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Old 01-04-2012, 12:03 PM   #1876
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January 1st, 2012

Happy New year to my ADV friends!! Thanks for joining me on this adventure.

Been having troubles with my knee and it has gotten worse. Just real painful to walk much, which is a real bummer as I want to explore around the places that I am stopping and enjoy the sights.

Frank and Petra were great and helpful about giving information about a doctor in Cartagena that I could go see. Have decided that I do not want to keep walking and cause more injury, so I will go when I get to Columbia. Will just have to see what they say. Difficult as I travel to get medical attention with the language barrier and not knowing how to find a good doctor orthopedic specialty. We will see.

Panama City on New Years Day was really empty and everything was closed down. But we found out that the Panama Canal Miraflores locks tourist center was open. The 4 of us grabbed a cab to check it out.

The visitor center is 4 stories, and they have observation levels to see the ships, a Movie on the history and building of this really important transit Canal for the world of shipping and cargo.

lots of people watching the ships pass through.

Pretty Amazing watching the ships align to the two waterways heading from the Pacific Ocean to the Caribbean .... it takes 8 -10 hours to complete a full pass of the canals. They operate 24/7....

Once the ships pull into the Canal they are hooked up to these special "tugs" that hold the boat in place as it moves through the locks.

The ships are huge up close.... fully loaded with goods.

Locks are the way they change the water height by 25 Meters.

As they continue on there way.

They pass miraflores, then into the lake and on to one of the next set of locks.....

Had to have a little snack and Petra was telling me to stay off my leg :) Voice of reason was helpful :)

The Panama Canal has some serious additions being added to accommodate the Much larger ships that are now in existence that cannot pass through. The new canals (2) will be completed in 2014 100 years anniversary of the panama canal first opening.

Cargo and Passenger ships pass through. Mornings going east, afternoons going west.

Very cool to see the Panama Canal in action! almost 10,000 people work at the canal keeping it operating round the clock.

The city was very empty as we got back, and had to find a hotel restaurant as everything else was closed. Frank had some noises on his 1150GS and decided with some help to pull the final drive, grease the spines and se if that helped.

Had to improvise as we did not have the exact tools for the job. Needed some leverage to remove the side mounting bolts for the final drive. But after a couple fo trips to try to find "tools" we got it done!!

Found another place to get dinner, but the streets were empty as it was a holiday..... was sort of strange. James and I were all packed up with the bikes as we were riding out to Carti to meet the Stahlratte to get our bikes onboard. Will be interesting process......
Chapter 3 of my life...... with Faith, Hope and Courage!

Ride of my Lifetime...... Thread started 5/11/2011
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Old 01-04-2012, 01:15 PM   #1877
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Originally Posted by Radioman View Post
Have decided that I do not want to keep walking and cause more injury, so I will go when I get to Columbia.
Glad to hear you are going to see about this.

Here's hoping for a good outcome.

I miss round headlights.

"When I was a young man, I liked to race my horse...." -
G.H.W.S. 1878-1962
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Old 01-04-2012, 02:34 PM   #1878
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Happy New Year Mark - may 2012 give you safe and enjoyable travels
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Old 01-04-2012, 04:42 PM   #1879
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January 2nd 2012 last day in Panama!

We had to meet the other riders near the airport for the ride out to Carti to load the bikes. Both James and I had reservations from our bikes but we could not take the boat, but booked a flight to Cartagena to meet the bikes.

We met up with 5 other bikers. Two from Germany. tony the father, Pablo his son. Then Duncan from Seattle, Mark from Olympia both on KLR's and then Jay from SF on his 650GS.

Rolled to out the road toward Carti. Was a winding road with tons of very steep hills.

Had to pay $9.00 to ride through the Kuni area to get to Carti.

Beautiful ride.

But of course you always have to be aware of the road hazard, like this wash out that was barely marked.

Rode down into Carti which is just a little concrete pier that people catch small boats out to the island on. But we spoted the Stahlratte just off the pier.

Then we rode out through all the people to the end of the pier. Took our bags and gear off and loaded it into the Zodiac for transport out to the Stahlratte.

Mark started up a conversation with some Panamians who were out to Party in the islands....

Ludwig the German Captain then moved the boat bow into the shore for loading.....

It is by far the biggest boat to make the passage to Columbia with Bikes for Columbia.

ready for the next step.

We were all sort of finding out the system of how they load the bikes.... all a bit nervous to have our bikes hoisted aboard.

James's R1200GS was first as we all watched.....

Then my 800GS.

Others onboard also watched.....

The young German guy was really funny....

His dad just could not watch

All loaded up and we took the Zodiac out to board the ship. we needed to get paperwork done, paid before we headed back to Panama City.

Ludwig the captain of the boat.

All our gear on the boat.

Bikes on Deck waiting to be lashed down.

