses, truckers trying to get their papers approved and individual travelers. The procedure was not well-signed for the unaided traveler. You get a small slip of paper as you enter the border compound and you have to get it stamped at various booths to show you've done all that is necessary and then you have to give this paper to an officer in order to exit the border compound.


At the Costa Rican customs office, which was a similar hassle to the Nicaraguan side. One thing I've noticed in these few border crossings so far is that the bureaucratic culture seems more similar across a particular border on both sides as opposed to being similar among a country's various border posts. As in, the bureaucracy seemed similar between Honduras and Nicaragua and between Nicaragua and Costa Rica. They're probably just trying to match the other guy's bureaucratic loopholes.


My route map through Costa Rica. Click on it to go to the interactive version in Google Maps.


The skies opened up as the rainy season had officially started as I made my way to Playa del Coco, a beach town about an hour south of the border to stay with ADVer Chris.


The view from Chris' apartment, looking across the bay.


The well-furnished compound.


Chris' Land Rover Defender at his girlfriend Anna and her dad's motorcycle and car repair shop. I got a good deal on a new chain that was a left over from a Honda Africa Twin repair job.


Chris and his KTM 990s being greeted by Anna'a various pit bulls. They were all super friendly. Chris used to race professionally in the AMA Motocross Championship and traveled around the US and South Africa with the KTM factory team along with Red Bull sponsorship. He's currently taking it easy in Costa Rica and discovering all the good off-road riding that's to be had.


Leading me out of town on my way to San Jose.


It was nice and sunny in the morning and then the rains kicked in after lunch.


A typical set meal called a consado of rice, beans and chicken with some veggies for 2200 Colones ($1 = CL500).


As I was riding the steep, hilly road in heavy rains getting into San Jose, I came around a corner and found a tree had freshly taken down a telephone wire pole. We were the first few people on site.


One of the drivers lifted up the wires enough for me to get under. These were the first few rains of the season and anything that was loosely held together is going to get washed away. The new rains also made the roads slick as it was washing away all the oils from the road surface. A few corners further down, I had to down-shift to first gear to really slow down for this sharp hair-pin turn and with the roads so slick, the rear tire broke loose and the bike went down. We slid for a few feet before stopping and no injury to me as I immediately stood up and picked up the bike with the help of a passing rider. Only damage on the bike was a broken highway peg. No pictures as it was too steep to park the bike and traffic was coming.


I made it safely to La Moto, a motorcycle accessory shop in San Jose, where ADV rider Mischa works.


Mischa's adjusting my rear spring, raising it up a bit to reduce how much the bike sags with all the weight on the rear. The shop is run by John, who's an ex-AMA superbike racer.


Their Nicaraguan mechanic, Elvis, fabricating a new highway peg. The original one worked well to protect the rest of the bike from damage like the shift lever and engine casing. It worked as a frame slider.


Outside Mischa's house in San Jose. His family moved from Germany about 20 years ago due to his father's health requiring warmer climes. Mishca used to work in the tourism industry before switching into the motorcycle accessory business. He's riding KTMs. I was in San Jose mainly to procure visas from the South American embassies and addresses in San Jose are unique because they don't use street names but rather give distances from landmarks. Mischa showed me where all the embassies were on Google Earth and using GPS coordinates, I had no problem navigating my way around the city. Thanks Mischa!


Riding up to Volcan Irazu, about an hour southeast of San Jose. In the morning, the tilled fertile farm land on the flanks of the volcano were exhaling moisture as the sun warmed it up. It looked like the volcano was breathing through its sides.


The main crater of Volcan Irazu at a height of 3,300 m (11,000 ft). The crater itself was 300 m (1,000 ft) deep and 1 km (3,300 ft) in diameter.


Another view of the crater as the clouds quickly rolled in. To get good views, you have to come up here early in the morning as by 9:30 am, the clouds were rolling in.


A group of local bikers from San Jose gathering around my bike and asking questions about the trip.


Riding above the clouds. The road up and down the volcano was a blast to ride with nice turns and good long distance views.


Heading back down to the valley, dropping 1,500 m (5,000 ft) in about 35 kms (22 miles).


Farmers using the roadway to move their cattle between grazing areas. They looked highly suspicious of me.


Viewpoint of lush valleys heading towards Turrialba.


Nice riding the whole day.


Foggy and twisty roads leading from the volcano down into the jungle.


The only country admitting bad roads ahead. Translation "road in bad shape".


Down on the flat eastern plains heading to the Caribbean coast. This is still a banana republic, but tourism is the big earner for the country these days. The blue bags are to protect the bananas from insects.


Bananas - coming soon to a grocery store near you.


I caught up with this Harley-Davidson motorcycle group, the Steel Angels. They were out on a nice Saturday ride. Nice to see them using proper hand signals and displaying good group riding skills. When one rider stopped, the back marker stopped with him and the middle marker filtered to the back. I rode with them for a while, but they were cruising too slow even for me on the DR around 70 kmh (43 mph) and I wanted to be doing at least 85 kmh (53 mph), so I found a nice long straight and passed the whole group. There were about 30 riders.


Spending a day in the Caribbean beach town of Puerto Viejo.


The next morning, I woke up to very loud thunder and heavy rainfall. But it was all done in a few hours and the sun and blue sky came out again.


Walking into town to buy some groceries.


Sunsets on a beach with coconut trees can never grow old.


The place where I stayed, Crocodile Surf Camp. Every business in town is milking everything they can out of the rasta movement.


The cabins at Crocodile Surf Camp.


I had the room on the end for $10 a night. I thought about camping initially for $6, but with the heavy rains, was glad I got a room with a fan and WiFi.


Heading to the Panamanian border at Sixaola.
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J A Y on a 98 Suzuki DR650SE (sanDRina)

Trip Website: JamminGlobal.com
Current Ride Report: Global South | Past Trips: CDR '09, Alaska '08, Mexico '07 | YouTube Videos

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Old 05-06-2010, 01:48 PM   #274
Jammin OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by F.P.
Ride on Jammin Jay!
What kind of mileage per day are you covering? I have read reports that travel South is quite slow due to road conditions, but it seems you are moving right along quite well.
And MORE PICTURES PLEASE!
Stay safe,
Chris, Alex, and the boys
Hey Chris, I'm doing about 150-300 miles and not riding every day. The roads are not bad, most are in really good condition but lack shoulders and signs. But I dont think you can cruise like we do in the states at 80 mph or greater, also probably not safe since you have to be ready to stop around any corner for unmarked hazards. The DR is the perfect bike for down here, big enough to overtake slow trucks and just the right size to be cruising at 60 mph
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Old 05-07-2010, 06:26 PM   #275
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Impressed by the Panama Canal. Saw 3 huge cargo ships go thru. They didn't allow my bike as it was too wide for the locks 2 days to sail Heading to the Darien tomorrow.
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Old 05-08-2010, 03:03 AM   #276
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Just posting up saying I probably wont have internet access till next Thursday. Trying to make it to Yaviza today and spend the night in Chepo before heading to Carti on Sunday to load onto the Stahlratte. Plan to reach Cartagena by Thursday. Will post up once I reach. Ciao.
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Old 05-08-2010, 11:38 AM   #277
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Just posting up saying I probably wont have internet access till next Thursday. Trying to make it to Yaviza today and spend the night in Chepo before heading to Carti on Sunday to load onto the Stahlratte. Plan to reach Cartagena by Thursday. Will post up once I reach. Ciao.

We'll be waiting.

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Old 05-08-2010, 06:50 PM   #278
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Happy sailing!
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Old 05-14-2010, 11:59 AM   #279
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Land Ahoy! Reached Cartagena last night. Great voyage. Got sea sick a bit, but felt great after throwing up Was good to work on the ship, part of the crew. Big respect for the open waters, first journey on a ship. Had swells of 2-3 meters and most everyone was sick on the boat. San Blas islands were beautiful, tried snorkeling for the first time.

Waiting on customs papers for the bike. Heading back to the Sthalratte to pickup the bike. Can´t wait to get rolling on 2 wheels again
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Old 05-14-2010, 09:45 PM   #280
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Yeah! Jay has crossed the Darien Gap. Have a great ride buddy!
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Old 05-15-2010, 07:37 AM   #281
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land ahoy! Being on a ship kind of gives rock and roll a new meaning. Also a good reminder on the power of mother nature.