All sorted out and tied down. They will cover them before they head out.

Met with the captain and got all paid up. $450 for the shipping of the bikes.

We headed out to the San Blas islands.... Had a great lunch on board.

Locals coming aboard to talk to Ludwig...... and Ronnie

This big boat was moored right next to us.......

Locals coming aboard to sell stuff to people onboard, and charge there cel phone

Leaving in the carved out wooden canoe.

Finally we headed out in a small boat back to shore to get a jeep back to Panama City. Was a bit of a long wait as Ludwig had "arranged" the transport.

We take the boat up a river to a "pier" which was just a dirt clearing and off the boat we got. There were some jeeps loaded, but no one seemed to know if more Jeeps were coming or ? it was about 4:30. The bugs were biting and we did not want to be stuck here.....

These guys were all talking away. We ended up in a jeep that should hold 6 but we had 7 .... it was cramped but we did not want to get out.... with no alternative transport for the 2-3 hour drive back to Panama City.

It was a long drive back.... You can see James is not real happy :)

The steep roads also had some washout areas....

You can see I am hanging on as we made our way back out to the main road.

Some great views but a much better road while riding my bike

Was dark when we got back to Panama City. We had dinner again with Frank and Petra! it was great meeting both of you. Hope we see you again!!

Chapter 3 of my life...... with Faith, Hope and Courage!

Ride of my Lifetime...... Thread started 5/11/2011
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Old 01-04-2012, 06:18 PM   #1880
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Originally Posted by Radioman View Post

Not for the faint of heart..... The "Steel Rat" is legendary !
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Old 01-04-2012, 06:56 PM   #1881
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Mark, watch out for blood clots or DVT with your knee problem. With the swelling and injury, combined with the riding and the fixed position of your leg (bent), it is easy to get clots behind your knee or in the lower leg. My son just had minor arthroscopic surgery, and he now has a 6-month battle with DVT on the horizon.
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Old 01-04-2012, 07:26 PM   #1882
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Glad you are making progress. Take care of that knee - at the least, maybe get some x-rays done. In Latin America this is easy and more than likely the radiography places have people that speak English. There... often you don't need a prescription. Looks like you have been mobile, so its probably soft tissue if anything long lasting. We cross our fingers that it is not.

Keep an eye on redness and hot feeling in the area. Seek attention if this happens. Dont wait (Clot related)

Ivan and Liz
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Old 01-04-2012, 07:58 PM   #1883
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Enjoying your report. After viewing your Panama Canal pics this morning, I picked up today's business section of the Oregonian and there was an article about the widening of the Panama Canal-how ironic. The article mentioned that the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach could lose a huge share of their cargo business when the expansion is completed in 2014 because the biggest ships that can squeeze through the canal now carry 4,400 to 5,000 containers. A wider canal would accommodate 12,600 container vessels and bypass California.
Stay safe,

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Old 01-05-2012, 07:43 AM   #1884
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December 3rd Panama City to Cartagena, Columbia

Last day in Central America and then a 1 hour flight to Cartagena. Feels really weird not to be on my bike but to be flying to Cartagena. But could not get on the Stahlratte Boat as they had 24 passengers booked.

Had a small backpack to carry on the plane..... As I went through security, they ran my bag through the scanner. OK. Can they look closer.... Sure. Came back and still something was bothering them. I started pulling out stuff from my bag.... No that is OK. Run it again. She spoke no english but said Yaven 12? Yaven 12. Got out an electronic dictionary....? have no idea. after some digging ..... I had left a small 12MM open end wrench in a small inside pocket of the bag They could read the 12. For some reason I could not take this on the plane. Lost my wrench

Got to the airport at about 9:30 Am.This security dog was funny ......

James from the UK and I were the only two motorbike riders who had to fly. But actually in talking to many people the crossing can be really rough this time of year..... We might be really glad we flew

It was so easy and comfortable to get on the plane, and get through customs compared to the central American border crossings..

Without the bike, carried just a few items .... Traveling light. Caught a cab to the old city and a run down hostel.

My knee had really been bothering me for the past 10-12 days. Not while riding, but while walking. So Frank and Petra had told me about the Hospital in Cartagena that he had to go to for stomach issues. Decided I should go talk to a doctor ...

Started at the Hospital. had to fill out the forms and put a deposit of 150,000 Pesos (about ($78.00) for the visit.

Had to wait about 30 minutes and a young doctor spoke english, looked at the knee and said I really need an Orthopedic doctor. I knew that but had to start somewhere. He told me there is a medical offices right around the corner. Great! He did not charge me anything for the visit as he did not do anything. After I said who was the best Orthopedic doctor, he said DR. Haydar.

I hobble over to the office building, and find Dr Haydars office. It was packed. I spoke with the receptionist and said I needed an appointment for my sore knee (all in my broken spanish). She said come back at 6 PM.

Took a cab back to the Hostel and the taxi driver owned a harley. In spanish we had a great conversation about my ride and my knee. He told me doctor Haydar was the best!. A bit worried about what the outcome of the doctor visit will be....what if I need surgery, how, where, when etc....

Back at 6PM, still people waiting but after an hour, I get to see the doctor. Really nice guy. Looks at my knee, probes a bit, then gets to the sore part. Looks like it is the Medial Collateral Ligament that is very sore. He speaks some english, so we talk in english and spanish, and he says I need to stay off it for 5-10 days and use IBprofin, ice, and brace (all of which I have been doing except lots of ice as it is sometimes hard to get). No MRI yet. If it is still hurting in 5-10 days he will do an MRI.


The hostel was a bit of a bad place to be stuck hanging out. We decided to find another place. Used Lonely planet to seek out other hostels and hotels. Nothing really good and cheap around, so I decided to spend a bit more for a hotel that I could just relax and heal up a bit before the bikes arrive on Friday.

Get to a couple that are all booked up in the El Centro district. but then found one. Had a sitting area that got my knee up.

and then Iced the knee....

Chapter 3 of my life...... with Faith, Hope and Courage!

Ride of my Lifetime...... Thread started 5/11/2011
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Old 01-05-2012, 10:52 AM   #1885
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January 4th Cartagena, Columbia

So trying to stay off my knee proves a bit difficult as we changed places to stay, and wanted to see some of Cartagena

We moved to the EL Centro area which is much more upscale. was not offered drugs or anything as we walked about

Saw some street dancers....

lots of cool sights with the buildings and the people.

This part of the city was being cleaned all the time.

Lots of hats for sale.

cool beach bike rolled by.

Lots of interesting door knockers.

and lots of street vendors.

Lots to see in Cartagena.... But best way is walking So I did not go far and then rested.

lot of sculptures around.

The old city is a large fortress.

James walking the top.

We had to get something to eat for dinner, so we wandered a bit. This guy came up to us and wanted to sell us a BMW motorcycle that he said a british guy had given to him..... Who knows what the story was on this...

lots of lighted symbols in the parks.... making it festive around town.

Then back to the hotel to continue resting and icing my knee.

I had hurt my knee a couple times in my youth and it has flared up now and again over the past 30 years. This is by far the worst it has ever gotten. Everything I am reading says to stay off of it and ice it until it heals up. So I will try to take it easy, but it is hard to sit still.
Chapter 3 of my life...... with Faith, Hope and Courage!

Ride of my Lifetime...... Thread started 5/11/2011

Radioman screwed with this post 01-05-2012 at 11:05 AM
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Old 01-05-2012, 11:30 AM   #1886
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Well although I am young I certainly know my way around knee injuries. (Rugby Player)

If the diagnosis is correct you should be very pleased. The MCL tends to heal up quite quickly and well...but I am told only to 80 percent...I have torn it twice as well as my ACL once...The MCL was nothing comparatively...I would grab a tensor bandage and some ziplocs...even better if you can get one of those blue gel ice packs...Put some paper towel between your leg and the ice/pack and then tensor it on to the MCL side reasonably tight. Leave it elevated and iced for 10 12 mins at a time no longer.

When I played at a high level this is what the professionals did....and trust me it works better. I hope you heal up quick so you can snap some photos.

I have years of experience with bad knees so you can quit talking about that! I need to hear about your life on the road!!!!
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Old 01-05-2012, 11:31 AM   #1887
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Thanks now my knee hurts.
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Old 01-05-2012, 12:07 PM   #1888
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Cartegena is a great town! My cousin taught high school there for a couple of years. I liked it a lot.
Nine mile skid on a ten mile ride. Hot as a pistol but cool inside.
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Old 01-05-2012, 01:36 PM   #1889
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Life on the road

I am going on 7 months traveling now and life on the road has been good. As I try to slow down a bit and let my knee heal, I am in a good hotel, with time to read another good book, write a bit more and relax. Not too bad.

Part of long term travel is all the logistics about where you are going next, and how to do it. Takes some time to investigate options and know what the financial consequences will be.

For me, I love wandering around in places that I stop to explore, interact with people, take photos and enjoy. Then getting on my bike and riding a bit more!
Chapter 3 of my life...... with Faith, Hope and Courage!

Ride of my Lifetime...... Thread started 5/11/2011
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Old 01-05-2012, 02:09 PM   #1890
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Go Radioman Go!

Great RR Mark! Best wishes healing up! It's a pain but it's gotta mend! Nice you found a quiet place.

Did you buy a hat? (the Red or the Brown?.. they seemed the likely subject of the shot!)

I must do this ride one day... At least Tierra Del Fuego, after Alaska! Thanks for sharing yours!
Ride the Earth! (Pavement Optional)

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