Hope your reunited with the bike soon and safe riding.
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Old 05-16-2010, 11:54 AM   #282
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Yeah! Jay has crossed the Darien Gap. Have a great ride buddy!
Hey Dave, yup, one big hurdle of the trip done

Quote:
Originally Posted by dvwalker
land ahoy! Being on a ship kind of gives rock and roll a new meaning. Also a good reminder on the power of mother nature.

Hope your reunited with the bike soon and safe riding.
Totally. Never thought the ship would be moving so much, constantly. It's just like in the movies I can't imagine the journey other guys have on much smaller boats. It was beautiful to look out in all directions and see water to the horizon - first time for me.
And the blue of the water, it's a stunning color, a real deep blue.

Got the bike successfully through customs. Ludwig (captain of the Stahlratte) is a first class guy and took care of everything and all costs involved too.


Connected with a local Colombian biker from HorizonsUnlimited, Fernando and he's got lots of info on riding here and further south, plus contacts for people to stay with

Venezuela visa is a no-go. They denied me again here. Said I have to apply from my place of residence only. Bummer. I'll try again in Manaus as I really want to see the tepuis and the gran sabana.

Going to hang out a few days here, post pix and then head south. Looking to get new tires in Medellin and can't wait to get away from this heat.
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Old 05-16-2010, 02:57 PM   #283
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Thumb

Jay.
Thank you very much for helping me to load my bike on boat in Cartegena today and you took great photos with my camera if you need any help let me knowI have some best friends in Sao Paulo Brazil area that you could stay there,keep the ruber side down,good luck.
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Old 05-17-2010, 06:56 PM   #284
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Jay.
Thank you very much for helping me to load my bike on boat in Cartegena today and you took great photos with my camera if you need any help let me knowI have some best friends in Sao Paulo Brazil area that you could stay there,keep the ruber side down,good luck.
Hey Roman, nice to have met you. No problem. Glad it didnt break the ropes and fall in the water you heavy beemers
Could definitely use the contact in Sao Paulo, will pm you.
Have a safe voyage. Cheers.
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Old 05-17-2010, 09:21 PM   #285
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Pictures from Panama, Part 1: Boquete and Chitre

May 3 - 6, 2010

Panama, the last country in Central America before the big South. Known globally for the successful Panama Canal, it's also well-known among travelers as the Pan-American highway ends in the jungle province of Darien and there is no road connecting to the South American continent. This presents most travelers with the issue of flying across the Darien Gap or sailing around it. I made some arrangements a few months back with Ludwig, the captain of the Stahlratte, a 40 meter ship plying the waters between the San Blas islands of Panama to Cartagena, Colombia. My rush through Central America was to make sure I would make it on time for the boat. I got to Panama with enough time to spend a few days in some of the smaller cities and managed to head down to Yaviza, the last town on the Pan-American highway in the Darien.


There are two regular crossings on the southern side of the border between Costa Rica and Panama, but the one on the northern side here, at Sixaola/Guabito is the more interesting one as the border crossing is an old railroad track bridge.


It's one way of course and I went early in the morning to make sure I could take my time in getting across and not be rushed by traffic.


Slowly working my way across the bridge. The officers on the Costa Rican side said to take the left lane as the planks were better. This was better as well as I could slide my left leg along the raised pipe and keep the right foot on the rear brake.


At one section there is no railing to protect you if you fall over, so don't look down and just keep going.


Yup, semi-trucks cross here as well. This border crossing was quite relaxed but Panamanian immigration said I had to pay $30 for a tourist visa, after being told by the embassy in San Jose that I would need no visa. But it was no hassle, they just processed it there. $15 insurance for the bike was required.


My route map through Panama. Click on it to go to the interactive version in Google Maps.


Local transportation in Gaubito, Panama.


Nice twisty roads heading south towards Chiriqui Grande.


Lunch of rice and beans with chicken in a sauce and potato salad for $2. Panama uses the US dollar as its currency.


Heading up from the Caribbean coast over the Continental Divide to the Pacific coast.


At the divide with the Pacific Ocean in view far away down there. Elevation was around 1,200 m (4,000 ft).


You think I'm loaded down? :p


A localized moving column of rain. I got rained on a bit here and there but managed to avoid the real heavy stuff. The intensity of the storms are just amazing. I reached Boquete by around 4 pm starting in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica.


At CouchSurfer Ellen Ring's house in Potrerillos, near Boquete. Ellen moved down from Texas a few years ago and after working in finance in Panama City, she's moved out to the milder mountain life and is now promoting tourism in Panama with her site CheapPanamaVacation.com. Tourism in Panama is not as developed as Costa Rica or Mexico, but has a lot of potential.


I work up in the morning to a flat rear tire, the first one of the trip. I have a heavy duty rear tube, so it helps in supporting the form of the tire and not fully collapsing.


Wrestled to break the bead but finally got there with tube pulled out.


Something sharp poked through here...


...causing this corresponding hole. I thought the heavy duty rubber tube would withstand more abuse, but I guess if it's sharp enough, what can you do besides patch it and ride on.


Scrubbing the area around the puncture to prepare it for the patch.


New patch applied and good to go.


Having a tasty lunch, after slogging away all morning on the tire, of rice with chicken in a garlicy sauce with bean soup and desserted plantains for $2.


While Ellen and I were having a few drinks and waiting out the afternoon rainstorm, this pickup pulled up selling fish out the back.


We bought a 3 lb Amber Jack for $4.50.


Having the fish cleaned and filleted.


And cooking it up for Ellen in a thin batter of egg with flour, chili powder and garlic, along with lentils and rice.


The next morning, going past Boquete, looking for a waterfalls but not coming across it. However, the road was fun and it climbed up to about 1,800 m (6,000 ft).


Having a typical Panamanian breakfast in Boquete of beef or chicken in a sauce with a flour-based deep fried tortilla, resembling an Indian poori. The sauce and the tortilla were really tasty. Cost $1.50.


The valley with Boquete down on the left side and the Continental Divide rising behind it.


Back on the Pan-Am heading south, I saw a DR in my mirrors and pulled over to talk with Dan here. He's from California and is taking a few months off to buzz down to Tierra del Fuego. Small world, as he emailed me a year or two ago asking about my Happy Trails panniers before he purchased a set.


sanDRina was happy to mingle with some family. And without knowing it we pulled over in front of Policia Nacional, inviting a document check by the officer. All was in order and we got going.


Dan was shooting for Panama City that night and I wasn't going as far, so he sped ahead.


In the small town of Chitré, on the Gulf of Panama, staying with CouchSurfer Arilys and her family. This is with her dad in front of a bakery. Crazy wall painting.


With CouchSurfer Arilys in her home. She's a psychology professor at the local university and is a huge rock fan, recently going to Metallica and Guns N' Roses concerts. They didn't speak much English, so it was Spanish immersion time again. I can manage to convey my ideas across and can hold decent conversations. I'm slowly picking up more vocabulary with time.


Having a simple and tasty dinner of sauteed shrimp with rice and tomatoes with fresh pineapple juice. Arilys doesn't eat much meat and really enjoys rice with tomatoes. She prepares the white rice quite nicely with oil and other spices and the fresh tomatoes go really well with it.


Doing laundry the next day. Eww, that's a murky brown. Lots of sweat.


Feels good to wash everything. I tried washing in Costa Rica but the air was so humid on the Caribbean coast that the clothes didn't dry overnight. Here, Arilys had a spinning machine that squeezed the water out (like in locker rooms at swimming pools) and then the clothes dried within an hour. I also washed my gloves, helmet liner and boot liners. My main riding jacket, pants and the bike have been washed with the heavy rains.


Heading out to the local beach, Playa El Rompió near Los Santos. Arilys' boyfriend is a big surfer and there's an active surf culture down here with much better beaches further south on the Peninsula de Azuero. The boats are waiting for high tide.


Playa El Rompió at sunset. The beach is very shallow and each wave was coming in quite far. Nice mirror effect with the retreating water.


Birds teasing the tide.


Getting down low to meet the incoming tide.


Being treated to a fish fry dinner at El Mirador, a lookout restaurant on a nearby hill. Arilys' dad works for the Ministry of Health and travels by road all over Panama and I was trying to get some information about the road to Yaviza.


Fish fry of Corvina with patacones (squashed, fried plantains), washed down with cheladas - lager beer with lime and salt. Her dad and I added some hot sauce and made them micheladas.
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J A Y on a 98 Suzuki DR650SE (sanDRina)

Trip Website: JamminGlobal.com
Current Ride Report: Global South | Past Trips: CDR '09, Alaska '08, Mexico '07 | YouTube Videos

Jammin screwed with this post 03-19-2011 at 08:32 AM
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